I have changed my mind

ID-100170157 - master isolated imagesI have changed my mind on a few issues surrounding my divorce.

(Disclaimer: My apologies to all those in happy, healthy, monogamous, caring, understanding relationships with partners who love being together and yet who give each other space to be individuals.)

1. Previous thought: I was abandoned.
New thought: I was set free

2. Previous thought: I have no-one to protect me.
New thought: I have no-one to hold me back.

3. Previous thought: I have suffered intolerable losses of assets and income.
New thought: I do not have to stress about what someone else is spending.

4. Previous thought: I am alone in making tough decisions.
New thought: I am able to make my own choices – on absolutely everything.

5. Previous thought: I do not have a soul-mate to share my life with.
New thought: I do not have to compromise on anything, especially values and beliefs.

6. Previous thought: I am trapped in this prison between past and future.
New thought: I am in this wonderful place of now.

I am free. :)

 

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Image courtesy[master isola]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Caring for mother # 4 – breaking the code of silence

 

ID-100101273

We all bring our own strengths and weaknesses to the caring for our mother. We all have our own histories, where we fit into family dynamics, how we interact with each other, and the roles we have all played with our mother in the past. Living much closer than I did, my elder sister has been a significant figure in my mother’s life, assisting her with shopping and washing, and developing a closeness by sharing projects of writing history books. My brothers gave support in practical ways and all things technological. I had bursts of shorter yet intense high-quality time as we would stay together a few times a year, either my mother with me or me with her.

Since my mother became ill, our roles have clearly changed as each of us has helped as much as we can whatever way we can whenever we can. As my mother can no longer live alone, my sister and I have alternated staying with her. My sister has been better than me at domestic care; whereas, being the one with some medical knowledge, I have deciphered medical instructions and developed clear guidelines on diet and medication. My brothers have attended to practical aspects at her unit, her financial management and wading through literature on aged-care assessments and residential facilities.

There has been an overlap of our various roles, and we each have strong opinions on particular aspects that we talk about with all family members. Then there are things we talk about only with some family members. For example, my brothers shy away from the nursing care details, yet my sister and I talk these through constantly. Then there are those taboo issues – topics to be avoided at all costs. In our family, as in every family, there are unwritten rules about what can and cannot be said. In our family, showing emotions and openly discussing feelings has definitely been off-limits.

Over the past three years, I have changed. I have felt huge emotions due to the break-up of my marriage and at various times expressed my feelings to those close to me, including my mother. Gradually my mother opened up to me and began expressing her long pent-up emotions to me. She spoke to me about her grief at losing my father, her mother, one sister and two brothers in quick succession and bringing up my two younger brothers on her own. This has been the silver lining to the trauma for me of my marriage collapse, that I have developed a closeness with my mother and we have both been able to express those deep feelings and emotions to each other for the first time ever in our lives.

In regards to the emotions surrounding my mother’s illness, I have found that I have been the one who has been able to remain calm and yet express sorrow. I have shown less anxiety and stress at the medical and practical ups and downs; and yet I have expressed more deep emotions of sadness, loss, and gratitude. It has also been me who began “the” (difficult) conversation with my siblings, and more recently with my mother about (knowing the final prognosis) how quickly or otherwise things may happen; about how we may all manage this when it does happen; from panicking to remaining calm; from rushing Mum to hospital or keeping her at home; managing her symptoms and her emotional well-being; and what she would like to do with her remaining time.

And of making sure I take the time to say to her, ‘you have been there for me through triumphs and tragedies; you have shown me courage, fairness, kindness and wisdom; you have made me what and who I am, and I will miss you’.

And what I have noticed is that when I start that conversation with my mother, she no longer will shy away from it, but rather – she smiles at me and beams with pride.

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Ok … so now what?

