A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a woman I met in the grocery line (yes, that kind of thing happens to me all the time). She was a lovely woman in her mid 50s; a VP for a marketing firm – a career she didn’t begin until she turned 44. Prior to this, she was married to a high-level executive and had followed what was considered to be the “traditional” role of being a stay-at-home mom to her three children.
She had little in the way of family support, money and material things when she got married at the tender age of 21, but over the years her lifestyle left her “more than a little comfortable.” Yet that lifestyle came with a heavy price tag. I was struck by her honesty and her passion, and the way she carved out a new life for herself once she woke up to the painful realization that she wanted – deserved – more than an empty marriage.
The point of this post isn’t about passing judgment on whether a woman who has kids should work outside the home or not. Or remain in an unfulfilling marriage. It’s about a woman living one life and opening up to the reality of what that life is not – and what it could be.
I admire this particular woman because she had the integrity to face what wasn’t working in her life (in her marriage) and took the risk to do it all differently as she moved into midlife.
Now, she’s a midlife woman with a career she loves, a fulfilling relationship with a man she met five years ago, and three adult children who are living life on their own.
It’s about possibility.
It’s about taking the blinders off to what’s not authentic or real.
It’s about the sometimes startling realization that you’ve been living someone else’s life and now it’s time to live your own.
I sat down and wrote a poem about her a week after talking with her in aisle 3 of Kroger. I wrote it in honor of all midlife women who are navigating unchartered waters with grit, determination and no map.
At seventeen she took her vows
in her cousin’s borrowed gown
A handful of people to share the moment
when she said goodbye to her youth
followed by a honeymoon
at the local Howard Johnson’s
At twenty-two she had three children
to feed, to clothe, to nurture
Framed photos depicted a perfect family
though he was rarely home to change a diaper
At thirty she was volunteering
and taking turns with carpools
Years of soccer games and school plays
and trips to the doctor
With him always on the road
and she always alone
At thirty-five she found herself
no longer wide-eyed, a little smarter
and wondered where he spent most nights
and why it didn’t matter
Just shy of 40 she packed his bags
and left them by the door
They’d said it all
Not in words, but in living separate stories
I’d love your thoughts here in the comments section. Have you ever felt like you’re living someone else’s life? Have you taken a major risk and forged a new life as you entered your midlife years? Did you begin a new career or open your own business after the age of 40? If not, as a midlife woman, what’s standing in your way?
Ready to lay down your old stories, your thread-worn fear, your Inner Critic, and the things you tolerate that drain your soul? Ready to hold up to the light the container which houses your sacred being? [R]evolution™ – it’s time to come home to yourSELF. Learn more.