Friday, February 08, 2019

Fear

"You learn that as you grow older, we live in a perpetual state of fear. All the horrible things we do to each other, all our misunderstandings, are because of fear."

The Old Jest. Jennifer Johnston, Page 98. Read in 2016.

Some new fears as I age. They would be unrecognizable to a younger me, then I would have classified them as "silly".

(1)Fear of becoming a crashing bore because of my health issues. So I avoid talking about them. Then, when questioned on my health status, I'm aware of looking shifty from such avoidance and quickly switch conversation to something else.

(2)Fear of the specialist I saw on Wednesday, my nephrologist, who has no time for my avoidance of 3 times daily blood pressure readings, no time for my water shortage ingestion in spite of his instructions. No time for my whiny "I can't live in the bathroom all the time" ("Oh, "sez he, in a bored monotone, "Then dialysis would be preferable?" He is excellent at what he does, but boy, bedside manner is not part of his genetic makeup. He handed me a list of what I need to do before seeing him in a month. Yes, I will comply. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

(3)Fear of getting lost. Due to my mobility issues, this is much more serious than for a healthier younger me, the running me, the adventurous me. Now when I am pounding down a sidewalk with my cane searching for something, store, medical office, etc., if it's not where I thought it was supposed to be I panic as my energy has evaporated, I need to sit down and there's nothing to sit on. So I lean, and breathe and want to cry in frustration. I was rescued by a kind stranger on Wednesday who gently guided me outside the building and led me to the correct clinic, taking time to allow for breaks. People are so very kind and caring.

(4)Fear of brain-fail. It takes me longer to learn new skills, like a knitting pattern. I have to repeat and repeat to lodge it in whatever remaining brain cell is still up for rental. Short term memory, unless I really, really concentrate, vanishes like a puff of smoke. I am mindful of working the brain via knitting, daily Scrabble, reading books outside my comfort zone. Challenging it.



(5)Political scene: femicides. A woman is murdered in Canada every 3 days by a man who purportedly loves her. The stats in many countries are similar. I've been present when men "jokingly" threaten wives that they would kill them if they caught them being unfaithful. Since I first became aware of how second class women are, way, way back in the fifties, I see regression in women's rights everywhere. Men who haven't a clue - as an example see that Gillette ad up there? - the outrage amongst some of my male friends was breathtaking. They take the line of "not all men" - neglecting, of course, to take a stand against the proliferation of porn, sex trafficking, prostitution, etc. which is so embedded in our culture as to be taken for granted. Women's (and many girl children's) bodies are commodities, products to be sold, trafficked at a whim. Trillion dollar rape industries. Imagine, I say to men I know, being anally raped twenty to a hundred times a day or giving blow jobs to hundreds of strangers. And they shudder.

A Teacher's Association Convention in Alberta booked a convicted murderer/rapist as their keynote speaker. You read that right. Only when the public outcry became a deluge did they cancel him. Read about it here.. The fact that they would even arrange all of this shows how deeply embedded rape culture is in our society: how female victims can be so thoroughly erased. And to make the story even more sordid - the reason he killed her was because he couldn't get an erection.

I fear for my own anger in these political situations. My rage is frightening to me at times and it doesn't abate as I age. It worsens. How on earth do I keep a lid on myself? How do I numb out and shrug and pretend all of this doesn't matter?

(6)Oddly enough, in such an anti-aging climate, I haven't a fear of wrinkles or age-spots, or "Looking my age" or greying. I tell people openly I am an old woman, or an elder or a crone and most react with:"You don't look it" with a little frisson. What's that about? What does "looking it" mean? Why the fear of growing old? Isn't the alternative so much worse? I have lost far too many dear ones not to celebrate my bonus years.

Anyway getting my thoughts of the day out there on paper.

As I struggle with a short memoir I am writing.




28 comments:

  1. Sadly I share most of your fears. My direction sense is good so not that one. The others? Hell yes. And I have earned my grey hairs and wrinkles.
    I really don't understand the opposition to the Gillette ad. I have watched it and don't see that it says (or even implies) that all men are bastards. Ironically, in the interests of our safety women often HAVE to make that assumption. Trust is earned not given.

