I suddenly feel that in some ways my middle age is a huge disappointment. Besides realising that there are so many things that I wanted to do, but now may not fit them in, there seem to be continuous stumbling blocks that I had thought would miraculously be out of the way at this stage of my life. Pheromones, hormones, menopause, mid life crisis, whatever it is, once a woman is in her fifties there is a subtle and sometimes not so subtle shift in her needs. It is not necessarily our partners, our jobs, or our children we have had enough of, its ourselves. The years of carefully constructed lives that have made us wives, career women, mothers, suddenly feels totally dissatisfying. Let’s be honest, nowadays most of us hit middle age and still have a whole heap of caring duties. Teenage children, adult children, elderly parents, domineering in-laws, partners agonising over dodgy business partners, not uncommon for us to find we have become full time psychiatric nurses to those around us. We are all proficient liars, to ourselves and those around us, because without a carapace daily life would be impossible. We have learnt to construct carefully, our ways of being women, the ways we present ourselves to a world in which we are constantly observed and constantly judged. Middle aged women have disassociation down to a fine art. Try spending just one day being totally honest with those close to you, in both your home and workspace, and you may not have a friend, job or spouse by the end of it.
Is this our mid life crisis which is a transition of identity and self confidence? We are at the stage where there is a general downward drift of our physical features as weight and gravity take their toll and this coincides with increased self awareness and the realisation that we have finally got a bit better at working out what we want. So where we are empowered on the one hand, we become a little insecure on the other. Carol Burnett quoted, “I finally got my head together, and my ass falls apart.”
So how do we articulate this dissatisfaction? How do we experiment with other ways of being ourselves without hurting those we love and destroying what we have? The tragedy for so many of us is that the desire to experiment with a different self can destroy the life we are leading, when all we really want is a holiday from it.
Perhaps men have always been “allowed” the mid life crisis more readily, when all our lives, both men and women are a process of constant negotiation with the different selves we want to be at different times.
The feeling that you forget until it is awakened. As happily married or involved as you can be you can suddenly become captivated. You become aware of his every move, nuance, tilt of his head, you can feel his eyes on you. As you pass things across a laden lunch table, the hairs on your arms raise as his skin briefly touches yours. The friction brings colour to your throat and you can hear yourself breathing, ears thumping. Surreptitiously, you glance around to see if anyone is noticing this discomfort, but the cutlery is clanging as people are eating, voices are raised between mouthfuls of food and gorgeous wine. When you are touched by this power, perhaps enjoy the glow, the tumultuous ups and downs of emotions, and then let it pass. The awakening is sweet. Alternately become the rationalist who acts on a moment of impulse.
I’m loving writing this, as right now, I am sure that every one of you ladies reading this, is identifying on some level. Perhaps over analysing this change is pointless, but it is always so good to know that there are many of us out there, who are so grateful on one hand for the life we lead, and so dissatisfied on another level, and we don’t communicate it, because we feel guilty.
I happened to read my friends blog this morning fulfilled-life.com and her very title is “Living behind the mask of accomplishment. Its time to come out of the fog.”
The technical term of disassociation is the feeling we all get, when sometimes whether you are walking to your car, or sitting on a bench, we feel unreal, as if we are watching ourselves in the film of our own lives. How happy is your film?