'I have lived over half of my life'

Writer Miranda Sawyer on the quiet desperation of a midlife crisis…

I don't know what to call it, really. Midlife crisis sounds so flamboyant, so ridiculous, so… exciting. And I haven't run off with a builder, or moved to Thailand to find my real self, or embarked on a brand-new drug habit, or taken up free rock climbing.

I've just become aware, at 44, that I'm about halfway through. That there is less time to go than I have already had.

This, I have to say, feels different from turning 40. That was fun: I had a party with two friends, danced a lot, drank a lot, sat on the pavement afterwards talking rubbish about constellations while waiting for a cab. To be honest, turning 40 was much like when I turned 30, though I felt a bit more grown-up (meaning I drank fizzy wine and said, "No thanks", as opposed to "Hooray", when a stranger tried to shove an unidentified pill into my mouth). There was a moment of panic, a short-breathed time when I wondered what I had done with the previous 10 years, but then I went to see Jarvis Cocker at the Roundhouse. He was fantastic, and I thought: "He's older than you, you idiot, so what's your problem?" And resolved that my 40s would be my best decade yet.

And then, and then… what? I had my second child at 43, which made me feel simultaneously young and old, and I carried on as I usually did, and gradually, gradually, I realised that something inside me was uneasy. I was struggling a little. Mourning a bit. I felt like I had the wrong coat on – too hot, too heavy – and I felt like something beautiful was rushing at me, moving past and around me at breakneck speed, and I couldn't gather it in and I didn't want to see it go.

It's not important, I know that. It doesn't matter. But at some point soon, along with many of my friends, I will pass an unmarked, uncelebrated central life point. You turn 40, and if you're healthy, and optimistic, you imagine you will have more than 40 years to go. Get into your mid-40s, and past that… and you know you don't. Say it again. Try to comprehend it. I have lived over half of my life...more