You are a mother of a high school student, and you are freaking out about the empty nest ahead? Together we will channel your freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy! You will THRIVE as your child(ren) prepares, heads off to, and experiences college. ~ Christine, Your Empty Nest Coach
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 39: Courage Addiction. … Today’s episode came out of one of my Thursday Thoughts About emails. I received positive comments about it and thought that it would be worth sharing with you. I’ve tweaked it just a little since then, and hope you find it motivating.
00:00:00 Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 39: Courage Addiction. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that has been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it is freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
00:00:38 Hello, my future empty nest friend. I am super excited today because I took a big step and upgraded my podcasting equipment. I have a new mic, I actually have a big wind screen and a pop filter, which hopefully will help my poor editor. I have very good diction. I think it’s all the years of singing training that has really worked on that, which isn’t always great when you’re working with a microphone. Hopefully this helps and I appreciate you. Thank you for listening to all of my episodes, the earlier ones, and hopefully you notice a difference moving forward. Thanks for being here.
00:01:16 Today’s episode came out of one of my Thursday Thoughts About emails. I received positive comments about it and thought that it would be worth sharing with you. I’ve tweaked it just a little since then, and hope you find it motivating.
00:01:48 Would you like to know something addictive? Having courage. Once you realize that having the courage to do something, meaning that you are willing to feel a feeling, and get to the other side of it, you become powerful. Afraid to talk to your boss about a certain topic? Afraid to apply for a new job? Afraid to speak up in front of a room full of colleagues to say what everyone else is whispering, but no one else is saying publicly? Afraid to talk to your partner about your concerns in your relationship? Afraid to be interviewed by someone because you may sound like a fool? Afraid to ask for what you are worth when offered a job? This is a good one, afraid to tell a family member that there is something we need to set a boundary about in order to protect the relationship? Afraid to go to the doctor, because of what you may find out? Afraid to try something new, because you might fail?
00:02:41 As someone who has done more than a few of these in the last 30 days, despite being scared, I have to tell you that the power in being willing to sit in the emotions that result from stepping into the fear, has caused everything in my life to become less scary. Try it. What are you afraid to do? Decide which emotion you are expecting, then decide that you are stronger than that emotion. You are. You can sit in the emotion and get to the other side.
00:03:11 I believe that the real you will not come out as long as you are afraid. Are you hiding the real you? What if someone in the world needs the real you? You aren’t helping them by hiding behind whatever it is you’re afraid of doing. Actually, if I had not taken the step to start this business due to fear, which was real, you wouldn’t be listening to this right now. Be brave, my friend. You are stronger than any emotion.
00:03:42 Please don’t hesitate to fly on over to our Facebook group. Our name is Green Popsicle Sticks. Want to know why? Listen to episode number 17, or head to my website, youremptynestcoach.com/community for links to join our flock. Why should you join our group? The adjustment to not having your kiddos at home full-time isn’t always easy, but it sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. We look forward to seeing you there.
If you are ready to begin the journey to find future you, and use her as your GPS, definitely sign up for my free program, “The Empty Nest: A Guide to Uncovering My Future.” Episode number 13 covers the high-level concepts of that program, if you would like to check it out. To dive deep into the concepts, definitely take my free program, as I provide videos and worksheets to assist you on your journey.
The questions I have for you in this episode are: what have you done recently that required courage? And, are you ready to notice where you need to challenge yourself more? As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend. My hope is that I am able to provide you with thoughts that positively impact your life. You’ll find the show notes for this and every episode on my website. My next episode’s title is “Tackling Big Things.”
Psst…my empty nest friend, did you hear? I have an online program, “The Empty Nest: First Steps Towards Success.” I also, now offer GPS Reset Weekend Retreats, and I am available for speaking events. Seriously! What are you waiting for? Visit my website, or see this episodes full show notes.
Don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast. It is free and you’ll be notified when I post a new episode every Friday. If my show has helped you in any way, please share it with one other person you think it will help, too. You’ll be giving them a free gift. Thanks for your time and energy with that, and thanks so much for listening, my empty nest friend. Remember, you are amazing!
In this episode, Michele shares a portion of her life story with us and opens up to show us what helped her get through the remaining emotions and trauma she had from a teenage rape – or should I say, “who helped her.” The gift she received is one we all can learn from for our life.
Your complete presence in any moment will allow you to comfort others in a way that they may not even know they need.
I invite you to listen to Michele’s story and share it with anyone who needs to hear it.
You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 38: Michele’s Story, Loving Through the Empty Nest, Raped as a Teenager and How it Changed Her Life. … For those of you who need a trigger warning, Michele’s story does include being raped as a teenager, as well as being in a dark time with no future plans. That being said, she’s completely inspirational and I can’t wait for you to meet her. My amazing empty nest listener friend, my guest today is Michele.
00:00:00 Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 38: Michele’s Story, Loving Through the Empty Nest, Raped as a Teenager and How it Changed Her Life. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that has been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it is freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
00:00:43 Hello, my future empty nest friend. Before I get started, I have a request. My team and I are planning on taking some time off over the holiday season, and rather than going completely silent for that time, we thought we would share listener favorite episodes, or snippets. That means that we are looking for your submissions for one of two things, something you learned from the podcast that has helped you, or you’re favorite episode. For both of these, explain what they mean to you, and tell us what episode number it is from. You may email your recorded submission with your phone audio recorder or type it out. Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for your assistance.
