The years 2016 and 2017 were especially hard for me across all aspects of my life (personal, professional and studies). Change and lots of it. I’m coming up to the year anniversary of some particularly pertinent events that happened last summer, one of which being my seventh miscarriage.
There is an expression which says something along the lines of: you have to reach rock bottom before you can start moving up. What this miscarriage revealed to me over time, through reflection, meditation and personal therapy is that I have come to the end of a particular chapter in my life, a change in my Self-namely fertility. I had said to myself that I would keep trying for a baby until the age of 45 and then I would stop.
I made the decision to start my doctoral studies so that if I had not become a mother again by the age of 45, then I would at least have my studies to get me through what I anticipated to be a turbulent time. I perhaps did not anticipate that my doctoral studies would be” traumatic” in themselves at some level! And so I found myself reaching the age of 45, no longer pregnant with my doctoral studies that had reached a block in their progression which was outside of my control. Not quite how in my head I had it planned! Can we ever plan for change?!
And so here I am almost a year later and a lot has changed for me. Right up to the end of 2017 and well into the spring of 2018 I was faced with more challenges (in all aspects
of my life). However last summer – which I call the summer of sh## – provided me with a bit of a wake-up call in many respects and acted as a catalyst for change.
I am learning to reconnect with myself as a woman whose ability to reproduce has been challenged, and I am exploring other aspects of myself in a changed Self. Of course the next chapter in my life is the menopause and of my son leaving home, however these things are not now, and not yet. I am choosing to live my life differently to how I was before. As part of reconnecting with a new self-concept of myself I have of course turned to books. One particular book was recommended to me by a friend and a coaching colleague: a year by the sea-thoughts of an unfinished woman by Joan Anderson. This is a book about a woman whose family have grown up and left home, she has gone through the menopause and she takes a year out from her marriage to live by the sea to find herself again.
Some may call what Joan Anderson and I have experienced as a midlife crisis. I disagree. It’s not about wishing to be young again, or ticking off things on the bucket list. I prefer to call it a life-stage transition, where the version of who we were before (even down to the clothes we wear) no longer “fits” where we are at, and possibly won’t even fit for the self we shall be in the future. We are never fixed either mentally, physically, psychologically or emotionally. Perhaps some of us traverse these transitions more easily than others… And for me it’s been a rocky road and is getting easier.