A Sense of Spirit · freedom · friends · gratitude · new beginnings

Lessons to Learn.

Winter wattle in bloom at Leura, on the Blue Mountains, July 3rd.
Winter wattle in bloom at Leura, on the Blue Mountains, July 3rd.

“Sometimes change in our lives is slow and steady, sometimes it happens really fast. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes not so good. Having to adjust to new circumstances, people, or places is never easy and we have to be kind to ourselves and trust that, with time, we will settle in – if we’re in the place we’re meant to be…

I just felt these words were meant for someone – no idea who! But whoever it is, hope it helps…” Sue.

When I read the comment above this morning, written by Sue, a Blipfoto friend, her words spoke volumes to me. I really enjoy adding a photo each day to the blip website, well, most days. I’ve been lacking in motivation of late, for blip, blogging, gardening, everything that I usually love really. My mine has been all a-muddle.

I’ve heard it said so many times before that “life is a journey”; it has become a cliché really. My life’s journey began to steer itself into a different direction, with me controlling the steering of course, about six years ago. That’s when I began to write again, which led me to blogging. That’s how long I’ve been searching for “me”, for the last six years. Many of the posts I have added to my various blogs have started out with me trying to work something out in my mind, to get some clarity on what is happening at that time, to try to learn something new. By the time I have finished writing and have re-read what I have written, I also realise that what I have just said may actually strike a chord with another person too, and that maybe, just maybe, my battle through my confusion might actually help someone else’s muddled brain also. It would be a massive bonus if that did happen.

Once upon a time I wrote a monthly post on another website and my section was called “Freedom Space”.  Whilst I enjoyed the website and the community feel of it, I also felt like a fraud and lost the will to write about freedom, when freedom was exactly the thing I was in search of myself. How could I pose as an authority on gaining freedom, when I hadn’t a clue how to get it for myself?

It’s my own doing though, this lack of freedom that I feel. If I had been a more dominant person, if I practised standing up to people who tell me what to do more often than I have done, if I didn’t dislike confrontation so much…..if, if, if….. But I can’t change the past. I shouldn’t have to spend my entire life moulding myself into the person that I’m “expected” to be either, none of us should.

My mother dominated, I rebelled, I felt bad, I apologised, we’d argue, I felt bad again, I apologised again, she’d tell me that she knew what was best for me, she knew what I should have in life. Being such an authoritative figure in my life, I moulded myself to suit her ways, yet it never did quite gel for me, when I realised that I wasn’t my mother, I was me, a whole different person to her.

When I finally left home, (against my mother’s better judgement of course), it was with another dominant person, this time a male. My beliefs being as they are, I would often tell him that he must have been my father in a previous lifetime, as he sure did seem to enjoy telling me what to do. It was like I had jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. He dominated, I rebelled, I felt bad, I apologised, we’d argue, I felt bad again, I apologised again, he’d tell me that he knew what was best for me, he knew what I should have in life – him. Yet he constantly hurt me. I would feel crushed to the core. When he realised that he had gone too far he would comfort me, try to make amends, say the words I wanted to hear. I’d believe him. He’d say things would change. They never did. And so it would all happen again, the arguments, the hurt, the comforting…….

So many times during my adult life I have found myself telling him, “I’m not a female version of you”. Isn’t that silly? Why would anyone want a person to be that much like themselves? Yet it (still) seems to me that that is exactly what he wants from me.

I went away recently for eleven days, eleven glorious days, just my youngest son (he was on school holidays) and me. We drove about one thousand kilometres south of our home, down to Penrith and the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, the area where I grew up, the area I still call “home”. My parents took me away from this area when I was thirteen. I didn’t want to leave. I moved back there when I left home, still a teenager. Twenty-one years ago I moved north again, feeling I had to as my mother was seriously ill. When she was gone, I wanted to go back, he didn’t want to, so we stayed up north, while my heart longed to be down south.

