The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the newSocrates
I’m back in the city after my whirlwind trip away. I am delighted to inform you that I drove safely to my destination, had a relaxing time with family, and then drove safely home.
That might not be a big deal to you. But it is a big deal to me.
In the last fifteen years, poor health limited and then prevented my capacity to drive. To be truthful, a couple of years ago I had given up on the idea of ever driving again. I had become used to the diminishment that comes from having limited freedom, and of needing to be dependent on others. I adjusted, and I moved on. This doesn’t mean that I started walking everywhere, or taking the bus or train. I have chronic fatigue. Walking anywhere was impossible. So was taking public transport. So, if I couldn’t drive, and I couldn’t get a lift? I didn’t go. If I could get a lift I planned my trips to make maximum use of an outing. I never took anything for granted. And I became very good at being along or in my own company.
Did you know that this is what happens when your freedom gets taken away? You adjust. Of course, the adjustment comes after the rage, or the frustration, or the grief (or all of those things). Research has shown that even people who have experienced the most difficult of losses usually adjust to their new circumstances within twelve months to two years (note that I did not say they were thrilled about it or saw it as a blessing in disguise – I said that they adjusted to their new reality, even if they weren’t happy with it).
When I realised that I could not drive anymore, it was pointless to keep thinking about the loss. It only made me sad. Or mad. Or more broken. I had to find other ways to do things. I needed to let go of dreams and plans and parts of myself. I found it was helpful to put my focus elsewhere. To think, ‘What can I still do? How else can I cope or fill my time?’
Long before COVID my life looked like a lockdown. Many of my friends in the chronic illness community will tell you the same. We have already been stuck at home, with limited choices, making do with a jumble of poorly fitting options and trying to string something worthwhile together from a basket of ‘everything broken’.
I never thought that I would drive again, let alone own a car of my own. But then my health improved (no, I’m not better – I have chronic illness and I live within my limitations and likely will always need to do that), COVID came, my husband became stuck in one part of Australia and I got stuck in another and suddenly driving was back on the table. My life changed. Again.
Change is like that.
It has been terrifying. It has been wonderful. It is creating fundamental shifts in how I live my life and how I view myself.
And eventually, I will have adjusted. This will be my new ‘normal’.
If you are facing loss right now, or if your world has grown smaller, I encourage you not to dwell to much on how it ‘should have been’. That won’t do anything but wear you out and bring you down. What can you do right now to cope better? Where can you put your focus?
The Socrates quote at the top of the page has been a guiding light for me. The past is behind us, and we cannot alter it. It is better to keep looking forward, to work with what we have, to build the new. Most importantly, trust that change can happen, often when we least expect it, so, don’t ever give up!
Sending you love, strength and resilience. Keep building the new! Nicole xx