More of us are in midlife than ever before! In our parent’s generation, midlife was considered to be just ten years in one’s fifties and a midlife crisis was a kind of joke about men getting sports cars and dating twenty-one year-old women. Now, we’re living so much longer (my mother is ninety-seven and living alone) we’re confronted with multiple challenges in this transitional time, which now covers, not just one but three decades. Welcome to the new midlife!
In our forties, fifties and sixties, we must say goodbye to our youth, and if that were not hard enough, get to know the dark, frightening faces of chronic illness, injury, accidents, addiction, mental illness, divorce, financial loss and death. For the first time in history we women (after age 36, women outnumber and outlive men) find ourselves caring for four generations: our elderly parents, our children, our grandchildren, partners and friends, and at the bottom of the list, ourselves. For millions of women, tired and spent, the sacred feminine journey through midlife is called “depression.” In my new book, Midlife Crash Course, I honor this time of life by placing it in the context of the Heroine’s Journey, with its resulting treasure of resilience and wisdom.
Reframing midlife as a “heroine’s journey” allows us to bring compassion to ourselves for being “Tossed on the Path,” to honor each experience on the “Road of Trials,” to see every descent into the “Underworld” of our emotions as a necessary component of growing wisdom, our intuition guiding us every step of the way. The Divine Feminine was denigrated and denied for centuries. Women’s intuition was seen as dangerous, weak, destructive and counterproductive. Trusting feminine intuition, or the “inner knowing” of truth, posed a threat to masculine power, as the call of feminine intuition is for justice, connection, and peace. Feminine energy insists on life.
In the Old Testament, when the news comes to Job and his wife that all ten of their children have been killed, Job becomes withdrawn and devout, but his wife screams in her grief, “curse God and die!” She’s nameless and dropped from the story. I’ve bestowed on her the name, Sophia, the goddess of wisdom, as she led the way through the feelings of grief, from anger to acceptance, and was instrumental in transforming their lives from loss to the abundance of love. We’re told that all of their possessions, including their children, were restored and that Job came to see his daughters as “the most beautiful women in the land.”
In Greek mythology, Demeter, Goddess of the earth, took on Zeus himself after her daughter, Persephone, was raped and abducted into the underworld by Hades. Demeter refused to allow crops and food to grow until Zeus demanded that Hades return Persephone to her. Reunited with love, richness was restored to the earth and life was allowed to flourish.
In my book, I describe how an accident left me with broken bones and a head injury. One morning I fell into cursing God and crying because I was so disabled and I couldn’t remember how to pray. I was stunned and delightfully surprised to have an immediate Divine visitation. Jesus Himself appeared and taught me to bring love into my body with every inhalation, and with every out-breath to release anger and fear. My painful “prayer” was answered with loving compassion.
We must trust our intuition about expressing our feelings and make peace with deep sadness, anger, resentment and outrage over human suffering, including our own. We can choose to see our intuition or wisdom as providing an opportunity to be with our feelings, open our hearts and forgive our inability to right the wrongs of the past or control the present and simply love ourselves and others as never before. Part of the Midlife Crash Course is to acknowledge our “crisis credentials” and allow our Divine feminine intuition to bring us to the center of our being where we live in constant renewal, resilience and empowered loving.