Monday, 12 October 2009

We all have our cross to bear

Five years ago, my husband, my soul mate, the love of my life had an affair. Despite a year apart, we are still together.

It never leaves me – what he did and what we went through consequently. Every day some little reminder prods and pokes at the old scab to see whether it has healed. There were times during my troubles that I was overwhelmed by anger – not at him, but an incredulity that I’d had more than my fair share of grief and hard times over the years. ‘Him up there’ has thrown most things at me at some stage or another; being abandoned by my mother and father as a small child; numerous miscarriages; being diagnosed with Behcets disease in my twenties and losing my job as a result; my eldest child being very, very sick. I won’t go on. There is a lot more.

I used to wonder how it was that some people seem to have all that life can throw at them and some remain untouched, leading seemingly blessed lives. Over the years, I realise that is not the case. Everyone has his or her cross to bear. Adversity can strike with or without notice. It can hit a relationship, a loved one, your business, your health or your financial status. No matter where or when it hits it will leave the same emotions and feelings in its wake; anxiety, stress, frustration, disappointment, fear, sadness and almost always, a sense of hopelessness and/or despair. How cruel life can be. But we all know that life’s not fair and what is it they say – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?

Adversity has an incredible power over our emotions, feelings and responses. Yet it always amazes me how strong the human spirit can be to endure such pain and hard times and still battle and come through the other end. From what I’ve gleaned so far, it is how we deal with adversity that separates those who come out at the other end better and wiser from those who are broken by the experience or end up bitter and ruined. Indeed, how we see life determines our interpretation of whether it is an adversity or not. When adversity rocks a comfortable secure life, fear takes over. We all wonder, ‘how will I survive alone?’ ‘Can I ever get over this?’ ‘Will I ever get a new job or career?’ However, if ten people faced the same adverse event, I guarantee that some will see it as negative, some positive and some devastated by it.
We have a choice as to which way we see it. One of the best illustrations I can give is for you to think about Neville and Doreen, the parents of Steven Lawrence or, Sarah Payne, mother of little Sarah who was abducted and murdered by a paedophile. There can be no event more terrible to endure than the death of a child. For some people, a tragedy gives their life purpose.

I should be a resilience coach. Over the years, I’ve perfected it to a fine art. Every knock back is a learning experience. How many times have I told myself that, ‘It must have happened for a reason’ or ‘some good has to come from it.’ Perhaps I’m kidding myself and wrapping it up to make it easier to accept. But hey, if that’s my coping mechanism at least I can say that the challenges in life have made me better, not bitter. It depends how strong your survival instinct is. For me it has always been the need to keep going and never give in. If we’re trying to climb a mountain, it isn’t the mountain that we conquer, it is ourselves. Edmund Hillary said that after he climbed Mount Everest.

I’m not for one moment suggesting that I’m always strong and positive, focussed and proactive in the face of disorder. I can fall apart like the next person and how we cope at the time of the event is a completely different matter and a separate blog. I am talking about resilience, because after I’ve wallowed and hit the bottom, something kicks in and I always, ALWAYS manage to bounce back up and fight. Here’s what I’ve learnt from adversity:-
1 To fight not flight – It’s far better to face the reality of the situation rather than run or shirk it.
2 Accept support from family and friends - The saying, ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ is so true. It’s also true that the tough times are when you find who your friends are. People who care deeply for you will be there when adversity strikes. When my world crashed around my ears five years ago, my friends carried me through. But even total strangers reached out to me to give their support and encouraged me to keep trying hard to get my life back. Women in particular - ‘sisters’ - there is nothing like the support of another woman. Men rarely have the same support network.
3 Focus on what you have, and what you can do – This doesn’t mean money and material things. People, especially you, are far more important to treasure than possessions.
4 Learn from it and re-build – Adversity can be a tool, just like any other emotional tool for positive change. You have to be self aware to see the opportunity. You have to be patient with yourself – not beat yourself up thinking things like, “I’m such an idiot.” Adversity often brings with it knocks to confidence, loss of security, crippling lack of self-esteem. If you can dig deep into your resolves and strive to where or who we want to be rather than who we are or who we used to be, you will have to have learned to love yourself enough.

Learning to love yourself is the most crucial key to coming through adversity and being stronger and better as a result.

Walt Disney once said:- “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” A resilient person is able to withstand life’s battles, survive them, and come out triumphant. If you are currently smack in the middle of a rotten situation, take a step back and think of another occasion when you (or someone you know) went through a trauma, tragedy or horrible experience. You see, you survived (or they) survived. We are here to tell the tale. Surviving such experiences should give us confidence and belief in our ability to get on with it when the unthinkable happens. Life isn’t fair and you may be battled scarred and weary but at least you will be able to look at the scars and know the hurt is over and the wound is closed because you have that gift of an amazing and indomitable human spirit.


Until another day

Bye for now

30 comments:

Maddie Grigg said...

Good advice. But if Mr Grigg had an affair, he'd be out on his ear. I could not forgive and it would eat me up, I know it.

Eileen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eileen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pipany said...

Angel, thank you for writing this. It sounds as though you have had to remind yourself of these points lately and I hope that doesn't mean you have been feeling low? If so, well it hits us all sometimes doesn't it, but the things you write are sound advice. My love to you xx

muddyboots said...

first rate advice and you are so very, very right. Think you are due another banana split!

Frances said...

Angel, I thank you for having written and posted this.

There are so many layers to everyone's lives, so many challenges and so many joys. So many forks in the road, as we play our part in evolution.

Best wishes. xo

Fred said...

Wise, wise words my friend.

Withy Brook said...

A very wise observation on life and written from the heart. Thank you.

lailani said...

