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Fearless-Certainty becomes Cold-Empty-Indifference

by David M
(Healdsburg, CA US)

The Question

Somewhere after High School I seemed to be driven by a mission designed by a higher power.

Shortly after my 52nd birthday, I started to change, show down, begin to ask questions about my life, behaviours, goals, desires, needs, wants, etc.....never had to before.

It was all so clear, and now it seems hidden from me. I think I actually did the hiding from myself. I have no idea where anything belongs. And everyone else I've talked with isn't quite sure either.

I started picking goals out of a hat, listening to my parents again, trying new things and failing miserably, and months later wondering what the hell was I thinking. And now when I look in the mirror I don't recognize the expression on my face.

Things that drove me, inspired me, enriched me, fulfilled me no longer had any meaning.

Now I am 55, and am wondering when the darkness will subside.

I know I gotta take care of me first before I can effectively finish raising my youngest son, 17 yrs. But exactly what or who is that me? I know everyone is subtly different and changes vary per individual. It's all so logical, but I'm not logical at all. I'm searching for feelings.

I do so remember wanting to be a grandparent so I could emulate my grandfather... but that man seemed to have some great mission in life all the way to his grave. Perhaps we live in another time? Am I just freaking impatient?

Noel's response

It sounds to me as though you are in a classical midlife transition. You will find some 'fellow journeyers' on my Men's Stories page. Many of these men went though similar struggles, and are now past them.

In my own case, at about age 50 I suddenly lost interest in what I had been passionate about, lost my sense of mission, lost energy, confidence, libido, and for about five year was in a mild depression.

I hired a personal coach to help me clarify my mission, but it didn't help. I was in a transition, and simply had to wait it out.

I started to 'emerge' at about age 55, and now that I am turning 64, my life is full, meaningful, and exciting again. The benefit of the transition is that I have been 'deepened' in a way that is hard to describe.

As far as taking care of yourself first, before you can effectively finish raising your son, I suggest you take care of yourself as well as you can WHILE effectively raising your son. He won't be with you much longer, and he needs your effective parenting now. To me, an effective parent is one who lets his son know he loves and admires him, and who sets clear boundaries for the son to come up against as be grows into a man.

And don't worry, by the time you have grandchildren, the chances are very good that you will be the kind of grand parent your grandfather was.

Some books you may find useful are:
Balancing Heaven and Earth: A Memoir by Robert Johnson

The Way of Transition: Embracing Life's Most Difficult Moments by William Bridges, and

Crossing the Soul's River: A Rite of Passage for Men by William O. Roberts.

And remember... this too shall pass.

Comments for Fearless-Certainty becomes Cold-Empty-Indifference

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Jan 12, 2010
if you don't know what to do, don't do anything.
by: Reeeeene

This is a simple but poignant piece of direction I used to get from my aa sponsor whenever I would call her and "fret" about some situation or other that had me in a "tizzy".

There is some relief in that thought for me, anyway, in that I can stop being on "low grade alert" for a bit, drop my shoulders an inch, take a cleansing breath... and just "be".

If you can lean into that idea of "not doing" (remember Don Juan in Journey to Ixtlan? "not doing"??).

I am really enjoying your posts as it is giving me some insights into YOU as a person as well as my husband (who appears to be going through a similar dark tunnel of his own at 53). I am proud of your honesty and willingness to receive input into your time "in the hallway". (That is what aa's call "a period of transition from one chapter to another... the darkest part of the unknown next chapter of your life).

You'll be fine. We're all going through it in our 50's. It sucks but I know once the chink of light starts opening up there is something magical there which we never expected.

Jan 02, 2010
thru the night, day, dawn, dusk.....????
by: David M.

You're right Aunt V. But this was one of those things I was struggling with.....self-indulgent phase? Hell, I've been pretty much selfish indulgent most of my life, making my wants and dreams a living reality every moment of every day.

Then when this one single moment happened, some time between last July and Sept., where everything that had meaning, all the drives, wants, etc., just disappeared completely, along with the offspring, my home, my job (big income via .com with ATG), and finally my ID.

I'm still picking up pieces, but the puzzle itself is a big mystery. I now have new insights and stronger feelings about many things, but most of them frighten me into silence. So I've withdrawn mostly from everything.

Ele. & Barb. have tried their best to get me out of my stupid forest dwelling, perhaps to get back into the swing of things, however I just don't seem to relate at all. It's been a day to day struggle just to make small meanings out of the little things in life. The word grateful is part of my morning mantra. And what I've learned so far is that I'm very impatient with things as they were and are. And the reality that the only thing I can realistically change is myself has started to put me on a quest. Where is will lead is unknown.

