The other day, I took it upon myself to sort through ALL of my old photos. I have accumulated so many in this social media age, thousands to be precise, but on my newest computer I hadn’t bothered to sort them yet. It’s a daunting task I’ve been putting off for months. But, I finally did it.
While I was looking through all of those photos it amazed me just how much has happened in my life and just how much as people we grow and change throughout our lives. Looking back through these photos I am reminded not only of past events, but also past versions of myself, what I was thinking about and feeling, and the kind of person I thought I would become then. I’ve had so many different ideas about where my life would go like many kids and young people do, like what we are going to be when we grow up, who we will be with, and where we will live.
As I’ve said in some of my recent posts, the last few months have been really hard. I know I am not alone in that, if anything I know that I have had it easier than many. And yet, they have been hard. (If you are looking for more posts on dealing with struggle and change here are two more: 5 Ways to Help Get Through Hard Times, I’m Struggling, Isn’t That Enough?)
These last few months have brought nothing but change. Huge drastic changes in how we live day-to-day, scary changes to governments next door, serious changes to the world around us. And for me, a big shift within myself. Besides Covid, there have been some big personal hurdles that have come my way. Significant changes to my life that I did not expect or see coming.
For awhile, it felt like nothing but struggle. I was so sad about these unwanted changes to what I thought my life would be like, and I still am. I’ve been confused about what my life purpose is, why the powers that be had brought about these changes, if that’s even how it works (which I’m not convinced it does).
My husband and I have had to make a lot of big decisions about our life in the last few months because of all of these changes. And let me just say, they have not come easily. We have worked hard to share our true feelings, lay everything out on the table, break all of our assumptions and ideas about our life from before, and slowly lay the ground work for a new life that we’re trying to re-build together.
I think what it ultimately came down to, in order to begin to move forward again, was needing to embrace a mindset of change.
My husband and I are and always have been big planners. We’ve planned everything in our life together thus far down to a “T” including moving in together, getting engaged and married, even all of our furniture purchases. We don’t leave things up to chance and we try to control everything as much as we possibly can. And despite some hardships, our plans so far for the most part have gone ahead.
So, with everything that has happened in the last few months it has been hard and we’ve been pushing back against the uncontrolled change. Mostly, because we are not go with the flow people and there is nothing really about COVID-19 that we can control; along with a few other life circumstances that have also been completely out of our control.
I won’t say all of this upheaval didn’t shake us. It shook us, hard. It has cast doubt on our relationship and made us rethink many of our life choices.
We have to let go of the idea that our life will move forward in a straight line of progress. We have to stop trying to know what will happen, what things will look like, where we will end up. We have to stop gripping life so tightly in an attempt to control the uncontrollable and just let it happen.
But what truly allowed us to make this huge shift from strict planners to those embracing change was realizing that the one thing we knew we didn’t want to live without was each other. And if all of our other plans were going in the garbage we were going to stay together and would rather cling to each other through the changing tides than to go it alone.
I remember us saying things like,
“Marriage isn’t always about love and romance, it’s about sticking it through and choosing to stay with the person every single day even if it isn’t always easy. That’s the commitment.”
We are realizing through these times that we really can’t plan this next chapter of our lives. We can try to adjust and respond in ways that are favourable for the kinds of things in life that we want but we can’t make strict plans. And it’s exhausting, maddening, and depressing trying to plan when so many things in life are out of our control anyways. The forces of life can’t be controlled by our planning, no matter how hard we try.
We are promising, instead of planning, to hold each others’ hand and face the change together.
“If I have to jump off the edge of a cliff to an unknown destination I’m holding your hand and we’re doing it together”.– Me
To survive and flourish through these turbulent times in our lives we have to hold onto each other, communicate, and commit to moving together. We have to be brave which means keeping going even though we are scared. Breathe through the fear, cry when we need to, smile as much as we can, and hold each other tightly.
We are scared. We don’t know what the future holds. We have no clue what it will look like or what choices we will have to make down the road. We aren’t perfect at letting go of planning, but we are finding happiness in journeying through it together. It is sure to be hard but also to have moments of joy.
Some day in the distant future I think we will look back at the pictures from this time and think back to the people we were here: two people who were afraid of the future and unexpected changes, grieving what wasn’t and might never be, and who decided to embrace the waves of change together.