During the decades of our Maiden and Motherhood, women grow to meet all of our many demanding responsibilities. Like the moon that can’t keep getting fuller and fuller with no retreat, we can take on only so much before exploding like a balloon pumped up with too much air. In the second half of Her life, the Queen begins to wane, to contract, to pull in. She opens the air valve and releases what is not to Her benefit.
“Perhaps middle-age” speculates Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “is, or should be, a period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulation, the shell of the ego. One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach.” The Queen rejects the unimportant, the unsupportive, and the inconsequential until She is pared down to the essentials. The purity of Her purpose ever more finely focused, She lives Her life more directly to the point.
When we reach our middle years we naturally pause and take stock of our lives — our career paths, our goals and aspirations, our sense of meaning and purpose. With our perspective of all of the changes and losses that we have seen and suffered, we come to realize that all we have left in our lives is time, and who knows how much of that remains?
Therefore, the imperative to live fully, creatively, energetically, effectively and consciously consumes us. We begin to question — some of us for the first time ever in our good girl lives — all previous assumptions, rules, restrictions, addictions, predictions and predilections which have ordered our existence. Our heart cries out for authenticity. Is the life that we are living the life that we would choose if we knew that we had only one life to live?
All of the parts of ourselves that we have previously ignored, hidden, sublimated and suppressed are clamoring for our attention. “What about me?” the career woman yells at the homemaker and the homemaker yells right back “And what am I, chopped liver? I want my turn, too.” “No, it’s my turn,” demands the daughter, the lover, the wife, the mother. “No, no, look at me,” shouts the artist, the writer, the musician, the athlete, the entrepreneur, the adventurer, the healer, the spiritual seeker. An unlived life demands to be lived.
One therapist I know calls the woman at this decisive stage of midlife “The Dangerous Woman,” because she is likely to overthrow all of her previously held notions of responsibility and duty to others, and puts herself — her needs, her desires, her goals and her dreams — first, despite the repercussions. “Women have to summon up courage to fulfill dormant dreams,” writes Alice Walker. The Queen bursts forth from adversity and previous constraints, actual or imagined, to become a proficient player in the game plan of Her choice. When She operates from Her own inner guidance, She releases Her unique gifts and expressions, the sum of Her entire life experience to date, and allows them to ripen and come to fruition. And She recognizes and celebrates the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of doing so.
The Queen of Achievement, of Attainment, of Endurance, of Survival has experienced much during Her turns at Maiden and Motherhood. She has traveled to the ends of Her emotions, sometimes willingly, sometimes kicking and screaming. She has explored the depths of the pain and sorrow of the dark times in life as well as the joys and pleasures of the lightest moments, and has learned and integrated the lessons of each.
Her skills are polished, Her confidence high. She is contained, sufficient unto Herself. She knows She can handle whatever might come Her way, because She has, in fact, already done so. She is focused and engaged, fruitful, and a newly fierce champion on Her own behalf. This gives Her clarity of vision and purpose. She knows what She wants and knows She wants it now. Her decisions might not make sense to Her friends and family, Her choices might shock and alarm them, but no amount of dissuasion can shake Her from Her resolve. Old doubts and concerns fade in the glaring light of Her determination.
Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself.
– Katherine Mansfield
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of
interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.