For most of my life, I was the baby in any crowd. It did not help that for a lot of those years, I looked younger than I was. I come from a family of “good skin” and I eat pretty well, so I was often mistaken for being younger than I was.
That being the case, it was slightly breathtaking when life caught up to me and I realized I was a Crone by anyone’s definition. I am over fifty by a good piece. My periods have (mostly) stopped. I have two grandsons who are eleven and twelve. I have six children, all born from my own body, who are now adults. I am an elder in my spiritual tradition.
Wow. That happened fast and I got so busy chasing the things I wanted in my life that I missed a good bit of it. I lived in the past through my regret and guilt and I lived in the future through my longing. I gave up a lot of my present trying to be someone other people thought I should be because I respected them and if they felt I should evolve in the direction of their choosing, then I should work to do so. Of course, because it was not my own authentic design, I failed miserably and disappointed them profoundly.
Now I am apparently, based on the evidence, a Crone and this Samhain seems the perfect time to embrace that aspect of myself. To do so, I will post five major life lessons that Croning has taught me and a few for honorable mention. This is my experience and perhaps it will or will not be yours. Let’s make that number one, shall we?
- My life experience is not the same as anyone else’s and that is OK. Often, we need others to validate our opinions and substantiate our beliefs. When it comes to it, that is what social media is all about. From MySpace to Angelfire to IRC and bulletin boards, almost as soon as there was an internet, we started using it to connect with others of like mind. Anyone who spent time on those forums knows the fights that broke out because one person had a different life view from another. One of the beauties of being old in my own experience is that I feel no urgency to convince anyone of anything I believe. I stand in my own truth and if other people are not there, so be it. They can have their own truths without threatening mine. This year, I cut away the parts of my life where I encountered people who needed me to believe the way they do. We all have a piece of the puzzle and honoring diversity of thought and practice is just as important as honoring diversity of sexuality, ethnicity, or gender.
- The mistakes I have made in my life do not define me. I learned from them and I look back on many with regret, but they are not who I am and they do not tell my entire story. I have people in my life who I love profoundly who are unable to see past critical mistakes I made at terrible times in my life when I was spinning out of control and had no good choices to make. In taking what I thought would be the least damaging path than the others, bad things happened. Worse things would have happened on the other paths and yet, I lost people I love dearly because I did not get it right a good bit of the time. I am not my mistakes. That is painful for me, but… (#3)
- No matter how I try, I cannot control the actions or thoughts of others. I can explain my position and I can apologize and try to make amends, but ultimately, the choice of paths another will take is up to them. For a very long time, I worked hard to keep all of the plates spinning in the air at the same time. I tried to keep as many people as possible happy and that is how we are when we are in Mothering phase. I spent more time trying to please others and do what they thought I should do than I did following what my own spirit led me to do. I handed over my energy, my time, and my focus to the goals of others and often, the goals others had for me. I could never live up to the idealized standard the people I love had for me, so we both considered me to be a complete failure rather than considering that if I followed my own path, I could actualize into the woman I was intended to be. They ultimately could not control me or corral me into who they thought I should be and I could not control them and turn them into who I want them to be or make them think the way I think they should. The best we can do is hope that in fully being ourselves, we somehow manage to be of value to others and if we are not, then that we somehow manage to be of value to ourselves. We cannot make others think a certain way or be a certain way. There is a reason many people hate the phrase “It is what it is.” The idea that situations are immutable is offensive, but it is reality.Ultimately, everyone has their own path to walk and makes their own choices both for what they do and who they will be in the world. We either accept that and welcome them into our lives or reject that and move on.
- Beauty is a multi-layered illusion. One of the greatest conflicts I had with both of my husbands is their complete and utter disappointment in the fact that I am fat. My first husband was shattered that once I had babies, my belly stayed soft. Even after running hundreds of miles and working out on a long array of Nautilus machines for years, my muscles were fierce, but my belly and breasts sagged. Over time and a good bit of depression, I gained weight and then he genuinely had a fat wife who he promptly left for someone more in keeping with his desires. My current husband is brokenhearted that he never had a slender, firm wife and that I was fat from the minute he married me. I have tried, sometimes harder than other times, to lose weight for him and earlier, for Paul. So far, it hasn’t happened in any remarkable way. I would love to not haul around extra pounds and to feel light and dainty again. Last year, I planted “health and wellness” and sure enough, a few months ago, I got a near-perfect set of blood panels back from my medical caregiver. The only issue was that my potassium was slightly low and since I had been ill recently, it was not unusual. As I feel the age coming onto me, I know my window is closing to “take care of this” and I feel a desire to do so. In the meantime, I do not feel a lack of beauty or sexiness. I feel whole. I do not feel inadequate around women who are more of society’s standards of beauty, although my husband occasionally feels that inadequacy on my behalf and is frustrated by my lack of success in that regard. In a strong discussion on this topic recently, my husband challenged me to put the question into social media: If a husband is physically fit and handsome and his wife is fifteen years older than he is and significantly overweight, does he have the right to demand that she lose the weight and to be angry with her if she does not? I never did that, mostly because I did not wish to put more attention onto the subject than was already there. He interprets my lack of weight loss as a lack of love or respect I have for him. If I loved him, I would lose weight so he would feel proud of me and not ashamed of how I look. For a lot of reasons, I do not have an answer for that and part of my Croning lessons became that I do not define myself or my beauty through his eyes or anyone else’s. Sure, I would love for him to look at me and think that I am beautiful. He doesn’t. He never has. That is just the truth of it. He finds value in me otherwise. Considering item #3, I have to let that be his own truth and to understand that it is not my truth. Not in a body dysmorphic way, I feel beautiful and vibrant. I have tried to see myself through his filters and it just doesn’t work for me.
- Body functions are vital and completely amazing. As a younger person, we take our marvelous, miraculous bodies for granted. We will eat whatever we want, we will sleep whenever we can, and we will poop eventually. As an older person, I began to recognize that there is very little that is more gratifying than a really excellent poop, a truly delicious meal that does not leave us feeling acidy, groggy, bloated, or queasy afterward, and a deep, long restorative sleep.
Time moves faster. The rumors are true.
I cry easier, but feel the feels in a beautiful, strong way.
I love more deeply, but I am choosier about who I love.
Sex is better.
I can appreciate little babies again and not want one of my own.
No one notices when I talk to myself or the invisibles because A) crazy old lady or B) she probably has a bluetooth headset (I don’t).
My animals love me more, but I am more in tune with the cycle of life and although it hurts like hell, I understand better when I have to let them go.
The heartfelt moments are more precious to me.
Photos are important.
Hugs are more important.
“Sharing space” is vital, but alone time is as well, so a nice balance is ideal.
There are assholes, there will always be assholes, and there have always been assholes and usually, the assholes are the loudest in any bunch.
The world does not stop if I say “No” to something I really do not want to do.
Resentment is a contaminant no one should carry around.
The Goddess can be kind of a bitch sometimes.
Pageantry and ceremony are wonderful in magic, but end results and effectiveness are the most important part.
Not everyone is going to love you and it is a major error to invest more energy into pleasing those people than you do into pleasing the people who do love you.
Hair grows back.
A handsome man is delicious, but a stupid man is unbearable.
Trashy people live on drama. Find a different entree.
Leggings are not pants.
No one will find your money if you hide it in a thin sanitary napkin in your purse.
Whether you exhaust yourself doing all the right things or do half of the right things and get some rest, the outcome will be the same…you will just be more rested in the second case.
No matter how much you fight fate and destiny, those bitches have GPS and will find your ass.