Lessons in Change


Change.

At times, the word makes me cringe. My internal world is a ever shifting climate and terrain. It is almost as predictable as nearly every natural disaster. Usually, there is hardly enough time to batten down the hatches and latch on for dear life.

Naturally, I am drawn to stability found in my external world to ensure I have some sort of anchor. A family. A home to call my own. A moderately predictable schedule, and an income that provides enough to comfortably make ends meet. I would even like to have a stable job, when I find that I am capable of it.

Change naturally threatens those carefully calibrated dynamics. Often, in my person experience, change often adds additional problems that compounds onto existing problems. Simply viewed, change is bad.

But, why is change so bad? Is it just simply the fear of the unknown? Humans naturally fear situations that put them outside of their comfort zone. But, what if that familiarity isn’t exactly what we could consider as “comfortable”?

My mental health has brought many unique challenges to the inevitable processes of change that come with growth. In a manic, idealistic mindframe, I find that I am all about shaking things up. The risk of change is somehow nullified, and it becomes a great big adventure. In depression, change becomes threatening, as it breeds doubt that whips anxiety into a wild frenzy. And mixed, well, I find that I will try anything to rid myself of such distress, at any cost.

This is not to say my decisions are not calculated. Just, sometimes not accurately so. It becomes difficult to trust my judgement when I am painfully aware of my own skewed perceptions.

For me, my current transitons were elective, though I knew my risks. The prospect of being stuck up on a hill, surrounded by woods, in a town mostly foreign to me were pretty frightening. Once again, I’m residing on family property, and ran the huge risk of incurring debt with in-laws I’m largely unfamiliar with on a personal level. In my family, once you became indebted to another family member, that act of generosity will be held over your head for an eternity.

I worried endlessly about all of the semantics of it and how my family would adjust. I am notoriously a bad traveller. I am usually paranoid about sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings, which leads to vicious insomnia, and inevitably sparks a manic episode. My husband is much the same. And I am aware of the disaster that can accompany such a huge life change in the life of a child with special needs.

My son was thrilled. My husband relaxed. And it hardly took any time at all for this place to be my home. Much of that, I can really attribute to the enthusiasm of my inlaws, and the removal from a highly toxic environment.

So, I’ve learned a very valuable lesson. Change is a part of growth, as all creatures do throughout their entire lives. Sometimes, we experience growing pains, and other times, we reap the benefits from our brave steps forward. Change is just that, change. Not good, not bad. Different in many ways, for better and worse.

How do you handle change? Is change an adventure, as my bright eyed, positive son sees it? Is it threatening, as I have seen it? Or is it just an inevitable part of our lives?

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21 thoughts on “Lessons in Change

  1. I have a terrible problem with change. But sometimes we do find that once the changes have been completed, the change was actually good. But then again, I hate that risk lol. I am so glad that you like your new home and surroundings. I pray that this is a new beginning of renewing health and family growth. 😉

    • I have promised myself that I would find my place of peace here. Whether it’s sitting on the patio, watching the wind rustle the trees, or in the seclusion of my cool, underground basement. I will not cut here, or drink until I black out. This is meant to be a place of healing. I promised myself that if I could get away from the city house, I would start to take care of myself.

      I wrote a personal entry in my Evernote (because my journal is backlogged again) about what the old house represents to me. Carla, I wanted to email you so badly, because you would have gotten it. It was some very heavy stuff about my family, centric to that house. I intend to post some of it, basically the parts about what family has represented and the idylic family. And what I have now. But, writing that was hard.

      I spent so much time over the last six months trying to maintain the status quo. I mean, who wouldn’t want to retain that? I had a job I was crazy about. We had a stable income. My marriage was getting easier than it had been. My husband was moving up the career ladder pretty fast. And my son is making leaps and bounds in his development. The truth is, I spent too much time and energy fighting the current and it caused me more pain and detriment than it was worth.

      I’m getting better about change. Moving here has been fantastic. I just found out that my son’s preschool is one in the same with the special ed classroom here. All up at the same school he’ll attend from now through high school graduation! Stability is a good thing for him. Especially with such a whack job mother, lol.

      • You don’t know how happy it has made me that things have turned a corner and become positive in so many ways. You should never hesitate to Email me. I will always be a friend to you.

        • I am still turning the corner. I still cry almost every day. I am still stressed out. And I’m still very medicated. I don’t feel as if I can work right now, but I’m trying to get to that point. I’m still waiting on the clinic to get back to me about assigning me a therapist, because the lack of emotional support is starting to wear on me again. I’m trying to hold the weight of three people, all in desperate need, and it’s hard.

