Would I let me?

March 20, 2021

If I was to put my head down here awhile and cry, would you sit quiet and just let me? If I was to tell you that my back hurts and my elbows are painful – would you just sit quiet and not offer any exercise or supplement advice? If I tell you my stomach hurts, my intestines sting, my bladder is overactive – would you just listen and not lecture me on what I am doing wrong, what I should be doing, what I should be checking? If I tell you I just feel depressed and weighted – would you nod, keep sewing your quilt and just allow me to express it – give no advice, just be? Not tell me to go to the doctor – because you understand that my body has been through some things that has made any doctor’s visit make me feel ill, embarrassed? Would you not ask why again, and just hold that? Would you just say amazing if I were to share that I am letting my body just age as it does, that I accept that it is entering the last third? The last quarter? 

Would you accept that I just feel low sometimes – and that’s OK? Would you let me complain and whine and just pour me another cup and just go back to threading your needle with that new colour? Would you listen in silence as I rant about being battered down by work, not because it is over-busy but because I feel uninspired and can’t focus? Would you allow me to mix my metaphors? Listen as I whine about feeling like my optic nerves have clamps on them when I stare at the work laptop and that I feel like I need to put a lid on the myself constantly? Like I am not fully me? But that there are tiny glimpses of radiant light that keep me going? Would you allow me to complain without reminding me to be grateful? Would you allow me to pout?

To despair that my energy for my project is low? That I fear I can’t write, I can’t draw and that I am irrelevant?

Would you put your sewing down for a second and reach out and pat my hand, and smile with silent acceptance? Bring me shortbread and check that my coffee is hot? Look around the apartment and smile – knowing all is well. You don’t need to remind me of that because you know I already know this and that ranting is OK. That I just need to without judgment, without advice, without making me feel like me aging, me aching, that if I got sick would be all my fault – that I would make everyone else feel bad as a result? 

You would just let me rant until I lay my head down again and cried – and you wouldn’t try to fix – just let me cry. Knowing I don’t owe you, or you, or you, or you, or you, or you, or even me, anything. Nothing. I can be expanding, decaying, aching, despairing as much as I need to. It doesn’t matter. None of it does. You would just keep sewing. A gentle smile on your face. Look out and smile at the cairn terrier walking in the lane. At the geese honking on the roof top. At the cat walking across the road, at the raccoon scuttling, avoiding the crows. At the blossoms. The wind. And I would just blubber till I’m done. Done. And we’d both quietly sew, with achy fingers. In gratitude.

 

I am obsessed with a photo of Lucy Knisley. So I had to sketch it.

I am obsessed with a photo of artist Lucy Knisley.

So I had to sketch it in my journal.

Those eyes. That spirit. That talent.

I am, by my superficial definition, an ugly person.

“I often stood in front of the mirror alone, wondering how ugly a person could get.”
Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye 

I embrace my aging and postmenopausal expansion of body.

More accurately- I am trying to embrace my aging, ugliness, and expanding irrelevant body but…

INSIDE I feel like Lucy in that photo.

OUTSIDE- old, grateful, done. An old comfortable, crumpled, filled with aches and pains, flesh envelope.

INSIDE- I am young. And beautiful. Like Lucy.

And free.

My mind dances. A happy sponge.

I’ll take it.

The body.

My body.

It ages.

And I thank it.

One day it will be done.

Until then, I am grateful for it carrying me through this strange and exquisite life.

Of being age 21 at age 54. Being a menopausal millennial. Journal musings.

Have you ever sat so fully in the moment, teetering on a sharp blade, fully aware of being so profoundly present- wondering if you are living a parallel storyline or path not predicted, not destined, but accidentally claimed?

The world is chaotic and painful, glorious and terrifying, and large- yet each of us spin around our own heart centres- trying to figure ourselves out and how we fit into this play.  I find myself, sitting here, wondering, feeling, not fitting in, not identifying with my age group.  I chew on and ponder aging, imagination, freedom- on being age 21 at age 54.  Being a menopausal millennial.  

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Serendipitously, my daughter recommended the following podcast as she exclaimed, “Mom- this is so YOU!”

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And it is weird.  Now that my kids are grown and parents have passed, I find that I am back to age 21, starting fresh.  21 was the fork in the road and I made a decision, took a direction that was terrifying and glorious and took me through the blood and guts of life with intense responsibilities that didn’t allow me to experience the twenties years of exploring and trying independence.

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Being 21 at 54.

This is not about anti-aging or mourning the young body- oh god know- no, no, not these achy bones and sagging skin that I love- haha… I am definitely physically middle-aged!  Menopause demands humor.  And creates a character in the mirror that you recognize- not as yourself but as your parents.

