Yes, it hurts ….

There is a calendar on my kitchen wall, “compliments of my very supportive sister”. The calendar is getting crossed off each day and is etching closer to the day that marks one year of a broken marriage.  In exactly one week will be one year of living life single and downsized, downsized in terms of a family which is now broken down and scattered here and there.

Nearly one year ago my life changed as did my children’s lives.

Life also changed for my ex-husband.

The truth is that while most people recognise when things are not going well the reality of a family unit collapsing is a shock to everyone concerned.

Regardless of the pain and hurt within a marriage relationship when a family falls apart it affects everybody. The pain and emotion is tremendous and difficult to describe in words.

No matter the reasons for the marriage breakdown there are no miraculous formulas to help one forget about those family moments each shared. To remember them is to hurt and ache for what is now lost.

As a mum of five children my life revolved around my family. I loved being a mum and still do. There is nothing I can ever do to get those moments back ever again. They are over, done and dusted.

It is possibly one of the reasons why it took me so long to finally get the courage to leave my marriage as who in their right mind wants a broken family. I continued in the unhealthy relationship for decades. My children kept me focused on something wholesome and good. I had purpose. I was busy, too busy to think most days. And had my thoughts taken me to places in which I felt lonely in my marriage there was nothing I believed I could do about it. It was simply too difficult.

Most parents would relate to the idea of staying together for the sake of the kids.

The fact of the matter is that not all relationships are doomed. There are relationships that have the potential of being restored. When a relationship can be restored and operate in a healthy way then why not? Everyone wins in that case…..

When I was married my values and beliefs kept me in the marriage. I firmly believed that marriage was something you didn’t give up on easily. That no matter what went wrong, no matter how hard it was that it was each partner’s willingness and dedication that would have them forgive each other and sort out their issues.

Believe me, I tried so hard.

In the midst of trying so hard I got lost. So much of who I was went missing too. To keep the peace I had to refrain from communicating my needs. Whenever I did communicate my needs I got the silent treatment. I was made to feel like it was wrong to have needs. I recall the moments that I tried to communicate. It usually began with me feeling extremely anxious as I knew that it was not going to be an easy task, that I would be met with all sorts of resistance. Despite my intentions and desires of wanting to have a close healthy relationship, my ex-husband did not share that value.

He would make me feel de-valued, unwanted, rejected and confused. In my mind I thought it was normal to approach your significant other when hurting and needing to talk to sort things out. I believed in sorting things out. He on the other hand was always on the defensive. The minute that I attempted to have a conversation with him I knew it was not going to be easy. He would use his many words or even the lack thereof to let me know that whatever I was feeling was my problem. That he was not at fault. That somehow everything I was feeling was my character flaw.

Often he would quote the bible to me, telling me that I needed to forgive him.

When things got really serious he would then write me a letter. In the letter it would read and list out all of the areas he would ask for forgiveness from me. The difficulty I had with that was his actions continued being hurtful.

Often times he would inflict so much emotional hurt on me that eventually I would cave into depression for weeks on end. On several occasions when feeling completely depressed and overwhelmed he would suddenly turn into the ‘superhero dad’ and tell the kids he was going to take them out for the day. He never spent time with them unless I was depressed. He would then use his methods to convey to the kids that mum had issues, that she was the problem. When I had those moments of depression he would ignore me by giving me the silent treatment.

He made me feel as though there was something wrong with me even when I was depressed. He was not supportive or compassionate.  To him I was invisible.

This type of interaction created such anxiety. It happened so often that I knew what was going to happen every time I approached him with a problem. I knew that no matter how I spoke to him it was not going to be favourable. On occasions I experimented with different types of communication. I tried the meek and mild version, the strong and assertive. I tried the Christian wife version of being humble and loving. Decades later it was obvious that it didn’t matter what I said or how I said it, it was always going to be wrong. It was always going to be an issue that I had created which meant that he didn’t need to take any responsibility for his actions.

There were many occasions in which his attempt at doing something loving for me was equally as hurtful.

On one occasion I recall he and my eldest son had gone on a road trip to Sydney. When they returned I excitedly went outside to greet them. My ex-husband was pulling bags out of the boot of the car. He went on to say that he had bought me some expensive perfume. Then immediately after stating that fact he finished the sentence with “your son said you stink so I thought I would get you some perfume”. I’m almost embarrassed to type this as it sounds so awful, but that is exactly what happened.  Suddenly the idea of receiving perfume as a gift got turned into something so de-valuing.

