Finding my voice …

ID-10072476.PixomarWhen I changed the name of my blog to spring into summer, it was because I felt I had (at last) come through the winter of despair after the collapse of my marriage. My mood had become more upbeat and optimistic looking forward to a new and exciting life ahead, just as the season spring heralds the warm and carefree days of summer to follow. I feel this is a phase of preparation for me and instead of transforming my life from we to me, which was my previous focus, I am finding my voice in preparation for speaking my truth.

What does this mean?

Finding my voice is finding my inner calling and passion, and the ‘why’ or purpose for that passion. Speaking my truth is having the courage to make that voice of mine heard. This post is my first post about finding my voice. As it is a journey of discovery, this is simply the beginning and there will be other posts as I get closer to locating it.

Finding my voice

Ideally a true calling or passion would reflect my inner being that holds my true feelings, needs, values, thoughts and beliefs. My first step therefore is to connect with that inner part of me. That true side of me – my voice – has over many years, and in particular over the last few years, been hidden underneath an overlay of other voices. These have been the voices of my parents, society, religion, friends, my husband, my children and my own ‘I-need-to-be-perfect’ expectations of myself that need not have been so unrealistic. It is somewhat sad – and yet is the truth – that for so long my true voice has been stifled, drowned out by louder voices pounding away, repeating the same rhetoric over and over. Much of that rhetoric has stuck in my head as the truth when it has not necessarily been the truth. Sometimes those other voices have been so repetitive, so loud, and so persuasive that I have had difficulty hearing my own voice, let alone recognize it as mine.

That has now changed.

I have now found quiet.

And in the quiet, since I have been free of the marital settlement, since I have been organizing my life, since I have become an adult orphan, since I have been reflecting on my life with no pressure to do anything or be anywhere or become anyone in particular; I have been having flashbacks to certain events in the past. Now, rather than suppressing my true feelings, for the good of my family, out of care for my husband, out of respect for my mother, out of duty to society; I am allowing myself to feel my own feelings and I am recognizing those feelings as my own. Feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, humiliation, shame, anxiety, happiness, exhilaration, pride, contentment or whatever feeling I was truly experiencing at the time of those flash-back events. Rather than accepting things should have been done a certain way, I am seeing things from my perspective. I am questioning things. I am hearing my own voice. At times my deep needs have gone unchecked or my values were violated or my beliefs crushed or my ambitions curtailed in the name of being the good wife, the dutiful daughter, the loyal friend or the respected law-abiding citizen.

I am now seeing things from my perspective, rather than from the needs of my husband or children. I am understanding the profound effect the sudden early death of my father had on me, rather than seeing it from my mother’s situation. I am remembering times when I did or did not do things that I felt were right or wrong.

I am allowing myself to feel my own feelings.

I am looking underneath those feelings at the violated value or the unmet need or the sense of loss or the crushed (or lifted) pride that is triggering those feelings.

I am thinking of ways I may restore my unmet needs, and self-esteem; and ways I may live by my values and beliefs.

I am planning ways I may transfer my voice onto a pathway of living a richer life for myself and – by ‘speaking my truth‘ – helping others find their own voice.

This is my journey …

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Images.courtesy[Pixomar/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

The influence of divorce on my needs

 

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Our needs can be grouped together such as basic needs (food, warmth), safety (home, security), relationships (partner, family) and higher mind needs (work, leisure).

After a crisis, our needs return to basics before moving to needs higher up. The ending of my marriage was such a crisis and as everything crashed down, I coped by focussing on the basics of eating a healthy diet, walking in the mornings, following a routine during the day and cocooning myself in the warmth of my bed at night. I was in a survival mind-set of fulfilling basic needs as all else was gone; my perceived safety, my security, my family unit and my companion. As I continued to crave the comfort that my home and routine provided, I wondered whether I would remain there. Could I ever move on to higher needs?

I had become confused about my needs.

There is a difference between my needs, including emotional needs, and those things that fill those needs. My needs have actually not changed. What has changed are those things that previously satisfied them. I had been clinging on to the concept that I needed the same type of ‘satisfiers’ to provide for my empty needs. Taking an honest look, my needs are not a home, a sound financial asset base, a life-companion, work, hobbies and experiential pastimes. They are satisfiers of my needs, not the needs themselves. My needs are stability, security, a sense of belonging, a need to contribute and create, and a need to celebrate the joys (and sorrows) of life. What is gone is the person and shared projects that previously satisfied those needs. What I need to do going forward is to find other things and other ways to fulfill those needs.

