“So this is change,” my wise friend Nancy said to me on the phone yesterday, “which is why everybody resists it, right? All your sh*t starts coming up, and it’s painful. And we do this sh*t sober,” she added. “It’s not easy.”
Ahhhhhh …. the beauty of friends who get it. Nancy and I are definitely sisters somewhere in the Universe, and we are somehow on the same train once again in this life. She relocated to Chicago right when I got here and started her own new job at one of her former companies. I have never been so grateful for a set of matching circumstances in my life. Our reports mimic each other on a daily basis. And her words reminded me that I’m not going through a hard time. I’m just going through change.
Out of curiosity, I looked up my blogs from October/November 2013 because I would have been in the same “place” in my relocation journey. I saw myself trying to connect with old friends from Memphis, out exploring the area and spending time nesting at home. But when I read between the lines, I remember what I was feeling and thinking at that time. “What did I just do?” I would ask myself but brush it away just as quickly so as not to second-guess my decision. I felt lonely. My old friendships were fading into the background due to distance, and there was nothing new to really take their place. I was surrounded by acquaintances and hungering for something deeper.
Martha Beck writes about change. My Meetup Group in Baton Rouge read one of her books on change. At the time I knew I was going to have to change again in a big way. My job in Louisiana didn’t look promising, and it’s really important that a single gal have job stability. But I remember pinpointing that I was in the “exploration” phase of change. I didn’t yet know what I wanted to do, but I felt like I needed to do something. The book helped me stop trying to figure it out and just enjoy the research. It was probably about that time I signed up for Career Counseling which eventually led me here to Whirlpool.
In this article on human metamorphosis, Beck explains the four phases that we need to go through in order to change. Just because I’m in my job and in my new house, it doesn’t mean that my psyche has caught up. My surroundings have changed, but Sharon is still the gal that left Louisiana unexpectedly just as she was starting to adapt. In one of my blogs in October of 2013, I was excited about my upcoming “running season”. In hindsight I know that running season was doomed, and running endurance races wouldn’t work out for me down there. That was a huge part of my life in Memphis that fell away. As time went on in Baton Rouge, I learned to hate running in traffic, sweltering in the heat and I never really found a social running option. I know that my life will change here, too. I just don’t yet know how.
I think I’m at the end of the “dissolving phase” and the start of the “imagining phase”. I’m still struggling a bit in finding a daily routine that works for me, getting my yoga and meditation practice going, and meeting like-minded friends. Everything has changed. Every relationship is new down to the barista at the coffee shop and the receptionist at the vet. The food is different. I’ve lost my year-round local produce but I’ve gained access to a freezer full of Great Lakes Fish. Even my hours at work are different, and my morning routine is struggling to adjust. I liked my morning routine! But it’s doomed to be revised. It’s not bad. It’s just different.
My close friendships are changing. They have to adjust to the amount of space between us now due to distance. I know from experience that some won’t survive. Others will shift, and we’ll find a new normal. There is loss in that, and, in some cases, there is relief from needed change.
So, what to do now? Martha suggests the following, and, ironically, it’s just what I had planned this week. In fact, when a friend asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving, I said, “I don’t know. I’m going to take it an hour at a time.” And I’ve ended up doing exactly what she recommends below. Perhaps I get this more than I thought.
In Phase 1, Live One Day (or 10 minutes) at a Time
Instead of dwelling on hopes and fears about an unknowable future, focus your attention on whatever is happening right now.
“Cocoon” by Caring For Yourself in Physical, Immediate Ways
Wrap yourself in a blanket, make yourself a cup of hot tea, attend an exercise class, whatever feels comforting.
Talk to Others Who Have Gone Through a Metamorphosis
If you don’t have a wise relative or friend, a therapist can be a source of reassurance.
Let Yourself Grieve
Even if you are leaving an unpleasant situation (a bad marriage, a job you didn’t like), you’ll probably go through the normal human response to any loss: the emotional roller coaster called the grieving process. You’ll cycle through denial, anger, sadness, and acceptance many times. Just experiencing these feelings will help them pass more quickly.
So, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Ashok and I are spending it curled up on the couch while the cats slumber in another room. When I finish this, I plan to read Einstein’s biography and maybe even take a nap. Although most people seem to be pushing me to find something to do socially on this holiday, I am most grateful to have zero obligations. Perhaps today is best spent in a cocoon with a hot mocha and a good book. But I leave myself room to change my mind if I need something else in an hour. I hope you’ll do the same. Change is good even if it’s not easy.