From hell to happiness – what a difference a year makes

Happy New Year! Welcome 2022. Coming into 2021, I was in the hellish position, or I should say, imposition, of getting rid of a drug and drink-soaked abusive bully of a con-artist ex-husband. He was responsible for the Concorde ticket to hell, his own hell he dragged me into.

Extricating myself from him was difficult, complex, painful and emotionally and financially damaging. I see why some people just feel it’s all too much to face or navigate and stay still instead. I’m writing this for you. My own experience of imagining light at the end of the tunnel, moving towards it and finding, not only a life in light, but an entire rainbow of colours. I hope it provides hope for anyone who needs it. Rainbows can only come after the rain as they say but that apparently isn’t true. Reading Gene Ewald’s M.S. Physics, University of Minnesota explanation, “there must be rain in the air, and the sun must be shining on it from behind you. Light enters the drops and is refracted.” If you think about it, that’s an even better metaphor for finding your light.

After eventually getting rid of all my problems (in the form of one ex-husband who caused them) I was then left at the beginning of a journey. A journey of healing, learning and getting back to my true self. I went through some surprising phases. The angry phase hit me hard out of the blue, I was too busy telling myself and everyone else I was fine I didn’t even realise how angry I was. Anger will out one way or another so best to front up to it, look it straight in the eyes and say, “let’s be having you then!” Trouble was, I’d got so adept at burying emotions and lying to myself, even once acknowledged (with a little help from a friend whose been there) I didn’t know how to un-bury it and deal with it. So, I called for help, and spoke to a therapist on video calls (during a lockdown period). Turned out I was mostly angry at myself. I’d been muted for so long, while I smiled through gritted teeth to keep the peace, not set of his terrible temper or navigate negotiating a divorce without being completely fleeced. Keeping a cool head and a lid on my justified anger did help me avoid ‘worst case scenario’ but there is a pay off you need to deal with later, when all those bottled-up feelings of injustice and anger bubble up. My therapist helped a lot by explaining I had been in survival mode and during those periods it wouldn’t be wise to let it all out, so there really wasn’t anything else for it at the time – if you’re smart. It takes it’s toll though.

What I’m saying to you is this, even after it’s finished – you’re at the starting blocks of dealing with the debris. But this is a fantastic healing journey of re-discovering an old favourite friend, you. That first step I learnt to just sit with myself and ask what I was really feeling to re-learn feeling my truth. My therapist said there’s no such emotion as anxiety, it’s masking anger or fear or both. Later that year, on my first solo holiday to an Ibiza yoga and wellness retreat, I learnt at Somatic Sexology class your own body is your true north of your truth, you feel in your body your ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Discovered there again how out of touch I was with it, it’s still a work in progress for me. But I’m in the light and I’m constantly learning and growing, expanding and evolving and doing me. I’m free now, free to be me and do me and work on me, it’s such a wondrous feeling freedom, it almost brings tears to my eyes, and I don’t cry (probably the out-of-touch with my own emotions thing I’m still working on).

Where am I now a year and a New Year’s Day on? I’m in a new relationship with a giant of a man, in both stature and heart – I’ll refer to him as Lion-heart. The most important relationship I’m in now though is my new relationship with myself.

Taking the time to self-reflect, hold up a mirror and be brutally honest with myself then look to learn ways to heal and evolve – that time I spent by myself in hibernation. Lion-heart’s been doing the same, in fact he’s very brutal with himself and can really take on those periods of feeling it all in technicolour, undilute the pain and the truth and fully and freely acknowledge his own part in wrongs. This is something I respect and value immeasurably. It’s something my ex could never do, all his woes were everybody else’s fault, mainly mine, but of course in reality it was all his own demons and incredibly bad decisions mixed with a complete lack of discipline that were the problem. One thing I know for sure now is that if a person can’t do this and deflects and blames others instead – they rot their own souls and will hurt everyone close to them. It takes guts and heart, maturity and integrity to own your own shit.

After a time in hibernation, working on myself (or you’ll just keep attracting the same mistakes) I thought I was ready to try dating in the summertime and now here I am at Christmas time with an incredible man who sees me, loves me as I am and who I love back the same way. This has taken us both by great surprise! It certainly wasn’t in my plans when I thought I’d try dating. I guess we fell in mutual fascination, then love. This journey has taught me even more about myself, surprising things I hadn’t seen or suspected. Like your body, your heart doesn’t lie. My mind must, I trust it less and less these days and try to listen to my heart and body more.

