Change is an inevitable part of life. We lose jobs, move away from our childhood home, break hearts, make new friends, break more hearts, graduate and flutter out of the nest. Sometimes, all by the time we’re in our late teens!
But how we treat ourselves and others changes as we shed old skin and adopt (hopefully!) better, more mature and more ethical life practices.
When I moved away from home the day I turned eighteen, I was completely gripped by the stronghold of a full-on methamphetamine addiction. My relationship with my parents was wrought with metaphorical termites, who had gnawed at the foundation for so long, it was collapsing before our eyes. And we were seemingly helpless to stop it. I was a scared, lost, confused, addicted teen and my folks were two survivors in their own rights, who had never put their own Humpty Dumpty’s back together again. They did their best, I guess, but never learned how to parent four children well enough so that they weren’t fleeing–first chance they got–at the sight of another, more promising structure.
The “more promising structure” was my then-boyfriend’s mother’s rented two-bedroom apartment in Canoga Park, California.
In fact, there my boyfriend stood, brown-skinned and stoned while I swirled like a whirling dervish, balmy, clammy, pupils dilated, mind racing, heart outpacing it, hopping up and down the stairs looking for a canister of protein powder. I was fixating on this food item that I most likely threw out with the hundred dollar bill my mom found in the junk pile of my bedroom. I had started packing at midnight and by 2 in the afternoon on the day of my birth plus 18 years, I was ready to conquer the world! If only I could find that fucking protein powder!
My mother spent the evening attempting to rile up my father enough to stop me (that was never going to happen—he wanted us kids to leave since we were young). So she cried. In that ugly tan leather chair with her legs swirled up on the ugly tan ottoman whose brass buttons left indents in your legs and she looked sick.
“Do you see what you’re doing to your mother?” My father asked, trying to sneak in one last jab before I left. One last trip to Guilt and Manipulation Island, where he owned a massive chunk of land.
“I’m not angry at what you’re doing,” my mother interjected. “I’m angry at how you’re doing it.”
I’ve never fully understood what she meant but I’ve never forgotten her saying it.
Was there a kinder, more generous, more grateful way that I could’ve moved out of the house? Of course. Firstly, I could have done it on a day that wasn’t my birthday. If only for the cake alone!
But we make choices, often times, with the set of tools we have at the time we make the choice. Simple as that. And knowing that enables me to have compassion for people who wrong me and trespass my boundaries over and over again, like my parents have to this day.
Our choices affect our changes. My ability to handle change has improved so much since I was that little girl, aimless and scared to the bone. Even though I thought I knew everything back then (ha ha) I’ve had the good fortune of unlearning many lies and societal untruths. I’ve been able to discover for myself what feels right. What fits in the puzzle of my soul. By taking intentional and devoted time for myself, I’ve become a better version of myself, earned self-respect, healed wounds and even gained the respect of others, which means so much!
Before attending 12-step programs I crumbled in the face of uncertainty and drama. In fact, my life was wrought with drama.
Conflict was so difficult for me to confront that I would often times lie or disappear or accept other people’s versions of what I had done.
Other people’s realities became my reality because I wasn’t solid enough in my own life and I didn’t know what my truths were or how to express them.
It was fight or flight mode all the time. Unable to de-escalate a situation or even explain myself, I found myself turning mole hills into mountains. Minuscule interactions became fights. I heard myself lie more times than I’d like to admit. Situations were black or white. Relationships were on or off and my heart was open or closed.
Again, our choices affect our changes. I quit jobs without having another job to replace it. I slept with somebody without even discussing what our future would be. I gossiped relentlessly about people that I cared about. I would ask for advice when I knew the answer because I didn’t want to face my own inner truths. Despite making Cardinal Rules, I encroached on my own boundaries and did what I wanted even though the consequences brought shame and darkness into my life.
I lived a reckless and self sabotaging life and I left a whirlwind of wreckage in my wake. This is not a good way to collect people who care about you. In fact, people were somewhat disposable to me because I was somewhat disposable to myself.
I think the opposite of demons is grace. “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Because my third-eye was not open and my spiritual practice was unclear, change affected me in a radical way. Especially when I wasn’t the one initiating the change! And because change was so scary, I often initiated change in a haphazard and clumsy way, negatively affecting those around me.
Without excuse, I admit, I’m a work in progress and it has taken me awhile to realize that I have value and others have value, whether they can help me or not. We are all intrinsically linked and it is important—now as much as ever—to remember that we are spiritual creatures here on this earth despite our skin color or our ability to understand our effect on other people.
Time is a great healer and it’s also a great truth teller, as Katy Perry might attest to.
When we get to know ourselves better and with the natural course of time, how we approach change (both self-engineered and not) changes.
When you’re younger, you burn bridges, break bonds and try to bury your past mistakes in favor of a more manicured version of reality.
But as you grow older you realize that life is a continuum. You *will* see people you have wronged. You can make amends. You can turn down the drama several notches and view change in a more positive light. You can cultivate change into a more positive experience, filled with hopefulness and faith.
If you’re lucky, towns are small, memories are short, and hearts are big. Keep the good people close and watch magic grow where once there was only ashes.
…Follow Your Bliss xoxo
“She Wears Her Demons with Grace” sketch by: http://hollanddieringer.com/drawings/
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Darrah Le Montre is a writer and journalist and devoted mom. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, The Fix and nudie blog SuicideGirls.