The Eyes of an Invisible Middle Aged Woman

Life is interesting from the vantage point of middle age. Having lived my life first as a cute, freckle-faced little girl and then as a shapely, cat-eyed vixen, I find it fascinating to be suddenly invisible. My husband swears that this isn’t true, that everywhere I go men are checking me out and that he sees it. But I don’t. The horns of pickup trucks rarely tune up when I’m standing at the curb. The eyes of men slide past like eels past the piles of a pier.
My daughter is entering her womanhood, powerful, beautiful, feisty…and a girlfriend who is much younger and still in her hoochie mama years are far more likely snags for men looking for eye candy or someone to flirt with in line at the grocery store. I’m just the mom with the full cart and the cute, freckle-faced little girl who shadows me and looks like my past just as I look like her future.
Sometimes I experiment with clothes and make up, just to see if the reactions are different, if I will be treated differently depending on how I present myself. I can feel the teeter-totter of age and sometimes I off-balance it a little. Sometimes I wear tighter jeans, blow-dry my hair, put on make up and even show a little cleavage. The pickups tune in then. Sometimes I don’t wear any makeup (this is not always an experiment) and put my hair into a bun, wear loose fitting jeans and a big, floppy shirt. The silence is deafening.
Oddly enough, though, women like me much better now. When I was younger, hotter, and single my smolder threw them off kilter. They suspected I might be dangerous. They didn’t trust me with their husbands. Now, I’m quite certain, some of them would send their men here for a vacation and not worry about any kanoodling.
Sometimes I love this new era in my life and sometimes I feel impotent. The impotence comes on when people, mostly men and young women, look at me as a completely one-dimensional being: middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income, middle of the road. They have no idea what’s in my head, my depth of life experience, what I know that they don’t and which might actually be helpful to them. They don’t care. Youth is so cocky, so sure of itself that it’s frustrating to know that I was once one of them and it’s also frustrating to know that now I no longer am one of them.
So here I sit. Invisible but filled with knowledge and life and love and for someone who enjoys watching, it’s not such a bad spot after all.


About Bettina Colonna Essert

Illuminated Magdalene High Priestess and facilitator of empowerment and healing circles for girls and women, including a monthly Red Tent Temple. BA in English, minor in anthropology. Waldorf homeschool mom. Reiki master, cranial sacral therapist, herbalist, menstruvist, feminist, epicurian.
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6 Responses to The Eyes of an Invisible Middle Aged Woman

  1. Ilsa Evans says:

    Hi there, I’m an Australian author who is currently working on a non-fiction book on middle-age for women (tentatively titled The Invisible Woman, and other remarkable phenomenon of middle-age). It’s basically going to be a collection of women’s experiences of midlife and I’d really like to use your “the eyes of men slide past like eels past the piles of a pier” in the description of invisibility because it’s so apt. Great analogy. All properly referenced of course, both in the text and in the bibliography. Would that be okay?
    Cheers, Ilsa.

    • Cerwydwyn says:

      Ilsa, Yes, you may use the quote and thank you so much for asking. I would love to read your book when it’s finished. This is a topic that is rarely addressed–after all, what do we have to complain about compared to so many others? Best wishes.

  2. Terry says:

    Thank God for long friendships. We remember each other as hot, sizzling’ hot. And sassy and fresh and smarter than anyone else in the room!

  3. amy says:

    Girl, at 100 you will still be “sizzlin hot”!!!! it is all in the attitude!

  4. Kerry says:

    Would it make you feel better to know that I feel the same as you? :-/

  5. Cerwydwyn says:

    Kerry, it’s not surprising to hear that any woman feels invisible, at least sometimes. I don’t feel badly about this, though. It’s one of those parts of the evolution of our lives that simply *is*. You know? Trying to have some grace through the changes is my goal =)

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