There are times in our lives where life changes crash in so quickly, you find yourself tumbling around in what seems like a deep dark ocean of rough turbulent waves that barely allow you to catch your breath.
In these moments of uncertainty and transition, the concept of time seems to disappear and the events that take place keep crashing over you, suffocating you and not allowing you to look up and see the shoreline now barely in sight.
It feels like you’re swimming with all your might yet the ocean around you is throwing you around as you gasp for air.
Sometimes we can see the signs, and predict these changes but its not until they hit us do we realise we are sinking in what seems like a never-ending series of events that bowl us over one wave after the other.
They say when it rains- it pours. For me, the last two years are perfectly summed up in that phrase.
My father’s death
With my father’s suicide, shortly followed by the sudden and abrupt ending of my marriage and becoming a single mother it is only now twelve months on am I beginning to feel the aftermath of this tsunami that rocked my world and shook me to the core.
Now, am I finally able to bob above the surface and reflect and feel after being caught up in panic and survival mode.
When things begin to calm down, the realisations of divorce now move in like those slow clear waves that build up and give you a stinging slap as you try to get higher than them before they curl and crash.
Since my husband and I separated last year I have mourned many things. Being thrown into the world of not only single parenting but after so many years of being with someone, the scary world of being single. Again.
Up until now I have felt so much and been numb all at the same time. It is only now that I am allowing myself, and perhaps forcing myself to feel am I finally beginning to have perhaps just a glimmer of hope that I will find healing – eventually.
The realisations of divorce
Like short movie scenes, they randomly replay in your mind like a flash of memory of who you once were and the life you once lived, the realisations about how those times have ended and how that part of you has died…
They can come in in the quiet conscious moments of reflection before falling asleep, or they can sneak up on you while you’re going about your day and it’s those realisations that sting the hardest.
Like the time you realise, you will never kiss your husband again. That morning when your marriage ended for good, you never realised the night before was the last time you would sleep together in the same bed, kiss him goodbye for work, iron his shirt or cook him dinner. You didn’t realise the once mundane married life tasks would be the last events shared with him 24 hours prior.
The realisation that you really don’t know the new you very well and it’s hard getting to know her when she’s grieving.
The time you realise you’re single, like actually on the market, single. That even though you’ve ‘been there done that’ and have been out of the dating game for years and years, suddenly you feel like your single 18yr old self again and it’s petrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.
When you realise you can have sex with another person. Which is really strange after being with the same man for over ten years.
When you realise that you have no one to rely or depend on now except for yourself
When you realise that your child will never have a full biological brother or sister.
The realisation that you have no one to bicker with anymore. No more annoying habits to moan about, no one to kick when they’re snoring, no one to hog the remote… And you kind of miss it but you kind of really don’t.
The realisation when you get to parent in exactly the way you believe to be right without direct criticism or debate.
The realisation that some nights I’ve resembled that sad scene from Bridget Jones’s Diary – singing ‘All by myself’, crying and drinking wine in my flanno PJs. It’s happened a number of times now.
The realisation that you’re now in this club of single parents, that people know you have baggage and it’s just out there with or without your consent.
The realisation that one day your daughter is going to ask exactly what happened and you are going to have to tell her the truth,
The realisation that you have failed a marriage and you are partly responsible no matter the final circumstances that ended it
The realisation that you now must be civil and an adult when it comes to meeting your ex-husband’s new partner.
The realisation that your daughter might hate you for this in years to come.
The realisation that you now have to change everything into Ms. Rather than Mrs.
The realisation that your child is now on a split schedule with your ex, and negotiating shared time consists of very cold and almost business like emails, text messages and a joint online calendar.
There are many painful realisations that follow a marriage breakdown.
Being open to the new
But then, as time goes on there are amazing new realisations that come and bring hope back into your heart that maybe, just maybe eventually, you will find happiness once more.
