Tag Archives: empty-nest

Functional Dysfunction

July 21, 2014

What I’m having so much trouble understanding is why, at the point in my life that I have the freedom to do whatever I want (within reason), I can’t seem to figure out what it is that I want. Maybe I liked the yoke of responsibility. Perhaps I need something, someone to blame for not getting out there, getting moving, getting something DONE. I’m a coward.

That’s what it comes down to, I’m ashamed to say. I liked having an excuse for not following my dreams. For not even looking very closely at my dreams. For not even checking to see if I still had dreams.

My Third Epiphany was (I’ve had five epiphanies so far. More about that later.) Anyway, The Third: Anyone can do anything they want, as long as they want it badly enough. So once I realized that, there no longer was a viable excuse for not going after what I wanted. I just stopped thinking about myself as a living, breathing human who had wants and needs and DREAMS. I just became The One Who Takes Care of Others.

And now that I have removed the cap of the nurturing caregiver (whatever that looks like), I don’t recognize myself. I forgot what I like to do. Except read – I like to read. If I could go away to a deserted tropical island stocked with an endless supply of books, a comfy chair, my friend Mischief (canine), and a teapot that was always full, I’d be there in a minute. Just kidding, I can’t do that. Reason One: Sick mom. Reason Two: Needy Husband. Reason Three: My Kids Might Need Me. Reason Four: See Paragraph Number One, Above.

Before you say “Empty Nest Syndrome,” be aware that my kids are 21 and 27. This nest has been empty for so long that there is nary a feather remaining. However, my husband and I managed to develop a comfortably uncomfortable dysfunctional relationship known as co-dependency. Simply put, he depends on me to always be there for him, down to the smallest measurement of time you can think of. And in return, I gave up my individuality and became an extension of him. It didn’t happen quickly; we’ve been married 32 years. It was so subtle that we didn’t notice, especially him. Not until the last couple of years when I started pulling back a little, started looking for myself again. And so here we are in the middle of a robust mid-life marriage crisis, the depths of which we have just begun to plumb. In other words, it’s going to get a helluva lot worse before it gets better.