I first thought of this blog post a month ago, began writing it two weeks ago and then it stalled the way a storm would over a fictitious group of islands in the imaginary ocean of a bad novel. It seemed to hover and gather energy while not quite knowing in which direction it would go, if any. Some storms dissipate. Not this one. It just seems to hang around. It’s about dialogue with friends, other women in the same age range. We discuss art, writing, rebuilding lives altered by illness and job loss, lives after everyone else has left the house, the failing economy, divorce, spousal death, all of life’s challenges and mostly wanting to be of service – as if our lives hadn’t already been about that all these years. Now that we are of a certain age the need to confront these issues as they arise is paramount if there is to be continued happiness in the houses of our altered lives. Many of us are now alone in a culture of youth and blatant propaganda. Opportunities for women of a certain age have never been anyone’s priority. This isn’t news. I Googled the term “women of a certain age” to see what beliefs existed that were definitive of our age range. I was appalled at search results. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had an affair with a pizza boy (Pizza? Couldn’t it at least be the car salesman?) and I don’t wear exceptionally gaudy clothing, yet these traits were listed as definition on one of the websites I visited. And, I only have two friends with “sensible” haircuts. One is a relative I’m not fond of who apparently likes looking like a manly man, and the other has had the same haircut since she was in her 20s. She still looks amazing. We are not represented by this definition. Most women aren’t. We defy definition. We redefine definition.
But how do we redefine the definition of who we are while facing this desert created by invisibility? How do we redefine while in the midst of everything else that comes with being a woman? Unless you are a woman in public office or of Hollywood notoriety, you see that at some point in the aging process you are no longer sought out or looked to for much of anything. It just happens. One day, you are there. Invisibility arrives and you are perplexed because inside of you is this energy that is the opposite of invisibility. Yet, there you are. In general, you are now perceived to have less value, less desirability, less pertinence.
Speaking about my generation, the ones on the edge of the tide of change, we are all the result of the freedom of the 1960s. We came into our own so to speak, and yet we become invisible to everyone from employers, politicians, and even family. What the hell is that about? It isn’t only about our hormones. There has to be more to it. I don’t have solid answers. I’m still at the question stage as I am on many things. It’s a nice place to be, actually, because it is a place to look openly and without judgment in the search for truth. I do have suggestions.
We need to transform, to become something there was never time to be, something we are for ourselves and no one else, something closer to the nature of who we were intended to be. Why? Because it can change the world for the better. Because women are capable of anything.
“Transform” by Tammy Vitale
Historically, women were portable, malleable, and beatable beings with rarely a singular role. Newer generations now keep their maiden name without social discomfort, if that is their choice. We couldn’t really do that. Being a mother made that choice less likely. Also, younger women now have a more broad scope of careers to choose from – doctors instead of nurses, lawyers instead of secretaries, scientists instead of cooks, and so on. They no longer have to be nurturers because of gender inequality although we have a very long way to go. War and draft: World wars, Viet Nam in particular left us behind. Enough soldiers were killed to reduce our chances of marrying. Yet babies needed to be born. Bullets and tanks had to be made. Soldiers needed to be put back together after being shattered as did their families – we, the people who stayed home – waiting, knowing that who would return wasn’t who had left. Women now go into the military and suffer the same damages, yes, so they have won “choice”, however now they suffer on a more direct basis. It is a no win situation because we are still second to all.
Women are refurbishers, supplanters and vehicles for hosts of souls who continue to press against the walls of the universe, inhale, wait for that first beat from the drummer and thrust themselves through the portal of life into the form of living flesh, screaming their way into existence. Men can’t do this. That’s our job. That’s what we do. We bring into being. Anatomy is Destiny (Sigmund Freud) – or so it has been. As we age, we become invisible yet the seed marches on.
Every woman I know has been a caretaker of someone. I cannot say this is true of all men. Some, but none are driven by nature of their own birth. Women who haven’t given birth still become the caretakers of someone – siblings, parents, other people’s children, the addicted, the failures and now and then, when the planets align and the heavens shine light upon us all, the geniuses who arrive on the planet as saviors and scientists who will catapult our species into a new dawn. They need caretaking also.
At some point, we all raise someone but women do it more often, more intensely and with fewer breaks, if any. We tend to delay more. Think about that. If you’re a woman, you know. If you’re a man, you’ve watched and listened but you can’t know firsthand what it is like to have your body taken over by hormones, often against your will. They are the seed of an ever changing landscape. Whatever we do – make art, throw a ball, discover cures, master a sport or music, will always wait for everything else. It isn’t a terrible thing, but it isn’t a free choice. Regardless of which choice you make, the stakes are often too high to bear.
The only answer I have found, for those of us who live an inquisitive life, a life of constant growth, is to enter the realm of Goddess Nature, to slough off the old and reinvent our names, our energy and our own purpose. The work of birthing others is done. They have moved on. Spouses die, children go off on their own, lovers change partners and we enter a land of namelessness. I am not intending to paint a negative picture, on the contrary. I am not a negative women but I do see what has happened time and again and an answer is to see this land of namelessness in a new way, shining a light on what is for many women a complete rejection of who they have been simply based on the fact that they bleed. In this place where everything is possible – because that is what a land of namelessness is – we no longer have to be invisible. We can choose to be nurtured for the first time by sisters, Goddesses all, and men who are open to a new way of seeing, to the idea of creation instead of devastation. This is a place in which we can regroup, recharge, rebuild and rejoice. The Goddess Nature is our new home.
Her STory by Tammy Vitale
We’ve bled in many ways, from the heart, from the soul, and from our culture. We are of the past and of the future. Now, in the present we bond and commune and call each other by new names in order to continue the creative act of birth because this is who we are. We are conduits of life – this time, however, we birth ourselves because no one else can. The masks of mother, daughter, wife, caretaker, nurse and saint are shed and in their place there is a face that is the voice of truth and wisdom that only women have.
In the circle of Goddesses we create, we are no longer discarded. We are holy women who rise to the heavens and speak to the layers of life that hide from the ordinary being. Some of us chant in the woods, some write campaigns of freedom, some dedicate their selves to broad causes such as guiding peace to such a reluctant world, clearing a path of safety for the un-privileged who crave basic survival. We want them to have more. We are there, as always, and we are changed, refined, burnished, and anointed. We are the full cycle of life itself, free to be whom we really are now that we no longer have to be you.