feeling intoxicated!

ID-100128413.africaI have been feeling Euphoric!

The taste of what true freedom means is beginning to seep into the essence of my being.
This began after the sale of the business and has continued to grow as I have gradually shut down all work commitments. Since my head has been clear of that part of me, I have been better able to see more clearly what my life will be like. For the very first time, I have been able to see my life as a single person and being able to build that life as I want to.

When I had the business to manage and the marital property settlement to contend with, I grieved not having a partner to lean on in the decision-making process of that period. It was tough going because for forty years I had always had someone beside me for previous big decisions. Having navigated that period by myself and succeeded in my resolve to ensure the business sale proceeded and the property settlement was fair and reasonable, I now have more confidence. I know that whatever event in life I am confronted with, I will have the courage to face it and survive. Moreover, I can climb to the top of the mountain!

With the business sold and marital settlement trudging over, there is now for me a lifting from my shoulders of a large weight and a somewhat delayed but nevertheless euphoric and triumphant ‘I have done it‘ beating of my fists into the air!

I am free. I am on my own and I am free. I do not have to compromise my time any more. I am free to adjust and adapt my time with myself and my loved ones and my contributions to society and my creative projects or whatever else I decide. How I distribute that time is mine alone to choose. And that feeling of being alone and single and being able to control my own time in its entirety is intoxicating.

 

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Image.courtesy[Africa]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

new transitions

1998-105Back on that bridge …

As I wrote in a recent post, I am again on my way from here to there, with life in transition. A transition is moving from one life chapter to the next such as transitioning from teenager to adult or from adult to retiree. We may also transition after a significant life event such as moving house; changing jobs; having children; coping with an illness, injury or disability; and navigating a financial or legal crises. Transitions involve four phases – holding on, letting go, taking on, then finally moving on.

The life ‘chapter’ or ‘event’ I have been through is the end of my marriage and relationship with my husband of 37 years. In my case of late-life divorce, there has not been this one simple life changing event for me. There have been several. The business sale has meant the end of my working life as I have known it and an identity crisis of its own merit. There has been a change in family dynamics, my social networks and community connections. There is my sunken financial situation to consider. I also intend to sell my home, move to a new area and forge ahead in a new career and lifestyle. That is a lot of changes over a few short years. Continue reading

Transmuting anger

“I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power that can move the world” Mahatma Gandhi

ID-10032230 I have written before that I find it difficult feeling, dealing with or expressing anger. I am not inherently an angry person and I hate confrontation. I am generally of a forgiving nature – perhaps too forgiving – and I am tolerant of other people’s up and down moods. However, I tend to put anger in a different category than a simple ‘mood’ and I am prone to associate anger with aggressive, toxic and hostile people.

So if ever I find myself becoming angry, it fills me with angst as I become concerned that I may be turning into an angry toxic person. Then, as I am reluctant to face my anger, my emotions start to twirl around in an uncontrollable fashion.

Having had to deal with a fair amount of anger over the past few years, I have come to realize that the feeling anger has a defensive form and it tends to be this defensive form that is the one that sometimes hits me. Usually it hits me in response to an aggressive action directed at me. In those circumstances my own anger that I feel has actually been the one emotion that is everything to do with defending my values.

Anger is my reactive emotion whenever I have perceived mistreatment, insult or malice. It is the feeling of anger that gives me a sense of justice, and to want to right wrongs. It is anger that leads me on to defend morality. For example, anger is the outrage I feel when I hear about child abuse, racism, mistreatment of women, rape or murder. From a personal perspective, it has been anger that has empowered me to do good in past causes that I have taken on such as the saving of wilderness areas, and fighting for free speech.

Anger is also the feeling that empowers me to become the best I can be. Anger has been the emotion behind my silent protest against what I initially saw as a reprehensible situation, on the collapse of my marriage. Anger planted within me an inner drive to get through the mess, survive and thrive. When I have felt utterly worthless and useless, anger has been the rebellious spirit within me fighting for feelings of self-worth, courage and dignity. Being energy-charged, anger has enabled me to keep going though all the turmoil, through all the mud. When I felt all the values I ever believed in had been violated, it was anger that gave me the drive to fight to maintain my own values, to keep believing in them, and to keep living by them – no matter what. Anger has kept me striving towards a life of moral principles to live by … and to keep doing what I believe is right.

Rather than try and bury anger, which I am prone to do, it is far better that I ask ‘what value do I feel has been violated that is making me feel this way?’ Then with a rightful indignation against the violation of that value, affirm within myself that I will never compromise that value and determine to keep living by that value’s code. Once that value within me is reaffirmed, the course of action out of turmoil into a land of peace and harmony becomes more obvious to me.

