For so many years, for more years than I can count, I have felt comfortable in my own skin. I have been secure and strong and well covered in that skin, and I have grown and changed and spread my wings under its protection.
The skin of my profession, where I was successful, respected, admired. The skin of my role in my family of origin, where I was the outspoken leader, looked-up-to, valued, and sometimes deferred to. I was happy and secure in the skin of motherhood, where I understood my role, recognized its boundaries and reached its lofty goals.
All of a sudden now, in the middle of the sixth decade of my life, my skin no longer fits.
Professionally, I have found that, without a warning or alarm, I am no longer the respected and valued voice of experience. While I was busy completing my professional development products, and reading the latest research on guided reading, the superhighway of knowledge passed me right by, and threw me to the curb. I am now, suddenly, the voice of all that is passe and out of date. I am the voice toward which every modern eye must be rolled. I am a dinosaur.
In my family of origin, I have somehow moved seamlessly from “spokesperson” to “over functioning control freak”, although my actions and my attitude haven’t changed a bit. I am no longer the object of admiration, but am suddenly the object of wary regard.
And as for motherhood…..They grew up, they changed, they have left me in the dust.
My skin no longer fits. My comfortable, stretchy, supremely recognizable-as-me skin no longer covers the bumpy scars of my development. It no longer contains the bubbling enthusiasm of my youth. My skin is suddenly, and all at once, too large, too small, too loose and too constricting.
I am a new and skinless creature, standing on the edge of the clearing, peering toward the firelight. I have no idea what color or shape or texture my new skin may assume, but I know that I will not recognize it when it appears before me. I know that for now, for these next few tender moments, my challenge will be to shed my old skin, mourn its loss, and find a way to force myself to accept whatever new form my new self will take.