Guest Post: Homeostasis, Interrupted

While I am out of town for a few days, I will be sharing posts from a series of awesome guest bloggers. This post is from Tara, who describes herself as

… a recently divorced, single mom.  I work as a Clinical Social Worker with kids.  I obsess over coffee, being by the water and politics, not necessarily in that order.

She can be found on Twitter at @goog927 and on her blog, I’m Right. So What.

I love her insight into habits and preservation of the status quo. It’s something we all do, even when we’re not aware.

Homeostasis, Interrupted.

The toughest part of that Friday evening was knowing I just chose to leave both the consistency and familiarity behind, two things my marriage undoubtedly provided me.

The problem was that it was consistent emptiness, especially the last 3 years. It was consistently being on my own, in my interests and values; consistently longing for an escape.  It was a familiar sense of growing regret and questioning; questioning him, me our family and friends.  I was all too familiar with not looking forward to him walking in the door after work.  Familiar with the sense of dread I felt at the prospect of knowing I would have to pull the trigger.

But it was consistency and familiarity nonetheless.  I knew what to expect every day.  We had our routines, although mostly separate.  We knew each others buttons, vulnerabilities and needs.

This leads me to the concept of homeostasis. Being a therapist, this is a term we throw around often, especially in family therapy, giving possible explanation for why we stay stuck in cycles or behaviors.  Homeostasis is the internal stability we crave as humans and often why we resist change.

So that Friday night, I take the plunge.  A simple question, “Do you want flank steak for dinner?” led to a complicated answer and ultimately the biggest, single decision I’ve ever made, “I don’t even want to be married anymore, let alone a flank steak for dinner.”

No shit.  That’s how it went.  My ability to resist change was no longer. Nothing would be the same from that conversation forward.  Homeostasis, interrupted.

So here I am in the land of Singledom, as a single mom no less, dating with minimal emotional consistency.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the stability a marriage can provide. I’m not overly motivated in my beliefs on remarrying one way or the other.  I haven’t sworn off men. In fact, I’ve been dating someone who is pretty great.

There are plenty of couples among us who I observe and think (and sometimes I flat out say) “what the fuck?”  But it works for them even though sometimes that “it” is seemingly dysfunctional.  There’s a certain dance we engage in in our relationships that gives us this sense of familiarity, consistency and, a lot of times, safety.

Point is I think it’s easy to get tripped up and get caught out there.  In fact, I’ve been tested and tempted to lower my standards in lieu of that lost sense of consistency and familiarity.

As a single mom, it was of the utmost importance for me to re-establish stability. I’ve done a pretty good job thus far in creating my new life with my son, navigating and adjusting to various changes, despite the numerous days I’ve struggled not to say ‘fuck it’ and throw in the towel.

The most important thing to remember, something helpful I’ve practiced since shortly after my divorce, is to remind yourself daily to be aware of the authenticity of all of your relationships, not just with potential romantic suitors. When something as life-altering as divorce rocks your world it can be easy to jump back into something less than ideal to regain that sense of homeostasis.

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