Sunday, January 2, 2011

Empty Nest and Chapter Three

In all these last years since my daughters have left home I have wanted to keep their bedrooms exactly like they were when they left, as they still come home frequently.  My recent financial peril has made this no longer possible, and I hate it, how I hate the sight of my youngest girl removing her things from my home to her new adult home in London.  I suppose my traumatic reaction to my parent's divorce makes me crazier than most when it comes to the loss of the sense of the family home and unity.

When my mother, to save her own sanity and pride, left her wayward husband (my adored but flawed father) and fled to Twenty-Nine Palms, CA to take a high school counseling job, I never imagined the reactions I would have.  My father, who was never very good at money, rented every room in the house that could be rented out.  I sobbed hysterically into the arms of my long-suffering first husband, who was at a loss to explain my outbursts -- as was I.  At the age of 21 all I could think of was death.

Suddenly the floor of familial support evaporated out from under me and I had my first severe siege of Bipolar disorder, which was NOT helped along by the cocktails of sixties psychedelics I was imbibing at the time.  I wasn't aware of the family genes -- alcoholism on my Grandaddy's Cherokee side, and insanity on my Granny's seemingly normal side -- a lovely coupling.

Thank god for me -- I escaped the alcoholism gene and merely am mad as a hatter from time to time.  Not lunacy, just the pools of deep sorrow that certain women are known for -- there has always been a cultural archetype of "the weeping woman" --"La Llorna" -- the woman who weeps for her lost children, husband or any significant relationship.  The person who has a hard time coming back from all of that, yeah, that would be me.  The ancient myth of Demeter and Persephone is in my bones and tears and blood; "if you were born a woman, you're born to be hurt," as said Dolly Parton.

I turned into my mother after all.

Because of the precarious nature of my housing situation (as I blog while I should be filling out yet another modification form oh help!), my youngest daughter is doing all she can to pack up her room of 26 years into a few small boxes so that I can rent it out.

It's probably just as well, as to this day I weep when I walk into their rooms, and that's not healthy.  A twelve year mourning period over one's children is not at all in the range of "normalcy" as they are alive, they thrive, and they are very happy in their trajectories.
 
I want their happiness.  I do.  But I never, ever imagined their journeys would take them half a world from me, leaving me grief-stricken, with a wound that still has not healed.  I just found a letter I wrote to them both in 2005, which ended with a quote from the Diana Ross song "Missing You" --

     "oooh, oooh I'm missing you; tell me where the road turned?"

And I'm afraid Mama Bear is "still crazy after all these years" -- not the lachrymose drunk my mama was, but a lachrymose mentally ill mother is no better.  I still carry the fear that if I had been "better" or "well" they wouldn't have left, but evidence from all my friends proves the opposite.

Everybody's kids are suddenly clearing out their rooms!  Suddenly, this whole crop of adults has sprung up in place of the children I remember, and I'm not dealing with this very well.  Still, I am so very proud of my daughters; they are so independent, well-grounded, highly educated and such good people.  Beauty is as beauty does, all right.  That's why it's so hard to let go -- I really am attached to my daughters.

It's not the same for them, though, no matter how much they might love me.  My youngest told me once that it was normal for parents to love their children more than children loved their parents!  Imagine my   -- response.  I've seen the opposite and in young people here that are on a different path with their own parents.

I wanted their independence; I didn't realize what it would mean.  Letting go in a way I never thought would be demanded of me is required here, and my skill set is weak!  To all of you who are going through similar emotions -- I see the silent sorrow in the faces of women my age -- my heart goes out to you.  Chapter Three of our lives remain to be lived, and some of us haven't a clue as to how.  One day at a time, I remind myself of that eternal god-blessed/damned phrase one day at a time.

This next year will decide my fate.  If the All-That-Is allows me to remain here, I should like to do so.  I want to see my grandchildren be carried into my home, borne in the arms of their happy parents.  In the meantime, back to work saving the house, and adoring my grey fluffy cats and sweet Patrick.

Again, a Happy New Year!  My heart's blessing goes out to all of you in these difficult times.  May we lose our fear, may we feel freedom of the heart once again, serving others as we served our children. I find that life without service to others is nothing.  I wish I knew where my True path lay, and where my little pack will rest in six months.  That would be Patrick, me and our two grey fluffy cats, Myshkin and Demelza.

There is something about cats/felines that humans have always worshiped.  Why?  Ah, who can say that they know? Life is a great Mystery and nothing will ever or should ever change that.

Good Lord -- a giant black cat just waltzed into our upstairs bedroom window, annoying the hell out of my grey cats and delighting us!  Cats find me, and I like that!  A big fat sleek gorgeous black cat came in out of the cold out of nowhere, saying hello to us in this New Year! 

So -- hello to 2011 and the road forward!