“With aging, you earn the right to be loyal to yourself.” —Frances McDormand
All the world is indeed a stage — a series of characters moving in and out of the scene. And a life can be the same way, measured by its relationships. I’ve been married to the same man for more than a quarter-century. I’ve raised four children and have managed to maintain a few longstanding friendships. It’s becoming clear, however, that the way that I relate to others has evolved. I am not the woman I once was. The woman in the middle of life has changed with regard to herself, her people, and her experiences.
In my case, the “pleaser” has lost patience with the dull characters of the world, and she suffers fools much less gladly. After decades of hyperengagement with others, I’m becoming a woman of fewer words and more crystallized thought. (Although those who live with me may argue this assessment.) I want support, but I also want solitude. I want lots of silence and space. Usually, like Greta Garbo in 1932’s Grand Hotel, I just want to be alone.
It’s no coincidence, I think, that Virginia Woolf was in her late forties when she published A Room of One’s Own. She was in her own midlife when she wrote this: “Five hundred a year and a room with a lock on the door.” Inflation aside, the sentiment is spot on.