So here we are at the end of 2018. For me, it’s been an extraordinary year. I saw the New Year in with my parents on the South Coast of NSW and I’ll see it out in Sydney. In between I spent a week in unaccustomed luxury with my daughter in Bali and spent a month travelling through Italy, Portugal and Morocco with both my children – a lifetime high, never to be forgotten. I was there when people I love married in Portugal, Greece and England. I fell in love and moved to a new house to create a beautiful new family with a kind, clever, lovely man and his lovely boys. I turned 50 in an ambulance on the way to a Greek hospital with my daughter* and then stretched out the celebrations over a month once I got back to Sydney with the loveliest family party anyone has ever thrown for me, a special dinner with friends in Bondi and drunken shenanigans in the city. I hiked, had weekends away and had family dinners again. I was able to spend time in England with my parents and siblings and my closest friends. I had loads of fun. As I said – it’s been an amazing year.
It hasn’t ended quite how I expected though.
At the end of November I was made redundant. I’d worked for the same organisation for 6 years, with amazing people who are friends as well as colleagues, doing work that I am passionate about. The abruptness of redundancy is a shock that you can’t prepare yourself for – not only is some of your purpose gone, your income, your fancy car and the routine of your life, but you are suddenly removed from the day to day relationships you had with people who in fact you spend more waking time with than your family. It’s a form of bereavement and it’s up there in the top ten most stressful life events, along with divorce and death. And although intellectually you know that redundancy is about business and business decisions, it’s accompanied by an inevitable sense of failure that can be difficult to shake off. On the other hand, after a particularly stressful year or so, you are no longer required to go to work – you no longer have to work out how to solve this or that problem, don’t have to write that business case or report and don’t have to navigate organisational politics. You can spend your summer at the beach, extend your weekend trip to see your best friend well into the week, and complete all those home related jobs you never had time for before**. In between panicking about never working again, dying destitute and homeless and niggling concerns that maybe you don’t know anything about anything – you can actually relax and enjoy the unexpected opportunity to have a bit of a holiday. Particularly when you’re made redundant just before Christmas and no one is really recruiting.
So it was an additional and unexpected blow when, with equal abruptness, my lovely man broke the news that he was not happy and was moving out. I can’t honestly say that we had an unhappy household or life. We had arguments, which at times we struggled to resolve, but I was committed to making it work. Getting used to living with someone again, and learning how they behave in a range of situations can throw up some curve balls and blending two families is not easy, but I felt we’d done a great job of it. I loved his children, he appeared to love mine, and the differences in their ages meant that there was no rivalry between them. I enjoyed step parenting the boys and being part of a vibrant, busy household again but also appreciated the quieter times when they were not there. Life was good and we really had a great year together.
But of course, this is my perspective not his. And if life has taught me anything over the years it is this – you can never properly understand the experiences and motivations of another person, even if you love them. This means, again, that I am reminded of another lesson – that there is no such thing as closure. No matter how many ill considered angry, sad, confusing interactions with a person you have post break up, you are not going to suddenly have some sort of epiphany where why it’s all happened suddenly becomes clear. Because this is their experience, informed by all their past and present experiences and all the things that go on in their head, and you don’t have access to that. If someone isn’t happy, that’s that really, and their interpretation of why is always going to be only their perspective. All you can do is move on, move up, try to stay positive and remember that just because someone doesn’t want to be with you anymore doesn’t mean that either you or he are dreadful people. This doesn’t mean, of course, that I’m not currently swinging between anger, grief, self pity, dismay and confusion. It hurts – it really bloody hurts.
And as for timing…
Timing wise, all this has absolutely sucked. It. Has Sucked. Big. Time.
I am jobless, partnerless and it’s Christmas. I am literally three quarters of the plot of a shit Christmas movie – the obvious denouement to which would be that I unexpectedly fall in love with someone I bump into in an appropriately festive and romantic setting. This won’t happen though as I’m hibernating (hiding) in an undisclosed location, refusing most invites involving social interaction, staying off Facebook, accepting the support of my very much appreciated friends and family and have taken a vow of celibacy.
A month or so before all these disasters took place we bought a beautiful 8 seater dining table, ready for our big family Christmas. When it was delivered it was faulty and whilst we waited for this to be resolved it sat, dismantled with all the boxes and new chairs, in our dining room. It struck me that it was a bitter metaphor for my current life – in that I thought I needed a lovely, big family dining table, but it turned out it was broken and beyond repair, I don’t have a lovely big family, and I can’t afford it anyway because I don’t have a job. It’s gone back now, and so that those of us who are left could have a good Christmas I went out and bought another, smaller table. And so – life goes on…
As always, when I am letting myself wallow in self-pity for a moment though, I am reminded of how fortunate I actually am. I have my health, I have completely wonderful children, friends and family. I have a redundancy pay out which means I have a bit of time to sort myself out workwise. I live in Australia and it’s summer and the beach is free. I am determined that this amazing year will not be remembered for these two unfortunate events right at the end and will instead remain one of the best of my life. I was good at being single. I can be good at it again. I was good at working and I’m currently assuming that someone will employ me again. The alternative is way more terrifying than the prospect of being perpetually single.
And anyway – 2019 is going to be my year…***
*she had a severe kidney infection – she’s fine now!
**haven’t done any of those jobs. Yet.
***just as soon as I stop grizzling
2 thoughts on “In which I ponder…unexpected endings”
What a generous, kind and insightful woman you are, Wendy. It’s not chance that you have such loyal and supportive friends, it’s because you are such a local and supportive friend yourself. I hope you are soon gainfully employed again, in a job you love. It will be a very fortunate organization that welcomes you as part of their team!! And that you rediscover you contentment, as a newly single lady.
I don’t know how open you are to the idea, but have you considered approaching a publisher with your ponderings? Your insights and perspective could help many people, and they are always well spiced with your delightful sense of humor.
Thanks Shirley. You’ve been a brilliant and supportive friend over many years now and your wise counsel is always much appreciated. My dad is constantly nagging me about looking for a publisher – maybe that’s something I could do with my unexpected spare time! xx