Wednesday, December 28, 2016

You gotta take a chance on change

By Monica Vest Wheeler

Have you ever heard the saying to the effect of, the only constant is change?

Ain't that the truth!

I like Andy Warhol's take: "They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."

And Carol Burnett says: "Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me."

Yes, the king of weird art and the queen of comedy are correct, but I've also learned that while you must make change from within, you really can't do it alone.

We were not placed upon this planet to operate solo. We were given other people to learn from, to teach, to love, to be loved, to care for, to be cared for, and to create a better world. We achieve much together, we make mistakes together.

We can also be blind to and stubborn about each other.

In all my interactions with individuals and families affected by brain-related injuries, illnesses and diseases, one of the most predictable and painful statements I hear is about abandonment by family and friends.

Especially the adult children of the person affected. Adult children who don't like who their parents WERE and hold it against them forever, no matter the crisis they face now.

I remember the heartbreaking tears of a wife, caregiver to her stroke survivor husband, who talked about the lack of contact with their adult children. She constantly asks herself, "Was he that bad of a person?" He made a lot of mistakes, she admits, but he's a different man now, not the father he was many years ago.

The stroke changed him, she says, but their kids won't even get to know him.

Many, many people change over the course of their lives, for whatever reason. A few never do. I recently gave someone out of my past one last chance to see if they had changed. It was the right thing for ME to do. But I quickly discovered that this person has never gotten "it" and never will. I released them from my life for good, and it was freeing because I had offered that last chance.

At the same time, I gave another person out of my past a second look, and I love what I see and hear. With this individual, we're making up for lost time.

And I continue to reflect deeply upon my lifelong relationship with my dad. My parents divorced when I was 23, but he and I weren't close emotionally for many years because we simply didn't know what to say to each other. My "bonus" mom (I hate the word "step") made us sit down one day and talk and listen.

Now, if I hadn't learned to look at my dad through the eyes of an adult and not as a child, I would have missed some of the best moments in my life. He wasn't just my dad: he was a human being who had dealt with many struggles in HIS life, many of which I finally discovered because we learned how to talk and listen. I couldn't have understood that as a kid. My admiration for him grew because he was a survivor in so many ways. He changed so much and in so many beautiful ways, with the help of others.

What a fine, fine man he was.

Yes, if I hadn't taken a chance on change, I would have missed getting to know my dad, my daddy, and loving him.

I lost that precious man just two weeks ago. I have no regrets, though of course, I wish I had made the drive over to see him more often.

If there's someone in your life you have brushed aside without taking a chance on change, give it a try. Or if you see two people who just need a little help to get that conversation going, you can be an agent AND angel of change.

Make the choice to live without regret.

Healing is much better than hurting …

People change and forget to tell each other. Lillian Hellman
Read more at:
People change and forget to tell each other. Lillian Hellman
Read more at:
Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me. Carol Burnett
Read more at:

1 comment:

Susan P. said...

This not only helps me but I'm sharing it with a friend who needs to hear it, too.
With love and respect,