I hate change. I hate surprises too.
I even hate good surprises – like surprise birthday parties.
When my man planned my last birthday party, he consulted with my (grown) daughter ahead of time and later he relayed that during that conversation she agreed with him that they couldn’t do a surprise party.
She demonstrated excellent mom knowledge and even better judgment when she replied, “Yeah, don’t do a surprise party. She would probably get there and start crying because she wouldn’t be able to handle it.” He agreed.
But also comforting to know the two people I love the most in this world know and understand me to that very embarrassing and vulnerable degree. And it proves I raised a child who pays attention and makes good decisions—and those are good things.
I also hate change—even change that turns out to benefit me—and even when I know, ahead of time, that it is a good change, a change that will bring me good things. Welcome to life, Grace—geez.
A few years ago, I heard a friend describe herself as a “rut queen”—meaning she gets in a rut and she likes it there—and I instantly recognized that in myself too. For instance, I have been known to eat the very same food, everyday, for over a year—because I like it, and it’s easy to fix. It’s no wonder I have so many bloody food allergies! I also like routines and familiar people, places and practices.
Change is scary for me. It always has been. I don’t like it. I resist it. I drag my proverbial heels. I avoid it. I dread it. It terrifies me. I don’t like feeling out of control of my life. I’m just wired that way: jumpy. I get anxious and feel overwhelmed when I think about changes happening. When I get overwhelmed, I pull into myself and become even more introverted than usual.
I get short-tempered, blunt and “hard,” because I’ve gone so deep inside myself, I find it difficult to surface in order to interact with those around me. It is not that I don’t want to come up and out and be with other humans (I do), it is that I cannot come up and out—I am unable.
It is one of the things I like least about myself.
I think it’s because I value comfort, certainty and security over variety. Tony Robbins talks about the six human needs: certainty, uncertainty/variety, significance, connection/love, growth, and contribution, and I hold on to “certainty” long after I’ve fearfully choked the life out of it.
My poor man. He has to put up with this.
He has learned well how to combat this in me, though. Hat’s off to him. He grabs me and holds tight. He repeats, “Everything is going to be okay,” until I can breathe normally again. And when big changes are likely, sometimes it is a long time before I can breathe normally again—sometimes it takes months. This last bout has taken about six months of whining, crying, foot dragging, dread—and not breathing normally.
I know change is inevitable in life. I know I can’t stop it from happening. I know I should get over it. I know I sound like a big baby (I feel like one too). I know I should suck it up and be an adult and “Just Do it.”
So after a lot of self-encouragement—and patience on everyone’s part—I do eventually come around. I get to a state where I can actually think and talk about it with something close to normalcy. I finally get to this state, because I have forced myself to sit with it long enough and often enough that I get accustomed to the change/idea.
And then suddenly…I’m ready to go. I’m ready to change. I’m ready to move in the new direction. It always takes me too long to get there, but once I’m there and ready, I don’t back down or second-guess myself. I just do it. I have to have time to get past the fear and into the this-is-going-to-be-a-great-adventure mode, but once I’m in the big adventure mode, I’m mostly good—mostly.
My next adventure? Well, most probably, I am going to have to get out of my house of ten years. We’ve tried to refinance, but the Universe—in very weird ways—seems to be conspiring to take a short cut I hadn’t seen before now, to move us from point A to point B without the refinancing step that I was assuming was absolutely necessary.
So big change is on my personal horizon, and I need to jump on that moving train and stop crying about how I don’t like train rides, and about how it’s moving much too fast, and do we know where it’s headed, even?
How do you handle change? I sincerely hope you have a better handle on it than I.
The elephant journal version: Even if You Really Hate Change There’s Still Hope