Before The Cloak Completes Me

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The veil first appeared in my late thirties. It was as useful as it was disconcerting because it gave me anonymity, allowing me to slip outside in any old thing, without make up or concern. I wasn’t worried because I saw other women wearing the same veils, and sometimes they were more obvious than mine. I felt that no-one cared how I looked, but I knew I could still slip off the veil and shine when I chose, be noticeable, and get attention when I sought it

Around age 45 I had a crisis of confidence. I did something unspeakable with my hair and struggled to find a look that suited me. I chose not to be in most holiday photos. Thanks to good friends and Baz I trusted that I would come out the other side of this ‘difficult’ stage, though that perm was nearly a step too far even for him

And yet a cloak started to descend somewhere shortly after that. Minor health issues sapped my energies and my youth. These were of no interest to anyone but me, and there was no advice on what to expect

While running at the weekend I bumped into a much-loved friend I first met when we were pregnant. I nearly walked right past her because we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years and because she was wearing her full cloak. When I saw it was her we embraced. And then all the tears came – she’s having a tough time

We have birthed, mothered, menopaused. We have neglected ourselves and deferred, trusting that we would one day have the opportunity to re-invent ‘us’ and to peel back the opaque layers that the years have added. After all, we’re still the same inside, aren’t we…

There is still time before I will become completely invisible, but I feel the weight of that cloak every single day. I urge all women to stop your veil from becoming your shroud. Go out and light up that room. What seemed at first like a convenient homogenising layer of welcome soft focus will inevitably become more dense and will obscure you if you allow it

Be you. All the time. Smile, laugh, enjoy real friends and make time to see each other