the incredible shrinking me
Well I am 40 and all, and I know that sometimes people do get smaller with age. Discs slipping, or deteriorating, or something having to do with being an old hag.
But that’s not the kind of shrinking I’m doing. It’s not physical exactly, although it does seem to be physically noticeable. I came home from work the other day and my sister looked at me and said, “You’re shorter”.
It’s my presence. My outer persona maybe. Growing up in my household, I had to do a lot of things on my own; learn lessons of life without being taught, fend for myself, take on more responsibility than I could handle, and function in roles that were too adult for me to manage. All of the girls in my family dealt with this. Lots of people have to do this – grow up too soon. I think one day I just went into my closet and decided to put on a big person. Kind of like when bikers wear leather gear to protect them as they ride, I selected an invisible, hard, candy coating to surround me and protect the smooshy girl inside.
This way I could go into the world and do all the things I was afraid of. I was a tough girl now. Street smart. Worldly wise. And I told myself I was long and tall, like a model, so that I could be aloof and distant and poised. I had a lot of things to take care of in my life, and I didn’t want anyone to get near my heart; so I had to create a candy coating for that as well, and tuck it away in the tall, strong, independent woman I was trying to create.
Only this person I created wasn’t really ME. It was someone that could protect me from things, yes. This person was so tall, nobody could really reach her. This person was so shielded, nothing could get inside the candy shell. This person was so strong, she had no need for anyone else. And in the end, she was pretty alone.
So now, as I’m learning to be the real me – the me underneath the shell – I’m finding I’m much more little than I had realized. I’m physically shorter than I actually thought I was. My driver’s licenses from years and years all say I’m about two inches taller than I really am. I just thought I was bigger, because I had made myself to be that way.
I’m also weaker than I used to be. Maybe I expended so much energy doing everything on my own and taking care of myself for so long, I no longer have the strength I used to. I suppose that happens anyway as we age, but it’s funny to me when something I used to be able to carry is way too heavy for me, and I need to get help. It makes me feel little, and small, and it’s kind of cute to me. It’s like I’ve shrunk, or gone back in time to a teeny me in junior high school, who is just a little bit of a thing and can’t possibly reach half the stuff in my house.
So yeah, I’m the incredible shrinking woman coming out of her protective candy shell. And somehow that manages to sound like the plot for a porn.