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'All the main thing happened, ahead of menopause and the cemetery': how women experience a midlife crisis



Men talk a lot about the midlife crisis, but almost no one talks about how women pass through it. About this on the verge of fortieth anniversary argues columnist Anna Petrova.

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Lately I have been looking at myself in the mirror and I feel that I am unhappy with my tired appearance. And suddenly I realize that this is not fatigue - I just look like this now.

Recently, more and more often I began to regret that I did not give birth to my son, brothers and sisters, and even cried to my mother a couple of times on the topic “who will I leave him to”. In response, my mother finally said: "You have to understand, you are going to die before me, so I will look after him."

Laughter, laughter, but apparently, this is exactly what a middle-aged female crisis looks like.

If at thirty-five it seemed that everything was still ahead, then in some three or four years everything changed dramatically: the process has begun, and it cannot be reversed. I didn't even go, but flew: I'm sure that the last four years they just gave me a lift. This is the first time I see them.

For the first time in my life, I want to rewind and start over.

It seems that life expectancy is growing, and the WHO is moving further and further the boundaries of defining youth and maturity, and fifty is the new thirty, and you flip through social networks - everything is completely beautiful and active, despite the age, but the figure "forty" still remains a kind of yardstick and symbol of the midlife crisis. Especially for women.

Yes, against the background of a heap of reports about seventy-year-olds who are active and handsome, it’s a shame to stick out like “forty”, but the state of crisis is also a crisis, that one cannot console oneself with logical arguments.

The very concept of "midlife crisis" is often applied to men - this very crisis is traditionally justified by the appearance of young mistresses, leaving the family, buying expensive and impractical "toys", as well as other gray hairs in the beard.

Women in the context of an existential crisis are spoken of much less often: they already have their mouths full of worries, there is no time to think about such nonsense, and cases when women over forty give themselves young lovers, and even more so leave the family, are quite rare. Even among the stars of show business, a few women's stories are lost against the backdrop of endless Petrosyans, Dibrovs and Bondarchuk, changing wives for ever younger ones.

But the problems of aging and awareness of one’s own mortality are universal and gender independent. And the fact that women are more overloaded can only aggravate the situation.

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The midlife crisis occurs roughly between the ages of 35 and 45. Experts say that it is in this period that a person has the hardest time, because the children have not yet matured to full independence, and the parents are already giving up - that is, both of them require care. Driven by the hustle and bustle between work and life, many women by the age of forty already have time to be exhausted and burned out, and here, on the one hand, there are children in difficult adolescence, besides with exams, graduations and admission to universities, on the other hand, they are old (or dying, alas) parents who require at least attention, and as a maximum - complex daily care.

And right now, your own marriage is falling apart, your health starts to fail, hopes of finding a better job are flying to hell, before retirement is like before the moon, and how to live on is generally incomprehensible. To all this, financial problems are added: hopes of saving something by old age are rapidly dwindling, and the payment for the education of children and caregivers to parents is ahead. And you often have to rake all this alone, because the husband at such moments removes himself - in a figurative or very literal sense.

Top like a cherry on the cake is a midlife crisis. Welcome!

By about forty, it’s really customary to summarize at least some intermediate results, and deep down you understand that they are not so intermediate. That point in which you are now, approximately, is the final one. All the main thing has already happened. Whatever you dreamed of in youth, most likely, it will remain dreams.

The reality is that global changes like “quitting everything and leaving to live in a farm” or radically changing a profession are decided by a few. Your maximum is to master hardware manicure or go to smm courses. In addition, starting at forty is not at all the same as starting at twenty, but you will have to compete with young people. And it's better not to think about who the employer will prefer.

By the age of “about forty,” you had grown wiser enough to understand how you had to manage your life: who to go to study, whom to marry, what language to learn and which country to look towards. You think about where you could be now if you had chosen a different path at eighteen.

If you didn’t have time to give birth to this age, but you want to, you will not be envied either. After all, if you have achieved one thing, either in your career or in your family, then consider that you have not achieved anything, because in any case you will regret missed opportunities.

Around this age, you begin to look closely at yourself for irreversible signs of aging. You compare yourself with your peers and quietly rejoice if they have more wrinkles, ask your loved ones: "Do I really look younger than her?" - and you believe with gratitude when your son is mistaken for your brother.

And despite the fact that, for example, I, in principle, never really bothered about appearance. It’s even scary to imagine what it means for those who sleep all their lives exclusively on their backs to avoid wrinkles in the neckline.

