When I started this blog I named it Almost Spring. I felt by my marriage ending, I was falling into the despair of winter. I pushed myself to focus towards spring, towards hope and a rebirth of me. After a while, I reached a state of forgiveness and was ready to let go of myself as half a couple. I fully embraced my individuality and felt that spring had arrived. Little did I know I had simply reached the end of autumn, my grieving over the decay and death of my marriage.
I have had for a long time an image in my head of the circle of life. The spring of youth, the summer of middle age and raising children, the harvesting period of autumn when one enjoys the fruits of summer, and the winter of old age.
In reality, life is not one circle from birth to death. There are transitions of letting go of old ways (autumn), reflecting on them (winter), before regrouping (spring) and celebrating (summer). For example, when our eldest son left home, I initially mourned having the six of us together before readjusting and embracing his life as an adult. I thought of my life as a tree. His leaves were lost in autumn; but in spring his own branch emerged. As a family, we had grown. And so to, with all the other milestones of my life, I went through the gentle rhythmical pattern of autumn, winter, spring and the joyous celebration of summer.
However, this particular autumn (divorce), not only had I felt I had been denied my expected bountiful harvest; not only had all my leaves withered, dropped off and decayed; but someone had cut down my whole tree.
It was with that realisation winter set in.
Winter became for me a period of deep reflection. I cocooned myself and examined my inner most thoughts, values, beliefs, attitudes, needs and responsibilities. The storm of winter raged around me while I remained protected by my shell of hibernation. This ended abruptly with an epiphany, and a strong desire to move away from my old life completely. Now out of my protective shell, I began burning the remnants of my old life, and felt the intense pain of the loss of my old self in the burning process. It was not a transition I was now experiencing, it was a complete transformation.
Today I see green shoots emerging all around me. Spring has finally arrived and I realise:
1. Although my tree was cut down, I still have my roots (close family, friends, my inner soul) and those roots have received nourishment by the reaffirming of my values and beliefs.
2. My tree trunk is in intact, sustained by strengths of my education, talents and experience. Those have survived the cutting down (by my husband) and the burning (by myself) of my marriage and previous life. .
3. New greenery is emerging in the branches of my life (health, career, relationships, community).
4. The fire was a necessity because I am Australian. Many Australian trees are not only resistant to fire, they require fire to survive into the next generation. Some of those trees become giants-
” Giant eucalypts ….. [have] a particular dependence on fire for regeneration.”
“While fire may kill the trees, their seeds are protected in aerial capsules, which are then released on to the scorched earth. The fire not only clears away potential seed predators and any forest canopy which may block sunlight; it also releases nutrients in the soil which encourages seed growth.”
6. It was my marriage tree or branch that decayed and died, not my tree of life. Whilst I may have missed the expected harvesting of the fruit from my silver years, I managed to rescue some of its seeds. My dilemma for a while became whether to savour them (by nurturing me) or plant them. I now do not see a simple re-growing or nurturing of my old tree or even a growing of a new tree. What I now see is the emergence of a whole forest.
1.D.Y.P.Tng, G.J.Williamson, G.J.Jordan, D.M.J.S.Bowman. Giant eucalypts – globally unique fire-adapted rain-forest trees? New Phytologist, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04359.x
2.Science News Nov1, 2012. with reference attributed to #1