The calm after the storm...feels kind of blah

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by scent of cedar, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    During the thick of these past months, I wished for time. Now that I have it? I don't know what to do with it.

    Things have resolved miraculously well.

    But I'm still coming down from crisis mode. It's like I'm all keyed up with nowhere to go. Deep cleaning something, while it has to be done (and I am doing it), doesn't appeal. No yoga for awhile. I did start a karate class, and am happily fooling with that.... Apples are ready, and I have been picking and baking and freezing.

    But other than that, husband and I are sort of wallowing in our abandon over here, eating things we shouldn't and just feeling kind of out of sorts.

    This will pass too, once we get our feet under us again. I thought I would post about it though. I can't be the only one this happens to. It's difficult to re-occupy our lives, once we've been in crisis mode for awhile. So many things pushed aside or never started while our minds and time were otherwise occupied, I suppose.

    Ho hum.

  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    But... part of this is actually totally normal. It's called "empty nest syndrome".
    It's just that those with adult difficult child's tend to experience the syndrome "post crisis" rather than "empty nest"...

  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good morning Cedar. Once again, I can identify with what you're saying. For me, months after the war ended and I pretty much cleaned out the emotional debris, I was in that exact place you describe. What do you do with yourself now? It's like soldiers coming back from combat, geez, one day you're in battle, then you have a tiny bit of time to decompress, then you're back in a "normal" reality. I don't think so.

    You've been in combat for many, many years with both your kids. I've lived in the world of mental illness most of my life. This is not the usual re-entry into real life after our kids grow up...............this is an entirely new existence which requires care and nurturing and time.

    I looked at it like a practice, a new beginning, a new life which required great care. We haven't tended to focus on ourselves at all, so this is a new concept completely. Without others to care for and think about all the time, there are huge gaps of time and huge amounts of mental and emotional energy that is suddenly OURS.

    I'm still in this re-entry myself, and how I am dealing with it is to ask myself what I LOVE to do. What do you LOVE? Make plans to do it and do it daily.

    I am using all the money usually spent on difficult child requirements to do utterly carefree, unnecessary things. I have to say, it hasn't been all that easy. I have been so used to thinking in terms of impending tragedy, I have to sometimes force myself to shift my thoughts.

    SO and I went away for the weekend and it was probably the best time I've had in a long time. Just the two of us. Not worried about coming home to the latest drama we spent the days having fun. Cedar, it's really retraining ourselves to stay right here in this moment, seize it and make sure we squeeze every bit of life out of it! Two days away and I feel so replenished, relaxed and happy. It's been a long road, but life once again has color and richness and joy.

    Look into traveling if that makes you happy. I think for me, what really catapulted me out of that "blah" was finding a vision for ME. Which I mentioned to you, traveling to those places and staying for extended periods of time, learning about other places, other people.............SO and I have put together a whole fantasy of what that will be like..............after granddaughter graduates.............having a dream that is just mine has the power to keep me very happy and excited. Can you and your husband find a dream together? Something perhaps you wanted long ago that you put aside for the sake of the kids? Something you have thought about a lot but didn't think it was possible?

    Give yourself some time to breathe and realize this chapter is over now. You have a whole life awaiting you.............keep resting, it takes awhile to really relax...............
  4. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    A practice, a new beginning, a new life which required great care....



    Ah, of course that makes sense.

    This is Post-Traumatic Stress.

    Marshaling every bit of strength for every phone call, for every social engagement, for every morning. Expecting to hear that a body had been identified, that this part was over and the next phase would begin. Ferreting out every bit of information we could glean from any source; searching the streets of the city where she was, seeing horrible things there but never, ever spotting her.... Coming to horrified attention whenever the local news reported a stabbing, a theft, the routing of homeless people from the downtown tourist areas. Preparing for the July family gathering, and for the company that was coming, later that month. Fielding questions without displaying the horror at the heart of it. Pretending things were okay, pretending WE were okay. Pretending any of it mattered, when it was like we could hear a clock, ticking down the seconds....

    Our grandchildren not here, not coming; likely to be out of our lives altogether for a very long time....

    Trying to be grateful they were safe, hanging onto that; berating myself for leaving last Fall...reliving the horror of what they saw, of what happened to them.

    Making the best of it that we could, everything flashing and gleaming, playing out in slow motion and covered with a thin patina of dread.

    Strange, disjointed dreams and broken sleep. Desperate, repeated refocusing. Believing for the best; being so grateful when that helped, being so grateful for any smallest surcease....

    It is what it is. Never was very pretty. We made it through. There is no prize, at the end.


    "replenished, relaxed, and happy"

    To recreate our lives in living color; in richness, and joy....

    That puny little part that says I knew, that says I should have known. That same, crazy feeling I chased and was chased by, for all those years.

    Wanting to run away; wanting to not be angry, to not be scared and so desperately tired.

