My needs. Introduction

“We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it” James M Barrie


Human Needs

Human needs are described as “the elements required for survival and normal mental and physical health”. Psychologists sometimes list needs in groups such as basic needs (food, shelter, security); connections (companionship, intimacy); and higher needs (self-esteem, contribution). Needs are distinguished from wants as a deficiency causes a negative outcome. Moreover, you never realise that you require needs, until you do not have them. Then the ache sets in.

It has been reasoned that at a time of crisis, such as after an earthquake, people’s needs return to basics – for food, water, shelter. At those times there is little need for intellectual stimulation, education, or meaningful projects to fill their time.

The ending of a marriage is similar to a crisis or trauma, especially if it is unexpected, sudden and beyond your control. It rocks the very foundation of your life and threatens everything you ever had including your self-esteem, family, companionship; and emotional and financial security. Your fundamental needs of security, trust, and having some control over your own destiny, are destroyed in an instant. As everything comes crashing down, to cope and survive you cocoon yourself by returning to the basics of life – living in the moment of waking, eating, walking, and the comfort and security of a warm bed at night. You are thrown into a survival mind-set of fulfilling basic needs because everything else is gone.

My needs

In the weeks after my husband’s announcement, I felt as if there was nothing left. I became overwhelmed by the intensity of the emotions I was feeling. Almost as if a hurricane had hit me, scrambling from underneath the rubble of my former life, I walked around in a daze going through the motions of life like a zombie. Soon I protected myself by reclaiming some order in my everyday life by reestablishing my immediate space and following a fairly regimented daily routine. There I was to remain for many months before I could slowly begin rebuilding my life from the ground up – physically, emotionally and financially.

I read that ‘divorce is an opportunity to explore your own needs, wants and likes’. In the early days I tried to write down my needs and it drew a blank. It was thirty weeks before I was able to list my basic need for order and routine. It was nearly a year before I could list any higher level need such as a need to do meaningful projects. Yet the ache remained.

One of the reasons I found it difficult to list my needs, was the fact that I felt that I had become the discarded consequence of another person’s supposed ‘needs’ having taken precedence over everything else: the family unit, past history, dreams for the future, shared children and grand-children, responsibility, values and beliefs.

I did not agree with the concept that because I had been forsaken, that I should abandon my own fundamental beliefs, values and responsibilities for an over-riding selfish ‘need’. I needed (yes that became one of my needs) to firstly re-affirm my own core values and beliefs; and choose positive attitudes and responses to my life situation. I believed those would then underpin my own needs and guide me towards my responsibilities, aims and goals.

For example; as I affirmed my values include trust, care, dependability, and integrity; then I do not ‘need’ a companion for the sake of companionship if those values are compromised. Those values underpin my needs. Similarly, if I remain an optimistic person with a ‘can-do’ attitude; then I do not ‘need’ to be provided for.

With a now affirmed inner core of values, beliefs and attitudes; and a layer of calm strengthening my resolve; I am set to move out to my external world. The first place I shall begin is with myself, and my own needs, which I shall explore over my next series of posts.

Gradually I will reclaim those needs, take control of my life back, fulfill my responsibilities, set my goals and plans, and march forward.



Image courtesy of [Grant Cochrane] /

Coming Home to Calm

I thought it was timely to reflect at how far I had come along my self-professed journey of ‘Transforming My Life From We to We’ as today marks eighteen months since my husband left me.

The first part of my journey was the emotional ending of ‘we’; which encompassed emotional upheaval, organising the physical chaos, learning to live alone, mourning what had been lost; then finally letting go and accepting myself as a complete individual, rather than half of a couple. In tandem with that – and not yet over – has been the traumatic legal ending of ‘we’ by divorce, a drawn-out process that has kept me in a constant limbo-land of neither being ‘we’ nor ‘me’ and unable to completely move on. I am pleased to write that this week documents have been sent for us to sign off on our property settlement. One more cloud lifted.

During my journey of ending ‘we’, I have stopped at times to savour the special moments of the day, to reflect on all I have to be grateful for, and for what I have learned.

