I have fallen into a pit. A murky, nebulous pit cleverly referred to as a midlife crisis. I know this to be true for the following reasons:
- For the last two weeks, I have watched almost every single episode of all six seasons of Xena:Warrior Princess on Netflix . Historically, when I am in a state of despair or depression or anxiety, I turn to Xena. Weird, I know. I actually own the six season set on DVD (shhhh…please don’t tell anyone I know), though I have not watched them in years. But here’s the thing. Xena harkens back to a simpler time for me—the mid-1990s. A time when I had no
- I have this weird, inexplicable urge to do something drastic and reckless and completely out of character. Like getting a gigantic tattoo in a highly visible location. Or buying a huge-ass, gas-guzzling pick-up truck. Or better yet, a boat. A pogo stick! Or quitting my job, moving to a coastal town somewhere, and taking up (gasp!) macramé. Maybe buying a new house. Or at least all new furniture for our current house. Something. Anything. The middle-aged man putzing around town with a shiny new sports car and 20-something trophy wife is such a despicable cliché, but I have to say, I get it. I mean, I really get it.
- The song “Romeo and Juliet” by the Indigo Girls came on my iPod today at work and I almost cried. Again, harkening back. Simpler time. Outdoor concerts in Atlanta. Lesbianism. Feminism. Environmentalism. Liberalism. All those -isms that used to mean the world to me and are harder to fit into my complicated life these days.
- All I want to do it write. Preferably holed up in a coffee shop somewhere. With no one talking to me. Or looking at me, for that matter. If I could happen upon a cloak of invisibility (wow, my geekiness truly knows no bounds), I would be the happiest girl in the world.
- I can’t sleep. Or at least, I can’t sleep easily. My mind won’t settle. My thoughts refuse to calm. My muscles spurn all efforts to relax. I just lay there staring at the ceiling fan or playing Candy Crush on my iPad. And then, of course, there is the knowledge that Xena is hanging out downstairs. Waiting for me. It’s a lost cause. I can actually feel despondent brain cells expiring by the millions.
I will be 41 years old next week—not a milestone birthday by any means. Shouldn’t I have wanted the giant tattoo and the macramé lessons this time last year?
In reality, I have a pretty good life. Actually, I have a pretty fucking great life. I have a partner (soon-to-be wife) who I adore. Somehow—and it’s a complete mystery to me—I manage to fall in love with her all over again at least once a week. My kids are amazing. Seriously. If you’ve met them, you know they are freaking phenomenal children. Smart, sassy, intelligent, well-spoken. Yes, they can be little shits at times. All kids can be. But on the great spectrum of children-we-could-have-been-blessed/cursed-with, they are firmly entrenched on the “fucking-exceptional-damn-how’d-we-get-so-lucky” side of the spectrum.
I am financially secure. By no means wealthy, but I have more money than my parents did when I was a child. I do not want for anything, within reason. (Except cable—a want for cable, but that is more a philosophical dispute than a financial issue.) My children do not have to know what it feels like to go without. I promised myself years ago that my children would never experience the crushing anxiety that accompanies a kid’s knowledge that her parents can’t pay the bills. I grew up that way (cancer took the family bread-winner of our family and my mom found herself a single parent of four at 28 years old), and I told myself my children would never know that fear. And they don’t.
Unlike the free-wheeling glory days of the 1990s, I have a good job now. A career, even. A career I enjoy. A job that makes me feel like a real, live, contributing adult. The first job at which I’ve truly cared about excelling. I’m not idiotic enough to blog about work, but suffice it to say that we are in the midst of a transition period at work, as all teams experience on occasion. The growing pains are more than a little stressful, and additional responsibilities are being placed on me daily, but I am sure we’ll come out on the other side intact and stronger than ever.
So where is this crisis coming from then? Is it simply a byproduct of growing older? A realization that things will never again be how they were in the 1990s? Or how they are now? Or how they’ll be next week? Or is it something more?
A sense of longing, perhaps? A longing for accomplishment. A longing for something to define my life. Maybe this is really a crisis of conscience. Am I doing enough? Am I being enough? Am I really the woman I want to be? For my children? For my spouse? For myself?
I don’t know. Maybe it's time to recreate myself. To become a better me.
Then again, I really just want to watch Xena with a blanket over my head and all the lights turned out. Is that so wrong?