I couldn’t help but overhear. I mean the tables are super close in this Starbucks, the tile floor is very good for throwing sound, and the two high school girls are talking very animatedly.
I found the one table for two left, snuggled into a corner of the coffee bar, emptying my cute bag of its contents; laptop, journal, pen, cellphone, and next to my impromptu nook I placed my two (for one!) tall sugary coffees. Journeying around the web to decide on a Christmas card design and a site to print my two years of pictures was the goal, and in less than a half hour, it became excruciating.
I’ve listened with half an ear to the girls conversation whirl around my head, because, again, I can’t help it. I heard about their current boyfriends, former boyfriends, about their families, and then about college. , But I was drawn sharply out from way too many options on Shutterfly when I heard this;
“Just think about the past four years, how fast they went! And twenty sounds so old, but soon we’ll be in our twenties, and we’ll be getting married, and it’ll fly by even faster!”
I’ve found my thoughts wandering back to my early twenties, often, this fall. Trying to recall what led me to make the decisions I did. Wondering if I really knew what I was getting into with those choices.
I was so young.
That’s why the girls conversation snapped me to attention. It added another piece to my puzzling. Hearing them talk, so quickly, so excited and light, with the world opened before them about everything, reminded me of the language I spoke then.
I am, my friends,on the cusp of turning 42. So, yes, it has crossed my mind that I am going through a mid-life crisis. Have I mentioned before how little affection I hold for clichés? And how as each and every one them has made an appearance in my life, I have been left with no choice but to declare a truce?
There have been other pieces I’ve discovered from the twenty years younger me; the photos from my wedding and the couple of years surrounding. It seems strange to see the me from then, and see her as almost a stranger. I haven’t forgotten, but all that has transpired since then has left that time as more of an erased chalkboard; the words and pictures still visible, but not clear and sharp.
A mid-life crisis can hit really anytime in adulthood, I think all it requires is 1. being 30+ years old, 2. going through an identity challenging life shakeup/upheaval. When, where, how, are all unique. And you don’t get to schedule it. There is a timing all its own.
Two years ago, I left my business and became a full-time stay at home mom. For me, the jumping in, trying to be strong and power through the emotional fallout without allowing the time, space and permission to be unhappy, threw me into the chaotic whirlpool of depression. Where I sunk, to the rock bottom a year and a half ago.
Steps at a time, slow, painful, achingly raw steps have brought me back to solid ground. It took a year, as life altering events usually do, to heal the major disease. The more recent healing came as a bit of a surprise to me.
There were wounds, some surface and some deep that were waiting for a skilled touch. Waiting for me to be healthy enough to have the strength to face them. To face, me. This work, it is hard. Unbelievably so at times. But I persist. Continue to unbandage, assess and apply the stinging antibiotic of the truth to each and every one.
The classic image of a man’s mid-life crisis is buying a sports car; or leaving a wife for a younger (twenty year old) girl. Not really flattering, and not true for the majority of men, but certainly more complimentary than the image of a woman in her mid-life crisis. Angry, having hot flashes, gaining weight and being the bitchy wife who broke up a marriage.
Let me be clear. I’ve had my crazy. Oh have I. It was also about two and a half years ago that I discovered I was full on into peri-menopause. What? I was too young! With too young of children! As seems to be status quo in my life though, I got everything thrown to me at once; identity crisis, mothering three boys 10 and under, and maintaining a happy, gracious home and marriage.
When I was in my early twenties, in no way did I imagine most of what I have experienced, especially not the way things went down. Nothing went easily, and rarely according to plan (mine). Even the things I expected I would be doing by forty were surrounded with a far ahead future glow. The fairytale.
No wonder I had a breakdown; there is only so long that anyone can hold onto the fantasy of a life while at the same shouldering the reality of it and the soul crushing truth that they don’t match.
And so I find myself at a juncture, a very imperfect word to describe the actual messy and fluid lines of real life. Even so, I know it, deep in my bones, that this is a fluttery stomach, eyes wide, crazily confident place very much like, yet very unlike, the one in my twenties. And when I jump into my storyline, I am doing so with the Hope I cling to, my Author.
Like the girls at the coffee shop, at twenty-ish I was hopeful and in love with all of the stories to come. Of course they would be good! Or great! As I sit here, at forty-ish, I am feeling a flicker of hope again, and I’m beginning to think I may even be falling in love with the stories I’ve lived, and the stories yet to be.
“…Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life; not for a minute will I take my eyes off your road. Open my eyes so I can see what you show me of your miracle-wonders. I’m a stranger in these parts; give me clear directions. My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous!— insatiable for your nourishing commands.” Psalm 119:18 msg