PHOTO CREDIT: MOMS' DEMAND ACTION
Listening to Tara Brach on how to get unstuck and I realize that I have adult separation anxiety. Why is it so hard to let go of my adult children? Am I becoming a NUDGE? As a Jewish mom I better check that! One thing I just researched is that, surprise!: adult children of divorce are more inclined to have separation anxiety with their adult children than others. Pretty logical. But we don't have to be stuck in it, Brach says. There is a meaning and purpose and "why" to getting unstuck. We don't want to be physically or mentally stuck. We want to be free from pain. Step one is convincing yourself that there's a motivation to do this work.
The experts say our holding to protect from pain and trauma is actually reinforcing the pathways to pain and trauma. Better to let go, be present and feel your feelings. Attend and be curious, expand your awareness; this is brain change. It's possible! Self-limiting stories keep us resentful. Creative and mindful and re-framing beliefs and schema all allow us be less entrapped. The narrative keeps the story, just as the body keeps the score.
I realize that when my dad left, and then left again and again, when we were at a train or plane or automobile, that it perpetuated the anxiety groove in my brain: I came to expect to be left/hurt/abandoned. This would be my story. As long as I expected it, I could control it. If only someone had told me you have a choice! You can, I can, re-write this: I am worthy of love and safety, not being left behind. My dad even told me the story of Fiddler on the Roof, "Papa, God alone knows when we will see each other again." Tevvya replies, "Then we will leave it in his hands." At the train to Siberia. Kind of awful. Now this becomes my purpose in marriage: to establish a safe home base for my children. I have to constantly compromise to keep this up. But I do. It's exhausting. I have sacrificed my own needs many times. The wrenching violence of our daily lives keeps us in a state of perpetual panic.
According to this article: Children often are attached to the familial dynamic of having two parents under the same roof, and when they lose that dichotomy, they lose the stability and certainty that they have grown accustomed to. (https://mensdivorce.com/separation-anxiety/#)
What if it happens over and over again? So this is why it's so hard to say goodbye. But I know I must. It's the hardest thing watching a piece of yourself, feeling like a part of your body, splinter off and be at large in this dangerous world. Plenty of reasons to be fearful, whether it's the sky on fire or gun violence or #metoo or worse -- but we cling to safety as best we can, without giving up a free and spontaneous life. What a challenge!! Knowing it's possible to change is a very encouraging first step.