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Empty Nest Syndrome: How Did I Get Through The Depression?

Updated on March 13, 2011
Looking for something..........
Looking for something..........

What It Should Have Been....

This was the time I had spent many years looking forward to.........

After mothering three daughters, with an often absent father, I was finally going to have rest.

This new found freedom was supposed to bring me time to garden, can my vegetables, sew, do craft-works, read, whatever caught my fancy. Life was to be now at my beckoning.

Finally, with my home returned to me, I would write that novel. This was my time.

That is the way, I had always imagined it.

The way that I had imagined it, became my prison.

We Had Arrived

 The undefinable American Dream was ours.  We had put our name on it.  A home with land, the youngest of three preparing to go to college.  My career had been very lucrative, his business was still taking form, but it was prosperous and blooming.  The world, or at least, what I expected from it was at my fingertips.

We Had Worked Hard

 As a high school student, a coach, substituting, for a class that I can not remember, made the statement, " some people are paid for doing, and some people are paid for knowing".  Even though, I can not remember the class, the profoundness of that statement struck me in my young tracks.........adults, beware, you never know how you influence the young!

A line was drawn in my youthful mind, doctors/plumbers.......nurses/secretaries......teachers/cooks........writers/readers.........

It may have even defined worth to me.  Am I worthy for my knowing or for my doing?

My husband is a doer......he builds, he makes, he creates, he solves mechanical problems.  I am a knower.....I research, I learn, I tell others what I learned.  We formed a great team.

He commands a fantastic wage, yet it takes a very physical toll.  In time, I too would command a great wage, but it took an emotional toll.  We agreed on a plan, live on his earning, invest mine.

It worked, and it served us very well.  Child-rearing was added to my duties.  Worry was added to his.

This is real..........
This is real..........

What is the point?

I had this faboulus yard, and no one at home to enjoy it. An outdoor kitchen patio and no one to cook for. A garden to make my Granddad proud and no one to eat of its fruits.

I sank into a deep depression. Having grown up under the influence of brothers, I had little compassion for " womanly" complaints. They seemed to be excuses to me. ( so sorry sisters).

Empty nest syndrome? What a joke!

I would learn how empty the human heart can feel. It would be a hard lesson.

Looking back, I honestly, do not know how my husband endured it. He was going about his business as always.........if he called home, he was interrupting me, if he did not, he was ignoring me. The man must have been baffled. He trudged on, and on........

Even I knew I was being irrational. After weeks of unexplained, sadness, I sought medical help.

It is to my great fortunate that I met with a sympathetic nurse practitioner. She knew about menopause and the empty nest syndrome. She knew, that those who menstruate early in life, often go through an early menopause. She prescribed a mild anti-depressant.

Whoa, wait a minute! Aren't anti-depressants for those who can not control themselves? I took 3 tablets and the guilt took over. Yes, I felt guilty for needing help. I discarded the medications, my family must not know of this weakness.  Surely, I can control my own mind!

It was not about the mind........

I made it so much harder than it had to be.

My husband continued to endure. My daughters were busy with college life. I was alone in the woods.

Anguish on my face....
Anguish on my face....
She continued to play.
She continued to play.

Reality Slapped Me In My Face!

I was going to be alone..............

After years of having children at my coat tail, and then employees calling my name........

There would be no one asking me for direction.

The deer would still eat the corn, the squirrels would still climb the trees, the birds would still fly, the grass would grow...........but no child would greet me, asking, " Mom, what do you want me to do today", no employee would say, " Miss Ylonda, do you want me on the floor or the cash register"............

No one needed me.

Never, since the age of four, when my Grandmother assigned me some kitchen chore, had I not been needed.............not once.

The world would work without me.

I was devastated!

I felt worthless.

I felt old.........yet, I was in my late 30's.  Still young, and able to retire.

Healthy, vibrant, young, financially secure, retired, and OLD before 40! I was useless.

taking this.........
taking this.........
I sat here......
I sat here......
and mourned this.....
and mourned this.....

A Lovely Autum Morning

The morning sun awoke me. The air was warm. The small wildlife were at play. Taking my morning coffee, I went to the yard swing.

I was prepared to weep, again. There would be no one to tell me to hush or to call me a crybaby, in this rural setting. Privacy was my domain, and I would let the tears flow.

With warm coffee still in my mug, a butterfly lit on my hand.

This has happened to you before. It had certainly happened to me, bees, wasps, dragonflys as well.

But this would prove to be different.

This butterfly was content to reside there. I pulled my hand closer, closer, and still closer to my face. The transparency of its wings became evident.

So fragile, so delicate, a single blow could end it all.......yet, I did not dare.

I looked , first at the butterfly, then through it, could this tender and delicate thing, survive the storms of the winds, the snows of winter, the hard rains of spring? How? No answer came, yet, it did survive, despite the odds.

That butterfly probably spent 3 maybe 4 minutes on my hand. It stood steady as my hand brought it in for a closer look, then closer, retreating for a distant glance, back again, so close that I could actually see through its delicate wings. Through those wings, I could see the vegetable garden, the woods, the back yard...........turning all directions as my hand dictated, she stood steady.........

Finally, I understood,

there is still beauty in the world waiting to be seen.

Then, she took her flight.

I was healed.  My life was not over, but it would take new directions.

this brought a message...... Life is for the living.
this brought a message...... Life is for the living.
so did this...... I was still needed.
so did this...... I was still needed.

In my sorrow.........

Through the butterfly, my spirit was new roads, new dreams, and another who would need me.

In time, my children would need me again.

Life, does indeed go on........

Just get through the storm, and the sun shines again.  Use the tool that works for you.

When you are strong again, share your battle with another.

What Others Had to Say...........


thougtforce 43 hours ago

This was such an incredibly good description of how life suddenly stop and change. And it can almost seem like an insult when life outside goes on and on as if nothing has happened! When life is spinning at full speed with children and career there is no way to make time for yourself and it is difficult to maintain your social networks outside the family. An empty house, and much time is such a contrast. Your story shows that there is hope, you can get quality time for yourself once we get use to have time of our own! Oddly, one must constantly learn new things, nothing is obvious! I so enjoy reading this, it is very well written!


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