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WINDS OF CHANGE
I don't know what's wrong with me. Nothing seems to be interesting enough or funny enough to share or write about. If this is a mid-life crisis, where is my Alfa Romeo and cabana boy?

I kept forgetting to get the jack-o-lanterns bagged up and thrown away, and now they're sitting in front of the house, sunken in on themselves, exuding the most godawful stench. I nearly threw up this morning getting the kids to into the car. How am I going to deal with them? I don't think my husband is going to be very happy with me this afternoon. :(

I bought 2 more Christmas presents yesterday. I'm nearly halfway finished. Next up: Christmas letter and cards.

****
Conversations That Made Me Pause

Karin: *at dinner, out of the blue* Mama, is daddy going to die before you?
Me: I hope not.
Karin: Why do you say that?
Me:: Because I wouldn't want to live without him.
Karin: *thoughtful pause* You can live with one of us. *points at Martin*

Me: *in the car* ...and I'm tired, and it's late, and it wasn't fun, and I forgot to ask you to tape West Wing for me.
Anders: You should have more faith in your husband.
Me: You remembered without me asking you? You taped it for me? I'm going to cry now.
Anders: Don't drive off the road.

****

After college, I moved to Chicago with my roommate, who had just gotten a job at the advertising agency that her father's business used. After working at a bookstore (like Christmas every day! only O MY BARKING DOGS!) for about 4 months, I managed to finagle my way into a job there as well. The owner was a dynamo of a woman, in her late 30s, 2 daughters, and a husband who worked with her. She was a powerhouse of sorts in the automobile advertising circles around Chicago, and had started her own agency only a few years before. She was funny, generous, a control freak, and a lot of fun to hang around with for us. She sort of adopted my roommate and I, made us feel part of her family, gave us things, treated us to trips and dinners and all kinds of things, and worked us mercilessly. Phone calls at midnight asking for the exact wording of car dealership disclaimer text weren't uncommon.

I worked for her for 3.5 years. In the middle of that time period, she turned 40 and it was as if she drank the magic potion that turned her from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. Things stopped being fun, and got serious. Small mistakes became the stuff of misery. She became increasingly freaky and controlling, to the point of insanity. Due to another crisis in my life going on at the same time, my life was a nightmare for nearly a year, and I was desperate to get out. I STILL, after 16 years, have nightmares once in a while about her, that's how bad it was. Thankfully, I DID get out, to the best job I've ever had, which led to my moving downtown to the throbbing heart of Chicago and eventually to meeting Anders.

The reason why I've been thinking about her a lot lately is because I always associated the change in her with her turning 40. I don't want to be like her. I don't want to think that my sense of fun and spontaneity is twisting inside of me due to my AGE. Anders says it's not, that I shouldn't be so worried. I know that it's normal to seek new interests and to get tired of old responsibilities that have become wearing and are no longer fun, and that it's probably just coincidence that it happens to be NOW that I'm looking to shed some of the responsibilities that I've been shouldering without problem for so long. Mid-life crises have always been the stuff of jokes, but I don't find them so amusing these days.

I suppose it could be a lot worse. I really COULD be looking to trade in for an Alfa Romeo and a cabana boy. I'm grateful every day to the anchors of home, husband, and family for keeping things in perspective.
 contemplative
mood: contemplative
music: Rebecca Törnqvist—Wander Where You Wander


Comments

Well it could be a combination. You know yourself from having a job that at some point after you have been in a position for a while, you stop and take stock of where you've been, where you are now and more importantly, where you'd like to be in future. You ask yourself all kinds of questions about whether you are being fulfilled and challenged, whether you would like your career to take a different more challenging route or whether you are happy to coast along for the ride. It takes time to get to that point.

Life is no different and it's no surprise that you are stopping for a breath and wondering about things. Often in our youth we are swept along with the flow, happy to defer things as "we have plenty of time" for things. We live for the moment. When you have young kids, life is full and very busy, especially if you are juggling a job, marriage, family, outside interests of your own plus making it all happen in a place far from your home and close family members like your mum and siblings. It's quite a lot to think about and for a lot of women, something has to give - usually unfortunately they have to give up their own outside interests as the pressures of other responsibilities as well as society pressure deems that their needs go last in line. You are fortunate that you've been able to keep some of that going with choir, book club, crafting and AWC.

But needs change and time changes. At some point, those of us who can think and are not happy just to be a passive participant in life stop and think "Who am I? Who is the real me?" and to consider what they've achieved in the past, perhaps even wonder about those dreams and ideals that we desired but haven't achieved.

Some of them would have only been a fancy of youth and in the cold light of reality, just not something that we could have done. Others will have changed as we matured and been discarded, but a few still remain. Which is why you see women in later life begin art classes, start piano lessons, enrol in university etc - in other words take up some of the things that they wanted to do when younger and later life intervened.

I think that when we are younger we live and feel with strong emotions, but that time, life, responsibilities can dull that and we can push them aside more and more in the quest to "keep up with living".

In my own case, which I hasten to add is NOTHING like yours - I wouldn't dream of comparing it, some of the feelings I had when I made my "journey of discovery about Marie" were chillingly similar to yours. I won't bore you with details about why, but I had an enforced time off work with a serious wrist injury followed by treatment for breast cancer. It gave me time - probably for the first time in my whole life - to sit down and look at the person I'd become and actually decide that I didn't like her or what passed for her high flying and successful life.

Certainly on the surface, I had it all - I had a husband, two lovely bright children, I worked full-time as a lawyer in a busy practice, had a big home in the “right” neighbourhood, drove a Porsche - pretty much the Australian dream. People said "Wow, she’s got it all" But emotionally I was dead and buried, but I didn’t stop long enough to recognise it.

Suddenly it all seemed pointless and I began to feel a creeping feeling of emptiness, which I shut out and filled my days with constantly "doing things". I guess I was a bit manic. I did not sit still for a second, lest the empty feeling start again. I hardly slept, became quite exhausted mentally with the strain. On the outside I was still the funny, laughing, fun-loving, organised Marie I always was. I did it so well, that everyone was stunned that I had a complete nervous breakdown.

Talk about it - feel it. Don't be like me!

You are a shining example, and full of good advice about how to steer carefully through the particular obstacles and feelings I've been navigating half blindly. I really, REALLY appreciate your words of wisdom. Even if I can't believe you gave up a Porsche. hahaha! just kidding :) I can, actually. You have so many things that are more important than material goods and "status symbols." I don't think I'm heading (anymore) for a nervous breakdown of any degree...I think I've headed it off at the pass for the most part. :)

October 2019
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I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

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