Holy Mid-life Crisis Batman!

Not to be dramatic or anything, but I’m having a midlife career crisis. It’s all, like, wicked stressful. For those of you who know me well, or even just a little, it should be fairly obvious that I love my career. I love doing it, talking about it, receiving it, teaching it, and I love the people that do it, too. Although some of them are a little bit odd.

Anyhoo . . .

There are many things that I imagined doing in my life. Popping out the kids, for example, or buying a couch. Seriously, the couch was a big deal. And there are a lot of things that I have yet to do that I imagine will happen, and I’m totally cool with that. For example, I imagine that at some point I will be incontinent. I can see that is in my future, and I’m hopeful that by then, I will be paying my manservants to spoon feed me out of crystal bowls, so my level of care will be such that a little trickling urine will be no biggie. What I never imagined I would be doing though, is thinking about what I want to do with my life. That I thought I had all figured out.

And then of course, my birthday is coming up. Did you know that? I can’t imagine how any of you could have missed it, what with my giant ego and all. Also, with the many obnoxious reminders to RSVP for my big party. Speaking of which, would you please RSVP for my freaking party? I mean, really. How hard is it to click a fucking button?

I digress.

So the birthday, it’s approaching and giving me another fantastic opportunity to consider my life. The older I get, the more painful that becomes. Time moves faster. Literally. Seriously, if you are over 35, look at the clock, it will totally trip you out. It’s like time is on acid.

So, now that time is moving so fast, I have an enormous amount of empathy for people who used to really annoy me. Like my parents. It’s astounding that I am still a living, breathing, functioning person! They let me live! Say what you will about your parents, or mine for that matter, but reflect for a moment over your previous age of 15-17, and then take a moment to repent. Unless you were valedictorian or something, and in that case, well, I guess all I can say is, way to apply yourself.

Me? Not so focused. Well, unless you count being focused on myself, because I was certainly excelling at that. Now that I’m older, I am beginning to realize that not too much has changed. It’s a little daunting, trying to grow as a human being. It’s hard! And really, really, really stressful, because I have such little time and so many other things to do! If you looked in my shower right now, you’d be all, “Girl! Don’t be growing, clean your freaking shower!” It’s much more convenient to put off the growing til later.

It turns out I have some issues. Well, besides the obvious psychological ones. I’m talking about physical issues. And these issues are the kind that make my doctors tilt their head to the side, look at me with great, heartfelt sympathy when they find out what my career is, and say, “Oh, well, you are going to want to change that.” One of them said, “Oh, honey. You chose the worst possible career for your kind of physical challenges.” She also told me I had to stop eating salad, which really upset me. I love salad! No salad? Isn’t that like telling a child that they can’t have a fucking teddy bear? Come on!

Listen. I knew that having a history of arthritis made me a little unique to the field of massage. In the back of my mind, I had a feeling that my time as an LMT was limited. I just thought that it would come later in my life. In the last month, I have discovered that I have degenerative disc disease in my jaw, no joint(s) in my jaw, arthritis in my upper cervicals (neck, for you dummies) and mandible (jaw, duh), scoliosis, hypermobility (which turns out to not be a good thing), and an issue with ongoing pain. All of this exasperated by one major thing: stress on my body.

I stumbled into my career as a massage therapist (NOT masseuse—make a note of that) by doing what I do best, which is not much. Really, what I have always excelled at (I find the awareness of this quirk to be comforting) is following people. A friend moved to Colorado for college. I followed her and did, well, not much. Not much later, a couple of friends moved to Santa Fe for massage school, and so did I. And once I got there, I did . . . well, not much. What I ended up doing in Santa Fe (besides living in a storage unit and making my way through through very crazy jobs) was receive a shitload of massage. When you have friends that are in massage school, you quickly enter the world of touch. Sure, I got a lot of massage, but there were other profoundly subtle changes that took over my life. No one greeted me without touching me in some way. In fact, no one really spoke to me without touching me. It’s incredibly hard to articulate, other than to say that after living in a body that hurt all the time, where I was touched by health care professionals in a clinical, pain-measuring way, I began to be touched with compassion. And for the first time in my life, I was able to experience freedom from pain. It was profound for me.

It took another couple of years and moving to another state for me to attend massage school. Since then, I have done something rather unusual for me: I have continued to do the same thing. You’re reading the blog of a woman that has moved like, 37 times and had over 30 jobs. It says a lot that I have not changed my career in 12 years. A lot. Which makes this all the more difficult. I can’t possibly imagine doing something that brings me the same amount of connection and satisfaction. I have no job stress (well, other than a recent dress code debacle that shall remain unspoken about here), and I look forward to my work day, every day. Where else will I find that? Not to mention, what else am I good at? Seriously, people! It’s true that I can make a nice necklace, but what else am I good at that can earn me a living? I simply have no idea.

