Blogging through a mid-life crisis

I'm in the throes of a mid-life crisis.

You may chuckle at the cliche. I assure you, it's no laughing matter.

I'm not at "rock-bottom" of this crisis, which for me was the brutally honest assessment of early winter. Though the incredibly scary feeling of that un-doing comes back from time to time. And I've been in that place of un-doing again as we make this move to Montreal. Transitions are hard.

Each time those feelings come back it's not as bad as that first time and I climb out of the pit, usually with some help from Damien and my parents, a little quicker (not as quick as I like), knowing, from experience, this too shall pass.

Here's the very brief run-down of what's going on: in the past few years we've made some big decisions based on an inaccurate understanding of ourselves, and the results of these decisions have hurt me and hurt Damien. This was never our intent, obviously. We both need to forgive each other and ourselves. The latter being the harder to do.

At this point of the healing process, I am without a clear vision for my future. I am questioning my identity at this stage of family life, I am questioning my identity period. Basically, "what is the meaning of all this?, who am I, really? and where do I go from here?"

I told you it was a mid-life crisis.

This is the stuff I've been writing, and moving those words from my heart to my head is a colossal effort. And in response to that effort, and the crisis, I have entertained so many different thoughts about how to proceed here, on the blog. Do I shut the whole thing down, start fresh, re-work, re-build, keep going as "usual".

I may not know exactly who I am right now and what I want to do with my life but there's no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater; i.e. make rash decisions about the blog.

In fact, a big change here is not the best thing to do right now. I desperately want to get to the end of this discovery process but I know this is something that can't be rushed, or quick fixed. I didn't get into this confusion overnight, and I won't get out of it so quick either.

In my first Kitchen Table essay I wrote about finding my flow.

There are things you find fun, that make you laugh, that make your heart pound faster in excitement and joy.

There are ways you move in the world, ways you function best in your relationships, ways in which you do your work, your homemaking, and attending to your family's needs that feel natural and easy for you. They even feel fun.

After a long life season of pushing against resistance, in which I saw the essence of who I am as the resistance I must push through, I am trying to find my way back to my flow, so I can work with myself, not against myself, in overcoming obstacles.

This is really hard. All of it. I regret pushing against myself for so long and the pain that has caused me. Changing our course has been absolutely necessary but I'm still not exactly sure where my course has shifted to.

We used to have such a clear vision for our future but the vision was founded on a version of myself that wasn't true to who am I.

Ouch. I told you, this is really hard. I hate writing about it because there is deep shame for me in recognizing I wasn't honest with myself. One of my core operating principles is honesty. How could this happen to me? (I know how it happened. This isn't the post in which to explain.)

This shame tells me to keep silent, and I am so thankful for my "you can't tell me what to do" spirit which, though sometimes gets me into trouble, in this case, is my saving grace. It could have been my saving grace a lot sooner but we won't go there.

I've lost bits of myself in the past few years. We all "lose" ourselves in marriage and mothering (ang gain things of course), but the loss for me, of me, in recent years was too much. And we've changed course to address this but I still need to figure out where I'm going from here.

This is interesting because we have a house of growing (and eating!) young adults who are somewhat in the same boat. Adolescence is a period of autonomy and self-definition and I imagine that process is unsettling for them (I am privy to some of that, but not all). But at their age they aren't haunted by the "I should have done this differently" miasma; that fog that likes to trail me and threatens to overwhelm me sometimes. Shaking that fog is a fight in itself.

I can't go back to who I was. But I want to regain my self-confidence, hope, and overall sense of wellbeing I had at that time. (You know, "that time" in our past we all look back on as our golden age, which never was quite as golden as we think it was.)

I want to return, or I rather move forward into, a certain security in knowing, basically, who I am, what I love, and my purpose in all of that.

In this season of summer, my season of wellbeing, I've been trying to focus on, remember, find, and celebrate the things I love in an attempt to re-discover who I am, or to discover anew.

Over the years I've blogged a lot about what I love. And maybe a bit of that wouldn't hurt now. A little less head, "how exactly do I define ego? how do I build an identity of eulogy virtues vs. resume virtues?", and a little more heart. Especially in summer. Especially in a transition period. Especially in a mid-life crisis.

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  • Val

    Val on June 2, 2015, 1:29 p.m.

    I have to commend your honesty Renee. It is, no doubt, difficult to be so truthful here in a public space. It is so important for so many mothers and female explorers out there to see that life is messy and not all crafts, beautiful looking meals, and lovely mountain hikes ;-)

    I thought I'd just share that I've known more than one family that have change both career and home for long term adventure and travel only to find a few years later that while they had fun, the stability and grounding of that one family home had been more important than they realized both physically and emotionally. Your not alone here. May you come out on the other side more in touch with what you need for the future.


