10/16/2017

The New Midlife Crisis: Why (and How) It's Hitting Gen X Women


Sometimes, I think I'm falling apart. Then, I talk to my friends. One spent a whole winter getting a babysitter for her toddler daughter in the middle of the day and then used the time to go to the movies and cry. I run into another and ask how it's going with her kids' father, whom, last I heard, she was fighting with. She fixes me with a blank stare. "I'd leave," she says, "if I had more money." A woman I used to work with tells me that she lets people believe her impressive LinkedIn profile is the truth, but that secretly she is underemployed and feels like a failure.

A friend of a friend tells me that she's having a rough time as a single mother since her husband left her. While working three jobs and raising two kids, she decided to cheer herself up and planned a trip for her and her 11-year-old son. The night before, she started packing at 10 p.m. With some luck, she could catch a few hours of sleep before their 5 a.m. departure. She told her son to start gathering his stuff; he didn't move. She asked again. Nothing. She told him, "If you don't help, I'm going to smash your iPad!" He didn't, and, as if possessed, she grabbed a metal hammer and whacked it to pieces.

I can't help but laugh.

"Yeah, my friends think it's a hilarious story too," she says, "but in reality, it was dark and awful." Her first thought as she stood over the broken glass: "I have to find a good therapist…right…now."

For a while, I thought it was just Type A strivers, but then I started hearing the same sort of thing even from my low-key friends. When I reached out to strangers for this story, I heard the same toxic brew of fear, anxiety and anger....more