Uncertainty. Even writing this word brings up a sense of uneasiness for me. The definition of uncertainty according to Merriam-Webster is “indefinite, problematic, not reliable, not known beyond a doubt, not having certain knowledge, not clearly identified or defined.” This word has been on my mind a lot recently. It has been one of the driving forces of addiction for me. It’s been a driving force for my need to control the world around me. A life full of uncertainty has been problematic, unreliable and terrifying to me. In order to keep uncertainty at bay, I’ve tried to keep my life as constant as possible. Change has meant uncertainty so I would rather be “certainly unhappy” than to explore what change might allow into my life.
I don’t like change. I don’t like the unknown. I’m realizing that this fear of the unknown has dictated most of my life decisions, both big and small. My life’s unspoken motto is “take the safe route”. I am realizing that I wanted safety outside of myself because internally, there hasn’t been safety. Taking the safe route meant I didn’t have to deal with loss or change. It meant I didn’t have to deal with any emotions that would come up. It meant that I could be lured with a false sense of certainty or security that I could create safety in my life.
I’ve been more aware of this uncertainty in my life because the hubs was recently offered a new job. This process has rocked my world. The interviewing and negotiation process was long and drawn out and at every step of the way, I have been completely frozen in fear. His current job offers so much certainty to me. It’s a well established company with good benefits and little pressure to “do more”. There are many wonderful aspects about this company yet to get the salary my husband desires, it requires him to put in extra hours and be on call 24/7. The new company gives him the salary he was looking for, with the opportunity to grow inside the company. (Something his current job doesn’t allow for). Seems like a no brainer, right? Instead of weighing the pros and cons for both companies and deciding what is best for our family, I have been frozen in fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of uncertainty. I am a creature of habit. I like routine. His current job is certain. I know what to expect. I know that he works most Friday nights. I know that he can get called in the middle of the night or while we are at the movies. I know they don’t give pay increases, I know that they don’t encourage growth within the company. These are known to me. I might not like them, but they are known.
The uncertainty of this new company is completely terrifying to me. I know the words that have been spoken, but I don’t know if what they are saying is true. Will he really be required to work extra hours? Will he really be on call more than they have said? Will they really promote from within? What is their benefit package really like? Will he get along with his coworkers? Will it be a good environment for him to work in? Will the company keep growing or if the market changes will he be jobless? There have been many times throughout this process that I wanted to just give up and have him stay with his current company. If we stayed wth things as they are, I wouldn’t need to face the unknown. That thought was comforting to me. And stifling.
My amazing therapist gently reminded me that this feeling of being frozen in fear is trauma repetition every step of the way. When I was 8, my dad was in a really bad motorcycle accident. He spent a lot of time in the hospital learning how to walk, talk and eat all over again. Being the youngest of 5, this was a big T trauma for me. I went from the safety and security of a two parent household, to the uncertainty of my dad’s future. Because of my age, most people didn’t really talk to me about what was going on. Yet I heard bits and pieces of conversations that were happening around me and formed my own conclusions. In my 8 year old brain, my family as I knew it would never be the same and that uncertainty immobilized me.
The hub’s job change has taken me right back to this time in my life where I was frozen in fear. Terrified of what my life would be like if my dad passed away, if he became a vegetable, or a host of other equally terrifying options I was stuck in freeze mode. The instability or changing of a job to me signifies uncertainty. It’s not known. it’s not reliable or certain to occur. I am terrified of what my life would be like if the hubs suddenly becomes unemployed. I am terrified if we make this move and it doesn’t work out. Yet I also know that staying with what is certain, or safe, is stunting growth. It’s stunting the growth of the hubs as a professional and it’s stunting our growth as individuals. How do I allow growth in my life if I’m not willing to grow in every part of myself?
I’m realizing that change is a form of loss. Things can’t go back to the way they were. Or the way I think they should be. They can only go forward. Part of my process includes grieving how things were, how I wanted them to be and then moving forward, with uncertainty. I am learning to do this with my 8 year old self that never really dealt with the loss of how life was before the accident. I’m learning to do this by grieving the loss of how I thought life should be at 8 years old, and compassionately accepting how life was and is. I’m learning to do this with my 39 year old self by grieving the loss of my illusion of safety and certainty within the hub’s current company. I’m learning to grieve the loss of how I would like for things to be (Safe, certain, and all wrapped up in a pretty bow). And I’m moving forward with uncertainty. And faith. I love how Brene Brown defines faith:
“Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty”.
THIS is the faith that I am moving forward with. I am looking for the courage to believe in something I cannot see. I’m seeking the courage to make this move and not fall back into old self destructive numbing behaviors. I’m looking for strength to let go of my fear of uncertainty. I’m seeking the strength to allow this new change in my life and not try to control it at every turn. I’m trying to lead with faith and not fear.
So as the hubs starts his new job this coming week, I will be rereading this post over and over to remind myself that uncertainty is part of the human experience. It’s what I chose to do with this uncertainty that will make the difference in my life. Wish me luck, strength or peace, or all of the above. I’m going to need them all.