Surviving Transition Trauma

Humans don’t like transition. It upsets us. We crave change and excitement, but often when we get it we are disturbed by it. 2020 has been a masterclass in that if nothing else. I’ve written about the adjustment period we go through as a family when we are reunited, but I’ve not yet tackled what happens in the sad phase of separation. Probably because I’m always too upset to write about it when it is happening. By the time I feel like putting pen to paper again (what an old fashioned notion!), the moment has passed and we are back in our respective countries and our respective routines. The ‘normal’ part of interrupted family life has reasserted itself and we’re mostly just getting on with it. But let me say this; it’s horrible and it doesn’t get any easier, no matter how long you have been doing it.

We’re on week one of the readjustment and after a few days in we’re feeling ok. The random tears and gut wrenching moments of fear and anxiety are starting to subside and we are reclaiming the routines that make life tick along nicely whilst we try not to spend our time counting down to the next reunion or getting sucked into the rabbit hole of worrying about when that might even be possible.

It’s two years into this way of life for us, and if we had bothered to make a plan for how and where our family would be functioning by now this would not have been it, but this is the hand we have been dealt and we are by no means unlucky. In fact, we are incredibly privileged. Does that help when I go to bed and wake up alone, or I see my son, my husband or myself in the mirror, swallowing back the tears to be brave? Of course not.

I’ve been reading a lot about grief recently. A kind of insurance policy in these trying times maybe? Perhaps a bit morbid, but I think it’s maybe because my life has so often been made up of these mini mourning periods. Being separated from your loved ones temporarily is not the same as losing someone permanently, but it is still a loss. There is still a period of bereavement that needs to be got through. A feeling of guilt when you start to reclaim and enjoy a bit of your own life again. A wave of doubt and anxiety for the future to be surfed. A trauma in the transition to be felt, honoured and survived.

It is part of the human condition. A lost love, a damaged friendship, a divorce, children growing up, moving up, leaving home, a death, a separation. They all leave their painful mark. It may always be better to have loved and lost then the alternative, but it does not help when you are in the depths of it.

And so we go on. We get up, we make plans, we laugh, we cry, we begin new projects, we read, we dream, we work, we paint, we write, we garden, we run, we cook, we eat, we throw ourselves into whatever routines we need to in order to rise above what is eating away at our hearts and we start again. That is the only tried and tested way to survive the trauma of transition. That and wine, cheese and chocolate.

So if you are caught up in a Covid drama, pressing the reset button, saying goodbye, mourning an empty nest or an empty bed, then I’m holding up a little light for you this evening from my heart to yours. You have got this. You will survive. You too will keep on keeping on.

You are not alone.

Summer 2020. There is nobody else I’d rather be mucking about in a sparkly amethyst cave with then these two.

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