00:01:53 For those of you who need a trigger warning, Michele’s story does include being raped as a teenager, as well as being in a dark time with no future plans. That being said, she’s completely inspirational and I can’t wait for you to meet her. My amazing empty nest listener friend, my guest today is Michele. Full disclosure; Michele was one of my beta clients and it was my extreme pleasure to work with her. I remember one of the first things she told me was that she almost didn’t graduate from high school, and yet she had in her same introduction to me, that she has a B.A. in Psychology, a teaching certificate and an M.S. in Special Education. Do I have that right, Michele?
Michele: That is correct.
Christine: I clearly remember reading through this and thinking, this woman’s tough, has been through it, and must have an amazing story to tell. I’m super thankful that she has the courage to share a little bit about her story with us today. Welcome to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, Michele.
Michele: Yay! Thank you! I’m so excited to be here.
Christine: I’m so excited to have you. Listeners, our hands are up, jazz hands, we’re so excited. Michele, thanks for being brave enough to share a little bit about your life story with us. I would love it if you would start by telling us a little bit about yourself, your family, and where you currently are on the empty nest journey.
Michele: Okay. Usually when I think about myself, I think of mom first. That is my first role, but I am also a wife and a teacher. I have twins and they move into college for the first time on August 22nd.
Christine: It’s so close.
Michele: Yes, I have that date memorized. I have been married for 24 years and I am, I guess, what they say a low-incident austic support teacher. A big mouthful. I teach Special Education. As far as where I’m at in my empty nest, my beef stew is simmering.
Michele: I am enjoying the moments right now. The focus of my twins and where we are in the moment. I’m not stressing about where we’re going. I’m not thinking about where we’ve been. I’m just enjoying the moment and simmering. We’ll see what bubbles to the top.
00:04:19 Christine: Oh, my gosh, this makes me so happy.
Michele: It’s the perfect analogy here, really.
Christine: Isn’t it funny?
Michele: It’s exactly where I’m at.
Christine: My editor was like, “Beef stew? Where are you going?”
Michele: But it’s perfect. It’s absolutely perfect. I’ve been trying to like, think about where am I at? Where am I at? That’s ideal. That’s exactly where I’m at. I’m simmering. I’m enjoying the simmer.
Michele: Nice slow, warming up to the ultimate meal, kind of thing. You know what I mean?
Michele: That’s where I’m at.
Christine: Wonderful. Michele, one thing you shared with me is that you have powered through, I think I have this right, circumstances in your childhood/teen years that might shock others. While that may be true, there are other people who may have a child going through what you’ve gone through, and knowing where you are now, maybe just what they need to hear. What is it about your early years that you think will be shocking to some?
00:05:24 Michele: I think shocking, when I read that, I’m like, well, it’s relative, because shocking to some is not to others. For me, when I told my story, I’m just kind of like, well, it’s mine. You know? It is what it is. Others have been like, “Wow, that’s an amazing story.” My story, I guess, starts with at 15 I was raped. I was raped, and it did a number on me. I tried to commit suicide. I didn’t want to live. I did not want to live at all. It was just like, there was no feeling whatsoever. If you could feel numb, that’s what it was. Complete and total numb. All I wanted to do was sleep. You know, I sit there, I look at my kids now, you know, they’re just graduated, and I think when I was their age, my goal in life was to stop living at 21. I had nothing planned after 21, because I figured okay, 21, I get to drink, and then, there’s nothing to live for. I lived my life without what I would call purpose. I just was there. I guess that’s pretty shocking.
Christine: Yeah. It’s real. It’s a lot.
Michele: It is. It is. Do not get me wrong, as I’m laughing, it was hard, you know? I would never want anybody else to go through it. At the same time, I can’t dwell on it.
Michele: Because if I did, I wouldn’t see all the good that is now. There are teenagers that go through some really, really tough struggles and the key is they can overcome.
Michele: I’m an example of that. My kids know my story. They know my story probably more detailed than what some would want their kids to know. My husband knows my story, and they are amazingly supportive. It’s kind of like, this is kind of odd, but it’s kind of like a scar that you have, that’s kind of like a badge of honor. I know that sounds odd, but it’s there. You wear it. It doesn’t bother you anymore. It’s just there. I don’t know. I mean, I feel like I should be sad, but it’s hard for me to be sad because I’m not living in that spot any more.
Christine: That’s really good. I think, in the moment though, when you were 18, 19, 20, obviously, I guess you could never imagine you’d be where you are today?
Christine: Have a future planned?
Michele: No. I mean, literally, I was making choices that, when I look back on it now, I think, oh, my gosh, I’m surprised I’m not dead.
Michele: Literally, I’m surprised I’m not dead. Jumping in the back of stranger’s cars, making poor choices as far as illegal things, like drinking. I drank in high school. That’s what I did. The things that kids did in college, I did them in high school.
00:09:00 Christine: Okay.
Michele: You know? It was kind of like, when I got to college, because I made that choice, and had gotten through all the gunk, I’d like to say I had my head on straight more. It was almost like my high school and college were flipped.
Michele: That’s the best way I could describe it. But there was no feeling there. I mean, literally, there were no dreams. I was never that type of person where I dreamt of who I would marry, what my wedding dress would look like, having kids, none of that. It was literally like looking into a black hole. I saw nothing. That’s how I lived, because I didn’t want to wake up every day. When I would lay my head down to sleep, I did not want to wake up.
Christine: I’m so sad for younger Michele. I want to hug her.
