Relationships

Last Friday was a proud day for me seeing my daughter – my baby – being admitted as a lawyer.

In the days before, I thought of the changed family unit that was to witness her admission. With my two eldest sons away and my husband awol, the previously strong proud family unit of six was now down to three. It would be up to me and my third son to be the support for her and share with her in this joyous moment. There was a huge lump in my throat thinking of how it was to be compared to how it could have been.

Then the day before the ceremony a lawyer friend, the son of a family friend, with a change to his business commitments was able to accept her request for him to be in attendance and present her admission to the judge. It made her day to have him there and make her day so special. Afterwards we all crowded around my daughter and embraced each other and shared this special moment together – my two children, myself and our friend.

Later that night my son said to me. ‘Mum, don’t be sad for what could have been, look at what there is. Look at what we have. It is happy new memories we are making right here, right now, together.’

Too often we dwell on the stereotypical happy-ever-after image of the intact family unit of mother, father and children. Whatever the age of the participants, the image is the same.
Too often we dwell on the portrayed image of ‘love’ being the passion between a man and a woman; of two lovers; of romantic affairs.
Too often we forget all the other relationships in our lives that make us who we are.

Mother-son
Sister – sister
Brother-sister
Mother-daughter
Work colleagues
Sporting partners
Friends from the past
Friends in the present
Supermarket attendee
Grandmother-grandson
Grandmother-granddaughter
Cousins and second cousins
Neighbors and acquaintances
Cafe owner who makes you coffee
Person who comes and paints your house
Friend who babysat your children when they were little
Parents of your children’s friends who are still there for you
Music teacher who mentored your daughter in her passion for the piano
Son of a friend who made a special effort to attend your daughter’s law admission

 

I Can See Clearly Now

It is towards the end of winter here in Australia. As the rains begin to ease, the skies clear, the flowers start to bloom and I can more clearly see the approaching spring …..

“I Can See Clearly Now”
Johnny Nash

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all the obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

Look all around, there’s nothin’ but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin’ but blue skies.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.

Awards

I am thrilled to have been nominated for several awards over the past months since I started blogging. I apologise for the length of time for me to acknowledge these, however, I have had very poor internet connection that is thankfully now resolved.

The bloggers who nominated me are: Magnolia beginnings; 1Alive;
Better Than Yesterday;and One Woman’s Logic. I encourage you to read each of their blogs by clicking on the links to their names. They are all truly inspirational reads.

Part of the rules of the awards are that you share 7 facts about yourself. You may read these facts about me here. Details of the awards, can be found here.

Part of the rules of the awards are that you nominate other people for the awards (7).
I thought that this would be a good opportunity to express my gratitude to some of the bloggers I read and provide links to them as I am most grateful for all the follows, the encouraging comments, and the inspirational content of their own blogs. the people who nominated me, get a second mention and an additional award ūüôā

The people that I have nominated for the awards are:

Versatile Blogger
I have nominated these bloggers for their positive and inspiring blogs with a variety of content, quotes, poetry, music, humour and inspirational advice
Magnolia Beginnings
Talk to Diana
Cauldrons and Cupcakes
Mimijk
Jennifer’s Journal
Pri Connects
1 Alive

One Lovely Blogger Award
I have nominated thesebloggers who stick to a theme to brighten our day
Clarabelle’s Poetry; Poetry
The Last Song I Heard Songs
Whitt 88 Boating and photos
True Love Junkie Poetry, prose and photos
Dr Bill Photos and inspirational quotes
News of The Times ; discussions on news and other issues

Beautiful Blogger Award
I have nominated these blogs about life and living
Floating With The Breeze
Space2Live
Practice Management
Life Dimiraged
One woman’s logic
Growing Younger Each Day

Very Inspiring Blogger Award
I have nominated these blogs about divorce or singledom
That’s Another Story
I’ve Survived And I’m Flying
Sixty and Single Again
Rediscovering Self
Alone But Strong
Lessons From The End Of A Marriage
Well, OK, So Now what?
Better Than Yesterday
Between Fear and Love
Paupana
Classified Confessions
Out of The chrysalis
Tara
Back On My Own

I am thrilled to have been nominated for several awards over the past months since I started blogging.The bloggers who nominated me are: Magnolia beginnings; 1Alive;
Better Than Yesterday;and One Woman’s Logic. I encourage you to read each of their blogs as they are truly inspirational. People I have nominated for the awards are found here.

