The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mid-Life Crisis: Abuse and Transformation

As a younger adult, whenever I heard the term "Mid-Life Crisis," I conjured up stereotypical images of middle aged men foolishly trying to reclaim their youth with fast cars and young, gorgeous women.

However, according to Wikipedia there are many causes of - and reactions to - Mid-Life Turmoil:

A midlife crisis could be caused by aging itself, or aging in combination with changes, problems, or regrets over:

  • work or career
  • spousal relationships
  • maturation of children
  • aging or death of parents
  • physical changes associated with aging

Midlife crises seem to affect men and women differently. Researchers[6] have proposed that the triggers for mid-life crisis differ between men and women, with male mid-life crisis more likely to be caused by work issues.

I'd add to the Wikipedia list - Abuse Recovery.

According to Wikipedia, one of the characteristics of a Mid-Life Crisis, is "a deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished."

The "computer girl" part of me has been diligent about achieving goals, especially goals associated with business. But, there is one goal that often eludes abuse survivors - "the pursuit of happiness" or should I say emotional freedom.

Currently, I'm having what I would call a "Mid-Life Experience." Although at times it does feel like a "crisis," it also has qualities that feel like a hopeful "transformation."

Many of my recent posts have touched on this transformation: Have To vs Want To, Survival Tactics - Peeling Away the Layers, Letting Go and the Passages of our Lives.

Much of my adulthood I struggled with my abuse recovery. When I finally reached the point that my abuse no longer felt present, I rejoiced. I am grateful that I no longer have nightmares, suffer from dissociation, PTSD, or feel "triggered," by old memories.

Now that I am free from the pain of childhood "events," I am experiencing the disappointment of mourning the residual effects of recovery: Recovery has many layers. Just as I finished mourning the loss of my childhood, I find that I'm doing major grief work over the loss of much of my adulthood.

I'm mourning all of the time lost performing necessary recovery work. I'm mourning:
  • That I started out ill equipped to navigate as an adult
  • That I was dealing with recovery while so many of my peers were enjoying life
  • All of the years I was trying to figure out what constitutes a healthy relationship
  • All of the years I spent trying to learn boundaries, self-parenting, how to respond to betrayal, etc.
  • All of the years I hadn't yet healed enough to safe-guard my own well-being
  • That I modeled poor relationship skills to my children
  • That I wasn't able to provide my children an "intact" family
  • All of the years that I let "computer girl" rule my life and overachieve
Mourning doesn't mean that I'm beating myself up. On the contrary, I take pride in the staggering amount of work I have performed. But rather, I'm grieving for the necessary losses I've incurred.

For me, major grief work has always signaled a new era. For example, I'm mourning all of the time I "overachieved," because I now feel "enlightened" by no longer overachieving. I'm grieving all of the years I lost by working too much. If I was still willing to "overachieve" my psyche wouldn't be ready to mourn. Likewise, if I still had boundary issues, I'd still be spending my time trying to learn to exercise clear, respectful boundaries. Now that I do exercise boundaries, I'm mourning all of the years I allowed myself to get hurt by not safe-guarding my own well-being, etc. All of these changes felt very empowering at first, but now I'm mourning all of the time I lost before I learned the skills I have now.

Past experience tells me that honoring the depth of my pain opens the door to new possibilities.

Hence - "Mid-Life Transformation" - mourning the old and moving on to the new.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Nancy, for putting my vague feelings of unrest and unhappiness into such well-considered words. I'm 49 and experiencing many of the feelings and grief which you have so eloquently described. All the best with the transformative process.

healandforgive said...

Thank YOU, Pamela!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully put. And is so relevant to where I am too. I had never thought of it like that but yes, a lot of my grief is related to all the lost opportunities .. I enjoy reading your blog and have put a link to it on my blogroll. Keep writing and inspiring and comforting!

healandforgive said...

Dear Anonymous,

I'm glad this resonates with you. It is a concept that I had difficulty putting into words.



Andrew Baker said...

Dear Nancy,
We have spoken before through the Ning site on family estrangement.
The theme on loss or mourning of one's adulthood is the very difficult part. As a person in their mid fifties I feel at times as if there is no more time to really make a start and this is made more difficult by having no map to establish one's esteem and achievments. Whilst remembering that this aspect is a part of the emotional deficeits that often results from ones earlier self history in any case. A double whammy.
My brother's partner has recently made contact to seemingly act as a go between to 'bring me back into the fold' as my mother is becoming frail through old age. I remain convinced as to its sincerity or workability.
I am vulnerable to being doubly caste as the villian by being put under pressure to resolve things with my mother before she declines further. My issues are less important etc.

It is stressful this work.

I would like to come back to you with further thoughts Nancy when I feel a bit clearer.

healandforgive said...

Hello Andrew,

Yes, I remember you.

My heart goes out to you...I agree, of all the "recovering" I have done, mourning is the most painful...especially, mourning the loss of all the years.

I also know how stressful it is to receive a "push" to reconcile when it doesn't "appear" anything has changed other than an "aging" parent.

I must say that reconciliation is a difficult process even under the best of circumstances; however, in my humble opinion, the chances of success are greatly diminished unless BOTH parties enter into the process with a willing heart.

Any pressure, external (from others) or internal (guilt, etc), generally spells failure in the long run.

As to your concerns about being caste the villain, you may find these posts helpful:

My best,

Danett said...

THIS IS SO TRUE! Thank you again for posting this. I am 35 and find myself really changing. Unmarried, no kids, getting wrinkled and I just keep thinking - my life was wasted due to the crimes of another. What I could have been! And now I look back at my friends who took care of themselves in college, married, etc. They lived!

I really find these three points as belonging to me:
# That I started out ill equipped to navigate as an adult
# That I was dealing with recovery while so many of my peers were enjoying life
# All of the years I was trying to figure out what constitutes a healthy relationship

That I was dealing with recovery while so many of my peers were enjoying AND LIVING life!

I'm so mad and so sad and ..what was the point of that?

DID Student

healandforgive said...

Hi Danett,

Thank you for your comment! I always enjoy hearing from other survivors. Your words ring true for me too!

Blogger is experiencing some problems today and messages are not publishing system wide for some reason. As soon as blogger fixes the problem I'll publish your comment.

In the meantime: Thank You!