“I am not sure what I shall do, nothing here has worked out quite as I expected”
“Most things don’t. But sometimes, what happens instead is the good stuff”
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

 

ID-10036272.nattavutFor over three years I have been in this place of limbo between my past and future, trudging through the mud of the marital property settlement, waiting for it to be over so that I may begin my new life. Recently I wrote that the settlement agreement had been finally signed. What I did not reveal in that post, is that about the same time, the business had been sold. This sale had meant much administrative burden for me over the previous six to twelve months, and the business itself had consumed my life for decades. I have thus in the past month had this marvellous quadruple lifting of time-related stress. I will shortly be free of the marital settlement, business-sale negotiations, legal work-up on both those counts, and the running of the business itself. Even though there is still some final processes to complete, those changes will happen. Those stresses will be gone.

I must admit that after a day of luxuriating euphoria on signing the agreement, I then went through a few days turmoil. That was the exact opposite of how I thought I would feel. For two days I did not sleep. It was not exactly panic but my head was in a spin with thoughts whirring around as to what my next step would now be. It was almost as if for three years I had been trying desperately to get through this door that had been stuck. Then when I FINALLY walked through it, there I was confronted again with not one but several more doors. And I was at a loss as to which one I should attempt to open first.

Should I prepare my home for selling?
Should I move closer to my mother?
Should I move closer to the children?
Should I stay where I am?
Should I spend more time with my children?
Should I visit my siblings and friends?
Should I join a community group?
Should I begin a course?
Should I get back to my previous career?
Should I go back to university?
Should I start another business?
Should I retire?
Should I become frugal so my money stretches further?
Should I get financial advice?
Should I volunteer for a local charity?
Should I volunteer overseas?
Should I travel simply for the thrill of it?
Should I take up a new sport?
Should I take up a new hobby?
Should I embark on a new project?
Should I get myself fit and active and healthier?
Should I write a book?
Will I be able to continue to live my life alone with grace and dignity?

After a few fitful nights, I woke one morning with my next project ahead as clear as anything. My project – for the next year at least – would be to focus on me.

The truth is, I need to decide on all those things in the list above.
The truth is, some of them will be both difficult and challenging.
The truth is, I will be in conflict within myself as to how best prioritize my time.

That is life.

However, I can also spend some time on me, I can take some time for me.

The key realization that I have come to is that I am in another transition.
I have been through one transition over the past three years and am finally closing the door on that transition period – the ending of ‘we’.
I am now beginning another transition – finding the true ‘me’.
I have concluded that, whilst it is still a transition, that it is an OK place to be.
It is OK to not definitely know the path ahead.
It is OK, even exciting, to try new things and maybe make mistakes along the way.
It is OK, to be me, alone.

And, whereas my transition away from ‘we’ was marked by frustration and me feeling trapped; as I enter this new transition towards ‘me’, I am tasting the delicate flavour of freedom.

 

 

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It is signed!

ID-10045513.digitalartThree years, three months, three weeks and three days of my life.
Now that purgatory of divorce transition is finally over.

Yay!

 

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ImageCourtesy[Digitalart]FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I see the light and the light is me

 

ID-100207722.KROMKRATHOGIt is the new year and a time for reflection.

My thoughts travel not so much to should-have-could-have-would-have regretful reflection but one of pondering accomplishments achieved, challenges overcome, and opportunities that lie ahead. In many ways, 2014 was a long and difficult year for me and there are still challenges ahead in 2015. Nevertheless, as I approach another fork in my journey of life, I can honestly say I am looking forward with eager anticipation to choosing which way I now need to go, and I am excited at the prospect of new adventures that await me.

I have been reading others’ thoughts on beginning the new year. One blogger invited us all to think of a word for 2015. Another blogger went further than 2015 and invited readers to look inside their ‘destiny’ box to view their future. That made me think of three things – the place I am currently at with the darkness now behind me, my aims for 2015, and my future destiny. In each of those places, I thought of light.

