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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My life in transition #2 – from resentment to conviction

“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul”
from ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley

I am not by nature an angry person. When anger swept over me in the weeks after my husband left me it was a foreign feeling which I hated. I went to great lengths to conquer those feelings of anger so they did not convert into angry actions. I did not want to become an angry person. I chanelled the anger-energy into spring-cleaning, writing and making a conviction to live by my core values. The poem Invictus became my saving grace and I read it every day. I swore to be the ‘captain of my soul’.

I squashed anger before it took hold. Resentment crept up on me.

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Resentment is disguised anger; with subtle differences. Anger is a feeling triggered by a single event; whereas resentment is an underlying attitude and sense of unfairness. Whereas anger is an aggressive retaliation against something received (pain); resentment is a defensive response to something missed out on (care, trust).

Before, my underlying attitude was positivity and calmness. Fleeting annoyances, such as being kept waiting for an appointment or someone behaving rudely, washed over me. Of late, I found myself irritated by such things. How did this come about? How did an act of betrayal by my spouse two years ago, allow me to become disturbed today by a passing remark by a stranger in the supermarket?

After I conquered the anger of the initial insult, I began to wonder how my marriage collapsed without me seeing it coming. I looked for signs. I found some. At the time I had ignored them because I trusted him. The seeds of resentment were planted.

Then I thought of parts of his personality, such as being gregarious. I began to see that as a sign which should have made me wary. Resentment sprouted.

Unrelated yet annoying behaviours of his, that as a trusting caring spouse I overlooked, I now began to see as things I should have objected to. Resentment grew.

Meanwhile, I was alone with my financial security in tatters, still trudging through marital mud, unable to move on. Resentment flourished.

Initial angry feelings directed at him gradually evolved into an attitude of resentment at the unfairness of my changed situation and thinking of myself as stupid for not seeing signs, trusting too much, needlessly putting up with things and being “too nice”.

Struggling with this sense of unfairness, self-blame and mistrust, the classic misguided protection-from-further-hurt thought “I won’t let that happen again” set in. This is the defensive response of resentment. I am not an angry person so I will not lash out in anger, but I will defend myself against further pain and loss The trouble is, it was false protection. I was indeed hurting, in need of security and warmth of others yet I began mistrusting everyone. Instead of empathy at people’s behaviour and acting with warmth and care, my defense armour went up. Being too “nice” got me into trouble before. Trust let me down. I was becoming socially isolated and wary and, in doing so, hurting myself.

Conviction to Core Values

The way out of resentment is the same way out of anger – by a conviction to live by core values. However, it is actually a lot harder to tame resentment as it is an underlying attitude that needs changing, rather than a fleeting feeling.

The simplest way I have found is to re-frame how I see things.
Resentment is against things, against unfairness, against my mistreatment.
On the other hand, a conviction to core values is for things, for fairness, for my well-being. This is a subtle yet profound difference.

Let me see how this re-framing may work for things in my current situation-

Resentment:
‘I was too trusting, too nice, too blinded.’
‘It’s not fair I am still trudging through mud’.
‘I should have moved away to a new life’
‘I cannot trust anyone’

Seeing through the eyes of resentment against things breads anger, blame and envy.

Conviction to core values:
‘I have always been a caring person. I will continue to be so.’
‘I am the person best placed to ensure our settlement is fair and reasonable’
‘I am able to choose if, why and when I shall move’.
‘I can trust myself to be the best person that I can be’

Seeing through the eyes of conviction creates enthusiasm, contentment or joy.

Gone is self-doubt, self-blame, unfairness and mistrust. Now within my focus lies self-compassion and self-forgiveness as a stimulus to create a healthy self-identity to regain my positiveness and act on my core values of courage, kindness, and fairness.

 

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You may want to read Living and Loving after Betrayal. Steven Stosny

ImageCourtesy[Africa]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My Life in transition #1 – Creating Certainty

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
Robert Frost

I survived the unexpected change to my life of the ending of my marriage. Initially wracked by feelings of shock and sadness; I pushed ahead with positiveness, looking forward to finding contentment and a sense of purpose somewhere in my future. Now in transition between that sadness of the past and hope for my future, I am confronted by a different set of emotions – uncertainty, resentment, resistance, overload and anxiety. I decided to tackle the first one.

Uncertainty

My life before my change was predictable. I had a stable marriage, security and trust. The sudden ending of my marriage marked by betrayal involved a huge loss of trust. Trust in others. Trust in myself. Trust in certainty. Before, I trusted that I could rise each day, know my role in life, know what I was going to do with my day and know I was protected. After my change, that certainty was lost. Uncertainty threw my life into chaos and I became anxious and scared.

