The gift of Change, well, after it really sucks.

I have been thinking a lot about the idea of change over the last few months after having experienced a great deal of it in a relatively short amount of time. I wish I could tell you that I am a “throw caution to the wind” kind of person and that I welcome change with open arms, but no that is definitely not my style. My style typically involves my being forcefully evicted from my safe familiar space by something on the order of a natural disaster to get me to change. What my home has been destroyed? Guess it’s time to move on! I have often wished that were not my process and that I embraced change with far fewer temper tantrums and much more grace and equanimity. Sigh.
But here is the thing, when you grow up in an addicted home with plenty of added trauma, well let’s just say that my need for safety has been etched deep into my bones. Our burdened bodies will heroically attempt to hold our history as long as possible, but the vestiges of the past are always with us, serving as vigilant soldiers always keeping watch for any real or imagined danger and for me change often falls in this category.
Because of that, my body has the uncanny ability to let me know when change is looming. I feel it in my clenched gut and the tightness around my chest that hangs heavy like armor. And when change finally does arrive and threatens to overwhelm me, I am always tempted to stay small, play it safe, and pretend I can control my circumstances through sheer determination. But life has a way of reminding us of her unpredictability and she is not easily swayed by my feeble attempts to bend her will to my own.
So, when I have finally exhausted myself with trying to control everything, I remind myself that the tumultuous nature of change will once again give way to my ability to gently and sweetly open to the present moment. Change pushes us out of our comfort zone, edging us to the precipice of the vast unknown. Clearing away what was, in order to make room for what might be. Our culture and upbringing rarely prepare us for the inherent suckiness but absolute necessity of change in our lives. And after a lifetime of struggling and fighting against change, I have finally begun to learn how to tap into my deep well of resiliency and have even fostered some increased ability to hang out with the gut-wrenching vulnerability that seems to woven into the very fabric of change. In moments of great upheaval it can feel almost impossible to remember that change is an absolute requirement on the road to transformation.
It’s funny how during these times I often find myself revisiting memories of going to the beach each summer. Perhaps you have had this experience as well, swimming out in the ocean and knowing the sheer panic of getting pulled into the surf and feeling the raw power of the ocean, the fighting, gasping for air all while praying to be thrown to the shore so that terror will subside. But I have also had an altogether different experience of the ocean as well. Feeling at one with the wave, the almost spiritual experience of allowing myself to be moved in a synchronized dance with the currents, feeling a deep connection with the water and melting into the sheer power and absolute exhilaration of letting go and trusting that I will find myself safe back on the shoreline once again. In both instances the wave itself is unchanging, but my relationship and how I experience the wave seemed to be worlds apart. I have come to terms with the fact that I may never be the kind of person who embraces change wholeheartedly, but these days I am mostly okay with that. I will just continue to try to remind myself when deep in the chaos of change that the suckiness won’t last forever and if I can let go, even just a little, I may just find that the wave of change created something altogether unexpected, delightful and a maybe even a little bit magical. Something that had been completely out of my field of vision, and required being pulled under by a terribly strong wave, inviting me to surrender and let go, only to finally realize I have been washed up upon an entirely new shoreline. A shoreline so unexpected, so beautiful, and certainly one I could not have imagined from where I had just stood. That truly is the gift of change, it takes us to places we could never have imagined, but not until after it really sucks.

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