I don’t mean to make my post the words of somebody else, but I saw something this week that really resonated with me. It’s an essay by Brene Brown’s that speaks of middle age as a time of “unraveling.” This is pretty much what I have been trying to work through since my impending 40th birthday (3 years ago, now). I read one of Brown’s books when a good friend sent it to me at a particularly fraught time in my own unraveling. I didn’t quite get through the whole book, but I think this essay really struck a chord because there is sort of a panic that underlies her sentiments. It’s like the panic that sometimes still hits me in the middle of all the other stuff I need to keep afloat with myself, the store, the kids, everything. It’s terrifying but true, for me, that urge to just check out of my life for a bit to be sure the people around me can see the turmoil. It’s a turmoil there’s not time for in the middle of all the things that go on in my life, which keeps it a sort of silent struggle, maybe even a crisis. The problem with this crisis is that I can’t really pin-point what the problem is, so I am not sure where to direct my energy. I think it’s the insurmountable worry that time is going too fast and I haven’t done the things I thought I would have done by now, and at the same time I don’t have the space to really take on one more single thing.
Many years ago a friend gave me a framed woodcut with the Mary Oliver quote “Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.” Some days that is liberating, and it helps me dismiss thoughts that are small and silly, things that are a waste of my brain space. On other days, it’s the embodiment of my fear that I am not using the one wild and precious life as well or as big as I should be, and I just can’t figure where to stop and make the changes to feel like I am really doing everything I want to do. The other side of this unraveling is coming to terms with the chill of knowing I can’t get it all in, but that’s not something that sits right with me and I am not sure it ever will.
Here’s how Brene says it: