A Love Letter From Your Future Self
By the time you are writing this, you may have gnarled knuckles and knees. You may find it difficult to walk around the grocery store's perimeter without stopping to rest.
You’re well past menopause, and unlike other women, you don’t miss those painful periods even though they were a reminder of the promise of youth, which is now gone.
There were those teenage years when you began to notice deep blushing of heat between your legs when you felt aroused. Your nipples tightened when touched, and your breasts were so young and high that you didn’t need a bra.
Your sex drive was high, and you were hungry to try it, only to discover that it hurt sometimes. This was not ideal, but you shrugged that off and thought everyone had the same experience.
Then there were your twenties and thirties. You thought your periods would level off after those teenage hormones stopped surging, but that wasn’t the case.
Your periods felt like an assault, and the slightest twinge of your uterine lining would take you to your knees in awful pain. Your friends were busy getting married and getting pregnant, and you wondered how they could celebrate these significant life events with such relative ease while you were getting procedures and surgeries to cope with your pelvic pain.
Your forties and fifties arrived. Peri-menopause and menopause were not as hard for you as your friends because you had already been on medication to suppress your hormones.
Or maybe you had a hysterectomy. An imperceptibly foreign feeling found you as you worked and lived and thrived in your relationships, and that feeling was gratitude.
You were navigating the high seas of your life; it was untraditional and scary, but you had come to trust your mind and your body to carry you through the storms of life. And you had fun while doing so.
Your sixties and seventies surprised you with what they would teach you next. You discovered the importance of having a network of people of all different ages with whom to connect.
You cultivated an inner garden with variegated flowers that sustained you as you drifted off to sleep at night. Crouching down to tend that garden took hard work, but it was work you were happy to do.
Because you had known such physical and emotional pain as a young woman, you understood better than most that aging was a gift and growing older wasn’t promised to anyone.
Now you have arrived in your eighties and nineties. Your joints ache, and you have lost some loved ones.
Moving around and taking care of yourself is harder than it used to be. Yet there is a sensation that tugs at your sleeve, longing to be heard.
At first, you cannot hear this message, and you think it is because the batteries on your hearing aids need to be replaced. This message starts faintly, but it grows loudly within you, like a street band in New Orleans at Mardi Gras.
This is the sound of celebration. Your body is revealing to you all that it has done to get you through this world. It is the vessel of your soul as you move through your life.
It has taken you a lifetime to look back and forgive all that you most dislike about your physical self. You are so astonished by this epiphany that you gather your grand-children, nieces, nephews, neighbors, and friends who are younger than you are, and you say, "try not to wait as long as I did. Love your body now. Love yourself, and as you do this, you will change the world."
Do you ever experience urinary incontinence?