Parenting is never an easy job and one thing that can challenge any parent’s well-planned life goals for their child is handling the emotional roller coaster that comes with it.
Raising children can be easy for some parents or hard for others and it might feel like the time will never come when they move out of the house.
When they do leave the nest, parents will usually find this to be great news. Or is it?
This, though, can be the biggest ‘Parent Trap’ any parent can experience, and it is called the ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’.
According to the Mayo Clinic; “Empty nest syndrome isn't a clinical diagnosis. Instead, empty nest syndrome is a phenomenon in which parent’s experience feelings of sadness and loss when the last child leaves home”.
So, the ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ becomes the ‘Parent Trap’ as it is a time where parents must change the way they approach each day and shed the old routines without their children, and for some, this can be very hard and thought this time would never come.
Emotionally and physically adjusting is the key to finding balance for this new time as the focus now shifts back to the needs of the individual parent, as a person, and this thought has not been a reality for the parent in the last 18 years.
This new independence can feel great at first, but at the end of the day coming home to an empty house, no one to cook for, no one to be there, no one to talk to, not feeling needed and not feeling useful can begin the spiral down.
If a parent doesn’t have plans to embrace this change and have support, it can lead to loneliness, depression, alcoholism, addictions and even worse, suicide.
It is very important to understand:
Some things that parents can do is:
Linda and her husband Jay are raising their 7 children, including a son with additional needs and they live in Millstone Township. Linda shares her inspirational journey to help inspire other parents about how to not only be the best parents they can be even if they are not perfect, but to always remember to honor who they are as individuals.
Balancing the everyday struggles of raising our children used to be difficult especially when they were younger and even more challenging raising a child with special needs.
As I look back when our 7 children were younger, our house could be described as ‘organized chaos’ and chaos that I would never regret experiencing as the candle glowed brightly in our home.
I look back and say hey we did the best we could and how important it was to treat each of our children as unique and special individuals.
After all, we wanted a large family so they would be there for each other when they got older and it was a selfless decision that I would never regret.
We were surely blessed and as parents we did the best we could and balanced everyday life for them and even when it seemed like the younger years lasted forever, I look back and say they were the best years of our lives.
Someone once asked me ‘how did I manage with all those kids’ and more recently asked ‘do I miss my kids now that they are older as teens and young adults’ and the answer was easy; we are a family and together we raised each other even when it seems my kids are still guiding me into a new world of learning to live without them and the ‘organized chaos’.
If we raised our kids right they will continue to keep the candle glowing in their own lives and as we watch from a distance the beautiful life each of them have created, it is up to all of us to always remember those younger years and keep that candle glowing so we can always stay together as a family.
There has come a time in my life that I can only imagine what I am supposed to do with this life that I have been born in to. It is not easy to ‘trust’ and be ‘patient’ as I ‘hear’ what might be the clues I need to continue on as I work hard to fulfill whatever it is I am meant to do.
I can only imagine how my spiritual gifts of listening has helped to guide me and I use my intuitiveness to help guide others in the work I do. I also go to church and pray as I feel the power of my inner voice in a sacred quiet place that feels special as I know God is listening.
Each of us has the little child in us, and I can only imagine what she would say to me now as an adult. Would she be proud of me in all that I have accomplished? Would she be proud of the woman I have become?
I can only imagine how proud she might be of me especially as I have honored her and have worked through the struggles she felt as a child and all she experienced but didn’t understand.
When I was a little girl, those spiritual gifts were not there so I can only imagine how lonely she was as I can only recall from what my memories would allow. And, at some point not being able to recall those memories as a child created mistrust with the little girl in me and once again I felt alone but this time I felt abandoned.
During a difficult time in my adult years, I was in the middle of an emotional crisis, I couldn’t connect with her but when I finally did I can only imagine how she felt as I imagined she cried as I did.
I can only imagine why the little girl in me did this and although it was hard to understand, I finally ‘trusted’ and reached deeper to grab her hand to help me as I help her.
Now she helps me as I help her and I ‘listen’ to her as I help others who struggle with similar experiences as ‘we’ did. I love my life and my work as I share some of ‘our’ experiences with others to help give them HOPE and help them find the love and trust I eventually found.
Understanding these feelings is what keeps me living a healthy and happy life as we live the life we were meant to, and, together, "we can only imagine” what our future has for us.
As I continue with my own wellness transformation journey, I realize more and more each day how I have really become a different person.
