Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Woman's Mid Life Emotional Challenge

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.

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 graying. 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.

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.

If 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 centers 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.

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.

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 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.

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


kathy said...

wow! that is so very true. a timely post for me. Thank you Z :)

Zareba said...

You are most welcome, Kathy, and you are not alone. ...Z

Beard said...

Hello Zareba,

I guess I am currently in the phase where society values me, but I remember that when I was a teenager I felt quite unwelcome.

I think that we usually suffer more from our own thoughts about events than from the events themselves.

I hope things are well for you externally and internally.

jim said...

Wow is right, you have it down, lived and felt, I feel it too, but fight it every day, rote sayings by the young can sting, they mean no harm, I too spoke so in my youth about and to my elders, I can feel the pain they felt, even today, hence today I have to forgive them all, and fight more silently.

but thanks for the strength that you have added to me, and love to you in Time.

Nina said...

Hi Z,
I think I am happy with my crone hood. You know in my culture it is great to be an old one and a honor . . . we were taught to honor and respect the wisdom of our elders. It is too bad that society in general doesn't realize this.

Hayden said...

Love that exercise of really LISTENING to what others think/see.

I find it matters less to me as I become more active in the changes in my life. Eight years ago I decided I had at least a good 20 years left, and I'd spend it differently than the prior 20.

I look around now, and sometimes the changes astound me, and yet I know I'm barely at the tip of it. I'm so consumed with the process of living that the physical changes are easy to shrug off with a smile and a shake of the head - I remember when I was young saying I'd never 'be like that' - now I am, and don't care. I know that the values of each age are sufficient onto themselves.

I'm way too busy learning to be me to worry about the many identities I've left behind.

Alexys Fairfield said...

Although I'm not at the mid life mark yet, I can see the scourge of ageism in society. We can't let that dictate how we feel about ourselves. We are all stanzas in life's illiad. The older we get, the more knowledge we gain and that is nothing to sneeze at, but until we can accept ourselves for who we are, we will continue to feel like castaways. So we must embrace ourselves and in doing so, others will see how beautiful and graceful growing older can be. Those lines that wind up on our faces are not age lines, but wisdom lines -- and they are remarkable like us.

Zareba said...

An interesting comment Beard.
"I hope things are well for you externally and internally."

Within days, I crashed in the ambulance and had to be resuscitated with great difficulty. After a month in ICU, I am finally home and recovering. A bit of precognition, perhaps?



Zareba said...

Thank you, Jim. I suspect you will also be able to identify with the other side of the question which I posted next. I was delighted to get the male viewpoint as it is usually so hard to come by. Men spend their childhood being told to suppress anything that smacks of the emotional, so when they grow up, they are uncomfortable in their own skins and undemonstrative. I have often said that we women are our own worst enemy as we are the ones who raise sons to be husbands. I think we could do a better job than we do.

Hope your health improves.


Zareba said...

Thank you Nina. That is as it should be, and used to be even in non-native culture. We lost it along the way somewhere, probably at the break up of the extended family.


Zareba said...

Very true, Hayden. It is a pity that more women can not tune out the external, particularly the TV commercials promoting a younger look for women, as if aging is a disease and needs to be cured.


Zareba said...

Hi Alexys. Your comments are very true. Again we allow ourselves to be affected by the externals. We need to reclaim our power and be proud of who we are and of the fact that each and every line and gray hair have been earned. As such, they are badges of courage and of beauty.