So true! A wonderful post!
Visiting from Crystal Jigsaw . . .

Fran Hill said...

Brave writing, my dear. You express it with feeling, but not sentiment. I knew you were a fighter when I met you. Keep going.

ChrisH said...

My dad always you used say to me, 'When you're in a corner, Miss Chris, keep fighting - or you'll go down.' There are many, many occasions when I've been grateful for his advice. Best, Cx

her at home said...

True words indeed. in life there is little option but to carry on regardless unless you have someone who will always be there to pick up the pieces for you. No matter how we may want that being an adult means sorting and facing your own problems no matter how awful they are.

its easy to say if your partner had an affair, he'd be out on his ear, much hjarder to face the reality and weigh up the costs.

Reasons said...

Very well said and for me, a comforting post to read. I do also think we learn and teach reslience - from parent to child and vis versa. It's a comfort to know that however hard things get for our children, that resilience will rub off if we teach them ways to cope.

Life is unfair and feels especially so when burdened with illness. Thus we deserve TLC and should allow ourselves that as much as we can.

Antonia said...

I agree with all you've said. especially about coping mechanisms being the key to survival. Never feel ashamed that you're unable to cope, and always seek help from a doctor if necessary. There's certainly no shame in it whatsoever.

Faith said...

Wonderful post,and just reread it. First read it yesterday eve and came at just the right time as my cross was heavy last night. I believe you did the right thing for yourself, your children most definitely and your husband. Best wishes.

Debs said...

Great post, though sorry you've had so much to cope with over the years.

My ex-husband had an affair, but unlike your situation, I was (furious with him) but ultimately relieved that he'd given me a way out of an exhausting and stressful marriage. Strangely enough, today it's ten years since I met my present husband (married for 5 yrs).

I agree that life can throw a few humdingers, but I (like you, it seems) allow myself a bit of a wallow, then pick myself up and get on with it.

My mother always says (when something ghastly happens), 'Remember how this feels, so you can use is in your writing." x

Jarmara Falconer said...

Thank you for share your wonderful thoughts with us.

Colette said...

Two years ago - totally out of the blue my life became a very dark place. I spent one day weeping and wailing and then it hit me that that was doing no good. Life gets a little but grey now and again but generally things are good now. Who was it that said "That which does not kill you makes you stronger,"? I'm sure that's not the exact quote but you'll know the one I mean.

elizabethm said...

I agree wholeheartedly. We all look at other people and think there lives are somehow easier than our own and it is rarely true! Hope you are ok xxx

Liz said...

Your life sounds very similar to mine... Although perhaps not as much as happened to me, but it always seems that whatever bad can happen, does...

And yet there's my brother that gets everything he wants, everything's fantastic...
It really makes me even more depressed everytime I see him... He has this way of making you feel 1inch tall.

Sorry to hear about your troubles, we have to keep going because despite what everyone else's lives seem to be, I can guarantee that they have just as many problems.

Absolutely Write said...

Wow. What a stunning piece of writing. Thank you :-)

Suzanne Jones said...

We all go though tough times, it's true. But when you're in a dark place it can seem as though you're alone and that everyone else leads a charmed life.

You've been through so much and yet are still able to be so generous with advice.

I hope you experience more of the life's better things in your future.

dulwich divorcee said...

Thank you, Bluestocking - I found great comfort in this. Sorry to hear of the awful times you've had but I'm very impressed that you've managed not to be bitter. I agree with you about everything - I just find it very hard to put into practice! But I'll keep trying ...x

Amanda said...

Great advice, Angel - you are clearly a fighter!

Milla said...

You're a great girl, Angel, and a dear one. I'm cross that your husband dared to hurt you and hope that he realises what a stupid action it was. Don't let the buggers get you down my chum!

Annieye said...

Life seems so unfair at times, and you are so right when you say that some people seem to have much more to bear than others. My very dear great aunt (and Godmother) died two years ago aged 92. These are the horrible things that happened in her life:-
- she got pregnant at 17 and was thrown out of the house onto the streets by my great grandad
- her husband was missing presumed killed in action in the war (he later was found in a Prisoner of War Camp)
- her eldest son committed suicide on his 21st birthday which resulted in
- her husband having an affair and
- the tragedy of it almost causing them to divorce
- her youngest son died at 13 months old of meningitis
- her grandson suffered a terrible accident at 42 and was in a coma for 16 months before he died (she visited him every single day)
Despite all this she was a truly amazing person and I miss her every single day. She was a shining example to us all, and a very caring person.

My first novel 'Sunlight on Broken Glass' is based on her life story. When we were writing everything down she used to say she could see herself draped over a chaise longue, Barbara Cartland style, and featured on the front cover of Saga magazine.

Sorry to go on a bit - but you so much remind me of my Auntie Rita - and believe me - that is a compliment!

Sarah_DDH said...

Hi Bluestocking Mum, we have noticed your passion in writing and would like to provide you an opportunity to publish your works. For more information, please visit our website http://www.ddh-epub.com/ or contact me directly via service1@ddh-epub.com. Thank you.

Exmoorjane said...

Ah, you're so wise..... crikey this took me back.

How is your writing going? Yup, I s hould get onto the Editor's Desk next month. Not sure if it will be worth it but I have had SUCH brilliant feedback on Walker that that alone was worth the effort...

Jxxxx

Woozle1967 said...

Hey you! Was checking in - couldn't sleep (you know how it is) and came to this post. Perfect timing for me - needed to read this and thank you, honey, for being there at the right time and the right place. Hugs, as ever, C.x

dulwich divorcee said...

Missing your posts, hope all is going well x