Let's face it. Change sucks! Change in any form is usually met with some resistance. We like the familiar, it keeps us comfortable.
Self-initiated change comes with its own set of challenges; however, choosing to make a change ourselves is empowering. On the flip side, change which we did not initiate ourselves can leave us feeling disempowered, discombobulated. How then do we summon the courage to face unwanted change we feel we did not want, choose, or think we deserve?
I have personally been on a journey of asking myself that very question. Two years ago, I came toe to toe with unwanted change. My husband informed me that he no longer wanted to be married. Gasp! A month or so passed, during which time we were separated. All the while I was sure this could be fixed. This unwanted change could be avoided. I knew there was more to it than he was admitting. Then I confirmed what had been a lingering suspicion, my husband was having an affair. This was not just an affair with some young assistant; it was an affair with the woman whom was married to one of his best friends. My husband chose to let go of lifelong friendships for her. My husband left me, for her. My husband shattered our family, for her.
In the wake of the shock of betrayal, I found myself shaken to the core. The world as I knew it no longer existed. My future was snatched out from under me. I went from being a stay at home mother with three young children and part time yoga instructor to a frantic out of work soon to be divorcee searching for understanding, struggling to find my breath.
I did what could have been expected. I fought the change. I got angry, justifiably so. I threw temper tantrums, I cursed both of them, I pleaded, I cried a lot. Unhealthy habits formed overnight. I quit eating and started smoking. I slept minimally always waking to nightmares about what was now my current life. I muffled my cries into a pillow so my children would not hear me. I bartered and tried to suit up and change to his liking. I tried with all my might to make him "see" what a mistake he was making. When that did not work, I tried to at least make him "see" what he had done to me. I resisted the change with all that I had.
By the Grace of God, Source, or Something larger than myself, I found some healthy outlets for my anguish. I taught and practiced yoga, using my pain and misunderstanding to speak to students from my shattered heart. As a student I practiced daily, often turning my yoga mat into a slip and slide with tears. I prayed. I meditated. I comforted my children, threw surprise parties, hosted play dates, taught my sons to ride a bike, took them fishing, and vacationed with family. I discovered a creative side of myself. I began writing, I gardened, raised hens, bunnies, dogs, kids. I made sidewalk chalk mandalas, and bought myself flowers. I read every book about infidelity I could get my hands on. I read for pleasure, for fun, for growth. I went skateboarding, rode my bike through the park, and danced under the stars. I made friends with the moon. I made love to beautiful men. I took care of my skin, wore makeup, and organized my home. I coached basketball and volleyball. I learned to use the power tools I inherited through divorce. I repainted every room in my home, rearranged furniture dozens of times, painted murals on my bedroom wall, created collages, vision boards, hand painted inspiring signs, and managed to find gainful employment. I even converted my wedding dress into a headboard! (I admit that first cut into my beautiful gown was painful, but the reward of the piece I created was worth it.)Then I prayed more, chanted, attended workshops, and healing circles. Through the thick of it all, I stayed sober!
I thought I was doing pretty well; considering. My relationship with my ex-husband did not get easier. Much to my chagrin, He did not come to the realization of his wrongs. There were no heartfelt apologies. There was only condemnation stemming from both sides. We became more and more toxic. I found myself defending actions I was both accused of and innocent of. I underwent psychological evaluations, spent $THOUSANDS on attorneys, mediators, therapists, etc. I endured constant verbal battery and being labeled "mentally ill" by the man I once loved more than I thought was possible. I won the court cases yet despite the Judge's rulings; my ex's vision of me remained the same. I stayed sore, and I stayed stuck. I resisted not only the changes that happened to me, but also the changes that I needed to make within myself.
I felt proud of all that I had accomplished having endured such betrayal. Still, underneath the facade of pride was a molting, lingering anger, combined with genuine sadness, and confusion. Eventually the molten rises to the surface until it emotes out with force. Those emotions shot through my veins bringing with them every defect of character I ever had. This anger began to shadow any light being created in my world. Broken, weary, and tired I still resisted the change. I had not signed up for this change and I was pissed. Pieces of the shadow part of me began to creep into every corner of my being. I began making choices which would later prove harmful to not only myself, but to people I loved and cherished.
I found myself wallowing in the devastation that was once my marriage. Work was difficult, not in the work itself, but in the motivation. Depression set in. Those helpful channels I had earlier found became more difficult to assume. Just doing the basics became a tremendous effort.
"How dark it is before the dawn", AA Big Book.
It was getting dark, and every negative aspect of me seemed to show up for the party. People who were once supporters were pushed away, repulsed by the shadow side of me.
Like that day over two years ago, I found myself resisting not only that change, but any other in my life. I was drowning into an abyss of self-pity. So, back to the original question: How then do we summon the courage to face unwanted change we feel we did not want, choose, or think we deserve?
WE STOP RESISTING THE CHANGE! We stop defending, realizing the futility of our efforts. We recognize that it is the defense itself that is the first act of war. We go back to the basics. We remember that these resentments block our beings from all that is good. We decide that it is our turn to make some choices. We stop playing in the role of victim. We realize that the anger, justified or not, is only poisoning our well of love, happiness, abundance, and sanity.
I have come to realize that the absolute resistance to this change has brought on perhaps more pain than the change itself. Sadness has gone from genuine heartbreak to a self-inflicted war with what is. This resistance disempowered me. It kept me a victim. It has kept me angry and this anger turned to resentment; oozing, infected, bubbling resentment which has kept me in the dark. My own anger has hidden from me the experience of love, God, and from seeing the truth of my own actions.
So here I stand again, amid anguish, despair, and regret. But for (once again), the Grace of God, Source, or something larger than myself, I have answered my own question. I am accepting the changes in my life. I choose to go along with the current of the Universe, no longer fighting or resisting it. I welcome the next wave in this ocean of life fearlessly and humbly. I acknowledge my grief and grant myself patience. I honor the loss and choose to learn from it. I am done resisting it. I choose instead to accept the change, to be empowered. I can acknowledge his right to make his own choices and know that he, too is on his path.I can find gratitude in the gift he gave me, the gift of my two precious boys. I choose to honor my light which extinguishes my shadow. I am no longer a victim. I choose my power from within rather than seeking a power over. I am free to move forward without forgetting where it is I came from. I am able to recognize that this is my path, I am here. I am done fighting, done being angry. I am ready to love me. I am choosing not to fight what is. I do not have to make anyone "see". It is I who must "see". I can look at the mistakes I have made both past and present without flinching. I can accept my flaws with a willingness to be better. I can know that each offence was a necessary thread in this quilt of life. Each mistake, his or mine, his or hers, mine or theirs, happened. It is up to each of us to decide how, if, or why to amend any of it. I choose to examine my side of the street and clean it up. I choose to acknowledge that while at first change is bitter, sometimes gut wrenching, it too can be sweet and sane! I choose that.