Midlife Ruminations

Gas and electric readings and a midlife panic

Midlifers, do you feel as if you have been hit by a truck (metaphorically speaking)? As if we have not had enough to contend with given the pandemic, pension worries and higher prices due to Brexit (in the UK), we now have the cost of living crisis. If I had to describe my worry level, I would draw a visual parallel with a very tall high-rise building and me standing at ground, no make that basement level, extending my reach to the top most level with my short hands.

I am so worried that I have spent exactly 28 hours trying to write this blog post. I don’t quite know how to articulate my thoughts because so much of it is consumed by panic. I need to calm down and suggestions by ‘helpful’ friends to adopt Yoga poses like the ‘downward dog’ aren’t cutting it.

How are you dealing with all this worry?

After scoffing at the royal family who, allegedly, wear extra jumpers rather than turn their heating on I did the same. How do they live in a palace with the heaters turned off when I was shivering in my flat which would only fit into one of their bedrooms? Anyway, in layering up I have also stumbled upon a truth. Putting on extra layers to keep oneself warm while a cold snap is on does not make a difference. I turned my heating on instead.

So the worries go on. I am worried about how I am going to be able to save towards my pension when, in reality, I might be dipping into my savings to subsidise my living costs.

The crisis has taught me a new skill though. Following advice from Martin Lewis to record one’s meter readings on 31 March, the day before the price hike, I read a meter for the first time in my life. My husband who normally does it was away and it fell to me. For some weird reason I was labouring under the misapprehension that I would have to do calculations before sending it off to the energy company. I felt triumphant when I realised that ‘recording’ a meter reading is literally that. How ridiculous can a woman in her 50s get?

But I am not just worried about myself. I am worried for those who will be unable to eat and heat because they will only have enough to feed the kids. I feel bad for mums who will not be able to buy their kids treats because the ability to treat your kids to something that lights up their faces is a mothering high point. When the Government introduced austerity measures I struggled financially too. I couldn’t afford many treats for my daughter. My situation has improved somewhat since then but my experience has left me with oodles of sympathy for others.

Unlike austerity which did not affect the whole population in equal measure, this cost of living crisis affects and, consequently, provides everyone with an opportunity to rethink our basic values such as compassion and empathy. In my midlife, I cannot think of any other societal change which has provided us with such an opportunity. So I encourage you to read this article.

I once believed that growing older meant that I would have accumulated enough personal agency and human capital to feel as if my voice counted. Never have I felt so powerless to effect any change whether at micro or macro level.

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