I would like to offer Paddy’s Six Stages of Midlife Crisis or, more appropriately Six Stages of Paddy’s Midlife Crisis.

1. The Happy Marriage (23 years BGZ-before ground zero)

Love, youth, kids, friends, planning for the future. The usual ups and downs, but seemed to go by so fast that the bumps were not felt, the kids grew older too fast and life was good.

2. The Subconscious Struggle- Part A-No Clue (8-10 years BGZ)

I still percieved myself as being in an overall good situation. There were the usual stressors: work, teenagers, parents, bills, getting older, issues with my wife.

I kind of realized I was not quite satisfied with my life, but I could not put my finger on it. Looking back on this time I realize I was not the perfect companion, although at the time I was too focused on my own needs and struggles to see this.

I was a Dad, but still wanted to be a kid. I was a husband, but still wanted to be attractive to other women. I was pretty insecure in spite of my successes.

I was not totally satisfied, but was restless and completely unaware of the impending disaster.

2. The Subconscious Struggle, Part B-Very Slightly less clueless (0-8 years BGZ)

I was tending to focus more on issues with my spouse as the source for my restlessness. I never thought about leaving, but I began a lot of fantasizing about something different than what I had. I became more involved with exercise, music, coaching my kids (probably as a way to look for some distractions or fulfillment).

Still no thoughts of leaving, Loved my wife. Basically still clueless.

3. Fantasy Becomes Reality- Ground Zero (Tapers off over about one year)

All repressed frustration in my life seems to feel released when someone I have been fantasizing about shows emotional and physical interest in me.

The feeling is overwhelming. I imagine it feels like combining a bath in the fountain of youth, a rush of heroin reaching my brain, and the feeling of getting up on Christmas morning as a child, only better (I have only experienced Christmas morning).

I couldn’t stay away from it if my life depended on it. It was a pull so strong that came out of nowhere. It was like falling from the sky, I could only go down. When you are falling, how do you stop falling down and start to fall up?

4. Can’t Get Off the Train (or some trains do go both ways) (1-2 years post Ground Zero)-I still can’t get off

Confusion, ambivalence. I still loved my wife and my friend of 30 years. I still had the attraction/addiction to the other woman and the fantasy of another life.

Back and forth. Cortex vs Limbic system. Brain vs heart. New vs Old. Therapy, depression, suicidal thoughts, anti-depressants. The pain and hurt of my kids and wife.

I had no idea what I wanted or needed. I was still mostly blaming my wife for her role in this. If she had just changed, everything would have been different.

The pull from the other woman was like a drug (once I have started using I couldn’t stop). I could not be honest with my wife about contact with the other woman.

5. Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for landing. (Is this grand Central or Terrapin Station?)(2 years from Ground Zero to present)

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Things seem clearer. I see what I have given up and who I have hurt. I take more responsibility.

This has been about me more than my wife. I am no longer depressed.

I am slowly learning about myself and why this happened. I am continuing psychotherapy and have recently begun spiritual counseling.

My wife has been very patient and as understanding as a person can be. Although I try to separate myself from the other woman, I still sometimes break down and contact her and cannot always be honest about this with my wife. Although I feel like I am learning to be more honest.

The fantasy of the other woman is less a fantasy and less addicting.

I feel like I want to go back to my wife and family , but I need to know this for sure. I don’t want to hurt them again, and it was also very painful for me. I want to move slowly and be sure I am ready before I commit.

I want to act out of wisdom, and not fear or guilt.

6. Stepping onto fertile ground- Feets, don’t fail me now!

I’m not there yet.

If it is with my wife. It will not be the same as before, it will be better.

There will be much happiness and good, but also some sad things. I will be much wiser and will be a better companion and friend from all I have learned.

I hope to be mindful of my partner’s needs and less focused on myself. I hope to work hard to keep my new relationship exciting and romantic.

I will live in the moment and not for the future.

Thanks for listening.

Posted on the Midlife Club Forum in 2003 by forum member Paddy. All rights reserved.