As keynote speaker at the Sisters U-Night event on Friday in Romsey, Anita Bentata gave a punchy and passionate talk that touched on her own experiences as a young school-leaver, teen mum, and survivor of abuse.
It is particularly moving for me to hear her story, given our chequered relationship as sisters. Anita and I were very close when we were young
Yesterday was my first wedding anniversary. You might recall my blogs of a couple of years ago about meeting a new man, a dancer, in the wake of writing my first novel for adults, Wanted: Greener Grass. My character’s life in that book was turned upside down, and so was mine. I ended up leaving my much-loved partner of 29 years to be with this new man. I moved in with him only three months after meeting him, and we married on the 25th February 2018.
To begin with, my ex was extraordinarily supportive. He loved me and so he wanted what was best for me, and if this new man met my needs more completely than him, I deserved to have the new man. I was blown away by his love and generosity. The new man in my life was stunned as well. Others around us admired him, and probably wondered how I could leave such an extraordinary human being.
As the wheels turned and my decision evolved from idea into reality, as we began to separate our possessions and make practical arrangements, the pain of this new development bit hard. My ex experienced anger and sadness and regret. His initial generosity was swamped by waves of grief. He wanted to turn back time. He reminded me of what we had and how rich it was – he wanted me to decide that leaving would be a pointless pursuit of greener grass, since we both knew that there is no such thing: every life option holds a balance of positive and negative.
But I also knew that the core of our issue was that we wanted different things. He wanted a slower more relaxed life; I wanted more adventure and growth and challenge, and the new man shared those desires. And I’d experienced so many little signs, little impulses, little intuitions that were calling me to make the move that I felt I had to trust them.
My trust was repaid tenfold, a hundredfold. I know now that my leap into the unknown, a leap that seemed so risky and even cruel two years ago, was actually guided and right, at some deep, mysterious level. Not only am I deeply fulfilled in this new relationship, but my ex has just met a woman who deeply nourishes him.
The beauty of this tricky and testing journey is that my ex and I have retained our loving and warm relationship, and our family unit is as close as it ever was. It’s expanding now, as new partners enter it, but all of the relationships are solid and caring and open-minded.
The irony is that my ex is now embracing adventure in a way that he resisted during our years together. It’s funny how life delivers these twists and turns. But after my initial hurt I felt glad for him; I certainly have no need to indulge in resentment because my own life is now so full of love and challenge and growth that I am completely content.
Of course it’s not yet the end of the story. So much more will happen before we truly know ‘the end’. But it’s a development that encourages me more than ever to trust myself and to remind you to trust yourself, your inner promptings and callings, your intuitions, your deep desires. They just might be the kernel of vast and magnificent change.
You’ve probably been at least partially following the conversation about domestic violence, the ‘Me too’ movement, sexual predators and their unveiling, etc. Perhaps you’ve also heard these statistics: ‘Some 42% of Australians believe women lie about being sexually assaulted, while 31% said a lot of times, women who said they were raped had “led the man on” then had regrets.'*
Did you know that there are 10 Terrains of Consciousness, and if you and your partner inhabit different ones, you might have trouble communicating?
If you’ve been following my story you know that my life changed significantly after writing Wanted: Greener Grass (ironically a book in which I talk about the illusion of ‘greener grass’…).
The honeymoon was wonderful! We flew into Paris and visited Versailles – drove up to Reims to explore the gorgeous villages (and cellars) of the Champagne region – explored some of the chateaux along the River Loire – stayed with a delightful couple deep in the Limoges region of France where we somehow managed a rich conversation with their patchy English and my patchy French – explored the medieval city of Carcassonne… dropped into Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence – met and stayed with wonderful warm and open-hearted family in Cannes – realised a dream in Monte Carlo and on Lake Como – and discovered the Swiss Alps via train on the final leg of our adventure.
