Anyone Else Falling Apart Or Is It Just Me?
I thought, Maybe it doesn't happen to us? No, I think it's more like we don't talk about this stuff.
I was reminded of a story about my overwhelmed great-grandmother asking her doctor for some help and he told her, "Nice women don't discuss such things."
Nice women don't discuss such things.
I guess it's a good thing I'm not a nice woman? Because I'm ready to discuss this uncomfortable topic.
I'm miserable. I've been feeling this way for about a year now and I was afraid to say anything even to my closest friends and family. It's a really shitty thing to say out loud, because I know it hurts the people close to me, plus it just sounds like typical suburban angst. If I was a refugee somewhere, I wouldn't get the luxury to say, "I'm just not happy." I'm not running for my life, I'm not watching people around me get murdered, I don't have any real strife in my life, so what the fuck? Buck up! Right?
I don't know, though. Don't I deserve to be happy? Don't I owe it to myself? Isn't that what I'm always preaching? Or am I supposed to keep this all to myself and just muddle through and not make waves?
Yes, I'm really unhappy and dissatisfied with my life. I've passed forty-five and I feel like it's all downhill now. I find myself asking on a daily basis, "Is this it? Is this all there is?"
Which, again, is a really shitty thing to ask, because I know my life is not horrible. And then that makes me feel even worse. Like I'm not grateful for all that I have or all that I've accomplished.
I am grateful, I just ... want more. I expected more. It's just that by my mid-forties I expected to be further along in my career. I expected more security. I expected a different relationship. And I'm not a perfectionist or a high-achiever by any stretch of the imagination, but I guess I set some lofty goals for myself and when I didn't reach them it sort of sent me into a spiral. I feel like I'm constantly scrabbling to hang onto what I have and I can barely advance. It feels like every time I get it figured out, someone moves the finish line on me. I feel like I wasted my twenties doing stupid shit when I should have been working harder, smarter, faster, whatever. Maybe if I'd done that, I'd be in a better position now? I don't know. I keep reliving past decisions and fretting over the choices I made. And that's not helping. I used to be able to take those regrets and that fear and turn it into something productive, but now I just let it drag me down.
My husband founded a start up a few years ago and he's been working really hard at that, but it's not taking off as fast as either of us would like. It's very demanding on his time and he's not able to help me as much as he used to. He's also not able to work at his "real" job as much, so the pressure has been on me to produce even more and support the family. I've been dealing with health problems for the last year and a half and it's been financially and emotionally and physically taxing. After twenty-plus years together, I feel like the passion is gone from my marriage. Don't get me wrong, the Hubs and I were never tearing each other's clothes off in public, but lately, my marriage feels like a business arrangement. We're great partners but we don't talk about anything other than our work. That's not how it used to be. Maybe we've run out of conversation? My kids are getting older and I worry if I've done a good job raising them. I never had doubts about my parenting before and they're not doing anything to make me question their upbringing and yet, I can't shake that somehow I've fucked them up and they won't be contributing members of society. When my kids were small, I felt like I lost my identity because I was suddenly "Mom" and no longer "Jen." I wasn't young or interesting anymore. Now that my kids are older, I'm losing my "Mom" identity. What will I be in a few short years when they go off to college? Do I go back to being "Jen"? An even older and less interesting person?
I don't sleep well anymore, I cry and I'm irritable. I haven't felt funny in months. The last time I felt this way was years ago. And that's why I started this blog. I was feeling a ton of pressure and incredibly overwhelmed by my life and I started writing here. I found my sanity, I found my people, and I found a career for myself.
Writing is my way to deal with stress and pain in my life, but this time I've kept it all bottled up inside of me. I haven't hardly blogged in a year and when I do, it's always about frivolous bullshit rather than what I'm really feeling. I've always said I didn't care what people thought about me and what I write, but this year I cared. I've always said I'm an open book and I tell it like it is, but this year, I kept a lot to myself. Because for the first time I was ashamed of how I felt. I was worried about hurting the people I care about most with my honesty. I was worried about what strangers will think of me. I was worried about looking like a failure, or worse, a complainer.
Well, I'm done doing that. I'm sitting here, spitting it all out on the page through tears. I am releasing everything here and letting it all go because I think I will explode if I keep this inside any longer.
Last week I told my friends how I was feeling. It was with trepidation that I asked if anyone else was feeling like they were losing their shit. I was terrified they'd tell me I was crazy. That I have a great life and I need to suck it up and stop feeling sorry for myself, or whatever. Instead, they opened up and shared their own feelings and I realized I was not alone.
I can't tell you the relief this brought me.
I look around and I see men my age buying sports cars, getting hair plugs, and dating twenty-something women. What do women do when they're going through this? From what I can tell, we suffer in silence.
We are the ones who plaster on fake smiles, or at least neutral faces, and go about the business of getting shit done, even though we're screaming inside. We're the ones who take care of our parents, our children, and our husbands. We're the ones who make sure everyone has what they need. We're the ones who care for everyone else, except ourselves. We're the ones who don't talk about our feelings of loneliness, fear, inadequacy, bankruptcy, or whatever, because we're afraid we'll sound selfish or we're afraid of being judged. And, frankly, we don't have time to wallow.
I finally broke down and told my husband how I was feeling. It wasn't some big revelation. He's not stupid. He'd noticed the change in me. He'd felt me pull away from him, from our life. I was disengaged and going through the motions and he could tell, he just didn't know what to do to help me. The advice he gave me was, "You need to write about this." His advice was solid.
Even now, as I come to the end of this post, I'm feeling better. It feels good to be open and honest and to be truthful about my feelings of sadness. I'm not cured by any stretch of the imagination, but I do feel better. Putting my thoughts and feelings onto paper has always been my form of therapy. It has always been how I process hard things. I'd gotten away from that this year and I want to get back to it. I won't worry about how many page views I get or the SEO I need to bring traffic to this post, because that shit doesn't matter. What matters is that the people who need to see this and hear this find this post.
If you recognize yourself in what I've written here, then just know you are not alone. You don't have to be miserable in silence. You are not broken or selfish. You are normal. I understand you and I see you. I know it hurts and I know that you worry about hurting those around you, but you have to make yourself the priority right now. It's time for us to put on our oxygen masks first. You're not helping anyone by keeping it all inside. And you're not fooling anyone. We have to speak up and we have to let the people in our lives know how they can help us.
I'd like to wrap this up in a bow and give you all a happy ending and some great advice, but I'm not there yet. Right now I don't know what to do to help me. I know self-care is key. Figuring out what will recharge me and help me cope. Like I said, just writing this was an immense relief and that tells me that I need to keep doing that. Just getting back to writing whatever is on my mind is a comfort.
I also need to find my funny again. I used to be able to find the humor in everything hard, but right now I'm not finding any humor. I wrack my brain every day trying to come up with something funny to write about. I'm shocked when I actually laugh out loud and it's such an overwhelming sense of relief and a high, but it's fleeting. It's just tough to be funny or find funny right now, but I'm determined to do it again. I've always said, "You're going to laugh or cry, so you might as well laugh." Well, I've cried enough and I'm ready to laugh again.
In my searching I did manage to find one helpful article and science assures me that this too shall pass. That soon I'll be fifty and women who are fifty are happy again. Let's hope they're right because right now fifty sounds depressing as hell.
If you know someone who needs to read this today, please it share with them.
If you know someone who needs to read this today, please it share with them.