          Two days ago, I finally stood up and announced that I was taking the helm, and everyone else could fall in line. That has been part of the problem, that helplessness. I am feeling much like a mama bear right now, and people have been messing with one of my cubs. To which I finally had to stand up to him and vocalize all of the things that he refused to acknowledge. I’m really not at liberty to comment anymore on the situation. But, it basically ended in, “I have done all I can to help you from my position. I will continue to support you, but now it’s up to you. I can hold down the fort here.” (Mostly).

          It is really coming slowly. But, I’m not circling the drain anymore. I just know that it’s a long way to go until I’m anywhere near where I want to be. Baby steps. One day at a time.

        • oh I wasn’t implying that you and your family were “fixed” now. i am just thankful for those baby steps. I think the medication is essential right now. Your mind needs a long break. Your mind and body has been in a major fight. Be vigilant, but still be calm and let yourself relax when you can. I am still praying. 😉

        • Oh, no, that’s not it at all. I was just on a tear. I did take the helm, and it felt good. And I inspired a whole wave of change. All it took was enough guts to go capture that flag, and run like hell. My husband is considering taking the biggest chance in his career that he’s ever gambled. And, I’m doing everything I can to step up in my life.

          Be a better mother. Not tuck away the tears and hold it together, like my mother always insisted. I ended up with a short run illness yesterday, where I ended up throwing up for several hours. I didn’t close the door on myself in the bathroom. My son stood over my shoulder and watched. Cute, he peered over my shoulder into the toiler and spit. I explained to him that Mommy was sick. Sick is when your tummy hurts. He’s familiar. He has food sensitivities, and frequent diarrhea. Don’t worry, I isolated that issue. Red dye and Kool Aid. No more.

          Be a better wife. I’m a fix it kind of person. And when I can’t fix it, I go crazy.

          His friend Finn jokes that we were born the opposite genders in our minds. Hilariously enough, they messed up the wedding rings when they made them. My size ring was the man’s and his was the woman’s. Our hands are almost identical, except he wears a size 8 and I wear a 7 (I’m aware of my man hands).

          Anyway, sometimes, he’s like a woman. He just needs someone to listen to him, instead of someone who wants to charge out there and beat up whoever hurt his feelings. (Believe me, I’ve made the threat; what can I say, I’m a protective Mama Bear). And I’m like a man. When I have a problem, I need someone to help me brainstorm for the solution. Or a hand to help me take care of it.

          The problem is, we operate like our own gender. He’s a man, so he thinks he’s supposed to step up. And I’m a woman, so I expect that when I’m drowning, he’ll come and rescue me. But, we both have to stop with our own gender roles. This is a conversation we need to have. I can start it off with the gender swap joke.

          So, I didn’t think anymore. I just acted. I don’t know when I stopped trusting my gut. I have a good sense about jobs, and that’s why anytime I’ve ever interviewed for a job, I’ve always gotten it. I know when it’s right. That doesn’t mean that it will always be right, but at the time, it’s just what I needed. I have really good instincts.

          The medication is starting to work. I’m less in my head and more in my life. And that’s where I want to be. I just have to find a place that settles in between, or a time slot for both.

        • my parents always operated on opposite gender roles in a lot of ways and they are still together after almost 50 years. It is so cute that your son spit into the toilet when he saw mommy puke lol. I miss those kinds of little sweet things that little children do when they are young. Gave me a little longing feeling in my heart when I read that lol. Oh well, it’s on to grandkids next ! lol

        • It’s something I intend to bring up to my husband with friends tonight as kind of a “human nature”, anima / animus kind of thing. I want to start pointing out the serious chinks in our armor. Some are seriously unnecessary and completely fixable, like throwing away gender roles, implementing the policy of truth, and just getting back to the root of ourselves. Other things, like egos and communication blocks are just chinks. They are weak points where there isn’t a whole lot we can do.

          Since I stepped up for the grab, stopped doing things I felt obligated to do and started doing things I want to do, my husband has relaxed, a lot. He was driving in a severe thunderstorm last night. I was at home, back pressed up against the brick of the fireplace. In the new house, it’s our only interior wall, short of hiding out in the basement. A loud thunderclap scared the daylights out of me, and I scared reflexively. I was nervous, because he almost got flooded out in the valley. And he could hear that tension in my voice.

          He said to me, “Keep calm. As long as you don’t freak out, I’ll be okay.”

          And it hit me.