In regard to need satisfiers, you can receive them, be self-reliant, or give them. As a simple illustration: people in third world countries can be provided with food hand-outs or they can be taught how to be self-sufficient and grow crops. The first aids a continual need to be provided for, the latter aids self-reliance and improved community spirit.

One of the consequences of my divorce in regard to needs is that it moved me from a self-reliant ‘I need to do’ and contributing ‘I need to give’ strength to a fragile ‘I need to have, I need to be provided for’ mind-set.

My confusion over needs versus satisfiers and my fragile ‘I need to have’ mind-set together have influenced both life decisions I made in the months post separation as well as some day-to-day choices.

Life decisions:

I need to feel safe and comforted. My home provides me with safety and comfort.
I need security. The job I have provides me with financial security.
I clung on to my home and my job in the year post separation.
Those satisfiers for my daily comfort and security conflict with my long-term need for belonging as my children and family live far away. Therefore despite the daily comfort, there remains an ache. A year ago I looked at my real underlying needs as opposed to merely things that satisfy and I made the decision to change for my forward journey.

Daily choices:

I sometimes have feelings of anxiety, sadness, anger, resentment regarding my divorce. These are voices of pain ‘I am scared’, ‘I am lonely’, ‘I do not matter’ and ‘it’s not fair’.
These voices reflect my underlying needs of security, belonging, significance and respect.

In my last post I wrote how I now recognize those voices of pain as a call to protect my present. While it is tempting to go for a passive need satisfier providing comfort (watching TV,  over-eating etc) or leaning on a confidante who will provide a sympathetic ear; that keeps me at the ‘I need help’, ‘I need to be comforted’, ‘I need to have’ mind-set. I need to transform that ‘having’ mind-set into ‘being’, ‘doing’ and ‘giving’ strengths while providing for my own needs of *protection, *connection, *creation, *contribution and *celebration.

 

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*I have created these new terms for my own needs as creativity is a ‘doing’ need of mine and that is my start :).

You may also want to read:

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Tony Robbins six needs
Max-Neef Human Scale Development.

ImageCourtesyOf[Smarnad]:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Financial Lessons Of Divorce #3. Priorities

ID-10093950 piggy bank.DanI have previously covered the topic of human needs. Needs tend to be hierarchical in nature with lower needs required before higher needs. It tends to follow in the order of – survivalstabilityconnections esteem – experiences – giving back. If basic needs are not met one can become stressed or have a hollow feeling of something missing. You have to fill lower needs first, become strong at your core, then move upwards to building your esteem. With strength within, you can then start giving back to others. Aiming too high before strength has developed, can make everything collapse due to a weak base.

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The same concepts can be applied to our financial situation. To provide for our needs,  financial costs are required. The same hierarchy exists – survival – stability – connections – esteem – experiences – giving back.

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Herein can lie the issue after divorce. Before, both my emotional and financial lower needs were fully met. My lifestyle and expenses moved up; up to worthwhile activities for my esteem (hobbies, projects), savouring experiences (travel, entertainment, eating out), and giving back (philanthropy, community projects, and family). When my whole world crumbled, and with it my strong base, as I kept trying to feed higher needs I was used to, my lower needs crumbled further. I had to prioritize my needs in the situation as it stands today. That means thinking of myself, meeting basic needs first, growing a secure savings net next, planning activities (and expenses) that will provide me with connections or improve my self-esteem, then moving upwards to life experiences and helping others.

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These are my financial priorities:

1. Survival

  • My Home and utilities.
  • Essential living costs. Food, healthcare, basic clothes.
  • Minimum loan repayments on debt

2.Connections

  • Communication. Phone, internet.
  • Safe, reliable car. Petrol, maintenance.
  • Transport, travel and accommodation costs in visiting my family.

3. Stability

  • Disaster prevention – insurance
  • Paying debt off
  • Save for emergency fund

4. Discretionary

  • Time. Labour saving appliances, cleaner, tradesmen.
  • Goals and projects. Education, sport, music, crafts, hobbies, books, computers
  • Experiences. Travel, eating-out, entertainment, holidays, festivals, social events.
  • Beautiful things. More clothes, furniture, cars, boats, cameras, musical instruments, jewellery, ornaments, paintings, ‘stuff’
  • Philanthropy. Helping others, community projects, volunteering, gifting.
  • Accumulation of savings, investments.