Now that I’m home though, back up north, the muddled mind has set in. Driving north again, as the coolness of the winter air we had enjoyed left us, and the heat of the north set in, I resented the sun and I resented the heat. This is winter, it should be cold now!

I just didn’t want to come back here, but I had to. My son is still at school, he needs his mother still, he hasn’t reached that almost-an-adult stage of his life yet, when he will have his independence and can make choices for his own life.

Please, oh please, my boy, make your own choices! Choose your own life! Don’t spend half a lifetime trying to make another person happy whilst compromising your own happiness; ultimately you will grow to resent them! Don’t make my mistakes! Learn from me, my beautiful son, learn! Feel the freedom! Enjoy your choices!

It has occurred to me recently, no, I’m down-playing this, it actually dropped on me like a bolt of lightning from the sky recently that we are all put on this earth with lessons we must learn. If the lessons are not learned, the problem will carry with you into the next lifetime, again with the same people. You will be given the same lessons, again and again, until you finally get it right. My lesson is that I must learn to walk away from the control-freaks, those who want to run my life. No matter how hard it is for me, I have to learn to walk away, to not fall into the same trap, time and time again, of being dominated, of being told by another that they know better than I do what is best for me.

So, as my blip friend Sue pointed out this morning, the changes may be slow, it may be scary adjusting to new people and new places, but I have to follow my heart over the next eighteen months and find the place where I am meant to be.

Right now, my heart is so torn. As much as I love being at my beloved Blue Mountains, my children would all be one thousand kilometres away. I don’t know how I would deal with not seeing them all regularly. We all have to live our own lives, but it is very comforting, knowing my dearest souls are not too far away.

I have so many photos which I want to share with you all! Yet since I have been home, when I look at the photos, my heart aches for the place I want to be. Is it the place I am meant to be? Time will tell. And I will give myself a talking to and add my holiday photos here for you all to see. How odd that sounds, “holiday photos”, yet they are the photos of the place that I regard as my home. Here, where I live now, I am ten minutes drive away from a world-famous holiday destination, the Gold Coast.  It’s all rather back-to-front, really.

This is such a “down” post! Please, don’t let my words drag your spirits down. I’ve written this today to get it off my chest, to “come clean”. My posts are so erratic, I can go for weeks without writing anything, and I don’t ever want any of my blogging friends to think I don’t appreciate them; I appreciate each one of you. Reading your stories helps lift my day more than any of you could ever imagine. But some days I just don’t have the time to write, and if I go to the computer at night, I have been told that I’m spending too much time at the computer. So please, I hope you will bear with me. I’m still here, I appreciate your friendships. You all inspire me so much and for that, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. 🙂

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25 thoughts on “Lessons to Learn.

  1. Wow, Joanne. What an amazing, open and honest post. The questions you struggle with are difficult. Who’s lives are we living? I realize life is about the choices we make, and often we are too young to make those choices – I feel that way about several of mine and wonder how things might have been different, not necessarily better or worse just different, if I had made different choices. What am I doing? As an adult pretty much at the midpoint of life, I suppose, am I still growing, do I still have potential to do more?
    Sorry, I didn’t mean to add even more questions to your very poignant post – these are the things that came to mind as I read it. I’m glad you found the strength to post this, and I will look forward to seeing your photos when you are ready. Best wishes in working through your decisions.

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    1. I didn’t see myself as being strong when I wrote this post, I felt very weak and vulnerable actually, so thank you, my friend, for telling me I was strong. I have many questions as you do ~ what if I hadn’t married? what if I hadn’t allowed my mother to have so much influence over my life? what If I had pursued my dream to be a journalist? where would I be now? We will never know the answers to those questions, and we made the choices that we made, so we must make the most of, and appreciate, our lives as they are. Thank you so much for your support Karen. xxx

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  2. It seems that far too often women are raised to believe they should be the peacemakers, the satisfiers, the one who tries to make everyone else happy. It’s so easy to lose ourselves in all of that and forget who we are and to believe we have the right to all of those things too. Your words today were beautiful – they were heartfelt, they were honest. I empathize, I understand (as much as anyone not in your shoes can) and I send my wishes for you to find your path and to be able to follow that path. Hugs to you.

