Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Midlife Crisis is a Cliche, Until You Have One (Part 1)


In September of last year, I wrote a piece about my missing mojo. It wasn’t until a week or so after I composed and published that post that I realized my missing mojo was part of something bigger - a midlife crisis.  

I’ll be the first to tell you, when I first suspected that I was truly having a midlife crisis, I freaked out a bit. As you are probably well aware, the experience, even the notion of a midlife crisis carries a stigma. 

For me, those two dreaded words conjured up cliche-rich images of middle aged men suddenly taking an interest in their appearance, losing weight, trading off their casual wear for designer clothing, buying fast sports cars, and trading off their similarly aging wives for much younger ones who have no wrinkles or stretch marks. Yes, I know how incredibly judgmental that was on my part, but that’s exactly what I thought of when I heard the term "midlife crisis." Seriously, I pictured the dad, played by Kevin Spacey, in the 1999 movie American Beauty.

Exhibit A - Fast Sports Car

Exhibit B - Working Out

Exhibit C - No Explanation Needed

The reason I freaked is because I couldn’t reconcile the idea that I could be going through the same thing that caused Kevin Spacey’s character and thousands of other men to exhibit such cliched behaviors once they reached midlife. I wanted in no way, shape, or form to be associated with that group, the group that are the pun of jokes and that are frowned upon with such general disdain.

I was very concerned about what people would think if they found out.  And, honestly, I feared becoming a cliche myself.

When you are in the beginnings of a midlife crisis, you have no idea what's in store for you.  You have no idea of the challenges you are going to face or of the avalanche of feelings that are going to bombard you day in and day out.  Worst of all, you have no idea of how long the experience will last.  All you know, or at least all I knew, was that I was venturing in to some crazy uncharted waters, waters that had the potential to ultimately alter the course of my life. I knew that my life, one year from that point, could look completely different, in fact, it could be completely unrecognizable. For me, that was some scary shit right there and I won't lie, I was scared to death.

Anytime I find myself in a situation where I feel vulnerable or at a disadvantage, I empower myself with knowledge as to level the playing field, so-to-speak.  I knew nothing about midlife crises, nothing beyond the cliched, stereotypical behaviors associated with them.  So, I did what I normally do and went straight to Google. After typing in “midlife crisis,” an overwhelming 2 million hits popped up on my screen.

As I started sorting through all the search returns, what I found most astonishing was the abundance of articles and sites that focused specifically on the midlife crises of men and how very few were dedicated to the midlife crises of women. I started to freak  out again, thinking, “Geez! Not only am I going to be a cliche, but I’m also going to be a freak because apparently this doesn’t happen to women very often...” 

After more of my research yielded specific information focusing on women experiencing midlife crises (hallelujah!) and some time spent in introspective contemplation, I came up with a theory: 

It’s not that women don’t have midlife crises, for we do; rather it’s that women are more quiet about the experiences we tackle during the crisis.   

Since early October, I've given a lot of consideration about writing a post (or even a series of posts) about the experience of having a midlife crisis from a woman's perspective.  Although there is part of me that is still incredibly embarrassed to admit that I'm having a midlife crisis, there is another part of me that wants to be real about it.  

Up until today, I haven't really acknowledged my MLC (what I call my midlife crisis) on here.  I have alluded to it here and briefly mentioned it here, so if you are a regular reader, you may have picked up on it before today.  Before today, the only people I've shared this with have been a handful of trusted confidantes.

I can't tell you how many times I've sat down in front of my laptop ready to write, ready to address this, ready to share my experience only to stare blankly at the screen as my fingers rhythmically tapped the keyboard without any words flowing from my fingertips, the typing equivalent of crickets chirping.

Truth is, I wasn't ready; I naively thought I was, but I wasn't.  Not even close.

But, despite my best intentions and my failed efforts in those early days, I trusted that one day I would be in a better place, a place where I would have the mental clarity and finally be able to share.  I think I'm there now. 

A fellow blogger, Erin @ TexErin-in-Sydneyland,  once said, either in a blog post or maybe in an email exchanged between she and myself, that the most rewarding moments for her as a blogger is when she is able to share something that impacts others.  Sometimes that may be sharing a great book; other times it might be a personal experience that she hopes may help others.  Erin has tackled many personal issues on her blog and she has done so with a grace and style and openness that is truly admirable.  Her courage has been my inspiration for wanting to be real about this and to share my experience.

