My midlife crisis became my midlife-chance
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Hi there, my name is Peter and I am happy to live this life with all the ups and downs. This is the long version of how my midlife-crisis turned into my midlfe-chance. At the time I wrote this, I was 45 years old. It’s a small part of my life story that I want to share with you here. I hope that this can help one or the other a little bit on the way in life. It’s enough for me if this inspires someone, when you reach the next intersection in your life, not to choose the straight path as usual, but perhaps take a glimpse to the left or the right to see what might be there for you around the corner. Then you should check whether the usual way is still right for you and maybe to choose different this time.
I have found my personal path in the culture of the Blackfoot people, a Native American nation, located in western Canada and it took quite a while for me to get there. When I was 35 years old, the book “The wind is my mother” by Molly Larkin came to me. In the book, Molly Larkin writes about the teachings of Bear Heart, who was a Native American holy man. This book has fascinated me and accompanies me almost everywhere since then.
At the same time, I started to talk to a friend about things that exist outside of scientific evidence. A year later I met a guy, who made aura photographs and I was curious. So I went and got much more than just a photograph. The photograph was only the beginning. After he looked closely at the picture, he told me many things about my life and about my character traits. These things were so detailed that it could not have been a coincidence. He knew all the important things about me and was able to express them amazingly well. After this encounter, I began to think differently about my life. The process of change began, slowly but inexorably.
A couple of years later, I was participating a seminar about a Native American medicine wheel, which was the base for a big change in my life and in my whole way of looking at things. I found a new path that interested me a lot and I realized that this was giving me something very special. I was hungry to learn more so I joined a seminar on Native American culture in connection to nature experience. This seminar happened on ten weekends and was spread over nearly a year. In addition to the factual information that I received there, this seminar also led me to my own inner topics, some unsolved issues from my past. Then, I started to join American Indian sweatlodges and that’s where I found my soul-home. Slowly, very slowly and at first nearly not noticeable, I started to regain my inner strength.
Professionally, at that time, I had achieved everything one could wish for and what people these days label as a “successful” person. I had a house, a family, frequently nice new cars, two motorcycles and a lot more. I was successful in many ways and had quite some freedom. But there was something important, that I have lost along the way.
In the business I had a partner who gave me a great learning task. Unfortunately, I recognized this too late and so the task became the final exam. There were a few things coming together, but first and foremost it was lifelong criticism that I had to listen to. Some people continuously told me that everything I did was not good enough anyway, and certainly not how I looked. My look was something that caused me difficulties since my late childhood / early adolescent, as I had my very own way, which often did not match the main stream. Most of my life, my appearance was considered “not appropriate”, with long hair, earrings and tattered jeans, so “what should the people think?” But I looked at it different. I always wanted people to see me as who and what I am, not what I look like. It’s easy to change look in order to get appreciation or attention, but you still are who you are.
This criticism and being told that I was not good enough, that I experienced since childhood was continued by my business partner. He was a lot older than me and unfortunately, I had failed in time, to set important boundaries towards him, boundaries that he systematically crossed since I knew him. When I finally realized it, it was already too late – at least for this one case.
It was the spring of 2004, when I was in New York City, negotiating about the sale of our US subsidiary company. In these negotiations, my business partner stayed home and instead of supporting, he came up with claims that he wanted me to negotiate into our contract. All easy, when you’re at a safe place, away from where things are happening. I was actually hopelessly overburdened. However, from the folks of our company I was the only one who dared to and was able to conduct such negotiations and to bring them to a successful conclusion.
There I was, a simple man, facing 5 sneaky business men, among them lawyers category of 1000 dollars PER HOUR. One night, after a negotiation of more than 20 hours, I was waking up in my New York hotel room at 03:00 in the morning. I was laying in my bed and really started wondering, and I asked myself: “What the heck am I doing here?” I conduct negotiations that overburden me, let my partner annoy, criticize and humiliate me, just to get that fat paycheck at the end of the month. I continued and asked myself: “Peter, is that really the life that want to live and what you wished for?” The answer was: No!
The change began on this day. I finished the project successfully and then I turned to care more for myself. I thought about my life and it was not anymore the way that I wanted it and that matches the path of my heart. I have drifted too far away from my true inner core, my authentic self. Unfortunately, at that time I was physically and psychically worn down, so much that I could not raise the urgently necessary boundaries towards my partner. I needed to find a different way, which took other preparatory measures and some time.
When, in August 2004, the whole inferiority complex of my business partner and his inner frustration were discharged onto me, due to a really trivial matter, I finally acted. The next morning, I resigned as Managing Director of the two subsidiaries and only retained the important position in the parent company. I wanted to get out! At first it seemed as if we would agree amicably. Unfortunately, for my former business partner it was not enough, that I offered him my shares for only one third of the then current market value. He started some really shabby actions at the lowest level. Here he was, a man who was claiming to live the good old values, acting against everything he claimed to be. He forced me to fight and, to his big surprise, I entered the fight. Eventually, at the end of 2005 I was out of the company, sold my shares to him and got a nice sum of money out of it. The fight was absolutely worth it.
