Change is hard. No matter what, no matter when, no matter how great and wonderful, it will still send you running back to the familiar in some way shape or form in hopes of gaining equilibrium.
Two weeks ago you would have most likely found me in the bathroom at work head between my knees fighting a panic attack. I felt so stuck. I could feel everyday, every moment leaving me without meaning, point or hope. My airways would constrict just thinking about another day on the job.
So finally, at the end of my rope, I approached HR to get some answers and hopefully a job description. Flash forward two weeks later and after albeit a stressful, but amicable conversation with my boss’ I find myself at home with two months severance in my pocket, and time on my hands. In a joint effort between God and I, freedom has been accomplished. Amazing things happen when you jump off a cliff without a parachute.
Funny thing though: before I start school in September (the masters/doctoral program at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena), I have four months of nothing to do. I came home Wednesday to a quiet house and an empty calendar and didn’t know what to do. A sense of quiet panic set in, as it usually does and I began the thing I do best, lists. Things I wanted to do, places I wanted to go, debt I wanted to pay off, ways I could make it all happen. I should take classes to prepare, right? Oh, I know, I really want to get back into volunteering! Perfect! A few shifts at the local shelter will take some time off my hands. Oh, and the yoga studio around the corner. I’ll get a month pass there. I could map out the trails I have been wanting to take lately, maybe even join a group for that. Oh, and I should start a projection of money for the next few months, get an idea of what I will need…. SPAIN! That’s it, I am going to cross that off my bucket list!!!!!
Before I knew it, I was in a full blown anxiety attack over how many different things I could and would and needed to do.
I had gone out on a few dates with a guy I actually liked and immediately my mind went to things I could do with someone of the opposite sex. No, not crazy at all. Totally normal…..
Sometimes the most familiar thing isn’t the healthiest thing. In fact, normally it’s not. Quiet, calm, independent, healthy, peaceful… these things are not terms I would normally associate with me. Type A, multi-tasker, a tornado, hurricane, or chaos in motion. These are the things I would associate with myself, but they aren’t the things I want to own.
The longer I sit quiet, the more I let myself catch up, I feel the anxiety roll over me, send me into mental chaos and adrenaline spike into dangerous zones. Ironically though, if I let it come, take me over, and just ride it out…. like a terrible wave, there is a rise, crest, and finally a release.
True I changed my circumstances. I received the most amazing gift I have ever received, but if I don’t change the way I relate to this life, no circumstance is going to make it any better.
Change is scary, painful, hard. If I try to run from it the way I did at work, I’m going to end up in a different bathroom with my head still between my knees. Being Type A is one thing, using motion to manically stay a step ahead of the anxiety, the fear, the doubt, the loss…. it just becomes a cycle that will keep me from experiencing my life. I’ll miss the melodies.
As this change occurs, I realize, the change I really want isn’t about geography, monetary value, or schedule maintenance, it’s about learning to come to peace in every moment. It’s about stopping the perpetual motion, the need to be moving and instead, rest.
I am never going to be perfect. I’m always going to be a little crazy. Life does that to us. We experience things and the way we cope is usually a little crazy and no matter how hard you try to hide it, those habits, traits, beliefs will leak out. I compare it to shades of PTSD. I grew up in chaos, so change makes me a little manic, but like the panic attacks, you know it’s coming, let it ride and eventually I come down. I grew up with a sister larger than life, so when I meet new people, I turn on the charm and then it deflates like a sad balloon a few days later. I trust people too easily and then get really disappointed when they don’t come through. Then I get gun shy all over again.
These are just a few of the crazy patterns I have from a lifetime of coping. Some are worse than others and some I hate more than others. And maybe, with the continued help of my support group and a very expensive therapist, some will lessen with time. Some may not. I’m not sure. But I do know resting means having to let go of worrying about them. Life is going to come and go. I’m going to react and act in whatever way I know or feel like in that moment. No ones going to die (hopefully) and it’s not going to kill me (again hopefully). Grace reaches out into the frustration, detaches me and says “So what’s your point? Great sunset isn’t it?”
To let go and give myself some breathing room is the best way to actually be different and maybe for once, not end up in full blown anxiety. And for the moments I just can’t let go and I feel the need to create some chaos, that good ol’ Serenity Prayer and the chip I carry with me brings me back down to earth just enough.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference…
Even if what I can’t change…. is me.