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  • Writer's pictureHeather Haledjian, LCSW-C

Women in mid-life: Changes, challenges, and courage

Besides puberty and adolescence, there is no other time in a woman's life when there is so much change and sometimes even turmoil. Mid-life brings with it a slew of transitions and unfamiliar territory. There are those fortunate few who move through life in calm and predictable waters without any major storms however the vast majority of women are confronted with a multitude of changes and challenges, all of which call for courage in forging on.

Changes certainly include shifting bodies---both in appearance and in function--often leading to insecurity and self-judgement, as well as a feeling of betrayal by your body, once trustworthy and predictable but gradually more uncertain over time. There may be serious, and not-so-serious health issues that arise out of the blue, some of which may stop you in your tracks and require 100% focus and others which are simply a nuisance. Change may also show up in the form of divorce, leading to a cascade of transitions such as shifting roles and relationships, lifestyle and living environment, and a required recalibration of one's future itself. Sadly, there may also be loss in the form of deaths of loved ones, which inevitably increases with the passing years.

Challenges are presented with all of the above changes and yet even without those specific scenarios, there are challenges in mid-life awaiting most women. These may include career-related transitions as well as dilemmas regarding feeling stagnant in one's work or figuring out one's retirement timeframe and associated financial projections. There are also shifting roles and relationships related to simultaneous demands of parenting one's children (whatever their age) and caring for one's aging parents. The well-known concepts of "empty nest" and "sandwich generation" encompass many of these challenges.

Courage is called for in any and all of these situations. Courage to accept and honor your aging body. Courage to fight for your health. Courage to navigate the stormy waters of divorce. Courage to explore career options and challenge yourself in new ways. Courage to realistically examine your financial health and make necessary changes. Courage to embrace new ways of parenting children who are becoming adults and courage to be there for aging parents who need us as they never have before.

One of my favorite Rumi quotes is "Life is a balance between holding on and letting go". I can't think of anything more appropriate to describe the changes and challenges of a woman's mid-life and the courage required to move through it with grace.

If you are struggling with mid-life changes and challenges, I encourage you to reach out for individual therapy and/or consideration of my group for women dealing with mid-life transitions. There is such relief and comfort in simply sharing your story, processing and reflecting with others who sit not from a place of judgment but rather a place of empathy and validation. Support and connection can make all the difference. Please reach out via my contact page if you'd like to connect.


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