No, this is about emotionally, lifestyle-y, identifying more as a millenial than as an Oprah-loving woman in her mid 50’s.  I am a menopausal millennial.  

Living as a creative as if there is no other choice… Shedding self-imposed guilt.  I am new- new to this independence, new to choice.  No longer the rock and the glue trying to hold it together.  My metaphoric skin is shed and I am feeling anew.  Drinking out of vintage cups.  Intertwined in the past, present and future.

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So yes, I feel as if I am a twenty something.  With a science degree and post secondary up the yin yang.  No benefits.  No dental.  No car.  Not owning.  Living day to day.  Hand to mouth.  Nose in book.  Always online.  Collecting.  Inspecting.  Investigating.  Inquiring.  Demanding to live creatively.  Exploring new possibilities.  Laughing too loudly.  Moving too fast.  Thinking outside the box.  Living DIY.   Sharing process.  Living with hope, with anxiety, with the UP, the DOWN, the sideways, the prickling joy of why not, invisibly oriented, demanding freedom, demanding identity, a survivor, scarred, alive with possibilities and choice.  DARING.  And now very very hopeful.

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I’ve lived out my melancholy youth.  I don’t give a fuck anymore what’s behind me, or what’s ahead of me.  I’m healthy.  Incurably healthy.  No sorrows, no regrets.  No past, no future.  The present is enough for me.  Day by day.  Today! ― Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Related:

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Dear my body… a love letter.

 

Dear my body,
We shy away from the camera; we always have.
We are like the Sasquatch– rare sightings on FB.
I am not interested in what you look like.  I don’t want to see.  I don’t need to see.

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RARE sighting.  You, my flesh bag, as captured by Merv Glip, May 13, 2016.

I prefer the role of the observer, not the observed.
I love REALITY and being in the world,
SEEING the world,
and being myself, totally, completely,
not pretending,
not wearing a mask- yet,
I don’t want to capture you in photographs.

Humans come in categories.  And you know, my dear body, I define us as ugly.  That is MY TRUTH- maybe not yours, and I don’t mind that.   I have always identified you as such.  That is my category for us.  I embrace it.  It is not about self-deprecation.  It just is.  I know you get it.  I can hear you giggle.  And that is where our beauty lies.  Aging.  Ugly.  Funny.  We are who we are.  We are unfashionable.

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Dear child, I only did to you what the sparrow
did to you;

I am old when it is fashionable to be
young;

I cry when it is fashionable to laugh.
I hated you when it would have taken less courage
to love.

– Charles Bukowski

And here we are, at age 54, reaching the end stage of menopause- without doctors, without hormone replacements, without tranquilizers, without raging against the dying of the light.  I am blessed to have you carry me around.  I love that I am aging you naturally.  We watched our mother struggle and medicate and we chose another route.  A quieter, simpler one.   She wore an elegant mask.  And I loved her.  I hurt for her.  I learned from her.  I chose not to put one on you.
Oh, my body- I will not fret about your sags, and swells and the wrinkles.  All your scars and moles.  Your ugly face and thin hair.  I look at you in the mirror and I shrug.
You are my best friend and I let you be who you are.  And you are MINE.  And we continue to create and explore and LAUGH together.  I am blessed to still be here to experience your changes.  To see mom and dad in your features.  Our aging is simply— beautiful.  And simple.  In this flesh bag.  Come what may!
I know you’re not comfortable in certain clothing and that you really don’t give a shit. You are going to do what you need to do and I will just have to go along!
You have danced and loved and gestated and birthed and nursed and nurtured and grieved.  You have been muscular, at the top of your form, and you have been ravaged by radiation.  You have been cared for and bathed.  You have been violated and criticized.  You have been told by a lover that you looked good- you should get sick more often- when inside we felt sick, shaky and emaciated.  You have been celebrated and you have strutted.  You shrank when our heart was broken.  Together we have contemplated the end; yet simultaneously, we have felt the delirium of being truly alive.
You, my dear sweet body, have kept on going.
You eat, shit, piss, sleep, laugh, cry, sigh, hold, hug, care and continue to walk me through the world with innocence and overriding joy.  I sometimes, often, want to hide, but you continue to lead me forward.  And one day you will need to stop, and I accept that.
Until then, my fading eyes look out through your sagging, expanding, aged, wise flesh and take in the world.  Your muscles move your hands that create as my mind interprets.  My mind is carried on your strong legs and spreading ass.
Biology leads.
 WE, you and I, are free and single and our own and no one can criticize us anymore (not even I can).  WE ARE FREE.
As mentioned, I don’t want to capture you in photographs because I don’t want to be captured.
You are MY BODY.  I, personally, in this moment, feel lucky.  Oh, so lucky!  I hope you do too.
I love you.  <3
– Katarina