I haven’t got time for a Midlife Crisis. Well, certainly not a complicated one. Something had been bubbling under the surface for a little while, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I’d been pinning most of my “unusual” feelings on the peri-menopause in recent years, but since I stopped boozing 18 months ago, some of that particular weirdness had eased off a bit. I definitely wasn’t in the market for a traditional affair-themed MLC. Contrary to the impression I give to him, I do actually like my husband and more importantly, how the hell does anyone have time or headspace for an affair?!? There’s no way I could add a secret rendezvous into the mix. I would most likely get the wrong day, or have to leave so many post-it notes reminding me about it, it wouldn’t be very secret. Or I’d be tempted to send a substitute so I could have a sit down for 5 minutes and eat some biscuits instead.
I did get a new car, but it wasn’t a very exciting one and it was only because the other one broke, so I don’t think that counts. I didn’t get a tattoo, but I plan to in the next few months. Tick! I didn’t get round to fermenting anything, because it looked like a major fucking hassle, but what I lacked in kombucha, I made up for in dyeing my hair. So, you know, it all evens out.
But still that’s not covered it …..….the nebulous vacuum that appeared, or rather the vacuum (cleaner) I was climbing OUT of……...for me was all about a really strong desire to spend some time on my own, not forever, just a day or two…….…or maybe even a week…..….I mean I have had the yoga retreat fantasy, naturellement, I would hate to disappoint on the stereotype front, but my biggest urge by a LONG way has been to go to a hotel on my own for a weekend. I would not have to do anything other than what I wanted, when I wanted and someone else could bring ME food and I could go to the toilet in peace and I could watch whatever I wanted on the telly, although I’d probably want to just read and sleep and skip. I’d do skipping with glee around the room and I’d probably wet myself and it wouldn’t matter, because there’s an en-suite just there. I wouldn’t have to speak to anybody apart from people who brought me things on trays, so it wouldn’t even matter if I did smell of wee.
This is my midlife crisis.
Yes, it is a very privileged one. I have a lovely life with a great family, friends and dog, got to mention the dog, and we regularly have wonderful experiences (especially me and the dog). I love, love, love my work. I am very grateful for what I have (except for when I’m not, of course).
It is all more than enough, and I don’t think I was questioning the fundamentals in my life, but I can absolutely see why you would. Mother Nature is demanding we look at our lives and ignore her at your peril!! It might look like she’s slapping you around the bonce with extreme sweating, mood swings and atrophied vaginas for shits and giggles, but there is deep, ancient wisdom betwixt her matronly bosom. Maybe, it is only fairly recently in terms of the human timeline, that we’ve had the “luxury” of all these periods, of not being up the duff, or breastfeeding for most of our lives before dying of the plague, but it is still FOR us, rather than against us. It's got to be.
Mother Nature is letting me (and you) know, in no uncertain terms that changes are happening that are very much about the “next chapter”. Changes in the brain at this time of life are second only in intensity to those that happened in puberty. Puberty was all about preparing you for relationships and babies (whether you had them or not) and wasn’t that fun?! I mean wasn’t it just a barrel of fucking laughs? Oh, I had a great time. I felt sooooooo happy in my skin and so confident and at ease with myself and all those changes, yes, it was really fun times. What? I get to go through all that again, but kind of in reverse whilst taking care of small people and old people and paying bills and everything on my body wobbles now and my fanny has completely re-arranged itself? Oh, let me see when I can schedule all of that FUN into my diary. No, you don’t get to schedule it, it’s got to be a surprise, you like surprises don’t you? At least this chapter will see less oestrogen which on the one hand means osteoporosis, but on the other hand means giving less fucks and that can only be a good thing, right?
I think my urges to be alone came from my inner GPS pointing me towards a period of reflection. There’s wisdom in taking stock at this point in life. I’m 45 and if this IS halfway through my life, then I will be living to an age beyond the average, so I’m well into Phase 2.
Looking back has been really powerful for me. Very specifically, I was able to look back at the past 11 years of childrearing and see that although I have made HUGE mistakes and it’s been really hard sometimes, probably lowest times ever for a while, it really is an achievement. They’re still alive, anyway. I had the thought one day “It isn’t nothing” and something seismic shifted inside.
In fact, it isn’t nothing for any of us to get to this point in our lives, kids or no kids. By this stage in your life, you will have been through some shit. Some really big shit, no doubt. We are so insanely resilient we don’t even see it. It did something for me to take a minute to take a look at what has already been created and how I know I’m not broken, which was definitely a point I was doggedly trying to prove in Phase 1. So this MLC thing, it’s prickly and sweaty and uncomfortable at times, but it don’t half clear the cobwebs out so you may as well stop fighting it and enjoy the show.