I’m going home in a few weeks. Funny that I should still think of NJ that way, even after the 20 months I’ve been away. But that’s where I raised my kids, that’s where I spent over 20 years of my marriage. I don’t want to go back there to live, but it carries a weight that has me thinking that I’m going home.
Going back has a lot of emotional resonance to it. I’ll be seeing my son and ex-husband and my daughter will even be in town that weekend. I’ll be facing the changes in the old house and the knowledge that my ex plans to sell it. I’ll be seeing old friends and knowing we’ve all changed. I’ll be remembering the good as well as the bad. I’ll be letting go, once and for all, of a place that never truly felt like home when I lived there.
So why am I going back to NJ when I’ve just moved into my house in Austin? Well, because I’ve just moved into my house in Austin. I can finally get my things (mostly research books) out of storage. I left them in NJ because my tiny apartment in California couldn’t hold them and it seemed folly to pay to ship things to put them in even more expensive storage out there.
But now I have a house and now I can unpack and use the things I put in storage. Mind you, it’s a daunting idea to go back and get all those things to UPS and the post office and ship them. And some things I’ll just give away because it would cost more to ship them than to replace them here—things that have no great sentimental value for me.
Still, the most daunting thing is the emotions already surfacing as I think of being there. Will I fall into old patterns of how I relate to people—especially people I once cared a great deal about and on some level still do? And if I do, will I get hurt by them all over again? Will I be able to hold onto this new understanding of who I am as a person or will I find myself back to trying to be the person I THINK they wanted me to be?
In a sense, though, that’s precisely why this trip is so necessary. It’s about closure. I’ll be shipping back to myself what was good that I left in NJ and want to keep in my life, and discarding what I’ve outgrown. The stuff in storage, I mean. But it works as an analogy on an emotional level, too. I will—I hope!—be embracing what was good about all the relationships in my life back there and letting go of what was not good. Not in anger, but in love. I will do so knowing that even the worst of the experiences helped to shape who I am and that any harm done came out to the other person’s own hurt and self-doubt and pain. I will also do so knowing that this understanding does NOT mean I must allow myself to be hurt all over again!
And so I feel both a mixture of anticipation and dread at the thought of going back to NJ even for a few days. It will bring an end to a profoundly important time in my life and free me to really begin on my new life, here in Austin. That thought brings tears and a smile, dread and anticipation. But then, isn’t that what change is always about—letting go of the old, embracing the new, holding onto what was good and letting go of what no longer fits?
I know already that I must build into my trip space for time alone and space for laughter. I will need a ready forgiveness—for myself and for those I will see who have hurt me in the past. Ironically, I already know that forgiving me (for not handling things as well as I think I should) will be the more difficult task. And that’s when I will most need to find ways to smile and laugh and remember that it is all part of the journey.
If I am going to truly LIVE, then there will be moments that challenge me, that stretch my ability to cope to the limit. But better that than never discovering what I can do and who I can be. Better to face my fears than to be ruled by them. Better to face people who in the past I have given the power to hurt me and take that power back and know that no one can hurt me unless I choose to let them.
What journeys and changes are you facing in your life? How can you make any transitions as easy as possible for yourself? What will let you smile and laugh, even at the most challenging of times? How will you move forward into the life you want to have?