Forty-Year Old Advice

I admit to flagging morale. On the plus side, it was a sunny day and I have many donuts left over from a little get-together yesterday (so socially distanced we almost needed the USPS to come in and deliver our conversations).

On the negative side, there is everything else.

So, I remembered, as I often have over the past forty years, the wise words of the shrink I went to see when I found out my endearing but crazy boyfriend had been seeing another woman for many years and my mental state seemed so precarious that a good friend, said to me “You really need to see a shrink.”

You are who you pretend to be.

I’ve taken this to mean many things since then. Right after my shrink gave me this advice, I decided to pretend to be a normal person. This required that I stop sitting in the bathtub all night with a bottle of wine while my daughter sat on the bathroom floor doing her homework. Then, I pretended to be a good mother. All this until, you know, I grew into the pretending. The pretending isn’t permanent, it’s transitional. Usually.

Then, professionally, I often pretended to be someone else, a colleague who never got nervous about anything and could laugh off the worst stress. This worked particularly well, so much so that I hear that people sometimes pretend to be me!

And then, I pretended that having serious hearing loss was something that put me better in touch with my internal life. And, of course, there is all the epic pretending around the extraordinary joy of aging. There is joy in aging but it is mostly in having evaded, until this moment, the bullets of death and disability that are picking off people my age every day. I used to read the obituaries in the morning, this morning I skipped them, just looked at the pictures, quick swipes to see who was older or younger than me, and then I moved to the Sunday Comics which, if you ask me, is one of the best and most enduring gifts of Sunday morning aside from leftover donuts.

I took a picture of myself at the dog park this morning. Take a picture of yourself, I said, and tell people that you are pretending to be a badass old lady and then, I didn’t say to myself but I thought, knowing the past forty years of experience, you will grow into being a badass old lady. I don’t know if that’s true but it’s worked before.

You are who you pretend to be.

7 Comments on “Forty-Year Old Advice

  1. It seems like I have spent my whole adult life pretending to be the person I wanted to be instead of the person I thought myself to be. Am I pretending that I’m an old woman or am I really there?

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