Monday, 13 May 2019

The Midlife Crisis

I heard this word midlife crisis in my early thirties and thought of it with just mild interest. It sounded more like a phase where people turned a bit nutty. Rumour had it that it affected men more than women and made them leave families and chase women younger than them.

I was flummoxed by it in the beginning but later forgot about it till the time it hit me squarely in my face. The unraveling of my life was not quick nor painstakingly slow. It was at a medium pace in the beginning and then the pace took my breath away. I had officially become a victim of the midlife crisis.

I saw friends around me disgruntled by the way their life had turned out. It was as if suddenly everyone around me was just unhappy, crabby and feeling bitter.

My own midlife crisis was like peeling away old skin and donning a garb that was so much more comfortable. This process of catharsis was none too easy and involved embracing thoughts and processes that I would have never dreamt of in my twenties and my thirties.

After trying to meet expectations, fulfilling other people's wishes and burying hard truths in favor of being agreeable, I was faced with an existential crisis. I was fighting hard to keep the status quo of trying to be perfect. The walls that I had built around me so that no one could peek in and find out how messy and wild my heart was, were threatening to fall down.

The days when you are so angry or the day your heart gets broken into a million pieces are all tucked away safely behind facades we create. The armor of cynicism and the coping mechanisms that we create to fool others no longer make sense. The armor starts to crumble nudging you towards opening your eyes and dropping the sham.

My midlife crisis shook me up from a deep slumber and kicked my butt really hard. It wanted me to be my authentic self so that I reach embrace my potential. It wanted me to shed unwanted baggage.

People face a mid-life crisis in different ways. Some sail through it, embracing it with just a bit of flutter in their sails while others like me wander into the stormy seas with sails torn to shreds.

I was slammed pretty hard by it. All the things I thought were important to be happy and feel safe went out of the window. Life shook me by the scruff of my neck and threw me into a swirling pit of anxiety and self-doubt. I had an identity crisis. My belief system was shaken up and I no longer could rely on my instincts as I had in my twenties and thirties. This unknown territory was strange and scary but it had a promise.

Slowly but steadily as this unknown territory started becoming familiar, I stopped pretending to like everything and everyone. I reached inside and brought back the quirky side I had as a child. I started decluttering my life with ferocity. I no longer was interested in maintaining relationships that added no value to my life. I stopped reading books midway just because they did not resonate with me. I drifted off in movies that were popular but did not move me an inch. I stopped trying hard to make a point for the sake of it. I let go of people, I let go of social commitments, I only did what I wished to do and did not force myself to get burdened by unnecessary things that sucked the joy out of life. The best part was that I was able to draw boundaries and keep people from crossing those boundaries. The things that felt super hard felt easier.

I have embraced my midlife crisis like a long lost friend. Though it upturned my life in the beginning, today, it is a familiar face. It is still making me learn new things, but I now welcome it as a gateway to new adventures.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

31 Things you need to know when you are going through a divorce

Recently, someone asked me, whether my life has gone the way I had planned it. I was at a loss for words. Hell of an irony, right? Considering as a writer, words are my bread and butter. 

That got me to thinking about my life, and especially the past few years, where I was able to amass a lifetime of lessons that I had not learned in the previous 40 years of my life.

Life has definitely not gone the way, I had planned it that much is true. As a young girl, my head was full of dreams of a house, with a white picket fence, kids running around, and a loving partner (you get the picture, I hope). These dreams were mostly fuelled by the numerous books and movies, I had read and seen. Of a rosy life, where things are just as they should be. Even after a painful breakup with my first boyfriend in college, I still carried those dreams in my head. Call me naive, call me dumb..but that was who I was. 

A few years later, I got married to someone I loved and thought finally those things will now become true. Don't think that I did not work hard towards getting those things. I worked my ass off. Things were equally rocky and smooth for nearly 14 years in the marriage. The house with a white picket fence was replaced by the dream of an apartment and children..well that is another story. My life partner and I were like two ships in the sea trying their best to sail together. The ships collided with each other, but soon drifted apart and thus it continued for the next 14 years. We were never able to dock together at the same port and thus things fell apart. 