Michele: Younger Michele had it tough. I mean, she really did. I’m okay with it now. I can be honest with you, it took me 15 years. I was raped when I was 15. For 15 years, subconsciously, because I was raped in January. I was raped literally two weeks after my 15th birthday. You’re talking about a very young 15. January would come and I would become an evil, miserable person. Just nasty and hateful, and depressed. I never realized that I was that way. Even after the birth of my children, January was the most hated month. When I turned 30, I’m not really sure exactly what changed, but something happened and I was able to step back and say, “Oh, that’s why I’m acting that way. Do I want to continue to act that way?” I was able to say, “Okay, you know what? I see this, but this isn’t how I want to be.” From then on, things started to shift. It was almost like the realization and the acknowledgement, and it’s like, okay, I see it. I don’t want to be that any more. I want to move on. I’ve already come 15 years from that moment, and now it’s time to move forward. It did, it took me a long time, a long time. I’m not perfect yet. There’s still definite remnants there, but not enough to hold me back any more.
00:11:51 Christine: I would think we’re all cheering you there.
Michele: Yeah. Yeah.
Christine: I have so many questions. Here’s one, for those of you, when you were in the moment where you couldn’t see your future and you didn’t want to wake up, did you have a lot of people reach out to you and try to help you; and if so, how would you respond to them? Did it come across as help? I guess there’s like four questions in there.
Michele: Yeah. This is tough to hear. I was raped and I’m 15, so I go to my two best friends. There were three of us that we were real tight, and they didn’t believe me. They thought I was lying. They thought that I was trying to break the friendship up, the triad, up. That was really devastating. I questioned whether or not it happened to me. I really did. I had told one other girl, and she believed me, but I had already told myself it didn’t happen. Now, I’m black and blue. I have bruises from my neck down. I wore a turtleneck and didn’t take gym class, because I didn’t want to change in front of people. There was physical evidence there, but I hid it and I told myself that this didn’t happen to me. That I was lying to myself because my friends didn’t believe me. I remember trying to talk to my mom, and she was so busy, such a busy mom. She had twins of her own, and I don’t want to say couldn’t hear it, but for whatever reason, it just wasn’t meant to be. I wasn’t meant to be heard, I guess. I don’t know. It was just meant for me to feel it. Does that make sense? I don’t know, and I can’t answer those questions.
Christine: Right. Right.
Michele: Because they were other people’s experiences. But for me, what I chose to do was, I chose to suppress it, and it came out as failing grades, and erratic behavior, and I was always tired. I was just a mess. Basically, some people would say a typical teenager, but internally, I felt dead. Literally, numb and dead. I sit back and I think no, there wasn’t anybody there to help me. For whatever reason, that was the way it was supposed to be. That was how my story was written. I don’t know. I’m not here to blame anybody else. This is my story.
00:15:07 Christine: Yes.
Michele: I can sit there and say it was my fault. I could blame the individual. It’s my story. Those are my demons to deal with, so to speak.
Michele: You know? Everybody’s story’s different. Even in my situation, even people that have lived similar lives. It’s all different.
Christine: That is very true. I guess if they reached out to you for the failing grades, and all the other stuff, at that you point, you just —
Christine: It didn’t matter. None of it. Nothing mattered. You know? I mean, literally, there was nothing that mattered at all. It was so all consuming of void, that even when I think back, it’s very hard for me to find happy moments in those times. Do you know what I mean? People say, “If you could go back and go back to high school, would you go back to high school?” Hell no.
Christine: Right. I’m thinking no.
Michele: Would I change it? No, because my future would be different.
Michele: I can accept that. I lived it once. I’m good, you know? Move on kind of thing.
Christine: Yes. Okay. What are some of the most helpful things that you found over your life, in helping you to get to where you are now?
Michele: You know, when I read that question, I thought, oh, my gosh, what have been the most helpful things. You know, I’d like to sit here and say there were pivotal moments.
Michele: I always think, I dated this guy after my whole struggles. I dated this guy who was 18, and he hit me. You know? I didn’t have healthy relationships. How could I? I didn’t know.
Christine: I don’t know how you would.
Michele: Right. For whatever reason, he came to my house and I slammed the door in his face. It was the most empowering moment, that I can remember in my teenage years. I mean, literally, it was probably the first time that I ever felt good. From that moment on, I started making decisions. I started going to college. I started finding joy. Why did that happen in that moment? I don’t know. But for whatever reason, I had enough power in me, enough umph to care enough about myself, to say, “No, this is not what I want.” That was one of the biggest moments in my life. That’s where it started to change. Don’t you know, a few months later, I met my husband. I shared with him, because I was starting to have nightmares because I had suppressed this for so long. I started talking to him, and all he did was hold me and accept me for me. It was like, oh, my gosh, there are people in this world that just care.
00:18:42 Christine: Yes.
Michele: It was then that I was able to start healing more and feeling, and growing and that was truly amazing. Then it just exploded. It was just absolutely amazing. But it wasn’t always easy, because now you’re really starting to feel those emotions and I had to deal with the self hate and what’s wrong with me. I mean, I had anorexia. When my husband met me, I was 114 pounds. I’m 5’8”.
Michele: I was passing out. I wasn’t eating. I mean, there was a lot of outward trauma that was manifesting and I was very unhealthy. In fact, I remember I passed out at work, and my husband was like, “you know, you need to go to the doctor. You need to start eating. You need to be healthy.” I argued with the doctor. I’m going to be 111 pounds. Here’s a girl, who’s 5’8”, and I was going to be 111 pounds. Because if I got smaller and smaller, and smaller, maybe I wouldn’t be noticed. I don’t know. That’s what I thought. I mean, it was just another way I was manifesting how I can be done with life at 21. Then, I didn’t want to any more. You know?
