Thursday, June 24, 2010

Midlife, Bad Wife

As Husband and I have aged, I've been waiting for him to have a midlife crisis. Fully expecting it, really. I've been on red alert for convertibles, for blondes, for suspicious behavior, for coming home with a gigantic toupee. Anything.

What I didn't expect - what completely caught me off guard - is that the only one in this family having a midlife crisis is me.

He turned fifty. Then he turned fifty-five. Not a blip on the radar screen. He's steady, he's loving, he's home every night. No convertibles, no blondes. Devoted to his family. Gets up everyday like a robot to work at our store. Impulsive purchase of the year? A spiffy new box truck for the store. Not really a midlife crisis vehicle.

But I am a different story. Through a combination of hormones draining out of my body and, apparently, pooling on the ground, and having a recent disappointment with my book, I found myself falling into a gloom of midlife despair. What was the answer? Maybe I needed to disappear to a deserted island for six months to work on my book. After all, all marriages involve compromise and maybe I'd been compromising my writing too much. Did I need to put my writing before my marriage?

When I was a kid in Chicago I had a lot of aunts, but there was one in particular who was a handful. If something popped in her head, she said it, no matter what, even if she thought one of us was fat or ugly or stupid, she'd say it. She was mean and scary. With my midlife menopause upon me, that's how I felt. Mean and scary. If I thought it, I said it. I suddenly understood what it must have been like to be this aunt of mine; to have almost no control over what was coming out of her mouth. Was it just reflecting the negativity that was playing in her brain?

Just in the nick of time my new bio-identical hormone pellets started working. I don't feel like I'm twenty again but I do feel a little more human. And I did some thinking about that agent and the fact that it's not really her fault that I imbued her with so much magic. She's no more magical than a hundred other agents.  The success or failure of my writing still depends on me. 

Now hopefully I can get back to normal. Watching out for blondes and convertibles.

Hormones acting up lately? Midlife, early life or late-in-life crisis? Do you ever find yourself blaming every thing you've never done on someone else?


  1. How does it feel to have sanity return? That isn't a rhetorical question, by the way. I really want to know.

    I am so glad that you were able to get some perspective on your book/agent problem and see a solution. And that it wasn't to give up your dream on throw it on the shelf.

    So happy for you!!!!

  2. Glad to have you back:) My hormones have been artificially controlled for years and my doctor thinks this will ease me into that wonderful midlife change when it finally happens. But every now and again I feel a major PMS funk without the PMS! And sure, I have played the blame game. Sigh.

  3. Dang, I wish I could blame my scary and mean self (especially of late) on hormones. And that there was a magic little pill to help me with it.

    ((you)) The agent will happen--the right one for YOU. I'm proud of you about the book! I wish I had your ambition.

  4. I think a version of this could be happening to me right now. When my husband had a vasectomy, I quit taking birth control pills... I'm almost 40 and I think my hormones are all screwy. Add that to husband's new assignment causing him to not be home A LOT and work EVERY Saturday. I have started feeling sorry for myself... and resenting the fact that it seems I put my entire life on hold when I married him. My life has revolved around what the military says and directly and indirectly because of the military and where we currently live, I have been unable to fulfill myself with a decent job relating to my degree, unable to afford a graduate degree that I could easily afford at my alma mater, deprived of my dearest friends from college, my family and deprived of seeing my children grow up around cousins and grandparents. Military friends leave, so I am often left friendless and it sucks. So, yeah, I'm on a totaly woe-is-me streak right now, wondering where my life went. Is it possible to have a mid-life crisis at thirty-seven ( and a half)?

  5. Yeah...there's only SO much magic somebody can take! Keep going, keep going, keep going with the book, especially now with the new pellets. I had a friend that got the wrong dosage and was having X-rated thoughts about every doorknob she walked by for about three months!

  6. Glad to hear that the bio-identicals are supplementing the last gasps of your ovaries. It's amazing how chemically based some of our moods and crises can be.

    I'll be 57 in July (good lord) and I think the hormonally altered personality glitches and mood fluctuations have mostly subsided. But like you having some new insight into your aunt's ways, going through perimenopause and then the full change has enlightened retrospectively my view of many aspects of my mom and other significant woman from my youth.

    By the way - you won a bag...I need your address to send it to you!

  7. I love your attitude here, Linda. And you're absolutely right: there are many more agents in the sea and I know that there are many waiting to gobble up your book. (Sorry for the mixed metaphor!)

    I really like this question: "Do you ever find yourself blaming every thing you've never done on someone else?" My answer? A big, fat yes. As much as I like to think of myself as a responsible and dependable person, whenever something goes wrong I think about whose fault (other than my own) it is. Not a pretty quality.

