Critical choices

ID-100202241.Tao55It has been a roller-coaster of emotions for me over the past seven weeks.

I had been working hard to try and get the marital settlement over the line before my second son’s upcoming wedding. I was also busy getting my home ready by doing a few things to the kitchen prior to my son and fiance (and her parents) coming to stay. Coming from Canada, they planned to stay in Tasmania a week before the wedding and I was looking forward to spending some quiet time with them.

Three weeks before their due visit and four weeks before the wedding, my mother had a turn and was rushed into hospital. She was there a week before we realized that her illness was quite serious. I flew up to be with her and my siblings for a week.

Then my siblings made me return home to prepare for my expected visitors and to get myself into ‘mother-of-the-groom’ mode. I returned home with the countdown one week before visitors and two weeks before the wedding. The kitchen needed to be put back in shape (as I had stripped it bare before my sudden exit), and the house had to be put in better order. On top of that there were business issues to attend to, a mountain of paperwork to complete, and bills to pay. Two days after my return, there was a sudden major strategic development in the marital settlement, which required urgent meetings.

For those crucial few days, as I dealt with the marital settlement development, I had to put all my emotions completely aside in order to make some highly critical decisions. I had to put aside the emotions surrounding my mother’s illness and my son’s wedding. In doing so, a numbness descended on me and I began to feel nothing at all.

In the topsy-turvy world that I had been living for the three years since my life upended, I had craved normality. I had been waiting for the marital settlement to be final so that I could feel normal. I had been waiting for the marital settlement to be over, so that I could sit back and enjoy my children’s milestones, such as weddings. I had been waiting for the marital settlement to be over, so that I could start my new life. Over the previous weeks, I had discovered that life would not wait. My mother needed me now. And I needed to be with my mother. My son needed me to be happy and relaxed at his wedding. And I needed to feel happy at his wedding. Now, I could not work out how I was going to fit my mother’s illness and my son’s wedding into everything else that was also suddenly happening in my life.

On the Thursday evening, after I returned home from the crucial meetings, I just wanted to sit down and cry. I couldn’t. So I did the next best thing, I sorted sheets. From absolutely nowhere, I had a sudden nesting instinct, and of my wanting to do something ‘normal’ that did not involve emotional pain. I sorted sheets and then more sheets, well into the night.

The next day, I went into work and did all that was necessary in order for me to absent myself from everything that was going on in my life EXCEPT for my mother, my son’s wedding, my visitors and my family. I put EVERYTHING else aside. The business, the marital settlement, decisions. Life was more important.

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ImageCourtesy[Tao55]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Checking in

 

ID-10019816.SimonHowdenThe winter is easing off a bit here.

I still have a lot on the go and I am struggling to find time to do my usual writing, that had been so much of a therapy for me the past three years. Even journal-writing has taken a back step to events in my life.

It is still going to be a very busy time for me over the next few months. However, I wanted to let you all know that I am surviving. Thanks to everyone who has sent me well wishes the past few weeks while I have been off-line. I aim to touch base with you over the weekend and also begin to write again .

 

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ImageCourtesy[SimonHowden]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Fast-tracking grief

 

ID-100138671.kjnntOver the initial twelve months after my husband left me, I went through what I thought was a grief process of five emotional stages. These were shock – anger – bargaining (or guilt) – sadness – acceptance. I have come to realize since, and firmly believe, that those stages are not the stages of grief but rather the ‘five stages of dealing with catastrophic news’. It was only after I accepted (or at least acknowledged) what had happened had actually happened, that I could truly begin the process of mourning my losses and establishing myself in my new world. My true mourning therefore did not begin until at least the second year, well after most people expected me to be ‘over’ it. I had often thought since, that if only I had accepted what had happened sooner, I could have saved myself a great deal of pain.

Nevertheless, that experience has taught me of the need to reach a state of acceptance, before being able to deal with whatever it is that has happened.

When my sister rang and told me the news about my mother, I went through those ‘stages of accepting catastrophic news’ in a day. It was, to put it simply, a terrible day. All by myself feeling utterly alone in my despair I went through shock (it can’t be true), anger (how dare this marital settlement have taken so much of my energy these past three years instead of me spending more time with my mother), bargaining or guilt (if only I had done more, maybe I could have prevented this), and sadness (I wanted so much to spend some time with my mother smelling the roses). Finally, I came to a state of acknowledgement of the truth and felt that to be in that place of acceptance, I could be strong for her.

The next day – having had only one hour’s sleep – I flew north and arrived at the hospital in Sydney. It took me one minute to survey the situation and understand that my three siblings were still coping with shock and anger. Having fast-tracked myself to ‘acceptance’, I saw the advantages it gave me and understood it was therefore up to me to be the one to stay calm. Over the next few days my siblings did find a similar place. We all realized, for our mother’s sake, we had to focus on her needs and her comfort, rather than our own feelings of immense loss.

