Scars, Spring and the Locker Room

Ageing with GraceThe women’s locker room is the premier place for women to notice each other. A place where women of  ages three to eighty gather on a daily basis and share the peculiar experience of being together without their clothes on. How do you behave in the locker room? Do you avert your eyes, have long conversations in the nude, compare yourself to others, or simply feel comfortable in your own skin? Do you ever think if only I could have “her” body I would be happier?

You are enough. Underneath your outside layer lies the common bond of the human experience shared with others. Your heart has the potential to become large and loving. Your physical appearance is simply an outward manifestation of your inner beauty.

 

 My Experience in the Locker Room

I am taking a personal risk, exposing my vulnerability to the internet world, to share what I perceived as a weakness.  I am sixty years old, and the older I get the less I care about what others think (it is a relief). I’m ready to tell all.   I’m learning that boldness and humor are essential to gracefully managing the ageing process.

I had a mastectomy seven years ago, and have only one breast. I usually go to the gym five days a week, and after a lot of personal work, no longer try to hide my somewhat disfigured body. One day, I was standing totally naked next to a beautiful four year old who was staring at me. She wasn’t starting at my face, but at my chest. She seemed curious and perplexed, not upset. I smiled at her and her mother apologized for the staring.  All of a sudden there was a deep connection I made with her mom, who quickly began to tell me about her younger sister’s recent death from breast cancer.

 

The Importance of Connection

She needed to talk about the death and her own fear of getting breast cancer, since she had a long history in her family and they carried the BRCA gene that makes you more susceptible.

She spoke matter of factly, but was clearly relieved to have another woman to talk to her understood her situation. She needed reassurance that she could survive her biggest fear.  We both needed to connect.

 

The Lessons

I learned a lot that day about scars, illness, and ageing. I noticed that what I perceived as “something wrong with me” ended up being seen as a sign of survival. My mastectomy was a signal that I was alive and well, and that I could provide hope to others. Reaching out and sharing your truth can help you find the humanity in others. You are opening your heart and bestowing a gift.

 

The Choice

Next time you are unhappy about your physical appearance, you have a choice. You can remember that your true self has nothing to do with your physical appearance, and your beauty lies within. Go to the locker room and notice the inner beauty of each woman you see, focus on others, and you will find you are less harsh with yourself.

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