  8. Are you sure we are not related...I've been on a funk train too. I think my hormones are all out of whack, the kids are driving me nuts and I have yet to see any real improvement from all this damn exercise I keep subjecting myself to. ARGHH!!!

    Good for you about trying to find another agent...You have done real work for yourself, and you should have someone who will do real work for you! Hugs to you sister, and if you can, send me a pellet or two, would you please?

  9. Wow. Women do not have it easy, do we? It's like menopause kicks you back to those pre-teen years of first experiencing hormone mood swings and drama, trying to figure out what's going on and get a grip on your body and mind. And during all the in-between years, we get to have PMS every month!

    Perspective is everything, Linda. Hang in there.

  10. Hi Linda, I am glad you are feeling better but I hope your new perspective does not mean you are giving up on your dreams of getting your book published or on your writing. I hope you find an agent and a publisher who are both right for you.

    Your questions made me stop and think and my answer is yes, in the last few years I have attached too much blame for the things I see as all wrong in my life to someone else. At this moment in time I am not entirely sure how to go about fixing this, but I do know it needs fixing and admitting to having done this is the important first step.

  11. Glad I found your blog. We are at slightly different life stages, I still have the little ones at home, but I just read your post about leaving the kids at home and going on a date, and it gave me a wee bit of hope. Perhaps someday we will actually be able to sleep in past 6:15 on a Saturday as well. Ahhh, dare to dream.

  12. Robin, I wish they had cranked up my hormones a little more, but, hey, this'll do for now I guess! At least I'm not laying in bed crying. (I'm such an optimist!)

    I know with the writing that to end up with a large goal I just have to achieve small goals. I once took a writing class where the teacher asked us where we wanted to be in 5 years and then, in light of that, where did we need to be in 4, 3, 2, and 1 year to be there in 5? And the ultimate question was, what do I need to do TODAY to be where I want to be in 5 years. I can do whatever that is.

  13. Karen, I should have named this blog "the absentee blogger!" Especially in the summer, when the kids are hanging around wanting to be entertained every second!

    And I don't think I appreciated the hormones until they left. :(

  14. TKW, I'm sure we can ALL blame everything on hormones - lack of, too much of, monthly peaks and valleys. (Hey, come on over to Bar Mitzvahzilla, I've got an excuse waiting!) But, really, all I have to do to convince myself of this is to think of how much of a wreck I was after having each kid. And I was of child-bearing age then!

  15. Sorry about the book disappointment. I think I'm in for a whopper of a midlife crisis since I just went through a midway to midlife crisis a while back... pass the hormone pills, please.

  16. Jennifer, between all the hormonal difficulties of trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, and nursing, along with natural aging of the "stuff," I don't know if a woman ever is balanced. Well, maybe at twenty!

    And when I compare myself to those people who can go zooming off to work on a low-residency PhD program, or go to a month-long writers retreat, I think, why am I not comparing myself to the people who have to work grueling hours at a day job and have to fit their dreams in around that?

  17. Lisa, I heard about the spike in, um, "desire" that might come from the pellets, and my husband's certainly been looking forward to it, but, alas, no spike. I'm sure Husband feels ripped off. :)

  18. Leslie, when I was a teenager, my mom started going through menopause, for like ten years. At least that's what it seemed like. But really, now that I'm older than she was then (how'd that happen again?) I can see it must not have been easy for her feeling crazy and irritated. It couldn't have just been being a widow with seven daughters, right? :)

  19. You made me laugh and I needed that tonight. I am in such a hormonal funk I can't even tell you. I left my happiness puddled on the floor next to yours. It just sucks.

    I feared my husband's midlife crisis so I bought him a convertible.

    We got rid of it before Kyle began to drive.

    I think it's funny that your Aunt said whatever popped into her brain. I am doing that more and more. And I love it. I'm old and I'm honest!

  20. Kristen, it's really one of my worst character flaws, this type of dishonesty that lets me look at only the surface, where there's actually a lot of pain, instead of delving deeper and seeing that there's more going on that I may not have wanted to look at. Sometimes it seems easier just to blame someone for "what went wrong," but when I get to my unrealistic expectations, guess what? There's never anyone left to blame but myself.

  21. Maria, I realized that there are many paths to the same goal. Not every path is the "write a query letter and get an agent" path. I think I just need to keep doing the right thing and see what happens. Isn't that what I'd tell my kids?

    Eva, even worse, my daughter is in this pre-adolescent thing right now, with me starting menopause! It's a horror around here! My poor husband has two nutty females on different ends of the age spectrum driving him nuts. One of the great ironies of having a kid at 39!

