Week 26 – Almost Spring begins!

Week 26 – March 18, 2012 – The day I started my ‘Almost Spring’ blog

“ I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. I felt fear myself, more times than I can remember, bit I hid it behind a mask of boldness. The brave man in not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” from ‘My Long Walk To Freedom’  by Nelson Mandela

I had been surviving the pain of my marriage’s collapse by living in the moments of a glorious summer and pouring myself into my journal. Now the days were becoming shorter and the weather cooler, I wondered how I would survive the approaching winter and its bleakness. My spirit began to drop.

Nevertheless on that particular day the optimistic side of me was winning and as I was sitting writing at my desk looking across to the valley and later down to the river, it inspired me…… .the river was always inspiring. I took some time out to take some photos of it. I could not think of a better place to be in order to be inspired, to write, and to reflect. Some days I become so overwhelmed at what is in front of me. Then I look across to the valley or down to the river and they are always there greeting me. I thought to myself ….. “self, look at what you have”.

Earlier that day I had done some internet surfing and had come across blogging sites about people reinventing themselves at about age 60 and moving on, making a new life. I felt positively uplifted by them and I thought that I could do that too. Yes, I could make a new life for myself. Yes, I could write about it. Yes, I could do it.

So on that day, my blogging site was born. It would be a journey of my transformation from ‘we’ to ‘me’. As ‘we’ had been together forty years – 37 married and 3 years prior; I decided to give myself forty steps to take to become my own self – one step for each year of our time together. I decided to be kind to myself and not put any pressure on myself as to how long those steps would take or what those steps would be. I then spent the day learning to navigate the ins and outs of WordPress. At the end of the day I triumphantly loaded my home photo – the view to my river valley. That would become my signature …. the peace and tranquility of a flowing river through a forested valley.

I now confess that I thought at the time (week 26) I had been through the worst of it (I had not). I intended and wanted the blog to be completely positive, showing only my optimistic self to the world, and for it to be completely uplifting for others. Moreover, I intended to skip over the first few months in one or two posts and get quickly to the positive journey I intended to take going forward. When my spirit continued southwards I held off releasing any posts until about week 35. Then, over the next few weeks, as I sank lower into despair, as I looked back through my journal, as I began re-living my own feelings by my own writing, as I felt again the excruciating pain of the first few months; I decided to write it all.

Since then my feelings have turned into words on paper.

I am inherently an optimist and I still strive to think positively about each day and about the future. On that particular day, when my thoughts turned to the approaching winter, I thought to myself ….. what is the problem with winter? In winter, it is almost spring. In spring comes sunny days, the bloom of new flowers, and new hope. I told myself not to focus on the winter but instead to focus on the approaching spring. Then I decided that would be my main message and that would be the name of my blog ……. Almost Spring….

I am fundamentally an optimist… part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forward” Nelson Mandela

Week 16 – Embracing singledom

Week 16 – 06 January 2012
A relaxing Christmas came and went. I so enjoyed having the family home and being kept busy while they were with me that I did not stop and dwell on the changed family dynamics. In fact it felt really great that the children and I were all together again sharing happy family times. Instead of a sadness that I was expecting, there was happiness, laughter, joy, peace and contentment.

After the family left, I was alone again but I now accepted my aloneness. I not only accepted it, I began revelling in the time to myself. I kept myself busy setting up my new life as a single person. I rearranged things the way that I wanted. I organised myself. I focussed on me and got into a good routine of waking early, writing at my desk watching the sunrise over the valley, eating a healthy breakfast, going for a brisk morning walk, then domestics, shopping, cooking and other normal things. It felt good. Only when you have been through a tough period, when those ‘normal’ activities do not come easily, when you are literally dragging your feet every inch you take, only then can you appreciate how great it is when you become light footed again and you can once more go about your normal daily pastimes with a spring in your step.

One day I even noted in my journal that I enjoyed hanging the washing out neatly in a row and I was singing! I thought then that perhaps I was going just a little bit crazy admitting that I was actually enjoying putting the washing out. However, I think it was the absence of the oppressive feeling weighing down on me that was lifting me up and triggering my tuneful song, rather than the fact that I was revelling in my domestic chores. 

