It is very close to being six years ago that my ex-husband and I separated after eight years of marriage. We have since divorced and he has remarried. When I separated, along with the pain was opportunity.
For those of you have had relationships that end, you know that it is a very tough time. I had days of barely coping, of turning up to work but doing little but stare at the paperwork on my desk.
There was an unbelievable pain, literally as if my heart had broken in two.
And a loneliness in a bed and a house that we had shared. I was determined to survive, but it was not easy.
In a close relationship, there has to be compromise. There has to be a willingness to put the other person first. To embrace new interests and new friends. To have meals when we are not hungry or go to bed when we are not sleepy. Compromise is normal and essential.
It also can mean a stifling or repressing parts of oneself.
When I separated, along with the pain was opportunity. It is said that the Chinese character for crisis or danger also contains the meaning opportunity. Whether or not that is true, there is truth in the adage; crisis can and does bring opportunity. Having to look at my life in a new way made me examine much else.
In my case, I left a largely unfulfilling career path. There was a sense of dissonance within me, of not fitting in, of being a square peg in a round hole. Uncomfortable! There were good career prospects and the potential for a high salary, but I had been mildly unhappy a long time. I had no idea what I would do next, but I decided to leave.
Lots of socialising. Being single gives you much more time for meeting new people, which I love.
I took time out. I spent eight months travelling the world; a long-held dream. Three and a half months in South America, including some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever experienced. Camping in sub zero temperatures and finding I liked camping. A month in New Zealand swimming with dolphins and a tandem sky dive at 13,000 feet. Time in Sydney, Hong Kong and Japan.
Another discovery – I can no longer say I do not like fish. Even more bizarrely, I like raw fish! Next a saunter through Thailand, two days on slow boats to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Women cooking by the side of the road, magnificent temples, roads not repaired for 40 years and daily mangoes. Finally a month in the paradise that is Bali and a stay in a house with mango trees in the garden. I will always look back on that year as a golden time.
Back in the UK, I received counselling and also coaching. I took steps forward. I became a counsellor in a young people’s voluntary agency. And I trained in co-active coaching. I experienced the joy of seeing people develop and move on. Moving from A to B, sometimes A to L, sometimes small steps, sometimes big.
In my life, there has been an opportunity to grow, to reinvent myself. To rediscover what matters to me. To rediscover who I am.
My challenge to those of you in a state of transition is to use that time of pain and uncertainty. As you focus inwards on moving on, to think about who you want to be and how you want your life to look. To grow.
ACTION CHALLENGE: Allow yourself to dream big dreams, maybe for the first time. Ask yourself what is most important to you at this time. How does that affect who you want to be and how you want your life to look?