You deserve to be loved without having to hide the parts of yourself you think are unlovable.
Today I turn 51.
As I type this, my heart flutters, and I feel something akin to… fear. I have lied about my age for so long that I feel as if I’m pulling off some armor of acceptance. I fear if I “out” myself for being over a certain age, I will suddenly be deemed, unworthy, unattractive, unrelatable even unlovable.
As I type. I realize how crazy and superficial it sounds. I also realize how real it feels.
Let me explain.
I was told to start lying about my age at 26.
I worked in the entertainment industry in TV and Radio Broadcasting with some small acting work thrown in the mix here and there. As a woman in that field at that time, age, experience, and wisdom weren’t valued. The qualities of youth, vitality, energy, and attractiveness were important and considered “marketable”. (It took me a long time to learn they these qualities are not mutually exclusive of each other).
And so began a decades-long career of lying. I use the word “career” literally and figuratively.
However, I wasn’t just lying at work or at auditions. I was lying about my age to friends, acquaintances, dates.
The more I lied, the more I believed THE LIE that if I revealed my real age people’s perception of me would change for the worse.
As I started to unravel the neurosis that I had built myself, I realized that we all hide the things about ourselves that we think will make people perceive us as “less than”.
The hidden parts can be actual literal things… like our thighs, our salary, our age. They can also be qualities and characteristics that we think make us unworthy, like our insecurity, our anger, our mental health issues.
As I started pulling the hanging thread on this jumbled ball of myself, the more I shook loose. I realized that although my age was what I was overtly hiding from the world, it was just a symptom of so many other things I was hiding, first and foremost from myself.
And so began what I like to call the dissection process. The cutting apart and examining myself with the precision of a surgeon and the compassion and gentleness of a nurse.
Finding old wounds, old blocks, old triggers was a slow and tedious process. Once I discovered what these areas were, I moved on to the slow and painful process of figuring out where these issues stemmed from. The final step was healing. Healing was also slow, tedious, and painful, yet invaluable.
Healing involved forgiving myself for the traits and things that I thought made me “less than” or lacking and realizing that they were not flaws, just parts of being human.
My best friend passed away at 37. My brother died 6 months ago at 58.
I now know age is something to be grateful for, to be celebrated, admired, lauded. Each day is truly a gift.
My “age hang-up” was just a symptom.
I also now know that the things each one of us hides under our custom-designed, impenetrable armor are also things to be grateful for.
The purpose of our lives, as I see it, is to explore, understand, and tap into the beautiful wholeness that we are. Those “soft spots” and perceived shortcomings are where the real work begins. Not in “fixing” what we think to be the problem, but in realizing that there are no problems, only opportunities for growth.