Moving on

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There are many things in life that are easier said than done, and moving on is one of them. How many people over the generations have been told to move on, and felt obliged to do so, rather like an assignment set at school? Or a New Year’s resolution never to be kept but nonetheless made, even though a subliminal part of your psyche knows that you’ll never keep it. So why write New Year’s resolutions? Why try to move on? Why not ban the future from your thoughts? Be all cool and laid-back and just let it flow.


Actually, I don’t think that’s a good idea. The thing is, there are certain crucial times in your life when moving on becomes the only way. Unless, of course, you want to take pot luck and dive into the eternal, beyond-galaxies realm that you hope exists, whether or not all the allies of Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins wink knowingly at each other.


But this isn’t about science, or God, or belief or non-belief. It’s about moving on, and how bloody hard that is to do. Oh, it’s easy to want to do it, especially at this time of year when there’s excitement and hope bubbling in the air, together with the imminent gallons of champagne. But once the New Year arrives, and January 1st metamorphoses into January 2nd, and then 3rd, and 4th, and then February, and March, and another Easter, another summer, another autumn and its brutal memory of what happened last autumn, and then … oh God, not another Christmas to get through … and then what? Has your inner promise to move on actually been fulfilled?


I suppose it depends on what type of moving on it is. After all, grief exists in varying degrees, just like everything else in life. Moving on after the loss of a loved one is pretty high up there in the pecking order, with the death of a child surely being right at the top. I just can’t imagine the pain a parent feels after a beloved child has been snatched from them. Thankfully, most of us never have to go through that particularly cutting loss, which must be the cruellest of all.


When a parent dies, on the other hand – especially your last surviving one - you know it’s part of the grand scheme of things; that you’ve reached the inevitable threshold you always knew you’d have to cross one day. You grieve, suffer, remember the best, obliterate the worst, and try to hang around in that empty space where the missing parent once dwelt. Yet you also accept that you can’t. You just have to face the rest of your life without them, now as a proper grown-up, regardless of your age, and get on with things.


When my mother died, I thought I’d never be able to move on in view of the tortuous complexity of our relationship: one that was loving yet agonised, giving yet narcissistic, problem-building rather than problem-solving and, ultimately, never resolved. So I grieved, and remembered, and read old diaries, and wrote a novel about it. For Some We Loved - the dual love story about a man we both loved and lost, thirty years apart.


But moving on after the break-up of a marriage …? That’s a different kettle of fish altogether. You still grieve, suffer, remember the best, long to hang around in that empty space where the missing spouse once dwelt; yet you also know that it is not a sanctified space. It isn’t a space that death has preserved for the warmest parts of your heart to dwell in. It’s a big, gaping, unnatural space that was carved by your own human failure. And your partner’s. Failure in love, failure in fidelity, failure to hold on to those unrealistic vows you made all those years ago, when your love was pure and full of hope, when you wished you could have remained exactly where you were right then, and held on to that specious happiness for ever and ever. And now, the space where all that hope and faith dwelt is empty, and once again you’re told that you have to move on. But how much harder this time round, when the person you’re having to move on from is still very much alive.


I hardly dare mention Philosopher-Hubby again to any fellow-bloggers who have already made his acquaintance. But yes, of course it’s him, Errant Hubby, who has crept back into the pages of my blog and my mind. It’s him that I have to move on from in the imminent New Year. And he also has to move on from me. Because the thing is, despite all that smutty betrayal and the spice of deceit and so on and so forth, there is still a smarting residue of love, on both sides. And a deep awareness of that big gaping space in our homes and our lives – two homes now, rather than one. The empty armchair where he once sat; the non-existent piano where he now resides. Too much pain when we were together; too much space now we are apart. But we have to move on, because moving back is never advised.


So, to 2018 and all those who feel the need to trudge forward, even if they don’t want to, or don’t believe they can, I say to us all – let’s join hands and welcome this invisible space that we’re now emigrating to. Let’s step into the lion’s den of our future with all the courage of Daniel, and finally, once and for all, move on!




Dino Manalis Added Dec 29, 2017 - 3:19pm
Moving on is necessary, but we should learn from past mistakes and alleviate the pain as much as possible.
John Minehan Added Dec 29, 2017 - 4:19pm
"That big eight wheeler a rollin' down the track
Means your true lovin' daddy ain't comin' back
'Cause I'm movin' on, I'll soon be gone
You were flyin' too high for my little old sky, so I'm movin' on.

That big loud whistle as it blew and blew
Said hello to the Southland, we're comin' to you
And we're movin' on, oh, hear my song
You had the laugh on me but I've set you free and I'm movin' on.

Mister fireman won't you please listen to me
'Cause I got a pretty mama in Tennessee
Keep movin' me on, keep rollin' on
So shovel the coal, let this rattle a roll and keep movin' me on.

Mister engineer take that throttle in hand
This rattler's the fastest in the southern land
And keep movin' me on, keep rollin' on
You're gonna ease my mind, put me there on time and keep rollin' on.

I warned you baby from time to time
But you just wouldn't listen or pay me no mind
Now I'm movin' on, I'll soon be gone
You have broken your vow and it's all over now so I'm movin' on.

