I was asked the other day if I have taken the time to acknowledge and reflect on the changes that have recently taken place in my life. My initial thought was “what changes?”
I love reading Mark Manson’s Mindf*ck Monday newsletter. Do yourself a favour and subscribe. He recently wrote about Harm Inflation – the expanding definitions of words such as “trauma” in our current 21st century culture.
In a nutshell he refers to the fact that in the past century, our understanding of words such as trauma, pain and suffering were once only used in reference to the “big” ticket items such as soldiers in war time (shell shocked), life threatening accidents, and natural disasters like ummmm gosh I can’t think of anything unprecedented off the top of my head??? However these days the same words are applicable to milder discomforts like your favourite coffee place running out of macadamia milk, or in my personal experience, no honey for my red cappuccino. I mean really! Yoh. Having said that, there hasn’t been a period drama I’ve read or watched where someone didn’t faint from shock or even succumb to a broken heart. So it’s not just millennials. It’s all relative. Cavemen were stressed about being eaten. The GI generation were called up for war. Right now we have to wear masks and wash our hands. It’s all relative.
The point I am trying to make is that I don’t associate the changes or stressful situations I’ve experienced in the past 24 months as anything dissimilar to what millions of others also experience.
In other words, I did not acknowledge the stressful situations for what they were. I still think of words such at traumatic, pain and suffering belonging to the soldiers era and not in any way related to:
- Getting divorced after 14 years of marriage
- Selling my beautiful home
- Relocating to Cape Town – New schools, new friends, new routines, and a new hairdresser
- Going through a long therapy and diagnosis process with my son
- Packing up a house and driving with kids across provinces, under lockdown.
- Relocating to Durban – New schools, new-old friends, new-old routines, and a new-old hairdresser
- Going on a date for the first time in over a year after the grocery guy incident.
Now, not all change is traumatic, or perhaps what I mean to say is not all change has a negative impact, as some, if not all of the list above were great experiences. They taught me more about myself and provided real growth opportunities.
But change has an initial effect before the outcome of that change is realised. In other words before you can appreciate the lesson, that initial effect needs to be acknowledged on a physical, emotional and cognitive level.
After the divorce and the move to to Cape Town I did the typical “put blinkers on and keep moving forward” thing, and it was going well, until I hit the wall. (There’s another very long 7 page blog on that for another time)
This year it was another relocation, new schools, new home but back to familiarity, back to family back to my ‘hood. This time it was solely my decision, my choice, my own making and in alignment with my purpose and my goals.
I have not associated it with pain or stress or even trauma – and I drove for 2 days, 9 hours each day with the kids and bikes, across country in the middle of a pandemic with nothing open!
I acted like it was something one does on a weekend. Pack up a house, move, resettle, and how was your weekend?
So, in order to avoid going headfirst, arse in the air, dive bombing into another wall, I am acknowledging the following;
1. Getting divorced was traumatic. It was hard to to be on my own. There is no longer a significant other to write down as your in case of emergency. It was hard to accept that I have now become another statistic of being a single full time working mom … actually worse – now a 40-something single divorced mom. Bye bye white picket fence. Hello white straight jacket.
2. Selling the beautiful home we lived for 5 years and where Ava was born was devastating.
3. Moving to Cape Town was hard and although I moved because of work, it was a move based on the wrong reasons, fuelled by my need to prove I could, and so would never have worked out.
4. Dealing with Aiden’s issues and therapy and all the teacher meetings, and therapist feedback sessions was so hard, so lonely and so utterly overwhelming. (Read Breaking Point) Getting to the right diagnosis was a relief but also heartbreaking.
5. COVID-19. I think there are several blogs on how I coped, along with several repeats of prescription sedatives. I had no issues with putting my hands up and acknowledging that.
6. Packing up and leaving Cape Town almost literally overnight with no goodbyes was very very sad, for me and the kids. Ava took it especially hard as she had really settled well there with a tight group of besties. I felt like a terrible mom who let her down. Driving with kids across country was daunting, scary, lonely, and overwhelming but I felt triumphant having made it.
7. Relocating and settling back into Hillcrest was probably one of the easiest changes in the last 2 years but it was still daunting having the kids start another school half way through the year, during a pandemic. It was not easy for them. New teachers, new class, new school, new uniform, new social distancing procedures, new everything. They were, and still are, so brave and I felt both incredibly proud and horribly anxious at the same time.
8. Dating… well that was scary and nerve wracking, but I felt ready to put myself out there and try. Well to be honest my turning 40 had a lot to do with giving me the push I needed to try. It was amazing, and then it wasn’t. Rejection hurts. Yoh. Dating and job interviews… same same but different. I now know what ghosting is and it has nothing to do with Patrick Swayze and the pottery scene. But I’m not going to let that stop me from being my honest, authentic self as I may miss a true opportunity to connect. Online dating may not be for me but here’s hoping that somewhere between the school run, the grocery shopping and my work from home situation, that my meet-cute moment will happen. What? It could.