Thursday, 17 July 2014

What a Difference Ten Years Make!

This year is quite a milestone for me in many ways,
and lately, I’ve been doing an awful lot of reflective thinking.

Between 2002 and 2004 my life was quite literally turned upside down, or at least it felt that way at the time.  During those two years my first marriage took a turn for the worst and ended in divorce, I moved house twice, changed jobs twice, began a relationship with my present husband, which outside influences were to make extremely difficult for many years to come, and I lost my dad who died suddenly of a heart-attack aged 70.  I was a single mum of two and an emotional wreck!  My confidence took a real dive and I seriously doubted whether or not I could ever pick myself up from the events of the past few years.

I think most people who knew me through these times would be surprised to hear all this.  I hid it well, and coped... on the surface!  I sorted a new home for myself and my children, successfully applied for and held down a full-time job, painted my slap on each day and faced the world with a smile, it was only those closest to me who knew differently.

Anyhow, the reason for this post is not to dwell on those bad times, but to acknowledge and reflect on how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown as a person, and how good life is feeling right now, 10 years on.  I also hope that any readers who are going through, or have been through similar events, will be able to relate to the post, and perhaps be encouraged that things can get better, given time.

I know many people face tough times, in one way or another, and mine may seem trivial in comparison to some.  However for me the events described above were life-shattering at the time and have had a profound effect on my life this past 10 years and also on the person I have become.

It has been a difficult and emotional 10-12 years for me, with many changes in circumstances, relationships and lifestyle to come to terms with, and it is only this past 12 months or so that I have really turned a corner – that’s not to say I don’t still have some way to go – the 10 year anniversary of my dad’s death this summer set me back a little, a reaction I really hadn't anticipated, I still can’t quite believe he’s gone!

This time last year, unhappy in my work, no prospects of promotion and feeling undervalued (and underpaid!), I decided, after 8 years with the same employer, to explore pastures new.  Turns out to be one of the best decisions I ever made!  My new job is not perfect by any means (is any job?) but I love it anyway, and have recently been promoted way beyond any hopes I may have had 12 months ago – so glad I went for it!

My children, despite being from a ‘broken home’ (something I have felt guilty about since their dad and I split), have turned out to be exemplary young adults, of whom I am so proud I could burst. They seem to be completely unaffected by their parents' divorce, and in fact at times see it as a total positive  (double Christmas and birthday pressies, HUGE extended family and support network etc, etc,) - Seeing what well rounded, adjusted, confident and capable young adults they've become warms my heart, and I am proud beyond belief.

Despite many difficulties, including disapproval and lack of acceptance from some around us, my present husband and I have a strong and happy, albeit sometimes turbulent (we prefer to call it passionate!) marriage.

I have managed and coped with difficult situations, as well as negative, judgemental attitudes over the past 10 years that I never in a million years thought I would have to manage and cope with, and there were times when I quite literally thought I couldn’t cope any longer!

What I didn’t realise at the time was that these events and situations would make me stronger, wiser and ultimately more appreciative of what I have in life now – that is a loving husband, wonderful children, an inspirational 83 years young mum, a cosy comfortable home, a job that I enjoy, creative hobbies including steel pan playing and blogging, a sweet natured cat, a grumpy but loveable dog, and a knowledge that I can cope... with pretty much anything.

I realise that at a mere 46 years of age, life probably has way more challenges and difficulties ahead than I have been through already.  However, I take comfort in the fact that I have lived and learned, and that I feel prepared (and in fact excited) at what life has in store for the future, good and bad – bring it on!

I would also like to add that in addition to all the above, I have, over the past 10 years or so, had great difficulty in coming to terms with my ageing face and body!  Call me vain, but the onslaught of silver hair, beginnings of bingo wings and the appearance of fine lines have caused me almost as much distress as did my divorce all those years ago (that is not to trivialise divorce, but to express the significant effect of ageing on my well-being – wow, that really does sound vain doesn’t it?!)  ;-)

But seriously, what I'm trying to say is that whilst these things did (not so long ago) fill me with horror, the 'more mature me' is something (or someone) else I have actually come to terms with and, dare I say it, am learning to love! Don't get me wrong, I will always try to make an effort to keep healthy and look after myself, but I have accepted that I am what I am, and no longer feel the need to try and achieve a Cheryl-Cole-like body, heaven knows that would involve waaay too much effort and pain!

I realise this post sounds very middle aged, and is a little more deep than my usual blog posts, but realising exactly what you've learned through experience (good and bad) and accepting yourself for who you are today (not what you were in the past) is a real revelation.  As I say, I’ve reached a bit of a milestone this year and I guess I just felt the need to share!

Thanks for reading!

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