Self-image—that mental picture we carry of ourselves, it’s an interesting phenomena. Why? Because it often differs radically from reality. This, at least, is my truth.
What do you mean, can I run downstairs and get a can of soup—of course I can! Not. On the contrary, now I trudge carefully, hanging on to the railing, puffing a little too breathlessly on the trip back.
That flirty little plaid kilt I wore years ago, and hung onto because I was sure it’d come back in style again! Sure enough, plaid skirts are back! Oh yes, here it is! Now I’ll just slip it on and see how adorable it—oh dear… it must’ve shrunk. Now you wouldn’t think that would happen here in the storage bin, would you?
Some friends showed us photos of a gathering we attended recently; lovely shots of so many dear faces, but there was one woman who looked vaguely familiar, yet I couldn’t place her. A rear view showed her wearing the exact same outfit I had on that day! Amazing. How did I miss her in the crowd? I would’ve jokingly complimented her on our mutual good taste in clothing.
She looked to be a mature lady, and what lovely champagne and silver hair she had; I wondered how I'd missed meeting her. Must've been a friend-of-a-friend visiting from afar.
The next photo shocked me silent (and that is a feat!) as I realized the mystery woman was… me. “That’s what I look like…??” my mental voice squeaked in alarm. I stared at the picture, stunned. White hair, wrinkles? Really? And what happened to the trim little figure I used to be?
Yes, the young girl living inside me still exists, and worse—insists, at least when not faced with reality, that she looks just the same, can do just as much, and be all that she was those many years ago. [sigh]
Our Mattie had another birthday recently. He’s eleven years old now, a mature kitty already, and quite visibly affected by that truth. However, based on his habit of landing on my lap in a leaping four-footed thwump, particularly when I’m not expecting it, he still thinks he is a feather-weight. I have the bruises to prove it.
He no longer bounds up the stairs either, rather, there are feline-footprints in the carpet where he too trudges up and down, closest to the wall, where he can lean in for support.
He chases-the-string, during morning play, for mere seconds now before plopping down in a heap, wearing an expression of boredom. He watches me with a pitying look of you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-mom, and I am soon shamed into hanging up the toy. Makes me wonder sometimes if he’s the one indulging me instead of the other way around. Oh joy, she wants me to play with that string again? Poor thing. Suppose she’ll ever get the idea how silly she looks winging that thing around the room?
When he was little, he used to play with the kitty-in-the-mirror… darting behind it repeatedly to catch the other kitty before it got away. He stared, made faces and batted endlessly, never seeming to tire of the game. It went on for years, morning after morning, but I notice he just walks right by that mirror now, never looks sideways. I suppose that’s one way to deal with it, just avoid mirrors.
Still, there’s a part of me that wants to get to know that mysterious lady I saw in those photos, the one I admired for the lovely hair and good taste in clothing. Looked like she was laughing pretty hard in one, and there were twinkles-in-her-wrinkles, not just in her eyes. Could be she is worth striking up a friendship with... after all, an old lady that can laugh like that, well, she just might be kind of fun to have around.
So, you know…maybe there’s merit in just embracing our truth, accepting who we are today, and in leaving the younger, still inexperienced version of us behind—in the past.