The Feeling of Life and Death in the Change Journey

It’s been a year of tremendous change for me and I’d like to tell you about it.  In bullet points.  So that you don’t have to wade through a big long story to get to the point – because who has time for that right now?!
First, some background:
  • last year I separated from my husband of almost 20 years – we realized we were embodying Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”
  • at the same time, I began embracing aspects of myself and my identity that I hadn’t been able to before
  • I was also in discussions with PeopleDynamics Learning Group (PDLG) about becoming a partner, but I wasn’t quite ready
Then, 2020 hit.
  • my husband and I hunkered down in our house during the pandemic, deciding to wait it out before taking any legal action (neither of us knew where we wanted to live next anyway)
  • it wasn’t easy but the undistracted time together allowed us to have some conversations that were really needed – and eventually we came to new and better understanding with each other
  • I began to look for places to live, first in the city and then, unbelievably to me, I began to cast my net wider, exploring small towns to the northwest of the the city I’d always called home
  • I settled on a new condo in a small town with a ton of potential – and, encouraged by my husband, I put down a deposit
Now what?
  • then things really got wild.  With the clock ticking, we investigated all of our options and decided to sell the house – fast.
  • we met with our realtor, staged the heck out of the house, and the day the For Sale sign went up, I had the biggest panic attack I’d had in 25 years.  I truly thought I was dying this time, until the very nice ambulance drivers reassured me that a) I wasn’t having a stroke, b) I wasn’t having a heart attack either, and c) I could probably get up off the floor if I tried.  I did try, and they were right.
  • we sold the house, the move is on!  I bought a new car, and while driving it home from the lot, my foot went completely numb on the gas pedal.  What fresh hell was this?  I wondered.
  • over the next 2 weeks, things only got worse – my leg and back seized up to the point that I could barely walk, and driving was out of the question.  How was I going to get to my new home if I couldn’t drive?  More panic.
  • 2 of my treasured colleagues signed onto become PDLG business partners, which was just what I needed to hear to make my decision
  • while facilitating classes, sometimes only moments after suffering more anxiety attacks, I clarified my commitment to the company and jumped in
  • I sought help for my back and leg issues and was referred to the right people – but I couldn’t wait.  I signed up for driving lessons in preparation for having hand controls installed in my car as I still couldn’t use my leg – this happened in a tiny window during which driving lessons were still allowed despite Covid restrictions.  In 3 weeks, I trained up, passed my test, and had my car retrofitted, within 5 days of moving out of town
  • and I cried.  I cried and I cried and I cried, sometimes once or twice a day during all this time – mourning the end of my marriage, mourning my own (albeit ill-fitting) identity as a wife in that marriage, mourning the impending physical separation from my husband, and mourning the very difficult decision to leave my beautiful dog with him.  And mourning about 14 other things that surfaced along the way as I came to terms with new insights and my life
And then, 
  • I moved.  And I signed documents confirming my partnership with PDLG.  And somehow we got the cats into my new place without too much trauma.  And I continue to cry and I also experience moments of unprecedented joy associated with following my dream to live outside of the city, where my soul always knew it wanted to be.  And while I am looking forward to a couple of weeks of much-needed rest, I’m also very curious about what 2021 will bring.
As all of this happened, a thought kept coming to the back of my mind: “Big change with the feeling of life and death” that is described in Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey – it’s step #8 on the journey and one I’ve always wondered about when working with my clients as they’ve pursued big changes in their personal and professional lives.  I wasn’t sure how to recognize that feeling until I came face to face with it, several times, over the course of the last year.
Sometimes the changes we want to make, even if we can’t articulate them clearly, are so big we actually confront our greatest limits and fears in pursuit of them.  It can feel like we won’t survive, we’re being tested so much.  Nonetheless, we persist and we make it to the other side, and we can’t believe what we went through to get there.
To all of those who harbor a big wish, a big dream, one that may not even have a name (or it’s too scary to name yet), I honor your very courage to be aware of it.  If this was the year for you, well good on you!!  And if the next year or the year after feels more right, well good on you again.  I can’t wait to hear about it and witness your evolution.
In the meantime, stay safe and I wish you all a healthy holiday season.  2021, look out – the big dreams are coming!


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About Me

Maggie Coulter Coaching was founded in 2009.  Specializing in career and leadership coaching for people who have experienced significant interpersonal trauma. Navigate stressful work situations and lead with confidence.

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