I first read The Manifesto when visiting my counselor last autumn and there have been numerous visits since then.

Where does the story begin? Perhaps last April is a good place to start, when I remember remarking to a friend that things needed to change for me, as I could not go on the way I was. To help with change, I attended a course on Sacred Relationships conducted by my same counsellor, as I was at am impasse in my marriage of 17 years and wanted to see if there was anything that could be done for us. The fact that my then husband did not attend with me should have been enough of a sign, but I was at the time ‘pulling the wool over my eyes.’

The course gave me further insight into what I wanted in my marriage, but was not getting and had not received for a very long time. Reading David Deida’s Dear Lover after the course reinforced in me that the kind of relationship I wanted my marriage to be.

At my suggestion, we went to couple’s therapy. But unbeknown to me, my husband was in the midst of an affair; he did not admit this during our sessions, so therapy did not help.

In an attempt to reclaim some of my own femininity which had been relinquished somewhere along the line of being breadwinner, mom, wife and all the other roles a working Mum takes on, I started attending a Pole dance class, which also offered emotional healing through movement.

We limped along for another few months until one day in June, we were out for dinner with one of my girlfriends. When my friend was in the toilet, I asked my husband if he wanted to stop. He asked, “Stop what?” And I said to stop trying to work at saving our marriage. The look of relief on his face said it all.

We went back and forth on ending vs. trying for a bit longer, and even went on the planned summer vacation to Spain with our two children whilst he was still figuring it out. It is hard to describe the feeling of not knowing if he would be prepared to fight for our marriage or would just give up. Somewhere towards the end of the trip, a feeling of dread settled in that he was not ready to put in any effort and wanted out. He took our kids to see his family while I went back to work. We were due to meet up again in two weeks. The day before I was due to join them, he told me over text that once I arrived he would leave for a few days to take a short trip on his own. When I asked who with, it all came pouring out and I learnt over text of his affair and that my marriage was over.

When we came back home, he moved out, though we had still not said anything to our children as he was still not entirely sure. We waited a couple of weeks and when it was clear there was no way back we told our children we were separating. It felt like the entire world could hear the sound of my heart breaking! Sometimes I think life might be a tad easier if it came with a user manual.

The next few weeks were a blur as we started to deal with the logistics and finances. And then things got tricky: I had been the bread winner for the last two years, which I will in part attribute as one of the reasons of the breakdown in our marriage. I had put my dream of opening a café on hold to support the family. My then husband thought he could take half the assets but not contribute anything to the children as he was ostensibly not earning ‘enough.’ When that conversation with me did not go to plan, he went to a lawyer and filed for divorce without so much as a head’s up in order to force the financial settlement. As my friend said, you don’t really know a man till you divorce him!

The week after that bombshell, I got made redundant at work. To say I was devastated would be an understatement, as here I was fighting my children’s future and my means of supporting them was snatched away.

I immediately started actively seeking gainful employment, but it was not the best time with the usual slow down over Christmas and the New Year.

After months of legal wrangling and costs incurred on both sides, we reached an agreement on the financial settlement, though by this time there was so much damage done to our relationship that any hope of an amicable divorce was shattered. However, for the sake of the children, we remained as civil as we could be. All this while his young lady friend was posting pictures of their exploits on Facebook, leaving me vacillated between being grateful for all the information that aided the divorce and descending into further gloom at the sight of them having a ‘good time’ while I was left holding the baby.

As we reached financial agreement, I was contacted by my previous employer to see if I could help lead on a project, albeit the role would be on a contract basis. After a series of successful interviews / discussions, I re-joined to work on a very interesting project.

All through this I had amazing support from all my family and friends around the world, who all rallied  around me. I continued to visit my counsellor regularly and read the Manifesto on each visit. Although I could not claim to have initiated the changes, I was learning to surrender to the journey I was being taken on and cultivated trust that the Universe had my back, which allowed me to be present each day. I opened myself to each and every possibility and opportunity.

Going back to where the story started last April, the night before the course, I dreamt that I was in my kitchen (my favorite place) and was trying to defend myself with one of my kitchen knives against this lady dressed in a black hooded robe wielding a sword. She did not harm me, but was slicing around me, now it would seem, as if to set me free.

I was not happy in my marriage, and if am being honest did not really enjoy the last job, so the loss of both is in a way set me free. I have ended up with a new role at work that I really enjoy where I am able to use all my experience and add value. I am emotionally strong thanks to the work I did on myself both internally with counseling, and externally with dance and exercise. I am now training to be a teacher with my pole dance instructor. I stopped looking for the love of my life and continued to immerse myself in the things I love….dance, exercise, cooking, baking, reading, music, travel et all, as I reclaim myself as a woman.  I truly believe life is short, having lost my mother in a tragic crime eight years ago (that’s a whole other story).

I sit here on a beach in Bali as I write this story, almost exactly a year to the day since last summer’s disastrous holiday and feel life has turned a corner……the custody order for the children which I had applied for at the time of the divorce, came through two days ago. I am in a happy place in myself and enjoying all that life has to offer and exploring opportunities as they arise.  By the grace of God, I am free and able to make choices for me and the children, such as this holiday for us to Bali which has been wonderful. I was able to avail of the daily yoga classes on offer where we were staying,  and was told that I should consider becoming a yoga teacher. I received attention from men telling me I was beautiful and desirable, but I now value myself enough to not settle for anything less than what I deserve.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that I have been looked after and am blessed, so trust that whatever comes my way from here on will be good.

I read this quote and it resonated – ‘Never be ashamed of a scar, it just means that you are stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.’  My scars may well be only on the inside, but I am stronger for them.