Less than two months ago, I moved away from a place I called home for seven years. In the big scheme of life, seven years is minuscule. But this wasn’t just some random seven years for me.
It was the season I launched out of college and into adulthood. It was the time when I got married, and I started figuring out how to be a wife. (I mean, does anyone really know how though…honestly?) These past seven years, I began a career. I challenged a whole bunch of things I always believed to be true. I went back to counseling and worked through a ton of childhood and teenage bullshit that kept me jacked up in more ways than I realized. I learned how to have deep, meaningful, rich relationships; ones in which I couldn’t hide or pretend. Well, I guess I could hide and pretend, but I didn’t need to. My people could draw me out in vulnerability and give me a safe space to be me and be loved for that. These seven years were sacred and significant. Isn’t that the way of life? Difficult seasons, full of tough challenges, are the ones that shape us the most. And after the chaos subsides, we look back at that season and deem it worthy of such thanksgiving.
At some point in the past year, I started noticing things shifting within me. I was learning more about myself and gaining clarity on ideas of what my life could be like. You see, I’m a detail person, in general. I don’t think big picture. I see tomorrow or maybe a few months out, but I definitely don’t see years ahead. Normally. But I started to envision my life in ten years. I started to feel connected and drawn to those visions. I felt my heart yearning for a life that looked more like what I saw in my dreams.
Here’s the thing about people and change: we don’t make changes until we want something new more than we want what is currently in front of us. Until we want what COULD BE more than WHAT IS, we will stand still. Nothing will move. Nothing will change.
Think about anything we struggle with: diets, a substance, a specific relationship. If you want that brownie more than you want to lose weight, you’ll eat the brownie, and you won’t lose weight. If you want that drug more than you want sobriety or to keep your job, you’ll smoke or shoot up.
Consider this from the perspective of fear and comfort. Do you fear loneliness more than you are unsatisfied staying with your partner who treats you like crap? Do you fear failing at your startup company more than staying in your boring job that you complain about constantly?
If we want to experience change, we have to get to a place where we believe that what COULD BE is worth the risk of letting go of WHAT IS.
As my heart began to long more and more for the life I envisioned, I started researching, reading, planning. Less than six months later, I moved.
I’ve been in this new place for less than two months now. How’s it going, you ask? Um… kinda hard. Actually, really hard. I left the life I built, and I had built a life that I loved. I miss my community. I didn’t realize how many people surrounded me daily who I could chat with, laugh with, or roll my eyes with. I didn’t realize the comfort in walking outside my door and knowing the people who lived nearby. I didn’t realize how cozy I was in the structure of my daily life and schedule, how I memorized what side of Meijer to walk into for apples or where the BMV was. I miss so many things. I explain this tsunami of feelings in one word:
Grief and I became well acquainted in my therapy work, and I like to think we’ve got a good thing going. Spending time with her is the healing art in my process of moving on.
Art is free-spirited. It’s wild and does whatever it wants. It leads you. I don’t know of any artist who sits down in front of his canvas having a clear sense of what he will create. No. It’s the internal emotional experience of the painter that leads the way, and Art is the interpreter.
Grief. She is the leading force in a season like mine. My interpreter, for now, is writing. But Grief is in charge. Somedays, she takes a nap, and I love every single second of being in my new home. Other days, Grief is all up in my stinkin’ business tapping on my shoulder, “CRY. YOU NEED TO CRY TODAY.” (It’s in all caps because sometimes she has to get a little loud with me for me to pay attention.)
This is the way of Grief. She comes in waves, and if you listen to her often, she’s gentle as can be. She’ll guide you to what you need, and if you honor her requests, she’ll continue to set you free over time.
If you’re in the process of moving on and letting something go, allow Grief to be your friend. Hold her tightly, and let her teach you how you’re doing on the inside. She isn’t causing the pain; she’s giving it a way to get out. Without her, you will spend your days running from your sadness and your loneliness. They’ll eventually bubble, and then you’ll find yourself sobbing in the middle of Publix because you can’t find the cashews. Honor her, and she’ll heal your sad heart. She is healing mine. Grief’s work is slow, and I must be patient, but she’s healing me.
Find your interpreter, too. Is it writing, like mine? Is it running? (Definitely not mine.) Is it setting regular phone calls with friends and letting Grief pour herself out as you speak? Is it going back to therapy or going for the first time? It doesn’t matter who interprets or how many interpreters you have but understand: if you’re having a hard time moving on from anything, Grief is likely trying to speak. You need to find an interpreter to let her reveal what’s really going on inside you.
Connect with Grief. Find your interpreter. Heal. This is the messy and true art of moving on.