When I began the process about a year ago that has taken on life as Uncharted Journey, I began reading and reading and reading. I discovered things that I’m sure that others have known but were new to me. I continue to be amazed as one book after another, one article after another, and one conversation after another continue to inform this journey which is so new to me. And yet…the journey is not new at all. It has simply taken different nuances from previous uncharted journeys in my life. Any transition in life involves moving forward without a map. Graduations, births, deaths, relationships beginning or ending, physical changes, and job changes involve dealing with loss, letting go, and growth.
Most transitions often begin with loss. Loss hits us in our gut. We lose friends who were too young to die–meaning they were younger that we are. Family members move away, die, or live as if they were dead. Pets die, our looks change, and we cannot find that pin that we loved to wear. We lose our satisfaction or passion in a job. We begin to question the beliefs that we have always known were absolutely true. Loss is hard and often comes without our involvement in it. Loss just happens. We can fold up into ourselves and dare anyone to invite us to join life again, we can fight against the loss and refuse to acknowledge it, or we can acknowledge that loss is part of life and learn to live with it.
Letting go. Now there’s the challenge. Letting go is hard. Some things were so pleasant that we do not want to let them go. Others were so damaging that we keep them alive lest we forget the pain and move on. Letting go, however, is a necessary task on uncharted journeys. Rochelle Melander says in her book, A Generous Presence: Spiritual Leadership and the Art of Coaching, that the three traps that keep us stuck in past stories are “the why trap, the blame trap, and the role trap.” Each of these deserve entire books written about them. However, the one that especially is applicable to many women is the role trap: loving daughter, perfect mother, caring friend, competent employee, dedicated wife, etc. With time, each of these roles change but we have trouble acknowledging that. Children grow up and if we’ve done our job, they no longer need us. We become bit players in their lives and only occasionally do they give us speaking roles. But we want to hold on. We want them to need us like they did when they were six. Roles change as our parents age, when we decide to leave a career or change jobs, when a significant other exits or joins our lives, or when our stalwart friend is overwhelmed with her own needs. “I used to…” or “When we first got married…” are unproductive comments because our roles evolve. When we do not let go, we keep looking backward and cannot see the amazing things that are trying to open before us. We begin to define ourselves in new ways when we let go.
Growth. We have two choices. We can grow or we can stagnate and die. We can realize that we have no control in our lives and begin to embrace the ebb and flow of life’s journey. We can realize that everything essential is already in us. We can claim that we are not perfect and there is nothing wrong with us. We can take one small step and then another and another and discover that we have entered a land not of our choosing or creation but beyond anything we could imagine. We can discover that we are becoming that person whom we were always meant to be.
These are just a few of the things I’m learning on this uncharted journey. I’ll see where the journey takes me.