After I had my 2nd son, a rather chunky baby, my wrist said “That’s enough!” It was barely hanging on from the years of being a secretary, with those new-fangled word processors. The first step in helping my carpal tunnel was to wear a brace. While this helped me, it sent my older son, then 3 years-old, into pure panic. He would say “No, no, no!” and try to tear it off of me. It wasn’t that I was injured that bothered him so much, as that I wasn’t the way his mom should look.
The other day I looked in the mirror and (again) had a similar reaction. “No, no, no!” is what I thought. This “person” looking back at me was NOT me! I remembered the exercise I’d recently done, involving looking into your eyes for your inner child. I took a moment to breathe and focus. Ah, there was she was! A part of me relaxed…until I looked again and realized she was trapped in the body of this old lady! So, I did what a good, enlightened person would do: Panicked and went into full-on self-judgment. When I realized that wasn’t working, I went instead inward – to my inner child for the answer. The dialogue I had with her went something like this:
ME: “Why are you so angry?”
Little ME: “You’re not my Grammie!”
ME: “No, I’m YOU. You and I are the same person!”
Little ME: (shocked at that reminder) “Grammie’s gone. I don’t want you to be gone too.”
Cue the tears.
What I realized then was that I had no problem loving my inner child – it was my current version that needed the love. I needed to own who I was today, and to also face and come to peace with my mortality. And, I understood that I owed it to that little one inside to keep myself in the best shape I can, on all levels.
The challenge I gave myself was not to avoid the mirror, but to consciously spend 5 minutes a day looking at myself. REALLY looking. See what is there. Remember what created all those laugh lines around my eyes. Look at my full-toothed smile and see my Father’s full-toothed smile. Look at the twinkle in my eyes and see my Grammie’s twinkle in her eyes. Look at my sagging breasts and remember the wonder of feeding my chubby babies. Look at my sturdy legs and think of the thousands of miles they have walked, the hours they held me up when I being a waitress or a teacher or a trainer. Or walking endlessly to comfort a crying child. Look at the scar on my knees to remember my sandbox- and jumping into it a little too close the edge. Or the one on my chin and remember ice skating at a birthday party – and being able to show off my stitches after a blade caught in a hole. Or look at my long 2nd toe, or “feeler toe” as my ex-husband use to call it, or my nearly missing little toenail, just like my dad.
I am a collection of people and experiences, gifted with this unique body to see me through them all. I may be aging…but I am far from old. And ALL of me is grateful for that realization!