My Sister-In-Law Is Old
Tina has her sister-in-law on the show today, and it's her birthday. Michelle is 45 and feeling really old this year. It's actually Tina's birthday too! She is also 45. But she is not experiencing the same feelings... WHY?
Join in and listen as Michelle and Tina discuss turning 45 and having such different feelings about it. They talk about perspectives that are quite similar as well as those that differ due to life experiences thus far in life.
They hit on some deep subjects, but do a lot of laughing too, as they take inventory of what turning 45 means to them, and why.
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Tina - Hello and welcome back. Have I got a treat for you! You do not have to listen to just my voice today. Congratulations and you’re welcome! I have one of my favorite people on the planet joining us today, so let me tell you a bit about her.
Michelle Holbrook is with me. She is a teacher at Lambton College in the Child and Youth Care program, she also works with us at Life’s Seasons Care & Support as a counsellor, she is the fantastic bonus mom to my two nieces, married to my brother which makes her lucky enough to be my sister in-law, AND she is really, REALLY old.
I have asked her to be on today’s show because of how OLD she is. Today is Michelle’s birthday and she is 45 years old. Yes, March 2, 1977, Michelle was born, and it was a glorious day!
Michelle – Yes, it was certainly a glorious day as it was also the day you were born. Funny enough it was also a Wednesday all those years ago.
Tina - Really? I had no idea. That’s kind of cool.
Michelle - I still find it hilarious that we were born on the same day, same year and just kilometers apart. I was born in Sarnia and you in Petrolia. It is amazing that we did not cross paths before we did, but I think we both know that our parents could not have handled that. SO, our lives crossed when they were supposed to.
Tina - We have discussed that it is so strange that we never met before we did, since our circles ran pretty close to one another. But we did say that given who we were as teens, we would have fought and that would have changed everything moving forward. God had it all under control lol. Keep them separated until they grow up and mature a little lol.
Michelle - Thankfully He did have it under control.
Tina - And yes, it is my birthday too, same day and same year, but oddly I am not old today and you are. How did that happen?
Michelle - Perspective! We have had some incredible highs and devastating lows over the last 5 years. Turning 40 was not a big deal for me, I was excited about it. The number has never affected me like the thought of 45 has. Maybe it is because I feel like I have lived more life in the last 5 years than ever before.
Tina - Ok, truer words have never been spoken. Personally, and together, we have had so many really hard experiences – almost since we met (what’s that about lol?).
Michelle - I think that was also part of His plan. We could lean on each other throughout everything.
Tina - I agree with you on that 100%. That has been a true gift. It’s been an extreme ride with exactly what you said, incredible highs and devastating lows. And it has had an impact on us.
Listen, I have to share a text you sent me just a couple weeks ago. I was lying in bed and got a text where you literally said that you were horrified, sitting there realizing that we were almost 45. I replied saying, “and you thought you should text me so I could be horrified with you?”
Michelle - YES! I wanted some company in my freak out. But no luck for me. Although, I am excellent at avoiding things and this is the one thing every year that keeps happening regardless of how hard I try. For example, remember back in the fall when you wanted me to do a podcast on avoidance and I excelled at avoiding that completely. Then, you suggested this podcast because we were so far off on our feelings about turning the same age and I had a strict deadline, the calendar!
Tina - You so completely nailed doing a podcast on avoidance that you avoided it altogether and it didn’t happen. Is that the definition of success for you? Lol
Michelle - Well maybe not success, but it is hilarious!
Tina - And listen, I understand you were wanting to share the moment with me, of being horrified, but I suggested that you share Reece’s peanut butter cups instead.
Michelle - Which is exactly what we should do regardless. I am not sure why our husbands didn’t send a Reece’s Peanut Butter cake to us today??
Tina - For real though, what is the deal for you? Have you figured that out? Have you come to some sort of conclusion as to why this is such a biggie for you?
Because I don’t think you’re wrong. I don’t think you have a bad attitude or anything. I’m just wondering if you can pin-point a bit where this is coming from.
Because it happens. I have heard so many people talk about “that birthday”. The one that got them and had them reeling in fear or sadness or disbelief.
