My husband starts a new job today. After three years of working from home, he’ll be away again for part of each day. As grateful as we are for this job, I realize as I sit down to write this that, of course, the element of loss is here. I haven’t wanted to admit it. Yes, I, a spokesperson for conscious transitions, has been in a bit of denial about the ramifications of this new job. But the truth is that my chest has been tight for days and my breath has been constricted. When is the last time I took a deep breath? I tried to find it in yoga on Sunday but it eluded me. Such is the case when emotions are denied and pushed aside.
Now I feel the grief. My husband, my best friend, my partner in parenting, my rock and my solace who’s been just a few steps away for three years will leave the house midday and won’t return until after dinnertime. He’ll leave on Wednesday, Thursday, and half of Friday as well. How many times a day do my sons run into his garagio (a cross between a garage and a studio) to tell daddy “just one quick thing?” How often do I crack the door open just to share my latest thought or bring him a snack? How many times a day does he emerge from his work-cave to have a tickle-fest with his sons and bring ten minutes of pure joy to the house? Oh, I’ll miss him so.
We’ll all miss him. As full as our life is with kids and work and friends and house, there’s an emptiness and loneliness when my husband is gone for a full day. It’s was a primary reason why we left Los Angeles: his lucrative, “fancy” job took him away from the house 60-80 hours a week and the loneliness I felt with a newborn was unbearable. Thankfully, this new job will only take him away about 25 hours week, but after having him home 24/7, the shift will be painful. My boys will automatically run into the garagio searching for him. Everest will say, “I just need to go tell Daddy one quick thing.” Asher will walk into the hallway and call for Dada over and over again. Our hearts will break a little as we grow accustomed to the new routine.
I can only imagine what my husband is feeling right now. I know he’s feeling all of the normal feelings on the cusp of starting a new job, but I imagine the grief is just under the surface for him as well. He’s focusing on preparing for his first day because he has to, but if I went downstairs and sat with him my guess is we would both tear up. Then we would talk about ways to stay connected even when he’s away. He would inevitably think of something creative and endearing that would allow us to feel each other throughout the day. Technology helps. He’ll just be a phone call or email away. But still…
I ask myself the crucial question the distinguishes change from transition: What is it time for me/us to let go of? As William Bridges says on his site, “Transition is not just a nice way to say change. It is the inner process through which people come to terms with a change, as they let go of the way things used to be and reorient themselves to the way that things are now.” There are many things, and when I recognize them I breathe them in. Through acknowledging what we’re letting go of, we open the doorway that will allow this transition to transform us in positive ways, as opposed to merely an adjustment “to get over.”
I almost didn’t write this post. I thought I didn’t have anything to say. Perhaps I’ve been minimizing the emotional undercurrent of this transition because it’s more painful than I’ve wanted to admit. But how good it feels to stop resisting the pain, to cry as I write, to connect with my deep love for my husband and our family unit that necessarily translates into loss when one of us is separate from the others. The transition is his, but when you’re part of a family unit there are no individual transitions anymore. Like a spider’s web, when one strand is plucked the entire web begins to sway. We’re bound and connected by blood and love in ways that defy visible reality. We transition together, and so we grieve and celebrate together. Today is an ending and a beginning. Together, we’ll find our way.