These are my hopes and dreams for me for now, for this coming year and for my future –

  • To reach towards and follow the light out of my darkness and pain…
  • To embrace the light in the day-break of my own new beginnings …
  • To see the light by gaining insight, understanding and awareness …
  • To experience the light of new Ideas, opinions and ventures …
  • To have a light in my eyes, for my eyes to sparkle with joy …
  • To have a light disposition by becoming cheerful and engaged …
  • To carry a light weight by being less burdened by baggage …
  • To reflect the light of inspirational people …
  • To show the light of hope to others less fortunate than myself …
  • To be the light – to guide, to inspire, to ignite …

I see the light.
I feel the light.
I am the light.

 

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Almost there…..

 

ID-100107304.num_skymanIn regard to the marital property settlement I have recently passed through some major hurdles and have almost got the whole settlement across the line. The feeling I have is that I have been lost and alone in this thick dark gloomy impenetrable forest which I have spent three years trying to hack through, seemingly getting nowhere. Then I decided to go a different route, trudging uphill through an area of dense brambles, enduring much pain and suffering to go that way, but by that route I have slowly been edging forward. At last I have come to a clearing. Even though there is still a little way to go, I can at least now see the path ahead. The way to go is easy walking for me now and, just a little bit further down at the end of the road, I can see some light.

I am almost there.

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Caring for mother # 3 – when did I become the strong one?

ID-100135811.supakitmodWhen did I become the strong one?

When my father had his stroke and was admitted to intensive care, I went to pieces. My sister and I arrived at the hospital to be of support to my mother, but I was useless. I could only stay by my father’s side for ten minutes at a time. I did not know of anything that I could do for my father, who was in a coma. I did not have any words of support for my mother. I was of no comfort to her. I would sit by my father’s bed for those few minutes at a time, then I would go out into the corridor and cry and cry and cry. On the second day, I offered to stay at home to be of support to my younger brothers, rather than go to the hospital again. Seeing my father in a coma tore my heart out. I was not strong enough to be there for him and watch him go. I was not strong enough for my mother. I was nineteen years old.

My sister, on the other hand, stayed with my mother. She was there with my mother when my father passed away.

So, when was it I became the strong one?

Was it being there with my husband when my father-in-law passed away?
Was it being there alone for 24 hours with my mother-in-law after her admission to hospital, until my husband and his siblings arrived from inter-state?
Was it holding my children close, firmly, and calmly through blood tests and injections, knowing that my firm hold on them prevented more pain by my stopping them jerking?
Was it getting the diagnosis of cancer in my son and being able to bravely smile at him and say ‘you will be all right, it will be all right’, not knowing whether I was telling the truth?
Was it fronting doctors and teachers, calmly demanding the right medical treatments and the correct educational programmes for my children, time after time after time?
Was it persevering for justice through an unfair litigation process?
Was it standing up for my beliefs at an Annual General Meeting of a billion dollar company and asking embarrassing yet legitimate questions of the CEO?
Was it surviving abandonment and betrayal?
Was it eight weeks ago when I fast-tracked grief so that I came to a place of acceptance?
Was it through those tough times that I became strong?

Or did I become strong, watching my mother?

Was it watching my strong, patient mother care for her own mother and siblings through illnesses, catastrophes and crises?
Was it watching her bringing my two younger brothers up alone, after my father died?
Was it watching her remain calm and positive through every situation?
Was it sensing her helping me calmly through my own adversities?
Was it then that I became strong?
Was it her shining light that was guiding me?
Was it her reflecting enough light in my path for me to see clearly my road ahead?

Now, with her light fading, what now for me and the road ahead?
What now for the gathering darkness?

I know that it is me who needs to become that light in the darkness.
I know that in this difficult period, it is me who must be the strong one.
It is me who must be the strong one for my mother, and for my siblings.
It is me who must remain the calm, steadying force.

Because it was in all those tough times, it was in all those times that I thought were my very worst times, it was in those times that I was actually becoming my best.

And I was becoming my best for the one who taught me the most – my mother.

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