My values # 1 Trust

Trust

In an earlier post I explored my basic life needs. At the time, I was in complete crisis due to my husband leaving our marriage. I had lost companionship, dreams for the future, family order, stability, self-esteem, emotional and financial security. I had been thrown into a world of chaos. It helped to nurture my basic needs and I spent some months focussing on my home, health, diet and cocooning myself in a familiar safe routine. Gradually I started to heal and come out of my deep pain. I felt I had worked through the issues of our separation and I started focussing on my higher level needs of self-esteem and self-fulfillment.

But there was something holding me back and stopping my progress, something missing, something niggling at me. It was as if one of my basic needs was not being met or there was something I had still not worked through. Then it came to me.

It was trust. I had lost trust.

When you have trust none of the other things in life matter. It comes first and foremost before food, before shelter, before good health and well-being. If you have trust it wraps around you like a warm blanket and protects you at night. It goes with you inside you throughout your day and makes you glow with love and gratitude. Trust makes you see sunshine when the rain comes and the cold winds blow. Trust makes you feel strong so you can conquer your fears. It allows you to speak and stand up for yourself. Trust gives you the confidence to do the right thing and to be true to yourself. Trust is your security, your inner core of happiness and your stability that you take with you wherever you go.

In our marriage we had trust. It was one value we both shared with pride. It was unspoken trust. When you own deep trust, there is no need to speak the words, there is no need to make the affirmation, because it is just there.

In that very first instant of my husband telling me he was leaving me it was the shattered trust that pierced my heart and caused me my greatest pain. A pain so deep that pushing it into my deep sub-conscious was the only way I could survive. That is where I had pushed it on the very first hour of the very first day on my own and there it had remained.

I can find companionship. I can regroup our broken family unit. I can take on board my depleted asset base and begin building my finances. All this is possible in time. What can I do without trust? How can I survive without trust? I need trust. I need to be able to trust.

This is where I have come to the conclusion that focussing on our ‘needs’ first is upside down. Underpinning our needs are our values. It is our values that are at the core of our being. Our values are who we are deep down inside us. Our values give us the blue print for how to live our lives. Our values underpin what we give.

Yes, trust is a ‘need’, something we take. Trust is also a ‘value’, something we give.

Deep down inside me I know that at the core of my being there is still trust, my own inbuilt trust imbedded as a value as the essence of my soul. This trust has not been broken or lost, the value of trust that I live by.

This is where my real healing begins, returning to my own core beliefs and values, and living by them every day. My # 1 value is trust.  I believe that if I live by trust, if I give trust, if I continue to live my own life in a trustworthy fashion; if I trust myself; then I know that in time trust as a ‘need’ will be returned to me. I resolve today that I will hold onto trust as one of my core values.

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

Week 29 – Kindness

Week 29 – 08 April 2012

So just when you think you have lost everything – your past, your future, the spring in your step, the reason for getting up in the morning, trust, love, and hope …… some total stranger restores your faith in humanity.

Having a completely glum day and generally doing nothing, I thought I should at least feed myself. I went down to the supermarket and, with a complete vacuum where my brain used to be, I forgot my wallet. As I was fumbling about and scrounging at the bottom of my bag trying to find enough coins to buy my few vegetables for a soup, a man – a total stranger to me – dropped some coins on the counter and walked away. I tried to protest and he just said ‘enjoy your soup’ and was gone in a flash. Gone – my knight in shining armour who touched my heart that day in a way that he will never ever know.

A door is opened for me, a motorist waves me on in a traffic jam, a bus driver takes the time to have a chat to me, fellow bloggers offer me words of encouragement and a reason to keep going. And so it is that these small acts of kindness mean so much and begin to nourish my soul.

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Week 20 – Disentanglement

Week 20

As I continued to live in the moment of each day at the height of a glorious down-under summer and enjoying my walks in the early mornings, and the views to the valley; my soul continued to wrestle with itself in a search for an answer to my identity. It is difficult to explain how entangled a person becomes in a partnership spanning some 40 years. You become half of a whole, acting in unison.You feel responsible for the happiness of your other half which you believe will therefore also bring about the happiness of the whole.

