When you are feeling the Why Me Woes, have you considered sending this letter or email to your MLCer?
I am so sorry and sad that this is happening. It’s really a shame; it’s not as though we were broken. I just can’t understand how things have fallen apart so quickly and with such utter destruction. I keep going back to find something that lead to this or something we could have done as a team to work on it together. I found nothing major and you ran away anyway, so if there is something we can still do, you aren’t here to do it. You’re not supposed to leave without trying to fix things first! You didn’t even tell me there was a problem until you were walking out the door!
What really has me confused is that you hate me. Why? Why Me? Why your partner? We had a great marriage and built a beautiful life together. We were both happy; everyone thought we were the perfect couple. I don’t get it and I can’t see how I can ever understand without closure from you. You won’t give me a valid reason. All I heard was I love you but I’m not in-love with you. What does that really mean and how did it happen? If you love me, why are you so hateful toward me? Why do you treat me like I’m your enemy? This is just such a waste. You left, you refused to work on us and you refuse to give me an explanation. Sorry, but I don’t get it because none of this makes sense.
You are not who I thought you were.
DON’T SEND IT!!!
I get it. I don’t know if there’s an LBS out there who hasn’t felt it. There is nothing wrong with that letter if you wrote it for your own catharsis and don’t send it. But sending a letter like that changes its purpose and to send it puts it in the Why Me Victim category. It’s okay to feel confused and upset, but the Why Me? or Why Us? or just plain Why? doesn’t have an answer. As the letter states, it doesn’t make sense; you are not going to get sense out of nonsense.
Why Won’t your MLCer Give You a Valid and Honest Answer?
It’s often not that they won’t but that they can’t. Let’s go back to the basic definition and idea of a midlife crisis as a crisis of identity.
A normal life event—midlife transition—that has escalated to crisis levels of emotional and mental turmoil. Denial and attempts to avoid the transition yield crisis which manifests through avoidance, regression and depression and in the context of a marriage often includes infidelity, separation and eventually divorce. MLCers react overtly with outward destruction; whether intentional or not, an MLCer hurts other people in significant ways.
Let’s unpack that.
Mental and Emotional Turmoil
In a midlife crisis a person is in turmoil so that they may have emotional dysregulation—has your MLCer seemed out of control emotionally, or so tightly controlled that they may be holding in their emotions for fear of bursting? This dysregulation and accompanying confusion enables mental turmoil. A person in midlife crisis may exhibit mental instability. Often this is not consistent; they cycle and many are able to compartmentalize so that they are functional—or not completely disfunctional—in some areas of life. MLCers are going through their own Why Me Woes.
Avoidance of what? An MLCer’s primary avoidance is not directed toward or from you. Their primary avoidance is self-reflection because upon a superficial reflection they may not like what they see and they don’t want to do what it will take to make changes, or they don’t believe change is possible. That primary avoidance enables their avoidance you. In most situations, there is not a good reason for why they are leaving and even less so why they are doing it with such destruction. Facing the Why question brings them back to the self-reflection they are avoiding. Avoidance is rooted in a fear of what they will discover about themselves. Escape & Avoid with an attempt at High-Energy Replay; the alienator, alcohol, drugs, youthful running etc. are all forms of avoidance
One of your big question is likely something like Why are you such a jerk? You may nor phrase it that way, but we’ve all thought it. How would you feel if someone asked you that? The phrasing is accusatory and puts them on the spot. Now, you may not be asking that question directly, but it’s in the undercurrents and your MLCer knows it because in their depths they are asking themselves the same question.
To regress is to return to a less developed state. Haven’t you complained that your MLCer is acting like a teenager—and sometimes a child? Midlife crisis is about unresolved issues from childhood or adolescence. Those issues must be resolved by the younger self, thus to resolve the issues, they must return to that stage of development—regress. The Why questions are for a person who is not mentally a child or adolescent; those questions are too advanced.
But wait, they can compartmentalize and function at work like an adult! Yes, but each area of life has triggers or rituals for re-entry. The Why Me Woes trigger the younger self. For some, simply being in communication with you—the LBS—may trigger their younger self.
If you want to have wicked fun, go to their work and watch the struggle as their different compartments collide!
Sorry! Don’t really do that! Dark humor.
Depression permeates all of midlife crisis—it could be renamed midlife depression. Depression is a denial of feelings and emotions—positive and negative. Empathy is an understanding along with a gut-level experience of someone else’s feelings and emotions from that person’s perspective and not your own. If depression denies feelings and emotions, then it follows that it disables empathy. Why Me questions are a bother to your MLCer who has an empathy blockage. They don’t care how you are feeling because while depressed they cannot recognize feelings and emotions—their own or those of others. If you pressure them, you may force some sort of answer, but don’t consider it credible that they answered when backed into a corner. What sort of answers do you give to someone who has you feeling trapped in corner?
Sending is Pursuit
In general, your MLCer lacks the capacity to offer you authenticity. They don’t have it for themselves, so they are certainly not going to have it for you. Sending that sort of letter is pursuing because an MLCer will feel they are being hounded or bothered. MLCers run away from that sort of behavior. I know, they are already running away, so what’s the loss? The loss is that they may not really want to run away from you. Remember, MLC is a crisis of identity and they are often running away from what they fear is true about themselves. They don’t want to face the demons inside. This crisis is not about you! The Why? doesn’t really have an answer that is about you because the crisis is the answer and that’s not about you. I understand how tough it can be to accept all this when the destructive actions have been so personally directed toward you–personal or not, it’s you that’s been hurt.
For me I found my answers in understanding MLC. I couldn’t count on Chuck to answer my questions, but the answers I found in Psychology made sense to me. I’m hoping that I can help you as well.