“As someone who has always been ruled more by heart than head I have an incredible “back-catalogue” of life choices that have led me down more difficult paths; these decisions have come into sharp-focus recently …”
When I met Nik I quickly assumed he was going through a mid-life crisis. Unsurprisingly, my confident assertions that this was the “undeniable truth” did nothing to further my understanding of the situation and, instead, created resentful, age-related entrenchments that took years to unpick!
Looking back now I wish I’d had a different approach – of course I do; for a start, the expression “mid-life” seems dismissive and secondly it implies that life-stage is the main culprit! Having gone through some emotionally challenging months recently I’ve heard myself say “well isn’t this just a mid-life crisis”. So it’s got me thinking more about this assumptive idiom and I’ve been digging a little deeper.
When I look back to my first few years with Nik it is clear that he had experienced a “multi-car pile-up” of devastating events that would shake anyone, at any stage of their life. And what is abundantly obvious right now is that we have all lived through devastating events – we are all shaken, we are all feeling discombobulated, and we are all facing personal crises.
My Mum once told me about some of the earthquakes she experienced when growing up in Jamaica; she told me about enormous cracks appearing as roads buckled up and became impassable, forcing a change of route. Well, most of us have been forced to make detours in this past year or maybe change our original destination, and tragically plenty have fallen down the cracks.
There’s also the extremely uncomfortable and panic-inducing third place to be and that is not knowing which direction to turn for the best. I suspect that for those of us at a certain life-stage this is what may be causing the greatest stress; a stress that is not directly caused by our age but one that is compounded by our own sense of “life marching on”; at speed!
Most definitely I’ve always seen age as simply “a number”. I’d just turned fifty pre-pandemic and I felt great. I continually “snorted” at my Mum’s assertions that I would need to “slow down” and that any aches were a clear sign of impending decrepit-ness!!!! Plus I had so many things planned – I was just beyond excited at what life had in store for me next.
But these past six months, especially, have thrown up question, after question. I feel like I’ve been walking down the “hall of fame” of my own life and suddenly arrived at a blank wall. And also, as someone who has always been ruled more by heart than head I have an incredible “back-catalogue” of life choices that have led me down more difficult paths and these decisions have come into sharp-focus recently! All this is making me feel terrified of taking a wrong-turn for some reason. Why should I fear a difficult path now, when once I was so “gung-ho”?
But I tell you one thing that has really helped me and that is to remind myself that I am my own expert. Like I said, I’ve always followed my heart; I am intuitive, creative, imaginative and sensitive. Furthermore, my life course has deepened my emotional fluency. Thankfully, I’ve realised that now is not the time to turn my back on all this learning and knowing. It is time to lean-in. It is time to trust what I know!
In the past, when I’ve trusted this deep inner-knowing, “magic” has happened. I find it scary that in my heart I know – it feels like a heavy weight of responsibility – which actually it is; it is a responsibility to myself. When I have trusted this knowing I have risen successfully out of chaotic situations, freed myself from “inner demons” and turned dreams into reality. Sometimes I forget all this and so recently I’ve been doing little “replays” of the bad times – pros and cons with this!
However hand-in-hand with a little “magic” there’s always been discipline, strong process and iron-will. So it is not a question of wrinkling up my nose and sprinkling fairy dust, it is about pull-motivation, acquiring relevant knowledge/skills and then putting in the work.
If you’ve forgotten and need reminding then let me tell you – you are your own expert too! You can rise out of whatever you feel is enmeshing you, but you do need to dream it and will need to chase that dream. One of my all time favourite quotes is “if you believe you can or if you believe you can’t you are probably right!” This girl can and I know you can too.