Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Midlife Crisis

When people ask me lately how I'm doing, I tell them, in a light and joking tone – but in all seriousness – that I'm having a midlife crisis.

I'm told a midlife crisis should entail flashy distraction: an extramarital affair, a shiny new sports car. In my case, there are long bicycle rides, the most recent of which was undertaken alone on the Fourth of July, 100+ miles of winding Connecticut roads from my home to my mother's where I met up with family and friends and celebrated the holiday, old school. (Literally - we went to see fireworks at my old high school.) The whole day was a pleasure.

That's the thing about midlife crises, they aren't straight-out despair and depression. There is something vigorous in them, a reclaiming of life's joy, a new-found intolerance of years-long low-level misery.

As long as I'm exercising, or with loved ones, I'm fine.

The down part comes only after several hours alone, during my solitary work days. That's when I start to sink. For the past two months, I've felt downright miserable a good deal of the time.

On the bright side (I know this will sound strange) I'm doing a lot of crying.

What's bright about this? The stuff I'm crying about is stuff I have needed to cry about for years: childhood loneliness and disappointments, dashed hopes, all the miscarriages, the divorce, the fact that I felt so poorly about myself that a marriage to someone who I knew wasn't deep-down sure he wanted to be with me felt like the best I could expect out of life, that such a thing, not so long ago, actually felt like good luck.

It's hard work, all this crying. I often feel feverish beforehand, heachachy, and afraid. The tears come in heavy, sweaty, snotty, guttural sobs.

I'm not doing this alone. I have counseling partners (we trade time in counselor and client roles, sometimes on the phone, sometimes in-person, taking turns caring and listening and handing each other tissues, trusting that this emotional expression is the path to healing). Sometimes I cry with J~. After each round, I feel lighter, better.

I love this midlife crisis, actually. I love that I can no longer tolerate a dull, low-level misery, that I can no longer mask it with a trumped up enthusiasm for a long list of chores. I love the sense that old limitations are lifting away, that slowly, subtly, I'm moving my life to higher ground. I feel brave.

I also have new thoughts about pregnancy, and the not-yet resolved Babies or Not question. More on that soon...


michelle said...

I came across your blog a few posts ago.I m glad you had a good 4th and a good bike ride - yee gads though 100 miles is a long ride for fireqworks!

The midlife crisis thing? I like it -your style of it that is - for me its a lot of yoga with my crying. I am in a different situation than you - but when I found out I couldn't have kids last year I didn't cry - I was all into accepting "what is" yeah that didn't last lone - now at my 1 year anniversary of finding out I have been crying on and off for a week.

*sigh* maybe I need a 100 mile bike ride! Figuring out who we are and how to be true to that is hard work but yet sometimes it seems easier the less I try and the more I just accept what is and how I feel in the moment. That might sound passive but somedays I am just so over trying to "self-help" myself.

Sorry I am rambling a lot to say - I understand .....

Patti said...

I am right there with you. I've cried so much in the past year that my husband is worried that I will never be happy. I don't think I am unhappy? I just have a lot to sort out. I thought turning forty was going to be so fabulous. Now at almost 41 I feel like I am going through some sort of hormonal shift that is making me more emotional and irritable than ever. I have also said, I feel like I am going through a mid-life crisis. I feel that at this point in my life I should have accomplished more, I should feel more secure and more confident. I should be able to ask for what I want and get it. But it's not that way at all. I don't even know what I want? Crying is useful in purging all that does not serve you. I love your optimistic view about crying.
Peace and healing.

l. b. trapani said...

You are my favorite blog. I love to find new postings from you. I have been traveling down a similar path. Thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

I love your artwork. I wish I could buy some. I check your other blog every day to see what else you have created.

I have a restless soul. Maybe your mid life crisis is a restless spirit? Maybe this is MY ego speaking and trying to figure it out myself!! Please forgive if so...anyway,

I have been reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Here are some quotes that spoke to me:

"Nothing ever happened in the past that can prevent you from being present now; and if the past cannot prevent you from being present now, what power does it have?" (p. 141).

"When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life" (p. 274).

"You cannot manifest what you want; you can only manifest what you already have" (p. 305).

With love,

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Suzanne said...

Amy - I know you are thinking and pondering....but wanted to let you know again. The CGH study at CCRM is pretty amazing. Dr. Schoolcraft told me himself that women who have had miscarriage after miscarriage are finding success this way. If you do continue on your path for answers, I hope you will consider CCRM. Obviously they don't need the business or me talking them up - I just want to make sure that you know about it (which you probably do since I keep going on about it!).

Much love to you and I am in awe of the fact that you continue to work on yourself as hard as you do. You are very inspiring to me.