Yesterday I got to hear my youngest son play in the District Honors Band. This is his senior year, so it seems like everything he does is the last time. One of the songs was so moving, it had me in tears. Sitting there alone, yet surrounded by so many people, I nearly started sobbing. I am not normally much of a crier; especially not the past five or six years, but lately my emotions have had me all over the place.
I have been trying to figure out what is wrong with me. Why have I been letting my emotions have such control over me? I’m usually very strong and very logical. I’ve also become very adept at turning my emotions off when I need to focus on what needs done and not make rash decisions. A skill I had to learn to protect myself from the overwhelming hurt I went through.
It hit me during this song as I listened with tears rolling down my cheeks, my job is almost done. I know, being a mom is a forever job, but any mom that has reached this point knows what I’m saying. My job will be forever changed in just a few months. Rather than holding on, I’ll have to let go. After two boys and twenty-three years, it will be my job to stand beside rather than in front. I can’t protect him forever; all I can do is hope that everything I have tried to teach him has taken root and he will make wise choices most of the time and learn from the other times.
But this alone is not my issue. I have been preparing myself for this time all school year. So far I have managed to stay tough and enjoy all his “lasts” rather than let sadness take over, but the last few weeks have been so hard for me. I have cried over so many little things and have felt overwhelmed by all my feelings- grief, sorrow, love, loss, and fear. It’s that one, fear, that has me unable to control my tears. This phase in my life is coming to an end, and I still have no idea what the next phase looks like. I don’t know where I’m going to go or what I’m going to do. I am ending a twenty-three-year career with no plan in place. I don’t end anything without a plan in place. I tend to think things through logically and make a plan for the direction I want to go, and for once, I don’t have one. I don’t even know how to make one because I don’t know what I want.
My need to make sure that my life makes sense and that I follow the plan I have made, has so far kept me safe from the immense pain I once felt. It has also kept me from experiencing the relief that can come with letting go of that need to constantly protect myself from hurt.
I do feel like focusing on sensible and rational decisions was a necessary step in my healing and growth. I was starting my life over as a single mom, I needed a plan and I needed to follow it to feel safe. I desperately needed security at that time because my life had been on a roller coaster for so long. My emotions took a backseat long ago so I could be in a place mentally where I felt secure.
But now, those emotions are fighting their way back and what better time than the emotionally charged period of my youngest’s senior year! It’s no wonder I am exhausted and overwhelmed, there is a literal battle going on between the logical side that has been front and center for most of my adult life and my emotional side which wants to experience joy and love and all things that have been held at bay. It wasn’t that I wanted to hold the positive feelings back, that’s just what happens when in protection mode.
I haven’t allowed myself to feel the full gambit of my emotions in years, mainly because I am too scared to let go. I am too afraid to fully commit to all I feel because that almost broke me before. But that stage of my life is over; I am no longer living in distress or fear. Life is good and it’s time to allow myself to do not just what makes sense, but will also bring me joy.
So, as I just keep peeling back the layers of who I am, faults and virtues, I need to allow my feelings to share in the responsibility of my decision making. I still need the security of logic to look at all sides, but I also need to start considering how a decision makes me feel. After all, it’s the joy in moments that we remember, not the rationality of the moment. Just because something is the most logical decision doesn’t necessarily make it the right decision. I may miss out on something beautiful that brings me joy if I focus on only the logic of it, and joy is rare these days.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand. -Psalm 16:11