Self

The Body Part That Always Betrays Your Age

Photo: Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock
woman having neck pain

Heading toward 50, we all have it.

That one body part we suddenly notice looks just like our grandmother’s (that means you too, men).

Mine is my neck. (Which makes me really miss Nora Ephron.) My legs are stronger and harder at age 48 than they have ever been thanks to twice-a-week ballet barre classes.

When I’m particularly obnoxious I ask grown men to punch me in the stomach and to not hold back because, under an insouciant layer of fat, my stomach is iron.

Be careful, you might break your hand.

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But my neck is beyond my control, as are women's necks as they age.

The flesh there is 48-year-old raised-in-Southern-California-with-no-sunblock flesh. It’s soft, loose, and buckling under the pressure of time.

I first noticed the slight bit of paper-mâché there when I was 36.

As I perused an earring display at Yoga Works I accidentally glimpsed said neck in a mirror with the sun hitting it just so.

I became my grandmother in that instant. Past her prime and folding slowly down and down and down to the earth and obsolescence.

I didn’t so much mind that my neck looked suddenly unattractive to me, but rather that I became aware for the first time that I, like all humans, was going to get old and eventually be no more.

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I’d known this intellectually, but hadn’t really understood what happens to women's necks as they age in the profound way that an altered body brings home.

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(Me, before my neck became an inspiration.)

I’m not young anymore, but I fight age with the ferocity of all of the warriors in 300: Rise of an Empire, soon to spray blood in 3-D across movie IMAX movie screens all over the nation.

I’m determined to drive, read, laugh, drink wine, travel, listen, learn, and love right up until the last moment before the curtain closes on this body of mine.

Which makes me feel unexpectedly tender toward my neck.

It reminds me time is short and that I’m lucky to be alive.

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Lucky to walk the planet like so many who have come before me and who will come after. It reminds me of my vulnerability and, extrapolating from there, the vulnerability of all people. Which elicits this well of goodwill and love toward my fellow man.

That, dear friends, is the Zen of an Aging Neck. The art of aging gracefully.

(Oh callow youth, I release you, but remember you fondly.)

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All photos: Author

Shannon Colleary is a compassionate, Recovery Road-Warrior helping women in toxic relationships invite the love they deserve. Visit her website.

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This article was originally published at The Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.