On my 50th birthday I was planning my wedding. Life was full of possibility with all the dreams that love and commitment present. It had taken me a long time to decide to repeat my wedding vows. Having meant them with all my heart the first time, it was a huge thing to take that step again. No matter how much I cared for Nigel, it seemed too immense to make those promises again when I had failed so miserably the first time.
In the end a couple of my friends helped me see that it was ok, along with the lyrics of a country song
“…That every long, lost dream, lead
me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way, into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you”
Rascal Flatts (2004) Link to song at the end of the blog!
The sun shone, everybody smiled, it was a perfect day.
Last year, a day after my 60th birthday, we celebrated 10 years of marriage on the pavement outside our house here in Morecambe. Again, the sun shone, we had a perfect day with friends and family and marked our first year living in the North West of the UK – another huge decision that turned out very well!
So far so good.
The last year has been OK. We continue to make new friends; discover new delights and we genuinely love our new lives. My business has grown, Nigel loves his job. We are settled.
But about six months ago I started feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I could not put my finger on exactly what. I did not feel 100% well. I felt restless and vaguely discontented. It was nothing major, just something in the ether. Something slightly off. Not enough to change anything, just something to ponder in the wee small hours.
Then at the end of July, as you know, we had to say goodbye to Ben, one of our gorgeous elderly Labradors.
Grief. It is a destroyer. It creeps in through the cracks and penetrates so deeply that it is hard to overcome. I found myself adrift on a sea of pain, grieving for so many things that I thought I was OK about. About my dad, about being so far from my daughter and my mum. About decisions I have made over the years. About friends that I no longer see. A myriad of major and minor things. I was just sad. Overwhelmed. And for the first time in quite a while stress crept back into my life. I welcomed it in through the open door and embraced its familiarity. I wallowed in it. I couldn’t write, didn’t want to listen to music. Didn’t really want to do anything much.
I also found myself worrying about time. How much time has passed. How much time I have left. At 61, unfit and diabetic, will I make my 80th birthday? Imagine, less than 20 years left. I hit on the idea of a Facebook challenge for October. 31 days to completely change my life by making small adjustments to my diet, exercise and attitude. I discovered a modicum of motivation. The dark mist lifted, and I started to breathe again. Sleep returned and I started to feel more balanced.
Then 3 days ago I crashed. Not spectacularly. I just wanted quiet. Some peace. I didn’t want to think about anything at all. The noise of Social Media overwhelmed me. Those of you who know me will know that this does not happen to me often. I am at home on Facebook. I embrace it all, devouring content, connection and conversation. Backing away from it is not something I ever really feel the need to do. But I turned my laptop off. Turned off notifications on my phone. We went to the pub. We went for coffee. We went shopping. We talked.
My husband is a spectacular listener. Yesterday it hit me. An insight. An awareness that I am once again (or still!) on the brink of something. That I have spent the last year over-complicating things. Staggering up blind alleys and ignoring the lights illuminating my path to wherever it is that I am meant to be! What the hell is that all about? Why, after all these years, do I still do that??? Why do I still spend so much time and energy trying to keep everyone happy?
I blurted it out to Nigel in tears. I am in a panic. After years of trying to be what people want, I am worried that I do not have enough time to be who I want to be. I am not even sure that I know who that is. And if I don’t, how can anyone else? I have a message. I want to share it with people. What is stopping me?
Saying it out loud brings a touch of clarity.
I need to communicate. By writing, by speaking, by sharing. When Ben died, I literally lost my words. I couldn’t write, didn’t want to talk. But not communicating for me is not an option. I don’t need to spend time looking inwards for answers I have already found. I know a simple truth that brings peace and relief to everyone that sees it. The only thing that I really need to do is to find better ways to share it. To create the space so that other people can hear the words. I might go a bit “woo” but that’s ok. Because the alternative is silent void. I’ve been there for a while and I don’t like it! Communication is my super-power.
I am going to be a glowworm! Lighting the way down that broken road!
I am aware that I have written this kind of message before in previous blogs. And I have also done the whole “get fitter, get better” thing online too. But like taking my marriage vows for the second time. Good things usually happen when you persevere!