by Kristina Wright
"And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~ Anaïs Nin
I'm not a big fan of change, especially change that is beyond my control. When I was 21, I disliked change so much that I was, in fact, labeled "resistant to change" on an employee evaluation. I liked consistency, predictability, routine. That sounds boring, and I suppose it is, but that was my comfort zone. Still is, really. And yet, my life has over the past few years has been a runaway train picking up speed and heading for inevitable change. Some of those changes have been beyond my control-- physical changes of age, changes in relationships I once held dear to me-- lives change and evolve and sometimes all we can do is mourn what is lost and embrace the change. That isn't always easy.
I found myself in the emergency room over the weekend, helpless and in pain, and then happily drugged out on morphine. I hadn't been in a hospital in eleven months, when I delivered by second baby, and the change was profound. Being 44 years old and giving birth to an almost eleven pound baby made me (and my big baby) something of a maternity ward celebrity. It was a joyous occasion, one full of light and love (and a steady morphine drip, too). This time, I was just another middle aged woman having a gallbladder attack, warehoused in a hospital room (ironically, on the same floor as the maternity ward) awaiting a too-busy doctor. Instead of feeling empowered by my body's abilities as I had last year, I felt sick and helpless and scared.
My way of thinking has changed over the years. I used to believe in letting nature, time and circumstance take its course and bring about change-- or not. I was willing to sit back and let life happen to me rather than make deliberate changes. Good things happened as a result and I called it luck. Bad things also happened and I cursed the universe and my own stupid resistance to change. I no longer believe in letting things happen-- not in most cases. I can now see my own mortality on the horizon and I know that if I hope to accomplish everything I want to in this life, I'm going to have to make those changes happen.
Change is scary for me no matter what the circumstances, but it is especially frightening making deliberate changes in a happy life. It seems to be tempting fate-- saying that what I have isn't enough. Life was good before I had kids. Then the big Four-Oh came and went and I realized that I might want to get serious about deciding whether I wanted to be a mother before time decided that for me. There have been so many changes with the addition of first one kid (a deliberate and planned change) and then the second (a "let's see what happens" happy surprise change), you'd think that would be enough change to last me for the next decade or so, right? But no, I find myself contemplating other life changes (and, sometimes, contemplating another baby) and getting excited about what the future might hold.
Watching babies turn into toddlers is its own lesson in accepting change. Children grow so quickly-- going from helpless bundles to whirlwinds of energy-- that I am constantly in mourning for a certain stage (the first smile! that first tooth! the first step!) while I'm rejoicing in a new stage. Some changes, like children growing up, you just can't fight. Change flows through my house like a river-- and it's better to go with the flow than fight the current and exhaust myself. My way of coping with the changes is to take hundreds of pictures of my babies growing up before my eyes. Pictures to remind myself-- and them-- of all the changes that make them who they are. I am not changing at the same rate as these little people who have invaded my life, but I am changing. And learning. Sometimes the hard way.
My weekend visit to the ER was a slap in the face (or a punch in the gallbladder)-- a reminder that though my amazing super-fertile body can produce babies via Cesarean section and bounce back quickly, my body is still very much middle aged and has not been well-cared for except during pregnancy. And so it's time for some new changes. I know I need to eat better and exercise more, not for the vanity of physical appearance (one of the best changes of the past two decades has been to accept and love my body just the way it is), but for my long term health. Perhaps making changes that will be good for my body will avoid the change that I have no control over-- agonizing pain that ends with me in the hospital, being told I need surgery.
I have another change coming up soon: I'll be short an organ. The gallbladder is coming out. It's not a change I planned for and I'm not looking forward to surgery, but despite my own belief in not sitting back and letting life happen to me, I've done just that with regard to my overall health this past year (and in the year between my first and second pregnancies, truth be told). So now I'll suck it up and deal with this unwanted change while making changes that will-- hopefully-- improve my health. Who knows where those changes will lead me? But in this case, it's an easy enough change to embrace.
Along with my personal changes, Oh Get A Grip! is undergoing some new changes as well. Unfortunately, my unpredictable health scare made me blow my first run at this new Grip schedule and for that I apologize. I'm already seeing how making simple changes in how I treat my body will have ripple effects over other areas of my life. Just like that... change happens. And it's going to be good. I can feel it.