  • Carmen

    Carmen on June 2, 2015, 1:58 p.m.

    Renew, it's both heartbreaking and heart warming to read about your crisis.

    I have experienced similar and although I don't have the answers to all the questions, I now don't think I need to. I've stopped reflecting on the past (it didn't help) and only look forward. Instead of asking the big questions of 'who am I and what does all this mean', I've acknowledged that I'm not going to change anything big (husband, home location etc), to count my (abundant) blessings in daily life, and to trust that 'what I do next' will become obvious, in that magical way that I believe is how life works. Although I am (was?) such a driven amd determined person that this is counter intuitive to how I like to be goal driven and working towards something meaningful. 

    For me, motherhood and giving up a successful career to stay at home changed my identity in ways that can't be reversed and taught me a lot about myself and my beliefs in those areas. I don't think I'm unique in this, I think it happens to lots of women as their children get older and less dependent. 


    Good luck to you as you venture further through the journey of life. 


  • Maria Cordner

    Maria Cordner on June 2, 2015, 2:23 p.m.

    Such brave honesty had to pay off some good things back! I so admire you for that! I go through some periods off deep self questioning once in awhile. I now embrace the good that comes from it even with the painful difficulty. I also learned not to try to perfect upon what is the in the past. It is hard to get past the feelings of "should have done it differently" but I got to understand that for me that would burden me down. Something like "I did it then what I knew then and now I will do it differently because I know more" has help me to be free enough to move forward. Wish you well! You are such an extraordinary person!


    • maria cordner

      maria cordner on June 2, 2015, 2:46 p.m.

      I just notted some writting errors on my comment...let me clarify

      It should read "has to pay off..."

      "what is in the past"


  • Kim

    Kim on June 2, 2015, 2:26 p.m.

    Once again you've written something that made my scalp prickle and my heart begin to pound. For what it's worth, I am struggling with some of those same feelings. I wish I'd had my epiphany at 40 rather than 50... But I'm grateful to have had it all!

    I adopted three beautiful children that came to me with feelings of shame and unworthiness. I had no idea how strongly they would trigger those same feelings in me. We've all been plodding down the slow, convoluted path to healing. If I'd never gotten them, I would've never been pushed to deal with my own issues. More importantly I would've never been blessed with the gift of watching them all grow, love and begin to believe in their inherent worthiness. 

    I am thankful that you are brave enough to put your struggle out there. I hope you know that your courage is a blessing to all of us. 


    • Anna

      Anna on June 3, 2015, 2:44 a.m.

      In response to Kim -- I also adopted children who were old enough to be their own people (at ages 6 & 7), and in trying to understand them -- the sadness, the anxiety, the lack of self-esteem, the fear of abandonment -- I was surprised and to see much of this in myself. I could connect with each child's different struggles as I figured out my own issues.  I thought I had it together before I adopted (hah!), only to have my children poke holes and let out all that hot air.  I desperately wish I could have been as good a mom for them then as I have worked hard to become (I'm no prize winner, but boy have I grown!), but I'm proud of my wonderful children, in spite of being raised by me :-)

      To Renee -- I read and appreciate your blog for the honesty -- for the "I'm not alone" -- because you write of the beautiful parts of your life, when you write about the pain it's a reminder that everyone has both.  Sometimes I laugh at myself and think that reading the "beautiful family" blogs is a kind of self-torture -- I'm SO far from that ideal image!  I read FIMBY for the ups and the downs, the hopes, dreams and the reality check. Thank you.


      • Carmen

        Carmen on June 3, 2015, 7:07 a.m.

        Anna/Kim: you have made me wonder if this happens more than we realise. I was a very together, high achieving, balanced and patient person before having children. Becoming a parent seemed to bring out the worst in me and torment me with insecurities I didn't even know I had. It took me a few years to get it back together, though I still deal with insecurities and doubts about myself and what I'm doing with this precious, short life.




  • Charlotte

    Charlotte on June 2, 2015, 2:47 p.m.

    I think this part of life's journey is tough. Having teens and leaving the 30's behind is a bit overwhelming at times. I remember telling my Dr.(yeah it got that bad) that I feel like I've joined a new club that really stinks. Lol. I will say that for me and some others that have shared this milestone, it does get better, a lot better. Kids grow up and you get to submerge yourself in things you've put off as well as finding new adventures/interest with your partner.


  • nona

    nona on June 2, 2015, 3:01 p.m.

