Divorce must take a myriad of forms in individuals. Although joy, freedom and liberation may be present in the outcome at best they are all by products if a married life was started with best intent. The real value whichever way you choose must be dependent on what we learn from the experience. Whether a couple stay together or go their separate ways; if children are involved both require dedication and commitment. However much we may crave it there’s no evading this responsibility, that is at least if we have a conscience. My acceptance of this unconditionally created the peace I needed for myself and to restore what I had lost.
I’d lived the life of a hedonist before meeting my ex wife and life had taken its form in various guises. I felt full when I settled down. Any more and I’d of suffered indigestion. Give me a Rennie and a glass of milk I’ve had enough thanks. Fast-forward twelve years of incompatibility, when the time came I was ready to self-combust. Twelve years came to an end in less than twelve minutes. No outburst, no big bang. More the dying breath expelled from some carbonated bottle that had long lost its life.
Although offered the spare room in the jointly owned house I chose to cut loose with immediate effect. After the best part of a month surfing sofa’s with the odd bed thrown in my sister in law’s boyfriend indirectly offered me sanctuary with a couple of guys who had a spare room in a beautiful wooden house. This was situated close to summit of the South Downs, had rolling gardens, a wood burner, character you couldn’t script and cracking company.
There were many nights of shared abandon but infinitely more memorable was the inner peace and time generously given towards my self-discovery. Many a night I’d sit on the veranda approximately 1000 ft up, take in a moon lit expanse of over sixty miles and feel I could touch the stars in the sky. Regrettably the house was a short let and I had to move on after a couple of months, the stay however lasted much longer and its impact has never really left.
It took awhile to properly come back to myself. I guess part of the problem is when so many years pass in a relationship, if it is all consuming then it’s perhaps harder to establish where you were in the first place. Life and people change as years roll by so if you’re life has been insulated in a bubble like existence you experience a form of time warp. This if viewed positively though is the fun part; the point where you can really carve out the unique self or more importantly the genuine self, starting from nothing is often the best place to start- what have you got to lose?
I was in my late thirties and after a deluded period where I felt I’d missed out on some party I realized that true happiness comes from the inside. Validation of this need not necessarily come from others, more dangerous in fact is when others try and haul you back towards things that you’ve already changed for the better in a way that they haven’t. Indirectly you can end up putting your forward gear in reverse. To lead by example is often the hardest thing as it’s far easier to follow the herd. People often react negatively to change, especially when it’s reflected back to them. False friends I guess.
Practicing Buddhism re-structured my life in a way that it addressed what was truly valuable and worth keeping. My first point of focus was my children. Creating an emotional scaffold that supported their lives and a routine that was healthy and could be relied upon generated enormous self worth. The distinction being that I wasn’t in it for self-gain, love or what would be considered being fundamentally right; the difference was it all came from the heart. I didn’t expect anything back, but what did come back, well, you couldn’t put a price on it.
Our weekends were full, we’d check in late on a Friday afternoon over crisps and dips and discuss what had happened in the week, after which activities were leisurely measured with cooking, walking the beach, photography, picnics, re-arranging the furniture and furnishings for a different look, movies and a Sunday Roast. We were never short of things to do and we never tried too hard to look.
I think the hardest thing to achieve as a parent is the one of being a friend or ally and also being their moral compass. One is relaxed and the other necessitates a certain discipline and detachment. What they both should share, and perhaps the middle ground to come back to is the point of respect. To earn this we can never take our eye off the ball, to think we can achieve it totally is foolhardy, we’re human after all; the important thing is to aspire to it. It’s a two way street too, respect for them if properly delivered will be returned. Of equal importance is to recognise their development and move with it accordingly, the manifestation into young adulthood. Letting go with trust.
Relationships and parenting are the hardest things in life but they are what bring the most value in helping us to learn about ourselves. In both we need to live true to our own beliefs and not emulate others. We need the strength of mind not to be swayed by our environment or obsessed with superficial appearances, the conviction to think independently and to take action from our own sense of responsibility. Thinking of a bigger picture and a life beyond our own fulfilment is when we are truly engaged with purpose.