Christine: I’m really glad you met your husband.
Michele: I know. Yes.
Christine: Give him a hug for me tonight. Because I like you and I’m really glad you’re here.
Michele: Yup. Yup.
Christine: Wow. Here’s a question, so keeping in mind, this is for my listener’s, neither of us, Michele or I are therapists. If you, though, Michele, could talk to a parent whose child is experiencing something like this, maybe any area of it, do you have anything that you would like to say to them?
Michele: As a parent, I can’t imagine what it would be like, as a parent. You know, I’m pretty lucky that as a parent, knock on wood, I have not had to deal with a child like myself. But having to deal with other situations with my kiddos, and probably because of my life experience, I choose to love unconditionally when it comes to my kids. I know they’re not perfect, but I choose to hear them. I listen to what they’re saying. I don’t have to like it. I don’t even have to accept it, but I will still love them for who they are. I think that’s the key. Like I said, every situation is different, but sometimes you just need to be heard. Like my husband, he just listened, and he just loved me. He loved every single part of me. He walked up that journey with me, and still is, 24 years, still walking the journey with me. That’s the key. Just being present.
00:22:04 Christine: So powerful. Oh, my goodness.
Christine: I would think your teenagers, do you feel like that has made you be that parent?
Michele: Oh, yes. Oh, yeah, absolutely. Rebecca tells me I’m like crazy involved. I’m just there around, and every time she turns around, I’m there, and it is. I want to know what kind of music they listen to. I want to know what they’re watching on TV. I want to be a part of every little thing. I want to be a part of the mistakes they make. I want to be a part of everything, because they’re such a big part of me. I want them to know that no matter what happens, that they are always loved no matter what. They will always be my kids. They will always be welcome, and they will always be loved. There will never be a judgement. It’s not my job to judge them. It’s my job to love them.
00:23:07 Christine: Wow. Well said. Well said. All right. Here’s a heavy question, in this moment right now, what are you most proud of in your life?
Michele: There are so many. There are so many. I mean, I’m proud of my kids, first and foremost. They are amazing young adults. They’re so excited about their future, which is amazing. I love that. I am so proud that my husband and I will be married 25 years next May. That is just huge to me. I’m looking around, yeah. I’m proud that I have been able to go from barely making it through high school, to having a Master’s degree and helping other kids. I think I’m fairly darn strong.
Christine: You are. Yes. If you ever doubt it, you call me, because I have no doubt.
Michele: Yeah, you know, I think I’m doing pretty good. I think I am.
Christine: You really are. You really are. Is there anything at all, that you would like to share with my amazing listeners?
Michele: Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. We are human, we are not perfect, and it’s okay. You know what? Sometimes in this world we’re all we got. If we’re lucky, there’ll be somebody else, hopefully there is. But you’ve got to love yourself. You really do.
Christine: Yes. One hundred percent.
Michele: You know? Yeah. Be patient, too. You know?
00:24:58 Christine: Yeah. Good job. All right. Shall we lighten it up a little?
Michele: Yeah. Probably.
Christine: Okay. Before you go, I have my four questions that I ask every guest of mine. You probably have them memorized by now. Waffles or pancakes?
Michele: Waffles. My husband makes the best homemade waffles.
Christine: He does?
Michele: He makes them on my birthday every year. I love them.
Christine: Awesome. I like that. Okay. What is one item you can’t live without, and why?
Michele: Caffeine. I tried once. It was the three worst days of my life, and I just decided I don’t want to live without it. I love coffee too much.
Christine: I totally agree. Totally agree. I’ve given up everything else, I’m keeping that.
Christine: I love it. It’s worth it. What is your all-time favorite movie, and any particular reason?
Michele: You know, I was trying to think of this, and I don’t have a particular movie, I have people or moments that I’ve seen movies with. Like, I love “Star Wars” because it was a movie I saw with my dad at a drive-in theater when I was younger. I love “Wayne’s World” because it was my husband and I, it was our first date. I love “The Piglet Movie” because it was the first time I ever took my twins to a movie.
Christine: That’s a great movie.
Michele: Right. I don’t have like, movies that I — like the moment of the movie.
Christine: Like the emotion and everything around it?
Michele: Yeah. Yeah. The experience of the movie, that’s what it’s all about for me.
Christine: I love that. That’s great. All right. You have an hour of alone time, no one will bother you, not even the ferrets. She has ferrets, listeners. What is your go-to thing to do?
Michele: I’m lucky because every day that I drive home, I have about an hour commute, and it is my time. My go-to is my Audible and right now, I am learning about mindfulness. I love to learn and grow and listen to lectures or whatever I can on Audible. That’s my go-to. That’s my hour of bliss.
Christine: That’s wonderful. Do you remember what you’re reading now? Did you tell me?
Michele: Yes. I did. Let me look.
Christine: Because I’ll put it in the show notes, because you like it, right?
Michele: It is so good. It is called “The Science of Mindfulness.”
Michele: I love it. Love it.
Christine: All right, listener, there’s a new book recommendation. Okay, so my empty nest friend, thank you for listening to Michele’s story. I would like to challenge you to think of someone who could benefit from hearing her story, and please share this episode with them, because she did her part by being here. She’s amazing. To see where she was and now where she is, is so inspiring. I’m so glad you shared that with us. My wonderful empty nest friend, should you have any follow-up questions for Michele, please feel free to email me at Christine@youremptynestcoach.com, and I will be sure that she gets them. Michele, thanks for sharing your life with us. You are one tough cookie and an amazing lady.
