Lifestyle

Horne: Third stage of life a transition with no easy answers

I usually sit down to write my column and move through the process with ease, excited about what I have to share with my readers.

A lot of what I address concerns the way of transition through the third stage of life.

The elements of letting go, the neutral zone and new beginnings are the central stages that must be traversed as we are embracing and living the challenges and joys of our unique life journey.

Sometimes along the way, you feel stuck and every step you take seems to sink you deeper into a thick mud. It feels like resistance and certainly not something I really want to share. The author of the whole transitions model, William Bridges, found himself personally thrown into the depths of this process after the death of his wife of many years.

His articulate expression of his own journey challenged many of his original beliefs that he had espoused for years dealing with transitional change management in major organizations.

His book, The Way of Transition, honestly shares the ups and downs he experiences as he is living his own passage, moving from a secure, albeit somewhat difficult marriage, to finding himself in an empty void following the death of his dear wife.

I found it an incredible read and I return often to the book when I find myself sinking in quicksand as the transitioning journey gets complicated.

In caregiving, your own life is very much on hold. You go through the letting go of many things as your life adjusts to new routines and limitations. You discover much about yourself and what you are capable of, as well as what you like about yourself and what you don’t. It holds many opportunities for growth and insight that can make you a better person.

As you focus on the tasks at hand, you somehow get the job done in whatever way is required of you. As a routine is developed and the letting go phase passes into the neutral zone, this is a time when staying centered and waiting watchfully is necessary.

I find this stage more difficult as you feel less sure, not knowing what is next. It is when vulnerability is harder to engage with, hence a feeling that you want to withdraw and keep your thoughts to yourself.

Not easy to do when you are trying to write a column—being out of control and resisting it can feel like you are being held down with 100 pound weights with every step you try to take. You don’t seem to have any answers, which for us who like to be in the know, is very challenging.

Bridges describes the Japanese spiritual tradition of using a quiet time or “time-out” to focus oneself before tackling a new or a difficult situation.

He stated: “The Japanese do not go there in order to ‘meditate’ on their own problems, but to surrender themselves to the source of life, whose fluidity relieves a problem of its complexity and allows (one) to exercise his own power in perfect liberty.”

As caregiving an aging parent who has become bedridden and requires full care takes its toll on your own body and spirit, you must decide what path to follow into the future.

Grappling with the decision as to what step to take is not easy on any level. As much as I tell my clients to let go of guilt, it is easier said than done.

Acknowledging yourself for what you have given is important and cherishing the moments of closeness that making this type of commitment has brought you needs to be validated to yourself and no other. And so, another letting go ensues.

One that you don’t always think about facing until there it is in front of you. However, this is what the life journey is all about. Agnes de Mille stated: “Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what’s next or how. The moment you know, you begin to die a little.”

So perhaps I will take a step into the silence, not having to know all the answers and let myself be guided by something that understands what best serves the whole. Creativity abounds there and perhaps there-in lies an answer that will ease this passage.

T.S. Eliot has said: “And to make an end, is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

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