Michele Waterman
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Trudging through Transition

My family and I moved to the country three years ago. No one told to me how unsettling moving was going to be and I swear, had I known how hard it would be emotionally and spiritually to uproot my life and my family, I might not have done it.

The anxiety I experienced when we first moved in our new house basically made it almost impossible for me to fall asleep and stay asleep. Never in my life had I experienced that level of stress and constant worry. I started to think I was losing my mind. I felt like my body got unzipped and then zipped back up inside out. I felt so raw, so unsure of myself, so vulnerable. I felt so confused too because moving to a beautiful new house in the country was suppose to be a happy time and yet I was miserable.

Craig and I had talked about buying land for years. The universe was lining up with us and we were 100% meant to be to move to this beautiful house in the country. I thought that moving was going to be the start of a wonderful new life, new beginnings, a fresh start, being able to reinvent our family life in the country so that we would spend more time together in nature. Moving seemed like the perfect idea.

Prior to our move, we lived in a beautiful, small town, in a lovely neighborhood for sixteen years. Until we moved, I didn't realize how attached I was emotionally to the safety I associated with that house. So much happened in that house. We shared magical memories and also survived a lot of real trauma and pain in that house. We got engaged in that house. We brought our babies home to that house. I got sober in that house. John’s intensive autism interventions took place in that house. Craig spent five years recovering from a traumatic brain injury in that house. Alyssa overcame dyslexia in that house. That house was the place where we took refuge from hardship.

I thought moving to a new house would give our family a chance to have a fresh start but what actually happened is that I had a post traumatic stress response to the move and I was plagued by massive anxiety that completely shut me down. I was a nervous wreck. I wasn't able to enjoy being in the new house. It was like moving opened the door to the grief that I never allowed myself to feel and process when we lived off of Regas Drive. My friend Mary told me that grief just waits for us until we are ready. Holy shit. I had to muster up a whole lot of willingness to face and process all of the painful events and experiences we endured in our old house.

Moving is an experience and transition that seems to come with prepackaged expectations similar to getting married, starting a new job, or having a baby. What all of these things have in common is the fact that most people think of them as positive events that bring happiness and joy. When we first moved, I judged myself because I wasn’t happy right away. I judged myself for doubting our move and I struggled to be grateful for our dream house and property. Secretly, I expected myself to be happier about the move, doubting how life should be and beating myself up for how I should feel.

For me, moving was a transition and three-year process of letting go of the past while I settled into our new home, town, and community. Moving through my grief was the only way to move forward with peace of mind, so that I could be present and enjoy meaningful connection and loving relationships with my husband and children. The truth is that I want to be happy, joyous and free and so I accept the fact that I must “trudge the road toward happy destiny,” as the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous describes.

Sometimes the idea of trudging sounds awful. Just thinking about the word trudging makes my legs burn with lactic acid, as I image the weight of heavy boots wading through the snow. But then I remind myself that the definition of trudging is "slow, steady progress." And there it is, the sting of unrealistic expectations. When I get honest with myself, I want rapid, instantaneously results, which is why trudging sounds so painful. It's not the outcome that hurts, it’s moving gradually through a transformation that takes place when we are willing to do the footwork little by slow, day-by-day, sometimes hour-by-hour or minute-by-minute.

Today, I am uber grateful for my life and I love living in country with my family. As I look back at the last three years, most of the pain I experienced wasn’t about the feelings I needed to process regarding the past. The pain came from holding myself accountable to unrealistic expectations and then judging myself relentlessly when I fell short. Through this experience, I’ve learned to exam expectations, get into acceptance, and to celebrate progress along the way. This move has taught me so much, but mostly the importance of treating myself with understanding and loving-kindness while I’m trudging through transition.

How do you trudge through transition? How could you benefit from reality checking your expectations? What would change if you treated yourself with loving-kindness?

For more information about how personal development coaching can help you walk through transitions visit my website www.michelewaterman.com.