Michele: Thank you. You, too.
Christine: Awesome. Please don’t hesitate to fly on over to our Facebook group. Our name is Green Popsicle Sticks. Want to know why? Listen to episode number 17, or head to my website, youremptynestcoach.com/community for links to join our flock. Why should you join our group? The adjustment to not having your kiddos at home full-time isn’t always easy, but it sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. We look forward to seeing you there.
If you are ready to begin the journey to find future you, and use her as your GPS, definitely sign up for my free program, “The Empty Nest: A Guide to Uncovering My Future.”Episode number 13 covers the high-level concepts of that program, if you would like to check it out. If you like what you hear there, and are ready to deep dive into the concepts, then take my free program, as I provide videos and worksheets to assist you on your journey.
Oh, my goodness, did you hear? I have an online program, “The Empty Nest: First Steps Toward Success.” I now offer GPS Reset Weekend Retreats, Unplugged and Charged Up, and I am available for speaking events. Seriously! What are you waiting for? Visit my website or see this episode’s full show notes.
The questions I have for you in this episode are number one, what have you had to overcome to become who you are today? Number two, how are you telling your story? As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend. My hope is that I am able to provide you with thoughts that positively impact your life. You’ll find the show notes for this and every episode on my website. My next episode’s title is “Courage Addiction.”
Don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast. It is free and you’ll be notified when I post a new episode every Friday. If my show has helped you in any way, please share it with one other person you think it will help, too. You’ll be giving them a free gift. Thanks for your time and energy with that, and thanks so much for listening, my empty nest friend. Remember, you are amazing!
Anne (my guest) and I touched on this in my last episode – how to be the emotional adult in the room. College is a significant change – and when they go far enough away that they can’t stop by for dinner – it is a REALLY SIGNIFICANT change.
You can handle it. I know you can. Take some deep breaths, do some thought work and you’ve got this.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 15: Being Brave When Your Child Picks a Non-local School, or Going Far Away to College; How to be The Emotional Adult in The Room. … Today, we are going to chat about what to do when your child goes to college far away. I’m going to make the assumption, for this episode, that the decision has already been made, or it’s being made and finances do not impact the decision. This would also be relevant to your child moving away permanently.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 15: Being Brave When Your Child Picks a Non-local School, or Going Far Away to College; How to be The Emotional Adult in The Room. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that has been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it is freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
Hello, my empty nest friend! Before I dive in, this episode has a lot of references to my Empty Nest Prep Series episodes, so if you feel confused at any point, or need a refresher, you may want to go back and listen to those. They begin at episode number 3. Today, we are going to chat about what to do when your child goes to college far away. I’m going to make the assumption, for this episode, that the decision has already been made, or it’s being made and finances do not impact the decision. This would also be relevant to your child moving away permanently.
Guess what this situation means to your life, my empty nest friend? Do you know? Think about your answer? Got it? It means whatever you want it to mean. That answer that you had just a second ago, you decided to have that answer. You chose it. You can choose another answer. How do you feel with the thought that you were just having, about your child being far away? Were you feeling good? If not, you can change your thought. If your thought brings you to a feeling that you don’t want to have, let’s change it.
Grab a piece of paper, or just picture this in your head, if your driving. The circumstance that your child is moving away has absolutely no drama. It is a fact and it is neutral. At the top of the page, I want you to write, or picture, my child is moving away. You can even be specific, my child is moving 15 hours away. My child is moving 2,000 miles away, to Antartica. I’m not saying that’s together, but even if it was, Antarctica, that would be interesting? Wouldn’t it? Anyway, when this circumstance shows up on your doorstep, the doorbell rings in your mind that triggers a thought for you. What thought box, or thought, do you automatically run to? Take five minutes to write down all of the thoughts you are having about your child moving away. All of them. You know the drill by now, no drama, no editing. Write them all down. Look at them. Pick one of the thoughts. Focus on only that thought. How does it make you feel? If you don’t love it, do you want to keep that thought? How can you change your thought to create a feeling that you like?
Let’s say your thought is,”I’m going to miss them so much.” Do you want to have this thought? I had this thought originally. What I found is that thought, for me, created only sadness. When I made a slight variation to the thought, I felt better about the emotion created. I’m going to miss them so much, that thought comes off as 24/7 I will do absolutely nothing, nothing at all, other than miss them. Is that true? Not really, because I sleep, so there’s six hours. I don’t sleep much. I work and need to concentrate on things that distract me. I can turn my original thought into, “I will have moments where I miss them.” This a thought I can believe. I can use it for a bit, and then, I can work on moving forward with more pleasant thoughts such as, “While they’re learning to be independent, I will have moments where I miss them.” I will tell you, I’m almost a bit over one and a half years in with my daughter being out of state. There are tremendous benefits. Your child will learn, they have to, how to be more self-sufficient and independent. From things like food and toiletry items, prescriptions, and that awful first time being sick with no way for mom and dad to visit and help.
