To Lose and Discover Self After divorce


In my last post I described that after the ending of my marriage, went through a grief process of mourning the loss of ‘us’; and then after a while I went through a second traumatic grief period upon my realisation that by my marriage ending, I had also lost myself.

This second grief was not all that simple. I discovered that there are three parts of me. One was lost forever. One was found. One was still within me waiting to be transformed.

The me who was lost and gone forever was the me who I had been for nearly forty years – a life-partner and wife. In that regard, it had been a double whammy in that my marriage had ended at a time my younger two children were spreading their wings. So, as well as losing myself as a wife, my role of mother was in flux and although not lost it would certainly be different than what it had been.

The me who was found had been hidden underneath my drive of caring for my husband and children throughout my marriage. After my marriage ended, I found again my quiet methodical self. There was much joy in discovering I could now go about my daily life in the manner of my choosing. I also celebrated reclaiming some of my hidden talents that came with introversion. I now tended to and nurtured my own passions enthusiastically in a quiet and calm manner which is how I am and continue to strive to be.

At the same, however, I had definitely lost my purpose in life as a wife and mother and with it a huge part of myself. Even in rediscovering the hidden part of me I continued to mourn my loss of identity, and my loss of sense of purpose.

Then I realised there was a third part of me, that part of me that had been there as a child and young adult, that part which had been sacrificed in marriage and motherhood.

It was my dreams.

Life is full of compromises, the ‘this is not exactly what I would have chosen for me, but I love my husband and I can make this work for him and us and I believe we can be happy’. OR, ‘if we had no children or if I was single, we could do things differently, but as a family this is the best world for us and the best way to bring our children up to provide for them a happy, secure and stable childhood’.


So I shut the door on what could have been and looked only to what was and I strove always to do the very best in my life in my role as wife and mother.

With that wife door shut firmly and suddenly in my face then locked behind me, unable to be opened ever again, I began to now look longingly as those other doors and wonder why I had ever let them close. The giving up of the manner of lifestyle I would have preferred, the place where I would really have liked to live, my own career, the people I would have liked to have spent more time with and associate with, the person I had previously aspired to be.

I mourned those lost dreams, those lost choices, those lost parts of me.

Then one day I woke up and realised, they are not lost at all. They have simply been sleeping.

It is up to me now to find the key to unlock them.


Image # 1 people courtesy [jscreationzs]
Image # 2 doors courtesy [nattavut]


      The fire within me



Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, cancelled,
made nothing?
Are you willing to be made nothing?
dipped into oblivion?

 If not, you will never really change.

The phoenix renews her youth
only when she is burnt, burnt alive, burnt down
to hot and flocculent ash.
Then the small stirring of a new small bub in the nest
with strands of down like floating ash
shows that she is renewing her youth like the eagle,
immortal bird.

D H Lawence

Image courtesy [Photographic]

Grieving for self after divorce

“When the pain of what we are living becomes greater than our fear of changing, we let go. When our fear of drowning swamps our fear of holding onto nothing, we start to swim”. Louise Gallagher


As described in my last post, a grief is a loss of something you cannot get back. The end of a marriage is such a loss. I accepted that and accepted it would take some time to pass through grief and its stages. What I did not expect was to have to go through it twice.

As I mourned the loss of my life companion and marriage there were stages(1) – shock, pain, yearning, bargaining, depression (sadness), which I slid in and out of over time, until final acceptance, that what was lost was gone forever. This was followed by a contented period of living in the joys of today, a feeling of moving on and hope for the future.

Then THUMP! I was down on the floor again.

One day I stopped living in my la-la land of sunny moments, faced the reality of my situation, and did not like what I saw. I fell into another hole of sadness, dread, despair and fear for the future. I remained in this black state of stagnation for months.

When I hit this second grief period, others remarked I might be suffering depression. I feel it unfortunate the same terminology is used to describe both a symptom (or low mood ‘depression’), and an illness (or mental disorder ‘clinical depression’). Depression as a low mood of sadness is one of the grief stages. It is normal, a symptom, the bleeding from the wound of grief. Whilst it is important to recognise the bleeding may become so intense professional help is required (by medication, counselling or other); it is equally as important to recognise it stems from a loss and it will not end until the wound of grief is healed. My dilemma was I thought I had healed.

