What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Laurie.
What I want you to know about the empty nest or having a mid-life crisis. I am 49 years old, have a middle-class life, a master’s degree, a dead end job, a nice, hard-working husband, and two grown sons. In the past three years, my husband has left a 25 year career to change jobs. We lost over half of our income. He works 60 hours a week. Both of our children went to out-of-state colleges. Our expenses have gone through the roof. We have cut back on everything to keep afloat. I have gone back to work after a 22 year hiatus. My boss is 23 years old. One of my sons has married and moved 1700 miles away. I am no longer the most important woman in his life . My other son is 500 miles away at college. He moved himself to school this year. No need for mom to hang pictures or set up the kitchen. One of my best friends died of cancer. She was 50.
No, neither of my kids is on drugs. They have jobs. We are able to pay our bills. No one has an incurable illness. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t be sad and that the foundation my whole life was built on is now crumbling beneath me. Who am I ? I volunteer. I get out of my house. I don’t feel sorry for myself. But, I am sad. I want you to know that is is okay for me to be depressed. Life is full of changes. These past three years have brought a lot of big ones. I am trying to figure out who I am without doing something insane or hurting the ones I love. I need your help, your time, your prayers, your laughter, your love. Brene Brown had an interesting video about the difference between sympathy and empathy. She said something along the lines of “Sympathetic people always say ‘at least’ all the time. “At least your kids are employed,” “At least, you are still married,” etc. However, empathetic people, will climb down in the hole you are in and just stay there with you and hold your hand. That’s what I want people to know about the stage of life I am in now. There are huge adjustments for me to make. Be there for me. Don’t tell me to move on, or how things could be worse. I help those less fortunate, I don’t need to be reminded how good I have it. Another quote says, “Telling me I can’t be sad because someone else has it worse, is like saying I can’t be happy because someone else has it better.” Please understand this is a stage like all stages of life. Hopefully I will get better and learn a lot in the process. Help me to get through, not over.