What can we expect to happen in our lives as we move through the sometimes treacherous pathways of midlife? When perimenopause and menopause hit women, what will it look like? And for men, how might their midlife journey unfold? Part 1 of 2
Midlife, Menopause, Perimenopause
Midilfe (for men and women) is a sometimes treacherous journey. For women, the transition is from birthing children to birthing ourselves and has been treated medically as perimenopause and menopause and has been treated as if it is a disease – as if in midlife there is suddenly something wrong with us. To this I say, “BOO…..HISS!” Instead of treating midlife as a disease, we have an opportunity to embrace it as the amazing and magical journey that it is, from a body driven to procreate to a Spirit compelled to co-create. In midlife, we have the opportunity to shift our focus from other to self and in doing so, we nurture the BIRTH OF OUR SOUL – the uniquely creative way in which we were made to find fulfillment and to contribute to the betterment of our world (not that motherhood does not provide fulfillment and an opportunity to contribute to a better world….but someday, our kids will be leaving our watchful attention and guidance…..so then what are we supposed to do?????) For men, I think the journey is somewhat similar – from focus on upward mobility and providing to nurturing self and their own creative interests.
As I am in the process of creating a new program (Surviving Midlife – Guidance and support for women on the sometimes treacherous journey from childbirth to birthing ourselves) centered specifically around the woman’s midlife journey, I have identified some specific stages and valuable steps along that journey. While the course is specific to women, I believe the stages are somewhat universal. Men….if you have additional information to add, please let us know! 🙂
1) Awakening (aka Rude Awakenings!)
The first step in the midlife journey is discovering that we are already on the path. This often comes in the form of a crisis, dramatic and unexpected life change or emotional breakdown….which is why I call it “Rude Awakenings.” Sometimes we don’t see the awakening except in hindsight….but it is there.
The midlife journey is like a birth. It is a gradual process like childbearing which is a mixture of elation, physical discomfort, dramatic emotional, cognitive and bodily changes and outright excruciating pain. Like childbearing, midlife also forces us to confront our deepest inner fears….most of the fears centering around our resistance to change and to our own amazing greatness.
3) Unraveling the Past – ungrieved losses
During midlife, our past returns to haunt us – in the first part, to facilitate the release of all the things from our past we have not yet let go of. Often, this comes in the form of ungrieved losses….every loss, disappointment, hurt, betrayal we have experienced comes back to be grieved (if we haven’t done so already) and to be grieved again.
4) Unraveling the Past – shattering of illusions
Our past also comes back to haunt us in the form of all the things we have put on a pedestal or created unhealthy attachments around. During midlife, all of these attachments come shattering around us. Perhaps we had an unhealthy attachment to a specific position of power or status, maybe we have a co-dependent relationship with an institution or individual, perhaps we need to rethink our beliefs or our faith. Anything that might be hampering our ability to be our freest, most authentic self will want to be destroyed so that something new and supportive of our true selves can be created.
5) The Voice of Truth
During midlife, we are invited to listen to a new voice – this is the voice of our inner truth. Instead of the voice of the inner critic or the outside perceived authority to whom we have given our power, we are invited to listen to ourselves. But first, we have to learn how to hear that voice and how to STOP listening to the voices that are unsupportive of our truth. In listening to our own truth, we also have to learn how to engage this truth which means learning to name and claim our needs and our truth and to set healthy boundaries around this…..which means we might have to learn how to say “NO!”
stay tuned tomorrow for more on the map of midlife!
If you are looking for support in your own midlife transition, contact Lauri Lumby at (920) 230-1313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.