“Uncertainty is what life is made of and what humans want to tame and control. A good part of our lives is dedicated to securing a living, a home, a family life and a trust-worthy companion. Women often assume the role of straightening the curves and levelling the bumps in the road, to smooth and steady daily life. “
Many women have learned to plan for the unexpected, stocking food in pantries, putting money aside for emergencies, keeping first-aid kits at hand and keeping dangerous animals (and frightening insects!) away from the human group.
When we think about it, control of the immediate environment has been a pre-condition for human settlements to develop and for families to thrive. The first institution that surrounds and answers the needs of a child is the family. The family respects some rules and is supposed to guarantee the rights and ensure the fulfillment of the needs of the young ones.
Families come in different styles and compositions, and what works for the kids will be called such. For some reason, in general, women have a tendency to abhor uncertainty and unknown places because those challenge the order they have established. They want to keep things easy to understand, to better clean, defend and protect the nest. But for a good part of them now, post-modern living has come with hybrid families, transportable nests, shapeless families and sometimes just the absence of youngsters in the nest.
Ties of belonging to a community, given or chosen, have helped form what the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu called the new tribal associations (Les nouvelles tribus in French). Traditional roles and functions have blurred inside families and women have started taking up a lot of responsibilities, challenges, and have needed to tame constant change and uncertainty. The capacity of resilience, that is to survive any big transition and return to a relatively normal course of life, makes a determining difference for each.
In the menopause transition, this is no stranger either. But what if there is fear? What if resilience is still unknown to a person? What if suddenly, after all the battles have been fought, or at least the most important ones, a woman feels stranded alone on her own island facing the prospects of aging? What if there are already physical signs of aging, such as worsening eyesight, loss of flexibility, weight gain, small physical annoyances that keep reminding one that from here the road is downhill?
Maybe then there are communities of women that can help and share their tips to build resilience and ACCEPTANCE, to help feel better in one’s self, to identify the priorities and appreciate the road taken. That community can be all of us, you, me, your mother, sister, or friend.
Like many other women aged 48, I have started thinking about the traps of aging and how to avoid them. I have taken precautions to protect my skin from UVs and bought hydrating creams, to keep my body young by exercising and watching my diet, to keep my brain agile by avoiding the easy road and choosing to make efforts to remember the right word. And then?
Here we are faced with reality… we may look young still, but it is only the look. What about taking care of the inside, of one’s inner life, and inner strength? How do we cope with aging besides trying to delay and avoid it? Maybe all the pain and experiences can be useful? Maybe to stop and appreciate the road undertaken is worthwhile, to be able to set new life goals, or simply change the course of one’s life?
Maybe we would like to get closer to our emotions and experience what the world has to offer like we never did before? Why not live fully each day and embrace the fun and the relaxed times, the intensity-packed and the mellow days? Maybe it’s time to go back to some forgotten pleasure or hobby, to read again those old poems written in one’s youth and to look again at those old photographs and paintings that we once dared to produce.
Why not establish one’s own biography and savour all of the dimensions of the person that we became for all the hardship experienced and all the blessings that often followed have shaped us. No need to have any regrets, we would be different people if the course of life had been different and we can be proud of the person we are now. This is the reconciliation and acceptance phase.
Aging. Menopause. Mental Wellbeing. Women’s Empowerment.