So, as I’ve been struggling along, my mind has a penchant for grasping onto metaphors to help me understand.
I grew up in a Christian family. One of those church-on-Sunday-morning- or -else kind of families. And even though I’ve moved away from all of that, whenever I feel something approaching crisis, my mind always goes to a biblical metaphor for help. I just can’t help it. It’s just what my mind has been trained to do.
And it occurred to me that a midlife crisis is actually a sort of crucifixion. Because something significant has died in me and now it’s like I’m wandering around in the Valley of Death for a while and then I’m hoping I’ll just pop back up – as a better, more evolved version of my former self.
But while this metaphor is great as an explanation, it really sucks for providing any actual guidance through the whole process. Because it just yada yada yadas through the most challenging bit. I mean what was Jesus doing down in the Valley of Death for those three days?
Was he all calm and serene?
“Oh wow. I’ve just been murdered. And this. Endless. Void. What a nice change.”
Or was he more like me? Flapping frantically around, grasping for a strong drink and the perfect self-help class?
Maybe this is the reason no one mentions this part – because if anyone knew what a basket case Jesus probably was during those three days, no one in their right mind would listen to anything else he had to say. Check the vaults of the Vatican. That’s all I’m saying.
Perhaps being a basket case is just part of the journey. Maybe part of my natural, healthy process involves freaking out and and buying a bunch of shoes. Or signing up for Past Life Regression Therapy. Great! Or that free workshop about real estate investing. Oh ya!!
I’ve been to every palm reader, psychic, shamanic healer, pranic touch practitioner who puts a poster up in WholeFoods. I say yes to Ballroom dance lessons. Because it improves balance – who doesn’t need more balance?. Whatever it is, I’m totally game. Just fix me. Make me better.
And then something shifted and instead of being terrified that I now have no idea who I am or what I’m doing or where I’m going – I now see the gift in being cracked wide open. I will do, say or try anything just to see how it feels, sounds and tastes. Life has gone from being terrifying to a little bit of an adventure. The secret, I’ve found, is not to give a shit.
Here’s an example:
My kids have gotten into competitive swimming. At first I was all like, “good for you!” But then I realized what they’d signed me up for. Swimming practices six days a week. Often at some ungodly hour of the morning.
Then I was like, “Why are you trying to destroy my life?” Until my husband reminded me that when I got knocked up, I was actually committing myself to supporting theses little beings and driving them around to whatever they take a shine to. Forever.
Even though, he’s right, I still pouted every time I was forced to spend another weekend with a bunch of Tiger Parents who seemed way too focussed on comparing their children’s level of achievement to mine.
Then one day – while I was in the process of making this mental shift into a much less victim-y and much more-open-to-possibilities mindset – I just blurted out.
“Am I the only one here who is trying super hard not to stare at these fine young men in their speedos? Please tell me I’m not the only dirty old woman here.”
“Oh my God.” Said the little voice in my head. The one I usually ignore.
“That might have been the worst, most inappropriate thing I could have said in this moment.”
But a crazy thing happened.
One of the super uptight-seeming mothers who had been sitting quietly off to the side started laughing.
“Finally! Someone else said it.”
Then another mother started laughing and then another. Turns out one of them had Baileys in a flask hidden in her purse, which now got passed around. By the time our kids emerged out of the change rooms, we were laughing our heads off. Having a great time. Now that we’ve all cracked open a little to reveal our own humanity, weekend swim meets are fun.
I used to think my verbal impulse control issues were a curse. Something to constantly correct, but now I’m thinking this might be the gift that lights my way out of my own Valley of Death into something much more shiny and new.
Have magical things happened to you when being inappropriate?
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