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

Interlude – it’s not fair but I’m Ok

It seems as if, no matter how positive you try and be, sometimes in life you take five steps forward then something happens and it is like being hit over the head again, and you plunge downwards again. Over the past week, I have been trying to get our agreed settlement to line up with the divorce legal process. This has not been all that easy due some complexities in our financial affairs. It has taken four days and two nights out of my life this week accompanied by much distress.

Meanwhile my husband is enjoying himself somewhere in the south of France.

Rather than tarnish this blog with a pronounced “it’s not fair” attitude that I know gets one nowhere, I thought that I would point you to two people who describe my mood this week. Firstly; to another blogger who went through a temporary ‘rant‘ recently and has since recovered and continues her positive journey through life. It is great to know that I am not alone. Secondly; to this song below performed by Whitney Houston that says it all about being determined of making it on your own, despite it seeming unfair.

As for me; midweek I got up from the floor, dusted myself off, and did what had to be done by wading through the muddy puddle that appeared in the middle of my track. I figured that there is no point in trying to walk around it as there are cliffs on either side.

I am visiting my eldest son and family this weekend, and on Monday I will resume my onward journey. I am going to make it anyway. 🙂

“It’s not right, but it’s okay I’m gonna make it anyway”.  Whitney Houston

Week 25 – Less soul searching – More panic

Week 25 – 16 March 2012

I have felt busy and rushed again, back to the days of too much to do and not enough time to do it, juggling too many balls in the air and almost dropping half of them; with regular business things, setting-up things, domestic chores, shopping, forgetting to shop and running out of things, financial figures, working figures out for the split, drive four hours to see the children, looking after grand-daughter, drive back home again, being by myself, not being by myself.

I felt overwhelmed. I felt that it is all too much. What did I do to deserve all this stress? I was in a constant state of flux and uncertainty – on top of what I had already had to go through – and with my husband seemingly just walking away from it all to an easier life; leaving me with all the mess to clean up.

So, from a state of positiveness and place of contentment I had reached a few weeks before, I now fell back down into glumness. I suppose for me it was ‘more of the same’ (life’s difficulties – all by myself) rather than ‘great, let’s do something new and different and love it’. I had been inspired to write earlier in the year but that had gone a bit flat and the business seemed like a huge mountain to climb again. And even though I knew that I would not get anywhere with “attitude = glum”, I was transfixed and incapable of moving. I missed three appointments in the previous week because of my mind being total mush and my ‘baby-boomer’ brain not quite deciding whether to have a paper diary or electronic diary and relying for the beep on my phone to remind me of appointments I had written in a paper diary that I never open. How dumb is that?

And last week-end I had a very red and swollen foot and so for something I would not normally even look at, let alone panic about; but with no-one else to confirm that and say ‘that looks Ok to me’, I took myself off to the ER only to completely lose it when they asked me ‘who is your next of kin?’. I suddenly thought, well who IS my next of kin? As a married person all those warm fuzzy things of just belonging automatically to each other and the thought constantly in the background of always having someone to take care of you, and now that is gone. That thought. That person. That one and only.

Now what will I do? Who will look after me? Why am I left to clean up all the mess? What will I do? Is there someone out there who can help me? Where can I draw some positiveness from?

In the midst of all the glumness and panic of life on my own and feeling overwhelmed again, I decided to make myself some ‘chicken soup for the soul’. It is invigorating to the soul making a ‘slow-food’ meal for me, just for me, for my good health and taste, and to know that even though I am alone I can still participate in the joys of life. I sat down and enjoyed my soup as I have never enjoyed a bowl of soup before ever in my entire life. To think that I could ever get such pleasure out of such a simple thing as a bowl of soup.

Then I went and bought some flowers for myself. And each day for a week as I came home after work they greeted me with a ‘hello, how are you today’ and filled my spirit with joy and aliveness.

With or without you

With Or Without You
by U2

See the stone set in your eyes
See the thorn twist in your side
I wait for you

Sleight of hand and twist of fate
On a bed of nails she (he) makes me wait
And I wait without you

With or without you
With or without you

Through the storm, we reach the shore
You gave it all but I want more
And I’m waiting for you

With or without you
With or without you
I can’t live with or without you

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give and you give
And you give yourself away

My hands are tied, my body bruised
She (he) got me with nothing to win
And nothing else to lose

And you give yourself away
And you give yourself away
And you give and you give
And you give yourself away

With or without you
With or without you
I can’t live
With or without you

With or without you
With or without you
I can’t live
With or without you
With or without you

Week 2 – Alone

I am alone.
In the morning there is no-one there. There is no-one there for the ‘hello’ in the morning at breakfast; no-one for the good-bye kiss as we each head off in the morning; or return at night; no-one to have dinner with; no-one to chat about the daily activities – ‘what did you do today?’. There is no-one to go to bed with at night; and then – guaranteed – no-one to wake up beside in the morning.

So I awake each day in absolute pain and I am completely raw inside.  I am aching inside with the feeling of being stabbed in the heart. I do not think it is possible to understand the pain that is felt by the action of desertion until it actually occurs. It is just not possible for me to describe the pain. I cannot fathom out what has happened; the loss of my soul-mate; my one and only; our forever; our togetherness; the loss of the meaning of trust and truth. I cannot fathom out the betrayal and the feelings of abandonment.

My life is now foreign and unfamiliar and I drift along. My life has been busy and full and rewarding and now it is blank.

I am panicking all the time and I am not one who normally panics. I am crying all the time, alone in my office, alone in my bed, alone in my car, alone in the evening that stretches before me. Every song I listen to makes me  cry. Every movie I watch makes me cry. Little things set me off. Opening our cheque book and seeing our joint names. Coming across letters he had written to me. Staring at his record collection. His pictures. His books. Our photos on the walls.

Where has my strength gone? Nothing that I normally do to help me through tough times is helping me. I searched the internet for help. There are people out there who have survived. I read their stories for inspiration. I did some soul searching for answers as to what could have happened. These are the questions. What happened? What went wrong? How could this be? What happened to the strong partnership that was that would survive through triumphs and tragedies? What happened to trust? These are the questions. There are no answers for me today.

And I am all alone, completely alone.

This is my story written in an approaching southern hemisphere winter recounting the eight months since my second life began. This was how I felt – Week 2 October 02 2011.

Day One – Shock

Day One – Shock
23 September 2011

Returning from a four week holiday visiting my son – our son – my husband asked me out on a “date” which amounted to him telling me that he was ending our marriage of nearly 37 years. No discussion, no alternative, no choice and, to me, completely unexpected.  With those words he spoke to me, it was like a knife had been driven straight through my heart and my insides smashed into a thousand pieces. I had to detach myself from the moment in order to survive. There was this intolerable pain that started that first minute of that first hour on that first day and I wondered how I could cope, how I could survive and when the pain would stop. I was in an instant stripped of my past, robbed of my dreams for the future and thrown into the twilight zone of the present – one painful hour at a time.

Family – You Raise Me Up

My family and close friends will always be a part of me and remain first and foremost the most integral part of my march towards my new life as ‘me’.

To my family and close friends who helped me through the difficult times –

You Raise Me Up

When I am down and, oh my soul so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;.
Then I am still and wait here in the silence;
Until you come and sit awhile with me. .

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on your shoulders;.
You raise me up, to more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

There is no life – no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up… To more than I can be.

Lyrics By Brendan Graham