Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday This and That

The person who wants the rose must respect the thorn.

Persian proverb

Greetings on this wonderful, fall-like morning. Lately the air has been cool and crisp with a fantastic breeze that messes your hair and is so invigorating that I find myself moving with a faster step lately. The graduation went so well on Friday. Several clients didn't show up, including two of my people, but that was to be expected. Sometimes the fear of walking up in front of a huge audience and saying a few words triggers their anxiety and sometimes, it signals an end to an area of comfort and support they have become used to.  We tell them they can still attend on an aftercare basis, but for many, it's not the same for they know that soon they will have to move on.

I do have to say one thing, though.  11 hour workdays which includes lots of physical labor such as setting up tables and serving food is not something for a 65 year old, although while I was doing it, I felt fantastic.  It was afterwards I paid the price.  Then, I did the food shopping and cooking on Saturday, and on Sunday 'Fall Fever' hit and I began packing things away and getting long sleeved shirts out.  Not very much rest this weekend, that's for sure. 

Before I begin what seems to be turning into a little rant, I would like to mention that I do accept my cronehood in every way and the following is not meant to denigrate or complain about my age.  It is just that sometimes, hearing it in front of a hundred people still throws me for a loop. Let me explain.

I have a client who didn't think he needed a treatment program and during the first month or so, all he did was complain that he was being forced to attend and wouldn't get anything out of it.  That was over two years ago.  Our program is six months to a year, but he will not move on and here is why.  The following is a part of his speech:

"And I have a special thank for Mary.  When my mom died, she was there for me to help me through those hard times, and she became like my mom.  In my heart, she will always remain my second mom and will always be with me."

A beautiful speech that brought tears to my eyes, so why did it make me uncomfortable about my age? It is hard to explain, but to begin with, this client is in his forties, older than my old two sons. I just don't 'see myself as being at an age to have a son that old, but it is obvious that everyone else does, and the truth is, I am old enough. Perhaps, I am just tired of being pointed out as the oldest person in my work place.  I hear all the time that I am such a 'mama' figure for many of the clients, and that's why I am able to establish a breakthrough with some of the most difficult. My problem is that I don't see a 'mama' figure looking back at me when I look into the mirror. 

True,  I may have all of the aches and pains that come with age, but the inner me is still so full of life. What I see when I when I look into a mirror is a woman several years younger, someone who is not so much out of the age range of her peers, someone who is closer to 50, someone who 'fits' in. Perhaps that is the answer.  My 'inner child' is still struggling to 'fit' in.

They say that each of us is actually three different people. We are the person we see ourselves to be, the person others see, and the person who we really are. The anorexic or bulimic sees themselves as fat; we see them as emaciated. In truth, somewhere hidden beneath the person's layer of self-deception is a beautiful person wanting to come out. I look in the mirror and I see a vibrancy looking back that obviously others don't see. I guess that is why we see some of us oldtimers struggling so hard to look like they are young that they dress in styles that only a young person can carry about.  Perhaps they look in the mirror and don't really see themselves.  They see the person they 'want' to be.  In other words, they haven't accepted the aging process.

These uncomfortable feelings about my age only happen to me when I am around my peers at work. Most of the time I embrace my cronehood, but it is my peers who, though not meaning to, put me in this position. First of all, none of them know of my childhood and being the 'one' who never fit in. And secondly, none of them even realize that they are making me feel this way. They leave me out of things because they respect me. For example, several months ago one of my 30ish co-workers was having a weekend party involving 'sex toys'. It turns out all the ladies were invited...except for me. So when I vented my feelings to the one co-worker I know I can trust, she said, "Evie didn't ask you because she was embarrassed. She respects you to much."

I do appreciate her respect. I really do, but, then, I have to ask.  Whose feelings were 'really' taken into account? Was it really out of respect for me?  Or was it that she felt no one could have a good time with them around, although I don't know where she/they would get that idea.  After all, I am the biggest practical joker at the job.

In this day and age, too many are disrespectful of those of us who are up in years.  Families push their elderly relatives aside and barely have time for them, and youth knocks them aside to gain the only seats on a train. I see elderly losing their homes and living on the streets every day as I make my way through the city.  It breaks my heart.  So, yes, I do feel good about the respect, but can't help feeling that it is being taken too far.

Indeed, I am older than the rest by a minimum of 20 years.  That is an entire generation older when you think of it. But that doesn't mean that I am a prude or I don't like to have fun. I probably wouldn't have gone to that party if asked, but not because it was about sex toys. I wouldn't have gone because it is too far to travel.  But there are other things I could be invited to...such as lunches they sometimes go to.

I guess what I am trying to say in this long, round about way is that sometimes respect can be taken too far and can hurt someone's feelings. We shouldn't just 'assume' that because someone is old they wouldn't be interested or don't want to be a part of.  Just give me the opportunity to make the decision for myself. And I am tired of people being so fixated on my age.  See me for who I am.  Accept me as I am. And please, just let me be who I am.


  1. Great post. I am just starting to notice the different way others treat me now that I am getting up there in age. I think the first thing that happens for a woman is that men no longer consider you sexually attractive - as in, no looks when you walk by, etc.

