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Author Topic: grieving getting older  (Read 843 times)

chataround

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grieving getting older
« on: November 20, 2016, 03:09:49 PM »

  I have a good handle on my emotions about this lately (I am 56) but I think it's a rather untalked-about issue that needs to be aired out and inspected. I have already chatted with some of you about this already and it encouraged me. I just thought maybe making it more public could bring out others with feelings of loss and concern.

   I think that what I miss most of all is the feeling of being invisible. I don't "feel my age". I think I am still attractive. But I used to catch men looking at me on a daily basis, and now.... zilch. Or they're old enough to be my grandpa, lol.

    How about you? How are you dealing with the changes that come with aging?
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Styyna

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2016, 04:35:22 PM »
Chataround, yes! I agree that it's good to talk about this aspect of aging. There is no getting around the fact that things change as we age. Being invisible is a great example of that. I've talked with a friend about just this recently. It's just not the same when I walk down the street. People, not just men, often just don't see me and I have to dodge them.

I experienced a lot of unease earlier this year that I attributed to aging. I'm 61 and hitting my 60's kind of shook me up. I don't feel that age but I can't deny that I am and so I was becoming concerned about things like falling and breaking bones or not responding quickly enough when driving. I kept driving through it and feel much of my confidence has returned. As for my fear of falling, starting a fitness routine has gone a long way toward helping me feel more confident in that area.

I'm fortunate to otherwise be in good health. My DH, though, is struggling with a number of age-related health issues and he hates it. He's only 67 but has had to slow down a lot to accommodate lung and arthritis issues. I admire his persistence and tenacity in the face of his issues. While on one hand he regularly tells me he won't live much longer, on the other he refuses to just sit back. He's active on a daily basis, swimming several days a week and volunteering at the food shelf. He does our grocery shopping and most of the cooking. I'm convinced that he would be right, that he wouldn't have long, if he weren't so active in the face of his physical infirmities.

One thing I've gotten better at as I age is living in the moment. Sure, I have to make plans for future events, but most of the time I am grateful to be where I am and who I am. DH doesn't share my outlook, though, and I think that hurts him. He looks forward and sees increasing infirmities and rebels against that time now. I don't know what the future holds so I figure I better appreciate life as it is here and now and let the future come to me.
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To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness. - Mary Stuart

milla

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2016, 12:37:40 PM »
It is important to talk about aging and I am grateful that you have brought up the subject. I am not going to say that I don’t miss being young… sometimes. I have never been a stunner, but I was slim and petite, with olive skin and glossy brown hair…now I am 64 and just trying to keep fit and healthy for as long as I can! In my mid-fifties I experienced a sort of…not sure how to describe it; perhaps a kind of angst,  very akin to what adolescents go through: I missed my youth, going out and partying all night, attracting young men’s glances, being in love. I suspect that it was all hormonal and part of the menopause; apparently lots of women go through this phase. Fortunately in my case it was not too bad, I did not get carried away and I did not disgrace myself. I got over it. I am aware that I am a very lucky woman and I try to enjoy life, one day at a time. I try not to get angry because nothing ages you more than pursed lips, a frown and a cantankerous attitude; but I don’t think that I will allow condescending people to treat me as if I were invisible.
I wonder how other people feel about this?

Styyna

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2017, 04:50:47 PM »
I involuntarily revisited this topic a few mornings ago and want to tell someone about it. I awoke while dreaming that I was about 18 or 19 years old and the sudden realization that I wasn't that age but 61 was an abrupt awakening. I don't have strong memories from younger years but somehow in my dream I was 18 years old again and felt completely different from the way I do each day now.

I tried to figure out what was different and I realized that when I was 18 anything was possible - nearly all of life's avenues were open to me or seemed to be. I didn't have to make an immediate decision about which path(s) to take either - I had time. Now, at 61, I have taken various paths to get to where I am and the possibilities that accompany being 18 have largely collapsed. Don't misunderstand - there are still lots of paths to explore, decisions to make. Each day is filled with opportunities.

I am acutely conscious that I didn't live up to my potential but I can't wish I could go back and do things differently because then I wouldn't have my two sons and my very loving husband. They, along with the rest of my family and friends, bring meaning to my life.

I'm not in a funk over this. It was just so shocking to go from being 18 to 61 in a few moments' time. I'm rather thoughtful about it and wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience or thoughts and feelings.

