Tuesday, October 13, 2009

If At First You Don't Succeed...

I learned firsthand the painful reality behind the term empty nest. I felt the intense emptiness for weeks after Jessica's departure, especially each day when getting home from school and not finding her there to talk...listen...and decompress from our day. Also after getting ready for bed we would often share a quieter time during which we would talk about anything and everything that was on our minds...these were especially treasured moments for me. There were many tears shed throughout those weeks because my sense of loss was profound. With the major changes in my role as a mother, I found I had more unscheduled time for myself, although it took me several weeks to be truly ready and open to the realities of what this change could mean, and how this time of transition and adjustment could offer me a variety of choices. There were all types of potential opportunities for me to ponder and the only stipulation was my degree of willingness to be open. Here was my chance to consider only those experiences that appealed to me. I remember thinking these endless possibilities must be the upside of the empty nest phenomenon...and I smiled.

I enrolled in a calligraphy class which quickly engaged my creative juices, I joined a Bible study group that Suzanne offered which fed my spiritual hunger, and I began to meditate which gave my overly active mind a chance to experience a new-found quiet. All in all I was experiencing life in a fresh, expansive way that tasted quite remarkable. Did I continue to miss Jessica's daily presence in my life? Absolutely! But I was gradually able to move toward a place of acceptance of this new and different phase in my life and thereby become open to the growth and change it offered me.

During this time I knew there was an area of my life due for a tune-up...our marriage. Since Jim and I then had the time, maybe we could both focus some of that time and energy on our relationship because merely sharing a physical space does not a marriage make. So many people described Jim as a "great guy" and that description was absolutely true. He was a good guy through and through, and I loved him dearly, but something that concerned me was the lack of quality time we spent together. We often chose to spend our free time in totally different ways, but it became my hope that we would find some mutually satisfying activities that we could enjoy doing together. To be fair, I must admit that this lack of quality togetherness bothered me much more that it bothered Jim. He felt we were spending quality time if we sat in the same room and watched an evening of TV together...me, not so much. I was hungry for something more, but I didn't know exactly what that meant or how to achieve it. As Jessica was growing up it seemed as though the time Jim and I spent with each other was usually for family-centered activities rather than just the two of us spending time as a couple. I had never been aware of this fact during that time, but believe me, it became clearly evident after Jessica went off to college! There was nothing like lots of available free time staring me in the face, and not being able to find a suitable way to spend time together, so we'd settle on going out for dinner...if only we could agree on a restaurant. Are you getting a sense of my struggle? Hindsight is wonderful because I am able to sit here over twenty years later and smile at our crude but terribly sincere attempts we both encountered along the way of discovering togetherness...

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