It has happened to me.
Honestly, I didn’t think it would. Not that I am anything special mind you….It just totally caught me off guard.
And when it did, I recalled a scene well over eight years ago.
My friend and co-worker (affectionately known as my “Evil Twin” due to her propensity to steer me towards purchasing baubles, shoes, art work, and anything else….just short of stealing horses). She had pulled me away from her desk leading me into the snack room in dramatic fashion. “Oh dear…what’s wrong?” I asked sensing that my friend was upset about something. We were at work…at jobs we both fairly detested. I surmised it was simply just one more thing about the nature of what was happening at work on this given day. But it was early in the morning….what could have gone wrong so early in the work day?
My friend sat down with her morning cup of tea looking like she had lost her best friend. “What’s happened?” I asked with concern. I knew she had some health issues she was worried about…and I was worried about them too. “I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and I just hated what I saw,” was her reply. She went on to tell me how she couldn’t stand to look at herself; it seemed to happen overnight… All of the sudden her years on this earth were showing and she didn’t like it one bit.
I remember feeling at first relieved, thinking to myself “Whew…nothing serious.” And then I’m sure I guffawed more than a couple of times saying something to the effect “Oh for heavens sake…you look wonderful…you are NOT old.”
I’d always regarded my friend as the quintessential fashion maven with a perfectly lithe figure to boot (And, by the way, more than fifteen years later, I still do). I’d sell my soul to the devil to have her waist…even after two babies who are now grown adults she can still pull off a string bikini better than most twenty or thirty year-olds. Whenever I was next to her I felt like a hopeless frump mixed with, I’ll confess, a tiny bit of the green-eyed monster knowing that she didn’t have ONE stretch mark on her entire body. My REI attire wasn’t fashion forward in the least but it did suit my sports-minded lifestyle. Still, my Evil Twin tried her best to educate me in the finer points of putting more stylish outfits together. I think she gave up the morning that I showed up for work wearing my bright blue keen sandals. I had purchased them the night before from REI and I was thrilled with them. “Oh, but these are SO comfortable,” I gushed when I proudly modeled them for her. Did I detect a shudder beneath that lovely blonde head? “Ummm…well, that’s nice.” She had brightly said. She was diplomatically–thankfully not brutally– honest; they simply weren’t her style.
So it happened to me some weeks back and now I cannot escape the dread each morning when I drag myself into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I look into the mirror and am aghast at the reflection in the mirror. It cannot possibly be me; I’m a stranger to myself. Mind you….I never thought I was beautiful….just pleasant to look at perhaps. I know it sounds vain…but really, I am not that self-obsessed. It’s just this whole aging process thing really did seem to happen overnight. Maybe it’s the damned magnifying mirror; I have to use a 5X magnification just to see my blonde eyelashes while applying mascara. And with it I can see chin hairs and nose hairs that I swear weren’t there five minutes ago, let alone five years ago. The thought of the eventuality of a 10X mirror is positively horrifying to me. Unfortunately, I don’t need a magnifying mirror to see the dark brown age spots; they seem to multiply with each passing week on my face, my hands and even on my legs. My hands look like those of a ninety year-old due to sun damage and the lines around my mouth suggest I’ve spent years smoking when in fact I’ve never smoked. Sigh…..getting old just sucks.
So I apologize to my Evil Twin here and now. I thought she was being silly at the time and brushed-off what she had shared that morning chalking it up to workplace stress. I don’t know what I should have said or done at the time….I probably didn’t handle it in the best way. But boy was she right.
Little did know that I too would walk down that same path.
So here I am.