It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again – Intro

We’ve been talking back and forth the past few weeks about how we’re progressing through our post-divorce lives, how we’re feeling about ourselves.

There’s no denying that we were both blindsided when our husbands walked out on us, and the immediate aftermath was terrifying. What were we going to do? How were we going to survive? What had been so deeply wrong with us that our husbands felt their lives would be better without us?

It affected us both physically too. I can remember one time, standing in a Walmart, shaking in fear that I might fall to the floor if I moved. It literally felt as though I was standing at the top of a high-diving board, where the ladder had been removed. The only way down was to jump into the deep water.  As a non-swimmer it was petrifying.

But jump I did… because I had to. I survived the fall, doggy-paddled my way to the side of the pool, and grabbed hold of the railing.

It’s taken a few years for both of us to claw our way back to some kind of normality. Although there are still days/moments when we feel overwhelmed and when our exes take up too much space in our heads, we’ve reached a plateau.  For now, we are financially stable, we’ve discovered great support amongst family and friends, and life is not just okay, but is better than we could have imagined a few years ago.

We’re safe.

And yet… in our own ways, we are still holding on to that rail, unwilling to let go.  I read a quote recently – which of course I can’t find now! – that said something along the lines of, ‘Letting go of something is easier when you have something to go to.’

For everyone that ‘something’ is different.  We’ve been asking ourselves, ‘What do we want to be able to reach for’?

In all stories, Act Three (the last act) is the most exciting one.  It’s where the hero(ine) doubles down their efforts and emerges victorious. But that glorious ending is precipitated by what is called The Black Moment at the end of Act Two – the moment in the story when all seems lost.

For those of us who’ve been betrayed by the men we loved, who’ve had to go through that despair, fear, awful self-doubt and grief, that was our Black Moment. But now it is the time to emerge into our third act.

But how do we DO that?  How do we make our own Act Three one that’s exciting, that has value and purpose?

We recently heard about Julia Cameron’s new book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond, and it seemed that it might help us discover some of the answers.

The book guides the reader through a 12-week programme of self-discovery, examining the past, present and future.  It involves daily writing, creating a memoir, weekly ‘dates’ with yourself and walking. It’s a three-month commitment to learning how to leave one life behind and head into one yet to be created.

So we’ve decided to go for it. We are both determined to move forward towards something good and creative, a rich and fulfilling Third Act. We are going to let go of the edge of the pool and start to swim!

We decided we would record our journey on this blog, but how?  Usually, we run our posts by each other before posting, but for this, we’re each going to put up a weekly post at the same time and without conferring with the other.

Our next question was… When to start?  Well, sitting in the garden today, we decided we’d start right now!  So we’re putting up this post tonight and will follow up each Sunday night with posts about what we’ve each discovered in the week before.

We hope you’ll join us on this journey. Consider picking up a copy of Julia’s book, find yourself a notebook to write in and see what insights you gain. See what’s out there waiting for you. All we have to do is reach for it.

May ALL our Act Threes be exciting, creative and meaningful.

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.

 

 

The Peace of Wild Things

The Peace of Wild Things – Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.  For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Woyaya – We Will Get There!

 

Photo by Krivec Ales from Pexels

In the years after my husband left me, I had to stop listening to music popular in the years we were married.  The memories were just too painful.

Instead, I went back to music from before I met him.  Those songs held no negative memories, and helped me find ‘me’ again… if you know what I mean. Continue reading

My Year of ‘Yes’.

 

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

 

Mum

May 2016 be your year of yes.  May it be filled with love, family, adventure, travel, new experiences and empowerment.

All my love,

xx

That was the inscription my daughter wrote on the book she gave me for Christmas 2015    Year of Yes (How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and be Your Own Person) by Shonda Rhimes,- the incredible creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Private Practice (amongst others).

2015 was the year my husband left me, and that Christmas, despite my daughter giving birth to her first child a few days earlier, I was truly lost and in despair.

There was one particular paragraph in the book that really resonated with me.  Losing yourself doesn’t happen all at once.  Losing yourself happens one ‘no’ at a time.  ‘No’ to going out tonight. ‘No’ to catching up with that old college roommate.  ‘No’ to attending that party.  ‘No’ to making a new friend.  Losing yourself happens one pound at a time. Continue reading

Travelling Alone As A Single Woman

I’ve always wanted to go to Israel, ever since I read Leon Uris’ book Exodus back in the late 60s. I even dreamed of going to work on a kibbutz when I was in my late-teens, but wars and life got in the way.

And then, this year, I finally got my chance.

But I was scared. Although I’ve travelled with friends and family since my husband left me, this would be the first time travelling completely on my own – albeit as part of a tour group.

So I sat down and went through my fears. Continue reading

Seeking Revenge

Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.  Confucius.

In 1995, a woman in the city where I live – let’s call her Lucy – who’d been married for 38 years, was dumped by her husband for a younger woman. As with all women of that generation, Lucy had devoted her life to her marriage, family and his career.  Distraught by his betrayal and her pain, she shot him six times.

Lucy’s husband recovered and went on to marry his mistress. Lucy was found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of temporary insanity and served time in a mental institution.  On her release, scorned by society and abandoned by many of her former friends, she struggled to rebuild her relationships with her adult children and find a purpose to her life. I’m not sure she ever did, and, sadly, she died within a few years, aged 66. Continue reading