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Mid-life Dating and Turning Points: Will We Be Able to Fill the Void?

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In the movie Enough Said with James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the trigger moment is the departure of Eva's (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) daughter who will be leaving for college. The dilemma that stems from this for Eva is pondering the question of if she will be able to fill the void when her daughter is gone. The pursuit begins when she meets Albert (James Gandolfini) and they begin what they refer to as "middle-aged" dating. One of the obstacles is her new friendship with Marianne (Catherine Keener).

The movie is so beautifully written and executed on every level. The writer and director, Nicole Holofcener really understands the intimacy of love and loss and the hurdles of this life experience. I am a huge fan of her voice. I especially loved the exploration of the question: Will we be able to fill the hole when things change? With Eva, we see how she attempts to fill the pending void in different ways through different relationships. There is a poignant moment when Eva looks at her ex-husband and realizes that the sanctity that they once had in their relationship is no longer there. He now shares it with his new wife. This moment really resonated with me in reflecting on the idea of what does it all mean? I had the life experience of a long relationship ending in a short marriage so I understand this part of the quest. I also loved the way that Holofcener depicts obstacles through Eva and Albert's relationship that so many of us face when we go through mid-life dating.

With movies, we connect with themes and we ponder the same questions in our own lives. I believe that many of us are pondering the question "Will we be able to fill our lives after we go through a major life shift?" I don't have children so I am not dealing with the empty nest in my own life but I did have a clear recollection of when my mom went through it when my siblings and I left for college. I remember the variety of emotions that I saw her go through. I felt her fear of what's next. What does life look like after we go through a big life change?

In my life, I am middle-aged and I am dating. So, I really connected with the idea of the walls that we put up to sabotage intimacy or prevent it from truly finding a home in our lives. We have our blocks; like how physically fit the person is and do they fit into our image of "handsome" or "beautiful"? Can we put up with their habits? Do things that they do or physical attributes they have attract us in one way but repel us in another? Does their level of darkness or craziness align with our own? This is what we do while we search for an answer.

My life moment that parallels with this idea of transition was losing a job after 15 years with the same company and having to redefine my path. I did go through a feeling of the "empty nest" and the fear of wondering whether I'd be able to fill the void. It's been six years since this happened. How I answered the question was by giving birth to a business. I nurture this choice everyday. In doing so, I redefined my path and I filled the void. I was able to do this professionally; however personally, there is still an ongoing journey. What does the answer look like? I don't know.

Our turning points lead us to reflect on the questions that surface while we are going through them. The gift of the question is that it often causes us to take action. In Enough Said, I loved seeing Eva take action after her initial actions did not lead her to the answer she was seeking. I found this to be inspirational to all of us who are still experiencing the question that results from our life turning point. I felt fulfilled by what she discovered in herself, the missteps she took and how she resolved her question by a choice that she made in the end to be open. In my own life, I will use this as a gentle reminder that when we take action in our personal life that moves us past our comfort zone; we may find the answer that we've been seeking.