Trying out new things at Midlife

It seems I’ve been riding the rollercoaster ride of a lifetime these past two years. What started out as a crash – where I sunk into meaningless grayness that left me numb for many months until I started digging my way out of there through talks with my psychologist – has turned into the most transformative time of my life. That being said, I still hiccup along the way. I struggle and often cry for many or no reason(s) at all. Yes dear friends, I’m fifty and not only have I uncovered my deeply hidden childhood trauma’s that, after years of neglect and denial, threw me into an unexpected burn-out, but my peri-menopause has decided to enhance the experience by adding quite a few aches and pains of her own to this stage of my life. 

So, maybe I should start with a more proper introduction, before you leave my substack, never to return. I go by Mies, short for Michèle a name no one can spell properly, so my easier to spell Dutch nickname ‘Mies’ serves me well. (It’s pronounced ‘Mee’s’ for those of you who might be wondering.)

I have three wonderful, young adult children, who help me see the world through their wide-scoped eyes whenever mine are shortsighted. Their father and I divorced when they were very young and however much I would have liked to have spared them the pain of it all, it instilled an extra dose of sensitivity and compassion into their already kind souls. They are empaths in a, sometimes, harsh world looking for their own path in life. I am extremely proud of them. 

Midlife, in a nutshell, has made me insecure about my life and myself. I feel vulnerable, suddenly unseen and unattractive. The latter is of course due to all the changes going on in my body. I’m only slowly getting used to this new version of me. This new stage in my life feels a bit like the ‘still-in-my-cocoon-phase-but-slowly-on-my-way-out’. I have no idea how I’ll turn out once I’m ready to maybe spread my wings again. I’m sure many other nearly-fifty-year-old women can relate to this. 

The peri-menopause is full of twists and turns, aches and pains and mood swings that would make anyone run away from you at times, including yourself. Having said that, it is also a time of intimately getting to know yourself like never before. 

I’ve been confronted with the darkest corners of my mind, the ones where the scars frantically hide away from the light of day. The ones where grief and heartache hold each other tight in fear of letting go and standing alone. The ones where nothing makes sense and where life itself is forever questioned. I used to avoid those dark nooks, but I find solace in them now. They are a part of me that needs to exist, if only there.

I’ve been confronted with the darkest corners of my mind, the ones where the scars frantically hide away from the light of day.

Meaningful purpose, seems to be the loudest and strongest phrase that swirls around my mind non stop. Whatever the second half of my life brings, it must bring meaning and purpose! I no longer just want to survive my days, or merely exist. I need more, much more. And however loud it calls me, it asks no greatness in its fulfillment. A mere act of kindness or service is enough. Enough is another key word.

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So what are 5 new things that I’m trying out at midlife?

SELF COMPASSION – After years of lovingly taking care of my kids, family and others around me, it’s time to take care of myself too. I was always at the end of the list but my breakdown has forced me to understand why I need to be at the top of the list and that it’s NOT a selfish act, but purely a necessity. To use the most common example ever: ‘you need to put on your own oxygen mask before you’re able to help others’. After years of travel and hearing cabin crew repeat this before every take-off – who knew this valuable advice applies to life itself!

GENTLENESS – It’s okay that I am no longer able (or willing) to do everything planned on a given day. I try to not carry around the guilt or shame of no longer running myself mad in the rat race. It’s totally fine to do what I can and just be. I am enough and what I do is enough too.

BREATHING – This may sound strange, because we all breathe, day in day out, but I’ve realised that breathing is more than just simply letting air in and out of our lungs. It’s a gift of life. It’s about taking the time to breathe properly in order to help calm ourselves and our nervous system, especially but not only, in times of stress as well as properly fueling vital organs with a more conscientious supply of oxygen. Every breath is a gift, treasure it.

READING – Yes, reading! I have devoured books like I used to fanatically read my Nancy Drew’s, Enid Blyton’s and Roald Dahl’s under the duvet covers in the soft light of my flashlight back in the day. The more I read, the more my world opens up. Each time I read I step into someone else’s adventures, experiences, thoughts and fantasies and these have paved a path into my own imagination expanding it’s borders and flushing it with never before seen fragments of stories, colours and possibilities. I love escaping into a book to find a part of me that I never knew existed.

WRITING – Thanks to my favourite writer and best-selling author Beth Kempton who – unbeknownst to her – helped me discover the healing power of writing through her many books (yes, I have them all!), courses as well as free writing sparks shared on her instagram and across all her social media platforms – including Substack lately (the main reason I dare to write and share this post today). Her writing prompts have been life savers for me these past two years and I encourage anyone who is struggling to not only find professional help – if needed – but to join this years Winter Writing Sanctuary to experience Beth’s magical way with words and to find your own magic. Thank you Beth!

Keep filling the world with your kindness! xx 


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