Turning 50. I like round numbers and planning things to start on Monday, so decade birthdays make sense to me. The start of something new. But, I think if most people are honest, they don’t really say whoo hoo, I am 10 years older now and so many good things are going to happen to me now that I am another decade old(er). People talk about middle age, but really by the time you get to 50, you are past middle age, because mostly no one lives to be 100. So as you celebrate your 50th birthday, you are no longer middle age, but not really a senior. Well, one of the first gifts you will get is a letter from AARP, telling you that, yes, you are old now.
I turned 50 one week after 9-11. It was a horrible birthday because the country was in mourning, so many lives had been lost, and our security and stability was seriously in jeopardy. For me personally, I had given up practicing litigation law, wanting to do something less stressful and antagonistic. No one goes to a lawyer for something good, and it was always about money. I had moved to Florida in 2000 to be closer to family and live a more relaxing life, with a lower cost of living and way fewer people.
I had left a broken relationship, 20 years of friends, my job as a lawyer and it’s financial stability, all of my social connections–basically everything I had known. I realized that I had made a big mistake in leaving my life, because when 9-11 happened, I wanted to be with my life long friends. Everyone else in my family is younger than I am, so I had no support that I could lean on. I started going back to California frequently, and finally, moved back. So, my 5th chapter of life didn’t get off to a great start. My life was not where I wanted it to be in anyway except that I had no health problems. But none of those issues that I was confronting related specifically to turning 50. They were just a result of choices that I made in the previous years, that I thought would make my life better.
The most obvious and well known development of 50, is of course, menopause. I am sure that I am not alone in this weird irony. I could not wait for menopause. I wanted to get rid of my period so badly because for the last 10 years it was difficult and painful and a huge burden. I couldn’t wait. And then, menopause. The idea of no period at first was very cool, but the other symptoms, hot flashes, mood swings (more than normal), weight gain, body shape shifting to grandma. None of that was good. But, eventually, all those symptoms go away, and life is normal again.
The dilemma women face about hormone replacement is serious; even in 2018 hormone replacement is linked to increased cancer risk according to cancer.org. I have a family history of breast cancer, so I wasn’t willing to take the risk, so I didn’t. I found other treatments.
So 50 had it’s challenges, but also it’s advantages. What was your experience of turning 50? How did you navigate the changes?