The psyches and souls of women also have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place.Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run with Wolves
It is a fairly well-established observation that powerful women seem to rankle people in their environment (No, they don’t necessarily need to mimic men in their mannerisms to get this part done). Just a healthy dose of self-belief and owning your agency, wherever you are in that moment is enough). As far back in time, whenever the women have wielded their power or broken barriers of common understanding, they have been labelled using derogatory words and/or have been ostracised.
As I write this, the specific bracket in my head is senior women—50ish years or senior. I have put the ballpark age figure as it somewhat points to a time when the bulls**t detector in their heads is very well developed and there is little regard for other people’s opinions! While the first part almost always is true with these wizened women, it is also a delicate time—a period of transition—most women tend to hit menopause button around this age or a little earlier and board the rickety bus on that journey. Emotional vulnerability is more and physical capacity to endure a bumpy emotional ride is relatively lesser.
While the fabric of this species is extremely strong, life happens and influences each one in different ways. It is an unfamiliar territory—spiritually, physically and emotionally. The body is undergoing changes and the idea of home (read safe haven of love, familiarity, comfort and warmth) shifts right in front of one’s own eyes without a warning:
- Children generally have grown and become independent—moving away for higher studies. The empty nest syndrome is a real thing!
- Or children may have begun leaning in, emotionally, on a special friend or developing serious /mature relationships
- Some may welcome a son or daughter-in-law into the family and be pulled into adjusting to entirely new dynamics with little acknowledgement of one’s real thoughts and feelings
- The spouse/ partner seriously invested in professional growth believes that this is the time to reap the best from one’s career after all those years
- Quite a few grown-ups in this phase have already bid adieu to a parent or both, so the most dependable sources of advice, comfort and strength in this phase are missing or one could be more fearful or anxious about them
Alternatively, a majority of professional women may have a run-in with the glass ceiling at this stage, sparking several questions and emotions. The measure of disenchantment can even cause to throw away years of work. Sometimes, it is towards a journey of self-exploration.
We live in a world that has sparked body image issues in women in absolutely nauseating ways—selling the idea of beauty that is impossible—airbrushed faces, flawless skin, body proportions that do not align with reality or without the help of beauty products and procedures. There are people overeating or not eating at all! Does it help at the delicate juncture? I think not.
Navigating this tricky territory—adjusting to too many changes requires strength and support. I’m not making a case for women to run a fiefdom in homes till end of days. I am making a case for families and friends to have conversations.
· Repeat conversations.
· To have patience for multiple conversations.
· Do explore and talk about hormonal health. Get tests and evaluations. Offer empathy.
· Encourage her to seek her tribe, especially in case of women who haven’t had time to cultivate a circle!
It is easy to offer advice saying that now you have more time for yourself, your hobbies; keep yourself happy staying busy. What takes sensitivity is to see that a human being dear to you has stepped into something absolutely new—she will navigate it as she has dozens of other times in life. Only that this time body and mind both deal with the onslaught at the same time!
When people are important, this is part of the deal. Make an effort to educate yourself and handhold the one who has been the axis for a long time. She continues to be. As I understand it, most women respond very beautifully to empathy and compassion and there is something one can definitely offer. Strong families and connections are built on support and it does takes emotional support and nothing less.