Seperation Anxiety

My parents recently spent seven days with us down here in Austin. They left to go back to South Dakota on August 3rd. It had been seven months, to the day, since I had seen my dad, and a few days shy of being seven months since seeing my mom, other than on a computer screen. While they were here we spent a good share of our time relaxing, and a good share of it running around showing them our favorite spots. We got together with my other relatives who live here and were able to catch up with all of them. We ate a lot, drank a lot, drove a lot, shopped a lot, and had many great conversations. By the end of their trip we were all exhausted and ready to go back to our normal daily grind. I for one had been out of my routine for too many days and it was starting to make me a wee bit cranky! There were times when I wanted to hide away in my bed and not do anything, but I made the best of it and powered through those times to enjoy every second with them, knowing that it would be a few months before I was able to see them again.

When I lived 200 miles apart from my parents, for six years, every time they would spend the weekend with me,  or I them, I would get separation anxiety and be down and out for days, sometimes even a week, afterwards. I would get so sad that I had a hard time functioning. I would spend the first 30 min or so after they left cleaning (my mom says that my grandma used to do the least I know where I get it from!) I would spend the rest of the day moping around, napping, and probably eating my feelings. Sometimes I would have plans that kept me busy and my mind off of things, but the usual was me just being depressed. Matthew used to prepare for me getting in those funks by taking me somewhere out of the house shortly after they left, or just letting me be. He left it up to me which was usually helpful. I had the same problem if it was a close friend visiting. I thought that it was super weird being a grown adult for it to happen to me. Especially when it's not something people talk about. Matthew has always lived in a different state from his family and he handles it so much better than me. For the longest time I would not admit that I had separation anxiety, but it was clear that I did. Once I accepted that part of me, I embraced it. And then I started thinking about how I've always had separation anxiety to an extent. When I was in grade school there were times I had plans of sleeping over with a friend and was bawling at bed time, calling my parents and asking them to come and pick me up. Crying in kindergarten, begging my mom to take me home because I was so "sick". Not wanting to go to camps when kids my age went. Skipping out on fun weekends going out with friends, to meet up with my parents halfway for a weekend. Not wanting to do anything without my parents if I didn't have to. It wasn't because I was so closely bonded to them, it was because I was scared! I was so anxious to be apart from them and I didn't even know it was a thing. Spending the last nine years in a different city as my parents I have gotten pretty good at coping with their departure after a short weekend trip, or my departure after a long holiday break spent at home. First of all, I knew it was coming, so I could prepare. What was I going to do after they left? Clean? Go shopping? Go to the movies? Nothing? I got myself into a routine and it really helped to shorten those days of being depressed. I was typically back up and my cheery self within 2-3 days; which is WAY better than an entire week.

So, with my parents being here for an extended stay, living 1,200 miles apart, not seeing them for seven months with no official date of when I'll see them again planned, I was prepared for the worst. I prepared myself thinking it was going to be the worst day of my life (because, well..anxiety). I made sure my work day was busy from the time I clocked in until the time I clocked out. Because they left around 7 am, I still had to get myself ready and get to work for the day after they left. I did pretty good with that part. Suddenly, it hit me. I was driving to work and tears were streaming down my face. I was sad. I texted Matthew and told him how I thought I was going to be okay, but I was wrong, it was rough, and I thought because I got myself together and out the door without any issues that it was going to be a good day. I told him I wanted to go home, put my PJs on, close all of the shades, and lay in bed. The rest of the day was busy and whatever could go wrong, did. Including me being  a half an hour late for my own therapy appointment. I also wasn't prepared for my separation anxiety to only last for about 24 hours. VICTORY! SUCCESS! HOORAY! The one time in my life where I was going to let it be as long as it took, and I didn't have to! I bounced back quicker than I thought I would by a mile. It was awesome. All of these years later I have figured out how to handle separation, and it has paid off! No sulking or crying or having anxiety so high it has left me unable to function. Just one bad day, a few tears, several text messages, and a good night's sleep was all it took.

One small victory at a time and I will win this battle.


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