A roller coaster at an amusement park.
Healing Lessons,  Life transitions

Making Choices While On the Emotional Roller Coaster

My friend, Edie, describes the roller coaster so well. When we go and get on a roller coaster, we know it is going to go up and then it goes down. We can expect to know when we can get off.

On the other hand, for an emotional roller coaster, one never knows when it will start or stop. It can surprise us at any time about anything. One can be enjoying friends and going home feeling well and happy. Then wham! An unwelcome emotional downer hits hard. What can we do about it? 

Understand Choice

I learned about choice from my ‘bible’, Man’s Search for Meaning, by Dr. Viktor Frankl, who was my long distance mentor. Just that one book was all that was needed.  I spoke with him once by phone and those fifteen minutes will always be at the top of my gratitude list.

If one can make a choice while a prisoner in Auschwitz, you can make it anywhere.

Yesterday was a good day. I worked in the morning and went to a birthday party in the evening. However, today I woke up this morning with an impossible headache and bad temper. My cats were demanding attention and I didn’t want to give it to them. Reluctantly, I fed them and asked them to go to sleep or sunbathe in the sun room. They are cats! Am I bananas? They are going to do what they please.

I am so ungrateful.  They looked after me so well when I had pneumonia and bronchitis. Next, I turned on the computer. More hateful stuff. Sure, there were some lovely posts – didn’t look at them of course. I wanted my fire fueled. Good stuff puts out the flame and I wasn’t about to be cajoled into feeling positive. I wrote to John, my late husband, and told him he had no right to not be here and to take our friends, Joan and Peter, with him. Bad vibes were all I felt.

What could I do to alleviate this torpor? It was at noon that I decided to do whatever helped.

The Choice Is Step One

There are several places I know lift my spirts; the ocean in particular. I didn’t feel like driving all that way, so I went to the obvious choice, which is Peace Valley Park just outside Doylestown. I’ve written about this haven several times. I love it there. John and I went there often for years. So off I went, while assuring myself it wasn’t going to work this time. Aren’t I precious?

I entered the park and instantly felt somewhat calmer. Driving to where some of John’s ashes are, I spoke with him and then drove to the lookout place we always parked to look over the lake and I parked alongside another car. There were not too many Canada Geese sadly. I sat in the car listening to music, when the people from the other car started to emerge.

The woman driver got out first and then opened the back door. A man got out and handed her a little baby. They gave each other kisses and kissed the baby.  That was the turning point for me. I opened the window and said to them, “Thank you!  You’ve made my day”.   It’s something I do when I see love anywhere. It soothes my soul. The couple smiled and said thank you back to me, although I was receiving the beautiful picture. I am so blessed that I have never been jealous of another people’s love since John died. It’s a miracle that I get to see these wonderful expressions of love. I could feel my mood lifting.

I bent my head down to read my book again when the man spoke to me. He told me that the woman with him was his best friend and he adored her baby too, so whenever they could, they came to walk in the park. Lovely. He asked me how I liked the park and I told him this was the place John and I frequented for many years and that the anniversary of his death was but a short time away. I don’t know why I told him that – it came out as a stream of consciousness.

He then said, “My father’s wake is tonight. I just wanted to be away for a while”. I told him how beautiful it was to be able to be with a friend at such a time and wished him well. He bent into the car, took my hand and kissed it. It was such a sweet gesture.

We chatted for a little while longer. He told me his name was Jeffrey and the baby’s name was Colin, and I told him my older son was named Colin. He turned and said to his friend, “Can you believe this? Her son’s name is Colin!” She smiled, came to the car and thanked me for being there. Thanked me for being there?

They brought me such joy. She didn’t tell me her name. It didn’t matter. She was a glowing mother and friend. He said, “We were meant to be here today. Meeting you, hearing your voice and most of all listening to me in my grief. It was fortuitous. You are an amazing woman. Thank you. It was a  pleasure to meet  you.”

I didn’t  understand any of that. We had been together less than ten minutes and yet it changed my gloom and doom immediately. We said our farewells and they went on their walk.

There is something about Peace Valley Park. It is a magical, gentle, glorious place. Every time I go there, something exquisite happens as it did today. Lake Galena is lovely, as are the Canada Geese when they arrive in a gigantic swarm, land and then take off again. I gasp every time I see it.

I write about it as a reminder that everyone needs a special place somewhere.  Solitude is soothing. I know my mood had lightened when several cars arrived with a lot of young people with skateboards and loud music.  They didn’t bother me one bit, but it would have in the past. I kept reading my book and listening to my own music.

Finally, I decided to drive around the park and go to my favourite place, Tabora Farms. Their sandwiches are ridiculous. Huge. When my friend Dan came to visit, I took him there and we both ordered sandwiches. They are gigantic. It is truly the best to agree with your friend on what to get in advance so that one sandwich is enough for you both. I did have a photograph of the one I ordered that day with Dan.  I’ll look.

I ordered a breakfast sandwich which is smaller. Then I returned to the park and drove all around seeing different people walking their dogs, jogging, mothers with babies and toddlers. All uplifting.  I went back to my original parking spot and looked at the lake again. 

So magnificent.

A view of Lake Galena.

There is something about Peace Valley Park. It is a magical, gentle, glorious place. Every time I go there, something exquisite happens as it did today.