The Lessons From Divorce

  • A basic lifestyle # 1 provides only for essentials, a modest lifestyle adds in a level of security from lists #2,3. A comfortable lifestyles allows some choices from #4.
  • I initially classed the first 3 lists ‘essential’ until I realised some people cannot afford them.
  • What I previously regarded as comfortable was in fact luxury. After separation, I dramatically cut down our couple luxuries of excessive experiences (it being my husband who tended to need this buzz) and too much ‘stuff’.

My Comfortable Lifestyle

A. My New Basic Budget

  1. I include all items on Lists #1
  2. Even though not essential, I include all items on lists #2 & 3 as they are essential for me, especially communicating with and visiting my family.

B. My Choices From Discretionary List 4.

  1. Maintain essential insurance, eliminate non-essential.
  2. Maintain savings schedule for emergencies and unexpected costs.
  3. Embark on meaningful projects.
  4. Experience moments with special people or those activities that give me meaning. A lot of things I enjoy have little cost such as walking, reading, writing. An occasional meal or drink with family or friends, family gatherings, can still be enjoyed. Watching the sunrise costs me nothing.
  5. Maintain savings schedule for higher discretionary costs. Don’t go into debt for them

C. The Items I Have Eliminated Or Reduced

  1. Impulse purchases of discretionary items.
  2. Non-essential ‘stuff’ – trashy magazines, newspapers, books, fashion accessories, household items, gadgets, music, hobbies, hair costs – except for items that fall under #B3 above (meaningful projects).
  3. Reevaluated travel plans, house upkeep and entertainment in terms of budget.
  4. Cut out bought lunches & coffees.
  5. Halved my grocery bill, buying less meat, more vegetables and pulses, hardly any processed foods. I am shopping at the farmer’s market. I diligently use up food at the end of the week, plan menus ahead, and shop from a list.

D. As for ‘giving back’?

See point B3 above.

This is so empowering to be taking control of my life again, one step at a time.

🙂 🙂 🙂

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This has been the ninth in a series of posts on My Responsibilities

Image courtesy of [CoolDesign]: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My home. My sanctuary.

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This is the sixth in a series of posts on ‘My Responsibilities’

After food and shelter, one of our primal basic needs is safety, peace and comfort. This can be provided by a place, a person, an activity, or by a combination of these. I wrote about my own need for stability in an earlier post. Previously my marriage provided me with this feeling as no matter where I went, what I did, or whatever adversities befell me; I felt safe and secure. Since my marriage collapsed, I have gained this sense of stability and comfort from my home. From my childhood days of playing ‘house’ to a strong nesting instinct when pregnant, I have always been aware of the comfort my home provides me. I have clung on to my home as my source of refuge, as my relief from distress and turmoil, as my source for solitude, as a means of feeding my mothering instincts with visits from my family. It has been my one constant in the unravelling of my previous life.

Whilst I have been comforted staying in my home since my marriage ended, and initially revelling in living my way within its walls, I have grown to realise that it has actually been living our life, my way, rather than making a new life of my own. Since my epiphany I have been striving to break free to live my life. This will mean a gradual process of selling the business, the commercial property housing the business, then selling my home to release capital for retirement. At that point it will mean leaving behind my one constant, my sanctuary.

For a period after my epiphany, my mind fast-forwarded to where I would be in about 3 years and I resented being where I was. I was coming home alone at night to the cold and dark. It was dreary and depressing. I began neglecting my home. Then the downward spiral began of neglect, followed by being overwhelmed by what it would take to get back routine and order, followed by losing the sense of comfort it previously provided, to seeing only a mountain of work and yet another thing I have to face.

Being uplifted by my daughter visiting last week, the sun coming out this weekend, and early spring flowers beginning to bloom, I have now recharged. In the spirit of my recent posts on responsibilities, I have taken on board getting my home back in order and restoring it as my sanctuary, yet also preparing it for my eventual move. At the same time, I will spend this transition period drinking in the last remaining time I have here, taking in every sunrise, looking at every blossoming flower, watching the moods of the river and valley opposite, reliving every happy memory I have had here with my children, of our previous happy family life. Then, when all that is done, it will be time for me to move on.

