Change - Better the Devil You Know?
Change is inevitable. A wise friend once told me, “either you choose it, or it chooses you” and amongst the many unproven facts and theories I choose to live my life by, above all else, I have always found this one holds the most truth for me.
Most recently I chose to make some changes. Singularly, they didn’t seem to add up to much however, collectively, they were overwhelming. The realisation of this sparked a series of responses and reactions that caused a near meltdown for me. My fight or flight response kicked in, hard. But I did neither, I chose to freeze! I was unable to make decisions, about anything. I was lying to everyone (including myself) just to try and make some space for myself in my own life, telling people I was busy or had plans when really, my plans involved sitting in my room with the door closed crying about something I couldn’t quite define.
I started to rely more heavily on my toxic coping mechanisms, mechanisms I have spent a considerable amount of time and money ironing out. I stopped looking after myself altogether. It took a while for me to notice, I took longer to reply to messages, or avoided them completely. I felt stuck and like I was suffocating. I stopped smiling as much, I couldn’t get to sleep and when I did, I couldn’t stay that way. I felt like everyone dislike me and that I was the most irritating person in every room I found myself in.
I started counting things. It’s a funny quirk I’ve had since I was a child, something I do when things are getting out of control as it calms my mind but also, it becomes an obsession, things like road cones or paving stones. I prefer even numbers, I don’t know why.
Over eating became the norm, I felt full all of the time as I was constantly chewing something, anything. Anything to distract myself from my thoughts and the constantly growing list of things I felt I “should” be doing.
And so, as I was driving home one night from work crying over a sad podcast, classic self-sabotage when you’re already sad, I realised things had gotten out of order and I needed to address them. That maybe all the change I had chosen was actually having quite a negative effect on me when even though I had chosen and planned it all in a very positive manner and for what I felt were the right reasons.
I realised I needed to book in a session with Vee. Usually I will do this pre-emptively but in this case, I had been so busy doing life and “managing” all the change, I had forgotten to take care of my headspace and clear out the noise along the way until it was so noisy it was most likely waking up the neighbours.
Change is scary, positive, negative, messy, necessary, wanted, feared, welcomed and a part of life that no matter how hard we try, we cannot avoid. The only difference between my choices and the reality of the situation I found myself in was the way I responded and the thoughts I let in.
Had I chosen to remain positive throughout the process, would I have had a different result to what I have now? Maybe not. But the days, weeks and months past would not have been as chaotic had I chosen to stay centred and grounded throughout. Just when you think you’ve got it sorted, you haven’t. And that’s ok, the important part is to recognise, acknowledge and then face it head on.
“Get your ducks in a row” as Vee would say, this looks different for everyone but for me, it means sitting in a quiet spot and writing things down. Lists of the things I need to do and by when (and then actually doing them), journaling thoughts that are flooding my mind and making me inert, things I have left unsaid to people that need to come out but not necessarily to them. My future, what does it look like? And most recently, my eulogy.
This may seem morbid to many of you but for me, part of the paralyzing fear I was experiencing stemmed from a reality check recently of our mortality and the thought of losing people I truly care about. More change, but these changes are permanent. And definite. No amount of planning, stressing, crying or counting can stop death from happening. And so you’ll be pleased to hear, it’s quite cathartic to write your own end story, not the how/when/why but the speech you want people to hear once you’ve moved on.
Whatever it is you believe, I’m sure we can mostly agree you’d like your loved ones to remember you fondly and maybe tell a few stories in your absence. I know that’s what I want. Writing it down has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. Now I can get on with the rest of my life knowing that I don’t need to think about that again. Until I do.
Change is hard for everyone, there are few things in life that are certain or permanent. So whether you choose it, or it chooses you, please remember, you are in control of your response to whatever is happening. And if you’re not, take a moment to figure out why. If you can’t manage your feelings and reactions in a positive way, talk to someone who can help you in this space.
Don’t be embarrassed, ashamed or worried, be like Nike, just do it!