Silence is the most powerful scream. —Anonymous
When 40 reared its ugly head my reaction was twofold: First, gratitude…not everyone is afforded such a luxury! And my second thought was…this is it? Really? Midlife doesn’t look so hard. Naïve, so very naïve.
I was duped on so many levels…most of them of my own doing. First of all, I felt great! On my 40th birthday I felt as good as any day in my 30s. Only now I thought I had the advantage of WISDOM on my side. Clearly, I’d made it through the hardest part of any person’s lifespan. Far from adolescence, long past the early stages of discovering myself in adulthood, and just beyond the trials of thirtysomething. All the “growing up” and “what-ifs” were behind me. I was so comfortable in my own skin that I should have pinched myself! In hindsight, I wish I had.
It’s not that midlife is scary or daunting…I just really wasn’t prepared for the level of introspection that accompanies this milestone. Let me elaborate. We’re all familiar with the clichés that surround the dreaded midlife crisis. Extreme images like buying fancy sports cars, dating someone half your age, and plastic surgery always come to mind. However, midlife can also be as benign as a new haircut, a tattoo or training for a marathon. I knew about all these tell-tale behaviors, but it was the internal unrest that took me by total surprise.
Of course, all of this didn’t happen right at 40. I was a late bloomer, so I should have expected that my midlife symptoms would show up late to the party as well. And they did! Look, I’m an introvert by nature, so being lost in thought is nothing new to me. I wear it like a badge of honor. I’m thoughtful and reflective. I make informed decisions…I’m cautious to a fault. I process everything…ABSOLUTELY everything. This has always been my way. Still, nothing could have prepared me for this new level of self-analysis and soul-searching. Somedays, I carefully walk around my own thoughts…like a misplaced piece of bulky furniture that no one wants to move or deal with. Other days, I can’t get away from myself…I’m practically tripping over my own musings! And it’s not about regret. My conscience is clear here. It’s just that I wonder…should I have, what if I did, and my least favorite…is there still time to….
I truly thought I had it all figured out and when I realized that I didn’t, I decided to ignore that truth. I told myself, I couldn’t possibly be prone to a midlife crisis. I didn’t plan for this! I didn’t authorize this! I’m not doing this!
Naïve, so very naïve.
So, here I sit…wavering between dumbstruck and flat-out denial (all while trying to raise teenagers! God is so funny sometimes.) It can’t be this hard, right? Surely, everybody deals with this on some level? I know I’m not the only one (please tell me I’m not the only one!) Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a functioning adult. I have every intention of processing the heck out of this and coming out better on the other side. And while I’ve already ruled out getting a tattoo, that doesn’t mean the fancy sports car doesn’t look good to me!
UP NEXT: Is It Hot in Here or Am I Just Dying? (My Silent Midlife Crisis, Part II)