Dawn begins

 

Good-bye to my haven of peace and serenity

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I was very optimistic thinking that I would have time to write a blog post every day leading up to my move out. I was on 17 acres after all! Even though a lot of the packing had been done in my third move 12 months before … there was still a lot to do. So I became very busy with clearing out all of the cupboards, house, and two sheds; organising help from a man with a ute for several trips to the dump; packing, cleaning … and some time in peaceful reflection saying good-bye. The children came to help for two out of the four weekends and we had fun together remembering happy family times, having a final walk down to the river, and one last dinner in their childhood home.

My property settlement was delayed three days and so I took an extra reflective day to say a final good-bye. At that stage, in an empty house, I spent a whole day looking at the views – one last time – and one more time – and then a final time – from sunrise to sunset.

Then like a turtle with my home on my back (my filled-to-the-brim car), I drove the five hours south to my new life waiting for me.

And hello to the sunshine. 

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My new home overlooks a bay and, as it faces north, the sun provides warmth all day.
I have friendly neighbours and there is a feeling of community spirit here. I feel that I have made a good choice of a place that will suit me well.

It was no rest for me for the first weeks though. My furniture arrived a few days after me and it took me five weeks to do all the unpacking, arranging of furniture, as well as organising an electrician for a few new power points and lights.

I threw away more things as I unpacked, realising that I just did not need as much here as I thought. There was also a sudden need to cleanse myself of some things that triggered painful memories. I had kept certain things in my pack up – unable to let go – and yet as soon as I saw them in my new home, I knew for certain they no longer belonged in my new life.

I was hoping for a complete cleanse of my furniture and begin again with new things … but the finances did not stretch nearly that far. In fact although this house is smaller, it has cost me more, being closer to a city area than my previous home. That, as well as the 18 months bridging loan that I had (instead of the anticipated three months) has set me back a bit. So I am sitting quietly for a while, financially speaking, and not going mad with any unnecessary purchases or refurbishments.

It has taken me until now, eight weeks after moving, that I have finally feel I can get into a structured routine, and really begin my new life, my new life as me.

Have you heard me say that somewhere before? Yes. Many times. This is what I having been aiming for from my very first post – when it was dark and I was cold.

Finally dawn has arrived.

 

Countdown Day # 23

I was up before sunrise today and decided to tackle the smaller of the two sheds. This was a bit messy …

Yet among all of that – some treasures – and memories of the children in their happy carefree days.

I also spent some time thinking through where all my pieces of furniture would go in my new home.

So it was a day of thinking back, saying good-bye, yet at the same time planning life going forward.

I felt 100% relaxed.

Countdown Day # 25

View from balcony – looking east

I have sold my house!

I know that you may think that I moved because I told you that I did here and I did move … BUT

I had not actually sold my family home. In fact over the last twelve months I have actually been – or could have been (had I not enrolled in a University course for my sanity) – in a state of purgatory (transition?) where I was neither fully free of my old (ie marital) life nor able to fully embrace my new life in my new home – because I still had the family home and all its memories both good and bad, and I was still needing to come here one week in four to ensure its upkeep. Long story cut short, when I took advice from a building surveyor, there were upgrades recommended before sale of the house (which was to bring the balcony up to current building regulations) and, me being me, I then had to do the right thing and do those upgrades that seemingly took FOREVER.

One reason I have been low on the blogging front was because I was going through this turmoil of dealing with this (slow progress of building upgrades and approvals) and I felt I did not want to add MORE problems on the negative ‘ramifications of divorce and awful stuff I have to deal with’ list. That is, it was a joint (marital) issue that the balcony did not satisfy current standards, yet I was having to deal with it on my own as I received the home as part of the financial marital settlement.

For those who have come to know me through this blog … I have always tried to see the positive and have forever been trying to get to that place of my problems being “over”. I did not want to burden you all with the fact that – after six years – I was STILL not quite “there” yet (wherever “there” is supposed to be) as there was still ramifications I was dealing with. Urrrhh!

Nevertheless, I have finally done all the required upgrades, put my house on the market, SOLD it (after four months), went into a mass panic for two weeks getting my university assignments done, then have driven north to spend the last three weeks here – to enjoy the last precious days in the peace and tranquility of my bush paradise that has been my family home for 38 years.

Yes, there is packing and other required things to yet to do.

But there is also the peace and tranquility of what has been my sanctuary. Now is the time to properly say good-bye.

I have 25 days.

A new identity

A Writing Life – Image: by Author 03 December 2017

I have been very busy with the university Masters course that I am enrolled in.

