When I was young, I was quite good looking. I never traded on my looks and I certainly never thought that I identified with being attractive. But now that I am growing older and my looks are fading, I am having a really tough time of it.
It seems to me that suddenly (within a year) everything changed. My hair fell out and I realized that I can’t read the small print anymore. The quantity of food I have always consumed now makes me fat. And I can’t stop eating! I need to replace my one molar with an implant and I need an op that will fix a side effect that accompanied natural childbirth. I have to go to gym 3 times a week just to keep gravity at bay. I just spent 2 months coughing, unable to shake a cold and every night I have to soak in a hot bath in order to warm up for bed! I look TERRIBLE without make-up and I am not used to wearing it because I could always trade on my naturally good looks. Suddenly I notice people relate to me differently, because I am just another old hag.
I still imagine myself being 18, but when I look in the mirror I see my mom! Oh horror!!!!
I feel OLD!!!
I am Mad! Furious! Pissed off!! How could this happen to me!!!!!!
I know it is childish and immature, but this is how I feel.
My previous infantile fantasy
I honestly did not expect it to happen to me. I was going to be the one that grew old slowly and gracefully. My beautiful hair would get a few gray hairs every year and my wrinkles would be mild and hardly noticeable. My body would stay thin and lithe and I wouldn’t need to ever exercise! Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
I just can’t accept it. I won’t accept it.
And I don’t understand why more people are not kicking and screaming about it. Is growing old so acceptable?
I feel like revolting against the Gods. Leading an army of mortals to Zeus’ lair to kill them all! How did this happen. Why is this part of the greater plan? I am so cross about it. I heard that there are benefits to growing old, e.g. being more spiritual, wiser, etc. Well from my perspective, the scale is completely imbalanced. I need to load the “BEING OLD” side with more positive stuff, but I can’t find any!
Everything is harder. Everything takes more effort. The slide towards entropy occurs daily, unless I oppose it. I am exhausted. I can see the benefit in letting it all go. Just slouching around the house with my pajamas and gown and slippers and only getting dressed for special occasions. Eating all the things I want and getting fat(ter). Having full cream cuppachino’s with custard slices.
What do I do now?
How do I relate to myself?
I look completely different to my inner image of myself. This is a huge discrepancy and I don’t know how to move forward. I certainly don’t want to see myself as young when I am not. How do I adjust my image of myself that I have carried with me for 40 odd years? I certainly think that it is not appropriate anymore and that trying to hold onto it is self sabotage.
I need to redefine the “I”.
Some thoughts from Steiner and Jung on redefinng the ‘I’
Rudolf Steiner has an interesting take of the process of growing old. His theory is that as the physical body starts to degenerate, the spiritual body is grown and developed. For example, I know that I am far more sensitive, intuitive and aware than I was when I was younger. I also feel stronger in a way, as if I am more stable and sure of who I am. I like this approach because it does seem to me that there is still growth and possibility, running parallel with the physical aging of my body.
A quote from “Man as being of sense and perception”:
“We are not here merely in order, through living, to sense this contradiction, but our inner life is a continual process of destruction of what develops as causality in outer nature. We men really dissolve natural causality within ourselves. What outside is physical process, chemical process, is developed within us in a reverse direction, towards the other side. …then we do not have merely a logical, theoretical contradiction in ourselves, but we have the real process – we have the process of human development, of human becoming, as the thing in us that itself counteracts natural causality, and human life as consisting in a battle against it.”
Jung wrote extensively on working with the second half of life. He believed that the first half is spent establishing the ego in the world, and once the ego was firmly established, the second half of life would challenge the ego’s position and force the individual to re-engage their nucleus, their Self and re-invent their relationship to the Self.
Some quotes from him express this quite clearly.
“The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it.” ― C.G. Jung
“Everything young grows old, all beauty fades, all heat cools, all brightness dims, and every truth becomes stale and trite. For all these things have taken on shape, and all shapes are worn thin by the working of time; they age, sicken, crumble to dust – unless they change. But change they can, for the invisible spark that generated them is potent enough for infinite generation. No one should deny the danger of the descent, but it can be risked. No one need risk it, but it is certain that someone will. And let those who go down the sunset way do so with open eyes, for it is a sacrifice which daunts even the gods. Yet every descent is followed by an ascent; the vanishing shapes are shaped anew, and a truth is valid in the end only if it suffers change and bears new witness in new images, in new tongues, like a new wine that is put into new bottles.”- C.G. Jung (Symbols of transformation)
Adapt or die
Well, Stephen and I were talking about it and we have come up with a few ideas.
First, you need to oppose the entropy. So I made a list of everything I need to do to keep it together. An action list for health, necessities and appropriate actions to take. My list looks more or less like this:
- Have a medical
- Sort out teeth
- Change image i.e. dress, hair
- Do my makeup daily
- Stick to gym
- Change my eating habits
You get the idea!
Secondly, I have decided to create a symbol for myself. An image I can carry in my minds’ eye with which I refer to myself. Something that is different to my younger version, but at the same time not an old person who looks like my mom. An image that can capture the unexplored potential that I still have. Something that will become the “I” with which I will engage and embrace the world. I have been working with symbols for a while and I will use and adapt an image that has been with me for years that I keep going back to. I am busy working on that now. Wish me luck.
And yes, of course, I think I need to grow up.
Until next time