‘An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.’ Bill Vaughn
Did you stay up? Which camp were you in? I confess I was in both!
2011 for me was undoubtedly the toughest I have faced (so far - as Clive would have said, as we cannot predict the future). It was worse for me than when I had puerperal psychosis and was in a psychiatric hospital after having my wonderful son. In many ways the illness ‘protected’ me and I suspect it was worse for those around me. Yet losing Clive so suddenly in February was awful. In an instance my life was turned upside down – emotionally, physically, financially, professionally. Readers of my blog have been with me on the journey since then and boy, have there been some dark times! There have also been some lighter moments and those which have made me smile.
On New Year’s Eve I went back though my diary and summarised the main events and experiences I have had in 2011. I was amazed on reflection! I have lost an incredible man – we all have – yet my diary reflects a varied and, taking emotion out of it, interesting list. I now feel far stronger, balanced and less upset than I was in previous months and have begun to realise now the extreme highs and lows I was functioning on. The ‘rollercoaster’ is now a much more gentle ride.
I thought back to last New Year’s Eve which I spent in Tadcaster with Clive and we went to some of the local pubs with Lynn, his sister, and Rod, her husband (below).
|Clive and Rod|
|Lynn and I|
Now I look at these I can see that Clive didn’t look well then. He was determined in the ‘New Year’ to lose weight and pushed himself to the limit to do so. Seven weeks later his heart gave up and Clive Gott left us.
My sadness for 2011 is for the loss of him and our relationship. Our hopes, dreams, goals, plans. Our home and how we were building it together. Our friendships; our social life; our professional lives. All gone. It is the past. Clive wrote his last book ‘It’s not your time, it’s the time you have’, with the focus on making the most of ‘now’. My greatest legacy to him has to be to do that. To let go. To move on.
That doesn’t mean forget. It doesn’t mean what we had wasn’t special or to be brushed aside as if it didn’t happen. It did and it was an amazing time. I now choose to smile when I remember instead of crying.
Coping with grief has been another journey – similar to depression – yet due to an event, not an illness.
So I could say that 2011 was an awful year but that would write off 365 days and nights. The first seven weeks were with Clive. Since his death my relationships with many others have grown, decreased, been rebuilt or even begun. I now have people around me that I didn’t realise how important they would become to me. I recommend Bob Beaudine’s book ‘The Power of Who’. We often seek new people when actually the support we need is already around us, if we can only recognise it, ask for it and appreciate it graciously. I now do!
I have pushed myself professionally to give presentations when I was ‘raw’ with emotion, yet that now gives me the strength and determination to do more, with the added confidence that ‘if I could do it then, I can do it anytime’! Being given the opportunity to be a coach, via telephone, has taught me to listen and that it isn’t always ‘all about me’!! The experience of rebuilding my life due to the loss of another, has given me a broader audience for inspirational speaking and writing. Living on my own for the first time has taught me how to be responsible for running a home, even if it just to put the bins out on the right day!
Another huge positive step forward is actually going 'back' - to be with my own family. It was a big wrench to leave behind the home I shared with Clive but I had begun to be increasingly lonely there and holding onto something that had gone. Living within a 10 minute radius again of my son, parents, sister and niece has given me the strong basis on which to grow and develop in 2012. To be back to give and be part of my family on a daily basis is wonderful. I shall remain in touch with Clive's family and the friends I made over in Yorkshire - just that I shall be making the journey over the M62 less.
|Sophie and I Christmas day 2011|
I am also just down the road from my friend and colleague Ann Girling and we are looking forward to expanding our workshops on postnatal depression, especially to Children's Centres. Our roles within the Joanne (Joe) Bingley Memorial Foundation look to grow along with the charity. I shall be looking to renew my reputation as an inspirational speaker at conferences and my work with the Open University. My support for individuals through Greatvine and a coach will continue too.
So I am looking forward to 2012 and all that it may bring. I leave you for now with these sentiments of one of Clive's favourite songs - I have to agree with them, even if he is no longer in my physical world.
So are you going to be the pessimist or optimist?
Happy New Year!