And this is as it should be IMHO.

Thanks so much for your input!



Jan 02, 2010
Whatever gets you through the night-no more
by: Aunt SE

Well, you know who this is, right Uncle Id?

I was struck by our conversation today about your 13 days and counting! (Congrats and keep going!)

It occurred to me that the people whom I wanted to trust the most in my life, got sidetracked and unreliable because they were not sober. I wasn't able to be emotionally intimate with him/her because I didn't trust that the feelings they expressed were real.

I've also covered up my own feelings too from time to time, so I'm no angel. I thought when I was 'feeling good' I could get in touch with my real feelings-- but that's not true. And too often, that 'whatever gets you through the night-numbing of feelings, never goes away really... until we deal with the heart of it all.

Someone told me that the period of time after kids are raised is called the 'self-indulgent' phase-- where we can do anything we want. The trouble is, if we don't know what we want! It's a bit overwhelming.

I am proud of you for the self imposed journey you are on. It can only lead to good things...

Dec 25, 2009
Input is thoughtful
by: David M.

I'm glad you are going with a learned method Gavin.
I can't tell you how much I appreciate you developing your own design for your life. This is something I wanted from my own father and mother, but now they are both beyond useful interaction with our family. Even more important to me from you would be for you to feel completely free to display your accomplishments for me as you desire.
And in return I will be the 2nd to celebrate with you.
And dear Brian, my oldest friend, you are brave to have started raising a family at your age, but you have the great benefit of a strong marriage partner and I'm certain you'll become a great father. In a way I very much miss the rug rats phase of parenting, when the kids are under 10 years old. They are the most fun and require you to expend the most daily energy just to keep up.

As far as what I seek, it's not answers, it's really asking myself the right questions. At this time in my life, how did all the energy, behaviors, practices, joys, desires, passions, etc. just suddenly stop? This is the only one
that comes to mind and if it ever gets answered I'd like to know how to prevent it from ever happening again!

I am reading now quite a bit now about mid-life,
while keeping a bedside journal. I'm meditating
at dawn and dusk, & try to catch an afternoon nap.

I remember the line, 'to everything there is a season', and now believe that many of my old habits/behaviors are now out of that season. 9 days ago I stopped all alcohol consumption. It's been a daily thing of either wine or beer for the last 3-4 years( I'm a sipper). I don't seem to miss it at all.

Gavin and Brian, I am glad you both put your time in here for me!!! Thank you.

Dec 25, 2009
by: Gavin M.

This is why I plan on starting to have kids at 50. 'cause if there is any real transition from my compassion to someone else, it should transition to children.

I'm not speaking out of my experience but all experience in general. Also, I want to do something different and bit of an ancient Chinese tradition amongst Kung Fu masters. You will read about how these guys told their planned wives that they had to wait a couple decades for the marriage and children making. There's a reason for this. I think they wanted to master everything about themselves and raise enough wealth to make their family-making efforts prosper.

Dec 25, 2009
Sounds about right
by: Brian

Seeing as how I have known you for, oh crap, 30 years, safe to say something had to give.

You just finished raising six kids and going through a few wives. I have two kids for not even a week now and I am wiped out. You have always needed an outlet for your creativeness so I would assume it is going to be looking for somewhere else to channel itself.

I would not be surprised if you are feeling a bit empty as you have "nothing" to do. It is OK if you don't figure it out right away. New time. New circumstances. New direction. Not having the answer is normal, assuming that is what you seek. ;-)

Dec 11, 2009
The next steps
by: David M

I started a retrospect diary about a week before writing that piece. and from

the diary I've been doing extensive study of emotions on wiki., just trying to

get a verbal handle on my feelings ( and I've never done this before ).

It's more important now for me to understand the best ways to communicate

some of these feelings, otherwise I'll likely come off a little crazy.

What's really interesting about this period of my life is the extremes of the

feelings. And how there are actual words describing them: it started with a

search on empathy.

then after an hour of digesting that page, I found a "List of Emotions" at the

bottom and decided to pick them apart one at a time. Discovering the specifics

of each, and finally extracting the relevant descriptions to my personal circumstance.

A couple of days of that process and I felt as if I had a much better handle on

what I was introspectively witnessing.

Now the diary has entries for likely roots of my behaviors, sometimes several,

and I'm empowered to take actions with some kinda of basic knowledge. I

think I'm almost feeling kinda socially acceptable. But there is still a ways to


My older children have been very supportive ( 4 girls ).

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