Acting my age - or not

Psychological studies show that people over the age of 40 think of themselves as 20% younger than they actually are. So if I follow the norm, at age 63 I think of myself as 51, an age when people tend to be settled in themselves. But at this time in my life I’m not settled in one self but have many selves. Here’s what I mean:

My toddler self is fiercely independent. “I can do it myself!“ I declare defiantly as Tom reaches to buckle my seatbelt or zip my zipper. 

My pre-schooler self seeks affirmation for all the new tasks I’m learning to do one-handed. “See how I can tie a bowtie,” I show Tom. If I don’t get enough praise from him, I call my mom and tell her. If still not enough, I call my sisters.

My adolescent self is the one who shows up most often. Attached is a picture of my chronological adolescent self to help me remember who I am dealing with. She is the one with the most issues. “I have lost so much of my body that I look like a freak! There is so much I can’t do one-handed. I hate my life!” I scream as the tears flow.

My young adult self doesn’t give up. “I can figure this out,” I declare. “I will watch all the YouTube videos posted by one arm people to learn how to dress and cook with one arm. I’ll ask my bike guru how to ride a bike. There’s a solution to every problem.”

The self who is the most elusive is the wise elder. She holds both sorrow and hope. “I have lost a lot. Not everything can be fixed,” I acknowledge. “My grief will last a lifetime, even though it will soften in time. But I will grow from this. Rather than having a smaller life, I will have a larger life. This is what happened through two bouts of breast cancer, hepatitis C, and several lawsuits. Each challenge brought me an opportunity that enriched my life and the lives of many others. I will see what the life enriching opportunity will be this time. The life that I will have then will be so much more than what I’ve ever had before.”

These different selves weave in and out of every day. Each one is dear to me. But the self that I would like to know better is the wise elder. It is only through prayer and journaling that I can catch a fleeting glimpse of her. Thank you so much for giving me the chance to become better acquainted with my wise elder self through these journal posts.