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Certainty

My self-cure for uncertainty was to create certainty and get me back to a basic level of comfort and security. I did not ask for change but I could master my transition from that change. I could build on those things I know I can rely on.

Firstly, I wrote down those things I have been able to rely on my whole life:

  • The sun will come up every day
  • Myself
  • My mother and sister

In the early days of agony it was a great comfort to me to rise each day and watch the sunrise. It has never let me down.

It took me time to accept I could still trust myself and my own judgement. After a year of self-reflection I concluded that I can.

My mother and sister have been two constants for me the whole of my life. I cannot include my two brothers or children on this list as being younger than me they were not there when I was a small child, though I know they are there for me now.

Secondly, I wrote down my methods to build on certainty:

1. Acting on my values rather than my feelings.
I strive to always act with grace (respect for others) and dignity (respect for myself). This has helped me through confusion and chaos. If I always act in that way, it does not matter what turmoil I face, my life becomes predictable. I become my own stability.

2. Channel my actions into valued responses
If I channel my response into four key areas: improvement, appreciation, protection and connection; then certainty and stability will return to my life.

3.Establish a routine
At times of chaos, I return to my comfort of a predictable daily routine of a healthy diet, reflection, daily exercise and connections with loved ones. This helps me keep a sense of normality and I can follow this routine at home and when away.

4. Maintain a schedule
All other responsibilities (work, family, friends, creativity, community) I schedule into my calendar and project ‘to-do’ lists. My calendar keeps life predictable. My lists keep me sane

5. Goals
For moving ahead into my future I have set my transition goals:
a. Closing the property settlement
b. Implementing the property settlement
c. Establishing new career/purpose
d. Reestablish a new home base

Nine months ago, I had moved out of a lengthy period of affirming my values, beliefs, attitudes and responsibilities including a healthy routine. Then I became lost in a swirl of confusion. Having now finally accepted that my life is in the uncertainty of transition has paradoxically given me a degree of certainty. I know now where I am, where I am going, and how I am going to get there. I have moved forward to a written schedule and a commitment to transition goals. While the first two goals are stepping out of the past, the last two are moving into the golden path toward my future. Writing down my transition goals this past week has been significantly motivating for me.

 

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UNWANTED PASSENGERS ON MY SHIP

“it not matters how straight the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the Master of my fate, I am the Captain of my soul.”
William Henley

ID-10055232. Stuart Miles

If you imagine my life as a ship, with me the Captain of my ship; then I have control of my ship. It is up to me to steer my ship in the correct direction and to ensure at all times that the ship does not sink.

Some time ago my ship ran into a hurricane. It was necessary to shelter in safe harbours for a while, undergo required repairs and maintenance and, as it was completely blown off course, set a new safer direction. Now the storms have passed, I have stocked up my ship with supplies, boarded my passengers (kindness, empathy, fairness, optimism, courage, wisdom) and have once more set sail.

I have discovered that I have picked up some unwelcome passengers on my ship:

1. Unwanted feelings of sadness, pain, fear and disillusionment
2. Negative thoughts of “I do not matter”; ” Something else will go wrong”, and “Its not fair”
3. Confusing memories

In the past I have dealt with these ‘passengers’ by various methods:
a. Worried
b. Ignored them
c. Distracted myself.
d. Engaged in meaningful beneficial activities
e. Thought positively. .
f. Called on one of my support people and talked things through.

Most of these methods (except the first two) work a little. Some of them work a lot. Indeed, I managed to rid myself completely of guilt, bitterness, desire for revenge, feeling like a victim and ‘what did I do wrong?’. As for the others, if I engage in positive activities and spend time with my loved ones on a regular basis, it seems that they disappear. That is why I felt it safe to continue my journey. However, after an unexpected trigger, here they are making an appearance again. I have come to realise that these methods are important activities for making me feel better, relaxing, enjoying life and distracting me. However, they do not rid my ship of unwanted passengers. .

What I believe now is this:

In life things happen. Sometimes these ‘things’ can be catastrophic or traumatic. Occasionally one catastrophic event can pile up on top of another. This is what happened to me, with the ending of my marriage coming on the back of several fairly major life-changing events in the years prior.

For over two years I tried to rid myself of the negative memories, thoughts and feelings surrounding the ending of my marriage. I wanted them to disappear. I willed them to disappear. I worked really hard to make them disappear. Yet they are still there. Sometimes they remain in hiding. At other times they come out and cause havoc by becoming unruly and obnoxious. Occasionally they try to get me to change directions.

I can wait no longer. I must continue on my journey and accept that I have to carry these thoughts, feelings and memories with me. I do not have to listen to them or pay them attention, but I need to accept they will not go away. Just as people who need to live with chronic pain, disability, or illness; just as a person tending a loved one with a deteriorating disease; just as those who have lost loved ones and must carry that loss for the rest of their lives; so must I accept these passengers. I too must carry these thoughts, feelings and memories with me.

