You’ve spent the last 18 plus years taking care of your children and now they have flown from the nest to begin their lives as young adults. It's a bittersweet time for parents and one that is usually accompanied with feelings of sadness, anxiousness, loneliness and depression.
Psychologist Deborah Rozman, author of Transforming Depression, compares the type of depression a mother might feel when her child leaves the nest to the kind some experience after child birth:
Empty-nesters can experience a unique kind of post-partum depression. Having this kind of time is a luxury for some, a relief for others, and still, for some, a terrifying void to fill.
Raising my two daughters was my number one job and my number one priority. When my oldest daughter went off to college, I was stunned by the sadness and emptiness I felt. After all, isn’t this exactly what I wanted for her? For her to feel confident enough to venture from the security of the nest and be on her own? But instead, I felt pain. Nothing was the same. Even though I still had one daughter at home, I felt such a loss. Even her sister felt the void, even if it was just to fight over the use of the bathroom. It was like a “death”. Everywhere there were reminders that she used to live here. I began throwing out the foods that I had bought solely for her. I cancelled her favorite shows from the DVR. I would sit in her bedroom and cry. I could not imagine what I was going to do now that she didn’t need me 24/7. I also realized that I had only 2 years before my youngest daughter would follow in her sister’s footsteps and then I would truly be an empty nester.
So many questions went running through my mind. Who am I now? What am I capable of? “Now What?” What do I enjoy doing? What is the rest of my life going to look like? These were really HUGE life questions. I was overwhelmed with the BIG picture. I didn’t know where to start. I felt overwhelmed and depressed.
A friend of mine suggested I subscribe to something called “Notes from the Universe”. She said that these daily emails were always inspiring and helped her see her life through different colored glasses. Since I was already a fan of Wayne Dwyer, Brene Brown, and Louise Hay, these “notes” sounded like they were exactly what I needed.
After just a couple of weeks of “notes”, I was already feeling a bit more optimistic about the rest of my life. The nagging questions that were haunting me began to subside. The fear of “now what” was transforming into “what’s next!” No longer did I wonder if I was too old to pursue my dreams. I was beginning to feel inspired to explore new challenges and revisit old hobbies. I started feeling like I could do something that would impact others, as well as give me a purpose. I was inspired to research new avenues of income and new creative endeavors that had long been overshadowed by my responsibilities of motherhood.
I took some online classes and joined various meet up groups. I started volunteering at the local animal shelter. I remembered how much fun I used to have doodling, so I took up the art of zentangle. I used my former marketing and sales talents and helped my husband transform his paint contracting business into one of the best known local companies around. I also took up cycling. I used to LOVE riding my bike when I was little. Now I LOVE it even more as an adult. My love for the outdoors was also reawakened and I began hiking. Little by little I was remembering who I was before motherhood. Oh sure, I stumbled a bit and discovered some things I did not enjoy, like owning and operating a restaurant! I think I tried to substitute one baby with another, except this baby was a creature from the bottomless pit of black lagoon.
Fast forward to 2013. I was still getting my Notes from the Universe, when I saw a promotion for a workshop called Train the Trainer, Infinite Possibilities, The Art of Changing Your Life. WOW! Just what I was looking for and it was being held in Boston, where my oldest daughter lives! That was the true beginning of the rest of the best of my life. After becoming an IP Trainer, I became a certified Kaizen Muse Creativity Coach. I researched and studied the power of limiting beliefs and the greater power of small steps to success. I attended workshops around the country and met amazing people, many of whom I now call my friends. By using small steps and small questions, I helped people overcome the paralysis of self-sabotage and perfectionism and nudged them towards their desired goals. I facilitated workshops about the law of attraction and the power of our minds and the importance of thinking good thoughts to achieve incredible results. In 2015, I launched Thoughtful Journey Coaching Adventures. My empty nest was full and rewarding!
In the beginning of 2016, I created a new program called A Guide to Building JoyFULL Empty Nest. By combining my own experiences and the philosophies I have learned as a Kaizen Muse Creativity Coach and an Infinite
Possibilities Trainer, I help mothers who are experiencing the void of the empty nest, build a new nest full of joy and purpose.
You are at a crossroad. You aren’t who you used to be and not yet who you will be. You need to learn what to let go of and what to reach toward from a position of hope and possibilities rather than desperation. Discover more about who you are and who you aren’t and, from there, your life will become more fulfilled and satisfying.
Do you want to explore the dreams you had before motherhood and the courage to take on new challenges? Do you want to remember what its like to follow your own path and desires? Do you want to feel the exhilaration of an adventurous life?
You are probably feeling anxious, depressed, and maybe even angry. It’s important to recognize these feelings first and then figure out how you want to use the free time you now have.
Psychologists suggest that it can take between 18 months and two years to feel right again. So don’t ignore the stress you feel. Be kind to yourself and “mother” yourself the way you would your own child.
If you would like to learn more about the JoyFULL Empty Nest workshop, go to my website at Thoughtfuljourney.com