or… Lessons learnt…
or… Better to have loved and lost…
OK, I lied. I thought that the previous post was my last but in fact I’ve changed my mind. I would, if it was easy, change the name of my blog to reflect the fact that this is a new beginning – perhaps it should be looked on as a new chapter.
Why the change of heart? Well, for a start, writing is therapeutic. Secondly, as a performer I do, I admit, seek some validation from ‘putting myself out there’. It’s not so much wanting everything I write to be confirmed as right or true, but more that the process of thinking about what I’m writing and the feedback (challenging and critical or supportive) I get from it once it’s been read, helps get my thoughts straight. I am not afraid of people questioning what I write – as a manager I have always appreciated staff who disagreed with me and were prepared to argue a point with me (one of the best things about working at British Waterways was that it encouraged an atmosphere of debate: ‘conflict breeds creativity’).
I do however have a genuine hope that my writing openly about what I feel about, and how I handle the ups and downs of life as I go through it, might help other people. It’s the same for me – if I am puzzled or confused by something I will talk about it or read about it. We’ve all had that ‘lightbulb moment’ when a book we are reading expresses something which touches us with its accuracy; which seems to light upon something in our very deepest being. Likewise there are passages we read which we disagree with, and which make us consider things anew: we either conclude that we were right all along and the writer is wrong, or we change our outlook.
And finally, I have had comments that it would be a pity if I ended my blog: that I write well and am astute. One particular comment I liked: “Latterly it was as much about navigating around, through and with other people a route for yourself, but being mindful of other people’s feelings on the way”.
And so… today’s blogpost, formulated in my mind as I ran through Ridge Woods (again), is not only about why I am going to continue blogging (and, at root, I enjoy it) but also about lessons learnt.
Just over a year ago I was getting over my marriage break-up. I had a good sense of self-worth and a great feeling of freedom: there are frequent references in my blog posts to how great it was to be single. However what I hadn’t mentioned was that there was a man showing interest in me who I was also interested in. A year on and I am now getting over another relationship: a passionate, intense, romantic love affair unlike any I had had previously. I think some people go through life without ever experiencing that, so whilst its ending has been acutely painful, I am glad to have experienced it. It was the stuff of stories: which is perhaps one reason it couldn’t last. In stories there is generally a tragic or at the very least melodramatic end – usually at least one of the lovers dies, either of consumption or by taking their own life. What the stories don’t tell you is how the survivor carries on or what happens if the relationship does just end.
You never step away from a relationship with nothing, however much it might feel like that initially. As I ran through the woods I thought about the lessons I’ve learnt, and what I’ve gained from both recently-ended relationships:
- I learnt to love: genuinely and openly, and feeling the vulnerability of such intense feelings
- I learnt that my ‘baggage’ has not been dealt with. All I had done was bury it, for many years. It resurfaced, painfully – but I am learning to leave it behind and to move on
- if you are adored and worshipped, make the most of it – enjoy it, revel in it, appreciate it, trust it – it’s lovely and to be cherished. And you are worth it and do deserve it!
- love someone mind, body and soul – but remember to retain something for yourself too. Be open and giving but love yourself. Not in a selfish way but because you can’t really be true to yourself if you supress yourself. If your head occasionally says ‘what about me?’, it’s for a reason – you’re letting yourself drown in the other person. And, whilst true love is about being altruistic and putting someone else first, it shouldn’t be at a cost to yourself
- I had a reminder of the saying that we criticise most what we dislike in ourselves. When someone criticises you in a derogatory, even aggressive, way it’s usually because they are feeling bad about themselves or are fearful themselves – particularly if they are criticising you for things they have complimented you on in the past. Whilst it’s healthy to ask whether they have a point, don’t dwell on the negatives – retain your sense of self and know that you’re doing your best (‘I am a good enough mother’). However also ask yourself what you have been criticising about them, and why
- be brave and face up to reality. Follow your heart and trust your gut instincts, and if you’re unsure about something then ask for clarification. This can be incredibly hard but the pain of uncertainty is far worse than the pain of a broken heart (and your heart gets broken into far more niggly, splintery pieces by not having clarity than by straightforward openness)
- if you need help, ask for it – it will be there. Self-esteem is something we have to develop inside ourselves and does come from overcoming challenges, but there’s nothing to say you can’t ask for help in overcoming those challenges
- you’re allowed to feel upset and hurt when a relationship ends. You followed your heart; your heart aches; you’re human
- open your heart.
To quote others again: “hold your head up and know that you are loved”; “let yourself shine”, and don’t beat yourself up (or anybody else).
Nothing lasts for ever – but it all, good and bad, painful and joyful, comes around again one way or another.