What? Yeah, the realization slapped me up alongside the head, too. For years, all I’ve wanted was to be alone. To find one moment to myself. Away from the chaos of being a working mother and a wife and a writer. And now that I find myself with time to call my own, I’m struggling with the idea of a lonely road stretching out ahead of me. The path is not an easy one for me to contemplate.
And, really, it’s not like the pace of my work life has slowed down at all. I basically work three jobs besides my job as mother. I am busy. Yet, my axis has shifted. My world no longer revolves primarily around my kids and their well-being and activities. While they are still a huge part of my life, and thus in the same orbit, they’re no longer the big focal point. Everything does not revolve around them. So what do you do with that, when suddenly your time is your own and you find yourself alone? Not only alone, but lonely?
In that moment, that night, all I could do was cry. When I’d cried all I could, I took a hot bath, had a stiff drink, then crawled into bed and flipped on the television. One of my favorite new shows, Lucifer, was airing. So while I lay in bed, trying to catch my breath and breathe, I also crawled out of my own head--stopped navel-gazing--and submersed myself in someone else’s story. It didn’t take long for me to fall asleep. Yes, by shortly after nine o’clock on a Saturday night, I was fast asleep. By one-thirty in the morning I woke up and felt so much better. Like myself.
I took four important lessons away from my meltdown. This may not be a roadmap to peace for everyone, but it was a roadmap to my peace that night, and you might be able to use it as well.
One, during my meltdown, my girlfriends texted me. Kismet? Serendipity? God? Call it what you will. But in the middle of one of my darkest moments to-date, my friends who were getting together without me that night, reached out to me. They tried to cajole me to come join them, but I couldn’t. I was a puddle. A hot mess. Unfit for company. But what I did gain from that interaction was assurance that I was loved. Truly loved. I have great friends. Friends who often tell me they care for me and love me and who back it up with actions. So while my emotions told me I was physically all alone at that moment, I was reassured that while miles and miles away, my friends loved me, were thinking of me, and were connecting with me.
Three, when you’re exhausted emotionally, spiritually, and physically, sometimes, the best thing you can do is go to sleep. Take a nap or go to bed early. Crawling into bed that early on a Saturday night is unheard of for me--I’m a night owl--however, it was the most helpful thing I could do for myself at that moment. Proven by the fact that after four solid hours of sleep, I felt like a brand new me. Yeah, can we say exhaustion takes an emotional toll?
I have no doubt that my days of meltdown are not totally behind me. I’ve got a long way to go in this transition phase as I face the emptying nest with milestones over the next five months and into the next two years. I’m working hard to keep myself healthy and strong, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. However, some days the perfect storm will hit. When it does next time, I believe I have a contingency plan. A way to find level ground and see my way free. I can’t promise I won’t go through it again, but, I can be confident that I’ll see my way though the chaos to a place of peace again because I’ve done it at least once before. Serenity hovers in my future, even if I am flailing in chaos because I've found my way through the chaos in the past and peace did return.
So tell me how you find peace in the midst of chaos when your life feels like it’s swirling out of control? I’d love to hear from you.