The next part of my journey has been a rediscovery of my self. This began as a quiet reflection of who and what I am that I cannot change (being a woman, the age I am, and having my own personality); and then beginning thoughts on those things about myself that I could change if I wanted to. I deliberately took some time to reflect on those inner parts of me that I would strive to keep, change or let go of. The starting point of that reflection has been a close examination and affirmation of my inner core of values, beliefs and attitudes. As I reaffirmed these, I determined that I would never lose that part of myself, my inner core that makes me who I am.

As I progressed along my journey there was the gradual realisation that I could not necessarily let go of some parts of me that I wanted to let go of, even if I wanted to. Some thoughts and feelings that keep resurfacing. Some weaknesses that remain. I thought to move forward after an adversity, you had to keep strong and you had to stop thinking negative thoughts. What I have learned is that you can move on despite those thoughts and feelings. I have learned that  there will always be two parts of me. One part of me will remain sad about the past, anxious and fearful for the future, with little confidence in my ability to cope or create a path forward. That side of me keeps saying ‘you can’t do this!’. The other part of me is hopeful, optimistic, confident; and will sit, plan and prioritise. That voice keeps saying ‘yes you can’.

As I begin planning my way from my inner self into the outer world, readying myself to stride forward, today I know there will always be those two parts of my inner core. I now accept my two inner parts.

Today, the strong defiant one, so determined to succeed, is taking the weaker softer one by the hand, and saying – ‘Come with me, we can do this together. Together we can move forward, together we can go home. And at home there will be peace and there will be calm’.

Artist: Phillip Phillips


Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home
Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home
Ooo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo. oo-oo-oo-oo [x2]
Aaa-aa-aa-aa-aa-aa-aa. aa-aa-aa-aaaaaa [x2]

My attitudes # 10 Humility. Water melting rock

“You must try, the voice said, to become colder.
I understood at once.
It’s like the bodies of gods: cast in bronze, braced in stone.
Only something heartless
could bear the full weight.”
― Jane Hirshfield
People have sometimes said to me ‘you are a rock’.
I have often pondered what that actually means and I believe it encompasses five things:
1). Being dependable to keep on with the small everyday and mundane tasks of life and not complaining about them but rather – just keep doing them – keep on, keeping on.
2) Always doing what you say you will, keeping to your word.
3) Being there in another persons’ troubles to help them out, or simply as moral support.
4) Being the ‘realm of safety’, the protector; and providing a place that is calm and secure for others – both emotionally and physically.
5) Being the one who remains level-headed in a crisis, putting one’s own fears and anxieties aside to step up and deal with the crisis; and even when you want to crawl into a hole and disappear, you cannot because others depend on you.
People urge me to remain ‘strong’.
I continually urge myself to remain strong and positive.
However, what I have learned about this personal crisis is that in times of emotional upheaval, to always remain ‘the rock’, that bastion of strength, would require an element of coldness and heartlessness.
And what I have learned about this personal crisis, is that sometimes I do not feel like that at all, I do not feel like that rock, I do not feel cold or heartless …… or strong.
Sometimes I feel:
‘I cannot do it’.
‘I need help’.
‘I am not as strong as I thought I was’.
‘I need to just breathe, I am not capable of anything more at this moment’.
And what I have learned is, that it is OK to feel like that.
What I have learned is that I too am vulnerable, just like everyone else.
What I have gained, is humility.
“Water is fluid, soft and yielding but water will wear away a rock, which is rigid and cannot yield……what is soft is strong.” Lao Tzu

My attitudes # 9. Resilience. Bouncing back

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” Nelson Mandela.

Thanks for pointing that out to me 🙂

I thought there was supposed to be a rainbow at the top of the mountain? Is that another mountain to climb, or have I been thrown back down into the valley?

To recover from set-backs, one requires an attitude of resilience.

Resilience is more than keeping going, resilience is more than climbing a mountain, resilience is more than not quitting, resilience is more than recovering from set-backs, resilience is bouncing back.

