“Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin
Living near the ocean we hear a lot about rip currents, also known as rip tides and undertows. Warning signs are at nearly every beach entrance.
Rip tides are essentially long, narrow bands of water flowing quickly away from the shore, so it’s easy for swimmers to get caught in one and pulled out to sea. Many panic and attempt to swim against it, wear themselves out from trying to overcome the power of the ocean and that’s when tragedies happen.
Sometimes life and our struggling relationships can feel like we’re caught in a rip current of our own. Things are happening that are outside of our control and in our attempt to push against it, overcome or change it, we end up exhausted, depleted and are faced with the option to either flow with it or perish.
This was the situation with my client’s husband, when she made the difficult decision to begin un-winding the marriage after 34 years together. He didn’t want the marriage to end, so he began swimming against the current.
- He asked her “why” no less than 100 times… (but because he didn’t like the answer, he wasn’t really hearing her explanation)
- He promised he would change, even go to therapy…(even though he had refused to do so when she had begged him years prior).
- He even made manipulative threats in an attempt to get her change her mind (such as “If you leave, I’ll make sure you walk away with almost nothing”).
She had changed and what she wanted in her most intimate relationship had also changed.
It wasn’t that she didn’t value what they had for 34 years, but she needed the next 34 years to feel very, very different.
This is also how most of us deal with change…
- We resist it…
- We argue with it…
- We attempt to overpower it…or control it…or manipulate it.
Because change is uncomfortable.
And we’ll do anything to avoid the feeling of discomfort.
But the reality is that change is inevitable.
There is literally nothing on the planet that is not in a perpetual state of change – not the trees outside your window or the siding on your home.
Likewise, our own change and evolution is inevitable.
And as we change, oftentimes it impacts the people and circumstances around us.
Should you ever be caught in a rip tide, they tell you to:
- Stay calm,
- Float with the current letting it pull you away from the shore (don’t resist it by swimming against it), and
- Begin swimming parallel to the shore until you’re out of the rip tide and can safely turn and swim back towards the shoreline.
They also tell you to call out and ask for help.
I think that same advice is helpful for when you find yourself in a rip tide of change in your marriage:
- Stay calm; trust in your own well-being and that of others around you
- Flow with it, don’t fight it
- Decide how you’re going to deal with that change and how you’re going to show-up in the midst of it
And when you need help, ask for it.
We don’t always get to decide the circumstances that life hands us, but we always get to decide how we’re going to react and respond to it.
If you feel like your own personal riptide is pulling you (and those you love and care about) under, maybe it’s time we talk about how to flow with it and rise to meet it. Let’s schedule a complementary Truth & Clarity session to see if there’s a fit for you and I to work together.
What a recent client shared with me: “I can really see my progress. You have helped me so much to see I can do really hard things. I get this is your business and source of income, but it’s much more than that; it’s your purpose.”