In the last month or so, we’ve been hearing from our clientele and readers about their experiences with the midlife crisis that visits us all in varying degrees and at varying stages of our lives….often when we think we’ve finally reached the point where we’ve got it all together. One such story comes from a woman we’ll call Rachel. She writes:
“I was a ‘student’ of my boys; figuring out what made them tick. I made sure they had access to opportunities that would develop their God-given skills and strengths, all the while working on the character flaws that might trip them up. I willingly loved and supported my confident, talented, loving husband by focusing on his strengths and ignoring his restless, discontented, and all-too-often angry heart. In our first 20 years of marriage he had 8 different jobs, one of which he held 5 different levels of management within the company. We moved 12 times, lived in 7 states and owned 6 homes. I acquiesced my needs and desires … and managed the tone of our home by trying to bring balance and stability to the stress this constant change brought to our family. I was doing my best with what I knew and understood…. but was exhausted, unknown, and empty.
Life got tougher with three teenage boys (one of whom decided not to keep to the public “Facebook script”) and the sudden death of a friend who harbored unimaginable secrets that emerged immediately after his death, leaving his wife and those of us who knew and loved them to sort out the mess. Several months later our tight, small group (of friends and accountability partners) also dissolved because of “sin in the camp”. Yes, you could say my life started to unravel! And as trials often do, junk was exposed in my husband as well as myself; and our carefully crafted co-dependent life no longer worked for us.
This unraveling wasn’t sudden, it happened over a period of about three years. It didn’t feel like unraveling at first: more like adjustments. But, just like a yarn ball, it picked up speed as it unfurled. My unraveling hurt. It is the most painful thing I have endured to date. The tearing apart of ideals, relationships, egos, and promises left me feeling insecure as I lost control of things I never really had control over in the first place. I’ll spare you the ugly details, but the unraveling came to an abrupt stop in August of 2016 as my marriage and I, personally, teetered on the edge of complete destruction. I was left feeling exposed, extremely vulnerable, unsafe and undone. The love and support I once gave so freely was replaced with anger, fear, distrust, and depression. I was even asked on more than one occasion if I was going to leave my marriage; and, as much as I desired to, my faith would not allow it.”
In her communications with us, Rachel went on to talk about the turn-around her husband made to rectify his choices and the intensive work she and he have had to do the last couple years to address the issues that contributed to their struggles and codependent marriage. She confesses:
“This process has been s l o w and painful. I’ve learned some things that are changing how I operate: changing the very core of who I am. First of all, I realized, with help of a very wise and trusted counselor that I had been invisible. I spent so much time being who everyone around me needed and wanted me to be that I had lost myself. I had not only blurred the line, but essentially erased the boundaries of who I was so I could be everything I thought I should be. I am 50 years old, still in progress, and only recently started getting to know the woman I was created to be.”
“My story is still being written. Although my husband and I remain married, our marriage has changed vastly. We continue to work on ourselves and… are healing, but it is a process that moves in spits and spurts. As we live authentically, somehow God looks down at our beautiful, broken mess and smiles because we are His children; and He loves us and desires to use us as a powerful reflection and instruments of His grace.”
Can you relate to some or all of Rachel’s story – or is your story completely different, altogether? We’d love to hear from you and gain from your perspective. If you have a midlife story you would like to share, please email Pamela at Pamela@gracecounselingservice.com. With your permission, we may use all or part of your story in a future blog. All names will be changed to protect privacy.