Tumultuous.

That’s the best word I have.

It’s that time again. I sat in the airport.

I’ve cried. I taken so many deep breathes I’m surprised I can’t fly myself home.

I think I’ve felt every emotion this trip:

Excitement, anticipation, longing, anger, frustration, boredom, contentment, happiness, anxiety and deep, deep love.

It’s been a strange trip for lots of reasons, but I guess all those feelings already say that .

Last night, I didn’t want him to leave me. He knew it, I knew it. We had a very small disagreement. He couldn’t understand why I was upset about leaving. He reeled off all that he’d done to make me happy. He said that this wasn’t the final time, so what was the problem. All I can say, is thank goodness I’ve started to read “Men are from Mars”. This situation could have been a chapter. I couldn’t understand why he couldn’t just see that I was upset because of how much I loved him, and why wasn’t he upset? But then the words from the book hit me and I just told him he had done nothing wrong. I just wanted him to know how I felt.

This morning he came to me, as always. He was tired and hadn’t slept much. He curled into me, wrapping his arms around me and our legs entwined. We made love then cuddled for a hour, watching things on his phone.

Throughout the day, he has repeatedly blown kisses and winked at me – much more than usual. He kissed me passionately repeatedly – again, more than usual.

After we ate dinner, I went to my room to finish packing….well, ok, I went to collect myself as I couldn’t breathe.

He followed and we lay again on the bed. He caressed my skin as we lay there in silence. He kissed me gently. We said nothing.

So maybe he doesn’t cry. Maybe he doesn’t overtly tell me that he will miss me. But I saw it and felt it in every extra kiss, look, touch.

I’m about to board the plane. I’ve not cried for half an hour. That’s progress I guess

Days 7 and 8: little

It’s the little things.

Grabbing my hand to cross a busy road and then moving me so I’m not on the side where the cars are.

It’s shouting me to come see a funny video he’s just watched.

It’s asking me if I’m tired/ok/good when we are out.

It’s checking I can swim – by making me demonstrate – before allowing me to properly swim alone in the sea.

It’s checking with the restaurant that the food won’t contain gluten.

It’s driving for hours just to show me all the beaches and beautiful places he knows I will love.

It’s sandwiching my hand close to his body when I grab his arm in a crowd.

It’s going to find a chair to sit with me outside when he was probably more comfortable on the bed.

*****

It’s late on Day 8 and I’m pretty tired.

I’ve had a wonderful couple of days. Yesterday we woke at 5.30am, ate, packed the car and set off on a road trip. Wildcard drove for hours and hours to show me some famous and stunningly beautiful cities in his country.

Today, we went to the beach and then he continued his tour, showing me a gorgeous marina and then taking us out for a dinner of fresh sardines and salad.

Tomorrow, I think we are moving on and he’s told me that we may go the long way back, taking in a few more places on the way home.

I’m so glad we have another week.

Trip 5, Day 4, 5 and 6

This recount is a little late.

The inevitable happened.

Seems like no matter what I do, or how I try to think, it will happen regardless. I guess my emotions need some kind of relief.

Positives from it: his mum knows he loves me. Whether he has openly told her (I doubt that) or it is assumed, I’m not sure. And as she knows I love him, this has to be a good thing.

I’m also certain that, dare I say once again, there will be no proposal. I also doubt there will be any discussion. He seems content with the status quo and the knowledge that we are committed.

I’m not sure if my fear comes from my own beliefs or that of others – “if he knew, if I was the right one, he would have already asked.” Defensive, positive me would say he already has. In theory anyway.

Regardless, it is the morning of Day 5 and it hasn’t happened so probably won’t. I’ve feared for his love, as I always do, and I’m now appeased.

******

It’s now the evening of Day 6.

It’s been an eventful few days considering I’ve stayed in the house.

I met his aunty, unexpectedly. He’s told me that it’s not his extended family’s business who he’s in a relationship with and that they would know when it’s the right time.

But she arrived and out I was rolled. I liked her. She was elderly but spritely and I could see she had a good sense of humour. She greeted me with a handshake and a Muslim blessing and said goodbye with lots and lots of kisses on both cheeks and an invite to visit her home. 😍 She didn’t speak English but it was ok.

