A footnote at the top - it's taken me a while to feel like publishing this post, as you read through you might see what I mean, I don't mean to offend any of the people I met in France, any of them, whether they hurt me or not, this is simply my side of the story as I'm sure they all have theirs too.
Life is full of change, constant change, I mean let’s face it even the weather here in the UK is not always what we expect it to be. But I don’t mean change in the weather or even that the supermarket has changed it’s aisle around overnight, no … yes they are a pain, but in reality they are just an inconvenience, unlike the big changes, moving, relationships, even starting one (although that can just give you heady heights and palpitations for all the right reasons) and the end of one, the end of familiarity and security, the loss of a loved one, watching a loved one suffer health wise or even suffering yourself and having to adapt to a different way of life or losing your job.
If you read my last blog on cathartic writing, you will see that the last thirteen years or so have been a whirlwind of change for me, but how can we deal with it and can we deal with it to our advantage ?
Often these things happen in isolation or they happen in clusters, all of which in itself is stressful to try and adapt too, but what if they happen, one after the other, unexpectedly, beyond your control how do you cope ? It is important to try and step back and if we can look at the situation from the outside, this is where I found writing it down was useful, take it from your head and onto paper and see if you can look at it objectively, imagine you are someone else and think about what you would say to that person.
Sometimes even if you are happy with the changes that are taking place they can be overwhelming - moving house, upsizing or downsizing it can be exciting, but you are going into the unknown, new neighbours, new surroundings, all the organizing and rearranging that goes with it can feel daunting. The following story is really just one example of how I have dealt with changes in my life, I think because it is the most recent and significant one ....
For years my partner and I were working towards moving and living in France, taking a step back, still running my Cake Holidays, and some online tutorials, we sold our home here in the UK to help fund our home in France, we moved into my partners mum’s house in the UK so that I could work and my partner could spend time in France building our new home. We spent a fair few years doing this, with me in the UK and him in France most of the year, being apart was difficult but we had a goal. (I’m just setting the background on how much our dream meant to us) We made new friends, some incredibly close new friends, and life was happy and good.
That was until things started to unravel, for whatever reasons, we started to discover that living in France with ex-pats was a bit like living in a school playground, one minute people were your friend, but as soon as you met another person and became friends with them, the previous ‘friends’ dropped you, because they didn’t speak to so-and-so, and now you did, so you were no longer their friend - to say this became confusing is an understatement and when your starting to be greeted with people asking who you are friends with ( I learnt as time went on they were weighing you up dependant on who you were friends with !!!) The long and short of that is that after a confusing, emotional and damning conversation from someone I thought was a good friends, who I think were telling me they no longer wished to be friends I was devastated, it was something I had never experienced, most people like me or at least I think they do, it hit me like a ton of bricks, I had no idea what I had done and don’t to this day.
Even harder was the fact that I had to leave my partner and travel back to the UK for six weeks of shows, classes and training's, which also meant I had to leave him on his own, I remember spending hours upset on the phone to him, trying to make sense of what had happened - what I have learnt to accept over the years is that sometimes we will never know what happened and in fact if you went and spoke to that person, they may not have an answer for you either, so there is no point in dwelling on it.
That loss gave rise to a chain of reactions and advice on dealing with change suggests:-
Looking at what control you have over the situation - I didn’t have much in trying to make amends or talk further, I was categorically told not to ‘darken their door’ ever again, so I couldn’t do that.
Once again Dr Google came in handy giving me some points to consider, many of them happened without me thinking ... the first two came quickly and naturally, but the last two have taken a bit more time and are part of this exercise in writing about it all.
Look at what you can control - I could take myself and my partner out of the situation, a situation we saw as becoming insular, lonely and paranoid on who we became friends with and that is not us, I consider us to be pretty easy going, fair and fun, and to feel on edge with people does not come natural, what could I control - we could move back to the UK it wouldn’t be easy, but it was a hell of a lot easier than staying somewhere that made us sad
Look for the positives - The positive were fairly easy to find, going back to family and friends who accepted who you were, better internet (I found running an online business at the end of a three mile overhead telephone wire, both incredibly frustrating and well non-existent !!) and also in the business sense an easier experience of running a business
Be kind to yourself and allow yourself time to be sad but also to heal - it took a while, it took a while for me to stop asking myself what I’d done wrong, or I should have said this or that at the time, that I should have stood up for myself, or not allowed myself to be cornered, or saying stop lets get Joe here for you say this too as well, all of the what if’s are pointless because they are just that - what if’s and they can’t be changed, just accepted
Reflect on what it is you want from life overall - this one has taken time, I’ve always known that I want as peaceful a life as possible, a happy family, security (a whole subject in itself), a home and freedom to do what I want to do and this is the next chapter, building a new business and home.
Changes are still afoot, I’m sure they always will be, we all crave a simple stable life, but that’s one area I have learnt can be unexpected, emotional and life-changing. And where am I now with all of this, well in a strange way I am grateful, as I am with many of the hard, difficult situations that I have had, because it led me to where I am now, and although I've been dealing with some unsettling feelings over the past few months, without any shadow of a doubt this is where I am meant to be .... in some ways the events that led to us returning home felt like the universe had to scream at us to come home, and as I write this, the late summer sun is warm and I've been out on my bike and swimming in the sea and I am thankful for that.
Always be kind to yourself
Thank you to the following site for insight into how to deal with change -