by Dorothy Sander
At some point in every woman’s life a midlife transformation begins. Sometime in the fourth or fifth decade of life, a series of significant changes takes place as our body relinquishes its capacity to bear children. For a decade or more we undergo change on multiple levels. When met with open acceptance and growing understanding, we are led to make the changes necessary to enter the most fruitful part of our lives.
Life As A Process of Becoming
Life, by its very nature, can be viewed as a process of becoming. From the moment we take our first breath until we take our last, change is our constant companion. We can choose to embrace change and allow it to positively transform us or we can fight it, deny it or build defensive walls that we hope will protect us from what we perceive as danger. They will not. What is not faced will come around again.
Small changes may take place with little fanfare, but major life transitions, such as that experienced at midlife are more demanding of our attention. Our beliefs and self-perceptions are easily turned upside down and inside out, throwing our psyches and lives into chaos. We may lose our sense of direction and feel out of kilter, off-center, and uncertain as to who we are or what we’re supposed to do.
Revolutionary change, such as that which takes place at midlife, has the ability to shake loose our archaic views and beliefs and pave the way for significant personal and spiritual growth. It provides the ideal opportunity for women to evaluate their underlying beliefs and realign their priorities.
As our bodies evolve in a realm completely beyond our control, our self perception must follow suit or we fall prey to self-deception and denial and risk a far greater loss. When we deny ourselves the gift of becoming at any time in life, we deny ourselves the gifts that only a changed perspective can bring. An enormous effort may be required to embrace a major shift in perception, but the effort to turn away from change is far greater and results in despair and regret.
Transitions & Transformations
In addition to the physiological changes that occur at midlife, we face losses in many other areas of our lives. Our role as full time parent comes to an end as our children move into independence. The decline and death of our parents stirs up any unfinished business in familial relationships. Marriage and long term relationships begin to shift as romance and parenting become a thing of the past. Health concerns may arise, making us acutely aware of our finitude. Any one of these issues can be life changing, but during our middle years it is not uncommon to have several occur simultaneously or in frequent succession.
These changes, are so profound, that they call into question the very beliefs that have shaped our lives thus far. When we choose to embrace the avalanche of change, and it is a choice, we submit to a process that is rich with opportunity and we enter into a process such as what Maslow described as “self-actualization.”
The Birth of Our Soul
I believe that midlife transformation is the beginning of the birth of our soul. Through the fire of change we gather the tools necessary to take all that we have learned and all that we will learn and bring them to bear on the development of strength and wisdom. We are in the process of becoming “dangerous old women” (Estes). At midlife we are laying the groundwork necessary to take on the task of the aging. We are learning to accept our roles as teachers of wisdom, spiritual guides, and prophets of understanding. It is from this place that we harness the gifts of our single life and give them back to the world.
About The Author
(c) The Doors of Transformation