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