Change and I have never been friends. We have tolerated each other like relatives only seen during holiday festivities, funerals, and weddings. This is particularly odd in my case since I spent most of my childhood moving with furniture, against my will, across state lines. No, I was not a tiny fugitive from the FBI, nor were my parents secret agents. At the age of 12, I fondly recall telling my father our family theme song was Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.” I heard it on a random commercial for Time Life something or other and it struck me intimately as accurate. He was not amused.
In the first grade, I had three different teachers in 3 different cities whose last names all strangely began with the letter C. We didn’t simply place our precious belongings into labeled cardboard boxes and hopscotch across town or roam to the next one over. Oh no, my friend. On one occasion, we journeyed from the sprawling metropolis of Tuba City, Arizona to Browning, Montana and on another from Pahokee, Florida to Wolf Point, Montana. I imagined grand tragedies had befallen those I left behind so I could cope. Once a hungry sinkhole appeared and swallowed the entire town and another time a vile contagious sickness spread throughout a la Outbreak and annihilated every last human being. Not a trace of that past remained, not a shadow of an interaction I had, nor a friend I might have made. This process exempted me from ever having to maintain any contact with the populous of my previous existence. You cannot send letters to the deceased and you certainly cannot visit, especially if such calamities are involved. Enter Change stage left, Change not embraced as Girl exits stage right.
Unfortunately, my coping mechanism for the constant lack of security complicated my adulthood. As I got older, leaving town was not on the agenda so when life dumped me on a roller coaster without my consent or I made a horrible decision that made me feel like a pariah, I opted for disappearing into myself over and over again. I committed this crime against my best interests until it became standard operating procedure- whenever the hurt toppled my scale or a difficult decision demanded my absolute attention, I retreated. I became the most reliable Houdini without applause. Once the first step is taken on this path, it is horribly easy to maintain the course until the simplest of activities like selecting a restaurant or an ensemble for public gallivanting can cause panic attacks. Eventually decisions are made by default. We’re not having dinner tonight because I’m crying and I can’t breathe because I absolutely cannot choose between Chinese and Mexican. I think I’m going to throw up. If I heard a noise knocking in the night, I was not the type to investigate or flee in a panic. Ha, I ignored it with fear tightening my chest, my heart beating a marathon of cheetahs. There is no monster under my bed. Please, two lines are a definite not pregnant.
Then my brother, Josue, became ill and I took a woefully needed step to embrace change. Love inspired me to face his illness and his needs. Josh had been a champion for so long in the face of his life’s unending challenges. He still was, but now he also depended on me to be strong for him. Josh needed me. I could have caved to my usual tendencies, but I miraculously did not. I discovered a new path past and around. I had become a therapy attendee and a mostly better-me practitioner prior to this and it prepared me to face myself and all the pain that would come. Tips and tricks for maintaining sanity and a consistent self designated reminder that I only had to survive one day at a time, spurned me onward. After months of this, Josh reached the end of his fight and passed away. I managed to keep it together like he would have wanted until I came home. I fell apart bit by bit, retreating again into myself. My Josh didn’t need me any more and the cumulative effects of repressed tears and dependability without pause, among other things, left me numb. I needed rest and real food. I needed to mourn.
My mourning of choice led me to isolation, the desire for the sleep of the dead, and silence. I didn’t forget my lessons, but I didn’t want to remember them. After everything I had experienced I could not return to who I had been. She had poofed into nevermore. I had to remake myself or die. I had to embrace the changes the loss of my brother and the moments I lived with him had wrought.
A way of life does not change until desperation sinks in. Josh was always one of my cheerleaders. He did not mince words or arrange them to eschew paining me. I can hear his voice inside me, the same words of wisdom he would have shared in life, echoing through my bones and to the very heart of me. Now it is time to return to my tips and tricks and refuse entrance to this habit of old and its attending mates of procrastination and fear. I vow to fight back against my tendencies and to not allow myself to be choked out. As much as avoidance on the rocks has been my drink of choice, I opt now to embrace change. I will go with the flow in spite of fear, this I vow. I will not hide. I will face everything that comes and I will be amazing, just as I promised I would be.