Originally posted November 2016
The beauty of essays? Everyone’s got an opinion.
A dear friend passed “The Bitch is Back: Older, Wiser and (Getting) Happier” — a followup to editor Cathi Hanauer’s “The Bitch is in the House” after we both had read “Love Warrior” and were particularly moved by the adage that women have stories we don’t tell each other.
We’re both approaching (I say, “approaching” because who really knows how to define it these days, plus I plan on living until at least 150) middle age — kids about to leave the nest, marriages long past honeymoon phase and looking forward at the next stage of life and what it may hold. So this book, a series of essays from women in a similar age demographic, offered interesting insight into relationships of all kinds, including the one you have with yourself.
It would be a no-brainer to suggest these essays serve as a dynamic conversation starter for any girls’ night or book club. When Facebook is absolutely relentless with posts from friends sharing their awesome lives and awesomer spouses and awesomest everything, it can be difficult to acknowledge and really believe that 99 percent of what you see is bullshit. Or, at the least, it’s a single moment in that person’s day that really, in the end, is as mundane as yours. I could selfie myself on my way to work belting out Kool and the Gang and my friends would think, “Wow, she’s so happy! Damn her!” What they wouldn’t see is that 30 seconds prior to that, I was cursing the car in front of me for driving 5 under the speed limit. Or 15 minutes prior, I was projecting evil thoughts toward the family member that ate the last breakfast sandwich.
It’s a wide-ranging buffet of topics, from transgender relationships to single parenting, making peace with older parents to embracing sexless marriage, which is apparently more common than one thinks. It’s about being the other woman and it’s also about being the only woman and still making a decision to leave.
It’s a brave set of stories — and even if only a few are truly relatable, they’re all remarkable. It might be a good idea to keep a journal or notebook by your side to jot down thoughts, because they will come fast and furious. I think the biggest revelation for me was that in this stage of life, or any stage, for that matter, there really isn’t a “normal” or a “control.” What works for one person’s marriage, such as low or high sex drive, may spell the death knell for another. Everyone’s definition of co-parenting is different. And people change. What you thought would fit your lifestyle into the long term when you were 25 isn’t necessarily what actually does when you are 50.
Overall, a really thought-provoking read.