We women are givers. Nurturers. To our husbands, our kids, and if you are in the helping professions, like I am, to our patients. My earlier life, in my 20's, were full of Me time. I was finding my way, developing my beliefs, establishing a career. I also played, nurtured myself. Then I married my wonderful husband, had a child, stayed busy in my career. I fed, bathed, worried, lacked sleep, felt a true sense of belonging as I nestled into my beautiful family life. And let's face it: at times it has brought me the deepest joy and love, and at times a bit rocky, and often a sense of being on a ride that is picking up speed and the brakes have failed. Full of multi-tasking extraordinaire.
Then middle age hits. Dwindling energy levels, losing things more, decreased ability to multi-task, more aches and pains, anxiety triggered so easily, and if you started a family "later", like we did, you still have a small child at home. And you're part of the "sandwich generation" when aging parents need your help more and more. The gap between what your life requires of you and what you are able to handle gets bigger and bigger. "What's wrong with me?" becomes a repeating echo in my head.
I begin to research perimenopause online. The symptoms seem to describe what I'm feeling: fatigue, irritability, anxiety, etc. This gives me some solace, to have a REASON behind these uncontrollable feelings. But I also begin to feel a bit frustrated and angry that NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THIS. And maybe its just a sign of disconnection, that no one in MY life talks about this. Many close supportive friendships have fallen by the wayside during the "busy years" of motherhood.
I begin to reach out to other women in my life more. First took vulnerability to speak my truth. I begin to find those women that are willing to be open and honest about this stage of life and take their masks off with me. Regular monthly brunches on the calendar to talk.. and talk... and talk. It helps so much. Being able to talk about the challenges we face as women-of-a-certain-age, women who are struggling to live authentically in the midst of the chaos.
Connection is so important. But so is the time and stillness to dive deep, to not multi-task, and to learn to listen to that deep, buried, inner voice that holds the wisdom of who I really am. The voice that has not been respected or listened to for quite some time. What emerges in stillness is so beautiful. But how to find that time?
More about that in the next post...