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To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness. - Mary Stuart

milla

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2017, 05:05:54 AM »
When I think of myself as a 18, 19 years old I could kick myself for all the missed opportunities, the relationships that led nowhere and especially one, that was doomed from the start and in which I invested my time, my energy, my feelings. I sometimes think that ‘if I only knew what I know now’ I could have been a much wealthier, successful woman; but would I necessarily be happier or wiser?

Styyna

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2017, 06:09:57 AM »
...but would I necessarily be happier or wiser?

I think this is an important question to ask when pondering "what if".

About being wiser...when I had my dream experience the other day one thing I didn't feel was wiser now than when I was 18. That has me pondering the nature of wisdom. I have a lot more knowledge but that doesn't necessarily make me wiser. Looking up the definition of wisdom I keep seeing the words "good judgment" (among others like knowledge and experience). I'm not convinced that my judgment is any better now than it was all those years ago. I still find myself in uncomfortable situations that are largely of my own doing. I still find decision-making to be difficult.

I don't know if I could be happier. A lifetime of depression and anxiety is finally well and truly under control and that's such a big factor. The depression started in childhood when it wasn't talked about much less diagnosed in young children. But at least it wasn't the result of my life choices though it played a role in those choices I'm sure. Overall, I am blessed by reasonably good health and the love of my DH, sons, and extended family. I'm sure we could be much more financially secure if I had made other choices in life but would that increase my happiness?

What about regrets? Does anyone have regrets? I have a few. I had one of those relationships that was doomed from the outset but between my depression and my vulnerability I wasted four years of my life on it. I'd have more but, as I said before, I'd be wishing away the very people who bring so much meaning to my life - my sons and DH.
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To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness. - Mary Stuart

milla

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2017, 01:08:54 PM »
I don’t know if I am wiser; I am certainly more assertive and more confident than I was at 19, and not as impulsive, but that does not necessarily make me wiser. I am quite embarrassed to say that I leave a lot of decision making to my husband, as regards our financial affairs, although lately initiated and planned home improving projects. In my interactions with others, I have definitely conquered a certain ‘gauche-ness’ and I give the impression of being very much in control but there are still traces of the passive-aggressive individual I once was.
I have joined a group of people who gets together every Monday evening to discuss religion and philosophy over supper (it sounds very pompous but it is very informal) and yesterday we were talking about searching for a meaning in life (this sounds even worse!). My contribution was that, in developed countries, people tend to be unsatisfied with life, because of the pressures we are under: it seems that nothing is good enough; the goal posts are constantly being moved. The search goes on forever. Maybe there comes a time when we have to say: ‘enough. What is gone is gone. I did not marry that man, I did not get that job, I did not pursue that career…I have made choices that led me where I am now. This is where I am and this is my life; I will make the best of it.’
There was a man in my table who talked about ‘the sacrament of the present moment’, something that I had never heard of. It is based on the writings of Jean Pierre de Caussade, a French Jesuit who lived in the 18th century. He wrote: "The present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams but you will only enjoy them to the extent of your faith and love. The more a soul loves, the more it longs, the more it hopes, the more it finds. The will of God is manifest in each moment, an immense ocean which the heart only fathoms in so far as it overflows with faith, trust, and love.’
Well, religion is something that has not been part of my daily life for quite a few years. I do go to church occasionally, to pray or just to sit quietly and meditate, but I have not attended religious services other than my son’s wedding and my granddaughter’s christening.  The idea of ‘living in the moment’ is not a new one, but Jean Pierre de Caussade puts it in a Christian context, of loving and caring for others and finding fulfilment in that love. I can see a meaning, wisdom and a sense of achievement that surpasses our notion of success and achievement in these words.


chataround

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2017, 07:21:01 PM »

   I am also of the mindset that the meaning of life is to love, and be loved. I am also a firm believer in being a light. What I mean by that is behaving in such a way
that people feel better about themselves, just being around you. I would love to think, for instance, that when patients leave my office, that they feel cared for, cared about,
and important. That I want to be more to them than just someone who takes their money.

