Finding Purpose in Midlife
Welcome to the Midlife Awakening
I feel like there comes a day in the early part of every woman’s midlife years when she gains a level of clarity about herself and her life that she may not have had for decades – a midlife awakening. This awakening is an invitation, an entry point, to a period of dramatic and liberating transformation.
“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin
For me, it happened around age fifty and the catalyst was my second son returning for his second semester of college. There was something already bleak about that January day that made me feel the weight of his departure even more. Not sure what it was, but I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me, like my sails were ripped off and I was aimlessly spinning and sinking, down deep, dark and low.
It was different than any other episodes of sadness I had been through before.
That day was the culmination of many events that led up to it for me. But, likewise for all of us, there are plenty of stressors and anxiety-producing events that weigh heavy on us as we get older – and that one more straw, whatever it may be, added to the pile, is what finally breaks us down.
It’s what finally brings us to that moment where we feel like we’re going to snap. When we feel the lights fading to black. When we feel increasingly suffocated and trapped.
I wonder if this is how the caterpillar feels when it is about to break out of its cocoon?
It’s got to be suffocating, scary and uncomfortable, but it has to be broken through for it to survive. Instinct guides the caterpillar to break through, to cut its way out, and we know the rest… to spread its wings and start a second part of its life. (not without note – as a transformed and magnificently beautiful bug that can fly!)
I feel as women, instinct (and age) bring us to this similar period of metamorphosis.
The first “half” of our life slowly fades away. Our menstruating, childbearing, child-rearing decades are coming to an end. Our racing, pushing, climbing upward to prove we’ve made it and could do it all decades are coming into a new perspective at the very same time that our mortality does.
Menopause wrings out our bodies physically. And there is inevitably, an awakening, that occurs emotionally.
The era of sacrifice wanes. And I don’t mean sacrifice in a martyrdom kind of way. Whether we want to admit it or not, we chose daily, even hourly, what and how much of ourselves we served to others along the way to midlife.
And so, what’s left? That is the question that kept popping up for me on that bleak January day. What is left.
What is left are more choices.
You can start to fade away as the media would have over-fifties do and stay stuck and suffocating in your increasingly darkening negativity cocoon. Never to break through and see what is on the other side. Never to look at yourself to see if you still feel whole. Never to take what is necessary for yourself to heal, grow and transform… Or…
You can choose positivity and embrace the awakening and find the purpose you are seeking!
You can take note that while you were in that dark tight space, you grew wings. They may still be folded up, but they are ready to stretch out when you feel inclined.
“Midlife is not the time to disenchant ourselves. It’s a time to turn on all our magic in full force.” – Marianne Williamson
I hope that you’ll allow yourself to recognize the cocoon – to feel the bleak, if it comes to you (there are btw, some women who skip the whole midlife dark suffocation thing!).
And that you’ll let yourself sit with those feelings, look at them closely, embrace them, and be kind with yourself.
Next, I wish for you to consider how to break through.
How to pull together the courage and motivation to move optimistically into this unfamiliar and new period of life. To stretch your newfound wings and go for it.
To examine who you are at your deepest and most authentic self. What you want, what feels like magic and how you can get more of that in your life. What your (perhaps new) priorities are, and how little you give a frig-ootz what anyone else thinks.
Gently permit yourself to be guided to what brings you joy, peace, healing and purpose. Not sure what that is? Start trying some things out!
Slowly discard the meaningless bull-dinky in your life, immerse yourself in feeling gratitude, and be brave enough to simplify. Curate a space, a home, a life that more honestly serves your new era.
The rekindling of your whole and authentic self, the one that has been lying down low while the wonderful, stressful, chaotic events of adulthood left their sometimes wondrous, sometimes weathering, marks on you.
This is midlife. Welcome to the awakening.
Maybe not the literal middle of our life in years, but the middle of the two parts. (If you’re reading this, you’re already blessed to get two parts!)
“Every year should teach you something valuable; whether you get the lesson is up to you. Every year brings you closer to expressing your whole and healed self.” – Oprah Winfrey
You, my friend, are about to break through right now, or maybe you already have.
Be gentle but continue to push yourself forward. And for heaven’s sake, when you see a fellow midlife friend, stuck and gasping for air in their cocoon – say something! Reach out and commiserate. Share your experience, how you broke through and survived (and show them your new wings)!
Cheers to us all as we feel the midlife feels, welcome the clarity, practice gratitude, find purpose, let what doesn’t serve us go, and spread our strong and gorgeous wings!
As always, we are a #workinprogress – Marlene
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