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    1. Oh dearest Carol, with everything you are going through in your own life right now, thank you, thank you, for your caring words! You constantly amaze me with your strenghth and kindness.
      I do believe you are so right in what you say, but why must it always be the women who compromise the most to keep the peace? I think it’s time for the male population to have their turn in keeping the balance!
      Huge hugs to you, dear bloggy friend. xxx

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  3. Joanne, thank you for writing this post and having the courage to share it. I admire you. So many of us struggle with the same things. It sounds like your heart is urging you to find a way toward a deeper discovery of who you are, toward freedom, toward growth. My heart aches for the choices you must make–but I have no doubt that your deepest soul will guide you to what you need to do next. Blessings…

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    1. Thank you so much for your words Kathy. I thought of you, and hoped you would see what I had written, after I had hit the publish button on this post. Your words are always so comforting and wise.
      I do believe my soul has already begun the guidance process, and knowing I have the support of so many people has helped with this search to finding the answers.
      Blessings, always, to you, dear friend. xxx

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        1. I also loved reading the comments here on this blog. So many people sharing from their heart! You have opened a door, Joanne. My dad has just been diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer that has metastasized to his bones. So we’re feeling much sadness, too. Sometimes I think it would be interesting to write a blog filled with some of this “real” nitty gritty of living. Unfortunately or fortunately, I don’t do so–mostly because the other family members/friends would not want it to be public.

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          1. Kathy, I almost cried when I read this about your father. I have seen his comments on your blog occasioanlly and you speak so lovingly about him and all of your family. I feel as though I know your parents myself. I’m so sorry for this sad time you are going through. Know that I am sending thoughts of love to you and your family. *hugs*

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  4. I find it interesting that you posted this on July 16 – the same day that I posted the news of a tragic event in my life. We were both feeling the need to write as a catharsis on the same day. Is there something to this, or am I reading too much into the random designs of the universe? I cannot answer this, but in some way, we are connected, all of us. I hope that elusive peace will somehow find you. ❤

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    1. Stacy, I felt so sad when I read your story. Who knows why someone so young is taken? I can only imagine that her short time on this earth had completed its mission, and it was time to move on, to be with the angels, just as she had been an angel to you here on earth.
      Yes, yes, yes, we are all connected, in love, friendship and support.
      Thank you for being a very treasured friend to me, Stacy. xxx

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  5. Joanne, we blog for many reasons, and often what we blog about isn’t entirely who are. Bless you for your honesty and sharing. I often write of happy dog walks along the sea shore, Blogging about such happy times, takes me away from the sadness of a daughter who struggles with mental illness and thoughts of self-harm.

    You are not alone.

    Hang your hat on hope. A hope that you will find your path and while following that path, even if it takes you 1,000 km from your kids, you will learn the lesson you hoped to learn in this life.

    I have a sign in my bathroom placed so that I see it each morning. It reads: “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today”.

    Consider yourself hugged.

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    1. Oh Sybil, I had no idea about your daughter, it must be so difficult for you to cope at times. A very wise friend told me, during the months that I watched my mother slipping away from me, that the trials of our lives are charcters building times. I didn’t believe him at that time, and felt that I had plenty of character and didn’t need any more! But his words stayed with me and now I am older, I realise that the sadness and difficult times we experience do make us who we are today, just as the trials we are yet to face will bring more lessons along with them. It is how we cope with these difficult times that forms our personalities.
      I love your stories of happy times with your dogs at the sea, Sybil! They certainly have brought happiness into my days, many times. “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today”, certainly words to live by. Every day, we are given a whole new beginning, a new day in which to be happy, and make others happy.
      Sending you a huge hug also, dear Sybil. Thank you. xxx

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  6. The quote at the beginning of this post is wonderful. You have so many things to think about–but I feel certain that you’ll make the decisions that are right for you and that will get you to exactly where you are supposed to be.

