Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

The notion that 50 years of age could be considered a “halfway” mark is unprecedented in history. We are blessed with an inestimable gift of many more years of life than anyone who ever lived on Earth before us could ever have imagined. Our future looks bright; it is only the present that seems grim. It is crucial that we wend our way with great concentration and care through the crises of our midlife passage, so that we can learn how to turn our losses into the very lessons that will help us to achieve the life that we want for ourselves as we age. If we ignore our unresolved problems, chronic irritants, and resentments, we can be sure that they will surface as toxic stress that can cause cancer, heart attacks, substance abuse, depression, and other debilitating and life-threatening problems. How successfully we handle our changes will determine the quality of our health and wellbeing for all of our future years. Our life literally depends on it.

At midlife, we are at a major crossroads in our lives, and we can choose to move ahead, turn right or left, stay where we are, or go back where we came from. The Queen, my new archetype for mature women in charge, is an inspirational role model for us as we wend our way through our middle years. The Queen chooses always to choose, to involve herself fully in the process of Her life and living, and to actively direct the drama of Her myth. She urges us take up the challenges of changing, of aging, of engaging in all that life has to offer, and She reminds us to look upon the difficulties, disruptions, disappointments, fears, and failures we have experienced as important life lessons, without which we could never hope to ascend to a throne of responsibility and rule. She encourages us to entertain the entire palette of our emotions, for there is where we find our strength and knowledge and true value. Some things in life just have to be learned the hard way and evading them is counter-productive and eventually destructive. The only way to get through them is to go through them.

The roads leading to Queendom are diverse and many, The way to Self-esteem can be complicated and long. Each woman must take her own path, make her own trail, clear a passage for herself through the thick brambles that reach up to trip her. What roads do exist are unmapped, bumpy, and full of potholes, tumbleweed, and road-kill. There are no shortcuts along the Queen’s Highway, no services, no shoulders, no signage, but many detours and cul-du-sacs. And the fare can be exorbitant. As Dear Abby, Abigail Van Buren, once noted, “If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we’d be millionaires.” Like any grand journey, the trip toward self-dominion requires stamina, determination, and the passionate desire to travel. But if we pack properly, check our tires frequently, and take time for picnics, the adventure is incomparable. And the destination of Self-empowerment is majestic.

Menopausal women are now reaching maturity just in time to shape the new millennium for generations of women to come. Possessing both the vital stamina of youth and the experienced wisdom of age, our pioneering generation is anxious to work through the debilitating panic of aging and its negative, derogatory cultural connotations with at least some measure of good grace. And, as a generation, we are especially suited to such a task. Unique in history for our unprecedented freedom, education, individuation, worldliness, health, wealth, and longevity, we now hold positions of hard-earned authority, responsibility, and influence in ever-wider realms. Though certainly not perfect, nor perfectly safe, our power is unparalleled. Moreover, weaned on freethinking, idealism and independence, we have been prescribing the parameters of our lives, inventing and reinventing our culture and ourselves for decades.

And there are more of us every day. One third of all the women in America are over the age of 50, and one woman reaches that milestone every 7.5 seconds. More than 4000 women enter menopause each day. As a matter of fact, climacteric women, 50 million strong, now comprise the single largest population segment of American society. Silent no more, we are reading and talking and conspiring about how to best traverse this profound transitional time in our lives. We are determined to transform ourselves, and in the process, redefine the parameters and archetypes of middle age. We look to the past for grounding, we look to the future for courage, we look to each other for inspiration, and we look to ourselves for the answers. This is definitely not our mothers’ menopause!

You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, only how you’re going to live.
-Joan Baez, American singer and songwriter
1941-

 

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers 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.

 

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