“He who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning.” Danish Proverb
I went back into therapy yesterday after an eleven year break for some THERAPEUTIC LOVE.
I realized it was time to stop trying to manage my separation and midlife crisis on my own. It's not always fair or practical to lean on friends or family, plus I felt I needed to ask for professional wisdom and guidance from an objective third-party. I needed a safe place to spill my guts...and hopefully find some answers.
I've been in therapy before. The last time I went in crisis after the birth of my second child, when the isolation of new motherhood, coupled with lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and depression sent me into a tailspin. My marriage took a hit back then too, because we were both confused/overwhelmed by the way in which our lives had taken a sudden and sharp turn. We were suddenly mommy and daddy, and Liz&Mike seemed to disappear. But I had primarily needed help figuring out my identity. Who was Liz as caretaker? Could I balance my goals/needs/desires with that of my family?
Now, I'm back in therapy trying once again to figure out who I am. But this time I also want to focus on who I am going to become. Who is Liz going to evolve into in the next 44 plus years of her life?
My therapist had some very interesting things to say about that. She told me quite matter-of-factly that our 30s are all about DOING. We are on auto-pilot working our butts off to get promoted, having babies and raising our kids, buying and maintaining homes. We are busy DOING all day, from morning to night, that we literally have no time to sit back and think about where we are going. We just know we are going somewhere.
Then, suddenly, middle-age hits and we find ourselves exactly where we wanted to be: Careers? CHECK. Well-adjusted, independent children? CHECK. Comfortable home? CHECK.
If we're lucky, by middle-age we have all our basic needs met and more. We have the freedom to do pretty much what we want, and buying power to buy whatever we need. So if we have everything we thought we wanted, then why do we feel disconnected and uncertain?
We couldn't have gotten here without our partner's help, support, and love, and it was this shared purpose -- of having a family -- that drove us all these years. But now as we look ahead, and realize our little chicks will eventually leave the nest, where do we see ourselves going?
Whatelse do we want to achieve alone and together?
Have we even set a goal as a couple -- beyond raising our children, eventually retiring, and fading into the night??
I mean, I am only at the MIDDLE of my life. I consider myself to be a young, vibrant, woman with many dreams. I also imagine (hope) I still have at least another 44 years left, which is basically an entire lifetime to live. And yet I have absolutely no road map, and no direction as to what I am supposed to want to achieve in this second half of my life as a wife and mother.
My husband and I have spent 25 years together, so you would think we have this all figured out by now. Clearly not so. Besides the fact that I'm changing, he's changing, and our relationship is changing, we don't have any direction or clue about what we're supposed to WANT or DESIRE beyond the DOING DECADES of our 20s and 30s. How then, could we not be lost?
My therapist says that the 40s (and beyond) are really about BEING. We need to be comfortable with ourselves and figure out what really makes us happy. Beyond achieving financial success and raising wonderful children, who are we? We need to be able to find out what makes us tick both individually and as a couple.
To me, it also seems to be a time of shedding all the things from my past that no longer serve me. It's time to let go of old patterns and limiting beliefs that hold me back from achieving true happiness, fulfillment and love.
As scary as it is to be standing here, looking ahead at the great unknown, it is also very thrilling to think that we all have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and our marriages in the second half of our lives.
I know therapeutic love isn't for everyone. But for me, it's just what I need right now. I can't do this without a guide who's been there or at least has a map for the path ahead. Hopefully, once I find my way I'll also be able to find my way back to my husband.
And then, who knows where our path might lead.