Transitions.

Transitions.

. 4 min read

Transitions’ is a new series where we address the all-important issue of redirecting our lives at this midlife stage. In the first of the series, PrimeCrush writer Lisa Ellex broaches the question of what it takes to do it all alone.

A Life Redirected.  By Lisa Ellex

“I wish I knew when I was going to die.”  The comment sent my eyes darting to the mirror before me that reflected the fit 50-year-old woman cutting my hair. I understood exactly what she meant.  

“I just want to know that I have enough money to live out my life. I’ve made a good living doing hair but I just can’t do this anymore. I’m done.”

Tears welled up in her eyes. I did my best to comfort my stylist friend (and save myself from leaving the salon with an Edward Scissorhands haircut) and assured her that she was not alone in her angst. Of late, it seems the conversations amongst my peers focus on questions like. “Will I have to work until I die?”; “Can I start a new career or business at this stage of my life”; “Who will care for me if I become ill?”; “How do I know my children will be financially secure?”; “Can I really afford to take that dream vacation next year?”; “Would I make it through another pandemic?”; “Is it better to take social security benefits earlier or later?”; “Would life be easier if I sold my home and rented something?”  And finally: “Will I really break a hip if I don’t start HRT ASAP?”  

Major life changes, whether expected or unexpected, can be enough to send even the steadiest of us to the ER in a panic attack. And worrying alone in the dark at 3:00 a.m. is far more frightening than worrying alongside a partner. But as more women are finding themselves solo in life, finding a companion becomes more difficult as our male counterparts seek women at least ten years their junior. Doing the math, I figure that my potential other half is already 70-something-years-old. Hmmmmm.

For many of us, partnering meant sharing a life rich with career, travel and leisure, perhaps children and grandchildren, but most of all it meant enjoying our later years together. But whether one is coupled or single, a surprise ending was never part of the vision. Sadly, these worries are just the tip of our existential iceberg.

Perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves just what our deep-seated fear of aging – or changing – is really all about. Might we fear we’ll rise to a new day as the cockroach in Kafka’s Metamorphosis? Exactly why do American women put so much time and effort into pondering and prolonging the inevitable? Though I have not opted for plastic surgery or fillers, I am vain enough that I will seldom leave the house without makeup, I religiously have my roots touched up every four weeks, and I will order the first thing I can decipher on a menu rather than put on a pair of readers in a restaurant. My stylist, on the other hand, has no sort of regime other than running 12 miles daily. Her discipline comes with the perk of having the body of a high school swim team star. I, on the other hand, will only run when being chased and, as a result, my ass has migrated to unforeseen depths.

And then there’s my face. My faint “laugh lines” have graduated to deep “life lines.” Though it took six million years for the Colorado River to carve out the Grand Canyon, it seems my face can develop undesired peaks, valleys, and canyons overnight, merely by getting less than seven hours sleep. And perhaps even more unsettling is discovering that the comfort and joy I once found in a couple of glasses of wine now results in a night of sweating and a morning of headache. Motherhood has gifted me stretch marks but, actually, I don’t mind them; I wear them like a badge of honor.  In brief, things are not where they once were and new things have appeared.

I have, however, discovered one bonus to aging: I no longer care about people’s opinion of me. Though this is marvelously liberating, I regret that I did not discover this freedom during my twenties. Or thirties. Or forties. But it is what it is and I am where I am, ‘til I am here no more.  

Over the last few years I have found myself with an unexpected partner: I am having a love affair with Mother Nature. I long to be outdoors as much as possible, embraced by the trees and wind and sun and sea and sky. I often question the reason for this as I’m a tried-and-true city girl who went a lifetime without giving much thought to my natural world. My stylist has developed what she calls the “ashes to ashes” theory. She believes we are making friends with nature because it is there that we will soon enough return. Perhaps. But as I ponder the seasons and wonder just how many more summers I will see, I realize how deeply I envy Mother Nature. For even on her coldest and darkest day, she knows she will always see another spring.

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend!  And I'd love to have you join us on instagram, facebook & twitter.

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The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter curated by Dish Stanley on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?



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