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.

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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

 

 

 

 

Interlude

I have reached that point where I can finally say that ‘we’ have ended. Not only in reality but also in my head.  In my case it took me 40 weeks  – one week for every year of our togetherness.

I know that this is a defining moment and I know that it takes some people a lot longer to reach this point. I am also aware that ‘the ending of we’ is only one tiny baby-step on the pathway to becoming ‘me’ and there are still quite a few obstacles for me to climb over. I know that.

I know that at times I do still get sucked down and probably still occasionally will get sucked down into the gloom and sadness of the separation, the ending of the coupledom. I know that I will still occasionally have a yearning for the past, a yearning to be back in the happy memories, a yearning to change the not-so-happy bits, a yearning for a soul-mate – my soulmate.

However, I have reached the point where I do not see myself as half of a couple in my head. I see myself as a single identity, a unique person – although the defining features of that person are still a little fuzzy. The ‘ending of we’ was the first crucial necessary step for me to take on my journey to ‘me’. I needed to close that door properly. I needed to close it tight and make sure it was shut, make sure it was not one I would re-open, make sure I would not look back – before I could put my head up, look forward before me and decide on the next door I should open.

Week 28 – The second wave of pain

Six months into this divorce process and I was hit with the reality of our lost retirement plans. The financial security we would have had together that now had to be divided into less than half as costs and more costs and even more costs were added in ….or rather taken off. There was this unknown factor of starting over all by myself and whether that could be done at all. I was 58 and there were few years left for me to make it all work out.

Then the pain came again.

No-one told me about this second wave of pain. I have never read about this second wave of pain. There was firstly the emotional side; the human side; the airy-fairy living in la-la-land side. And then there was reality. I had put off thinking about reality. It was like a second grief process and it was hitting me right in the eyes. This second wave of grief began washing over me and in my scrambled brain I realized it was all the same emotions – the same stages to go through. The shock at the harsh reality of the figures – the anger at being put in this position by the one I had loved most – the yearning for a secure retirement that we would have had but now did not – the depression of wondering how I would survive, how I would manage – and the pain, the excruciating pain…….it was back again. And I am swimming now, swimming, swimming, and swimming. I am in this raging current again and unable to reach the shore. Once again, I yearn for the past. Once again, I fear the future. Once again I cannot cope in yesterday or tomorrow. Once again I survive by blocking them out. Once again I survive by living in the moment, in today.

Once again, I am sitting watching the sunrise. It does not let me down. Once again, it is magnificent.

Week 27 – Memories

Week 27 –

I went to the mountain with my son and a friend. It never fails to amaze me, inspire me. Although overcast, the air was crisp and clear, and the views spectacular. My mind flashed back to us going there on our first adventures as newly weds, our first five day walk together, when the lodge was a simple sanctuary for bush-walkers; rather than the sprawling accommodation complex it is today. I thought of the time we had there with the children, staying in the cabins, sitting around the warm cosy fire. I thought of the walks we did with them, carrying them as little ones on our backs, or later the longer walks we did there round the lake, or up the mountain, into the forest, and into the wilderness. I thought of going there with friends and extended family and by ourselves. I thought of us there in the summer and winter and autumn and spring. Whatever the season, whatever the weather, I have always enjoyed my time there.

 

So this was a positive reflection, the first that I have had; of thinking back to the happy memories; and instead of thinking in terms of what has been lost, I thought in terms of what has been gained. I thought of us as a family, and of how the children had a magnificent childhood, being brought up by parents who not only did things for them, they did things with them; and we gave them all a love of enjoying and appreciating “the wilds” of anywhere and everywhere that that may go. And I thought of our legacy given to them, of knowing that no matter what life brings your way, you can always return to the mountain and find peace and calmness and … for me …..happy memories………….

“So all that I will ever have is our memory,
The roller coaster fun that was you and me.

A life with a promise of a future that finally came true
Is now a memory of the family and the life I had with you”. ………………………………………………..

I found this poem written by a fellow blogger which captures the memory of family. The stanza above holds so true to me and I have copied a shortened version of the poem below of the parts relevant to me of family life. You can read the full poem and have a look at her fantastic blog-site by clicking here

Memory

Today I went to the place WE once called home
Filled with memories, though it wasn’t OUR own.
Laughter and love used to fill up the whole place
But today, all I saw was an empty space.

It’s hard to believe that we used to live there
And children’s voices just linger in the air…
Sweet yesterday, all you will be is a memory
A memory of how our lives used to be.

It’s not the same anymore…
Just when I walked through the door,
Time passed by, I wonder where it went.
It felt so weird, it felt so different…

Just yesterday, we all had each other…
a family, an extraordinary family
Who would have thought it won’t be forever
And all that we have is a memory to remember.

Water splashing, barking dogs, keyboards clicking, toy choppers fly
Children playing and the never ending of asking why…
What I would give to hear the sound….
Of a memory of what it was like to have them around…

Today  when I walked in, I am not like the one who used to live there
Today, I faced a battle I thought I couldn’t bear
I fought back the tears, I fought back the heart ache
I stood tall, smiled and did not allow myself to break.

It wasn’t just the memory that was there to haunt me
It was the yearning and longing for the “normalcy”
I’ve let go of my lost love, and have already moved on
When I finally stopped asking what went wrong…

……………………..

So all that I will ever have is our memory
The roller coaster fun that was you and me.
A life with a promise of a future that finally came true
Is now a memory of the family and the life I had with you.

by True Love Junkie May 23, 2011

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.

Week 22 – Reality check

Week 22- February 17 2012

I had been in a contended place for a few weeks now, rising early, watching the sunrise, turning my new-found aloneness into creative solitude for writing; and enjoying the glorious down-under summer days as a peaceful place for living in today.

So uplifting were some of these days, that I thought I had progressed through my grief. Now I wonder whether I have or not. Am I really still stuck back in stage one of shock and denial? Have I really been subconsciously dealing with my pain by not facing reality?

I knew that my soul was rocked every time I had thoughts of the past, so I did not go there. I became sad about the past because I did not know what to do with the memories of my years as a mother and wife. I did not know whether I would ever be able to look back on those years with happiness. So rather than being ripped in two by those thoughts, I pushed them aside. I stopped myself thinking about my past at all. I put photo albums and memorabilia safely in boxes and cupboards until a later date when I had healed. I had consciously done that. It was a definite decision I had made. I told myself that I would think about my past sometime in the future. My living would be for today.

In the first few weeks when I thought about the future, I thought about the lost happy-ever-after dreams. That saddened me so I and brushed those thoughts aside along with the past.

Now my thoughts drifted to the future again. The thoughts that came to me now about the future were different. Now I thought about my working life, about my retirement, about my financial situation. Those thoughts of the future filled me with anxiety. Through all this la-la land of living the glorious summer days for the awe and wonder of their splendour, have I simply been in denial? Have I been using self-preservation strategies of avoiding the pain of reality – that harsh reality of being 58 years old with what will now be a hugely depleted asset base and no chance of an early secure retirement.

What bothers me most is that my future will eventually become my present. So even though right now I am contended in today, happily living one day, one week at a time; thinking about the future and determining my own future – which will eventually become my present – is a place I will soon have to go. And mostly it makes me anxious.

So I am not there yet. I am not over all of this. I still have a lot to think through a lot in order to be relaxed about my future and therefore truly happy in my present.

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