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Distraught at Empty Nest

(27 Posts)
Candy6 Tue 11-Feb-20 10:10:24

Hello ladies I’m so glad I found this forum as I would really like some advice from someone who has been through what I am going through now. Basically, my lovely son left home last August to live some 250 miles away and I’m absolutely devastated. Just a bit of background, I have been through a lot with him as he has been ill for the last 15 years with a chronic condition. It’s been absolute hell but of course I’m pleased that he’s now well enough to start his life (at 28). He texts me every morning and FaceTimes every evening, but I just can’t get over my devastation that he’s no longer here. It’s causing me a lot of anxiety and panic attacks. I had a particularly bad night last night and can’t even think about him without breaking down. I also go through such a bad time when he comes home and goes back - it’s even got to the stage where I no longer look forward to him coming home as I know I will go through hell when he goes back. What is wrong with me? I’m so scared. I should really think myself lucky as I have my husband ( who I have a good relationship with) and my daughter and her family living less than 10 minutes away. But none of this matters as I want my son. I’m trying to get on with things and have a job interview this week but I can have a really good, busy day and then I come home and it all starts. I just hate the fact that it’s just me and my husband. I’m seeing a counsellor who is really good - she seems to think I’m suffering from a trauma response. I’m so sad and I just want to be happy and enjoy my life again. I hope someone can empathise with this and apologies for the long post.

Curlywhirly Tue 11-Feb-20 11:16:10

I have 2 sons, the youngest one moved 200 miles away (he was away for 5 years, but moved back to our home town 2 years ago) both sons have their own homes. I did miss them, especially the youngest as he was the last to leave and was far away. I am a very 'Mumsy' Mum, loved looking after my family and luckily now have 2 DGC to help mother! (I get on really well with my DIL, love her to bits, she is quite happy to leave the children with us whenever it suits and is grateful for a well-earned rest). But, I was also pleased that the boys had become independent and fending for themselves; after all, nobody wants a 'Mummy's boy'. So, although I did miss having our sons at home, it was countered with the knowledge that they were adults and getting on with life. Our children are only 'loaned' to us; if they can leave us and live quite independently and happily, then we have done a good job. Just look at the positives, despite your son having health problems, he has moved out and is coping - that is brilliant. If you miss him so much, can't you go and spend a few days with him now and again? I used to do this, (I am retired, DH is still working, so I used to go mid-week about 3 times a year) I was happy to do a bit of mothering, did some ironing, gave his flat a bit of a once-over (my son was single, wouldn't have done this had he been in a relationship!). We'd go out for dinner, or I'd cook a meal. He was happy to be waited on for a change, and I was happy to do it. Worked for us.

Greymar Tue 11-Feb-20 11:37:40

Grief, loss, pain. All very real. Take your time.

Jane10 Tue 11-Feb-20 12:24:41

Probably a good idea to get busy with a new job. Something new to be thinking about rather than getting stuck in the negative spiral you seem to be on.

Babyshark Tue 11-Feb-20 12:27:51

I think this sounds so severe that you would benefit from professional support. You must have been through hell and back watching your son deal with health issues and what you’re going through is something that seems outside of your control, not something that you can shake yourself out of or be made to feel better by any words from anyone in real life or on here. Be kind to yourself and make a GP appointment would be my advice so then you can start looking forward and enjoying time with your son. Take care x

NanaandGrampy Tue 11-Feb-20 12:38:01

Perhaps instead of focusing on the negatives you need to make a real effort to focus on the positives?

After all, he’s able to live independently, you have a loving family , you’ve done your job raising him now it is truly your job to let him fly !

I think he’s being a real star messaging and face timing you every day but you really do need to reassess what you want from him. After all, you’re not happy he’s gone and then you’re not happy when he comes back ?

You’re seeing a counsellor , your son is doing his bit now the rest is up to you really. I think you need to work out what will make you happy( short of him having to move back in 😀) .

Candy6 Tue 11-Feb-20 12:40:19

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m already on antidepressants (have been for years). They can’t be working so maybe time for a review. xx

Oopsminty Tue 11-Feb-20 12:49:13

Hi there, Candy6

I totally understand how you're feeling

My youngest left home in 2018 at the age of 22

I was devastated

Which completely floored me. My other children had left with the minimum of fuss!

I understand completely about you worrying about visits. We eventually get ourselves on an even keel, then they are back and we go through the same sadness when they leave again!

I'm lucky. Like your son we have great contact and she's home very regularly but it's been hard.

I am much better now. Time, I think, is the key.

Good luck

SalsaQueen Tue 11-Feb-20 12:54:20

You've been in a very close relationship with your son for all these years, and helped him through his illness. You've been, and still are, a good, supportive, loving Mum.

When my youngest son (now 35), I felt pretty much like you do now. I felt I'd lost my role in life. It was just my husband and me again, but then the eldest son's relationship broke up and he returned home. (He's been and gone a few times and is back here again)

My anxiety and depression (like you, been on antidepressants for years) seem to be worse for a while each time he leaves then again bad when he does come back here to live. I saw my GP, changed my antidepressant, went on to MIRTAZAPINE. about 18 months ago, I'm on the maximum dose of 45mg, and I'm fine 95% of the time. Perhaps you need a change of medication?

