getting harder

Two and a half weeks ago I turned 43, and it was both wonderful and difficult. Wonderful because I was in the company of my (self-acronymmed) GBF, on a beach in Mexico. Difficult because getting older is, well, getting harder.

I don't even really like to talk about it. Acknowledging it feels like manifesting it. Making it real. Talking to others about how much I hate aging feels like I'm inviting them to see me that way.

"Ugh, I'm old."

"Oh wow, I never noticed, but yeah you really are."

Of course this is incredibly stupid, superficial, short-sighted, and sad. I know that. I know that the programming I received as a little girl, from my sexist and overly sexed father, set me up for a lifetime of wrong-headed ideas about women and beauty. I know that I made things worse by working for years in a job the success of which is predicated on looks.

And I know that at some point I should have taken control and redirected this narrative. I should have learned to anchor my self-worth in other, more permanent places. Oops.

For a very long time I enjoyed the immense pleasure of shocking people with my age. "No way are you 35." "The fuck you are 38, let me see your driver's license." Three years ago at an EDM festival I made a group of kids I was dancing with lose their shit by holding up four fingers of one hand and making a zero with the other.

That doesn't happen anymore. The years have caught up with me, there's no denying it. I'm fit. I'm proud of the shape I'm in. But my age shows in my skin, my hair, my face. I can't wear the things I used to - not for fear of looking age inappropriate, because that's never really bothered me - but because they're just not attractive on me anymore.

And holy fuck, has it been hard to accept.

Cameron and I had a heart-to-heart about it when I was in Mexico. I laid it all out, all my fears and insecurities - many of which come down to my relationship Timo, despite that fact that he has never made me feel anything but desired and desirable.

"I hate it," I told him. "It feels like I'm sliding into invisibility. I think about how young all of Timo's coworkers all, I have these horrible thoughts that maybe he's embarrassed of my age..."

(I should interject here that Timo regularly invites me to social events with his coworkers and his roommates. )

Cameron's advice was not to let go of this self-abusing, pointless bullshit. "Letting go doesn't really work," he said, "because things come back. Then you feel even worse because you feel like you've failed for not being able to let go."

"Just accept that part of yourself, that hates aging," he said. "Just love that part of you anyway."

I'm not really sure how to do that, or if I can. I'd rather just find a way to accept aging itself. Humor seems like a useful tool. And cultivating contentment. Perspective would be useful, too, except that I don't get an awful lot of regular interaction with women my age. Everyone I work with is younger. I don't get too many reminders of what the average 43-year old woman looks like. And I don't have family around to grow old with, as a sort of reality touchstone.

My friend Kerry (who lives in SF, and who I haven't seen since she moved) has a few years on me. She used to marvel, with a mixture of amusement and true amazement, at her own age. "Ellie. I'm going to be 45. What the fuuuuck." I get it now. It's stunning to stop and think how quickly it happens. I don't know what forty-three is "supposed" to feel like, but mentally I don't feel much different than 33, other than I've lost much (but not all) of my need to prove something to the world. (I'm happy! I'm smart! I'm loved! I'm beautiful!)

So anyway, I turned 43. What the fuuuuck.