Choose to Imagine Happy

I started to think about where I would like to live if I have to stay in this country. Obviously I would prefer to live in England or Ireland. It isn’t going to happen sadly.

Of course, a bungalow with a fenced in yard in Peace Valley park would be high on the list. Then, there’s a road in Horsham called Chestnut Lane with plenty of the kind of house I would like. The part of the road I would wish to reside is opposite the cemetery. How quiet. They can’t build on that. The trouble is that most people want to live there too! One house came up for sale and immediately was sold. The buyers must have had the same feelings about humans that I have, apart from my select list!

Have you ever really thought about where you live and where you would like to live? I wish you would write and tell me. I am really interested in this especially as in current circumstances I can’t move anywhere.  Those who want to stay where they are need not apply unless they want to tell me why!

This blog post came to be as I know there are lots of people out there who have these roller coaster happenings in their lives. I love the phrase and I don’t know who wrote it. Overcoming is not the same as getting over.

I muse on the things that have changed in my life. It is a long one after all, so I had time to do these things. My goal is to share stories about them so that others can manage their lives at earlier ages. I am constantly aware of giving my power over to a situation. What a waste of time, like shame and guilt, it is complete nonsense.

These emotional rollercoasters are going to be around in my life for quite some time. However, I won’t let them rule me.

I am woman, hear me roar.

Choose You, Always

First and most important, I have NO resentments. None. It took me a long time, and there was a quote I read from a daily affirmations book called, Each Day a New Beginning.  It was the first book for women in recovery (although it would apply to all).

“IF YOU HOLD  RESENTMENTS TO A PERSON, YOU ARE BOUND TO THAT PERSON WITH BANDS OF STEEL.”

Brilliant. It is commonsense and logical.  I began to see that resentments were hurting me, not the people who had hurt or betrayed me. I doubt they were even thinking of me. At first I was obsessed with them and wanted to tell them how much they had hurt, abused and denigrated me.

Then I read the book and like Man’s Search for Meaning, it changed my life in this way, that I no longer was bothered about how they had hurt me or what they had done.  I decided to get on with what I wanted to do.

So I worked full time and went back to University part time and earned my degrees. I had a house and children to care for and they have turned out so very well so I must have done something right. After all those years of being humiliated and told I could do nothing right, I turned it over and took control of me. It wasn’t easy. I had support and those who had hindered me in any way were removed from my life entirely. It took this experience for me to realise just how much empowerment I had given to others. I regained it in its entirety.

I remember making a list of what I wanted and made decisions of what I had to do or not do until I had achieved my goal. The most important decision was this – no dating until I finished my studies. Smart idea as when I got a divorce I was with a man for a very short time who was ten times worse than my husband.  We do that when we don’t get help and begin to rebuild ourselves.  It turned out he was my greatest teacher when I realised what I had done and wrote that if this is what a relationship (how I dislike that word) is, I would rather be on my own for the rest of my life. I had no dreams about being part of a happily in love couple. That didn’t enter my mind. No desire whatsoever. Then after eight years, after I completed my education, John showed up. I’m going to be writing about that at another time. It was karma.

I believe in the power of the human spirit and I also feel strongly that everyone can achieve their goals. They might not be in the way one imagined them to be. Even at my advanced years chronologically I plan to blaze a new trail. Have no idea where it will lead.

I am pissing off more people than usual, which is not planned, but fun. I am surprised at how many people do not understand my humour. Weird. There are so many people no longer in my life and those who have entered the window when the doors were closed are gold dust. I cherish them all. They are loving and giving. Some are long distance. It doesn’t matter. They are honest and can tell me if I am doing something to my detriment, which happens sometimes. Everybody agreeing with my outlook would make me nervous.  I need the anchor I lost when John died. They do for me. I am blessed.

The message I want to share is that I had to change. There is no doubt about it. If I chose to stay feeling abused, that would get me nowhere. My life is far from perfect, but it is perfect for me.

Let me know how you changed and succeeded by your decisions. I love to hear from you.

Photo Credits:

Lake Galena, copyrighted to WikiWand

Roller coaster photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

One Comment

  • Dan Newman

    Hello my dear Yvonne – I’ve tried my best to find the picture of the egg salad sandwich you had ordered when we went to Tabora Farms to grab lunch. I fondly remember both of us trying to eat those humongous sandwiches in the car and not make a mess. So yes dear readers the sandwiches are that big. Reading your blog took be back to my week long visit with you and how lovely it was for you to show me your “special spot” that you shared with John and trusting me with the stories of you and John’s history. It still amazes me how much our lives run parallel to each other. My being told I would never amount to anything, I was so lazy I stunk, I didn’t have the right to breath the air, I was an accident, a mistake, ugly, etc, etc, etc, and the list goes on. I would have never in a thousand years believed I had the capability to achieve the things I have achieved in my life. My degrees, my own business, my travels, a 41 year young relationship with a wonderful caring spouse, a beautiful home, and yes my list of achievements now goes on and on. LOL I am so thankful that our paths crossed at the Mental Health and Addition Conference in Indianapolis IN those many life times ago. I have officially shut down my business and I’m fully retired – now there has to be a good joke in there somewhere! I miss you and promise to try to make it up for another visit and catch up on life and the changes we’ve discovered. Your friend always – Dan

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