Tag Archives: divorce

I Feel The Island Breathing…

 

Version 2

I feel the island breathing… Bobby Watt

Our lives are constantly evolving; friends come and go, we may live in many cities in our lifetime, career paths change, parents die, jobs end, children grow up and move away, illnesses rob you of health and strength, a husband – the man you thought was your soulmate – discards you.

But today, driving off the ferry onto the Isle of Arran, I felt my soul gladden and ease. Arran has been the one, dependable, constant in my life since I was seven years-old. As my daughter and I walked along the shore this evening, we discussed how, barring a few exceptions,  I have memories from this island for every single year of my life. Continue reading

Can’t get you out of my head…

Slide1

It’s the way it sometimes catches you by surprise, isn’t it?  You’re living your life, getting on with things, and then you get an e-mail or hear word from your ex.  Your chest constricts, your head starts reeling, all those thoughts and feelings of pain wash in and you wonder… will I ever get him out of my head?

Wouldn’t it be great if – a la Harry Potter – I could just put a wand to my temple, extract all the painful memories and feelings my ex has left me with, and put them in a jar,  which I could revisit only if and when I wanted to? (Which would be rarely, if ever!!)

I’ve felt things building the past week, so I decided to make an appointment with the counsellor I saw back in 2016, when I was at my lowest. Kind of catch things before they got too bad.

I wrote to him beforehand – told him that on the outside of my life I’m doing fine, but sometimes the inside hurts really badly – and asked him for some strategies to help on days I find things really really hard.

This is what he suggested.

(Please remember I was in an upset state when I met with him, so I might not have remembered everything 100% as he said it.  This is my interpretation of his advice.)

The first thing he suggested was to actively stop when a thought about my ex comes into my head. He says some of his clients will actually raise their hand in a stopping gesture.  Stop and turn your thoughts around.

For example, think about the good things in your life now.  Things that you couldn’t do when you were married to him. For me, that includes the amount of travel I’m able to do now.

But…it still makes me think about ‘him’.  (He’s currently on a holiday with ‘her’.  A holiday he refused to take with me.  So this suggestion doesn’t work for me.)

The second thing he suggested, was to find a quote you like; something inspiring which speaks to you.  Write it down and carry it in your wallet, so it’s there if/when you need it.

Not long after my ex left me, I was talking to a friend I’ve known for over 30 years, but whom I only see occasionally.  He never liked my ex – the feeling was mutual – and his advice was to not to look back.  Keep looking forward.  Always keep looking forward.

I read recently that you feel sad when you look back and anxious when you look forward, so I’m going to try and stop doing both.  But the most important thing is not looking back into the past. Don’t look back.  Don’t you ever look back!

Which is ironic given that…

The third thing my counsellor suggested was something that really calmed me down.  He told me to think about walking into a house  Upstairs, there’s a corridor with four doors; two on the left and two on the right.

Go through the first door, and step into the room.  It’s a lovely room.  In that room, think of all the good things people have ever said about you in your life. Times when people have enjoyed being with you.  All things that are personal.

Then go into the second beautiful room.  This room holds all your ‘professional’ achievements; things like your high school diploma, badges from scouts or guides, music exams, university or college degree, professional qualifications.  Things you have achieved through hard work.

From there, cross the hall and go into the third room. This space contains your positive dreams for the person you want to be.  Do you want to be compassionate?  Brave?  A good friend?  A good grandparent? A painter? Climb a mountain? Run a mile in 10 minutes?

The fourth door opens into the bathroom.  This is where you get rid of all the s–t that you are still carrying around.

This is the strategy that I think will be most effective for me, and it got me thinking about a project my daughter did for my 60th birthday, just a few months after my husband walked out.  She contacted various friends, asked them what their memories were of me, and collected them in a box.

Here’s one from a friend from my nursing days.  Memories include the terrified look on our faces when we found ourselves sharing a bedroom for four having never shared a room with anyone in our lives on January 8th, 1973. Sitting in our tiny flat in the sunshine listening  to Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks. Being able to pick up  where we left off without any difficulty no matter how long we have been apart.

I think I’m going to add to that ‘birthday’ box.  I’m going to make a second one of all my ‘achievements’;  my nursing diploma, my university degree, a speech award, my army ‘pips’, photos of my kids as babies, etc.

In a third box, I’m going to fill it with words like compassion, courage, laughter, love, sunshine, mother,  travel, music, grandmother, reading, rainbows, etc.  All things that bring joy into my life.