    I think as people age, others treat them differently but DO see it as respect - that it wouldn't be proper to ask an older lady to go to a sex toy party. But then, maybe the modern older lady isn't the same as those from other times? After all, we were raised in a time of great changes for women, and so as older women, we are not confined to the "rules" that used to apply.

    Still, it is hard to accept the new roles we are put in, especially if we do not see that older woman in the mirror or do not feel her in our bones.

    I used to think it would be wonderful to be the crone, but lately I'm not "feelin' it," as menopause and age happen at the same time and lack of sleep, weight gain, aches and pains do not make one feel young and chipper.

    But on the upside you do have a profession that is valuable and you help many people at times when others have abandoned them. That's something to be proud of - no matter what your age!!

  2. I hear ya, although i'm struggling with some of it myself when i was working i got along the best with a few women that where at least 15 years older than me. They where so much fun and i never seen the age difference.

  3. Quickly Mary, quickly. Please come to terms with this issue. For yourself. The quicker the better. I am 75 and I know... From this distance, that the quicker the better does this, the easier it is, for women to become "their own person."

    And that's what it is. Becoming one's own person. Deciding how one carries one's self image, with them, through life. US, DECIDING.

    To do this, we must rid ourselves of any former 'needs'. Like the need-to-fit-in. The need-to-look-cute. The need-to-turn-men's-heads. The need-to-CARE, about what other's THINK.

    Oh sure, at 75, I MUST have done all this above mentioned 'work.' I must have. But I did not start, at 75. I started, much younger.

    Am I perfect at it? Hahhhhhhh! Of course not! Of course I can still be "pissed off" or "hurt" by this or by that. I am human. But the more we form our own self-views... And the sooner we do so... The easier it makes life.

    And the quicker we can bounce-back, when something does "get-to-us" and make us sad or etc.

    Just my 75 year old chatter.... But given with love....


    1. Auntie, I appreciate your comments, but I think you missed my point. What I was saying was that it is not easy working in a place where you are an entire generation older than all the others and hence are not treated as a part of. It does hurt to sit at your desk and hear your co-workers laughing and giggling over lunch when you have been left out because they are talking about things they feel that you cannot identify with.

      And although I have come to terms with my age, it does become annoying when others become fixated on it...You're such a mother figure. When are you going to retire? Oh, when I get as old as you I...and so on and so forth. As I said, it is a workplace issue, not one of my self-concept.

  4. I think you should go right up to Evie and tell her that the next time she has a Fuckerware Party, she should invite you because you need a new vibrator in the worst way!

  5. LOL'ing at Debra She Who Seeks....awesome!!!!

  6. I've been termed "motherly" at the age I am of 48 and sometimes this bothers me and other times it doesn't. I always used to associate with motherly being frumpy and old instead of being like a mother. I understand the hurt you feel when your coworkers assume you won't enjoy what they do. And I also think it's a shame in our culture that we don't honor our mothers and crones. If you look at it spiritually, they don't really see you as a crone they still see you in motherhood which has it's pros and cons. You know you're young at heart and no one needs to point out age to you. Perhaps you can redefine for all of them what it is to be a "second mother" and surprise them like what Debra said!

  7. Boy, I can relate. Well said, Mary, and I do know what you mean. It still shocks me when I catch a glimpse of myself in a store mirror, or when I see a videotape of myself walking. Or when my mother's hand comes out of the sleeve I'm putting on.

    I too usually have a vibrancy inside, but I also know that it radiates outwardly, from what my friends tell me about how they see me. I think co-workers are a different species in assessing age, though, and we also must remember how tremendously self-absorbed younger people are -- busy with their families, their parties, their lives outside of work, and never really thinking that they too are going to age -- much as we did at their age!

    I am blessed with girlfriends both my age and two decades+ younger who see me not as a mother, but as a friend and mentor. You may be more that for your co-workers than you realize.

    Let who you are shine outwardly, even at the risk of shocking the co-workers who think they know who you are. Be who you are, not who they think you are. It's time to do that now and love it.

  8. Hi from Istanbul:)

    I am almost 40 years old and understand you as I'm in a similar phase. I have so many people around me in their 20s, though their conversations are not that much grown-up mostly, I can relate to them. On the other hand I feel their somehow respectful distance, as according to them I am quite older. Well what I feel about this is; "I don't give a damn you younger guys think because I know very well how it was being young and relatively stupid like you:)" Of course it's due to lack of enough life experience. But inside me I don't feel older then 26 and what I believe is in case I can keep my body as fit and healthy as possible, I am at the age I feel! Even to keep my soul young, I sometimes watch and read what teens enjoy (of course the ones that give me some pleasure). I see it like this, we are in a trade with life; we exchange some wrinkles and some of our fitness in return of life experience and very valuable wisdom. I think this is a very good trade! Do not let others make you accept you get old. Keep your soul young. When you feel it strongly and shine out, they'll also feel your young spirit. And do not give much damn value to what others do and think. Better to laugh them out loud, everybody can sometimes be quite stupid:)

  9. Hi Mary....It is me again....somehow I missed this post.....Obviously it struck a cord with me as well....since you and I seem to be "birds of a feather"....Wear your cronehood proudly, as I know you do, and keep on teaching those youngsters a thin or two!! Oftentimes people mistake shyness for being aloof and believe me, I KNOW that is NOT the case!!!