I think I’m having a mid life crisis.
I have felt it for months, thundering towards me with the tyranny of expectation.
It wasn’t like I hadn’t been warned. Friends and family have gone on about the bite of disenchantment that sets in during the forty-something period. The strain it causes. It’s not just character building, it’s character challenging.
What’s it all about? played on repeat is no fun. It has left me feeling uneasy and unfocused.
All these questions I have no answers to. They go round and round in my head so quickly that I wonder if I’ll ever be able to walk sanely again. Pondering, philosophising, pontificating daily on the state of the world is exhausting.
I know that, but I can’t help myself.
My mid-life crisis is here and I can’t run away from it.
Besides, I love to say pontificate. It sounds slightly dirty.
My grandmother told me her forties were the most difficult time of her life. The world gets harder and harder to live in the older you get, she often said. The trick is learning to rise above it. To not let the people who don’t seem to care about anything get to you. To hold onto the hope that the things you feel powerless to change will in fact, change; because life means change. Life is change.
And there’s the rub. I haven’t mastered the trick of it yet. Part sleight of hand, part mind over matter; rising above it is as difficult a skill to master as walking a tightrope. The caring what happens to people. The anxiousness at what will happen to the world if we go on like this.
When I was 21, my friend caught her father having an affair with a woman half his age. He blamed his mid-life crisis and the fact that the new Porsche he had just bought had gone to his head.
He’s afraid of getting old, she said. He thinks that fast cars and faster women will keep him young.
I’m not afraid of getting old, but I am afraid of the me I used to know, used to be, getting forgotten. Not by others. By myself.
Remember the person you were when you were 14 years old and the capacity you had for hope, excitement, joy seemed limitless? You imagined the future in your head like a vast ocean brimming with blue that went on forever and ever. You had no doubt you could swim that ocean if you had to because you were you; you knew what you were capable of. You knew you could tackle anything with gusto and verve.
Sometimes I forget that girl. She gets lost in the forest of worry and woe that encroaches on my front door. She falls in puddles and can’t get up. She cries over things she cannot fix.
I want to remember that girl. I want to feel the zing she used to have in her step. I want to laugh at her singing in front of the mirror with a hairbrush microphone and pink leg warmers. I want that girl back.
A mid life crisis is a bitch.
Maybe a little red sports car is the only thing that will help.
Or a 25 year old masseur named Sven.
I am a bit far from where you are and yet I too, feel a bit mad sometimes and wish for the younger me but if we can be our younger self, will we be satisfy or will we continue to hope to be our other self or perhaps we only have mid life crisis because we fear change?
I sometimes fear change and sometimes wish for them & sometimes I think getting some shiny new objects will satisfy me for the moment. A shame I don’t drive or want to drive, otherwise I would think a bright shiny new car can make some difference in my life
I was *just* thinking about this in another way earlier today. I had been looking at old photos of my late teen and early 20s. Oh, even late 20s… thinking, wow, I don’t remember thinking that I looked as good as I did… why didn’t I appreciate how beautiful I was, why was I always fretting about those five pounds or not having just the right outfit…
I look at that younger woman and think, “she’s perfect.” Yet, I distinctly remember not feeling good enough and wishing I were more. Then I thought about how I don’t feel perfect the way I am right now. It hit me like a ton of bricks right then that I didn’t “used to be perfect or beautiful”… I still am. I just need to stop looking back.
Anyway, as it relates to your post, I thought about how nothing stays the same and how the big lesson is that we need to accept that not only do we change, but we change for the better. You know, usually. Unless we’re jerks. Then, we’ll just get worse.
But, I’m not a jerk. And neither are you.
I have really enjoyed my 40’s but as I am fast approaching the end of them as I careen towards 50, I have to admit I am starting to panic.
I know what you mean about remembering your youth. I look back sometimes and I just can’t connect the person I was with who I am now. It seems like it belonged in another life time.
Wouldn’t it be grand if we always had that enthusiasm and joy for life and that we never became jaded by our own experiences? I want to be innocent….always.
See I knew there were advantages to a really crappy childhood- I never look back and wish I could go back there!! I love where I am.
Okay maybe I’d like a skeleton that didn’t make noise when I wake up. (I’m only 45 and it creaks in the morning- yikes!)
Oh Sel, what a great post! I can relate to almost every line. My fortieth birthday was the worst one to date. I cried for a couple of days as I remember. I also remember the girl that was me, for me, it’s usually at 17 that I think back to. I have many regrets at this point in my life. So many mistakes and roads not taken along the way. But what can we do? We have to face life at this time in ours and make the most of it. And for me TRY not to keep repeating the same mistakes.
I LOVED this post, I really did. You nailed it Sel. 😉
You should go for Sven; it’s a budget saver vs. the sports car… LOL
Really, though. As a young woman who worries too much already, I can relate to this on some level. If you’re interested, my recent post Dust in the Wind kind of touches on this….
