Flying high

 

ID-100238072.suwatpoJust a short post to keep in touch …

I have been away for two months, visiting my son in Canada, daughter-in-law and my brand new gorgeous baby grand-daughter. I spent two weeks in Vancouver, three weeks travelling (Alberta, San Francisco, Whistler) two weeks back in Vancouver, then some time in Sydney with my siblings before heading back to Tasmania.

After a fairly intensive seven year period, this was a wonderful time for me. For eight weeks I was able to leave my ‘must-be-done’ things behind. I was finally spreading my wings. Even though I have travelled here and there over the past five years, mostly that has been going to or from people at one or the other end. This time, as I could not stay with my son as they only have a tiny place, I spent quite a lot of time on my own; seeing new places; navigating buses, trains, planes, accommodation, tourist events, shops, restaurants, food swamps, taxis, walking trails, and hospitals; and had many new experiences – all on my own.

  • I met some wonderful people including bloggers Ian, Diana, (she posted a picture of me)  and Louise.
  • I attended a stimulating conference in Santa Rosa and met many like-minded people.
  • I had an accident on a bus one day and ended up in Vancouver Accident and Emergency for several hours (but I survived!)
  • I navigated various restaurants and food swamps and – despite my very tricky diet balancing food sensitivities with a determination to have healthy food – I did manage to find foods to eat wherever I went. I came home the exact same weight as when I left.

Now back in Tasmania, my feelings about what I call ‘home’ are mixed.

I am soon to be moving on as I have purchased a house near two of my children in the Hobart environs. I will be relocating there in the new year. Hopefully with faster internet connection, when I move there I can return to more frequent blogging again.

I do miss you all.

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Does grief really have stages and if you work through them are you over it?

ID-10046632.Vlado

When my marriage collapsed and dark emotions ran rampant, it was a comfort to me to learn that I was in a state of shock and grieving, similar to what one goes through after someone has died. The intense feelings I had were a normal part of grief with its supposed stages of shock, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. It helped me to know that I would pass through those stages. In fact, I made an aim to accelerate through quickly. I felt that if I got to the last stage – that of ‘acceptance’ – then the pain would go away.

How wrong I was.

I wrote a lot about those stages. I felt that I did progress through them but I never did reach a state of ‘acceptance’, where I felt that what happened had to happen. I did eventually ‘acknowledge’ that it had happened which was a turning point of sorts, understanding that my marriage belonged to a past world. In reaching that point however, of acknowledging my past life was gone, the pain did not simply go away. In many ways I had simply reached a beginning point, of learning to make my way in my changed world, with a new today, and a different future. The intense grief I had experienced was just the beginning of more pain for me.

Apart from my marriage there were other losses I mourned in the grief process such as the loss of my intact family and the loss of my financial security. Even now – over four years later and well over that grieving process – it is the here and now that is difficult, being a single mother and grandmother, and trying to make it financially with a bruised asset base. It is the practicalities of keeping on going another day, in another way.

In my case the stage theory seemed to work because I kept pushing myself to get through the stages. However, I can see now that it could have been a draw-back if I had thought any ‘stage’ (sadness for example) would magically pass and I would simply move onto the next stage. It didn’t happen like that for me. In fact I was so scared that I could become ‘stuck’ in a stage if I did not work to get through it, that I continually took steps to deal with the feelings I experienced, and learned to acknowledge my changed world of today. I do not know whether it really helped me doing that … or whether I would have simply passed through those stages regardless … or even whether I could have got through less painfully if I had simply let them happen, rather than trying to wish them away.

Another draw-back of the stage theory is that the stages can return again and again (although often with less intensity each time). By that I mean that I would seemingly get over an intense feeling such as anger or sadness and then that feeling would return. This is quite normal and yet when it first happened to me I thought there was something wrong with me. Once that happened it led me into a downward spiral of low moods and a new intense pain – the pain of feeling bad about myself, that I was not doing very well. It was only the voice of a dear friend who one day said to me ‘this is normal’ (what I was feeling) and ‘you are normal’ (how I was behaving) that brought me out of that deep dark chasm.

So here I am enjoying my new world of today (and I truly am) and looking forward to my exciting future (honestly I am) … but sometimes there is still that lump in my throat, that pain in my chest, that catch in my breath, and that intense feeling of loss.

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Home again

ID-10011911(2)I have returned home again, having spent the best part of the last two months, with my siblings, caring for my mother in her final days.

