Midlife Myths & Realities: Andrea M. Slominski, Ph.D.
By 2023 there will be over 87 million US women over forty-five.
That’s a lot of women enduring the changes of perimenopause, midlife, menopause, and post-menopause. Each woman’s life is unique, and each woman’s circumstances are particular to her.
Midlife Women Sandwiched Between The Responsibilities:
Last month I wrote about a question I was asked in a workshop by a woman who wanted to know, “What comes next?” She was not prepared for midlife or menopause and was frightened to think of her future. No one can predict what’s going to come next in your life. Though often we can look around at the people in our lives and those we love and anticipate changes that will be coming soon.
“There are millions of midlife women who are being sandwiched between the responsibilities of the two adjacent generations.”
There are millions of midlife women who are being sandwiched between the responsibilities of the two adjacent generations. Women are raising and launching their children, caring for their partners, siblings, and friends. They are trying to recreate themselves and rediscover who they are now in the Regency years, all while caring for, or about to begin caring for—their aging parents.
It’s a lot.
It can be especially hard for women who are feeling the pull of personal recreation in midlife. The struggle between wanting to focus on yourself (after spending the previous 20 to 30 years tending everyone else’s gardens) and suddenly having the added responsibilities of boomerang children, sick family members, and aging parents can feel like an unfair and soul-crushing burden.
There Is No Easy Way:
Many of my clients rightly bemoan the fact that no one told them that this was coming! No one warned them that they might have to remain the “Axis Mundi,” the anchoring center point of the family universe, around which swirl responsibility, duty, love, resentment, hopes, dreams, anger, and sometimes despair. Their questions loom heavily in the air, “Isn’t it my turn? Isn’t this supposed to be my time?”
As our life spans expanded many women decided to have children later to focus on their careers in their early life. Some of these productive, kick-ass women, now in their late 40s and early 50’s find that they are still guiding and supporting their adult children, and at the same time their parents need them too. This increases the pressure women feel on their time, finances, and inner resources of psychological strength, love, compassion, and empathy.
There is no easy way to solve this dilemma. There is no easy and simple “weekend workshop” way to learn to live in the tension between what you need for yourself and what the people you love need, what financial resources you need, and what financial resources you have at your disposal. And, how your finances and our broken healthcare system may, in fact, dictate your life choices.
“The love and compassion that we feel for our family, parents, children, partners, and friends may end up derailing the dreams of what we hope to do with the rest of our lives.”
One of the most important aspects of living in your Regency years is identifying and honoring what are the most important things in your life. This time of life will have us reassessing our purpose meaning and belonging many times.
The love and compassion that we feel for our family, parents, children, partners, and friends may end up derailing the dreams of what we hope to do with the rest of our lives. From midlife on, the human soul, the psyche, will continually reassess its perspective on life and its purpose, meaning, and belonging. This can help us refocus on what really matters in the end.
Midlife Sandwich Women Achieve The Balance:
Women’s changing needs at this time of life are powerful. We all need to be appreciated, respected, loved, and seen. Trying to achieve the balance between your needs and the needs of others will be a constantly changing dynamic. Some months you will feel fulfilled and the next you may be drained dry.
It is time to build a top-down perspective on your life. Building a top-down perspective on your life helps you:
- Deep from being buried under the swerves and plot twists that will, undoubtedly, come your way.
- See your life story as one chapter in the epic of the human adventure.
- See that you’re not alone in your struggles and that there have been millions of women in the past and will be millions more who struggle with the same universal issues of aging that you are.
- Create a mythic perspective. It uses great stories and tales to see how women have persevered and lived their best lives in the worst circumstances for thousands of years. A mythic perspective helps us see the beauty and the treasure in the simple things of daily life, and the beauty and the treasure in life’s highs and lows.
It’s liberating to remember, that even goddesses suffer.
About the Author:
Andrea M. Slominski, Ph.D., is an author, speaker, and women’s midlife coach. During her dissertation research and study, she explored the new life stage for women that has emerged over the past 100 years.
Naming this new life stage, from ages 45-70, Regency, Dr. A. has spoken at conferences, published articles, and coached women to make the most of their emerging power years. Dr. A. guides women 45+ through the often-tumultuous transformations during perimenopause, midlife, and menopause. She uses tools that include creativity, story, mythology, imagination, ceremony, and ritual. If you need support for your Regency years, including all the changes of midlife and menopause, I’m here for you. Email me at [email protected]