Close to You – Why Divorce is One Flesh ‘Rent Asunder’

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IMG_1226 1.JPGIt’s no secret that it has taken me longer to get over my marriage breakdown than it has for some other people.

This time, the season, is the first time in 30 years that I have not seen Ex regularly. We co-parented our dog for six or seven years after The Separation and she died at Christmas 2016.  Although we have been in touch a little bit by text and email we have not seen each other.  I think this is a good thing.  They say that no contact (NC) is the way forward.

I was talking to my mother about this the other day. I said, “Ex is the person that I have been closest to in the whole of my life.”  Now this may have been a little hurtful for my mother to hear but it is true.

We are meant to separate from our parents.  When we marry we expect to travel through the decades with our spouse.  Also, there is the sexual connection which binds us to our spouse; something that, hopefully, we do not share with our parents.

It seems strange but it was only this realisation that my ex is the person that I have been closest to in my whole life that made me realise why it has taken me such a long time to get over him and the marriage.  I don’t think I necessarily miss him as much as being married,  though I am not entirely sure that I would choose to remarry.  The thought of never being in love or being loved again in return, however, during my remaining life is pretty grim!

 

A Lover’s Story: Crookes Valley Park, Sheffield, 1988.

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“Will you stay in our lover’s story?” Kooks, David Bowie.

Back in 1988 I saw our time in Sheffield as a sad and lonely period yet in retrospect I see it differently. We were young, not yet fully formed, and very much in love.

My job was hard, physically and mentally, and I felt pulled in many directions. At work, I was the ‘newbie’, before that word was invented, who had to make her mark, a graduate among school leavers, viewed with a little suspicion. I wasn’t part of any clique and was frequently homesick for my birth town and my parents. Gray was out-of-work and lonely too. As I had dragged him to this landlocked city I felt I had to make everything alright for him. Exhausted after my day at the office I felt obliged to go out at night, to pubs or to the cinema, when really I would have preferred to stay in and just talk or be.

Sundays became special though.

Mostly we walked in Weston Park, sometimes visiting the art gallery there, and often in Crookes Valley Park, which was often swathed in mist.  He would wear his Joe Orton-style leather jacket and I would be in my blue coat with its real fur collar, which I’d picked up in Oxfam in Broomhill. It looked like something straight out of a Tissot painting. I kept that coat for years.

Crookes Valley Park comprised sloping greens and a flat lake and was peaceful in a melancholic sort of way. Gray was often sad and we were frequently tired. What we talked about I can’t recall but conversation always flowed between us as the leaves came tumbling down around us. There was this utter sense of togetherness, of being with the right one. If I’d have known my Bible back then I would have identified with the verse from Song of Solomon:

“I have found the one whom my soul loves.”

Sometimes we would walk down to Hunter’s Bar and end up in Pizza Hut. Having been on the dole for a few months before I got this job this seemed to us quite decadent! I relished seeing the anticipation in his eyes and we’d laugh as the soft, doughy pizza would melt in our fingers – and then in our mouths. I loved to see him happy like that.

Sundays were doubly precious because I never looked forward to rejoining the world of office politics in a department that was sinking fast in an era of privatisation. Many people in the office were having affairs with each other as if it was the last few  days of pre-war Berlin. This was the very antithesis of my world of “pure love”, monogamous, hopeful and magical.

These memories can pierce my heart, as if they were happening right now. I wonder at this, bemused, that he, in his new life with new wife, doesn’t feel it too, at the very same moment as I do.

The subconscious mind, I read, doesn’t understand past and present, but sees everything as if it IS occurring right now. And it is happening.  I’m walking in Crookes Park, Sheffield, with the man I love.

I am loved, valued, wanted.

Regular Self-Care As a Route to Health

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This is from the TMS Wiki Structured Education Programme. It struck a chord as I can neglect myself in terms of diet and rest if under stress. http://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/Educational_Program_Day_37

Regular Self Care

The ability to care for oneself is an essential skill that that needs to be learned and practiced to prevent or relieve TMS/PPD symptoms. Most people learn this as children when they are given adequate opportunities to play. A four-year-old with paper and fingerpaints does not care how many pictures per hour they produce, or about the quality of their work or who will see it. They care only that they are having fun. If it stops being fun they move on to another activity they enjoy. This is how children, and adults, learn how to meet their need for enjoyment. Adults may not need as many hours spent in this way as a child, but the need is always there.

For some children, the opportunity for carefree self-indulgence is limited or non-existent. If children are abused or given excessive responsibilities, if among the adults in the home there is violence, drug abuse, a high need for support or erratic behavior the child may focus on the needs of others (adults or siblings) in the home. This may leave insufficient time for acquiring self-care skills. In addition, low self-esteem from a less than nurturing home may leave children feeling unworthy of taking time for themselves.