It was hard going at first. It had been twenty years since I was last at University and learning methods have changed. I found the digital world a challenge to begin with but have now become quite fast at loading files, converting formats, uploading assignments; and making videos, podcasts and infographics. Some of those are for an assignment coming up next week. Once I have submitted and received feedback, I will begin to post some things in this blog that I have done. Or, with my new-found skills, I will be able to use for this blog to add creative content.

I have formed a new professional identity and am in the process of fine-tuning before I go public – stay-tuned.

I began my course in July doing four units but it was too much for me and I cut back to three. Nevertheless it was still intensive and I was pressed for time throughout. I also had three sets of unexpected visitors and some other commitments that cropped up, so I was insanely busy for several months. This trimester I am only doing two units and I feel I am coping much better with that, so I should find some more time to get back into my writing for this blog, which I miss.

Despite all the hurdles, I managed to score three high distinctions in my course in the first Trimester. I was so thrilled at that. I had a great sense of fulfillment and achievement. For all the hard work over the years I had put into my marriage, my family, my family business, community projects, and after all the mud-trudging for five years …

*** this was something for me ***

 

 

 

 

The next step is the first step

Two years ago marked the financial settlement of my divorce, ending three years of trudging through rain and mud. I felt I had finally reached a sunny place. Spring was upon me. Free of my divorce, I saw myself in a new transition, tidying up my old world, letting go of all that did not serve me well, trying new things, planting seeds ready for bloom in the summer to come, and readying myself for the vision I had of living true to my beliefs.

I did the sorting, packing and letting go. I tried new things and had new experiences. I devised my own HEALTH.Plan and became healthy and fit. I packed up and moved. Now – at the age of 63 – I begin my new life as a single person branching out in a new world, a world which I craved for during the process of my divorce settlement.

However, in all honesty, I have been drifting the past twelve months without much direction.

To be truthful, moving on has not been easy. The move was not without hiccoughs. I am struggling financially trying to make it work. Making new friends and finding new social circles is not easy. Nobody knows me here and at times I feel quite lost and alone.

The little bit that feels lost is that of my identity. I had been a wife, mother and business manager. Then I became a sufferer of the unexpected collapse of my marriage. Then I became a strong woman recovering from that with grace and dignity. Now that I feel lost, I wonder if that became my identity and whether I am lost without it. I do not want to be remembered as the ‘one who recovered from divorce‘. I want to make a difference in the world. At one stage I felt writing in more depth about my experiences may help others. However, I was scared that may also send me emotionally back to that dark place that I had crawled out of. I wanted to be free of that. I had moved on.

Or had I?

I am outwardly strong and contented and the pain at the pit of my stomach has long gone. However, the person who recovered from a difficult divorce; the person previously at risk of ill-health who became fit and healthy; and the person brave enough to move alone to a new area after 40 years – those three parts are still fragile inside. So my writing stopped.
I felt that because I was still going through some fragility and further tough times I had not reached my destination. I wanted to get to the part about the rainbow and the sunshine. I felt I hadn’t quite got there. I felt no one would want to hear about black skies in springtime.

While I was trying to fathom out what to do, people were somehow still finding my blog and sending me encouragement that what I had written had helped them. This made me conflicted. Would writing about my difficult experiences take me back to a dark place? Or instead could it shine a light for others? If so, which experiences should I write about? Divorce – Nutrition – Relocation. Which voice was mine? Which truth should I share?

As so many times I had realized before, when I get stuck and can’t move and I want to get somewhere else, the best place to start is at the beginning.

The first step for me is to become proficient at what I do. I have therefore enrolled in a University course, and am now buried in books and research. I am doing a Masters in Nutrition and I am also planning two units in writing and publishing.

And so I start a new beginning.

I have come to realise it is all new beginnings. Every step I have ever taken has always been the first step towards the rest of my life. While some steps did not seem to lead me anywhere except getting me out of a hole, every step led me to the next step.

And all those next steps all took me to here – at my new beginnings.

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Image courtesy[africa]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

here at last

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.Viktor Frankl

 

I am here at last settled into my new house with BMW views (Beach, Mountain, Water). The house faces north so I get the sun all day. I walk to the beach twice a day and am keeping fit, well, and healthy. I am only 30 minutes from my eldest son and his family, and my daughter is also nearby.

Yet I feel a little bit home sick, pining for something, but uncertain exactly what.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

In his ground-breaking book about his experience of surviving the holocaust concentration camps Viktor Frankl describes three phases. The first phase is the shock of first arriving at camp. The second phase is entrenched in life at camp. The third phase is after liberation.

Frankl describes how in the second phase of complete uncertainty, stripped of everything from their former lives, people could still retain the freedom to choose their inner response to the situation. As opposed to feeling only misery, bearing suffering with dignity and finding goals for the future even in the midst of uncertainty, is what “makes life meaningful”.

