As women, we are all different and yet we are very much similar. On the veneer, yes, the differences are clearly visible; however, it is not what I am referencing. The differing factors I am describing are patterns formed in childhood and acclimation to the curveballs we encounter during our lifetimes.
Take solitude as an example. This is something I know we have had to deal with one way or another because of COVID stay at home mandates over the past year. The newly adopted stay at home lifestyle has required a complete re-wiring of our social lives and thus, many who live alone have had to learn how to literally face themselves in the solitude of their lives. Likewise, the realization of solitude has affected us even if we have spouses or children.
Herein lies the error in our thinking, we tend to think of things from a group-think standpoint, and seldom are we prepared for the psychological ramifications of change. Change means acclimation – and this is definitely a defining moment in this unprecedented time of our lives. Think for a minute – how has solitude impacted your life? Have you embraced the change or are you fighting it?
I will say this again. Solitude is being alone and realizing you are alone. And that realization can make you powerful or weak.
Solitude can be craved. Solitude for some is so peaceful, so coveted, so needed to decompress and recharge.
For others, solitude is not so healing; it can be a source of depression and reckless.
The “perfect” storm of depression and recklessness can lead to a myriad of problems, the most destructive is surrounding our most vulnerable inner being with the wrong mate or friends in life……contrived most times out of the fear of facing our inner fears. And when we find ourselves in non-optimal relationships, it causes…guess what? Depression. What a vicious unrealistic cycle we weave for ourselves.
When we start out in life – in our teens and early twenties, we are so full of hope, love, wishes for our life and then reality hits…we may not be the brightest, thinnest, wealthiest and we soon start second guessing ourselves….and then the letdown sinks in and we can deal with it in two very different ways: either inertia sets in and we are staring at a wall in front of us with no idea how to scale that wall or we can become even more determined on how (and the best way possible) to hoist ourself up and over that wall.
We made it through that first hurdle and then….
Our thirties arrive and fly by (they did, didn’t they?) and then our forties begin. We have finally gotten our relationships right (maybe), and our work situated close to a desired state. The kids are grown and heading out to school and then…it hits. It may present in a form of anxiety over the smallest things, it may present itself in malaise or actual illness because your internal defense mechanisms are low, it may present itself in emotional outbursts and inner turmoil that sneak up and slap everyone, including yourself, silly.
Accepting the change that happens
But wait, I am too young to be dealing with this. I still run, I still climb, hike, bike and whatever else your passion is. We remember our mothers who – in what felt like a lifetime ago – struggled with the depression, the maniac episodes, the hesitancy to discuss out loud, the fade of their silhouette into the backdrop, until the point of invisibility. Sadly, I suspect we are a mere few steps ahead of our mothers in terms of accepting the metamorphosis occurring, and when we think, when we are constantly reminding ourselves, we are getting older, we actually taunt ourselves that our skin is not as supple as when we were in our 20s, our bodies are not as taut and our breasts are well, they are what they are, we start to second guess the functionality of our brain. Why do I forget things so easily now? Why do men have it so easy in life?
And then you remind yourself that this is the standard on which we are deemed useless or useful. We are supposed to be graceful and sharp, in fact we almost had it down and then this happens.
In what feels like a lifetime ago – 1998 to be exact – Leslie Bloom In her book, “Under the Sign of Hope” describes the importance of viewing the female experience though examination of the rich contextual layers of women’s lives through shared stories of lived experiences allows for the salience of shared meaning embedded in the social, cultural, and intersubjective life world of midlife women (Bloom, 1998)
We are not prepared as women for our transition
One of the things I notice among women (myself included) is the lack of preparedness for the transition into different stages of life. For certain, the physical change is evident – our spine is not as tall as it used to be, some glimmers of gray in our hair, the fine crows feet around the eyes. I like it seeing myself at this age, but it feels like it has snuck up far too quickly.
Perhaps some of us are excellent historians and can remember exactly what they were doing in 1998 and some can vaguely remember what they were doing in 1998…but I can tell you what we were all doing ….. being women. With all the struggles that have been placed in our way, all the things that surely make us stronger, we are still women and we are still in this together.
Take care, be kind to yourself
Stay safe, be kind to yourself and most importantly, love yourself at this stage and at every stage of your life. You only have one.
Bloom, L. (1998). Under the sign of hope: Feminist methodology and narrative interpretation. New York: The State University of New York.