The Surprising Shadow Side of Wonderful Things

The photo on the left was my engagment photo, taken around March 1986.  It was the beginning of an era…the one where I began a family of two (my spouse and me), then added two children over the next few years.  The photo on the right was taken a few weeks ago, March 2011, as I near the end of the era, with an ex-husband, a daughter soon to head off to grad school and another daughter leaving in less than 2 months for the University of Florida.  There’s no way you can look at your kids as adults and deny how much time has passed–or what dreams have come and gone unfulfilled.

I’ve been extremely emotional over the past few weeks–for no reason that I could point to. I feel sorry for my friend, “Sweet Tea.”  He’s been there with me through this entire emotional rollercoaster, and I let him have it a time or two as well for…I don’t know…existing.  For giving me so very much and not being able to give me more.  I almost feel  I should apologize to him every hour on the hour because even though there are things I want from him that he can’t give me right now…and maybe never will…he has been and continues to be absolutely wonderful to me.

And that’s part of why I’ve been so emotional.

I’m very pleased that Aislinn is getting ready to leave the nest in the next few weeks and that, in the style of a true Abraham-Hicks devotee, manifested an acceptance at UF in less than a month, even though it had been a very unlikely choice for the last two years.  She’s happy, and I’m happy.  And yet, out of nowhere, I have been seething with resentment for the last couple of weeks.  Not at Aislinn, though.  Not at Sweet Tea–he’s been picnicking with me here and there at work, trying to lift my spirits and keep me grounded at the same time.

Sweet Tea helped me to peg what was bothering me.  Part one of it, anyway.  It’s not so much the upcoming empty nest as it is the reminder of the dreams I had before I had my family, of the future I had planned, and of how things didn’t really follow that path.  Of how much of it was spent alone or lonely.  Part of it is the contrast between the emotional support I feel from Sweet Tea and what I did not feel during the era that is now passing away from me.  I admit that I’ve wondered how that era might have been if I’d passed it with him or someone else, though I cannot say I regret that life was as it unfolded in those 25 years.  I’m a product of those years, and I would be a different person if I’d spent them with anyone else, him included.  Whether better, worse, or just different, I cannot say.

The basis of my suddenly-bubbling-to-the-surface resentments, however, is grounded in the contrast between the vision I had had of what a partnership was and what it turned out to be.  Watching my youngest leave for college means no denying that that particular vision of the future never happened and now will never happen.  I am done raising a family.  And while that does mean a bright and fun new era where I can do things I could not before and couldn’t not now if I’d had the son I wanted, it is the death of a future that must be grieved.  There will be–and already are–new dreams emerging.  Some include things I left behind in favor of my family and partnership with my spouse. The old dreams are fading now, and new one coming into view.

But that’s not the end of my reason for being so over-the-top emotional recently.  I had a key event happen in my life last week.  It’s happened a few times before, and I knew what I was getting then.  My spouse, my family, my friends–they all knew in the past what this key event meant…and they always let it pass without any seeming inkling of how important it was to me, no matter how often I told them that is was a turning point for me.  Important.  On many, many levels.   To the general public, I may downplay the importance of these particular occasions, but not to the people close to me.  In fact, I’ve been accused of not shutting up about it.   Based on the past, I didn’t expect  much support from family and friends, although I did get a few messages from colleagues who knew this event was coming up for me.  But it was pretty much unnoticed by people who are closest to me, as it has been in the past.  If anything, the people who knew most how important it was to me decided to start drama unrelated to me a few hours before so that my mental game would be focused on their needs rather than on mine.  I don’t think it was a conscious decision to start drama–just normally happens that way, like having the biggest fight of my married life the night before one such event and being up all night sobbing instead of focusing staying clear-headed before a career-making/breaking tribunal at the office.  My friends who’ve done Weight Watchers tell me that it’s scarily common for loved ones to unconsciously sabotage a dieter’s goal once she’s within a couple of pounds of it…and so I’m sure there’s some psychological term for all this.  When the event was over and I’d gotten through it, only one person in my family or circle of friends remembered…Aislinn, about 12 hours later.  She’s very young though, and part of me doesn’t expect her to understand what’s that important to her mom.

But I guess I didn’t expect any more than that.  I didn’t expect any real show of support from anyone else because I’ve never had it when it came to something this important to me.  I’ve always wanted it, though, and this time, I got it.  From Sweet Tea.  I mean, really, really got it.  It was jaw-droppingly astonishing for me to have this kind of support.  I can’t even write about it now without getting teary.  Sweet Tea spent hours of his spare time talking me through it, helping me where he could, lending his professional expertise, emailing me little boosts, soothing my frayed nerves.  And praying for me.  I don’t know what to say to that.  He prayed for me.  I’ve not had anyone work magick or pray for me for something this specifically important to me.  Not to him. Me.  There were the messages, the texts, the constant support, the follow-through, the post-event picnic for 2 hours of play-by-play discussion.  I wasn’t even back to my phone before he was blowing it up, wanting to know how I was.

I know that Abraham-Hicks talks often of a bounce or a wave and the other side of it, but usually in reference to how if you know what you don’t want, then you know what you do want.  But I’ve never heard them speak of what I was feeling here.   Sweet Tea was giving me exactly what I wanted, and the support I was getting from him and the support that I’d always lacked were in such stark contrast that it made me really angry.  It was like suddenly realizing, “Oh, THIS is what it’s like,” and then resenting that I never had it before.  And that’s the shadow side of finally getting something you’ve waited your whole life for–you feel the abundance of support for something and have to spend a few minutes (or hours) honoring or maybe just plain mourning all the years you felt the lack of it.