Confronting Change You Can’t Control (Part 1)

It could always be Great. 

My mom told me to write that on every wall and mirror around the house. I was on the phone with her, basically in a downward spiral of apprehension about a major change happening this year that is mostly out of my hands. Allow me to rip off the band-aid: My parents made the decision to move to Colorado this year, back to my hometown. Pause for dramatic effect.  

Many reasons played into that decision, a big one being that a majority of my moms family lives there and we will have a tighter community of support. Given that 2/3rds of our fam is sick and one family member is a dog, the move makes sense. It can be a tad isolating out here on the ol ‘farm’.

My moms casual reminder that it could always be great was a nice departure from the supposedly optimistic adage “Hey, It could always be worse!” I’m not sure that phrase has ever really made me feel better while in the midst of a struggle. It’s like “Well hey, both of your legs could be blown off!” “Riight. That’s true. I could have zero legs right now. Cool, thanks. I feel better.”

So yes, I have both legs, but I am still pretty afraid of the whole thing and I guess that makes sense given the scale of this. It’s a big change, and since I don’t have the health to live on my own yet, it’s one that’s out of my hands, which always adds a pinch of frenzy. I’ve sort of tortured myself thinking of ways to stay here, but I just don’t have the physical stability to do it. This last crash that’s held me down since Christmas just reinforces how mercurial my *health* is and how unreliable  I am as a result. A few weeks ago the crash finally let up for roughly a week, then returned angrier than before, and I’ve been essentially a half-living disaster since then. Yeaaaah wooooo! 

You can see how thoughts like that (I’m sick, my life is chaos, I don’t have jurisdiction over my own life) can play with your mind the way a cat bobbles a feathery toy around. It can take your whole outlook and shape it in many variations. 

One of the hardest parts the last few months has been maintaining an open mind that this might actually be a good thing. It’s meant a lot of reigning in of my thoughts, which tend to go default mode into armageddon type thinking. It’s as though some small part of me decided early on that since I didn’t choose this, it wasn’t a good idea and it would end in disaster for my life. And it’s pretty crazy how easy and quickly those thoughts can assemble, pile on one another, and leave me completely convinced that I’m going to melt away and die in my parents basement…or some other absurdity. I don’t know where that fear stems from—I mean I’m pretty sure they have internet in Colorado. 

I’ve had to work to clean up the useless, unhelpful thoughts that tend to mess with my mind and sense of wellbeing. By that I don’t mean I dismiss all the thoughts or feelings I have about this—which are of course, a lot. Certainly there is a legitimate sadness and type of grief that comes from leaving what’s been home the last 18 years. Those feelings deserve their own validation and processing because, damn, it’s sad to leave the people and place you’ve come to know and love so much. Louisiana has felt familiar and comfortable for a long time, and it will be tough to leave, even if I do plan to come back. ;)  

What I am referring to are the haunting thoughts, the ones that make you feel bad about things that are not within your control.

This kind of thinking totally blurs and limits my perspective about the life I have. It dismisses all the good and incredible parts of it, doesn’t see possibility or feel hopefulness or gratitude. It downsizes the significance and value of people and things just because they aren’t in line with what I had planned. (I think humanity might have an addiction to plans but that’s another day) These are just hypothetical scenarios based mostly on fear and a future no one can actually know. Like Tolle says, it is always more empowering to face facts. Even when the facts are scary or we wish they were different, it’s in acknowledging the real and being present in the now that we have access to our innermost power and strength. 

I realized early on how incredibly contrasting the outcomes are that emerge just from framing things in my head one way vs. another. This is something I do have control over, and it’s become pretty important that I put this ability to use, otherwise the ugly thoughts take over and down the rabbit hole I go. 

It’s been a good but difficult exercise to step back and try to just watch the way my mind can interpret the same reality in two completely different lights. The modern mystics would advise to consider the circumstance from the point of view of an objective observer. Watch your thoughts, but don’t become entangled in them. Allow them to appear, then let them go. Easier said than done, of course. But at any rate, the mind astounds me in its duality. For instance..