Here’s an example: my daughter went from hating to talk on the phone, to being able to handle a fraud charge on her credit card, with no interactions from us. Pretty much just a couple of texts, it happened, and then on follow-up, they’re sending me a new card. This independence and self-sufficiency forces them to mature faster. I can vouch for that. Their friendships that are formed are closer. As friends really need to rely on each other quite a bit when they can’t run home in 15 minutes. With no option to go home on weekends, they learn how to work through boredom, heartbreaks, medical issues, awful food choices and so much more. Your child has the experience of geographical diversity that comes with living in a new area. We all know someone, maybe it’s even you, who has never lived further than a hour from where they grew up. Some personalities thrive like that. But for others, as the years move forward, they only feel less confident to venture out of what they know and where they’re comfortable. This next one’s real. Coming home is special, for them and for you.
Speaking of you, with your child moving away, you have more time to do those hobbies you’ve been putting off. More time to get projects done, and spend time with your partner. More time to get to know you, to plan future you and to crush it. There are negatives, of course, but there are also negatives with staying local. You missed all of the things I just mentioned. The grass is always greener on the other side, if you choose thoughts that can make you feel that way. The goal for you is to allow your child to make the decision that is right for them, free of your feelings and thoughts about how much it will impact your life. No matter what they do, you are responsible for your feelings. They are not. Be the grown up, and be there to help them find the best answer for them, not the best answer for mom. While they are planning their future, you can get to work planning yours. Future you is waiting for you and I created a resource to help you find her. More on that in episode number 13. You’ll find that in my show notes.
The questions I have for you in this episode are: 1) Are you having to deal with this situation? 2) Have you dealt with this situation and do you have advice for others who are about to go through it?
Fly on over to our Empty Nest Flock at youremptynestcoach.com/community [new link] to share your answers with the entire flock. Why should you join our flock? The adjustment to not having your kiddos at home full-time isn’t always easy, but it sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. We look forward to seeing you there. As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend. My hope is that I am able to provide you with the thoughts that impact your life in a positive way. My next episode’s title is: How I Lost Almost 50 Pounds, And I’m Still Losing! I am! So exciting!
I have some answered questions from a prior episode. This question comes from episode number 8: if you could give your past 19-year-old self advice, what would it be? One member shares, don’t let other people talk you out of something you really want to do. Great advice! So true. Michelle shares you will always be able to handle every situation in your life, so instead of stressing over it, embrace the challenge. You will be stronger in the end. Love that! Don’t forget to sign up for my free Thursday Thoughts About email. Sign up and every Thursday, you will receive a thought from me, and I also share Your Empty Nest Coach updates. If you have a question you would like me to answer on the podcast, you may submit it in my Empty Nest Flock or email me at email@example.com. Thank you so much for listening, my friend! Remember, you are amazing!
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 12, The Power and Understanding That Life Isn’t Supposed To Be Perfect. … Today’s episode is definitely inspired by Byron Katie, and this quote of hers, “If you argue with reality, you will lose 100 percent of the time.” I will link to Byron Katie’s site in my show notes, which you will find on my website.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 12, The Power and Understanding That Life Isn’t Supposed To Be Perfect. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy with volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that’s been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it’s freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
Hello, my empty nest friend! Episode 12. How are you today? I hope you are feeling amazing, because you deserve to feel amazing. This is really fun. I don’t know if you can tell, but definitely from my first podcast episode, the sound quality is slowly getting better. I’m in my official podcast booth, which I think, hopefully, you will enjoy. It is an umbrella, with a sleeping bag over it, on top of my laptop, so I don’t have the sound waves reverberating all over the place. A little cramped in here, but I love it. I’m slowly improving.
Today’s episode is definitely inspired by Byron Katie, and this quote of hers, “If you argue with reality, you will lose 100 percent of the time.” I will link to Byron Katie’s site in my show notes, which you will find on my website. The gist of this whole thing and what really hit me, was what is happening, whatever it is, is totally supposed to happen. Why? Because it is happening. Arguing with the reality of the situation is absolutely pointless. Life is sucky 50 percent of the time. It is. It’s called life, not called the magical perfect world, where everything goes your way. Welcome to life. Congratulations! You are alive.
Why do we believe that life is supposed be perfect? That is a lie that serves none of us. If your automatic thought when something bad happens is well, this shouldn’t happen, and then you continue to spin out of control and not do much but complain about it. I want you to understand that in that specific moment, rather than dealing with a situation, you’re clearly choosing to argue with reality.
You are arguing with reality. What do you think that’s going to get you? Oh, Christine, but I’m just saying that, thinking that, because it’s comforting. Is it? Let’s look at an extreme example. Imagine that you just got into a car accident. There is an emergency situation to deal with. What is the best thought to go to once your brain understands what has happened? Cars crushed, I’m still alive, let me assess the situation and figure out what to do next, or this is awful, this shouldn’t have happened, why do these things always happen to me? I get it, this might seem like an extreme example, but when you see the importance in an extreme situation, and then realize that you are doing this all day, every day, in tiny moments of your life, how do you think that compounds, and what do you think it creates in your life?
Are you constantly arguing with the universe, with reality, that things shouldn’t be happening a certain way? Let’s say your child doesn’t get a scholarship they were hoping for. Do you spend three days complaining about it, calling the school to find out why, and fighting it? Or do you realize the competition must have been really intense, let’s see what other scholarships are available? Here’s another one, your child’s guidance counselor didn’t get a paper over in a timely fashion. Do you complain about it to everyone, or do you figure out how to solve it by making an appointment to confirm the counselor completes the task?
We see this in movies all of the time. Something tragic or unbelievable happens. There are a whole bunch of people freaking out about it, and one, typically, the protagonist, the hero of the story, quickly assesses the situation, figures out what to do and saves the day? What did they do? You could say they were trained for this, or they are a born leader. They were born that way. What is the real answer? It is that they spent no time arguing with the true circumstances of the situation and got right to work.
