Yesterday I dropped Isaac at school knowing that I wasn't going to see him again for over a week. He has gone off with his Daddy on their annual trek to the frigid outskirts of civilization, aka Minnesota. Today Isaac is no doubt getting into all sorts of relatively harmless yet thrilling mischief with his 11 and 12 year old cousins. I am glad that he has this time to climb and play in the Minnesotan half of his family tree and, to be honest, I am also grateful that I no longer am required to accompany him. As a matter of fact, foregoing the annual week-long shut-in with my cranky, conservative in-laws was one of the first benefits I noticed when I was suddenly single back in 2005.
Still, every time Isaac leaves this life he has with me to join again with the life he and his dad live together, I feel a very slight slide of grief in my gut. It is not a large grief -- thankfully I have been recovered from the full-fledged anguish of my divorce for some years now. But it is an aching little loss each time I have to relinquish my child for days at a time. And it takes a second to rebound. In the past, I had become so accustomed to that regular visitation of separation sadness that I did not attend to it like I should have. I would have passed the day in a fog not even knowing that anything was bothering me at all. I would have been disappointed and anxious because of my unproductive day but I wouldn't have even touched the original feeling of sadness that made my day what it was.
Yesterday, after sending my son off, I watched myself and saw that I was a little checked out, more scattered than usual. I had the urge to burrow and be still, to find a crappy novel and read it all the way through in one sitting, to nap and nap and nap. In the past, that's exactly what I would have done. But after a year and a half of skill-based therapy aimed at teaching a person to be mindful of present experiences, it has become fairly difficult to check out like I used to. Someday I should try to express how annoying it can be to just want to take a good, long escapist coma-nap but to be unable to do so because of my damned Wise Mind. But maybe that's something only a DBT graduate would understand. Instead, I'll just say that I am so glad for the hard won awareness that now allows me to say, "Isaac is not here and I am sad." I am so grateful for the new ability I have to keep company with that sadness as it inevitably fades. I rejoice that I can connect the true and real feeling of sadness with the behavioral urges I am experiencing. And that I know so much better now where to seek comfort when I am sad, such as in exercise and time with friends, like I did yesterday. Every day I am reminded that being a whole and healthy person does not mean that difficult experiences do not occur or that I will suddenly morph into the first human who is exempt from the experience of grief. It just means that I am able to do those challenges better. Yeehaw!