Through My Mother’s Eyes

I had a very interesting revelation a few days ago.

This year, I will be 9 years older than my mother was when I was born.

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My mother and me at Disney World. I’m probably 7 years old here.

I thought about what year my mother was the same age as I currently am, and of course, the age I was at the time. I then did this for each year to where I could vividly remember both myself, my parents, and life in general. For each of these, I compared my mother to myself at the age we would both be. I thought about our experiences, the times we lived in, and how we faced challenges and situations.

I’m not really certain what I wanted to obtain out of this exercise. And to be honest, I am not even sure what conclusion I arrived at. But, it is interesting. We always see ourselves as young – no matter what age we are. Case in point? My grandmother, who just turned 94, told my father a few years ago that she doesn’t care to go down to the pool at her complex because there are “too many old people there.” Right.

I’ve never thought about being the same age as my parents because my parents always seemed “old.” Well, because they were old. They have obviously always been older than me. But it seemed like they were from a different time. And now, I am from a different time. Recent events have found me working with individuals in the theatre that are young enough to be my children. And it is clear to me they don’t see me as a peer but see me as “old.”

It is amusing though that, being the same age as my mother once was, I saw her as old at that time but still see myself as young. Everything is based upon perspective and our experiences. Have you had this experience or ever thought about this topic and if so, what conclusions, if any, did you arrive at?

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Halloween Night 2015

Baby Mirror

Then…

I’m ten years old. The words cut to the core and break me down…again. What have I done this time? There isn’t a need to play dirty. I’m ashamed once again at your hand. Your words mean more to me than just about anyone. You know this…and take full advantage. I don’t understand what has occurred. I don’t have the perspective. Sadly, you don’t either and your own pain and self-loathing manifests through your words and actions as a mean to deflect your need to self-examine. As I grow, so does your self-loathing and spiral along with the insults.

“You’re fat….that’s disgusting I don’t want to see that…no woman will ever love you if you are fat…you’re worthless…you’re a fucking failure…you’ve failed as a son…you’re no son of mine…pack your shit and get the hell out of here…”

Now…

It’s Halloween Night. It is about 7:00 PM. I’m in the gym – alone, just the way I love it – and I’ve just finished a set of air squats. I’ve finally mastered the technique. All of those back exercises – dead lifts, Romanian dead lifts, and good mornings – really worked wonders. A technique that was so challenging now seems much simpler with a stronger lower back. Trapezius muscles are also on tap tonight – a personal favorite. But first, the result of drinking so much water in the gym…

While in the locker room, I weigh myself. I am back up to 225 lbs. I was sitting at 241 lbs earlier in the year but I look and feel leaner. People are often surprised I weigh that much. I’m not sure what their expectation is but it obviously isn’t what I exhibit.

I stop and briefly look in the mirror. I’m creeping towards my mid-30s and the mirror is still a source of pain. After bottoming out, in just about everything, I’ve completely transformed my body in three and a half years. My shirt is starting to ride up due to my expanding lattissimus dorsi muscles. Women have paid much more attention to me in recent years. The compliments on my figure come often – usually accompanied by a smile. Oh, and the blue eyes. The women always love the blue eyes.

It is flattering but yet still somewhat awkward and makes me feel uncomfortable. The same pain that keeps me from looking in the mirror also makes me shy away from compliments and attention as they have always bothered me. I think the worst thing anyone could do to me is place me in the middle of a room and surround me with people that are clapping. I think I’d try to dig a hole to hide in. And, I’ve figured out why.

I remember your words and I hear them. I haven’t spoken to you in over 10 years but I hear your voice like it was 20 years ago. The words cut and the wounds become fresh.

I step away from the mirror….

I wish you could see me now. I started this journey because of you and all the terrible things you said to me. I wanted them to stop. But, as I’d soon learn, it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with how you viewed yourself. If you were here, you’d say the same things all over again, because though it has been over ten years, I know nothing has changed.

Destroy

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On Aging

Homer Simpson

Old photographs reveal how years have gone by. Each wrinkle and ridge tells a story but what the story means is still hidden from me.

The irony of aging is I currently am in the best shape of my life. Perhaps you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but with age comes experience and wisdom and new perspective. Tools and gifts that were always there remained hidden in younger years and uncovered with proper discipline. Younger years allow for deviation and idle hands but with age comes less margin for error.

I should have been further right? The notches on my belt remain a few less than the mean. There’s been a lot of road covered yet so much remains. Shouldn’t I have an education, a good job, a wife, and kids? These are the things you tell me make me successful in the end.

Looking back, I’m left to wonder what I’ve done. I’ve accomplished a lot but with each accomplishment it seems things remain. As the years progress, each one seems to have gone by quicker than the previous and the length of the seasons dwindle as they change. The days turn into night with a quicker frequency than I remember as child. Those endless summer days now end, with me weary and tired ready for bed. The seasons change and each day seems a clone of the next. It has been so long since I was in school that the emergence and disappearance of children waiting for the bus remind me that fall and summer are just around the corner. To be that age, seems to have been light years away.

Friends and family I knew as children always remained locked at that age in my mind. Years of separation and the revelation that they have aged just as me catch me in surprise. The mind plays such subtle tricks on us yet we know better. Why we always see ourselves as young remains a mystery to me. The idea that we are now the same age as our parents once were or a family friend, yet we remain so much younger in reliving the memory from deep inside.

Our bodies clearly age. Do our minds age or do we become locked in a place in our own time?

Image found in the public domain of the internet.