It's not my birthday.
At first, when you begin to age, things are pretty superficial. My hair is mighty gray. I dye it. I have crow's feet and shadows under my eyes. I have permanent laugh lines around my mouth. Well, at least I've been a happy person.
And then, the muscle aches begin. Plantar fasciitis. That bad knee you shot in college running. Lower back pain. At first you visit the doctor and try to see about it, but as you hit your late 30s, the doctor begins to tell you sage things like, "live with it" and "here are some stretches".
My acid reflux disease was NOT a normal part of my aging process. I had a medical side effect. It could be said that the allergic reaction I was countermanding was due to aging. As I have become older, I have become allergic to penicillin, probably due to overuse, and dust mites.
You might remember last year when I undertook with Bryon an attempt to reform my health. Our plan was to eat right and work out on the Wii. As of today, Bryon has lost some 30 pounds. He looks great. He has some aches and pains, but overall, his health has markedly improved. A few months ago I talked to my doctor about how I wasn't losing weight in spite of my changed eating habits and increased working out. She said as long as you're doing the healthy things, well, that's the best you can hope for.
And I was okay with that for a while. But I've always thought that if I dug a little deeper, I could do better. So, I did. And I didn't. I actually gained weight steadily over the weekend, after 4 days of little food, healthy eating, and an attempt that was worthy of my Weight Watchers times.
I...am going to be fat in my old age. Unless I want to kick my food down to control freak levels, I am going to be overweight. Obese, actually. This year (my Wii-aversary is in 5 days) I gained six pounds. I shudder to think what I would have gained if I hadn't been working out.
Of course I have trouble with that.
I want to take care of my health. Starving myself isn't taking care of my health. But I know that carrying around 65 extra pounds isn't good for me in all sorts of ways. Well, guess what? I guess we all have some trouble in the end, and this is mine. I guess that this will probably take some years off my life, in spite of my efforts. I can't do much more about it than I've been doing. As the Asgardians say, the day and the time have already been determined. It may not affect me at all. I am so aggravated, though, that nothing I do seems to make a dent or a difference.
And then there's the vanity angle. I joke about how vain I am, but I am semi-serious. I love dressing up and looking good. My face is a pretty good face. I have charisma. I am not ugly just because I am fat. But there is a whole culture out there trying to tell me differently. They are designing Barnum and Bailey canvases for me to wear, and trying to tell me that if I try a little harder, I can wear prettier clothes. They are trying to get me to think of myself as lazy, slovenly and stupid.
I'm not playing the self worth game. I am a frickin' PhD! I have done a huge amount in my life, more than loads of people. I have talent in lots of areas. Even so, this isn't a contest of shape or achievement. But today, they got to me, just for one moment of weakness. I even believe that I'm not working hard enough.
So, what do I want? I don't want anyone to pat me on the head. I don't want anyone to try Bryon's strategy of "we'll see." We have damned well seen. I exercise and eat right, and zip. And no, I'm not going to go on a sweet food bender. That's no way to feel good, and only a way to further complicate the problem. It is, what it is.
I would like a moment to mourn my youth. I've only been periodically thin, but always less heavy than this. I miss being in shape and being healthy, and seeing all of my body as uncontestedly beautiful. And tomorrow, I will pick myself back up, and look in the mirror, and be okay with what I see. I will dress the body I have as well as I can. Queen Latifah will become my role model. I will see all the rest of that inner virtue that is supposed to sustain me throughout the aging process, and I will realize I have always valued intellectual capacity and personality over outward appearance in everyone, including myself.
But today, I mourn as I realize that I've lost another thing to age. I'll lose more. Age will eventually strip away my dignity, my independence, and my life. These are the sign posts on the way. I didn't expect this one to hurt quite so much. While I am only semi-joking about being vain, there's fifty percent of me that's supposed to take this in stride. Phooey.
Just gotta learn a new way to live. And gotta learn to accept a new me.