I think the only thing that helps at a stage like that is a big dose of self-love. I haven’t turned forty yet, but I’m pretty close.
Faiga, reading your words felt like reading my own thoughts. I don’t seem to understand why we only begin to really appreciate something after we’ve lost it.
When I was twenty, everyone told me how beautiful, how gorgeous I was, but I never realized it. I used to think of myself as fat and stupid and never had enough self-esteem. Now that my beauty is soon going to fade, I can’t help wondering why the hell I did this to myself.
Sometimes I think life is absolutely unfair. The more we learn, the more experience we gain, the weaker and the more vulnerable we become.
Ditto…except for the masseur. I’d like a cabana boy named Ricardo.
Getting a red sports car works for me !
With you on the sports car, but mine would be either powder blue or British Racing Green … preferably an old MG, TR or Austin Healey, although I wouldn’t say no to a Jaguar XK120 if I found one on my driveway with the keys in it.
I think the main peeve in my youth was such cars were driven by knackered old s***s who were the only ones who could afford them.
“I want to remember that girl. I want to feel the zing she used to have in her step. I want to laugh at her singing in front of the mirror with a hairbrush microphone and pink leg warmers. I want that girl back” -Selma
She lives on in your writing, Selma, in your blog. She lives on as long as you notice and write about the world around you: about blue balloons, pink flamingos, and red skies.
I’m not sure why, it was decades ago, but I remember my year 12 English teacher telling our class that being called ‘childish’ is always an insult but being called ‘childlike’ is a compliment.
Artists (and I use the term in its widest sense) are usually childlike, and it would seem the greater and wiser they are the more childlike they are. Have you ever read anything that
Henry Miller, William .S. Burroughs, or Charles Bukowski wrote in their old age or listened to a heart lifting jazz piece or a heart wrenching blues song performed by someone such as an elderly John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Sonny Williamson, or Dizzy Gillespie?
Even when they become grey and wrinkled, stooped-over; wracked with rheumatism and arthritis, there’s always something youthful and childlike about the creative types – a glint in their eyes, something about the way they smile.
You, Selma, are a writer, an artist, a creative type and part of you will always be that 14 year old girl.
Eat well, sleep well, be merry and you will not cease before your pen has glean’d your teeming brain! *
We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial.
We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.
And he whose heart beats quickest lives the longest:
Lives in one hour more than in years do some
Whose fat blood sleeps as it slips along their veins.
Life’s but a means unto an end; that end,
Beginning, mean, and end to all things—God.
The dead have all the glory of the world.
We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths by Philip James Bailey
When I Have Fears by John Keats
I think everyone goes through this at some point between about 35 and 55. I went through mine when I hit 37 and it kind of simmered away for a few years, culminating in me making some changes and doing a few things I perhaps ought not to have done. But I have no regrets now, feel my life is just how i want it to be and love being 43.
I suspect the red sports car would prove more rewarding, enduring and reliable than Sven!
I think a crisis of identity can occur at any age and the term “midlife” is a misnomer. I’m sure eighty year olds have crises.
You know, I sometimes wonder if this is a symptom of being a modern woman. So many of my friends are going through this right now…and we’re in our mid-thirties. I want to BE what I want to be when I grow up, not keep realizing that I AM grown up and I’m still not that person. Sigh. Good to know others are feeling this way, too.
I see shadows of the girl i once was and i’m often amazed, often saddened. i remember that courage, that ocean of limitless possibilities. was it simply youth? or did i let opportunity slip by? i think the key is to look out her eyes every once in a while ……
I had a mid-life crisis– It’s lasted ten years so far 🙂 As they say, getting old is not for sissies. Hang in there.
I know what you mean about sometimes fearing change. I think it’s only natural, especially as we get older because change often signifies problems with health and so on. But the bright and shinies do help….
It is nice to know there is someone out there who doesn’t think I’m a jerk. YAY. Thanks for saying that, hon.
I know what you mean about those insecurities we had in our youth. I look back at photos of myself and think :’WOW. Why was I so worried about not being good enough?’ Maybe that lack of self-belief at that stage is something we have to go through just as a mid life crisis is.
Change is good. I do believe that in my heart. Now I just need to convince my head of it!
I didn’t enjoy that innocence enough. The thing I don’t like the most about getting older is that at 44 I feel I am becoming a bit of a cynic and I don’t like it. I want to feel that hope and optimism are always possible. What needs to change is my attitude, I suspect!
I can relate. My knees are in constant cracking mode. My career as a cat burglar is over 😆
I didn’t mind turning 40 so much because I quite like being older; well, at least I thought I didn’t. I guess that part of me did!
I don’t know…I think Sven might be too high maintenance. Tanning salons, full body waxing, designer clothes and haircuts….might be cheaper to get a sports car 😀
Loved your post, by the way.
