by Kiran Manral
We have a much better sense of who we are but perhaps, we’re just that little bit confused about where we’re headed to
I had my mid-life crisis circa forty, and that’s around five years before the norm. But then I was always early on my crisis milestones. I believe I had my first teen rebellion when I was nine. The good thing that came out of the mid-life crisis was that I wrote my first book. This seems so much more acceptable than saying I coloured my hair pink and had an affair, even though, those were complete possibilities given how utterly panicky I was at that point about life having passed me by and given me the cheeky middle finger to boot.
Circa the age of 45, it’s not just the men who stop battling the comb-overs and get hair plugs, a power bike, a sports car or an affair, but the women too struggle with this sudden intersection of all that represented hope, glory and youth, and then sudden and inexorable decline into old age and ergo, invisibility. The rebellion, the refusal to accept this point where the graph suddenly does a volte face and morphs into decline and then eventual death, is where the mid-life crisis emerges
It is a strange age. We can still bear to look at ourselves in natural light without wincing. The body, give or take some cellulite and stretch marks, is still resisting the dulcet calls of gravity with stoicism. We realise we’re now on the fast track from ‘Pretty in Pink’ to ‘Driving Miss Daisy’. We keep shifting the goalpost for being old. “40 is the new 20,” we tell ourselves. We try to reclaim ourselves and our lost passions, self-esteem (or fill with whatever you think fits best).
I read somewhere, a mother’s advice to her married daughter, which still holds good. “At forty,” she said, “You can either change your career, have a baby or have an affair.” To quote Michelle Obama on her mid-life crisis, “I couldn’t get a sports car. They won’t let me bungee jump. So instead, I cut my bangs.”
I saw variations of this when friends hit middle age. Some had discrete cosmetic procedures. Some had their last-chance babies. And yet others had affairs. A few switched sexual preferences. More power to them, if this is what they wanted and had been frogmarched by society into the conventionally acceptable marriage with 2.5 offspring.
The most public figure we know to have announced this is the author Elizabeth Gilbert who went from divorcing her hot Brazilian husband to announcing her love for her best friend, female. And we do know now that sexuality is not carved in stone but is in fact rather fluid.
The female mid-life crisis. It comes with the good and the bad. The bad are none of my business, but the good are worth mentioning. We have less to prove, and less four-letter word beginning with an F to give. We have a much better sense of who we are but perhaps, we’re just that little bit confused about where we’re headed to.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.