The shell must be cracked apart if what is in it is to come out, for you want the kernel, you must break the shell.
Meister Eckhart, “Hanc Dicit Dominus.”
How to transition to the Second act of Life?
I don’t know how men do it. I can only speak from my experience as a female whose body in midlife told me I needed to reconnect with my soul and do some soul work. I have found and am finding the whole menopause midlife journey a gift. That doesn’t mean my body makes it easy. But as I’ve embraced this journey I realised my body is simply helping my soul to transition to the second Act of life.
During the transition I found the rose coloured glasses came off! As my body began to change and bring up emotions, and memories I found myself beginning to really pay attention to disparities in power, injustice in society, betrayals in relationships and disappointments. Things I was once willing to overlook, push down or minimise I can no longer overlook, push down or minimise. In this space I am finding love releasing and empowering. The uncovering our bodies invite us into is an important part of the transition. It is painful, filled with anger and grief.
The anger can be frightening. But the anger is part of the uncovering, part of the healing. It is preparing us for the second Act of our life by getting us to say yes to what really matters.
In this phase we need to give permission to ourselves to grieve.
None of us like to open the door to grief but “feelings buried alive do not die, they fester.” Iyania Vanzanti.
We don’t get to the Second Act without having suffered loss. We might have lost jobs, partners, income, parents, friendships, reputation. We might have been betrayed and hurt. The uncovering is so important because it has the power to heal us of the need to generate life for others whilst forgetting to give birth to our own self.
In this season of life I found I needed a support group, a counsellor, a spiritual director, or a mentor. I used all of them.
Be careful of your choice of support group because some women’s groups will try to shut the process down rather than allowing the uncovering to occur. Some women will be uncomfortable with the uncovering. If you are interested in a support group – online or in person contact us here.
4. Acknowledge that facing repressed issues can put us at risk of depression.
We may need medication, we may need a counsellor. We need to act with wisdom in this season. In this season I sought the help of dieticians, natural therapies. I saw a counsellor. I haven’t used any medication yet but its not out of bounds.
5. Allow yourself to ask the question, “What if?”
We don’t get to the second Act of life without needing to visit some of our choices. The compromises we made for harmony, the missed opportunities for the sake of other. I found when asking this question there was grief. I had said, “yes” when I should have said “no”. I gave when I should not have given. I minimised when I should have spoken loudly. But I also came away with a great sense of acceptance. I had done the best I could with what I knew and understood at the time. I have found the statement, “I guess I didn’t know that then!” really helpful.
6. Face how others have taken advantage of your relational, pleasing self.
Trying to please others might have been the mode by which you chose to maintain relationships. I know there were so many times when my desire to put the interests of others before my own was taken advantage of. Women are very good at keeping peace by not rocking the boat.
We don’t speak up when we are passed over for a promotion or a pay increase and someone less qualified or younger than you was given a pay rise or a promotion. Maybe there was the expectation to work full time and keep a perfect home. Perhaps your partner exploited you by having affairs and expecting you to get over it. It could be your partner expected you to keep the home fires burning so he could pursue his dream. Word may have got out that you were kind, compassionate and people unloaded unrealistic demands on your time. That divorce you went through your partner got more financially and you had to start all over again. Looking back you realised you were expected to carry unreasonable loads of work without a lot of support or help.
This facing off of how others have taken advantage of our relational, pleasing self can be painful but it can be so good for the soul.
We all do the best we can with what we know at the time. In this season of resentment and anger it is important to give ourselves and others grace and forgiveness. One of the most powerful things to have come out of this season has been my ability to articulate gender inequity. It is a powerful calling in my second act. But here’s the thing because I’ve worked through forgiveness I find myself more assertive and outspoken than I ever have in my life on issues of injustice but on the inside I feel more compassionate, less angry and less judgemental.
For me focused prayer really helped me through the process of forgiveness. In this season I felt the Holy Spirit grieving with me.
Cheryl Jones writes, “Focused prayer is not praying to gloss over events. Too many women think that prayer is a way of forgetting – as if by praying hard enough, the bad memories will go away. God does not forget the past. He redeems it. Unredeemed memories are like fresh wounds. Redeemed memories are like scars. They remind us of the wounds but we no longer suffer from them.”
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