On the early morning hours of Halloween, my son packed his compact, sports car with a few personal belongings and drove off for a new life, two-thousand miles away. This week he moved into his first apartment and started a new job.
I am incredibly proud of him, excited for his new adventures, and relieved that he no longer lives in a city where it is dangerous to exist if you’re not white. I am joyful that we parted well and happy that his room is finally clean.
But at the same time, I cry at unexpected times, ache for his giant hugs, listen for the familiar roar of his car engine, and strain to hear the sound of his voice in the house. I’ve even caught myself a few times attempting to fill the emptiness with food.
Whenever the sadder moments of this complex kaleidoscope of feelings appear on the screen of my heart, my self-talk immediately shifts to dissolve the lump in my throat.
- He’s 100% ready to be independent
- It’s exciting to build a new life
- You raised him to be strong and follow his dreams
Dare to Feel
This trigger-response of positivity shuts down my feelings of sadness and stunts the expression of my grief. As a counselor, I encourage clients to feel their difficult feelings because nobody wants to drag around negative emotions for a lifetime. These can transform into dangerous traps for addictions – food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, or work.
So, I’m reflecting on my pain and writing.
I’m not talking deeply about it yet, because I catch myself tearing up, and then diving head-first into my “look-at-the-bright-side,” rationalization mode:
- I am not the first mother to watch her offspring move away – in fact, hadn’t I moved from my family home at 20?
- Didn’t my own parents adjust to my absence easily?
- Plus, we’re not empty-nesters yet – there is still an offspring living here on weekends, right?
You, see??? Even in my writing, I am quick to reassure myself everything is all right.
I take a deep breath and a sip of hot tea.
Today I am daring myself and all my readers to feel the unpleasant feelings. May God oversee our swirling, changing symphony of emotions, and direct our paths – wherever they may lead.