Ugh… This is a tough one to write about, but it has been haunting me and I thought I should share in case anyone else out there is feeling the same way as I am. Kind of a “misery loves company” kind of thing.
It isn’t easy to share your insecurities with others or draw attention to your “flaws”. I was wondering if it was just best to keep this to myself. But then I thought, maybe, just maybe, this post would reach somebody out there and let them know that they are not alone. Or maybe, just maybe, someone out there would let me know that I am not alone!
So, here goes…
I am 46 years old. I eat pretty good (I’m not a fan of sweets, I abstain from gluten products, and I incorporate a lot of fruits and veggies on a daily basis) I drink a lot of water, and I work out several times or more a week and am fairly toned. Up until now I felt pretty good about my looks. And honestly, I still like what I see in the mirror. Except for MY AGING SKIN!
My skin has begun to wrinkle and sag in places that have always been some of my best features. My arms and my legs! But mostly my arms. While I noticed some light wrinkling before it seems to have accelerated in the last 6 months! It is getting to where I want to keep my arms covered up. I live in Texas mind you, and being covered up in the summer really isn’t an option! We have a swimming pool too and I love hanging out there with my kids and my friends when it’s hot outside. Should I swim in a long sleeve?!?
This decline feels like it happened over night! Why?? Well, I have a couple of possible theories as to why the accelerated skin aging may have occurred, besides just plain ol’ getting older.
One thought that I have about what has happened is that all of 2017 I was pretty much completely unable to work out my arms except for a little on the biceps. Early 2017 I started having lots of pain in my left shoulder and arm. After an MRI I was diagnosed with 2 pinched nerves in the neck and also rotator cuff tendonitis. I am just now a year later starting to feel a little better, but my left arm is still much weaker. I am slowly starting to exercise my arms again, but I lost some range of motion and strength along with muscle tone. I do think it contributed a bit to why I am seeing the saggy skin on my upper arms.
Secondly is hormones! After having blood work done I discovered that my hormones are definitely a little out of whack. I appear to be in perimenopause! Eek!!! In case you don’t know what that is, it is the time leading up to actual menopause that typically can occur during the 8 – 10 years prior to the big “M”. You can read more about it here, but basically hormones begin to go awry and cause all kinds of symptoms including physical signs of aging. Great….
So maybe part of the problem is the shoulder and/or hormones. However, I know that I am mostly to blame! I spent waaaaay too much time in the “real sun” and the “fake sun” in my teens, 20’s and 30’s with little or no sun protection.
Something that should be noted: I am a fair-skinned, blue-eyed, blond of Irish decent. I am pretty sure that screams of needing sun protection!
Being a kid in the 1980’s we spent many a summer in the sun without sunscreen. Heck! We’d even sunbathe on the roof with baby oil on us! Not good! In the 80’s there wasn’t much talk of sun damage. I suffered through quite a few sunburns after a carefree day at the beach or a full day out on the lake with friends. No one really ever said, “put on sunscreen”.
Then in my 20’s tanning beds were all the rage. Who doesn’t want to be tanned? Well, some people don’t. But you know what I mean… I had no problem at all getting a membership at the local tanning salon and keeping my white, Irish skin tanned most of the year. Had to look good while we were out hitting the clubs after all…
In my 30’s I was still sunbathing some, but not as much. My 30’s was the decade of being pregnant and having kids so I wasn’t in the sun as often.
So here I sit at 46 years old. Lamenting my past sun exposure and a little PISSED that the era of baby oil sunbathing and tanning beds was during my youth. While I am ok with getting a modest amount of natural sun, there is no way I would let my daughter do what I did!
Here I sit looking at what I am sure is premature wrinkles and loose skin wondering what I can do about it now. I am pretty sure 46 is waaaaay to early for this to start happening. Shouldn’t this have waited until at least 50?? And I can’t help but wonder how much worse it will get in the next few years. That really scares me… I wonder if it will plateau at some point and not seem to get worse for a while. Or maybe I will just get used to it. She sighs….
At times I don’t notice it at all, but mostly I do. And in certain lighting I am like, what the fuck!?!!?!
Most of my “mom friends” that I have made since my kids have been in school are younger than me. Anywhere from 37 to 43 years old. Even though I shouldn’t, I can’t help but compare myself to them when it comes to my skin. As far as I can tell I am in this boat alone. Are they judging me? Are they looking at me and saying “dang look at her wrinkly arms!” Probably not. I hope not! But I can’t help but think these things…
So what do I do!? My brain tells me to accept it, suck it up, enjoy life, don’t let it get me down. Aren’t I a little vain to be concerned about this? Besides, things could be worse! There are people out there dealing with sickness and life-changing, tragic events!
My heart, well my heart is a little less positive about this whole situation. My heart is a little sad and mourns the loss of my youthful skin. Should I just stay inside and hide?
I vacillate between these two emotions. I vacillate between them almost daily. Sometimes it is all consuming and sometimes I kick the negative thoughts to the curb.
The other day when I was “kicking the negative thoughts to the curb” this is something that I wrote down:
“It’s a beautiful day and the sun is setting. Earlier in the day I was lamenting about getting older. Well, not really getting older, but the aging that comes with it… I grapple with how my skin is changing. How my face is changing. How my body is changing. I’m not the young girl that I used to be… free of wrinkles and sagging skin. But as I watch the sunset, I am happy that I am still here and I am with my family. I really need to get over the “aging” thing. It happens to everyone. And at different times. I need to accept that my outward aging has begun. Even though I still feel like a younger version of my current self. I will never be 30 again or even 40 and I must accept this.”