Lessons From an Empty Nest
"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."
C. S. Lewis
My nest has been empty now for almost 24 hours. I've known this would happen for about a month, it happened really quickly, freakishly quickly. I made a decision to look into the possiblity of my son, who has Down Syndrome, moving out. Mind you, this is not something I have been able to see happening, never could see how it could work, end of story. Once I made a decision to look into it, it was all systems go, all doors open, the perfect scenario landed in my lap.
We've all had the experience of things flowing perfectly on occasion, that's not what this is about. This is about handling life's huge shifts, the dreaded "C word," CHANGE! (o: I have a situation that is a paradox, on the one hand, perfect for my son to grow and differentiate. On the other hand I will miss him, and already feel like I'm missing a part of me.
In the market yesterday it hit me like a ton of bricks, I don't have to buy food for two anymore. Quite a bit of pain with this thought. My mind then wanted to continue down that path and add to those painful thoughts. Luckily, I've been working with ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) long enough to be able to step back and see my choice.
I can focus on the pain, really go down that road and suffer. I can make this really hard on myself if I choose. OR, I can choose to focus on what's perfect, and hopeful, and possible about this situation, and bypass most, if not all, of the pain.
I'm very happy to report, that with effort, and a great deal of focus, I'm managing to stay focused on how happy my boy is and what a perfect opportunity this is for him. I wish you could see how happy he and his roomate are – his roomate who just happens to be his best friend. I just love synchronicity, don't you?
So while this is a process, which I have been practicing for a while, it's one anyone can learn. It all begins with awareness, getting to know your Observing Self, as we say in ACT. Or, you may call it mindfulness, whatever works for you. Either way, it gives you the space to see what's going on, understand it from a broader perspective, and choose how you want to respond.
I will try to stay here in this happy place, it feels much better than suffering. It will be a conscious decision each day to turn my focus in that direction. My son doesn't have to choose, he can go there automatically, lucky guy.
"They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. "