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Changing Landscapes

Your landscapes can change in a heartbeat. Mine did. Just over three years ago I discovered that my husband was having an affair with a work colleague....and then he left.  He didn't leave cleanly or kindly.  By the time his prolonged and chaotic departure was complete my landscape was a post nuclear waste zone and I had been smashed into a million pieces. To this day I am still trying to fit back together in some healthy way.

As a result of the situation and the destructive behaviour I was exposed to, I was eventually diagnosed with major depression and complex PTSD.  Depression is a strange landscape where you feel nothing and no longer have any connections to anything.  You feel completely disconnected from the people and things that you once loved and that gave you joy. It was an interesting state to observe and experience, but not a place you want to stay in.

Needing to find a way to support myself and my illness riddled body I looked for a new career away from teaching that was kinder to the needs that autoimmune diseases place on your body.  So, I went back to university and did so during the chaos, the shock, the fear, the panic, the grief, the legalities and the selling of my home.  I had no confidence in my ability to pursue tertiary studies even though I already had a Bachelor's degree.  But uni was the place I felt safe.  I have always loved learning and had continued to research and learn all the years of my illness and marriage.  Psychology was the path I chose and while physically I found it very difficult to meet the needs of study, I surprised myself by finding the academic side to be easy. I left my undergraduate studies last November with a GPA of 7.  That's basically all High Distinctions.  I'm still incredulous.  I begin my research Masters in Counselling (Creative Arts Therapies as well as approaches supported by empirical research such as CBT), in February and have plans in place to complete my PhD also. I'm on track to have 3 papers peer reviewed and published before graduating. That would have been completely inconceivable to me 12 months ago and now I know that it is highly achievable and possible.  My ex-husband said he was intimidated by how good I was with people and in how I understood them.  Well, now he'd probably be terrified by me.  Is it strange that I find no joy or comfort in that thought? If this experience has taught me anything about myself it is that I am without malice and wish no ill of others regardless of what they have done.

I now live on a small block in a housing estate with large fences blocking out the neighbours. A neighbourhood and house style (white on white) that I claimed I'd never live in. So different from the beautiful acreage with sprawling gardens, pool and granny flat that I was used to.  It's perfect though while I study and so quiet. Far quieter than the house on acreage was.  My neighbours are wonderful, both in my street and within the estate. Miss Sophie is still with me and has grown up so much my beloved Jess passed away very suddenly, two years ago.

We are surrounded by bush land and there are swimming holes and ponds very close by.  We walk around the pond when Sophie is up to it. She has degenerative discs in her spine so I have to do things very carefully and take things easily with her.  I miss the wildlife that had become my company in my old home but I am not lonely here.  I was lonelier in my marriage.  I am safe here too.  Emotionally safe that is but it is also a safe neighbourhood.

Writing this has exhausted me and I've thought long and hard again about whether to continue with my blog.  Sometimes our landscapes are dark and barren and if I am going to be authentic then I need to share that.  I'm interested to note that I still have extremely little anger towards J.  Mainly I still feel deeply, deeply hurt and traumatised.  Frequently I find myself surprised that they haven't gone away.  The trauma has eased a bit after going no contact, lots of therapy and time.  The hurt....well the hurt is still as deep and enormous as it was in the beginning.  Maybe starting to write again will help my healing process.

Beside my pain and along the edges of the wasteland that was my life, normal life went on. The children grew, parents aged, friendships enriched by my pain have continued and evolved and grown, life has gone on.  I'll share more in future posts about the children, visitors from overseas, my art, my study,  and the possibility of working in Tanzania once Sophie is gone.  I'm not sure how frequently I'll write but I'll work to get back into the habit before I hit the books again in February.

For now I'll sign off.  Returning here, to the landscape that is my blog, that holds so much of my past, has left me raw and exhausted. Time to pat Sophie, drink tea and enjoy my garden.  xx


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