Who among us has not feared change at one time or another? Yet we all have to go through it many times in our life. Some of the changes we approach with trepidation, some with excitement. Going on a two week vacation brings not only excitement but joy. Having to find a new job after losing the old one is a different story, one that often paralyzes us with fear. I’ve learned that change feared often turns out to be a blessing in disguise. If we hadn’t lost the old job we would never have been able to start a new and sometimes highly successful career. An unwanted pregnancy is going to ruin our life to say nothing of demanding our time. But once this unwanted child is placed in our arms the outpouring of love is like nothing we have ever known. The ending of a marriage springs with major changes but if the marriage was to an abusive partner it turns out to be one of the best things to ever happen to us.
Children of an abusive childhood especially hate change. When they were little and abused the thing they feared the most was change. That may sound rather strange. No matter how difficult the abuse, a child always wants their mother. Our mother may be unstable and abusive but she’s the only mother we know. I have seen children of such parentage who cling to their mom in hysteria at the thought of being taken away from her. The stamp of this follows through their young childhood and on in to adulthood. A parent who displays rage frequently, one who is physically and maybe even sexually abusive gives us no concept of what healthy parenting is like. If it means change we are more likely to reject it.
It is difficult to look down the road and see that an impending change is going to be for the best. We may even wonder why we didn’t make that change before. All we know is that we live in a box and we don’t want the sides to that box to move at all. Major changes take courage. It may mean disconnecting from someone who we are familiar with but who does not have our best interests at heart. Change wears many negative faces: inconsistency, disorder, instability, a disconnect from all we are familiar with and even major upheavals. But there is a positive side to change as well. It could mean a change of heart, a change of clothes, a change of mind, a change of scenery or a change of direction, one that is healthy and in our best interests.
When I ran away from home at the age of eighteen after a beating from my father that almost killed me I faced multiple changes. I would no longer have parents, any relationship with my siblings was doubtful; I now had to make all my own financial decisions. I was pretty much alone in a world I knew little about. Due to the multiple rapes and beatings at the hands of my father and the obsessive controls of my mother I was more like a thirteen year old. But that change was the best thing that ever happened to me. I relished it.
When I was in recovery I wrote about change and what it meant to me.
Change has always loomed like a demon in my mind.
It pounces sharp on all my plans, the treasures that I find.
I hate it when it comes to me, a smile upon its face.
Disguised in goodness and character, dressed up in pearls and lace.
My life is set in front of me, predictable and fast.
How dare this wayward, orphan child stray me from my task.
It flounders, wanders, oscillates with its persistent, nagging voice.
Bent upon surprising me with growth and will and choice.
But I can see through all of it, this aim to tempt my fate,
And call adventure to my door when I’d really rather wait.
For deep inside my cautious heart there lurks a frightened child,
Who doesn’t know if she can cope, when change makes her riled.
What if I stumble, lose my way, fall and skin my knee?
What if life, who brings this change, becomes an obstacle to me?
But I must play the advocate with deep humility,
I must admit that without change I’m never really free.
I hope these words give you strength and wisdom to go through any changes facing you. Life can be turbulent but it can also be an exciting adventure. Auntie Mame, the major character in Patrick Dennis’s best seller from the fifties said, “Life is a banquet and most pure suckers are starving to death.”