On another occasion when we were at a shopping mall without prior warning my ex began walking into a jewellery store, all spur of the moment. Naturally I followed him wondering what was going on.  The store assistants were doing their job by asking my ex “how can we help you today”. My ex went on to say with a very loud and sarcastic tone “my wife is here to spend all of my money so can you help her find some jewellery”.  Hmm I’m not sure about most people however that moment was gone for me. I had no desire for any jewellery what so ever. Despite my sudden lack or desire of choosing jewellery he forced me to pick something by making such a spectacle of me in front of everyone in the store.  I felt so embarrassed in front of all the sales assistants.

These examples are only a tiny drop in the ocean of so much more that happened in my marriage. It is possibly the first time that I have shed a little more light into how I was treated.

One can imagine after being in a relationship that was quite unhealthy it is no easy task to recover from years’ worth of damage.

The first step to recovery was leaving. ….

 

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Wisdom in the Ordinary

If you were to grab a set of scales and measure how many ordinary days exist compared to the extraordinary what would you find? I have no doubt after spending over four decades on planet earth that the scales measuring the ordinary days would far outweigh some of the extraordinary times of our lives.

Life is jam-packed with ordinary moments. Grocery shopping is but one of them.  A lot of people I talk to express a certain dislike towards shopping, especially for the groceries.  We all have to do it, unless of course you have escaped it with the convenience of online shopping. Grocery shopping is one of the most ordinary weekly tasks we accomplish. Not too much thought is given for this vital and ordinary chore and until recently I hadn’t thought too much of it myself.

If you have been following my blogs in the recent months you would be aware of how much my life has changed. I live in a different state with my nine year old son as a single mum. All of my adult children live approximately 16 hour’s drive away. Given this huge adjustment everything about what my life previously was no longer exists. No longer can I simply hang out with my adult children. No longer can I pop over to my favourite shopping mall to do the groceries. No longer do I go to the same church. No longer do I go out for coffees with my daughter and have laughing fits enough to provide a serious abdomen workout.

A few days ago I saw a t.v. commercial which reminded me of the vegetable and fruit shop I used to go to. The ordinary suddenly held meaning!!!  All of a sudden I was transported to that particular shop in my thoughts and began picturing all the aisles filled with fruit and vegetables. I could picture the checkout that I would stand at to pay for my groceries. I remembered life as a complete family and re lived a moment as I carefully choose all the ingredients to cook a meal for dinner. My attachment to that fruit and vegetable shop is from a time when we were a complete family.

The fruit and vegetable shop is only one example of many ordinary moments that have recently invaded my thoughts. It isn’t easy to let go. Despite all of the hurt that I have been through in my marriage it amazes me how my mind can wander to everything that once was! It is difficult to let go of a family that once lived together sharing special moments. I loved being a mum to my children and I still do.

It seems that regardless of the hurt or pain of the recent past I often remember the ordinary. Little did I know that my usual grocery shopping would not only change location but would be downsized for feeding two? All of the ordinary moments hold extra meaning for me today. Perhaps remembering the previous ordinary moments helps me to adjust to the loss I have experienced providing a moment of connection to my adult children whom I miss a lot.

It seems that the ordinary days are just as important as the extra ordinary. In any given day the common thread connecting Monday to Sunday are people! People hold value, which is why it hurts so much when a relationship breaks down. I don’t think anyone intentionally sets out to ruin a relationship. Unfortunately life happens! People make choices. Those choices have consequences whether good or bad. It is the bad consequences which are very difficult to un~do.

The ordinary days provide opportunities to build trust and connection with the people in our lives. Often people forget or don’t realise there is consequences to what they do in the ordinary moments of a relationship. Consequences have a way of sticking around no matter how much you want them to disappear.

TRUST is a big one!

When a person’s trust has been broken too many times there is no magical super glue to put it back together. If I am in a relationship with someone who continually breaks my trust it won’t matter how desperately I try to trust them again, the consequence is broken trust. There will be reservation on my end. I will not open myself up to the other person completely. A relationship without trust is a disaster waiting to happen. It creates distance.

Relationships need trust, respect, honesty, support, love, care, appreciation, value and forgiveness. In the ordinary moments relationships are built on these qualities. Families fall apart when in the ordinary moments the essential values are neglected.

A healthy relationship or family need more than vegetables and fruit to thrive. Each person in the relationship must provide the qualities needed to keep it thriving. A relationship takes two people. Let’s face it we have more ordinary days than extra ordinary! What we do every day either builds or tears down. When one person in a relationship puts in and receives nothing but emptiness and hurt in return it is only a matter of time before a break up completes the struggle.

Wisdom tells us that since there are more ordinary days than extra ordinary we shouldn’t take them for granted. Ordinary days are the building blocks for the extra ordinary. What we do or say today will matter tomorrow. We need to take the time to consider what we want our tomorrow to look like?

