Recently, I wrote about Anna leaving for college and talked about how it was difficult, but that it was also good.
That wasn’t just for keeping face.
Since she’s been gone, I have been good.
Really good, in fact.
So good that at times it kind of scares me.
Like, is this it or are there more emotions on the horizon?
I do think therapy is the “drug” that is getting me through this change.
Because I am still not evolved enough to believe this is all ME.
I said to my therapist two weeks ago that I feel like I am on medication (I am not medicated) because old me would never react this way.
She said I was, I was on therapy.
It turns out that I am an anticipatory anxious person in addition to just being anxious in general.
I am more upset with events happening than the actual events themselves.
For example, the week of Anna’s departure for college, I was a hot pile of steaming doggy poop.
Crying while cooking ground beef for dinner.
Crying while grocery shopping in the frozen foods section.
Crying in my car when a Shania Twain song came on the radio that Anna loved when she was two.
I didn’t know how I was going to get through this, quite honestly. It felt like I was dying, and I swear I am not being dramatic.
I was having physical side effects in addition to just the general sadness I was feeling. There were days when my chest felt tight, I was nauseous, my hands were sweaty. Normal people would be all OMG AM I HAVING A HEART ATTACK? but I was OMG AM I HAVING A PANIC ATTACK?
I did feel like I should keep most of that to myself because who wants to see their mom spontaneously combusting over their leaving?
Oh sure, tears would squeak out here and there, and on the night before Anna left we did sit in my bed and have a massive cry together.
I feel like there is this pressure to be “good” all the time for our children but they need to see this stuff too.
Life isn’t always happy, and that is okay.
I took an anti-anxiety pill the night before we left to take Anna to college. I knew I wouldn’t be much good to anyone if I didn’t get enough sleep on such an emotionally filled day. I also recognized that her move-in day was not about me and my feelings, but rather about her and her feelings.
In an odd turn of events, Anna became worried about an hour and a half into the drive, and she made a remark about how maybe this wasn’t the right thing. I realized how much I’d changed as I was convincing her that it was the right thing to do. Old me would have asked, “Do you want us to turn the car around?” or “You can always go to community college!”
Every fiber of my being desired for her to remain at home with us. You have no idea how badly I wanted to take the steering wheel in my hands and drive to the first exit to take our girl home right there and then. Or maybe you do have an idea.
But this new-to-me me was actually persuading her to leave. It’s as if I didn’t know who I was. Again, it could have been the anti-anxiety medication’s side effects, but I want to believe it was more me than the little white pill.
We moved her in, took her to lunch (with my ex-husband in tow, so maybe it was the meds), did a Target run for last minutes, then I got some alone time in with her in her cozy bed while Mike ran to Target yet again to get her a fan because he didn’t feel like the fan she had was good enough.
After saying goodbye in the lobby of her dorm, Mike and I walked out to the bookstore across the courtyard to do a little take our mind off things shopping.
It’s a thing.
We ended up using the restrooms there but I wasn’t really feeling the shopping thing (I KNOW), so we walked to the parking garage where our car was parked.
I saw Anna’s leftover food bags in the car and proceeded to sob. The kind of sobbing where you shake, then lose your breath and just let it all out.
Mike put his hand over mine, let me sob, and we left the town our girl was now calling home.
I was about five minutes away from the parking garage when I stopped crying and recovered.
I didn’t cry the rest of the way home.
I did talk to my husband, texted family and friends, and actually enjoyed the rest of the ride.
I got to the part I dreaded, seeing Anna’s room when we got home, and I was actually fine.
Maybe it was because Ella was there, Buddy was jumping on us excitedly, and life was moving on as it should.
I have some sad days here and there, but life goes on, things get done, and I am enjoying having a new role in Anna’s life. Mom of a child who lives away from home.
I don’t hear her voice every day anymore, which was unsettling at first, but I’m learning that it’s normal and healthy. I am letting go.
I was afraid my mom role for Anna was over, but quite the contrary.
It’s just beginning.