The Midlife Crisis
I heard about a 50-year-old guy today who cleaned out the bank account and moved to Thailand.
He left behind a wife and 3 kids.
She managed to reach him and he said he was done and to not come join him.
The affair with the younger partner, the sports car, the facelift and tummy tuck, the loss of interest in one’s life, career, or family, the crisis of faith…it seems cliché as it is so common. He/she is having a Midlife Crisis.
Generally, we joke around about it. We laugh and roll our eyes about those “men” or that “cougar”. We act as though some immature person is engaging in silly, self-indulgent behavior at best or sinful behavior at worst. But it’s “just” a midlife crisis.
This is no joke, though. If we dismiss or ignore the emotional angst that can present in the Midlife Zone, it can build and turn into a “crisis”. That has consequences.
Think of the wife and 3 kids who were left behind when Hubby/Daddy ran away from home. Who deserves that? How awful and unfair.
When someone receives a cancer diagnosis or is in a car wreck, divorces, loses a job, passes away, or suffers some negative incident in life, we have sympathy. We send cards, flowers, and casseroles.
The person approaching or in the thick of a Midlife Crisis is also suffering. She wants (needs) a change. At times, desperately.
Maybe a little Botox and a few new outfits will do the trick. Or the sports car and checking off a few items on the bucket list. Fine, no biggie. Positive adrenaline and some wholesome fun along the way and no one gets hurt.
But sometimes this is serious. One partner loses interest and runs away, leaving the good and faithful spouse of many years behind as a single parent, disabled, ill, or victimized by an unfair divorce settlement.
No one condones abandonment and irresponsibility in the name of a Midlife Escape. We may struggle with our issues but we still have to be grown-ups and play fair.
Did the guy who left for Thailand talk it through with his wife or a trusted professional? Did she know he was unhappy and dismiss him? Or did he bottle it up and say nothing until he snapped? Only they can know for sure.
Before I clean out the bank account and run off to Thailand, I have to remember that there are people who need and love me, like my spouse and children. I have a strong sense of responsibility for them and however I may be feeling on a bad hair day, they still need to be cared for and nurtured.
I think that we as a society should normalize and even embrace a period of reflection, of stepping aside from our routine to evaluate where we are and what we want to do with our lives. While I jokingly refer to this as a Midlife Escape, it can hit people at different times.
At any moment, we can ask ourselves if we are happy with the status quo or if we want to make some changes. That shouldn’t be viewed as immature or weird or a topic to avoid until it blows up in your face.
Earlier today, I was speaking in more depth about this topic with my husband. I can tap away at my keyboard, publishing stuff online, but this is our shared life together. Is he “in” this with me?
He raised the expected concerns – money, kids, house, career re-entry.
Of course. He’s 52 and he is a grown-up. He shares my sense of responsibility for honoring our commitments to others.
But I have been crying out for this for years and we have both dismissed my cries as unrealistic.
Get real. Suck it up. We’ll do it in retirement.
Then another funeral.
Friends and family have left this world and someday so will I. And I don’t know how much time I have to get this right.
Now is the time to follow my heart and trust that a bigger plan will unfold. I am in the early stages of labor and delivery for my Midlife Escape. So be it. I’m not sure what this baby will look like but I have faith that it will all be OK somehow.
If I run away to Thailand, I will take my family with me. My husband and I will struggle through normal stuff and feel bored and frustrated at times, but I believe we can get through this.