          All of these memories started hitting me. Like, when we thought we lost the safe key on our honeymoon. He was frozen in the room, freaking out. I’m the one who tore through the hotel, straight back to the restaurant where I last remembered it. And when I had that bleed during pregnancy. We didn’t have a car, so I was the one on the phone with my dad. He was the one who cried when our son was born. He was the one who waited for me to rush home from work and make the call to drive across town to Children’s when we all got H1N1. And a various times in his long run of getting repeatedly laid off, I stepped up for a job, and arranged childcare, and did everything.

          I was the key to it all. When I fell apart this past January, it all unravelled into madness. That’s why I have always felt like I was on my own when shit hit the fan. The BP. The cancer. The ASD. Because up until I ran out of steam, I was always the captain of the ship, and I never questioned it. I’m great in a crisis, but I’m really bad at everyday stuff. If I was confident, he was confident.

          I never realized how much he drew from me.

          I know I draw from him. Resilliance. Strength and motivation. Inspiration. He was strong enough to hold himself and really pull me out of a bad spot at one point. But maybe that was the point. To pull me to stand as a pillar. As long as I didn’t move, neither did he.

          I said at one point, maybe here or in a personal journal, we are mirrors unto each other. Actually, it was more poetic than that, but you get the point. What does one mirror do to the other? They reflect each other into a vanishing point.

          We are unique in that we are so much that we can anticipate the other’s thoughts past the end of a sentence. It’s anticipating a whole conversation, but not in a conscious way. When attempted consciously, it goes horribly wrong. But, when it flows, we exchange effortlessly, building on one another.

          I always thought that if I tried to pilot, he’d get angry or judgemental. Oddly enough, now that I think about it, he’s never given me difficulty with any challenge of authority, except in money and parental disputes. Money, fine, he can handle it. I’ve never had money, so I wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway. But parenting? Hell no. I’m not perfect, but I know this kid better than he knows himself right now.

          By the way, he told me that he loves me today. More in song than in words. “I yuv you. You yuv me!” But, that’s his thing. All kids with ASD have a thing. He learned almost everything he knows through a song. His rhythm is incredible. His pitch is great, and he’s learning how to harmonize now. He got my voice, I can tell. Sometimes, my husband mistakes us when I’m imitating him. I’m not very good at imitation.

          I think I got my dad’s voice. It’s the only voice so strong that I could hear it from the back street, through the yard, through the kitchen, into my living room. You can hear that man through a lawn mower, maybe a jet engine.

          Ugh, I’m blathering again. I’m walking that edge between manic and hypomanic now.

        • I think instead of assigning roles, men and women just have to take care of the things that each is good at and not worry about whether it is a woman’s role or a man’s you know? I mean in this day and time, couples are partners more than just “man and wife” or wife and wife, or man and man lol

        • I’d love to do it, but it’s not so much that we’re assigning roles ourselves. It’s more like societal impressions of gender roles in a marriage that are the problem.

          My husband’s mind has to process everything, or else it will persistantly gnaw at something. He’s a brilliant man with a knack for preparing for all scenarios. But, though he can predict behavior, he often cannot perceive it. Not unless he’s already observed it. Even then, there are things he’s not great with. Like, predicting emotions.

          He knows me well, and he can usually count on my behavior. But, he doesn’t seem to be able to tune in to what’s going on in my head. He can’t anticipate me anymore. Which is probably why he goes nuts when I am stirred.

          I have to point lines of thinking out to him. Cognition, emotion, and behavior don’t seem to have a point where they interconnect in his mind. That’s probably why he enjoys psychology and philosophy as sub hobbies of creative writing.

          For me, it’s a sixth sense, with few exceptions. He’s an exception, because he has an incredible poker face. So impressive that he fools himself. For instance, he’s been torn up about work lately. His boss was blocking him from that job switch. And he kept saying, “If she doesn’t sign the transfer, I’m not going to be upset about it. I like this job just fine.” Hours later, when he was 45 minutes late getting out of work, his tune changed. After the umpteenth time, I stopped him. “Are you convincing me, or you?”

          He also requires a lot of reassurance. Often times, if I tell him something contrary to his knowledge, he’ll have to go through several other sources to confirm. I don’t think it’s about confirming as much as it’s validating.

        • is he in therapy too?

        • Oh hell no. Yeah freaking right.

        • You seem to know him so well and are aware of his moods and behavior but he needs to be able to understand you that well. I just thought that would help. It’s strange that he is into psychology but he won’t go to a therapist. I guess he knows too well what he’d be getting into

        • It’s not surprising when people who are into psychology often don’t seek therapy. For me, it was a more of, “I have the tools to handle it on my own.” That was until I learned the role of the therapist, and why a person cannot be a therapist unto themselves or their loved ones. Through the involvement, there is no way to overcome the subjectivity that accompanies that relationship. Even if it is with oneself. That is really a reason that I enjoy DBT, because it makes that self-therapy possible. However, I do think that it should be overseen by a licensed professional.

