8.5
Winner
March 11, 2024

To All the Women who Fear Aging.

{*Did you know you can write on Elephant? Here’s how—big changes: How to Write & Make Money or at least Be of Benefit on Elephant. ~ Waylon}

~

I had a dream I carried my mother.

She fell face down on the pavement. She couldn’t get up. 

Her face bloody, bruised, and cut. Incapacitated with shame. 

People passed in everyday costumes, pretending not to see. 

She couldn’t lift her head, 

Her humiliation a weighted cloak, wanting to disappear. 

Strangers walked past the truth. 

Of her imperfection. She is old now.

Her hair thinning, her body unwilling to be shoved into clothes of flawlessness.

A lifetime of secrets hung out, rolls of “I’m not good enough, I must be better, prettier, kinder, be all the rightness to exist.”

Suck it in, tighten up, spend thousands of dollars to fix, change, upgrade costumes, so that I can still get cast in this production of patriarchy.

In my dream, my mother was face down, as my father walked next to her. His whole body begged to save her, but he was not the one.

I was the one. Her daughter.

I put my unselfconscious belly down on the pavement beside her. Held her beautiful, soiled cheeks in my hands.

Our eyes locked. We both knew with desperate confidence, this is why we came here. 

Dangerously imperfect, rewriting the story of “what it meant to be a woman.”

All of the daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, lended their strength to carry my mama home. 

She had to let go of control. Surrendered her legacy of keeping it all together. Six children raised and yet face down, helpless.

I told her to get on my back, as she wrapped her arms around my neck and we walked, my father and brother next to us. 

We made it to safety and my mother is the heroine of this dream. 

She taught me the most important lesson. 

Vulnerability is our superpower. Our ability to trust and be carried by something greater. 

Our ancestors who speak through the waning moonlight, a multicolored sunset, the blue/orange flames of a fire. We honor the secrets whispered through children, animals, plants, and silence. 

We don’t need to coddle a “knight in shining armor” ego, because grace is wildly steady. 

We are no longer the princess waiting to be kissed and live happily ever after. 

Because happily ever after is bullsh*t.

An unattainable, boring, soul-sucking lie.

Maybe the dream is that we are brave enough to fall face down on the pavement. 

Blood, tears, shame, hanging out. 

At peace knowing our sisters, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, alive or dead, will come 

to carry us home, over and over and over, 

Because compassion doesn’t keep score. 

What would the world look like if every fallen face was picked up regardless of perceived worth?

The power structures would crumble.

So what do we do? 

With each brave breath we show our less than perfect pieces,

Our power lies in our realness.

We are not dolls, a blank canvas for the male gaze to devour.

We are human beings that see. With our own desires and passion. Our senses fully attuned to savor our unique, unruly expression of being alive.

This shape, called female, that we inhabit, is ours.

I’m ready to belong to her again. She is the star of this adventure I call my own. 

With every move I make, every word I utter, every strand of hair I brush, clothing I put on, product I buy, I will ask myself,

“Who is this for? Is this for my pleasure? Will this make me feel more comfortable in my own skin?

Will this word I write be mine, or am I trying to please someone outside myself?

Are my fears my own? Is the shame I carry mine?”

I am a 46-year-old woman, with no children, who lives alone without a retirement plan, house, or car. 

They tell me time is running out.

Each morning, I wash my face, I witness the power of my youth slipping away.

They tell me to act fast while I’m still pretty enough to secure a man. 

But my soul is confused. 

Aren’t signs of living in a body worthy of celebration and reverence? 

Why is there a trillion-dollar industry thriving on our fear of aging?

Do I want to take that fear as my own? 

Not really. 

If I get quiet enough on a sunny spring day, also known as International Women’s Day, barefoot, discolored shoulders that have soaked up too much sun. 

I would attest their fear is not mine.

I am utterly content and deeply grateful for being alive in this human body, to continue healing myself with a deep desire to heal the world.

Not just the ones that are face down on the pavement, all of us.

Behind the masks they gave at our birth, we sometimes still cry, yearn, long, desire for something more than they told us we could have. 

Something they told us to stop dreaming for, because settling is good enough.

I don’t believe you.

Because when my grandma died, I took cactus offshoots from her land and they are growing where I live now. 

We are magic. We see beneath what you tell us is possible. We are the witches. The mystics. The wild women you tried to tame. We carry each other home, in our dreams that turned into reality. We exhale into liminal space. This woman’s world I’m honored to inhabit and create. 

~

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