“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
I survived the unexpected change to my life of the ending of my marriage. Initially wracked by feelings of shock and sadness; I pushed ahead with positiveness, looking forward to finding contentment and a sense of purpose somewhere in my future. Now in transition between that sadness of the past and hope for my future, I am confronted by a different set of emotions – uncertainty, resentment, resistance, overload and anxiety. I decided to tackle the first one.
My life before my change was predictable. I had a stable marriage, security and trust. The sudden ending of my marriage marked by betrayal involved a huge loss of trust. Trust in others. Trust in myself. Trust in certainty. Before, I trusted that I could rise each day, know my role in life, know what I was going to do with my day and know I was protected. After my change, that certainty was lost. Uncertainty threw my life into chaos and I became anxious and scared.
My self-cure for uncertainty was to create certainty and get me back to a basic level of comfort and security. I did not ask for change but I could master my transition from that change. I could build on those things I know I can rely on.
Firstly, I wrote down those things I have been able to rely on my whole life:
- The sun will come up every day
- My mother and sister
In the early days of agony it was a great comfort to me to rise each day and watch the sunrise. It has never let me down.
It took me time to accept I could still trust myself and my own judgement. After a year of self-reflection I concluded that I can.
My mother and sister have been two constants for me the whole of my life. I cannot include my two brothers or children on this list as being younger than me they were not there when I was a small child, though I know they are there for me now.
Secondly, I wrote down my methods to build on certainty:
1. Acting on my values rather than my feelings.
I strive to always act with grace (respect for others) and dignity (respect for myself). This has helped me through confusion and chaos. If I always act in that way, it does not matter what turmoil I face, my life becomes predictable. I become my own stability.
2. Channel my actions into valued responses
If I channel my response into four key areas: improvement, appreciation, protection and connection; then certainty and stability will return to my life.
3.Establish a routine
At times of chaos, I return to my comfort of a predictable daily routine of a healthy diet, reflection, daily exercise and connections with loved ones. This helps me keep a sense of normality and I can follow this routine at home and when away.
4. Maintain a schedule
All other responsibilities (work, family, friends, creativity, community) I schedule into my calendar and project ‘to-do’ lists. My calendar keeps life predictable. My lists keep me sane
For moving ahead into my future I have set my transition goals:
a. Closing the property settlement
b. Implementing the property settlement
c. Establishing new career/purpose
d. Reestablish a new home base
Nine months ago, I had moved out of a lengthy period of affirming my values, beliefs, attitudes and responsibilities including a healthy routine. Then I became lost in a swirl of confusion. Having now finally accepted that my life is in the uncertainty of transition has paradoxically given me a degree of certainty. I know now where I am, where I am going, and how I am going to get there. I have moved forward to a written schedule and a commitment to transition goals. While the first two goals are stepping out of the past, the last two are moving into the golden path toward my future. Writing down my transition goals this past week has been significantly motivating for me.
Imagine, just for a moment, that you did create this event. Whether you believe it or not, just allow yourself to just make a guess. Deep within you know the answer. I truly believe with all that I am, that we create all events in our lives. If we don’t learn the lesson the first time around, events will keep repeating themselves in different forms until we do. I do enjoy your openness and honesty. Much love.
I worked through that concept for months and also the concept of taking half the blame. I dropped that a long time ago. I believe that it takes two to make a marriage work, and I believe that I contributed equally to all the ups and downs in our marriage. A stable marriage is working through differences and making compromises. You do not get to forty years without having done that, together with a lot of love and care. As for the ending of a marriage, that can be done by one person alone (and not necessarily the one who walks away). There are a multitude of reasons (addiction, abuse, infidelity) that leads me to that conclusion. The other person does not have to take half the blame for those type of events.
I am not saying these were events in my marriage, I am simply saying that there are events and people’s behaviours that you cannot control. We can only ever control our own responses.
I agree, you can not control the behavior of others. But I believe you control the things you choose (consciously or not) to experience, and life brings those people and circumstances to you to give you that experience. It all seems very complicated to me at times and I will always be learning and growing. It is just a belief, nothing more. I think it is wonderful that you gave it some thought.