   Regarding wisdom, I am wiser than I was as a teenager only because when I make the same decisions and mistakes now that I made then, I do have a consciousness about it. I DO know what I am "getting myself into". As a young girl, I didn't have that sort of foresight. I am still stupid, but I KNOW I'm being stupid, LOL
 
    I have a lot of regrets, I would say, but I think that every single decision I have ever made, or NOT made in my life (because even not making a decision IS making a decision!) has brought me to this very day..... and for better and for worse, I like who I am. Yes I'd like tons more money and a great body, but I love,  and I am deeply loved, and I am supremely grateful for that.   
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"Taking joy in living is a woman's best cosmetic."
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Styyna

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2017, 10:16:15 AM »

..... and for better and for worse, I like who I am. Yes I'd like tons more money and a great body, but I love,  and I am deeply loved, and I am supremely grateful for that.   

This beautifully sums up exactly how I feel most of the time.

Milla, I loved the French Jesuit quote. So utterly calming and hopeful all at once. I was raised in an agnostic home, my father having given up all religious beliefs while he was a prisoner in a German prison camp at the age of 16 and my mother - well, she just never talked about religion one way or the other. I learned about prayer from other kids when I was quite young though and have always engaged in some sort of prayer, even though I don't attend a church. I find myself offering more prayers of gratitude than ever before. And I find that I am comforted by praying for a "best outcome" rather than a specific outcome. I have learned that I certainly don't always know what is best for me, much less others. Such prayers lead me to look for opportunity more often, rather than solutions.

Your group sounds wonderful, by the way. I think you probably have very meaningful discussions, informal though they may be. Perhaps they are even better due to the informality. I am hoping that I find a similar group of people in our new town. There are a lot of retired people in our town, many former professors and staff from the two liberal arts colleges in town. I'd like to meet up with some of those people as I'm sure there is lively discourse going on all around town if I can just find it.
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To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness. - Mary Stuart

milla

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2017, 03:15:31 PM »
I agree that the meaning of life is to love and to be of service to others. The concept of love is something that has evolved in my life, as I got older. As a young woman I was so obsessed with being loved and finding the great love of my life, and now I just want to be at peace with my fellow creatures! I think I have also found the love of my life, and it is not the all-consuming passion in which I invested 5 years of my life,  but something beautiful that took years to build, based on mutual respect, companionship and shared joy and difficult times. Something to share with someone, who always supported me in my endeavours, took pride in my achievements and helped me become the woman I am now.
My only regrets are that I have hurt people in the past and never had the courage to own up. Sadly, I cannot put this right, because these people are no longer here. I have not yet found within me the power to forgive myself (and to forgive those who hurt me), but I am working on it.
I do not wish for money, because I am better off than I was as a young woman; there is nothing that I want, other than health. Sure, I would love to be able to help my children, but I have helped them a great deal more than my parents were able to help me.
Styyna, I grew up in a Catholic country; as a child I went to church and to Sunday school but  I was not even baptised until I was 10, because my parents were not religious. I was only baptised because all the other children were going to have their first communion and I would not have been able to, unless I was baptised first. My godparents were two young Sunday school teachers. I am still in touch with my godfather, who is a wonderful man.
Last Christmas, after a very difficult time, I felt the need to talk to a priest; I contacted the priest in charge of the church where I have prayed many times in the last 10 years. I sent him an e-mail and he invited me to come and meet him. He was very kind and understanding; I felt so moved that he just accepted me and opened the door of his flat to a total stranger. He just listened to me and prayed with me and it was just like coming home.

Styyna

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2017, 09:26:53 AM »
What a wonderful, remarkable experience you had Milla. One hopes that priests everywhere would be as warm and welcoming and accepting but I know that's not always the case. I did once turn to a church when I was floundering badly and had a similar experience with the minister. He was kind and accepting and made some excellent reading suggestions that, at the time, helped as much as I could hope.

I find it interesting that even though your parents weren't religious that they supported your attendance at church and Sunday school and then baptism and communion. My parents never tried to put obstacles in the way of religion but I don't think that at age 10 they would have agreed to the observance of a significant tradition. Perhaps that tradition wasn't as wide-spread in our town at that time, I'm not sure.
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To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness. - Mary Stuart

milla

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2017, 10:59:23 AM »
My mother was a believer, she just did not attend church very regularly. My father was passionate about social justice but he was not religious. However, growing up in catholic country, I just wanted to belong and going to Sunday school with the other children was important to me (so were all the parties and outings!). When I asked my father permission to be christened, he asked me if I had thought about it and if I was sure; I said yes, and he told me: ‘I am not going to stop you; this is your choice.’ He always treated me as an intelligent person, even when I was a child. He was a remarkable man, ahead of his time and his social background.
Chataround, I am sure that you make the people you see on a daily basis feel cared for and important; this is something that I can feel in the way you express yourself.

