I feel like I’ve hit the motherload, I feel like a great light has shone on me from heaven, I feel like it all makes perfect sense now. That’s the thing, when it all makes perfect sense, it empowers you to overcome it rather than being held under ignorances grip.
What am I getting at? The hint is in the title, A Midlife Crisis. It’s documented, it’s common, it has symptoms, but now I finally understand the causes.
A midlife crisis occurs because of a number of reasons that just happen to all click around the same time. Chances are it happens after the pinnacle of your career or earnings, after having children, after buying the family home, after gray hairs, after life making far more sense to you than before and all of this leads to a flood of emotions, negative emotions. Fear, boredom, the build up of stress, discontent, lack of vision, lack of purpose all seem to reach their peak at the same time in life.
Fear of growing old; losing health and fitness; losing hair; losing senses; losing your mind; losing control; losing your job; losing your children etc etc etc. Boredom after perfecting your job or career; a quite home as kids go to university; no social life or hobbies and no idea how or where to begin; entertainment exhausted (see earlier blog); conversation with spouse exhausted; holidays and days out exhausted etc etc etc. Stress of paying the bills; getting everywhere on time; hiding your true feelings; biting your tongue, works expectations; family expectations; planning; thinking and figuring life out; the mistakes as you learn etc etc etc. Discontent with everything you have and have worked towards; with the selflessness of life; with the losing yourself in work and family life; the humdrum etc etc etc. Lack of vision you have probably fulfilled everything you were told you had to achieve in life, the car; the house; the family; the lifestyle; so now you have nothing else to aim for except for retirement but then what? Lack or purpose your wife has a routine, your kids have all grown up, your job has been conquered and seems to have no purpose behind it, you have no purposeful hobbies etc etc etc.
All of these pivotal moments happen approximately the same time for most, at the midlife point. So it’s the anticlimax, the de-stressing, the unwinding, the search for more, the search for purpose, the search for self, the search for occupation, the I can’t cope with all of these emotions at one time, where can I bury my head?
Enter, the sports car and young blond, stage right. This is the danger zone right here. It’s dangerous because your senses are down, your fight is weak, your needs are great, your desperation is increased and you have the time and money for stupidity but you can’t see what you have to lose. You have officially entered your second teen years. OK you might not actually be a teenager but you are looking at life the same way, unable to weigh up risks, the feeling of nothing to lose, a sense of freedom without responsibility and the power to do as you choose. Who are you answerable too? Your boss wont care so long as you don’t mess up at work, your kids aren’t interested and it wont effect them at this age, your wife seems complaisant, your parents aren’t going to ground you, so why not?
It’s at this point you need to accept the unacceptable, that nothing has changed, your wife and kids do still need you (to be a strong foundation and moral advocate), you will still need to be there for your kids when they do start looking back to you for help and advice; that wedding day; grandparents babysitting night; when they need that little loan to help them with their bills; so that they don’t have to choose between parents in a bitter divorce; so that you don’t have to start again in life in order to give yourself something to do (a purpose and mission once more); so that you have someone to talk about old times with; so that you can hold your head up high amongst your peers and offer sound advice when they begin to struggle with their own midlife crisis.
Remedies for a midlife crisis – Don’t bottle it up, speak to others about it and don’t feel ashamed. Don’t look up to the guy in the office or your friend that lost the battle with his midlife crisis, he seems happy, for now, but what happens when the blond bimbo offers him no shared memories or intellectual conversation? What happens when his age bores her? or he has to accept she is just a gold digger and this is a shallow relationship? When loneliness creeps in at the next phase? When your kids wont talk to you because you dumped mum? When you can’t see your grand children? When you get no visitors that truly love you? When you have no one to call for a real heart to heart or for help?
Other remedies: Make plans with your wife towards the next phase and making it interesting rather than just secure; take some new chances ie investments (not with high risks but just little gambles); plan a holiday at the other end of the financial scale like backpacking or couch surfing (this doesn’t have to be in the outback, it could be Europe or America); revive old hobbies or interests where possible.
When struggling: take time out for yourself in safe environments to just think and breathe, such as a quite walk at the park and feed the ducks or a bus ride (just to give yourself safe breathing space) stay away from drink or places to drink when at your weakest. Avoid sports car showrooms 😉 Run from temptation never entertain it.
Other helpful ideas: Find a midlife crisis buddy, someone about your age before you both get to your midlife crises or while one of you is in it, make a joke of it “hey, wanna be my midlife crisis buddy?” someone to support you when you feel weak or to talk to about your struggles. Perhaps if you are in a circle of people your age you could start a midlife crisis support group for the same purpose.
It all sound a bit extreme I know, but until you’re in it you don’t know why it’s called a crisis, when you’re in it it’s too late to organise and prepare for it, and when you’re over it it’s too late and no one would believe you anyway.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
Remember! You always have a lot more to lose than it seems in the middle of a midlife crisis.