The banality of a mid-life crisis
I imagine everyone at some point tries to project back into their history to determine how they arrived where they are. It doesn’t take the drastic shift of what amounts to a cure for a sleep disorder to feel that massive before and after in life.
The typical mid-life crisis has all sorts of triggers: death of one or both parents, losing your hair, menopause. Shit happens and there is a clear screaming demarcation for a lot of people, not just someone who didn’t know sustained deep sleep until he was 42.
I’ve seen too many of those “What I would tell my younger self” pieces to count. My instincts often go in that well-worn direction.
My instincts though are what took me so wildly off course in the first place. If anything I would want to connect with my younger selves to figure out what all those versions of me managed to do right, before the broken part of my narcoleptic brain came through and ripped it apart.
But he was always handicapped by more than narcolepsy. There was also inexperience and insecurity. Somehow though, he created one of the happiest periods of our life (even if he also traded it for a handful of beans).
In a way that’s unfair, but that doesn’t matter much now. My biggest misstep gave me the beanstalk, and that adventure fits so well into all the other pieces. Losing myself so significantly had to have been necessary.
How strong a hold could I have had on him anyway? A few weeks lead to a season lead to the end of a high water mark I watched swoop back out to sea.
I don’t blame myself because anything I established prior to treatment for narcolepsy was doomed to fail. Hard work and determination only gets you so far. A broken brain will eventually tap out. Every success in my life was inevitably demolished. I couldn’t walk away from anything. I had to burn each period to the ground.
There’s so little left and that’s likely a blessing.
For the longest time I wanted to return to that singular point in history and tell myself, “please appreciate this divergence, but return to your previous course.” Today though I know the best period happened just as much because of a convergence of favorable circumstances as my own efforts. If I hadn’t zigged when I did, I would have eventually zagged. If it wasn’t a fall from the beanstalk, I would have stumbled elsewhere.
The important bit is that I created a memory, of a reality that had only been a hypothetical for years.
Just before my golden age, I hit, well, some kind of bottom and through a trick I played on myself became the student I’d never been. I “got around” to all the things- devoured books, ran marathons, let go of past failures. If only for, IDK, 26, 28 months. The point is I went from self-loathing drunken puddle to everything I wanted to be. Or thought I wanted.
I gave up on myself because I didn’t want to be alone.
I hadn’t been in love in over 8 years and had convinced myself after a string of completely superficial physical relationships that love was something you only experienced once, when you’re too young to know any better. Relationships you just do, when you find a good enough fit. It’s the responsible thing to do.
You let go of your dream and take a good-paying job. You were never going to be an actor or painter or inventor anyway, now you have bennies and dental.
I made that mistake all by my selves. What’s worse, I fucked someone else’s life up in the process. Or at least wasted years neither one of us can ever have back. Boo fucking hoo.
Today is that kind of day, then.