Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

Mid Life Crisis: What is it? Is it inevitable? Is it even a real phenomenon? Or is it an invention of the media — that is, corporate advertising trying to sell us things we don’t need? (Not only do we not need these cosmetic and quasi-medical accoutrements, they are downright insulting and sometimes even dangerous.)

I have been inundated lately by articles, poems, and stories about the so-called “Midlife Crisis.” Clearly it is a subject very much on the minds of many, many women. The writings that I have been sharing with you cover the gamut of opinions, ideas, and suggestions about coping with a Midlife Crisis, ours or someone else’s. I offer them up to you to for your interest and edification.

As always, I invite you to send me your stories — experiences, advice, and inspiration to share with our community of Midlife Queens.

Midlife Crisis or Midlife Consciousness? You choose!

xxQueen Mama Donna

 

Emerging Maturity – Part 2

By Vivian Diller, Ph.D.

Having renamed this stage of life Emerging Maturity, we can now explore what actually happens between our “uh-oh, I’m getting old” moments and the acceptance that we are, in fact, moving on. We can explore the similarities and differences between what men and women feel during this pivotal period of reassessment and renegotiation. More importantly, we can look at how to keep this phase from turning into a major life crisis — not just for ourselves, but for those closest to us — and how to avoid the collateral damage that can be left along the way. The goal? Facing midlife challenges in such a way that they truly lead to renewed satisfaction, making the aphorism “getting older means getting better” not just words but a reality.

Acknowledgment is the first step in resolving most psychological dilemmas — identifying and clearly understanding the challenge being faced. In terms of Emerging Maturity, I suggest starting this process by substituting a new image to replace the old one associated with the midlife crisis. Picture this: You have been driving along a familiar road and you hit an unexpected traffic circle. Taken by surprise — “uh-oh”— you are not sure which way to go. You have several options. You can go around and around the circle, feeling confused, getting nowhere (like when someone says, “Oh, no, this can’t be all there is!”). You can simply go straight, just because it’s what you know and have done before (it’s what we call “going through the motions”). You can make a turn, just any turn, and hope it all turns out all right (these are those reflexive, reckless reactions). You can retrace your steps and start again (we know what turning back the clock can look like!).

Or you can pull over, look at a map, discuss the options with whomever else is in the car, get out and ask for help. The key is, you are willing to stop long enough to figure out how to proceed. You acknowledge that you have hit an unexpected turning point — “uh-oh” — and that you are potentially lost, that you need to take a moment, that you need to think and feel before making the next step. This is the first step toward finding your way.

Now let’s better understand the psychological experience behind this image. We know that “uh-oh” moments are felt throughout transitional times in life — adolescence, first jobs, marriage, first children. We come to many crossroads as we age. But Emerging Maturity hits us on a deeper existential level — as if we were punched in gut — at the core of who we are as human beings. Reckoning with our mortality feels less like making a new turn than facing the fact that this may be our last one.

Keep in mind that these feelings may start on the surface. For women, they may be triggered by the physical changes we see — wrinkles, gray hair, age spots — but they can be sparked by interpersonal, familial and hormonal changes, as well. Men’s “uh-oh” moments can also start on the surface — balding, hanging jowls, yellowing teeth — but more often are provoked by losses in strength, endurance and potency. Financial or professional losses also trigger these feelings. Sometimes they are stirred by a serious illness, loss of a mate or the death of a parent. Other times it’s frightening world events that remind us of the fragility of life. Regardless of the particular trigger, these moments rarely remain on the surface but go deep within, creating strong emotional reactions.

Acknowledging that we have these feelings and how we deal with them is what Emerging Maturity is largely about.

*****

Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

 

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus