In March 2018 I wrote about reaching the end of my 30-year marriage and I thought, more than two years on, I would write an update.
I have finally finished my building project, reduced my goods and chattels to things I “know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” (William Morris), so at last (loud cheer) I have stopped paying for storage, and I have started work on the garden. Now, would you believe it if I told you that, after these three years of adjustment and a good deal of soul-searching, a spot of therapy and a good exercise routine, the man of my dreams has appeared – that he just walked into my life..? No, of course not. That hasn’t happened.
There have been two ‘approaches’; one from an old and dear friend who I knew before I was married, now a widower aged 84 with some major health issues, who was convinced we ought to get together. I had to be very clear that that wasn’t going to happen, and now the embarrassment is forgotten. The second was a man from the builders’ merchant who mistook my almost daily calls (“Help! I need a shower tray, asap!”) and my genuine gratitude for his calm and efficiency (“Yes, no problem, I can get that lot out to you on the lorry tomorrow”) for some sort of signal. That caused another momentary flush of confusion.
So no, there is no man in my life. No blind dates, no dating apps. But I do believe that if you want to play the game you have to get on the court and, I think you can tell, I’m still in the changing room.
I have spent a great deal of time on my own in the last three years, and for the most part, I have been happy in that space. Loneliness comes and goes; it is a miserable pit when you’re in it, but I know now that after wallowing there a while I just have to heave myself out. It has been worse during this lockdown, as it has for everyone. There have been positives to come out of our enforced isolation too: cleaner air, louder birdsong, reconnecting with old friends (albeit on line), and an absence of small talk. My lockdown really hasn’t been too bad.
Since the end of my marriage I have had two part-time jobs (both almost certainly casualties of the virus – I’m looking around), and sold loads of things I no longer require (clothes, upcycled furniture, china etc) on the internet, come to love my garden, and I do voluntary work. I have been encouraged to take up knitting, learn to play bridge, join a choir or U3A, and they are all very worthwhile things to do, but they don’t feel right for me. And I think that’s the trick – to live the life you want to live. Mine will not include knitting… though possibly a choir one day.
Last August I did the Landmark Forum and I have found their ethos for personal and professional development to be inspirational. It has certainly been the single most important thing that has helped me to look forwards, not backwards, and open up the possibilities that are there for me. I am focussing on my health and fitness (lose weight, strengthen bones) and writing fiction, and I would like to travel on a cargo ship. I would like something big to be involved in.
Luckily for me, I have no regrets about my divorce; my marriage ran its course and then it ended. And if I have another relationship, it will be an open, honest, shake it by the ears, no dark corners, one. And I will have to make it happen.