And then when those bad days come – as they do – when I can’t get my ex and his new wife out of my head, I will open those boxes and think of the people who mean so much to me, the things I have achieved in my life, and the person I want to become.

So yes, even though I’ve chosen my quote as  – ‘Don’t look back.  Don’t you ever look back.’  – I am going to look back.  But only at the good stuff.  Because who I was then is who I am now.

But I am going to look forward too. Because forward is where I’m going.

Where we’re going.

When The Pain Comes…

It all started last week with one of those stupid quizzes: Based on your star sign, how many times will you fall in love?

Of course, I checked out my ex’s first – his sign is before mine, astrologically speaking. His said 3. So he’s on course.

Mine? One. Because you when you love, it’s forever.

Great!

And then I had a conversation with yet another friend in this situation. There are so many of us around, aren’t there; women who’ve been married for 30+ years whose husbands move on to a younger version.

Maggie voiced something I’ve been holding secret in my head for so long, scared that if I said it aloud, people would think I was even more foolish than I usually feel. She admitted that her ex was the love of her life. That she will never – could never – love anyone the way she loved him.   Wasn’t that stupid? Wasn’t that crazy? Doesn’t that make her a grade A loser?

Well, I guess that makes two of us, because that’s exactly how I feel too. I loved my husband and I still love him. They say that hate isn’t the opposite of love. Indifference is. On the one hand, I’m mad with him, furious at him, I want to strike back and hurt him the way he hurt me.  On the other, I worry about his health and the damage he has done to our family and his relationships with our kids. So, I’m still feeling something.

He however… remains indifferent.

Over the weekend, things continued to build. Just little things; not feeling 100% physically, putting up with winter in the minus 20C range for days on end, not being able to get out the house for some fresh air because it’s so icy out, having to figure out some major financial decisions that could have long term ramifications, learning that one very dear friend has cancer while another has MS, the relentless cheery Valentine movies on TV…

…so I booked an appointment to see a counsellor later this week. I haven’t felt the need to see one for more than 2 years. I’m moving ahead. I’m travelling, teaching, doing things I never dreamt I was capable of. And yet, inside… Deep inside…  I wanted to get on top of things before I felt myself sinking under again.

And then, this morning, my ex informed me he is now off on yet another holiday with his new wife. In four years, they’ve now had more holidays than we ever had – either as a couple, or as a family – in almost 40 years. We couldn’t travel because work always came first, or the chronic illness that he had couldn’t be ‘dealt with’ anywhere else outside our home city. Forty years ago, he couldn’t even be bothered organizing a honeymoon and was back at work well within a week of our wedding.

And so I cried.

And cried.

All those doubts, all those feelings of worthlessness just hammered back down on me. I know, I know… the way a person treats you says everything about them and nothing about you, but when you’re at the receiving end of betrayal and rejection, you can’t help but wonder what was so wrong with you that he left you for someone else. What is so wonderful about her and so awful about you?

Last year I kept a jar to which I added a dime when I had a really – really – bad day, feeling upset over my ex. I’ll be honest, I seriously considered adding my first dime of the year today. But I didn’t.

These days will continue to come and go over the years. They don’t hit as often as they did, but they still hit hard. I’ve asked my counsellor for some tools and strategies to help me on days like this. Things I can do to help me get through that darkness until I step back out into the light again.  I’ll share what he says with you.

I will step out into the light again.

And so will you.

It’s Never Too Late – Week 8 – Vhairi

basket-bread-breakfast-1117862

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro from Pexels

Reigniting a Sense of Joy

It’s Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada.  I remember that first Thanksgiving after my husband left me.  There was very little joy about it.  I was supposed to have my family round for a meal, but ‘stuff’ happened and I couldn’t go through with it.  Thankfully, Isobel came to my rescue and invited me and a friend to join her family celebration.

I don’t remember too many details from that day.  I know the food and company were great, but I was still lost in that horrible fog of despair and was heartbroken at what had gone on between me and my kids. 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

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.

 

 

Handling Money When Navigating the Divorce Process

MoneyWhen I was going through the whole devastating separation/divorce process, I felt like I was drowning in emotional pain and fear about my future – specifically my money future.

I was the typical stay-at-home wife and mother, so when divorce hit at the ripe old age of 64, I hadn’t worked “outside” in any serious capacity for almost 35 years. That meant no recent job experience, no “proof” that I could take on work, and I was well beyond the best by date for anything that paid better than minimum wage. (And I’d be lucky to even get that!) Or did I have to get a job – could I get by without it? How much money did I even need? Continue reading