When this does not happen, when the happiness does not come to the other half, when that half falls over, then the whole deck of cards falls down with it. Their happiness, your happiness. As you are actually half of that whole, you too fall over. All the time you grapple with the conflict of being pulled down by your other half, of not surviving as half of a whole, yet at the same time still feeling responsible for the survival of the whole.

When such an entangled partnership ends suddenly through no choice of your own, there is still care there even for the person who inflicted so much pain by the action of leaving. To develop an emotional detachment from that person or an indifference is the exact opposite to the way you have behaved for forty years. Yet such a detachment is vital for one’s own happiness and sense of self.

I previously posted when I reached that point and made the decision to emotionally detach. However, before I was able to do that, it was necessary for me to go through a process of accepting certain things and disentangling myself from each of those things. This did not happen all at once but over a period of time. Firstly, I had to accept that I was not responsible for my husband’s happiness, not now or ever, even when we were together. Secondly, I accepted that I was not responsible for his actions or behaviour. Thus, as long as I remained considerate and behaved calmly and with care and compassion, it was not my responsibility for his reaction to anything I may say or do.  Thirdly, I accepted that the person I wanted my partner to be was in conflict with the way he actually behaved by the actions that he took …. and that hurt. Fourthly, I accepted I had a right to my own needs, to my own opinion and to be treated fairly. I had a right to voice that. Fifthly, I accepted that I can survive and thrive without this relationship. I do not need it. I will make it on my own.

There was one last step. I had to let go of the hook; that emotional, psychological stake of the guilt – “Can’t we be friends for the sake of the children – tearing at my heartstrings, knowing that I love my children more than life itself and not wanting to cause them any more grief.

Yet for my own self-preservation, I had to do let go of that too. I had to disentangle myself from the union as a whole and see myself as me, myself, and I.

Week 19 – Broken family

Week 19 – 27 January 2012

My heart is bleeding for my children.

I have gradually been getting through all the trauma for me; the hurt, the betrayal, the anger, the pain. I have been OK in myself of late albeit fighting a continued flatness and the yearning for what could have been. I fight the flatness by living in today, enjoying today. This is me. I will survive. I will make it.

But my heart is bleeding for my children.

I have heard it said that divorcing when the children are grown will save them the pain of what could have been a difficult childhood – had the divorce occurred in their younger years. Whoever said that is wrong. Divorce is shattering for children of any age. Adult children are not spared the pain. Divorce is not about two people splitting up. It is the disintegration of the family unit as it was before. All that togetherness; the parental bond as a solid rock, as a ‘deity’ status; that stable home as somewhere to go to whenever they need to; the happy childhood memories ….all gone in an instant. Not a holiday goes by, a birthday, a family milestone, a special event normally previously shared together as a family that is now splintered; that they now do not crave for the time that we were still together. They see the still intact families and put them on a pedestal and yearn to be part of such a happy family unit that only months before they were part of themselves. They crave the family holidays, the camping, the Bar-B-Ques. They are broken, shattered, mourning for what was and could have – should have – been. The hollowness of our fractured family torments them. They are suffering ….. in silence.

This is because, unlike younger children who have at least one parent protecting them, at least one parent at home helping them rebuild their lives, at least one parent being strong for them and putting them first; adult children of divorce have the reverse role. Their parents are now leaning on them for support, needing them, expecting them to be the rock for their grief – when only fractions of moments before in their lives the parents were the rock for them. Suddenly in an instant they see their future before them of needing to care for aging parents of becoming their social network of being their confidants. And all at a time in their lives when they were just starting to forge ahead into the adult world with their own lives, needing the parental support behind them. Such a course for them now becomes more difficult and bumpy. They question their own relationships, they question their own dreams, and their plans for the future. If my own parents could not make it, how can I?

It all happens in an instant without any choice or say in it and they suffer in the silence of nothing being as it seemed; the memories of their childhood; the happiness they thought they had; their stable life now floating about as an illusion. Where has it gone? And they are constantly torn between their love and loyalty for each parent as individuals – separated – instead of as the strong bonded unit that was previously there.

