When we are moving from one place to another in our lives, we are often faced with change. In fact, we cannot get to the next place without experiencing change. This is interesting because I have found that many of us want things to be different in our lives, from being free from addiction to having more fulfilling relationships. Yet, when we are faced with an opportunity to do something to help bring about the things we desire to be different, we sometimes grow fearful and begin using our energy to hold onto what has become familiar to us.
The familiar feels safe. Even if it is no good for us, it is what we know. We can see it, be in it, and we know what to expect from it. It is predictable in ways that bring us a kind of paradoxical comfort. We are uncomfortable with aspects of our lives and want to change, but staying the same is less uncomfortable than making changes. And so we find comfort in staying the same. What I am learning, though, is that nothing that we wish to change about our lives will change until our degree of discomfort with remaining the same is greater than our degree of discomfort with change.
Ambivalence toward change is “normal.” Once we have become entrenched or fixed in our ways of being, it can be scary to have to begin doing things differently. Changing people, places and things in order to recover from alcohol and drug abuse is a difficult task when so much of how you have come to identify yourself is connected to those people, places and things. We know something has to change, but we aren’t sure we’re ready for it. When faced with change, it can be tempting to try and salvage or hold onto a bad relationship out of fear and doubt. We may hold on to hope that things will change and work out, but when we consider that things are constantly the way they are as a way of alerting us that it’s time for a change, it frees us up to be able to move to that next place in our lives.
Going to new places in our lives often requires that we prune certain areas. As with plants, pruning in our lives is needed to promote health and to encourage growth, whether in a particular shape or to produce more “blooms.” Pruning means we have to clip and cut back those people, places and things that do not serve us well. This might mean that we lose our ability to hide behind, beneath, between or below the substances, the women, the men, the positions and the material things. This might mean that we lose a sense of familiarity with what’s left around us. This might mean that we have to pray and cry, cry and pray our way through as we experience change, but that’s OK. It is through encountering and going through change that we grow. That’s why they are called growing pains.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.