When did “Unseen & Unheard” Become our Midlife Mantra?

What the Hell Happened to all those Amazing Women?

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All those incredible, by now midlife, women I’ve met on my life’s journey around the globe; so much wisdom to offer, successful, talented, and no doubt financially secure. I assumed midlife women had it all and if I happened upon any of them I would be faced with the epitome of success. By definition they grew up during a time of rising divorce rates, a faltering economy and often ‘latch key’ kids the very minimum they can offer our world, in this time of uncertainty, are tips on being resourceful, resilient and self sufficient.

As a fellow midlife woman I consider myself to have had a great adventure of a life; I’ve lived, loved and learned in Asia, Australia, Middle East and UK; created incredible memories, made a few mistakes and ‘collected’ super-people along the way; with, taking the glass half full perspective, numerous exciting chapters still to come before I reach the end terminus. I goddam well love being this age; the decades of wisdom to draw on, ‘the right’ to speak my truth combined with an appreciation that the ‘haters’ opinion is just that an opinion. This a perspective I feel we only gain with a few decades in our back pocket.

I was therefore, shocked to find out that the Samaritans state the suicide rate increased among women aged 45–49 (UK) by 40% in 2018 and is currently at its highest rate since 2005! Across the pond it appears to be as troubling with Psychology Today stating in 2018, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that women aged 40 to 59 have the highest rate of depression of any age or gender in the U.S. More disturbing, the National Center for Health Statistics recently reported that the suicide rate for middle-aged women, ages 45-64, has increased by 63 percent since 1999.”
For centuries midlife ‘authentic’ women, such as Rosa Parks, Emmeline Pankhurst and Helen Keller, have been feared, by ‘the establishment,’ and revered by their peers. Is familial, cultural and media propaganda, aimed at keeping our authentic lights dimmed, taking its toll? Are we disempowered due to becoming invisibile in our media, despite your contribution to the world economy; or is it causes closer to home such as being consumed by the responsibilities of supporting two generations, i.e. parents and children, or the plethora of other midlife emotional and physical challenges you are facing?

Are midlife women the phantom generation doomed to silently slip overboard without anyone noticing or more importantly benefitting from ‘hearing’ their authentic, resilient wisdom? You are your family’s, friends’, colleagues’ and community’s Rosa, Emmeline or Helen. The only difference is they learnt how to find, express and leverage their authentic voice for the greater good. Never has there been a bigger need for these women, WOMEN JUST LIKE YOU, to step out of the shadows and do the same in support of themselves and others at this time on our planet. 

Imagine it being OK to just be you, in all its multi-coloured splendour; free of extrinsic labels of worthiness, aka other peoples’ opinions and judgement, that you had no part in defining and are slowly killing you! IMAGINE discovering what life skills wisdom you have, developing it further and leveraging it to make a positive difference in the world. IMAGINE not giving a tiny rat’s ass what anyone else thinks of you! NOW THAT IS FREEDOM! 

Nothing is more tragic than a life lived in quiet desperation and on reaching the end of our journey thinking what if? DON’T LET THAT BE YOU! You have survived 4, 5 or 6 decades, by definition you have so much resilient, life skills wisdom, (wisdom that is defined by the World Health Organisation as being critical to coping with life’s stressors) to offer the world; are you ready to discover it?

How can you rediscover this part of you that may have got side tracked or lost in the daily grind of life? 4 tips to consider to begin the process:

  1. Decide you are worth it! Set aside some time, finance and energy to invest in you. It may be one of these or all three but make that commitment because no one else is going to do it for you.
  2. Look for a support mechanism to help you reconnect to your wisdom and find your Authentic Voice; this could be informal (i.e. trusted friend or like minded chat group) or formal (i.e. a coaching programme or project that can help you discover and use your experience for the benefit of yourself and others).
  3. Find your safe place; when we are rediscovering our authentic wisdom we may need a ‘safe’ place to trial voicing this new or forgotten information. Who can you trust that will provide a non judgemental, objective, safe space where you can test out the new you? Find them and put them on speed dial regardless of whether it’s a trusted friend, colleague or a more formal peeps such as a mentor or coach.
  4. Finally – don’t get hijacked into giving a ‘fear based’ NO to doing this; feeling uneasy or even scared of what may be a profound and challenging journey is normal. That’s just your amygdala, aka the fight or flight bit of you brain, alerting you to a perceived threat; you’re going to be challenging your familiar status quo. In other words you will become different, a good different but nonetheless different, and your brain doesn’t know yet that this will be a good thing just that CHANGE IS COMING and that is a Saber Toothed Tiger threat as far as our primordial amygdala is concerned! Never fear if you pick a good support person they will be able to help you with these cerebral gremlins.  

Good luck ladies the world is waiting and in need of the wisdom you hold; you may have misplaced it or forgotten how to ‘show up’ but rest assured it’s a bit like riding a bike once you’ve remembered how to do the weird balancing thing again, getting back in the saddle can feel like a breath of fresh air in your life lungs!

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