First the good news – midlife crisis isn’t really a thing.
Yes, you might be unhappy. Is this feeling inevitable and everyone goes through it? Nope. But, there is a documented U-shaped curve of happiness and well-being, evidence across many cultures that we humans on average have a slump in our level of happiness when we are in our 50’s.
Since we as a culture understand the gist of the term “midlife crisis”, it’s a phrase I use to reflect a collection of feelings of hopeless, under-fulfillment, and restlessness. Maybe it's feeling like you’re on the glideslope to the end and your best years are over.
A midlife crisis usually affects one’s self-confidence or identity. There may be a significant amount of regret over how you’ve lived your life and an intense desire to correct it as soon as possible. There is often a precipitating event that causes the sufferer to examine their life from a new perspective.
Not everyone goes through this, but a lot of us do. If you find yourself in the middle of one, your main concern is trying to feel better, and we often do that by changing our circumstances in big and little ways.
Stereotypically, a midlife crisis is thought of as a man’s thing – red sports car, leaving the wife for the secretary, job change, hair replacement, gym membership. We all know or know of that guy.
We lesbians may find ourselves doing some of those things, but midlife is qualitatively different for lesbians. Our experience of the life satisfaction sag in our 50’s may be brought on by life events that never or rarely happen to men: Menopause – which might bring on weight gain (and in new and surprising places!), change in libido (no viagra in sight for us!), Maybe you've come out in your 40s, 50s or 60s, wondering "Now what?" Maybe you find yourself single after decades, after the death of your partner or breakup or divorce, whether welcomed or not.
If you always thought maybe you'd have kids, your options look a lot different now. Or maybe you do have kids and you find yourself the oldest person at back-to-school night and, no, "I'm not his grandmother, I'm his other mother." Or maybe you are now discovering what that whole empty nest thing is all about. And, as women, lesbian or not, we are more likely to be the ones to care for our aging parents (or our partner's aging parents) than our brothers are.
Often, more than one of these big life events is happening at the same time, and navigating the change in life roles can heap the unhappy on you in big piles. As you can see from the graph, you can probably wait it out. The good news is, you can feel better sooner.
The next post will offer some tangible steps you can take immediately. If you want to get started now, click here to sign up for a free 30-minute no-strings call with me.