Time is precious and we don’t get another practise run. People should be the focus of our ordinary days. Our relationships and families need to be on top of the list. While we can’t do anything about how others prioritise the most important people in their lives we can choose to do something about our own choices and priorities. Occasionally it can mean losing someone from your life. It’s never easy losing someone yet if there is anything positive that can come from it, is finding out what you do or don’t want in a relationship. In my young days I was broken and hasty! Now that I have lived life a little I’ve finally realised what it is that I do need. What I need is to live a life that doesn’t move away from trust, respect, honesty, support, love, care, appreciation, value and forgiveness.

When you finally figure out what you need then it’s time to hold onto those values tightly. Don’t let them go or be trampled on by anyone. There is nothing more painful than being in a relationship with someone who holds different values.

Choose wisely in the ordinary moments.

The Bitter & Sweet taste of December

The most sentimental month of the year is upon us…. December….

December sneaks up quickly every single year. Most people tend to shake their heads in disbelief that the year is nearly over. As you consider the other eleven months of the year it is December that succeeds at building anticipation into the lives of people. The anticipation begins in the shopping malls. Christmas decorations create an atmosphere of joyful celebration. Individuals visiting shopping malls may be battling all sorts of issues in their lives or their families yet the Christmas spirit provides a tiny distraction from the reality facing them.

Boxes marked ‘Christmas deco’s’ are pulled out of storage cupboards. These boxes are filled with Christmas treasures collected over the year’s. Some of the decorations may hold special meaning especially the ones handed down by someone in the family or the ones handmade at school by young children. The inside and outside of homes are decorated and tell a Christmas story unique to each family.

Over the years life changes and life happens. These changes can affect our families and lives drastically representing various joys, challenges and events. Depending on the types of challenges and events we each face determines the various emotions we have to deal with.

The intense and difficult events we face, the ones that take the wind out of our sails can leave us hesitant at facing the month of December.

December represents family, celebration, giving, sharing, holidays, laughing and fun. It also represents the end of the year. Most people begin considering what the next year will look like while others go a step further and make plans.

If you have been blessed to have had a relatively pain free year then Christmas is always a great way of winding it up. A good year lays the foundation for excitement to build in the home. Family members begin thinking about which gifts to buy each other. Christmas presents are stashed in secret places to keep them hidden. The smells of Christmas cookies or cakes send out signals from kitchen windows signifying the arrival of this special anticipated day.

I’ve had some difficult Christmas’s in times past in which the lack of money made it difficult to relax. Or the crazy Christmas house move that invaded all of the typical traditions that would have normally taken place, leaving everyone feeling as though Christmas didn’t really happen. Those types of Christmas’s although challenging were lived through as one family unit, a family of seven.

We all hear about families that break down. Sometimes we hear about it and gasp in shock at the news.

The shock and surprise is even worse when it is your own family that has broken apart. This is the reality of my year.  My recent blogs share about this journey filled with more downs than ups.

Christmas time marks five months of being a single mum to a 9 year old. All four of my other children are adults and live in Queensland. This Christmas I will be celebrating with my parents and sisters including their families. We won’t be alone. Knowing that I won’t be celebrating with my adult children is daunting. Just the thought alone has sort of been put to the side for the moment as I don’t want to feel the hurt of that too early.

On a normal Christmas month I would have already put up all of the decorations in the house and around the house. In fact that always happened on the 1st of December. I was never one to have had the presents purchased early. This would normally happen about a week before Christmas. I would spend hours with my husband shopping for all of the kids. We would stop for coffee on regular intervals just to keep our energies up as we navigated the shopping crowds. It was fun in a crazy way. I would also purchase all the ingredients to cook up a Finnish feast for our large family to enjoy!

Given the massive changes this year my Christmas is very different. No crazy decorations around my small two bedroom unit, just a small tree. No crazy Christmas shopping for all of the kids. Just a little shopping for my 9 year old as my peanut budget restricts me. For my adult children it will be equally hard and difficult as they spend Christmas without their mum and young brother. That thought alone breaks my heart in two.

As others plan and consider the New Year I can’t even fathom the year ahead. I’m still dealing with loss and hurt. While the pain has lessened it hasn’t disappeared. Some days I just hurt. It is no easy task to have had your identity as a mum of a large family switched to a mum of one 9 year old. My identity has changed and my responsibilities. I’m also my son’s only provider financially and emotionally. He is the one I am focusing on for the time being.

When you are in the middle of heart break the anticipation of Christmas becomes diluted. It is diluted in pain and hurt. My story is one of many. Many families experience breakdowns, tragedies and loss.

If you are one of the many who happen to be experiencing heart breaking events leading up to Christmas I only hope that my blog has a way of letting you know that you are not the only one. You are not alone. Others too are facing a Christmas not quite the same as previous ones. And that’s OK. There are no rules for how to feel. Allow yourself to feel the pain and the hurt. Talk about it with your family and friends.

