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  • Writer's picturepamradtkerussell

Breaking and Rebuilding a Life After 50

My midlife crisis has gone something like this: I wake up at 3 a.m. and say to myself “oh shit, now I get it!” In the morning, I have a little clarity around the situation, and then two nights later I wake up again and say to myself “Oh shit, that wasn’t it at all!” and make another realization. Over and over again.

Midlife for me has meant change and growth. It has meant opening up my heart, my mind, my eyes… my whole being… to feelings and experiences I had shut out because I thought they weren’t acceptable, or the right thing to do.

And I still, often, find myself falling back into these old patterns and habits. Recently, I was texting a friend about a situation in which I had gotten myself into, because my default is trying to be a “good girl.” He responded, “You really should read your own stuff, Pam.” Touche’.

The problem is that growth and change aren’t easy.

But what is the alternative?

For me, I was becoming increasingly resentful of the doing the things I thought I had to do. Externally, I looked fine — but internally, I was breaking apart. If I hadn’t embraced change and growth, I could have continued on this path and been some level of miserable for the rest of my life.

Fortunately my internal discomfort broke through, and my life shattered apart.

Now, I have a second chance, not necessarily to do it all over, but to rebuild a life that is full of what my heart wants and my soul calls me to do. It’s a life of discovery and contemplation in which I’ve realized the world isn’t going to stop if I don’t try to control everything, please everyone or try to conform.

My midlife shattering gives me the chance to practice something similar to the Japanese art of Kintsugi, in which broken pottery is fixed with a lacquer mixed with silver or gold, making that once broken bowl or plate even more beautiful when it’s repaired, and accentuating the flaws that make that piece unique.

At 53, I get the chance to rebuild, picking and choosing the parts of myself that best serve me and the life I want. Then, I piece it together in my own gold lacquer - a mixture of love, passion and purpose.

In the years ahead, I expect I will break apart a few more times, and I both welcome and fear those changes.

But maybe, in the end, after repeatedly putting myself back together, I hope I will end up less as broken shards pieced together in the form they once held, and more as a vessel of almost pure gold lacquer.

(image courtesy

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