aging, Body Image, change, self-esteem, self-love

“You Used to Be A Heartbreaker”: Reflections on Aging & Self-Love

10153082_10152140087913473_2833283768099282817_nI’ve been 42 for almost a year now, and I’ll tell you, it’s been an interesting ride.

As I inch toward my forty-third birthday, coming in about two months, I notice my contradictions are alive and well. Anyone who says they live in perfect harmony all the time, without any inner turmoil, contradictions or conflicts is either dead inside, in denial or lying.

Here’s a big one this year: I love and adore myself. I love and appreciate my body and its beauty and miracles and abilities. I feel alive and sexy and appealing. That’s one side. Then there’s the other side…

I am old. Look at those new lines. This extra 20 pounds will never go away. I’m gross. I’m old. I’m unattractive. I’m over the hill. I’m washed up. I’m fat. I’m gross. I’m old. Did I say that already?

Thanks to a lot and I mean a LOT of inner work, I have gotten so much kinder to myself. Trust me, it’s a way kinder place inside my head than it used to be. And I’m proud of that.

But I’m noticing it sometimes feels more difficult to be kinder to myself when I am also trying to reconcile the normal changes that aging brings with it.

I am not the thirty-year old sexpot I used to be.

And that’s a good thing, really it is.

But…

I’m not gonna lie. I sometimes miss her.

I love the way I’m growing. I love the way I’ve changed. I do love myself, I really do.

Yet sometimes I struggle.

I was in Austin last week, out at a local dive bar with my best friend, who has been galavanting at such establishments with me for oh, about 20 years… and some jerk of a guy, blasted out of his mind, gooped up on gop, wanted to tell us some things. He knew everything about everything, of course. And at one point he pointed at me and said “And you… you used to be a heartbreaker.”

I can’t tell you what that one statement has meant because I’m still processing it, a week later.

It struck me mostly because he’s exactly right. I used to be a heartbreaker. I used to get some sort of twisted pleasure from using the attentions of men as food, gobbling them up, and stringing them along so that I could have fun, feel good about myself, with no regard for them as people, as souls with feelings and hearts and whatnot. Then as I continued to grow, and do my work, that shifted. I no longer needed their attentions or validation. I did not need anyone’s help to like or love myself. I learned how to do it for myself.

So thankfully, my femme fatale days are over. But then why did his comment hit me like a punch in the gut?

I look in the mirror and there is a new reflection, one I’m not that crazy about sometimes, because I am comparing her to an old, outdated reflection. A younger me. I am evolving, changing, and yes, I am also getting older.

When we are moving into new phases, new chapters of our lives, it is only human nature to longingly cling to the old phases, missing who we used to be. Recreating ourselves is a fierce act of courage. It means leaving parts of us behind.

And at times, I struggle. I struggle when I hold on to what I used to be.

I struggle when I compare myself to a younger me, with disdain and frustration for who I now am.

I struggle when I forget that I am a queen. That this age, this face, this body, this belly, this me… this me is the now me.

And I could waste my time wallowing in what used to be… or what I wish I was… or I could use that energy to love the now me. I could love me now.

Every time I bring myself back to loving me now, it’s progress.

Every time I change the direction of my thoughts to loving thoughts, even just “a kinder thought than this one”… that’s progress.

Every time I choose to focus on what’s right and beautiful, every time I choose to love myself for the woman I am, right now, I become more beautiful.

Whoa… did you get that?

Every time you choose to love yourself for the woman you are right now, YOU become more beautiful.

Did we just crack the code to eternal beauty? Is MORE LOVE the answer?

Well I’ll be damned, I bet it is. Let’s try it.

 

 

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photo by Dee Hill

5 Comments

  1. I loved this. I think it probably speaks to all women (and even some men) on a very real level. It’s what’s inside our minds. It’s real, it’s inspiring, it’s….so true. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you, Sheri! I’m glad it resonated and thank you for taking the time to comment.

  2. I am living in the same reality. I am 11 years older than you so I cant wait to see what you write in a decade.

  3. Thank you Gail! Evolving is good, even with the extra lines, I suppose! 😉 Glad this piece resonated.

  4. I need to share this with a very dear friend who is having such difficulty with aging. She breaks my heart. She cries because she is not thin anymore and feels she is spending a life competing with 30 plus year old women due to an EX-boyfriend. Yes, I said EX- boyfriend of like 5 years ago.
    Youth doesn’t last forever – thank goodness.

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