The third step in 12-step recovery programs is "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of god as we understood him." I'm not a religious person, and the wording of this step has always been a little difficult for me. Similarly, the Al-Anon slogan "Let go and let God" has been tough for me as well.
Today, however, has been a good day for remembering that even if I don't know exactly what I'm turning things over to, the idea of taking something difficult to manage and "turning it over" is worth trying.
This morning, we got a call from the person to whom we thought we'd be renting our house while we were on sabbatical. She had decided to rent a place downtown, instead--which plunged me into a moment (well, more than a moment) of panic. I spent most of the morning feeling overwhelmed by everything that had to be done in the next three weeks: sort all of our belongings into store/ship/sell/toss categories, box up the first two categories, dispose of the second two categories, move all of our furniture into storage (either off-site or in the basement), sell my car and buy a new one for the week-long drive to Seattle, get to all of the various doctor and dentist appointments we're cramming in before we leave, etc, etc etc.
Gerald finally said to me around lunchtime, as I was sorting through car specifications, posting our house to every online listing site I could find, and hovering dangerously close to my emotional redline zone, "just turn it over."
My first thought was "Don't be ridiculous. If I let go of all this, it won't get done, and we'll be even worse off." But then I realized he was right. I needed to let go of trying to control everything, and trust that if I did the next right thing, the rest would follow.
The first thing I did was think through worst case scenarios. What if we didn't rent the house? Well, we'd be okay. We'd probably have enough money between RIT and Microsoft to cover the expense. And we could always ask a realtor to find a tenant for us--we'd get less money, probably, but it would be something. So I posted the house online, and let it go...either it would rent or it wouldn't, and freaking out about it wasn't going to change the outcome.
Then I thought some more about the car issue. The motivation for getting the new car right away was to avoid driving across the country in an old car that might break down. But...what if I sold the car before I left town, and then flew to Seattle with Alex instead? I looked again at the benefits Microsoft had offered, and realized that one of them was a month-long car rental. So, we could fly to Seattle, pick up a rental car at the airport, drive to the corporate housing, and have a month to squirrel away cash for a bigger down payment on a car. I emailed the relocation support person to let her know our plans had changed, and another big task dropped off my "must do this week" list.
After dinner, I went to my Monday night Al-Anon meeting, and talked about how good it had felt to "turn it over" today. Walking out, I felt really good about where I was. When I walked back into the house at 10pm, Gerald was on the phone with someone, laughing and talking. I figured it was a friend or family member, until he said "Well, my wife just walked in--why don't you talk to her and she can tell you more about the house."
It was a woman from LA who'd seen my post on the U of R off campus housing site. Her husband is doing a one-year residency at Strong Hospital starting in August, and they don't want to move all their furniture across the country. They were hoping to find a furnished house that could accommodate them, their two small kids, and her mother--and that had a good school district for her older child, who's about to start kindergarten. It's a perfect match--for them and for us.
So tonight, my IM status message is "an attitude of gratitude." Which is, I know, a platitude. And I'm okay with that.