Thoughts of a 40 Something Woman
I was 21 when I wrote this. Around that time many women I knew were hitting something over 40 and they were all learning to put themselves before everyone else.
As a 28-year-old Indian woman in the 21st century, I am grateful for everything that it has to offer including the liberty of choices in education, lifestyle, and thought. In saying this, I’m fully aware that even today many women feel caged their entire lives, and are deprived of basic needs including education.
Today most of us have choices in life that were not offered to those that belonged to our mothers’ or grandmothers’ generations. And I’ve always wondered about the thoughts of these women who are learning the ways of a fairer world where a woman is not expected to sacrifice, compromise, and bury her desires. Change is not easy for them, I understand.
I have always admired women for their strength in taking a roller coaster ride through a complex web of emotions. Although, at times, it can become overwhelmingly difficult to pull yourself out from drowning in emotional chaos. This is predominantly true for the 40 something woman who is experiencing menopause, the taboo around which still hasn’t left our homes and workplaces.
Imagine the battle of thoughts that goes on in a mind that is struggling to make sense of her physical as well as social changes. We often ask her to express what she feels without realizing her deep struggle. If you want to be informed about menopause, you should read what the Oxford Academic June Girvin says on Evidently Cochrane, a site that shares reliable health evidence.
I have habitually never kept up with music trends and new songs and neither am I musically inclined. So you shouldn’t be shocked that I’d not listened to Katy Perry’s song ‘What makes a Woman’ until recently. (I’m sure there are many others like me who enjoy a song for its lyrics more than its musical composition- please accept that folks).
I liked this song for not giving another definition of what makes a woman and for respecting that she is many things. Some years back, with the curiosity for understanding a 40 something Indian woman I attempted to write something by putting myself in her heels. I was 21 when I wrote this. Around that time many women I knew were hitting something over 40 and they were all learning to put themselves before everyone else.
These, I imagined would be the thoughts of a 40 something Indian woman trapped in a loveless marriage, a marriage that was foisted on her even before she understood what it meant and what her life meant.
Alone… why am I alone? I love them, my husband, my children. I’m his half, his better half, why then? He doesn’t even care to talk… tell me what he feels and ask me what I feel. I poured out my heart to him but still, he keeps his heart sealed.
Who’s at fault? What should I do? I had dreams….but it has been 20 years since I lost them while fulfilling my duties to him and my children. Married at 21 I was beautiful then but now I have lost it all to time. I remember those moments I spent with him… we were happy, I think. Now, our smiles have faded like the color of my hair. He was a stranger to me when I married him and gradually we came close but now I feel… I know we’re strangers again!
We don’t fight. He doesn’t humiliate me. It’s worse…he doesn’t care. Is this what happens to marriage? Change, change is quick in marriage. In the beginning, I felt the warmth of his love, fresh as morning dew! Yes… like morning dew which dries up quick with the sun’s heat. And why did I call his feelings ‘love’? It wasn’t ‘love’. Love doesn’t die like this. It was just attraction…Lust. I sought ‘love’ in my children but now they’ve left home to find their destinies. I don’t blame them and I don’t even blame my husband. It’s not their fault that they couldn’t understand me and it’s not even my fault who tried so much to seek their affection. It’s time… misunderstandings… and it’s life!
Words don’t have the might and strength to reveal my emotions, by breaking the chains that bind them. Emotions! Do they even matter when they’re not your own? Emotions are meant for expression, and mine are just heaped in my mind…each emotion tries to outnumber the other. It feels like I’m fighting with none other than myself… Struggling to know what my life means!
All I know is that many times people walk in the same direction…side by side… towards similar destinations but when the end approaches, they learn that they weren’t really walking together!
I am neither an expert on women nor am I trying to generalize all 40 something women with my thoughts. My intention is a plea to be more empathetic and forgiving towards women we might otherwise criticize for not embracing change.
“She is free to do what she wants and free not to do it.”
We often forget that in criticizing other women we are once again unintentionally imposing something on them. Let us be a friend who listens and create a space for discussion rather than arguments. May we always remember that change is a slow process and one that involves a silent struggle.