“I feel most alive when I’m dancing on the edge of insanity.” – Amanda Lyle.
Here I stand, alone again. Wondering when my life became so stagnant. So colourless. So robbed of joy.
The party has ended, and all that remains is this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. “It was a good night!” I tell myself, my liver throbbing in disagreement. Sure enough, I was having the time of my life washing away my woes with the sweet taste of Prosecco, blissfully floating in a moment of drunken stupor. Only, the sweet taste that once tantalised my taste buds has now turned bitter. It always does. Poisonously repugnant.
Is this all there is to life? Chasing one high after the next? Slaves until the weekend, when we can drown our sorrows and feel okay for a few lousy hours?
That’s what we do, right? Chase these momentary fleets of happiness so we can feel alive once again. So we can look at our lives and say, “I am living!”
Or maybe it’s just me?
Maybe I have become bitter in my old age? *scoff* Or worst still, maybe I am dangling on the edge of a ‘slightly premature’ midlife crisis. Yep, at the tender age of 29! (I mean, is this even possible?)
What a thought. And yet it’s growing evidently clear…
I am having a midlife crisis!
Now, I know some of you will want to take a slippery wet kipper to my face right now and, quite possibly, tell me to ‘GET A GRIP’, but taking my family’s low mortality rate into account, along with the fact that I went through my quarter life crisis prematurely (*coughs* …TWENTY ONE!) I would say that I am due one…
A few months ago, I watched my friend throw herself out of a plane, 15,000 ft above. (Attached to a parachute, may I add!) With her arms stretched out wide, she soared elegantly in out of clouds whilst I looked up in awe. As her feet landed back on the ground, she shrieked “I feel alive!” The truth is, I’d never seen her so elated. So – as she put it herself – ALIVE. In recent years, she had become somewhat of a recluse. A slave to a job she hated. A shadow of the person I once knew and loved. I always felt so immensely sad for her. She poured so much into her career she had nothing left to give. Her weekends were spent shovelling cocaine into her nostrils – anything to escape the mundanities of her existence. I used to get frustrated with her. Angry, even. But now I know how it feels. I know how it feels to feel so empty inside you’d do anything to try and fill the hole.
I am becoming THAT friend, and quite frankly, it scares the crap out of me!
You see, my life from the outside looks rather cushy. Nice house, three beautiful children and a supportive husband. What more could I possibly want? But somewhere amidst Polaroid paradise, I became lost. I started to question; is there more to life? Don’t get me wrong, I was neither unhappy or ecstatic. I had simply reached a plateau. A “what the fuck do I do now?” I had ticked off most of life’s boxes and now I was lying dormant, watching the world pass me by. This is when the four walls started to close in on me. I felt trapped. Claustrophobic. And then I looked in the mirror and gasped, “who is this person staring back at me?” So sad. So lost.
What the heck happened?
And enter ‘midlife crisis’. I’ve always joked about the concept. In all honestly, I always saw it as an excuse to buy a flashy sports car and indulge in a spot of illegal activity. But jeez! I wasn’t prepared for this. It flew right at me, perched its claws onto my shoulder and whispered, “from this moment on you are going to act in an infantile manner and make poorly-informed life choices!” And I was like… “Well, that sounds like fun!”
And sure enough, it was fun. For awhile.
“I think I’m having a midlife crisis!” I told my husband.
“Just embrace it, Mand. Just embrace it!” he replied.
And that, my friends, is exactly what I did…
You see, this midlife crisis has got me acting like a teenager all over again. A teenager with joints that creak from time to time. A teenage who can no longer drop it low, but rather settles for a half-way-down …are you okay down there? Do you need a hand back up?
And so I found myself knocking back alcohol like water and dancing in a nightclub. A nightclub! Like seriously?! I hadn’t been in a club since I was umm…well…in my early twenties. What was I thinking?! Or rather, I had stopped thinking by this point. Alcohol had taken over my mind and Amanda wanted to PARTY!!! And I suppose this is how I ended up in the middle of the dance floor, throwing my limbs around like nobody was watching. Remember that famous scene from the Inbetweeners movie?
Yep! That’s the one. Let’s just say that I was an amalgamation of them all.
