He left me. Again.
It has happened before, a year and a half ago, but that didn’t seem to make it any easier.
As I crawled into bed, after having helped him pack his suitcases, I lay there in the dark, wrapped tightly in my blankets with the Kleenex box close by and let all of the pent up emotions flow out like a dam breaking.
I bawled. And as the gut wrenching sobs poured forth out of my tired body I began to feel this sense of tugging. Right where my belly button is. It was the oddest thing. I physically felt like the umbilical cord was being cut, again.
My son was leaving early the next morning on a flight to Japan. He would attend the first semester of his second year of college in Osaka. For four months the house would be that much more quieter, emptier, cleaner. As much as we needed the break from each other it didn’t stop the tears from spilling forth down my face.
As a parent of an older child, 18- 24 roughly, there are thousands of us out there at this time of year experiencing this same strong sense of loss as we prepare to send our children either back to college/university or off to it for the first time.
It is hard to have someone who has been a part of your life for, in my case 23 years now, just simply not be there the next day. To not feel their presence in the house any longer, to not have someone to chat to or ask for help with your computer…. In my case he just seems to have always been there and to not have him at home leaves a very large hole in my life. I'm contemplating getting a cat.
As the days begin to pass the loss and pain are not as acute, but at the strangest times it will just show up. A sense of sadness washes over me as I realize he is not here to reach out to. He is a physical part of who I am and I love him as much as life itself. It’s like that when you have a child, I'm not sure there is anything that compares to that kind of love.
As I work through these feelings I often will find myself wanting to use my go to method for dealing with strong emotions, I want a drink. Don't get me wrong I don’t drink in excess, but like most of us who may grab a glass of wine or in my case a high ball, we use it numb the pain. There are a plethora of numbing tools that we use in our lives, from alcohol to drugs, from shopping therapy to sex, we all find what works for us to numb the feelings we simply can’t seem to be with.
As Brene Brown says in her book Daring Greatly, “We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions. Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.”
As a coach I share this quote with clients often. And because integrity is one of my core values, I chose to practice what I preach. So this time I did not go for the drink and I chose to be vulnerable by writing this post. When the emotion begins to rise in me I just feel it, sit with it. I work through it. I have my cry or rock myself gently and let it work it’s way through me. There is no other way.
I know that this will take some time. I also know that I will experience this again as he will return home and one day move out for good. But at that point I hold out the hope that he will live in the same town and when I feel the need to reach out and connect with him he will be closer and I can physically see, hear and touch him.
Have you had this experience in your life? Are you going through it right now? Let me know below what’s going on for you or what your personal experience was.
If you know someone who is going through this at the moment feel free to share this post as a way of showing empathy and letting them know you care. We all need to feel connected to others in our lives.