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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

When You Can't Fix It: No Matter How Hard You Try

It has taken me years, but I finally "get" that there are some things I cannot fix. And that's okay. I can't find a wife for my 45-year-old son; thus, I can't count on being a grandmother--something I would love. I can't fix my husband's issue with procrastination: I can't develop his new web site or submit more photos to shows and competitions. And I can't fix our broken government with a President, Congress, and Senate that are divided into those who have a moral compass but no spine and those with a spine but no moral compass.

I have always been healthy with no major physical or emotional problems. Yes, I've had a few varicose veins that needed repair, an emotional downturn during the winter months, and a few grand mal seizures. (Thankfully, those falls from grace are under control with medication, and it seems that I've fixed the problem.)

But yesterday I understood that I can't fix the chronic pain in my back (and who knows what other physical issues will come my way as I age.) Sure, working with a physical therapist helps--for a time. And then I take a dance class and limp home to stretch and ice.

I'm lucky. I have a friend with MS. I have a friend with a host of health issues, including restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia, the residue of Legionnaire's Disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. She can't walk in the mornings, often has problems catching her breath, and is forever plagued by fatigue.

But she never complains. She carries on with with an acceptance of her limitations. She knows she can't fix these diseases that may worsen with age but that she can live within the day she's in and enjoy all the times when the fear and pain can be set aside.

As I said, yesterday was the big "Ah, Ha" moment for me: I would be living with the effects of a spinal compression in L4 that I could never fix. The discomfort--often pain--would never go away. It would follow me like a a bad, recurring dream. And to grasp that reality was both a depressing and enlightening recognition that, as an older woman, I could not bounce back like I used to, that I might not bounce back at all.

I can do what I can to alleviate the consequences of fracturing my back, but I can never fix it like I can fix writer's block . . .

or a garden with too many empty

spots . . .

or a marriage that sometimes feels like a trap from which I cannot escape.

I have joined the ranks of older women who face what can seem like an onslaught of physical and emotional challenges. Will we "pull it up" like we did when many of us were raising children while trying to juggle a career? Facing a divorce?

Fighting for equity in the workplace and in society at large?

Leaving friends and family for parts unknown?

My bet is yes: we older women are strong, wise, and powerful. We can look in the rear view mirror and use that experience with its ups and downs and put what we can't fix in perspective and carry on with grace under pressure.

Sometimes, not being able to fix ourselves, no matter how hard we try, can be a blessing in disguise.


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