Are You Paying An Emotional Toll For Your Midlife Crisis?
Life Turned Upside Down
When a midlife crisis hits, we can feel like we are on a stormy journey, subject to the whims of fate or forces out of our control. Like Odysseus, we may have to leave our families either physically or emotionally, in order to undergo the tests and trials fate has in store for us.
Along the way, we can be lured by sirens who promise the earthly delights we have denied ourselves ... and can lose ourselves to such an extent the very people we love feel like we have been turned into pigs, eagerly pigging out on all the forbidden pleasures and toys we have denied ourselves.
The new sports car, the expensive new wardrobe, the simple and extravagant indulgences of the past 20 years come roaring at us -- and we indulge ourselves with all that we desire in order to try to fill up the now exposed hole gapping inside of us.
An the toll of emotional distance from spouse and family -- formed by the growing hole of depression and denial -- increases dramatically if we try to indulge ourselves and feast on the "good things of life" so long denied -- instead of getting to the real business at hand of healing ourselves and our lives that have become wastelands.
Odysseus was able to avoid the sirens and being turned into a pig during his midlife crisis -- and instead sought to win the aid of the very thing that tested his resolve by pretending to seek his ruin.
And thus his shadow work began.
Facing that shadow, dealing and learning from it -- took at least six months of hard work. But he emerged not only healed and stronger, but also able to help those around him return to sanity and the work of sailing back home.
To make it easier to deal with a midlife crisis, take a look at the emotional costs involved ...
The Emotional Toll on You
What is often the most upsetting is feeling helpless and not in control of your life. It is also hard to admit you do not have all the answers, and that somewhere in life you made some choices that were not in your best interests, or you fell asleep, or settled for the status quo.
The Emotional Toll on Your Partner
Your partner may not being going through a crisis, and feel that everything is still OK. So, the depression you feel and the need to change can leave them feeling like you are upsetting the apple cart for no good reason.
So spouses and partners can feel
- left out of the process
- betrayed by your need for something more
- feeling like something is wrong with them
- upset they do not know what is going on
- frustrated by not understanding how to help
- afraid you will no longer want them or the life you have built together
- worried you will not come out of this
- concerned that the person they used to know and rely on is disappearing right in front of their eyes
- angry that the family's money is being spent on frivolous things or expensive personal items meant to shore up a sagging ego
The Emotional Toll on Your Family & Kids
Often kids are the ones who most left out, because parents resist sharing the truth of what is going on and the reality that Mom or Dad is not in control of the process. Parents also do not want to face, let alone admit to their kids, that they have failings -- and in this instance have chosen the wrong life goal or have sold out on their dreams. And now the reckoning for that decision is coming due.
Kids can be left feeling ...
- uncertain about what is going on and how to react
- helpless at dealing with parents who are now fighting, upset with each other or not speaking
- frustrated they are being ignored or overlooked
- worried that their college tuition is being thrown away
What DO I Do About It?
First, do some research, read a few good books on the process so you understand what is going on, why and how you want to deal with it. That will make you feel more comfortable with the process and move you out of the denial stage. It will also change your position from reactive to proactive, and put you back in the driver's seat -- even if you are not in full control.
Once you have done that, develop a game plan for how you are going to deal with your crisis. Set yourself a budget, and look to see that you are investing rather than spending. Also, read over the list of critical tasks for each life age and see if there are any you need to work on. Getting a journal and writing down your thoughts, discoveries and insights is a good idea because it keeps you in the active mode and will help you see how much progress you are making.
Getting & Sharing Insights
To help your partner and family, talk with them about what is going on. You are the only one that knows what is going on inside -- and how bad it is. And keep talking to them to let them know how things are going and what you are learning.
As you wake up to the mistakes you have made, and where you got off course, let the people who love you know what you are discovering, so they can help you work through the issues.
If you need to start experimenting with the new ideas you have, let your family know what that is and why you want to go exploring new ideas -- so they can become part of the process -- brainstorming and share their ideas to help you out.