A mid life crisis? The ultimate stock-take.

I’m 40 at the end of this year, 8 December to be exact. Note that down won’t you?

Milestone birthdays change as you get older – 10, 15, 18, 21 – all big years for which you celebrate and dream big. Thirty you’re still dreaming but now with a level of reflection depending on where you are in your life.

Then there’s 40. From what I can see 40 is a big year. Forty is the ultimate stock take except there are no bargains at the end of it.

You’ve been an adult for as long as you were a child and you have quite  few runs on the board to prove it. Some have had kids, some are really hitting their stride in their profession, some have seen much of the world and some have even changed it.

And then there’s you. Or, in my case, me.

My intial head-thought is, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me.’  Followed by an obvious list of things to be grateful for – a husband who loves me no matter what, four children, the best friends anyone could ever have, the ability to cook, that I make really good jam, I have a big heart, that once a week I get up and see what my body is capable of and I can make people laugh.

But at the moment none of that is making a mark on my heart.

At the moment I feel weak and scared, angry and small, trapped, caged, frustrated and disappointed, snarly and panicky with a big fat resounding this can not be my life. Is this it? REALLY? Because this can’t be it. It’s not good enough, it’s not exciting, it’s not daring, it’s not brave and enticing.

It’s run of the mill.

It’s bog standard middle of the road.

Not even.

I feel hamstrung and mean. I’m blaming everyone else except me.

I’m shooting vitriol at my kids and thinking ugly thoughts about my husband. I had a massive dust-up with my mum today and I’m just about ready to wave the white flag and go ‘I’m done. I am done. Thank you and good night.’

And I now have a much greater appreciation for those that do. Oh, I’m not talking those that end their lives, I garnered that understanding and empathy years ago. This is for the people who up and change their lives holus bolus often leaving a trail of emotional carnage in their wake. I’m all, ‘so THIS is what a midlife crisis is.’

It is a real panic at asking, ‘is the sum total of who I am?’ and seeing an answer that’s not even making the +range. It doesn’t matter how ill-perceived that answer is to everyone else around you, it is so so real in your own head.

That fight or flee emotional scale is real man. And sometimes flee wins out.

But I won’t flee and I won’t give up.

Because I know from this low ebb that I will push back. I can’t help it. A wave in me will find momentum from somewhere and push me forward. Fall down seven times, rise up eight as I say.

But today? At the moment? This week/month/period of time? It’s just so bloody hard.



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  • Oh love was just talking to someone else about this urge to flee, to shed our skin. You’re not alone. xxxxx

    • It is deeply, DEEPLY reassuring that I am not alone in this sentiment. Thanks bloss.

  • SawHole

    Dude, you have been through a lot. Lived several lifetimes. Celebrate it, honour it. You have done the yards, my friend. Give yourself credit.

    • Damn well made me cry you lovely woman you. And thank you. I don’t really look on what I’ve done as anything except a monumental well-sustained train wreck.

  • A low ebb means that the tide is about to turn. Forty marked the end of one life for me, it accosted me out of the blue, it changed me for ever. But now, I am exactly where I’ve always wanted to be. Except for the alone part.

    It’s OK to feel shit. And to know that you want to run away, but you won’t. I still haven’t.
    Dorothy @ Singular Insanity recently posted..Staring at the screen, blankly….

    • Oh thank you – such wise words and SO helpful for me – I need you guys a bit further along to tell me, ‘yeah it’s shitty but it’s OK and it does get better.’

  • If you are going to have a mid-life crisis- or find yourself in the middle of one- then I guess the only up side is knowing that it isn’t necessarily of your making- most of us have a crisis of sorts around this age, in many different circumstances. Welcome to 40. That’s not to minimise where you in particular are at- I know it’s impossibly tough most days. In my case the up swing wasn’t fast, or obvious, a flight, or a ‘shed your skin’ episode. It was a long slow burn that felt like it was still going downhill most days but was actually, incrementally and imperceptibly heading upwards. For someone of your calibre, I suspect that is the direction you will head- but on these really bad days just keep swimming. Keep swimming, as I know you are, and give yourself a break. I’m with Sawhole. Ax
    alison recently posted..Ordinary Homes and Gardens- Amy’s Place

    • Oh so so true. Just keep swimming is so the phrase of the moment.