Despite their presence, I can still take my life in a worthwhile direction. What is important now is not to waste any more time or energy in trying to get rid of my passengers but rather deal with them in a graceful and dignified manner whenever they surface. While they will come and go in uncontrollable waves, they cannot hurt me.

I am the Captain of my ship. It is only me who can make the strategic decisions as to where my ship will sail. It is only me who can act and If I do not act on unwelcome thoughts, feelings and memories then they cannot hurt me. If I do act on them, I can make sure that I act in a positive manner.

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Image  courtesy [StuartMiles]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Phoenix

      The fire within me

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Phoenix

Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, cancelled,
made nothing?
Are you willing to be made nothing?
dipped into oblivion?

 If not, you will never really change.

The phoenix renews her youth
only when she is burnt, burnt alive, burnt down
to hot and flocculent ash.
Then the small stirring of a new small bub in the nest
with strands of down like floating ash
shows that she is renewing her youth like the eagle,
immortal bird.

D H Lawence

Image courtesy [Photographic]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ithaca

Ithaca

As you set out for Ithaca
hope that your journey is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – do not be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare sensation
touches your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon – you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope that your journey is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind –
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and learn again from those who know.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so that you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.

Music composed, arranged, produced and performed by Vangelis
Poem recited by Sean Connery
Poem by C.P. Cavafy (1863-1933) written in 1911.

My attitudes # 2 – Next comes Optimism

My attitudes # 2 Optimism

“The goal we seek, and the good we hope for, comes not as some final reward but as the hidden companion to our quest. It is not what we find, but the reason we cannot stop looking and striving, that tells us why we are here”. Madeleine Albright

In my recent post on hope I wrote of that first spark, that first light, that vision of what you desire will eventuate. Optimism, whilst similar, is different.

Optimism is the capacity to look on the bright side of life, of making the best out of any situation.
Optimism is accepting some things will not change and learning to dance despite them.
Optimism is seeing the change that you want, and propelling yourself towards it
Optimism is seeing life’s adversities as challenges to overcome, rather than as hindrances getting in your way.

In our everyday life we have set-backs. When it is raining; you can grizzle and moan; you can hope for the rain to stop; or you can bake cakes and smile. Which do you choose?
If you are kept waiting for four hours because your plane is delayed, you can shout at the stewardess, you can hope they put on an earlier plane; or you can sit and be glad of the extra time to chill. Which do you choose?

I believe looking at the brighter side of such inconveniences prepares you for larger set-backs. Optimism is a huge asset when confronted with difficulties – death, divorce, disease, disablement, displacement, distress, or disaster. In these situations optimism is more than seeing a brighter side, optimism is more than anticipating the best outcome; optimism is a confidence in oneself to be able to chart a course of action, and to propel oneself to overcome the challenges set before you.

Three weeks ago I returned from a wonderful holiday then was hit with the reality of what I am soon to face; running a business on my own, with a reduced asset base, huge debt and risk. How could I cope?

Firstly, I found hope.

Then a post on overcoming FEAR Face Everything And Respond” gave me a clear optimistic vision, with a kind response by the author Ian to a comment I made that my metaphoric vision of seeing myself wading through mud was me positively seeing adversities as challenges to overcome rather than being frozen in an “it’s not fair” mentality.

I thought back to signs of this optimism in me the past sixteen months. There was evidence. I learned to enjoy each day. I looked on the value of my extra space, rather than seeing emptiness. I embraced solitude. There was my vision overcoming my fear of a mountain to climb by finding an easier path, and proceeding along that path step by step.

A poem posted by Dr Bill Wooten (copied below) earlier this week was a signal to me, a call for action. A similar sentiment was expressed in a poem by Clarabelle of finding the belief within yourself. I was now set. I knew that I had to face what I had to face. I knew that I had to do what I had to do.

So this week I have had meetings with my accountant, commercial lawyer, bank manager, and financial advisor. I have spent evenings feeding numbers into spreadsheets, making business plans, devising budgets, plotting a course of action. I believe I will overcome this challenge. I will survive. I will take the necessary steps towards and reach my own financial security.

Today you can

“Today you can choose to count your blessings
or you can count your troubles.
Today you can live each moment
or you can put in time.

Today you can take action towards your goals
or you can procrastinate.
Today you can plan for the future
or you can regret the past.

Today you can learn one new thing
or you can stay the same.
Today you can seek possibilities
or you can overwhelm yourself with the impossible.

Today you can continue to move forward
or you can quit.
Today you can take steps towards resolving your challenges
or you can procrastinate.

You see today the choices are up to you
in deciding what you do today.”

~ Catherine Pulsifer