And I'm okay with that. Really. Or at least I thought I was. Until I woke up this morning with severe lower back pain. Ouch!
"Lindy", my body said, "I know you thought you were okay with this getting older stuff. But you really need to admit that you have some fears and doubts about aging. And the only way to get you to acknowledge this stuff sometimes is to make you a little uncomfortable. Now you know the drill. Deal with these feelings! Now!"
The week leading up to my birthday was phenomenal. I was feeling lucky to be where I was in life and full of appreciation for my supportive family and friends and my community. My place in the world here by the sea. I mean, I had my niggling insecurities about getting older, but I was determined to focus my energy on the happy, positive bits about being 41.
The weekend leading up to my birthday I did all kinds of fun things. I listened to live music. I danced with my friends. I got the world's most perfect buzz-on. I hiked with friends and family to one of the most beautiful spots on Moose Island. Twice. I felt loved, adored and appreciated by everyone around me. And I loved adored, and appreciated right back at 'em.
But today, my actual birthday, I was hurting.
This symptom was not exactly new to me. It has occurred before when I've been experiencing life changes. It even happened last year on my birthday. So this year it was right on cue. I decided to call my yoga instructor and have a little chat.
During this conversation, I took a deep breath and acknowledged that my body was trying to tell me something was wrong. And that I was so busy focusing on the positive that I was leaving no room to acknowledge the parts of me that were feeling less then positive.
My instructor encouraged me to embrace the duality that is me. To acknowledge that yes, I am blessed to be where I am in my life. But that there is always a flip side. There is sadness, pain, fear, grief and loss. And it's okay. This is me. These things, as well as the abundance of all that is good in my life, is what makes me who I am.
So I decided to spend the day contemplating and acknowledging some of the things that were causing me sadness. And here are some of the things I was thinking about today:
- I am not always liking the changes in my body and my face. It doesn't matter that I am more comfortable in my own skin then I was when I was twenty. I even feel more attractive now than I did when I was twenty. But the fact of the matter is that my skin is losing its elasticity. My jaw line is softening. My hands look different. I have lots of cellulite. This culture is obsessed with youth and beauty. I am scared that looking older will make me invisible to the rest of the world. So no matter how okay I am with the changes, the rest of the world is not. I don't want to be invisible.
- Another year wiser, yes. But let's face it. I'm another year closer to death. And quite honestly, I like living.
- I try to be an authentic person. I want to be an authentic person. When I felt my back yelling at me this morning, I was scared I wasn't really the authentic person I thought I was. I had to entertain the possibility that life isn't about moving forward all the time. It isn't necessarily about overcoming things. It's about being able to move back and forth between the dualities of who we are. To acknowledge the dark and the light. I can feel lucky, blessed, and shitty, too.
And while this may not sound like much of a way to spend a birthday, in all actuality, it was probably one of the greatest gifts I could have given myself.