Turning 40 – Well, 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, mind you): “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.”
Yet somehow, as the years went by, I managed to avoid developing an anxiety disorder when adding another candle to my birthday cake, or facing a major crisis aka Leslie Mann’s character in the movie This is 40, that would make me want to forge my birth certificate or lie about my age. I was naïve enough to think that 40 is just a series of digits 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 (how fitting is that?).
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 this tiny second I realized that I’ve just woken up from twenty years of delusional, juvenile haze into the brutal reality of life, which apparently has nothing to do with my adolescent dreams about accomplishment or fame. The ugly truth is that the universe has got its own plans for 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 personal 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 by far not the only one. Just look around at all those women puffing up their cheeks with lethal poison until they look like the chipmunk version (here comes my chipmunk again) of a Russian doll. Or 40+ actresses, models and singers having toy-boy lovers half their age with whom they are rediscovering the newly found sexuality they have lost along the way. Not to mention the countless love affairs, half of which won’t even face the daylight and will remain hidden in our closets forever, next to 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. They regard it as a transition, which encouraged them to pursue long forgotten desires, changed the status quo and lead to a 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 the last 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 for sure).
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 set on fire, the entire china collection can end up smashed against the wall), which with no doubt will leave some casualties. Yet, what has a true potential to initiate a brand new existence, a personal liberation from growth-inhibiting norms and commitments, a 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.