Saturday, September 10, 2011

Midlife Boot Camp

As anyone with military training will know, first they break you down and then they build you up again. It is like the Zen idea that you cannot fill your cup if it is already full of old tea. For many years, I have been working at tearing down the structures in my life that have felt inauthentic to who I really am. Which, unfortunately, were most of them, as I was raised in this culture where children don't really get to choose much of anything for themselves. After years of asking 'why?' deeper and deeper, I feel like I have hit bottom. Foundation rock bottom. And now I must build new structures for myself that will support and aid me the rest of my life.

I did not really get to this point consciously. I knew I had been ripping up the old playbook, page by page. And I knew that I occasionally felt a bit lost without the old SOPs to guide me. But I forgot, or failed to see, that one day I would be free of it all, and lost without them. I forgot to build new ones into my life along the way, or at least enough to keep me going as I chose new ideas and plans and dreams for myself.

I told C the other day, in a low, blue moment, that I used to seek Truth and find Answers, but now I just find more Questions. Maybe this is the beginning of Wisdom, but right now it feels like chaos! I have always explored both sides of any issue I was interested in, to assure myself I had made the 'right' choice of what to believe. And I always found answers that let me feel at peace with my choice. Now, I find myself seeing both sides of the coin at once, and reluctant to choose a side, for fear of it being 'wrong'. If you know me, you know how I hate to be wrong!

It is like I moved to the other side of the world or something. ;-)

Seriously, I feel upside down. Turned over and shook out. I'm empty and stuck in a vaguely familiar, yet unsettling and foreign, place where I must fill up again. I now need to decide who I am and what I am going to do with the rest of my life. I kinda wish there was a cosmic MTI to help me build back up again. Like Field Training for your Forties.

I have lived so much for what others need that I am not in touch with what I need. As the kids get older and need me in less pressing and immediate ways, I am left to myself more and more. I am so used to responding to them and staying present for them, I have forgotten how to Be for myself.
I have been in a 'what's the point?' kind of place recently. When you have worked to rid yourself of the shoulds, and get yourself used to the idea that there really are no have tos, but forget to cultivate the want tos, you find yourself a bit aimless. It is not a place I am familiar with, or like very much. Uncomfortable for sure. It does not help that our life here is so temporary and that my life back home is so longed for. If I found myself back in Ithaca, I would hit the ground running. Here, I'm spinning my wheels, but keep getting jammed when I try to move forward. Very little I have dabbled in feels worth the effort. There are a few moments of 'happy, happy, joy, joy' and a whole lotta 'blah'. *Sigh*
Ok, enough whining. I'm sure you will hear more from me on this as I work it out. Any thoughts to offer?


ZZZ said...

wow, are you sure you did not pull these feelings and words directly from my head instead of yours? It is an uncomfortable, strange feeling to wonder who you really are now. Perhaps we can rise out of the abyss together!

You mentioned that if you were in Ithaca, you would hit the ground running. What would you be doing there that you can not do Down Under? Is it a matter of people/connections/familiarity with the place?

Miranda said...

Must be something going around, Zoa! If I was in Ithaca, I could keep working on my farm, deepen the friendships there, get closer to my family, etc. Here, none of that makes sense, or is too hard to do from so far away, it feels. The only thing here that feels right is the travel and exploration we are doing/plan to do.

my many colored hats said...

It's hard, no doubt about it. But, I think it's important to dedicate time to yourself at least once a day. I also think it doesn't help being so far away from home, friends, family...But we can dwell on that, or we can make the best of it, even if it is just temporary. At least it will help with those blue moments. I'm a good listener!!

my many colored hats said...
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Noah Demarest said...

There are so many things that people would like to do in their 40s but never have a chance to do because of work, family, life in general. You could write a book, train for a marathon, create art, or master a skill (pick something unexpected). I think being down under (no chickens to feed) would offer a great opportunity to take on a big personal challenge, and especially something really centered around your own physical and mental health.

Annette said...

There is a lot of shifting and changing for a whole lot of people right now. I'm feeling it too. Feel like a trip out to the Gold Coast for a change of scenery and an old familiar friendly face? The Alice can feel a little isolating.

Noah has some great advice - you could write a book (on so many different subjects, or weave them all together). You are so very talented and inspirational! Are you up for a marathon? You are already so artistic and masterful in many skills. Is there something lurking...some unfulfilled desire?

Heather's Moving Castle said...

I am turning 39 soon and this whole year has been a sort of unpeeling of my layers and self discovery, even more so than the past 10 years of mothering, unschooling, etc. It is a truly wonderful gift to have time to nurture myself more. I go to the gym a lot more and have been making new friends. I have gym partners also. I go to the gym with my husband. We do spin classes, I take yoga and Zumba classes and some core body classes also. It feels so good to move and be with other women my age taking care of ourselves. I read a lot more now and been writing mini stories. The ideas never stop. I hope you feel comfort in knowing you are not alone. I feel a lot of your same sense of needing to feel centered when so much is different. Peace!