Midlife Blues: Do My Knees Look Old To You?
I recently sent a Snapchat to my children of my knees. I was sitting outside enjoying a gorgeous day when I looked down and saw…aging knees.
By old, I mean I didn’t recognize them. They just seemed “off”. Wrinkly. Baggy. Knobby.
Not the kind of knees I’d been accustomed to.
Ah, the process of aging, right? It’s sure is something.
Tick Tock Goes My Aging Clock
I have to admit, reaching midlife has caused me to obsess in my head more than normal. Maybe it’s partly due to hormonal changes (darn hot flashes!), but I’ve got serious questions I thought I had the answers too.
However, the older I get, the more I realize I’m coming up empty to some heavy questions. And, the louder I hear the tick of my aging clock.
Now, sure, I’ve gained some wisdom after five decades living on planet Earth. And, I’ve spent enough time in the emotional trenches doing inner healing work to conjure up some self-worth.
The reality is that I am living a super good life, blessed on many levels.
But still, sometimes I find myself with the midlife blues, which, I’m finding out, isn’t all that uncommon.
Midlife Blues: Oh, Yeah, It’s Real
Last night my partner said, “Sometimes I really feel my age.”
Yeah, I get it, I said. We’re not spring chickens anymore.
Granted, midlife is a transition. An adjustment. A transformation.
And, it’s a fact that many women go through a midlife slump. Some even go through what we call a “midlife crisis”, which tends to be more grueling than a slump.
Now I don’t really consider my dip in happiness at this time of midlife to be a crisis. Rather, I feel it’s more of an opportunity for reflection and evaluation. A time to once again do some digging to see how I’m really doing emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually as my mind and body go through some aging changes.
This time of midlife unease can be a springboard to jump on into a new season; a great season. Maybe even the BEST season!
Yes, ladies, I’m committed to using this time to continue to reinvent myself.
Happiness researchers indicate that we may take an emotional dip in midlife, but we eventually bounce back. And, we have the opportunity to come out on the other side knowing ourselves (our real selves) a whole lot better too, which means we can show up in the world more authentic and fulfilled.
If you’re struggling with midlife malaise, rest assured that you can get through it. Life can get better, but it’s going to take some effort on your part. And, it might take some time, so try to be patient.
There are days where I’m feeling all “Eh, I’m tired. I’m bored. I’m not sure what the heck I’m supposed to be doing.” And, I go with it for the moment. I allow myself to have that kind of day every now and then…Knowing that I won’t stay there.
Now, if you’re struggling with some midlife blues, here are some things that I’ve found helpful along my journey:
Cut Yourself Some Slack
You don’t have to have all the answers today (or ever), so cut yourself some slack. Stay present, focused on enjoying TODAY. We’re awesome, but we’re not superheroes, ya know? We don’t have to know it all.
Think Less About What Others Think
If you’re all caught up in your head wondering about what people think of you (you know – the grey hair, wrinkles, aging spots, sagging breasts, slower pace, etc.), come back into your body. What I mean by this is stop and take time to breathe. Quiet your mind. Literally get control over those racing thoughts, harnessing them in.
People will think what they want, but you don’t ever have to be defined by someone else’s words.
For me, getting into nature helps me quiet my mind. Or, singing some groovy tunes, banging on a drum, or meditating. Find what works for you.
Let The Guilt Go
We can all look back on our lives and feel guilty over decisions made. Good Lord, I’ve made some doozies!
However, we don’t have to carry that guilt one more day. I know this is easier said than done. I struggle with this myself at times, but I’m also quite optimistic. I believe we can learn from our past and create a better future. Learning to let the guilt go is a practice, so if you must, make it a daily practice. If you can’t do it, get yourself into therapy.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
Maybe you thought you’d be further along by midlife. Maybe your neighbor is 50 and retiring soon with buckoo bucks in wealth. Or perhaps you’ve gained 35 pounds in the last decade and your friends have managed to stay about the same weight. Or you’re not this or you wish you were more like that.
We’ve got to silence our inner critic that compares us with others. Even in the silver community, I see women criticize themselves because their grey hair isn’t coming in as “beautiful” as they perceive others. Nonsense. Hair is hair regardless of what color it is, and it is ALL beautiful. Let’s drop the labels.
So, commit to less comparing yourself to others. You’re great right where you are. Worthy. Fabulous. Valuable!
Commit to loving you right where you are on all levels!
Find Your Tribe
Loneliness is a major complaint for the middle age crowd, even for those that have partners. Being around a person or people doesn’t mean you’re connected. This is why you can feel so alone in a group of people.
I’m an introvert, so I don’t crave a lot of social gatherings, but I do understand the importance of authentic connection. And, I have to make the effort regularly to share my life with others in a meaningful way.
It’s easy for me to isolate and be content with my “online family”. However, face-to-face interaction is important and helpful. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dreaded going to some gathering, but once I go, I’m so delighted to be there connecting with people. It’s stimulating and fulfilling!
So, find your tribe ladies, and share life together!
Think Progress, Not Perfection
Some days, when I’m mulling around the house not being able to pull up good feeling emotions, I get caught up in thoughts like, “I should pack up and move to a luxurious island where no one knows my name” or “I’m not where I should be career-wise. That’s it! I’m done!” It’s that “all-or-nothing” type of thinking that can make you go cray-cray in a quick minute.
Rather than think we have to “do it all now” or beat ourselves up for not having reached our goals yet, (or not even know what we want) think more about progress over perfection.
Think small steps over huge leaps.
Feeling unfulfilled? Try a new hobby or go volunteer rather than break up with your current partner (who is probably amazing) to go get a quick “love” hit from another.
Feeling confused? Overly emotional? Depressed? Maybe it’s time to see a therapist for a season. I am a firm advocate of traditional and alternative therapy. Invest in yourself this way and stick to it for a while. Don’t just go one or two sessions and say, “This isn’t working”. Give it some time and be willing to do your own inner work outside of the therapist’s office.
Think “journey” over “destination”. Trust me, you’ll feel happier if you do!
Overcoming The Midlife Blues
I’m not saying that true blue midlife crisis isn’t a thing, because it certainly can be. I’m being vulnerable here by saying I’ve found myself in times of boredom, hopelessness, and intense fear. I felt defeated, like I had no purpose, and extremely frustrated. To me, that’s an internal crisis.
If you’re struggling with midlife blues or a crisis, I want to extend hope to you. Hope that you can get through this time. You can use this time in your life as a springboard to learn valuable lessons about yourself, others, life, and a higher power should you choose.
For me, journeying within always helps me get back to center. Gets me back to feeling like I’m alright today. I’m alive, I’m healthy, I’m loved, I’m worthy. I don’t know about tomorrow, but I know that TODAY, all is well. And, I’ve learned enough to know that the way I feel today impacts my tomorrow.
Move From Your Inner Space
So, today, dear woman, trust that this time of feeling blue will pass as you go within and rest and move from that space. Practice the tips above and give yourself a big hug for being willing to stay present even when life isn’t making sense.
And know that others are willing to hold space for you, encourage you, and simply be there as you navigate your journey.
Because that’s what you – and all of us – deserve.
Got something to add about midlife blues? Feel free to leave a comment!