Here is one side of my mind thinking about the move: Reiterate the story that my life is out of control, that the disease makes all the choices, that I have no say so about things and thus can’t really be happy because it’s not up to me. My personal growth and goals and contentment will all be stunted or I’ll cease to pursue them because my lack of health and other people have the wheel and I’m just a passenger to my own life. What’s the point in trying? As a passenger I don’t decide where I go and thus my happiness isn’t my option but one left up to others or whatever new circumstances materialize without my consent. I don’t want to go. It’s not fair I have to leave what feels like home. What about my family and friends here? What about my dream to live in uptown New Orleans one day? Now it will never happen. I guess I’ll go eat worms. 

I can’t tell you how easy it was for each of those negative thoughts to formulate, one after the other, building on each other like a lego tower turning into a whole city…

Now here is my mind consciously thinking about the move: Colorado? That’s cool, I guess I’ll get packing. 

Could the differences be that dramatic? And is it actually possible to participate in your own life that way?  In The Untethered Soul, Singer makes the point over and over that of course it’s possible! We don’t always decide what happens, but we always the ultimate say so in how we react toward the circumstances of our life. And it’s those decisions, not what happens, that leave us either content, at ease, joyful, whole, or bitter, angry, jealous and depressed.

All it took was a few negative thoughts to quickly unravel into my making the choice to play no part in my own autonomy or the trajectory of my life. Just because I’d be living somewhere else, I removed myself from having any accountability in manifesting a life I wanted or that I could be proud of. That’s a crazy conclusion to make! But when you’re present and you actually break down your thoughts, you see what a huge majority of them are insane and simply need to be let go of. That’s not so easy when you’re hit with an onslaught of frenzy and angst, like a whirlpool that takes you down, where there’s no clarity.

So I have to practice at disarming the egoic force from taking over in my head, which I do by sword fighting the air with a Star Wars lightsaber. Just kidding. Like Tolle teaches, whenever I have a future based thought made mostly of fear, I replace it in my mind with facts that are actually true. I try to repeat positive reminders instead of playing a record of apprehension on repeat with a sad ending.

In other words, I do the thing basically all chronically sick people must learn to do at some point: surrender.

As always by ‘surrender’ I don’t mean give up–ever. I mean to leave a neutral space open in your heart and your head where good things can happen because you allow a new path to be paved even though you didn’t design it. If I had understood earlier on in my relapse that reality doesn’t really care about your plans, I might’ve saved myself a good deal of pain from what was already such a hardship. I thought I could fight things that were already in place and moving quickly forward. Life was just waiting on me to catch up to what was real, instead of trying so hard to hang on to the way things were.

All I know is that there is a pulse to life, a certain beat that resonates deep within us as individuals and as a collective. We can typically feel through that pulse a general sense of what direction life is moving in. We can resist. Be the fish swimming upstream. Or we can lean in and greet life with an open and adventurous spirit, despite limits and changes and things beyond our control. It’s true I am afraid and I’m sad to leave what I thought would always be home. But I have been shown over and over the miracle of surrender, of allowing life to ‘move me’ and the amazing outcomes that can result when we feel fear but move forward anyway. It always comes down to following that thumping compass we hear deep within and far beneath us.

Here’s hoping that it just might be great.

Health, Happiness, Hello Colorado

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15 thoughts on “Confronting Change You Can’t Control (Part 1)

  1. It truly is insanity that it’s so easy to forget those famous Tolle words “It is as it is.” That’s the simple task set out before me, like the main meaty course of a meal. But there’s that disgusting oyster dressing that one aunt always makes, and there’s that amazing ambrosia whatsit salad with mini marshmallows, and I’m remembering every time I’ve hated the dressing and loved the ambrosia, and playing out every scenario of what I’ve got to do to dodge the oysters while simultaneously sparing my aunt’s feelings….and not be too outwardly happy about the ambrosia….and then I miss the meat entirely. Then there’s the DUH moment, and I reach for the meat but my eyes have to pass over the oysters and I forget all over again. *Whew*
    “The complication lies in its simplicity”. There’s a Me quote to toss with the wilted salad and warm Ranch dressing that’s getting transparent at the edges. Heh, we won’t even know a thing, we’ll just be over here reading your Colorado posts just like we’re reading your Louziana posts now. All we can see is the struggles you continue to overcome. We’re not there to see the grit of it but all that matters is that we’re having those fall-apart days right along with ya, and get to feel the triumph~nigh~on~euphoria that occurs when thought is shifted towards surrender. For all the falling apart that we can’t see, the coming together looks good on ye ;)

