I’m 45 now.
I know, right? I can hardly believe it either. Where does the time go? I know most women don’t like to admit to their age, especially once they cross the four-oh mark, but I’m practicing acceptance and embracing. So. I’m 45 now. And I have some things to say about that. Brace yourselves…
I am not growing old gracefully. I wish I were. No, I am bitching and moaning and whining and complaining every step of the way. Believe me, I know that life is precious and, as Bonnie is always telling me, being old is better than the alternative. And before you start sending me emails reminding me that 45 is not old, I know that too. Also, don’t send me emails telling me that I need some perspective, that I am not old, not overweight, that I am healthy and there are many women who would give anything for those things. I know that, too. I promise (I’ll touch on that later). But I can’t help the ridiculous thoughts and opinions and feelings that have lodged inside my brain and made a home there. Sometimes, a girl’s got to vent. So, I’m venting. I’m 45 now. I can do that.
I have never been a small girl. By the time I turned 30, I realized and understood that I would never weigh 130 pounds. I’m 5’9”. That’s pretty tall, and I have quite a solid build. It’s always been more muscle than fat, but 130 pounds has never been a possibility for me. (I did drop down to 125 once. I was 21 and my very first girlfriend had just left me for somebody else. I completely stopped eating and at 125 pounds, I looked like an emaciated refugee, and my mother told me so. No, 130 will never happen for me.) I’m okay with that, as long as I feel like I look okay. I don’t expect to look in the mirror and think, “Hubba, hubba, you are hot!” I want to look in the mirror, shrug, and say, “Okay. That’ll work.”
But passing 40 has been hard on me. And on my body.
I’ve gained a good 10-12 pounds over the past year or so. It’s all in my belly and my hips. What the hell? I put on a shirt and all I see is this belly pooch, like I’m five months along, like I should be walking bent back a bit with my hand on my belly. I have done nothing any differently. Nothing! Bonnie and I are rather healthy eaters. Yes, I like my dairy group and sweets on occasion (I single-handedly keep Cadbury in business during Easter by hoarding bags of their mini-eggs…it’s the middle of May and I still have half a bag left), but for the most part, we are fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats girls. This winter was incredibly cold, so we were not nearly as active as we would have liked, but we’re not slugs. We have two dogs that get walked every day. We do yard work. I have a bike (that I should ride more than I do, frankly), and we have a bedroom full of exercise equipment. We’re not lazy. But suddenly one morning, boom! Belly and extra hips.
I cannot seem to lose those 10 pounds no matter what I do.
That makes me angry. I exercise and I count calories and I forego many of the foods I really enjoy because I’d like to slim down a little, and nothing happens. Nothing. Happens. That pisses me off.
Let’s talk about my moods. Girls, those of you over 40 probably know what I’m talking about, yes? (Please say yes.) I’m mostly fine. But every so often, I have one of those days. It’s a day where I know as soon as I wake up that I’m going to burst into tears for no apparent reason at some point during the day. I can feel it building from the moment I open my eyes. I want to lock myself in my room with a movie and have everybody just leave me alone. All day. Everything irritates me. Everybody gets on my nerves. (Except Bonnie. That’s the honest truth. She never bugs me, but everybody else in the world does.)
Sleeping has been fun. And that was sarcasm, because I can’t sleep. I fall asleep just fine. I can’t stay asleep. I’ve given up any cocktailing during the week in an attempt to help (See? Yet another sacrifice.), but I’m not sure if it does. And how about those temperature changes? Yikes! Turtlenecks have always been a favorite style of mine. I used to live in them all winter. I have probably eight or ten of them. This year? I wore one exactly twice, and both times, I thought I might spontaneously combust. I’ve taken to layering because I have to be able to take something off or I freak out. One minute, I’m just fine. The next, I’m roasting like a red pepper. Last night, Bonnie cuddled up behind me (her preferred fall-asleep position for the past umpteen years). I didn’t say, “I love you, honey.” I didn’t say, “Yay, cuddle closer!” I said, “Yeah, that’s not going to last long. I am overheating already.” She rolled away quietly. In the wee hours of my 45th birthday (3:30am to be exact), I was woken out of a dead sleep by a night sweat that I thought might drown me. Happy birthday!
Why don’t men have to deal with any of this shit?
I really think the only thing that will help here is perspective. I know that. After all the venting (and all the crying), after throwing things (it happens) or screaming into a pillow or wondering if I need to go see my doctor, I take a deep breath and try to relax. This is life, and life is good. I am lucky. I keep telling myself that. I am lucky. I have somebody who loves me forever and thinks I’m beautiful, even if there is more of me than I’d like. I am healthy. That’s the key thing. A little irritable. A little chubby. But healthy. I’ve seen a lot of sickness and a lot of death. Young sickness. Young death. Bonnie’s brother and sister-in-law were both under 50 when they died. I have a friend suffering from ALS who’s younger than I am. I’m sure any of the three of them would prefer to be sitting in front of my computer, bitching about their extra belly weight. I know this. I just need to remind myself every so often, to focus on what I have, how lucky I am, and to embrace life.
Embrace life. Life is good.
Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t think the same thing if I were 10 pounds lighter, though…