I didn’t want a new romantic relationship, but I know what I feel, and that feeling is too special to not go with it. I’d told myself if I did have another relationship again it’d be with someone this and that, someone basically very safe and sensible. My boyfriend’s a Scorpio so if you know anything about astrology, they’re pretty much the antithesis of safe and sensible. Though I do feel safe with him. It’s a misunderstood sign with so many truly valuable qualities if you’re not faint-hearted, or too sensitive. AstroPoet’s book  I think explains the pretty difficult to explain perfectly. Us, well it wasn’t his idea either, his feelings for me hit him like a sledgehammer and he wasn’t best pleased about it to begin with, declaring one evening, “I love you… and I hate you for it,” said with thunderous feeling. I replied, “Well, that sentence started out so well and ended up somewhere not so pleasant.” We smiled, we understood each other.

It’s been a journey of discovery, discovery of another but also self-discovery. I appreciate his raw unfiltered honesty, with himself and with me. When souls connect there’s no hiding from it, you can try and academicize your way out of it from fear or you can feel what you’re feeling and go with it. I said to him early on, “Loves only a journey for the brave. This will either be our paradise or our hell; the choice is ours.” You see, when you’re a survivor, you know you can survive – even if it all goes tits up.

If you want a mirror that reflects yourself back to yourself in unexpected and enlightening ways – find a Scorpio’s eyes and tongue. They don’t need to be a lover; a Scorpio friend will do. I have one of those too, my oldest friend of 30+ years, that’s not random either, true Scorps are incredibly loyal to those they love. Loyalties everything to me, a character trait I prize very highly. Scorpio’s really see you, all facets and they’re not afraid of the dark places. If I’d really wanted an easy man I wouldn’t have fallen in love with a Scorpio – fact. I’ve learnt that about myself and I’m good with it.

In the beginning of our relationship, I felt like his intensely favourite subject of study. Intense is often a word associated with Scorpio’s, he’s said some have found him “too intense”, but I admire it and am envious of his feral comfortableness in his own skin and nature. Who wouldn’t want to be loved by someone who feels intensely? Are they crazy! I’m drawn to his heat like an iguana to the sun. I also love how he smells, that’s been a powerful source of attraction as it turns out. My friend, Geraldine, says it just proves we’re all basically dogs, being dog-people who understand the beautiful natural nature of a dog, this can only but be seen as a positive by us. Either way, it is what it is, the way he smells makes me behave like a cat that’s just discovered a patch of catnip. I’ve witnessed that as I used to grow catnip for my cat’s pleasure and it’s an apt analogy. His presence in my life has brought out the feral in me, I’m rewilding and I absolutely love it! It’s like finding a jewel at the bottom of a lake and for this gift, regardless of our fate, I’ll always be grateful. “I want to grow with you like the Queen of the forest”, he tells me. She’s an ancient oak in the New Forest we’ve visited. I want that also. We’re just two damaged bright souls doing our best and hoping for the best and bringing out the best (and sometimes surprising) in each other.

Life’s messy, timing is often imperfect, we come with our own sets of triggers from past damage. But by staying true to your own heart, I believe it’s possible to navigate a course, hand-in-hand, that helps each other be the best each can be. That’s a never-ending journey and how wonderful it is.

We started Christmas day at the village church together, I hadn’t been for a long time but grew up going to church every Sunday. Lion-heart had found his way there a few years before in absolute grief, crying uncontrollably in a back pew. His pastor approached and Lion-heart told him, “I’m not good enough yet to be here.” The pastor replied, “This is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints.” Fantastic words, I love them! Which is why I repeat them here for you. His story is for him to tell though, not me – I’m the keeper of his secrets and the lover of his patchwork of scars and powerful soul. I’ll simply tell my story, my truth and continue to follow what that is for me.

I’d thought some of my unattractive truths, like having been married to someone abusive and having been married more than once would be, well, unattractive. Lion-heart simply said, “All that says to me is that you’re a trier, I don’t normally date short women, but you have a huge heart and you don’t stop trying. I love that about you.” I love that about him also, we see it in each other, we’re trying, we have big hearts, and we discuss everything we’ve learnt and are learning from books, from others, from living. Yes, it’s scary to fall in love, I know my Lion has found it scary but more importantly we’re living, and he agrees he’s never felt more alive. So, call me crazy, my friends do with a wry smile but I’m alive and I’m loving it. Written some of my best poetry too while riding the tidal wave of falling in love.

Don’t be afraid, put one foot in front of the other and keep moving towards your truth and what makes your heart fill with happiness. The smell of a flower you’ve grown, your dogs joy on a walk, reading, writing, your own reflection in your lovers’ eyes, the smile of an old friend. Whatever it is, don’t waste precious moments on anything that isn’t making you happy. Love, light and peace to you this new year.

Published by JoJo

Confessional writer, starting over at 50 - I promise you brutal honestly with a few laughs along the way.

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