Week 4 – Journal

Week 4 – (14 October 2011) was the week I started to journal my thoughts and feelings. Up until then I had felt the pain and I had felt the distress but had not been able to fathom out how to deal with it. This week I started writing everything down in my journal. All my feelings of my hurt and pain. I wrote down how I was thinking and what I was doing. I found it helped a lot.

I was trying very hard to focus on positive things to give me hope for the future. By writing them down I was able to believe that a positive way forward could be found, even if it was still too painful to actually act on those plans. I also wrote down a lot of negative things. This was a way of acknowledging those negative thoughts and feelings without them overwhelming me and allowing them to take over my life. Acknowledging is one small step away from accepting and once you accept something is real then you can face it – whatever it is – and begin to let go of it or learn to deal with it and move on. If you do not accept that something is real, then you can remain stuck in a paralyzed state forever. I did not want to stay in that place. I  found that I was able to get all my sad, mad, and bad feelings down on paper and then I could close my journal for the day, rid myself of those feelings, and carry on with life.

After a time of writing all this down I began to I acknowledge that this process – coming to terms with this separation and getting divorced – was a transition from ‘we’ to ‘me’. It was not the way my life would be in the future. It was a process I was passing through, dealing with all the emotional aspects of the separation while at the same time restructuring all aspects of my life – where I would live, what I would do, fathoming out what my financial position would be. None of these would be easy but by acknowledging it was a transition, a process to get through, I was able to start tackling one factor at a time and examining each of those in turn before making any rash decisions. Writing it all down helped me to plan through that process.

I took this as an opportunity to think about exactly what I wanted for my life, for me. Never before had I had such an opportunity to rediscover myself and define what I wanted for myself. I wrote down all my ideas. I tried to look at the opportunity of what presented to me, rather than the negatives. In the early days, I focused on my short-term daily life – rather than my long-term plans. I wrote these all down. I could have whatever I wanted for dinner, I could watch whatever I wanted to on TV, or not watch TV at all if I did not feel like it. I could run into someone down the street and talk to them for an hour – or not at all. I could listen to the music that I wanted to listen to. I could read, I could write, I could do puzzles or go for a walk if and when I wanted to for as long as I liked. Some of these things I did not start to do straight away but writing them down helped me resolve that I could do them if and when I wanted to. Later on I would think about some of the bigger issues in my life.

I took time for reflection. If I had a negative thought or feeling, I wrote it down and tried to replace it with a positive thought or feeling or action. This was difficult at times but it did work in putting me in a better frame of mind. Whilst I tried to resolve in my mind ‘what went wrong’ I tried to not beat myself up about it and dwell on it. I wrote some things down which helped me to acknowledge some aspects of what happened and then I let it go.

I leaned on others. I poured my heart out to my family and closest friends. It helped to know that there are people there for me. If what someone said to me helped, I wrote this down in my journal. Gradually, I was able to cope more on my own.

If I had to make a decision, I stopped and made sure that I was in a good frame of mind before deciding on it or acting on it. In fact I thought everything through more slowly than normal. I gave myself that luxury of taking my time. I wrote down my decisions. When things became overwhelming, I paused, wrote down everything that was bothering me and then went through them all one step at a time, then picked just one of those out to start on.

It was almost as if my journal was replacing the soul-mate that I was missing; that one person who you would normally pour your heart out to; that one person who you would normally discuss the days events with at the end of the day. Now that person was gone and there was a huge void.

My journal started to fill in that void and become my most trusted confidante.

Week 3 – Spring clean

By week 3 of life on my own (02 October 2011) I was starting to feel just a little bit angry. I thought of the years stripped away. How could I ever think of them with fondness and happiness again. My childhood sweetheart where the love was supposed to continue forever; the future we planned together of travel and time with the grand-children; our home together; our four beautiful children; the support on projects we gave each other over the years; the trials; the triumphs; the holidays; the camping; the support for him; always, always, always being there for him …… yet he dumps me like a limp cabbage. HOW could he do this to me …………Yes, the anger definitely started stirring inside of me.

Message to self.”Self, channel this anger energy into something positive”

And I did. ……… I started to clean.

I cleaned out the cupboards of the house. I took everything out, washed everything, cleaned down the shelves, and put back only exactly what I needed for myself. I packed away everything else or threw things away. “If in doubt, throw it out” was the motto I followed. I tidied, I washed, I vacuumed, I packed away boxes of “stuff”.

I decided to keep only a quarter of what was there before. Half for him then I got rid of half of my half.  I worked right through the night and the following day and the following week. I continued until I had finished. There was now space on all the shelves for me to start again. I put all the “reject” stuff into boxes to be taken away. This was good therapy. It felt good. In fact, it felt strangely fantastic.

Later one of my sons came home and helped me halve the videos and DVDs. We cleared out my husbands music collection, his CDs and his books. It was symbolic for me. I was ridding him from my life literally, metaphorically and emotionally.

This was still only week three and I was still in pain and utterly raw inside the whole time. Many things made me sad and I could not face them. So I made a “sad” box. If I came across something that made me too sad to leave out yet too precious to throw away, I put it in my “sad box” to look at later when I felt I could deal with it. That time has not yet come. This included some photos, gifts and jewellery that only yesterday held a special place in my heart reminding me of our time together and now I did not know what they would mean to me.

If there was anything that I found uplifting in those painful early weeks, it was the action of spring-cleaning the house; of ridding myself of the painful reminders of the happily-ever-after that now would never be; of re-claiming all the space as mine; of starting new beginnings. This was the beginning of me for moving on as me.

