Sunday 22nd May 2022

Women of Courage Series. #16. Sarah. 92/2019.

Women of Courage Series. #16. Sarah. 92/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Sarah, who is 42,  and I go way back. To blogging days but also via photography. We’d already been to a blogging function in the city and Sarah offered to help me with my then new Camera. I spent an afternoon at her place with her then pre-schooler learning about how to use the various focus points and I still use that help today. I am so glad we did meet and even though we are no longer in Sydney, we connect on-line from time to time. Thank you Sarah for your willingness to share here today!



What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

The breakdown of my marriage was a slow and sad journey. Looking back I am grateful that neither of us broke it dramatically but with reflection, sometimes I think the gradual descent into unloving each other did more damage to us in the long run. Our differences, which had pulled us together when we were younger and in the trenches of parenting small children, were the same differences that were causing us such frustration in our personal relationship. By the time my husband was finally able to agree that our marriage was no longer something worth fighting for, the relief was immense for me. I could direct my attention towards something active, a collaborative separation rather than pushing emotional energy into a relationship that had lost its heart. At the time I thought that was the bravest I had ever been, but the courage I had to conjure up at the time of the separation was nothing in comparison to the courage I have needed in the eighteen months since. Navigating a huge life change is complicated, deeply traumatic and takes resilience and bravery and the support of everyone around you.


How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

I was changed in every way by the ending of my marriage. The positives have been amazing, I have learnt that I can do everything I need to do, on my own, and that the support of people around me is a gift and should never be taken for granted. But the negatives have weighed heavily on me. I have two incredible daughters who have had their perfect childhoods turned upside down and there are days where the responsibility for that causes me almost physical pain. I have learnt that when bad things happen, the world doesn’t stop turning around you and that a positive attitude can lift you and those around you out of a trough of despair. I laugh more now, I am more present and I am a better mother, friend and ex-wife. I have learnt to let go of the small things and focus on the bigger picture and I am more positive and less pessimistic which has been a really fun and rewarding change.


Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I cannot express strongly enough that I believe courage is something that is compounded by sharing with others, like happiness, courage grows in the presence of people. I found it really hard to express how I was feeling after we agreed the separation. People were shocked that I was relieved, but I had to remember this was often the first time they had heard about the finality of our decision where we had been living the reality for years by this stage. For a while I retreated into my own headspace and found it easier to not talk about what I was going through but this was isolating and left me feeling lonely and misunderstood.

So I started opening up to the people around me and found that sharing my experience made it more real and people responded to my openness with their own stories. Hearing about how other people have dealt with tough situations made me feel stronger and better equipped to cope with the difficulties I was dealing with. I also felt better able to help other people around me and this has planted a seed in me.

Navigating the breakdown of a family unit and a separation is incredibly difficult even when we were doing it amicably under the same roof. There are so many ways of approaching the legalities of a separation and if I was finding it difficult, I knew that there would be so many people out there who felt completely out of their depth trying to work out how to proceed. I am hoping that in some capacity I might be able to help other people facing the same difficulties, maybe by volunteering, possibly by writing, definitely by talking to people.


Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

I genuinely feel that I could face most things now. My vision and perspective has changed during this process and instead of being a confirmed pessimist, I see the future as containing possibilities that are beyond my comprehension. Being courageous for me looks a lot like not worrying about things I cannot control and the best bit about this is having heaps more emotional time to do things I love like hang out with my children, spend time with friends, read books and plan adventures!


Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Don’t be afraid to share your story. I know it can be hard to be honest about how you are feeling, but I have found that being as authentic as I can be about my situation has genuinely helped others going through similar experiences. The other really important lesson I have learned about courage is that asking for help is one of the bravest things someone can do. Fear of rejection or facing our own insignificance can hold us back from being honest about what our needs are but once I started to admit how hard I was finding things, people seemed eager to help. I learnt that even the smallest gesture carries great weight when you are struggling and through my own experience of receiving help and compassion, I am in turn more compassionate and empathetic and less judgmental!


Thank you so much Sarah for your frankness and lessons learned. I am sure that by sharing your story, others may take courage and comfort too.



Joining  with Sue and Leanne each Wednesday  here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

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