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    1. Wow, thank you for such a thought out and funny reply. The ranch with the clear edges, ugh, I know all too well what you’re talking about. Your comparisons to the meal are so funny, and certainly pertain to Tolle’s words as you’ve written them. It is as it is— that’s reality. It is ya who interfere and complicate trying to make what it IS into something else, and those are just the tough lessons until we learn to surrender to what is, and learn instead to swim downstream and save ourselves the exhaustion of trying to swim upriver and change what often cannot be changed externally. Only through the eyes that we see things can we make a marked difference in how we see and experience things. The good news is, it’s possible! We just have to be open to seeing things with an altered perspective than the way we always assumed they were before.

      Thanks for writing, and all my best to you.
      Mary

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  2. Speaking as one who moved many times having “surrendered,” I learned that each move is an opportunity to purge all negative and useless weights (both physical and otherwise.) It’s a moment to embrace the new surroundings unimpeded by those things you’ve outgrown and no longer need but which took up space in your life. Best of luck in your move.

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    1. Hi Kimberly, thank you for writing (and reading). You’re last sentence is crazy because I had just written a blog a few days ago where I talk about outgrowing things or living without them once change comes along in whatever capacity it is, and you realize you were living with a lot of weight in many aspects of your life that you never even really needed, you were just in your comfort zone and assumed they were necessary to your well being— when really it’s more a matter of then being about person peace of mind, which isn’t always accurate about what we genuine need in order to be OK. I assume moving for me will highlight the things I don’t need and never knew about, and it’s always a healthy idea to simplify your life, getting rid of unnecessary stuff or relationships or routines that you thought you could never live without, until you live without them and realize “actually, I guess I just don’t need that anymore! Or maybe never needed it at all.” It’s only scary to think about, but after you dive in and go for things, there’s no where for the fear to grow and fester, because you’ve already done it and shown yourself, hey I am A OK! Always a good feeling. I’m hoping to simplify my life in many ways, and double hoping that somehow in this move I can concentrate on my health more and possibly get it more under control. What a miraculous revelation it would be to see that I could get away with less medicine after finding some new way to control my outta control symptoms! We’ll see, but maybe that’s hoping for too much. At any rate, I’m meandering. Sorry. Thanks again for reading and writing, and all the best to you :)
      Mary and Monty

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks dude. Funny you mention that, this week I have been trying to change my thinking about it and thought that seeing it as an adventure is a much more positive way to think about it. And my life has had So Little adventure this last decade, maybe something new will be really good for my spirit. So I will try. Thanks for reading and writing duder, I hope you’re doing as *well* as you can be. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Your drawings are my favorite and make me laugh! Keep at it. :)
      Love Mary and Monty

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yo duder, I am happy to hear that! And thank YOU for reading and for reaching out. I hope you’re able to find some peace in whatever sitch is in your life and throwing up the pieces of your life in the air like a confetti bomb—that’s how it sometimes feels to me anyway. :) but hey, confetti can be fun. Anyway, hang in there and don’t be stranger! All the best
      Mary and Monty

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    1. Aww, thanks yall! That is great to hear.. I will certainly be in touch and am looking forward to collaborating on advocacy ideas in the future! Thanks for reaching out, I will be reaching back soon. (Not moving until June or maybe July)

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  3. Duse the inevitable it could always be worse comment!!!! It’s one of the best of the worst!! Love this post and it’s reminders!! I really hope that you going to Colorado leads to health, wealth and happiness!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh he will, don’t worry. Well shit, I’m really hoping he doesn’t die before we make it to CO. He’s really aged in the last year :( but I made him promise me he would reincarnate into my next dog, so we’ve got a deal worked out :) That’s what the force of love is capable of! Thank you for reading, and writing. All the best, Mary and MoMo

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