Friday, June 07, 2013

The strange thing about habits

It’s so strange how a habit forms. You start out not being familiar with something at all, it feels awkward and foreign the first time around. Then slowly, without realizing it, you are able to adjust it into your routine. The habit of going to school/work/ waking up next to someone/holding your newborn baby in your arms all bring about the same feeling the first time around. The initial moment of change is an indescribable feeling. Whether it is something good or bad; the only word that comes to mind is ‘Strangeness’. Yet, by the second experience you already can detect the feeling of unfamiliarity/uncertainty leaving you. That's what I'm going through right now.

When we first talked of moving, about Wajih leaving first while I stayed back here with Ali I knew it would be a huge change. I understood that it would not be easy, but a big part of me was just not ready to let go of my life as of that moment, especially not the habit of my routine. So I was entirely on board with the idea of living apart for 3 months heck maybe even 6, while Wajih settled into his new job and became oriented with the new location. In my mind nothing for me was changing in those few months, aside from the difficulty of being distant from my love. But I shrugged it off, thinking all relationships can use some healthy time apart. I could finally enjoy time out with my girlfriends or do some activities alone that I would put off before due to spending all my time with him.

The first two days were just plain strange! I was with my own family, my sisters and parents, yet I felt something was completely a miss. I clung to Ali as taking care of him was the only source of familiarity of life prior to. (Ali on the other hand was loving the little vacay we were having at Nani’s house; he didn’t asked for his father until day 3 or 4). At first I didn't even want to be in my apartment, because it reminded me too much of life before all this. Of weekends where and I got to sleep in, while Ali watched Superman cartoons with his Dad. Of weeknights "you watch him while I cook dinner, then I'll bath him while you clean up' routines which ended in us collapsing on the couch, me falling asleep on his shoulder as we attempted to catch up on TV sitcoms. Sigh, such a boring life we led. Yet, for all those same reasons, my apartment was also the only place I wanted to be; clinging to those moments. Crazy, I know.

Changing habits is hard, but the funny part of human nature is how quickly we adapt. When I first sold off our bookshelf and kitchen table, seeing our place with them missing was so weird. Now it’s as if my eyes have become accustomed to seeing piles of cardboard boxes and the toaster on the kitchen floor is no longer out of place. My only initial concern about this arrangement was how I’d deal with 'single mom life’. However, just two weeks in and Ali and I are bonding amazingly! The meal/bed/bath time routines are somehow seamless. I am even able to quench the “I don’t wanna leave the park” tantrum fairly quickly. ALL BY MYSELF. (Dear God please let me not be speaking too soon). I like to believe it’s the Big guy throwing me a bone while I still figure all this out. But I’m pretty sure it’s my attitude too.

I'm throwing myself in head first with this transition. I am resolved to not let this feeling of strangeness turn me unpleasant or exasperated. I have cleaned, organized, and made more progress on my 'To Do' lists these two weeks than I have in the past many years! I've set goals to do some healthy eating, hardcore exercising, and soul purifying during this phase of my life's new chapter. I realized that if I try to cling to ways of my routine before, it wasn’t long before I'd fall into a severe rut of unhappiness, is so easy to fall into that place when you are faced with a new experience outside of your comfort level. Lucky for me, I keep reminding myself that this is short-term. I am refocusing my emotions toward setting small weekly goals and spending as much time as I can with my parents before I will be a 3 hour plane ride (instead of 3 mins) away :( .

Some great advice I was given: “It is not easy for anyone to adjust to a big move, to become accustomed with a new place takes time. It will be awhile until you are familiar with roads and a different lifestyle but the truth is soon enough that will be your life and everything before it will be just a memory. So enjoy this transition for what it is; the time in between the old and the new.”
That advice held so much truth in it.  It reminded me how I got out of 'pre-married life' or 'pre-baby' habits. I had the engagement period before my wedding to transition into that new chapter just the same way 9 months of pregnancy is a transition into motherhood. Its like experiencing the future and the now at the same time. Sort of. The hard truth is,  life as it was isn't coming back. But that doesn't mean what's to come won't be even better. Accept change, accept the initial awkwardness. Set small goals. Take the time to tie up loose ends and say proper goodbyes. Most of all be thankful.

In this short time I realized that one mode I don't want to adjust to.. is life without my best friend. The bathroom is too clean and the fridge is missing a few 100 packs of assorted chocolates.Without you around I waste too much time on Facebook I sleep too late I yell less and eat less (shocker, so it is possible!). And it turns out I can actually throw out the garbage and even killed a bug all by myself. Sigh. I realize I can live without you, but truth be told, I would never ever want to.  

May I never have to live without my best friend unwillingly. And may change always be for the better. Ameen.

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