Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Girlfriends and Auto-suffisance

I find it interesting the movement and energy of the women I enjoy, care about, and spend time with. There was a time during the years before my divorce when I seemed to seek out single-divorced mothers who were coping, at times with great difficulty, seeking balance, not quite there, struggling... In French we'd say, elles galéraient. Truly, finances were rough, fathers were absent, kids were struggling with the shifting sands beneath their feet, the moms were struggling to keep it all together. And, not surprisingly a love life was a source of complication, fear, impossibility -- at times desired as a possible haven from the chaos, but rarely successfully negotiated.

I found and find these women generous, true, and strong-willed. And yet, their state of instability was and is frightening. There were times when I would observe and say, no, I don't want that in my life. How will I manage when at last I separate, move out, leap into the void of divorce and single parenthood? Their example impressed me, and terrified me.

And then I joined their ranks. I have now spent a goodly chunk of these past two years galérant, struggling, running in place, desperately trying not to sink into the morass, swimming against the current, keeping my head afloat. Choose your metaphor. Simply put, the unsettledness of it all is terrifying. There are moments of stagnation, fear, confusion and wonderment. Where am I going? Where will I land? Have I landed?

Part of me -- perhaps? -- chose this instability, this far harder route, as a means of climbing off my pedestal. I think there is a spoiled little girl in me who's still trying to prove that she has it in her to tough it out, cope on her own, manage even in difficult circumstances. Be it as it will.

Since my separation from JP this fall, I have stumbled into a different energy. Or rather, I've been received and welcomed into a different sphere. I've found women who are single, divorced, raising kids alone, and they're fine. They are in love or not, as they choose. They are coping quite ably financially. They are not struggling with the basics. They have an ease to them, a presence, une jolie auto-suffisance. This is my new key phrase.

I am entranced. This is what I seek. A lovely relationship with a man would be nice, but more and more I see it as not essential. However, self-esteem, self-sufficiency, the assurance of stability, my own ability to cope, that what I offer my kids is good and enough. That I can choose to be with a man, or not. That my life is full and generous and joyful through my own efforts. I am surprised by this moment of re-discovering values and possibilities. I've been nudged and advised to move in this direction for quite some time, and often by those same friends who have struggled so. We know that this is the goal. And yet, when freshly out of a relationship/divorce, it takes more than a little time to realize what we truly seek. How often is the idea of forming a new couple truly a mirage on the horizon of a quest for stability, calm, peace, and a sense of coming home?

I want to go from that stage of struggling and resisting to the state of grace that being okay with my situation would be. I may be able to help myself along with a bit of meditating, more active job searching, more writing, and/or the sale of the b&b in Arles... (counting my chickens before the eggs hatch -- much?). I used to believe in my own power to make things happen in my life -- back when I was young and single and childless. That belief has been shaken, but not completely crushed. Focus, knowing what I want... these intangibles have been lacking. How can the Universe give you what you want/need when you don't even know what to ask for?

And so, direct and off the cuff that I am, I have mildly interrogated my new friends. I have observed with pleasure their natural smiles, their happiness, their peace at this stage of life. Both are more than five years out of their divorces -- is timing necessary? Both have found their balance. And, thank you Universe, both accept me with smiles and amusement as I reach out and babble and query and listen, and no doubt, babble some more.


Nathalie said...

Madeleine you're wonderful.
You'll get there. You're already there.
Keep up the good work.


Madeleine Vedel said...

Nathalie, any chance you'd be free for a cup of tea and a walk by the Rhone Monday morning?

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