I no longer recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror. I know what is happening—it's a condition called "feeling invisible" for women going through menopause. I get it, aging seems to be speeding up and everyday I'm more taken aback by the woman that is supposed to be me in my reflection, video chat, or photographs.
Do you ever feel this way?
I'm usually quite self-assured. I have always felt good in my own skin, even though being a Black woman in America has brought its fair share of hurdles related to beauty and size. But now, everything feels off balance. I just want to regain the peace I previously had.
Though I know the fountain of youth is just a myth, I still wish I could take a sip! Aging affects us in ways beyond what we see with the naked eye—the changing of our bodies, skin, hair and more can be alarming.
Maybe I'm too superficial for my own good. Maybe it's time to learn to be content with who I am right now. Perhaps...
What is the distinction between embracing aging and actually aging? When I was younger, every time someone mentioned growing old, I would jokingly respond with, "I'm going kicking and screaming." Nowadays, I may still be screaming but I don't have the strength to kick anymore.
A recent Psychology Today article shed light on this "invisibility" issue, further highlighting its complexity and how it relates to aging. After reading several articles, I understood that the concern was not rooted in death anxiety but rather sexual and aesthetic issues. For as long as I can remember, these matters have been an integral part of my identity. Stilettos, fashionable garments, and meticulously designed hairstyles were all part of my life from a young age—I'd even thought about becoming a fashion designer at one point. It was always nice to garner compliments for my outfits or draw attention with the way I dressed. That has been my go-to attitude for 40 years—though others may not be aware of the drastic changes within me, I am very much conscious of them.
Just like professional athletes and business leaders whose careers suddenly come to an end, that's how I feel about aging. But I am grateful for the words of Suzanne Ayer Lay, a member of the MW USA Leadership Circle, from her Grapevine devotion "Falling In." She said, "Everything could fall apart—every leaf could fall from the tree—and followers of Jesus will come together and tend to the roots, because we know about new life." This was really impactful; it brought me peace as I endure all the changes within myself. It lets me direct my attention towards those aspects of my identity in new creative ways. Most importantly, holding on to the hope that in Christ Jesus, transformation into a new life is taking place. I pray that I can live into this new life with grace for myself.
Rev. Cyneatha Millsaps
Executive Director + Midwest Regional Representative
Mennonite Women USA