I was criticised the other day for my blog being ‘all about me’. I’m not quite sure what else it’s meant to be: it’s an attempt, by writing honestly about how I feel about things, to try to work them out and also, I hope, perhaps help other people who may be in a similar situation. I have always found sharing problems with other people and getting feedback, both good and bad, helps work things out. You realise you’re normal and that you’re not the only person in that particular boat, and if you’re lucky you learn and move forward.
Those who ‘see’ me on Facebook will have seen that last Monday I posted that it was the first day of the rest of my life; the first day of the first week of the rest of my life. I had resolved not long before that to do some things differently. The climax came on the Sunday evening when I felt as if my life was collapsing again and ended up phoning the Samaritans. I didn’t feel so much suicidal (I had checked in the medicine box and thought that a handful of nurofen and a couple of paracetamol would at the most give me a bad stomach) as if everything was about to fall apart. The Samaritan at the end of the phone told me he thought I was being too hard on myself; something reflected by friends.
I have always, I think and hope, questioned myself and been open to admitting my faults. The problem is that at times in the past I have perhaps taken too much of the responsibility for blame and not had enough self-esteem at the same time to consider what I’m doing well. People have called me amazing and told me I’m strong, but there have been times when I have felt exactly the opposite. I always remember the scene in Pretty Woman when the Julia Roberts character says to the Richard Gere character that it’s easier to remember people’s criticisms of you than the good things: that struck a chord with me at the time and has meant in addition that I am also conscious of trying to help the people I love feel good about themselves. Sometimes, however, by doing so you lose your own sense of self – in trying to work out what someone you love wants and needs and to give it to them – and then inevitably everything crashes, for whatever reason, and you need to receive something back in order to pick yourself up and work out what it is you really want and need; and to love yourself again.
It was therefore that I began the week – which was also the beginning of March and therefore the beginning of what used to be the new year, and of spring – resolved to be true to myself and to have some faith in myself: some self-esteem. I knew I had two very difficult and potentially hurtful conversations coming up that week with the two men who are the most important, emotionally, in my life: I had to work out what I wanted and what I felt about myself, and to be courageous and true to myself in those conversations.
As it happened both went all right. The conversation, with the man whom I have loved more deeply and passionately than I have ever loved any man, resolved a situation of emotional uncertainty which has been dragging on for months since writing him a letter basically asking where I stood. This week, as I ran home from seeing him and talking to him, I felt a sense of something having lifted – of freedom. It doesn’t mean it’s not painful, nor that I have stopped loving him, but I am no longer wondering what on earth he feels about me and what he wants from me, and I feel free to move on.
With the other important man, my ex-husband, things went even better. We talked about an issue from earlier in the week – he had been as worried about it as I had – and we then had an amicable meeting to arrange various things that afternoon. I am proud to call him my friend: he is an honest guy who has the self-esteem to be straight with people. In fact I remember that was one of the things which I liked about him early on: he seemed to have sorted out many of his ‘issues’ even as a young man of 27 when I first met him.
Looking back over the time since my marriage break-up, I think (and hope) I have grown in my sense of self and self-worth, despite the ups and major downs along the way. I perhaps needed to ‘crash’ so low last autumn in order to build up a more genuine sense of my own worth. I am sure there will be more ups and downs to come: it’s the nature of life. But I believe that I have turned an enormous corner. I can’t explain how hard I found Thursday, when I had to speak to both those men: how much easier it would have been to have run away and buried my head in the sand. But I feel that I refused to be put down and criticised by either of them and that I am the stronger for it: I rose to the challenge.
Which also brought me to feeling that this has been a gigantic turning point, and that it’s probably a natural end for this, my third (or fourth if you count my previous ‘Days out with Children’ on Cumbrialive), blog. I have other writing to do and will continue with a website which may have some blog posts on it, but this has served its purpose for now. I’m still running and singing and still have three children – I will always be ‘runningin3time’ – but 2015 is over. It was the year I felt free and attractive after my marriage broke up; it was the year I developed a huge amount of singing confidence (and I have to thank, in part, the man who always said my singing gave him goosebumps and that he knew I could sing before he heard me properly do so); it was the year I found myself capable of falling in love more fully than I ever had before and when one man in particular paid me the fantastic compliment of making me feel that I was the most beautiful, lovely, woman in the world to him: I felt classy.
The poem I wrote in January 2015, only about the 2nd or 3rd post of this blog, seems appropriate again today:
Water poured down the window panes:
and too readily down my cheeks.
But on the third afternoon the sun burst gloriously forth
and up on the Ridge the trees in the wood and the grass glowed golden
as I ran forward in the late afternoon sun.
Shadows lengthening across the hillside, gazing contemplatively
across to the waters of the Solway Firth and to the hazy hills of heaven beyond,
my heart lifted into the sky and its wounds washed by water gently healed.
As the river ever-changing, so is life:
…and continue to sing!