It’s been too long since I’ve written, the urge has been there from time to time but I am a great believer in writing with purpose and with consideration of the impact that my words may have. For a while I have felt like I lost purpose, which in turn has seen my gift for articulating my feelings spiral into sharp decline. I lost my spark, I lost my grandfather and for a while, I lost myself. I put the urge to continue writing in a box, feeling that I had nothing to offer the world.
Greif has been the final breaking point for me over a very difficult few years. To the outside world I’ve bounced through the last few years like a ‘Viking Shield Maiden’, roaring in the face of life and each new challenge it threw at me. The people closest to me have seen a very different journey though.
Anyone that has read my previous blogs will know that I am, for want of a better phrase ‘an open book’, if I have felt that my personal experiences and reflections can add value, then I’ve laid them bare. Recent events however have made me a little more guarded. My vulnerability and fear of judgement has seen me become a more cautious. Upon reflection whilst this may have been advantageous, I fear it has made me a little less me…a little less authentic even. I have always been proud to wear my heart on my sleeve, yet I have found myself wondering what should we share? How much is too much? How raw is too raw? And sadly, who do I trust with my truth’s? After much deliberation I’ve decided that the bigger question is around your intentions and motives for telling your story. If your intentions are healthy ones then putting personal information in a public arena should never be to seek approval or gain the validation of others. If you have given consideration to the impact of what you share on those you love, then communication will benefit us far more than silence and unspoken words. The difficulty is though that our emotions can get the better of us and when we are hurting, our innate need to be heard can see us firing the most hurtful and ill considered words at each other.
Words and intentions in check, I would like to share with you my journey through divorce. Two years ago I realised my marriage had ended. I’d met my now ex-husband when I was just 18 and we had had grown up together. He was the stability I had longed for, I was the whirlwind of excitement that at the time he needed. We built a strong foundation of a happy home and had three beautiful daughters. Our common goal was always and continues to be the happiness of our girls. Life threw some major obstacles at us, to start with we had battled them together. We cared for each other deeply but I could see the cracks had begun to form. I could tell that my tenacity and inquisitive nature had long lost its appeal. That my fiery passion and lust for life had begun to grate and that my constant need to ‘talk things out’ had driven a man that I loved to cover his ears at the sound of my voice. He was not a bad man, he just didn’t love me and no amount of trying to make him see me in a better light or argue my point of view was going to change that. What it did do was build frustration and resentment. Both of us mercilessly locked in a battle to proportion blame upon the other, despite the fact that victory was empty.
In response to the realisation and rejection I became so far removed from myself that I can barely remember who that was. It caused me to behave in ways that I’m ashamed of, to say things I didn’t mean, that were a thousand miles for the loving person that I am . Then justify my actions by allocating blame with my ex-husband for his poor treatment of me. We are both so far from bad people, but we made each other that way. It had to stop. I wanted my daughters to grow up knowing that love was more than tolerating the other person and ‘making do’. I had a crazy notion that somewhere out there was someone who would love me because of my faults and would allow me to feel like I was enough for them.
One of us had to be brave, once the much feared word’s were spoken, it was clear the decision was not mine alone. Relief followed for a short time. Our daughters were truly amazing, we presented a united front. Our girls only request was not to feel split with loyalties and as a family we made a decision that we would spend equal amount of time with them, so they were not constantly moving around. We told our families and friends and that was it, final. Over. Just like that.
The funny thing about divorce is the fall out. The ripples it sends through the people that you know. I naively bounded into it with my usual “lets all learn from this and be better people” approach, only to find that you didn’t always get that reciprocated back to you. I don’t know when it happened, I can’t call a specific event, but at some point I stopped expecting anything from anyone . Anything other than very strong opinions on my life and how or what I should be doing with it. This sounds incredibly bitter and negative, but it isn’t. I just learned to accept the reality that just because I had decided to change my own life, it didn’t mean that other people would embrace the change so freely.
