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When you’re forced to reinvent yourself

Emma Grey

I moved all the furniture around in my family room on the weekend.

I’d been feeling anxious in the room, as it held some negative memories, so there was a choice: avoid being in there entirely, or change something.

Nothing is now where it was. I’ve added lights and candles and flowers and switched the lounge and dining table, de-cluttered the books and DVDs and I’m even playing different music. It feels like a haven now.

The family room is just a microcosm of the larger challenge I’m facing and at its core the problem is the same. Something happened that I couldn’t control. I’m in a situation I don’t want to be in. It is 100% impossible to change the situation back, no matter how desperately I wish I could.

We all face situations like that from time to time. Times when choices are taken from us — when our deepest desires are not and will never be met. It happens when we lose someone or something important to us. It happens when we can’t have the outcome for which our hearts ache.

These are the times when life backs us into a corner. They’re the times when we feel trapped. Times when we have no options, and no way out … or so it feels.

And it’s in exactly those moments that we have an opportunity to define ourselves. It’s from that place of fear and vulnerability and emptiness that we have a chance to rise.

When we rise from those circumstances, we do things differently. We have to. There’s no going back to the way things were. There’s no going back to the person we used to be. One painful stroke of the chisel at a time, life sculpts us into something new. It’s transforms us, as painful as that process might be, into someone we could never have become from anywhere else but backed into this particular corner, at this particular time.

It’s about taking the shattered remnants of how things were and re-purposing them into a new mosaic — not because ‘everything happens for a reason’ but because sometimes things happen without any reason at all.

We can only readjust and reinvent ourselves as best we can, where we are, with what we have, whether that means shifting the furniture a bit or shifting much bigger and heavier things until we finally settle into the ‘new normal’ we’d have done anything to avoid, and which is now ‘home’.

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Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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