Adults lacking this ability care for everyone but themselves. If they have spare time, their thoughts turn to using it constructively for the benefit of others. On the list of those whom they support, their own name is missing. For some, the only break they get occurs when TMS/PPD symptoms become too severe for them to function.

Fortunately, self-care skill can be acquired at any age. Here are some steps that have helped others:

  1. Recognize the issues that may have deprived you of self-care skills as a child. It may help to imagine your own children (or a child you care about) growing up in the same environment you did. If those children would be missing out then so did you. This provides a solid justification for learning the skills you missed.
  2. Take 4-5 hours every week, if possible, for activity with no purpose but its own joy. Ask members of your household to support you in this effort. Trial and error are usually needed to find enjoyable activities (going to a gym to work out usually isn’t enough fun, for example). Don’t worry if you feel like a failure at this for months because that is part of the learning process. It is not easy to change a life pattern that has been successful for you up to now.
  3. Don’t worry if you feel guilty about not doing something “constructive” with this weekly self-care because that is usually how people feel at first.
  4. If there are people who created difficulties in the past who are still creating problems for you, consider ending or strictly limiting contact with them during the time you are developing self-care skills.

Once you acquire this skill you will have it for life. In the future, whenever your stress level begins to reach levels capable of causing symptoms, you will have the ability to leave the rest of your world and focus on you. This is a powerful technique that, by itself, has relieved severe and long-lasting symptoms in many people.

Midsomer Murders and the ITV3 Generation

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eeb0e564c51ba8370576f5761e2081efI confess: I have a soft spot for ITV3, the ‘resting’ place of the elderly viewer. I love Endeavour, Foyle’s War, Inspector Morse and Lewis. Big fan of PD James’ and Ruth Rendell’s work in print and on screen. Not a fan of Midsomer Murders.

Living (temporarily) with an octogenarian makes me think a lot about the elderly. Not all old people fit into a stereotype, of course. Many are offbeat, fiery, questioning, and open-minded. But the Brexit vote has also made me think about other older people, especially the Daily Express reading contingent.  I am brought into contact daily with this filthy rag

Why is it that older people love detective dramas of the type I have listed? My thoughts:

  1. They are very British. English countryside, British actors. English towns and villages. English cars, mostly. Suits. Hats even!
  2. Easily identified characters. Idiosyncratic but not too weird, e.g., Morse.
  3. Old people seem to love characters who come in pairs (Lewis and Hathaway). The ‘buddy’ element.
  4. Often set in the past – or a present that doesn’t really exist (Midsomer Murders) caters to nostalgia factor plus sense that ‘things were better back then’.
  5. Crime dramas – very black and white in that there are good people and bad ones.
  6. Resolution. The bad guys are always caught, I think. Order is restored. All’s right with the world.

When age, infirmity and looming death/meeting one’s maker are on the cards, ironically, these murderous dramas offer a sense of safety and familiarity plus a chance to be indignant at the ‘goings-on’ (moral judgements) and behaviour of the ‘bad’ characters. It’s my belief that old people (some, not all, I must stress) do not like ambiguity and these reruns on ITV3 serve as a comforter.

 

My Diaries Spanning 40 Years Don’t Lie

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40 years a slave to journaling! 

I’ve kept a diary since I was 12 years old – that’s nearly 40 years!

I’ve been re-reading them over the last few weeks.

Man, talk about a shock! Many of the events are clear in my head but some of my attitudes and behaviour were awful. What a cow I could be! And how much I took for granted.

I’m learning a lot. Maybe I’ll share some of my revelations here.

I see the diary reading as part of my spiritual journey and attempts at growth.

The Ease of Old Friends at Easter

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Back in my home town yet again for Easter and went to meet two of my oldest friends, both men, P and G. I’ve known them 31 years – since 1985 or thereabouts. P now lives in the South West, and reads this blog, and G lives in London. I hadn’t seen G for nearly five years.

But it was as if I’d just met them yesterday!

That’s the solace that old friends bring. You all have your foibles and ‘broken’ parts but you accept each other. With your newer friends you always have to be on your best behaviour to an extent, I think, ‘cos they are more ready to drop you for any infringement, real or imagined.

This I have learned vis a vis my neighbour who has turned out to be a nightmare. I made the mistake I always make: thinking that someone is going to be ‘there’ for a good few years. It’s a shock when you realise that people aren’t who you thought they were, even though, when you look back it is clear that all along they were telling you, showing you, who they really are! But we choose to ignore red flags and plough on.