Michelle - I have reflected on this a lot since you suggested this episode for us to do together. I think there are many reasons to it. We are closer to 50 than 40, my husband is three years younger than me, my kids are growing up so quickly, I can say I have 20 years left of work, getting my pension statements, lots of thoughts about the next phase of life so many conversations about health with so many people but I think there are two main reasons for this feeling this year. One is due to some of my own health concerns over the last few years and changes to my body and secondly the loss of some very important people to me and how young they were and the fact that my parents are also aging.
Tina - Ok, yes, yes, and yes. All of that. All of what you said is so relevant. I actually want to break them all up a bit because I think they each have their own importance.
First you said that we are closer to 50 than we are 40. And that is of course because we were taught in school that you round up when you get to the 5 lol. We are halfway between 40 and 50 which means we round up and bam! There’s 50 peeking at us from around the corner. And something else we were taught when we were young, is that 50 is really old lol.
Michelle - Math has never been my strong suit lol, just feels old.
Tina - And your husband is 3 years younger than you. It’s a daily reminder that you are OLDER, isn't it? And I’m not even making that a joke here because I know how this works. It’s just working in my favor in my case. My husband is older than me. By 20 years! I’m just kidding. It’s 7 years though. And it is actually a daily reminder to me that I am YOUNGER. It’s very helpful to my self-esteem lol.
Michelle - You were the smart one in this situation. A daily reminder of your youth! This may be the reason that I love to remind you that you were born first and are soooo much older than me, you know like 12 hours...LOL...it counts!
Tina - Well, there you go... you’ll always have that lol. Too bad it didn’t speak to my maturity. But it so doesn’t, does it? No need to answer that. Moving on...
But you also talk about your pension statements and having 20 years left of working. I don’t really care about that. You’re just bragging now because you have retirement in your future. I’ll just have to have a desk put in my room at the nursing home. One thing though about that younger husband... won’t it be great for you say, “have a great day at work today honey, and then go back to bed?” We’ll see who wishes they were older that day.
Michelle - Except anyone who knows me, knows I won’t retire, there is always more work to do...but it remains a fun fantasy occasionally.
Tina - Yes, I totally understand that. That will just be your full-time move over to Life’s Seasons. And that is my fun fantasy seeping out lol.
All kidding aside though, you then mentioned health concerns and so much loss as factors in your feelings about your birthday this year. I think that is big. Because it makes sense. Do you mind if we go there and look at that closer?
Michelle - Absolutely! Maybe we should start with health as it ties into loss. About 4ish years ago I got the dreaded letter in the mail after a pap test that stated my pap was irregular and had shown precancerous cells. This started a very long journey for me. To save you from the long boring details, I can say that I had numerous procedures to remove parts of my cervix to remove precancerous cells and do biopsies. I was always living with some pretty significant discomfort, but it was way better than cancer.
Throughout this journey, my mother-in-law, your mom died of ovarian cancer. I watched my family lose their mom, grandma, wife, sister, aunt and in my profession of Child and Youth Care - a mentor. It was devastating.
There was no way I was going to be talking about this out loud. There was no way I could imagine having cancer or even telling anybody about it. Then boom, you were diagnosed with cancer. How could I ever look at my husband who lost his mom and was so worried about his big sister and even say the word cancer? Naturally, it was all pretty intense. So, I retreated. From relationships, from my career, from my hobbies, from everything.
Last April, I was having tremendous pain and went to the ER. I was immediately brought in for emergency surgery as my ovary was contorted. As you also experienced, waking up alone from surgery is not fun. Covid! Then when the doctor came to talk to me the next morning, I was informed that my fallopian tubes were removed as the doc saw cancer there. And the avoidance continued.
Finally, after being poked and prodded for 4 years, last October I had a full hysterectomy and have no cancerous cells and received the all clear.
But this put me into immediate menopause. What do you think about when you think about menopause? For me, other than hot flashes and night sweats I think of old women. LOL How am I this old woman now?
Tina - And how are you this old woman over night? Because it was going to sleep and waking up into menopause due to the surgery and how the removal of what all was taken from you works.
Michelle - Although I feel so much better now and do not live with daily pain and discomfort which I am incredibly thankful for, being in immediate menopause at 44 and having to wear an estrogen patch for the foreseeable future, makes me feel really old.