Styyna

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2017, 06:26:37 AM »
Isn't it interesting that, in talking about getting older, we end up talking about when we were very young? Necessary for comparison I guess.

My father was rather hands-off when I was a child so I didn't always see the great affection and respect he had for me while growing up. Unfortunately my mother suffered from depression (confirmed by her oldest friend after I was an adult) during my formative years and she was the primary parent. It didn't help that I, too, suffered from depression from a very young age (seen only in retrospect as it wasn't discussed much less diagnosed at that time). There were times when the depression built into rage in me and my mother was the witness of that which didn't endear me to her so we were never close. As a result, I felt "unparented" a lot of the time as I was growing up. My siblings all seemed to get in a lot of (minor) trouble so got attention from our parents. I was the "good" girl for the most part, other than my rages as a young child. As a teen, when my mother needed surgery, I was the one who stepped in and cared for the family and for her while she recuperated. In its own way, doing so was empowering - I learned early that I could do adult things well.

But I skipped over a lot of my youth as a result. I don't remember ever feeling like a carefree young adult. I took everything very seriously and didn't dare experiment much. I became a reactor instead of an actor in my own life. And, as Chataround said, not making a decision is the same as making a decision. Too often I didn't make decisions while I waited for life to unfold. When I did make decisions they were often too rash, made out of desperation caused by untreated depression, with undesired results. To this day, I struggle with each decision I make, wondering if I'm acting or reacting and whether I'm giving too much or too little consideration.

When all is said and done, though, I arrived at this place I'm in now and it's good! If I hadn't made rash decisions, if I hadn't waited for life to show me the way, if I hadn't suffered from depression and my mother before me, I wouldn't be where I am today and I'm in a very good place. Could it be better? Only in ways over which I have no control. I wish for my DH to not have chronic pain, first and foremost. (His doctor has encouraged medical cannabis for him since it's legal in our state so perhaps there is hope.) Lately I wish for a world that is less scary, filled with less turmoil and uncertainty. I think the latter is partly a reflection of my age. I'm beginning to think I'm not as resilient to change as I once was.

One thing that I haven't been able to throw off as I age is my tendency to procrastinate but I'm coming to understand the nature of my procrastination. I put off those things which cause anxiety in me because I'm not certain of how to do them. Since generalized anxiety has been a feature of my lifelong depression, anything which causes anxiety sends up red flags in me and avoidance is my natural reaction. Of course, procrastination means that I just have to face my fear another day so I just extend my anxiety. Now, this may all seem very obvious but it's just become crystal clear to me over the past few months! I have procrastinated on something that long and this is the day that I face my fears and anxiety and tackle the job at hand. I do so with trepidation since I don't know what effect my procrastination may have had. Perhaps none. Hopefully I can do the onerous tasks I've put off for so long and that will be the end of that. Wish me luck?
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To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness. - Mary Stuart

chataround

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Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2017, 09:35:46 AM »

  Milla, your Dad sounds like he was such a gem, and how amazingly progressive he was in the way he thought about you, and probably the world.
I was raised Jewish and became a Christian when I was in my thirties. When I told my parents, after many years of withholding it from them because I knew they would
be hurt, what my Dad said was, "we would love you even if you killed someone!". For many, many years I found that offensive. Was he comparing me to a murderer?
But now when I look back I just hear him saying that whatever my choice, I am loved. Wish I had "heard" that years ago.
   Styyna that must have been very hard, being raised by an hands-off Dad and then a depressed mom. I do relate to your feeling of being under- parented.

I am not a huge believer in luck, That sounds so random, you know? But I do totally wish you the very, very best, as you begin to tackle things that your imperfect personality
(and who is perfect? LOL No one) hasn't allowed you to do in the past. I wish you courage. That's what it is. Be strong.     
  • Complexion: very fair, some slight rosacea
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"Taking joy in living is a woman's best cosmetic."
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Styyna

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  • "steena"
Re: grieving getting older
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2017, 11:27:04 AM »
Chataround, I agree that Milla's father was outstanding. I also understand how easy it was to misunderstand your father's loving words. I am so happy that you finally recognized his real message to you - better late than never!

And thanks for the courage and encouragement. I'm trying!
  • Complexion: NW10; slight rosacea; dry
  • Eyes: Blue-gray
  • Hair: Dark blonde with slight gray, thick, wavy, dry
To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness. - Mary Stuart