Truth be told, I don’t transition easily. That’s no shock to my friends and likely explains a bit for my acquaintances and meeting cohorts, but somehow, my reaction to shifts in routine, location, or even the weather still catches me by surprise.
This time, I’m just a few hours back from a fine three days away with my One Good Friend (main squeeze, significant other, whatever). Three days of hiking through the woods and fields of the middle of southern Michigan, canoeing on the Kalamazoo river, eating meals neither of us had cook, and enjoying general companionship with one of my favorite adults. While the trip relaxed and renewed me, by the last day, I was itching to write. While we delightfully drew out the last day, taking the long way home to hike Hidden Lake Gardens and stalled the journey’s end with a meal just minutes from home, I was eagerly anticipating an evening alone at home before my boys return tomorrow morning. I had it all planned out. I’d unpack enough to throw a deserving load of laundry in, read through the mail, check for phone messages, and settle into write. An impromptu trip to a small publishing company in Marshall reignited my book-writing fire, and sleep had challenged me the previous two nights as I tried to recall my outline for my book, a list written last summer and revisited since only by accident when shuffling through my files. With a few chores out of the way and a full stomach, what barriers between me and writing could arise?
Me. That’s the barrier. Not the house. Not the return to responsibility. Not the shift from half of a duo to all of a solo. Just my general difficulty moving from one mindset to another. New shoes? I need several days or more to adjust. Expecting oatmeal for breakfast and find the canister empty? Briefly consider a run to the store, ruminate about toast, and eventually make do. My ex-husband has to swap a planned night with the kids for another night? Silence. Long silence. Perhaps a verbal pause or so, all the while mind whirling and readjusting expectations, with (generally) calm acquiescence. While I handle transitions far better now than even ten years back, I still find they leave me stunned, either speechless or overflowing with (generally the wrong words).
A few years back, my older son, tired of bright sun in his eyes during soccer games, tried those lenses that transition from sunglass-like in the daylight to almost clear glass inside. Data indicated that they’d shift in a minute, making for visual comfort in no time at all, no matter what the lighting. My son was excited, at least initially. It turns out a minute is a long time when you walk into a dimly lit house after being out in the sun. It turns out to be too long, at least for my then 11-year old son, who ditched the transitioning lenses for good-old clear polycarbonate at his next annual exam. Seems the transition time just didn’t work for him.
My brain often feels like those glasses when a sudden change occurs. I knew that the move from vacation to home would be rough. I knew I’d likely feel at loose ends and a bit lonely after several days of companionship. I planned accordingly, parsing out chores and writing, planning for a glass of wine at 7 or so, with a snack at 9. Surely, with all that planning, the transition would be barely noticeable.
Upon arriving home, I stalled my reentry a bit longer, chatting with a neighbor for a while before even opening my front door. Once she returned to her gardening, I unpacked the car, cleaning up a bit as I went. Since that process was surprisingly swift without two boys to prod along, I quickly moved to laundry and guinea pig care before settling down to write.
But my mind went silent, dark as could be. The stillness I’d sought quickly became unbearable. Unwilling or unable to let my emotions and thoughts adjust, I read email, surfed Facebook, checked my voicemail, and generally fidgeted in body and mind, fighting the angst. No luck. My tension continued to mount, and I continued to fight. I was furious and took myself to task. I’d been eagerly anticipating this time without child or One Good Friend to start work on a writing project (at best) or to blog (not a bad choice either). I’d spent two days with my mind flooding with ideas and energy, and here was my chance. And I was blowing it.
But I was sad and lost. A bit lonely, even. And simply out of sorts, dark lenses in a dark house.
When I could acknowledge that pain, the tears came. Not the long, jagged tears soul-wrenching events evoke, but just some sad tears to honor change. I also messaged a few friends, sharing a bit of my sorrow and quickly moving on to other subjects. Before long, the lenses had cleared, just a hint of tint from my trip remaining, enough to remind me and bring a smile.
Like my younger son (although to a lesser degree), change challenges me, stalls me out or induces stonewalling and anger. Sometimes, that emotion flies out. Often it turns in, tying me up in knots until I face it and allow it simply to be. Disapproving of my feelings during my transition today didn’t alter the feeling. Acknowledging it, sharing it, and letting it pass on its own did. I’m not ever likely to be free-wheeling and easygoing with transitions, and that’s okay. Just honoring that part of me makes all the difference and makes that transition time less distressing.
Planning for the transition didn’t ease the transition at all