Okay, so my dance moves were a little rusty, admittedly. But I was loving trying to sing along to the words of songs I had never even heard before. And then I stumbled through my front door at 4 in the morning whilst my husband looked at me puzzled, “Where the heck have you been?”
“Partying!”, I chirped drunkenly. Where else?
Yep, a regular occurrence these days. So regular, in fact, my husband doesn’t even flinch as I crawl over him in my drunken ‘crazy-horny’ state. Yes, roll over and play dead, dear husband. I’ll probably fall asleep during oral. *And cue the alcohol coma*
You see, the hangover hits me hard these days. Once upon a time, I’d pop a few painkillers, eat a bacon sandwich and I’ll do it all over again. These days, it feels like a marching band is playing loops inside my head. One LOUD repetitive drone of noise. And ain’t no trustee bacon sandwich gonna pipe that shit down! “It was totally worth it!” I reassure myself. Yep, that’s right. It’s so much fun making an absolute TIT out of myself!
But despite the hangover, I always come back fighting. “I AM HARDCORE!”, my inner-teenager screams, whilst my ‘almost-30-year-old’ self, clutches hold of her liver and groans…
I don’t know if I’m going through some sort of identity crisis or existential dilemma, or maybe I am just losing my freaken mind, but it’s as though the universe has slapped me hard across the face and said, “GO CRAZY… you only get one chance at life!”
And so I find myself singing aloud in the car with the windows rolled down and not giving a rat’s arse who can see me. I find myself growing increasingly pissed off when my husband interrupts my new favourite song as he scoffs, “music these days!” and switches back to Radio TWO. I find myself looking up thrill-seeking activities on the internet and deciding that motocross racing might be a good hobby to take up, or better still, rodeo! I find myself hypnotised by the HOT 18-year-old guy who has started working at Tesco’s Express and decide that I should make several trips THAT SAME DAY to gawk at him again. I mean, you can never have too much milk, right? I find myself thinking “a tattoo sleeve might look good!” and “perhaps I should get my nipples pierced?” I find myself writing down a list of all my sexual conquests, getting half way through and thinking. “yep…screw that!” I find myself watching porn and enjoying it… IMMENSELY! I find myself craving marijuana to point where I am scrolling through old contacts and wondering if I still have a bong in the attic.
What is happening to me? Am I revisiting ‘kidulthood’ or am I merely a victim of the midlife terrors?
I suppose, over time, life had robbed me of my shine. I felt like I was stuck in a battle of who I am, who I wanted to be and who I should be. So here I am, doing everything I possibly can to claw it back, if only momentarily. To feel alive again. Liberated. Free. Just as my friend did the day she jumped out of a plane and allowed euphoria to squeeze her in its palms and breathe life into her soul. I’m not saying I want to jump out of a plane or anything crazy like that, but I want to feel the thrill of being on the edge. Like that moment before the roller coaster takes its plunge; that sweet taste of anticipation mixed with fear. We can hear the rickety tracks beneath us as our heart beats erratically in its cage. We want it to happen, and yet we are CRAPPING IN OUR PANTS!
It is during these moments when I feel most alive. Like, for a split second, I am the only person in the world. Nothing else exists. It’s just me and this moment of transcendental felicity.
And so I continue to tap dance along this fine line of insanity, embracing each and every fragile step. I continue to feel the pull of the universe inviting me to forget who I am ‘supposed’ to be and to embrace who I am.
So maybe this isn’t a midlife crisis, after all, but rather a second-half opportunity. To spread my wings and feel the wind against my body. To follow my curiosity and discover new horizons. To be unafraid of showing my true authentic colours in all their glorious imperfection. To embrace each and every bump, curve and storm. To throw my hands up in the air without a care in the world and scream…
Oh, and to prove that I am just as cool as the kids of today, if not cooler … I mean, have you seen my leather jacket?
And so I might just sing a little louder, dance a little bit prouder and scream until my lungs get sore. I might just get a little merrier, crazier, hornier and wilder. But whatever life throws at me and whichever way the tides take me, I know that it’ll be one heck of a ride.
…once I’ve recovered from this hangover FROM HELL, that is!