Facing a Life Crisis

There is no such thing as an easy or no-brainer life crisis. At least, it never appears easy or simple when it?s happening to you.

The more our brains respond to fear and doubt, the harder it becomes to think logically and effectively. We want to try to piece our way back to some semblance of normalcy but it seems impossible.

Indeed, where is the normalcy at all when we come up against a loss of career or home or way of life, a devastating illness ? ours or that of someone we love, or what appears to be near financial ruin? What used to seem normal to us now seems to wear a bitter face, seemingly granted to others but withheld from us no matter how hard we strive.

I speak from experience here. My life has never been simple. My parents gone before I reached adulthood and with no one to step in, I took over the care of my younger developmentally disabled brother with no assistance. I had to work a number of part-time jobs while I both went to college and tried my best to parent a child not much younger than myself chronologically but forever without the skill set to progress. I managed to get through school despite a number of hardships only to discover that what I had learned to do was not exactly valued. Like most of us, I made do, however.

Since then, it’s been an endless series of peaks and valleys, accomplishments and goofs, stability and anything but. After years of being solvent, capable, and admired, I find myself at an impossible crossroad. The life I lived stopped working for me sometime ago, and now I must pay the price at a time when I do not feel I have the resources to change it.

Sound familiar? Quite possibly it does since many of us find ourselves in some position at least once in our lifetimes.

Yet there is a big difference, of course, in being faced with a mountain of obstacle when you are young and resilient compared with what it is like once you are older. It’s easy to see the promise and potential in the young that seems to elude us once we pass the age of 35, 45, or older.

For example, we might be disappointed that a young adult is in debt but know they can pull out of it. Face the same situation when you’re 40 or over, and it seems inconceivable that a person would have let themselves get in such a bind or that they don?t possess the means to rectify the situation readily.

It can be all too easy during the most challenging of times to rely exclusively on prayer, hope, and yes, even delusions. A recent study showed not only that a growing number of Americans lack anything substantial in the way of retirement savings, but that a majority, when polled, thought a big lottery win was their best chance to bank roll savings.

What are the odds of a huge lottery payoff? Sadly, it’s astronomically higher than the possibility we’ll be hit by a bus or by lightning. Yes, it does happen yet only at most a few times a week. Compare that to nearly three hundred million Americans and you quickly realize that winning a lottery is not a real solution. There is also the nasty fact that many who win large sums in such lotteries end up in dire circumstances a few years down the road from their big payoff.

To say that while there is life, there is also hope can seem too much like a platitude or pabulum. In fact, it can seem like cold assurance when you feel down and out.

But our brains offer us an infinite capacity to redefine and even reinvent ourselves. Look into the people you have known or read about and see how true that is. Many people, including those who have achieved fame and fortune, have experienced severe reversals in their lives. Some faltered, yes, and some have gone to extreme measures like suicide because they saw no other way. Yet the majority of others found the capacity to go on, to seek out a new life on new terms which did work for them. If they can, then we can.

Frequently, the very first step in any of this is to realize that no white knight will ride in to rescue us. No lottery win or big inheritance or great miracle is likely to stabilize the direction of a life hurtling out of control. No person can step in to make everything all right for us but ourselves. When we are faced with someone who seems to offer all the answers, we likely end up just delaying the inevitable. At some point, we all need to find our own way; anything less is destined to return us to crisis again and again.

At the same time, no matter how difficult it is, we have to continue with as much normalcy as we can muster. This means we still have to eat when we no longer feel hungry, find a way to rest when sleep seems impossible, and reach out to others even when we see no way to find words. The alternative – hiding away from everyone – may produce answers from reflection for some but most of us are far more likely to feel the isolation as another brick in a wall built against us.

Ironically, at the time we feel most separated from others – and we may experience resentment at those who continue to live happier lives – it may become most important to talk and to share. If you don-t have someone who can speak with you objectively, then you need to consider professional counseling. Even if you don’t have the financial resources at the time to afford it, determine whether your community or county or state has programs that can help you. Many do, with sliding scale fees or at no charge, dependent upon your fiscal situation.

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