Good luck with your job interview. Perhaps when you get home and feel sad in the evenings, you could go to an exercise class/swimming/out for a drink/meal, now and then? I find that Zumba classes a few evenings a week help me to sleep.

sodapop Tue 11-Feb-20 13:00:40

You invested a lot of time and care into your son Candy6 because of his illness. You need to take time to come to terms with this and make a life for yourself now. Counselling and medication review are a good start. Look at things from your son's perspective, he is now well enough to be independent and that's thanks to you, a good job done. You still have a lot of contact so enjoy it, take time to enjoy the rest of your family now.

Feelingmyage55 Tue 11-Feb-20 13:18:44

Candy6. Hello and welcome. That empty nest feeling is sooo bleak isn’t it? What struck me about your post is that if you had not told us how lost you are feeling but simply that after 15 years of chronic ill health, your son was now up to leaving home and living independently, we would all be congratulating you on supporting and caring for him to this stage. You deserve congratulations. However I wonder if you thought this day would not come because he was so ill and therefore did not prepare yourself for him going, perhaps as a way of preparing yourself to permanently look after him. Now that he has recovered so well, however, are you fearful of some kind of a relapse, afraid he will not look after himself, take medication, eat well or something else? You are going to feel better sooner rather than later because you have taken that important step of recognising that there is a problem and seeking out a solution. I have an adult child with a chronic condition and can understand some of what you feel. He has a wonderful partner and he is very good at looking after himself now but there was a period when he left home and had to learn to do that. It was very worrying. Also because of this I had spent a lot of energy being alert to any health issues and initially could not relax for wondering how he was doing. Might you be feeling like this? I am sure you know all the standard suggestions of getting outside every day, doing something for yourself that you either haven't had the opportunity or even given thought to. Now is the time to see the gp, borrow a dog to go for a walk every day, swim, take up Pilates, go away for a weekend on a retreat, take up an art class, build new routines. I had to have CBT and it was very helpful as I was able to talk about my fears for my adult child in a way I couldn’t to anyone else. She also taught me relaxation techniques to use after the course finished and encouraged me to take up old and new hobbies. I just wanted to reiterate ideas that I am sure you have already been given but to reassure you that some of them do work. It is difficult to do when you are low so first stop the doctor. Well done for sending your son off to an independent life. Come back and speak to us for support as there are a lot of people here who will give you sound ideas and respond to your questions. I wish you well.

Hithere Tue 11-Feb-20 13:31:07

I am so sorry you are going through so much pain.

You should be proud of yourself and of your son, despite the chronic conditions, he is able to successfully live independently since August. That is huge!

I would revise the therapy method, doesn't seem to be working. Maybe new therapist is needed.

Don't make the same mistake my parents made - not suggesting you were intending to do so.

When i left home, they tried to hold onto me so hard, throwing guilt trips, crying how i was responsible for their depression, I should visit more, if I loved them I would (insert what they wanted from me)
It pushed me further away from them.

rosenoir Tue 11-Feb-20 13:40:59

You are doing the right things in getting a job and seeing a counsellor.

I do think you should try not to tell your son how you feel as it will make him feel guilty when he should be enjoying independence.

It seems excessive to have the text and facetime everyday which he may come to resent and if his visits cause you anguish he may stop the visits .

I do feel sorry for you feeling the way you do however your son need to be able to live his life without worrying about you.

glammanana Tue 11-Feb-20 13:43:09

Give yourself a huge pat on the back for raising such a confident son it will get easier trust me, I have been there with my eldest son he moved away then back again in the end he had the name of boomerang as he worked around the country in his younger years,he is now married with a baby and lives 10mins from me and I think I saw more of him when he lived away for some reason.

anniezzz09 Tue 11-Feb-20 14:16:14

Candy6 I've been there and it's heart breaking. I know how devastated you can feel and as though nothing will ever make it right. I had twins and lost two at once. I'm glad you're seeing a counsellor and agree that it's grief and a trauma losing a child to what is actually adulthood.

It has to happen and you will get over it, really. However I used to hate it when people suggested I look on the bright side, what bright side! I was careful never to let my children see but I think the worst thing I ever did, when I was at my lowest ebb was to join an expat forum (they were overseas, 12,000 miles away!) and to start a thread lambasting those who had left their families behind!

Try journalling, activities you've never had the chance to do, hopefully the new job will be engaging, and I found physical things helpful. I joined a gym and lost some weight, I think the vigorous activity gets rid of some of the adrenalin and cortisol (anxiety hormones) and also yoga and tai chi which put you in touch with your body and help with becoming calm. I think most mothers will understand, it's a sad journey but there will be a new shore in sight before too long. All the best.

Greymar Tue 11-Feb-20 14:20:01

It's so rubbish when the things you ought to do, you can't do because you feel low.

Candy6 Tue 11-Feb-20 22:16:46

Thank you all once again. You are all very kind and have raised some interesting points and given me a lot to think about.

