Walking Down the Line

Juniper Natural Therapies Counselling

The last day of the year tends to always find me reflective and perhaps a bit melancholy – this year is certainly no different.  To me this picture captures it all without words. It was taken by a friend who I met a couple of years ago at work, she returned home to New Zealand after life changed unexpectedly and dramatically.  Luckily for me she came back to England this year, on New Years Day, and ended up staying most of this year in one way or another with me. As a result she was there to witness my life change dramatically and gave me the support network I realised I never had. Consequently that knowledge created more change, that was perhaps inevitable but painful nonetheless.

The last time my life changed as dramatically was when I found out my marriage was over. Immediately I lost my husband, my best friend, and instead he became someone I never knew. Within a month our house had sold, my notice was in at work and I left the area for the south west in my little old car with what could fit in it and the rest didn’t matter anymore. Although I was supported by random acts of kinds all around, I felt alone. I listened to and over identified with Greenday’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams.  I promised myself nothing would ever floor me like that in life again. I was going to study a degree and see what happened, a beautiful beginning from a sad sad ending.  This year I was presented with the end of my fostering placement. Similarly to my marriage ending, it was not my choice so it was hard to accept as giving up on someone I love was not something I did. I was 37 when I fostered my sister’s daughter and am now nearly 42, I know it cost me my last chance of having a child of my own. But even now, knowing how it played out, I would do it all again. I have been deeply hurt by events this year and felt the sting of betrayal by people who supported them, some of whom I let into my life properly without any caution. All part of life I guess.

That moment caught unaware of me walking Jac back to his field was the last day I had with my friend before New Zealand called her home. It was also one of the last days before I moved Jac to a new home out of the area, away from our past as it now was. Like me, he was mostly on his own when he went home and was no doubt hurting. Unlike me, he was able to shake off our past as soon as he entered his new home by rolling and shaking his body a couple of times. It is taking me a bit longer to shake it off and as daft as the rolling around on the floor sounds, its actually one way of moving blocked emotions in the body. Wherever my body is feeling tension or pain, that’s where I put movement and it seems to release the blocked energy. I did keep my promise to myself that nothing would ever floor me like my marriage ending. People come and people go, even family. And I guess once you have let possessions go, its easier to do it again as the attachment just isn’t there. So here I am with some belongings on borrowed time in someone else’s living space, attempting to finish my counselling training and earn enough to live on around that. It is not as secure as I found university, with friendly student accommodation, a student loan and a three year plan. But I feel a lot stronger in myself this time around, even though I am perhaps more vulnerable security wise. I am once again surrounded by random acts of kindness which always give me faith and hope. Again, all part of life.

I have appreciated all the beginnings gifted to me alongside the endings. Opportunities that fill me with excitement. And those harder lessons in life made me stronger, less afraid and gave me the motivation to chase my dreams.  I am grateful for those people that have reached out to me this year with kindness, love and light freely given. All those that sent Christmas cards or gifts and invited me to come stay with them or pop in for a mince pie – I thank you once again but hope you understand I really just wanted to keep this Christmas low key, and spent it with Jac and his new herd.

“Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
Till then I walk alone” – Green Day

Thanks also to Jac who did find me and now walks beside me making the road less lonely.

Goodbyes and Endings

Love Rejection

We were asked to explore Beginnings, Middles and Endings in counselling recently. Beginnings can be a little bit nerve wracking as we establish a new relationship, the Middles all about developing the relationship and the Endings are often a little sad as we say Goodbye to a relationship. It got me thinking about Endings in general. How do we feel at the end of a great book? At the end of a good movie? A bad movie? How about when we are expecting one more sweet in the packet and realise we already had the last one? Does it help to know an ending is coming?

I think back to my childhood where I said goodbye to people every two years, always to be the new girl somewhere else.  I knew the ending was coming as most of our things would be packed up in MFO boxes for weeks before the event. I tried to lessen the blow by having a lot of pen pals (way before mobile phones and social media if I have any younger generation reading this, it was harder to stay in touch). One day my dad left, without a goodbye. Boxing day. I was 10 years old. I recall that experience left me with a lot of questions, trying to make sense of things for years and coming up with my own conclusion, or ending. Whilst on duty as a Special Constable patrolling the hospital grounds I had a feeling that I needed to pop into the ward to say a goodbye to my grandpa. He had gone in for a hip operation but suffered a stroke. I said a goodbye that night, and he had died the following day. I am glad I listened to that feeling. I think mostly it helps to know an ending is coming. Maybe its more the deterioration that hurts and the ending is a relief?

I can’t help thinking change is constant, endings are inevitable and every story has a happy ending – depending on where you stop the story. ‘Happily ever after’ is a nice way to stop the story in the middle but avoids the real end. I guess that’s why its in every fairy tale going and we feel happy about the ending. Apart from the Grimms brothers tales, I recall being quite disturbed by some of their endings. In real life we know that even princesses don’t have happily ever afters, and endings can be abrupt and shocking. I recall the end of my marriage, I knew we were having issues but I did not know we couldn’t overcome them. Until I did know, and it was over. I think that ending was an ending to prepare me for all other endings, nothing has ever floored me like that again. Within a month our house had sold, I packed the car with just the things I came with, handed in my notice at work and headed to another part of the country to start over. It took me a while to accept that things had changed that dramatically. That’s when I figured out what endings were about, embracing change. It was a hard ending, but there were so many positive beginnings that came from it. I guess we are all here to evolve not to stand still.

In those wonderful moments of finding love its hard not to want the world not to stand still when you know about endings. It can be hard to stay in the moment of the beginning and the middle and not get worried, fearful or upset about the end. When a relationship ends, the change can be very painful and as John Seeley says it can bring up a lot of self worth issues; especially if they have started another beginning before you were done with your ending. My mother always used to say it would have been easier for her to deal with if my father had died, not left. Her memories wouldn’t have been tainted. But then sometimes on a death bed you may receive confessions that do just that. It’s my sisters birthday today. I lost my sister to psychosis, she’s somewhere in the world both literally and spiritually, but I don’t know where, both literally and spiritually. So maybe the common thread with endings is change and a way of coping with change?

In life as we all know, noone gets out alive, so can we stay in the present moment and enjoy it? There have been enough signs in my life so far to accept that death isn’t really the end, it’s a change. Once I was receiving Reiki healing when I was told that a maternal figure from the other side was here to help, the healer corrected herself and told me the spirit had said “I’m not dead yet you know” and said she was between worlds. I knew that would be my gran. She had Alzheimers. Even science tells us we can’t create or destroy energy, it can only change form. The energy inside us (a spirit, a soul) therefore changes form, whilst our biological body breaks down, becomes part of the carbon cycle and we are recycled in the world too.  Dr Brian Weiss explains in his book of the same title that only love is real. It transcends lifetimes, so we can take love with us. This may be a belief of mine that softens the blow of endings – like writing pen pal letters to people I will never meet again. I guess one day we will all find out. For those out there who are going through a difficult ending right now, remember there will be a beginning that follows, that love is always with you even if it doesn’t feel like it and that…

“You may not control all the events that happen in your life, but you can decide not to be reduced by them” Maya Angelou