The holding place

I’ve spent a lot of my life going through change. Before I turned 27, I had traipsed through some nine towns and cities in Australia. I’d worked in London, studied in Central America and volunteered in Africa. Last count I had packed up and moved to and from 27 homes and held 16 jobs, including part-time and university jobs. I have jumped into and stormed out of multiple relationships and met and lost many friends. I should be better at it. Facing the loss of identity, status, the grief of the ending part, the idealistic hope of the new.

I’m not. I suck at it. Every time it happens I find myself reeling, grief stricken and panicked and not knowing where to start or who to shout at first.

I text my psychic friend. This has happened, just like you said it would. On the day you told me it would. Change is marvellous!  You are going to be amazing. he texts back. “Yes until it fucking happens to you!” I shout text. His reply is almost predictable “oh yes, I hate change it freaks the heck out of me. I see the Facebook posts on others pages, read the wisdom and insight and quotes and hallmark freaking memes and I just feel gutted. Screwed over.  I wasn’t ready. No one is ever ready for change. The hallmark quotes appear in my social media feeds. The universe gives us what we ask for. I decide to meditate the fuck out of this change situation.

I do. I meditate twice a day, morning and night. I lie on my massage table with the headphones on, ignoring the pleas for food from my small children and I face it. I listen to the woman tell me that change is part of life and part of nature and the world and the seasons and I still scream into the fridge when I get to work – why is there always skim fucking milk here ? Where is the full cream milk? Is EVERYBODY on a fucking diet here? And I realise that the meditation is making me more sensitive and the friend that walks into my office when I have tears in my eyes wants to know if I’m ok and I can’t say anything. I tell her I hit my head on my doorknob, which I did, because I dropped my coffee pod then stood up too quickly under the doorknob and near concussed myself. I blink through the tears and she knows it is something else but I can’t say.

A wise friend looked at me one and said “ It’s just change” and she seemed so mellow and relaxed with it and my mind was going 100 miles an hour with the buts and what ifs and oh my god how will I cope?

I remember I am a therapist and my job is to guide people through life changes and transitions and why am I so shit at this? I know all that strategies and techniques and the meditation and the tapping and the breathing and the respond not react and the manifesting and the journaling and I remind myself I am good at lists and organising and writing and then I breathe and make another coffee in order to focus. I know I am challenged everyday in order to become a better human. I know these situations are sent to me to learn from. I would rather read the book thanks. Change and how to cope. I am better with the reading than the doing, going through part. Can’t I just read this? Do I have to actually do it? Fuck.

So I breathe and think and plan and drink more coffee and write lists and email myself and try not to eat too much cake and sugar. Whenever I decide to eat more real food, or clean food, or just food without a packet, my ability to find chocolate and lollies and biscuits and cake is phenomenal, it is like I am a magnet for sugar. I start adding sugar to my coffee for the first time in years, I need the energy for all the thinking and coping I am doing. I get fat. Then I worry about how fat I’m getting, then I make more rules and break them and I’m stressed and tired and not eating and I’m just a cow to my kids and husband and I hate everyone.

I get acupuncture and I sob. I used to feel like acupuncture was a great way to relieve stress like pricking a sausage and all the fat hisses out. I sob. I realise I am mascara-ing all over her white towels when I open my eyes I see big fat tears fall to the lino and then the snot comes in strings, I can’t breathe properly when I ask her for a tissue and she must think it’s pretty weird that I came in for shoulder pain and I am sobbing like a heart break.  She tells me that grief can manifest into shoulder pain. To me it feels like grief.

I understand that change is an opportunity that I choose to wrap up in fear because it is unknown. My guided meditation lady tells me for the 45th time that the unknown is just waiting to be known and it finally sinks in. What am I afraid of? If I manifest a catastrophe and it isn’t that, I feel better right? If I imagine I will be bankrupt and living in a caravan and then I’m not, life is good!  I realise it’s not really change I fear but it is the stepping away from the known. The routine, the 6am wake up, walk around the block, greeting my neighbours, patting dogs, feeding my kids, making lunches, getting dressed, putting on makeup, driving the same way to work every day and doing the same thing over and over. The familiar. The known.

I like being in control. I make spreadsheets when I go on holidays. I list all the hotel numbers and add weblinks for activities and flight numbers and times and dates and suggested itineries. I leave nothing to chance. It is the out of control and chaos that unravels me. When we had our kitchen removed and replaced last month, I was very unsettled. Not being able to immediately find things disturbed me. I thought I was organised and had planned it well but as the days became weeks and the saucepans were in my study and the rice cooker in the bookshelf I became very discombobulated. Combined with the work change and the comfort eating, it was a bumpy ride.

I realise I like comfort. I like order. I like predictability and with this comes the desire to protect it at all costs. I have many friends who ride out the storms of life, who are flexible, spontaneous, open hearted and accepting. I remember running into an old boyfriends’ brother at central station and he was holding his toothbrush and a book. I asked him what he was up to and he said he was going to the mountains for the weekend. I almost had a conniption. My mind automatically started the what ifs…he jumped on the train and waved. I so wanted to be like him but I’m just not programmed like that.

I did once backpack around the world with one pair of togs and one pair of boots and a yoga mat but that was about cost effectiveness. Now when I have a suitcase I am likely to take six pairs of swimmers, just in case. You never know and it’s best to be prepared. Things can change, weather, plans.

For what is change but shedding the old? I get such comfort from predictable. I look at my house decorated in the colours of a Mexican cantina, stuffed full of memories and photos and books, and my wardrobe sagging with clothes I hold on to because that was our first date skirt, and that was the dress I wore to her baptism and that was the top I bought on the Airlie holiday and I hold tight to all the sentiment wrapped up in it all. But its transient and it is not permanent and it slips through my fingers because it is just a moment, it is not life. Life happens around all the stuff.

The thing about change is that more often than not, we can’t plan for it. I can’t plot or write or make a list or spreadsheet it until it happens. I never know what it will be. Most of the time it is a shock and we are then in the holding place watching as it all plays out.

When unexpected change happened to me in the past, I faced it with a drink, the bravado of booze, the stoicism of vodka. I used to go with my friends to a bar to get over him, sink my severance check in a tavern playing pool, find the nearest local and wait for the next train.

So far change hasn’t killed me. So now I think, I write, I meditate, I breathe, I drink coffee, I think about my next move. After all, it’s only change.

This has been reposted from about 12 months ago from my blog site  – There are lots of other blogs there and some are a little bit sweary, In case


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