‘Midlife crisis’ was the theme running through today. From the heartbreaking conversations I had on the phone, the uplifting conversations I had in person and the podcast I listened to on my run.
I am no stranger to the midlife crisis, having had one myself (perhaps two) and openly bearing the scars of the rebellious midlife crisis of someone else.
I loved the way it was compared to giving birth by JP Sears, something along the lines of the midlife crisis being the birth canal for enlightenment, bursting through the membrane for something more beautiful. (I was running, I couldn’t write it down… so that is how I remember it.)
I don’t remember actually being born, but I do remember distinctly the giving birth part to my sons. I remember my belly growing to an unbelievably enormous size, becoming so uncomfortable in my own skin, my own body. I can only imagine that the boys were feeling the same on the inside, constrained, unable to move, uncomfortable, frustrated so that between the two of us, we decided to break out, break free from the restricted, unpleasant environment we both found ourselves in.
And yes, it was scary and yes it was mightily painful, but the light at the end of it was worth it in the end and definitely far better than staying the way we were.
If I then related the experience to my own ‘midlife crisis’ 4 years ago, it was very similar. I was trapped, I couldn’t turn, I was suffocated in a corporate environment, my family life, my personal life getting too big to ‘fit’ in the time and space I had to work with. I had to reassess my surroundings, re-determine my priorities and found that breathing was top of that list.
It took a while, the first signs of needing to ‘break free’ started as ‘contractions’, moments of intense pressure and stress, guiding me and pushing me further down the route of the ‘birth canal’ and towards the light.
And after my reassessment of life, at that stage, I did see the light. The grass was greener and I was able to breathe freely, be creative and live.
I feel like I am going through another mini reassessment, yet this time slightly different. More like Tom’s very long drawn out labour and complications, he came out not breathing, exhausted and for a while, there was no light. Until he was brought back round with warmth, love, gentle and urgent care. And just like this one, while Tom’s labour was induced with powerful external influences, so have mine.
Again, the parallels interestingly similar. The powerful external influences being the death of my Mumbo, the realisation that life is finite; the unknowing fool in a marriage, the feelings of unworthiness and not being enough. All enough to question – ‘is this it? Is this what my life boils down to? is this my legacy?’
JP goes on to say that he advocates pro-action towards a ‘midlife crisis’, or the reassessment of life, rather than react to life. I took that to mean we should continually reflect, continually improve so that it never gets so bad that you are left alone, in the darkness, confined and unable to breathe. Instead, consistently look to improve yourself, your environment so that you stay in the light and so that you never feel the pressure or stress to liberate yourself from a stifled existence.
But that is easier said than done. I know I became ‘comfortable’ in my corporate roles and in my marriage. It was easier to be what everyone else expected me to be and to stay comfortable rather than realise the walls were closing in.
In both cases, I have been lucky. Even though I was afraid to go down that narrow, uncertain birth canal, feel the pain, feel the fear and do it anyway – I have been lucky. I have found new avenues of personal fulfilment and mental satisfaction, and continue to make exciting plans. And I strongly believe, my marriage, our marriage and future life as a family and a couple will be brighter for the applied pressure to reassess our commitment, our love and our life.