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Creating a Sense of Humility

Isobel

Well, I have to say that the whole experience of divorcing after almost 40 years of marriage was certainly humiliating! So on beginning this sixth chapter in Julia Cameron’s book “It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again,” I wasn’t sure humility was something I needed to work on anymore – or ever again!

But as I worked my way through the chapter, I found a different way of looking at myself, my marriage/divorce and my life. Continue reading

Being Honest with Yourself after Divorce – Week 5

Along with my blog partner, Vhairi, I’ve been working through Julia Cameron’s book “It’s Never Too late to Begin Again,” posting here what I’ve “learned” from each week of morning pages and self-examination exercises.

All went smoothly until Week 5 – Igniting a Sense of Honesty.

This was a tough one. This involved looking at the years of my life (23-29) when so many big changes happened: university, marriage, moving away from friends and family. This was taking the time to really see myself then, the decisions I made (or didn’t make), what was important to me and what wasn’t. Continue reading

How to be the Opposite of Lonely

Canva - Trees in the forest.jpg

It’s never Too Late to Begin Again – Reigniting a Sense of Community is the theme of Week Three in Julia Cameron’s book.

By Day Four, I figured I had blown it.

Morning pages – I wrote a measly three. Artist date – none. Walks alone – none. On the last day, it was the memoir part with its remembering tasks and questions.

I looked at the blank pages in my notebook and knew I was a failure.

Failure at growing up, failure at marriage, failure at life. Oh, yeah, the self-pity demon was in full force on that seventh day. Continue reading

Morning Pages – Going Deeper

At the beginning of almost every day’s morning pages this past week, I’ve written something along the lines of – I don’t want to be doing this, I’m tired, I’m busy. But once I got going, thoughts flowed onto the page in a torrent of words. Seemingly about nothing in particular, sometimes just lists. And yet…

Somehow, writing about whatever comes out of my morning brain is leading me towards an understanding, I think, of how I ended up divorced at the age of 65 and after almost forty years of marriage.

I loved him with such passion, truly I did. Maybe it was a flawed sort of love, all tied up with an unhappy childhood, self-esteem issues, but does that really matter? It was my love and it was real. I would have done just about anything for him and for his love in return.

We’d been married for almost ten years, had three children, when I learned of his many  infidelities. So many lies, so many other women, some writing letters to him through his work address. And there I was, all tied up in family life, in being supportive, ironing his dress shirts every morning before he went to work! I had no idea. I never saw any lipstick on his collars.

It makes me angry now to think of it, but believe it or not, he blamed me! I was too busy with the kids, with renovating our house, didn’t wear tight leather skirts! I wasn’t fun anymore.

And so I tried hard to be whatever it was he was looking for outside our marriage. Of course, that didn’t work; he continued doing whatever (and whomever) he wanted, and I built a big wall around it all. In that regard, I was just as much at fault as he was.

I have been ashamed for so long now that I didn’t take the children, all under the age of six, and…and what? I had no money, no family nearby, no friends (we had moved across the country for his work).

The “tasks” in this week’s chapter of Julia’s book involved taking a look at the second six years of my life. Seems unrelated, doesn’t it? Yet I find I am getting a sense of who that person was/is who would stay in such a soul-eating situation – kids or no kids.

I’ve remembered the little girl I was – an awkward, shy little girl with a mother who just wasn’t equipped to deal with her. That little girl grew up trying to be someone different because that was the only way she would be loved. Right? Little wonder she entered into marriage the same way. Rejection meant she had to try harder.

Here’s what I learned this week through the morning pages and the tasks: I am not a failure because my marriage “failed.” I am developing an undertanding of who I am, have always been, and that person is valuable and lovable.

Seems like heavy stuff from a bunch of scribbling in an old notebook, but I think the power is in actually sitting down and taking the time, an hour at the most, every day, to really let the person inside come to the top, come onto the pages.

I’m going to continue with the next 10 weeks. It may seem tedious at times, maybe even a waste of time some days, but I owe this to myself. I owe it to that little girl buried deep inside.

