The ebb and flow of our days changes at a whim these days. Our rhythm shifts with the home we live in, our days are filled with the rhythm of someone elses life. With no fixed address we find that we adopt other peoples routines, sometimes consciously, sometimes not. We have just shifted again, from the farm that was our home for three beautifully, free and fresh air filled weeks to a little light filled home around the corner from where we used to live.

When we walk the streets in the late afternoon, baskets in hand, we are treasure hunting. We are gathering grass and nuts and flowers to take home and count and make pictures with… there is so much that is familiar here, the streets that we walk are the same. We stop by the same overhanging lemon tree and we gather flowers from a familiar spot under a willow tree. We know these streets. We recognise faces and we wave to passing cars. We have swapped the life of orchards and flocks of geese for a life that looks a little like our old one did. We sit at a large wooden table in the afternoon sun and drink tea like we have many times before surrounded by the people who live here when they aren’t exploring far off lands…

We are walking in the shoes of a very special new friend of mine, living for a month in her pretty little solar powered cottage in the suburbs. This little place is filled with the heart and light that comes from the three beautiful little souls, who were born within its walls.

I’m finding myself in the middle of this project, both literally and figuratively. Sitting somewhat comfortably in the unknowingness of it all… I’m learning to find a balance between my unfettered desire to disappear into the abyss of the great unknown and my responsibilities to create a safe and secure life for the tiny human that stands by my side every day. I’m reading again, for the first time in many years… and it’s spectacular.

We are finding our home in the spaces between what I imagined our life to be and what it had become… It’s good here.

I’ve found that since I split with my husband, as a young(ish) single mum, my love life (or lack thereof) suddenly seems interesting to other people. My workmates consist of many women who have sons my age, they like to chat over the lunch table about which son might be the best fit for me. It’s all light hearted, loving conversation from women I greatly admire and respect… and I’m sure their sons are lovely… not that I have entertained any of the conversations in the slightest. I’m a couple of weeks away from my court date now and with a divorce in my 20s looming on the horizon I’ve been spending a lot of time self analysing and thinking about lust and love and all the things in between.

I was in a relationship when I met my (ex)husband for the first time. I was in fact engaged to a fun, beautiful and very manipulative woman. We had been together for a couple of years, and somehow when I cut the cord on what had been a very emotionally controlling relationship I ended up falling face first in a very different but in hindsight unbelievably similar relationship.  We create patterns that we seem destined to repeat. Not because they are good for us, but because they are familiar. We accept the love we believe we deserve.

Before my first engagement came a series of messy, crazy, hormone fueled relationships. Each and every one ended in the sort of messy revolting breakups that one would hope one would NEVER repeat. But somehow I did, ad nauseum. That sort of crazy is reserved to early 20s only, you just can’t get away with that sort of shit when you get older, it’s embarrassing. I’ve never done picture perfect, if such a thing really does exist outside of facebook. I’ve done messy almost any way you can possibly imagine it. With what could only be designed as a fatalistic, self destructive attitude I found myself in many bad-for-me relationships, one tumbling into another without so much as a break to breathe in between. I think part of it was immaturity and my need for high impact drama, and a greater part was a misdirected human need for feeling loved and desired. I didn’t know how to feel like I belonged without putting my body on the line. I didn’t know how to protect my heart or my body from manipulation.  I didn’t know how to feel worthy of love unless I had someone loving me.  I needed constant validation of my worth. I relied on someone to love me so I could have any chance of loving myself.

After Bo’s second birthday I spent the entire night sitting on my back step drinking red wine in the freezing cold with my beautiful friend (Bo’s godmother) who had flown from the other side of the country for a little kids birthday party. We both work in social services and given our extraordinary interest in why people do the things they do we always end up analysing each others lives over many a bottle of wine. We talked a lot about love, because you know, love. love. love. We talked even more about sex. Both of us are single, intelligent, interesting women in our late 20s… and whilst our conversations weave through a myriad of topics, more often than not, somehow we always end up talking about sex and love – much like we did in our teens.