All About The Awards

The awards I have been nominated for and their rules are:

(1) The Versatile Blogger
Image

Rules of the awards are:
* Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post.
* Share 7 interesting things about yourself
* Nominate 15 bloggers you admire.
* Leave a comment on each of the blog’s letting them know they have been nominated.
* Post the award on your blog site somewhere

(2) One Lovely Blogger award

Image

The Rules for Award participation are:

* Link back to the blogger who nominated you.
* Paste the award image on your blog, anywhere.
* Tell them 7 facts about yourself.
* Nominate 15 other blogs you like for this award.
* Contact the bloggers that you have chosen to let them know that they have been nominated.

(3) Beautiful Blogger award

Rules of the awards are:
* Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post.
* Share 7 interesting things about yourself
* Nominate 7 bloggers you admire.
* Leave a comment on each of the blog’s letting them know they have been nominated.
* Post the award on your blog site somewhere

4) Very Inspiring Blogger Award

 Rules of the awards are:
* Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post.
* Share 7 interesting things about yourself
* Nominate 7 bloggers you admire.
* Leave a comment on each of the blog’s letting them know they have been nominated.
* Post the award on your blog site somewhere

 

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 40 – Forgiveness

Week 40 – 25 June 2012

‚ÄúAs I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē¬†Nelson Mandela

When I read some months ago that one needs to ‘forgive’ someone a wrong-doing in order to move on, I thought to myself – ‘Why should I? Is forgiveness something that I have to do to move on? Is to be a forgiving¬† person something that I should strive to be? If I did become a forgiving person, is that a good thing for me to be?’

In the beginning I had been thinking of forgiveness in terms of a divine act of exoneration (release from blame) rather than a human act of pardon (release from a debt or punishment). In fact, if you actually look up the dictionary definition meaning of ‘forgiveness’ there is not much reference to the former assumed meaning of exoneration, but rather these meanings:

  • Give up resentment of or claim to requital (forgive an insult).
  • Grant relief from payment (forgive a debt)
  • Cease to feel resentment against an offender

None of these meanings indicate exoneration, excusing or condoning. If you explore philosophical musings, more emerges in three types of forgiveness.

1. Forgiveness is often found in the character of magnanimous high-minded individuals. However, the forgiveness often is related to the preservation of the virtues of the high-minded individual, rather than any real concern for the person being forgiven; borne out of a desire to preserve their own values and a desire to be honored by society as a whole. It can be somewhat of a superiority stance – that the person forgiven is not worthy of any more of your thoughts. The person and the action done is best simply forgotten and discarded.

2. Forgiveness is also found in good-tempered people. People with this character trait tend to not give in to anger and do not insist on vengeance. In that regard, by showing clemency or leniency to those who do them wrong, they are seen to be ‘forgiving’ people. These people are showing passive ‘restraint’ virtues of not giving in to anger and vindictiveness, rather than actively seeking to do ‘good’.

3. A third type of forgiveness is shown by those people who care so much for others – even those who have done them wrong – they actively seek them out and forgive them for their (the perpetrator’s) sake, and from a desire to help him (or her). These people are showing charity, as well as ‘active’ forgiveness.

I thought of my own situation.

I do not regard myself as superior and do not go around acting virtuously for some honored position in society. I do not feel superior to my husband and I do not think of him as so sick or depraved that he did not know what he was doing. The ‘forgive him because he did not realise what he was doing’ does not apply. Category (1) does not work.

There is no point in seeking him out and trying to reform him for his own sake or even to try and convince him or make him realise how much pain he has caused. I was not and am not responsible for his choices or his actions. Category (3) is also out.

All my life I have had a tendency to be a ‘good-tempered’ person. I rarely show anger and I am one who generally readily overlooks misdeeds. Category (2) is definitely me all over.

However, now I was questioning that part of my character. I felt violated, and I felt that it was this ‘good-tempered’ character trait in me that had been the most abused. I wondered to myself whether by failing to take a stand on lessor issues in the past, perhaps I was sending out a message of ‘you may walk all over me and I will not show you any anger and I will forgive you and not seek any vengeance’. By showing ‘restraint’ traits of not becoming angry, of not having a desire for vengeance, was I acting like a victim? Was it this character trait in me that led to the ultimate betrayal?

