Friday, September 17, 2010

How to Have a Mid-Life Crisis...

and emerge on the other side relatively unscathed.

Every step I'm about to outline for you is tried and true by yours truly. It actually happened. No shit.

Step 1: Break up with your nice, stable, reliable boyfriend.

This step is crucial as it's impossible to have a complete psychotic break if there is someone attempting to tether you to reality. Especially if you've found yourself attracted to multiple someone elses.

Step 2: Find someone else (multiple someone elses...truly, the more the merrier) to be attracted to.

However, there is a caveat. This someone else MUST NOT BE GOOD FOR YOU. If you're having difficulty finding a someone else who is not good for you, when all else fails, look toward the prison system. There are many many manymanymany someone elses with nothing to do just literally waiting for you to drop them a line.

Step 3: Quit your job.

Preferably you've had this job for a long time - say, ten years or so - and hopefully you make a shit ton of money doing this job. This job should leave you feeling drained and occasionally postal at the end of each and every day.

Please note: You should have no back up job or savings.

Step 4: Cash out your retirement from aforementioned job.

You've worked there for 10+ years. Your retirement - you do have a retirement, don't you? - is a cash cow just waiting for you, tempting you, practically taunting you with those dollars and cents that are all yours goddammit! And even though you know the IRS rubs its greedy little hands together like a grasshopper just thinking about getting its hands on that 10% penalty in addition to the taxes you'll pay on it, by gum, cash it out. CASH IT OUT NOW!

Step 5: Give away most of your worldly possessions.

You can keep the TV and the computer - you're going to need them to keep yourself disengaged from the world - and you can, of course, keep your clothes and your vibrators and your Kitchen Aid standing mixer...maybe some art and a family heirloom or two. But that's it. Everything else, including that journal from the 5th grade where you went into excruciatingly painful detail about your crush on Ricky Schroeder, goes to the Goodwill. Everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Go. Now. Go.

Step 6: Move to a remote location and in with one of your someone elses. Preferably multiple someone elses...especially ones you barely know.

Make sure that at least one of the someone elses is a sneak. Make sure the other one is non-communicative and a bit of an asshole. Also, if possible, make sure this location is far up in the mountains where you cannot see the sky and you feel as though you are suffocating under the weight of the peaks and clouds. This is beneficial because once the snow starts falling, leaving is all but impossible.

A word of caution: do not move into a cabin alone in the woods. It is of the utmost importance that you remain at least somewhat socially connected. Otherwise, the next thing the rest of us will know is that there are bombs being delivered in the mail and your manifesto is being published in a local newspaper somewhere.

Step 7: Find a job with the boss lady from The Devil Wears Prada.

This means that she should be filthy rich and should treat you worse than she treats the illegals she hires to clean her house and take care of her multi-million dollar yard. You will be on call 24/7 - more if she can find a way to change the Gregorian calendar and the atomic clock. She should also make sure to tell you to book exotic vacations for her and her family and then book them herself but dock your pay for the plane fare when she "discovers" the double booking.

Step 8: Work yourself into such a state of exhaustion, you attempt to leave for work one day but mistake "Drive" for "Reverse" and ram your car - the only thing you have left - into the garage causing hundreds of dollars worth of damage to the car and the garage door.

Do not report this to insurance.

You have now reached the pinnacle of your mid-life crisis.

Doesn't it feel great?!

Step 9: Break down.

Begin crying and don't stop for at least 72 hours. This is important as you will need the resulting puffy eyes, hoarse voice, and stuffy nose for the next 2 steps.

Step 10: Call you mom.

Let her tell you it'll be OK. Because it will be OK. You're getting ready to come to your senses.

Step 11: See a therapist.

You don't need a good therapist. Any therapist will do...even if it's a homeless man on the street. You just need an objective third party who will let you tell them what you need to do - which is to return to a normal, sane life - and then validate that yes, this is, in fact, what you need to do.

Warning: do not try to explain kinky anything to this therapist.

Step 12: Have an epiphany.

Realize that it wasn't your boyfriend or your job or your apartment that made you crazy. Realize that it was YOU that made you crazy. Realize that the "dead" you felt inside had nothing to do with anyone or anything else, just you.

Step 13: Lucky 13. Realize that no matter what you do, where you live, or how much you make, the answer to your happiness is to do something for which you have passion. That doesn't necessarily mean you've got passion for the actual work but that you have passion for whom you work.

Step 14: Start building a life that is full of joy.

Discover yourself at each step. Make mistakes, fall down, get drunk, get giggly, put your foot in your mouth. Take lessons away from each mistake and each hard time...even if it feels like you're going to die it's so hard. You're not dying. You're living.

Take every opportunity to feel something...anything! As long as it's real.

And don't worry about the money. Live within your means and buy only what's really important to you. If that's a new dress, great. If it's a bottle of wine, invite me over.

I was 33 years old the first time I had a mid-life crisis. Some would say this is too young for such a thing. Some would say women don't have mid-life crises.

I say bullshit.

Perhaps it wasn't a mid-life crisis in that I wasn't technically in mid-life..although I drink, smoke, and, let's face it, eat to the fullest extent allowed by law so, you know, there's that sticking point suggesting that perhaps I'm more than at the mid-point. Perhaps it was more a response to an astrological occurrence (shutup) called a Saturn transit. Perhaps it was just me, in my infinite wisdom, going off half cocked - bored and extremely dangerous.

Whatever the case may be, all of these steps were something I did and every one of those steps led me to where I am today...happier, more joyful, and passionate than ever before.

I love my job. I love my friends. I love my life.

I appreciate where I am more than I can say because I know what it took to get here. I know the work I put into myself during that time and subsequently over the course of 3 years.

And I know that I might not have gotten where I am had I not given up literally everything in the process.

My brother has recently begun a life/job coaching business and I've been reading all his articles online. So many of them I nod vigorously as I read knowing that he speaks the truth. So many of them resonate with me - maybe because of hindsight or maybe because I recognized the lesson before I'd even begun the lesson.

As I read his articles every day, I smile, remember what I forced myself through, how I came out on the other side, and think his clients sure are lucky to have him as a guide. I wish I'd had a guide.

I'm proud of him.

One Damn Thing of the Week

And my personal favorite... The AntiCoach where you will see I come by my sarcasm naturally.

A year ago:  Fasten Seatbelt While Seated
              We're #37
             Woo and a Double Hooty Hoo!


Anonymous said...

I like this a lot. We most definitely do have midlife crises, and they're not always midlife. My first was at 23.
I love that you write about process(ing), rather than pity parties.

Graciewilde said...

Shit, Jane - there is so much truth here, it hurts. I know mid life crisis is real for women - and age? age is irrelevant - I believe my fist mid life crisis occurred when I was in my late thirties....and then the second one was when I hit 50.
Hate to say it, but the third hit three years ago - pretty messy stuff - and I am still waiting for some resolution. But I loved your walk through the steps - I should start from number one and finally do it right.

Graciewilde said...

Damn! Your brother's site is gone....