I saw yesterday that Candace Bushnell has written a book about mid life. She’s 60. I’m guessing that she’s not planning on living to 120 so let’s get real, ok? I admire Candace’s work, loved Sex and the City and am happy for her that she’s written a book about her sex life at 60. Women over 45, according to the Wall Street Journal, are finally having our moment. Great. But before we have our moment can we talk about how hard the 40s are if you have young children? Our mothers, in their 40s, had either teenagers or adult children in their 20s. I have a preschooler and and 8 year old. That is a whole different ballgame friends.
When they say that parenting is hard, that is the understatement of the century. I had no idea how hard it would be to have two children under 10, working at the job I have which is mostly nuts, and trying to be a relatively calm and collected person. I think this blog has outlined to you already the numerous areas in which I struggle to be a) calm and b) collected. So put that all in the boiler and turn up the life heat to high and well, I’m cooking. I started melting down about three years ago. And I when I say melting down I mean coming unglued – depressed, anxious, burnt out at work, short tempered and generally super unhappy with my life. And I took it out on everyone around me. It was unpleasant. And I needed a serious intervention to get things back on track.
First? Back surgery. Yes, invasive removal of a part of my disc in 2018 and I could not have been happier. The herniation in my disc was so severe that I couldn’t walk and it needed to be removed. Next? Therapy, and lots of it. I started to see Jill more regularly and it helped enormously with my anxiety. The malaise started to lift, slowly. Third? Exercise. Last year at this time I went to my first spinning class and I’ve never looked back. Yesterday was my 81st ride. At 100 I get a water bottle that says 100 Ride Club.
So, all this to say that I believe, as I’ve said on this blog before, that women don’t just blow up their lives overnight like some cliché of midlife. We slowly burn. Our lives slowly fall apart. We yell and cry. Or say nothing and just watch it collapse. Whatever your particular modus operandi is, this is I believe the pattern. But the pattern doesn’t start at 40 or 45, it starts at 30 and 35. The foundation for the burning up are laid well advance. By the time everything starts to really fall apart, the damage is already done.
So what can we do if we feel like things are going South quickly? My advice is, don’t make any big decisions. The worst decisions I’ve ever made have been when I’ve been really depressed or anxious. Take a deep breath and a big step back. Ask, what do I want for my life? Do I have it now? What am I looking for? What steps can I take to get there? We have to resist the temptation to point at another person, ask them to do all the hard work and change to make our lives feel better. That’s cheating. We’re only responsible for ourselves. So, if you don’t like what your life looks like or how you feel, explore that. Investigate it. Find a good therapist and work it through. Take care of yourself in whatever shape that takes – yoga, meditation, running, painting, singing, whatever.
I believe this is the only way to really figure out what is in the realm of the possible. My slow burn is still happening (more on this another day) but it’s not as fiery as it was a few years ago. xo Janet