crisis (noun) a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.
I’m almost 47. This summer. I’ve been married for 22 years. To the same man. I have an almost 15 year old. She’s incomparable to me at 15. Knob kneed, freckle faced, ghost of a girl. She is wise and beautiful and solid. I’m at a place in my life. There are labels that go with this time: mid-life crisis,, perimenopause, middle age. I’m supposed to by products to minimize pores, wrinkles and smile lines. Why would I want to get rid of my smile lines? I’m supposed to at least consider highlights for the strands of gray, no longer just peeking through, but cascading. I’m supposed to start thinking of things I haven’t done, or the person I’ve yet to become. Bucket lists and such. I’m not really sure what all “this” is, but I can feel the tectonic plates shifting beneath me. I’m moving into a new part of my life. I’m not scared really, but so much of who we are as women has to do with how we look. It’s hard to imagine not being valued for the way I look. I know I’m supposed to start valuing other things, but I’m not quite there yet. I’ve watched some of the most beautiful women I know in their 50s and 60s and I know enough to understand that this could be the best part of my life. Something is truly shifting. All of a sudden the pressing question is: Who am I if I’m not my daughter’s mother, my husband’s wife, a motherless woman, a recovering alcoholic, an abuse survivor? When I’m stripped of my teaching job, what do I “do” for a living? Where do I begin and my family members end? Who am I? All of a sudden that question is front and center. I watch my daughter pounding out a short story on our computer and I wonder where my dreams of being a writer went. I worry about not being sexually attractive to my husband, and I wonder where does my sexuality lie…in a man’s eyes or is it in me, my flesh, my divinity, my innate beauty? If I didn’t have a man or a woman as mine, would I be my own love, my own lover? All of these things outside of myself…my teacher heart, my mothering of my daughter, the ideas that my family and friends have of me, my passions, my beliefs, where do all of these things call home? Who am I? That’s what this is. It’s the same longing and angst I felt as I moved from childhood into womanhood: who will understand me, who do I speak to, what color am I, which song is mine, which words float around me and describe me, who will I love? All that I say to my high school students is starting to resonate with me as well. The difference is that when I was moving into adulthood, I needed someone else to understand all of these things about me. Now I’m the only one that needs to know.