  • KJ

    Mine is October 14th so I’m 7 weeks further down the “Holy Shit” road. 😉

    I am madly clinging on, hoping and hoping and hoping that after October I won’t feel like this any more. That I will be all “in my 40’s I know who I am”.

    Best of luck and thanks for articulating my own thoughts. x

    • It really is a ‘holy shit’ road isn’t it. Love it. You made me laugh. On today of all days that is quite a feat. SO thank you!

  • Lauren

    Almost two years ago I turned 40. If I had been able to articulate it – word for word it would have been what you’ve written. Those feelings continue to come and go. I think it’s called being human. As a complete aside – I was in the audience at Blogopolis and I thought you were fabulous. This is just another pit stop on the journey. Love and light x
    Lauren recently posted..The Interrogation

    • oh dude, thank you. You’re two years in? Holy SMOKE I was hoping this’d pass just as I blow out the candles!

  • I have 4 years on you, but as a perpetually late bloomer it really didn’t start to bite me until last year. But yep, it’s all the same stuff. I’m a walking cliche of mid life disappointment and despair. All that i am and all that ive done is real but just not enough. That I have amounted to so much less than I ever imagined has come of something of a shock but I have been greatly buoyed (see how well I’m working with the swimming metaphor?) but the words of a wise friend that life doesn’t end at 40. I don’t know how to get to the other shore but I’m still swimming.

  • Im 30 and already have these feelings. Holy shit balls!! what am I going to be like at 40!!
    jodie drescher recently posted..Welcome to Two Monkeys

  • Di

    Oh man, I hear you, I hear you! It is bloody hard isn’t it.

  • Debyl1

    Oh hon.I am 52 and understand how you feel.
    I have come across many people in my years of nursing and have found one thing they ALL had in common.No matter what they did in their life they ALWAYS wondered what if.
    Those that had kids young thought what if they had chosen to have them when they were older.
    Those that married young thought what if they had married when they were older.
    Those that gave up work to be a stay at home mum thought what would their life had been like if they had kept on working.
    Those that had children thought how would my life had been different had they not had them.
    Those who chose not to have children thought how would their life have been had they chosen to have a family.
    So in the end it doesnt really matter what we do with our lives as we will always still wonder what if.
    So we need to just live what we have,work through the negatives and focus on the positives because we are living the life we are meant to be living.
    I read so many wonderful words on blogs and twitter about you and can only think you are living a life that is leading you on a path to great things..
    You bring such joy to others with your words.That is a great gift you have lovely lady and I wish for you to see that.You are special and should feel very proud that you impact many lives in such a positive way.
    What if you never started your blog….
    Thankyou for all your wonderful words and may they keep on coming.
    Big comforting hugs.xx

  • Workingwomenaus

    The thing I like most about this medium is the fact we can talk about how we’re feeling (in a way many wouldn’t face-to-face with friends) and hear that others feel the same. It’s so reassuring to know you’re not alone.

    You’ve run so many races and achieved so much, but to you it may just seem like living or surviving. The reason it’s so much more is that your hard work has positively affected the lives of others. Look at your boys for a start.

    I hope tomorrow is a better day
    Workingwomenaus recently posted..Lemongrass and ginger scented chicken slow cooker recipe

  • Linda

    i just don’t get the fuss about ‘age milestones’

    none of my 3 children got it either because they all crawled, walked and shat in the pot, in their own good time. inspite of what ‘the books’ said. they are all finding their own way through life – at their own pace. sometimes they soar; sometimes they take a few backwards steps.

    i am in no hurry to ‘be there’ in life, because what then? there has to be more to it all than just ticking off boxes.

    i do know people who appear contented with living their lives to a set formula (she says hitting her head repeatedly against the keyboard)

    you say it best yourself Kim – ONWARD!!!! (’cause we already know what is behind us – but the future is full of possibilities)

    • Linda

      and write yourself of list of your achievements ……. then pay yourself on the back 🙂

      • Linda

        make that ‘pat’ yourself on the back – d’oh!

  • I am well past that particular ‘big’ birthday (now much closer to the next one, 50!) but I remember my reaction to 40 rather well. I was in severe DENIAL. For most of the year, if I recall.

    It was silly really, now I think about it. I was upset at the fact that I couldn’t tick the 25-39 box on forms any more. I had to start using different face creams with ‘anti-aging’ written on them. I resented it. I didn’t feel 40, didn’t want to be 40 only because I thought I’d be different somehow. BUT. (There is a but.)

