48

I turned 48 in February. We were in Kauai, which was a terrific location for a ho-hum aging milestone (not quite the big 5-0). I’ll probably always fondly remember how the chair I sat on for my birthday dinner left a festive pattern of tropical cane-weave indentations into the back of my not-so-firm-and-youthful thighs that lasted for several humbling hours.

Just kidding, I will almost certainly forget that, or worse, replace a large swath of what actually happened with some filled-in memory gap bullshit. Remember how we were in Maui for my fiftieth and I sat in, what was it, fry sauce?

This is something I have noticed about getting older, how unreliable my memory is. It often feels like sifting through half-dissolved dreams, grabbing for bits of time that stick out for whatever reason in the foggy sea of the forgotten.

I sometimes think of all of the years I have lived and how I am filled with things that are only known to me and will die with me. How we all are. There’s a weight to being middle-aged and it’s not just the slowing-metabolism spare tire of belly fat. We are all heavy with our own stories.

Here at 48, I am not where I want to be. People talk about being freed from self-criticism as they age but I appear to have missed that wisdom memo: I am harder on myself now than I ever have been, or maybe it’s just that I see it more clearly. I am so stupidly bitter and hateful and despairing over my body and all its changes. I am so sad about my man-sized children growing up, up and away from me. I am so incredibly unclear on what it is I want to do with the rest of my one goddamned wild and precious fucking life.

The good news, of course, is that I am here to write all those embarrassing true things. My story goes on. It will change, because it always does.

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Chloe
Chloe
8 months ago

I admire you so much for your continued efforts at honest reflection throughout your life (including the wrinkly ones). I am turning 39 this year, and I think I started reading your diary land blog when I was 18 or 19. Holy fuck. You’ve kept at it though, and I stopped long, long ago. I barely remember those long tired beautiful nights with my littles as babies, but I loved reading your book and it brought back fond memories (I have pictures and videos, but only a few of my words).

Life is undignified and awkward at every goddamn age, so far, is what I’ve noticed. Between the struggle bus there’s a lot of beauty and wonder that’s harder to see in the day to day grind. I’m glad we can talk about it. The awkward struggles and the beauty in the margins that’s much more what we remember looking back (except for the terrible stories that are so much funnier in hindsight).

Jenny Taylor
Jenny Taylor
8 months ago

I’m definitely feeling the weight of being middle-aged. Both around my middle and in my brain. It struck me out of the blue yesterday that I’m going to start losing people. Like my parents. And friends. And people I admire who have always just been there. And IF I’m lucky, I’ll be left standing here wondering, what has been the point? And Why have I spent so much time obsessing about my pants size?

Suzanne
8 months ago

I feel that penultimate paragraph so intensely and deeply. Where is the no-fucks-given carefree spirit that was promised in exchange for my youth? Thanks as always for putting the feeling into words.

April
April
8 months ago

Thanks for saying all of this. I turn 50 soon and just feel panic, panic, panic. This is the beginning of the end of my life and I feel like the wisdom thing has bypassed me as well.

Swistle
8 months ago

I identified so hard with that second-to-last paragraph.

Leslie
Leslie
8 months ago

So interesting, my 82 yo mom is REALLY struggling (with actual grief) watching her two grandchildren grow up and go off to college. No longer the sweet little kids, they are off doing “adult” things, having boyfriends, and realizing we’ll only see them a couple of times a year now.

These life phase changes are HARD, and I want a playbook that tells me how to do them or a pill that makes me not care so much.

sara
sara
8 months ago

I turn 40 this friday and i am SAD. Just trying to stay grateful since the alternative is being dead lol Happy belated bday!

Elizabeth_K
Elizabeth_K
8 months ago

God bless all of our saggy, baggy selves. And thank you for writing. Is this where I say you are beautiful? You ARE.

Clare
Clare
8 months ago

I’ve read your blog since the start and sitting here today… this particular post hit me hard. To the point of overwhelmed, silent tears at my office computer. Thankyou for reminding me yet again, that while we are all unique, we’re very rarely (if ever), alone in our thoughts.