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    1. Right on EC. Earned. I fear all men until I know them. They don't wear a "predator" badge, unfortunately.
      XO
      WWW

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  2. And it's often men we KNOW who rape us, apparently. Shudder.
    I'm outraged, too, by the attitude toward women -- and it's not just an attitude men have, either. Again, Shudder. Shame on some women, as well as some men.
    My heart goes out to you when you write about the loss of your confidence and stamina. I can't help hoping they will return. Sending you strength and love.
    Kate

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    1. Thank you Kate. I write about aging as a way to help others not to be ashamed or hiding from the effects of it all. There's a temptation to do this. I have a hard time explaining the spoon theory to some younger friends "No I can't do dinner, I already had enough socializing today!"
      I am MCing a feminist collective event soon. An honour, as most attendees are in their twenties, waking up to the horror of the shredding of women's rights in the last few years.
      Frankly, I am appalled at what is happening.
      XO
      WWW

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    2. I don't bother with "spoon theory", I just tell people I've had enough interaction and need to be home to de-stress.

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    3. Yes, I think our bones and mind know when we've had enough. I do like to understand tho, when I'm running on empty and why.

      XO
      WWW

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  3. No. 2 I find most distressing. My primary gave me a Stage III diagnosis several years ago, and passed me on to a nephrologist. "Why are you here?" he demanded, visit one. "Oh, you know Dr. J. It's the heirs and assigns she worries about most!" So that's our semi-annual joke and it works for us. I know hope you can make your relationship work for you.
    As for No. 3, it is what it is. I am grateful for the help of strangers. I carry in my mind's eye two pictures. A young father balancing a toddler on one arm and a four pack of Starbucks in the other hand, neatly pivoting and opening the bakery door for me. And a blind man tall, elegant, massive, consuming much of the hall outside the elevators. "Perhaps you will help me," he said as I approached. I turned and walked him back to the office I'd just left. As we went through the door I wondered how we would accost the damn punch system for check in. However, a bevy of receptionists poured into the lobby. "Oh, there you are!", and I slipped out. Mission accomplished.
    But I am cowed by brain fail. It will get me. I fight it every day. We must do the best we can, every day. Get up and carry on.

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    1. Good for you and him. But mine is humourless. I have tried to connect with him, even giving him a nice birthday card (one of my own artwork) a few years ago, he was uncomfortable placing it in the pocket of his white coat and managing a thanks. I like your story of the blind man. My good stranger man was so helpful too, even assuring himself that I was now OK. And he was in for dialysis. Irony.
      What I find most distressing are doors shutting in my face or young people racing ahead so they don't have to hold the door. I don't understand that at all.

      XO
      WWW

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  4. When younger, I thought nothing of packing a bag, getting in my car and driving hundreds of miles, with a car full of teenagers or by myself, to a place I had never been before. Now, the very thought of doing that gives me a stomachache due to anxiety. What happened?

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    1. Me too DKZ. I have to think through all outdoor maneuvers now, it is tiring even in the planning. Making allowances for unexpected events which can destroy everything! Counting my spoons ahead of time :)

      XO
      WWW

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  5. I totally understand the fear of getting lost!
    I have more than once forgotten where I parked my car and wondered how on earth I would walk far enough to find it. Any unfamiliar situation can be fear inducing simply because we know the pins may not hold up.

    This week I heard a woman complain that she doesn't want to walk too far from her car to the train station and especially not in heels. My eyes rolled back in my head, try it when your legs actually don't work, sweetheart

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    1. I guess I didn't think of pin challenges either when I was teetering around on stilettos. Lawd love a duck.

      Every walk is now calculated, scoping for benches, stops, rests.

      What the hell happened indeed!

      XO
      WWW

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  6. #5 worries me too. Civilisation has taken a giant step backward in this area. I no longer go out alone after dark even here in the suburbs and certainly never to the city.

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    1. Imagine, I would run at night alone, am 8km city circle - the only time I could being in a workaholic profession. I would not do it today even if I were that age again. It is simply terrifying out there, daily assaults, many unreported because we know your whole life is splayed out for all to see. None of us in my fairly large circle have ever, ever reported sexual assault. Last year a dear young woman of my acquaintance would not report a rape that took place in front of her two small children. I totally understood why not. The court system needs to change.

      XO
      WWW

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  7. Luckily I have few old-age failings as yet, though no doubt they'll catch up with me. But I echo dkzody in that I used to be quite confident about driving hundreds of miles on unfamiliar roads, but now I'm reluctant to take any route I'm not already familiar with, and not in the dark if I can help it. My reactions simply aren't as sharp as they used to be and I could envisage a careless accident all too easily.

