I have been feeling a lot lately. Quite what I've been feeling I'm not sure. If I could put it into a word, overwhelmed might sum it up. It is as if I have reached this point in my life where once I saw a horizon and now I see fog and it seems I'm not the only soul wandering out here. There seems to be this point for women post kids, pre/during menopause that resembles some kind of emotional and physical wasteland. A place not pinpointable on any map, yet when you speak to other women they've all been there. This last year I've been walking through this wasteland looking for the exit. Treading this path has filled me with uncertainty, unrest but also a strange and welcome sense of freedom.
Society’s 'rules' for women seem clear around youth, pregnancy, work and what it wants/expects/demands of us and it’s up to us whether we buy into that or not. However middle age is the unspoken landscape it appears, where women move from maidens or mothers into something else? We’re not quite matriarchs, old maids with wisdom, titans of industry, we are not revered or honoured for our years of service and knowledge. This next step forward into this new phase is not so clearly defined. We seem to be walking this wasteland, lost in our unknowns. It feels a bit like the forgotten land, where women go to be ignored until they become something else?
In this new landscape everything for women is appears to be in flux, our bodies, hearts and minds. Our looks are said to be fading not flourishing and we’re expected to want to halt the aging process and encouraged to compete against women half our age. We are trying to work out our changing relationships with our kids as they grow, with our partners and with ourselves. How we are seen or treated at work changes and our work interests and needs shift. Our bodies have changed and more often than not women describe them as places they don’t recognise anymore and certainly don’t feel at home in.
Yet I have to admit as I roam this unknown wasteland I can't help but feel OK about it. Lucky me you might say. I'm not sure its be accident. I would like to think that my years of dedication to yoga has born some fruit here. I feel a time of great opportunity and freedom on this lack of expectation of what I should be doing/ should have achieved. Having moved through the Jungle that was my worrying 20s, the crazy but beautiful meadows in my child bearing years, my 30s, I feel now in my 40s this is my time. I am finally ready for the real unknown. This wasteland becomes a land of opportunity, a space to reinvent, or embed who I am. In my 40s I am not so worried about what other people think, my desires for my life are from experiences not from imaginations. I am older and wiser, and for the first time I have clarity about who I am and what I want. In this world of the unknown where society has no expectation of me I am free to make of it what I will.
I am grateful for this wasteland. I can build what I want here. Lay paths for future travellers and hopefully set up refreshments for them along the way. My tribe are women who are holding it together, ploughing the fields for family, work, relationships and now is our time to reap the rewards of our labour.
Society may not hold us in gratitude for service or celebrate our skill and wisdom and beauty as we are. But we can. So if you're one of those women out there wandering this unmapped landscape, I'll see you out there.