"Midlife is not a crisis. Midlife is an unraveling."
A friend showed me a link to a new book being written by Brene Brown, called Wholehearted: Adventures in Growing Up, Falling Apart and Finding Joy. It hit home. An unraveling, she explains, cannot be cured or managed.
It is what it is. She writes:
"Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:
It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. The time has come to let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are."
Um... yes. I realize that. How to change it, though, is an entirely different thing. I love these kind of inspirational, oh my god, yes, you get it books.
But then I'm stuck with the armor and how to take it off. She describes is as death.
"Many scholars have proposed that the struggle at midlife is about the fear that comes with our first true glimpse of mortality. Again, wishful thinking. Midlife is not about the fear of death. Midlife is death. Tearing down the walls that we spent our entire life building is death. Like it or not, at some point during midlife, you’re going down, and after that there are only two choices: staying down or enduring rebirth."
For me, the role of caretaker at whatever cost has to end. I must let it go. It does not keep me safe, nor does it lessen the shame. I still feel inadequate- a bad daughter. Always a bad daughter. I'm tired of it. I will never be any better than I am. I will be someone who can hold enormous amounts of pain and have empathy for others AND my kids will always come first.
I can't fix everything. In fact, I can't fix anything. I'm tired of trying.
In reading her passage I realize I have been inordinately tired lately. Not able to do my usual exercise, I've been quick to take an afternoon nap. I can't seem to get myself pulled together anymore to do the things I know make me feel better: cooking a great dinner, cleaning off my desk (and not by dumping everything in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet), or finishing off a project long in need of doing.
I resent all the work I've done for people who don't for one second appreciate it. Trying to get acceptance from some who will never give it, no matter how kind or wonderful I am, or try to be. Maybe I am the selfish ass my mother accused me of being.
Maybe that's okay.
A friend said to me, after turning 50, that she was amazed at how she suddenly didn't care anymore what people thought of her. She was who she was, take it or leave it. I'm not there yet. I can only say I want my energy back, I want a life that doesn't feel like work all the time.
I am lost. Maybe more lost than ever.