Life does seem unfair sometimes. It’s true – we don’t appreciate what we have until we no longer have it. I think it doesn’t help that we live in a society where youth is completely overvalued. But that attitude is slowly changing. After all, they do say 40 is the new 30. I am actually only 34!
Ooooh, a cabana boy sounds good. Maybe we could share Sven and Ricardo. One week for me, one week for you!!
Absolutely. I can see myself in it now!
Truth be told I would also prefer British Racing Green. An Aston Martin DB9 will do. Might need to get a sugar daddy to make that dream come true!
That is without question the best comment I have ever had. I don’t deserve it at all and feel completely humbled that you said it. Thank you so much, my friend!
The car is the winner, for sure. Sven would probably turn out to be a bit of a diva anyway!!!
Definitely. Life is a series of crises honing and polishing us for something great, I suppose. Nirvana, perhaps?
Modern life is tough. So many things to consider. I’m sorry to hear you and your friends are going through something similar. Shame we don’t live closer, we could all commiserate over tea. Or maybe vodka. Or maybe we could watch as Ricardo and Sven do the housework in silk boxer shorts. Not that I’m a dirty old woman or anything!
Oh, yes. She’s still there. That lovely girl. She’s still who we really are. We mustn’t let ourselves forget her!
Good Lord. Ten years??? Yikes. Definitely not for sissies!
I have a masseur named Bruce, unfortunately (fortunately) he’s about my age, and well, he’s all about the pain…
It’s a discontentment that has set it, the realization that I may be approaching my best-by date and that I’ll wake up at 70 and realize I’ve managed to waste it all… and that nothing is ever going to change. And I’ll sit there bitter and resentful… like so many of those people I see around me.
Bruce might as well join Sven and Ricardo. In the mid-life fantasy trio, three is definitely NOT a crowd.
Oh, yeah. The feeling of discontent can be overpowering. I am often struck by a feeling that things should be different. But they aren’t. And I just have to accept it because I want to be a jolly old lady, not a grumpy old one!
By the way, I’m sorry for not commenting on your last few posts. Typepad doesn’t love me again for some reason. I’ll try and figure out what’s going on!
I woke up at age 44. Not that it was all rosy when I woke up, but I re-claimed the “me” part of who I am. I had lost her while juggling life responsibilities. I had disconnected somehow and was going through life with my head down, asleep.
It has been a roller coaster of emotions….this mid life thing. Waking up is a frightening thing as well as a life affirming one. But, damn if I’m going to get to the end of my life regretful or saddened that I had remained asleep at the wheel, numbed out because I was afraid to face the changes my body and self are going through. I would LOVE to be 25 again some days….energy wise and body wise. But, that ain’t gonna happen (except in my mind). What I don’t miss about being 25 is that I am more thankful for the brilliance of the ordinary, for the understanding that there are small miracles blooming all around…..and for feeling blessed that I have a ticking brain and a love of learning which will always keep me young.
Sex seems to be better too. hahaha!
Yes, there are some positives about aging 😉
Once again you put things into perspective with such aplomb. When I was 25 I did not appreciate the everyday beauty around me. Most of the time I didn’t notice it with the detail I do now. I also don’t think my empathy levels were where they are now.
The active brain is so important. It does keep us young. Thank you for your wonderful insight!!!
I vote for the little red sports car!
And this made me laugh out loud:
“Besides, I love to say pontificate. It sounds slightly dirty.”
Yes, midlife is a bitch! I am 58 (ohh, that hurts to say it out loud) and am just beginning to see the light at the end of the midlife tunnel. My midlife crisis began in my mid-40’s when I had the rude awakening that most of the assumptions I had about ‘success’ in my 20’s were bogus. The past 13 years has been an odyssey of reflection and reassessment. I wasted the first 10 of those years falling for the stereotypical midlife crisis lures – drinking & partying after my divorce, becoming a bit on the sexual promiscuous side, and finally marrying a man I only knew for 3 months. Slice of Life Sunday helped me so much. I forced myself to look at the past -the good, the bad, and the ugly – and glean the positives and let go of the negatives. It is a process and it doesn’t happen over night. I have enjoyed your writings over the past year or so, and I have come to know you have so much wisdom. You are a strong woman, even though right now you may not want to be strong. I understand that feeling, I got tired of being strong too. And it is OK to lean on someone else for awhile, just be wiser than I in choosing who that is. I do think blogging is a great resource to aide in the journey through midlife. We meet so many wonderful people who understand where we are in life. Just knowing someone understands and cares helps lighten the burden of thinking we are all alone. We are not alone, we all have to go through it. It is one more seemingly unfair fact of life. Sometimes I think God must have been really ticked off when Eve ate that apple.
Midlife crises – I see as a state of mind – why do those in such a state choose red
I’ve been saying ‘pontificate’ all weekend. It’s my new favourite word 😆
You are awesome and one of my favourite people on the blogosphere. Thank you for such a valuable, insightful comment XXXX
I think cliche trumps good sense in such cases. Who knows? Thanks for stopping by!