I’ve just read an article from the Telegraph, no less, about the classic signs of having a mid-life crisis, all forty of them (signs, not crises). I can relate to just two; worse hangovers that last longer and dreading calls at unexpected times from your parents (fearing the worst).
I’m not one for revealing intimate details of my life, but with a recent occurrence (and eye-opener) for me, I wanted to share my experience with MAE (MAE – Middle-Aged Existence is my term for a baby mid-life crisis) and hopefully this will help others.
I’ve been feeling a bit wobbly for some time and not because I’ve eaten too much chocolate recently (even though I have). I’m lost while knowing where I am. With exciting events occurring in my life, I should feel happier, more content, at ease. However, I’m trying to balance a million different emotions, I feel itchy, uncomfortable and some of the time, incredibly sad. The uncomfortable feelings are like having a really intense itch under your skin, so much so that it almost hurts and I can’t ease it in any way. The depth of sadness is an emotion I rarely encounter.
Controlling my emotions is like trying to control ripples. Life is like ripples, events in your life, one after another relentlessly running away; you can’t stop them, you can’t grip them. It’s also like time, there’s no way to slow it down.
I thought it all stemmed from leaving behind our five beautiful boys, our horses who we’ve bonded with fiercely on a recent adventure together. When we left Australia I felt like I was going through a bereavement. I still can’t think about them without becoming teary as I miss them so much. Visiting my family after six years was exciting, but I felt indifferent about going to England – just what was going on? None of it makes sense.
Noel has been fantastic through all this, especially during the last two weeks of living in a rather tiny campervan with an emotional wife. He has actually saved my life – again. He has already saved it once when I suffered a true bereavement and at a time when I didn’t much like this world any more.
The other night, we were sitting have a beer and talking about stuff. We like nattering, after 16 years of marriage; we still find plenty to talk about. The subject turned to my emotions, a friend’s dog had recently been put down and the subject of horses came up again, and there I was crying – again.
After saying (for the umpteenth time), ‘what’s wrong with me, I have to toughen up.’ Noel said, ‘Your 43, you are coming to terms with your mortality.’
‘Just brilliant! I’m having a mid-life crisis!’ I sobbed.
Noel laughs at this point. So do I. It’s not a sane laugh from me, rather a slightly-boarding mad guffaw. Noel laughs, not through spite but to help me, to ease the tension.
‘You have to be gentle with yourself; don’t make any big decisions at the moment.’
‘What, like buying land in Australia and buying a boat in Holland,’ says I, because that is exactly what we are right in the middle of!
We laugh again. I cry again, but this time with relief. I now know what is wrong with me. I am an emotional person and extremely sensitive. However, I am strong, tough and tenacious too. These intense emotions are way over the top and a little crippling.
Noel tells me he experienced something similar when he was in his forties. ‘Then you came along, you saved my life, I’m here to do the same for you.’ This all sounds a bit melodramatic, but it also rings true. It makes sense. And this was our exact conversation. He adds, ‘these emotions can be dangerous if handled wrongly.’ This was a sobering thought.
Now, my twisted gut feels slightly smoother, my fingers tingle as if something tense is flowing out, away from me. I feel lighter. I tell Noel this and he laughs, ‘whatever you’re drinking, I’ll have some.’
The following day I still feel better. My emotions are still shot, but I know WHY, I know it will end. I’ve read that a mid-life crisis can hang around for years(!), I am hoping my baby version, MAE, skips town a bit sooner than that. I am just lucky (and incredibly grateful) I have Noel to carry me through.
As a complete non-expert, here’s some tips that work for me:
• Find yourself a friend who becomes your light.
• Turn towards light, step away from the darkness in every aspect of your life.
• Remember it’s like being in a storm at sea, you can’t do anything about it, you just have to ride it out. But you know it will end and you will get through it.
• Remember to be kind to yourself.
• Help yourself. If there’s an emergency on a plane, you help yourself first by putting on the oxygen mask BEFORE you help others – that is what you have to do now.
• Be a little selfish, but not greedy.
• You have to love you.
. . . . oh, and there is a possible boat on the horizon . . . details to follow
April 14, 2014 at 1:05 am
Thanks for this blog Jackie – reading you describe how I’ve been feeling makes me feel I’m not alone! I hadn’t thought in terms of a mid-life crisis. And I love the suggestions at the end 🙂 x
April 14, 2014 at 1:11 am
Thanks Julia – it has amazed me the response to this blog, so many people feeling the same (not all brave enough to do a comment here, but contacted me privately and on FB) – thanks for your support . . . and I am so glad too, that we are not alone! x
April 14, 2014 at 2:50 am
A beautiful and thoughtful post…thank you for sharing so candidly such powerful emotions. Feeling touched.
April 14, 2014 at 3:43 am
Thanks SV The Red Thread – appreciate your kind thoughts.
April 19, 2014 at 2:31 am
You know what? I commented on this post when you first wrote it and my comment didn’t show up. Hmmm. I suspect my phone, So my comment is here: It’s true you just have to ride this out. You are describing what I went through when I turned 50, so it seems like it’s hitting you a little bit early, but if you left 5 kids in Australia, then I can certainly understand why. There were days I would cry over the stinking fax machine. My kids thought I was going crazy, and I thought I probably was, too. My husband, who is younger than me by 2 years, thought his wife had been swapped for someone else. Bioidentical hormones and 5-htp helped a great deal. Here are a couple of blog posts I wrote when in the throws of that thing I called ‘The Menopause’. http://littlecunningplan.com/2012/10/menopause-sucks/ and http://littlecunningplan.com/2012/10/menopause-sucks-a-rant-about-language/ I think I was going to write a third one, but I didn’t have the heart to do it. Keep on keeping on.
April 20, 2014 at 5:45 am
Just read your blog – very funny – so much to look forward to – I am really just dipping my toes in at this point – however, I am already a dab hand a hixing mords! x
April 20, 2014 at 5:05 am
I hope my blog didn’t mis-lead you – my “kids” are my horses – which are just like kids (and I love them as much!) And Yes, can relate, cry over the stupidest of stuff – going crazy . . . reading your stuff right now – great to be in touch and know I am not alone living in the ‘crazy neighbourhood’! 😉
December 27, 2016 at 9:15 pm
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have been struggling with personal issues for 10 years and have found reaching out online to seek the advice of others has helped me through the good and bad time. I had a ton of issues with my midlife crisis and have started to follow the advice of Dr. Robi Ludwig. I saw her on a tv show once and I really appreciated her take on current psychological issues. She has written two books but my favorite book is with Your Best Age is Now I have read it and loved it! I highly recommend it to anyone out there struggling with dealing with midlife. I got hit hard during my 40’s and this book really helped me to become a better version of myself.
December 29, 2016 at 10:28 am
Hi Sasha, thanks for your heartfelt and open note. The philosophy you mention in Dr Robi Ludwig’s books is what I have pretty much adopted – my best age is now. I turned 46 three days ago and I am loving every single day. I know my own mind, I am more comfortable saying ‘no’ and put into practice the fact that I don’t have enough time to spend with people I love let alone people I don’t particularly like, I am grateful for every single day and every moment in that day! It’s rather liberating and counteracts the twinges that old age is beginning to sneak in.
I wish you well on your journey – if my mind fails me I’ll be sure to read your recommendation, but right now I am on the right track. Do write again. Cheers, Jackie
May 16, 2023 at 2:52 pm
Thank you foor writing this
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