It is said that the only “constant” is change. Here on planet Earth, we orbit the sun, plants grow, water flows, weather changes, cells mutate, people evolve. It seems change is everywhere, all the time. Some of us fight to keep it static, wishing with all of our might to preserve the status quo, to keep uncertainty at bay, to stay comfortable. Who can blame them? There is comfort in familiarity. Our brains don’t even have to think about it because actions become automatic and unconscious. We want easier.
But one of my favorite sayings is, “Everything you want is just outside of your comfort zone” or paraphrased, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Fear of what, you ask. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being shamed, fear of looking stupid, fear of loss, fear of not knowing what to do, fear of upsetting someone, fear of disrupting the status quo, fear of change.
I like to think of myself and those that I work with, as “always becoming”. We are continuously evolving, assimilating new information, and adapting. Sometimes it’s easy to adapt, and other times, we grumble because it’s not comfortable. It wasn’t our idea. We didn’t agree. Sometimes we go kicking and screaming to fight change and it’s just exhausting. Sometimes we are putting more work into avoiding change just because we don’t want to risk the uncertainty of what is on the other side and when we get there, we wonder what took us so long. Very often in my work, we realize that our worry, hand-wringing and pent up anxiety was all for nothing.
Although I didn’t begin this post with the intent of bringing up my marriage, I was considering my own evolution. I was speaking with a male friend the other day about business matters when I had the realization of how much I had changed since my first marriage. Despite being married for twenty years to a wonderful man, I had evolved into a different person, no doubt influenced by circumstances or events that occurred over the course of time. I thought of some situations which would have in the past made me scoff, or likely would have blown my mind. I remembered how last year when I was out of town, my husband had taken my precious “bonus daughter” and her mom to lunch on Easter Sunday at a restaurant in the center of town. He had okayed it with me, of course, and I had no problem with it. He later told me that he had some “funny looks” and that there were definitely people he recognized but couldn’t place who looked at him strangely, no doubt doing a double-take.
I then recalled that our Christmas morning arrangement might be a bit unconventional too as he visits her house to watch her open presents from Santa. I realize I may be a bit of an anomaly, and I, in no way, am passing judgment on any way of the way it works for anyone else. Quite the opposite, as I realize each situation is unique and complicated by a host of factors, experiences, personalities, traumas, and viewpoints. But for us, it works. I see the good in this for my younger bonus daughter and it makes me happy she is happy.
Perhaps it is even more strange that I possess a liking -even I daresay, an affinity- for my husband’s ex-wife. I cannot imagine that who I was before would have felt the same way in regards to our unconventional situation. But there are some ways in which, because of the events that shaped me, I became open to considering new ideas for what worked for my family, regardless of how it looked from the outside. I feel doubly blessed to have the opportunity to co-parent/observe/witness/experience our children’s (ages 13-30) lives with these other women. It is one facet for me of honoring the #challengeaccepted “women empowering women” idea. I hope to honor the idea of supporting women in their own journey, whatever it may be.
I think uncertainty is what so many of us fight to avoid. We want a predictable outcome, sometimes even one that makes us miserable because at least we know what to expect. I wanted to avoid remarrying someone with young children because my own children were leaving the nest. Stepping back into motherhood was scary. I knew, like the back of my hand, what challenges were possible in raising a child – one that you poured your heart and soul into- and those challenges were formidable. Bit by bit, I tiptoed out of that comfort zone, and crossed to the other side- surpassing reluctance, ambivalence and mere acceptance. No, I stepped into full fledged appreciation and adoration of this unexpected blessing that I received late in life. I look forward to watching her bloom.
We are always becoming.