Hell Hath No Fury Like My Midlife Crisis

I never did tell you the full story. I like to condense my material into bite-sized bits. You know, so that you can swallow the truth. Teeny tiny bite-sized thoughts, that sprout from some teeny tiny place. Don’t be fooled, what is bite sized can choke you. Hell yes, it can! Besides, if I told you the full story, in one shot, you would likely have a meltdown. You would.

Today I will share an unfeigned truism with you. It is just one of many that I possess. Truisms that is, regarding the stories inside of me, of those I have lost count.

Truism of the day: Midlife is hell.

Yes, you read that right. Of course, I am old enough to know what I am talking about, I am here, right here, front and center in the thick of it. It is hell

Some call it the “middle life passage” a time of glory, out with old, shed your skin, maturation yields wisdom that you clasp with authority. Rubbish. The midlife passage, in my opinion, is just like puberty. The second coming of it anyway.

Don’t believe me?

Puberty lasts anywhere between 3-6 years. Flushed with new hormones, the brain fires off smoke signals of distress. Chaotic emotions, righteous affirmations, and deliberate ignorance are in control. Hair grows. Pimples spread like a virus. Sex is on the mind, the tongue, in dreams, wet in your pants.

Confused and battered, crying fits take hold. Growth spurts hurt, no two ways about it. Breasts bud, kids make fun. Boys have a bigger package; girls are both predator and prey. Funky smells, sweaty, greasy hair. Can’t stand your parents. Can’t fit in. Can’t get out. Who are you? Who am I? It is the way it is. Puberty.

Midlife, when does it start? It starts when you finally realize that you have no clue how you ended up where you currently are at this point in your life. Imagine if you will, standing on your right big toe, I mean it, your whole body poised off of that right big toe. Now balance yourself by stretching your arms wide. Carefully lift your left leg up and out, point your toes straight ahead.

Hold it, hang on, you have to get a grip, or you will drop what is most important. On your shoulders hanging just so, are your kids, your aging parents, your aging pets, your partner, your partner’s aging parents, your partner’s parent’s aging pets.

Everyone is needy.

Everyone is vying for your attention.

Everyone is staring at you.

Thier eyes are glued to yours. Stand still. If you make one spontaneous move, your world will crumble. I mean, their world will crumble. Your world could use some spontaneity, but alas, so sorry, no can do.

Balancing your act of mayhem like that is hard enough, why not add to the mix some junked up emotions? That beautiful body of yours is closing up shop; the reproduction line is currently being dismantled.

Hormones, the lovely cocktail of crazy that was so good in your 20’s and 30’s, is now akin to napalm running through your veins. Your throat is on fire; your brain is mush. You don’t sleep. You keep hearing the words “run, get out of here!” chattering away at the back of your mind. Then testosterone moves in, god’s way of literally giving it to women. Hormones out of whack? Let’s give her some manly Maness!

The ones that thought you had attitude issues before are clueless about the anger that is welling up inside of you now.

Try to squish that anger down, down deep inside, if you want. Won’t do you any good.

Everyone is hungry, and they are looking at you.

Tired, fuzzy, hot flashed and ready to be flushed – one more minute of demands will send you over the edge. Your breasts are shrinking, your partner makes fun. His package still works, but only after he takes a perk it up pill. You went from juicy, to desert dry. The oasis is nowhere in site.

Shrinking, you are shrinking. First a quarter of an inch, then two, your spine is compressing. Wake up spine! You can’t compress!!! You have to hold the world up!

Funky smells, greasy hair, menopausal acne. Chaos in your mind. Your moral beliefs exposed as fraudulent. Yes, you are a fraud! How many times did you wear egg on your face while stepping down from the “perfect parent” podium?

Everything you have done right up to this very point, right here, as you stand balancing on your big toe, has been useless. Your kids say so. Your friends tutt-tutt under their breath. Your therapist gives you another pill. Your partner shakes their head in despair.

Can’t live without your parents, want to go back in time. Can’t fit in. Can’t get out.