When I asked her about her love life, she told me that this year was to be her year of the greatest love of all. I was curious of course… who is this great love? It turns out, she is, or at least she is determined to make it so. Determined to break bad habits and fall in love with herself. A year destined for cultivating self love in every sense of the word. What a bloody inspiring woman she is (in so many ways). To be honest with you, I was floored a bit. I know this in theory of course. Loving ourselves should always come first. We all know we are worthy of love and that we should treat ourselves with great respect. It’s a given.

Isn’t it?

In a world where so much stock is put on our sexuality and our relationship status, loving yourself seems like this new agey nonsense that is somewhat unachievable if it doesn’t come totally naturally to you.

Is it really possible to cultivate a loving, physical, emotional, compassionate relationship with yourself? It turns out, it totally is. At least for some. I have one particular female friend who does self-love unlike anyone I have ever met. She is a self-loving, compassionate, powerful, single women who talks about (physical and emotional) self love in a way that makes you want what she’s got… with herself. It comes so naturally to her and it’s inspiring. For many of us, it takes great practice to break bad habits and to change the cycles that we have created in our own lives.

For someone like me who is coming to terms with the fact that I have always some how defined my self worth by how valued I am by a significant other… it’s a challenge. But it’s a challenge I’ve been taking on for a while now,  away from the computer, away from everyone else… it starts in my head, in the way that I talk to myself when I look in the mirror.  It starts in the way I value my time and the people I spend it with. It stops me from diving into a relationship that I’m not ready for. It stops me from seeking out sexual relationships and encourages me to build strong, empowering friendships that are based on nothing more than mutual respect and loving kindness.

When I walk into that court room in a few weeks and I change my official relationship status to ‘divorced,’ I’ll try not to let that little word scream failure at me… instead I’ll take it as another curve ball that life has thrown at me, as some kind of blessing in disguise. I’ll find a way to embrace the new label, as adverse as I am to them… and I’ll see it as a sign that I have finally learned my lesson.

Life is far too short not to have a love affair with yourself, no matter your relationship status. Happiness comes from within, after all.

(Oh, and never put up with a manipulative asshat for a partner because they say that they love you. You are always worth more than that. Obviously)

  • July 21, 2014 - 7:47 am

    margo - When I was newly separated a friend said “sometimes things don’t happen to you, they happen FOR you….what are your possibilities now? ” this got me thinking on many occasions and is very true.

    You are living your “possibilities” now and getting braver as you go……well done.ReplyCancel

  • July 21, 2014 - 7:51 am

    Emm - You are blimmen amazing love. You know all those lovely words you spoke of about your friend? We could all use those very words directed your way. Much love, always xxxReplyCancel

  • July 21, 2014 - 9:24 am

    Myra - I hear you. A friend of mine emailed me a link to this blogpost and I feel like I wrote it myself! I am in the same boat – in and out of relationships every two years NEEDING a relationship for validation of my worth. Not anymore. This year is my self discovery, my year of self-worth. I’m doing ok – 4 months now single with no dates, no attention from the opposite sex. Nothing. & i am learning to be happy being me. Hang in there. Be strong, find yourself & above all, be kind to yourself.ReplyCancel

  • July 21, 2014 - 7:11 pm

    Rachel - I can imagine you have a myriad of feelings going on in the lead up to finalising your divorce but I just wanted to say I can’t agree with you more on this subject of loving yourself…like falling deeply and madly in love with yourself! I am a Christian and I was struck recently by the fact that even Jesus teaches it. The well know verse is “love your neighbour AS you love YOURSELF.” Truly how can we even begin to think we can properly love anyone if we aren’t at peace and love ourselves? To think how much different our world would be people actually loved themselves!ReplyCancel

  • July 21, 2014 - 9:35 pm

    stephanie - love this post. your blog is so refreshing and so inspiring to read. i came across your blog just a few weeks before your separation, and it was only a few months later that i found myself in the same position-starting over alone with a little one. this post resonates so deeply with me, but in a way that i wasn’t fully able to articulate myself. thank you!ReplyCancel

  • July 22, 2014 - 6:05 am

    Steinsdotter - Loved reading this post.
    And love your friend!!! hehe…

    I think for some, this inner calm/or self-love comes in the late 20′ish. It did for me. Not only when it comes to having to be loved by others, but also – I did not like being alone, I always wanted people around me. I was lacking the calm, the calm of being just with myself.