Tina - Ok, and I get what you are saying... my surgery, after I was diagnosed put me into menopause as well, but even with the estrogen meds that were needed, they gave me the birth control pill which made me feel like I was young again. And we could make all kinds of jokes here about that... and we have lol... but again, it can be the smallest of details that can make a huge impact on our feelings and perspective about a situation.
Michelle - Yes, there is that word again, perspective.
Tina - You get slapped with an estrogen patch like it’s part of your morning routine at the nursing home and that makes you feel old, and I get the same med in a different fashion and jokingly ask my husband if he wants to fool around because I’m on the pill.
Really though, the realities of the traumatic health experiences we’ve had were so different in themselves, especially I think with timing playing a big role.
Sure, it’s really big being told you have cancer. That completely knocked the wind out of me. But I was then in surgery a few months later. I had some crazy scary months, and yes, while we were all grieving losing mom. But your health issue was years. And I think that those years would (or at least could) feel like years full of energy and effort being expended just to keep getting through it – in pain, in discomfort, in worry, and in distress. It really could feel like years lost, couldn’t it?
Michelle - It really did feel like so much time was lost. I was pushing forward to get the day-to-day stuff taken care of but nothing beyond that. I wasn’t giving more of myself than I had to in every aspect of my life because I was in pain and tired.
Tina - I feel more like if I lost any time during my health concern, it was the time immediately following the surgery when I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t go to work or clean my own house. And that is, I think, pretty much all I do in life lol. But that was still just a matter of weeks. And I really don’t even know how many because hey, you want to talk about brain fog?
I think it’s part of the immediate menopause and meds and then yes, the aging too I suppose. I mean I have always written myself notes, but now they are written in full paragraphs. Point form will just confuse me. If all it says is “call so and so”, I will stare at it wondering, “for what?” It has to say “call so and so about such and such to explain blah blah blah – you said you would” Ok, that is the kind of note I have to write myself. And really, at that point I may as well have written them a letter. Because I wrote myself one anyways. LOL. But it’s what I need... so, it’s what I do. We adjust.
Michelle - Adjust... like re-learning how to do my make-up. Googling eye make-up for drooping eye lids, and then being so excited because there is a YouTube video for that lol.
Tina - You told me about that one day at work, like you were cracking a joke and I took it very seriously. I went home and looked it up and learned it myself. Again, adjust.
Michelle - Yes, there is a lot of shifting happening. Can I say that I now look at my hands and see my mom’s? I look at hers and see my grandma’s. I mean it’s beautiful, but also something to reckon with.
Tina - Do I ever resonate with that. Especially when I have all my rings on, some being my mom’s, and then top it off by grabbing her hair scissors and having them in my hands... the hands of mine that I knew are gone. I now see my mom’s. And yes, beautiful but something to work at grasping, as well.
Michelle - You are also reminded of your hands being like your moms regularly by our little girls, they are always saying you have grandma's hands. I love that so much. And there is another reason to feel old, I just referred to our kids as the little girls as most do in our family as they are the youngest of all the kids, but they are 12 and 13 now. We are starting to have conversations about high school and grade 8 graduations.... how did THAT happen?
Tina - Oh, I know. Someone on Facebook asked me the other day why they didn’t hear funny stories about my daughter, Tarryn anymore. I said because she is 12. She’s not funny anymore. She’s scary.
Michelle - And as I see the progression towards the women ahead of us, I want to know things they know. Even grandma’s recipe for relish. I want her hands to teach my hands how to make that.
Tina - Bless your heart. I would appreciate you knowing too, because it’s so yummy, but I don’t have any desire to learn anything that has me in the kitchen. How about I go outside and grow the cucumbers for you? That keeps me a good distance from any kitchen.
Michelle - That is the perfect deal as I do not want to garden!
Tina - I think for me, in experiencing the grandmas in my life and watching my kids’ grandma’s do their grandparent magic... I want to be a grandma. I can’t wait for that.
Michelle - 100 percent agree. I can’t wait to be a grandma either. Amber gave me a candle at Christmas that said Instead of grandbabies, can I interest you in a candle? Her way of telling me it will be a while yet. LOL. Worth the wait.
