When I got back home, I remember a deep-rooted feeling of displacement. From the Eiffel Tower in Pairs to Wittenberg in Germany, returning home to Australia made one feeling rather clear to me: Australia is not where I want to be anymore. I was returning to familiar places and surroundings that held significant memories. Married memories. But I was single now. Horribly single. And that was tough to transition back to.
My first night home in Australia, I stayed at Mum and Dad’s house. My furry friend, Rommet, still had one more night at his 5-star doggy resort and I was rather jet-lagged and exhausted, so I stayed at Mum and Dad’s that night. It was actually the first night I’d slept there since before I was married. I remember lying awake, feeling ridiculously over-tired but unable to switch off. And a damn email from Mr Ex came through on my iPad at around 11pm, just as I was trying to get to sleep.
Fuck him! I’ve only been back in Australia a few hours and he’s on my case already! It’s as if he KNOWS that I’ve just stepped off a plane and I’m trying to get some much-needed sleep! Gah! Douche-bag, you can’t ruin our marriage AND my sleep patterns!
Yes, I was overtired and hating the painful jolt back into reality.
And no, Mr Ex didn’t know that I’d been overseas and he also didn’t know that I was jet-lagged, grouchy and trying to get to sleep. That was just a happy coincidence.
In this new email, Mr Ex was asking me to send some documents. Paperwork. Something about superannuation. Blah, blah, blah.
But interestingly, I also got an email from Jillian in the next day or two. You know, the lady who worked with Mr Ex and Cosette, who had become a very dear friend of mine, as well as informant extraordinaire for Penny, the P.I.
Jill’s news? Mr Ex and Cosette were moving!
What the actual?!
I was surprised. Really surprised. And it totally explained Mr Ex’s email wanting paperwork and documentation.
Mr Ex and Cosette hadn’t really ‘come out’ at work.
They’d sort of outwardly maintained that they were just friends. But Mr Ex had told Jill, “You may have noticed that I’m spending a fair bit of time with Cosette.” Pfft!
A couple of other ladies from Mr Ex and Cosette’s workplace contacted me too.
They had been in a very similar situation and their hearts went out to me.
To this very day, I still catch up with those three ladies for breakfasts and coffee dates.
And, with Mr Ex and Cosette moving to Bristol, it freed up Australia to be my home-sweet-home again. And it freed me up to have those breakfast and coffee dates with Mr Ex and Cosette’s work colleagues.
Mr Ex lived in the U.K. for a portion of his childhood. In fact, those years were probably his cheeriest childhood memories because his parents were happily married in the U.K. His parents later divorced and returned to Australia where things just went from bad to worse. Mr Ex always talked with unending love and joy about his memories in Ireland and the U.K.
Cosette is also from that region. She is Irish. An interesting connection, I think.
For those really observant readers, you may remember that Mr Ex and I gave each other Irish Claddagh rings representing love, friendship and loyalty during our dating years. They’re beautiful rings. A heart representing love, held by hands representing friendship, and a crown on top representing loyalty. And Mr Ex was still wearing that fucking ring when he was having a fucking affair. Pardon my French, but the irony is unbelievable. If anyone should’ve known what the ring stood for, it was Irish-native Cosette!!!! Hashtag Vomit.
And I can still sense that feeling of anger and pain, thinking of Mr Ex and Cosette starting their life anew.
And I do sometimes wonder if Mr Ex and Cosette have exchanged Irish Claddagh rings of their own?
Or what did Mr Ex ever do with the Irish Claddagh ring that I gave him?
Vomit, vomit, vomit, vomit.
But, as I always say, every time that I dump that anger and pain at the foot of the cross, I somehow find a new depth of freedom that I never knew existed. And I experience Jesus yet again. We don’t serve a distant, aloof God who sits on a throne watching his creations feel like crap. We serve a God who enters into our suffering and weeps with us. He’s right there with my mascara-smudged face and pillow full of tears. Through Jesus. Jesus, our Immanuel.
And Immanuel means, ‘God is with us’.
I have always loved Disney on Ice. As a child, I went to Disney on Ice each year religiously and I always bought the over-priced glossy program. I remember spending hours looking through the pictures, imagining what it would be like to skate like them. I’d read the bios of the principal skaters and stare at the sparkly costumes and skating boots, wishing that I could be a part of that.
After seeing what was probably my tenth Disney on Ice show in my first year at University (FYI it was High School Musical: The Ice Tour), I started figure skating lessons. That must’ve been around 2006. I was crap at it. Total crap. I’d never skated before. Needless to say, we don’t get snow or ice or anything like that in this country. Learning to skate in my first year of Uni was hard. But I did love it. And I continued on-and-off for a few years.
