I’m a male, 48, and my life is changing in ways that are emotionally painful. It’s not a mid-life crisis for me, it’s more about seeing some friends reaching that point.
A few once-close guys have felt that there’s no excitement left in their lives, so simply walked away from what looked like okay marriages, each leaving their partner to pick up the pieces and raise the kids alone. I understand divorce but not the rejection of their own kids.
A couple of other guys I once knew well have just given up on whatever was tearing them apart internally, and either purposefully or accidentally over-dosed. It’s left their parents, siblings and friends devastated, wondering if they could’ve done anything to prevent the loss.
Is this pain I now feel about me being afraid of aging, with my personal life and work staying on a level of same-same every day?
Or is it my sorrowful reaction to those few friends who “couldn’t take it any more” and me wanting some advice to strengthen my own resolve to do my best for myself and the people I love?
Sad Losses, New Fears
You raise the existential debate that thoughtful people have within themselves regarding their own purpose as mortals: Are we our dear ones’ keepers?
Is there something we can and must do when we know where another’s state of mind is dangerously leading them?
Eventually, as these more recent losses get absorbed into your daily mindset, you’ll have some personal answers. If you ever again suspect that a friend is shutting down purposefully and that there are no “accidents” when people drop out, you’ll offer help.
Instead of just advising counselling or alcohol or drug rehab, you’ll accompany your friend to start the process of getting help.
Instead of getting frustrated or angry, you’ll hear his/her pain, scan some of the more successful motivational books to end addictions, read them and talk about them openly.
You have little reason to fear growing older, because maturity and caring are also growing strongly within you.
It may even move you to get involved more widely - e.g., you talking to your own kids about being our brothers’ and sisters’ “keepers” by watching out for them.
And/or you gathering the knowledge to talk openly with people hurting in their marriages or in their souls, about how they can reach within themselves for a better, more satisfying life, instead of checking out and hurting so many others by doing so.
Consider that, as Wikipedia defines it, an “existential crisis” is also known as “existential dread,” and both are “moments when individuals question whether their lives have meaning, purpose or value, and are negatively impacted by the contemplation.”
Your friends are lucky to have you considering ahead how you can be alert to the signs and intervene in a positive, encouraging way.
Given your inclination for this, you show leadership in not letting yourself or your community fail to offer support to a friend or relative in need of it.
Now, here’s my question for readers to ponder in return:
Is it safer for us all to carry on minding our own business, or is that a cop-out that humanity on a large scale, just can’t afford?
That’s just one of the bigger questions that a pandemic, with part of our global population suffering far beyond that of our own, should have us all considering.
I’ll be interested in reader’s responses.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the family rift complicating a baby shower (June 21):
“The letter-writer thinks her sister is honouring her by asking her to organize the shower.
“But since when is it appropriate to ask someone to go to the trouble/expense of throwing someone else a party to which it’s expected all guests will bring gifts?
“Showers were once a spontaneous gesture from friends and family to welcome a new soul to the world and help with the expense of a layette. It was considered tacky if the hostess was too-closely related to the mother.
“Now grandmothers often hold a shower. But I thought that we don't ask for gifts and parties and know they aren't owed to us.
“Whatever happened to entertaining within one's means?
Ellie - That was then, this is now. There’s huge pressure on new moms to provide every hyped (aka expensive) baby product even while worried about lessened income while on maternity leave.
Tip of the day:
Seize the opportunity when you sense that a friend/loved one needs immediate mental health support.