Once upon a time I thought it was cool to say, “Change is the only constant in the universe,” but I don’t think that phrase so cool anymore. The phrase, its meaning and internal paradox, is one of those things a twenty-something (or older, in my case) thinks is profound. At this point I’d be likely to say to the girl who said that, “Yeah? So? You have no clue, sweet cheeks.”

Unfairly, too. At twenty-something I’d already experienced some pretty ugly changes, and that phrase was my way of giving myself courage and a more stoical world view. It was a way to assuage my fear of more ugly changes by being glib about it.

I understand now that a constant in some of my life’s changes is dragging my feet. I remember not wanting a cell phone, not wanting to use email, not wanting to learn PowerPoint, not wanting this or that and holding onto marriages way past their “throw-out-by” date. Why?

Sometimes moving forward into a change is just a pain in the ass. “Oh shit, this is a crappy marriage. Now we have to face that, and do a divorce, and have conversations about THINGS and move on.” Well, husband number 2 had already “moved on” (several times), and husband number 1 had moved out so what was the big deal? I don’t know. I was afraid of things that were not even related to me or my marriage — like my mom would be disappointed, like I was as awful as husband No. 1 said I was or as boring and ugly as husband No. 2 said I was, like I’d never amount to anything on my own (Mom, husband No. 1) — the list of irrelevancy is very long. Reality was clear. These were bad marriages to husbands who didn’t love me and that, probably, I didn’t love, either.

There was the big change when I stopped supporting my alcoholic brother. That was a terrifying change. Would he die? Would my family hate me? What would happen? So many “ifs” and they all came true — but the savior was, as always, objective reality. Was my help actually HELPING him? (No.) If people in my family hated me, would it make any material difference in my life? (It didn’t. Those who mattered understood). Would he die? Absolutely, if he didn’t stop. Could I make him stop? Had all my efforts made any difference in his habits? No. When I stepped away, felt I was falling over a precipice…

Often we don’t see change until it’s happened, and we’re standing on sand that’s being pulled out from under us by the resolute tide of time. When the status quo is already shaky, letting go can be scary. What if the whole thing crumbles into dust? That’s happened a time or two. The crumbling is terrifying, but surviving it turned out to be liberating. It definitely gave me a less hesitant view of change.

23 thoughts on “Ch-ch-ch-changes

  1. Unfortunately, change IS the way of things. Nothing stands still. If only we could just find that sweet place in life and say “I’ve found it. I’ll NEVER change.” I hope for all the best for you and yours, whatever the change may be. These days, as long as it isn’t my health or Garry’s or one of the pooches, I can (mostly) deal with it. But Change IS frightening. Even good change, even change we want to make is frightening, so grab the handlebars, take some deep breaths and trust in your own strength to get you through. Hugs, M.

    • The way I see it now is that all those hard changes brought me here and this is a good place. The changes ahead of me? I’ll take them as they come. Now I know that’s all I can do — or could ever do. ❤ Hugs to you, too.

  2. ‘surviving it turned out to be liberating.’ That is so true and the absolute best part about change. I had never been in favor of change. But -ta da!– things change and so did I. Change? Bring it. I am ready and willing.

  3. I think it’s a balancing act. Embrace some change but you don’t have to do it all the time. I could have pushed and done more with my life, I could have split with my husband, he isn’t always easy to live with. In the end I think of the marriage vows, sickness and in health, richer for poorer. In all things, life sometimes forces change on you and sometimes you have to grab hold and go with it. Or other times cling on to security. I don’t know x

    • My first husband abused me physically. My second husband cheated on me repeatedly. I have yet to hear of marriage vows that say, “Let him kick you and hit you and sleep with other women.” After a while I had to wake up to the reality that that behavior is intolerable and wrong. That “security” was insecure, but it was hard for me to understand that because of the way I was raised. But I agree with you — we make choices all through our lives and much of the time we’re truly blind. We just do the best we can. xo

        • No no it didn’t come across that way at all. Don’t worry about that. I put it out there just on the off chance someone is reading this post and comments and is in a situation like that.

          My good friends here are all married and in long marriages. I admire them very much because I have an idea of the effort that goes into that. I consider it a real achievement. It’s funny but when I told them, I saw them both look relieved, like they thought I’d be judging them because of the compromises they’d made. Not at all. I tried to make those compromises, too. I think love between two people is challenging and commendable. ❤

  4. “Often we don’t see change until it’s happened, and we’re standing on sand that’s being pulled out from under us by the resolute tide of time.”………..i can feel these words in my soul. wonderfully written post with such great insight. thank you

  5. Change is not often easy and not always kind. But change is coming.
    When I moved to life on the road I embraced change because I had chosen it as a lifestyle.

  6. Trite or no, change is inevitable and constant. Beautifully written, Martha. And I still find myself trying to negotiate with change. It works as poorly as ever. At least now I laugh kindly with and at myself when I catch myself i the act.

  7. I’m a Taurus, I don’t like changes unless I have chosen them rather than having them forced on me, but whether you like them or not you still have to deal with them. The world won’t stand still for any of us. Great post by the way.

  8. I observed the sme thing in recent years, that you don’t always see change until it’s happened. That must make it easier for some people, and I guess, referring back to one of y,our other posts, it can be seen as ‘going with the flow’. I’ve definitely got bolder as I’ve got older, and generally I think we make the right changes at the right times if we trust our instincts. You seem to have got it right. 🙂

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