I am breaking the chain from my past struggles and triggers that try to challenge me today and I am accomplishing this because of the important life changing concept of WRAP that came into my life 6 years ago.
It is an incredible feeling to know I have HOPE and can handle anything like when the wave of struggles and triggers always come and I know it will not knock me down anymore. I have been able to do this because I understand the feelings associated with those struggles and triggers. This has allowed me to develop a technique of using my WRAP like a flow chart to keep me aware of who I am especially as I change and become a stronger more confident woman.
As I continue to facilitate 4 WRAP workshops a week, this amount of time facilitating has helped me to become more confident and passionate as I continue to honor the values and ethics of a certified WRAP Facilitator. More importantly, being able to see myself in each member allows me to reach inside myself to adjust my style and offer peer support because of my own lived experiences before and after using WRAP.
The ability to inspire and bring out someone’s own strengths as they begin to understand themselves differently and learn the same methods of using the WRAP like a flowchart as I have to regain balance back in to their life is something so incredible to be a part of.
Not only do I facilitate the WRAP workshops as they were intended, but being able to share with others how I maneuvered around some of my own challenges with triggers has become such a valuable part of my workshops.
Utilizing the peer support model and sharing some of the tools of ‘peeling apart the onion’ of a trigger and how I use my ‘past and present bridge’ helps everyone understand for themselves that they can also make their own wellness transformation.
What I see in each participant as they leave each workshop is that they are thinking of how this can work in their own life and because of peer support, finally someone has shared with them a practical and easy long term method to help themselves. When they come back each week, they have started to make their own changes and transformations!
In the 5 years I have been facilitating WRAP workshops, “ZERO” participants have ever gone back into a psychiatric hospital unit. This is an incredible statistic to share as I continue my work as a Peer Specialist and a Certified WRAP Facilitator.
My goal is to share with others what helped assist me in “breaking the chain” of being held down by my past struggles and triggers and understand the feelings from them.
I have learned to find my own wellness in a world that has us faced with a barrage of challenges, struggles and our perceived triggers. Bringing WRAP workshops further out into the community where everyone can benefit from them especially those who have never struggled but feel suicidal is so important and essential to help our fellow neighbor continue to have HOPE.
"REAL People Helping People With REAL Struggles"
It's day one of the rest of my life
It's day one of the best of my life
I'm marching on to the beat of a brand new drum
Yeah, here I come
The future has begun
These are some of the lyrics to Matthew West’s song called ‘Day One’. In my own life I can remember a few distinct ‘Day Ones’ with many new beginnings like my early first days of school, first day of finding a new sport that gave me incredible confidence, first day of high school, first day of no school, first day of college, first day of being married, and the best was the first day I was a Mother.
In many ways we don’t forget these ‘Day Ones’ because they mean something special, something that stands out from the rest of our life. In much of that we also understand ourselves a little different by digging deeper into who we are. In many ways we are ‘marching to the beat of a brand new drum’.
No matter how old we are we draw from within to find the courage and confidence to do something new. When we were younger we did it because we were told to do it. As we got older it was a little scarier because we made a conscious decision to do something new and have another ‘Day One’.
‘Day One’ has a new meaning for me especially as I remember the last 10 years of my life and the drastic changes it brought to my life. The meaning it had was even more profound as my new ‘Day One’ was struggling with a change that came over me. That change meant something to the medical community in terms of diagnosis’s and yet as I understand it today, God was sending me on the journey to really feel and experience the difficult place many people with depression, bipolar, trauma and a life threatening physical diagnosis feel.
I had experienced something so profound I couldn’t understand what happened to me especially as I didn’t have any faith or God in my life but I made the transformation. That struggle was ‘Day One’ of what I was supposed to learn and begin to develop into a ‘calling’ to help others, but, not in the traditional sense in the clinical world.
I have been doing this as ‘I’m marching on to the beat of a brand new drum’ trying to fit into a world that does not understand the true meaning of why someone goes into a crisis or how to help them on their journey.
As Jesus died for us, I also died in my own way to bring me to this powerful place to help others. This passion is so strong and has become so clear in what he wants me to do, I almost don’t understand it. I guess it is similar to the journey God sent to Noah as he built the Arc. For me, I need to build a place where people can hear my passion and hear my voice of HOPE and be a true overcomer.
