My husband and I visited my great-aunt six years ago. At the time, she was ninety-four years old. We stayed a few nights with her in her apartment, which was approximately 800 square feet.
“You sleep in my bed,” she insisted.
“Where will you sleep?” I asked.
She pointed to a cot that she’d halfway put together in her tiny living room. The middle of the makeshift bed was slanted inward because it wouldn’t lock. But she didn’t know this. Years of macular degeneration had left a blob in the middle of her line of vision. She was legally blind.
“Aunty Belle,” I said, “you’re going to fall if you try to sleep on that.”
“No, I’m not,” she argued. “I sleep on this all the time.”
As one of the youngest people in my family, I learned long ago not to talk back to or argue with my elders. Years later, at the age of forty-two, I remained silent.
My husband and I slept in her bed.
The first thing my great aunt said when I saw her the next morning was, “You know what? You were right. I woke up in the middle of the night on the floor!”
And that’s when I realized something about aging. You can either age gracefully or not. Aging gracefully is not what we’ve all been sold. It’s not about buying age-defying products that smooth our skin. It’s not about buying body-shaping garments that give the illusion of the figures we once had. Nope.
It’s about acceptance!
At ninety-four, Aunty Belle thought she was the same. She thought she could still see; She thought she could put a cot together and estimate how well she’d done it. She thought she could sleep on a flipping cot at the age of ninety-four!
But she couldn’t, and she hadn’t accepted the fact that she couldn’t.
Aging gracefully is not what we’ve all been sold. It’s not about buying age-defying products that smooth our skin. It’s not about buying body-shaping garments that give the illusion of the figures we once had. Nope. It’s about acceptance!Tweet
Her sister, my grandmother, is similar. My grandmother will be ninety-six this year. She has hearing loss and wears hearing aids. The problem is she really doesn’t wear the hearing aids. She complains about having to charge them. She complains about how they fit. She complains about having to do one more thing, when during her lifetime, she’s always had so much to do. I get it. I wrote about how women always have one more thing to do here.
But what I couldn’t get her to understand is that she can’t hear people if she doesn’t wear them.
Again, I feel as if it comes down to acceptance. Hearing would be much easier if my grandmother would just accept the fact that she, indeed, cannot hear and needs these devices.
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with being perimenopausal or navigating the change. Here’s my point. Accepting where we are in life can be hard. No matter what age, we all may want to be five or ten years younger. That’s when we slept through the night, had brighter skin, had the hair we wanted, or had whatever fill-in-the-blank thing you may covet.
But it’s unrealistic to pretend to be who we were in the past. Life isn’t stagnant. We’re all changing, even when we don’t notice the changes. And I think we’d all feel better about it if we would accept wherever we are in the present moment.
So far, acceptance is the mindset that’s helped me deal with perimenopause, and I hope it helps you deal with wherever you are, too.