Where have I been since the summer?

I haven’t written anything or created anything and have only had energy for doing the things which need doing.  I’ve felt tired, energy-less and not very hopeful about anything, which is unusual for me.

I hit a sad place when I came back from Kalikalos in Greece. I missed the community, the other families and the joy of doing things together, often the simplest of things brought the most pleasure. I arrived back to my very nice house, with my very nice family and my very nice village and felt lonely.

Kalikalos Holistic Holiday Centre
Kalikalos Holistic Holiday Centre

I’ve been in touch with the very lovely meditation and relaxation teacher Susie and even met up with Ellen who’s an expert on plant based nutrition for kids, but it wasn’t the same.  The phone, even Skype is a poor replacement for sharing breakfast with someone. Even meeting up for the day means we each got our own kids ready, in our own homes and drove in our own cars to spend just a couple of hours together before returning to our separate lives.  I felt sad and lonely.

At Kalikalos I played a board game called the Transformation Game which is played over a week in Findhorn, we did it for just 4 hours facilitated by the skillful and empathetic Monica.  My divorce came up, with vengeance.

I’m an activator and a pragmatist so when I’ve been bereaved, and when I got divorced, I get busy, I am Restoration oriented. I do stuff, I energise.  Stroebe describes this in the dual process model of grief.  It is after significant deaths that I have gone off travelling, studied MAs and my PhD and set up my own business.

But having kids makes disappearing off round the world harder, and leaving work to study again would be plain irresponsible. So I think I’ve hit an ‘endings’ wall, which I usually travel round.

So, I did what all good therapists and coaches do…I got myself a counsellor.Carved into the Temple at Delphi are the words ‘Know they self’ and Luke (4,23) said ‘physician heal thyself’ ..so I thought I better had.

When I started therapy years ago I had an illusion that I would be healed, and made some how more perfect. What I have learned is that the only perfection is to accept what is and to get to know it better. So that’s what I’m doing.

Of course a lot of what is coming up, is stuff I am already familiar with and it certainly stuff I can theorise about, but I knew I needed a counsellor to allow me to feel my way through it in a safe way, so I can leave it behind.

Parents going through divorce have to hold it together for the kids. We try to put our feelings to one side to support our children. Also there are so many practical changes to initiate that there is very little time or space to process strong feelings.  In the crisis point of the divorce, as it happened, I had support, but now is the time to look at it from a distance and to feel what I didn’t dare feel, and to make sense of it all.

As I work it through, I’m doing a lot of forgiving; of myself first and foremost…for not having done things differently, for the mistakes I made, for not trusting my intuition, for not looking after myself better, for not having been shrewder, for being too optimistic, too wide-eyed at too old an age.

In order to forgive myself, I’m having to understand how I made those mistakes, how I didn’t see things more clearly, how I was so naive.

I didn’t see the situation clearly because I’d never come across a situation like it before. I had no map for the territory and I wasn’t at that stage of my life aware that I had an inner compass that could guide me.  I had no tribal elders who knew the territory either, no one I could go to for advice, not until things had gone too far.

And actually, I didn’t/don’t really have a map for ‘marriage’, for ‘family’ for ‘successful romantic relationships’ for ‘shared parenting’.  I didn’t have a map, because I didn’t have those things modelled positively in my growing up. And neither did either of my parents, so they were making it up too and both did a damn sight better than their own models which is maybe what we can all hope for.

Mr Larkin isn’t the cheeriest of poets, but he is one many of us can easily relate to:

This Be The Verse By Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.
But we do, don’t we? We do go on to have kids ourselves and we each try to do things differently. And for some people this poem isn’t true at all because they were born to parents who loved each other and stayed together and so their children know what a loving relationship looks likes and how parenting works.
Not me. So no wonder I made mistakes and still make them. No wonder then that I was sad when I left Greece and all those families, because family is such a strong need for me, and I feel I am so ill equipped to create it.
But I do.  When I look at my most successful work; it’s been as part of a creative dynamic team.  My happiest moments have been with bunches of friends whether at festivals or at the school gates.  I’m great getting groups together socially, intellectually and emotionally. One of my strengths is facilitation and team building, getting people to relate  positively to each other.
So one of my greatest strengths developed out of my one of my greatest needs.  As a wise friend once said, ‘we do the work we most need for ourselves’.  My marriage failed because there was so much I didn’t know about boundaries, about intuition, about meeting my own needs in a relationship, about power and honesty and trust. I didn’t know how to be a family, how to be a parent, how to choose a partner who was a good match for me. But I’ve learned from my mistakes and so can share my learning so that other people don’t make them too.
Thanks also to the counselling, I’ve seen even more clearly that I need to not only create teams and groups for other people, but I need them myself. I work much better when I feel cared for by a team of creative, positive, interested people.  So having identified and seen that need clearly, it is much easier to meet it.
And seeing the need, honouring it and finding ways to meet it has started to stir my energy again. Which is why, tonight, I’m back on the page…working it out as I go along….and looking to a more positive poem to guide me:


“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.I walk down another street.”
Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery

If you enjoyed reading this please share it with friends. You might also be interested in talking to me about coaching , or maybe try some of my online courses (some are free), or treat yourself to a climate protecting pamper with vegan friendly, organic Tropic which supports the planting of forests and education in deprived areas.
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