You know, I dislike change just as much as the next person. Even good change- such as moving to a nicer house is stressful. There are some changes we fear making despite the negative ramifications of avoiding them. It’s just human.
Times of change can bring great gifts- such as accepting our vulnerability, reaching out for help, becoming aware of our fears and recognizing our strengths. All good, right? They also provide an opportunity to face our fears and dig deep into them so they lose their power over us- even if we aren’t ready to take action yet.
I have a personal story to share about a change that took me three years to make…
Seven years ago, I left my husband after eight years of marriage. Even though I loved him and we were best friends, it felt stagnant and our efforts to revive it fell short. As sad as it was to accept, the marriage had served its purpose. We were unable to grow together anymore and I knew that it was time to go. It took me three years to really own and act on that decision.
I got very depressed, gained weight and felt like a prisoner. My level of unhappiness in the relationship was effecting all areas of my life. I developed serious body aches, experienced fatigue and was in a constant state of anxiety about my future. This went on for three years. I kept this struggle to myself and shared it only with my therapist other than my best friend. My husband was such a nice guy and he loved me. I felt guilty for being unhappy and avoided talking about it. That also took a toll.
I was talking to a friend during one of our frequent visits. Something came over me and all of a sudden I said (in tears), “Victoria, I need to leave my husband. It will crush him. He is a wonderful person. I don’t want to hurt him.. ”. She was half-surprised and said, “But, Star, you are hurting yourself by denying yourself the freedom and the kind of relationship you need”. I made a few “Yeah, but…” statements that felt weak. When she said, “What if you asked for his blessing? How would that be?”, I perked up.
It was a Eureka moment. That was it! I needed his blessing. I thanked her, told her that I needed to do it right away and drove right back to our house. On the road back, I rehearsed what I wanted to say to him in my mind. I spoke it out loud over Barry Manilow. I needed to hear my own words to build up the courage. The cat was already out of the bag and it was hungry as hell. By the time I pulled up to the house, I was ready. I had been grieving, processing and churning the decision in my mind and heart for three years. I was beyond ready. But at that moment, my heart and mind had aligned and I had found a peaceful way of doing it.
I looked at this man I shared 8 years of my life with. He had given me love, courage, acceptance and support. We had shared many laughs in our good times. It wasn’t easy but I had to do it. I said, “This is very difficult to bring up. I had been struggling with this for a long time. I care so much about you. But I need to find out who I am and learn to face life’s challenges on my own. I would love to have your blessing to move on”.
He wasn’t surprised. He looked at me with deep love in his eyes (which never went away) and said, “You have my blessing”. I didn’t cry. I had cried and grieved a lot already.
They say, ‘Leap and the net will appear’. That’s exactly what happened. Two weeks later, I found the place I was to move to when I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen for several months. Her house was up for sale because she had moved in with her partner. It was furnished; had cable and internet. She said, “You know, if you can just give me $400 to cover the utilities and keep the place clean for showings, you can stay there until it sells”. I couldn’t believe my luck! The next day my soon to be ex-husband helped me move to my new place and even gladly offered up one of our dogs to keep me company.
I can not say that I never knew love. I had been praying for a peaceful divorce for weeks and they were heard!
Take aways from this story:
1) There is a ripening period for a decision.
2) When a vital decision is delayed, there are consequences we can’t escape. And it’s OK to live with them until we are ready to make the change.
3) We will make the change at the perfect time, not a moment sooner. Sometimes it’s an epiphany or someone’s words that give us the piece we need to make the move.
4) Numbers 2&3 can be simultaneously true.
5) The Universe has our back. I would have never imagined that I was going to live in a 2 BR furnished house for $400 a month in Seattle. I leaped and the net appeared. This is so easy to forget!
If you are facing a big decision and scared to make that change, I hope this story offers some hope and a perspective to you. Life is all about change. We will never hear a duckling say, “I don’t want to get out of this warm egg. I like it in here” and the Universe to grant his wish. When it does, it leads to death.
Know that you have the power and the strength in you to move towards what is next. Even if you can’t feel it right in this moment. Trust that all change supports life (and you). That’s how LIFE is designed to be.