Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Catastrophes - and beginnings!

Just when you think that you have things in hand, you have a grip on your life and can make some plans - that’s when you’re in your comfort zone and catastrophe will come and smack you in the back of the head!

There was a programme on tv the other night about the catastrophes in Earth’s past, which have made the planet what it is, and paved the path to creating life. The presenter, the ubiquitous Tony Robinson, made the point that catastrophes are usually seen as unmitigatedly bad, but actually each catastrophe is a new beginning. Without the arrival of cyanobacteria, which produced the terrible poison gas, oxygen, life as we know it could not have appeared, but for the life forms to whom oxygen was lethal it was certainly a catastrophe. This ‘Catastrophe is a new beginning’ idea set me thinking about my own life, in a timely way, as Jeffery came home last night to say that he has unexpectedly been made redundant. As we have very little financial cushion, our capital being tied up in our flat, this bears all the hallmarks of catastrophe in today’s financial climate! However, we are not in despair, for we have been here before, in worse condition, and found that things did not turn out as we feared. Each time being open minded and determined to cling to our core values has led to new beginnings, in ways we could never have planned for.

In the 1970s I was in my second marriage, with 2 daughters and 2 stepdaughters, and a handsome and hard working husband, everything seemed on the up. Ha! I should have known better, first my husband turned out to be not simply a transvestite, but to want a sex change. Ok, I loved him, I felt for his pain, I would do my best to support him through this, even though it seemed an unmitigated disaster from my perspective. Could it get worse? oh yes! While he was away from home at a gender re-assessment clinic, I discovered he had been ‘interfering’ with the girls, and it had been happening for some time. I think that most people will agree that for a mother in her late 20s and her children, this qualifies as ‘catastrophe. At the time I could see no way in which there could be a new beginning in this, my whole life, on every level, was a wasteland. I was wrong. Out of the blue, not long after I had refused to allow my husband to return to the family home and had my stepdaughters taken from my care, an old friend made contact. He helped me to see a way out of my terrifying situation, helping me to find a live-in job in the Orkney Isles, where he lived, enabling me to take my vulnerable little girls to the opposite end of the UK from where my husband was, and protect them from the likelihood of meeting him again.

Orkney was instantly home, a gorgeous feast for all our senses, and a total escape from the alarming situation we had left behind. Of course, once the pressure was off, I went into reaction and had a bit of a breakdown, but my old friend and I developed a close relationship and we had 2 wonderful children together - 2 new beginnings! Catastrophe continued to dog my heels, losing my only parent just after the birth of my 3rd child, and my relationship with my old friend turning very sour, but, yet again, disaster became a new beginning when I met my present husband even as my Orkney life was falling apart around me. Our relationship was born out of coinciding catastrophes for both of us, and has evolved through a series of disasters that kicked us into ever changing world views. I am still deeply homesick for Orkney, but going backwards in life is not healthy, and I can always visit my eldest daughter and her family, who returned home to Orkney a few years ago! She, too, has found new beginnings through catastrophe, and goes from strength to strength, endlessly re-inventing herself and discovering new aspects of herself, I’m so proud of her and all my children, who all seem to be mastering the knack of finding new beginnings in the debris of disaster.

I have a special Facebook Friend who introduced me to blogging, and gave me the courage to do it myself. She is a lovely person, talented and beautiful, who has helped me understand many things about America that mystified me, but she seems to have been hit hard by the results of the recent Presidential election. While most of my American friends are celebrating, for her the result is a catastrophe, I do hope she soon finds a new beginning in her catastrophe.

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