Sisters, I want to introduce you to one of the original members of our sisterhood. She's been in hiding, but she's coming out now.
I was meeting last week with my spiritual mentor Alexandra. I'm feeling this tiny but growing call to be a sensual, playful wisewoman. (Please don't ask me what this means, though, because I don't have a clue. Yet.) It's like the very beginning of pregnancy, before you've felt the first movement. You know life's in there, but you're taking it on faith.
So here I was telling this wonderful spirited Hungarian nun about how there's so much about crossing the big Five-Oh that's been fabulous: this new confidence, freedom, and creativity. I've never felt so happy, so contented (an entirely new experience for me until 50), so divinely hootless about what others think of me.
says I to Alexandra, the only trouble is there's this part of me that HATES growing older. I feel ashamed to talk about "her."
So what does Alexandra do but invite me to talk about her.
Damn. Not where I was planning to go with this ... OK, I tell Alexandra, here's the scoop: She HATES the wrinkles and the sags. She wants me to take out a second mortgage and go for the face lift, eyelid tuck, breast lift, lipo on tummy and thighs.
She misses being looked at lustfully by good looking young men. She's really pissed about growing older. She wants no part of it.
I sit back and think, Uh-oh. Now Alexandra is going to fire me as her client. What a fake I've been. I wait for the shoe to drop.
Alexandra smiles at me and says in her wonderful Hungarian accent, "Why don't you invite her to the Feast?"
See, sisters, I had told Alexandra earlier that the best part of being over 50 was the ever-growing knowing that life, all of it, is a great Feast that includes everything and everyone.
Everything. Everyone. The flu, the economy, the ex.
Doesn't mean I degenerate into a smarmy Pollyanna. Rather, it's a sense that my heart and arms are widening and widening to include all of it. Not just the joys, but the betrayals, the losses, the woundings. A love for life so fierce that it welcomes it all.
Now, I realize, all except this part of me that had just made herself known as Lulu.
No place for Lulu at that party. No way. Not at MY Feast.
I see I've given my all to excluding her: Meditate her to la la land. Affirmation-alize her into blissful nonexistence ("I love growing older. I LOVE growing older...) Pathologize her into slinking away.
Nothing worked. Lulu piped up when I looked at myself in the mirror in the mornings: Blecccchhh! she'd say. You look ugly and OLD. Imagine how much happier you'd feel THIS way, and I'd raise my fingertips to the sides of my face and lift my skin up. And look much better, and hate myself for doing it.
To shut Lulu up I decided the best route was denial.
After all, wasn't I the expert on flourishing after 45? And didn't that mean I should have it all together, have exorcised the Lulu demon from my life so I could be a "real" guide for others?
Alexandra coughs gently and brings me back to present time. She asks me again: "Why don't you invite her to the Feast?"
Sisters, I wish I could say I have a huge epiphany and everything changes on the spot.
What happens, though, is that I exhaaaale with luxurious relief. I can stop the war inside. I can drop the struggle.The Feast grows a little bigger and livelier.
OK, says I, she's invited. Alexandra suggests I spend the next month meditating with her and getting to know her.
Driving home on I-5, I feel the grief beneath Lulu's strident insistence that all is now hopeless with the appearance of wrinkles and sags. She/me feels the sadness of time passing, of opportunities lost, of relationships gone.
I realize, beneath her strident demands, that what Lulu really wants is simply to be heard and acknowledged. For me to stop pretending that she isn't part of my own psyche, in order to present some falsely fabulous face to the world.
So, sisters, may I present Lulu.
She's a part of me, for better or for worse. I don't know what will happen as I grow more comfortable with her taking her rightful seat at the Feast. I don't know how I'll change as I listen to her (I've included listening to her now as part of my Listening time in the morning).
What I do know, now, is that it isn't about me struggling with her any more, trying to banish her so I can appear wiser and more put-together. It isn't, either, about believing her any more when she criticizes the bags under my eyes or the extra roll around my waist, telling me that those are irrefutable signs that I'm unloveable and my life's over.
It's just about letting go of the struggle to make myself into someone I'm not. It's about the sweet relief of this, and the deeper level of self-love there's now room for. It's about the joy of saying an unfettered Yes to life, which includes all my bumps and wounds.
And so, sisters, I welcome y'all to this Feast.
That means all your Lulus, too. Whatever their names, whatever hidden away parts of you they represent. I promise you, there's room for all of us, after 45, at this banquet of life.
S'gonna be some party. See you there.