Outwardly life looked calm and peaceful but we knew what storm was raging inside and breaking us apart. From my perspective, it was difficult to put my finger on one single thing that drove us apart. I got closure when certain facts came to light later on.

Divorce..that word creates such big ripples that it drowns the person who is going through it. It puts a lot of fear in people's hearts. It is not just you, but your immediate family that is affected as well. It tore me apart, emotionally. It made me question a lot of things about myself, marriage and people in my life. All through this, I was never afraid. The only thing that scared me was that my family would have to face things because of the situation. I did what I felt was right at that time. I decided to tackle one day at a time and face it head on. Make each day count was my motto, and still is.

It's been 1.5 years since my divorce and the journey from then to now has been the most fruitful period of my life. 

Here are some things I learnt from that journey. Hope they are of some help to you.

1) Never lose focus of who you are and what you want from life. We have one life and it your job to make it the best
2) Somedays will be bad, and it is ok to feel lost and sad. It is fine to cry and howl but never forget point 1. 
3) People will come and go in life. Hold on to those that have held you up in your times of need and let go of people who were not there.
4) People are nosy and will ask you questions. It is your life, you can refuse to answer those questions. If people are genuinely wanting to help you, ask for it. Do not let pride come in the way.
5) When life looks bleak on some days, get into exercising. The serotonin rush will bring your perspective back.
6) Stand on your own feet. Regardless of your family offering you financial support. it is important to have a livelihood. Keep your pride here.
7) Get connected to people who enjoy the same passions as you do. 
8) Go on dates, but do not settle for the first person who says "I love you". Dating sites are rife with people who want to use you.
9) Have a strong set of friends who will rush to your help during emergencies.
10) Do not compromise on the things you want from life. Just because you are divorced does not mean you are broken and unlovable. 
11) You are human and can mistakes. It is the way the world works. No one is perfect. 
12) Do not carry those mistakes on your shoulders and make a big deal about them. 
13) Hate is useless. Focus that anger somewhere else and you will see the beauty in everything you aspire.
14) You might not get closure, but forgiving the other person is the best way for you to break the shackles and be free.
15) Memories of the past will keep coming back. Let those memories come but do not forget the now. Today is a new day, so live it.
16) Be thankful for all the experiences you have gone through. It has moulded you into who you are today.
17) Your parents and siblings will love you, always. Never forget that. Reciprocate your feelings and never forget that even though you are trying to move a mountain right now, they too have challenges.
18) Laughter, nothing heals faster than that.
19) Every day, keep some time aside for introspection and going inwards.
20) Your happiness is in your hands. You can be happy exactly where you are, you just got to make that choice.
21) Divorce will make you question yourself, your self-worth. Remember! marriage is a contract between two people. Just because it did not work out, it does not mean you are a failure. 
22) Love will come in your life again. Choose wisely and be strong enough to walk away, if it is not what you want.
23) Loneliness is a part of being divorced. Remember point no. 5, 7 & 8.
24) Commit to being happy each day and doing exactly what is right for you. People will not understand and that is ok. They won't because they have never walked in your shoes.
25) Learn to say No. You don't have to be mean about it, but you can refuse to do something that you do not wish to do, gently, but firmly.
26) Do not badmouth your ex, even if he is doing it. Be true to who you are and let not the situation make you bitter.
27) Do not judge yourself because others are judging you.
28) You will find out who really wants to be in your life and who doesn't. It is a difficult realisation, but a good one. You will sever meaningless friendships and relationships.
29) Don't act like a victim. You are not. Take back charge of your own life.
30) Get professional help. Go for counselling and therapy. Your perspective about life will change.
31) Things will get better. The harshness will lose its edge. You will be fine.  

Stay Happy! Stay Healthy!