So ended the third week of life on my own.

Week 2 – Alone

I am alone.
In the morning there is no-one there. There is no-one there for the ‘hello’ in the morning at breakfast; no-one for the good-bye kiss as we each head off in the morning; or return at night; no-one to have dinner with; no-one to chat about the daily activities – ‘what did you do today?’. There is no-one to go to bed with at night; and then – guaranteed – no-one to wake up beside in the morning.

So I awake each day in absolute pain and I am completely raw inside.  I am aching inside with the feeling of being stabbed in the heart. I do not think it is possible to understand the pain that is felt by the action of desertion until it actually occurs. It is just not possible for me to describe the pain. I cannot fathom out what has happened; the loss of my soul-mate; my one and only; our forever; our togetherness; the loss of the meaning of trust and truth. I cannot fathom out the betrayal and the feelings of abandonment.

My life is now foreign and unfamiliar and I drift along. My life has been busy and full and rewarding and now it is blank.

I am panicking all the time and I am not one who normally panics. I am crying all the time, alone in my office, alone in my bed, alone in my car, alone in the evening that stretches before me. Every song I listen to makes me  cry. Every movie I watch makes me cry. Little things set me off. Opening our cheque book and seeing our joint names. Coming across letters he had written to me. Staring at his record collection. His pictures. His books. Our photos on the walls.

Where has my strength gone? Nothing that I normally do to help me through tough times is helping me. I searched the internet for help. There are people out there who have survived. I read their stories for inspiration. I did some soul searching for answers as to what could have happened. These are the questions. What happened? What went wrong? How could this be? What happened to the strong partnership that was that would survive through triumphs and tragedies? What happened to trust? These are the questions. There are no answers for me today.

And I am all alone, completely alone.

This is my story written in an approaching southern hemisphere winter recounting the eight months since my second life began. This was how I felt – Week 2 October 02 2011.

Week 1 – Pain

Week One – Pain

I coped by shutting down and living my life one hour at a time. How could I come to grips with what had happened? It is not easy to pick oneself up after 36 years of marriage and accept that it is over. Your marriage is everything; your heart, your soul, your soul-mate, your family, your work, your drive, your reason for getting up in the morning with hope in your heart. And it is gone. All gone in an instant. The tears started to flow and became a torrent that would not stop. All the time voices tried to get into my head reliving the past, thinking of our plans for the future. I shut them out. I could not cope. The past was too painful. Yesterday they were happy memories, now they are too sad. I could not go there. Our future – my future – had been stolen. What was to become of me now? I became anxious about the future. I shut it out. Only the present was safe. Only the present was real. So I stayed in the present – one painful hour at a time. Wake, walk, work, shop, cook, eat, house duties, sleep – going through the motions of life like a zombie.

Breathing became a top priority for me – it meant I was alive.

Day One – Shock

Day One – Shock
23 September 2011

Returning from a four week holiday visiting my son – our son – my husband asked me out on a “date” which amounted to him telling me that he was ending our marriage of nearly 37 years. No discussion, no alternative, no choice and, to me, completely unexpected.  With those words he spoke to me, it was like a knife had been driven straight through my heart and my insides smashed into a thousand pieces. I had to detach myself from the moment in order to survive. There was this intolerable pain that started that first minute of that first hour on that first day and I wondered how I could cope, how I could survive and when the pain would stop. I was in an instant stripped of my past, robbed of my dreams for the future and thrown into the twilight zone of the present – one painful hour at a time.

Family – You Raise Me Up

My family and close friends will always be a part of me and remain first and foremost the most integral part of my march towards my new life as ‘me’.

To my family and close friends who helped me through the difficult times –

You Raise Me Up

When I am down and, oh my soul so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;.
Then I am still and wait here in the silence;
Until you come and sit awhile with me. .

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on your shoulders;.
You raise me up, to more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

There is no life – no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up… To more than I can be.

Lyrics By Brendan Graham

The ending of ‘we’

This blog over time will outline the steps of my transformation into ‘me’. That process begins at the ending of ‘we’ – an almost 40 year relationship with my husband and soul-mate – a relationship that ended abruptly and unexpectedly through no choice of my own. The first few weeks I was in excruciating agony surviving by living one painful hour at a time. Six months have now past and the pain has eased enough for me to now put some of my thoughts of those first few weeks into words.

Where do I begin to recount the mixed emotions I have felt in the loss of that wonderful partnership – the love that we had, the lost happy memories, our beautiful family, the lost plans for the future, the shared projects together, the care that I gave, the grief, the unfairness, the anxiety, the pain, the anger, the horror, the victim I became, the catastrophic events we endured – or perhaps it seems we did not – being thrown onto a rollercoaster of emotions up and down – all by myself.

I was passing through and am still passing through a grief process – those four to seven stages or feelings that psychologists claim one passes through after a death or loss of a loved one before one can truly resurrect one’s own life again. The end of a marriage is such a loss – I can vouch for that – and it does seem that there are particular stages or feelings you pass through or experience along the way in this grief process on the loss. The stages supposedly include – shock – pain – anger – depression – then finally acceptance and hope. By week six, when I was reading about these stages, it was this last stage I clung onto of ‘acceptance and hope’ as where I would like to be. I felt that if I could get to a point of acceptance then perhaps I could turn the situation around with positive responses and a hope for the future – a positive future.

That was how I started to feel by week five or six. Before that – weeks one to four  – I was in crisis and in pain. Whilst I am aiming for this blog to be positive responses for my life going forward, the process does start at those first weeks of agony – at the ending of ‘we’ – where any positive sign seemed a long way off.