One of my last few ‘Day Ones’ I can remember was about 6 months ago, sitting in church and hearing the ‘calling’. This calling was loud and clear and I was told I am supposed to be up there (at the altar) and find an abandoned church and do what I do at The Support Place Where HOPE Lives. This didn’t make any sense to me until I really thought of how he is guiding me to meet new people, take away some things in my life and to have the faith I will be finding the people who can help me get there. And, maybe it will be ‘Day One’ to meeting new people who really need to meet me.
As I reached out to some new spiritual people, they all told me I am already ministering. Yes, I am, and as I begin to acknowledge this and see how much I yearn to learn more about faith, God and the bible, I have decided to go to school to become a person that shares the word of God and my life experience.
The most recent ‘Day One’ happened last week and it is so clear what the message is for me as I was sharing new plans for The Support Place very passionately with a friend on my Bluetooth driving to work in a hospital and when I hung up and turned on my favorite Christian radio station, these ‘Day One’ lyrics spoke loud and clear to me:
It's day one of the rest of my life
It's day one of the best of my life
I'm marching on to the beat of a brand new drum
Yeah, here I come
The future has begun
Then I realized, all the ‘Day Ones’ in my life have prepared me for this day, just as it was meant to. “Yeah hear I come the future has begun’
God is good…
When I try to share my strengths of confidence, friendliness and just being a good person who has good morals, visions and ideas of helping others and advocate for change, sometimes I feel like my soul is naked and vulnerable.
Now if I was back in my twenties that might not have been such a bad image but today in my fifties, it feels like I am looking in an angry mirror. That’s ok, beauty is in the eye of the beholder as I remember the saying but with that I feel good about myself.
In all that went wrong in my life is now what I share to help others and I cherish all that has been good in my life. Sometimes it is not the struggle of what went wrong that challenged us for a reason, but it is how we get through it and who we have become because of it.
For me, I have had several occasions in my life where I didn’t understand and questioned with anger the struggles God gave me but my last huge struggle of feeling like God totally let me down was the best thing that ever happened to me.
In many ways he put death in my face quite a few times, and most of those times I wanted to choose death but he wouldn’t let me and saved me. It is only now that I understand that spiritual journey.
Wow, did I just say God? Yes I did and it feels good. All my life I don’t think I really believed in God or I did but I didn’t understand the religious aspect. Growing up with no religion and no spirituality I didn’t feel like I was missing anything and I learned to depend on me and not God, the higher power.
My struggles and journeys have made me humble and made me realize life is not so black and white and that the devil can come at any time to control me when I least expect it. Humble, hmmm what a word to understand at my age and what a larger concept to think about in my life as I get older. I try to balance being humble but then comes a struggle of where it challenges my strengths.
So where does God come in with all of this talk of being humble? God is there to help balance ‘me’, to help keep me accountable and to make me think of what he is wanting me to do. I am in control of me, and with his help I have finally acknowledged I have come to love my life even after those huge struggles. I have learned to understand how to ‘listen’ to him, trust my intuition to help guide me in my next steps because I have passed his test of challenges he has sent me in my life.
If I stay quiet I will ‘hear’ what he is telling me and it will feel right when I move forward in my next steps and journey. Those next steps for me that I thought I planned but God planned something different for me and I feel like he has held my hand to a religious place and allow me to share my gifts.
Today, as I contemplate my next steps, my soul is naked and it feels good. This way I can see, feel and hear all that God is wanting me to do and I can embrace his true calling of me. It sure beats the devil’s dirty work, and today, I choose God.
We stumble and fall through life just as a baby does as they begin to crawl, take their first steps and quickly embrace how running brings an incredible joy.
We wonder what babies would share about this joyful experience if they knew how to communicate this to us. Would they share that the joy of running is so great that they keep rushing from point A to point B?
Or, is the secret joys of life not found by running from point A to point B, instead slowing down and finding a new set of alphabet letters to help us get to our destination.
We go through life with road maps and envision the course of our life and keep thinking about what we should have done and many things that we should not have done. We do everything we can to make sure we get to that destination with the least amount of struggles. But, what is that destination and what will we do to get there?
For some of us we recognize that part of our journey is equipped with the tools to handle these struggles. We face adversity, we face frustration, we face health issues and we think we are the tour guides of our journey. But, are we?
I didn't realize until midlife that I was not in control of my destination and I was also not in control of how I handle my struggles. I also didn't understand that my body is reacting to many things and my logic has no idea how to handle some of this.