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This is a third post in a series on feeling my feelings.
# 1. Feeling my feelings
# 2. Recognizing my own feelings

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Recognizing my own feelings

ID-10062094.David catillo Dominici

Since returning home, I have begun sorting through my boxes, some of which I have not been able to previously tackle as they hold records of family ventures, travel, community involvement and business projects that I shared with my ex-husband. Now with the marital settlement finally finished, the business sold, the company financials complete and nothing pressing hanging over my head that I must get done; I have started sorting. What I have noticed going through these boxes is that things have changed in my head in two very significant ways. I could never have envisioned or predicted either of them.

The first thing is there has been an emotional detachment of sorts, from the bond I had in my marriage. As I am sorting through, if I come across an item such as a letter that would have previously made me sad (grief phase), angry (resentment phase), or sick (disgusted phase), now it conjures up no feelings whatsoever. Things I am coming across to do with my ex-husband, I am throwing non-nonchalantly in the rubbish bin without a backwards glance. I am not thinking of the relationship in either a positive or negative way. As far as the relationship is concerned, I do feel I am “over it”.

When I come across something to do with a shared project, because there is now this detachment from the marital bond, I see myself having participated in these projects and being proud of what I did as an individual detached from any association with him. This is weird in a way, as it not the way they happened but it now how I see them. I do not feel any pain, or anger, or sadness, or shame.

However …

The second thing I have noticed as I have begun sorting is some items will trigger thoughts of past events and I am now seeing those past events as an independent witness, rather than as I was back then as the supportive wife. As an independent witness, I can more clearly look at the fairness or otherwise of past events. I can see sometimes I went along with activities or ventures that were not my choosing, or were done in different ways than I would have done. That was fine when I was the supportive wife as I was happy to compromise, as one does in marriage. I was very happy with that compromised situation throughout my entire marriage. Now, with the emotional detachment that has occurred and looking through the eyes of an independent witness, I am not seeing myself as that supportive wife but rather I am seeing myself as me, as my own person. As I begin to see myself as me with my own needs and beliefs and values, I am now also getting flashes of my own feelings, feelings that I experienced at the time of those past events, feelings that I buried. I am feeling feelings of long ago and those feelings are my feelings.

The feelings are coming to me in little breaths, in little heart beats. Generally they are not overwhelming and are gone almost as quickly as they came. However, sometimes I have had to take some time out to catch my breath, and to allow myself the time and space to feel my own feelings and to tell myself that it is OK to feel my own feelings, even those feelings from many years ago. One day, I felt more deeply than a heart-beat and I had to get away and I went into town and spent the afternoon at the library. The feelings that I was suddenly feeling were very strong and I needed some space to get my thoughts straight.

So this is a bit topsy-turvy. On one hand, I have this strange detachment, this emptiness of any feeling. On the other hand, I am getting these flashes of deep feelings from yesteryear.

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This is the second post in a series on feeling my feelings.
Image.courtesy[DavidCatilloDominici]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am on the bridge!!

1998-105I am on the bridge!

Life in transition has four phases of holding on (mourning losses), letting go, taking on, and then finally moving on.

I was stuck in the ‘letting go’ part for a long time and then when I was finally free of all that I started to wonder what could be next. So I sat still for a little while. It was almost as if the ‘letting go’ had become a world of its own accord as it had become my normality and even my identity for a while.

Well it has finally gone and I am taking on new things getting ready for the road ahead.

I am on my way from ‘over here’ getting ready for ‘over there’.

Feeling my feelings

BCR_2002_050At the beginning of 2014, at the tail end of a period of reflection, I was beginning to have a vision for my future. It was a defining moment. After my marriage collapse I had spent quite some time mourning the past, yet fearing the future. To come to the place of a bright vision for my future was a fantastic place to be. The downside was I was still trapped in the mud of the financial process of my marital settlement. I could not move on to the vision that I had. From that point, I was no longer trapped in the past, I was trapped in the quagmire of an unpleasant present.

That was frightening and demoralizing. Two mini-epiphanies pulled me out of my dark hole. The first was a suggestion from a friend to re-frame the processes of the marital settlement as steps towards my bright envisioned future. Clunk! An obvious self-esteem boosting solution once I could see that. The second was sage advice from my mother. She told me I needed to face what had to be done, write down the tasks to get it done, get started on the first, keep going, get through it, then – and only then – when all done – begin living that life I was dreaming.

