My beliefs # 2 Freedom

Freedom: The Power to act, speak or think without fear, hindrance or restraint.

When we think of ‘freedom’, we often think of civil liberties such as Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Association and Freedom of Assembly, amongst others. I am a strong believer and defender of those liberties.

Freedom can also be thought of in terms of freedom within relationships, and of one’s own personal freedom.  In these cases, what does freedom mean?

I think there are three parts to being truly free. The first part is to have freedom from restraints or fear. The second part is to have the freedom to act. The third part is to have the freedom of capacity in order to act. It is not enough for a bird to be let out of its cage, it is not enough that it wants to be free, in order to fly it must also have wings.

In the early days post separation friends, acquaintances and divorce advice websites were loud in their message to me ‘now you are free’. Was this true? In my marriage, did I lack freedom? Did I have freedom now?

I believe marriages should be based on mutual trust, care, respect and friendship; one that allows intimacy yet still enables each partner to maintain the freedom of their own individuality; where there are no issues of power or control within the relationship; no engulfment of one by the other; and no constraints imposed on the relationship by problems of alcohol, gambling, abuse, or hang-ups.

Whilst I thought that our marriage was based on those beliefs, in the last few years my husband began viewing his marital union and family responsibilities as a constraint; as a restriction on his freedom. The irony is that his unhappiness at his perceived lack of freedom produced restraints and fears within our relationship that never previously existed.

Yes, in the early days post separation there were times when I celebrated the lifting of those psychological restraints imposed during the dying days of our marriage. In time, I also learned to let go of my self-imposed constraints – commitments, plans and promises – that no longer held relevance. I embraced solitude and enjoyed my new found freedom of time and space.

Is this freedom?

Is true freedom simply being free of restraints?

Is true freedom being able to do whatever we want, whenever we want, with whoever we want, with no responsibility to anyone but ourselves?

Some people see freedom only in terms of restraints. They see any restriction – either imposed by others or by themselves – as a limit on their freedom. They want to be free from restraints, free from responsibility, to only worry about themselves. That to them is freedom.

I see freedom differently.

I choose to live my life free of external restrictions as I set my own rules. I impose my own restraints, my own moral code. As long as I impose these myself, by my own free-will, it is freedom. One cannot enslave oneself. With no external restrictions, only internal ones, I have the freedom to think, speak, and act the way I want.

I have the freedom to choose to be responsible to my family. When I act out of love and devotion, there are no constraints – no matter what the responsibilities require of me.

I have the freedom to do what is right by others and to the community.

These are my choices. They are not restraints. I am not constrained because I do it with my own free will. I am unimpeded by a contrary desire.

I have the freedom to choose my own direction in life and and to fit this in with my life’s purpose which I alone shall choose.

Do I have the capacity, attitude and skills to take up this action?

Yes. I have the freedom of an untouchable power-force within me that no-one can take away no matter what happens to me. The power to choose my attitude. My attitude is to develop a capacity by education, training or resolve to overcome any obstacle or impediment in my way.

That is my one last step to freedom. This will become my ultimate freedom. To be free to choose my own goals by my own free-will and to work towards those goals unimpeded.

It is finished!!!!

Over the past six months, despite my attempts at upbeat posts and a determination to carve a positive way forward, simmering underneath has been the constant dealing with divorce process “stuff”. Overwhelming and overpowering, like a ton of bricks weighing down on my shoulders as I have trudged slowly through a sea of mud – yes, all the metaphors apply.

Now it is finished – not the whole divorce process – but at least the burden of the gathering of financial information, the finding the financial records, the putting it altogether for accountants and lawyers, the presenting it all in a logical format, the attendance of meetings, the long phone calls, the constant stress, the forever ending burden of trying to find an extra eight hours a day from nowhere. Day and night for six months!

And even though I have asked myself over and over and over as to why it is ME who has been left with this burden, and even though not once have I received a logical explanation; today it does not matter, today I do not care, today it is over, today I am free.

Today I can cook, or clean, or go and have my hair cut, or sort my linen out, or weed the garden, or write, or phone a friend, or go down town, or do some blogging.  Today I can do what I want. Normal stuff.

My beliefs # 1 Peace

“A state of harmony characterized by lack of conflict and freedom from fear”
“Freedom from disturbance”
“Quiet and tranquility”
In reflecting on who I am and what I have always believed in ‘Peace’ is one of the first words that springs to my mind. I have always been a believer in peaceful resolutions of global conflicts. I believed in and indeed have contributed to peaceful solutions to national, community and workplace disagreements. I believed in conflict-free relationships. I believed in striving for my own inner peace.
Then along came the dreaded ‘D’ pelting me with its intense hurricane force destroying everything in its wake and leaving my previous life in tatters including my former beliefs and attitudes. The beliefs I strongly held for world peace, social justice and community harmony have been shoved aside for someone else to manage. It is enough that I survive  my own personal storm. The storm of the harsh reality of my former life partner being on the other side of dividing lines. A physical dividing line. An emotional dividing line. A financial dividing line by the required splitting of our assets. Always now a dividing line.
For me there is still intense pain whenever I cast my thoughts to any of these divisions now between us. Here I am a believer in conflict-free relationships, a strong believer in harmony, and of tranquility. Yet, in regard to the one relationship I had formerly considered as the most sacred, I wondered whether there would ever come a time when there could be peace between us again.
A few weeks ago I read this fantastic poem titled “Peace In The Uncommon Ground”. I think this is a brilliant poem and I have copied it below. The poem describes firstly finding peace within yourself and then for that sereneness to transmit to the other person allowing them to find their own inner peace and then peace between each other happens by finding common ground. Brilliant!
After reading this poem, I realised that there were internal conflicts I struggled with. Should I have some contact with my husband for the children’s sake, or not see him for the sake of my own peace of mind? Should I stay in our former home with its now bittersweet memories, or go through the hassle of moving? Should I get stuck in and finish some work that needs doing or shall I sit back and enjoy the sunshine? Should I remain the resilient stable dependable one or break away and fly off on some exotic adventure?
I had always been a contented person yet now I was battling with an inner turmoil that never existed before. I had lost my inner peace.
I have taken steps over the past 12 months of finding peace. I enjoy living in today. I have embraced solitude. I have let go of the illusion of the happy-ever-after. I have forgiven the betrayal and the abandonment..Whilst all these actions are helpful, to some extent it is a self-protecting method of escapism – a means of avoiding reality. The reality of the full ramifications of the end of our marriage. The reality of the tortuous divorce process. The reality of starting out again – by myself. I had been attempting to place peace on top of chaos.
.In order to find peace with others in my life, I have to first find my own inner peace. In order to find inner peace, I have to first rid myself of the chaos, disorder and confusion that has found a home within me. To rid myself of the confusion, I need to untangle my competing beliefs and discard those aspects of my life that are no longer important to me. This will become the next part of my journey, the path to inner peace.
Peace In The Uncommon Ground
Louise Gallagher

In the uncommon ground between us
I must first make peace
with where I stand
to make room
for you to be
at peace
with where ever you are

In finding peace
with where we’re at
the path
to the common ground
for peace to grow
between us.