What Now?

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I walk slowly into myself, through a forest of empty suits of armor - Tomas Transtomer

I’m a big believer of being introspective. I strongly believe in looking within to analyze the current state of affairs, but sometimes the biggest of emotional events have a tendency to get dismissed. They quickly get compartmentalized and shoved into the darkest and most inaccessible corners of our mind because we simply don’t want to deal with the feelings associated with them.

My son moved in with me at the beginning of 8th grade. He needed a change and needed some direction. He struggled with confidence, didn’t care about school, and had no real vision. Don’t get me wrong, he was still a happy kid that would do anything for anyone, wasn’t afraid to try new things, and is the type that stood up for his friends, but it was a change we both needed. I was struggling at the time to make ends meet and back then, when it was just me, I didn’t really care whether I succeeded or failed. But, when he moved in, things had to change. I was given an opportunity to be a role model for my son and help to ensure his overall success. I wasn’t a perfect parent by any means. In fact, there were multiple times where I felt out of control. My emotions would get the better of me which caused me to be more focused on my own problems instead of putting focus into him. That wasn’t always the case because it became my mission to ensure his growth and success. It was my path, my calling, and my higher self’s greatest desire. Nothing in the world mattered more to me than him seeing the success he desired and deserved.

Time goes by too quickly. I always knew he would be going off to college eventually but I admittedly wasn’t prepared for how soon it happened. In the grand scheme of things, it happens in the blink of an eye. You wake up and they are gone. I can assure you that nobody can prepare you for the feelings you will endure when it happens especially when it happens three months earlier than expected.  They suddenly have their own life, their own aspirations, their own vision and we no longer feel needed. I felt empty, alone and without purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I am elated and proud he is taking the steps to ensure a successful future. I am happy he is actively making new connections and learning about the real world first hand, but I’m having a hard time absorbing the fact that my role as a direct parent is no longer relevant. Truth be told, I may have been labeled as the parent, but he actually helped me as much as I helped him. He helped me through some pretty difficult times and taught me how to see things from a different and more positive perspective. I am ever grateful for that.

Today is the one of the first days I have allowed the tears to stream freely, it is the first time I have pried open this box and faced all of these hidden and bottled emotions completely. It’s really the first time I have let it out all the way. It’s not easy. The physical symptoms and overall deterioration I have experienced over the last few months have truly left me feeling like nothing more than an empty shell. I don’t look like me, I don’t feel like me, and my doom and gloom thought patterns have only revolved around what I have believed to me my own limited mortality. Things have progressively gotten worse and I haven’t taken the steps to properly take care of my own well being. Instead, I have found myself indulging in meaningless and harmful activities that only serve to bring me down further. I do know now that if this trend continues, there will be no escape. The pit I’m stuck in will only become deeper and my days will be numbered. Dramatic possibly, but I strongly believe this is the case.

It is clear to me now that empty nest syndrome is a very real thing. While it may impact different people in different ways, I do believe it hits the sensitive people the hardest. For me, I don’t know what is next. I no longer have a vision, I no longer know what my path is and to put it simply I no longer know what I am supposed to be doing. I’m aimlessly wandering through each day full of worry, stress and anxiety about my own issues which is only bringing me down further. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, I don’t know what this month will bring. I can only hope to find the inner wherewithal to start making my way back up the hill so that I can see things from a broader perspective and start anew. It’s what I hope for the most. 

If you are going through a similar challenge, don’t hold it in, don’t bottle it, find a group of like minded people who will understand the emotions you are feeling so that you too can start healing and regaining your sense of purpose. Don’t allow yourself to get into the state I have dropped into. It's not healthy. I believe each of us were brought here to share our own unique love with the world in multiple capacities, so look deep, find yours and allow it to enlighten everyone you come in contact with. No matter the challenges you have faced, no matter the battle scars you carry around with you that are still healing, you are here to make a difference and you still will so long as you allow yourself to regain a strong sense of purpose. It is still there. Look deep within, find it,  trust it, release all the burdens and grief, and then you too can start anew. You deserve it and I promise you the entire world is still within your grasp.

1 thought on “What Now?

  1. Elspeth says:

    Yes, Empty Nest Syndrome is real. You’re so right. I’ve been through it twice. The physical sensation of your heart being squeezed as they disappear around the corner of the street, with you knowing they won’t come back that night to sleep in their own bed. Permanently. They have a new nest. (Although technically one kept coming back, which is another story. Sometimes amusing, sometimes tragic).

    Life. It goes on. Inevitably.

    It does soften, that sense of loss. I suppose it’s a form of bereavement? The end of an era in the life of a parent. Our kids become our ‘whole’, our basic, underlying instinctive sense of being. We lose ourselves in them. Or, maybe we evolve into another version of self. Parenthood is all consuming; it’s how it works for the majority of creatures. That’s the nature of the Survival of the Species perhaps. Hormones, chemical, nature, nurture, that list goes on.

    So, when the kids go…we only have ourselves, and the lives we’ve made around them to deal with. It felt like losing a limb to me, as my son was driven away to his ‘new life’. I was fortunate enough to have a busy work-life I could throw myself into. Other people’s children stepped into the void my kids left behind.

    Saying that, before they leave, the apron-strings are pretty stretched anyway. Life does that as you find they can stand on their own feet, and you have to deal with everything else that’s going on. If you don’t deal with it and all it’s machinations, you feel like a failure, AND a bad parent. We’re so tough on ourselves. We deserve our own space back at some point though. All the potty training, the feeding, the sitting with them while they’re sick, reading stories, teaching them to stay on the bike lmao.. it’s an adventure, a challenge but also a privilege that has a time limit.

    After awhile this new life does become the Norm. You find things to do, new routines, new friends too sometimes. Everything changes perspective and becomes easier. Then it becomes normal. You get Your Life on track. We’ve just stepped back as Mom or Dad. When that happens another relationship develops. A kind of friendship and please believe me, it’s a real Treasure.
    But, you’ll always be a parent. (Always).


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