Middle Age Manifesto: The Winter of My Discontent

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How many times in our lives do we think we deserve more than we were given?  We are settling for Joe, when Johan is out there waiting for us.  You see, Joe and Johan are not the same.

What happened to all the fun?  Youthful smoke mellowed days of partying with friends and letting the sun bake your skin to a deep golden bronze while blasting Zeppelin at ear-piercing decibels.  Reckless and carefree without the slightest thought of future skin cancer, potential liver damage or permanent hearing loss.  Living with no rules, no regard and no regrets.  Thinking only of yourself.21854_103015253054260_541415_n

And by the way, what happen to my fairy tale?  The one where I find the perfect Mr. Right, we make our fortune, live in a beautiful home and have the perfect life.  Where is my piece of the pie?  Are the times to Carpe Diem really over? Is this all I get?

I struggled with publishing this post, feeling apprehensive about showing this negative side of myself.  Then I realized feeling discontented with life is no new thing.  From the Bible to Shakespeare to Steinbeck to the Hollywood big screen, many have lamented over the cards they have been dealt.  In the movie The Family Man, Nicolas Cage plays Jack Campbell, a successful Wall Street Executive bachelor who gets to see what his life might have been like had he given up his perfect life and stayed with his old sweetheart.  Much like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life, Jack encounters an angel on Christmas Eve who offers him the opportunity to see life from another path.  After a shocking wake up call on Christmas morning in middle class suburbia, wearing Walmart sweat pants and surrounded by all the other mediocre trappings of normal family life, Jack flees back to the city only to discover his former perfect life is nonexistent.

Upon returning to his bland middle class life, he encounters his now wife Kate who rips into him for leaving his family on Christmas day, letting him know how frantic she has searched for him.   Jack replies “Look, you don’t understand.  I woke up this morning here.  And this is very strange because… this isn’t my house…   And those aren’t my kids…  I’m not Dad…  You’re not  my wife.”

Sometimes I look at my own life and think what happened to me?  As I am surrounded by the cracking plaster on the 80 year old walls of our country home.  The badly patched hole in the ceiling, the unfinished crown molding and the wood floor that still lacks a threshold.  The leftover casualties of the countless DIY projects my husband eagerly starts, but never seems to finish.  I look at the lines on my 50 year old face, the gray in my hair and I do not recognize my own reflection in the mirror.  Who is that person looking back at me?  I look at my daughters, now in their twenties, and think that’s who I am.  I should be out living it up! I’m not this older woman looking back at me.  Frazzled and twenty pounds overweight, trying to manage my household while working and caring for my own elderly parents.

As I am dealing with my parent’s multiple medical issues, doctor’s appointments, bills that need to be paid and trying to determine how to handle the next ball I’ve been given to juggle; I see my family go about their daily lives and I want to scream “I need to be taken care of!”  “I’m hanging on by a thread here!”  “Dear God, please give me another life!”

Then a somber reality hits me like a ton of bricks and just like George Bailey and Jack Campbell, I realize I would be nothing without them.  An empty shell.  A dried husk.  A tumbleweed blowing in the wind.  They are my roots.  My anchor in the storm and my nourishment after the rain.  They are my Zuzu’s petals.  My reality and my reason for being.  They are my destiny.

So I shamefully fall to my knees and ask forgiveness for being so selfish.  Then say a prayer of thanksgiving for all that I have.  I get up, wash my face, then wash the 8,968th load of laundry and smile as I ask “What are you hungry for tonight?”  Because the simple fact is I am blessed beyond measure and cherish the life I’ve been given.  When it’s all said and done, I still choose us and it is a wonderful life…

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11 responses »

  1. Oh, Lori, what a wonderfully honest post! I think that most women feel this way occasionally but especially as we get older. (Fifty is not that old!) But then we look around and would not trade our lives for another no matter how glamorous. We too have an unfinished ceiling repair project that stalled for a year. I laughingly call it the loft look but have set a deadline of early next year for completion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reminding us to be thankful for all that we have!

    • Thank you for your kind words of support. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one that gets discouraged from time to time. The loft look… I like that! 🙂

  2. Oh Lori, we have all been there or certainly going there some time in our lives. I heard it said once that “you cannot have the sweetness of life without experiencing the bitter, else how would you know the difference?” I have been through the caregiver role so I know how terribly hard that can be and how you seem to lose yourself and your own identity. I admire your strength in carrying on. This too shall pass, and you will find yourself again. Guaranteed. Thanks for this wonderful candid post about giving and understanding.

