The only thing constant in life is change. Everything changes eventually. Seasons, people, jobs, weather, sports teams, politics, fashion trends, even what sports count as Olympic sports.
So why do we all hate change so much, even though we experience it at some level every day? I wish I knew.
All I do know is that the sense of dread I had in my stomach when the ex texted and asked if I was around was because I could feel a change coming. Especially when I asked if it was bad.
The flying class date has been pushed back. All these perfectly laid plans shattered, turned to dust. Then the real dread set in as I struggled to not ask the question I feared the most, which was, “Does this mean you are still coming at the same time but expecting to stay longer?”
Thankfully I didn’t have to ask and instead got an answer to the unasked question of “I’m going to stay here a little longer then and take more time to pack and get ready. Then we will be there the week of the 17th.” Great. That is more time here. All of us, together.
Then the real dread set in.
I have to inform my wife of the change. We get to delay this potentially miserable experience but the cost is more time later. I tried not to dread the conversation, but it went as expected. “Yes, the intruder will be intruding. For longer, but not so soon.” Hey, I’m looking for wins wherever I can find them. It’s a win that it seems like we all can get along. It’s a win that we will have some extra hands around to start spring prep outside. It’s a win that someone who loves power washing can tackle the garage instead of me.
But this change is welcome and unwelcome at the same time. What I found the most telling is that the ex isn’t swirling in a huge ball of emotion as usual. There was calm, with just a hint of anxiety. No, this doesn’t mean the job isn’t happening, it’s just a SLIGHT delay. It will be ok. It HAS to be ok.
Then I think about the changes in me. Changes that only seem obvious when I’m at a therapy appointment and I can feel the difference between 2021 and now. Changes that mean I’m still learning who I really am and working on not caring what anyone else thinks about that. Changes that also mean I am working through the grief and sadness of living a lie for so long. I can see that I was just trying to survive.
It’s an ugly thing, really, how we shove people into boxes and slam lids on them, then locking them into what feels best for us. “This is who you are,” we say, “because this is what is most convenient and acceptable to me.” We ignore the screams and the cries of young children who ache to get out of the box they were put in because they were too young to know better. I look at old pictures of me and I see sadness in my eyes in so many pictures after a certain point in my life. After the trauma of this or that experience, I see more deadness and numbness as each year passes that I am pushed into a world that I don’t want to be in.
And then I see my eyes go completely dead in high school. I was cutting to release the pain I couldn’t hold inside anymore. I tried to fit into the box. Sometimes if I didn’t argue, my parents would remove the lid and I could catch a breath of fresh air outside my box. But as soon as I started questioning why I had to be in the box anyway, I was shoved back under the locked lid. Even as a legal adult. Even when I could’ve walked away and never come back. Emotionally and mentally I was gone. And they punished me for decades for keeping them at a distance that was safest for me.
Change hurts. Change feels like stretching tight muscles that might want to break if stretched too much. But slight stretching, slowly at first, makes it hurt a little less. There’s no boxes in my life anymore, and if there were, I’d be the one responsible for still being trapped inside. There’s no more closed, locked lids on top of me, holding me back. I get to be who I really am now. I wish I wasn’t so complicated, but I am. And at this point in my life, I can accept it or not. So can everyone else. I can’t live to please everyone else anymore. It’s not meant to be that way.
And by the way, I am not changing my half moon cookie order for the original class date. Too bad, so sad for them. No central New York for them. They don’t even know they’re missing the cookies anyway.
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