          I wouldn’t doubt that he is making the attempt to understand me. But, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I can’t accept a limited understanding. Hell, I don’t even understand me. I’m finally getting enough distance from things to start building perspective, and gain more insight into myself. And, I think the changeable nature of my personality and the affective nature of my emotions, the two things that often leave me in this state of confused flux, well those two things are among the many reasons he married me. I’m that math problem that doesn’t have an answer, because it probably shouldn’t exist. The issue is that I do exist, and most of the time, I probably defy any reasonable logic and train of thought.

          I’m not saying we don’t relate. I’ve just noticed that vocalizing my issues and emotions is a trickier business than it should be. He seems to be a person who was raised in the school of thought, “If you can complain about it, then you’re well enough.” It’s not unfamiliar; I was raised on the same idea. Except, I had been overlooked and damaged so many times by that school of thought, that I know the repercussions of ignoring an issue. For me, walking pneumonia last year and my serious episodes this year were the final straw to encourage preventative care. I don’t want to ever be that sick at my own hand again. But, it’s a point that a lot of people have to come to on their own. That’s something I know first hand.

          So, to vocalize a globalized problem, I can’t put it in relation to the immediately occurring trigger, or else it’s seen as directly relational. However, I can’t bring it up independently of any trigger. So, I try to wait for the biggest trigger core to the issue to click, and then explain it from there, as calmly as possible. Because it seems like he has this idea that hysteria is a passing thing.

        • I hope he is able to realize what you have in his self. But you are right, everyone has to work out things in their own mind.

  2. I like to have continuity and stability generally, but every so often I find that change can be a good thing.. unless that change is the result of some traumatic incident or loss.
    that is a different question all together.
    I’ve lived in the same house for 25 years and before that for 25 years at Mum’s ( though it really out ot be my parents ) house.
    We tend ( now ) to go to the same place every year for our holiday ( but we do go somewhere else as well if we can ).

    Now you’ve got me thinking Lulu, we sometimes eat the same stuff on the same day of the week for a few weeks, though I do go to different restaurants and bars.

    Hmm, perhaps upon reflection I ought to say I dont like change in general, but I will go along with it, if that makes sense.
    When forced to change I can adapt to if quite easily, I think I just don’t like it.
    Hopefully your change will be the start of a newer peaceful happier life for you all..fingers crossed 🙂
    love n hugs xxx

    • The unfortunate thing about my relationship with change is that change is usually only prompted by some kind of unhappiness or discontent. Some say it’s part of the condition (whether it’s BPD, BP, whatever). I really think that more than anything, it’s a part of my personality. I miss a lot of opportunities for change when I’m perfectly content with something, usually because I am mended to the motto, “The devil you don’t know is often worse than the devil you do.”

      I have unsubscribed to that newspaper of adages.

      Now, here’s a little tale. This house became available in January. The subject came up, and I made a dozen and a half excuses why it wasn’t feasible, most being true, anyway. I really think that there was a lot of discontent in the lives of those around me, especially during the months where both partners were in active episodes. And I believe there was a great deal of resentment that accompanied my resistance to the idea of this move.

      I am a creature of habit, mostly. I eat generally the same breakfast / lunch every day. I’ve subsisted off of ham and cheese sandwiches for two meals a day, pretty happily for the last week. I am content to keep things simple, generally because I am in so much turmoil sometimes that even the slightest change can be the match the powder keg.

      I have relied on my husband for many years to be the person who facilitates change. He gets bored easily, and he desperately craves it (hence, he married me). But, he is also the most obstinate man alive. Most of the time, he is immovable. That’s why when he goes all wonky, I have a difficult time stepping up to the plate. It’s kind of like taking the wheel of a car that is a stick when you’ve never driven stick before. You know that it’s not your car, and you know that if you screw up, it’s going to be on your head.

      I hope to stay here awhile. My husband made the point that we will likely have to move in with his mother down the hill when his stepfather passes away. I told him that I really hoped that it was after the kid(s) are out of school and in college. God knows we won’t all fit there. But, it’s not even a quarter of a mile away from here, so it’s whatever.

