In a society obsessed with living longer and looking younger, what does middle age nowadays mean? How should a fifty-something be in a world ceaselessly redefining ageing, youth, and experience?
The Middlepause offers hope, and heart. Cutting through society’s clamorous demands to work longer and stay young, it delivers a clear-eyed account of midlife’s challenges. Spurred by her own brutal propulsion into menopause, Marina Benjamin weighs the losses, joys and opportunities of our middle years, taking inspiration from literature and philosophical example. She uncovers the secret misogynistic history of HRT, and tells us why a dose of Jung is better than a trip to the gym. Attending to ageing parents, the shock of bereavement, parenting a teenager, and her own health woes, she emerges into a new definition of herself as daughter, mother, citizen and woman.
Marina Benjamin suggests there’s comfort and guidance in memory, milestones and margins, and offers an inspired and expanded vision of how to be middle-aged happily and harmoniously, without sentiment or delusion, making The Middlepause a companion, and a friend.
This eloquent and intelligent memoir by Aeon editor Benjamin (Last Days in Babylon) tells of the author's personal experience with sudden menopause after a hysterectomy, when she was struggling with physical pain and hormonal changes and felt "ambushed" by middle age. She lays bare her distress, feeling she was "fast-tracked" to menopause: "Much of the time I feel mournful, assailed by loss." Menopause's relationship to aging is deftly cataloged as Benjamin laments the physical changes in her skin, spine, and vigor, as well as forgetfulness. She notes her positive experience with hormonal replacement therapy, yet is conflicted because of its misogynistic history. Benjamin seeks guidance through diverse content: self-help books and online message boards, scholarly writings by Carl Jung and Erik Erikson, Edith Wharton's novel Twilight Sleep, and writings of the French novelist Colette. This is a measured and beautifully written critique of menopause and middle age that pre-, mid-, and postmenopausal women will find eminently relatable, and that those who love and care for them will likewise appreciate.