Plans to make MY Home MY Sanctuary

1. De-clutter immediate space.
2. Rid the house of ‘our’ stuff.
Note: I had previously rid myself of ‘his’ stuff. It is time for the next step.
3. Go in small manageable steps; one drawer, one cupboard, one box at a time.
4. Pack up ‘our’ stuff. Send it to him for him to deal with.
5. Avoid further clutter by not buying any more ‘stuff’.
6. Have a look around at everything left and decide whether I really need it or not.
7. Chuck out anything I don’t need, anything not used for two years, gifts given to me I don’t really want, clothes that will never fit again, and anything kept ‘just in case’.
8. Enjoy the space and freedom a minimalist habit without ‘stuff’ brings.
9. Revel in the peace and calmness that has taken the place of ‘stuff’.
10. Develop a routine to keep things this way by putting away things when not in use, having a quick daily tidy-up and a proper fortnightly one. Resolve to do an annual clean-up.
11. Look out and enjoy the views to the valley and the river every day.
12. Keep smiling and stay calm.

“I am responsible to maintain my home as a refuge of joy, peace, comfort and relaxation.”

Image courtesy of [amner]: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My needs #6. I need to be needed

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I have an in built urge to help people.
To assist people in need.
To enable people to do their best.

As a child
I was the one who stayed inside with my friend when she was laid up with a leg injury.
I was the one who walked behind with the disabled girl, when the others charged ahead.
I helped others with their school assignments.

As a wife and mother
I put my heart and soul into helping my children do their very best.
I supported my husband in many projects and in his work.

As a friend and co-worker
I was the supporter for friends and neighbors with their own children.
I became the leader in business, helping others reach their potential.

I really really miss having my children around, and of them needing me.
I miss the nurturing role that I had in my former career.
I miss being needed.

Still, I am proud of who I am and what I have achieved.

There is another, less positive side to this trait.

Fixing problems.

Puzzle

I am Mrs Fixit

In my marriage, my husband was always the one with the grand idea and then we would work and accomplish things together and have fun along the way. Then there would be, for him, the next exciting project to begin and build on. Meanwhile, the original project still needed maintaining or “fixing” whether that be maintenance in an investment property, or appliances that required repair, or bills and loans that still needed paying. And sometimes when things did not quite work out, it was me who worked a way out of our predicament.

That was my job. Fixing.

Picking up the broom and sweeping up the mess.

Fixing is draining.

There is no glamorous reward or a sense of achievement and accomplishment.
No accolades or thank-yous.

Do I want to continue to be Mrs Fix-it?
Do I need this?

Or do I want and need a different role going forward, one that brings out my former nurturing instincts and makes me feel good about myself?

That is the question I ask myself today.

That is the big question I am asking myself today for my life of tomorrows.

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You may also wish to read:
Staying Strong by Ian Munro @ Leading Essentially
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Friends Image courtesy [adamr] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Puzzle Image courtesy [renith krishnan] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My needs # 2. Stability

house and family

I crave normality.

When I was in what I thought was a committed caring marriage, my sense of stability and security was that relationship and all that went with it – my home, my life companion, my secure finances, my rock of support, my sense of purpose. Even when I took a break from routine, by travelling or trying different things, it was both rewarding and exciting. That is because the feeling of security and stability went with me everywhere. It was an ingrained feeling deep inside of me, an inner core of happiness that I carried around with me. No matter where I went, what I did, or whatever adversities befell me; I felt safe and secure.

