Change is hard. I mean, no one really likes dealing with change, right? I would say I lie on the extreme end of change resistance, and the last few months have been a very strong testament to this. But there comes a point when you no longer have a choice. While it may not be done gracefully, there comes a time when you have to surrender to the changes that are rolling in, and you are swept up and forced to ride the waves wherever they’re going to take you. Eventually there is nothing left to hang on to, and you have to let go.
In the beginning it was making the very conscious decision to release my tightly clenched fists from a marriage that clearly wasn’t working. Then shuddering at the reality of how bad it had really been once I let myself admit it, and the relief it brought when I finally accepted it as it was, and let it go.
Then it was learning to let go of the guilt I carried for ripping our family apart while two innocent little children had no choice but to hold on tight for the ride ahead of them. I accepted that it was something that needed to happen, had faith that we would all be better off, and let it go.
Then it was learning to unravel my life from his. I had to let go of the micromanaging I had done for years as the manager of the household. I had to remind myself to put the phone down when I instinctively picked it up to remind him to bring snacks for dance class the next day. Or that it is probably time to get some more diapers. It was setting the phone down slowly and consciously after picking it up to see how his Saturday night was playing out, reminding myself that it is no longer any of my concern. It was the heavy feeling in my heart after folding the last pair of his socks that made its way through my laundry, then going to put them in the dresser, only to be reminded that the drawer was now empty. And then realizing that this is all part of the process, and letting it go.
It was learning to sit with the stillness and silence that consumes you when the kids are finally in bed and there isn’t another adult around. Yes, this is what I silently dreamed of and longed for… yet it felt so unsettling once that loneliness actually set in. I had to sit with the emptiness that hits you like a boulder when after five years of waking up to giggles and crying and pancakes on Sunday mornings, you wake up to the quiet and stillness of an empty home. And then accepting it as is, having faith that it will get easier, and letting it go.
And then it was gradually turning my family’s overstuffed and eight years lived in home into a marketed house. His things moved out, the rest of our belongings mostly packed up into bins and boxes and taken into storage so that we could portray a simplified and perfected life in pictures that no one really lives. The outside and inside all cleaned and touched up and beautified in order to capture the next family to come in and make the house their home. The precious little home that has supported me through life’s biggest changes; where I brought my babies home from the hospital, where my daughter took her first steps, where I spent countless hours cutting up tiny pieces of food, wiping dirty little faces and preparing hundreds of boxes of mac and cheese for hungry little tummies. The home where I looked out the kitchen window on countless mornings, watching my little girl walk out the door and up the driveway holding her daddy’s hand as they got in the car to go to school. The home that bore witness to far too many nasty arguments and days of crying on end, but also frequent family dance parties, tickles and giggles on the floor of every room.
It’s sitting on the floor of the perfectly staged house, looking around at the freshly painted walls that no longer show evidence of a two year old who used them as a canvas to color her first shapes with crayons. And at the once ratted and chewed up floorboards which have been patched up and painted, no longer invoking the memories of a puppy who spent numerous nights gnawing on everything in the home while teething. I look at at the front room windows and storm door which have been my baby’s favorite place to pull himself up and bang on, leaving little 10 month old hand prints daily, now crystal clear and spotless as if he wasn’t standing there just yesterday.
It’s as if our family memories have been painted over and patched up, only to remain in our minds and in pictures. It’s knowing that that is enough, and feeling grateful for those precious memories. And then smiling and closing my eyes and asking myself to simply let it go. The time has come to pass my sweet little home on to another family in which to create their own precious memories. And having faith that there is another little home out there somewhere that is ready and waiting to welcome in the three of us. A home where we can walk in and color on the walls and leave hand prints all over the windows and see what else it has in store for us. Because it’s time. And it’s only when we let go of the things that no longer serve us, that we are truly able to move on to the wonderful things that lie ahead. It’s time for a fresh start.
I’ve spent the last few months looking backward, untangling it all and feeling the pain and grief that come along with letting it all go. But now I get to look forward. To see what’s next for me and for my family. They say it’s always darkest just before dawn. That when God closes a door, He opens a window. That letting go of the old creates room for the new.
I have a pretty good feeling about this.