Friday, March 31, 2006

And Men Have Them Too!

I received this from a good freiend. He interspersed his comments throughout the article. It is great to get another point of view. I do not reperesent the male viewpoint in my writing simply because I am not a man and I do not feel qualified. I am grateful that he gave me permission to post it as is. My article is in brick red and CoyoteV's are in dark blue. Thank you CoyoteV

Isn't it ironic that at the very time a woman starts to have time of her own to explore the meaning of her life and devote time to personal growth, is the very same time that society casts her off as used up! This brings about such uncertainty and negativity that depression is often the result.

Men are under similar pressure. Doesn't look like it from a woman's perspective, perhaps, but the pressure is there. We're forced to work as soon as possible, no choices like "to marry or not to part-time or do a career or be a wife". I know things are changing but I'm from the old school. One either worked or......worked. Now the workplace is an arena of contention with the very same persons with whom we used to mate for life. Then retire and spend the twilight years together. Now we change careers an average of six times and have no visage of a gold watch in our future after thirty years of loyalty and diligence. The women look at our wallets long and hard before giving us any consideration whatsoever. Get to the fifties and not be married and be called middle-aged crazy trying to hold on to that scepter of youth. And the roles are confused now, to boot.

Depression among men my age is much higher than among the women, I believe.

She fails to recognize her inner beauty, wisdom and hard won knowledge. Society says her beauty has faded leaving her an aging hulk, too fat or too thin, face lined, hair greying. So strong is this image that society projects that she sees herself in the same way, and often turns to food or drugs for solace. It does not matter how much she is loved or by how many.

Yes, I love beauty. Always have, always will. But it has to exist within as well. I have been fortunate to have had the experiences I did. Wonderful, beautiful women. Thing is, though, women want to trade men in so quickly and frequently these days we aren't around long enough to learn to appreciate the lines and greying (which are more often than not covered or dyed). "Natural" women are difficult to find, so we become accustomed to the Vogue and Cosmopolitan images forced upon us. The Editors are women, too. So don't blame Hugh Hefner.
The dissolution of the nuclear family is much to blame. We are not together long enough to see Mom and Dad grow old together, loving one another through the bad times as well as the good. The "Bic Mentality" has taken over. Throw one away and get a new one. Overeating, overindulgence......all the excesses set in and fill the void created by pushing "hard-won love" away. Then one feels unattractive to oneself as well as to others.

It is unlikely that she can change this image without help, but help is hard to find for a woman in mid life. She is often dismissed as "just going through the change". She also finds it very difficult to confide in her doctor, who is actually overbooked and over worked, with no time to devote to ascertaining the true emotional state of his or her patient.

Truth in what you've said. Yet I'd been through "the change" for 5-6 years before I got the axe. All she went through I experienced as well. We may not say a lot or do the right things but we're feeling human beings, too. Blame the lack of compassion from the Doctors on our insurance system, which should be sued in class-action style for practicing medicine without a license. They set the limits. There ARE still good doctors out there. As soon as I changed doctors (primary care) due to benefits change I selected a friend from the synagogue. First thing he did was give me a short form to fill out and immediately, almost forcefully, diagnosed me as bipolar. I have yet to see the assigned doctor for that 'cause the $$$ is paramount at this time. In the interim I quit two medications I'd been taking to escape that "mid-temperament" that is so treasured.
My last diagnosis was dysthymia, but he said it's much more than that. Plus, the changes I've been through the last year or two are major factors. I'm manic, but am still able to apply cognitive practices to situations that would have set me off in a NY minute.
That said...there are doctors (and people) who care but are not allowed due to fiduciary constraints and the "assembly-line" parade of patients they must attend.

f she is able to see the problem and know that she should not be feeling the way she does, there are a few things she can do to help herself to reclaim her life. There is always a need for volunteers in any community and she might well find a place that needs her particular skills. One of the easiest ways to find out that our lives are not so bad is to help others who
are less fortunate. There are also women's centres and organizations in all but the smallest communities, where she can meet other women and participate in discussions and activities that can help to improve her self image.

"Reclaim her life"? What happened to it? Is this a societally-induced condition or a culmination of succumbing to peer pressures? I've witnessed women who tired of their mates and set out to reclaim their lives. Raucously. I referred to it as arrested adolescence. Started with the divorce movement. "My man doesn't understand me. We've changed. I need more. We've grown apart". So many I've heard that I can only point, once again, to the loss of the nuclear family and lack of a mother and father acting in concert. Women, as well as men, are now facing the consequences of their actions and rampant search for the fountain of youth forced upon us by the insidious media.

Where are the men's centers? Bars? Women form relationships much more quickly than men. We're lonely creatures, shunned for the preconceived notion that we're after one thing. Maybe that's becoming true, because the outcome is at the very least predictable and has the fleeting feeling of the love we're missing.

Something that I have suggested in the past is for her to approach her family and friends, and ask each of them how they see her. She should write down all of the answers and when completed, read it all through at one sitting. There is a remarkable difference between how she sees herself and how others see her. This exercise may be enough to help her start to see herself in a more realistic light.

What I suggest is that she (or he) never leave family and friends. But things change and we've become a nation on the move. A constantly weaving texture of broken promises, relationships and lives. We've become a closed-container society. Cars, cubicles and computers. People walk together talking on cell phones to others not present. No one interacts. No one says howdy to the stranger or performs those random acts of kindness.

I don't think there is a single thing you've mentioned that I cannot apply to men my age. We used to become mentors, women became crones. I remember that from my roots. My gandmother and g'grandma were beautiful people. I appreciated what they'd been through with the family, their husbands and life. 'Twarn't no picnic. Few, if any, attain that age and position now where respect is inherent.

The goal is to recognize that she is still a functioning, contributing member of society, with an inner beauty that time and gravity can not steal away. At this point, she is ready to begin using her extra time to dedicate to her hard won growth, to begin asking the questions that will lead to a fuller understanding of what we are and what our life's purpose may be.

And I say "Ditto"!

There are challenges to be met at every stage of life, and this is just one of many.

You must read my friend Jed Diamond's books on Male Menopause and the Irritable Male Syndrome. The man has a keen insight into the scientific as well as societal changes a man experiences as he wends his way through this eeire landscape of life we now face.

Thanks so much for your insights and I look forward to trading more. Right now I'm going to cap an evening of sleep off with a few more hours and hope to feel renewed enough to embrace another day with an ever-renewing hope that things will some day be what they were. With a few adjustments.

Only we have the power to make that so.



Darlene said...

Wonderful post, and so great getting both viewpoints. Just some observations of my own:

Thankfully my hair is still its natural brown so I'm okay so far, but I've noticed that when women color their hair if it gets grey, they get compliments from everyone, both male and female, saying "it looks great." When men color their hair, they're afraid to go to work or see their friends, because they'll be teased to such a great extent.

Also, women were so grateful to be able to get a college degree and then a job where they could feel productive and more self-fulfilled. (Being a housewife or stay-at-home mom has a different type of self-fulfillment.)Now the tables have turned, and it's almost as if society as a whole expects us to do the full-time job or we are looked down upon, yet we're still expected to be good housewives and mothers, too.

For me, I relish being able to fulfill all these roles, but sometimes it's easy to feel taken for granted.

Zareba said...

Thanks, Darlene for your comments. Definiely part of the Mid-Life stuff. I particularly appreciate your comment on the changed role of women in the workplace. When I was a yung working mother, children of working mothers were called "latch-key kids" and any truancy was blamed on the fact that mothers worked. Now, we are expected to do it all, and do it with style and class.