I’ve just been out for a run in Ridge Woods. It’s a sunny day but windy and I felt the odd spot of rain and could see rain clouds in the distance.
I felt alive in the woods: that strong physical sense of feeling good in my body (and in my heart and head) and of being part of nature. I could have stood at the top of the Ridge, gazing out towards remote northern Cumbria and across to Scotland, the wind tossing my hair and blowing through my clothes, for ages.
In part what I’m feeling is a fantastic sense of freedom and of being who I really am. Being single and a ‘part-time’ Mum (physically – not emotionally) has given me back my sense of self: along with my singing and writing and now the fact that I’m working as a surveyor again. I don’t feel tied to anything: I keep the house clean and tidy because I want to now, not because it’s an enormous mess which nobody else will bother to tidy up; and emotionally I feel more free to express myself than I did when I was married – or perhaps I’m more confident about expressing myself.
It’s sad that it takes a relationship ending for someone to feel more herself than before, but I keep being reminded of a saying the French have: ‘the bonds of marriage are so heavy that it takes two people to carry them and sometimes three’. For the French it’s an excuse to have affairs: I think it highlights that marriage – where children are involved at least – can be (at its worst) an enormous drain on people. However that’s also quite a negative view and in fact a good marriage should be about teamwork and support and – this is the bit that I’ve realised matters to me – flying free together. Someone commented recently, when I said I had thought I’d got married for life, that marriage should be something you enter into because you can’t bear life without that person (or words to that effect). Nuances of meaning and interpretation can totally change the way you feel about something – I thought that was a far better, more lovely, way of looking at marriage than ‘I made a commitment for life and I need to stick to it’.
So what’s brought on all this reflection (nothng new there), other than the wind and the trees? Partly the fact that I met David’s new girlfriend this morning – and shook hands with her. She seems lovely (and TALL!) and is keen enough to be step-mother to my children that she’s been watching YouTube videos about how to do Bella’s hair – not something I’ve ever done (sorry Bella – but maybe I offer you something else as a mother). Having said he wasn’t going to ‘settle down’ again I think that’s exactly what David’s doing, and she seems just right for him as far as I can tell: and I do genuinely hope they’ll be happy and settled, and maybe have another baby. Edward is desperate for a baby brother or sister and it’s not something I’m going to be providing.
And me? I’m singing in a concert tonight and planning on running up Talkin Fell or going for a bike ride somewhere remote tomorrow!