By: Faith Pearce
(4 min read)
I have been quiet for a while now, and some may have wondered where I have been.
Sometimes when life gets very full, one of my coping mechanisms is to take a step back and to be honest, the past few weeks have been a hell of a ride of extreme highs and lows. There have been some huge changes in my life, too much to cover in one blog, but there will be more to come.
After 20 years, my daughter left for the University. It has been just the two of us, a solid unit since she was a baby. She has now spread her wings and is finding her feet. I knew this day was coming, and no matter what I did, nothing really prepared me for it. It was like my heart was being ripped out of my chest. I gave her everything I could. I wanted her to be confident and independent, believe in her dreams, and go for them. Why then, after I succeeded – “yes I did it” – did it hurt like hell? Why does this success have to hurt so badly? Logically, I told myself she is growing up, is self-sufficient, and you have taught her to figure things out. She hasn’t died, yet that was how it felt.
Any change, whether a relationship, job, house, or routine, is like a mini-death. Because we have to let go of what was to make space for something new. As defined by Dr. Kubler-Ross, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Not everyone goes through every stage or in this exact order. I had to remind myself that what I am feeling is completely normal.
For days I cried at everything. It was the closing of one of the most challenging but most rewarding chapters of our lives. When she was born, it gave me something truly powerful. She was a small helpless child who needed me, and it allowed me to get out of my head. Becoming her mum gave me the drive to be a better person, show her strength, and strive for goals and achieve them. She gave me a purpose.
I wanted to protect her but also allow her the space to learn for herself. She knew I wouldn’t judge her, would always be there, and never let her down. I wanted to show her how to be strong and set her own boundaries with others. I felt it was important for her to learn to be there for others and let others be there for her. Teaching her the concept that she would experience the consequences of her own actions was vital, but most of all, I wanted her to be happy.
When she moved out, I felt so incredibly lost. Who am I now? I am no longer a single mum with a child at home. I am not the cook, cleaner, taxi driver, entertainer, confidant, or coach. Now there is just me…and, wow, that is a big space to sit in.
There are no excuses to hide behind why I haven’t done something or can’t do things. Now I can eat whatever I want. I can do whatever I want whenever I want. And I have to choose to do it just for me.
That may sound simple. I have the freedom to do anything. Free time and make personal choices. Yet it felt the complete opposite.
When your whole life has been built around others’ needs, there is a massive disconnect from what you want and need. I had not allowed myself the time to acknowledge what this was. It is always easier to focus externally than to address how we feel or the activities of our life. Am I lonely or bored? Would I like a social life? Or not. And, if I did what would that look like?
When the uncomfortable becomes routine or feels normal, it then becomes comfortable. It got me thinking about how often I stay in the wrong relationship, job, or situation because it is familiar. Stepping out and into something new, no matter how much we want or need it, is scary, terrifying in fact. As creatures of habit, we love the path of least resistance.
With this huge life change, I could revert back to old habits and become an eternal hermit. But I know that whatever I feel, I always have a choice whether to stay with what I know or to risk pushing myself. With awareness, I realize I can choose differently. However uncomfortable it is, maybe, I will first become an improved version of myself. Just like my daughter, I have the strength to press on.
So as the weeks go by, I am less emotional. Some days are better than others, but I am starting with baby steps. A start has been just looking at where I am right now and asking the question, where do I go from here?
“What do you need and what do you want to do right now? And are you willing to do it for just yourself instead of someone else?”
All Things Wellness, LLC
The information provided is the opinion of the author and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. diagnoses, or treatment. The author and the business, All Things Wellness, LLC, and its owner Peggy Willms, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this website. We assume no responsibility for tangible and intangible damages such as physical harm caused by using a product, loss of profits or loss of data, and defamatory comments.