I know who you are. I’ve seen you lurking in the shadows since I was barely a teenager, and I have witnessed your work. I watch you subtly tap on the shoulders of middle-aged adults twenty years into their marriages, and a couple decades shy of retirement. You wait until their children are almost out of the house to prey on their fears of discontent, loneliness, and inadequacy. And then you make your move.
You creep into minds and steal common sense. You warp perceptions and wreck homes. And the tricks you employ to do your dirty work are deplorable. I’ve watched you facilitate mental demolition derbies where someone with a recently developed “me” complex annihilates everything in his or her path- relationships, marriages, and families. All in an effort to improve their quality of life. And then when you have moved on to your next victim, the smoke settles, and there’s nothing left to show for a life that had been well-lived up until you came along.
I know your signs and symptoms. I see the breast implants, and the new group of younger friends. Sometimes I see you in the brand new convertible that just passed me on the highway. I even recognize you on the sweaty face of the woman breathing heavy on the treadmill beside me at the gym. No, these signs alone are not indicative of your presence, but they make me wonder if you’ve been there…
There are other times I know exactly where you’ve been. I hear your aftermath in the voice of the mother who has to painfully explain to her children why they have three sets of grandparents to visit on Thanksgiving.
And I’ve seen your destruction in the face of a thirteen-year-old who just wants to see his parents love each other again.
That’s when I hate you the most.
I hate you, but I don’t dread you. I don’t dread you because I refuse to allow you to be my problem. You destroyed my childhood family, but I will not let you destroy the family I have worked so hard to create. Hear my words of warning, mid-life crisis. You are not welcome in my thoughts. You are not welcome into my home. You are not welcome into my life.
I know you will try your hardest to creep in one day when I’m least expecting it. And I might, for a moment, seek out what you have to offer. But about the time I think it’s easier to give in to you than go forward with my life as it is, I’m going to think back to my life as it is right now.
And my current self says this: your life is beautiful. You have a hard-working partner who encourages you to be your best. You have a child who worships the ground you walk on, and she is watching your every move. Remember all the times you rocked her to sleep, praying that you could give her the beautiful life she deserved? Well, your mid-life pity party doesn’t go along with that plan. In fact, if you decide to go rogue on your family and “just do you for the first time in your life.” you are thwarting your daughter’s future. You are showing her exactly what it looks like to give up on a dream.
Don’t give up on your dreams, and don’t destroy hers.
I’m going to spend my life loving and preserving myself, so that one day I never question whether or not I made myself a priority in my own life. That way when you, my would-be mid-life crises, come tapping on my shoulder, I can laugh in your face. And say “no thank you,” because I’m a woman who loves her life and loves her family just as much.