Sunday, 30 November 2014

At ease in my own skin

The theme of this post is borrowed/stolen shamelessly from Jean Rolt of "Tregear Vean".

When the time finally arrives that you can be at ease in your own skin after a major trauma (illness, bereavement, shock of some kind) you may well not be happy.

I think the definition of happiness varies from person to person but one thing on which most people agree is that it is not a permanent state.

It is, rather, a brief fleeting sensation of pure joy, with no caveats.

Those of us lucky enough to have experienced this feeling will not only accept that it can be only a temporary one, but also feel glad that it is not a permanent condition.  To be filled with overwhelming joy every day of one's life would surely lead to some kind of insanity.

Human beings are capable of sustaining great calmness in the face of sudden emergencies, great courage in the face of threat or danger, but perhaps not quite so well able to cope with the magnitude of sheer joy.

To be content with one's lot is a major achievement and often one we struggle to attain, but once reached is a wonderfully sound foundation on which to base a life.

Not to be dependent on another human being for our happiness, but to work at creating it for ourselves is a huge step on the way to true content.

I have written before (many times) on the subject of loneliness with its attendant lowering of spirits
but that is not to say that you cannot find a level within your own being which will allow you to be alone and content.

Some months (about 10 or 11), after the death of my husband I had some counselling from a lovely wise caring priest who was able to make me understand that the key to content lay in seeing life from the perspective of others, some in a similar situation, but all with experience of the sudden gulf which separates us from our fellows after a bereavement.

Until then i had been sunk into a state of gloom and loneliness which I had convinced myself was to be my state for the remainder of my life.

At first resenting the fact that I was being expected to take part in ordinary life, it gradually became clear that the only way forward was in doing just that.  Not to cut myself of from people, not to close my ears to other people's problems but by becoming involved in listening to the woes and problems of those around me to gradually find a role where being of use to someone, even in a very small way
was richly rewarding, and, on the rare occasions when it was possible to really brighten someone else's day, capable of producing real joy.

When finally involvement in some capacity with someone with problems produces a feeling of strength and sometimes even the ability to offer a solution, becomes the daily norm then you can rest easy in your own company.

I have gone from despair through experiment, disappointment, small feeling of pleasure to complete and absolute happiness, however brief and a feeling that, with God;s help and a favouring wind i can cope with whatever life throws at me and sometimes even enjoy it.

Bless you Jean and forgive my theft.


  1. Bless you too Ray...nothing to have helped me through a very bad patch of my life and if I can ever return the favour I will do it with nobs on!

  2. Whenever I have been feeling particularly sorry for myself I have turned to your brave posts at the times of terrible loss in your life, and they have been an inspiration.
    If I have been of any small help at all I am very happy to have been so.
    How you have stayed so resolutely upbeat is a total mystery to me.
    Jean. X

  3. XO to both of you, Jean and Ray. I am glad to know you two. You are both an inspiration to me!

  4. Oh dear Penny,this is beginning to sound like a mutual admiration society (not my intention), but it is good to know that we all read each other's posts and take something from them.
    You know your posts fill me with pleasure and the photos are such a huge bonus.
    Can we all stop now or we'll drown in platitudes :)

  5. You describe the grieving process so eloquently. I remember when my father died 18 years ago and how I shunned the world for a month because I couldn't bear hearing people talk about how the mundane was affecting their lives eg I have a cold and I feel so low.

  6. I think it is because we feel at the time of bereavement, that our feelings are unique, that no-one else ever felt like that before, and that the daily trivia of life is unimportant by contrast.
    It took me ages to even begin to recognise that I was about as unique as millions of other people, and that engaging with them was a chance to gain a foothold in 'real' life again.
    Loss is dreadful but it is universal.

  7. You do a good job of living with vigour and humour - thank you for sharing it.
    Blessings from Dalamory

  8. Thankyou Freda.
    Blessings to you.

  9. A thoughtful and profoundly true post, Ray. I so agree that contentment is the state to be aimed at, but it can be a long and hard road as you have found. I saw this as I watched my mother and my mother-in-law come to terms with their widowhood many years ago now.

  10. It happens to us all in one way or another at some time. The difficult bit is trying to understand that seeking a particular way of life is probably not going to work.
    Things slowly fall into place and acceptance is a good starting place.
    After that, the aim (mine any way) is to stay roughly at the same level for as long as possible.
    Obviously there are dips and slips but a return to the status quo helps to stabilise fluctuating emotions.