After my marriage collapsed, that was all gone. I felt unsafe, insecure, broken, worthless, and utterly violated by the act of abandonment. I felt I had lost control over all aspects of my life. I was left inside a fragile shell of my former self.
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Since that day, my home has become my sanctuary and I have relied heavily on routine and order in my immediate space to provide me with a feeling of comfort and security. My home has become my protection. Routine and order have become the props that have helped me regain the feeling that I have some predictability to my life. They are things in my life that I can control.
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So I live in 2 worlds.
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The first is the world of my dramatic changed life circumstances, that I am slowly addressing, but knowing not far below the surface chaos and turmoil still remain supreme. As a result I often still use the technique of dissociation from my circumstances to absent myself from the pain. I do this by living in my second world.
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My second world is my day-to-day world of calm quiet routine and order. Living in the quiet moments of watching the sunrise, going for a daily walk, writing, and enjoying the wonders of today and all its beauty. To a degree, in that environment I have slowly healed and I feel secure. However, take away the routine, take away the order; and my feelings of security unravel in an instant.
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The first time I realised that was when I visited my son in Canada a year ago. Although I had been looking forward to seeing him, for the first week I was thrown into a tailspin of feeling anxious and unsettled. I had been thrown into the unfamiliar. My props were gone – my home, my routine, my sense of place. I was craving the basic level of human needs of comfort and security. After a few days I did get into a little daily routine and I cocooned myself with the basic needs of food, shelter, warmth, security, companionship albeit that I was now in a different environment.
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More recently I found the same thing happened when I visited my daughter for the Easter long weekend in Canberra. I needed the first day to orientate myself, and develop my sense of place, before I could relax and enjoy seeing her and join with her doing a few different exciting things.
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I have also noticed that I am over-reacting to any thing that goes wrong. I go through feelings of anxiety and panic over little things that would previously never have bothered me. I instantly think “Oh dear, what now?”
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In that regard, I am craving a sense of normality, that life again will return to order and calm in my ‘big-picture’ world as well as my somewhat artificial daily world so that I can truly cope again with life and all its ups and downs. Or that my logic brain “it really will be all right” will eventually win over my crushed soul.
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I have a current need for a sense of stability, comfort and security:
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I need calm
I need a sense of place
I need routine
I need order
I need predictability
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Image courtesy of [Smarnad]: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My needs. Introduction

“We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it” James M Barrie

Bread

Human Needs

Human needs are described as “the elements required for survival and normal mental and physical health”. Psychologists sometimes list needs in groups such as basic needs (food, shelter, security); connections (companionship, intimacy); and higher needs (self-esteem, contribution). Needs are distinguished from wants as a deficiency causes a negative outcome. Moreover, you never realise that you require needs, until you do not have them. Then the ache sets in.

It has been reasoned that at a time of crisis, such as after an earthquake, people’s needs return to basics – for food, water, shelter. At those times there is little need for intellectual stimulation, education, or meaningful projects to fill their time.

The ending of a marriage is similar to a crisis or trauma, especially if it is unexpected, sudden and beyond your control. It rocks the very foundation of your life and threatens everything you ever had including your self-esteem, family, companionship; and emotional and financial security. Your fundamental needs of security, trust, and having some control over your own destiny, are destroyed in an instant. As everything comes crashing down, to cope and survive you cocoon yourself by returning to the basics of life – living in the moment of waking, eating, walking, and the comfort and security of a warm bed at night. You are thrown into a survival mind-set of fulfilling basic needs because everything else is gone.

My needs

In the weeks after my husband’s announcement, I felt as if there was nothing left. I became overwhelmed by the intensity of the emotions I was feeling. Almost as if a hurricane had hit me, scrambling from underneath the rubble of my former life, I walked around in a daze going through the motions of life like a zombie. Soon I protected myself by reclaiming some order in my everyday life by reestablishing my immediate space and following a fairly regimented daily routine. There I was to remain for many months before I could slowly begin rebuilding my life from the ground up – physically, emotionally and financially.

I read that ‘divorce is an opportunity to explore your own needs, wants and likes’. In the early days I tried to write down my needs and it drew a blank. It was thirty weeks before I was able to list my basic need for order and routine. It was nearly a year before I could list any higher level need such as a need to do meaningful projects. Yet the ache remained.

One of the reasons I found it difficult to list my needs, was the fact that I felt that I had become the discarded consequence of another person’s supposed ‘needs’ having taken precedence over everything else: the family unit, past history, dreams for the future, shared children and grand-children, responsibility, values and beliefs.

I did not agree with the concept that because I had been forsaken, that I should abandon my own fundamental beliefs, values and responsibilities for an over-riding selfish ‘need’. I needed (yes that became one of my needs) to firstly re-affirm my own core values and beliefs; and choose positive attitudes and responses to my life situation. I believed those would then underpin my own needs and guide me towards my responsibilities, aims and goals.

For example; as I affirmed my values include trust, care, dependability, and integrity; then I do not ‘need’ a companion for the sake of companionship if those values are compromised. Those values underpin my needs. Similarly, if I remain an optimistic person with a ‘can-do’ attitude; then I do not ‘need’ to be provided for.

With a now affirmed inner core of values, beliefs and attitudes; and a layer of calm strengthening my resolve; I am set to move out to my external world. The first place I shall begin is with myself, and my own needs, which I shall explore over my next series of posts.

Gradually I will reclaim those needs, take control of my life back, fulfill my responsibilities, set my goals and plans, and march forward.

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Image courtesy of [Grant Cochrane] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net