Stability. Security. Familiarity.
What about adventure? Excitement? New experiences? Aren’t they the things that give life its rich flavour? Aren’t they the things that we will look back on and remember with a smile? Those peak experiences, the thrill of the new, the taste of the unfamiliar….
Well, yes, but by their very nature these are fleeting and transitory, and whilst these things are memorable the truth is that everything in our lives, no matter how new and exciting once, becomes familiar and, if we’re not careful, over-familiar.
When going through divorce we have to face losing everything that was once familiar, everything that comprised the day to day foundations of our lives; there can be few things that are more daunting and scary than having to face that journey on your own.
At this time we realise just how much those familiar routines and rituals have come to define who we are, and we must face the questions of who we really are now that we are cut adrift from those things that acted as our anchors.
Who am I? At once both a small question and one of the largest that we can ask (and never really answer). During divorce this is something that we are forced to ask ourselves by virtue of what we are no longer – ‘us’. Us, the thing that formed such a large part of who we have been – in my case for 19 years – is no more.
We must face up to becoming strangers to each other as we look to the future knowing that the person that has been a constant by our side, is now walking in their own, different direction. With each day, with each communication, with each silence, with each argument, we grow further and further apart, as the ties that made us ‘us’ become ever looser.
In those early days after separation, after the initial numbness, shock and despair have begun to fade, we begin to discover new things about ourselves; we also find aspects of ourselves that we rediscover, things that have inevitably changed in accommodating ourselves to a life shared with another. This time of discovery and rediscovery can be exciting, and viewed from a distance it can take on a strangely nostalgic hue as our inbuilt defences remind us of the thrill and excitement we felt at the start of our new journey whilst seeking to lock away the anger, pain and hurt that were also a regular feature of those days.
In hindsight I ran on adrenaline for many months after my separation, embarking on a new relationship with a wonderful woman, buying new clothes, going on holiday, buying a new home – running headlong into becoming the new me with a new life that would be better than the old one that I had lost.
But there comes a time when the adrenaline stops, when the thrill of the new is replaced by the ‘new normal’, where the longing for those once ever-presents – stability, security, familiarity – becomes greater and greater. Never is this longing more pronounced than at Christmas, a time of routines and rituals built around the most important things that we have in our lives – our families and loved ones.
Since beginning this blog I have never been more acutely aware of just how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends and family and I am thankful for this every single day. But I can’t help but ache for what I miss, that someone special with whom new routines can be made, new memories of shared love and laughter can be created and a new future can be built on love and the hope of creating something special and lasting.
That day will come. In the meantime, by adapting to a life that I never anticipated I am becoming a new me, shaped by the challenges and adversity that always offer the greatest opportunities for growth and prepare us to accept life’s future gifts with greater appreciation and to hold on to happiness wherever we find it.
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas.