‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’. So begins the Dickens’ novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.
2010 was such a year for me.
The best of times was, undeniably, having the opportunity to walk my beautiful daughter down the aisle on a perfect June day in a stunning location in the Yorkshire Dales. It was a day of pure joy, love and happiness.
The worst? Finding out that my wife no longer felt that our relationship could continue. The contrast between the two events could not have been more marked.
I felt then, as I did for a long time, that I’d lost everything that year; my marriage, my home, my future happiness, my security, my pride, even my soul mate.
Looking back, sure, I lost my home, but it’s only a pile of bricks and it wasn’t always a place I was happy in. I have a new home now, albeit one I don’t own, but I’m happy there and if I choose I can up sticks and move where ever and when ever I like.
Yes, I lost my marriage, and that did cause me a lot of soul searching, sleepless nights and brutal, often overly critical, self examination. It’s not my first failed marriage, so inevitably my thoughts centred on what was wrong with me rather than what was wrong with the relationship.
And there was clearly something wrong with it. Even if you’re not the one that comes to the realisation that the relationship is over, believe me, it’s enough that one of you does.
And I realise now that there isn’t a whole lot wrong with me. Like most, I have my good points and my bad, but do have to confess that back then I was dissatisfied with life. That had nothing to do with the person I was with, who I loved and still do, but more to do with a feeling that my life was somehow unfulfilled.
I was shuffling bitterly through life, stuck in self destructive personal routines, petty issues at work, not to mention a spiralling debt problem. No wonder that I couldn’t see a way to identify, let alone live my life by, a personal philosophy of what made me happy and what was worth doing.
Since then I’ve lots of time for reflection, a ton of reading, both fiction and non fiction, and I’m slowly piecing together a way to live life on my terms. I’m healthier, exercise more, grow vegetables, eat moderately, spend less, write more and for the first time in my life actually track and budget my finances.
I live frugally and spend a lot of time quite happily alone. Equally I treasure the time I get to spend with family and friends, especially my two little grandchildren.
I’ve learned to pay attention to the things that interest me and the things that drain me, aiming to be my true self rather than playing to some invisible gallery.
Yes, there are things I valued that I lost that year, specifically the woman I loved and imagined sharing my life with in to old age, but the reality is that I didn’t lose everything. Indeed some of what I did lose I replaced with greater self awareness, more self resilience and a long forgotten peace and contentment with myself. I’ve learned to like myself again.
In the end it’s about being what you want to be, not what you want to have.
“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.” Anais Nin