How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrid, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June. . . . If it was only the other way! If it was I who were to be always young, and the picture that were to grow old! For this–for this–I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give!
Welcome one and all to my mid-life crisis. You’ve been living it with me now since last November…bet you didn’t even know it did you?
I’m 37. Whew! Let me say that again…I’m 37. Slap. Slap. I’m 37? Why yes...yes I am.
Wake up before you die
Live before you sleep again
Rise and shine to yourself
Cease to being a guest in your own skin
“Old”, “horrid”, and “dreadful”. Those feelings and fear of aging have been disguised and gift wrapped all these years and tied with a pretty bow. It was such a nice package. But during the last couple of years, I have started to open the package and those feeling crept out. Wow, I was soooo not expecting this to happen at 37, 47 or even 97.. I would never be the type to have a mid-life crisis. Seriously! It has my friends baffled. They think I’m kidding. Since when did I ever second guess myself? My life? My worth? Never! Until I untied that pretty bow and peeked into the box.
Carl Jung identified 5 main phases of midlife:
• Accommodation (meeting others' expectations - actually, this takes place in the first part of life, but is the context in which midlife processes take place)
• Separation (rejecting the accommodated self)
• Liminality (a period of uncertainty, where life seems directionless and meanders)
• Reintegration (working out 'who I am' and becoming comfortable with that identity)
• Individuation (facing up to and accepting the undesirable aspects of our own character)
I feel like I am somewhere in between Reintegration and Individuation. But for me, Individuation seems to have come first. Some years ago, I started becoming acutely aware of the things about myself that I did not like. I started to think about the types of people and situations that bring out the personality traits in me that I would describe as ugly, monstrous and unworthy. I quickly realized that I was not going to get rid of these personality traits. Sorry, no can do. They are in me. They are a part of me. But in getting to know myself better, I was able to recognize and label my feelings and behaviors as such and embrace them for what they are…a part of me. Knowing these things about myself has helped me nurture the sides of myself that I do want to share with others more; creativity, humor, kindness, honesty. Hopefully, the ugly parts don’t rear their heads too often any more.
So what about “old”, “horrid”, and “dreadful”? Why is it that in the western world we are so fixated on youthfulness? I would really like to embrace this next epoch with vigor. I don’t want to see aging as a horrid event that must be put off or ignored. I don’t want to dread it. I suppose that is where the Reintegration comes in. Finding out truly who I am. Not what I do for a living or who my friends are but finding out who I really am at the very core of my existence and letting that person drive the next age.
I have a feeling I will be growing through this for years to come. Chances are, I’m not going to find me a young hottie on the side, buy a new sports car, or quit my job, but I am going to go through moments of questioning the validity of choices I’ve made and feelings of discontent with who I am. I think I’m okay with this.
This would all be a lot easier if I could just look extremely hot during the process!
I wanted to take a moment to thank my blog friends for seeing me through some tough times:
Poetikat – Thank you for being one step ahead of me and for schooling me on menopause and the lifecycle of diapers for young and old.
Elise – Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to give your past a second chance.
Cocaine Princess – Thanks for showing me that although I might have been worthy of a tiny bathing suit at one time in my life, I no longer look like you in a bikini and the sooner I embrace the one-piece the better.
Shemley – Thanks for being you…a young and brilliant man who inhales life in it’s wholeness and realness RIGHT NOW.
Graham – Learning the story of your own mid-life adventures and awakening is inspiring.
Jeff – You are like a visitor from my past. With every post you remind me of what being youthful is all about.
Chris – Knowing you reminds me that there was a time in my life when my greatest problem involved “finding a new place to party.” Thanks for reminding me to not take life too seriously.
Organized Doodles (Rick) – Visiting you gives me the inspiration to keep doing the things I love, just because I love them.
Jen – What can I say…you are my posse of one in crime. We have a lot in common…sorry, not sure that’s a good thing for you.
Damama – You are that person, you know the one who makes lemonade out of lemons? That’s you. You’ve taken life by the horns, thrown out the bs, and rode off into the sunset! I have no idea what any of that means. But you do it well.
Mental Poo – Well, I’m sure I don’t know why I visit your blog other than to laugh until my guts hurt. It’s my therapy. Oh, and of course to offer a silent prayer for your lovely wife Mrs. Saint Mental Poo.
Sweets – You give such an insight to what it’s like for us mothers to be able to love our children more than ourselves.
Angel – Being able to identify with your relationship struggles with your son has helped me to know that writing about it is surviving it.
Hayley – My sweet darling Hayley. Just starting out. You are such a good wife. I love that about you.
It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.
There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, "Yes, I've got dreams, of course I've got dreams." Then they put the box away and bring it out once in awhile to look in it, and yep, they're still there.
You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one