Way back at the beginning, after my husband left me, one of the things that helped me get through that first awful year was keeping a gratitude journal. No matter how bad things got – his bullying, my grief, arguments with lawyers, concerns over money, sense of worthlessness, dealing with the bank; finding somewhere to live; going into social situations on my own for the first time – I decided that if I could find 3-5 positive things each day, then I had to class it as having been a good day.
They didn’t have to be big things:a nice cup of coffee; only crying 3 times in a day instead of 5; hanging out with a friend or friends; walking a dog; finding a nice e-mail in my inbox; my granddaughter hugging me; the sun shining; my favourite song playing on the radio; the first snowfall; leaves crunching beneath my feet: hitting 10,000 steps on my Fitbit; a hot shower, a good movie or programme on TV; chocolate.
I can cover it up pretty well when talking to friends and family, but the truth is, Christmas without a partner definitely has its low points. It hurts to wake up alone on a day that is so fully loaded with family memories, children’s excited voices, stockings dumped on the foot of our bed, the dog in the midst of it all with her own Christmas treat from Santa.
Sounds like a made-for-TV movie, but it wasn’t a movie, it was our life, my life.
The children grew up, moved away and have their own families now, their own Christmas mornings and rituals. I miss those times, I can’t deny that, but if I close my eyes and listen… Continue reading →
‘Why do you have a spark plug on your Xmas tree?’ my son-in-law asked last weekend.
Ah… well… since 2005, every trip I’ve ever taken with friends or family, I’ve bought a Christmas tree decoration as a memory of that trip.
A few years ago, a friend and I were in Guernsey during the 60th anniversary celebrations of the island’s liberation from the Nazis.The island held a parade where the islanders dressed up in uniforms and clothing of the time.A rather dashing ‘dispatch rider’ – doesn’t a uniform really make a man?? – on a vintage motorbike stopped beside us, switched out his spark plug and handed me his old one.That, I decided there and then, would be my Xmas memory of that trip.
One of the hardest things I had to do when sorting through the 37+ years of ’stuff’ that we had collected during our marriage, was figuring out which Xmas decorations to keep or discard. My ex’s sister had given us some gorgeous ones for our first Christmas together in 1977, including some silk horses I adored.I remember the excitement in my heart the first time I hung them. But I couldn’t take them with me.Those memories were too painful. Continue reading →
Two days ago, Isobel and I were discussing whether we should continue with this blog. We’re not getting a lot of traction on it, and after almost 3 and 5 years since our husbands walked out on us, we’ve been through hell, come out the other side, and are happier that we’ve probably been in years.
Is that what someone going through the early stages of one of the worst experiences of their life wants to hear?
Only days ago I played a ‘game’ with myself where I took my ex and a friend, or family member, and said to myself, “If I could only see one of these people once more in my life, who would it be?” I went through a whole list of almost 30 people lining up each one against my ex. Not one of my choices turned out to be him, and oh… did I feel smug.
Noel Coward wrote, “Extraordinary how potent cheap music is.” He was right. Music has the power to conjure up strong emotions.
During that first year on my own, I just had to hear a piece of music from 1977 onwards, and it could bring me to floods of tears as I associated it with some part of our marriage. (Think Bridget Jones in her flat singing along to All By Myself.)
So I decided – in the short term – not to listen to music on the radio because I never knew what they might play and didn’t want to be caught unawares. Instead, I listened only to music from before I met my ex-husband, and indulged myself in all the kinds of music I’d enjoyed when I was young; Broadway Musicals, The Beatles, Early Stones, Early Bowie, Early Elton John, The Monkees (I blush), and classical favourites amongst others. After attending a folk festival in Scotland, I also started listening to artists I’d heard performing there – Dougie Maclean, Duncan Chisholm, Ross Ainslie, Dallahan – brand new music that had no associations with my married life. Continue reading →
I’ve always loved the weekend. The anticipation of that last period on a Friday afternoon in high school, when our French teacher let us read old copies of Paris Match, instead of having to endure learning verbs or vocabulary or translating French to English or vice versa.
And then that drag on the stomach on a Sunday evening, listening to ‘Sing Something Simple’ on the radio, driving back from a day out on the coast, knowing school beckoned the next morning.
Or when the kids were young, and Friday afternoon meant the freedom of the weekend, just hanging out and enjoying being with them, before the Sunday evening routine of making sure homework was done, bags packed and clothes laid out for school next morning. Continue reading →