    • Thank you so much for the moral support Dor. The role reversal from child to caregiver is so hard on so many levels (as you well know). I grew up knowing I could always turn to my parents in times of need and they would be there to take care of me. Now I feel like I’m falling without a parachute. It’s a comfort to know that you have gone through the same struggles and that things will get better. 🙂

  3. Wow . . . I am quite honestly teary on this end, for many different reasons. One, for your hurt; I know these emotions have been building with in you for some time, and I am only too happy to see you put them into words. It does help, as you know. Two, because I currently walk the valley of the shadow of death, wondering what is to become of me. I am 30 years old and have never felt such sorry such pain and loneliness, such despondency, overcome by the unanswered question of “Will I ever be me again?” I can only hope God has greater plans for me then to keep me in ailment, but my life is to be a living sacrifice, and so I must trust Him, fully. And finally, this moves me because, though I don’t know you personally, I feel like I have just been given the gift of a glimpse within your heart. Often times, when I post something of this nature, I will receive the bland adages or even a few admonishments, even after making it clear that I am still thankful for all He has given me. Honesty, real honesty, is sometimes met with real stupidity. I hope others cherish this as I have. I can imagine you wrestled with posting this, but I am so glad you did. You are a lovely person. but you are human, and seeing all sides of you is a blessing to me. Thank you . . .

    I will be praying for you, my friend. Please always feel free to e-mail me if you need a sounding board.

    ~ Cara

    P.S. The family man is one of my all time favorites to watch as Christmas time, and that first commercial was HILARIOUS! 😉

    • Cara,

      I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate your insight and friendship. It’s so true! Writing my thoughts and getting it all out is like exorcising the demons. I actually wrote this piece a couple of weeks ago and really didn’t want to publish it. First because I didn’t want to hurt my family and second because I didn’t want to reveal this ugly side of myself. In the end I’m glad I did put it out there. I do feel much better.

      Being raw and truly honest is always a gamble. It’s like stripping off all your clothes and saying okay everyone take a good look. Some people appreciate the beauty in the flaws and others want to point out or analyze the imperfections. I’m sorry you have experienced (very little, I’m sure) negativity in your work. But you have many, many followers! There is bound to be a stinker or two in the bunch. I don’t think have enough readers to be confronted with that yet! 😉

      I can’t begin to imagine what you have been going through these last few months. Just know I care deeply for you and I will continue to pray and believe in a complete and total restoration of your health! I also pray for diligence and guidance for the Dr.s responsible for your care and that the root cause of your illness will be discovered. I can imagine the unknown is equally as devastating as the illness itself! Keep the faith. It WILL get better!

      xoxo Lori

  4. Lori this is a beautiful, touching, heartfelt post. I am proud of you for being so real and honest. It helps others through life. You are making such a difference. I am sorry you have been tired and worn, but I am thankful God gave you such writing ability to share your life with us. I remember one day you and I were messaging back and forth on FB and my week had been tough. I was frazzled, tired, and had cried that week. I didn’t share how bad my week had been because you said something that brought me back to earth, reality and away from selfishness. You told me, “I have the privilege of taking care of my parents, as hard as it may be, I am blessed to still have them.” This spoke volumes to me. How could I whine or complain when you have so much on your plate and still have a great outlook on life? You have a servant’s heart just like Jesus and I can’t wait until we get to heaven and see your crown. I am proud to call you my family. I love you.

    • Pam, thank you so much for your kind words of love and affirmation. It means the world to me! I’ve been going though an emotional struggle for a while now and just didn’t know how to handle the things I’ve been feeling. So I put everything down in writing and really had no intention to share it. Then that inner voice within that guides us when we lose our way spoke up and said “just do it.” So I did, and I do feel like my burden was lifted. Isn’t it funny, we can say my inner voice said to do _____ and people have no problem with it. But if we said God said to do ______ people think we are crazy. 🙂

      I am so thankful for you and all of my wonderful family! There’s no way I could have made it though the hard times without all of your prayers and support. What a blessing to have that much love and all those arms lifting you up when you can’t get up on your own. I’ll close with my all time favorite lyrics by the Isaacs.

      No worries and no more to fear
      Our faith will be made sight
      It’s a glorious land of endless day
      Where Jesus is the light
      Got a lot of friends and loved ones there
      And the Savior I will meet
      And I’ll lay my crown of jewels down
      When I bow at Jesus’ feet

      And it that don’t make you wanna go, I don’t know what does! I love you dear cousin.

  5. Love your entire message. Being in the “same age” group as you- I too have felt that way. I have finally realized that I am truly blessed in so many ways, I would not give it up. Even the cancer diagnosis I have received has provided me insight into the important things in life. Wonderful blog.

    • Thank you for the support, Mark It seems we are similar in many of our beliefs and experiences. 🙂 My thoughts and prayers are with you on your speedy path to recovery.

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