  3. I made a cross country move because of a toxic situation as well. When I was leaving my home state, I pulled over at a rest stop (just over the border), sat on the trunk of my car, and looked back. I reflected on my reasons for leaving.
    In light of everything, I was embracing the change for what it was and I do agree with you that change isn’t good or bad, it’s just change. The ending result is what can be good or bad. What do you find at the end of the change?
    I wish you and your family the best of luck.
    Respectfully,
    Phoenix

    • So far, so good. Chris’ aunt (his stepdad’s sister) owns the property, so she’s has generously offered to provide us with money to replace appliances and remodel. We very kindly declined most of the unnecessary remodel ideas, but graciously accepted the necessities (like a replacement tub surround. We’re losing tiles in the shower). The enthusiasm my inlaws have for this move is incredible. The enthusiasm my family has shown is downright awful. They are delighted to have unloaded us. But, there is a post forthcoming concerning family and those things.

      I haven’t had much time to look back yet. I think something in me is afraid to. I mean, I’ve had glimpses, and they were the horror of horrors. It’s not to say that I don’t remember the good times. Christmases and birthdays. Mostly. My son’s first steps. Hell, my son’s first laugh. I mistook it as him crying, when I was actually accidentally tickling him. All of the wonderful people who came to help my son in early intervention. My husband and my first kiss. I wish I could say it was the first place we ever shared a bed, but it wasn’t, LOL. But, it was the first place we made love.

      As you can tell, my son is really the only joy that happened in that place. It’s hard to recall, because it was obscured by so much negative. That place put us in so much debt, because it just hogged electricity. It took us our son’s entire life, up until a few months ago, to pay all of that debt off. We were threatened multiple times with shut offs and had to have battles with the PUC.

      Again, I’m focusing too much on the negative. I slow danced in that living room with my husband. We grew the love we already had there. And I hope this place will help foster it in better ways now. Simply, we outgrew that house. Not so much in the way that I hoped, because I had hoped it would be the result of a expanding family. But, change comes in different ways and brings great things we never expected.

      • You should be proud and when you’re ready to examine what you left behind… you will. When I was sitting on the trunk of my car that day… (This may sound hokey) but a piece of my heart broke off and stayed behind. It will always be my home state but I doubt I will ever reside there again. There are too many good improvements that I have seen in my life since the move that … I plan to stick it out and make it the best that I can. My husband has been a positive thing in my life and without him, I know that I wouldn’t have made it this far. I never wanted kids because the thought of turning out like my mother and step father terrified me to no end… but he made it okay.

        With all the best,
        Phoenix

        • Truthfully, all I ever wanted was a family. You know how some people grow up wanting to be a doctor or a musician? They just know that passion is there, and their whole life’s focus is growing up to fill that role. As corny as it sounds, mine was to be a wife and a mother. Not solely, but primarily. This is going to sound symptomatic, but maybe it is. I always felt incomplete. Like, I was just born missing something.

          When I met my husband, even in my teens, I was drawn to him. I wrote about it in Possibility and Ascension. It was true, we fought. We weren’t perfect friends, but we were best friends. Always, and no matter how much time has passed between us. When we got back together, it was a snap to catch up. We were fundamentally the same somehow. You know how it feels when you see your best friend after a falling out years later? How they’ve kind of become a stranger? No, I’ve never felt that with him. He was never a stranger to me, even when I met him.

          Actually, I remember the first day I did meet him. But, that’s another story for another time. Remind me.

          He completes me. And he’ll tell you the same thing. I complete him. When we got together, I felt something click, and I never felt like I had that missing piece again. We were whole. Again, we’re not perfect. But, there is no substance on this Earth that naturally occurs that is flawless. We’re just complete.

          My husband and I were talking last night. It was thunderstorming really badly, and he had made the heroic run to the store for juice for our son. The booming of the thunder, reminded me of the old house. I said, “Hey, do you remember that time back at the old place where we both woke up with these vicious hangovers, and you said it sounded like there were cannons going off?” He answered, “No, what?” I repeated, “Yeah, remember? And I told you that was really stupid, and impossible, only later to find out that they really were firing off cannons.” He laughed and said, “Yeah, they really were at the library on the hill for some crazy reenactment. And the cannons were going off, like, all day.”

          He said the same thing I said. We didn’t have any good memories there. And I corrected him. I told him that they were mostly centric around our son. But, there were good ones there. Even silly ones like that. Maybe they weren’t funny at the time…

          Oh yeah! I remember that the noise bothered everyone so badly that we actually took a ride around the area we live in now to get away from it!

          I have no longing for that place. I thought I would, in some strange, nonsensical way. I wonder if I ever really felt like it was mine. I remember that when I moved in, I thought it was something temporary until I could save up for another place. And then after awhile, I wanted to fix it, like I wanted to fix me, and fix my relationship with my parents, and make it all mine. The truth was, there was no fixing any of it.

          And as for me, I’m not broken in the first place. Damaged, but not broken.

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