I’m pretty naive sometimes when it comes to friendships. I expect too much. I read that that is a common thing among only children (I am an Only) – to invest a lot of time and emotion in friends who we often view as substitute siblings.

robert and paul

 

Over the Moors for Funeral

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Featured Image -- 4922Well, we said a final goodbye to pretend ‘auntie’ a few days ago. A long journey in the funeral limousine over the stunning, wild moorland to a gorgeous crematorium (sounds odd, but it was). Very personal and religious service led by auntie’s friend, who’s a lay preacher, then back over the moors to a methodist church for fish, chips, mushy peas and homemade cake.

I don’t think auntie was especially religious, actually, but it was a great service.

Mum and I did not really know anyone but I talked to quite a lot of people and my step-brother and his wife came to the crematorium, too, which was lovely of them as they hardly knew auntie. I think they just wanted to support us.

Damage Done: Avoiding Codependency With Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse

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56503713980c8203e1bb61830d7b0352Going to Celebrate Recovery has made me even more aware of how people who are suffering but who  don’t come out of denial about their past will be forever blighted. And it makes me feel even more admiring of those who DO take the steps to deal with the rubbish that’s happened.

I know people who are in great denial whose lives are being affected minute by minute. This led me to read up about adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. While it is a gruesome subject, reading does help me to understand the affected person’s behaviours in the here and now rather than just getting frustrated and angry that they can’t see how badly affected they are!

It is difficult for me to NOT take on the responsibility of making them face up to the damage done. It’s not my place to do that. If I were to do that it would be codependency and bullying. And it could lead to terrible consequences for the abused person, if they just could not face up to the truth. But, oh, how sad it is to see lives significantly affected and denial in place.

I found this article very helpful: http://www.thehealingplace.info/adult-survivors-of-childhood-sexual-abuse/

I have not reproduced the whole thing but I highlight some points that spoke to me. 

“They may not understand the connection between their childhood situation and their adult experience.  Generally, the abuse has either been accepted by the survivor as “normal” or is viewed as something that is better left in the past.  In some cases, the abuse may not be remembered.  Consequently, the significance of symptoms and problems arising from the abuse is often not recognized.”

“An abusive childhood situation interferes with the child’s natural movement toward growth and expansion of his or her experiences.”

All children have a right to have their basic needs met. Children need to feel secure in order to learn to trust their environment.  They need support for the development of dreams and wishes.  They need encouragement to be separate unique individuals.  They need a consistent sense of belonging, and of worth from their families and home situations.  Abuse denies these very basic needs.  As a result, adult survivors are often left with a deficit of emotional and practical skills for dealing with their present “grown-up” world.  As a result of having limited opportunities to naturally develop these skills, survivors will frequently develop extraordinarily complex coping mechanisms in their attempts to appear “normal.”  As a child, the survivor may have learned the importance of “pretending that nothing is wrong.”  This coping mechanism allows them to function in society in ways that never allow anyone to guess that they struggle with such pain on the inside.

“Having not been given appropriate levels of love, care, or attention when they were their true selves as children, they might feel that they will not be given love, care, and attention if they allow their true selves to be seen as adults.”

“Adult survivors may fear the intimacy and responsibility of committed relationships.” 

“They tend to blame themselves for the abuse, especially if there was pleasure, comfort, or a sense of caring attached to the incident.  They frequently feel ashamed by the fact that they could not stop they abuse.  They often do not remember the details but have only a vague feeling of discontent with another family member or friend of the family.  Adult survivors frequently report childhood blackouts in which large chunks of time are forgotten.”

“Survivors deal with the sexual abuse in a variety of ways.  They may become over-responsible, believing that they are accountable for everything and must take care of others, often meeting the needs of others before their own.  On the other hand, they may act out against others in manipulative or abusive ways, especially if that is the only way they have learned to get their needs met.”   

“Many adult survivors have difficulty connecting their current life situation with earlier childhood abuse. This denial can take many forms: rationalizing, minimizing, intellectualizing, focusing of the problems and shortcomings of others, hoping the problems will take care of itself, feelings that they can take care of their problems on their own.”

“Fear and shame about sharing family secrets. Survivors often fear that to get help is to betray and hurt their families, or that they will be punished for exposing family secrets.”

“Inability to blame their parents or other adults for the abuse. We are taught to love and honor our parents and to be respectful of other adults.”

“As survivors strip away all the old negative beliefs that have been the burdensome but familiar foundation for their lives, they begin to feel that everything they’ve ever known is shifting and nothing is certain or sure.”

