Dangling over the precipice of 40 – Part 1

esther kane Editor’s Note: Esther Kane’s a counselor, published author and a friend of Women at Forty. She’s also a woman on the verge of turning 40 herself. In her piece, Dangling Over the Precipice of 40, Esther candidly shares her emotions about approaching 40. In part 1 she talks about not realizing the beauty of her 20’s, until her body began to change in her 30’s. I can relate to a lot of what Esther writes about as she dangles over the precipice of 40…

Although I’m not quite sure how it happened, I recently turned 39.  This came as a huge shock as I remember my 20’s so vividly- as if they were yesterday. It seems to me that once you hit 20, the process of ageing accelerates exponentially until you’ve barely gotten used to the decade you’re currently in and no sooner-whoosh! – It disappears in a flash of lightening and you’re propelled (or catapulted as it often feels) into the next decade kicking and screaming all the way. (Photo: Esther Kane)

There I was enjoying all the benefits bestowed upon us gals in our 20’s- gorgeous skin, great hair, enviable body, powering my way through the grind we call ‘higher education’, finding my soul mate, marrying him, moving in together, and buying our first home. I excitedly jumped into the workforce to pursue my dreams of becoming a therapist, only to be whacked over the head by a whole lot of grim reality (nasty boss, toxic work environments, little pay, long hours, and vicarious traumatization that many newbie therapists experience until we hit bottom and learn the delicate but life-saving art of self-care).

Did I appreciate how gorgeous and fabulous I was in my 20’s?  Unfortunately, the answer is an emphatic NO. I was never happy with my body, no matter how fit, flexible, or sexy it looked to others. I hadn’t yet realized how fleeting physical beauty really is and didn’t know that the really smart thing to do was to feel incredibly blessed and grateful for my youth and all of the gifts that come with it. I was too busy struggling in poverty while I worked my butt off in university to get the education I needed to live my dream of becoming a therapist. In all, it took 7 years of full-time studies and then a 2-year part time stint in family therapy school while I worked at meaningless, low-paying jobs to pay the rent.

So in retrospect, in my near-40’s wisdom, I realize that I may have had a rocking’ bod, great looks, and mucho sex appeal, but I was dirt poor living in damp, dark, miserable basement suites in Toronto and Vancouver and budgeting like crazy to make ends meet (which they sometimes did not and I had to beg family for money which felt terrible). And the exhaustion-it was sometimes overwhelming. So much studying, working, catching public transit to get all over the city, and crying in my bathtub at night from the stress and loneliness of it all…not fun.

Then 30 just happened to me one day while I was quietly minding my business and my 30’s have been a mix of blessings and disappointments. Among the disappointments, most have been physical signs of ageing which have all been new and somewhat traumatic at first including:

  • Grey hairs- a word of advice- tweezing individual hairs eventually becomes a race no one wins- I’ve opted for hair dye
  • Boobs drooping substantially- yes gals, it really does happen! Mine now resemble pancakes when viewed from the side.
  • Body shape and size constantly changing- this includes new stuff where there didn’t used to be any in the form of extra fat (the biggest shock of all was discovering back fat- horror of horrors!) The term ’let it roll’ has come to have an entirely new meaning for me.
  • The inability to lose that extra 5-10 pounds which mysteriously appears on my body as quickly as I used to be able to drop it.
  • Looser skin around my eyes and lack of the ‘bounce back’ factor it used to have while applying eye makeup. I liken the skin around my eyes to a snail, which slowly slithers along and eventually reaches it’s destination.
  • Lack of sex drive- you know you’re getting older when the idea of flannel PJ’s and a good book is more appealing than seducing the man who sleeps next to you (who is still very attractive BTW.)

But the 30’s weren’t all bad. On Wednesday Esther reflects on the 30’s that have also brought her wonderful blessings…

Esther Kane, MSW, Registered Clinical Counsellor, is the author of the book and audio program, “It’s Not About the Food: A Woman’s Guide To Making Peace with Food and Our Bodies” (www.endyoureatingdisorder.com) and “Dump That Chump”(www.dumpthatchump.com), and “What Your Mama Can’t or Won’t Teach You”(www.guidebooktowomanhood.com). Sign up for her free monthly e-zine, Women’s Community Counsellor, to uplift and inspire women at: http://www.estherkane.com.

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