Midlife Enlightenment

I'm thinking a good Lay can help
with this midlife bullshit.

I've reinvented myself three times in my life. Just before my freshman year in high school I remember making a series of rash fashion choices by chopping my hair off and adopting a dark wardrobe that consisted of my dad's old baggy Coast Guard pants, thrift store sweaters, and dark eye makeup. I wasn't going to win any beauty contests but I was hoping to add a touch of intimidation to my perpetual "cuteness." I guess I was worried about being picked on considering I didn't know a lot of kids at my high school. It didn't work. I still got my hands slammed in my locker and my books scattered around freshman hall. Go figure. I blame it on the skaters. 

While my high school reinvention was probably the most dramatic externally, the other reinventions have turned out to be some of the most significant internal growing periods of my adult life. They were marked with unequivocal changes in either deep beliefs (such as my belief in the existence/non-existence of a God) or my self-perceptions and confidence. 

With every change I went through I chucked a part of my previous self out the window. Even the me from eight years ago (when my oldest child was born) is a far cry from the me of today.

You know what totally sucks about this? I'm probably the only one on the face of this earth that thinks this is a good thing. I get the feeling that everyone else around me thinks I've completely lost my mind.

So I'm just going to put this out there. This is who I am. Right now. Warning: I will probably be different tomorrow because...

I'm experiencing a mid-life crisis.

It's hard to admit. Well... it's hard to admit I'm getting older. Many people probably think I'm WAY too young to be going through any kind of "crisis." But what is frustrating to me is that although the past few years have been tumultuous (I can see where the "crisis" comes from) I think this shit has been really good for me.

There's this taboo and stigma attached to this label "midlife crisis". No one wants to tell you that you've completely changed and they can't recognize you anymore. They might stop talking to you altogether. They might stop inviting you to family functions or happy hour. They might fear that you'll do something completely out of character and embarrass yourself or even them. Lets face it, people don't like it when other people around them change. It seems disingenuous. To say you like potatoes one day and then hate them the next makes it appear that either A) you're a spoiled five-year-old, B) you have a new best friend/lover who doesn't like potatoes or C) you're just plain loony and forgot.

Its only been up until recently that mental health experts are recognizing this phase in life (generally experienced between ages 38-55) as a true transition and potential period of tremendous growth for some people. Apparently 36.1% of women will experience midlife turbulence according to a study of MacArthur Foundation data by Dr. Elaine Wethington of Cornell University, Ronald Kessler of the Harvard Medical School, and Joy Pixley of the University of California at Irvine. The people who are given this gift (I like to think of this as something positive) are generally catapulted into it by some sort of life change such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, or other significant life event. Many experts believe that denial of this transition in life is what leads to the "crisis." When embraced, this period in life leads to greater self awareness and spiritual growth. 

Some sad facts about midlife crisis are that many people sink into depression and despair. Some blame their spouses while others cheat. Most ride emotional tsunamis leaving their spouses and families to wonder if they've gone bi-polar on them. Many have this intense urge to abandon their lives and start all over. Whoa. That's a serious life transition. Ignoring it just seems like you're asking for trouble.

I think sparks of my midlife crisis started very early for me a little over six years ago when I lost my second baby at four months in utero. Being older and pregnant and then experiencing this death was very jarring for me. Then about three years ago I quit my job as a designer for our business and decided to be stay-at-home-mom (a job I'm discovering I'm not well qualified for). Shortly after turning over a milestone 40 years I had to endure two breast biopsies and not long after that my father went through open heart surgery and was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (a rare blood cancer). So I guess it makes sense that I've been trying to pull the escape cord lately.

OK. I'll admit to having regressed a bit back into my adolescence (who said a 41-year old can't pull off the dark eye makeup and purple hair?) Funny how it affects me at so many levels. I even traded Jason Mraz and John Mayer in for a little AC/DC and my old Rancid and Dink albums. Little did I know that genre of music would fall back into my listening sphere. So glad it didn't go into the garbage fifteen years ago. 

I also found my escape buried deep in my training, stupid miles running, and this blog. More than anything else, its from these things that I'm growing. In fact, my barefoot running transition was just a symbol for the direction my life was taking me in. I didn't just shed the shoes and run raw, I started to shed parts of myself I no longer needed. Fuck the life-stifling people pleasing and half-assed confidence I once had. I am so done with that. I don't need to question the universe and beyond before I can make shit happen and I certainly don't need approval from anyone to make myself happy.


That, my friends, is not only growth, but enlightenment.  

And even though I'll admit to having a twinge of that "urge to abandon" feeling (trust me - running stupid miles isn't just about the running... there's a reason a part of me needs that kind of hurt) I'm trying to stay objective and give myself healthy "outs." I don't have any desire to cut the line and leave myself adrift from the people I love. I do, however, need to give this transition its true recognition in time and space. 

And you know what? I would be bored as hell with myself if I stayed the same ol' person for 41 years. Seriously. Who wants to be predictable? Who wants to be peanut butter and fucking jelly every day for the rest of your life? Not me.

Here's me raising my cocktail to change. Here's to growth. Here's to midlife fucking crisis!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Comments

  1. I have been going through this for some time now. I have been on drugs being told it is bipolar and what else you can think of. I agree with you on everything you have wrote here. Fuck everything and everyone that does not agree with me. But what do I do leave my husband because I do not agree with what he believes?

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    Replies
    1. Pattie - Its a difficult journey isn't it? The really sad thing is people in general don't talk about the changes that they are feeling. After talking with my husband about it, it suddenly dawned on me that its a very real and threatening change for him to see me go through this. I wouldn't doubt that for our spouses there's a bit of denial as well. Often times they don't want to admit their wife/significant other is going though a midlife crisis anymore than we want to admit it to ourselves. Its hard to know who you will be coming out of all this on the other side. You might wonder if you will still be compatible with your husband. Will you still have things in common? To be honest, I don't think there's any way to really know until you get there.

      That being said, I don't think I can answer your question as to whether you leave your husband because you and him aren't on the same page with your beliefs. I would talk with him. Find out his fears in all this. He might be willing to open his mind up to you as well once he's reassured that you are willing to include him in your journey. I think it helps to have a spouse who is just as willing and flexible to eat a meatball sandwich every now and then instead of having peanut butter and jelly every day. You know? :-)

      Good luck with your journey. Try to find the positives and don't be afraid to talk about what you're going through.

      And this may sound selfish, but I'm glad others are going through this as well. It makes it not so lonely for me. :-)

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  2. You have such a healthy, optimistic, and refreshing take on life's hurdles! I often feel like life is like a constantly moving river, you can either flow with it-- the ups and downs. Or, you can try to prevent the direction it's going, stagnate, build a dam. I think it's clear what happens when people do that to themselves. One of the biggest predictors of depression and anxiety for individuals is inflexibility-- the sort of rigidity that does not allow them to practice acceptance and learn from what life throws at them. I think you're one hundred percent right when you say that all these changes are positive (regardless if it feels like it outright). Thank you for sharing this!

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  3. I love you Krista! Growth and change isn't easy but the end results have never disappointed me. You inspired me to write a blog post because I loved yours so much! My journey is different than yours but I could totally relate to what you were saying.

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  4. Stumble across your blog. What you wrote is not only well written but so true. I enjoy re-inventing myself as I grow older. Life's an experience, make the most of it.

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  5. Cool beans chica! You have a fabulous attitude. Jaymon and I were just talking about mid life crisis a couple days ago.

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