    Things are unraveling a little, around the edges.

    "A practice, a new beginning, a new life which required great care."

    I wasn't going to post this. But it is helpful to know what each of us confronts and how she handles it. Finally having a look at what these past months have meant was cathartic. I didn't know all those emotions, all that blame and guilt and frustration and shame and anger were rattling around in here.

    One more time, Recovering, you have been able to help me tap into what is happening under the brittle smile, beneath the rigidly controlled, selected, and censored reaction. I am understanding a little more about what detachment is, about how it works, about what love looks like through that lens.

    I am posting your phrase about this part being a practice, a new beginning, a new life which requires great care, on the fridge.

    husband and I will be discussing this, tonight.

    Thank you, Recovering. I feel comforted; stronger, for having acknowledged what was happening under all that laughter, under all that baking and cleaning.


    One more thing. I liked the part about mental discipline very much. (When you wrote that you would have to force a shift in your thoughts, retrain yourself to stay in and cherish, the moment.)

    Also, the part about finding and following what we love. You are right. That is the signpost that we are on the right path to recovering ourselves and our capacity to cherish our own lives.

    "An entirely new existence which requires great care and nurturing and time...."
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh Cedar, your post is so poignant...............I was just sitting here at work at my desk surveying the last two years of my own life..........and then your post comes in and you are describing so much devastation it brought me back for a moment to those times................and those raw feelings of horror, sorrow, guilt, fear...................yes, it is PTSD...............our own special version of that, perhaps worse then war because our own hearts are involved, we are not witnessing the demise of strangers or comrades but our offspring..............caught in their own war, one we have no power to remove them from.

    Then the emptiness, the void, the absence of trauma and drama.............we need a lot of rest. No one can go through that kind of desperation and when the dust settles, go out singing show is imperative. DEEP rest.

    These musings of ours, these points along the way are helping me see the process we are in more clearly, this detachment/acceptance learning curve.

    It reminds me of many teachings about the 'dark night of the soul' the spiritual awakening process I've read so much about and have seen myself engaged in. There are stages of that as well. The breakdown, (the first step).........the blowing up of the life as we knew it. ...............Then the retreat...........going deep into oneself to arrange the pieces of our lives in a different manner, (the second step)............Then, the return to life......... coming back with an altered view, a new internal system of beliefs....................(the third step). I attended a lecture many years ago about this process or passage..............the lecturer mentioned that coming back from this journey (the return) was the most vulnerable time, where you seem to be right now, because the pull of the old is still present as we attempt to live a different way...............good to know. So, we need to be diligent, to not succumb to guilt, shame, blame..................don't let those old feelings take root...........throw them out before they alter your thoughts...............(I practice this A LOT!)

    Hang in there and put energy into your new, developing deserves your attention now. As our difficult child's deserved our attention, now we have to give that to ourselves.

    I feel as if I have made it over the edge of a mountain range I have just hiked through. It's taken awhile. What an arduous journey.
    My camp is a tad further down the mountain Cedar, you've just emerged out of the dark forest, thick, tangled and filled with scary stuff. Stop awhile and rest, really rest, I mean like you never rested before. From the inside out. Take naps. Be in nature. I've taken a lot of hikes. There's one in particular, around a lake, there is something about this place which I find very soothing, I feel nourished when I'm there................ I feel as if I have to shift every part of me, my cells, my organs, my muscles, my brain, my thinking, all of it. I get a lot of nurturing care, it just feels as if I have to fill myself up with self care, replenish all that was mangled in the dark drama of my family and their needs.

    Cedar, I think this is actually beyond our kids and their difficult child status. I think it includes and perhaps is rooted in our own age group of women raised to believe our worth depended upon our care-giving skill. That is a deep belief very difficult to shift since we were more or less born into it. I'm not saying all women have this, but many our age do and climbing out of that, to have a healthy self concept with strong boundaries and self love is a MONUMENTAL win.

    Imagine what you and husband's life could be if you put the same energy, time, love, passion, drive, focus and determination into YOUR lives that you put into your kids lives..................holy #$%@!!!

    My granddaughter and I now have a little joke. It started on my birthday when SO said we would celebrate for one whole week. Every time she would ask me for something, (which is a lot, she is after all a teenage girl, there is no end to the requests)............I would say, "now wait a minute, remember, it's all about ME now." I've been saying that a lot lately. It feels good to say it. It's all about me now.
  6. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    It may be, that my problem is not knowing any other kind of existence, and being too much of coward to try reaching to one, but to me peace, quiet, calm and even 'living for yourself' sounds deceptively like grave or at least bored to death in some nursing home chair gazing telly waiting to get to that grave.

    I know drama can be addictive. And that it is considered a disorder when you crave strong experiences and are not satisfied with everyday life. But darn that peace and quiet and small joys do sound dull and blah.