    Renee - thank you for writing this. I spent a full weekend in the 'fog' which envelops me occasionally and on Sunday evening I told myself 'I'm having a mid-life crisis!'. It's so funny how realizing that, putting a name to it made me feel okay with it; sort of like now I can move forward. Then to see the title of your post this morning! I think we are about the same age, 40. I am very familiar with the thoughts you desribed. What is my place and purpose now? Where is that fun, free spirit I used to know? I believe she's still there, just layered over with 20 years of life. Which is not a bad thing after all. I do embrace and know all the wonderful things about my life, I know you do too. But I don't feel like trusting that it will all work out how it should. I want to be an active participent. Like you, I am also making this 'my' summer. Experiment, re-visit, discover, dream, do. I hope you continue to write. From the heart is good.


  • Tanya

    Tanya on June 2, 2015, 3:13 p.m.

    Renee, I feel like I'm walking right beside you. It was only a few weeks ago sat across from my husband and asked him those same questions - "Who am I? What's the meaning? Where do we go from here? Help me, I'm drowning."  After so many years of focusing so hard on raising and schooling our children (and many more years ahead), I found myself completely lost. I really do hope that was my rock bottom, because I don't want to ever get any lower. I'm still trying to figure out how to climb out, but I'm finding a lot of self therapy in making (crafting). Or maybe it's an escape, but either way it's helping. ;) We're also working towards making some changes in our home so that there's a little more room for us all, especially for me and for our teens who are also exploring and finding who they are and who they aren't and at least having that direction and focus is a help.  I hope you continue to share your journey. It's an encouragement to know that others are walking the same path.


    • renee

      renee on June 2, 2015, 3:23 p.m.

      Dear Tanya, "Help me, I'm drowning", I've said the exact same thing. I've written those words (I don't think I've published them until now), I've expressed them to D. I've cried out to God. And I know exactly what you mean by hoping to God that you've already hit bottom because you never, ever want to be there again. 

      I just want you to know, I know.


  • Jen Farrant

    Jen Farrant on June 3, 2015, 8:04 a.m.

    thank you for your raw honesty here Renee, it must be so difficult to share, but it helps to know that many people go through this. 

    What a difficult post to write and difficult to read, but necessary. 

    thank you and bless you


  • Jaclyn

    Jaclyn on June 4, 2015, 1:45 a.m.

    Renee, I'm eager to see the rediscovered loves your summer season will bring. Enjoy the gifts the season of the sun brings. ♡


  • Barbara Tougas

    Barbara Tougas on June 4, 2015, 4:48 a.m.

    Imagine yourself as a flower. When you were young, you were a flower in the bud stage (not open yet). Now you are that same flower (partly opened). All your life/spiritual experiences are your food. Everything you have learned prepares you for the challenges that you will face in the future. The sad reality is that life doesn't get easier, it gets harder. So don't study the 'who am I part too much', just appreciate the beauty of your flower (right now) as it opens to full maturity. Right now, you are a mother of children at home, and the young wife of a young, vibrant, healthy husband. You may have other definitions of who you are right now, as well. Tomorrow will change you (but you will still be the same flower), as your life circumstances change and you gain maturity with time (your flower is still growing and maturing).

    Agonizing over defining your life is foolishness and a waste of time. It's like putting a blight on one of the beautiful petals of your flower. It brings unnecessary grief into your life and affects the flowers close to you. It draws negative energy into your life, your garden. So study the joy in your life right now and trust that God will show you the path to take and when to take it. Let your life unfold naturally, like the petals of a flower. 


  • Amber

    Amber on June 4, 2015, 10:58 p.m.

    I really appreciate your honesty and openness, Renee. And I appreciate that you're still writing and sharing some of your writing as well. Your writing and processing is helping me as I process my own aging and changes in life, and I really appreciate how each of your posts helps me to see a little more clearly - as well as letting me know that I'm not alone in my thoughts and considerations.


  • Julia

    Julia on March 17, 2018, 4:23 a.m.

    Hi All! For those struggling with a midlife crisis I highly recommend you checking out Maria Allyn at She has truly helped me through this tough time in my life.


  • J Malo

    J Malo on June 13, 2018, 11:54 p.m.

    Wow. Very true words and feelings here. I too spend alot of time thinking about where to go from here. I wrote about it in my blog I don't share the same shame however. Even though I didn't take action initially, it was those times that allowed me to reflect and appreciate the direction I want my life to go from here. Every victory and defeat has places me right where I am today, ready to take the next step. Great post.


  • Dana

    Dana on July 4, 2018, 8:48 p.m.

    Renee, your honesty is refreshing and appreciated. Although the details are different, I relate to so very much of the emotion and the feeling of shame. I sometimes wish I had done things differently, then wonder how do people ever avoid feeling like that? I want to be able to just 'let it go', remain in the now and just be thankful for all that I have. I love how you are managing that through the swamp and the murk of the unknown. Much sisterly affection, D.


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