Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Growing Pains

"So, what's new?"

"Everything. Nothing. I wouldn't know where to start."  

-conversations with an old friend

The past few weeks (months if I am being really honest) have been a whirlwind of stress and struggle. Adjusting to a new city, a new school for my son, new economy, new people, new jobs, new-new-new-new. It's been a tangle, it's been a trial, it hasn't been what I would normally describe as "fun" but that's adulthood.

We casually looked at potential houses for months, knowing that we had no concrete deadline; we weren't committed to a rental lease with an impending expiration date, so we felt comfortable taking our time to weigh the options available to us. Our mantra became "If we can't find something we like, we just won't buy anything. We'll spend the summer camping on the island like hippies." and it helped allay the nerves and the stress to some extent, but it was a band-aid, a stop-gap measure to allow ourselves the time to breathe and think.

Like seedlings lifted from the soil, our ability to thrive depended on finding an adequate place to transplant ourselves. Sooner rather than later.

In the midst of all this stress and uncertainty, we almost lost someone very near and dear to us, to an unexpected and sudden illness. Life has a way of happening all at once; it's a repeat lesson that I'm still having difficulty grasping--periods of calm followed by periods of chaos--you think you come to understand the ebb and flow of this progression but somehow, every shitstorm of chaos seems to come as a complete surprise. All you can do is ride it out and hope for the best.

Throughout all this, one thought, one feeling really, kept rising to the top: we were alone. The safety net and social support network we had spent the last eight years cultivating was gone. Sure, our Family of Friends are always available by text, email or through social media...but it's not quite the same as being able to pick up the phone and say "*Sally, I'm losing my mind. I really need a friend right now." and having that person on your doorstep immediately, offering whatever kind of support they are able. No questions asked.

Often, we would find ourselves in the position of supporting others, so it was bit galvanizing to realize just how much we had come to rely on the emotional availability of others. This isn't a failing, it means we are human; it means we had surrounded ourselves with wonderful, caring individuals that we simply no longer have within arms reach. It means that now that we are hundreds of kilometres away from our 'family' that we'll have to dig deep and find the resources within ourselves to face whatever challenges life throws our way. It means that we're experiencing some growing pains, as everyone does at one time or another in their lives.

Time makes poor historians of us all; we've been here, done this before and have come out the other side better for it. Every time my heart aches or my mind has the inclination to say "you can't. this is too hard. things will never be the same." I have to forcibly stop myself, take a deep breath and remember that I can do this, we can do this. We've done it before, we'll do it again. Love and friendship is not a zero sum game. There will always be a special place in my heart for the Family of Friends we met in Red Lake, but that doesn't mean I will forget them or replace them; the heart has an amazing ability to grow exponentially and make the necessary room for those seeking the same shelter of friendship. 

Just as seeds take time to grow, these lasting bonds take time and dedication to form. Patience, dear heart, patience.

It's been officially one week since we were handed the keys to our new home, which is of course, another fixer (though not nearly in as rough shape as our last house). It still feels a bit like being in a hotel, and I haven't quite worked out which switches correspond to which lights but we'll get there eventually. 

*name changed