I will be perfectly honest, I only have a vague idea of where I'm going with this.  Although I've given much thought and consideration to sharing my experience on here, determining what I specifically wish to convey and the development of the posts is still in its infancy.  I'm not sure how I'm going to roll this out or what it will look like or how frequently I will post about it.  

I just know that back in the fall, I was desperate to hear and/or read personal accounts of real women who had emerged from their own midlife crises well enough to tell the tale.  As I discovered, there aren't many women out there talking about this for whatever reason and up until today, I wasn't talking about it much either.  I'm no longer willing to be one of them.  

I hope you will join me as I share my experience in the upcoming months.  

As always, thanks for stopping by.  

Linking up with:



16 comments:

  1. Let me be the first to congratulate you on having the strength to admit you are in a crisis and willing to write about it so other people can learn from you. You are an amazing woman and strong to write this can't wait to see where this goes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A great post Erika. It does take a lot to admit to having any period of crisis/depression. Been there got the T-shirt as they say. But talking is definitely good and unfortunately so many people, men and women, keep things bottled up. Mental health has such a stigma attached to it, still! Here in the UK it does seem to be changing, slowly. Some very prominent people are raising awareness particularly on the Time to Talk day which I blogged about recently: https://waffle-with-wendy.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/time-to-talk.html. I found writing about it helped so I'm looking forward to seeing more from you on this subject.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words.

      Delete
  3. I think at some point, we all go through that; it's why I suddenly pumped up the jam wrt fitness and got in the best shape of my life...when you get older, you begin to think about your mortality and in my mind, if you're not healthy, you can't possibly enjoy life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My weight definitely contributed to this. My weight contributed to my ever increasing complacency and my inability to do some things I used to love to do.

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  4. It's hard to really put this stuff into words in the middle of it, for me, anyway. I'm a much better from beyond writer. Kudos to you for sharing. It is my firm belief that what we put out there in writing saves someone else one day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are absolutely right. During the thick of this, I simply couldn't find the words. I just knew what I was feeling. When I was able to verbalize it to a few trusted confidantes, it often came out as a rambling mess. I just needed time to process.

      Delete
  5. Wonderful post! It's good that you are at a point where you want to share and I think it will help a lot of women to see this from a woman's perspective.

    -lauren

    ReplyDelete
  6. So what exactly are you going through that makes you think it's a mid-life crisis? How old do you start going through a mlc? I'm 46 & don't think it's happened for me. Could a mlc be a good thing? If you make positive changes, like getting a better job or doing things that you haven't done before. Just curious.
    http://therantingsofadramaqueensmum.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no doubt it's a midlife crisis. I plan to go more into depth about this in my part 2, but I'll answer your questions now since I don't know how long it will take me to compose the next segment.

      I was 42. I was suffering from a lack of gumption, I felt as if I had lost my spark for living, and like I had lost the gal I used to be, a gal who used to live life fully. I had grown incredibly complacent with the status quo. In addition to feeling generally unsatisfied with life, I was also feeling unsatisfied in my marriage and at my job. Could a MLC be a good thing? Perhaps. It has really awakened me and made me take stock of my life. I think the changes I've made have been for the better, but I can also see where a MLC could destroy you (divorce, affairs, financial).

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  7. Ericka, I applaud you for opening yourself up and talking through this. I firmly believe that it can potentially help you navigate through some of your experiences and emotions as well as help someone else too. I think if you are giving yourself self-care and self-love while going through this, you can come out the other side with knowledge and strength that may surprise you. And, you have a community of supporters cheering you on!
    Thank you for such kind words about me. I am humbled.
    If you ever want or need to chat privately, I'm available.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are more than welcome. I admire you greatly.

      Thank you on all accounts. I do appreciate it. Thank you.

      Delete
  8. This would be interesting to read about, and Erin's right: we can help people so much through our blogs without even knowing it. And you DO have a community full of support!

    On a side note, I feel like I go through a psychological crisis of sorts every time we move across the country (3ish times now). I would be interested in seeing how that compares to your recent experiences. I never draw much attention to my feelings because lots of people do it, but it does have real effects.

    ReplyDelete
  9. kudos to you for sharing this, i think it is amazing. i really struggle to share things when i am going through them, because i don't want to be a stereotype or i'm not good with words and don't want to sound like i am whining. but whenever i am going through something, i turn to google to help and find others who feel the same way, you know? and for me to find those people, they have to put their stuff out there, and i am very thankful they are brave enough to do so - including you. so high five to you, really.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...