By Christina Forgeron, Columnist
It’s been a bumpy few months.
In February of this year my marriage of ten years broke up, our assets were sold and split 50/50 and my son and I were searching for a new home. Due to the real estate market being on fire in Halifax, we did well on the sale of our home but, to find a spot I could handle on my own at a reasonable price was difficult.
As well, I was working in the job of my dreams, perfectly fulfilled, but it was only part time so a new job was needed to afford a house. My son would have to change schools due to the move so not only did he lose regular contact with his neighborhood friends but he would also have to leave his friends from school, and we still didn’t know where we were going to live. It was an incredibly stressful time. (For more on this, please read Helping kids deal with tough times, found in the March 2022 online publication of the Parkview News.)
We were in the weeds of change.
Skip to now. We have moved to New Brunswick with family for a little while. All of our items are in storage and we are finding our way as a family of two. My son is in a new school, has made friends, and is really happy. I’m looking for work, and we feel grateful, safe, loved, and confident about the future. Change is hard but it’s the one thing we can always count on in life.
I thought I’d share what we learned in the last few months about moving through change:
• Stress thrives in the waters of unmade decisions. Every decision I made reduced my stress level just a little bit more. You can’t rush the process of change so accepting that uncertainty was an important ingredient in the process was really important.
• Your body seems to intuitively understand the big picture. My most powerful moments of clarity came when I paid attention to the stress level in my body. I don’t do yoga and I don’t meditate so I’m not particularly in tune with body signals, but I can say that once big decisions were made, I knew they were the right ones by how relaxed my body and mind felt. Conversely, if there was unrest once a decision was made, it was clear that I needed to reexamine it, despite what anyone else advised. No one was as ‘inside the problem’ as I was. I had to trust my gut. And I taught my son to do the same.
• Talk about your feelings with people who support you. Name it to tame it. So much clarity comes from talking something through, not for the purpose of garnering sympathy or solutions, but to hash out the origin of what is truly difficult and consider ways forward. If you don’t want advice, it’s ok to say let your listener know that. “I would like to talk this out. Can you be a set of ears for me?” If you have chronic advice-givers or shame-makers in your life, choose to talk to other friends or family who can listen without judgement.
• Solutions arrive in the ‘not-thinking’ times. Take long baths, walk with music or your favorite podcast, go for a drive by yourself, not for the purpose of thinking, but to ‘not-think’. The irony is that the ‘not-thinking’ time will probably foster the greatest ideas – they will bubble up like a hot spring under the water.
• Be honest with yourself and with others. If you’ve been an a**hole, name it and say it. Not one of us is perfect and pretending to be right or perfect is exhausting and a waste of energy. Get to the heart of your struggle and work from the ground up.
• Paint an honest and hopeful picture for your children. “I don’t have a plan yet but I’m working on it.” “Things will change and we will be ok.” “Sorry I’m not the best version of myself at the moment. I’m trying to make big decisions and it keeps my mind very busy.” “I have confidence in you.” “You can count on me.”
• If someone offers to help, say yes. Nuff said.
• Once you are through the weeds, make a 1-year, 5-year and 10-year plan. Get busy moving forward. Involve those close to you and plan for success!