The Antidote to Isolation after 40
by Martine Metaxas
Four in the morning and yet another sleepless night.
All is still and quiet.
I creep out of bed, leaving hubby blissfully sleeping and oblivious to my night-time antics to find my late-night companions: my laptop and internet. Once again it was seeking answers that was keeping me awake. Answers to 'what's wrong with me?' and 'why do I feel so wretchedly unhappy, lost and lonely?'.
Could it be possible… could it be that I'm having a midlife crisis? These were my thoughts as I clicked enter.
Ever obliging, Google returned 5,160,000 results. Wow!
Whilst it was comforting to know others were feeling the same way too, why then did I feel so overwhelmed and, worse, isolated?
Now, I’m not one of those that thinks the internet is evil. Not at all. To read this you're either on a PC/Mac or holding something ‘smart’, and, let’s face it, Jo Macdonald wouldn’t have created “Loving Life After 40” and I wouldn’t have my midlife coaching business if the internet was the bane of society. So, let’s get real.
I do believe though that we are too reliant on internet searches for all our woes. In fact it’s one of the culprits for how we isolate ourselves. As soon as anything happens we immediately turn to Google for answers, instead of reaching out and asking for help.
You may argue that it’s a starting point. And, yes I agree...to a point.
My late-night Google results showed I definitely had the signs of a midlife crisis, but now what?
No matter how much information you read, there comes a point when we need real, live human contact, context and perspective.
the truth is that we don't reach out and ask for help. we stay isolated.
I used my personal experience of a very dark period of my life (my entry point into midlife) as an example at the beginning of this article.
So, why did I choose our faithful friend Google over a friend or family member for answers to my many “Why” questions?
I’ll tell you why.
How could I possibly admit that I was struggling and all was not well in my world?
How could I admit that I was feeling unhappy with ‘my lot’ or I was a growing more discontent, disillusioned, restless, and unhappy with my life by the day?
How could I admit that my business was hurting because I wasn’t ‘in it’ anymore, because I’d lost my passion and motivation for it, or that what normally challenged me (positively) and gave me a buzz no longer lit me up.
Or how to explain that I wanted more (didn’t I already have so much?)... More excitement, adventure, and that elusive something...different (whatever that was).
No, I didn’t ask for help. Why?
Because it would mean admitting to the outside world that I’d lost it and couldn’t cope, and worse I would be seen as a failure in their eyes and weak.
I live in a small community where everyone knows everyone.
How could I shatter their image and perception of what they thought my life was?
To ‘them’ I was living the dream. No worries, successful winemakers, glamorous life, perfect couple living the dream life on a Greek island.
The real reason I didn't ask for help was because of something called 'Them esteem'
You may not have heard of it, but I’ll guarantee you’ve experienced it!
'Them esteem' is when we worry too much about what others think about us.
We base our self-worth on the opinions and expectations that others have of us and we put their ‘concept’ of us above our own. It’s also one of the reasons we become people-pleasers.
So, we try to go it alone, and end up feeling isolated.
More women as they hit their 40's are rising up. they want to be seen, heard, understood. They also crave connection...
Connection with other like-minded women was totally missing in my life too.
Having a couple of close friends you turn to is not as powerful and beneficial as being in a supportive community. Friends can be biased, and importantly, if they feel you are changing, they feel threatened. They like you as you are.
For the last two years I’ve always been in some form of group training, coaching, a mastermind and in several online groups.
It’s empowering to be in a safe non-judgmental place with others experiencing similar challenges. Just knowing that releases the pressure, and helps us see ourselves in a more loving and forgiving way.
I’ve experienced many aha moments simply by listening to fellow sisters.
So, if you haven’t already, find yourself a safe, loving community of your kind of people. Engage and connect. Ask for help. You are not alone.
An online search is great but asking a true friend is better, and finding your own supportive community of like-minded women is Quantum - it’s the antidote to isolation.
Martine has a new group coaching programme starting in January called 'Midlife Re-Imagined'. You can find out more here
Martine is a British-born Life and Business Coach, ex-winemaker, and mother of two, who lives with her Greek husband of 35 years on the beautiful Greek island of Kefalonia.
Her mission is helping other women transition through midlife and beyond.