The next step is the first step

Two years ago marked the financial settlement of my divorce, ending three years of trudging through rain and mud. I felt I had finally reached a sunny place. Spring was upon me. Free of my divorce, I saw myself in a new transition, tidying up my old world, letting go of all that did not serve me well, trying new things, planting seeds ready for bloom in the summer to come, and readying myself for the vision I had of living true to my beliefs.

I did the sorting, packing and letting go. I tried new things and had new experiences. I devised my own HEALTH.Plan and became healthy and fit. I packed up and moved. Now – at the age of 63 – I begin my new life as a single person branching out in a new world, a world which I craved for during the process of my divorce settlement.

However, in all honesty, I have been drifting the past twelve months without much direction.

To be truthful, moving on has not been easy. The move was not without hiccoughs. I am struggling financially trying to make it work. Making new friends and finding new social circles is not easy. Nobody knows me here and at times I feel quite lost and alone.

The little bit that feels lost is that of my identity. I had been a wife, mother and business manager. Then I became a sufferer of the unexpected collapse of my marriage. Then I became a strong woman recovering from that with grace and dignity. Now that I feel lost, I wonder if that became my identity and whether I am lost without it. I do not want to be remembered as the ‘one who recovered from divorce‘. I want to make a difference in the world.Β At one stage I felt writing in more depth about my experiences may help others. However, I was scared that may also send me emotionally back to that dark place that I had crawled out of. I wanted to be free of that. I had moved on.

Or had I?

I am outwardly strong and contented and the pain at the pit of my stomach has long gone. However, the person who recovered from a difficult divorce; the person previously at risk of ill-health who became fit and healthy; and the person brave enough to move alone to a new area after 40 years – those three parts are still fragile inside. So my writing stopped.
I felt that because I was still going through some fragility and further tough times I had not reached my destination. I wanted to get to the part about the rainbow and the sunshine. I felt I hadn’t quite got there. I felt no one would want to hear about black skies in springtime.

While I was trying to fathom out what to do, people were somehow still finding my blog and sending me encouragement that what I had written had helped them. This made me conflicted. Would writing about my difficult experiences take me back to a dark place? Or instead could it shine a light for others? If so, which experiences should I write about? Divorce – Nutrition – Relocation. Which voice was mine? Which truth should I share?

As so many times I had realized before, when I get stuck and can’t move and I want to get somewhere else, the best place to start is at the beginning.

The first step for me is to become proficient at what I do. I have therefore enrolled in a University course, and am now buried in books and research. I am doing a Masters in Nutrition and I am also planning two units in writing and publishing.

And so I start a new beginning.

I have come to realise it is all new beginnings. Every step I have ever taken has always been the first step towards the rest of my life. While some steps did not seem to lead me anywhere except getting me out of a hole, every step led me to the next step.

And all those next steps all took me to here – at my new beginnings.


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30 thoughts on “The next step is the first step

  1. Good to hear how you are going Elizabeth. It takes courage to share our vulnerabilities. I suspect that some of what you are experiencing is common to a lot of us who are adjusting to moving house and retiring.I have certainly found that in the people I meet here locally. I have become involved with U3A (University of the Third Age) and have been running short courses on adjusting to retirement. Those who have most difficulty seem to be those of us who have moved location and retired around the same time. I use some of the principles in Martin Seligman’s book, Flourish. He talks about about PERMA which stands for
    Positive attitude
    It seems we need to have elements of these in our lives to have a positive experience of life.
    Take care xxx

    • yes, it is difficult retiring and moving within a year of each other. I will check out the book you have recommended.
      I am glad that you are giving talks at U3A. That is inspirational!
      thanks for your support shown to me.

  2. If definitely feels to me as though you’re moving on, moving forward. I’m also so impressed that you’ve been prepared to take your time and not rush things. Enjoy your course, and I hope it brings new connections and friendships into your life too.

    • Thanks for your support. It is an online course but there is some contact at open seminars and online discussions. All good.
      I have checked into your blog and am sorry to hear about your Mother. i found the first few months very hard, even with ten months before having had time to adjust and say good-bye.
      Take care.

  3. So good to see your blog post, Elizabeth! I am proud of how far you’ve come, and although you may be adrift a bit, I know that you will find your way. I am in the middle of moving from my home of 13 years and continue to try to figure out the next best step to take. You do not walk alone.

  4. Yet new beginnings happen with each breath. Its is nature’s way. I’m glad you are making new decisions and embracing change Elizabeth. Sound like this is good for for mind, body and spirit πŸ’›

  5. Well done, Elizabeth! You are making great progress. Remember, besides hills and dales there are also plateaux and other flat areas on a long hike – and it isn’t always dazzling scenery! Glad to see you back here. Bon courage!

  6. One foot in front of the other while at the same time living in the present. You’ve expressed it well, Elizabeth. Two years ago when I began my blog, the purpose was to write my story around that one event ~ abandonment. It was good for me to write and piece a lot of it together and I learned a lot through writing. Now, like you, I’m ready to move beyond it. It will not totally go away, yet we now know we can survive what comes next. πŸ™‚

    • It is a tough place to be “in the middle”. In so many ways I sometimes still feel I am not altogether free of the past and am still in some. However, it is also a great feeling to be making plans beyond it all and finding a new life of my own.

  7. Congrats on making your next big decision, Elizabeth. Sounds great! I can relate to the continued lost feeling. There is a time for recovery and then there is a need for purpose. So happy for you that you’ve found some clarity. Believe it or not, 7 years after moving on, I still am lacking in that department. (not for lack of trying!) All the best to you! XOXO

    • Hi Sue, how great to hear from you …
      I am not sure about the clarity. It was actually a mad impulsive decision one night to sign up to my course because I felt I had to do something. I must admit though, it has now grounded me and given me direction.

      And it seems you have another blog? And going on fantastic adventures! Do you still have your other blog?

      • I really wanted to go back and take courses in writing, etc., but talked myself out of it. I don’t need or want a degree in it. Just want to get better at it, and the only way to do so is to keep writing. Still, if the price is right, I might one day find something that will really elevate my efforts. We’ll see.
        Yes, I’m still writing for Swimming in the Mud and am also writing for Teardrop Adventures. I’ve started others and folded them down. The two I mentioned differ in focus, but there are plenty of times I write something that is applicable to either blog and then I’m in a quandary as to where it should appear. Ah, well. Bottom line is I still enjoy writing. πŸ™‚

    • Yes, it certainly has grounded me and given me a direction. Much better than the floating about that I had been doing for a year or two. ‘What happens next’ will be an exciting road of discovery for me.

  8. Oh, I’m so glad to see a post here! I was worrying–hoping you were just enjoying your new digs. I understand after such a traumatic experience, it is hard not to be defined by it. As the aftermath of it. I am so glad you are reaching out to be defined by more!

    • I was inspired by the autobiography of Madeleine Albright. Her divorce was just one chapter slotted in the middle of a huge book that was her life story. Nevertheless she described the pain of being forsaken and her loss of direction afterwards for some years before realizing that the pain she was feeling was not loss of her marriage partner so much but rather loss of her identity. She then decided to resurrect her career. Before reading her book I did not even know she was divorced. I just knew she was the first female US secretary of state. She certainly did not allow divorce to define her (in the end). Thanks for your encouragement.

  9. So proud of you Elizabeth! You are a true inspiration! I remember when I went through my divorce, it seems like lifetimes ago. I think it may take several years to really settle into that place of new beginnings and embrace it all! YOU are my hero my friend!

  10. Pingback: A new identity | Spring into Summer

  11. Pingback: Eight years on – from trauma to triumph | Spring into Summer

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