Spirituality, some of us have a great awareness of it and some of us have no idea how this impacts our journey. Most of my life I thought I didn't have any spirituality but I quickly realized it was with me all along but I was protecting it and understanding that it has been guiding me all along was an incredible awareness. I also realized this is helping me to see the doors that quickly close and the ones that open if I stay aware and keep trusting.
Standing in the spiritual ‘hallway’ of my life is a great place to be as I realize for the first time I really am the tour guide of my life as long as I quickly get back to my spiritual hallway and just listen. Being there allows me to listen to my intuitiveness and I can be guided to where those alphabet points are in my life’s journey that I never would have thought of or imagined.
So now, I am so delighted to be able to slow down and enjoy the scenery of my life’s journey now that I keep aware of all the doors that open and close to help me along my journey as I continue on the road to my destination. What I will find there will of course be a surprise but I have the trust and faith in myself to keep going back to my spiritual hallway for love, insight and guidance.
The mail comes, oh no it’s a sealed envelope for jury duty and the anxiety begins to rise. Come to think of it I don’t think I have ever met anyone who loves to receive that notice in the mail, but at some point, it will come.
My first jury duty notice came while I was in the midst of my own trauma struggles and my trauma struggles started soon after the experience of testifying in court against police who I witnessed almost beat a man to death.
This experience also allowed my subconscious to bring to my attention repressed memories that I testified in that same court room against my perpetrator when I was 9. The visions came back, the feelings came back and the recognition of the same underlying triggers came back.
So, as I fought to regain my strength from the reactions of not just trauma but of my strong hypersensitive feelings of others to control me, my fight was long and hard. As I began to recognize my triggers and heal, the last thing I needed though was to spend time in a court room where power and control are the guiding force. I did not want to experience the judicial process that failed me not once, but twice.
My recognition of untruths, abuse of power and control of authority especially when the police we want to trust, tell mistruths to save their careers at the expense of not only my own wellness but someone’s life. Certainly this wasn’t the time to for me to handle all of this even as I received many more jury notices in the mail.
As I grew more aware, stronger because of my wellness and crisis plan, I am finally strong enough to not call my Dr. or therapist for a note to be excused from participating in this experience of being a citizen to help the process of others who are at battle in their lives with the justice system.
So, as I put away my past experiences and fears, understand my wellness as well as many of my triggers that were causing my anxiety and feeling like I was standing on the edge of a cliff, I am finally in control of the logic to help me attend the jury process for the first time in my life.
We have power in knowledge and for me, knowledge helps me keep control and this is what is allowing me to walk in the path of my triggers. What I didn’t anticipate is the sensory overload of being in a room with about 150 people where I was unsure of the process of this jury experience.
I am aware of my common action plans of level thoughts, perceptions and not judging that anyone here is going to hurt or control me or be rude and inconsiderate, instead I will try to make contact with some who I might want to start a conversation with, and after all I am comfortable with that.
I do though have to understand how I will deal with the ignorant people of talking on their cell phones and talking loud amongst all of us and so far this has been the biggest challenge for me as we all wait for them to call our name in an environment similar to a library.
I have my laptop to help ease my anxiety as we all wait for our names to get called and go to the courtroom to be a potential juror. I also have books and my crisis plan with me in case I feel like I am starting to get very anxious and feel overloaded and have to be taken to an ER because of dissociation.
Then the time comes where my name gets called and everyone watches as I walk to the front of the room to get in line with others who are called and I can see in their faces the thoughts of relief that it is not them.
The silent walk with others now gives us something in common, we will all be questioned about a jury case but for me it means so much more. It means the anxiety of entering a courtroom with the same wood paneling, the same layout of the courtroom, the judge’s desk sitting higher than the rest of us and it means the men in suits who watched each and every one of us enter the courtroom and them judging us without even knowing us. It means authority, judgment, control and for me it brings back flashbacks, memories and fear.
The time has come as we all sit in the courtroom, what do I do, what do I say to myself and how will I handle this and not cry. The moment has come and the moment has gone and I must have said all the right things to myself to be able to sit there and not feel the anxiety. I am not sure what I said to myself but I did it and I realized, yes, I can do this!
Then, I was called up to talk to those men in suits, the man in the robe and looked them all in the eye, yes me, looked those men with authority and control in the eyes and answered their questions. Although I could not afford to do the lengthy jury responsibility that they asked of me at that time, what I did realize is that, I did it!
