Iris Apfel

Multiple identity disorder: How do you unite your selves?

I’ve spoken to a few friends recently about how we used to have identities that went beyond our mum lives. We were someone and something more than this.

How do you reconcile your domestic identity with the career woman, party girl or free spirit traveller of the past? It’s a prickly conundrum rife with gender stereotypes, ego and midlife questioning. Even for those of us who are still working, partying or travelling, it’s not like it used to be.

And yet that other woman is still there, lying dormant. The spangly wardrobes might be a thing of the past, replaced mostly by Anko sensible, but there’s still that desire to take our old selves out of storage.

How do you access and share that part of yourself when there are so few opportunities – and people willing to engage with – that woman.

Becoming a mother is like moving to another country where you don’t speak the language. You have to learn and become fluent, but sometimes you want to speak in your native tongue.

So how do you unite your identities? The neighbourhood face of motherhood with the old citizen of the world? Do you have to assimilate and let your old selves go?

I loved that colourful flibbertigibbet; that hot mess sipping bubbles in the airport lounge. She was fun. I miss her.

Is this why older women start dyeing their hair pink, dressing like Iris Apfel and throwing their weight around in restaurants? Is it about being seen? Or is this what it looks like when you bring your other selves along for the ride?

I’m asking because I don’t know. Do you?

More on midlife questioning here.

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