When it comes to midlife and sexuality, what are the stories that need to be challenged if we want to be among the sexually woke? Inasmuch as these stories are causing harm or are not true, what might be a healthier way to view the same situation?
As an example, let me tell you how this worked for me. In my early-40s, life felt like I was on a conveyor belt going in one direction and largely out of my control. I was driven by a list of things I was supposed to do. Financial planners told me how much money I needed to earn and save to live to 95, to send my kids to an average of six years of private college, and to keep my invented life looking perfect from the outside. We predicted the rise and fall of the stock market for the next 50 years. Every morning, I got up and did what I was supposed to do. I made lots of money, won lots of awards, and made things seem amazing on Facebook.
My then-husband and I had complex wills, life insurance policies, disability policies, and every other imaginable tool to create the illusion that we had this life figured out and under control. I knew the precise date I was going to retire, as well as the date we were going to sell our home. I knew the dates our kids would get married, how much their weddings would cost, when I would become a grandparent, and the date each of us would probably die. Nothing was unknown.
If the goal of all this planning and attempting to manipulate the future was to provide a sense of safety and security, why did the idea of getting old fill me with dread? Why did following this nicely mapped-out path feel like I was being buried in an early grave? The fact was I had nothing to look forward to. There was nothing exciting or surprising to anticipate. Life had been wrapped carefully and stuffed into a box. Looking into the future felt like looking down a long, dark, narrowing tunnel. It was a death march.
At that same time, I was struggling with getting older. I was getting crow’s feet. Gray hairs became too many to pluck out. My sex drive was nonexistent. Women much younger than me were enjoying leadership roles and accolades and were prominently featured in the media. I could feel myself slowly being pushed out of the picture of what matters.