Making a Change

~ To my friend, who had the courage to make a change 

Her change caught everyone by surprise.

They thought things were fine. She seemed so happy, so go-lucky. “I’m so surprised,” they said.

What they couldn’t see was that deep inside her heart stewed a restlessness that, on certain days, breached the kettle lip and spilled into sadness.

She had been entertaining the change for awhile now. In the quiet hours of life, she would question if she had the nerve, the guts to do it. It seemed so severe. So permanate. So impossible.

Getting dressed, driving to work, loading the dishwasher–pedestrian chores became private movies where she saw herself a bit older, playing a character who was happy.  A character who didn’t pity herself. A character who was strong and confident and unafraid.

Days piled on days. Months turned into years.

Clothing was bought, worn, washed, boxed, and donated. She traded in the old car and bought a new, bigger one. The dishwasher broke and a friendly old man came and fixed it and in between screwdriver turns made light conversation and she fooled him into believing everything was fine.

Like so many of us, my friend fashioned excuses. She believed she wasn’t meant to live a happy life. The time wasn’t right. The economy wasn’t right. She didn’t want to disappoint anyone. She was too old. Too afraid what everyone would say.

“Some day,” she would say.

“Some day.”

Like you and I, she forged ahead. Remained loyal. She put the needs of others in front of her own. She borrowed happiness from other people the way you might borrow shoes. They work, do the job, but feel foreign, familiar yet unfamiliar, something made and molded for someone else.

A few years ago we begin talking about her change. We talked on the phone, exchanged text messages, and talked about it in person.

I told her that a failure to change is a failure to grow.

And she would bit her lip, the way people do when they are thinking about something, give a soft smile, the way people do at funerals, nod and say, “I know,” only to fade back to a life that she had outgrown.

Then she asked if I was taking my own advice

I laughed, “I’m trying.”

But then, just the other day, with no ceremony, no trumpets, no parade, she changed.

Empowered was the word she kept saying.

She told me she can’t believe it took her this long to put her needs first. Not in a selfish way, but in the way you have to take care of yourself so you can take better care of other people.

“Make a change” she said, “and you’ll feel empowered, stronger, more confident, more self-assured then you have felt in a long time. You also need to realize that life is short and self-pity is a waste of time and doesn’t make for a good story.”

All my friend wanted was for her life to make a good story.

I’m certain it’s what we all want too.

Be well,

Jay

PS– If you know someone who is struggling to make a change feel free to share this post with them.

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