Yesterday I celebrated my 65th birthday. Normally birthdays don’t bother me, but for some reason, turning 65 did. I woke up in the morning dreading the day. It started when I looked in the bathroom mirror. There was an old woman looking back at me. My laugh lines are so deep my cheeks roll over them, my eyelids are so wrinkly I can barely get any eyeliner on that still comes out looking like a straight line, and the crevices around my mouth have multiplied. My once-toned skin, is now hanging all around me.
The realization that my days are numbered hit me hard. I feel worse with every birthday wish as my family and friends acknowledged my birthday via phone calls, flowers, Facebook, emails. My husband, daughters and grandkids decorated the house, and I woke up to brewing coffee, pancakes and shouts of “Happy Birthday.”
I did my best to crack a smile, but it was obvious to all that I was sad. Just before bed last night, my husband Jeff told me he loved me and that I was as beautiful as the day he married me. It’s what every woman dreams of hearing, but I took it as a patronizing remark. I know he didn’t mean it that way, but my head was not in the right place. What’s wrong with me?
Can’t Stop Time
Dear Can’t Stop Time,
The simple fact that you are here to celebrate your 65th birthday is the best gift you’ll ever get. There is no better accomplishment. Year after year, we are obsessed with the way we look, with new aches and pains, with how much harder it is to lose weight and – let’s not forget – how many new wrinkles came out. There’s a reason that plastic surgeons have waiting lists and cosmetic counters are overflowing with anti-aging creams. Throughout life, people have always aspired to find a way to stop time. It doesn’t exist.
But what if we put a different spin on how you feel about aging. For example, those laugh lines you hate so much – how much laughter went into making them? Maybe when you and Jeff kissed for the first time. Or what about when your kids said something funny or when one of your daughters brought you that hand-made mother’s day card? And let’s not forget that huge smile when you held your first grandchild.
What about those wrinkly eyelids that protect those eyes that have seen so much in 65 years? People look into your eyes and see your wisdom, your emotion, your soul. As for those lines around your mouth? It’s the same mouth that has lifted spirits, recited pep talks, offered words of wisdom and love for so many years.
You have a very rich life and you need and deserve to celebrate that. Each and every birthday you spend with your health and your family intact is a gift that should make you insanely happy, instead of looking for flaws that are the very proof of the wonderful life you have lived.
Celebrate every one of those wrinkles. They tell the story of who you are. To quote Abe Lincoln, “It’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.”
Readers may submit their questions to Ella at The CJN, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. But Ella is not a professional counsellor. She brings to the questions posed by readers her unique brand of earthy wisdom. Her advice is not a replacement for medical, legal or any other advice. For serious problems, consult a professional.