Willing My Branches To Bend

We are back to our normal routine here today. Ben has headed to the office and I’ve been working this morning until this break. The wind is causing the frozen trees to tremble and the sun’s rays have all but warmed up the air temperature to -2 at this point. Small branches are snapping, falling as ice-glazed twigs to the snowy ground below. It’s Tuesday morning, the second day of 2018 and I’m vowing to remain as positive as possible through this transition back to our “norm.”

Even though reverting to an accustomed routine is typically much easier than adjusting to something new, I’ve notoriously been horrendous at transitions, like the frozen trees that have lost their ability to bend and bow without snapping in the gusting winds, I have never flowed and slid fluidly or flexibly into new situations, schedules, activities, or even seasons. I don’t intend to rigidly resist, but that seems to be my innate design. I’d characterize myself as mentally and physically inflexible. I have found that I even resist change that I intellectually know will behoove me in some way. I may really want the situation or outcome afforded on the other side of the change, but simply weathering the change itself can be such a perceived (or actual) discomfort that I dread the process and may drag my feet in making the transition, if at all possible. The lure of a better future situation rarely is enough to placate my anxiety and stress about changing, though I do try to keep the prospect of improvement in some sense (be it feeling better, easing finances, having more fun, etc.) in my mental forefront to mollify my emotions during the hard part–the transition.

Historically, I’ve had meltdowns, breakdowns, unravelings, or other forms of shutdowns during periods of time where I had major transitions to endure: beginning college, moving to and from various places, changing jobs, breakups or relationship changes, etc. With hindsight being closer to 20/20, I now can understand why this was the case, particularly with awareness of being autistic. Lack of structure and change in structure are common challenges for people on the spectrum, and the propensity to be rather rigid and habitual are also common characteristics. Transitions involve shaking up the norm, and in doing so, necessitate letting go of what is known, comfortable, and practiced to make room for the new situation.  That letting go is what’s so uncomfortable to me, even if I’m letting go of barbed wire (a bad circumstance).

I’m absolutely trying to cling less religiously to my tangible routine and intangible mindset. It’s ironic, because I consider myself quite open-minded when it comes to accepting differences, but I rigidly uphold my morals. For example, I never think it’s okay for one person to feel more entitled than another for a liberty or freedom. I can tolerate the idea of different viewpoints on an issue, but I cannot make mental allowances for people who use their viewpoint to oppress, belittle, harm, or otherwise negatively impact others. There is no space for bigotry, phobias surrounding any sort of “otherness”, superiority behavior or thinking, or bullying. It is never okay. I can listen to different opinions or read about beliefs other than my own, but it’s not that easy to change my opinion, unless I clearly see irrefutable evidence to the contrary of what I have so long believed, or if a new option is added that better benefits humans, animals, the environment, etc. I don’t like to publicly air my stances on controversial issues, but I’m happy to engage in a discussion or flesh out these thoughts with anyone in a more private place. In general, I think that morals should inform our mindset and behavior. They don’t necessarily need to be explicit discussed. It typically becomes quickly apparent if someone else holds a similar moral compass and intends to treat you and those in the world around them with love, compassion, patience, and respect. As adults, we can often choose to not interact with people whom we find to belittle, challenge, disrespect, or negatively impact us or those around us. I try not to associate with people who make me feel worse about myself or make others feel that way.

Where have I come with these thoughts this morning? As random musings, these thoughts bring me back to this: I have rarely, if ever, handled transitions well. Although today is simply the first day back to a well-oiled routine after two weeks or so, it’s still a jarring shift for me. As such, I’ll try to be patient and understanding of any feelings of discomfort, anxiety, or frustration that I may feel. However, unlike the brittle frozen tree that threatens to snap in the shifting winds, I will try to be a young sapling spring tree, that more gracefully bows and bends with the adjustment. I will try to ease my grip of this new “vacation” routine, honor the joy it brought me, commit the feelings of such to memory, and willingly jump back to my regular life, trying to keep my mind open to experience the goodness in that life as well.


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