The realisation that the friendships you’ve built over the years and your family who have been there from the beginning, the people who have seen you at your best and worst.. some of them even present on your wedding day all those years ago cheering you on as you walked down the aisle, they’ve seen your life break apart, they witnessed your major life events and seen your marriage deteriorate. They know you, feel you, feel your broken heart and bring comfort and support – and unlike those who have abandoned you.. you realise they’re not going anywhere and that in fact, you’re not really alone after all.
The realisation that you’re still young and there is so much life you have yet to live.
The realisation that yes you have baggage, a lot of it. But as you begin to talk to other people and peel back the layers through conversation, you realise that we all have baggage and maybe that’s ok. Our baggage allows us to have a deeper understanding of how we are all in it together and that everyone is fighting their own battles. You begin to hear stories of heartbreak and loss just like yours. You begin to hear stories of how these dark times have brought others back into the light and how the rainbow of happiness can be found after the roughest of storms.
You begin to realise that perhaps it is these life experiences allow you to slowly become more raw, more venerable, and be more true to yourself.
The realisation that although you never thought you would again, you will indeed smile a real genuine smile, and deep belly laugh once more.That out of nowhere, a perfect stranger can come into your life and give you hope and support… where your experiences are shared and you realise you’ve both walked a similar path and that you’re not alone. These people allow you to breathe a little easier because they’ve walked this path and they know what its like to walk a mile in your shoes.
You come to the realisation that while love has been lost in that moment of your life, that you still have so much love to give and that you’re deserving of love once more.
You realise that while having no one to rely on but yourself can be scary and petrifying, you also begin to find self-worth and confidence that you’ve been able to pull yourself up all be it slowly out of what was your own personal hell, and now you’re standing on your two feet, perhaps battered, bloody and bruised… but YOU somehow found the inner strength and you did it.
The realisation that everyone has had their heart broken before. And that maybe we are all just broken pieces who can find someone just as broken, and yet when found… our broken pieces fit together and can make a whole once more. With experience comes understanding, empathy, respect, gratitude, humbleness, kindness, honesty, and a new appreciation for authenticity. That perhaps we don’t need to try and hide our flaws, our pain and our past… perhaps it is exactly this that transforms us into who we truly are and puts us on the exact path we are meant to walk.
The realisation that perhaps this child you’re raising, while in the future there will surely be questions of how things ended, that they will grow to understand just how loved they are by both their parents, that once mummy and daddy were very much in love and that they came from that special time in our lives and that they were very much wanted and came from a place of happiness.
The realisation that perhaps all the struggles, the sleepless nights of worry, the sacrifices now made as a single parent, that our children will one day see that it was all for them, that we made it though because we wanted to create the best possible life for them with or without a spouse by our side.
That while a marriage has failed, that isn’t the be all and end all, that perhaps love is out there waiting to be discovered and that in order to embrace it, we must first find the strength and self-worth to love ourselves once again.
The realisation that sometimes things, even a marriage doesn’t always go to plan .. And that maybe that’s ok.
Learning to ride the waves
Both positive and negative realisations come in waves, and just when you think you might be ok with this new life you find yourself living, another wave might come and crash over you and bring you back to where you’ve been so desperately been paddling away from.
But here’s the thing, with each wave that comes, you slowly learn how to survive it. You begin to swim a little stronger and learn how to ride each individual type wave. People come along in your life and allow you to hold onto them for strength and support , they help you to float a little higher above the waves, allowing fresh air into your lungs and a chance to breathe through the rough seas a little easier. You find that in time, your newfound strengths are also able to help others who have lost their way through the night of the dark murky ocean.
You start to realise, that in fact we are all in life’s great uncertain sea, that we are all learning how to swim it, some weaker and some stronger than others, but we are all here.
And you want to know something great about life trials.. so far, each of us has a 100% success rate of getting through them… and that’s a pretty good record.
So, lets ride the waves together.. no matter if the weather is big and crashing, or calm and gentle… because when you begin to look up at the bigger picture, the light of the lighthouse that is hope – it will guide us to where we need to be.
May you realise, you too are not alone.
in the words of Dory….
“Just keep swimming”