Who are you?

Who am I?

It is the way it is.

Welcome to your midlife crisis.

There it is, a primal scream, let it out. That baby has been building for years now. Let it go. It’s ok, let it go. Sure it will scare the daylights out of the neighbors, but you have sacrificed everything for everyone. The neighbors? Not your problem.

Release your arms. Put your foot down. Sit down. Lay back. Roll over onto your side. Curl up in the fetal position. Close your eyes; it will all be over before you know it.

Then, and only then, after it has been said, done, delivered, disappeared, disjointed, discussed, will you stop screaming. Or maybe not.

Like I said before, I am in it. Yes indeed, right in the middle of what surely must be a concerted attempt to send me right off the cliff. Did I see this epoch of insanity coming? Absolutely not. I was preoccupied.
Cellulite, wrinkles, too fat, too thin, age spots, fashionable threads. Yes, yes, I am vain. I obsessed over staying forever young. Don’t kid yourself; you are just like me. We have been sheep, and now here we are, ready to be slaughtered. Metaphorically speaking that is.

Do you remember driver’s ed classes in high school? Do you remember home economics? Or how about woodshop class where you stood fiddling over and with nuts and bolts, bits of wood and sawdust? Glory days, those. Gone. Gone, gone, the wayside of technology.

No classes for real life preparedness. No money in the budget. No interest from the public.

The result of this so called forward thinking and advancement of society will be countless others that, like me, suddenly find themselves in a long dark hallway. No silly, they don’t have nightlights in midlife hell to guide you. The object of focus should be on self-care and coping skills. Our eyes though are trained to look for blemishes of our flesh; our minds fixated on desires of the flesh.

Our mouths are open and ready to be filled up with booze, antidepressants, and hyperbole.

What shall we do? What can we do? What exactly is the point of this exercise of hysteria? My theory is this: maybe it is a culling of the herd. Like the weeding out of the weakest link. Survival of the fittest! Instead of “Naked and Afraid” we are members of the “Unprepared and Winging It” club.

I guess I should be speaking for myself. Sorry if I offended you. Something tells me, though, that you are just like me. Screaming that earth-shattering primal cry, while balancing the unfathomable after effects of a life lived with your head in the sand.

I call shotgun.

Photo Credit: Joshua Rappeneker via Compfight cc

  1. Valerie Murray Larenne

    Amen, sister!! I feel like a walking talking powder keg ready to blow and it’s terrifying. I don’t remember ever moving through life feeling like I’m on the edge of a full-scale internal revolution (with external collateral damage as yet unknown).. This is an existential crisis of the highest order. Thank you for sharing…there is great comfort in knowing I’m not alone in this

  2. Byron,
    You never cease to amaze me. How many lives have you lived?
    It’s funny that the ladies said that midlife crisis occur every five years. Honestly, I think this is the seventh one I have had so far. It is a whopper. Life legs? Can I please have the life wings instead?
    Thank you, for adding your thoughts to my post. Like I mentioned above, you amaze me. I have never met a man that is so in touch and articulate about life and the waves we have to jump.(or duck under)

    Best to you always

  3. Thank you Dori for your thoughts and your compliment.
    Chaos. I have decided that I am having an affair with Chaos. You know me, little miss addictive. I crave change too. The hard part for me is keeping my feet on the ground. 🙂

  4. Shanti-
    Say what? Throw out the antidepressants and feel the full glory? Well, ok. You can find me standing naked with a cocktail in hand just at the water’s edge of Never Never Land.
    Your stories are the best – please share more!
    Love you
    x J

  5. Virgina-
    Good point. I wonder, what was it like for our foremothers? I wish I had time to investigate. I can not even begin to imagine your struggle,THAT was a challenge!
    Thank you for your kind words and for provoking me to look at things a bit differently today.

  6. Rachel,
    Ugly. Hard. Beautiful. Crazy. At least we are not bored. As per bullshit, and the bears of said shit, OMG take them away!
    Thank you again for your continued enthusiasm and support of my thoughts unleashed. I appreciate you.

