Check Your Wording. That Was No “Crisis.”
Talking to a friend last week, we were recapping the last couple years of my life. Notably, my life looks incredibly different than it did two years ago. “Yeah, you had one hell of a midlife crisis,” she said.
No. Not really. Not at all.
Without a doubt, my entire life has been through a reconstruction. But, it was never a crisis. It wasn’t a bad thing. It was necessary.
On November 5th, 2017, I asked my husband for a divorce. To be honest, I told him we were getting a divorce. Asking or not, he had no choice in that matter. That ship had left the harbor and was already out to sea.
Exactly four days later, the board of directors I worked for put my job out to bid. I wouldn’t officially lose that job for four more months.
My life became that thread you couldn’t help but pull. But that span of four days didn’t trigger a crisis. The crisis was the 10 years leading up to it that I never saw that thread start to unravel.
There were days darker than I ever wanted. There were days my soul felt so heavy I thought it would fall out of my body. Days where I didn’t want to get out of bed but I did because there was only one direction in which to move.
Over the next two years, I went through my life and lined up everything. Then, like I was playing a midway carnival game, I shot right down the row, scattering pieces everywhere. What was meant to be spared was spared. What was meant to break, did.
I’ve never felt bad. Not for one minute. This wasn’t selfishness. Instead, I was reclaiming my self. The prize I won after that carnival game was getting my life back.
There as never a moment when I felt in crisis. Crisis is a word that suggests a need for intervention. Drastic assistance. Dangerous behavior. Catastrophe. Chaos. Self destruction.
Not a single moment was self destructive. Sure, there were less than stellar decisions, like the couple of months spent unhealthily attached to a selfish but exceptionally handsome man with a guitar, a mic and more than a couple tattoos. In the end though, even that was harmless.
Most of the last couple of years have been spent doing everything I should have been doing but never did. Going to doctor’s appointments I didn’t prioritize. Drinking less alcohol and more tea. Seeing a therapist. Paying someone else to color my damn hair.
I read more. I learned to listen. I took vacations by myself doing things like camping in a vineyard and not talking to a damn soul. I became one of those essential oils people I always mocked. I discovered the beauty of quiet. I found a vault of empathy deep inside me.
Making a conscious choice to spend your day cozied up on your couch on a cold winter’s afternoon reading a Hemingway novel is not a crisis. It’s basic self care.
I got to the point where I felt I was standing in the middle of the hurricane with my hands on my hips asking if that was the best that it could do. Sure enough, the storm could always do better. You don’t taunt it. There is momentum it could gain. I weathered that, too.
The calm after that storm is the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced in my life. I look back at what my life was like two years ago and it feels like ten years ago. But there’s a lingering pressure to define it.
I’d like to banish the term midlife crisis to the far corners of the Earth. There’s a weird judgment that comes along with the term midlife crisis. We equate it to the bored, graying husband fearing his mortality and running off with his secretary in a red sports car, leaving the dutiful wife and kids behind.
What I went through and what I did with my life had nothing to do with having reached a certain age. I know plenty of people who have done the same thing two decades before me and two decades after.
When you need to tear down and rebuild your life, it happens when you find you have the wisdom to see its need and the strength to go through the process. We grow into this space.
Some people, beautifully, occupy this space all the time.
The last few years have been the hardest of my life. I have stood face to face with demons that were buried deep inside me. I have removed people from my life that once played a significant role. I have focused so steadfastly on my own mental health that I now feel immovable.
I am exactly where I have always wanted to be and where I always wish I had been. Age be damned. Marriage be damned. Job be damned. This is my place.