Why is this a surprise to anyone?
Women born in the late 50s, the 60s and the early 70s got stuck with the “Superwoman” concept (meaning we’re between the ages of 40 to 70). We were taught that yes, we could be absolutely ANYTHING we want to be. However, in the process of “being who we want to be” we also needed to excel in the so-called “traditional roles” of women.
We could be a CEO, but we also had to be a perfect wife, a perfect mother, a perfect housekeeper and a number of other time-consuming roles that meant we did absolutely NONE of them well. So, we spent a good portion of our lives feeling we were failures.
It wasn’t until the latter 80s and some of the 90s that we even had a GLIMMER of support in being the person we wanted to be, whether or not that had anything to do with the “traditional female gender roles.”
And, we are STILL fighting that same damned fight.
When we FINALLY start treating ourselves as worthy and turn our backs on the men for whom we have given EVERY part of ourselves, we end up screwed. In American culture, we end up pretty much having to start everything again from scratch. But now, being in our 40s, 50s or 60s we aren’t as attractive to employers as we would have been even 20 years ago.
Unlike the Italian supreme court (described in the article), our judges seem to ignore the fact that the older a woman is, that she is less likely to be employable.
In fact, even when we come across people like me, who does have job skills that should still allow me a reasonable income, but are no longer actually able to USE those skills because the marriage left me with emotional scars that won’t allow me to think critically and logically in the ways my skills require.
So, what am I left with? I could, I suppose, get a job at a gas station or a grocery store. Except my body is no longer under my own control, because I have arthritis in my feet, ankles, and lower back (and probably starting in my knees as well). I can’t stand for more than 10 minutes at a time. I can’t sit without essentially moving multiple parts so that they don’t stiffen up making it impossible to walk from the bathroom to my den (perhaps a 5 foot walk at most). I lose track of what I am saying – IN THE MIDDLE OF SAYING IT.
I have FINALLY gotten all of the physical and mental attention I have needed to have for so long. I have a neurologist who has said there is no organic damage in my brain but wants to make sure I check in with him annually just in case there is something he missed.
I have a neuropsychologist who acknowledges that I have lost cognitive ability based on not only the testing but his own initial interview with me. He is of the firm belief that these cognitive issues are due to the severe depression and anxiety that I am experiencing. But, again, like the neurologist, he would like to see me again in a year to re-evaluate and see if there are any other options I may need to use.
I have a general practitioner who sees me often to keep on track with my chronic pain and the depression and anxiety. And a pain specialist, who can keep me on track with managing my pain.
I have a psychiatrist who is monitoring the medications that are supposed to help to ameliorate some of the worst of the mental issues. I am also seeing a therapist regularly to work through many of my issues, with a priority on learning how to have healthy boundaries and allow myself the full expression of my emotions.
And, I am working on a regular exercise program that is meant to not only focus on staying as mobile as possible, but also to help with the emotional issues by helping my body create some of the more positive chemicals that support my mental needs.
When you dedicate your whole life to someone else, you tend to ignore your own needs so that they can have theirs supported. You put yourself as the last of any priority lists. Do you know the ONLY reason I went back to school was because although the public use of the Internet exploded around 1995, ten years later employers STILL wanted computer programmers to do the job I had taught myself how to do. No one would hire me, even though I was more skilled than half of their own workforce. But, I knew that even though my ex wanted more than anything to be a writer, he would never work anywhere beyond retail outside of the home. So, although I was doing my best to take care of everything else, I had to attend school on top of it in the hopes of actually making enough money to get us out of poverty.
And when I graduated, I found myself being pushed aside for younger individuals, as I had just hit the age of 40. The only job I could get was as an independent contractor (no benefits, and poor money) for a man who knew absolutely nothing about the industry and was expected – as I was at home – to pull miracles out of my ass.
No wonder I went from being able to complete 2-3 small websites (5-10 pages, and primarily what is contemptuously called “brochureware”) in a 2-week period to a SINGLE 12-page website taking me FIVE (5) MONTHS to complete.
Putting yourself as the lowest priority is not only telling your subconscious that you are completely worthless, it destroys the basic foundation of who you are.
Before I could even consider rebuilding myself, I first had to come to the realization that I was WORTHY. By the time I came up here to spend only one month living with my sister, I had started to see myself as a millstone around the necks of those I loved. I was not just a burden, I saw myself as destroying their lives. In fact, I had actually said those words to them.
Not surprising that after spending time away from them I began to realize that I had somehow defined myself as completely and totally unworthy as a human being. Having the people around me tell me I was worthy, but then have their actions and choices underscore that I was not – it was that situation I needed to face up to and come to terms with.
Again, no big surprise that when I put down a clear and firm boundary for my own health and my own needs, it was seen as disloyalty and an intent to destroy them.
So, yes, some of us ladies who have finally walked away from the lives we had defined for ourselves, have ended up being destroyed as we try to rebuild our lives. And, we are often told mostly to just “suck it up, and deal.”