Fifty is the New Fifty by Suzanne Levine
Yikes! Add the craziness of divorce with the craziness of menopause and our friends and family might be tempted to take cover! If you’re experiencing divorce in midlife, you may have the “fun” of menopause thrown in. Experts say change causes stress, and combining menopause and divorce can cause more change than a normal woman can usually handle gracefully. But according to Susan Levine author of Inventing the Rest of our Lives, divorcing or not, “The ‘change of life’ can set women free.” In her work, Fifty is the New Fifty, Levine provides a 10-step self-help program encouraging women to celebrate themselves instead of focusing on the anti-aging techniques to recapture youth. Among the themes she addresses is the fact that “No” can be a very liberating word at this stage of life. We can finally find the courage to say, “No” to things we don’t want to do, or things that drag us down or things that hold us back from being the women we were created to be. Barrie Arachtingi, a psychologist from Lawrence, Kansas concurs that “menopause makes us not care so much what other people think, and care more about we think,” and that can be a good thing. We aren’t advocating a complete change of personality where you become selfish and self-centered, but midlife can definitely be a time of paying more attention to your own goals and dreams. Most of us, as women at midlife have spent much of our lives seeing to the needs of others. Now is the time to see more to our own needs. “Do unto yourself as you have been doing unto others,” Levine encourages. And especially during a midlife divorce, it’s the old “put your oxygen mask on first.” One positive thing about facing a divorce at this time of life is that you have a completely new slate on which to write the rest of your story. Most of us in that place, at first just want our old story back, but if divorce is final or soon to be final, we don’t have that option. But we do have a choice: move on with power and joy or spend the rest of our lives moaning and groaning about what couldda been or shouldda been. You have two definite roads you can take, and moving forward to an exciting new life is always better than staying stuck in anger and bitterness and despair. Levine says she is finished with labels and roles and the expectations of other people. Especially after the end of a marriage at midlife, we have a chance to create a life based on our own new perceptions of what our best life can be. Create those new dreams. Travel those new roads. Find those new adventures. Even with the wild craziness it can bring, this may be the most rewarding time of all!
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31:29 (NIV)