Sometimes I wonder whether I am actually returning home, or whether I am leaving home behind me. I am feeling a quadruple loss. As well as losing my mother, I am leaving behind my siblings, my extended family, my hometown and the community I grew up in. To leave all that behind me, to return home alone has been difficult. What am I coming home to?

Two days after my mother’s funeral, I took a phone call from my solicitor to say that the marital settlement was complete. You may remember that papers were signed earlier this year. From that signing date, the actual process to untangle our various investments and loans took a few more months. Now the process was finally over.

I was very sad that I never got to share that moment with my mother. However, only days before she slipped away, I did share with her my dreams for my future. That conversation had made her relaxed, and she gave me a smile. She was happy to know her daughter would soon be on the road to her own life, with a vision of a life of peace and contentment.

Now, three weeks later, here I am.
Home again.

Yet, it will all be so different …

My home is now actually my home.
My finances are now my own to manage.
The business settlement period is drawing to a close.
I am finally free of the marital entanglement.

Four major changes in my life, and with the death of my mother, that makes five.
My life will be so different.

So today I am clinging on to that vision, that vision I shared with my mother, that vision for my life being one of peace and contentment.

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Image courtesy[/FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Critical choices

ID-100202241.Tao55It has been a roller-coaster of emotions for me over the past seven weeks.

I had been working hard to try and get the marital settlement over the line before my second son’s upcoming wedding. I was also busy getting my home ready by doing a few things to the kitchen prior to my son and fiance (and her parents) coming to stay. Coming from Canada, they planned to stay in Tasmania a week before the wedding and I was looking forward to spending some quiet time with them.

Three weeks before their due visit and four weeks before the wedding, my mother had a turn and was rushed into hospital. She was there a week before we realized that her illness was quite serious. I flew up to be with her and my siblings for a week.

Then my siblings made me return home to prepare for my expected visitors and to get myself into ‘mother-of-the-groom’ mode. I returned home with the countdown one week before visitors and two weeks before the wedding. The kitchen needed to be put back in shape (as I had stripped it bare before my sudden exit), and the house had to be put in better order. On top of that there were business issues to attend to, a mountain of paperwork to complete, and bills to pay. Two days after my return, there was a sudden major strategic development in the marital settlement, which required urgent meetings.

For those crucial few days, as I dealt with the marital settlement development, I had to put all my emotions completely aside in order to make some highly critical decisions. I had to put aside the emotions surrounding my mother’s illness and my son’s wedding. In doing so, a numbness descended on me and I began to feel nothing at all.

In the topsy-turvy world that I had been living for the three years since my life upended, I had craved normality. I had been waiting for the marital settlement to be final so that I could feel normal. I had been waiting for the marital settlement to be over, so that I could sit back and enjoy my children’s milestones, such as weddings. I had been waiting for the marital settlement to be over, so that I could start my new life. Over the previous weeks, I had discovered that life would not wait. My mother needed me now. And I needed to be with my mother. My son needed me to be happy and relaxed at his wedding. And I needed to feel happy at his wedding. Now, I could not work out how I was going to fit my mother’s illness and my son’s wedding into everything else that was also suddenly happening in my life.

On the Thursday evening, after I returned home from the crucial meetings, I just wanted to sit down and cry. I couldn’t. So I did the next best thing, I sorted sheets. From absolutely nowhere, I had a sudden nesting instinct, and of my wanting to do something ‘normal’ that did not involve emotional pain. I sorted sheets and then more sheets, well into the night.

The next day, I went into work and did all that was necessary in order for me to absent myself from everything that was going on in my life EXCEPT for my mother, my son’s wedding, my visitors and my family. I put EVERYTHING else aside. The business, the marital settlement, decisions. Life was more important.

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ImageCourtesy[Tao55]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Divorce and weddings and families

 

 

ID-10067121.Stuartmiles My second son is to be married. This will be the first major milestone since the break-up. This will be the first time as a family where we will all be together, yet apart; where we will have to face not being a united family; and where my and my ex-husband’s siblings will see each other. I remember my eldest son’s wedding six years ago when we had that coming together of the two families and what a joyous occasion it was. How I so wish for this wedding to also be filled with joy and togetherness.

