“Some people are walking around with full use of their bodies
and they’re more paralyzed than I am.” — Christopher Reeve
STUFF I KNOW © Kathleen McKern Verigin
It was about this time 12 years ago when I had a mutual birthday lunch with a younger friend. I recall saying that I was okay with aging, except now my crow’s feet are falling and they can’t get up. She suggested Botox. I laughed until she pushed aside her bangs and showed me a remarkably un-lined forehead and no frown marks between her eyebrows. Yep, she was getting Botox and had for quite some time. My first question was the cost. It was a mere $150. That’s when I decided to do it but keep it a secret, even from my husband.
The procedure wasn’t that difficult. Tiny little zaps here and there, with the promise of looking much younger than my 53-year old self. Feeling smug, and ever so youthful, I arrived at the front desk of the clinic to pay. “That will be $450,” the receptionist said. How could that be when my friend only paid $150? That’s when it dawned on me—because she was 14 years younger she needed fewer injections. Adding $450 to my credit card in early December was sobering. “What have I done?” I thought. The question faded as women friends began to remark on my youthful appearance.
You look so relaxed…
Did you just return from vacation?
Are you doing a new skincare product?
Have you replaced your old makeup for new?
I loved the questions. But even more I loved my answer. “It’s Botox!” Every single woman leaned in for a closer look, followed by my first question, “How much did it cost?”
It was fun for the first week or two, but after that, not so much. I could not move my usually expressive eyebrows. My eyelids created a landslide, almost obscuring my usually lush eyelashes. Worst of all, it felt like someone was constantly grabbing and squeezing both eyebrows. Constantly!!!! When I returned for a follow up appointment, this is what I was told.
“Oh, no worries. That’s just your paralyzed muscles trying to talk to your awake muscles. It will go away in a few months and then you’ll return for more.” Once again I wondered, “What have I done?” It didn’t take me long to answer that question. But first, understand that I have no judgment around you or anyone else who chooses Botox. If it makes you feel better, and you can afford it, then go for it.
The learning that emerged for me was around how I was feeling about aging. This as opposed to how aging was making me look. At 53 I realized I had entered what Irish writer John O’Donohue called the “autumn of my life.” The dead and useless aspects of my life were encouraging me to let go, just as a massive maple tree sheds her multi-colored leaves in autumn. Do you think the maple tree thinks, “Oh No! I’m losing my leaves! I’ll look awful! I’m old! I’m going to die soon!”
Therein lies the invitation to love and embrace my aliveness, at whatever age. I will soon turn 66. I intend to do so with gusto. I can’t twerk my bum, but I can my eyebrows. My husband still likes it when I coyly bat my eyelashes. Today I declare, I am awake, and so is my face. But, dang, those crow’s feet continue to fall and can’t get up. I wonder if there’s an alarm for seniors when our crow’s feet finally hit the floor.
My Favorite Things-Senior Words
Bill Horn Show