Fear of looking old-reaching out

Anonymous,  Age 71

I’ve read some of the stories and can’t offer much positive or cheering. I hate growing old, I fear the loss of things I once took for granted. I’ve had a life like a roller coaster, two marriages, many lovers, and confidence born of good looks, and had only experience of hospital five years ago when I had a total thyroidectomy (non cancerous), and since then I sometimes don’t recognise my emotional self or my body which has gained two stone and often feel i’m clinging to a fast melting piece of ice in the middle of a very dark sea.

I’m an artist, and recently turned to writing, so I have the advantage of always having something to do, but because I’ve moved around so much in England and abroad I haven’t maintained friendships, and being back in England again and starting over once more I feel lonely and as if I have nothing in common with the people I occasionally meet, and I’m afraid I can’t see anything to look forward to if I can’t first overcome my fear of looking old. If I’m honest I started to envy younger women and feel myself growing sour and cynical. I suppose I qualify as an elder orphan having had no family for years and being adopted in the first place, so identity is pretty shaky all round.   Anyone else who doesn’t seem to fit the boxes out there?

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9 Responses to Fear of looking old-reaching out

  1. Jean says:

    Just found this page. Been trying to find a way to meet and talk to ladies my age which is 77. Like several others I too can’t believe my age. Where did it come from? I very definitely don’t look my age nor do I act like it. So often I say that my parents had to have made a mistake on my birth certificate.
    Would love to converse with anyone who seems to be in the same boat. Lots I could talk about but since this is new to me I’ll wait to see if someone will respond.

    • Blog Mavens says:

      Hello Jean and welcome to our blog!

      I will turn 77 in another month, and I too find it hard to believe. I’m thankful for good health and enough energy to keep on keeping on. Started my summer outdoor pool exercise today. Will begin counting swim laps shortly.

      I hope you’ve found our book, 70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade.
      There are lots of relevant conversations there as well as throughout the threads in this blog.

      We look forward to hearing more from you,

      • Jean says:

        Jane thanks for the note I was glad to know someone was out there.
        I would really like to join in with whatever conversations are on going. I spend most time alone as the friends that I have are pretty much still busy with family life. So there is really
        quite an emptiness. I do lots of creative things, but lately no desire. In great health.
        So I hope to hear from you again. Jean

        • Blog Mavens says:

          Yes, spending a lot of time alone can feel…well, lonely.

          One of the on-going discussions here, and at 70Candles! Gatherings is about what to do with our time. Sharing time with other people, most agree, is important.
          Turns out friends are good for our health! Making new friends takes some effort, but is doable….and making friends with younger people…an extra pleasure.

          Is there a way for you to get out and be with other people?
          Any Senior Center near you? Reading groups at the library or elsewhere?
          Here, one can go on-line and find a Meet-up group in just about any subject. My friend is in a charity knitting Meet-up, and I sometimes join in at the Spanish conversation Meet-up group. There are book groups, music groups, craft groups, card groups, game groups, and more. They always welcome newcomers.

          Check that out and see what you think.

  2. Patricia says:

    I know it’s a tv program but Grace and Frankie is great, to see how 2 ladies in their 70’s get through their day, not hearing or seeing well. Stiff backs all of the old lady issues and being dumped by their 2 gay husbands in their seventies. It may not be real but the age is right; and it is good for laughs, and I have picked up good ideas too.
    It is a very funny and uplifting series with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.
    Give it a try – may not be your cup of tea, but maybe it will. Try anything.

  3. Diana says:

    I’m not as strong as I once was….Nor as smart….Or agile…. and the list goes on.

    We change so much as we age and lose some of the qualities that our culture values.

    Why does no longer looking young matter so much?

    Is it tied to others dismissal of us as ‘old ladies’ or to our perception of ourselves?

    Or is it simply the gateway to acknowledging that we’re old?

  4. Ellen says:

    Dear Artist/Writer/Elder Orphan,

    Thank you for pouring your heart out. When we talk about aging, the focus is so often on failing bodies; we forget to talk about how we look, but I am sure it is, to some extent at least, on the mind of EVERY woman in her 70’s. Decades ago I read “Memoirs of a Prom Queen,” and what I remember is the challenge for aging women who were used to being known for their good looks. I was a “beauty queen” in college–my photo was on the front page of my university’s newspaper. I am glad to say I never ever wanted to be defined by my looks, so in some ways I escaped that trap. But then I look at all my wrinkles now, and my puffy tummy. I just stopped coloring my hair, so now I’m grey. I must say I have a love/hate relationship with all this. I think there’s only one “solution”–and that’s exactly what you’ve done. We need to share our feelings with women our age.

    I’ve played tennis with age-mates forever (formerly singles, doubles now), and just last week my Tuesday group stayed afterwards, and for the first time we talked about “our issues.” One woman’s husband recently had a heart attack and was recovering well. I talked about my recent decision to retire in three years. And so on. It was delicious. I went home not just sweaty, but sweaty and smiling!

    I have (humbly offered) advice: Please keep writing (including on this blog site)! And please try to find others to talk to in person. I know being an artist is a solitary pursuit. Is there a writing class or a painting class you could join? Is there volunteer work at a museum? You know better than I, but I KNOW you will find like-minded age-mates.

    Because I’m 76 and still working full-time at a demanding job, I don’t fit the box, either. Maybe we all create our own box. I like that idea. Please write again.

  5. Hi, I would be very interested exchanging thoughts with you. I am 69, also moved around, 2 marriages. Similarly, I have been always attractive, and men have been very important in my life. I am very creative, but have not built yet a truly “portable” occupation. I make chocolates in the past decade, which needs a market built for. After doing it very successfully in 2 countries, right now struggle to continue in the recent country, which is developing and hot. So I am just about to move again. You have not done anything wrong with friends. We both are differently rooted, by moving around. I found, that as I am more active than my age group, and my friends are all over the world, finding new friends is harder than it used to be. As we are more active, we don’t fit into our age group. The situation makes me more introvert, just like them. But I fight, and wont accept “age”. My new friends are 10-20 years younger…That is the only way.

    Regarding the body: you are attractive in a heavier shape. I lost some weight due to different diet. My body is better, but my face got hanging chins. One way or the other! I don’t care about it. Make sure, that when you look into the mirror,
    you think of less good looking women your age (forgive me old ladies.) Than you feel better! I share the sinking feeling, but I WILL never give up. If it is getting to me, I go for a walk. Or try to go to buy something, so I have eye contacts with other humans. Not easy, but works.

    Please let’s connect, and maybe we can build a Skype friendship? I live in Latin America now.

    • Ellen says:

      I love your perspective: “You are attractive in a heavier shape.” And “Make sure when you look in the mirror you think of less good-looking women your age.” Thanks for making me laugh!! And, by the way, there’s actually a psychological term for that. It’s called “downward social comparison,” and it’s considered mentally healthy to do that!

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