Tina - Absolutely worth the wait. And what a lovely smelling house you will have in the meantime with your candle lol. And moving from a mama to a grandma will be fabulous, but another big adjustment. And this word adjustment is making me go back and think about what else you mentioned in your reasonings for this perspective of feeling old this year. It was through some huge adjustments we had to reckon with and face, and that was in our experiences of so much loss these last few years.
Michelle - Yes, ...as I mentioned earlier, mom was very young. She was 62 when she died. And we are rounding up to 50 here, so 62 is not a long way from that. We lost my brother-in-law when he was 40 – younger than us. My dad was in his 50’s. I know that your grandma was in her 50’s and you lost your son’s father as well, just in the last couple of years. He was in his 40’s. He was actually just shy of 45, wasn’t he? Our age now.
Tina - Yes, that’s true. He was just weeks away from his 45th birthday. And I think that’s another thing playing against me “feeling” old. I feel like I can’t be. I don’t get to be. My boys need me to be young and healthy with lots and lots of years left because I watched them lose their dad. They can’t then lose their mom too. It’s too much. I can’t get old. They need me to be young still.
Michelle - I can understand this perspective for sure. This all starts playing in my mind as the calendar continues to move forward. Honestly, I am not even sure why this even started for me, but I think I can attribute it to COVID. It feels like there has been so much loss of middle-aged people in the last couple of years. I have known of 3 people since December that have passed away in their mid-forties or early fifties.... and it feels a little too close to home.
Tina - We’ve definitely been faced with the reality of death these past few years. As a family, but certainly as community, nation, and world experiencing this pandemic. But this is actually what I’m hearing you say in all of this – because again, this is not you looking at the negative or having a bad attitude – what I am hearing you say is that 45 has got you taking inventory.
You are pausing for a moment to take in all you have been through, endured, and survived. Turning 45 is the event that has you reminiscing about what has been hard, who you miss, and all the changes that have and are taking place around you, within you, and to you. And that is not even just a normal thing to do... but such a healthy thing to do. We’ve talked many times on this show about taking inventory. Stopping and checking in with yourself. See how you are doing. Be diligent and purposeful in really knowing what your thoughts and feelings are right now... and why. And that’s what I hear you doing as you explain all this to me.
Michelle - It’s exactly what I am doing, and I appreciate you saying that it is normal. And then taking it further by saying it is healthy. Because I know this. I know this to be normal and healthy, but I think we have to keep reminding each other. We could have these thoughts and feelings, even fears of aging come, and then feel guilty and shameful for them. But there is no guilt to feel here. There is no reason to feel shameful. This is actually part of the process. This is why we do hear so many people talk about what you said in “that birthday” being the big one that hit them. They didn’t have a year of bad attitude. They paused and did an inventory of where they have been, where they are, and where they are going... and all the details within those spaces.
Tina - And I just want to mention too, that with the guilt and shame that could creep in, there is also the chance of silence. Feeling so ashamed of having these feelings that some would say you shouldn’t have, that you decide to be quiet and keep them to yourself. And that’s one of the huge reasons why I want to thank you for your vulnerability and transparency today. You talked out some important thoughts and feelings that we NEED to talk about more. I appreciate you so much for this. Because not only did you let us hear about your experience of turning 45 and what that has brought with it, but you’ve taught many of us how to also look at this when it comes. And to let it come without guilt or shame.
I am going to appreciate this even more when I get old. I understand you are now old, so thank you for paving the way for me, for when I get there. I may be biologically older than you. But you’re by far more mature lol.
Michelle - I think that is debatable! LOL Thank you for allowing me the space to be vulnerable and honest in my reflection of 45! Although I was very nervous about sharing my story, thinking who would want to hear all that? I am hopeful it helped someone come to terms with the number being exactly where you are meant to be. When your “that birthday” comes around, I will be here to remind you of how OLD you are.
Honestly, I do appreciate you for sharing today, but I have to say that I just appreciate you in general. My family yes, but how cool to be friends too. We don’t tolerate each other. We truly love each other, and I am blessed to have you so closely in my life.
Tina - God definitely had a plan for us. Thank you. Love you very much!
And we thank you for joining us here today too, friends. If you didn’t learn a thing, we hope you were at least amused by our aging stories... as Michelle grows old.
Happy birthday Michelle. I love you more than Reece’s peanut butter cups.
Goodbye for now friends. We’ll speak again soon.