This is the second part of a post by the same name. To access that click HERE.
Feeling like a successful woman rather than an old woman. For many women, midlife is the beginning of feeling invisible. Our culture is a youth-oriented, visual culture. Even women who have reached the seeming pinnacle of their careers face the question, “Is this all there is?” Women begin to feel old as they notice not being noticed, feel a difference in energy, and view endless media messages about how to look and feel younger.
Fortunately, women do have more peer support these days. Women are feeling a sense of power about what they have accomplished and a freedom that comes from having proven oneself. There can also be feelings of restlessness that lead to an urge to do something more, something different, something that will leave evidence that you were here and mattered. That legacy may be a line of greeting cards or an international foundation, but it must fulfill the desire to contribute in some way.
This experience can create an intense identity crisis for the professional woman. There may not be many people that a successful woman can confide in about her feelings of restlessness, confusion, and invisibility. Corporate and other professional women are in front of bosses, peers, direct reports, customers, or employees. Doubts have to be concealed because if a woman finds out the desire to make a move was a passing fancy, a career can be damaged and derailed.
There are important choices to be made and they will be the guiding forces for the rest of your life.
Some women feel a career change is in order and make the mistake of leaving a position or selling a company when it was merely a sabbatical that was needed. Having reached a high level of accomplishment can make admitting a midlife crisis to oneself a daunting task. Finding you have been climbing the wrong ladder is a truth-telling conversation that requires a willingness to explore the unknown.
The challenge of a midlife crisis is to sort out what is going on inside so you can decide what to do on the outside. It is a very individual and personal journey. The opportunity is to discover the next successful chapter. This journey can wind through unresolved childhood conflicts, unfulfilled dreams, and unleashed passions. Add hot flashes to the mix, and you are on a wild ride.
Midlife is often a time of loss. While many people lose parents at a young age, midlife is the typical time for parents to become ill and pass. We may also lose friends. This, of course, provokes that confrontation with mortality and the possibility of deep sadness, if not outright depression. This can be complicated by the physical, emotional and psychological accompaniments of menopause. Failing memory, lack of concentration, migraines, hot flashes, night sweats, crying jags, irritability and rage hardly make a women feel creative and successful.
Along with these symptoms may come feelings of boredom with life, career, friends, spouse. Many women at this time want nothing more than to move into a cottage by the ocean with a good glass of wine, a good book and their cat or dog. This is a definite “Eat, Pray, Love” moment! There should be a built-in year-off that comes along with a midlife crisis!
Partly because of the realization that there is only so much time in our lives and partly because of the fluctuation of hormones, women can go through this with feelings of deep grief and loss – loss of people in our lives, loss of youth, changes in energy levels, loss of choices no longer possible, and maybe regrets about choices made. Some women find relief with a brief dosing of bio-identical hormones or herbs and a good relationship with an acupuncturist. This is a good time to find a medical menopause specialist.
In the midst of all of this, there comes a feeling of rebirth. You wake up one morning hungry, maybe ravenous, for something new. An unusual urge has your attention, it invites you, and it compels you! Heading into the unknown is the adventure of midlife. There is a wonderful mix of feelings such as curiosity, passion, restlessness, ambition, and a bit of fear. While it may feel confusing, it is exciting, because there is a willingness to take that journey into the unknown and paddle your boat to a shore that is just now becoming visible. There are important choices to be made and they will be the guiding forces for the rest of your life. It is an important time to seek support and make this a fruitful experience.
It’s “ME TIME!”
“Me time” is an absolute necessity. You need time to reflect, to listen to your inner voice, to explore your passions and gain clarity about your next steps. Getting together with other women to get support, share insights and develop strategies is important. It is another good way to take that needed “me time.” The relationships you develop in a small group environment can be a gift to you as you go through this self-redefining process.
As women move into and through midlife, we become more aware of the process. The more we avail ourselves of support the more enlightening the experience is. Understanding what you are going through reduces stress, increases energy, opens your mind to new ways of dealing with your mood and other symptoms, and can bring levity, harmony, and joy.
There is so much creative potential in this experience. Women see possibility everywhere and gingerly step out and seek that special activity that generates meaning and serves a purpose. It is an exciting time of life and a moment to embrace!