Jo-Anne Someone just forwarded me an article written by Vivian Diller, Ph.D. which recently appeared in the Huffington Post: Surviving Midlife Without A Crisis: Step One. Dr. Diller is a talented, articulate writer, who makes some interesting points. But Iâm going to digress for a moment and say that as I was finishing up this piece, I received a call from a friend who was in the midst of a very real, absolutely horrifying life crisis â and not as in âmidâ life crisis. Iâll come back to the call in a moment.
Diller asserts that the phrase âmidlife crisisâ in outdated, emotionally charged, and just plain inaccurate. She proposes instead that we use the phrase, âemerging maturityâ when referring to that time of life in which we experience âa heightened awareness of the many years that lie ahead, and a wish to bring fulfillment to the rest of the journey.â We all have, in Dillerâs words, an âUh-Ohâ moment in which we must accept that we are moving on. If weâre âwise,â we acknowledge the uh-oh moment and pull-over on the roadway of life, and take a breather while we seek guidance and try to figure out what makes most sense for the next part of the journey. Okay. This is how life should work. Things should be thoughtfully planned and researched so that wisdom prevails. Maybe if thatâs all there was to this article, Iâd say, âNice try, Vivian. But real people donât live like that.â In real life, as we all know too well, wisdom doesnât always win out over foolish mistakes and horrible blunders.
The saving grace, though, is when Vivian says that the âuh-ohâ moment in Emerging Maturity may be filled with frightening emotion reminding us of the âfragility of life.â She promises in a future article to discuss how we can effectively deal with all this and thereby âresolveâ our emerging maturity and avert crisis.
Back to my phone call. The phone call is from a friend who is a single parent. She started her family in her late 30âs and she currently works two jobs to put 2 of her children through college. Anyway, âMaryâ is weaving wildly through traffic trying desperately to make it to the hospital. Her oldest, 21, a college student, has been admitted. Heâs had a complete psych breakdown and on top of that, heâs loaded with drugs and is going through withdrawal. She doesnât know where to turn or what to do. Maybe if Mary lives through this, sheâll recognize it as one of Dillerâs Uh-Oh moments, because it sure is filled with frightening emotion. But Mary doesnât have time to pull over on the roadway of her life to ponder and/or come to terms with whatever. And I bet that most of the frazzled, overworked, exhausted single parents out there donât have the time or the patience for pondering either.
So, Iâm concluding that dealing effectively with the realities of aging, which is really what Diller means by âresolving emerging maturity,â is actually a luxury thatâs experienced only by a very limited few. I hope Iâm wrong. I want all the Maryâs out there to have satisfying mature years. But with all due respect, Dr. Diller, I just donât believe youâll be able to develop the magic potion that will enable us all to âsurvive midlife without a crisis.â For some, lifeâs roadway is too badly littered.
Aug 10, 2011, 10:40 AM EDT