Today, I am rather grateful to my former business associate: Through him, I have learned to pay attention to my boundaries and to take care that other people respect these limits. It took some time before I really understood the task to be learned and until I was able to implement it for myself. Since then I have never allowed anyone to cross my borders again. I have become very sensitive to this kind of boundary crossing and have learned to tackle it. The first big change in my life was done. In all this process, the signs became more and more clear and I recognized them – unfortunately, rather late.
After that, my life got a lot better again. At first I was quite disoriented and did not have a good idea of which direction to go. The pressure of my wife and environment was quite strong and it was difficult for me to see the path, while under pressure. The signs came a lot later.
I am a creative person and I had tons of ideas, but it was not a one-time decision, to go into a certain direction I never had these kinds of long-term goals in my life. Instead, I was taking life step by step. I walked my path, looked left and right and went into the direction that felt right and attracted me most. If I would focus completely on a long-term goal, I would be worried that I miss something on the way, miss opportunities. If you walk a path in the nature, and you focus too much on that hill that you want to climb, you might miss out on some wonderful flowers on the side of the track.
So, after leaving the company, my marriage went downhill. My now ex-wife lacked the financial security that I offered her before. This was followed by a nearly two-year struggle for my marriage. I did not want to give up this time. Too often in my past life, I have fled relationships when things got difficult. And it was thanks to my now ex-wife, that she one day in 1996 threw the Christmas decoration at me and yelled: “You can’t always run away!” And it was in that very moment, that I thought to myself: “Shit, she is right”. So, when this tough time came, after I left my company, I remembered her words and actually did not run away. I wanted to pull through and work things out.
In the attempt to save my marriage, I went with my then wife to some systemic constellations (family constellations) and it was interesting how quickly my own issues and those of my wife were discovered there. It took some strength, because it brought up old pain, which needed to be processed. The systemic constellations have helped me a great deal, even in cases where I only participated as a supporter. There’s always something for yourself, you take with you. My then wife also got shown her old unsolved tasks and she saw that it would take a lot of work to resolve them. It was too hard, too painful for her to engage so much with herself, and she unfortunately backed down. The wounds of her past were obviously so hard and strong, that she refused to look closer at them. She did not want to deal with her own old issues at all and soon rejected everything that went in that direction. My participation in the Native American seminar soon became a point of attack for her, for she sensed the change in me, and change always threatened her, even with the background of that my change was very positive. And I found so much strength in my path in the Blackfoot tradition, so I joined more sweatlodges, learned some sacred songs, went out for drumming sessions and spend time in nature as much as I could.
But more and more I realized that I was fighting a losing battle in my marriage. Nevertheless, I did not give up, because this time I wanted to stay and to fight until the end. Still, it was hopeless, because she just did not want anymore. She was, however, unable to say: “I don’t love you anymore.” No, she needed anger and hatred to justify her retreat. So followed by various attacks on my already scratched self-esteem, I passed through a deep valley of humiliations and reproaches. It was not until afterwards that I realized that all this served to support me, as she took the final step. When she, in August 2006, declared that she would leave me, I first felt absolutely miserable, but something inside me told me that it will be good. The fight was over. The greatest sadness lasted just three weeks. Then I had a dream in which my then wife came to me and asked me if we wanted to be together again. My answer was quite clear: “Rather not!”
With that, my way back to myself, my true inner core finally began. Never again would I bend so much and allow myself to live so far away from my true self. I must mention that I handle the word “never” very carefully. Here I used it quite consciously. The road to myself was cleared and today I know that all this was absolutely necessary for my own personal development. On my way in the Blackfoot tradition I learned, among other things, to see things positively. That helped me a lot on my view of the failed marriage. The memories of the many beautiful things that we experienced outweighed it and my two wonderful children that my ex-wife gave birth to, are such a blessing.
My then wife had a new partner right after and distracted herself from her inner subjects. I still see her today, trapped in her unsolved topics, but that only touches me marginally, then when it comes to issues about our common children. However, looking back, I am deeply thankful for my ex-wife, because she cleared the way for my new life.
For me, those changes were quite hard, but looking back, the best thing that could happen to me. The crisis became the biggest opportunity of my life, my personal “Midlife-Chance”. Today I live very close to myself, aware of my weaknesses and strengths, but also of my perfection. This perfection includes the full range of human qualities that each of us have chosen for ourselves, and that are all the right ones for each of us. Each one of us is perfect, everyone in his/her own special way.
May the journey continue 🙂