Love and infatuation have often been confused. The giddy falling-in-love period is a delight and a rush, and at first it's sad when that stage fades away and we begin to encounter the fires and trials that mature our love. But if infatuation grows into a stronger, steadier, deeper love then the loss is really just a transformation, as anyone who is in or has been in a long-term committed relationship understands.
'Greener Grass' was the working title I gave my new novel because I wanted to explore the idea that we tend to think something else will be better than what we currently have. No wonder I was taken aback when the new man came into my life and I found that my life was imitating art: my long-time dream of a life partner who would share my interests was being realised, just as it is for the main character in my novel. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, my blog about the new novel and my seismic life changes is here.)
I've since changed the title of the novel for something more unique since those two words are already in great use (for novels, books and lawn mowing businesses!), and I'll announce the new title soon.
We’re encouraged to be grateful for what we have, and that’s very good and useful advice. But there’s also a place for 'divine discontent’: often our dissatisfaction with aspects of our lives gives us the ‘kick’ we need to create necessary changes.
That dissatisfaction can be particularly confusing when there are enough elements in our current situations that we genuinely value. Should we risk losing the valuable aspects in order to take a risk and reach out for something that might be better?
Last year, when I was launching my Destiny Interview Series, significant changes were unfolding in my life.
I’d been asked to teach Novel-Writing at CAE in September 2016, and so I figured I’d do the right thing by my students: I’d do what I was asking them to do and write a novel. One of the ideas in my filing cabinet had been calling me for some time – it was a concept I’d jotted down some eight years ago, and I’d been scribbling notes and bits of dialogue for it ever since. As I was calling my students to work on novel structure and character development, I figured I’d apply the lessons to my own project at the same time.
One of my ex-writing students is a Marketing Manager and we’re doing an exchange of services at the moment. Something I really appreciate about Ellen is the cleanness of her communication style. In one of our early conversations she deliberately addressed the subject of our expectations.
‘Conflict Resolution Skills’ is a course I taught years ago, and Ellen demonstrated them perfectly. There’s a sliding scale of events that result in conflict from initial Discomforts and Incidents through Misunderstandings and Tension to outright Conflict. In other worlds, conflict doesn’t just happen out of the clear blue sky; it starts with little baby steps…
The Perfect Partner - Perfect for What?
A first-hand account of the retrieval of a drowning relationship.
“Describe your perfect partner,” someone asks you.
“Okay,” you say. “Tall, good-looking, riveting eyes, sex appeal, intelligent, sensitive, honest, good communicator, creative, spiritual, great in bed, fun-loving, financially independent, aligned with whole health and whole food, romantic…”
The list of glowing adjectives just spills out, doesn’t it? It’s not at all difficult to be a Pygmalion, dreaming up an ideal partner, but let’s just fast forward the film past those first few exhilarating years to when the rose-coloured path begins to look boggy... or even bloody...
Don't Look for Mr Right, Or Give Up on Him
– Create Him!
I recently read an article in which the author, Lori Gottlieb, believes that many women are too fussy in their choice of a life partner. In her opinion, they should settle for Mr Good Enough rather than holding out for a romantic fantasy. She advises her reader: “Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling ‘Bravo!’ in movie theatres. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go.”
And she makes a valid point. We’re fed such a steady diet of Hollywood romances on TV – in fact, her article draws heavily on television characters – that it’s easy to compare real people with celluloid people who’ve had powder dusted on their blemishes, whose words and actions are backed by stirring music, and who’ve had to re-state their lines until the Director is satisfied. So, yep, if you want to be happy in a relationship, you need a decent sense of reality.
It's Anti-Bullying Day and kids are being asked to wear orange as a sign that they won't stand for bullying. I wonder, though, if what's really being promoted is Anti-Bullies Day, since the majority of public opinion seems to be on the side of the 'victims'?
I'm more in favour of Let's Get Conscious Day… Particularly that we get conscious of universal laws and how bullying fits into them. Because upsetting as bullying can be, it's not a sign that things are broken and dysfunctional; there's actually a 'hidden order' at work…