We have all heard the term “midlife crisis.”
Many of us conjure up thoughts of a balding man, driving around in a red convertible, with or without his 22-year-old secretary!
For some, this is close to reality, but for most others, is it a midlife crisis, or is it the need and desire to perhaps find oneself?
The dictionary definition is “a period of emotional turmoil in middle age caused by the realisation that one is no longer young and characterised by a strong desire to change.”
Personally, I’ve never had an issue with my age. I have never hidden it or lied about how old I am and I’ve never succumbed to any form of “work” not that I judge anyone who does choose to do that. For me, there was a strong desire to change my direction in life. I was not unhappy but I wasn’t happy either and I felt I had lost myself as a woman.
I was so many things to so many people, yet I had absolutely no idea who I was, and my cup was not only empty, it was completely parched.
I cannot identify how many years I spent in a form of self-imposed hibernation. I went to work, I still kept in contact and caught up with friends and family, and I was there for my kids, who are my world, but I did little for myself. I questioned myself over and over again. I no longer felt comfortable in my own skin. As I think back, I believe over this period, parts of my old self shut down, as did the relationship with my husband.
Whilst I knew things were not right, I plodded along, thinking I had to settle in this life, until one day I woke up—and I mean, literally, it was just like that. I woke up and this realisation, this knowing that I needed to make significant changes, flooded me to my core.
I was about to change the only life I had ever known.
Two years on, and I live alone by the beach and it’s a different life to the one I had before. I am still on a journey, but I am more myself than I have been in a long time. I feel the return of my essence, a return of me, but a newer, more aware, more grounded me. I’ve learnt that I am whole; I was always whole. I had just conditioned myself, adopted a belief system, that I needed someone else to complete me.
So midlife crisis, or journey of self-discovery? Whilst there’s security and safety in our comfort zone, there’s little growth. When did I stop growing? When did I stop wanting a more passionate and fulfilling life? When did I stop wanting to be the very best version of me?
I was comfortable and that was no longer enough. I wanted more than just settling.
A difficult part of this “crisis” is that inevitably people get hurt and I highly doubt that is ever anyone’s intention; it certainly was not mine, but it is sadly a side effect.
Is it selfish to want more—not more material things, but more out of life? To know you are no longer where you should be? Is it wrong to not want to just settle but to find and live your very best life? Knowing that if you force yourself to stay somewhere it’s worse in the long run, and will result in more pain all-round?
If we are honest with ourselves and realistic, we would see that there has already been hurt and pain in the lead up to such a decision.
We don’t get to this place without a degree of suffering—a degree of heartbreak, sadness, loneliness, and loss. We get to this place when we become a tiny shadow of ourselves.
Have you ever felt more lonely in a home with your partner than you do being alone? There’s a significant difference between being lonely and being alone.
If you choose to stay somewhere too afraid to move because it will be hard or there will be pain, or you are worried about what others will think, you are lying to yourself and everyone around you. You are doing a disservice to yourself and everyone around you, and why would you want to do that to yourself or to those you care about? You can’t pretend forever and it eventually catches up with you.
The most important thing you can do is be honest with yourself, and if that means moving out of a situation, be that marriage, relationship, job, friendship, or whatever else, then that’s what you need to do.
Ending my marriage wasn’t without terrible loss and pain. And a sh*tload of fear. It was terrifying.
But we all deserve the chance to be happy and so do those around us. I know happiness comes from within, but we need to be in an environment that allows us the freedom to grow.
I have always been spiritual but I have really regained that spiritual side of myself. I am a huge believer in “everything happens for a reason” and “nobody comes into your life by accident.” And “what is meant for you will not pass you by.”
So in summary, yeah, there are no doubt douchebags out there who need the validation that they can feel younger again and fill that stereotypical picture of a bit of an obnoxious dickhead trying to reenact their younger years.
For me, I knew I had another path to follow. That fork in the road came and one side had that comfort and security I had always known. It had the same pebbles, the same scenery. It had a set direction, but it looked a little lifeless; it lacked energy and colour. The other path looked a little scary. It had lots of bends and lots of changing scenery. There was vibrancy and colour, and although I had no idea where it was going, I knew it was the path I was going to take.
I took the path less travelled because I would rather be alone than living with someone and feeling lonely. I needed to be completely honest with myself and that meant moving on. It took every ounce of strength and courage I had. It meant starting over, it meant healing, and it meant speaking my truth and living my truth.
It meant unchaining myself from everything I had ever known. It meant pulling every one of those shadows into the light. It meant messy vulnerability. It meant finding my wings.
I am 53 years old and it’s been a long time since I have felt this fit. It’s been a long time since I have felt this independent. It’s been a long time since I have felt this motivated. It’s been a long time since I have looked in the mirror and am happy with what I see. It’s been a long time since I have been this self-aware. It’s been a long time since I have been proud of myself.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” ~ Unknown