I was feeling so good about all that I accomplished in this full day of fear of my emotions and anxiety that once crippled me, I almost cried. This also allowed me to realize the incredible transformation I made and couldn’t wait to share this experience with my family.
I drove home telling myself this new piece of my transformation is even more of a message of what I am supposed to be doing because of my struggles. I not only faced the dragon of fear, I slayed it, and now I am looking forward to seeing my juror notice in the mail and hopefully will be able to experience what it means to be in a part of the courtroom where I can make a difference.
We have all heard, “Your presence is a present to the world” and yet for many of us we may not see it that way. This thought process of finding positive in our minds and actually thinking that what we do and say does not only help others in the world, but does begin to retrain and change our brain.
This can be a very hard struggle for some people because of prior life experiences or traumas and even current life experiences some are enduring. The awareness alone to be able to think of positive before negative, is a gift in itself, given to each of us.
This awareness comes from deep inside someone wanting change but may not know how to create the positive in their minds and life. It may come from our experiences and the life struggles of others that we witness. It may come from a religious or spiritual guidance and it may just come from within ourselves.
Reframing, this has been a tool I have been using for many years to help myself stay positive and see the glass half full. I am not sure where it came from, quite possibly from my own childhood negative experiences and quite possibly the positive ones as well.
What I began to understand and became aware of as I grew older is that my presence is a present to my children and this might have been the original reason I stay focused on the positive. Having children might have just been the reason for the conscious change in this thought process and allow me to share this with not just my children but others.
What I think and say reflects upon my children’s own developing inner sense of positive awareness. When they listen to my positive, supporting and inspiring words or thoughts, or even when they listen to me in feeling angered and triggered, in the end I hope what they immediately think of is the positive and not the negative of Mom just being a real and sensitive person.
Instead, I hope they hear, you are unique, you are one of a kind, it's your life be the best you can be, be what you want your life to be to be no matter how old you are, one day at a time, trust the process, be confident but humble, don't judge, help others, forgive especially yourself, count your blessings not your troubles, you’ll make it through whatever comes along, within you are so many answers, be strong, be courageous, you can do it and most of all, I love you.
Life is like an ongoing effort to balance the teeter totter but sometimes the trust needed for this can have many lifelong lingering struggles. As a child I remember walking over to the teeter tooter at the playground, standing there, looking down at the seat that sits fully supported on the ground and realizing I need to trust someone else to enjoy this playground toy that was supposed to be fun.
Trust, as a child I am not sure I fully understood this and not knowing what this was still helped me feel like I needed to hope someone else will not hurt me. Putting trust into this other child who runs over to say they want to sit on the other side and have fun with me was either a fun experience or one that taught me my first lesson that maybe others might intentionally or unintentionally hurt me.
So, as the teeter totter ride begins, we go up, and we go down, and fearing the ride up will not hurt or more importantly make me lose my balance and fall to the ground, trusting the other child to balance me and not hurt me was the first experience of learning that I need to trust who I let play with me on not just this playground but in my entire playground of my childhood life.
This trust was a lesson learned quickly as the other child lets their end hit the ground hard causing much more fear and pain and now I am hanging in the air fearful that the child I trusted won’t just get off and let me fall to the ground while in my seat. How many times do we continue to trust another child to not cause us fear of trusting and causing us to avoid this fun playground toy?
As I grew up and struggled with trust not only of a child but also now of adults, I struggled with relying on others to keep me balanced and not hurt me. Now at my age I have lots of apprehension, fear that others are not balancing me to keep me safe and more importantly, I am recognizing my trigger of not trusting others and how I feel when I don’t feel I can trust them and they might hurt me.
Understanding this trigger, and more importantly my sensitivity, has allowed me to protect myself when I feel this hidden feeling and understand how I react. My reactions are sometimes more profound that I was triggered when I don’t always recognize it when it happens. So now, I trust myself, my intuitiveness and I balance who and what I get involved with either in my personal or professional life. Either way, I avoid the chance of being hurt and now I trust ‘me’ even more to protect me in this huge adult playground of life.
Hi my name is Linda and I created The Support Place Where HOPE Lives to offer human to human - heart to heart support to those who are looking for non clinical inspirational, motivational guidance. This blog has been created to share with others what has inspired and guided me through some life struggles. I am married to my teenage sweetheart and we have 7 beautiful children ages 14-28. My journey which I believe has been a spiritual one that I did not recognize at first, is one that I hope inspires not only my family but for others who are looking for some HOPE to work through your own life journey.