Wildcard and I have had a tricky 24 hours since then. An honest mistake, anxiety, sulking which culminating in me asking if he wanted me to go home early. He said yes, because that’s what he does when I ask stupid questions, but it blew over and we kissed and made up.

Since then the sir has cleared and we have got back to the start of the week.

Tomorrow we will travel North and visit some beautiful cities for a few days with his parents . I’m excited. Very.

Trip 5, day 3: The switch.

I can hear the crackle of the open fire. Something delicious is on its way for dinner.

It’s been another lazy day. So far, apart from a mild hiccup last night, Day 3 wobbles have not surfaced. That’s not to say they’re not there- they are – but I’m managing them. Just about.

I’ve read two books, doodled, listened to music, played online games, played cards, and stared at Wildcard any chance I get.

It’s very hot here. Too hot to venture out. I’m enjoying relaxing, I really am. Honest.

I keep remembering that this is his holiday too. He needs to relax even more than me. He’s not had a holiday in two years. And believe me, it’s not that I want to be pff out every day either. I love just being close to him. It’s just…I don’t have the means to entertain myself like I do at home. At home there is always something to be done. Here? Nothing.

There’s always thinking. I have the time and capacity for that. I love him with an astounding complexity. There’s no other way to describe it.

He’s sleeping now.

******

The meal was delicious.

I will admit, I did start to feel a little…restless. We played cards briefly, but I didn’t find a game that he would latch onto so it was a couple of games and then he’d had enough. I drew, I read. Yup- restless.

Maybe ‘restless’ is another cause of Day 3 wobbles.

I tried hard, I really did. I acknowledged that my big feelings were affecting me. I tried my best not to let them escalate or alter my behaviour. Admittedly, I was a little quieter today. But that’s ok. No outbursts, reduced sulking, no arguments.

And then, it happened.

In one of our jokey moments, I’d whined about wanting affection ( I literally whine to torment him – very fun). He didn’t understand however, so I explained it to him by stroking his arm and squeezing his hand. He replied that I wanted to be treated like a pet? That man has a real sense of humour. 😆

He must have taken it on board though. A few hours later, to my surprise, he reached out and stroked my hand and arm. I couldn’t believe it.

Let’s be clear here, he does touch me. His feet always find themselves in my lap or nestled behind my back. He will sometimes steal a kiss as he walks past. He slaps my bottom. When we are alone we cuddle and entwine legs and arms but we’re just not alone very much. To put this in context, it’s not his culture to have regular PDA. And I probably want far more than my fair share as I figure I’ve missed out on it for months and I’m a romantic. And he is irresistible. But…well, there isn’t a lot of it. Or, enough of it.

So, as I stared dumbfounded our hands, his hand swirling patterns on my skin, I got a lump in my throat. I turned away and admittedly…there were few tears. The fan was the most interesting thing in the room. As always, he noticed. He asked why I was upset and after a pause I replied, “because you don’t touch me like that very often.” He was a little shocked.

Since then? Woah. I’ve had stolen kisses at every opportunity. In the car he grabbed my hand in between gear changes (he has never done that before). He’s caressed my skin. It’s like I’ve flipped the switch somehow.

And I wonder if, in this circumstance, it’s about what you don’t know. They’re not a physically demonstrative family outside the European norm of two kisses on the cheeks. He’s never brought a girlfriend home before – probably never spent such a prolonged time with one. He’s a man set in his ways each day.

Of course, there’s a good chance he will forget this all tomorrow. But for today? We’ve survived Day 3 wonderfully.

Trip 5, Day 2

I’m so full of the most delicious food. The weather is scorching. And I’m totally relaxed.

Ok, not completely.

I have written before about Day 3 wobbles. Yes, I know it’s Day 2, but I need to understand why they happen. My previous theory was that the build up of adrenalin, anxiety, excitement finally dissipate on this day, leading to an emotional outbreak.

That still may be the case. However, I’ve had a new revelation.

