Through a Glass, Darkly
There is a woman I am painfully aware of who regularly drinks herself into oblivion as a way to cope with her life. She bemoans her appearance, indicating she looks old (she is in her early seventies) and feels shame and remorse about her lack of self control and her self destructive drinking.
She is all too recognizable as an archetype here in Florida. I feel dismay when I think of her and am not sure how to ever help her or her many unhappy “sisters” or even if these women are interested in feeling better about themselves. I suspect they use their unhappiness as an excuse to drink and numb themselves. It is systemic, chronic and ever present here in the Sunshine State.
I find that somehow our culture uses ageism as a way to market products and services to the elderly that reenforce a dehumanization and disrespect that is destructive for everyone.
Certainly it appears as if this particular woman has lost her sense of the sacred in her life, despite being a devout Catholic. She finds her reflection ugly, and cannot see any beauty in her aged face. Although her ring of white hair resembles a halo and she is completely oblivious to the fact that she is indeed the embodiment of an angel.
Likely her substance abuse has blocked her ability to access the scared in herself and the teachings of her church do little to help her in this regard.
She feels frightened and alone.
She has is no understanding that merely by her presence, she is worthy of love.
How did she come to this all too common state of affairs? When did she cease to recognize our own inner beauty?
When I look around her for the answer I find:
Kindness being portrayed as indulgence of weakness;
Introspection labeled as inaction;
Poverty as laziness;
Sexuality as pornography;
Religion as rigid dogma;
Aging as decay.
It is no wonder she and those like her feel sad and discarded. What ever have we created as a societal norm to ferment this toxic stew of misconception and misanthropy?
I think it is critical to understand the gift aging brings, feel the beauty it…