This trait that I had previously thought of as my strength I now thought of as a weakness. If I ‘forgave’ him, then I would be acting weak.¬† He had shown me so little respect. I would be letting him get away with it. I thought that those so-called virtues of mine (not showing anger and not insisting on vengeance), although not ‘evil’, were maybe not particularly ‘good’ either. They were passive rather than active traits. Maybe, I should have done something. On moral issues, there is much merit in actively speaking out against injustices or acting with prudence and quiet careful deliberation, rather than taking it all and doing nothing. These may be seen as better qualities in life to aim for than simply passively repressing anger and resisting vengeance.

After mulling over that for a while feeling completely negative towards myself and thinking of myself as a victim, my thoughts changed around and I concluded some entirely different things about myself and about forgiveness.

Firstly, not translating angry feelings into angry actions is not being a doormat and it is not being passive. It is an extremely active action. It can take every ounce of one’s energy to follow that path – even more energy than spouting out in anger, or throwing things etc etc. Holding back and restraining takes more thought, more decision and more ‘action’. It is an ‘active’ rather than ‘reactive’ response.

Secondly, showing restraint, is not simply passively ‘allowing the other person to get away with it’. It is nothing to do with the other person at all. It is something that you do for yourself. It is for yourself, your values, your disposition. By showing restraint you are taking back your own control.

Thirdly, I had spoken out and stood my ground. However, I reserved those times for the important issues and then acted with quiet determined careful deliberation, rather than throwing temper tantrums and acting angry.

Lastly, the issue of vengeance – the desire that the other person should in some way be made to suffer, be made to feel some of the pain. That somehow it was all unfair. There was no point in thinking like that. He had moved on. Thinking in terms of vengeance would only keep me holding on to resentment. It would only hurt me.

I have come to realise that ‘forgiveness’ is not for him, it is for me . By forgiving the insult and the ‘debt’ and ceasing to think of his action as requiring some sort of restitution, releases me of the feelings of anger, resentment and victimization. It gives me back control.

My actions and my next step forward as ‘me’ are to forgive and to:

Forever Give up the feelings of resentment and betrayal.
Forever Give up thinking of myself as a victim.
Forever Give up the thought of being responsible for his actions past or present.
Forever Give up being tied to him and being defined by the separation.

‚ÄúNot forgiving is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. ‚ÄĚ**
__________________________________________________________________
Note: I have seen this last quote attributed to Carrie Fisher, McCourt, Nelson Mandela, Buddhist teachings, and the bible. Can anyone confirm the original author?

Week 39 – Acceptance?

Week 39 – 18 June 2012

In one of my very early posts I wrote about how the ending of my marriage threw me into a grief process with particular stages or feelings – shockpainangerdepression – and being totally overwhelmed. I clung onto the hope of the last supposed stage of grief – hope and “acceptance” as a place I would eventually reach. I thought over and over that that is where I would like to be. I told myself if I could get to a point of “acceptance” then perhaps I could turn my situation around with positive responses and a hope for the future – a positive future.

Now at week 39 I wondered exactly what was meant by ‘acceptance’ and – if I had to get to a state of ‘acceptance’ in order to move on – what exactly was it that I supposed to accept?

Let me first get the dictionary out and explore the meaning of ‘acceptance’ and other related words.

Acceptance – the action of consenting to receive or undertake something.
Admit – accept as true, allow
Acknowledge – recognize as fact
Adjust – modify or make suitable to changed conditions
Adapt – make something suitable for a new purpose, alter for a new use
Allow – permit, take into account
Action – process of doing something
Accomplish – achieve or complete something
Achieve – reach or attain a desired objective by effort, skill or courage

Being left suddenly through no choice is akin to surviving a hurricane. Everything in your prior life has been totally destroyed and swept away and you are left alone amongst the rubble. You face feelings of abandonment, betrayal, a lost past, a stolen future, a changed family unit, the loss of a significant other and coupledom, as well as facing a future alone with a significant loss of financial security.

I do not think that I have or perhaps ever will accept by consent the hurt, the betrayal, the lost trust and of being abandoned. I cannot accept or consent to the lack of respect shown to me in not being given any choice or discussion on the ending of our 40 year partnership. I cannot yet accept that this was done to me by the one who I had cared for all my adult life, my friend and soul-mate.

However, I can indeed now acknowledge all this as fact. I can admit that this has happened. There has been a lot of pain associated with getting to that point. It was easier in the beginning to simply block it all out. It has been much much harder to face and admit the facts, and acknowledge them as true. This I have now done. That far I have progressed.

