I'm Dr. Adam Sheck, and I'd like to welcome you to the "Men After Fifty" Community! Living for more than half a century on this planet is a rite of passage and I wanted to create a place where we can share our wisdom and experience to help each other and to help those who matter in our lives. As true for many "men after fifty", I've had a number of careers over my … [Read More...]
The idea of the midlife crisis is certainly something that we men face at some point in our lives, usually in our forties or fifties, making it a very important subject for the Men After Fifty blogsite.
As we enter and begin to face the second half of our lives, we men have the opportunity to face our mortality and this brings up existential issues. What have I accomplished in my life? What do I have YET to accomplish? What might I NEVER accomplish? What will I leave behind? What kind of person have I been and what kind of person do I WANT to be? Does my life have meaning?
Some men “act out” on the way to facing these questions and we have the stereotypes of men buying the red convertible, having affairs, getting involved with younger women, perhaps all of the above. And you can also marry your yoga teacher!
Now I’ve never met Alec Baldwin nor his lovely yoga teacher bride and I truly have no judgments about his nuptials, I’m just using this as a “for instance” to get the attention of my readers (and maybe a tiny bit of SEO). Nor am I saying that HE is having a midlife crisis, though this type of behavior may reflect that in some men. Mr. Baldwin is intelligent (love his blogging), handsome, talented, successful, and obviously has had his choice of many, many women. Being with this woman seems to be for the best, as he appears to be more fit and healthy looking in quite some time, though his recent paparazzi encounters ARE interesting.
Anyway, that is the last I will say about Mr. Alec Baldwin, so let the bait and switch begin and let’s get back to the topic of midlife crisis and the question, “should you marry your yoga teacher?”
The true question is, how to navigate that midlife crisis. Let me share how I navigated mine in a VERY poor way and it DID involve a yoga teacher. It is really more about what might be called the Rejuvenation Mystery in some psychology circles.
The rejuvenation mystery is about recapturing that lost youth, exuberance, energy, passion. In Roman times and probably earlier there was a belief that if an older person slept next to an infant, they would somehow absorb their youthful energies and “rejuvenate”.
More popular in our modern era is the idea of the older man/younger woman and now the “cougar” strategy of the older woman/younger man. Why is this so common? I would suggest that it is about the rejuvenation mystery seeking out its resolution.
Yes, for some, this is simply a preference, yet for many, it is an attempt to recapture and reignite those youthful energies, especially as we feel ourselves moving closer and closer to the inevitable ending of this lifetime.
The best advice I ever received about this came from my teacher, Brugh Joy (Joy’s Way, An Introduction to the Potentials for Healing). My interpretation of his wisdom is to enjoy dancing and flowing in those rejuvenating energies, yet don’t confuse them for something more than they are or something that they are not.
When I arrived upon my midlife crisis in my early forties, I was totally enchanted by a young woman substantially younger than I. Our time together felt like magic and I felt alive and exuberant and filled full of limerence. Unfortunately, I was so full of MYSELF, that I also entered into a relationship with a friend of mine who was a yoga teacher. There was a great deal I was receiving from both relationships and there was also the excitement of juggling them. My yoga friend knew about the one, but she didn’t know about the yoga teacher, so there was an extra helping of DRAMA to keep things even more exciting.
I was smart enough to know that I was playing with fire and heading for disaster, yet I was also so inflated and high on the energies that I didn’t care. I imagine that this experience might be similar to the manic episodes that some of my bipolar patients have experienced.
Needless to say it ultimately blew up, my heart was broken over the younger woman, my yoga teacher friend was deeply hurt by me, and all of this tainted the next relationship I eventually entered. I EXPERIENCED the lesson my teacher, Brugh, had shared with me years earlier. I confused my experience of the rejuvenation mysteries with love and the potential for relationship and paid a huge cost.
If I had been a little more aware, a little more (forgive me this word) enlightened, I could have perhaps simply enjoyed the company of this ripe younger woman for what it was. We each had something to offer each other and if I could have accepted her gifts without projecting into the future, it might have been different. If I was able to stay centered and not create a romantic fantasy, I wouldn’t have set myself up for such heartache.
Yes, our internal psychodynamics played into it, my need to feel vital and powerful, her need perhaps for a loving, nurturing, successful father figure, kept it all in motion past the expiration date of the lesson. If I was more present and grounded, I would have listened and believed her early on when she shared “everything ends”.
What I wanted was to create my own world with her of love, lust and intensity. What I needed was to remember who I was, experience my vitality, creativity, passion and aliveness, be grateful to her for this precious gift, and move forward in my life. Alas, letting go, especially with that strong surge of intense neurotransmitters and hormones flooding my body, was not something I could do.
I paid a huge price for admission through the midlife crisis gateway into the second half of life. The lesson I learned has helped me to support many men as they enter this period of their lives. Some have learned from my mistakes and let the energies burn without the need to act them out and inflict pain upon themselves and their loved ones. Some have been more stubborn, as I was, and needed to learn a tougher although perhaps more lasting lesson.
I also learned NOT to confuse the teacher with the teaching. We are ALL less than perfect. On the good days, I aspire to “walk the talk” and there are also days that I am woefully human and fallible. My path, my lessons are what help me to connect compassionately and empathically with the people I work with. I am no better and no worse than they, only willing to share myself and my gifts to make their lives a little bit easier.
There you have my brief thoughts about this topic. I would love to hear yours. AND, I would love to hear thoughts from women as well as men on this issue that can potentially impact us all.
My final answer on the question “should you marry your yoga teacher?” If you love them and want to build a life with them, ABSOLUTELY!
Thank you so much,