There is nothing useful about saying “I used to be…”

Many of us in this age bracket can fall into the trap of living in the past. “I used to be able to do that”, I often say. Or “I was married once way back when”. Or the ones I am most known for are “I used to be a dancer; I used to be a figure skater; I used to be fit; I used to be active; I used to live in NYC”. I guess the only things that those statements are good for are to divert the attention away from how awful and boring I have become as I passed 55 and am hovering around the pending and looming Six Oh. I will hold onto 59 as long as I can because who in the world wants to be in their 60s?

I met a woman in CO who wrote a book about how wonderful her life was after menopause. She says the “pounds came pouring off” and her marriage ended leaving her to really find her true self. Well that is all well and good for her but Menopause is about the worst thing I have ever experienced. In many ways it has been the beginning of the end for me. The drop in Serotonin levels made me more depressed than I was before, my weight soared without provocation and losing the pounds seems near impossible now. The fatigue has been immobilizing at times and well…if you want me to put a positive spin on Menopause, I won’t. No one ever told us the truth about this. I wish I had known some facts. I turn to Jane Fonda for my information about this later phase of life.

But we travel through the phases of our lives with ourselves. There may be some of the same people in our life that were there in the past and some may havec drifted off, but one thing is always consistent. We are still here with ourself. That can be a good thing if you can see good qualities in yourself. I rather prefer my own company to anyone else’s so it works for me. I think I’m a hoot to be with. I make myself laugh.

But back to the topic, as I look at this fit young women at the gym doing these very complex things with machines and weights, I think “I was like that too at that age”. Or “I was just like that once”, but I am not anything like that anymore. There is a moment of remorse and then I quickly recover, because what is the point of living in the past? It cannot move you forward at all. I have to set a baseline now for where I am in all areas of my life and then work from there. There really is no other way. It’s nice to know that I was once so much better but I honestly can’t say I was happier because of that.

What was the happiest time in your life? For me, besides the day I held my first born son after an excruciating birth, it was a particular day when I was 17. I had achieved success in many areas of my life and had reached many of my goals after always being the underachiever. It was a night when I was ice dancing and had tested in  front of judges and had passed all of the tests. I was being praised by the judges and had reached a goal weight after much work. I had learned that nothing comes without effort and if you do the work it always pays off. It was a lesson for life that served me well in terms of achieving. But at this stage of life, how important are goals and achievements to us? I don’t have an answer to that. I’m sure it varies from person to person. Those who were particularly goal oriented throughout their lives probably continue to be. For me, there it’s taken a back seat to just enjoying the day. My priorities are changing. I am able to take moments to appreciate the very smallest things like my cat staring out the back sliders as she breathes in a little fresh air through the screen. It is this unseasonably warm weather in the northeast while also looking at trees turning to indescribable colors in the yellow and orange families. It’s appreciating being cancer free in this moment until someone tells me otherwise. It’s having choices and options that I never had before. There are some pleasant sensations while staying in the moment. It doesn’t have to be all bad.

 

 

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Author: Debbie Simon-14

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been in practice for 30 years. I combine years of experience in medical and psychiatric settings with a little bit of humor to come up with ideas for this blog. I lived in Brooklyn and NYC most of my adult life and raised my 2 sons there. From 1989-1992 I lived as an expat in Tokyo, Japan. I moved to CT in 2010 and after 6 years here I have decided to move west to a warmer climate. My interest in "this stage of life" stems from an observation that there is a lack of research and information on this developmental stage. Since baby boomers have always set the pace for future generations, the value of our lives between 50 and 70 years of age is just starting to gain some attention. Many clients in this age group who I've worked with in recent years have experienced agism in the work place, lay offs, foreclosures of their homes and financial concerns for the future. The retirement that our parents may have enjoyed is becoming a thing of the past. My hope is that this blog might strike a chord for some who are making their way through this leg of the journey with the same resilience, positivity and grit that they got through all of life's challenges with.

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