(Today’s blog post is part of the Blogging From A to Z Challenge during which writers all over the world blog each day in April based on a corresponding letter of the alphabet. These are my personal stories about living with Trigeminal Neuralgia, the most painful diagnosis known to man.)
Today’s post isn’t quite about TN, but more my experience with aging.
I don’t think about my age often. I don’t imagine many people do. It’s not like we walk around with a track playing in our heads that says, “I’m forty, I’m forty, I’m forty, I’m forty…” Sometimes I’ll see a news report pertaining to health, “Women over forty, blah blah blah…” and I think, Man, those poor women over forty. Then a second later it hits me. I AM a woman over forty. And actually, forty is pretty far back in my rear view mirror. Well, Fuckin’ A.
But in reality, the older I get, the more I realize that I don’t really feel different from a mental standpoint. I still like my music loud and my car fast. My personal style hasn’t really changed. With the exception of ditching the mini skirts, I have no qualms about wearing my black leather jacket, skinny jeans and skull t-shirts. It’s me. It’s who I am. And I think I’m honest enough with myself to notice that I look like a complete idiot.
But a strange thing did happen after I turned forty – literally the next day after I turned forty. I was getting ready for work, and stood at my bathroom mirror. I swear there was something – I don’t remember what – maybe a dark spot or a grey hair or a wrinkle, that wasn’t there the day before. What the fuck is that? and where the heck did it come from? I thought. And for the next year or so, things like that just started popping up. A freckle here, a new wrinkle, even the slightest beginning of a turkey neck. There was a lot of swearing at the mirror in those days.
Then I entered what I refer to as my renaissance period. I’m gonna say it hit when I was about forty-three. I grew more confident and more comfortable in my own skin. I know I’m not a “10”. I’d say I’m a solid “6” or maybe a “7” on a really good day, and that’s okay. I no longer obsessed about what people thought of me and focused more on what I thought of me. I’ve always been kind of a fixer. I tried to make the people around me happy which is an impossible task, unless they are just as invested in their own happiness. I realized that I couldn’t fix everyone. That’s not to say that I became selfish, I just stopped being so selfless.
It was around this time that my TN emerged for the first time. It would come and go so and didn’t became a major issue until a few years later. In the meantime, when I was maybe forty-six, I started going through “the change” as my mother would say (usually in hushed tones). I remember as a child when my gram was going through “the change”, the adults in the family spoke of it as if it was like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” where her body stayed the same but her mind was somehow altered. I tried to figure out what Gram had “changed” into, but she seemed pretty much like the same person to me. Yet there was a fear instilled in me from the experience. The knowledge that I, as a female, would somehow “change” too, and when I did it would transform into an entirely different “me”. Or so I thought.
My mom didn’t discuss it when it happened to her, and she passed away when I was forty, so when it came my turn, I just winged it. Actually, I embraced it. What other option is there? Yeah, I got the hot flashes and gained weight, but on the plus side, I don’t need to shave my legs as often and don’t have to deal with PMS. But I never lost my sanity, so overall, it was kind of a benefit and not a burden.
Then, as many of you know, my TN hit with a vengeance, eliciting a whole new round of Where’d that come from? questions that still haven’t been answered to this day.
In June I will turn fifty-one. Do I like the number? Not when I really think about it. So I suppose the best thing to do is not think about it. I’ll leave that up to the poor women over forty to worry about.
I’ve decided I’m going to live my life by the philosophy of my father. “I’m not growing older. I’m just living longer.”