By Linda Owsley, RN BSN
Beside my failure to shake my constant state of doubt and my sudden lack of ability to turn the other cheek, I also started experiencing those troublesome textbook symptoms of hot flashes; deceased sex drive, night sweats, and acne… This certainly was not an easy start to my metamorphosis. In fact, this was a complete 180-degree turnaround in my reality.
At first, I began this practice of denial. My coping strategies focused around fleeing. Desperately trying to escape this loss of comfort in my mind. I buried myself in work. Going as far as developing a new business venture that took nearly 3 years to investigate, resulting in my marriage turning up on its head. But, I was sure that if I could keep my mind busy enough, I would never have to look at what was really happening in my life.
Let’s not forget that this major physical and mental turnaround coincided with the move of my youngest son into his dorm half way across the country. How unfair was that? My motherhood ended so abruptly as to happen on Evan’s 18th birthday in Chicago Illinois… Brutal.
That was a soggy flight home. My husband, Mr. Empathy, just kept repeating, “You should drink more water, so you wont dehydrate from all the tears spilling down your face.” Looking back, I don’t think he’d ever seen me cry like that before. Humor was his way of coping with me. Of course, I did not find it very funny at the time.
It stands to reason the real mental challenge I was facing was the expiration date on my motherhood. There is a lot to ponder when ones identity as a parent is abruptly stolen and catapults us into the life of an empty-nester. You’ve probable noted from many women by now that the timing of these two events so meticulously dovetailed has to be the greatest challenge of our lives. I think it has more meaning though. I am so much more self aware today. Instead of having your whole life ahead of you, you’re coming to terms with the concept that the first, possibly most meaningful half of your life is ending.
That may sound a little dramatic, but when you find yourself at the vortex of that intersection, it feels dramatic. But forward we must go. This process is much like a tunnel. It is dark and scary when you first enter, but as you bump into walls and cry yourself to sleep, each day brings you closer to the other side.