Finally moved into our new home! I am excited, but also worried whether I’ve made the right decision. There are dozens of boxes in every room and I am wondering when I will be finally able to get everything done. And on that first night, lying in bed in a room that felt too big, surrounded by unfamiliar sounds and smells, I felt a twinge of anxiety creeping in. I found myself in a veritable smorgasbord of emotions. My former home, neighborhood, and familiar places had kept me centered, and now I felt un-anchored, set adrift
The exhaustion that comes with moving can be a bit of an overwhelm. You have to go through the entire process of finalizing your home, logistically plan the entire moves from beginning to end, pack all your worldly belongings into boxes, and actually move heavy items from one place to another. I realise now, that moving involves so much multitasking, hurry, and commotion and energy, with not much opportunity to recharge.
Our well-being is physically attached to our home, and tearing ourselves away from it could cause feelings of sadness, regret, frustration, and anger. In other words, it’s completely normal to feel upset after a move. It takes a while to create a sense of belonging and “rootedness” to where you live. What you need is the opportunity for emotional quiet, else the “fight or flight” response can kick in and hinder the ability to settle into a new environment. If this goes on for too long, anxiety can rear its ugly head.
Survival mode keeps us moving forward during a crisis but does not allow for much emotional space to process. As some of us transition out of survival mode, the compartmentalized feelings may resurface slowly or very quickly. For me, the full weight of the past year plus has just recently begun sinking in. This often manifests as a sense of unease, distractability, difficulty making decisions, uncertainty, and mixed feelings.
I created the phoenix watercolor painting (top of post) out of an intense need to reconnect with my own inner resilience. For weeks I had been feeling disconnected from myself. I was struggling with daily anxiety. For those unfamiliar with the Phoenix, she is a mythological bird. The myth says that each night she comes back to her nest. The nest spontaneously bursts into flames, which appear to consume the Phoenix. She is reduced to a pile of ashes. However, the next morning a baby Phoenix emerges from the ashes and begins to grow. With each incarnation she grows stronger.
In my mind’s eye I could clearly see the Phoenix’s wings in vivid detail and almost feel the red, orange, and yellow feathers unfolding behind my own back. I sat down and created the image in only a few minutes. It was cathartic. I spent some time just looking at the Phoenix and imagining ways of embodying her bold and healing energy.
Fortunately, I know that this anxiety is a temporary response to feeling overwhelmed. It will clear up as I become more comfortable in my new life. Thankfully I have my art as a natural way of processing this feeling. By its very nature, art making pumps the breaks on life’s frenetic pace. The act of creating only requires a little time and space, carved out just for you.