 

 

Pretend Auntie Dies

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auntie-noeMy pretend auntie, who was also my mother’s best friend, died suddenly on Monday. She was, like me, a divorcee with no children. She had been estranged from her family for years too but I never knew why.

I’m sad. Pretend Auntie was more of an aunt than my real aunt and more of a godmother than my real godmother ever was.

Mum and I will be going to the funeral in North Yorkshire, which is not where she lived but where she wanted to be cremated!

The Elderly Fall

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Come to home town for a few days as my elderly mum had a fall. She’s OK and been checked out at hospital but in pain. I will probably take her back to my adopted town to recuperate and she’ll have company then.

In other news the flat I am buying has land issues. It’s been going on for ages. If things can’t be resolved I’m going to have to walk away. I will lose solicitor’s fees and probably my buyer. It’s causing me a lot of lost sleep and much anxiety.

I’ve been doing well with my Lent Challenge to do one new thing a day but I won’t report back every day as that makes it a pressurised thing and i get sea-sick from being on screen too much.

 

 

‘Celebrate Recovery’ is Not Just for Addicts

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Speaking of things that don't quite deliver on their promises...

I went to my first ever session of Celebrate Recovery this week. It’s a Christ-centred 12 step programme for anyone with ‘hurts, hang-ups or habits’ that are holding them back in life.

I’d been thinking about going for a while and a guy from my divorce group suggested that I give it a go. A lot of people think it’s just for addicts and alcoholics but that’s not the case. Anyone who’s battling with various issues (and who isn’t?) is welcome. Some examples would be: perfectionism, debt, guilt, divorce, anger, abuse, insecurity, gambling, anxiety, emotional abuse and other abuses, overspending, coming form a dysfunctional family, grief – plus lots of other things.

I realised that I do suffer from some low self-esteem issues emanating from childhood, my long-term illness and the divorce. Also, I think I have a tendency to co-dependency. Not like I used to but it could still be an issue. I know I am not experiencing as much joy in my life as I used to and these things are barriers to joy or freedom.

Not sure how much I can commit to the course (it runs for a year and some people go for many years) but I’ve at least made a start.

 

Coincidences or Divine Intervention?

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Feeling awed! Mum and I were standing on her front doorstep in the town of my birth, waving off my very old friends, Bristol-based P and J, who I see just 1-2 times a year, when who should drive down our fairly out-of-the-way street but my friends/former neighbours, E and S, from the town where I now live (about 50 miles away.) E and S had NO IDEA my mum lives on this street and that this is the family homestead. Sheer coincidence.

Then… At the very same time my old hairdresser drove passed them in the same make and model and silver coloured car as E and S own, waving, AND at the same time mum’s neighbour, Brian, came out to tell me that I had a flat tyre – I had not noticed. There was a nail in it. He pumped the tyre up for me and I rushed off to Kwik Fit and got it replaced. Brian probably saved my life ‘cos I’ll be driving on the motorway tomorrow.
Coincidences or not?!

I had been feeling tearful and forsaken earlier in the day but these coincidences made me feel like there was some sort of pattern work going on!

 

 

 

The Passive Mother and My Prayers for Patience

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Portrait of Miss Georgina Pope, head nurse of ...

Portrait of Miss Georgina Pope, head nurse of First Canadian Contingent during the Boer war. Possibly in her nurse’s uniform from Bellevue Hospital, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why does my mother not ask people questions or ask how they are? Is it selfishness or a lack of confidence? I think it is the latter. I hope it’s that!

I think it infantilises me because its left up to me to do the ‘filling in’, all the communication work – like the child I was returning home from school and babbling on about my day. I still have to do that. I also feel that i have to persuade her on the worth of my words. Weird.

When she came to stay here for 4 weeks she didn’t ask my (many!) friends one question. Not one question. She did ask my ex-husband a question but only after I prompted her.
When my platonic male friend (PMF) came to stay with us overnight she didn’t ask him anything. She talked to him at length but about herself. She has always been like this, it’s not just because she’s elderly, although it becomes more apparent when someone is elderly.

Maybe it is something to do with the job she had. She was a nurse, beginning in the 1950s. I think it might be something to do with working with consultants. I think these men made women, i.e., the nurses, feel stupid if they asked anything. They were like gods. Consultants spoke and nurses listened and carried out tasks.

My whole life I have never known her to ask a shop assistant for help. Rather than do that she will just walk out of the place without buying the thing that she needs.

I am praying for more patience and understanding!

Barriers Are Not Always Made to Be Broken Down

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Dry Stone Wall - Blackmile Lane, Grendon, Nort...

