January 2021 began with a bang and an intensity that rocked us. We had hoped for a deep breath of fresh air and a new beginning. We knew that things were not going to change overnight. They didn’t.
Instead, January 6th happened. The images, intensity, and sheer scope of the day’s events jolted me and activated memories, emotions, and past experiences that I thought were behind me.
If you too experienced an avalanche of emotions or strong memories, please remember it’s normal. Research has shown that traumatic events can trigger this kind of response. Take good care and be extra patient with yourselves.
I was grateful when on January 11th, a small group of women and I got together for our first gathering of 2021. Our focus was on endings and new beginnings.
We were together for an hour and a half. We had the opportunity to sit quietly and reflect, journal, share our insights, support one another, and set an intention for the month. It was an intimate and affirming experience, one that has continued to unfold in unexpected yet not surprising ways.
It all came full circle a few days later when I decided to sort through old photos and photo albums, a task that has been begging for my attention for a while now. By the time I finished, I had time-traveled through my childhood and early years in Greece as well as my journey and struggles as an immigrant in the U.S. I ended up staring into empty space, flooded by a sea of emotions.
There are parts of our personal history that need to be processed through time, slowly, and mindfully. Often various parts of our story are being processed under the surface, without us being completely aware. Then one day something happens and prompts us to look back so we can evaluate how far we’ve come and how much we’ve changed. It’s an emotional and freeing experience.
Although the young woman looking back at me in the photos will always be part of me, she is not who I am today.
In January 1985, I was preparing to move to the U.S. It was meant to be an exciting new beginning, Neal and I had decided to throw caution to the wind, take a risk, and make a life commitment to one another. We had no idea how it would all unfold but we were too much in love to think about it. We wanted to be together.
It was also a time of deep sadness. I was about to leave my homeland, my family, and all I had known behind, and head into uncharted territory.
On a sunny day in mid-February 1985, I boarded a plane and arrived in New York where Neal was waiting for me. It was a surprisingly warm day for February, and we took that as a good sign. We were happy, excited, giddy, nervous, scared, and eager to begin our life together.
In a few weeks, we’ll be celebrating our 36th anniversary and once again we’re preparing for yet another move, only this time we’ll be doing it together. We’re still not quite sure as to where we’ll end up but here we are, thinking and planning about the future and beginning to navigate the next chapter of our lives together.
The emotional triggers of January 6th along with the reflection I engaged in during the January 11th gathering and the trip down memory lane via old photos, made me sit still and allow my life’s journey to sink in.
Once again, I am getting ready to uproot myself and head towards the unknown. A new state, a new community, new challenges and possibilities, and a whole new chapter. It seems that every few years life asks this of me.
I owe it to myself to acknowledge the past before I move forward and that includes allowing time and space to review and honor my losses and gains, my choices and their consequences, what needs to be released and what is here to stay, and feel the emotions that surface.
It’s a ritual of passage from one chapter of life to the next. It’s beautiful and emotional but also liberating and invigorating.
When a door closes in my life, could I be thankful for what once was? Might I look for the door through which I am now asked to pass?Gunilla Norris
Are you too finding yourself caught between endings and new beginnings, looking at what was and trying to figure out where you’re heading to?
Which door is calling out to you to open and walk through?
I hope you give yourself the time you need and listen. You won’t be disappointed. I invite you to share with us in the comments below.