I have managed to go one step further in some aspects.

I have adjusted to the strange twilight world of today and have enjoyed living in the moment that each day brings. I have adapted to not having a significant other and of needing to face the future alone. I have allowed solitude to enter my life as my best companion and in fact I have embraced it.

While still hard at times the children and I have all adjusted to our changed family unit. In particular, I acknowledge that it will be me that will always be there for my children to see them through their triumphs and tragedies and to share in their everyday lives. I have adapted to being there for them on my own. I always have been and always will be there for them. I admit that my home is too large for me as a single person and I will take action to ensure its maintenance. It is my choice at the moment to keep the family home as a sanctuary for myself and the children for the preservation of their childhood memories.

I admit that it will be a difficult year to sort out all the legal, accounting and structural changes required for the split; and I acknowledge that it will be me that will have to do most of this technical work. I have adjusted to this turbulent period and have sought professional assistance where required. I admit it will be a challenge to get myself back on track to financial security. This will require a defined action plan, a strict budget and a delayed retirement.

Finally I admit that I have been hurt and that I am still in a degree of pain and that I need time to heal. I will allow myself that time. Until I have healed I admit that I will feel overwhelmed if I have visitors or when I travel as it is taking me away from my cocoon, my protective shell of solitude. Eventually, when I emerge from my cocoon it will not bother me. I admit that I am not there yet and i will give myself more time.

So, even though I have not quite reached acceptance, I do not feel that i do in order to move on away from ‘we’ and on to ‘me’. I have acknowledged what has happened, I have adjusted my thoughts and adapted to my changed circumstances. I am taking the actions required to move myself forward. …. step by step.

It is for that reason that I know that I will in time move on to my own accomplishments and achievements before advancing through many other phases (B, C, D, ….)¬† before finally reaching the zenith of my life.

Zenith – the peak, the highest point.

Week 38 – The Way We Were

The Way We Were
Barbra Streisand
Songwriters: HAMLISCH, MARVIN

Memories,
Like the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories
Of the way we were.

Scattered pictures
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were.

Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me would we?
Could we?

Memories,
May be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were.

Week 37 – Letting go

Week 37 – 01 June 2012

Last weekend my husband and I had a coffee and said good-bye.

I had previously written how after he left me my husband had wanted to remain friends. I was finding that difficult. Eventually I had told him that I could not, that he would have to let me go. The process of telling him of this involved detaching emotionally from him and disentangling myself from the coupledom we had had and the life we had shared. Over the following five months I learned through the children that he was finding lack of contact with me as a friend difficult and he pined for a last coffee with me. As he was due to leave for a 12 months stint wandering the globe and as I had healed to a degree, the week before he left – although too early in some ways for me – I agreed to that last coffee.

We met at the scheduled coffee shop and we were respectful of one another, whilst agreeing to disagree on some matters. It was, however, still very sad and there were tears all round. Then we said good-bye as a couple……. forever. Life would never be the same.

As I drove away I thought that maybe I was wrong. I was wrong to assume that he would want the happy-ever-after illusion like me because in the end it was just that – an illusion. I was wrong to assume that what I wanted – the growing old of two people, remembering together all the triumphs and tragedies, of sharing the children and grandchildren, of caring for one another and helping each other in their golden years, of going on new adventures together – I was wrong to assume that that was what he wanted too. I was wrong to assume that what we had was worth fighting for when he didn’t. I was wrong to assume that what we had had and what we could have in the future was worthwhile in order to save our marriage. I felt that it was. He chose otherwise. His choice. Not mine.

As I drove home, I accepted that my assumptions had been wrong. I let go of my assumptions. I let go of the illusions. I let go of us.

I returned home … alone again.

The day was strange for me because I thought that I would become overwhelmed with heart-breaking sadness and I did not. I readily busied myself and generally potted about. I made contact with my mother and some close friends and there was excitement in my voice as I spoke with them.

The pain was gone. That heavy ache that had been weighing me down had been lifted from my shoulders.

Is this closure?

Or is it freedom?

Later in the day I got stuck into some trivial domestic chores …….. and one thing I noticed

……..I was singing.

 

 

 

 

Week 36 – Recipe for a bigger divorce pie

Week 36 May 28 2012. This week marked us agreeing to a property settlement – not signed, but at least agreed to.