I thought of all the ‘mountains’ I had climbed in life and have felt many times that I was over climbing mountains. I was sick of being thrown back down into the valley. I wrote about this in a very early post “No More Mountains” when I was faced with what seemed insurmountable obstacles and turmoil. In that post I resolved that instead of climbing mountains I would go along tackling things one step at a time. I would find an easier path, around the mountains. Looking back now, 18 months into the drama of this separation, I realise that I have already climbed some of those mountains that at the time seemed unconquerable; the mountain of the emotional turmoil of the separation (most of the time), the mountain of the abhorrence of the divorce process (almost), and the mountain of learning to live my life all by myself. Only one of the four mountains I wrote down that day remained – getting my finances as a single person back on track. Step by step, mountain by mountain, I am gradually getting there.

This is a list I have compiled as to the character traits that I have read help you bounce back after set-backs:

  • Positive outlook
  • Resistance in the face of failure
  • Firm moral convictions and code of ethics
  • Ability to plan ahead and problem solve
  • Ability to see adversities as challenges to overcome rather than obstacles
  • Belief that one’s own effort can change things
  • A lifetime goal or interest in developing a talent

Like the lamb in this video clip sent to me by a fellow blogger;

Yes, I think my bounce will come.

“More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resilience of a pillow, where
foam returns over and over to the same shape,
but the sinuous tenacity of a tree,
finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns to another.”
Jane Hirschfield.

My attitudes # 8. Tenacity. Climb Every Mountain

Never give in. Never, never, never, never, never
Winston Churchill

I do not really think I can really add much to what I have found to be one of the most encouraging quotes, one of the most inspirational poems, and one of my favourite songs of all times; that sum up the striving within me to keep onwards and upwards, heading towards my goals and dreams.

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

– Author unknown

My attitudes # 7 One step at a time

It Couldn’t Be Done
Edgar Guest

Somebody said That it couldn’t be done,
But she with a chuckle replied,
That maybe it couldn’t, but she would be one,
Who wouldn’t say so ’til she tried,
So she buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On her face. If she worried she hid it.
She started to sing as she tackled the thing,
That couldn’t be done and she did it.

In my last post, I explained my way of doing things was by careful researching, planning and prioritising. I also explained that before I can start, I needed to completely ‘let go’ of the emotional upheaval of the divorce, then I could do things my way – step by step.

Aah, the joys of divorce! There is not simply “one” thing to let go of. I thought that I would list them and then see how far I had come at ‘letting go’. I could tackle the rest step by step.

I have let go of these:

  1. Seeing myself as a victim of abandonment, betrayal, and rejection.
  2. Mourning the loss of a significant other to share past memories with.
  3. Pining for an intact ‘nuclear family’ unit
  4. Desiring to be “fixed” perfectly before I can move on.
  5. The illusion of Plan ‘A’ of the happy-ever-after of shared future dreams; and secure financial future.
  6. The desire to go immediately from Plan ‘A’ to Plan ‘Me’

As for the remaining things that still confront me; although I cannot ‘let go’ of them (as they have to be dealt with), I can let go of the anxiety and apprehension surrounding them. Then by drawing on inner optimism and courage (and just a hint of cynicism); being a strong-minded, almost-confident, soon-to-be divorcee; instead of seeing these obstacles as hindrances in my way, I will treat them as ‘challenges’ to master. Here is my list of ‘challenges’:

  1. Embracing life alone of domestic chores, home maintenance, keeping healthy fit and active, keeping sane; and finding some tranquility by enjoying the wonders of today.
  2. Accepting a transitional Plan ‘B’ of dealing with the aftermath of the property settlement, restructuring, consolidating debt; and managing the business through the remains of the global financial crisis to a point of stability; knowing that even though the chance of medium-term financial security was swept away from me in the tsunami of the separation, I was able to choose between financial distress or financial mess, so that I chose the latter because it is filling my days with wonder and awe and if I did not have that I would probably still be sitting in a heap wondering what to do with my days.
  3. Taking time to truly ponder and map out Plan ‘C’ of the journey to the real ‘me’  – a confident, self-assured, happy, relaxed, community-minded mother and activist grandmother, undertaking some meaningful and fulfilling project, without a care in the world, and with no worries for the future physically, financially, emotionally or spiritually .
  4. Creating new happy memories.
  5. Having fun.

Now to begin on that first step…….



(My apologies to the author of the poem for my change from he to she).