On Sandhurst

To expand on a post I popped on Facebook, Hubs and I were watching The Kings Speech while I did the ironing on Sunday night. A documentary series was on SBS when the DVD finished, filmed over the course of a year on Sandhurst Royal Military Academy.

There was only about 15 minutes left of the program, if that. But it was enough to trigger some decidedly mixed emotions. Life on Sandhurst RMA started when my first husband and I moved in on the day of the July bombings in London and finished when I moved in with Mon Bears after the marriage systematically imploded around me. Seeing the buildings made me alternate from sad, angry, upset and relieved.

It was singularly the most unwelcoming camp I ever lived on as an Army wife. If your husband wasn’t involved in the training of officer cadets, you weren’t involved, despite other units also being based on the camp. Women simply wouldn’t talk to you, they’d turn their backs and walk away. ‘Affectionately’ known as the marriage breaker, if your relationship was in strife, living on Sandhurst would finish it off.

I don’t really want to rehash that part of my life, but I can’t not without writing this. However, what made me think when I posted my teary thanks and gratitude on Facebook to everyone who helped me and held me up, was how life and happenstance turns on a knife edge. Every single day you make decisions and choices and live with the consequences that come out of those decisions.

What if (in no particular order):

· He hadn’t accepted that posting?

· I hadn’t gone to work in one office on another near-by camp, then applied to somewhere else when the role didn’t work out, so I also ended up working on Sandhurst?

· I wouldn’t have met my then boss, who’s sister phoned up one day asking if she knew anyone who was looking for another job?

· I didn’t get offered that job, which nearly doubled my wage and gave me a way out?

· I hadn’t read Stop Thinking, Start Living in the shadow of Salisbury Cathedral and realised that I alone, was enough. Just me.

· If on the day I met Rikibear I hadn’t given her a hug because she looked so unutterably sad and needed a hug? What if her phone was switched off when I called her?

· I hadn’t been left felt so small I needed to get out and meet people, so put an advert on a dating website?

· If Hubs hadn’t replied to me?

Oh boy, am having to stop playing this game now because it’s hurting too hard. Without Hubs, I wouldn’t have Peanut and I can’t bear it. That sweet boy brings me so much sunshine, last night he took my hand and pulled me into the living room so we could play with his Legos, we built houses and rockets, trucks and castles, showing each creation to his Dadda with pride in his voice. Last night I read him to sleep, we laughed and joked over a book, his hands on either side of my face as he kissed me goodnight and asked me to light his stars so he could count them on his ceiling. When he creeps into our bed and snuggles into me, the curls on the back of his head tickling my nose as I spoon him, my heart is so full I can barely breathe. This morning as I was making my breakfast, he was playing with play doh, again showing us what he was seeing, opening our eyes to his world.

While watching the program was difficult, I forced myself to watch. It was reminder that no matter what choices you make, the consequences of those choices and the fallout from them can take you so far away from where you planned or thought yourself you’d be.

In the middle of loss and turmoil, you can’t see more than a few steps in front of you. Don’t forget when something huge happens in your life, you have to get used to it, so you need to allow yourself the time to get used to living with it. I read this article on grief today, it rang so true, not just for bereavement, but for the life I had to leave behind me when my first marriage failed. Part of the whole range of emotions is accepting that you’ve now got a change of direction:

It’s not a question of getting over it or healing. No; it’s a question of learning to live with this transformation. For the loss is transformative, in good ways and bad, a tangle of change that cannot be threaded into the usual narrative spools. It is too central for that. It’s not an emergence from the cocoon, but a tree growing around an obstruction. Meghan O’Rourke

I love the idea and image of being a tree growing round an obstruction, absorbing life changes but carrying on growing. As much as I hated that time in my life, I have much to be grateful for what it gave me.

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