One of the things I know about getting older is that eventually some of my bodily functions will stop working very well. This will likely be embarrassing. I can imagine the day when someone might have to feed, wipe or clean me up, when they will talk to me about basic body functions that just aren’t what they should be.
I’ve thought about matters like drooling, spilling food or making bothersome noises when eating. About soiling myself or losing bladder functions. I’ve wondered how I will know when my dental hygiene isn’t preventing bad breath. When I’ll always talk too loud—or not talk at all—or when I won’t be able to coordinate my movements. It’s possible that, soon enough, I might have difficulty discretely clearing my throat, coughing or blowing my nose.
Embarrassment can come from the realization that our bodies aren’t working quite right, and so we might start withdrawing from those around us. (Who wants to be ashamed, hmm?) But that’s not a helpful way to deal with what seems humiliating. Staying away from others removes us from the care and understanding that we need for physical and mental well-being. Left alone with our diminishing physical capacities, it would be easy to over-imagine others’ negative reactions.
The truth in this matter: Those who already love and care for us are not going to cut and run just because we don’t look or smell good. Those who could help us adjust to changing physical capabilities are still going to be there when we need them. High-quality corrective systems, devices and materials will be increasingly available.
In my later years, I hope to live beyond body-shame, grateful for how my body still works and mindful of the beauty surrounding me in the care of others.
So be it!
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