06 Jan Things Change.
I’ve been thinking about change.
Tim Havens from Falls Farm and Garden said once at SUNY Adirondack’s Microenterprise Assistance Program (which is now called Startup ADK), “The first rule of business is: Stay In Business.”
And then you realize — in order to stay in business, you make sacrifices. And some of the people who go out of business are just running a business model that didn’t work. But some of them go out of business because they’re deciding not to make those sacrifices any longer for the sake of the business. Their priorities changed. Their families or their health or their time was more important. They’re not playing the game of “Win At Business” anymore. They walked away and decided not to play because something else was more important.
So the first rule of marriage is, Stay Married. But if your priorities shift and you decide that you’d rather be happy than married, or rather not be lied to than be married, or rather be alone than married… Then, in that instance, it’s kind of like not wanting to play the game of “Stay Married” anymore.
Some folks get through these hard times and some go their separate ways. I’ve also been thinking about how no long-term relationship is without these moments. When you get through the hard times, it makes you stronger. I always think of a stiff new baseball glove versus one that’s soft and worn-in. The age and the wear makes the older glove a better one. It moves the way it should. Deepening those relationships by getting through the hard times means that the relationship is better, stronger, and more meaningful.
Either way, the rough spots are a point of shifting.
They’re a moment where change happens.
Seems like mostly it’s a decision about where future happiness is most likely, and whether these hard moments are just moments, or if it’s a sign that this era of your life is over now. I was half-asleep the other night and thinking about old boyfriends and where they are now and who they are now. We’re in very different places. We were compatible for a moment. They took me from Kate A to Kate B, or Kate B to Kate C. But there was that painful point of change, and the era of compatibility was over. And that’s okay.
Nothing has to last forever. Nothing does.
As I type this, my kids are watching the Captain Underpants movie. The main threat of the film is that the Principal wants to separate the kids into different classrooms. It’s got me thinking about how many storylines are about some terrible change, and a fight to avoid that change.
What if we embraced change?
My clearest perception of the process of huge life changes is through our experience with sleep training. With each of my children, I’ve put it off, hoping we could just do the attachment parenting thing. That is, until my own sleep deprivation is beyond completely unbearable and I simply HAVE to do something in order to get some rest at night before I just go into a permanent daze and drive into oncoming traffic or something.
So you bump up against the concept lightly. Thinking, maybe if I don’t go pick the kiddo up at that first peep, maybe they’ll self-soothe. But the peep turns into a wail, then a “Mommy!” and then you can’t ignore it and they might be sick or need you and you go in and bring them to bed to nurse and say that’s that. And eventually, after breaking a bunch, you stick to your guns and really do it. And then you feel like the worst person in the world, the worst mom ever, it’s excruciating… and then, just when you think you can’t stand it any longer and are going to break again — it’s over.
And the next day you prepare yourself to go through all that again, but it’s shockingly not as bad. And the next night, you all just peacefully sleep through the night and everything is okay. The moment of change has passed.
Birth is like that, too. The waves that mount until it’s go time. Thinking you can’t get through it, there’s just no way, here’s where the world ends. But you push through, somehow. Because you can’t stay there with a baby’s head in your hoo-hah. You have to move through it so you push — and it’s over just as you’re thinking it will never be over. And then it ebbs; there are aftershocks to be sure. But now you’re changed. Now you’re a mom. You have a new life.
Death is, too. Graveside is the worst of it; that final unbearable goodbye. Then you get through it. You continue to grieve, but it’s not with that intensity
So, change — it goes like this:
- You try to avoid it.
- You feel it coming, and it’s inevitable now.
- It hits you.
- It’s unbearable and excruciating and it seems like it will never be over and that it’s impossible to go on.
- It’s over. Perhaps there are some aftershocks, but nothing like what came before.
- Now you’re in your new life. And things are okay.
I am not sure how to apply this to the fires in Australia, climate change, or the worry of World War III.
Those are bigger -— and we aren’t going to be okay afterward. People will die. The world as we know it is going through those six steps of change, and Earth’ll be okay. To quote the 1986 Earth Day Special, this planet “is just a rock floating in space.” But mankind, that’ll be different once this big change is over. Maybe gone entirely, but life will certainly be different. You have to zoom out to space and see people and animals as small as ants to see the “things are okay” in these scenarios.
But for those moments our lives that are excruciating but not life-threatening — maybe this is something to consider: To make peace with the inevitability of change.
I have to think that the hypnobirthing training I went through helped me with these thoughts. For months, as I slept, I’d listen to birth affirmations such as:
I trust my instincts.
My body was made to do this.
I embrace the instinctive power of my body.
I’m ready to give birth to my baby.
Each wave brings my baby closer to me.
I am calm, relaxed, and in control.
I believe in myself.
I release and breathe.
I learned that you lean into the pain in order to get through it. It’s a film you have to break through in order to get to the other side of it. You have to let go and let it happen, and know that this is a process with an apex that won’t last forever.
Life will have ups and downs. Marriages and relationships will be put to the test. There are eras of our lives. At the end of each era, there is this excruciating change process that is then over.
And new life is on the other side. And we’ll be okay.
Never the same, but okay.