Britain has spoken; it’s time to leave.
And as the country prepares to take one giant leap into the unknown it would seem that some are no longer as certain of their position as they were a few days ago. Ordinary voters and politicians alike now face the reality of the challenges that our new dawn is sure to bring, and as that reality raises new questions we hear that some voters are declaring that they would vote differently should the option be given today, we see politicians back-tracking from the promises of what a vote for leave would mean.
This is to be expected; when facing an unknown future the desire to retreat back to what is safe and known can be strong, even if the safe and known present isn’t a happy one.
But however hard a decision is to make, in reality that is the easy bit. It is how we act on our decisions that determine the consequences that will define us, and it is through our actions that we speak; not through our words, not through our decisions, but through our consequent actions.
Be careful what you wish for.
The work needed to make the new future a better home than the present. And building a better home can be a difficult, time consuming, painful process; one that requires us to maintain the hope and conviction that was used to lay the new foundations if we are to weather the storms that will inevitably lash against us as we build.
Leaps into the great unknown don’t always begin with our choices. New beginnings can be thrust upon us against our will, resisted with every fibre of our being, fought against with the futility of Canute trying to hold back the tide. And once the waves have washed over us and swept us away we have no choice but to stay afloat by whatever means we can, until the waters calm and we are able to swim towards a new shore not of our choosing.
In either instance, battling harsh elements through choice or circumstance can lead us to ask ourselves, will it all be worth it? Our words seasoned with the bitter tang of regret.
Could I, should I, would I have done things differently, if only I’d have known where I would be today?
Events of recent days have prompted this reflection in my own life: for all the blessings for which I’m grateful I can’t honestly look in the mirror and say that I am happy with where I find myself at this point in my life. And there are two significant, linked events that steered me onto my present course, neither of which was of my choosing: depression and divorce.
If I could rewind the film and re-direct my life’s story would depression and divorce still feature?
Depression? Unhesitatingly, unquestioningly, yes. Remain.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wish depression on a single human being and I hope more than anything that I never have to feel its soul-crushing presence again for as long as I may live. But having escaped from its clutches I wouldn’t remove it from my backstory. The chapters that it wrote in my life taught me more than perhaps any other, they added depth to my character and broadened my understanding of what it is to suffer, what it is to be human, and what is takes to face your demons and emerge resolute.
In the cost benefit analysis depression has given me far more than it has taken.
Divorce? Well, that’s harder to answer.
Where the passage of time has revealed the gifts of depression, divorce’s gifts remain hidden. Almost two years on from separation the reverberations are still acutely felt. Not just from the divorce itself but from subsequent events. Doubts, insecurities, heartaches and worries, fears and tears – all remain fresh, all still feature to a greater or lesser extent. And amongst this unappealing cocktail of thoughts, feelings and emotions, it is hard to see the cherry on top.
I maintain my hope and belief that it will be found. I hold onto my faith that a greater good will come from this, although the strength of my grip varies from day to day. And following divorce I have had some wonderful times and met some wonderful people that I am grateful came into my life. When considering the question of regrets in my life I’ve always had little time for them, being of the view that I always did the best I could with the tools available to me at the time, and that whatever mistakes I made led me to where I am today.
Would I choose to be where I am today? Honestly? No.
But in asking whether I would remove divorce from the story of my life I would still have to say no. Because I have to move forwards, I have to stride purposefully into my future and that won’t happen with one foot stuck in the past, lodged between regret and self-pity.
The transition from husband and father to divorcee and single father is a difficult one, and truth be told my life still feels as though it is in transition. I’m making the most of it as best I can, trying to live as fully and contentedly in the moment as I can, but a better future is never far from my hopes.
I look forward to the as yet unwritten chapters that I desire to be better than those that have come before, that will reveal the hidden meanings, the pregnant possibilities that currently remain buried in those past chapters of heartbreak.
But those better chapters won’t write themselves. And whether as the creator of circumstance or in reaction to it, it is how I act and what I do that will determine whether those chapters will be happy, will be meaningful, and will add substance to my story.
Regrets? I’ve had a few, but then again, none of that matters now. All that matters is the next step, for that is the only one available. And I hope to learn the lessons of the past so that my step is assured, and heading in the right direction.
Matthew Williams, single father to two children and divorced ex-husband to an ex-wife, started the blog ‘Love, Laughter & Truth‘ in December 2015. The blog is an attempt to make sense of his rollercoaster life following depression, divorce, and his introduction to the weird – and sometimes wonderful – world of dating. He hopes that his writing will help others that find themselves dealing with similar challenges in life. You can find Matthew on his blog and follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
Image courtesy of Fedor Yakubovich.