Yes, I know: I don’t want to believe it either.
I’m old. My body is changing. Daily surprises make me say — just as I did back in my teens — whose body is this anyway? Do I know the person in it? It’s adolescence without the sock hops.
Such a grip on youth we have that we aren’t permitted to say “old.” Well, fine. You say “senior,” and I’ll say “old,” and we’re all happy, but don’t expect me to play Let’s Pretend. I won’t slather eye shadow on these crepey lids in some gesture of defiance. I have enough color on my legs.
I am trying to accept. The more I fight it, the older I feel. The deeper my denial, the deeper my wrinkles. I can’t. There. That’s how it is.
I can’t drive the way I used to. I can’t paint walls, climb, carry, lift, remember, balance, sleep, get it together, pull it off, think on my feet the way I used to. I can’t even breathe the way I used to.
“I can’t” isn’t negative. It’s one of the most positive things we can say as we age. It’s the reaction — the denial — that’s negative. I can’t sit this long. I can’t stand this long. I can’t eat this and I can’t drink that. Statements of fact, positively. Not to be confused with declarations of despair or diffidence. And not to be met with argument, platitude, or exhortation.
Do I embrace “I can’t”? Do I hug my inner hag? Not so much. I don’t like it; I deal with it, or try to. Denial takes too much energy. Can I afford to waste energy at this point? I can’t.