Responsibility for my own needs

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This is the second in my series of posts on ‘My Responsibilities’

In my last post I stated that it was my choice to take responsibility to attend to my own needs and wants. When did that responsibility start? Which needs can I control? How?

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When my husband suddenly announced the ending of our marriage, I was left without choice. I was denied any opportunity to save my marriage, denied any right to a say in its ending and the manner in which it ended. My belief in my own self-worth as a person was completely shattered and I was left feeling utterly powerless. I was thrown into a trauma-like state of distress overlaying a grief process which overwhelmed my ability to cope and threatened to crush my inner resolve. My basic needs of security, trust, and having some control over my destiny, were destroyed in an instant.

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Thrown into that crisis without choice, the only was out was to get through, survive. However, beyond that point, beyond the instant of that initial announcement, it has been my responsibility to move past the drama, take back control of my life, and to attend to my own needs.

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There is nothing more empowering, no more certain way of winning back control,  than by taking responsibility for my own choices and attending to my own needs. I have come to realise the more aspects of my life I take responsibility for, the more choices and control over my life I am able to win back that had been lost by the action of abandonment.

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This has been a gradual process. I began by taking back control of my life one minute at a time, then one hour, then one day at a time. I began caring for myself with diet, relaxation and exercise. I restored routine and order in my life, and simplified my lifestyle. I focussed on my home and made it my peaceful sanctuary. I surrounded myself with things the way I wanted and redecorated my living space. I embraced solitude as a chance to do whatever I wanted and to follow my own passions. I let go of the coupledom that was and took the time to reflect on who I was as an individual. I spent time affirming my values and beliefs and resolved to remain positive and optimistic. I discovered me again.

That was a major step, discovering me.

However, when I went further and explored my needs I discovered that I was still down on the bottom levels of fulfilling basic needs, those of comfort and stability. I had been unable to rise to my higher needs of self-fulfillment and pursuing my life with purpose and meaning. I realised that, even though I had discovered and embraced my new self, I was still living our life my way, rather than living my life and following my dreams. Now it was my responsibility to change.

Attending to my higher needs of pursuing a life of purpose and meaning, of re-finding trust and re-gaining my feelings of self-worth will take some time. I will first need to eliminate those areas of my current life that are not leading to my desired outcome. This will require huge changes in my life. I will need to move away from the area where I have lived for 35 years, plan my future, get re-educated, start a new career, make new retirement plans, and work out how I will survive financially. I am aged 59. None of this will be easy. However, it is my responsibility to make it happen, to choose valued responses to those challenges ahead, in order for me to pursue my own passions to a higher level, and move forward to a life of purpose and meaning.

In the meantime, I will keep focussing on and take responsibility for those needs that I can address right now; those needs of my health, stability, and financial security. I will explore my responsibility for those needs in my next post.

Image Courtesy [Digitalart] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

39 thoughts on “Responsibility for my own needs

  1. Elizabeth, I am so proud of you, and I appreciate your candor in sharing your journey. Your words really resonated with me tonight, and I understand where you are coming from and where you are heading. It’s a pleasure traveling with you on our respective paths!

  2. I guess I had it easier. I was divorced at 30 after 11 years of marriage. But I also needed to find myself, my own identity and figure out how to meet my own needs of love mostly. I am still on that journey, figuring out one piece of the puzzle at a time. Good luck! God bless! I hope you find what you are looking for and somewhere along the way… I hope you discover that God is always providing, always giving us what we need, when we need it.

    • Thanks for your encouraging comment. I am glad that you stopped by. You are spot on, it is all a matter of one step at a time, one piece of the puzzle solved, then another, then another; and eventually the whole of the picture will be there for all to see.
      thanks for your support 🙂

      • 🙂 and someday you will surprise yourself with how far you have come and how much you have already achieved without even realizing it. I just know it in my bones. Hang in there and practice a lot of self-love (I give myself pedicures.. lol) and then a time will come when you will see that you are enough to meet your own needs 🙂

  3. It’s a process… an ongoing journey towards, well, who knows where.
    –> “I will need to . . . plan my future, get re-educated, start a new career, make new retirement plans, and work out how I will survive financially.”
    It’s been several years now for me–I am also in my 50s–and I’m still tackling these same challenges. The “retirement” part is especially disturbing, as there used to be hope of that but I’m pretty sure that won’t be the case for me anymore. That makes it even more important to shift career focus and make sure I’m doing something that has meaning and brings fulfillment, for I may need to do it for a very long time. The tricky part is putting all this effort into the right field of work, giving serious consideration to the inevitable challenges of aging and how that might affect my ability to keep doing whatever it is I decide to do.
    It all can seem overwhelming (and sometimes is) but it’s good to have a goal and a general sense of direction, even if we don’t know EXACTLY where we’re going and how we’re gonna get there. 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment. It has truly helped me. I have looked forward to ‘retirement’ and know that the much-depleted asset base is going to make that difficult. It has been quite painful seeing friends and colleagues begin to retire (with their partners) and move off into the sunset of bliss and tranquility, while I continue to struggle. However, my decision to ‘retire’ from my current situation and do something that is more personally fulfilling is what I need right now for my own sanity – even though I know that by doing that it will be tougher financially and my real ‘retirement’ will be at least a decade away.
      Thanks again. Your support means a lot to me.

