There are many who insist that a Midlife Crisis (MLC) is a journey to be celebrated. It is true that Midlife is a journey to be embraced and celebrated. Everyone who survives long enough will experience a Midlife Transition (MLT). Not all transitions are crises, but all MLCs are MLTs. It is not my intention to deny someone else's experience, but I refer to a specific type of MLC. Midlife Crisis is not a clinically treatable psychiatric disorder or mental illness. It is a normal life event--midlife transition--that has escalated to crisis levels of emotional and mental difficulties. Midlife Transition is a time for Self-questioning, thus it is a quest. It is about change; denial and attempts to avoid the transition yield crisis. The crisis is not a disease but Dis-Ease. Midlife is a necessary journey toward greater Self, spiritual growth and awareness; it is a reason to rejoice as a person becomes a butterfly.
What is different about a person who embraces the journey from one who denies it?
- Depression - Covert and Overt
- The Urge to Abandon
- Blaming or Projecting (Denial of Responsibility)
- Personality Changes or Mood Swings
Key Components of a Midlife Crisis
Self-reflection is a component of midlife, and this may include depression even for those whose transitions do not reach crisis levels. The easier the person falls into a depression, the more likely it is not a crisis. Depression permeates Midlife Crisis, it forces reflection which is a confrontation with one's fears, and thus it is this feeling of depression which the MLCer is trying to escape.
The Urge to Abandon
Most MLCers will move out, not all, but most. Some will take legal action, but many more will threaten without acting or make no mention of legal changes. Words or promises spoken as a conscious lie may be inadvertent truths. MLCers leave, often saying that it is only temporary, they will be back. Some mean these words and are not aware that temporary is longer than their imagination, some want to mean them, but lack trust within themselves, and others are using them as words of appeasement with no honest intentions. Almost all are unaware of their rapidly cycling emotions and that they will change their minds in an hour, day, week or month--possibly multiple times.
Though this is merely a symptom of the Dis-Ease, it is often the most painful and public. An affair is about a relationship--the MLCer forms a bond with the other person. Most midlife affairs become sexual, but there are some who have Internet affairs, emotional affairs or use pornography instead. It is a rare few who do not cheat on their spouse in some form.
Blaming or Projecting
In order to avoid Self-reflection and responsibility, the MLCer blames the spouse. Often he will rewrite history, stating the marriage has been falling apart for years. Midlifers hurl accusations: you are the bad guy, you are in denial, you are the one who is confused, you are vindictive; often these are all things the MLCer subconsciously feels about himself.
Personality Changes or Mood Swings
Guilt, confusion and fear yield changing moods. You may feel like you are living with a Manic Depressive--perhaps you are, but Midlife Crisis is like Manic Depression; it doesn't mean your spouse is clinically diagnosable as Bipolar. Some change moods every few minutes, whereas others may change over weeks. They may manifest through anger, reckless behaviour or passivity. What is noticeable is that they seem like a different person some or all of the time.