    I know I'm too restless for my own good. I know it's not good for me. Intellectually I do want peace and quiet and that picket fence of mine. And have worked hard for that. But if I ever actually achieve that, I'm probably enough of my mother's daughter (and yeah, my difficult child's mother) that I will bolt.

    I'm 43 years old. I may have half of my life still in front of me. I'm nowhere near ready to call it a day and concentrate on gardening, crafts, my dogs, coercing my husband to join me to classical music concert, meeting my girlfriends in classy wine bars for a chat and class of quality wine and entertaining guest every now and then with nice dinner. And joining the dinner parties of others. I would die to boredom, or loose what is left of my marbles for good, in less than five years of that.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Suzir, you are young. Getting older and having an empty nest doesn't mean ya sit in a rocking chair waiting to die. There are a lot of fun and active things to do that don't involve your kids and most kids do not make a habit of hanging around and including the parents in their social lives. They marry and move on. Some move far away.

    And you do come to like peace and serenity and a lack of slamming doors and fixing problems. Or at least I think many do. Of course, most people do have grandchildren, but they do not always live nearby nor spend a lot of time with us. Usually we can hug them and give them back (not always, as you see on this board).

    I am not 100% sure, but I think those in this thread are saying that they are so used to chaos that they can't settle down now that they don't have it anymore. In the US, many people live in inner cities that are so wild that there are common gang shootings. I knew a man who got out of that environment eventually by first joining the service (ironic, I know!). But he was always causing a crisis in his marriage because the quiet of his life was unfamiliar to him. They came close to divorce until he got help.

    I think that being able to finally think about ourselves first, once we hit our middle 50's or so is a gift. We spend so much of our lives ministering to everyone else. Some of us have to learn how to be good to ourselves though :) It is foreign to us.

    To anybody at all who is having trouble adjusting to the empty nest (or the peace and quiet) therapy is again a good answer. It is going to be very odd to me next year when Sonic moves out and Jumper goes to college. I am 60 and will first have a totally empty nest and it will be very strange to me!!!
  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    SuZir, when I was 43 years old, I felt exactly as you do. There is a world of difference in our ages in terms of the perspective one takes when time is no longer "on your side." You can't see life through the eyes of Cedar, MWM or I because what you are seeing and how you are seeing it is vastly different.

    No one would presume to dictate to you or anyone else how to live your life and any comparisons made between where you are and where we are in our 60's is like comparing yourself to a 22 year old and wondering why there's a difference. You can't possibly know what it's like to be this age until you are this age and interpret, feel and perceive life through our eyes.

    I am not presuming that you or anyone else will end up in the same place, you will make your own choices as you grow may have an entirely different aging process..............your interpretation of what we are saying is not what we are talking about because the way you define words like' peace, quiet and small joys' is perceived through the lens of your age and quite different then how I see that now. When I was your age, I saw that all differently as well. This may be a conversation that younger folks really can't understand, simply because you're not there yet.
  9. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    RE: Thank you for the "you will understand when you grow up. Go ton play now and let adults talk in peace." ;) Makes me feel decidedly young despite those bloody wrinkles that have started to form around my eyes. :bigsmile:

    MWM: I'm having an acute case of mid-life crisis. Having kids youngish and putting so much time to raising them, has left me little bit lost now, that I get one or two half an hour phone calls a week from another and about equal, or less, attention from the one living under my roof. Dabbling with little bit of this and that isn't filling the void and I haven't yet come up with definite ideas what I want to do with my life from now on.
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Young whippersnapper!

    From this point along the trail I can look back at where you are and recognize that each stage of life has passages............. letting go of the old, discovering something new, hopefully finding something one is inspired, fascinated and excited by.

    When I was your age I had a deep urge to catapult out of the life I was leading which had served me well as I raised my daughter and had my own business............but that life came to an end and the mid-life yearning hit and I took off and lived on Maui and then went on an interesting adventure traveling for a couple of years. I have always had wanderlust so leading a gypsy lifestyle was terrific at that point. Then I settled in again after a few years, in a new life with different characters and now that one is completing itself too, so I am on the lookout for the next adventure. The difference is I am not as likely to stay in youth hostels, but rather more upscale hotels...........I am less likely to sleep on beaches and more likely to rent a condo.............I am less interested in running a marathon and more interested in learning fly fishing..................

    I think if we stay awake and don't get stuck in a tired rut, keep our eyes opened and really follow our instincts and what we love, each stage of life, although markedly different, can be met with enthusiasm, fascination, passion and vitality................yet those words may be defined differently at each stage. What IS the same is meeting each new day with a sense of awe and excitement, however that looks to you at whatever stage you're at. That's what keeps us young and vital...............and fully engaged in life. SuZir, as you search for your new adventure.................."may the force be with you!"