My son spoke to me by phone about some logistical arrangements for the wedding and I was dying inside as he spoke as I had been blocking those things out. I did not let on how anxious I felt. It was going to be his big day and I needed to put my angst aside. After the call ended I broke down. Everything hit me hard and I felt all mixed-up inside. I felt joy and sadness, fear and wonder, all mixed up together. I felt so alone that I could not share those feelings with my children, those whom I held dearest to my heart. The cruelty of divorce hit me as hard as it had ever hit me before, knowing that we were no longer the strong united happy family that we should have been.

About half an hour later my son rang me back. He had sensed there was something wrong with me. By then, I was in the middle of a puddle of tears. There was nothing to do but tell him how I felt. Out came three years of frustrated loneliness of never being able to talk to him and the other children about how I really felt. I felt that I had to protect them all from the pain of the broken family unit. I told him I felt I was supposed to put on an appearance of a happy united family for his wedding and yet we were broken. I felt that I was supposed to put on an appearance of his father and I being ‘friends’ when I did not feel that way. I felt that if I had to pretend we were that united unit, when we were not; and that his father and I were friends, when we were not; then I would be acting untrue to myself. I explained I wanted his day to be special but I did not want to live a lie. I wanted to stop pretending and hoping for the united family. We were two families now; my family and his father’s family. I could not act like the united family unit when we were not. From now on in my life I wanted to speak my truth. I wanted to act by my true self.

I had never spoken to my son about the break-up in that fashion before. My son assured me that I could always speak the truth with him. I no longer had to pretend. I felt a surge of bonding with my son that was stronger than I had ever felt before. I no longer felt lonely and that I could not share how I felt, with those whom I love. I no longer had to put on a mask. I had found my voice. I had spoken my truth. I was acting by my true self. I felt a huge weight had lifted from my shoulders because I did not have to pretend anymore. I felt free.

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Now that the suffering weight has lifted, I have six weeks to become strong and work out my self-strategies to ensure my son’s wedding is the joyous occasion it is meant to be.

 

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ImageCourtesy[StuartMiles]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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 # 5 – the aloneness of decisions

” Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.” C S Lewis “The Silver Chair”

ID-10022566.Danilo.RizzutiChoices are not the same as decisions.

A choice is when there are two or more items on the shelf and you choose one.

A decision is the end-point and the thing you get to live with after the other choices have been discarded.

In its cruelest sense, I was the discarded item of choice. The decision was the ending of our marriage. The choice was his and he gets to live with his choice. I get to live with his decision.

I coped to a large extent from the consequences of his decision by making my own choices. For example, I chose aloneness over loneliness.

Loneliness was feeling sorry for myself.

In the early days post separation loneliness descended upon me.  I felt my whole world had collapsed and with it all those levels of companionship and support my husband had seemingly provided. Gradually I realised that comfort could be provided by other means and from other people. I even embraced aloneness as my companion and as an opportunity to develop my creativity. By doing so I have not let myself become enveloped in any further loneliness.

Aloneness is a state of being alone

Aloneness does not simply mean living alone. Aloneness is being the only one in exactly my position with my strengths and weaknesses, the only one with my inner beliefs and desires, the only one who can face my difficult moments when I feel most bereft.

When I was married all major decisions could be shared. Where to live, how to provide financially, which projects to become involved in. Now all those decisions are mine and mine alone. My problem now is agonizing over the consequences of any decision I make, making sure any decision is fair and reasonable to myself and others, and feeling utterly alone in the making of those decisions.

I realise now these are not my decisions, they are my choices – where to live, how to make or spend my money, and what to do with my time. I realise that I can enlist help from others in making those choices and I can take my time in making them.

In contrast my most difficult decisions have been mine alone and have not been made with choices laid out for me. They were not made after protracted analysis or at times of quiet deliberation. They were made at times of distress. At those times of distress, the raging turmoil within me grew so intense that the only choices I had were sinking into complete collapse or finding calm. I chose calm.

From the calm within the turmoil I made those tough decisions – alone and with yet with total conviction because I just knew they were the right decision.

Those difficult decisions have been to change myself, to face the truth and to live by my core values no matter what.

Any choice I make now will come as a consequence of those life decisions I have made.
In fact, for any seeming conflict I have within myself for any current choice I now need to make, I only need to look back to those decisions and the choice becomes an easy one.

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“When the pain of what we are living becomes greater than our fear of changing, we let go. When our fear of drowning swamps our fear of holding onto nothing, we start to swim”. Louise Gallagher

 

 

 

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