This is my challenge – to show my children that underneath it all, the values to strive for in life, that each person’s own soul, is each person’s own choice, and that for them – just as for me – that choice has not been lost, has not been shattered. That positiveness, that determination, that survival instinct, is inside each person’s own self. That is still intact. Each of us can grow that core of self until it becomes strong again. And if one one those values in life is ‘family’ then we can – and we must – still join together as a family, move forward as a family. If we can help each other through this, we will all be stronger together on the other side.

And I will constantly tell them that I love them and hug them and be here for them always.

Week 19 – Broken family

Week 19 – 27 January 2012

My heart is bleeding for my children.

I have gradually been getting through all the trauma for me; the hurt, the betrayal, the anger, the pain. I have been OK in myself of late albeit fighting a continued flatness and the yearning for what could have been. I fight the flatness by living in today, enjoying today. This is me. I will survive. I will make it.

But my heart is bleeding for my children.

I have heard it said that divorcing when the children are grown will save them the pain of what could have been a difficult childhood – had the divorce occurred in their younger years. Whoever said that is wrong. Divorce is shattering for children of any age. Adult children are not spared the pain. Divorce is not about two people splitting up. It is the disintegration of the family unit as it was before. All that togetherness; the parental bond as a solid rock, as a ‘deity’ status; that stable home as somewhere to go to whenever they need to; the happy childhood memories ….all gone in an instant. Not a holiday goes by, a birthday, a family milestone, a special event normally previously shared together as a family that is now splintered; that they now do not crave for the time that we were still together. They see the still intact families and put them on a pedestal and yearn to be part of such a happy family unit that only months before they were part of themselves. They crave the family holidays, the camping, the Bar-B-Ques. They are broken, shattered, mourning for what was and could have – should have – been. The hollowness of our fractured family torments them. They are suffering ….. in silence.

This is because, unlike younger children who have at least one parent protecting them, at least one parent at home helping them rebuild their lives, at least one parent being strong for them and putting them first; adult children of divorce have the reverse role. Their parents are now leaning on them for support, needing them, expecting them to be the rock for their grief – when only fractions of moments before in their lives the parents were the rock for them. Suddenly in an instant they see their future before them of needing to care for aging parents of becoming their social network of being their confidants. And all at a time in their lives when they were just starting to forge ahead into the adult world with their own lives, needing the parental support behind them. Such a course for them now becomes more difficult and bumpy. They question their own relationships, they question their own dreams, and their plans for the future. If my own parents could not make it, how can I?

It all happens in an instant without any choice or say in it and they suffer in the silence of nothing being as it seemed; the memories of their childhood; the happiness they thought they had; their stable life now floating about as an illusion. Where has it gone? And they are constantly torn between their love and loyalty for each parent as individuals – separated – instead of as the strong bonded unit that was previously there.

This is my challenge – to show my children that underneath it all, the values to strive for in life, that each person’s own soul, is each person’s own choice, and that for them – just as for me – that choice has not been lost, has not been shattered. That positiveness, that determination, that survival instinct, is inside each person’s own self. That is still intact. Each of us can grow that core of self until it becomes strong again. And if one one those values in life is ‘family’ then we can – and we must – still join together as a family, move forward as a family. If we can help each other through this, we will all be stronger together on the other side.

And I will constantly tell them that I love them and hug them and be here for them always.

Week 15 – Aloneness

Week 15 – 100 days – 31 December 2011

I decided that it was time to stop mourning the loss of ‘we’; to stop being sucked down by the loss of sharing my life with a soul-mate and the feelings of loneliness in being left alone. Instead, I would focus on ‘me’ and embrace my new found freedom of ‘aloneness’.

What does this mean?

For about four weeks now I had been battling a flatness and glumness that came with an overwhelming feeling of loneliness. Seeing that as a loss of companionship, I had tried to break myself out of those feelings by keeping busy, doing things with people, and generally getting out and about. However, I discovered that often my greatest feelings of loneliness came over me when I was alone at times and in places we used to be together such as going out to dinner, visiting relatives and travelling. That is when the greatest feeling of emptiness was being felt, when I was surrounded by people and activity, rather than when I was alone. In fact when I pushed myself to do things it actually made my feelings of loneliness worse because when I did things that I would have previously done together – and now there was no-one there to do it with, to share it with – I would be left with an empty, hollow feeling inside of me. Except for spending time with my family and closest friends, trying to do things with other people became meaningless and fruitless for me at this time.