You continue to blow me away with your gift of looking at your situation, planning a course of action on the things you can control and acting on them. You are an inspiration Elizabeth!
It has actually taken me a while to get to the point of accepting this ‘transition’ as a separate phase to walk through (or work through). It has been enlightening to know that I am not stuck back in the past and that in itself has propelled me onward. Thanks for your continued support. xo
Elizabeth, you move me so, and I thank you. You are heroic!
I have never been called heroic before and I feel honoured at your compliment. Thanks.
This is another challenging time, transitioning to new things, like a new home and new job.(Are they still on your list?) I think that having your constants in your life, gives you what I call a ‘solid core.’ You can build with the support of your family, especially your sister and mother. I think that you are great at analyzing and organizing! I would have been lost, had I not had some plans in place while I was losing my marriage, selling our home and moving into my little one bedroom apartment. I was older than you, so it was a ‘comfort’ to be in a smaller space. I now am happy to say, 8 years later this Spring, that my son has the big family holidays in Delaware, Ohio and I arrive late to them, having headed north to Cleveland for a smaller gathering, siblings and Mom together. I was the ‘holiday house’ and hostess for over 26 years! This relinquishing my ‘place’ and losing the purpose of my position actually felt like a huge relief! Smiles, Robin
You are so right that having plans is a saving grace. I cannot make the big move yet but recently I have decided to revamp my office space and set it up as a proper studio and this has given me a bit of a lift that I am doing something for myself.
Yes, somethings about being alone or the changes can be liberating or easier. It is great that you can look at those positives in your own life.
It takes perspective to become happy. I had a teacher, my ‘young’ mentor, when I switched to preschool special education from middle school language arts. She was an awesome and wonderful person, who died at age 43. The same year I did not finish my Master’s, that I moved out of our house before foreclosure, and had to create a ‘home’ in a one bedroom apt. I became a factory warehouse worker, 20 days after I had my teaching ” early retirement party.” I have that reminder every day I wake up to life, that I am here ‘to fight another day!’ Smiles, Robin
That must have been a difficult period in your life. I remember you saying in an earlier comment that your driving force was to be the best mother you could be to your children. They must have kept you in that peaceful ‘happy’ place.
Elizabeth, I often feel like I am navigating an unpredictable, unstable terrain. I suppose that’s because I am 🙂 I’m never really certain if the way I respond emotionally or behaviorally is reasonable or typical. So many times, reading your posts, I’ve been comforted to recognize my thoughts and feelings here. Other times, I’ve seen practical things you pay attention to and thought, “oh yeah, I’d better get on that too”.
The fact is, it’s very hard to be in this place sometimes, even though it really is filled with wonderful opportunities. Your blog makes a great guidebook! Thanks!
Thanks for the encouraging words that my blog provides a guidebook! That is a great perspective to know that I may be helping others. I too am comforted to know that others are walking this same path. It has been enlightening to me to recognise what I am going through now is a ‘transition’ phase. It gives me another chance to become who i really want to become and allows me to forgive myself when i still do not get it quite right. Thanks.
You are brilliant – 3 and 5 what I need!
Yes, me too. This was a pep talk to myself. Now I have to do what I say. 🙂
Elizabeth, everyone who goes through a huge change like you did should read your blog. Your organization and thoughtful planning is inspiring. I am reminded of when you started following me two years ago and you commented on my Two Poems post, and how you identified with “September Song”. Those feelings you express are so familiar to me. I am sure your golden path to the future is waiting just around the corner!
You have encouraged me through the changes and I am grateful for your continued friendship and support. 🙂
I love Alan Watts, and his book “The Wisdom of Insecurity” tells it all– even if you just read the title! I think even when we get beyond what we call a transition we are better off seeing insecurity as the terra firma.
Yes, I am really starting to believe that.
You continue to inspire! Amazing……and miles to go before I sleep. Blessing♥♡♥
That’s right, no rest yet. Accepting that is hard yet liberating. Thanks for the support xo xo
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