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    1. Yes night driving, especially in the rain, I find quite intimidating Nick, shadows and lights and those new blinding halogen headlights that need to be banned.

      I dislike unfamiliar roads, I like to get a "feel" for them first.

      XO
      WWW

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  8. Oh, I forgot to say, I completely agree with you about regression in women's rights. It's shocking how consistently men subjugate women and how wary women have to be of any strange man who might or might not be a predator. And it's shocking how often any woman who complains is seen as the problem and not the man she's complaining about.

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    1. I so agree Nick it breaks my heart that so much is unreported and it needs to be to get the full impact of what women suffer, silently, often traumatized or addicted because of it. I have dealt with exited prostitutes over the years - the survivors (so many die) and the horror stories would give you nightmares.
      Those who advocate for "sex work" have no understanding of what's demanded from these unfortunate women/children. Or maybe they do.

      XO
      WWW

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  9. As an older person I sympathize with your fears (and share at least some of them), and as a man I also sympathize with your fear/anger of men. I of course am against bullying of any sort, physical or emotional, and actually ... I'm against violence of any kind. But remember, these days more women than men go to college and graduate school, women control over 50% of the wealth (at least in the U. S.) and when all is said and done, men die three or four years sooner than women do. I'm just saying, both men AND women need to be kinder to each other, support one another, and realize we're all in this together.

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    1. A phrase I particularly like, Tom is: "Just remember we are all just walking each other home."

      I wish I could emblazon that on walls everywhere.

      And no I don't lose track of the kindnesses either. I just truly wish that men would speak up when they see such abuse, they always seem complicit to me when they don't. Why is that I wonder?

      XO
      WWW

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  10. I can empathise, sympathise and endorse the fears you list WWW. I was 80 on 27 Jan. but didn't ever feel properly "old" in mind or body until around Christmas time 2018. It was time, I guess, and will come to us all at different stages.

    I was looking, just this morning, for an image of a phrase you happened to use in this post: "do it anyway". I want that as my gee-up , kick-in-the-butt motto for whatever time I have coming.

    Warm wishes to all here who are on a similar stage of this journey we call life. :)

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    1. Well said, T. There was a minor survey done a few years ago and an aging blog and apparently 78 was the age when some faltered and truly felt "old" as in a gradual enfeebling and physical challenges in gardening, housework, etc. You have apparently beaten that odd, which all bodes well.

      Yes the phrase was "feel the fear but do it anyway."

      I was reading up on some flexibility information. More on that later.

      XO
      WWW

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  11. Amazing post WWW. From your earlier writings and comments on my posts, I would have never imagined you to be like this but, I can understand and I admire you for having put it all down on paper. I hope that it has be cathartic and you are better off for it.

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    1. Yes, well it is just a snapshot of my life on that day, Ramana, when things seem rather overwhelming. I'm not much of a fan for sunny blogs where everything goes swimmingly well all the time as that is not representative of life, surely?
      If we're not having down days then we truly are sedated (like many of my friends, sadly) or else in denial or secrecy about the darkness that can enfold us periodically.
      I attempt to write honestly.
      And of course I have beautiful peaceful and serene days full of joy too.

      XO
      WWW

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  12. I'm mainly afraid of falling and breaking my other leg. Every once in awhile, I'll think, "I really shouldn't be doing this"---something like walking on a rocky beach or even on a sidewalk overdue for repairs. Meanwhile, I live with a kind of fear everyday. I have a special needs grandson I love dearly. Not a day goes by that I don't think of the challenges he'll face for the rest of his life and feel an aching pang of fearfulness for him. His mother had bipolar illness and is going through a bad patch right now. Sometimes I think my internal alarm system has been permanently activated by those two.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear this, Forsythia. Life must be so hard for you and those worries and fears are real but then again so out of your hands as to render you powerless to alter the course of their troubled lives.

      As we know, we can only change ourselves and I find, for me, meditation does help to centre me and keep me in the Now.

      XO
      WWW

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  13. So much adjustment — becoming aware of our limitations as they change, then figuring how to adapt — recognizing, then accepting what we cannot change, but changing what we can. Focusing on these matters, altering our activities can minimize some fears.

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  14. As someone who is pre-occupied with help (and with my fuzzy chemo-brain) I hear you. But I'm glad you can talk about it here.

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Comments are welcome.

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