The Evolution of a Woman. Aging. No filter.

Where is my filter? I use to have one, at least, in my mind, I would hold back some of the petty and useless rhetoric that would be doing circles in my brain during small talk and conversations with friends and acquaintances. Maybe I just said nothing. That is more likely.

Turning 50 wasn’t as bad as I had envisioned twenty or thirty years ago. Frankly, back then the distant future was just an abstract thought, not real. Today, I am teetering on the edge of mid-life, but don’t feel like a mid-lifer. I live life in my skin that fits comfortably and I can still wear my daughter’s hand-me-down jeans and do the things I loved in my 20s and 30s … I do some even better!

As my 50th year begins to fade away, I am contemplating some of my own recent behavior with wonder and a bit of dread. Am I witnessing my own evolution into a blunt, inappropriate, over-sharing crotchety old lady?

Recently, I find that justifications, call-outs, and ridiculous emotional outbursts are rocketing out of my mouth before I know it and then later I feel weighted by those impulsive and unfiltered words. Did I really just say that?

Of course, the words are formed from my own thoughts, the stories are true (ok, maybe somewhat exaggerated depending on the amount of wine I’ve consumed) just unfiltered. Did I really need to go off about my unpopularity, plight, and efforts to ensure that my daughters’ appreciate their cush lives by forcing them to volunteer at a homeless shelter, give up their Xmas money for presents to struggling family and donate their unwanted clothes and toys?

Holiday parties surrounded by pretty people with wine and twinkle lights are when the filter seems to dissolve. Maybe it’s because I have some deep-seated social anxiety that I have learned to deal with over the years, but as I get older the facade gets a little flimsy. Or maybe I just start telling the story, get caught up in the moment and just don’t give a damn if it’s well received or not? It’s hard to say.

But I do care, at least a few hours later when I feel the weight of regret. Did I make an asshole out of myself? OMG, did I sound like a bragging mom? ugh. I do not want to be “that mom.” Right?

I have a pretty good sized family, but most of them live a few states away. It’s not huge like some of my friend’s families with 32 cousins and 2nd cousins, but when we get together there is a lot of hugging, yelling over each other and small children under feet. We have the obnoxious and loud, the fit and beautiful, the a-little-heavy-on-the-sauce, the smart quiet type, and the angry family members. A normal family. In my experience, each family has their own crazy. It’s ok, it adds flavor!

As the matriarchs age in my family, their filters seem to also disappear. The gift of age seems to give them the consent and uncanny ability to boldly share and express their opinions without fear of consequence. I have seen this happen many times. Most of the men in my family don’t seem to have this affliction, well, except maybe one or two.

At a recent gathering, I witnessed my mother, in all her wine-infused glory, drop the filter and without hesitation share her very strong angry views of men to a handful of friends we had over for dinner. Her stories from 30 years ago were flowing freely and sprinkled with some spicy four-letter-words and profanity. A few times, without thinking (again, flimsy filter) I would express with shock and horror “Mom?!”, like an embarrassed teenager. That’s about all I could say. Despite my horror, my understanding friends brushed off her behavior with a shrug, giggle and a polite “it’s in every family.” Do you think our society’s cautionary tales of adorable outspoken elders desensitizes the younger generations and gives elders a safe sense of comfort that they can say anything and get away with it?

I wonder, is that going to be me in 20 years? Will I walk in the same shoes as Mother and Grandmother? I walk in my own shoes (an abnormal size 10, sometimes 11) and although I am recognizing some less than perfect behavior of my own, I am hopeful the filter will be in place for a bit. Or maybe I will just obnoxiously exaggerate about the good and bad behavior of my children, my efforts as a single mom during the teenage years and reminisce about the infamous years I was dirty River Guide and saucy Caesar’s Tahoe cocktail waitress.

I am also finding that when I am put on the spot or am the center of attention that my filter falters and ridiculous outburst ensue. I am fortunate to live in the mountains. The women that surround me are all incredibly fit and pride themselves on their health and athletic strengths. The hot natural look is in with little makeup and the fashion du jour is Patagonia, The Northface and Title Nine.

I decided to get eyelash extensions for the holidays because they looked so good on my daughter (and I wouldn’t need to wear mascara for a few weeks). I was a little self-conscious but actually started to really enjoy them. A few close friends noticed and asked. I gave them the honest 411 on the lash extension and where to get them. Most people didn’t really notice or just didn’t say anything. One afternoon, I was cross-country skiing with my bestie who had just recently gotten lash extensions too. The lashes looked great, in fact, more natural than mine. As we were finishing up our ski, we ran into a group of ladies who immediately noticed my lashes.

For some reason, I felt like I was really on the spot, self-conscious and uncomfortable. Without thinking, again flimsy filter, I immediately tried to deflect the attention and called-out my friend’s new lashes as more natural than mine. She was not looking for any attention. I felt bad and apologized after we skied away from the ladies. The weight again on my shoulders.

So stupid, right? I need to just OWN IT and move on!

Honestly, I am not ready to fully embrace the evolution of old age. I still have my foot wedged into the door of my youth. That door will stay open as long as possible. I am hopeful that this exercise will elevate my awareness of what is flying around in my brain and not out of my mouth. I will do better (even when the wine is involved).

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I will be old at some point, but until then I will leave the purple hats, derogatory phrases and unsolicited opinions to my elders who, by the grace of God and our society have been granted the right to have no filter just because of their time on this earth. I promise to love, accept and continue to express my shock and horror as I see fit.



Enjoy the climb.