It is clear that the body is not getting younger either: the back hurts more and more, the leg is "taken away", hair falls out. Googling "prosthetics".

People from your environment begin to die, and awareness of the fragility of life finishes you. The loss of parents is very cunning. When my husband died, it was an indescribable hell, for the first six months after his death I do not remember at all. But then I selfishly thought that after this it would be easier to survive the loss of my parents.

I was wrong. The loss of dad hit much harder, and it seems impossible to recover from this. Because you think that parents are immortal, that they will always be. And you understand that now you are next. And why bother trying if the end is one?

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In addition, if your parents die hard, then in the process of this painful departure, your potential future is slightly revealed to you - and this is also very scary.

But at the same time you understand: if you want to change something, you need to hurry, right now urgently, right now. And how to do it?

The atmosphere in society, which becomes merciless towards a woman every year she lives, is adding fuel to the fire. Ai-ai-ai, rather give birth, fight age-related changes, hide your age, mask wrinkles, breasts will sag, your husband will fall out of love and go to young, if you are thirty, then stop doing this and wear something that will overtake young promising at work, and they will only take you to wash the floors, and even then in the office rooms, so that out of sight.

Special greetings can be given to doctors.

Starting from the age of thirty, probably at the slightest complaint about any ailment, the gynecologist questioned me with the diagnosis “early menopausal syndrome”, which is not confirmed by further analyzes. So at the last appointment everything repeated: the "early menopause" is in question, it is again recommended to take tests "for hormones". To my remark that she recently handed over and everything was normal, the doctor said that "this can happen quickly: once - that's all."

That's all.

“But don't worry,” the doctor consoled me, “we will prescribe you hormone replacement therapy.”

And I can still live, haha.

In general, I keep cheerful, listen to Billie Eilish, wear weird clothes from the youth line Zara Man for my son and think about who I will become when I grow up. But the words "hormone replacement therapy" at the age of thirty-nine, for the first time strongly shook me. Thoughts rushed between “I was never afraid of old age, all this dance with analyzes is not the first time” and the doctor’s words that “sometimes it happens quickly,” so I very clearly imagined how I was rapidly turning into a baked apple and crawling towards the cemetery.

Even a hint of menopause for someone may well become that very last straw on the way to a crisis. Therefore, it would be nice to stop preparing us for this in advance and stir up panic, you look - and we will slip through the "forty", and then it will go more fun.

There is some good news. For example, today it is quite possible to live, for example, up to eighty, and another forty years - it is so much that you may be tired. Medicine again does not stand still. Yes, I understand that in our clinics it seems to be creeping back, but on a global scale, every year we have more and more opportunities to improve our appearance, improve our health, put in new teeth and stay beautiful, wait for our children to invent the elixir of youth, and we will all live together forever.

People after forty fall in love, get married, change jobs and live a completely fulfilling life. And in general, the back hurts from a sedentary lifestyle and lack of adequate physical activity, hair falls out, because you are nervous 24 hours a day, and nutrition should be adjusted. That is, it is still fixable. Exhale.

What do experts say on this subject? Nothing new. Go dance! Learn French! Meditate! Engage in auto-training! I quote: “When you wake up, sit on the bed and, like small children, stretch out loudly and tastefully several times, repeat this every day - and soon the morning feeling of hopelessness will recede.”

Or another category of advice from the series “Eat, Pray, Love” - to give up everything (both households and chickens) and go to Madagascar to know yourself.

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So everything is clear with the advice: as usual, we handle it ourselves. But what really works is playing sports (at least some, but regular physical activity) and calmness. That is, you just need to relax, because panic will not help grief, flapping your wings - only multiplying stress. Moreover, experts say that "it can storm us for ten years before menopause, which further increases stress, and stress further intensifies the manifestations of menopause." The circle is complete.

And don't bother. Often we are afraid of the opinion of some strangers who really do not care about us. Even if they looked askance at the fresh tattoos on our fifty-year-old thighs, they immediately forgot about it and went on to think further about their aching back. With the phrases “at this age, you need to hide your legs”, we limit ourselves to many age stereotypes, instead of living on our own and letting others live.

Don't be afraid to try new things regardless of age. Life is one, and it is only ours. No one can live it for us. It is necessary to try new relationships, and new hairstyles, and new images, and new professions. After all, we need to do something in the next forty years.

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