But, somehow, just like that pink guitar that I bought about the same time, skating fell off the priority list. Sad, really. But it’s true. Married life took over. Day-to-day routines and the mundane existence of two play-it-safe DINKs took over.
And so, here I am. Separated from Mr Ex. Still dealing with the abrupt ending of our marriage. A superb, life-changing, self-discovering overseas holiday. Fabulous revelations and experiences in Europe. A new ring to mark those milestones. But now, jolted back to reality. Learning how to find peace in my hometown. The town where I met Mr Ex. The town where I got married. The town that held umpteen-million memories of my relationship with Mr Ex. Is it even possible to find peace in this place?!
As I was saying, vomit, vomit, vomit.
*Lay it at the cross.*
And bang! Voila! Ta-dah! Zip-a-dee-doo!
My parents gave me a card. It read, “Do more of what you love!”
How beautifully simple.
YES! I thought. And what do I love?
I love figure skating.
And so I went back to figure skating. My previous coach was no longer there. Probably a blessing because it meant that I didn’t need to explain my period of absence to anyone.
The club had had an overhaul of staff and skaters. It was new!
I do love that concept of ‘new’!
If there is anything that will give you the unrelenting drive to nail a one-foot spin, it is pain. Pain gives you a bitch of an appetite. It pushes you better than the harshest of coaches. Pain propels you further into the galaxy of abilities than any NASA rocket could ever do.
And pain launched me further into figure skating than I had ever been before.
I was made to feel super-dooper welcome by a skater called Rosie. Rosie is Mum’s age. And she was on a synchronised skating team of amazing women. All around Mum’s age, actually. But don’t let that fool you! They are sharp skaters and oh-so-fun to hang around with. And they warmly invited me to be on their synchro team. Woot!
I got to know my fellow skaters over many months. But one thing was rather God-ordained. I’m always going on about how one of the most poignant ways that I encounter God is in the stranger… well, Rosie is another perfect example of that.
There was one day when we were standing in the middle of the rink. She said something about church and my ears pricked up. Yep, Rosie is a Jesus-follower. And it was really nice to make that connection. Always nice to find a fellow follower of Jesus.
But, things got seriously amazing a month or so later. Taking our skates off, I asked Rosie about her children. Rosie told me about her children and grandchildren. She had one child in particular though, who was a teacher. Single, apparently. And a Christian. Hmm… A single, 30-something-year-old Christian? There’s gotta be a story there! And amazingly, Rosie started that unbelievable sentence that her daughter had been married, BUT…
*Ding, ding, ding!*
It’s really, really exciting when you find parts of your story in other people. That, right there, is another perfect example of my soul saying, “Oh! There you are! I’ve been looking for you!” And I am totally convinced that’s one of the many ways of encountering Jesus.
Putting on my figure skating boots post-separation, after several years away from the rink, was life-changing. Life-altering. Life-inspiring.
And best of all, Jesus was all over it!
I also met two amazing coaches, Donna and Stacey. Both incredibly talented and warm human beings. And I had so many unforeseen opportunities.
A definite highlight that came along just recently was skating in Broadway on Ice.
I’d never thought I’d get the opportunity to skate in front of people. That was always a far-away dream of my 5-year-old self who stared at Disney on Ice programs for hours on end. But in true Cinderella style, I say that a pair of shoes CAN change your life! And for me, my life-changing glass slipper was actually a figure skating boot!
Sparkly costume, top hat and tails! I’m a Broadway star, baby!
Well, not quite.
And underneath the sparkly costume and stage make-up is just a little girl who fell in love with Disney on Ice. Not 20-something and separated.
I could recreate myself in a positive, new light. So I threw myself hook, line and sinker into skating.
Figure skating is a ‘survival sport’. Much like sailing, I imagine.
When you’re doing it, you have to be 100% in the moment. Focussed 100% on what you are doing. In order to ‘survive’. If you are not concentrating 100%, you are highly likely to stack it in a rather spectacular fashion. And get massive bruises. So when I skate, I’m in the moment. No room for other thoughts or worries. No room for baggage. Or history. Or Mr Ex. It’s all about me. And the jump that I’m landing.
I do sometimes wonder what heaven is like. It kind of does my head in a bit though. Too massive, too surreal and too incredible to grasp. I wonder if there will be an ice rink there!
Think about that hobby or that task that you do, which makes you feel like time flies. That thing where you feel like you’re doing exactly what you were made to do. Whether it is painting, or playing a sport, or listening to classical music, or gardening – we all have that ‘thing’ that makes time fly. Makes our soul sing. I think that’s what heaven will be like.
And for me, figure skating – oh! and writing – gives me that feeling.
I think everyone should search and search and search until they find that.