• Carolyn Brouillard

The Emotional Reckoning of Change

Updated: Feb 7, 2020

Last year was a year of saying goodbye. It was a year of going to my dark places and sending the ghosts of my old stories back to the light. It was an unraveling of the thoughts, ideas, and beliefs I held about myself that whisper doubts and dread in my ear. It was a leaving of the place I called home and the people who were a part of it.

As 2020 unfolds, I’m left with the clearing, the empty fields full of seeds not yet breaking ground. In my nervous moments, where I’m wondering what I’ve done, I remind myself that I did this on purpose. I wanted to empty myself in order to fill up with the new. I chose to play with destiny, giving myself over to the unknown. But, in the aftermath of big change, I am experiencing the emotional reckoning of my choices.

This feeling is not regret, nor is it pain, per se. Grief is a more fitting word. It tugs at me, pulling me under, where I can’t tell if the sun is up or down. It bites at my toes, like a grouchy crab, wanting to get my attention. My grief wants its moment. In my excitement about everything ahead of me, I didn’t fully process what I was leaving behind or how I would feel with it gone.

I think I do it on purpose. It’s like when I had to get a tooth replaced last year. The dentist came in to explain the procedures, but I stopped him. I didn’t want to know the details of what he was going to do because I thought that information might scare me out of going through with it. I worried that if I knew what was ahead, I would build up a fear around it and lose my nerve.

Perhaps that is part of why I leap in life, why I go all in, all at once. Yes, I love the excitement and adrenaline of big, heart-pounding change, but I also needed to move faster than my fear.

As I drove cross-country and started to build a new life, I tried to keep running as my feet hit the ground. I dove into working on my book, got busy with my job, and started planning another temporary move to New York City. I had my moments of quiet, staring out the window or meandering along the beach, but I was forever looking forward not back.

Some people say to never look back. They ask us to always keep moving forward no matter what. That wasn’t going to work for me. My heart had something to say. Through tears that seemed to come out of nowhere, I realized that I needed to honor and acknowledge what I had gone through and what I was feeling, in order to really be ready to move on.

I needed to acknowledge the sadness I felt at the loss of certain people, animals, and things in my life. I needed to make peace with the fear I felt at being at the precipice of my dreams and not being able to see what comes next. I had to listen to the thoughts of wanting to go back to the way things were, and confront the merciless knowing that I couldn’t even if I tried.

“You got here because you believed in you.” Those were my words to my future self last August when my intuition knew I would find myself in an uncomfortable place on the other side of change. Sitting on my bed in Minneapolis as the summer came to a close, I believed in my ability to weather the uncertainty and not run away. I believed in the value of this experience to fully integrate the lessons of the past year and build an unshakable foundation for what is to come as I go after my dream.

Grief is an inescapable part of the process and that is a good thing. It is an honoring of what has been and who has been a part of it. It is a reminder of my capacity to love and feel and take chances on stepping out. It is also an opportunity to dig deep and find that bedrock of truth that we can always come home to.

For me, that has been the gift of this grief. It has called on me to put into practice all that I have learned, creating a bridge to the life ahead of me, where I live differently because I think differently. It’s where I choose my joy without abandon, unafraid of what might change, because I understand that expansion and change are why I am here.

As I venture forward, I carry these truths:

I am the wellspring of my well-being. Love, joy, and excitement are available to me every moment I open to them.
I create my life through my thoughts, beliefs, and actions. In an existence of infinite potential, everything I desire already exists and is calling out to me.
I can do this. I will have everything I need when I need it. There is so much magic ahead of me.

When I hold those truths, I can sit with my emotions and honor them and what I’ve been through. I can feel them without attaching a story to them or getting lost in them. I can take comfort in knowing that they are part of my healing and growth.

Maybe next time I leap I won’t need to outrun my fear. Perhaps I will know that I don’t need to be afraid of the space after change when I am left rubbing the ash of my old life between tender fingers. Perhaps instead of waiting for the grief to pull me under, I will invite it in.

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