The other greatest feeling of loneliness that swept over me was an ‘intellectual’ loneliness. More than a loss of a companion – having someone to share my daily activities with – it was the loss of that one person who I could talk to on any topic and who would engage in deep and meaningful conversations – on politics, relationships, religion, society, poetry  – that one person who would know and understand and reciprocate. Talking instead with people on topics I found more shallow such as the weather or the price of milk was not resonating with me as a meaningful existence to have. It left me hollow, unfulfilled.

As I thought things through, I realised that it was not being ‘alone’ per se that was the problem. As a wife and mother for 37 years I became swept up in my caring role, in my busy life, and in focusing on my family’s lives and achievements. I lost a little bit of myself along the way. Throughout all those busy active fruitful years I often craved of one day having time to be myself,  to do my own creative things, to be alone. Now was that time.

If my life now meant being alone, then the way forward for me was to face the aloneness that was given to me and embrace it with all its glory.

Aloneness means that I can now focus on being me and being happy and enjoying the things that I like to do. I now have the freedom to live my life to the full in my own way. I can take time to find my own desires, my own strengths, my own needs, and to make my own plans, dreams and goals. Behind me are the days of having to fit in with my spouse or my children. I can take on new projects – big or small – or I can relax enjoying some simple pleasures of my own that cannot be dismissed as silly as there is no-one here to dismiss them. I can do whatever I want. I will now be able to take ALL my spare time and use it however I want to use it and make it work for me. I can create a lifestyle that is creative, adventurous, exciting – or quiet . One that is rewarding for me. I no longer have to concern myself with possible disapproval from a now non-existent spouse.

Above all I now have time. I have time in my aloneness to carefully think through what those needs and dreams for me really are – rather than being pushed in a direction that other people dictate to me what they think these may be. And in my aloneness I can find other ways of experiencing the lost intellectual stimulation that I crave.
Divorce will not be the end of my life but rather my new beginning in which I will transform myself into someone I never before realised that I was capable of being because I will now have the time and the control to become that person. I am in charge of my own life and now is the time to start living my “Plan B” to the fullest.
And I have come to accept that time by myself is OK for me. This is where I am at. This is me. The aloneness with me by myself is where I need to be – for the moment.
This became the next step in becoming ‘me’ – embracing solitude.

Week 8 – Time and Space

Week 8

I now have time
One difference I have noticed about this personal crisis – compared to others – compared to before – is time. I now have time, precious time. Life is moving at a much slower pace than before. What was it that previously kept me in a tailspin of frenetic activities from dawn until dark? Now I have time to enjoy the dawn, the sunrise, the sunset, the valley. I have time to chat to the girl at the supermarket, the petrol-pump attendant, the girls at work. I have time to walk, to read, to be organised, to pay attention to myself, to put jewellery on, to blow-dry my hair. I have time to ring my children, my mother, my sister, my friends. I have time to email. I have time to write. Yet gone is the overwhelming feeling that there are things being left undone, left unsaid. I have this over-riding feeling that all the important things are being done and whatever it is that isn’t being done is not all that important anyway. I am enjoying my time. Time to myself, time for me.

I now have space.
I am revelling in my life becoming less cluttered. I have space for my things on the shelves, in the cupboards, in the rooms, outside. I have space for nothing but ‘space’ on the shelves, in the cupboards, in the rooms, outside. I am enjoying there being just space and nothing in the space because whatever is no longer there was not that important anyway. The space is a sign to me to only fill my life with the things that are really important. I am enjoying the space.

I have people.
I have my children, my grand-daughter, my mother, my sister and brothers, my true friends. I am here for them and they for me. And they love me for being me and no-one else. I have strength and perseverance and respect for myself and for others. I am learning about parts of my people’s lives and souls that I had never known before. I am enjoying my people.

Life is good. Life is great.