Facing all that had to be done was extremely painful and overwhelming, but I did face it. I wrote it all down into a horrifying long-list, subdivided into categories, tasks, and sub-tasks. Slowly, task by task, I moved through the list and got the job done. When I wrote the list, I had no idea at the time that it would take another fifteen months to complete, all the time dragging myself through mud. The going was tough and slow.

Sadly, I also did not know at the time that I would lose my dear mother along the way.

I did not know for ten of those fifteen months, I would be flitting between the two worlds of the marital settlement process, and caring for my mother in her last phase of life. Two entirely different and emotionally intense worlds, yet both were worlds where I had to put my emotions aside in order to cope. In order to survive and get through that last fifteen months of the marital settlement, which required my logical thinking brain, I had to put aside my feelings of grief at the loss of my marriage, and feelings of anger and resentment at being stuck in the process of settlement. In order to care for my mother and provide for her an environment to live her last days in peace and happiness, I had to put aside my own distress that I was losing her. I had to put aside my own grief, for her well-being.

Four huge changes have taken place in my life over the past few months: the selling of the business, the end of the marital settlement process, the final separation from my husband, and the death of my mother. Friends and loved ones were concerned that with all that, when I found myself alone, I would emotionally collapse. What would I do with myself? How would I cope?

I must admit, I too had moments of concern. Over the past fifteen months, when emotions surfaced, I would actively blunt them or push them aside. I would tell them to go away until I had time to deal with them. I was afraid that when things became quiet they would return and would overwhelm me. I was also afraid the opposite may happen, that I was so used to burying my emotions, I would become a frozen wasteland devoid of feeling.

I have not collapsed. I have not become overwhelmed. I am coping. In fact, at times I have been bubbling with excitement and anticipation at approaching blue skies and exciting adventures ahead. However …

I am feeling my feelings – all of them. Instead of pushing them aside I am embracing them and I am at peace that I am at last able to allow myself that space to feel them. ___________________________________________________________________

This is the first post in a series of posts I am writing on feeling my feelings.

Life around the corner

“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”               from Kindness, poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

ID-10052519.digitalartLife around the corner (that corner that I got to after I got out of the mud and went a little way down the path and found a bend in the road and I took it) is sunny and warm; with blue skies, green grass and kind friendly people having fun.

This has surprised me because they are the same people who were there before, when I was stuck in the mud, yet for some reason I failed to see their kindness, I did not notice their friendliness and I most certainly had no time to join in their fun.

OR …

Is it that I am acting more with kindness and friendliness to those people and they are responding to my warmth and opening their hearts. We are laughing, having fun together.

It wasn’t that I didn’t chat before, or I that I was unkind, or unfriendly; it was just that when I was in the mud I had to keep going or I would get stuck. I had to keep going and going and had no time for idle chit-chat. I could not extend a hand to help others because that may have pulled me under and make me sink. I had to protect myself from the storm clouds above, from the driving wind blowing in my face, and the mud below and ahead of me.  I was so busy protecting myself and looking down at the mud that I did not notice the people and their situations and their faces. Those people are people – just like me. Sometimes they have been in mud of their own, and sometimes not.

Now the road is clear and I am looking up at their faces.

I can hear their stories – of the young gentleman at the firm where I had my car serviced who did not like the atmosphere at his previous job; of the lady from whom I bought my new kitchen pots who has a husband who is unwell; and the twice-divorced receptionist at my lawyers with a 30 year old son whom she adores, yet is lonely living on her own.

I can see their friendliness – the doctor’s receptionist embracing yet joking about their new computer program; my hair-dresser encouraging me in a new style for my hair; the sales-lady in the department store offering colour suggestions for my clothes.

I can feel their kindness – of that same sales-lady taking me around the store to find some matching accessories; of the manager of the department store allowing me to take my time with my purchases and then escorting me down the lift (elevator) as it was a bit spooky being the only one left in a huge department store 45 minutes after closing time!

These are interactions I am having with people in my everyday life as I now have an everyday life. I am now doing everyday things – an annual doctor’s check (six months overdue), hair-cut (four months overdue), car service (two years overdue, so low was its priority), buying new pots instead of putting up with old ones with no handles, luxuriating in buying new clothes rather than wearing the same clothes day in and day out for four years; and attending to my own legal affairs after years and years of attending to joint affairs.

In life around the corner, I have time for everyday life and within that everyday life I have found kindness and friendliness. It is all around me, everywhere I look, flowing from the crucibles of human life stories, pouring forth for me to drink and quench my thirst.

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