My first grief – the loss of ‘we’

I had processed my grief, passed through its stages, came to accept my loss (my companion), integrated that loss into my life, and got back to what I considered normal. I had survived. I did not understand why I felt low again.

My second grief – the loss of ‘me’

Then I had an earth-shattering realisation that, with everything else lost in my marriage, I had also lost myself. This came as a huge shock. There is nothing more tragic than feeling a loss of self, a loss of identity and a loss of a sense of purpose. My drive in life had been as a wife and mother. Recovering from my marriage’s end was not a simple matter of “getting on with it”. It was not a simple carrying on as before with one little (him gone) change. It was not one change. Everything had changed. My home-life had altered, my family unit had splintered, my self-esteem was in tatters. I had no stability and no feeling of comfort or security. There was no ‘normal’. It was gone.

I came to realise that after I had processed my first grief I had tried to get back my ‘normal’. That became living our life, my way and striving for the dreams we had had as a couple. However, as there was no longer us, no longer our life, it did not work. I was living in the pain of the past. Moreover, as I was no longer half of us, who was I? Where had I gone? Who had I become? I had lost me and I sank deeper and deeper into the pain and grief of losing me. I wallowed about in self-pity and deep pain for many months.

My epiphany.

One day something stirred. Like a bolt of lightening, I had an epiphany. I looked up to the sky and saw light breaking through from behind storm clouds. It was then I knew. I wanted my life. I wanted me back. I wanted to make my choices. I could choose to transform me.

I resolved to do so, like the Phoenix.


(1)Kubler Ross

Image courtesy [rattigan]

Dancing The Transformative Grief Of Divorce

Playing with the black dog of grief yet seeing the light

– Wrestling The Black Dog of Grief –

Sometimes I still feel low and I was wondering what that meant. Was this a normal part of the transitional stage of divorce or did I have a problem? I decided to do some reading. Here are some definitions and explanations that I found.

Grief – A grief is a loss of something you cannot get back no matter how hard you try. It can be felt after any loss such as after the death of a loved one, divorce, losing your job or dreams or your youth or your security. Psychologists(1) describe stages denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance with the predominant symptom of sadness. Symptoms come and go, eventually running their course to a state of resolution.

Trauma – A trauma is a distressing event which feels unreal. You may suffer flashbacks to the event and the predominant feeling is of terror. You may see yourself as a victim and develop a distorted self-image.

Depression – Depression can be a temporary low mood after a loss or stressful event or it can be an illness (‘Clinical Depression’). In clinical depression the predominant feeling is a pervasive one of hopelessness. There is a loss of enjoyment in pleasurable activities and a chronic feeling of low self-esteem.

Complicated Grief or Traumatic Grief – If suffering remains six months after a loss or there is difficulty reaching normal functioning, then you may be suffering complicated grief or traumatic grief. It is more common when there have been several losses overlaid upon each other or a trauma complicating the loss. In complicated grief there can be a terrifying feeling of loss of self. Treatment focuses on processing the loss, as opposed to depression where the focus is often on treating the symptoms. Sometimes depression may overlay grief and treating both may be required.

Grief After Divorce – It is recognised there can be grief after divorce. Many symptoms of complicated grief (intense pain, intrusive thoughts, confusion over identity, inability to trust, difficulty moving on, prolonged bitterness or anger) apply equally or more to divorce than after a death.This is especially true if the marriage ending was traumatic, sudden, or the divorce processes have been distressing or prolonged. There is difficulty reaching closure as the person you are grieving is still around and in the case of abandonment or betrayal, there is a massive attack on your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. 

Trans-formative Grief – People can get stuck in grief in trying to get back to ‘normal’ rather than accepting the old normal is gone. In trans-formative grief the focus is on using the loss as a catalyst for positive change and growth. Trans-formative grief recognizes the multiple levels of change that have occurred, and focusses on finding a new ‘normal’ with meaning and fulfillment in the new changed world. It is not time that heals but rather living in an actively healing way. Instead of remaining stuck as a victim of a tragedy or trauma the person makes their own choices and becomes the creator of their new life.

