when my first daughter was born i laboured for four days. towards the end i “stalled” in transition (the most intense part of labour before you begin pushing) for a full 4 hours - i was literally stuck in an in-between state - labouring and labouring but making no “progress”. that moment felt like a metaphor:
life is transition, and transition can be hard.
Transition is the “process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.”
Are we not continually being transformed into something new? Each moment and experience shapes us. For better or worse, big or small, we are all about to go through some kind of transition...maybe even today.
We can go through these transitions with tension, fear, anxiety, resentment, resistance, OR we can engage life full-on with grace, courage, open-handedness, and joy.
Transitioning well is easier said than done. I am not the particularly easy-going type, so flexing with change often feels more like a fight than a surrendering. I can’t count the number of times I have gone through some major life shift (a breakup, a move, a new job) and have found myself feeling like I didn’t know who I was at first. Like I was wrestling to get my feet under me.
I used to believe my options were to either collapse in a puddle on the floor (a thing I have done many times) or stoically stuff down my emotions and “tough it out”. My first birth offered me a different perspective - a way through transition that was fully engaged in the hard experience, that was fully expressed, and that was strong and empowered. I remember this distinct moment towards the end of my labour when my midwife told me “for this to happen you have to want it to get harder”. Whatever is coming on the other side of this transition - new learning, growth, opportunity, new life even - we have to enter into the process.
Of course, transitions come in all shapes and sizes - some we call “good” (a promotion, a new relationship) and others we call “bad” (loss of a loved one, a layoff). It is common to hold this expectation that the “good” transitions will be easy or that the “bad” transitions will be only hard. Some transitions truly do feel natural and the moments of challenge are bolstered by optimism. Yet, there is no universal experience.
We don’t need to judge the nuanced emotions that show up through a change. We don’t serve our experience by saying “I shouldn’t feel this way”. Be present to the full range of your experience. Sit with the ‘hard’ emotions and acknowledge the moments of joy. To experience this change as challenge is not weakness. To allow yourself the freedom to feel the hard things fully and to engage completely with life takes courage and strength.
If we can learn to say “here I am - imperfect and struggling” and in the same breath extend to ourselves some self-compassion and love, then we can more easily celebrate and acknowledge the moments of joy. In so doing we find strength for each step as it comes. This kind of transition is transformation. At the end of the day, the thing we’ve gone through may be something we chose or not, it may be something we wanted or didn’t, but we always have the opportunity to enter the process and to allow growth to come from it.