I keep waiting for things to return to normal, for me to slip into my old routine. Instead the little life revelations keep on coming: a death in the family of someone I admired for her adventurous spirit, advice from an older woman to enjoy the rewards of your hard work and not let others stop you, the discovery of an insignificant heart condition that may prove more significant when I get older, and yes, menopause. None of which would have amounted to a kick in the pants if they’d occurred separately. Together? Eyes opened.*
I read an interview this morning with an actor and entrepreneur in which she talked of how success had affected her sense of identity. Suddenly a lot of things that had been bothering me made sense. I’ve felt a disconnect between who I ‘really’ am and my professional self for some years now, growing stronger all the time. It happens because of Other People. Sometimes those who know the professional me are disappointed to find I’m a normal person with flaws and those who know the personal me react with jealousy to the professional me.
I suspect that separation wasn’t working, more so thanks to a newer source of disconnection. I’d read that menopause can shake a woman’s sense of identity, but I’d figured mourning the loss of youth was vain and foolish. But I missed the point. I’m moving from being a young, ambitious woman to being a middle-aged, successful woman and I’m not sure how to be that person.
Change has snuck up on me and I don’t have any role models to advise me on how to handle it, because nobody in my family or among my friends has had to face that particular combination of changes.
That’s why Carrie Fisher’s question has stuck with me: “What are you spending your money on?” I suspect the answer is “nothing, because I’m afraid my friends will envy and hate me if I do”.
But one thing’s for sure: you can’t take it with you, and since I have no children to inherit the rewards of my hard work I shouldn’t let Other People’s opinions or jealousy stop me enjoying them. And I may as well have fun working out who the middle-aged Trudi is going to be.
Before I become the elderly Trudi, who might be unable to do anything.
*Speaking of eyes, yesterday I went for a vision check. Apparently I have the eyes of a late 20/early 30 year old. But I have the tear ducts of a menopausal woman. Hormone changes mean they aren’t so good at lubricating so I get scratchy eyes and blurriness. I went to the doctor about this a few months ago thinking I had a cyst, but she couldn’t find one and couldn’t explain it. Now I know what’s up. Yet another symptom of menopause. Yay for the good eye sight, though!