Dry Stone Wall – Blackmile Lane, Grendon, Northamptonshire Picture by R Neil Marshman (c) RNM 23 May 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Interested in a man or woman who has a lot of barriers/walls around them? (Again, I don’t mean just romantic partners but friends or even members of your own family, such as a sibling).

Don’t kid yourself that you will be the one to break down those walls. You might – for a time – but once that person is under stress those walls will go up again and you will be shut out. 

Barriers only come down when the person is ready.Those walls may never come down. Don’t hang about investing emotional, physical or even financial resources on the walled in person – unless it is your job, say as a foster parent or mentor.  

Be friendly, fairly open, and willing to listen when it is appropriate –  but erect your own boundaries. Keep yourself emotionally safe. (Remember, turning the other cheek” turning the other cheek is not the same as being a mug!)

Avoid the Emotionally Unavailable Person

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Cover of "He's Scared, She's Scared: Unde...

Cover via Amazon

Man or woman. Potential beau or friend. The EUP is a waste of your time, energy and resources. This is the best advice I can give you ‘cos it will save you a whole heap of heartache if you can walk away from such a person. I’ve met a few since I have been separated.

Not sure if you are dealing with a EUP? Do they talk the talk but can’t walk the walk? Do they imply that you have a future together but it never quite happens? Do they indulge in Future Speak, saying that you will do certain things together, or implying that you will become a greater part of their life… but it never happens? That’s a EUP.

Google sites like Baggage Reclaim. Read He’s Scared, She’s Scared by Stephen Carter, Julia Sokol. All will become clear.

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Emigration on the Cards?

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New Zealand's Milford Sound. Milford Sound, on...

New Zealand’s Milford Sound. Milford Sound. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple I  know left the UK and settled in New Zealand‘s South Island about two years ago. The husband blogs about their new life.

This week in the UK we had some sun. Then it went away. This has been the pattern for the last few years, and frankly, it’s depressing.

Then I saw some pictures of where my newly-ensconced NZ friends live. It looks like paradise. I thought to myself: ‘In a few years time I will be totally free. I could emigrate!’

An escapist fantasy during this hard time? Possibly. It depends how things work out here with my new life post-marriage, my church family, where I move to and so on. It is hard making new friends – good, lasting friends – so leaving behind those I have made in recent years as well as my old ones is not to be taken lightly. But it made me think, did that blog.

It’s at http://2hoomansandaspanielinnz.wordpress.com/

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A Lesson of Role Reversal in the Congo

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Congo Boatmen

Congo Boatmen (Photo credit: International Rivers)

When the Christian missionary, Dr Helen Roseveare, was ill in Congo with cerebral malaria  she was nursed back to life by African-trained paramedics. She found that she had to thank them, “sincerely thank them”, as she puts in Enough “when normally they thanked me for all I did for them.” This reversal of roles was very difficult to accept.

Dr Helen writes that this role reversal was God saying to her: “This is necessary. They need to know that they are needed and that therefore they are fully part of the family.”

The friend I’m troubled by has been an invaluable support to me in the past. It’s been humbling at times. I vowed to this friend, and myself, that I would be there for them when needed.

However, what has happened over recent months is, I feel, a shutting out, a shutting down, on my friend’s part. I have not been allowed to give the support.

You could argue that my friend needs support of a different sort – to be left alone. (“If only they would let me alone!” was Sebastian’s cry in Brideshead Revisited). That’s what I had told myself. But when it keeps happening, when you are basically told you are not allowed to ‘be there’ for someone then you feel not needed – i.e., unnecessary – not part of the cause, not part of the family. That’s probably the crux of my dissatisfaction in this particular case.

You could argue that taking on the role of unwilling recipient reveals an inflated sense of one’s own capabilities or position in the world. Or it may result from low self-esteem. Whatever, it makes the willing giver feel judged, found lacking, excluded and incompetent. I’m not quite sure how you deal with that.

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Living in Church Town

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Council Houses

Council Houses (Photo credit: Rubber Dragon)

The Life Group I go to is on a council/ex-council estate in a town a few miles from where I live but it is nothing like estates featured in the media. It’s more like a private housing estate. I guess people live there because the houses are large and, as the town is semi-rural, relatively inexpensive.  I went shopping in the town at Xmas and I bumped into three church people within about five minutes. It was like something out of a film: they’re watching you! 

I would like to live in this town but I might not be able to afford to. It’s not as expensive as the area in which I live but the house I live in is also my ex’s so I will get a share only and will probably move to a cheaper area (much cheaper) in a flat or such like. However, as one group member said tonight, “If you want to live here it will happen.”  I like this thinking.

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