My Dance

I recognised grief after divorce was a transition, but the suffering continued to drain me. Reading about complicated grief sparked changes in my thinking knowing my suffering did connect back to my losses and that there had been complications in my situation of a traumatic nature. This gave me a reason for my continued pain but no solution.

Reading about trans-formative grief provided that solution, of using grief as a way to transform my life. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Forming a deeper connection with my inner soul
  2. Artistic expression of my pain by writing about it
  3. Having a greater compassion for myself and others
  4. Personal empowerment to live my life to my full potential
  5. Reaching out to and helping others less fortunate than myself
  6. Becoming actively involved in a cause I feel passionate about

I am now ready to take first step to mark the beginning of my transformation, of letting go of my old me.

Let me try my Dance of Trans-formative Grief

Dancing The Transformative Grief Of Divorce

Dancing The Transformative Grief Of Divorce


(1)Kubler Ross
Images courtesy [vlado]

Responsibilities ++++


I started writing a single post on responsibility in June. Three months and twelve posts later I felt I finally finished the first step of writing about the responsibilities I have to myself and the journey I must take. Why did it take so long and why the focus on me? That was because, now being single after nearly forty years as a wife and mother, it was a huge awakening to realise that not only should I take responsibility for myself, but finally I could. All those years of putting responsibilities to others ahead of myself were gone. It had taken nearly two years for me to reach that point – of finally (guilt-free) to think of myself. However, once that door was open, the ideas flowed on and on – hence the twelve posts.

Nevertheless, much of my responsibilities to myself are still thoughts on paper, ready to be actioned when my goals have been set. Responsibilities to others on the other hand continue to surface and occasionally (well often actually) take precedence. These responsibilities are not to be forgotten along my journey. I decided to list them as a reminder to myself to be grateful for them, knowing that in having them I am a worthwhile needed person and I am not really ever alone. Those in italics are moments that have happened while I have been focussing on my own self in my writing. They are all part of my real world.

1. Family

I have family and responsibilities as a grandmother, mother, daughter, sister and aunt.

My second grand-daughter was born 3 months ago and I enjoyed the happy occasion and have had regular visits to help out. I have visited my daughter, mother and siblings interstate. I visited and supported my daughter a second time after a sudden death of a friend. Currently I am playing mother, cook, and chauffeur to my third son who had knee surgery a week ago.

2. Friends

I have friends who have remained close to me throughout my life and its ups and downs.

During my visit to my mother I spent some time with my best friend who had been recovering from an operation and helped her choose the pattern for her new lounge suite.

3. Business

I am responsible for the continued survival of the business, its clients and staff.

That is my daily life and I try my best to be a fair leader.

4. Community and Society

I am responsible as a member of society to contribute to community and humanity and to speak out for truth, justice and the environment.

I have been contributing to online discussions on peace and social justice issues

I voted at the federal election on Saturday. Yes, I know, I know I do not have a choice as voting is compulsory in Australia. However, I did have a choice. I could choose between the candidates and the order I placed them, and by doing so contribute to either Tweedle-dee or Tweedle-dum becoming Prime Minister of Australia (or not).
What a contribution I have made!!

5. Marital

I am responsible to my children and myself and to everyone above to keep sane during the continuing process to end the financial settlement between my ex-husband and myself as soon, as fair and as amicably as possible.

For some bizarre reason deep-seated in my brain I continue to be the one to keep striving forward on this settlement, the administrative burden of which continues on a weekly basis. When is is over, I will be able to apply more of my energy to points 1-4 above.

I have thought through on all my needs and all my responsibilities. Now is the time to set myself some goals.


This has been the fourteenth in a series of posts on ‘My Responsibilities’.
1. Responsibilities
2. My own needs
3. My basic needs
4. My health – diet
5. My health – exercise
6. My Home
7. My finances # 1 Sinking
8. My finances # 2 Survive
9. My finances # 3 Priorities
10. My finances # 4 Freedom
11. My joy
12. My contentment
13. My journey. Poem Ithaca.
14. My responsibilities to others

Image courtesy of [Smarned]: