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Seasons of growth and change

Anita Cassidy

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The shift to autumn is one that focusses my mind on seasons and change more than most. I am not sure why this is but, having written previously about why I love autumn, perhaps this has something to do with it.

In the last five (5) years, I have experienced almost relentless personal change. In the spring of 2015, I opened up my marriage and began exploring kink. A year later,I was separated from my husband of ten years but still co-habiting. It was another two years before I moved out fully, and more time again until I moved my kids out and changed their school. On top of all this, I was finishing publishing my first book, founding Alethya, well as learning to be non-monogamous after two adult decades of monogamy. Having to develop the emotional skills that are needed for this whilst doing it has been very demanding, both emotionally and physically, but also very much worth it.

My divorce is due to be finalised this month and, whilst it has been over a year since I moved out of the family home fully, and three years since we agreed to separate, I am still experiencing the after shocks of all of these changes.

The initial changes that led to the ones I outlined above all felt very exciting. They were huge, firework like spurts of growth outwards. I felt energised and very social. I started going out, I lost weight. I wrote lots and was very externally focussed: gathering up new experiences like a kid scooping up handfuls of dried leaves and chucking them about. It was all very wonderful!

In the last twelve to twenty-four months I have noticed less interest in the big nights and the social stuff and more desire to look inwards, to dig deeper into things. This has felt like a big shift in pace and it has been pretty jarring for me, as well as for those around me.

Emotional work and growth can be broken down into external / outwards oriented growth and internal work / inwards oriented growth. One is almost showy, summer growth and the other is quieter, more thoughtful work. For one there is a need for activity, connection and reaching out and for the other a need for stillness, calm and consistency. During the latter, it can look like nothing is happening (like Winter) but this is the time when the roots are digging deeper, the centre is getting stronger. These are necessary cycles. It is once the digging deeper has been done, that external growth can happen: the flowering after.

The issue is that these cycles are rarely experienced as so clearly defined and linear (we move between them perhaps rapidly, perhaps slowly). And neither do they always “fit” with where we wish we were. That is part of the challenge for me now, to accept where I am in whatever part of the cycle and not resist it because I want it to be otherwise. It is, as Meg-John Barker so rightly said to me recently, about feeling into that which you are experiencing.

I sometimes miss the drama and the flurry of newness that I experienced a few years ago. Many of my experiences now are calmer but they are, I also notice, felt more deeply. I am developing some very profound friendships and connections. I am healing the harm done by some unconscious parenting and shaping a better relationship with my children. I am still out and having physical experiences which are, on reflection, much more pleasurable than before. They are just different (much less drama!) and I’m having to adjust to that difference. I find that, mostly, I am experiencing things in a much more ethical, often calmer, and also more genuinely joyful way. These new boundaries and ways of experiencing my body mean that I often say no when I used to say yes: this is not always easy to say (or hear).

Our needs change over time  – sometimes what we need and what we wish we needed are very different things

I would love to be all super excited and outward focussed and energetic but I see that, whilst I might have moments of that, what I mostly need right now is stillness. I need calm and consistency so that I can dig deeper and heal some of the older, more ancient hurts. This healing will, I trust, allow me to be fully creative and fully playful in the future.

So, as the Summer shifts to Autumn, I’m learning to feel into how I feel and what I need. Rather than fighting it, I’m learning to embrace where I am. I’m beginning to trust that wherever I am it is for the best as well as knowing that change is always just around the corner.

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Seasons of growth and change

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