As a family, we then all grouped as one to weather the storm ahead together.

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ImageCourtesy[kjnnt]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

mother

“All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother”.
Abraham Lincoln

I received some bad news about my mother ten days ago.
I have been away spending some time with her.

My mother has always been there for me and has made me who I am.
My mother has been my rock of support and an inspiration to be the very best that I could ever be.

Mum, this song is for you.

 

 

Divorce and weddings and families

 

 

ID-10067121.Stuartmiles My second son is to be married. This will be the first major milestone since the break-up. This will be the first time as a family where we will all be together, yet apart; where we will have to face not being a united family; and where my and my ex-husband’s siblings will see each other. I remember my eldest son’s wedding six years ago when we had that coming together of the two families and what a joyous occasion it was. How I so wish for this wedding to also be filled with joy and togetherness.

My son spoke to me by phone about some logistical arrangements for the wedding and I was dying inside as he spoke as I had been blocking those things out. I did not let on how anxious I felt. It was going to be his big day and I needed to put my angst aside. After the call ended I broke down. Everything hit me hard and I felt all mixed-up inside. I felt joy and sadness, fear and wonder, all mixed up together. I felt so alone that I could not share those feelings with my children, those whom I held dearest to my heart. The cruelty of divorce hit me as hard as it had ever hit me before, knowing that we were no longer the strong united happy family that we should have been.

About half an hour later my son rang me back. He had sensed there was something wrong with me. By then, I was in the middle of a puddle of tears. There was nothing to do but tell him how I felt. Out came three years of frustrated loneliness of never being able to talk to him and the other children about how I really felt. I felt that I had to protect them all from the pain of the broken family unit. I told him I felt I was supposed to put on an appearance of a happy united family for his wedding and yet we were broken. I felt that I was supposed to put on an appearance of his father and I being ‘friends’ when I did not feel that way. I felt that if I had to pretend we were that united unit, when we were not; and that his father and I were friends, when we were not; then I would be acting untrue to myself. I explained I wanted his day to be special but I did not want to live a lie. I wanted to stop pretending and hoping for the united family. We were two families now; my family and his father’s family. I could not act like the united family unit when we were not. From now on in my life I wanted to speak my truth. I wanted to act by my true self.

I had never spoken to my son about the break-up in that fashion before. My son assured me that I could always speak the truth with him. I no longer had to pretend. I felt a surge of bonding with my son that was stronger than I had ever felt before. I no longer felt lonely and that I could not share how I felt, with those whom I love. I no longer had to put on a mask. I had found my voice. I had spoken my truth. I was acting by my true self. I felt a huge weight had lifted from my shoulders because I did not have to pretend anymore. I felt free.

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Now that the suffering weight has lifted, I have six weeks to become strong and work out my self-strategies to ensure my son’s wedding is the joyous occasion it is meant to be.

 

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ImageCourtesy[StuartMiles]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Loneliness and daffodils

Down my driveway

A host of golden daffodils!

 

I was struck by loneliness a few days ago.

Loneliness is something that comes and goes for me. It was intense when my husband first left me. That was because I still cared for him deeply. I missed him as my soul-mate. I missed his companionship and I was hurting quite badly. I wanted to be loved and cared for. I wanted to be hugged. I wanted to be appreciated and respected. I wanted someone to think that I was special. I wanted someone to watch over me. A special person.

Loneliness moved on to a dark cold place of feeling rejected, discarded, unwanted and unloved. Loneliness kept me feeling insignificant, that I did not matter, that I was meaningless. Loneliness became a feeling that I would never see the light out of my darkness, that I would never feel any warmth again.

Loneliness became a feeling of having no direction in life. It became endless worrying and worrying about endless worrying.There was the loneliness of sorrow and grieving with no end. It became a bad dream from which I could not awaken.

Loneliness became me suffering and suffering alone. It became a burden for me, this  suffering alone. It wasn’t being alone that made me suffer loneliness. It was the suffering that made me feel alone, the knowing there was no-one who would understand me.

Loneliness transcended into me feeling like a misfit. There was no tribe out there for me.
I was a black pearl in amongst diamonds and even though I was trying hard to be a diamond, no-one wanted me.

That was yesterday.

Today is different because I realize this:

There has always been light out of the darkness. The sun always comes up. Absolutely. And even before the sun comes up, there are stars in the sky.
There is always warmth. The warmth of human kindness. The warmth of my inner being.
There is always hope. There is me. The hope is a belief in myself that never fades.

Today it is spring. The sun is shining. The flowers are in full bloom. In the ‘bliss of solitude’ I remember all the good that I have in my life, all my friends and loved ones who care for me and whom I adore, and my own specialness. And today I accept that I am a black pearl and proud of it. I want to remain a black pearl. Black pearls are rare and special. I am special.

‘And then my heart with pleasure fills, and dances with the daffodils’.

Daffodils
William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A Poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.