I wrote earlier about the pain I had felt when I began to face the full fall-out of the financial insult that this break-up would bring upon me. Thinking over this predicament in the weeks since then had been a major factor in preventing me from moving forward in my life, of letting go of the life we had, of the future of us that will never be. Trying to accept the financial insult was a second wave of pain coming on top of the emotional pain.

Being together for 40 years and close to retirement years, the sums had been done many times. There was to be a pie with 40 pieces – one piece for each year together – that we had carefully put away. This pie of 40 pieces would have been adequate to provide us with a comfortable lifestyle income of about two pieces of pie per year. The initial shock on separation for me was that there would now only be 20 pieces of pie for me to live on, half of the original providing me with only one piece of pie a year to live on. This was a down-coming but not exactly horrific and being an optimistic person I came to accept this and tried to move on. However, slowly I came to realise that the Maths was all wrong. What struck me in April was the harsh reality of a much more severely depleted pie of only six pieces and only one fifth of our ‘couples’ pie.

Let me explain the Maths.

In the original pie of 40 pieces, 10 were tied up in the family home leaving 30 pieces for investment to provide the annual income of about two pieces of pie. In the post separation pie there is the reality of 8 pieces of pie being taken out for divorce proceedings, leaving 32 pieces to divide – 16 pieces each. From my half, once I take 10 pieces for the family home, I am left with only 6 pieces left to invest and live on – only one fifth of the original investment pie of 30 pieces! The equation is not a simple matter of dividing the total in two. Moreover the cost of living for a single person is more than half of that of a couple – with house and car costs incurred on one’s own. You actually require more than half to live on. Yet I would only be left with six pieces of pie to invest. How could I survive? As I sat working out the figures, turning them over, backwards and forward and upside down; there was also the horrible thought that the only way of getting more pieces of pie for myself was to become a combatant and fight against my husband through the courts, bringing up mud to fling, having to say vile and toxic things against the one person who up until 10 months before I had given my whole life and love to. I did not want to become that person necessary to get more pieces of the pie simply so that I could have a comfortable retirement. However, I was now on my own and I also did not want to have to fight for financial survival throughout my golden years. Financial survival versus soul survival. It seemed like a lose-lose situation. It was this knowledge hitting home to me that had sent me spiralling downwards early April.

Then I worked out a recipe for a bigger pie. There is another way and I created it. Rather than focussing on what we had had and lost, I focussed instead on the income I would require and created a pie that would provide me with enough investment pie to provide the income I would need. This is my recipe for a bigger and better divorce pie:

Ingredients:
Take
1. Your soul
2. Your choices
3. A clear head
4. Determination
5. Respect and
6. Your finances

Method:
1. Stay out of the courts. This gives you back 8 pieces of pie in the savings on litigation costs.
2. Compromise. Even though it seems unfair to give some bits away to the person whose choice it was for this financial mess, is it really worth fighting for two pieces of pie to lose four in the process?
3. Stay out of the courts.
4. Think of your soul. Do you really want to become a bitter toxic person by dragging down the person you gave 40 years to?
5. Think of your children. Save the children the pain of seeing their parents knocking each other over.
6. Stay out of the courts.
7. Compromise on the house – at least in your head. Accept that sometime in the future you will downsize from the family home to a smaller home and release another 4 pieces of pie.
8. Get a hold on your own personal budget, live more frugally, watch discretionary spending and make the pieces of remaining pie work for you.
9. Remember your own divorce code and stick to it.
10. Stay out of the courts.

Here is a comparison of the alternative pies:

Original
Total pieces of pie                  40
Less Litigation costs             Р8
Remaining                              32
Half to me                              16
Less cost of home                -10
Pieces of pie to live on            6
Living costs per year               1.2
Years of income                      5

My recipe
Total pieces of pie                  40
No Litigation                           Р0
Remaining                              40
Half to me                              20
Less cost of home                 -6
Pieces of pie to live on           14
Living costs per year              0.7
Years of income                     20

Voila! This recipe will provide me with four times the financial security of what may have been and has saved my soul and sanity. Moreover, if you look carefully at the figures, by careful budgeting and a revision of my lifestyle – from what had been ‘our’ lifestyle – it actually provides me with more financial security than before separation as there is now no-one I have to compromise with in my careful budgeting to make it all happen.

Full steam ahead now with – my choices – my lifestyle.