    Eventually I got over myself and decided to stop obsessing over the number. So what, I was 40. That didn’t mean I was dead. Once I adjusted my attitude, I felt better.

    Cut yourself some slack, Kim. You’ll get there. Sometimes it just takes a while to figure it all out.

    What Sarah Did Next recently posted..Boy, interrupted…

  • Here is a true story. My 72 year old father visited recently and confided that he’d always felt a failure compared to his richer and supposedly more successful brothers. Dad was a teacher, the kind of teacher that, even decades later, ex-pupils talk about with awe, and ask to be remembered to. He was astounded to discover recently that his richer, more successful brothers, also felt like failures. The only sibling content with her lot was their sister, who chucked in her university scholarship, married a violent man and spent her working life as a cleaner. Not a stereotypical path to happiness. It was a lesson to me, when I start wondering whether my life amounts to a hill of beans. As for turning 40 I did find it strangely liberating. Something about feeling able to embrace my inner nana and no longer even pretend to be anything other than a total dag who would infinitely prefer to spend a night with my sewing machine than seeing a cool band at a hip pub.

  • Mrs WOOG

    I recall a line in a great movie, at least once a day….

    “What if this is as good as it gets?”

    You are not alone. Your writing helps us all to realise this xx

    Fucking onwards!!

  • Mrs WOOG

    PS I like/love Julie up there

  • OH DUDE. You know I know exactly what you mean. That urge to flee (one way or another) lasted, for me, upwards of 5 years. I didn’t flee because I didn’t think I could. And now that I’m turning 46 in a couple of months, I realize that staying is and always was a choice. I am not trapped. I can leave. I choose to stay. I own that choice. Six years ago, I couldn’t have said any of that and meant it.

    It does get better. I swear it does.
    Kathy recently posted..Summer 1978: A day in the life

  • In the middle of a dinner party this year, I was deep in conversation with a friend and bared my soul “I think I might be having a midlife crisis?” At the exact moment that I decided to share there was a brief silence at the table. I shared with everyone. The situation was so ridiculous that hysterical laughter ensued. You’re right – you have so much, but shit it’s hard sometimes. And something happens at this age where we start to consider the chance that maybe our lives aren’t turning out exactly how we pictured it would be. Forget the macro, go back to the micro, what’s right in front of you right now. Love. That’s enough.

    Another great piece Kim, you capture my thoughts so often. xx
    Kirsty Rice recently posted..The Plan is…

  • Cheer up! The forties are the BEST decade. Seriously.
    Frogdancer recently posted..The beginning of a new term!!!

  • Sometimes I think I just need a couple of extra days so that I can sleep in and catch up. Wishful thinking! sending you lots of love, A.
    Amelia recently posted..Blown Away – Creativity

  • Like Mrs Woog, in my 40s (sorry Mrs W, you are not there yet, whoops) I used to hear
    “is this all there is” along those lines…and I’d be thinking it a LOT …because it WAS/IS all there bloody well is.
    Kim, you know me, I am 62, and have daughter turning 41 this year. It is beyond my brain’s capacity to wonder ‘how the hell did that 40+years pass, and now I have 6 grandkids”
    I have no answer. BUT, I know when there are blog posts which resonate and make perfect sense in my head, as this does, I know I am not alone…
    I am getting creeped out by heading towards 70, because OMG that’s really really old.
    Denyse x
    Denyse Whelan Education Specialist recently posted..Babies Love Play. Playing Means Learning. Review & Giveaway!

  • If I’m having a moment…..I write down what I want people to be saying about me at my funeral and work backwards!!
    Meags K recently posted..Sibling Traditions

  • Turning 30 in a week, fortunately for me this is an optimistic birthday

    Fiona recently posted..Post-BBQ Birthday Dinner – Acquazul, Honeysuckle

  • Yep. I can’t blame turning 40 on my funk – maybe I should? Just getting in 4 years early. I pulled three cards the other day – self-recognition, surrender and listen. Ha! Sounds like my next blog post 😉
    Sara Foley recently posted..Eating through Emotional Cake

  • Paola

    Darling, my daily thoughts is what you just listed. My 40th was years ago … but I’m still here, never left, never will (I am sure now).