I repeat to you all that I was getting up at dawn to spend a few hours at my desk – and I was writing, Yes writing. I had found a new passion. I was really enjoying it, It was not just the fact that I was writing, it was the fact that I was revelling in the writing and revelling in the fact that I could take the time to write whenever I wanted for as long as I liked on whatever topic I wanted to write about. And I was revelling in getting up at dawn and I was revelling in watching the sun rise above the valley.

I was free, free to do what I wanted.

Week 4 – Journal

Week 4 – (14 October 2011) was the week I started to journal my thoughts and feelings. Up until then I had felt the pain and I had felt the distress but had not been able to fathom out how to deal with it. This week I started writing everything down in my journal. All my feelings of my hurt and pain. I wrote down how I was thinking and what I was doing. I found it helped a lot.

I was trying very hard to focus on positive things to give me hope for the future. By writing them down I was able to believe that a positive way forward could be found, even if it was still too painful to actually act on those plans. I also wrote down a lot of negative things. This was a way of acknowledging those negative thoughts and feelings without them overwhelming me and allowing them to take over my life. Acknowledging is one small step away from accepting and once you accept something is real then you can face it – whatever it is – and begin to let go of it or learn to deal with it and move on. If you do not accept that something is real, then you can remain stuck in a paralyzed state forever. I did not want to stay in that place. I  found that I was able to get all my sad, mad, and bad feelings down on paper and then I could close my journal for the day, rid myself of those feelings, and carry on with life.

After a time of writing all this down I began to I acknowledge that this process – coming to terms with this separation and getting divorced – was a transition from ‘we’ to ‘me’. It was not the way my life would be in the future. It was a process I was passing through, dealing with all the emotional aspects of the separation while at the same time restructuring all aspects of my life – where I would live, what I would do, fathoming out what my financial position would be. None of these would be easy but by acknowledging it was a transition, a process to get through, I was able to start tackling one factor at a time and examining each of those in turn before making any rash decisions. Writing it all down helped me to plan through that process.

I took this as an opportunity to think about exactly what I wanted for my life, for me. Never before had I had such an opportunity to rediscover myself and define what I wanted for myself. I wrote down all my ideas. I tried to look at the opportunity of what presented to me, rather than the negatives. In the early days, I focused on my short-term daily life – rather than my long-term plans. I wrote these all down. I could have whatever I wanted for dinner, I could watch whatever I wanted to on TV, or not watch TV at all if I did not feel like it. I could run into someone down the street and talk to them for an hour – or not at all. I could listen to the music that I wanted to listen to. I could read, I could write, I could do puzzles or go for a walk if and when I wanted to for as long as I liked. Some of these things I did not start to do straight away but writing them down helped me resolve that I could do them if and when I wanted to. Later on I would think about some of the bigger issues in my life.

I took time for reflection. If I had a negative thought or feeling, I wrote it down and tried to replace it with a positive thought or feeling or action. This was difficult at times but it did work in putting me in a better frame of mind. Whilst I tried to resolve in my mind ‘what went wrong’ I tried to not beat myself up about it and dwell on it. I wrote some things down which helped me to acknowledge some aspects of what happened and then I let it go.

I leaned on others. I poured my heart out to my family and closest friends. It helped to know that there are people there for me. If what someone said to me helped, I wrote this down in my journal. Gradually, I was able to cope more on my own.

If I had to make a decision, I stopped and made sure that I was in a good frame of mind before deciding on it or acting on it. In fact I thought everything through more slowly than normal. I gave myself that luxury of taking my time. I wrote down my decisions. When things became overwhelming, I paused, wrote down everything that was bothering me and then went through them all one step at a time, then picked just one of those out to start on.

It was almost as if my journal was replacing the soul-mate that I was missing; that one person who you would normally pour your heart out to; that one person who you would normally discuss the days events with at the end of the day. Now that person was gone and there was a huge void.

My journal started to fill in that void and become my most trusted confidante.