I am a 47 year old, empty nest mother of 2. Recenty I have been feeling really empy inside. I spent my whole life taking care of my kids and now they are moved out and on their own. I feel kind of lost and the things that used to make me happy feel flat and without any joy. I feel myself retreating from things, because I lack the energy to get up the effort required to participate. It seems that everything around me is falling apart. My knees and body ache every morning and it seems to take forever before the body warms up and the kinks are worked out. I have hard time in mustering the effort to give a shit about anything. It takes so much effort to get things done. I thought I would be a lot farther in life than I am now. I am in debt and my health seems sketchy at times, but I do not have good enough insurance to check things out. The first though in my mind is “fuck it.” I just want to throw in the towell at times and just sleep for a week. I feel like an actor, I place the happy face on and pretend that everything is good. But is an act, and when people are not looking it is back to empty. That which gave me joy, just does not work now. I just want to be numb and not feel anything.
Hey man, I know the feeling. I’ve been stuck in that place before and it can be hell. The escape for me was finding a direction towards my dreams. Moving towards a vision you have for yourself gets you up every morning with enthusiasm and drive. Check out my blog and youtube channel for content on this very subject.
I think it’s completely normal that when people spend their lives doing a specific thing (for you raising your kids) and find that task no longer before them, they feel kind of purposeless or empty. This is the reason many retirees get part time jobs even though they don’t need the money.
How often do you see your kids? Could you try to make it a point to spend more time with them, or even open up to them about what you wrote about here? Maybe that would help.
As far as the aches and pains go, this could be the result of diet and physical habits. You could try switching to healthier options to see if that has any impact. Simple things like eating more vegetables, drinking more water, taking walks every day, can have a profound impact on how you feel.
Have you thought about trying to re-ignite the social aspect of your life? You could call up some old friends, go to a coffee shop or bar and strike up conversations with random people, or even join a dating site. We are social creatures, and connection is necessary for most of us to feel fulfilled.
I think this site is only in the US but check out meetup.com, it’s a place where you can find people with similar interests as you and meet up in groups to pursue, partake in, or discuss that interest. It has anything from meditation to philosophy to cooking to sports, quilting, games, literally anything you can think of. Think of something you like or used to like, or something you’ve always wanted to try, and find a group for it. Even if it doesn’t sound appealing to you, it’s worth a shot and you might be pleasantly surprised. If you don’t like it you can always leave.
On the internet you can find a website or forum dedicated to nearly anything. Perhaps there are people out there going through exactly what you’re experiencing that you could find to talk to about it. This has helped me a lot with struggles in the past.
I think that it’s definitely necessary for health that you came to this realization- and obviously shows that you can intuit the dissonance that it’s swamping your life with these feelings of exhaustion, emptiness and a crisis of identity (you described how much you’ve felt like an actor lately). Having been depressed and suicidal, at various stages of my own life, I can at least relate to the trauma you are feeling. Definitely just some small daily stretches, yoga, or moderate-to-long distance walking can immediately help get you back on your feet so you can begin concentrating on the emotions and disturbances you’re experiencing. Often times when I start feeling entirely empty inside, I focus on the emptiness (the source of my feeling, and the essence I currently am identifying with- a.k.a. the Void), until I suddenly undergo a radical revelation of thought; intuiting that the emptiness is actually significantly more comforting in certain lights, I use this as a launching point to objectify my thought process, or crisis I’m undergoing and frame it, or re conceptualize it in entirely new context.
Obviously meditation can totally help with this as well- once you work yourself up to attempting such practices. ( I would definitely get outside and walking, feel your body-mind back in the world/nature before you attempt to root out the issues you’re facing cause you want to be approaching them from stable ground.) Lastly, about the ‘acting,’ I’m 22, and I think role-playing is something intrinsic to most social interactions, and you are certainly right that it’s not healthy to feel you’re just pretending all the time for the sake of others. However, you can perceive the acting as something that again is literally part of each social interaction (that you do selfishly for yourself, and selflessly, flexibly with other’s energies), and therefore every single conversation or social setting can start to be seen as a certain limiting context, that provides unimaginable, creative freedom- to be whoever it is you want to be.
I will include you in my prayers, and hope that this comment helps a bit. Also, if you’re interested – the integral transpersonal philosopher Ken Wilber has two extraordinary works that might help your situation called The Eye of Spirit (a series of daily reflections on the divine and emptiness), and Grace and Grit (a story told by him, and his departed wife, about their experience together facing his partners breast cancer, and dealing with the trauma of death) both miraculous books and I highly recommend them! Good luck and One Love.
Hi there.. Its good to put all of this out there about how down you feel so you can move forwards. Fighting to stay awake is no life at all. You have an opportunity for a newness that you’ve never had before now that you’re children are gone, and it is enhanced by your experiences raising them. Your achey body is clearly signaling it’s time for a revolution in your life. If you identify with your feelings of illness, it’s a pretty fast track towards immobilizing yourself in all ways. You are a brilliance to share and to behold in others. Even if you don’t have a lot of money, there is a wealth of information that can support your happiness. Maybe you should go to the library and see what draws you in.