As I barrel down the road of life to my late 50s, there are many things that I’ve loved and held on to—for better or worse—that must be discarded. It’s not easy to say goodbye to the treasured parts of my life, thoughts and goals and, yes, delusions—but it’s time.
After an unfortunate tumble, my high heels became not fashion statements, but weapons of my imminent destruction. Out they went, pair by pair, sold on eBay or given to my sweet cleaning lady who really shouldn’t be wearing them either (and probably doesn’t). The 3 ½-inch heels and platforms have been replaced by much more sensible (and far more expensive) shoes that are almost as cute as the ones that are gone. Almost. But feeling solidly connected to the earth is worth way more than great-looking legs.
At the onset of perimenopause, when my body temperature seemed to increase at an alarming rate, I disposed of every piece of clothing that wasn’t made of a natural material. While this may not sound like a big deal, it not only thinned my wardrobe considerably, but forced me to spend far more money on my attire than I ever have before. Finding silk, cotton and linen clothing that doesn’t break the bank is a challenge, but it’s made a huge difference in my life.
I’ve given up on trying to finish books I don’t like. I don’t care if it’s a waste of $15, life is too short to spend time reading things that aren’t compelling. And also, I tossed my Kindle. While I appreciated the portability and instant gratification it offered, I felt depressed every time I turned it on and started reading. I like the heft and feel of a book in my hands, pages to turn and a dust cover to annoy me.
On the same note, I’m not renewing my subscription to Vogue. I remember the thrill of the first time I loved reading the bible of fashion—how grown-up and sophisticated I felt, how chic and gorgeous the entire magazine was. Now, it seems, I’ve read more than my share of skin care tips, new diet crazes and articles about rich, young Europeans. Also, I’ve seen the return of every decade of fashion I’ve lived through, none of which I should be wearing again.
I’ve also said a fond farewell—or not so fond—to the people I’ve known who I just don’t feel good around. It’s not their fault, and it’s not mine either. It’s just that I know what I want in my friends, and the friends that I have in my life are people who have something about them that matters to me. I may not get invited to as many parties, but since I’m more of an introvert than I may seem, that’s OK with me.
I’ve let go of the idea of ever being thin. Ever. Ever. I was skinny for about 3 months when I got married, then I got pregnant and those three months are but a distant memory. I spent years telling myself that I’d lose the extra pounds … someday. Now I know it’s never going to happen and that not everyone is meant to be slim.
I’m not going to see the world. Maybe a few places, maybe some big trips someday, but being an intrepid traveler is something I’d have become already if it were going to happen.
I’ve given up, for the most part, alcohol. I simply don’t like it. This is hard for many people to understand, and sometimes it’s hard for me to explain, but I don’t care. While I enjoy a glass of champagne or red wine every now and then, I have no desire to ever be tipsy again.
I’ve said goodbye to cigarettes. I tried about 20 times before it finally took hold. I am, all these years later, still enormously proud of this.
Most of all, I’ve let go (mostly) of feeling like I have to do anything just because either everyone else is doing it or because I’m under the impression that I’m supposed to do it. I’ve come to know myself—the good and bad, the ugly, the inconsequential—so well that I don’t have to wonder anymore if I’m missing out, being rude, wasting my time or losing an opportunity. At this point, everything is my choice. This, I will never let go of.
Previously published on Purple Clover