What if I tell you, you can be the hero in your own life? You can. If you’ve been listening to my podcasts since the beginning, you know there is power in observing your thoughts. This week, I want you to observe your thoughts and look out for how often your thoughts lead you to argue with reality in either complaints, or arguing, or saying that shouldn’t have happened.
Yes, the situation might be unfair, but if it happened, there really is no “shouldn’t have.” It already happened. Unless you can time travel, it’s a done deal. Arguing with a circumstance changes nothing except for how you feel and how you show up in life.
I remember the first time I really grasped this. It had to do with our cat, Lego. He has three legs. We rescued him from a shelter when he was two years old. He’s pretty chill most of the time, but he has issues. He is missing a leg. It’s really cute when he has itch on his left ear, his back-left stump tries to scratch it. It’s kind of sad and cute at the same time. He lost his leg when he was a kitten, so our best guess is he only remembers ever having three legs. The only thing he doesn’t do well is jump, and that’s not really a problem for us. Anyway, I digress. He has this habit of doing the butt scoot after he poops. Don’t worry, we’ve had him checked out by a vet. It seems to be a habit he’s developed at this point in time. Fighting the reality that we have a cat that does this, gets me nothing but frustration. We’re not going to get rid of him over something like this. He does it and now, when he comes out of the litter, I wait for him to do it, clean it up and it’s pretty much routine now. We come home after being out and look for the streak. It’s our reality. It’s so much easier to find it, clean it up, and move on, than to show up any other way. Let me tell you, when this first started happening, I did not show up pretty.
Another example from our life, as a family, is my husband, when he was diagnosed with colon cancer, he was 38 years old. He was the best example of someone who didn’t argue with reality. He simply did what he needed to do. He did the treatments, continued to work, and certain things became his new reality. Many of those new things aren’t pleasant, but he doesn’t spend time arguing with it. He figures out how to work around it and with it. I guess, he’s a bit of a hero around here, really. Let me give you one more that kind of does rear its ugly head in my life from time to time.
Before I had my daughter, I worked in tech. I spent 15 years out of the work force, full-time. While I stayed up-to-date on technologies, a 15-year gap is big on a resumé. My day job now, is an admin coordinator, and it took me months to find an employer willing to give me a chance. I also work in a place where if you’re an admin, you’re pretty much an admin there for years on end, which doesn’t fit my usual profile. While I’m not overly challenged in this role, it has its benefits. I can walk to work. I have a boss who’s flexible with my building of this business, and it is an income that we need as a family. There are days where I see areas that I can help so easily. There are days where I’d like to be challenged so much more. Just throw a huge project at me and let me run with it, and it gets to me.
It got to me last week. I was arguing with my reality big time. The funny part is, other than knowing I can do so much more, do I really want that responsibility anyway? Not really. I have this business I’m building, and I love it. I spent more than a few hours complaining one of the days last week. It’s not the version of me I am most proud of, but I’m human. Then, I took in my reality. I was out of the workforce for 15 years. I have a flexible job now, where I can help others. I get to coach all day long. I really do. It isn’t part of my job description, but I definitely got to work on my coaching there, and that is free training for me. I don’t get to do big tech projects, but I also don’t have to work those stressful hours any more. Why am I even fighting with reality, really? Seriously, it’s so not worth it. Better to come up with a plan to change it, or just be okay with it. Anyway, notice your “that shouldn’t have happened” statements. Observe them with fascination and then process through them. They have the power to stall your life completely. Who wants that? Not me. I choose moving forward and processing through things. Once I catch my “should have’s,” that is the key. Noticing them, and then, changing them.
The questions I have for you in this episode are:
1) Who are you in life? Are you the hero solving things, or the person crying hysterically about their circumstances?
2) How do you feel when you think about the fact that life really isn’t supposed to be perfect?
Fly on over to our Empty Nest Flock Forum at youremptynestcoach.com/community to share your answers with the entire flock. The adjustment to not having your kiddos at home full-time isn’t always easy, but it sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend. My hope is that I am able to provide you with thoughts that impact your life in a positive way.
My next episode’s title is Future You Has All the Power. Don’t forget to sign up for my free Thursday Thoughts About email. Sign up and every Thursday you will receive a thought from me, and I also share Your Empty Nest Coach updates.
It is listener feedback time. This one’s titled Life Coaching Based on Self-success, “It’s always impressive when the life coach has succeeded using the techniques herself, and Christine has big time. I’m eager for the next episode.” This is by reviewer 1946. Thank you, reviewer 1946, who may or may not be my father. That’s the best. Isn’t it?
I would love to read your feedback or review here in an upcoming episode. Either provide a review on Apple Podcast or tag me on social media. If you have a question you would like me to answer on the podcast, you may submit it in my Empty Nest Flock Forum or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your question and how you would like me to refer to you, meaning, should I use your name, a pseudonym, like empty heart in Erie, or anonymous.
Thank you so much for listening, my friend, and remember, you are amazing!
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 11, Misery Loves Company, But What Does That Get You? … Misery loves company.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 11, Misery Loves Company, But What Does That Get You? This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy with volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that’s been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it’s freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
Hello, my empty nest friend! Thank you for spending your valuable time with me today. This podcasting thing is a huge learning curve for me. I’m trying to figure out what topics to do, all that kinds of stuff, and I decided that I would create a title for the following episode as I finish the prior one, and then just see where it takes me. Where I landed on this topic was nowhere near where I thought it was going to. This whole process is super fun.
