“Carrrooolllll! Git your shit together Carol!” (The tennis game scene in Bridesmaids)
If you came up to me this time last year, and told me that 2014 meant that I would get my heart broken into shreds, lose my visions of a happy family and the one man that I gave a massive chunk of my heart to for 14 years, I would’ve punched your face. Hard. But here I am before you, December 31st 2014, as a newly-divorced woman (signed the papers recently) and sitting alone at my kitchen table trying to write this blog post without sounding like a broke-ass, whiny-ass and dumb-ass woman. Suffice to say, 2014 was probably the hardest year of my life. A year where I had to learn the hard way, that even your loved ones, as much as they don’t mean to, can really bring you down to your knees and break your spirit.
I won’t focus on the sad story that my marriage ended up playing out. Instead, I’ll tell you about some of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned in the year that I will always remember. Before I go on, I need to tell you that this is not a “I hate my ex” blog post, no, this is more of a “this is my blog so I can say what I want” type instead.
Lesson #1: Life doesn’t always go the way you plan it to
During the early stages of my marriage break-up, I was a devastated and desperate woman. I was in shock when I realised my marriage was about to end. On the outside I looked normal, but privately, I was so heartbroken and confused as to what my life was going to be like from now on. How the hell was I going to face my children and tell them that their parents were splitting up? Should we move back home to South Auckland and try to rebuild our lives? Should I chuck in my studies, now that I was to be a solo-mother of 3 kids and find a job? So many thoughts racing through my mind, every hour, every day, and the number one question: How did my marriage get to this point? I am a meticulous planner. I am not big on last minute events, or impromptu day trips/holidays. I am not a control freak, but I choose to be well-organised so that I can make the most of my time doing things that will benefit the lives of me and my children. I’ve watched others lose so much time, money and freedom because of the way they go about their day/week/year with no ‘goal’ in mind. I didn’t plan my marriage breakup though. It took me by surprise (ps. I don’t like surprises) and I was not prepared for the emotions that I dealt with in the aftermath. During this time, I was in denial about everything, but eventually as the weeks went by the denial subsided and was replaced with anger. I just could not accept the fact that after all these years of being loyal, committed and forgiving to this one person, he gave no second thought to his actions when he decided to screw me over. This was not the marriage that I planned.
Lesson #2: Great friends – REAL friends – are hard to find, but easy to keep
Looking back, I cannot believe that I made it through this whole experience with my mental state intact – my broken heart is no more. I’ve always known who my real friends are. While I have maintaned a great relationship with my childhood friends in South Auckland, I have also been a part of an amazing circle of friends here in Melbourne. Although my marriage has suffered many breakdowns (too many to allow to be honest), these sisters (and brothers) have stuck by me, picked me up and helped me get through the maze. Without their support, I would not have had the courage to look for my happy ending that I know I deserved. I also sought spiritual and psychological help to get me through and I am a much happier and confident woman because of it. My support system was there when I needed to vent out my fustrations, they were there when my children needed extra support to help them understand what was happening, and they were there to shield me from those who were only in my life for material reasons. I decided to chuck out those who had their own hidden agendas on my life. Maybe one day in the not-too-distant future, when they get their heads out of their asses, I may be more accepting of their flaws. But at this point in my life, i just cant accommodate those who continue to just take, take, take from me without any real desire to have a friendship with me. I Thank you.
Lesson #3: Acceptance is key
A few months after my marriage ended (around June/July) I woke up one day and said to myself (to my mirror) “Rita…git…your…shit…together”. And that was it. I promised myself that I was gonna move on with my life, and live it the way that I intended to when I was a naive and hopeful young adult. I realised that you can’t make someone be with you, if they don’t want to. You can only try for so long, to try and make them see that you guys are great together, but it is all in vain and a wasted effort when year by year, he refuses to acknowledge your part in his life, and only brings you in when it suits him. So I accepted that this was it. And that was all I needed to do to be able to move on – I cannot express how liberating it felt when I learned this lesson. My friendship with the ex is at a great place right now, because I accepted that I just wasn’t the woman for him. I don’t blame him, I’m not holding any anger towards him, I’ve just accepted (there’s that word again) that if he tried his best to be my husband, then this was his best and I have to accept that J
Lesson #4: You MUST pick up your balls, and move on
I almost chucked in my studies a few months ago. I just wasn’t feeling confident enough to make it through to Phd. I neglected my postgrad commitments, didn’t keep in touch with my supervisor, and spent way too much time in bed feeling sorry for myself. I had a trip to Samoa coming up in late August where I was to present my research on Samoan music at the National University of Samoa “Samoa Conference III”. First of all, with my confidence levels at an all-time low, I spent many days in bed shit scared of the thought of facing Samoan academics and elders with my paper. I would get up at the podium and deliver my paper, and they would all find out that I was a fake (Im not really a fake but this is how I felt, you see, during my sooky phase). I also planned to spend the 2nd week of my trip scouring archives for my PhD study next year, setting up future fieldwork trips. And lastly, something that I had planned for the last few years was about to go down – getting my malu. This would be the pinnacle of my journey as a Samoan woman, mother, daughter, academic. But with all the dramas that occurred up until this point, I was shit scared. I would probably cry during my paper presentation, look like a wasted mess while meeting archival officials, and then cry like a baby while getting my malu done. I felt like this for a good few weeks, event wrote my resignation letter to withdraw from the Master of Music Research program I was enrolled in, and then planned to drag my sorry ass back to Otara. My support system was the strongest during this time, I got the ‘are you effin crazy?’ speech re: resignation letter, and the ‘don’t think, just do it’ speech re: Samoa. So, I picked up my balls (imaginary ones) and went. Which leads me to my next learned lesson:
Lesson #5: God works in mysterious ways
I went to Samoa, I achieved everything I set out to do and more. I came back to Melbourne a new woman – literally. My legs bear the malu – a process that I find hard to express in words, it means more to me than just representing and honouring my family, my ancestors, my culture. I still remember every minute of the painful 4.5 hours that I endured at the UN SIDS Village. I hugged my tufuga (Su’a Peter Suluape) once it was done and will always be grateful to him for his care and guidance during the whole process. Wearing my malu makes me accountable for everything I do in life from here on and I hope that one day I will feel good enough to wear it. My trip to Samoa was a success, on all levels. Academically, my research was received awesome support from academics, professors, the Samoan community and my peers. I could not ask for a better response and willingness from others to offer their help and guidance during my PhD journey next year. I can go on and on about this new chapter in my life, but I will save it for next year in my Lost Coconut journey.
Thank you to all of you who have sent me words of encouragement, have picked me up from the mess that I was – I thank God for you. And to my ex, Gus – I wish you all the best, we have had some great (and not-so-great) times, but I choose to remember the great ones. I hope that in time, you can too.
Thank you 2014!! And 2015 – Burrrrrrrring it.