In a myriad of tiny ways, and some not quite so tiny, we each face those times in our lives when something has to change. It can be as small as handing the TV remote to your partner ... Oh okay, maybe smaller than that! ... or a life-altering event like moving house, changing jobs or a divorce.
In each case, the exciting prospect of a new horizon, or even the black hole of despair carries with it similar feelings of loss and bereavement. It is true that losing a girlfriend, to a teenage boy is not a major life event, but it feels like one. I don't seek to elevate the minor into something it is not, nor to diminish that which might be considered "life-altering", but loss and separation is a big deal, whatever it's larger significance.
I have, in my life, made many changes. Fewer than some I am sure, but I've been divorced, changed jobs, moved house and even moved continents so I have experienced at least my fair share of those events that cause us pain, and provide us with opportunities.
Before I go much further, and in case anyone is wondering how I have "tagged" this piece, you will not find a "GBCW" or a "TTFN". If anything, my interest in writing, and basing most of my writings here is increased rather than diminished. We face extraordinary times in the development of this nation, and I want to continue to play as full a role as I am able, which means staying here.
What prompted me to write this is a private matter, and will remain so. On the scale of divorce to TV Remote, it falls very much towards the end that allows my wife to change the channel, rather than me changing my wife, or vice-versa (more likely, truth be known). Nonetheless I find myself rather sad about it all, and I hope that if I can share some of that it might help others find their way through their own changes, just a little more smoothly.
These feelings run very deep in the human psyche. When I worked with emotionally disturbed children, one of the things that became apparent very quickly is how difficult they find any form of transition. It might be something small. Going from home to school, from sitting at dinner to not sitting at dinner, from awake to asleep. Children often find these things difficult, and children whose development has been damaged find them more difficult than most. Imagine then, the difficulty those same kids have when transitioning from one foster placement to another, and you get to see the scale of the problems they face.
As adults, and even as relatively whole, mature and competent adults, we still retain vestiges of these issues. They cause us pain, and they make us human.
Beyond even this is the feeling that you may be the one at fault. This is okay. It may hurt more, but acting on the basis that in letting go you are setting someone, or something free to grow bigger and better without you, is a good thing. When one is, for example, part of a committee, a caucus or club and your views are at variance with others, then something simply has to give. If you want to feel bad, and conclude that it is actually your fault, then fine, but really things are rarely that simple.
Sometimes all that is needed is a change. Sometimes no one is wrong, there is no bogeyman spoiling the broth with one too many cooks. What I am saying is that accepting your own responsibility, and acting accordingly is rather better than waiting too long and causing harm. This is not selfless, nor is it martyrdom, it is just the recognition that change is necessary, and having the resources to make that change.
When we consider those children I mentioned earlier, they do not possess those resources. In most cases they believe that they are to blame for all the bad things that happen in their lives. They have not the emotional capacity to accept that life sucks, and simply use that experience to become stronger. They cannot do that so they fall. Then they go to jail and we thank the stars that yet another teenage delinquent is not longer walking the streets of the neighborhoods where the good people live.
Letting my four year old go to school was enormously difficult. How would she cope if I was not there to pick her up when she fell? Of course the truth is that she needs to fall. She needs to be helped up by someone who is not her parent, and yes, she needs also to learn to pick herself up and get on with it. Many of us are well aware that it is tough being a kid, but we hope we gave them sufficient love and consistency that they have the capacity to benefit from those painful moments, and grow into independent, mature adults. Mostly they do, but their parents suffer along the way.
We all make transitions, and we make them because they are unavoidable, or we simply decide they are necessary. Whatever your station in the life you have chosen, your feelings about this are the same. They vary in magnitude, of course. If you have suffered a genuine bereavement, divorce, loss of a job, etc, then those feeling are in sharper relief that someone who simply chose to make an inconsequential adjustment.
Whatever your situation I recommend that you simply ask yourself a few basic questions:
1. Have you done your best?
2. Is there another viable solution that you can see?
3. Are you indispensable?
The answers you are looking for are Yes, No and Definitely Not!
The decision I have made really is trivial. No one needs to wonder what it was, suffice it simply to say that it had me thinking about transitions, how they affect people and whether or not I could help others manage their own. Whatever yours is, I can guarantee it will be vastly more important than mine.
What I'd like to say to those suffering, in a very real way, to manage changes that they might not have wanted or been able to control is this:
Whether you can see it or not, there is a way forward. This I know because for all of us, the sun will go down and rise again in the morning. You will still be around and even though you might not be able to see the future, time will take care of that and the future will become your present. Even if you have fallen from a man, or woman of substance, and find yourself a vagrant in the street, tomorrow will still happen, and you will still be here.
If it seems that there is no way forward, that is generally because you just can't yet focus, so do something small. Vacuum the living room carpet, clean the kitchen, whatever. These things take time and they take you into a future where you have already improved your environment by your own efforts. If you cut the grass, you have improved your neighbors environment too.
We can do this because we are whole. The damaged children cannot do it. They can not affect their own environment in a positive manner, they often know only how to attract negative attention. They are not whole so whatever your transition ... However large or inconsequential it might be, you are in complete control of the decisions you make, and what you do in the next ten minutes.
There is vastly more to this subject. I do not seek to diminish the feelings of those who actually can't control their own futures, nor ignore the fact that sometimes expert help is required before a person can move forward effectively. I wrote this simply because a minor event brought these things to mind. It is how I used to earn a living, and I hoped someone might benefit.