As I consciously repeat to myself over and over again that “this pain will pass”, I’m aware that there are no short cuts through. I acknowledge my pain and have come to accept that this Christmas will be different…..

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

The lol’s of Communication

It seems this week’s topic for my blog page is communication. The idea came about one particular morning this week as I had just managed to get myself looking reasonable when suddenly I hear a loud beeping horn coming from a toll delivery van. Usually the delivery person beeps their horn and then comes to the door, however this time they beeped and stayed outside. I opened the door only to be summoned outside by the lady driver who was waving for me to come outside and grab the parcel from the van. “What”, I thought since when has a delivery driver turned up and asked for me to go to the van and collect the parcel? how inconvenient and rude were my next thoughts. I promptly yelled out to her saying that I needed to go and put some shoes on as the ground was wet. For me to go and get shoes or should I say slippers in this case, I had to bolt upstairs to my bedroom. With slippers on I made my way back downstairs only to find the lady was standing at the front door with the box. Hello, now I was really confused, my mind was all over the place wondering what had just happened, after all I did race up those stairs so it wasn’t as though she had been kept waiting, yet here she stood at the door. It must have been one of those mornings in which I don’t really take certain situations as well as I should, my mindset was quite negative by now, yet I managed to approach her calmly for manners sake. She asked for my name so that she could put it into her little gadget in her hand. My name usually does cause problems so this is not unusual. It took several attempts for her to make out that my name was spelt ANU. I signed the gadget with my signature, thanked her while closing the door and couldn’t help myself but start laughing out loud at what had just taken place.

That morning’s hilarious episode while possibly more funny for me, as you would have needed to be there or been in my slippers to appreciate the moment, it got me thinking about all the different situations we can come across in communicating with people.


It really is frustrating when you are trying hard to convey a message to someone who will more than likely be listening from their perspective at that moment. Both parties have their own preconceived ideas and thoughts so when communication is taking place it can turn into a verbal table tennis match. Both are trying to convey a message from their point of view and each person can get more and more frustrated as it seems no one understands anyone.


One of the worst places for this to take place is on social media such as face book. With social media you are unable to physically see the person you are talking with so the communication can get right off track. While I know myself that it is generally best to stay away from controversial discussions on face book there has been those occasions in which I just had to jump in due to my own point of view, yes stupid know! Each time this has happened my eyes have opened a little more to the battle really going on with communication. The person posting the controversial topic has something they want to communicate and me the reader jumps in to comment having a different opinion to the other person. With all of my own values, beliefs and opinions I the reader believe my comment is making sense yet the other person is so set on their campaign that they are not even hearing what I might be saying. All of the comments to the said controversial post that are of a different view or opinion to this person are not being heard, as the other person is consumed with their own channel of thought. We all do it.


While it is so wonderful that human beings have the ability to use language for communicating it does make one wonder how on earth do messages ever get received and sent properly.


Language itself is only one piece to the puzzle of communication, there is body language, tones used and other cultural differences which make a conversation quite challenging at times. We carry with us previous situations which can influence the way we receive a message that someone is trying to convey.


Communication within our own families is often put to the test with each member having their own perspective. Within a family setting it is all too easy to speak out quickly without taking too much notice as to what is truly being said. We can sort of slacken off so to speak, as families can be themselves at home. Whereas when we are communicating with people outside of our family we tend to consider the other person more thoughtfully as we don’t want to appear to be rude.


Life itself can take its toll with all of the busyness we each need to attend to on a given day making it quite the challenge to slow down enough to really hear what someone is saying. I think it is worth reminding ourselves that when we interact with people inside and outside of our homes that it is not merely words that are going to be heard. People are going to hear our tone of voice; they are going to watch our body language in that exchange. While I am still confused about what took place with the toll delivery driver that morning I’m glad that I managed to control myself and not let my own frustration be taken out on her that day.


I wish I could say that I am like that in every situation, but the truth is I am not! I have improved though which is a good thing. When I struggled with low self-esteem I took everything to heart and was unable to slow down and consider the situation without taking it personally. This meant that simple conversations that were a little more on the serious side had me on edge pretty much the whole time as I was convinced I was going to end up the loser by the end of it.


When we consider our own vulnerabilities or areas within us that are yet to be resolved it helps to consider that when communication is going all wrong that perhaps the other person also has unresolved issues. Imagine if we could actually see all of what it really takes when two people are communicating beyond the words used.


I would love to hear from you about a funny breakdown in communication that you have experienced! It would be great to have more of an interaction going on rather than me always doing the talking.

Comment in the section below and make someone’s day with your funny story.