  7. Kelly-
    The SCREAM- inside of you too? Sometimes I feel like I am just going to burst. Right now my skin does not fit quite right. My mind is somewhere else, and all I want to do is run. I think I even have flames.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.
    I am here, hopefully more than ashes if you need me 🙂

  8. “There it is, a primal scream, let it out. That baby has been building for years now. Let it go. It’s ok, let it go. Sure it will scare the daylights out of the neighbors, but you have sacrificed everything for everyone.”


  9. Your honestly overwhelms me in its beauty. Life can be ugly and hard, my lovely, but I love how you don’t sugarcoat the ‘perfect parenting’ (which come on, that’s such bullshit anyway) — it is what it is, but also how we react to it. Telling your truth makes us all a little braver.

  10. You are not alone Julie…midlife can be challenging in ways we never even imagined. Having navigated those murky waters earlier (and longer) than most (surgical menopause began at 32) is what made me start http://cutestillcounts.com! Sometimes we need to see our(new)selves through another lens (be it micro, macro, or long range)… and with a little humor! You will weather this–as did our mothers, grandmothers and millions of women since the beginning of time. Imagine if you will (whether one believes or not) how Eve must have felt being the first!! 😉

  11. Oh hell yeah woman! Say it loud and proud for we ALL are feeling it or have felt it. Throw out the antidepressants and feel the full glory of this potent period. I am juuuuust coming out of my midlife crisis and I LOVE who I am now. But girl, did I go on a rage rampage for years, a life-time of swallowed truths and self neglect. PROUD OF YOU!!!!

  12. I love Byron’s metaphor of “movement in patterns of ordered chaos.” Yes, this describes midlife perfectly. I have had several reinventions of myself in response to midlife changes. Looking back, it’s easier to see the patterns, while I was in them–that’s where the ordered chaos ruled. I do believe I’m over the worst. Biologically, anyway. But I don’t mind change. In fact, I crave it. So if midlife is inherently change–bring it on! Just no more night sweats, please. Beautifully written, Julie! xoD.

  13. Really good piece of writing.

    I was hard into my first midlife crisis at 35. I know a lot of people will think that’s young, but I’ve been working since I was 8, so I feel like it makes sense that mine came early.

    On the ferry back from Dublin Ireland, after traveling there to take a good friend to a concert, I met two women. The boat hit some chop, and started rocking violently. Things were falling and people were yelling in fear here and there. On the top deck of the boat, as I walked confidently to a booth to sit, these two women in their 70s were trying to stand, and one of them looked at me and said “how the fuck can you just walk around in this?”

    I laughed and went over to them to escort them to the booth I was headed toward, so that they could sit down. I explained that I once was a salmon fisher on a small boat, volunteering to help my uncle with his business, and that this was where I got my sea legs. I learned you can’t win against the ocean. You have to move with it. Sway with the tide, or be carried away by it. They felt I was pretty charming for my age, and invited me back to their room! They were only half joking. “Worth a shot”, one of them said, when I politely suggested that the sea was offering enough excitement for one day.

    Turned out they were both writers from New York, a team of sisters, and this was a bit of a research trip for them. In what turned out to be one of the wisest and most meaningful conversations I’ve ever had with strangers, the subject of my midlife crisis came up. They didn’t question my youth at all. One of them simply said “oh you’ll get used to those. Happens every, what, five years?” “Yes”, the other sister agreed, “five years”.

    I felt instantly better about it all. About it being a shared experience. About the wisdom that seemed to come with it. About it being a new cycle of understanding which my new friends assured me was just a way to keep growing. “Every five years” felt daunting, but also strangely comforting, in that it made it all seem normal.

    Movement in patterns of ordered chaos. Predators and prey. Dangers and new skill sets. Easy ways and hard ways to learn. Like the sea, I would embrace the nature of it. Or be carried away.

    And that, I suppose, is the day I got my life legs.

    I wish I could remember their names, so I could read their stuff. So sassy and fun, they were.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *