Mid-life crisis… I get it. Hell, I lived it. My mid-life crisis hit me like a ton of bricks, a sick parent who eventually passed away, coupled with a less than desirable job and a milestone birthday all formed a perfect storm and created a mid-life cocktail that left me dizzy, sick and crabby… basically a 1.5 year hangover that just wouldn’t stop. I’m in a better place now but there are certain things in life that I learned during that time of my life that resurfaces now and then when the ugly reality of life hits and we can’t help but remember how precious life is and remember that life is not always easy or fair.
The reality of “life-as-a-grown-up”, as I like to call it, is not what I thought it would be. I was picturing my adult life to be a little-bit Cosby Show mixed with Mad About You and a dash of Cheers added for fun. I thought there would be ups and downs but everything would be wrapped up nicely and everyone would be laughing again at the end of 30 minutes. But I soon realized that there are definitely a lot of ups and downs but things definitely don’t get tied up all nice and neat in 30 minutes. Sometimes it takes weeks, months or even years and years for the scars to fade. And sometimes the scars never fade, we just forget they are there.
I’m reading the book Wild, about a woman who hikes the Pacific Crest Trail to escape her past. She uses the physical pain of the hike to mask the emotional pain of her life. And I get this, I totally get this. Over the years, running has been an incredible pain reliever for me. Running was in some respect my “cutting”. I focused on the physical pain of running to get a bit of retreat from some of the emotional pain of being an adult. And while I always thought I had such shitty running luck because I had so much “pain and agony” when it came to running, I guess in some respect I am lucky I had the distraction. I am lucky that for 30 minutes or for 3, 4 or 5 hours, I had a distraction from the rest of the world.
While the pain of running was a good way to distract me from “things” that swirl around in my head, I also used running and training for events as something to look forward to. And in doing so, it gave me a boost in life as I slid sideways into middle age. There’s so many things to look forward to growing up and so many “firsts” you experience as a young adult but not so many great firsts as someone middle age. Young adults get to experience, college graduation, a first real job, getting married, getting a house and having your own life and vacationing and enjoying adulthood. But now I’m at an age where I don’t think I’ll have any more firsts. At least not any more fun firsts. Mammograms, losing both parents, retirement planning and life insurance discussions are some firsts I’ve experienced in the past few years but none that I’d really say are enjoyable. I don’t have kids so I can’t look forward to them dating, getting married and having kids. So what I ask you, can I look forward to in the years ahead?
I used running and events to give me something to look forward to but I’m running out of things with this too. I’ve worked my way up the rungs in the race ladder to run marathons and I’ve been lucky enough to run local and destination marathons. And now I’m finding a lack of things to excite me any more when it comes to running because I’m almost out of new adventures that can keep me focused. And while I’m trying to find the fun in the simple things and just the act of being able to still run and do what I want, I can’t help but feel like asking… “now what?”
What’s next? What’s the rest of running or life for that matter, have in store for me? How do I stay motivated when my career consists of me working my butt off but I’m very much smack dab in “middle management” land? I’ve seen enough to know that life is too short to take it for granted so I desperately don’t want to take it for granted. But I don’t know how to keep true joy in my life. Do I need to find something besides running to motivate me? Do I just need to give it a break so I can miss it? Do I need to forget my job and my running and do something crazy? How do people do crazy things when they have husbands, responsibilities, mortgages and car payments? How does someone take 3 months off to hike a trail when I can barely take 3 days off to go to NY to run a marathon without having to have a dozen people on the line to help with the dog, with work and with the house?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, I really do. I am extremely grateful for my husband, my family and my friends. I’ve been fortunate enough to take some great vacations, have some incredible excursions, lots and lots of laughs and good memories. I’ve had more good times in my life than bad. But I can’t help but ask… what’s next???????
Until next time,