Middlepause: Don’t Self-Arrest

As Marina Benjamin observes in an interesting interview in Slate today, many women experience at mid-life a “crashing sense of disappointment…that feeling of you’re not where you thought you’d be.” No amount of Botox and keratin can straighten that out.

Benjamin’s new book, Middlepause: Life After Youth, takes issue with the prevailing culture around middle age, which encourages us to “disguise it, deny it and disown it.” Her approach is to instead embrace it, examine it, avoid mirrors, and simultaneously feel loss and gratitude. Dissatisfaction might be part of the picture, but what if you simply wanted the wrong things? Time to recalibrate.

Following a hysterectomy in her late ’40s, Benjamin experienced sense of “horror and ambush” at suddenly missing some pretty important internal organs and a whole lot of estrogen. What prompted her book was what she perceived as a lack of real attention to “the change,” and a general

This excerpt in The Telegraph provides a good starting point for Benjamin’s thinking. Her book is organized around elements of the body, because, as she explains, “In my conversations with women, it is the decisiveness and insistence of biology that is the trouble.”

For men, a midlife crisis–if it comes–is less about biology than about society. For women, it is very much about biology. Very quickly, as in Benjamin’s case, or relatively slowly, your endocrine system does you in. The body changes, and so does the mind. Face it or fight it–your call.

Ultimately, Benjamin argues, aging feels a lot better if you let go of your youthful self and move forward instead of self-arresting. Hide the gray if it feels good, but don’t hide the part of you that is wiser, more spiritually generous and focused on what really matters to you.

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