You switched your engine now I ain't got time
For a triflin' woman on my main line
'Cause I'm movin' on, I'm rollin' on
I've warned you twice, now you can settle the price 'cause I'm movin' on.

But some day baby when you've had your play
You're gonna want your daddy but your daddy will say
Keep movin' on, stayed away too long
I'm through with you, too bad you're blue, keep movin' on . . . ."  Hank Snow
The Burghal Hidage Added Dec 29, 2017 - 4:21pm
Thank you for sharing these personal reflections. I expect that this resonates with many here.  Speaking for myself it certainly resonates with my own experience.  Marriage is a lot of things, but its not all things to all people. Some of us have to learn the hard way. Not to deliberately sour anyone else's perception of it, but I found marriage to be an unending succession of thwarted desires, a soul wrenching exercise in self erasure. Oh. Perhaps thats a bit harsh. Maybe it isnt. 
But as implied in the very word it does involve two parties. What is it they say? Success is beget by a million fathers, but failure is an orphan? Something like that.  Moving on is not hard. It has its taxing moments, to be sure, but it is an emotional ablution. It's getting to the point of moving on that is hard. We try to deny it, spend the withered years trying to forestall it and then....? Well, somehow you just know when it is time.
I wish you best fortunes as you enter this phase of your life journey :)
Wendy Skorupski Added Dec 29, 2017 - 4:47pm
Thank you for that. Yes, it's definitely time for me to move on, hard though it is. I just wish the human memory wasn't so powerful.
Paul C. Added Dec 29, 2017 - 10:39pm
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Mircea Negres Added Dec 30, 2017 - 2:54am
Moving on is advisable for the sake of one's future, but it cannot be done unless the issue is resolved. In my experience lots of people say "you've got to move on", but none of them have solutions or the will to help resolution. When it comes to that, the best quote I ever came across is from the movie Dark Knight Rising, where John Blake aka Robin tells Bruce Wayne "Not a lot of people know what it feels like to be angry, in your bones. I mean, they understand, foster parents, everybody understands, for a while. Then they want the angry little kid to do something he knows he can't do, move on. So after a while they stop understanding. They send the angry kid to a boys home. I figured it out too late. You gotta learn to hide the anger, practice smiling in the mirror. It's like putting on a mask."
Very good post, Wendy. Welcome to Writer Beat!
Wendy Skorupski Added Dec 30, 2017 - 3:10am
Thanks for that quote, and for your praise. And Chris - thank you too. Every little bit helps keep up my spirit!
Stone-Eater Added Dec 30, 2017 - 6:05am
Thanks for that thoughtful article. Have a good start in 2018 :)
Stephen Hunter Added Dec 30, 2017 - 8:00am
Very touching post, you made me feel that pain Wendy. 
There will be pain with a loss, there is no way around that. However the key is not to allow that pain to turn into suffering. Tolle (Power of Now and A New Earth) is a great teacher of this concept. He explains that staying in the Now, also means planning in the NOW. When we are in planning mode, we strategically think through scenarios- without emotion. And even to the worst case, as once we do that our fear of the future is diminished. 
I think that empty space you refer to is actually not in the NOW but a reflection of the past, which  ego is falsely telling you is now. 
Jeff Jackson Added Dec 30, 2017 - 8:59am
Nice essay Wendy. I am watching a loved one's health fade, and as much as I try, there is not a lot I can do. I can make them comfortable and tell them that I love them. I kind of like the "underpromise, overdeliver" philosophy. In relationships, I have always held a realistic view of what I could do and what I couldn't, and I thought that the potential partners  who were willing to take vows were simply unrealistic concerning what they would be able to do in the future. Time and events can batter the defenses of any fortress of love.
I suppose, as well, I am not a terribly forgiving person. In many relationships, what exists has an expiration date. Time and events take their toll. My favorite is when they change their minds as to what makes them happy, and insist that I change my behavior in order to maintain their happiness. Do yourself a huge favor and do not base your happiness on someone else. I learned that lesson long ago, though it is a very hard mentality to live by.
Wendy Skorupski Added Dec 30, 2017 - 9:04am
Thank you, Stephen. Yes, NOW is the most important part of everything, be it grief it joy. Must learn how not to live in the past - and must have a read of Tolle! Thanks again. 
Wendy Skorupski Added Dec 30, 2017 - 9:21am
You are absolutely right, Jeff. And yes, I suppose that my hubby and I passed our expiration date. I just had hoped it would last forever, even though I myself was also guilty of the expiration. Thanks for the thoughts. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 30, 2017 - 10:53am
Wendy - you made me think of my parents, grandparents and a number of close friends. They are gone but as I move on I still carry them around with me. I dedicated my last book to a late good friend of mine. As I wrote the dedication I could picture him laughing and still acutely felt the sadness. We do move on but we leave something behind and we take something forward.
Dave Volek Added Dec 30, 2017 - 8:37pm
This is very good writing!
While I felt your losses, I also liked the part of New Years. This was the one day of the year I hated: even going through several changes of value systems, I always dreaded this day--or should I say being around a lot of celebratory people on this day. 
Hopefully, I'll be in bed by 10:30 tomorrow night.