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    1. Thank you so much for your support Sheryl. I do believe that since writing this post I am already heading in the right direction, with the help of my family and people like you, my dear blogging friends. xxx

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  7. My heart goes out to you, Joanne. You have a rare gift of being able to articulate so well the turmoil you are going through. Your story reminds me of another true one, “A Year by the Sea” by Joan Anderson. I think you might find a kindred spirit in the author.

    Like Sybil, I tend to blog about happy things to put a positive spin on my life. I’m lucky enough to have picked a wonderful husband at age 18, but still, there is trouble from mental illness in our lives, too. The brother who is living with us now and dying of cancer is mentally ill, making each day a long exhausting struggle to cope with his psychotic behavior.

    You never know, if you stay living close to your kids you may find that they could be the ones to move far away some day, as mine did. In some ways we’re closer now, our visits feel different and more special than when they lived only a mile down the road.

    I wish you courage and love as you go along on this journey of discovery. Sending you a big hug!

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    1. My words were written from my heart Barbara, and that’s the only way I think I should ever write, when I can “feel” the words and not simply type letters and words to a page. I do hope my muddlement didn’t contribute to your own. I know how difficult it must be for you, caring for Tim’s brother, but what else can you do at times like these? I’m sure there must be something there for you to learn from this time you are going through. My mum always told me to look for the good side to every bad situation. I tried to do that after she was gone. How could I find something positive in losing her? Yet when I searched hard enough, I realised that by losing her, it gave me the opportunity to get to know my father. And what a blessing he was to me.
      Focusing on the positives and the happy days does help, but I have learned recently that if the burden is too heavy to carry alone, we have friends and family who are willing to share our burden with us. I do hope that sometimes you feel that you can share you worries, difficult times and fears with your blogging friends too. And know that this time you are going through will pass….
      I will look up “A Year by the Sea”, you have me very curious about the story!
      Thank you for being here for me, Barbara. Always know that I am here for you too, my friend. xxx

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      1. Not to worry, Joanne, your muddlement didn’t contribute to mine at all, in fact, it had quite the opposite effect. Knowing that you have the courage to cope with your situation encouraged me to keep working through this difficult lesson. And you’re so right, I have been learning a lot as I try to keep my heart open and stay with all the pain in each moment without acting out or shutting down. But, like Kathy, I can’t share too much on my own blog because many in my family do read it. (I’m always surprised when they mention reading a post because they rarely comment!) Reading all the comments here on your blog has warmed my heart, knowing we’re all going through things and doing the best we can as we struggle along. Many blessings to you, my dear friend! *hugs*

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        1. The comments have been amazing, haven’t they, and the depth of thoughtfulness has been far beyond what I could ever have imagined. I have no fears of my family reading my blog Barbara, the ones who know about it show very little interest in reading it. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad! (Unless they read it and don’t tell me…) Stay strong, you’ll be fine, and your brother-in-law will be grateful to you, even if he doesn’t say. I just know he will. Hugs to you. xxx

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  8. This is such an open, honest, and from the heart post. Being in the midst of my own changes, I know how difficult it can be to make the right decision, that decision that is YOU and not someone else. Wishing you a smooth journey, whatever you have decided. 🙂

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    1. Thank you Robin. Continuing the theme of honesty, I have worried about you (I have to give up the habit of worrying!) with your move and do hope you will find your own peace in your new location. Sending thoughts of love and caring to you. xxx

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      1. We should both give up the habit of worrying, Joanne, although I suspect that’s easier said than done! To ease your mind (and your worrying), I am struggling less and finding peace. It has helped to finally realize that I create my own drama and struggles within my mind, and that is something I can control and change. Just like worrying, now that I think about it. 🙂

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