Welcome to My Midlife Crisis

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Once upon a time, in a New Jersey suburb, my husband and I had decent paying jobs in Corporate America.  We never led an ostentatious lifestyle. We owned a small house, a modest car, paid for our home improvement projects with cash instead of loans, and contributed to our 401K plans.   We were fortunate to have a little left over for "extras,"  such as birthday parties for our children and vacations.  The "emergency fund" in the bank allowed us to pay the occasional unexpected medical bill or car repair without affecting our monthly budget. 

Then came the crash of 2008.

My husband lost his job in an industry where he had a twenty year tenure, and a company-owned SUV with fully paid gas and insurance. He took another job in the same field, without the company car and for "a lot less money,"  which only lasted six months.  After an almost year-long stint out of work, he took another job in his industry for half of what he had made at the job with the SUV.  And then THAT job started to go bad.        

Meanwhile, I faced my own midlife crisis of Richter Scale magnitude.  I entered burn out mode in my senior level position in an all-consuming job.  I looked for happiness in expensive designer handbags and through the promises of what expensive face creams would do for the emerging lines around the corners of my eyes.  I became a surfer, for all of three minutes.   I tried fringe diets that promised youth and the perfect body.  My downward spiral continued, until I embraced Yoga-as-my- savior,  accepted the doctrine that happiness is not dependent upon our external circumstances, walked away from the corporate world, and released my inner Fierce Diva.      

I encouraged my husband to return to school to pursue his "dream career," with the understanding that we would be "voluntarily poor" for a few years while he made the transition.  

The home improvement projects stopped, as did the big birthday parties for the children, the vacations, and my bi-monthly pedicure.  My husband, who transitioned into an entry level position in his new field, was working harder than ever, was making less money than I did my first year out of college, but was also the happiest I had seen him in a decade.  We were the champions of mid-life career changes! We were blazing our own trail!  We were living on a tiny paycheck along with faith that the Universe would take care of us and our children while we re-booted our lives.

And then my husband wound up in the hospital

Did I mention that the insurance plan at his new job is horrible?

Our liability on my husband's three day hospital stay for observation and a few non-invasive procedures, cost about two months of his take home pay.  These unexpected medical bills that used to be nothing more than a monkey wrench now felt like a 600 pound gorilla.

I glared at my husband  as he walked in from work one night, waving a stack of insurance statements in front of him. 

"Next time you feel a pain in your chest, " I spat, "Take a handful of Aleve and go back to work!" 

Did I mention that sometimes I suck at compassion?

Did I also mention that I'm dying for a pedicure and a vacation?   (I'll stop.  You know how I feel about whining.) 

As I look over the bills, I recall the wisdom that a friend once shared amidst a crisis.  She declared she was lucky to have problems that only required money to solve.  How wise.  And how true.  I think of  people with real problems, women who have lost spouses to untimely deaths, parents with children who have been abducted or who are terminally ill, who would give any amount of money to make that problem go away.  Am I forgetting how grateful I felt only six weeks ago, amidst my husband's health crisis, when I found out that he was going to be OK?    

These bills would have been much easier to pay two years ago, but that does not mean I would want to go back to the life we were living two years ago.   

Money made our lives easier, but not happier.   

These bills have become a reminder to me that we've made the right choice.

Namaste, Divas!

© 2012 Ilene Evans

 

 


Comments

Welcome to My Midlife Crisis — 7 Comments

  1. Wow, that’s a lot of change and a lot thrown at you at once. But you know what? I think that you’ve nailed it when you say that yes, it would be easier with a steady, well-paying job but that doesn’t equal happiness. I believe that things happen for a reason and we grow and learn from these experiences. Still doesn’t produce a pedicure or vacation, I get that but I think that in the long run you’re happier.

  2. My Father always says, “if money can solve your problems- you really have no problems at all. You can always make some, borrow some, or just owe some.” But in the end, the balance sheet will work out and all will be well. It’s when your problems can’t be fixed with money… ahhh now you have a problem.” But on the other hand, my mother has been quoted as saying “When there’s no money, love flies out the window.” So really, perhaps, it is a bit of both.
    The sad part for me, is seeing good, hardworking people like you and your hubby struggling because of medical bills- which is so unfair- especially for people like you who are financially responsible people. Just isn’t right in my book.
    As for whining about the 600 pound gorilla, I think it is perfectly fine. Everyone has a right to feel a certain way about a certain situation. Some troubles are worse than others, but daily troubles can cause a great deal of stress in day to day life that can just eat a person up.
    I will pray that everything falls into place for you- and perhaps a little extra money will come your way- you just never know.

  3. My “princess” side misses the pedicures but I would honestly never want to go back to where I was 2 years ago. When I was in yoga teacher training, I heard over and over again how when your life is in alignment with your “true self,” that everything works out – and I truly believe that. And the bills always get paid…somehow. I also believe that everything happens for a reason as you do. Thank you so very much for visiting! xo Ilene

  4. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments! Most of the time I agree with your dad! But I also get your mom in that everyday life pressures can take a toll.
    So far, we have been very fortunate in our year as living like “poor students,” and there is also that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel for us – in another year, my husband will have a degree where he will have more earning power than he does now. Despite the medical bills, we are very lucky people. Let’s hear it for midlife second chances!
    Thanks for stopping by! xo Ilene

  5. It is much better to have problems that could be solved with money! Sounds like you’ve gone through a lot of changes lately, but that they are mostly for the good in the end!

  6. Just think of these things as minor setbacks in your life, Ilene. I’ve gone through the same rough patch, but I was able to adjust. During those hard times, I was always left short in cash. Good thing I made use of payday loans until I got my income flowing smoothly again.

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