I nodded politely and thanked people for their endless advice on what I should be entitled to and legal advice I should take. I endlessly justified my decision of shared access to the girls and stared at the faces of other women who gently and judging expressed “well I couldn’t do that”. But I stuck to my own beliefs unquestionably. I would not work to the accepted model of divorce that the rest of the world believed to be the only way. I did not want to stay in our marital home, it made me sad. I did not want my daughters having a weekend dad if there was a better option and a loving willing father to share the responsibility of raising them. I knew all too well how quickly bonds can break down with fathers following divorce and my girls happiness was more important than my own selfish need to be sole carer. I knew that it was different approach and would not suit everyone, but I didn’t not want to be a mother that made my girls relationship and access to their father difficult or for one second leave them feeling torn or guilty. I didn’t not want every interaction with the father of my children to be negative and dreaded. I don’t judge other people who find themselves in less favourable circumstances, but I was sad that I wasn’t always afforded the same courtesy. So in response I wrote a script which I recited at will when I was questioned, I painted a picture that I wanted the world to see. Then, each week as the girls returned to their father I curled up and cried alone. But despite missing them, I remember why this is our choice.
I knew that I had made the right decision and that ultimately we would all be happier at some point, but there and then I felt like I had failed. I felt like I had disappointed my family. I felt like my personal life was common knowledge, which was at times entirely my own doing through trying to be so open and overly trusting of others intentions. I had not just lost my ex-husband, I had lost other people too. I lost his family who I loved. I lost mutual friends who when I meet them now, still don’t know what to say. I lost people close to me that I thought I could trust. But its all part of the wheel of divorce, the wheel starts to turn and the excess falls off. Everything you didn’t really need. And then, there is just you… and if you’re lucky (as I was) one , maybe two people who love you for who you are. There is also a lot of time to be alone, I stopped being lonely very quickly and learned to like my own company. It was incredibly freeing. With this new found ‘me time’, I picked up the fragments of myself . I decided what ‘I’ liked about me and I discarded what I didn’t. I reflected on it all, beginning to end and when I had finished I forgave my ex-husband and more importantly…I forgave myself.
One of the hardest things to do was change my ‘Relationship Status’ on face book. That was it, the world knew and strangely this world I was curious with being open with. In contrast here I was greeted with lots of support and ‘sad faces’ . I felt understood! The hard words of friends were far less appealing, here on social media I felt supported? I got a sharp reality check when my inbox started to resemble a sausage factory. I remembered very quickly that although its hard to hear the truth from people you love, seeking validation through acquaintances would not help me move on. Which leads me back to where I started, what should we share?
We are all individuals and I judge no one for how they advertise themselves personally. I think social media does provide an element of support when people are feeling isolated, but it should not be relied upon. Sharing positive statements typed over the picture of a woman on the beach, that emblazons self love and independence, is a positive message that lots of people need to hear….BUT…There is a fine line between these inspirational messages and the ‘passive aggressive postcards’ . These are the statements that incite others to bolster our belief, that we stand wronged and blameless victims of our circumstances, by hitting the ‘Like’ button. This search for external validation can be toxic and addictive.
As human beings it sits at our very core to be recognised and understood. To connect and resonate with other people. It’s what make us great. Social media allows us to share our best bits and create a pin board of what is important to us, how much we advertise is a very personal thing. I don’t think there is an answer. We tell our children constantly to remember “once its online its there forever”, we need to remember our own advice too.
When I found the man I have looked for all my life a year ago, updating my ‘Relationship Status’ had a very different feeling. Lots of people told me that sort of love did not exist, that I was naïve and fanciful for pursing it. It was given with loving intention. But in case you hadn’t noticed, I don’t like being wrong… I found him. This however is another story, maybe for another day.
I want to end by saying thank you. To those people who loved me through my tough times, even when maybe I didn’t deserve it. To all of you going through you’re own journey, you’ll get there I promise. Be kind to yourselves, be kind to each other. Keep learning, keeping reflecting and remember life is so very short. Be with someone who loves you to your core and make sure they know how much you love them.
Love and light.