Middle Aged Madness: You Are Not Alone

Candace Bushnell book

In her book, “Is There Still Sex in the City?” Candace Bushnell writes of life told from the perspective of a middle-something aged woman and the new territory of dating, marriage, divorce and everything that falls in between. It’s a refreshing perspective told from the lens of a woman who largely defined the minefield of relationships in early 2001 when her infamous book, “Sex and the City” first came out. Now, with the eye of a newly divorced woman in her fifties and her friends, she addresses what I hope many of us can admit we are now dealing with, middle-aged madness or MAM.

MAM is defined as what people used to call a midlife crisis. Years ago, this crisis happened mostly to men and mostly when they were about fifty. It was considered a rite of passage, a railing against the restraints of society. Those fetters being the familiar obligations and “the man” or the corporation where, once upon a time, men worked. Back in the heyday of the the male midlife crisis, a man would do stuff like buy a motorcycle or start reading Playboy or have an affair. Sometimes the midlife crisis led to divorce but not necessarily. It was considered a phase. Something that men went through… (Women just had nervous breakdowns and eventually let themselves go.)

…Because today’s reproductive lifestyle happens later for most of us in life and is so busy and exhausting and fraught, it eats up so much psychic and emotional energy, it actually acts as a deterrent to a midlife crisis. This is simply NO TIME to query the meaning of life or to ask the great question, why am I here? But just because the reproductive lifestyle pushed off a midlife crisis, it doesn’t mean it goes away. It only means it happens later in life and usually when a midlife crisis couldn’t be more inconvenient because a whole bunch of other life-changing events- like divorce, death, moving, menopause, children leaving the nest, and the loss of a job- are happening as well.

It didn’t used to be this way… Retirement age folk weren’t expected to do much of anything except get older, get a little fatter and need to go to the doctor and the bathroom more. They weren’t expected to exercise, start new business ventures, have sex with strangers, get arrested, and start all over again, except with one-tenth the resources and in many cases going back to the same social and economic situation they spent all of their thirties and forties trying to get out of. But this is exactly what the realities of a lot of fifty and sixty something women now look like today.

“Is There Still Sex in the City?” – Candace Bushnell August, 2019
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MAM has struck me, more than once, but like many others, I am largely too embarrassed to make the confession publicity, thereby missing out on finding others who have been in similar situations and can commiserate, sympathize and tell me, “Hey- you aren’t alone. I did that too and got through it and you can too.”

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Some of my friends have shared with me their MAM moments and I have learned sometimes all they want is to be heard, and told they aren’t alone and they aren’t crazy. In that vein we have decided to start Let’s Grow, Girl! “True MAM Confession Tuesdays”.

We encourage you to use this confidential email service called Guerrilla Mail, that allows the sender to send an email via a temporary and completely anonymous email address and share your true confession. We encourage you to change incidental details but not the main thrust of the confession. Each submission, no matter the length, (one sentence or several paragraphs) will be edited by me so there won’t be any hints as to identity via writing style. Once a week we will publish a confession via the blog. Please send any and all submissions to admin@letsgrowgirl.com

We hope by sharing our confessions we can find like-minded sufferers of MAM who can relate, be compassionate and more than anything, make us feel not quite so alone as we struggle get through this phase of life together.

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