Misery loves company. This isn’t a fact, or anything. It is a proverb that dates back hundreds of years. Shakespeare did not pen the phrase. It appears that John Ray, an English naturalist and botanist from the mid-17th Century is credited with the phrase. Although, it was in use well before that. The meaning is that if you’re miserable you will be comforted by the idea that others are not happy.
I don’t know about you, but my mind instantly jumps to the extreme, someone like the fictional evil stepmother in Cinderella. There’s a lady who really enjoys seeing someone else feel miserable. You can almost feel the enjoyment she gets from seeing Cinderella’s pain and misery. I am sure that you are thinking I would never be that cruel. I give you, I would hope you aren’t but, I want to challenge you with this. Don’t we sometimes, as humans, like to find an example of someone who has it worse off than us to make us feel better about our own circumstance? In our minds we think, I have no right to be upset, they have it so much worse.
I know this may seem like an odd jump but stay with me. Isn’t that pretty much what this phrase is all about? That’s tough, right? Think about it. When you are super upset about something, and then, you hear that someone else you know has a circumstance that makes yours pale in comparison, isn’t that kind of what we’re doing? When we say oh, their situation puts yours into perspective. It seems harmless. I totally get it but when you decide that someone else has it worse, what are you saying to yourself about your circumstances? This is the challenge that arises. What are you actually doing here? Are you working through your own thoughts, feelings, actions? Of course you aren’t. You are simply ignoring them. That isn’t helpful to you.
Your circumstances, your thoughts and your feelings are yours. They’re all yours and you need to work through them. I am not talking about publicly. If your friend just found out that their child has a terminal illness, it isn’t the time to share about your child not getting into their dream school. That would be rude. You aren’t a jerk. I know you aren’t. You are a good friend. You listen. You love on your friend and you support them in any way that you can. But when you go home, when you’re with your thoughts, whatever you are dealing with, if it shows its head as misery, I do not want you to ignore it because you’ve decided that things could be worse, look at what my friend’s going through. I want you to figure out what your circumstance is, and then do the work to process through it. Your friend’s circumstances are not your circumstances. Your circumstances are your work.
Ignoring things never solves things. I challenge you to stop ignoring thoughts in your life that you deem aren’t worth addressing because of excuses, such as in the scheme of things, this is nothing, or everyone else I know has it so much worse, or I’m lucky this is all I have to deal with. This might all be true in your mind but if you don’t 100 percent believe the thought that you’re saying, it isn’t true for you then. You need to figure out the thought that you need to have to get you the feeling and the result that you want.
Dumbo. Remember that movie? Remember the feather? That feather. He had to hold onto the feather to fly. That is what he believed. I’d like you to imagine that you are Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Yes, another fictional character from Christine today. Imagine that the feather you’re holding is the line you are telling yourself. The excuse you have, such as I’m lucky I don’t have that to deal with. Do you know how scared Dumbo would be to lose that feather? I think that might be us. Because, if we hold onto that excuse or that feather, we don’t have to deal with our current circumstances.
When you think about your own circumstances, when your friends are going through tough things, it almost feels self-indulgent, doesn’t it? It might, but I bet that is because you aren’t used to doing it. Doing what? Being an emotional adult. You need to do the work. You need to process through it, so you can be who you need to be in your life, for your friend, for your family, and for yourself. I’m willing to bet that the you who processes through your own circumstances is profoundly stronger than the you who is ignoring things. Actually, I’m sure of it. That version of you is worth getting to know. If your brain is seeing misery somewhere, it is worth working through. You are worth it. You deserve it.
Let’s go back to Cinderella. I have no doubt that Cinderella’s stepmother saw misery everywhere. Just a hunch. What if her stepmother didn’t need to see others in misery to make herself feel better? I guess we wouldn’t have a story then. What do you want? A story about others in your life, or to write your own story? For the record, I am preaching to myself in this episode, for sure. Confused? I might have confused myself in this episode.
Fly on over to my community forum to see if I’ve gained any more clarity on this by the time it goes live. You may jump in by answering this episode’s questions, which are:
1) Do you find yourself often ignoring your own circumstances in this way? 2) Dumbo, did you see they are doing a live-action, well mostly live-action, version of this movie coming up? This was one of those movies I re-watched with my daughter when she was younger and found myself either cringing or crying through almost the whole thing. My question is are you going to go see that new live-action Dumbo? What does that movie even bring up for you? Something different to talk about. Will you go see it?
As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend, and my hope is that I am able to provide you with thoughts that impact your life in a positive way. My next episode’s title is The Power in Understanding That Life Isn’t Supposed to be Perfect. Don’t forget to sign up for my free Thursday Thoughts About email. Sign up and every Thursday you will receive a thought from me, and I also share Your Empty Nest Coach updates. Do me a favor? If you like this podcast, or you find it’s just making you think and you are listening to it on your phone, do a quick screenshot and post it on your favorite social media site to let others know about this podcast. On Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I’m @Empty Nest Coach, if you want to tag me, and I will say, “Hi.” If you have a question you would like me to answer on the podcast, you may submit it in my Empty Nest Flock Community forum or email me at email@example.com. This is where I’ll have listener feedback, and I’m in such an early stage, I really don’t have too much going on, so I’m going to save the other one that I have currently, for my next episode. Please, if you are listening to this on Apple podcast, please take a moment to review and I will read it here. Thank you so much! Thank you so much for listening, and remember, you are amazing!