Empty Nest Syndrome | Ruthie Urman

Lately, I’ve been suffering pangs of empty nest syndrome. Why doesn’t the American education system teach about things like this? Years from now, will I really care how many hours I’ve spent cleaning counter tops, to the point of vacuuming the stray crumbs inside the stove knobs? Will it matter that I handpicked pieces from the area rugs to the point of seeing only the soon to be discarded pieces, rather than the beauty of the rugs themselves? 

Meanwhile, our grandson continues to grow like our dust bunnies underneath the almost outdated stereo equipment. Our kids are off to exploring new lands, if not physically, then mentally and sometimes making time to spend together is like pulling our own teeth. Actually, we are pretty lucky, compared to most parents with grown kiddos; ours like us and my son in law considers us the “chillest ones of the three sets of parents.” Perhaps it’s because both my husband and myself tend to be, at times, immature; translated: playful. 

And it seems that I am one of the chosen few that Peter (my son-in-law), lets his spiritual side glow. That in itself in pretty damn special. So I won’t complain. And yet…I do miss my kids and sometimes wish that I could have them living with us or turn back time. And because the latter is not really possible—as far as I know—then maybe coming up with a different living situation is the key. (I’ve often dreamed of living in community with those I love; each of us with perhaps an acre of land and a home, with a community garden, play area, etc., where we take turns eating together in a community dining area/kitchen.) It’s something that our kids may just consider—with the right timing and the right place—who knows? Having an automatic babysitter has its good points. 

Life at almost…sixty. I still see myself as I was in my 20s and now: lively, spirited, love to dance and hula hoop around the house or anywhere I am. Will I be able to carry this into my …eighties? I see so much as a Caregiver, in my business: senility, inflexibility, lack of luster/humor/desire to clean oneself…it isn’t a pretty picture for most of us. I swear that my life is going to be different. I know my life is going to be different. I so want my life to be …different. And I assure myself that this is going to happen because I hang with the younger crowd. We do yoga, dance, eat raw foods and talk about being much greener on this earth and in our lives. It makes me feel younger; at least for awhile longer. 

Then there are the times I feel like the granny of the room; gray hairs appearing (again!), body not cooperating as it used to and running out of cool dance moves. Still, it’s invigorating to be around all this enthusiastic energy; maybe it’s even contagious. God, I certainly hope so!

And it sure beats picking up particles from the area rugs.

Yet there is something else. Something I can’t possibly ignore: Lately, I want to be the one taken care of. Even just for awhile. And in my own way, I portray that to my family. My daughter immediately jumps in, giving me tinctures that she has conjured for my use in my current state of menopause. I am so deeply grateful for her. She is such an amaaazing healer. Her father and her husband chime in, teaching me how to do muscle testing. I’ve long doubted it and now here are several people I admire for many reasons, encouraging me to use it for my health (and lack of it, currently). Sigh…I asked for it; I got it.

Then there is my husband, who sleeps with me while I am under the influence of my angst. Again, menopause kicks in, this time so violently that I fear a heart attack. My breathing quickens, I feel breathless and my heart is palpitating. I don’t know what to do and of course, my husband doesn’t know how to relieve my fears. I jump up from bed, search for my base homeopathic remedy; where the fuck is it? Panic sets in, for a moment. I realize it’s downstairs, in my bag and I race the stairs to grab it. Spilling half on the floor, I manage to get the tiny balls underneath my tongue. I go back to bed and thankfully, so thankfully, I feel better within fifteen minutes. 

Unfortunately, my skin is driving me crazy, dry from the Colorado semi-arid air and of course, also from menopause. It tingles, it “zings” me, it itches, it burns like hell. It is scaly from the dryness, not its usual baby softness. I’ve developed a few sores that have gotten bloody and have left blood spots on the linen, making me feel crazed and wanting to wash it every single day. 

On top of it, our “health” system is not working for me. I was “lucky” enough to get Medicaid; yet am also politely screwed, because I only work with alternative practitioners, treating the whole body, not just the symptoms. And it is considered fraudulent on a federal level, if you are on Medicaid and want to also use someone that is not offering Medicaid. Unbelievable. So what do I do? I make an appointment with a general physician, in the system. (Also, in order to go see a dermatologist, I must first see a general physician to say, Wow, yeah, looks like you have a skin issue; go see a specialist.) In other words, I am not considered (weare not considered, as a country), capable of handling/healing/understanding our own bodies. Oh, how stupid, uneducated and unconscious this country wants us to be! How dumbed down…

My husband, feeling relieved my remedy seems to be working, tells me a story: When I practiced Dahn yoga, we did an exercise that included our saying, “I love my body, in detail: I love my heart, I love my stomach, I love my back, etc.”

Immediately, I chimed in. “I love my skin, I love my liver, I love my spleen, I love my kidney, I love my skin.” And I thought to myself, “I love my skin, I love my skin, I love my skin.” Doing this was very subtle yet extremely powerful. I awoke the next morning, repeating those same words, “I love my skin, I love my liver, I love my skin.”

It may not move me faster through menopause (or maybe it will, here’s the thought, balanced), yet every little movement and positive mantra helps. Even just for the present moment, all there is, all that we truly have. 

Practicing this exercise/chant, I was able to free myself from any negative thoughts, as long as I focused on the words and their meanings. Love. The best word there is. May it save us all.


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