What’s gone is gone

In my huge decluttering bid in order to make more space for the Painter and me to work in the flat, I am going through boxes and boxes of papers. Some of these go back more than 30 years – I found the paperwork for my flat, and the life insurance policy attached to the mortgage, lots of stuff from my wedding, (you may be surprised to learn that the Painter is not my husband)  and too many birthday and Christmas cards to count – as well as hundreds of old receipts and letters, out of date copies of my cv, etc. You get the picture. For a long time it has been too painful to go through this stuff, so it got boxed and put away. Now I am being forced to deal with it, and finding it quite hard, although it has its bright moments. Like today, when I found a card from my father who I miss terribly, commenting in an amused way on my fondness for champagne. I shall never let that one go.

I also found a card from a lover from the very early eighties, sent to me after we separated and wishing me a happy life. It’s made me think about whether that was what I got – the happy life, I mean. It certainly hasn’t turned out anything like I thought it would – it’s been a lot longer, for a start! As a fairly wild youngster I didn’t ever really expect to turn into a sensible middle aged lady – and in fact, I was right, I didn’t turn into a sensible middle aged lady, but I did get to middle age – which is quite an achievement in itself considering some of the company I’ve kept.

Yet here I am, older, not much wiser, certainly a lot more tired than I thought I would be – and about two dress sizes bigger. I have made some appalling choices, but usually for good reasons. I have lost some very good friends and family, all of whom I still think of and still miss. I have been at the top of the league in some of the things I’ve done but got bored and moved on, instead of sticking at it and really making something of it. I’ve failed to produce any children (although not for want of trying, trust me), and had to live with the disappointment that has caused to me and to my parents.

I have loads of skills – that sounds awful, but really, I have. Lots of experiences and information and general knowledge acquired along the way, I’m confident (usually) and I try to be kind. Yet here I am, sitting in a pile of shredded papers which previously documented my life and wondering what on earth happens next. How many times can things fall apart and how many times can you move on, re-start, re-imagine and get going again on something new? It’s making me wonder if previous generations had things better sorted than we do – they would just stick with whatever it was – job/marriage/whatever, through thick and thin, making the best of the choices they had made. We seem to do things differently now, if it’s not working and can’t be easily fixed we leave it and move on.

I don’t expect they were any happier back then, they were often continuing in jobs or relationships which were unfulfilling or worse. But are we really any happier now? I remember thinking that I was, and that it was wonderful to be able to make the choice to move on, and not to have to endure when things went bad. Now I’m not so sure. Continuing growth is probably the key to happiness, but that should not be confused with continually changing your environment or relationships. If the same person keeps moving on, similar problems are going to keep raising their heads.

I thought happiness would come from feeling ‘settled’. The problem is that I never really settled, just rested for a while and then went on again.

And all this from a bag of shredding and an old card. The conclusion  is that I have not had an UNhappy life – it has certainly never been boring, and there have been some glowingly happy moments in it, but maybe everyone gets to 50 and starts to wonder, what if…

What about you?

Here’s a snap of the card:

2014-01-05 14.26.24

I hope he’s having a happy life!

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16 Responses to What’s gone is gone

  1. I understand what happened there – I clicked on the photo, and it opens a new page with the phot, and that’s where my comment is!

  2. Reposted (in the right place this time).Your head must hurt after all that thinking. I found myself nodding my head a lot. We were talking about decisions with PF the other day – the fact that once you have closed one door and gone through another, you can spend a lot of time wondering what would have happened if you’d done otherwise. That’s the way PF reasons, and it niggles him all the time to know that there were other options that he will never experience. Such is life -we only have one, and if we feel the need for change, then so be it. “You are not a tree” is an expression I like – if you’re not happy, then change is the answer. It’s not running away, it’s giving yourself a choice to live life rather than just survive. Big hugs xxxx

  3. Trapper Gale says:

    I too, find myself reflecting on choices I’ve made and roads I’ve followed… at this point I have a lot more behind than ahead, which can make a fellow feel rather philosophical, I suppose. All of which is to say that this post resonated with me.

    • painterswife says:

      I find that I put off thinking about things – partly because they may be painful and partly because largely I can do nothing about them anymore. When I have to face up to them it all seems to come as a bit of a shock and knocks me back a bit. Hopefully after I have stared all these dragons in the face and then put the ones I choose to keep back into their boxes, I will gain a little more perspective. We are the sum of our choices and experiences and I suspect that self-acceptance s probably the best route to a happy life. Am just not quite there yet! I hope you are further along the route to happiness than me! x

  4. roma1912 says:

    Change as many things as you want to, move on as often as you need to, in my line of work not one of the dears I care for have said “what if ?” they have all at one point or another have said.. “do what you need to, and be happy as your a long time dead” advice I intend to follow

  5. your words are magic x i wil read and re-read now that I have clicked YET another button,which will notify me of your magic by the god of yahoo x

  6. Kate says:

    What a thought-provoking and well-written post. I think you are right when you say “Continuing growth is probably the key to happiness”

    It sounds like you have lived life and made the right choices for you at the time. What more can you ask of yourself? x

  7. PS MacMurray says:

    Thank you. I’m having similar thoughts. Your words add wisdom to the mix. Yes, wisdom… even though you do not believe it is one of your many talents. You cannot have this ability to look back and reflect without first having wisdom to assist the process!! Wishing you a delightful new chapter.

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