– Isobel

Morning Pages, Memories and Making Myself Do It!

One week into Julia Cameron’s 12-week program from her book “It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again.” I’m not a fan of journal writing, maybe because it is so difficult not to censor myself, to just write what’s in my head, in my heart – it sounds dangerous to this insecure, dumped and divorced introvert.

But I’m doing it.

Seven days of writing two pages, longhand, of whatever goes from my foggy morning brain, through my hand numbing from carpal tunnel syndrome and into barely legible words on the page.

Believe me, there is nothing earth-shattering on any of those pages, but I am beginning to find that by putting down in black and white what I feel about everything in my life – from how to get a better night’s sleep to what to do with my wedding ring (yes, I still have it) – I think there are already fewer cobwebs clogging up the old brain network.

There are other things to do too, like the memoir part: remembering things about the first five years of my life. Yikes! I’m 66 years old and can’t remember what I had for breakfast – this part isn’t going to be easy. And dredging up childhood fears, disappointments, traumas like some sort of do-it-yourself psychoanalysis? (Can you tell I’m somewhat skeptical – or at least quite reluctant?) But by the end of the exercises, I caught a glimpse, just a sliver around the door into that core of joy in simply being alive that is born with each of us. It’s still there inside me. And that was a surprise!

So after these seven days, I have no answers to anything or anyone, most especially to myself. But I do feel hopeful. Hopeful that I will come into this this stage of life in front of me with actually more than I left behind.

Hopeful feels good after the past six years of regret, anger and fear – always the fear. It feels so good that I’m almost looking forward to another week of numbing fingers over morning pages, another myopic peer at the second five years into my life story, walks by myself, a “date” with myself. (Okay, that part doesn’t sound too bad!)

Is anyone out there following the same program? If not and you’re hurting, afraid, lost, I recommend giving it a try. There’s really nothing to lose and the whole wide world to gain.

On Being Alone

Turtle underwater

Every day I am stronger.

I see it in the way I stop to listen to the robins as they flit around the back garden, pouncing on worms for their fluffy, chirping babies. I feel it flow through my body when I set off for a walk with the dog, sunshine warming my bones, unlocking the stiffness in arthritic joints. And then, unexpected, a certain song comes on the radio, words open the lid on the well of sorrow and loneliness that sits deep in my heart, plucking out fat, salty tears of loss.

I can rationalize the death of our marriage, the death of might-have-could-have-beens. I absolutely know that my life is happier and better in so many ways without that dominating, angry man turning all the colours grey but…I can’t deny that I did love him so very much. No matter what happened between us through more than 40 turbulent years together, no matter how much he hurt me (and perhaps I hurt him), I once loved him with all my heart.

A few musical notes, poetic words and I am so overwhelmingly sad. A deep ache of loneliness for the man I thought he was, the man I wanted him to be. Most of the time, I hold down that pain with my busy, happy, free life. I am blessed with loving children, grandchildren, and friends. I smile a lot these days.

I had thought my sorrow was for lost dreams and found disappointments but it’s becoming clear to me that it comes from a dark hole of loneliness. From the moment we are born, we seek a loving touch. Even at the advanced age of 66, its absence just plain hurts.

I notice I’ve developed the habit of hugging. I encourage my dog to jump up beside me on the bed at night. I plant my flowers, trim my shrubs, and fill the bird bath with loving hands. All these things help, but I have to face it–despite the unhappy years of being with someone who didn’t love me and the ugly exposure of separation and divorce, I long again for a partner in life, someone with whom to share all the joys and fears of the fading light. I am so very lonely. I am so very sad. Finally I can admit it to myself. I relish the hot relief of tears spilling some of the sorrow from my heart.

The song finishes, and I wipe my wet cheeks with my sleeve and once again count all the bright blessings in my life. I remind myself that no one has it all, that this longing isn’t demeaning but simply part of being human. It’ll be okay.

And hey, it isn’t over until it’s over. The music of  life is playing. It’s sad and joyful and so very beautiful.