Whilst I hesitate to compare my situation of divorce to that of a holocaust survivor, it is similar in that there were three phases. The first phase was that of my marriage collapse and being thrown into shock and chaos. The second phase was trudging through the marital settlement which took nearly four years. The third phase was the liberation from that process. Reading books like his helped me cope through many dark days of that second phase, the phase of prolonged suffering, by helping me form a sense of normality during that uncertain period, and an inner peace knowing that I still had choices.

During that horrible place, I got myself into a familiar routine and coped well with grace and dignity through all my suffering. I believe now, in a strange sort of way, I actually made a ‘career’ and new life for myself out of coping with my suffering. I branched out into a long phase of inner reflection and I began writing. I enjoyed writing and I felt I did it well.

When the settlement was finalized, I was free at last.

Since the ending of my trudging through the marital settlement, life has been unsettled as I have been in transition yet doing worthwhile things such as living life, visiting friends and family, sorting out my mothers estate and travelling.

I have now moved into my new home by the sea, ready to settle into my new life. But in many many ways, I have now been thrown back into another era of uncertainty.

What do I do now?

Winding the clock back six years, there was me in the certainty of my marriage, career, and community. I knew who I was and where I was going. The crisis of my marriage ending brought with it a loss of my identity that is now long gone which I grieved.

In my second phase world of trudging through the marital settlement, coping with the suffering and writing about it had become my new identity. It had become my place of certainty. As horrible as it was, my trudging through that mud had become a familiar place and I was safe in its familiarity.

Now life is again unfamiliar to me.

I am finding that I have been through or am going through another “identity crisis” of wondering who I am and who I will become. That identity I had made for myself, of writing about positive aspects of coping with my suffering no longer exists as I am no longer ‘suffering’. Then what will I do with my life? What will I write about?

Now I realize that is my answer.

Find out.

And write about it.

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Image courtesy[GraphicsMouse]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

climbing out of black holes

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, its fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart.” Pema Chodron

ID-100136205,SweetCrisisWhen my marriage collapsed, and especially because of the way it collapsed, I felt stunned, vulnerable and scared. I felt like a knife had been pushed into my heart. I felt I had been wronged.

After the initial shock I began reading as much as I could, books, articles, blogs. Many of those sources tended to focus on the ex-spouse. In that regard, there is much space in the ‘divorce’ genre devoted to the diagnosis (usually by unqualified people) of personality defects (such as narcissist or sociopath) or them going through a mid-life crisis or similar that may have led the ex-spouse to do what they did. Because at the time I felt so bad about myself, then reading about that did provide some comfort that there may have been something wrong with “him”, rather than something wrong with “me” and I was simply a victim of my ex-husband’s action. As for my own writing, I didn’t focus so much on negative things about him but I did focus on the event of the marriage collapse itself, the suddenness of it, how painful it was and what a bad thing to have happened to me. In that regard, I was still a victim, of a bad event.

If bad things happen, I do think that one does have to work through negative feelings associated with the event. However, at some point, and this started very early for me and then grew, I decided to focus on myself and improving myself rather than focus on what had happened and why. Later on when I became overwhelmed by the amount that had to be done in the divorce process and financial settlement, I began to re-frame that process as a step towards my new life. In other words, I focussed on getting out of the hole, rather than being in the hole. I did not realise how far I had come until recently I read a post by someone I follow who – years later – is still focussed on a past event and being in a hole. I felt sad for that person that that meant they were still in the hole.

I still apply two vital techniques that I learned to get through the difficult days of climbing out of my hole, in getting through any difficulty in my current days.

(a) If something happens that I was not expecting that conjures up negative feelings –

After an initial anxiety period thinking about that ‘bad’ event, I instead turn my attention to improvement in one or more areas of my life:

  • protection
  • connection
  • contribution
  • creation
  • celebration

I focus on healing or protecting myself or family members; fostering better connections with my children, grandchildren and others in my life; or I focus on making a greater contribution to society, or becoming creative, or looking forward to and planning a celebratory event. In other words I try and focus on the positive in my life OR on making improvements in my life or in the life of someone else. If I do focus on positive things or on improvement, then it is impossible to feel sad or bad and the negative feelings about what has happened begin to fade away.

(b) If there is something horrible that I need to get done –

Instead of focusing on how awful it is, I try and focus on the better place that task will take me to. That can be a simple matter of getting mundane horrible tasks done (such as bills paid, or tax returns done, or tidying and cleaning finished) so that my mind is then clear to enjoy my days. For major necessary practical things that can sometimes literally overwhelm me, I focus on the better place that the tasks will take me to.

I applied these techniques to many of the steps of the marital settlement and I am now applying these to the practical steps of moving house.

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ImageCourtesy[SweetCrisis]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net