How I Rediscovered Writing

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“Deconstruction” was just a literary or philosophical concept- until it happened to me! Migrating to Australia was to have resulted in a better life. Instead, it took mine away – at least for a time. Between the “removalists” and the “garage sales,” strangers had examined the “artifacts” of my life and seemed to decide what was “disposable”. Next were the seemingly endless ‘goodbyes’ to friends, family, beloved pets. I took my last drive in my little red sports car and, for the last time, I walked out the front door of my home knowing that, in just a couple of hours, it would be occupied by another family. One by one, every aspect of my old self was stripped from me.

At least where material things were concerned, I knew what I was giving up. What was most unexpected, and what hurt most of all, was the loss of identity. Determined not to live my mother’s life, I had made it my mission in life to be more than just somebody’s wife. But my visa said “no entry” unless accompanied by my husband. I had worked damned hard to earn my credentials and to establish a career I was proud of. But, as far as Australia was concerned, if it didn’t happen there, I had no experience. (Canada does this to immigrants too, by the way!)

And so it was that suddenly I found myself in crisis: identity crisis, career crisis, mid-life crisis, cross-cultural crisis, “empty-nest” crisis? Yes, I was still coming to terms with the fact that we would never have children! Suddenly my life seemed to have no meaning at all!  And, in the midst of it all, I was alone – my usual support system on the other side of the world! Well, of course, I did have access to friends and family via the internet. But none seemed able to understand my situation. I was in Australia, for heaven’s sake! How could I not be happy!? I had never felt so alone!

It was a confusing time, when there were many influences pushing and pulling me this way and that. What seemed quite clear and obvious one day was out of the question the next. How could I make sense of any of it? I had to get these circular thoughts out of my head and down on the page. So I took up my pen, and my journal; and I wrote my way through it!

My journal entries record how I made sense of that time. Their sheer volume reflects how overwhelmed I was by my emotions: Excitement! Sadness! Fear! Sorrow! Confusion! Then I remembered William Bridges’ work on “transitions” vs. “change”. I recognized that I had entered “the neutral zone” and that it would be very “messy” for awhile. My journal served as a wonderful receptacle for all of that “messiness”.  And so I learned, through the process, to live the questions, and to write my way through them.

As I wrote through the grief and confusion, I began the process of re-examining each fragment of my old “self”. What must I give up?  Should I fight for it, or let it go?  What shall I keep?  What is it worth?  Now that the lacquer has worn off a little, was it really what I thought it was anyway?  It was a little like putting together a jig-saw puzzle. First you put all the pieces out on the table. Then you look for the colours and patterns to see how they fit together. How do these pieces fit together? What are the spaces that now need filling? And how will the new configuration work? Will it be somehow better than the old? Will reassembly somehow result in finding the contentment that, admittedly, had always seemed just out of reach? Gradually the questions themselves became clearer and more specific. And ultimately, that process led to a new career and to a new and very exciting phase of my life!

Are you feeling overwhelmed by problems? Questions? Concerns?
Get it out of your head, and get it down on paper!