When I think about the things I’m good at, here is what I come up with:

Multitasking, laundry, time projection, making fox cages with pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks, running errands, party planning, eating, sleeping, saying wildly inappropriate things at the worst time, buying beads, shopping, making dinner, and massage.

I’m stumped. And sad. And slightly depressed. Which is why I am drinking wine. Lots and lots of wine.

So it seems I am at a crossroads. I imagined that I would begin physical therapy and discover a way to improve how I feel in my body and guess what? I did! Yet, the first 10 minutes in a massage takes whatever I have accomplished in physical therapy and obliterates it. I realize that all this time over the course of my career I have been alright with the pain because I have been helping others, and that seemed more important. I think it just felt good to me to do something that I did and do well since I hadn’t experienced that before. But, in that last year I came to a moment of clarity when I realized the unfairness of that. Super unfair.

It’s been a while since my last post. Today, more than any other, it feels as if I am writing in a diary (which I don’t do, by the way. I am the most annoying diary writer. I write for an audience, of which there is none!) instead of a blog. I’ve been preoccupied with specialist appointments and discoveries. Not to mention some elaborate freaking Halloween costumes for the little people that I live with. My time has been taken by these things, and with the amount of thinking I need to do. So I apologize for that. And I ask of you, those who know me (those that don’t can chime in, too. It may be interesting!) what, oh what, am I good at?

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7 Comments

Filed under Confessions., Pain, TMJD and Arthritis

7 responses to “Holy Mid-life Crisis Batman!

  1. Kristen

    Um, WRITING, for one. Just perhaps?! Counseling/therapy. Photography. Cooking. Event & travel planning. And did I mention writing? And here is one thing you are not good at: porn. Don’t even think about becoming a porn star, ok? Love you to pieces, sorry to hear you are feeling the need to give your body a change of profession, and happy to know that you are multi-talented and will find your next great passion.

  2. Janice

    I LOVE what Kristen said. And I concur. And I’m also so sorry you are dealing with this. That said, you are SO freaking young! Do not send a blog to someone in their sixties -with all the infirmities you discuss and then some, minus the jaw stuff (Mine is just overworked, not damaged) and expect to elicit surprise that the clock moves too fast!
    There are career counselors that can help. Look it up. You might be surprised to discover that you’d make a great astrophysicist. But I doubt it. I think writer is your thing.

  3. Hi Sarah! i thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog, my friend. you forgot to mention that you’re really a superb writer, have a singing voice pleasing to the ear, a kind individual – maybe too kind, but you mentioned that. you do need to take care of YOU, first, especially if you have a chronic inflammatory condition:( GINGER is an amazing medicinal herb. Anyway, you make me laugh and you have the guts to say IT how it is…I could see myself browsing the shelves looking for your book recently published or watching you possibly doing stand-up. I hope you begin to heal physically and you find some clarity soon…i know you will. love, jenny o

  4. Pam

    Yes! Definitely don’t forget about your beautiful singing voice! I am sorry to hear that you are going through this and want to let you know that I relate, as someone who relies on her body (vocal chords) to cooperate for the work she does. Getting older stinks. But, I think you are luck that you have an ability to write about and teach what you know. In time, I bet you could find a way to do more of that and less of the actual doing massage so that you don’t have to totally abandon this field you love so much.

  5. Maureen

    ummm…..darling, you’re good at writing! You entertain the hell out of me and also make me feel very connected to you – the way Ann Lamotte does with her writing. Just a thought. Hey, what’s up with the “don’t eat salad” bullshit. I think it’s the new fad to tell every individual with any body issues at all to stop eating whatever they like to eat. I’ve simply had it with this ‘don’t eat that anymore’ craze. Moderation & variety, no matter what anyone says. (happy food makes us happy and happy = healthy) I just read the above comments and enjoyed the fact that Kristen & I wrote the identical first line in answer to your question. 🙂 Miss you!

  6. AC

    Your delightfully quirky prose never fail to put a smile on my face and the faces of many others that I may or may not see, and possibly, you don’t see either as they are staring goofily smiling and laughing at their screens that display your writing. I defintely second (or third, or whatever the count is up to now), pursuing writing. My question would be, what would you want to do with your writing exactly? Stick to the blog, write a book, write for a journal? Would you be interested in joining a local writers guild?

    I feel that your love for body work, including the love of the terminology, anatomy, and knowing that you can help people feel better in their bodies is something I don’t see you easily abandoning. How about something that would be less physically demanding of you while still allowing you to work to help people feel better? Feldenkrais comes to mind. Reiki, but that might be too hippy dippy weegie board for your tastes? Though it is pretty cool. Pilates can be both therapeutic (I worked with a student of Joseph Pilates who was more of a physical therpaist, working with elite athletes and their injured bodies to reform in a more functioning state), as well as, a more mass exercise fitness program. Yoga. I’m sure there are more, and you have many friends more equiped than I that can think of some avenues in body related work that might appeal to you. “Oh, the things you can do!”

    Cheers to you as this exciting new chapter unfolds in your life. Happy birthday!

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