Use it or lose it applies in, as far as I can tell, every situation. But what I’ve learned from those aging gracefully is there is no need to tell them that “no pain, no gain” is just bunk.
Two hours down and I have only gotten through half the stuff in my closet. At the urging and with the help of my youngest daughter who conveyed handfuls of items to try on, each piece of clothing received a yea, a nay or a “second chance.” The pile of “no’s” grew precipitously, demanding a second bin even larger than the first to contain all the send-offs.
Lo and behold, there’s a reason I frequent elastic waist bands and loose-fitting sportswear; most of what I own no longer fits or has become yesterday’s style or color. “Shoulder pads, really Mom? They’re so retro. I can probably sell them on my clothing website.” The message is clear: I shouldn’t have all this stuff. Why am I keeping it?
The easy answer is, I’m too lazy to go through it. The more honest answer is, I don’t want to try it on to see that it no longer fits. Gone are the days that I can hang onto jeans hoping I might shimmy in if I just lose that last 10 pounds. Today, as buttons don’t button and zippers don’t zip, I fight the urge to hate myself for the shape I’m in. Heavier, rounder and softer.
While some people fear that others will find what they’ve been hiding in their closet, I fear what I have been hiding there from myself. Now, here it is, in living color, undeniable and staring back at me from the mirror. The body you used to have is gone. Now you’re stuck with this one. With me.
It’s amazing what a closet shows you about yourself. Can I handle the truth? I am not who I used to be, no matter how tightly I hold onto the used-to-be me. The grip I have on the last vestiges of myself is slipping.
I can’t run full steam ahead with all my ideas like I used to. limited energy. limited time. limited passion. limited resources. What will I give my future? What’s worth giving it to?
Allow me this moment of lament for those youthful days when growing out of something meant growing up. Jeans were too short because I had grown taller, not wider. Shirts were too tight because I had grown bustier, not thicker. Toes poking out my sneakers meant a longer instep, not flattening arches. The only things that lasted more than a season were my favorite t-shirts and sweatshirts which, when they lay in frayed tatters, my mother insisted it was time they go.
Can I see today’s growing out of not as growing up but as growing into?
Can I grow into an older self, more secure in my skin and more comfortable with my size? Can I embrace the truth which no one will tell me unless I tell myself that I am not my weight or the number on my label? This physical change is, if not inevitable, at least for me is real and not avoidable. Here I am in the body I have, for which I am grateful and to which I am dedicated in my care taking. Can I accept the newly old me?
“I’m trying not to hate myself,” I hear myself say out loud to my daughter who should never hear me say this.
“It’s okay, Mom. We’ll go shopping,” she says smiling and without a trace of the indictment, derision or self-flagellation I feel certain I deserve. All of these years I have toiled to maintain a fit physique – I’m in the fitness business after all – so as not to be accused of not working hard enough to be thin. Now, I need to make peace with healthy and as high performance as possible, given the raw material I have to work with.
Apparently, what I’m growing into is someone who’s not afraid of what lurks in my closet. It’s not hiding now; it’s in plain sight. I guess this is just my version of coming out. What I see in the mirror is just fine. Mine to take care of. Mine to use. Mine to share.
Everyone has a closet.