    That changed around 28 for me. And now I’m on the, well – not trying to love myself journey (cause I all ready do) – but a single_for_a_really_long_time journey! lol

    I’ve loved 3 different men since I became a mother. And let them all move in with me (not at the same time of course). And now, after my last break up, I’m craving alonetime. Alone just us girls.

    It is not fair to my daughter to bring another man into her life, and I just cringe with the thought of a man in my bed, a mans things in my home, a man I have to clean up after – well, I just need and want a really long man-break!

    I’m loving it – Loving myself – Loving being alone!

    Good luck btw, I know things will turn out fine for you.
    And it is NOT a failure

    xxReplyCancel

  • July 24, 2014 - 12:42 pm

    Arna - Self love doesn’t fit very well here either. Though I am trying to teach my kids to self-love. Where does one late 30s single mum start if one wants to learn self love?ReplyCancel

Coats and hats. Fresh winter air. Muddy boots kicked off by the door. Socks on wooden floor boards. Hot cups of tea with new friends in the sunshine. Stories. Laughter. Hearty debates. Warm food. Real work. Dirt under the nails. Not a computer in sight. Phone battery died days ago and still haven’t bothered recharging it.

Baby chickens clutched in tiny hands. Pockets filled with mandarins and bags of seeds. Food picked fresh from the garden. Conversation. Quiet. Paint and poultry mix. The pitter patter of puppy feet and a lopsided grin. Bent iron and wire cutters.

Eggs collected and kissed one by one by a little girl before placed into a steel bucket.

There is something very magnetic about this life. Everything you do is with purpose. To feed an animal. To nourish the earth. To serve the community. To help a friend. To make a meal. I’m drawn to it. The simplicity and the purpose of it all. The early nights and the rustle of trees and the late night honking of geese in the orchard… There is something much more to this life than just stripping back the numbness that comes from a life lived in consumer culture… there is something a little bit magical. Going back. Doing what so many generations have done before us. Two hands in the earth, feeding it so it in turn will feed us.

It’s not easy by any means. It’s not without its challenge or its sacrifice. It’s not without tantrums and meltdowns and dramatic moments of todddler defiance and quiet mama moments of internal meltdowns all of my own… It’s not without icy cold night air and a very long walk through the rain to the toilet… or demands for things that I cannot provide from little voices that know no better than to ask. It’s certainly not without moments of doubt about why I do the things that I do… it’s not without a lot of things. But it is without fear… and it’s packed to the brim with satisfaction.

Late at night I lay in bed and I think about the different lives I’ve lived. The people I’ve surrounded myself with. The self destruction and the fun. The fear and the joy. The love and the distrust. I can feel it… we are finally finding our way… bit by bit. One determined step at a time.

A little life, lived on purpose… with a shadow by my side turning roundabouts on the gravel road, laughing all the way.

  • July 18, 2014 - 5:11 am

    emma - hats off to you Sash your trying to do what right whilst looking after a gorgeous wee button along the way, showing her what is important feeding her spirit and soul. i would love to cook for you both then once our children are asleep crack open some wine and try and cure the world of all thats not right. Have a happy fullfilling day xxxxReplyCancel

    • July 18, 2014 - 8:03 am

      Sash - That sounds like a most wonderful evening Emma! :) I’d be all over that!ReplyCancel

  • July 18, 2014 - 7:32 am

    Little White Dove - so inspiring…ReplyCancel

  • July 18, 2014 - 8:47 am

    Jessica - Your pictures are incredible Sash. Thank you for being so open and honest. I am only young, but feel drawn to the words you write as a little message to tuck away for when times get hard. Thanks for sharing so bravely. xReplyCancel