The Right Size
It finally fits! At age 60 I am now quite comfortable in my skin. Although it is a bit creased and wrinkled, I feel that I truly own it.
When I was a little girl, my youthful, smooth skin prickled and itched as if there was a tight, wool sweater constantly chaffing it. Looking back, perhaps certain things rubbed me in a different, uncomfortable way. For example, I wasn’t sure why I often laughed when no one else did or why I liked to be silly. As a child, I enjoyed escaping into the world of make-believe. In my playhouse, I dressed-up in assorted cast off adult clothes from the local church’s rummage sales and imitated my new-found characters. Like a chameleon, I privately tried on various “life outfits” to see if perhaps there was a better fit since my own skin wasn’t feeling exactly comfortable.
As an insecure teenager, I must have felt a need to divert attention away from my awkward adolescence by layering on creamy light blue eye shadow, charcoal eyeliner, and bright pink lipstick. While I tried desperately to figure out who I was, I temporarily diverted the uncomfortable spotlight away from my true self with my makeup. At times when I was confused and disappointed, I unwisely let others direct my happiness while waiting for my own genuine bliss to bloom and take over. Confidence had not yet become my companion and uncertainty and self-doubt tugged on my supple skin.
Later on, I felt the force of maturity deliberately suck the nutrients out of my thickening skin like a hot summer sun punishing a newly planted sapling. Its potency left me feeling wilted and weakened as I pushed myself towards independence and self-reliance. Determined to “do it all”, I finished my schooling, found employment, provided shelter and food for myself, and started making all of my own decisions when I entered my twenties. Honestly, at times I gladly would have given over the control to a sympathetic adult in order to crawl back into the familiar warmth of my childhood—but I knew that I had to eventually grow up.
As I advanced in age, I understood that I was not meant to be alone and I carefully started to search for my soul mate. When I found him, we bonded instantly. While sharing our lives, our skins became fused as one. I learned to love another person more than myself and together we created a family and a home.
During that time, love had a way of stretching and stretching my maturing skin until I felt like it was going to tear apart. But magically, another centimeter always grew. However, one day, everything finally did snap due to the tragic death of my beloved husband and my awful loss deflated my full and vibrant exterior leaving it empty. Grief invaded my life and my skin recoiled for protection like a snapped rubber band. Time stood still. Nothing moved forward except the tears down my face. Alone and confused, I could feel the intense void of our mutual space.
But the sun continued to come up each morning forcing me to reach down deep beyond my exterior to meet each new day. Fortunately, slowly I started to make sense of my evolution. As my personal space became less challenging, my skin began to come alive again. The necessary pounds were gained to fill out my thin frame and a softness returned to my silhouette. The beating of my heart stopped forcing its harsh vibrations against my rib cage. Instead, soft palpitations were fueled by warm memories and more positive thoughts. The rhythm was soothing and it ushered love back into my life.
Oh, it felt so good to feel my chest expand and contract without effort! It was nice to genuinely smile with ease rather than to command my lips to falsely turn upwards from their tight horizontal position in a deceptive manner as I had done in my darker days.
I was stepping back into life’s dressing room and trading in my ill-fitting skin for the proper size. And so, the one I have now is not too loose. It is no longer stretched out and empty from sadness and hardship. It is not irritated by youthful moments of indecision and bruised by immature self-doubt. It is just right. It contains just enough elasticity to provide for the inevitable changes that I will most likely endure as I continue on with my life journey. I do not feel a need to constantly disguise it with an outer layer of artificial color and I have allowed myself to relax and let my guard down more often. (I will admit however, that the brightly colored lipstick has remained, even when I shovel snow!)
I guess we all need to try on a couple of sizes before we come upon the one that is just right. Going through this necessary self-discovery process allows those little inner voices, “our whispers”, to surface and to guide us to a peaceful, meaningful life.
Of course my skin is by no means perfect, but I am grateful for my transition and the current harmony in my life. I am sure that there will be a future nip and a tuck here and there in my skin and that there will be a seam to let out and a possible tear to mend. But right now, I think I have a pretty good fit and it feels darn good!
Where are you in life’s fashion show? Have you found “the right size”? I hope you have.