Do you ever feel like you're traveling on a road that has no end in sight? We've all been there. Unfortunately, life doesn't come with a manual. We are all living our own journey. So how is it that some people make it look so simple? Let me let you in on a little secret. Everyone has struggles and misfortunes. Some things we can handle on our own and some things take a village of resources that we have to rely on. The important thing is that we recognize that how we handle these struggles and misfortunes is what determines how we get to the fork in the road that allows us to change the path.
I've been pretty fortunate in my life. There have been ups and downs, but overall it's been a fairly good life so far. Life has definitely thrown me a couple of curve balls but I've got a pretty good eye and have always managed to figure out a way to outwit the curve. It was about five years ago that the curve ball finally beat me.
I always had a great relationship with my dad. He wasn't just my dad. He was my hero, my best friend, my biggest fan, and my mentor. He meant the world to me, still does. Unfortunately he lost his battle at the very young age of 66. I have two daughters and they were blatantly aware of how much my father meant to me. In fact, they too, had a super strong bond with him. They thought it would kill me when he passed and I knew that's how they felt.
I have a great bond with my daughters and would consider us to be just as close to one another as I was to my father. I had to be strong. I didn't want them to think that if something were to happen to me that they wouldn't be able to survive it. So I put on a brave face and fought like hell to show them that I was okay and could get through this just like they would have to one day do the same.
Meanwhile, I was suffering inside. Strong on the outside I marched on, but inside I was falling apart and didn't even realize it. Aside from the occasional outburst of emotion and grief, I seemed to be holding it all together pretty well.
Three weeks after my dad passed my mom, sister, brother-in-law, and my nieces and nephew all packed up and moved out of state. Granted, I still had my immediate family of four and felt very thankful for that, however, the move wasn't an easy pill to swallow. I had lived within a ten mile radius of all of my family for my entire life. I was happy for their new journey but saddened by the distance that was now between us. Well, I put on a brave face again and kept on keeping on.
Three years later, my youngest daughter went away to University. It wasn't until that year that everything I thought I had control of was about to erupt. I was the most depressed I had ever been and felt like everyone I loved in my life was being taken away from me. I remember asking myself all of the time, "Why is everyone leaving me?" It felt so personal and I began to take it that way. Soon enough that would start to affect the relationships I had with everyone I held dear.
I've always been a smother mother. I'm not proud of it now, but at the time I was doing my best to keep my little humans alive and protected. In hindsight, I should have let them have many more experiences than they did. I can't change the past but I sure wish I could sometimes. When my daughter went off to college I continued to hover and worry. She tried to set some boundaries and assure me that she was okay but I didn't hear her. Meanwhile my oldest daughter, who was still living at home, was silently suffering the consequences of my consumption with having my youngest daughter so far away. So not only was I harming my relationship with my youngest by not giving her the opportunity to spread her wings, but I was also trying to control my oldest since I wasn't able to have that control over the youngest.
Eventually when I felt like I had no control over anything anymore I started to push people away. My thought process was that if I didn't have attachments to people it wouldn't hurt when they left. So I started putting distance between me and all of my loved ones. Don't get me wrong, if they needed me I made myself available, but not entirely. I didn't realize what I was doing but now I do. I was creating what I thought was a safety zone. Turns out I was wrong.
The moral of all of this is that the choices I've made in how I've dealt with situations of such impact in my life have been the reason that things have fallen apart. I don't have all of the answers. None of us have all of the answers. What I do know is that I should have dealt with the death of my father in the way that benefited me most. Whether that be months or years of grieving his loss, I should have allowed myself that time to heal. What I do know is that it was okay for me to be sad about my family moving and that I didn't have to like it one bit. I could have still shown my happiness for their new journey while processing the way that it made me feel. What I do know is that when my youngest daughter left for college I should have encouraged her to spread her wings and fly and support her growth instead of making her feel like she was still under my reign. It was okay for me to be sad and distraught over her leaving the nest. It wasn't okay for me to continue to try to control her. What I do know is that I shouldn't have put so much space between me and my oldest daughter in fear that I was going to be hurt when she left too. I should have cherished the time that she was still living with me and soaked up every minute.
You see, the choices I've made that I thought were going to benefit me and everyone around me have actually done the exact opposite. I'm currently working on rebuilding all of the bonds that I once had. It's been a struggle to set new boundaries and try to mend the things that should have never been broken to begin with. How I'm dealing with this is the same way I should have dealt with everything to begin with. I'm allowing myself to feel the emotions that I have. Sometimes I have good days and sometimes I have not so good days, but I'm trying to own that and really allow myself to feel. I'm also learning that I have to give the people I love the same respect to feel their emotions. Some relationships have been easier than others to rebuild. Some are taking more time than I'd like, but I'm here to see it through and make it work because they're worth it. They're my tribe and I'm so grateful for them and the patience they've extended me.
I sincerely hope that you're able to take something out of this short story. Remember that it's okay to feel. You don't always have to be happy or brave. You're allowed to be sad and angry. You don't always have to protect the ones you love from seeing how you truly feel. We are all human and we all have feelings. Life doesn't come with a manual. We all write our own. I'm thankful that I found my fork in the road and that I'm on a new path. I wish that for anyone that needs it.