The other side
by Better Now
(Cincy, Oh, USA)
I'm a 50 year old man, married 25 years, successful career and family life.
The trigger was the death of a childhood friend. I reached out to a mutual friend, (we were the three muskateers), and he didn't respond. It felt as if the first half of my life didn't happen and the death of a peer made my own mortality real in an instant. I cried in the car driving to work and home every day. I woke and slept and what occurred in between seemed banal and purposeless. I felt sorry for myself and was mourning my lost youth.
I stopped and looked very hard at my life, how I'd lived it, what I valued and how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.
I spoke with a therapist. This was cathartic as hell. All you men feeling these things, all you wives seeing these things get thee to a therapist! It clarified in a minute what was happening in my life and why. An objective third party can tell you what your actions look like and it's not your spouse so you'll listen. Awareness helps you act intentionally, not strictly from an emotional response.
After a few weeks I saw I was being a total tool. Mourning my lost youth, what kind of nonsense is that? I have a co-workwer who's 9 year old son is dying. That you should mourn. Living another day -- that you should celebrate.
I stopped my wife one evening before bed and told I was recommitting to our marriage and family. I told her
that unless she told me to leave I was going to grow old and die with her and I meant it. Our marriage has never been better. If there a part of your marriage you don't like, work on it.
By looking at what I value and what I want, it was clear to me I already had it. My family is awesome. I won't recreate it with a new/younger/better person. That idealized person does not exist and you'll be the same person in your next relationship. Is this really all your spouse's fault?
My career while a little stagnant is perfect to support what I value and provide me a path to a reasonable retirement. I'm comfortable saying I work to live not the other way round.
For the first time in years I'm engaged in my life. I'm trying to make the lives of those I love better and to enjoy each day and moment with those I love.
I can't undo the past but I can try to live the remaning years of my life with purpose. My happiness is totally up to me.
I am not trying to say the feelings many men have aren't real. They're real enough. But I think of this time as being like when you're a teenager and act on impulse without thought. Losing your family or career based on feeling sorry for yourself? Snap out of it. Grow up and ask for help. What's on the other side is better if you are smart enough to hang onto everything you've built for the last 25 years.