Tuesday, March 17, 2015

For Kate

Photo credit: dreamstime
I have the Facebook Timehop app on my phone. Every day it delivers back to me the status updates I posted one, two, three or more years ago on that same date. Five years ago next month marks the day my marriage imploded. Four years ago today I was strolling along Bondi Beach in Sydney, preparing or the first Aussie Bloggers Conference (remember that?). Two years ago July I sat eating an ice cream cone a thousand miles from home, waiting for charges to be levied. A year ago last month my ex-husband was sentenced. The dates roll around in a circle, a series of awkward anniversaries.

It’s humbling to see the passage of time. When everything went south in my life, I kept the faith that some sort of salvation was just around the corner. My ex would be arrested. We would move far away. I would run every day and get fit. I would lose weight. I would start blogging regularly again and I would love it. I would write my memoir and get a publishing contract. I would find love again – this time a healthy, worthy love. As I sat wrapped in my pain, I willed these things to happen.

I would even start off down a rickety path towards one of these goals, but I never got far. I would put up an online dating profile, only to meet someone who was embarrassingly like the man I’d just left. I would look for jobs overseas, and get overwhelmed by the red tape and stacked odds. I would begin churning out blog posts, and then have my words thrown back at me in court. I would start running and eating healthier, only to have my progress interrupted when I had to pack up the kids and leave home to find safety. Two steps forward, three steps back. I felt like I couldn’t win for losing.

It pissed me off, frankly. After all, didn’t I deserve a reprieve after everything I’d been through? Hadn’t I earned some good karma? I had endured so much, why must I get more of the same? I figured I must be doing something wrong.

I remember one day, not long after returning home from the summer spent in hiding, I was driving through my neighborhood. I saw a woman out running on the same path I had run on six months earlier. I felt a pang of jealousy and thought, “Look at that woman running, like I used to do. She gets to go home to a house that is safe. She probably has family nearby and a partner to support her. I bet she doesn’t worry about money.” I envisioned a wonderful, successful life for this unsuspecting woman, a life that was the antithesis of mine.

And then, quite suddenly, I felt something inside me shift. I was now seeing myself running on that path, only I saw myself as an outsider might. I saw a woman who had been through some serious shit. Unfathomable shit. She would fashion a dream and then get knocked flat, and then she would get up and fashion another. And look at her out there in the midst of it all, trying to get fit! She keeps getting up and moving forward, spinning hope out of nothing.

The world tilted just a bit and it shifted my viewpoint. Instead of a failure, I saw myself as resilient. I felt compassion for myself. Love, even.

The gift of perspective dropped in my lap.

Today I read a post by a fellow blogger, Kate. She’s been through some pretty intense trauma recently. Several aspects of her story parallel mine and when I see her updates, it’s like that Timehop app -- I am reminded in a visceral way of the emotional journey I was on a few years ago.

Kate, I wish I could tell you that it will all be over soon. It might, then again it might not. But what you’re doing is spot on. You’re turning around to face it. When I stopped willing my situation to change and instead sat still with it, the ugly feelings began to dissipate. I sat there a long, long time (I’m still sitting).

You’re getting up each day and getting on with it. You’re traveling an unmapped road and making decisions in each moment about what’s in your family’s best interest. You’re taking a private journey in a sometimes-public way and because of that, you’re leaving bread crumbs for the countless others who suffer in silence. The ones you don’t even know about.

If I have any advice to give, it would be this. Keep following your instincts. Keep healing. Sit down with your pain, say hello, pour it a cup of tea, and it may begin to dissolve on its own. Maybe, when it does, you’ll begin to see yourself as those around you see you: strong, beautiful and full of courage.

There is no timeline. You’re doing it exactly right.







6 comments:

  1. Beautiful and wise; as you say, as you do and as you are.

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  2. True!

    I always value your words here on the blog, but you must please not stop writing the book/s!
    You have a gift that you can't let go to waste!

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    Replies
    1. Karen, will you please send me a message every day telling me this? I need a kick in the pants! x

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  3. anything in life can be cured with a cup of tea - perhaps not caffeine intolerance, but anything else. I cannot imagine picking myself up again after going through the things you have - but you do - and you do it well. Keep on pushing - get your running shoes back on :-)

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    Replies
    1. I have them on right now, Glen! Hopefully someday our paths will cross in London and we can share a cup of tea in person.

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