Moving beyond the panic

Finding and settling on a name for this space (the blog, Life Begins in the Middle) mirrored what it often feels like to be in this space (mid-life).

When I first heard the title (thanks to my friend D’s fabulous suggestion) it spoke to me. Immediately I felt like this title and I were old friends and it adequately represented what I want this space to be—a journal about and proof of the fact that middle age can be the beginning of getting the life one wants, particularly if one has a lot of unfulfilled aspirations.

But then I wondered, does this title negate all of the good that has taken place in my life up to this point? Does it indicate ingratitude for the wealth of positives that have taken place thus far? How do I reconcile my gratitude for what has been while still yearning for something different, something better?

Sometimes I feel absolutely paralyzed by similar feelings when I’m thinking about my life. I think about my age and the things that I want in my life and on some level I wonder if wanting something different or something more shows a lack of gratitude for what has been. Does grieving the lack of a husband and family negate the amazing career that bloomed in its place?  I wonder if wanting to change so much about my life beginning now marginalizes my accomplishments in the first 48 years of my life.

I hope that anyone reading this will realize that I have a wonderful life.  It may not be quite what I want it to be, particularly in some areas, but there have been a lot of really good things. However, there are some holes that I have allowed to develop in spite of or instead of these other really good things that has left an ache in my heart and a desire to do more and be better than I am now.

I have to admit that I had a bit of a panic attack tonight thinking along these lines.  It happens occasionally.  I’ll be thinking about life and my plans for life and then have a sudden awareness and realization that I’m tired, that I’m no longer 28, and that my life is nothing like what I thought it would be when I dreamed about it. Realization that our time on earth is finite and with every passing day there is less time to accomplish all I want scares me. The thought that some of the desires of my heart are not physically possible anymore leaves me sad and wondering about the choices I have made and the trade-offs that I negotiated with my actions—whether I realized that Is what I was doing or not. And then I feel the fear…the fear that I won’t be able to turn things around—even in the areas where change is still possible–the fear that I’ve let things slide for too long and then before long that fear rolls into feeling guilty about wanting more and different than what is.

I don’t think it is wrong to want more and different.  I don’t believe that wanting different stems from or shows a lack of gratitude for what is. I think that figuring out what our divinely endowed gifts and talents are—even if it takes us away from  what we have conditioned ourselves to do an be for decades—can be anything but good. Becoming the best version of ourselves shows gratitude for what we have been given.  Being brave enough to step into our dreams, taking with us the experiences—all of the experiences that made us who we are today—shows a great deal of gratitude for what has been.

I don’t know for sure where things go from here.  I do know that I won’t be able to move forward and accomplish what I want if I keep allowing these feelings of doubt and guilt flood my mind and narrow my path.  I choose to step into the future with faith.

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