      • I can relate to “the pain” because I see examples of those fortunate ones myself. I’ve been blessed with finding a wonderful partner in recent years with whom I can travel through life but even that doesn’t guarantee financial freedom… he’s no better off than I in that regard. Still, I wouldn’t change the path I’m on in trying to shift into work that I enjoy and/or believe in. Bottom line is: if tomorrow turned out to be your last day in this world, what would you have hoped you were doing by then? Something that excites you into doing your best?… or something that you despise that is guaranteed to put money into a bank account that you may or may not live long enough to ever access? I’m not saying I don’t waiver (’cause I sure as hell do) but when I do, a voice deep inside my heart says that quality of life now is more important than a perceived quality of life later. There are no guarantees in life. Now is all you know for sure.

      • It is a dilemma this juggle between freedom now and freedom later for both financial security and quality of life. However, you are so correct about finding something that excites you and gives you that feeling of doing your best is SO important.
        Thanks for your feedback. I really appreciate it. .

  4. Those are big scary decisions to make, but you will find a way to live where you want to live and work with what you want to work. And in this day and age, 59 is still young! There is still time to live a life that is all yours and that makes you happy.

  5. You are hugely courageous and inspire me to look at my life and see where changes will create more of what I want in my world -inspite of my fear.

    Journey on brave one. I’m with you!

  6. Moving out of the drama of divorce is critical. Not everyone makes it out. Divorce courts are clogged with people who don’t, either because they don’t want to or they don’t know how. A good lawyer who understands the nuances of a “good divorce” can help. One who doesn’t keeps you stuck.

    • Thanks for your comment. I agree.
      Part of my process since the separation has been to talk to everyone I know who has been separated about their separation, whenever that was, and how they still feel about it. I have found that many of the ones who are still bitter years down the track are those who had lengthy and combative divorces. It is something people just do not seem to recover from. We (my husband and I) have striven to have a peaceful divorce and property settlement (not yet over). So that gets rid of one area that may set me permanently back (although I sometimes personally still struggle with the abrupt manner by which he left me).

  7. What resonated with me is your decision, repeated over and over through your process, to spend time discovering you, to be in relationship with yourself. From my experience as a divorce lawyer, it is critical to allow yourself time to be alone. Many people jump into new relationships, sometimes when the divorce isn’t yet over. And while I understand the different reasons I’ve heard, it’s better to wait. Thank you for sharing your experience. It validates so many others.

    • Having come from a family of six and having four children of my own, one of the aspects of this separation I am revelling in is having some time alone to simply be me. It is a precious asset that I never know I ever wanted.

  8. Hello, Elizabeth, I went through a lot of your blogs this morning trying to find an indication of what may have motivated your husband to all of a sudden leave the marriage. The thing is if it came totally out of the blue for you could it still have been a relationship with someone else? Or what could it have been. Of course you do not have to anwer this for you may want to keep certain things privat. It’s just when I read about the dissolving of a marriage I tend to reflect on it what may have caused the break-up.
    I’ve been married since 1956. I can honestly say there were times when I felt I would have welcomed a separation. But I cannot imagine it could have happened without first talking about it. This ‘out of the blue’ thing sounds quite distressing to me. But I admire you for having been able to come to terms with it in a reasonable short amount of time. I love your writing. I am looking forward to read more of it!
    Aunty Uta, Dapto, NSW, Australia.

    • You are correct. There was someone else, 28 years younger. I did not start blogging until about six months after he left me and by that stage I wanted the blog to be about me, not the marriage.

  9. Being in a similar situation, I’m trying to look at this process as doing a jigsaw puzzle. Right now I am putting the edge pieces together. After that, I can fill in the middle.

    When you step back and look at it, aren’t you amazed at what you’re accomplishing?

  10. I’m so glad you visiting my blog today, especially since now I have discovered yours. Thank you for this beautifully written and deeply felt post. My marriage ended when I was in my 50’s, and I could relate to a lot of what you expressed. Thanks again.

  11. Pingback: The Financial Impact Of Divorce #2. Survive | Almost Spring

  12. Pingback: The Financial Opportunities of Divorce. #4 Freedom | Almost Spring

  13. Pingback: Responsibilities ++++ | Almost Spring

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