Women are largely intuitive creatures. There is a voice in the back of our heads that whispers guidance, whether we heed it or not. The cacophony of daily life often drowns it out; sometimes, it’s just easier to ignore it. Not all of us tune in to that voice, but if you give yourself enough time and space, it will make itself heard.
Whispered or shouted, every instinct I have tells me that I have arrived at a turning point. I am here after 44 years of living the life that someone else wanted for me and eight years of struggling to understand how, and why. Now, I stand at a crossroads; do I have the courage to choose the path that seems riskier? Can I create the life I want? And how do I know what that looks like?
How I got here is a tale that defies easy explanation. Let’s just say that there are only so many aspects of our lives that we can control; the other ones have a habit of conspiring, unnoticed along the fringes, in such a way as to push us along to a place where their point – and they do have one – cannot be missed.
The trajectory of this particular phenomenon has roots in what must be the earliest parts of my childhood, if not in the womb – memory, as usual, fails me. For the last four years, this existential snowball has found a downhill slope on which to gather increasing speed. This week, it seems to have found level ground, come to a complete stop and deposited me – here. Just one step altered, and I might have arrived here earlier, or later – or not at all.
Something happens to women in midlife. We care less about what others think of us and our choices. We have less patience; time, after all, flies by ever more alarmingly. Children leave the nest, parents pass on, friends fall away. What will our legacy be? Do we have the will to claim the lives we’ve pushed aside for far too long, whatever our reasons?
Looking out into a landscape devoid of scenery, like a painter’s untouched canvas, I am terrified, confident and exhilarated: at long last, I feel in control of my destiny. And I can address the ultimate question: What will it have meant to be me? I only hope I have the strength to create the answer I want.