Turning 40 – I Didn’t See This One Coming!
Although trained in research and intellectually rather not underdeveloped I DIDN’T SEE THIS ONE COMING! I vaguely recall thinking back then in my twenties (twenty years is long enough to wipe out half of your memory): there’s something that happens to you when you reach a certain age that makes you want to buy a flashy car or get a dumb blonde mistress.
But, as the years went by, I didn’t develop an anxiety disorder adding yet another candle on my birthday cake or faced a major crisis aka Leslie Mann’s character in the movie This is 40 that would make me want to forge my birth certificate. I was naïve enough to think that 40 is just a number and that nothing will happen to upset the order of things which is my life. How wrong I was! For starters I didn’t even get to celebrate my 40st birthday due to a very unpleasant occurrence screwing the whole day up for me.
After a quick celebration a few days later and a bitter feeling that things didn’t exactly go as planned, I resumed my life with the recognition that being 40 sucks. You’re old, you’re ugly and you’re done – hit me like a bag full of bricks right in the face. In the very second I realized that I just woke up from twenty years of delusional haze into the brutal reality of life, which apparently has nothing to do with my adolescent dreams about accomplishment and fame. The ugly truth is that the universe has got its own plans with you that may not even involve making it (as you thought previously) but merely getting by. In this very quick process of self-discovery I realized that not only is half of my time on this earth up (and I’ve just started with my things to do before I die list, damn it!) but that I’ve spent the other half on pleasing, nurturing and baby-sitting others, while totally dismissing the ultimate luxury of being my true self.
Obviously with time flying by like an arrow (and well, fruit flying like a banana), the one thing I forgot to take into the account, was that you simply cannot keep taking care of everybody else around you forever while completely ignoring yourself. That neglecting your passions, hobbies or even your sagging skin (who’s got the time?) will eventually come back to bite you in the tail. That you can’t just put others needs and desires before you own without end, because sooner or later the bottled up, repressed feelings of despair will find a way to vent. And they will do so in the least expected moment, such as:
Him: Honey, where did you put my socks?
Her: You @#$% asshole, you ruined my life!
Him: Oh, that’s all right. I just found them in the bottom drawer.
Some say that a female midlife crisis is different than the male one. That women attempt finding solution on the inside, through soul searching and individual growth, whereas men try to plug the empty hole (shouldn’t it be reversed?) with outside values, such as half-their-age-bimbo or a sports car. Many chauvinists go even as far as to even question female’s crisis actual existence (what crisis?). Well, as far as I’m concerned, I’m the living proof that it does exist and it’s a damn real thing to go through. And I’m not the only one. Just look around at all these women puffing up their cheeks with lethal poison until they look like the chipmunk version (here comes my chipmunk again) of a Russian doll – and all this in the pursuit of reversing the hands of time (here’s an option to consider). Or 40+ actresses, models and singers having toy-boy lovers half their age with whom they’re rediscovering the newly found sexuality they have lost together with their husbands (for me there’s always Ryan Gosling). Not counting the countless love affairs, half of them, which will never see the light of day and will remain hidden in closets together with other skeletons and never worn underwear.
Apparently most women going through a midlife crisis (given that they’re actually survive it) see it in the aftermath as a positive turning point in their lives. They regard it as a kind of transition, which encouraged them to pursue long forgotten desires, changed the status quo and in the end lead to the discovery of their true identity. It seems that the initial questions: Who are we? and Where are we going with this? (but also: Why the hell did I spent ten years wiping other people’s asses?), which have started this at times unsettling journey, ultimately open up a whole new world of opportunities and ideas. That they serve as a wake up call to long forgotten ambitions, artistic passions and buried deep down sexual desires (I’m looking forward to this one).
However, this emotionally very turbulent course of action doesn’t come cheap. It involves a difficult process of prioritising values dear to our hearts (families can be torn apart, husband’s Porsche can be put on fire, the entire Rosenthal china collection can end up smashed against the wall), which no doubt will leave some casualties. Yet, what has the potential to initiate new existence, the unquestionable liberation from inhibiting growth norms and commitments, the defining process of individualization and transformation into the human beings we were put on this earth to be, seems (at least to me) like a venture worth undertaking.