AllotmentLil Tue 11-Feb-20 22:45:28

I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way. My son lives five hours drive away and I too wish he was, at least, in the same town.
But I think you’re getting a lot of things right or are prepared to reassess. You’ve done a great job with your son and have helped make him what he is.
I think time is the only thing that will really work so be kind to yourself and don’t expect too much. flowers

Callistemon Tue 11-Feb-20 22:53:35

You've done a good job and should be pleased with yourself and happy that he has felt able to make these steps towards independence: "give them roots and wings" was something I read.

However, you have concentrated so much of your energy making sure he has been able to do this that you may have neglected yourself and your own wellbeing.

If you decide what could make you happier then try to concentrate your energies on that, a job, hobbies etc..
I hope you are talking it all through with your counsellor and perhaps making an appointment to talk this through with your GP could be of help with your panic attacks.

Concentrating your emotional wellbeing on just one of your children could have the opposite effect and drive him away; if you can find some joy in the rest of your family that could be beneficial to your wellbeing too.

Hetty58 Tue 11-Feb-20 23:48:42

Candy6, they grow up and leave home. That's exactly how it should be. I just breathed a huge sigh of relief when the youngest (fourth) one left. I'm widowed so had no company at all.

Maybe the problem lies with what's left and in your relationship with your husband. It has drastically changed from parents to partners so maybe it's very hard to adapt.

Now it's your time to have a fulfilling life, both as an individual and as part of a couple. Concentrate on the new possibilities and freedoms you now have.

fatgran57 Wed 12-Feb-20 02:26:54

I agree with Hetty58 they grow up and leave home.

Didn't you do the very same when you got married?

We raise our children and if we have done our job they grow up and begin their OWN lives.

I hope you can soon begin to live the rest of YOUR life with your husband as your companion.

Kindest wishes.

BlueBelle Wed 12-Feb-20 04:39:14

Candy6 this is going to sound hard hitting but it’s not meant to hurt you it’s meant to open your eyes
Whilst I understand where you are coming from (I brought my three children up, mostly alone, and when they flew the nest they all went overseas to different parts of the world)

You do need help from a professional and definitely a change of tablets which you are now so used to they could be smarties as this is NOT natural you are so entwined with your son that you encroach on his life and the strain your sadness will put on him is not good at all, it’s selfish No boy of 28 needs to feel his mother is so desperate that he has to ring and text her twice a day Can you not see how limiting that is for him he is so tied to you that he can never be free until you set him free What a huge huge weight to put on that young mans shoulders how can he be carefree and enjoy life when he is so worried and tied to you You are intruding in his life can you imagine how a girlfriend or wife will ever manage this mother in law (there really will be three in the marriage)
You have to learn that love care and clinging are NOT the same thing you have to get help to let go this is not normal behaviour
Your husband and other child (daughter) are completely
dismissed in your original post as just ‘being there’
You say daughter lives 10 mins a way but that doesn’t matter because I want my son .,...Read that statement again how on earth would your daughter feel to know that, well she must know already that she is a very very poor second
You are emotionally obsessed with this young man to the point where he will be mentally damaged by you, the very person who spent so long making him well

increase the help you are getting, (it’s not working) talk to the doctor, you have a severe obsession that will be hurting those you love most severely and that’s not what you want at all

I m sorry if this is hurting but someone has to be truthful with you This is not normal and is destructive for everyone you, your son, your husband and your daughter

Good luck Candy

CassieJ Wed 12-Feb-20 09:46:34

I think when your child has a chronic illness it is often harder to let go.
My son also has a chronic illness and I have spent the last 10 years ferrying him to various appointments, stayed with him at multiple hospital admissions, been his advocate. Dealt with schools and college. Sorted all his medications. Worried about him constantly in case today is the next flare up.

As an adult now, though still living at home, I have started to take a back seat and let him deal with things himself.

It is really hard when they first leave home. It is like a bereavement. My elder son moved to Canada, and that was especially hard, but you need to allow your children to break free and to live their own lives.

Be happy for your son and enjoy the times that you do get together. Take time for yourself. See a counsellor if you feel you need to. It will get easier.

JaneNJ Wed 12-Feb-20 13:33:45

While we love all our children, our relationship with each is different and unique because they are. This child has held a particularly special meaning for you do to his disability and who he is. You gave him your utmost because he needed it and he knows it. Hence the extra very close bond you both share. He also provided you, inadvertently, with a meaningful role that is no longer necessary. It was a secondary gain from his condition. You have now lost that job. You were let go from a job that gave your life purpose and meaning. And you also miss him. The good news is that he and you will always have that special bond even now that he is able to be independent. You have not lost him, just the job. It will take time but one day you will come to revel in his independence because you helped make it so. Congratulations on a job well done. Your sacrifice paid off. You have been the quintessential mother. Give yourself time.

Yennifer Wed 12-Feb-20 13:40:27

I wonder if there is something underneath all this, had you ever been abandoned or suffered as a child? It sounds to me like you are trying very hard to help yourself which shows an amazing inner strength. You will find the solution I am sure of it. You are still mum, still loved and needed x