Today’s rant: Mid-life crisis
Many times in my blog, I’ve cited one painful fact: When I turned 25, I was quite mature…for a 13 year old.
When I turned 40, I believed I looked 20 and was proud of the fact that I was still carded when entering a bar. I felt young, beautiful, alluring.
Now, when I look back at the pictures during that time, another painful fact emerges:
Perception is a Bitch
Here’s a picture of me at…
At the age 20, a time when I wanted to be taken seriously as an adult.
Age 33, as a sophomore in college.
As you can see, I was cute-ish but no raving beauty (Even at 33 I certainly didn’t look 20).
And at 46
When we’re in our 20’s, we want to be taken seriously as adults, so we try to do everything we can to appear more “adult.”
Then, when we turn 30, and our adulthood is no longer in question, we laugh about the paunchy, balding man who buys a corvette or a Harley on his 40th birthday. And we scorn the man who divorces his wife of 20 years so that he can marry his 20-year-old mistress.
But…the “7 year itch,” as the mid-life crises was once called, hits both women and men.
While he’s called a “player” or a lucky son of a bitch, women are called “cougars” or names I won’t repeat in a blog where %@$# is my idea of a curse word.
If I’ve already passed through that painful era of my life, why (you might ask) am I writing about it now?
I’m surrounded by people in their late 30’s and early 40’s. As I watch them pass through the hallway between youth and middle age, I’m compelled to write a cautionary tale.
Husband #1, age 20, I married a drunk who tried to kill me a year later.
Husband #2 age 23, I had 2 children and the marriage lasted until he left me a widow 10 years later.
Husband #3, age 37. So much excitement as a new college graduate with a stellar future ahead of her!
From the age of 35 to 39, I felt alive for the first time in decades and I wanted more out of life. My children were old enough to be able to entertain themselves and were entering their teenage years when I turned 40.
At the age of 40,
the quest for a youth I could never have again
became the fire that consumed everything else.
The first to burn was my marriage. Not that it was without problems long before I reached 40.
My 3rd marriage was headed for disaster from the very beginning.
- He didn’t have children and mine were 9 and 11 when we married.
- My idea of parenting was: Screw the rules! Have some fun!
- His idea of parenting was: There will be order in this house! Follow my rules!
I asked for a divorce when my kids were 12 and 14. He wanted to stay together, at least on paper, and reunite with me after the kids were in college. I moved to a city 2 hours away but remained in contact with him. He begged me to buy a house together in my new city “as an investment,” and assured me that I would have full autonomy in my new home.
But…6 years seemed like such a long time…and…
Then he said my dogs couldn’t be inside the house…the first in a parade of “don’ts” that followed.
In the Quixotic quest to regain my youth, I met a man 17 years younger who became one of my 3 boyfriends.
The second thing to burn was my job. There’s something about getting two sets of flowers at work, one from your boyfriend and the other from your estranged husband, that didn’t go over so well. Drinking and dancing several nights a week didn’t help my job performance, either.
The third thing to burn was a well-established financial status: When I did, finally, file for divorce, my credit rating was so far in the sewer the alligators didn’t want to swim there.
When did I finally come out from under the delusion that youth was somehow better than middle age?
- I was a 45-year-old woman living alone in poverty and newly divorced from #4.
- My youngest child was in high school and my oldest was in college.
- I wanted to have a closer relationship with my children, and they pulled away with a vengeance, just as I had pulled away from them when they needed me the most.
It was the beginning of a painful experience, where I was forced to look at myself in the mirror of other people’s eyes…and I didn’t like what I was seeing.
By the time I married #5, I was writing short stories and the first of what is now book #16 in my series: 6 books called ©The First Level of Hell, 6 books called ©The Second Level of Hell, and 6 books called ©The Third Level of Hell.
Some people make it through the mid-life crisis by finding a hobby like woodworking, learning to play a musical instrument, going back to college, changing careers, learning a new language, painting pictures, photography, or…in my case…writing.
Some people never make it out of the hallway, dying in their quest to regain their youth.
Truth is, no matter what age we’re experiencing, there are problems. No age is perfect.
What is my advice to anyone going through that hallway between youth and middle age?
- Don’t deny it is happening. If you’re 40, it’s happening. End of discussion.
- Try to find a hobby, or a new calling in life, while keeping the good things you’ve obtained along the way (like a loving spouse, a nice home, and good credit).
That’s all the “blog” I have in me for today. Time to get ready for my dental appointment, which might end up to be as painful as a mid-life crisis.