Changes and Its After Effects
Five months…it’s been five months since my big move to the west coast. It is still the best decision I’ve made for myself in the last five years of my life, and you’ll hear no regrets from me. But the thing about big changes like this is no one ever really talks about the emotional struggles that come with it, the mental battles that start taking place in your head. Scratching most of the other items I’ve talked about in previous posts, making a change that requires you distancing yourself (physically and emotionally) from all the things you’ve become accustomed to the last 10 years of your life can really take its toll on you and it is quite a process to get through.
To name a few, there’s the homesickness, the doubts that start kicking in, the questioning, the loneliness and top it all off the constant overthinking. It’s honestly the most exhausting process and needs to be talked about a lot more. Now I’ve done this moving away enough times to already know what to expect, but it never makes the process any easier and it most definitely doesn’t take away all the emotions. The last ten years of my life is actually filled with multiple life-changing moves…my move to France, my move back to the US, my move out of my parents to my own place in Philadelphia, to then New York, to then back to Philly. Each one brought its own emotional journey, but of course the big ones have been to France and back, and now to California.
“Times of transition are strenuous but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.”
“She knew this transition was not about becoming someone better but about finally allowing herself to become who she’d always been.”
It usually takes six months, at minimum, to really start seeing the end of the dark tunnel, you begin to feel some normalcy and finally start getting acclimated to your new environment. So, as I hit month five I feel like I’m just beginning to climb out of the dark valley and am feeling comfortable with life again. You see, while you’re going through most of the emotional hurtles, there’s one month in particular that is usually a real doozy. It’s the one that makes you feel as if you’ve dug yourself into a hole with no way out, and there’s no light in sight to help you see what you need to do next or where to even step.
That month for me was October…a month that I’m usually so happy and excited for all the celebrations to come, but this year it was one where I found myself completely lost and confused. The homesickness began to kick…now let me explain homesickness because I think some people get confused behind its actual meaning. Even if you’ve made the best decision ever, even if you’re happy, even if you’ve left an environment that required movement and change…you will still feel homesick. You see when you’ve spent a long period in a certain place in your life, surrounded by the same people and the same routines, you of course become attached to these things. You get comfortable, even if these are things you want to change and remove from your life. So as with any attachment, when you’ve distanced yourself from them you start experience a longing…you feel like something’s missing, and you start longing for that feeling of comfort again…THAT is homesickness. It’s normal and expected, but boy does it kick you when you’re already down.
My month also brought along loneliness; I missed my friends, I missed my ex, I missed the routine I had set for myself to ensure I wouldn’t drop down into a dark hole again. Now I had to learn how to do that all over again in new surroundings, with new people, and all on my own. Through the homesickness and loneliness, you also have this tiny voice in your head that begins to get louder with time…it starts telling you that maybe you made a mistake, maybe you should go back to your old life. It asks you what you think you’re doing as a 31-year-old making such drastic changes like the one you just made this year. That voice…I don’t know about you, but that one is a hard one to shut out. She’s a bitch (sorry but it had to be said) because everything she says is a bunch of bull and it’s filled with shame and fear…nothing good ever comes from those two things combined.
So, if you’ve been feeling any of these things or you’re going through it too, please just know 1. You’re not alone 2. This is completely normal and 3. THERE IS A WAY OUT OF THIS!
A month or two like this and it honestly starts to feel like maybe there isn’t a way out but take that lie from the devil and throw it right back to hell. I’ve had to learn different habits to get into so I don’t fall too deep into that hole, because the longer you stay there the longer it can be to get back out. One of the things I push myself to do is getting some actual outside air. This could be sitting outside on your balcony, going for a walk, exercising…whatever gets you out for at least 30mins of the day. The second thing that has helped me is therapy…this is a must and it’s such a big important one. There is no shame in asking for help, and many times it is a life saver. I started therapy when I moved to Cali and if I’m being honest if I didn’t have my therapist during this time, I don’t think I would be surviving at all. I think therapy needs to be something everyone experiences at least once in their life, but when you’re feeling all the loneliness and the voices in your head it’s definitely time for you to seek out a professional. They have the tools you need to help you through the struggles.
The last thing I force myself to do…and I say force because it’s literally a daily battle with yourself to push through each day and work your way out of it…but at least once a week take a moment to go explore. Take a drive somewhere new, take yourself out for lunch, go see a movie, catch up with a friend; do anything that gets you out of the house, away from the silence and far away your own thoughts. These are the distractions that will help ease your mind, because the mind is a tough thing to conquer.
Outside of all these, remember to be patient with yourself and allow yourself some grace. You’re allowed to feel all that you’re feeling, you’re allowed to have those moments when you just want to lay in bed or on the couch and Netflix all day. It’s ok to call out of work when you feel like you can’t go on anymore, it’s ok to cry during those moments when all there’s left is silence and an aching for someone to connect with. Allow yourself all of it! Tell your shame and your fear to F* off! They have no place with you. Remember you’ve made a change in your life, you moved from the comfort you’ve known and it is no easy task to get through, but you have been brave and courageous in making a tough decision that you knew needed to be made.
So, currently I’m stepping into month six, you’re moving into your next phase, and we are going to survive all of it. We’re going to take it a day at a time, we’re going to breath and we are going to thrive. And if it helps, remember the words Anna sand in Frozen 2: “You are lost, hope is gone but you must go on and do the next right thing”. Just do whatever next right thing there is…and if that’s all you do for today, know that it was enough. I love you and remember we’re in this together.