  22. I know it's small consolation, but I love your writing. Keep it up!

    Oh how I laughed at this. I want to blame my hormones, but I'm afraid most days the problem is just me.

    I'll take on deserted island to go please!

  23. Hormones, hormones, hormones. Ah yes. Nothing a good trip to France and six pair of stilettos can't cure. Um, temporarily. Consider it my version of the convertible and the blonde.

    Glad you're better!

    (Oh, and I think midlife crises are avoidable if you are constantly assessing your life anyway - then you shift and change at various points - which has nothing to do with hormones, I know. . . )


  24. Nope. Never had an emotional moment. My hormones treat me rather nicely.

    I wish that were true.

    Every month for 2 weeks I become a horrible b****. It's true. This is why I am dedicated to the calendar, I make sure to mark when I had my last period and when my next mood cycle craziness will occur. It doesn't help me out of my funk, but it does give my husband proper warning.

  25. Aging mommy, I remind myself that there are people who have done more than me with less than me and that I read somewhere that it's hard work more than anything else that pays off in the end. I'm lucky in so many ways.

  26. Getrealmommy, thank you for visiting over her! I enjoyed looking around your place too! We worked hard to train our kids not to wake up early; being night owls, this was essential to us. Now we pay the price - they're up at midnight!

    Charlotte, your comment makes me wonder how I didn't see this coming! I've always had hormonal crises every step of the way, why not when they're expected?

  27. Terry, we need to have a support group! I'll have to think about the bluntness being an asset instead of, um, scary. Somehow I know if I poll my family I'll end up with "More hormones!"

    Lisa, most of the time I do assume the problem is just my bad personality, developed over the fifteen years i've been raising my irritating, defiant children... Thank god I love them. And thanks for the writing compliment. I feel lucky to have found a fellow writer like you as well!

  28. BLW, France and stilettos here I come! Overall, that might be cheaper and less painful than having pellets stuck in my hip every three months for the rest of my life!

    Amber, funny! Well, you did make me feel better because you're right, you have your share of the dunks and you are 23! At least we have our friends, right?

  29. My hormones have been out of whack for a while. It turns out I have Hashimoto's Disease, a thryoid condition. Now I take meds for it and feel sooooooo much more peppy!

  30. Oh, my friend...You are not alone. I had my "award-winning" unpublished memoir edited by a NEW YORK editor. Let's put it this way, she didn't say ANYTHING about putting a stamp on it and sending it to her favorite agent who was going to sell it for a bazillion dollars. Glad to see the hormones you're taking are kicking proverbial buns. Now go get 'em. You can do this.

  31. I used to use my period as an excuse to say the awful things that had built up over the previous month. Now when I am p*ssed I try to get it out in a constructive way.
    I was cleaning the master bedroom. It really needed it. I had been and tim had been, collecting crap for three or four years...and since the closet in our bedroom is sizable, it ended up in our closet.
    I clean for four hours. gotta go to the gym.
    Nothing stops me from going to the gym.
    So, I left the huge pig sty where it was and went.
    I get back.
    Tim: "The room is a mess."
    Me: " Why is it that every time I do something for me you have to complain about cleaning, I am going to go to the gym...I have busting my hump all day and you have been sitting on your rear end playing video games."
    Tim: "I don't want to talk about this anymore.'
    Me; "ditto'.
    That was the end of it.
    My hubby went through his midlife crisis four years ago after retiring from the military.
    He bought a motorcycle and got a tattoo...he grew out of it after about 9 months.
    Good enough.

  32. Hi Linda,
    So glad to find you through KISS. (She gave me the award that you gave her!) Anyway, looking forward to reading through a fellow writer's blog!

  33. I just had some nasty post-natal stuff that ended (my wee one is two)... now I have friends talking perimenopause in their late 30's ... in my mid 30's, I had some weird hormonal stuff going on - my middle schooler / high schooler is complaining about hers now - I have constant brain fry because my four kids don't give me 5 min.... Women have it tough. I mean, I don't know how you do it all, Linda - with the kids, the book, etc. I am glad, however, that you are feeling more yourself.

  34. mommymommymommy, I'm glad you feel better and I'm glad you had a doctor who checked everything. When you're 50, of course, the first thing they think is "hormones!" Who knew women needed testosterone? I didn't know. If I start growing hair on my chest, I'll use it for a new blog post topic...

  35. Michelle, I have enjoyed your posts so much about your childhood and your parents - I should've caught on that it was a book! Duh! One thing I didn't expect out here in the world of bloggers is that there are so many of us who are serious about our writing and that each of us can help the other ones up. It's a wonderful community we've got!