Being Changed

By this point in my life, I should be used to changes. I’m used to things happening in my life and around me, making decisions and having others make their own, and I’m used to figuring out how to adapt to those new circumstances. I’m used to looking at a given situation and realizing that this move, this choice, this transition, is going to change things for me.

I remember a point when I found that exciting, or at least distracting – if things could change, I thought, I would feel better. Then there was a shorter period during which I found it scary. I liked the way things were. I liked my life. I didn’t want it to change. I’ve now gotten a little more neutral and accepting on the natural process of change and shift and growth and movement, in that way that clichés have of becoming sources of profound truth.

I’ve been talking to a few friends undergoing major changes in their lives – having babies, for instance, or making fairly radical career shifts – and thinking a lot about what these life changes do to the self. When life-change excited me, I wasn’t really willing to let myself go with it. When it scared me, I was clinging desperately to the self to try to maintain some comforting sense of continuity, some ability to trust that as much as things could change, I would remain as I was.

I remember a little while ago, looking back over blog and journal entries I had written throughout the year or so before that and realizing that without any dramatics, without too much emotional upheaval and without too much stress, there had been some definite shifts in the way I was thinking, expressing myself, and more importantly, feeling. I sometimes think about the way I felt and behaved a few years ago and can’t quite imagine myself in those actions anymore. I’ve often said it’s like I was a different person before my divorce. Not just that I wouldn’t do now the things I did back then, but also that when I try my hardest to envision what I felt when my life was like that, I’m barely able to scratch the surface. I can describe the behaviour, the patterns, the types of thoughts, but I can’t really feel them or remember what it was like to think them.

The clichéd truth of the inevitability of change only hit me at the surface for a long time. Things would continue to change, yes. By definition, they had to. But despite all the ways that I had been changed and was continuing to be changed, it’s still a lot more difficult to accept the inevitability of those continuous changes. In fact, it’s more difficult – now that I see the depth of them, the strength of them, the unexpectedness of them, letting go into the future of them feels like a much larger unknown.

I’m in the middle of an attempt at a new acceptance. I have become okay with recognizing that in the ongoing flux of life, with its major and minor shifts and changes and phases, I will adapt and learn the new ways of functioning that come with those changes. I haven’t quite gotten used to seeing change up ahead, when there are major planned or prepared for life events or immediately following an abrupt and unexpected shove, and entering into it accepting that I don’t know how I’ll come out. Maybe it seems a subtle difference, but it feels like a bigger challenge that I might have expected.

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