As I sit writing this, there is a Christmas tree in the corner of the room. And on that tree is not one of my ornaments. The ornaments I’ve collected for 37 years. They, along with all the rest of my belongings have been in storage for a year.
I am wary of change. I’ve always liked things to be safe...predictable. Years ago I sat in a pew at First Parish Brewster and listened to Jim Robinson tell us - change is your friend and tried to believe that.
I clung to those words as I went through more changes than I can count. Divorce, children leaving for college, my parents deaths, breakups, loss of friendships, and job changes. For someone who has feared change as much as I have, I’ve been through a boatload of it.
So you may wonder, why are all my things in storage?
Last year I sold my house. The house I’d lived in for 18 years. It was a house my former husband and I had built. I’d picked out every tile, light fixture and color. Even though it was too much for me financially and physically I clung to it. After so many changes, so many losses, this home was the only security I had. But with my back to the wall I took a leap of faith and sold it.
I will spare you the details of the awful, protracted and acrimonious real estate deal I went through, but suffice it to say, my fantasy of handing over my lovely home to someone who was wonderful and would love it the way I did, and having some security was dispelled. But I let go.
Faith is what gets you through change. It is what allowed me to put one foot in front of another and keep going even when that felt impossible.
I have moved three times since January. I have not been able to find a year-round rental, and it’s been a struggle. After moving in with my boyfriend into his winter rental last January, I was positive by summer I’d find something. I didn’t. Thankfully, one of my dearest friends took us in for those eight weeks we had to leave. During that time she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she and I both immediately knew that’s why I was there.
That’s the thing about change, it often isn’t until you’re in the middle of it, or slightly on the other side of it that you see the why. It’s having faith in knowing you don’t have to know, it’s trusting that maybe there’s a reason, and that change will lead you to a better more interesting place.
My marriage ended so I could grow into the person I was supposed to become. My son’s descent into and recovery from heroin addiction made me a better person. A stronger, more compassionate, less judgmental person. Selling my house and not having my things has made me see how little they really matter. It’s friendships, family and love that matter, not stuff.
It may be that despite myself I have begun to make friends with change, to be less afraid of it. I will still often try to avoid it, but I’ve learned a new motto, something I learned from the world of improv. When life throws me an opportunity to do something that challenges me, that scares me, instead of running away I have learned to say yes, please, and I have to say, my life has become much richer, fun, and interesting because of it.