Last edited 8 months ago by Clare
Shawna
Shawna
8 months ago

Not gonna lie, just this morning I was contemplating my wattle under my chin and wondering if plastic surgery was a viable option. And I don’t even wear makeup or shapewear, or dye or style my hair (which In keep short and cut myself). I don’t really mind a few wrinkles on my face or the odd grey hair that’s started appearing on my head.

Yet I feel like I could put up with the middle-age middle thickening so much more easily if I could just look in the mirror and not see a double-chin that never goes away now, even when I lose weight.

Shawna
Shawna
8 months ago
Reply to  Shawna

*I keep short – not sure where that extra “n” came from.

Marilyn
8 months ago

I appreciate the bit of your wild and precious fucking life you share with us. It’s not for nothing.

TinaNZ
TinaNZ
8 months ago

Such a personally resonant lament. It’s hard to be comfortable with one’s changing body when society continues its requirement that women remain forever young and beautiful. Those middle years are the toughest, and it can feel like you’re paddling faster and faster to stay ‘in place’ at a socially acceptable appearance and demeanour. From where I sit at 62 I can only offer that there’s significant relief when you can acknowledge that no amount of expensive facial glop is going to freeze time, so you might as well enjoy the freedom from expectations that it brings.
I remember a post by Aunt Linda several years ago (“The Age of Cuteness”) where she talked about joy of wearing ‘cute’ clothes again after years of professional outfits. I think I’m there now – I haven’t worn heels for months, and it’s GLORIOUS.

jennifer
jennifer
8 months ago

Me too. Also maybe that’s: #metoo?

Heather
Heather
7 months ago

Is it reassuring or disturbing for me to tell you I’m 10 years ahead of you but right where you are mentally?

Kim
Kim
7 months ago

I’m 56. I had my 2 kids “late” & reallllllyyy felt the body lament. For *years*. So last year I found a plastic surgeon who’s work I thought looked fabulous & booked a consult. Had to wait 8 months but this dr really is that good. Had liposuction & only felt guilty (re: the money & the time off) for 5 minutes. It has been life changing! I can wear things I never thought I would wear again but held onto because they were – from my prior double income no kids days – “investment pieces” lol.
Anyway – modern medicine really is miraculous. I highly recommend a little plastic surgery – for me it was worth it & quite motivational to look in the mirror/exercise/etc & not feel that familiar *yuk* sensation.

Barbara
Barbara
7 months ago

Darling I’ve been with you since the beginning as well. Before the boys, before the remodel in Redmond, before the commute you hated… A week from today I’ll turn 72. Totally weird as in our heads we don’t age, just (hopefully) mature. So it’s kinda strange sometimes to see the signs of age on my body when I don’t feel my chronological age at all. After 20 some years that were absolutely grueling (“terminal” illness, so many loved ones dying I no longer know the count, a very stressful and toxic job, I am happier than I ever dreamed possible. Having the best sex of my life. Living my dream as they say. And being the oldest here I believe, if I could say one thing to you dear Linda, and all the other ladies commenting it would be love and appreciate and celebrate your bodies now. Right this minute. Start giving thanks for them. Because I promise you there will come a day you’ll look back on pictures from this time, and think you’d give anything to have that body again.
You’ve accomplished so very much, and are so very beautiful. Rock life because you can. Reframe what you see as negatives, put a new spin on it all. It’s a glorious time in your life that will not come again. Embrace it, and shine as the beauty – inside and out – that you are.

Jen
Jen
7 months ago

I feel ALL of this.

Nix
Nix
5 months ago

I turned 47 this year and I feel ALL of this so hard. My sons are grown, flown the nest and I keep thinking “You have your LIFE back, DO SOMETHING with it”…and I don’t know WHAT to do. I don’t know who I am without being MOM or WIFE (divorced 9 yrs now so that’s ridiculous) or NEEDED HUMAN BEING. And I feel adrift. I hope it’s a transition stage and I find the growth needed. It’s not a great feeling. I hope it improves for BOTH of us.