Last night and today have been as magical as ever. We’ve laughed, we’ve loved. We cuddled, we’ve relaxed.

And it’s in these moments, these moments of absolute bliss, that my heart just swells fit to bursting with love.

Today, he asked for the ring I’d made him. I’d brought it but hadn’t given it him as … well, because it clearly meant more to me than him. I asked him where mine was – he said he didn’t have one.

But he asked for the one I had made, and I gave it him. He asked which finger and we had the whole engagement finger discussion, just like time I was there. He did the whole pretend proposal thing too. I’m not fooled. But he’s kept his ring on and I caught him showing his mother too. He’s worn it all through dinner too.

So, Day 3 wobbles are about fear. Fear that these big feelings I have are not reciprocated. They start earlier than Day 3 and build. It’s disappointment that he’s not showing his big feelings like I am (like a woman to be fair).

I promised myself I would be positive, and I’m really trying to be. I trying not to let expectations or conditions ruin my trip. I’m trying to be the best me I can – happy and relaxed.

But, I can tell you this. Everytime I see that silver ring flash on his hand I feel a pang of some unnamed amalgamation of feelings. I want it to be real, so badly. I want to belong to him, and him to me. I long for it. It hurts that it’s not real. It’s disappointment and fear that it never will be. It’s hatred for myself that I’m not good enough for him to ask me. It’s disillusionment- there is nothing I can do.

Expectations have a huge part to play in this. I knew this when I was stood waiting for the train. My Expectations cause my pain. Hope causes me pain.

So I go back to my affirmations.

I’m here with no expectations. I’m going to laugh and love and relax. I’m going to enjoy his company and not put any pressures on me or him or our relationship.

I’m going to appreciate every wonderful moment without letting unrealistic expectations cloud the good I have.

Trip 5, day 1

Travelling makes you patient. That’s my new revelation.

I’m sat waiting for my flight. I’ve seen the gate number on the Ryanair app but it hasn’t yet appeared on the notice board. There are a handful of people here and I’ve bagged a great seat next to an industrial fan.

Boarding doesn’t close for another 45 minutes. Soon the rush of people will be here.

There is a marked difference in the airport this time – now Covid has apparently departed, people are travelling again. I was lucky enough to travel last year and can see and feel the difference. Despite the bad press, this London Airport was smooth and efficient. Too efficient really- I was through security in a blink. What I will say is, it’s clear some people have forgotten the rules of travel: there were lots of people who were sent away to repack.

I need patience. I’ve realised how much I can be impatient and how this is a trigger for my anxiety. I automatically think the worst.

I’ve got two weeks with Wildcard. I can’t wait. I also can’t deny that something has shifted and I’m not sure what.

However, I was really really happy last night when he told me that he has taken 9 days off. Actions speak louder than words – I’ve said this before – he is choosing to use his holidays to be with me.

After a major wobble the other week, I had an enlightening conversation with my Facebook friend, one of two who are in serious relationships with men from Wildcard’s County. This wonderful lady has been a rock for me and has helped me navigate many a relationship stress. She’s talked me through this one, and made me realise how some of my behaviour has put pressure on him around my visits.

She’s an expert. Her husband is living with her and they have two small children. She’s lived this life and whilst she acknowledges the difficulties, she’s happy.

She helped me put a new perspective on some of his recent behaviours. She’s honest and highlights the good and bad in this life we lead. She says I’ve helped her as much as she’s helped me. It’s funny how we find people like that, when we need them.

And so to patience. Here are my trip pledges:

I am patient and understanding.

I am reflective of how others feel, not just me.

I’m committed to relax, laugh and enjoy.

I will not apply pressure to myself or him. It helps no one.

And now, to wait patiently.

Learning

I got the job! I felt a lot of things, relief being the main one. No more stressing about my future, money or job applications. I have a job.

I would not exchange this past year though. It’s been really hard but it’s been a real learning journey. I watched a Facebook video that summed it up perfectly:

When you’re surrounded by darkness, don’t assume you’ve been buried. Think that instead, you’ve been planted.

I’ve been in the dark. I’ve felt the weight of the soil. I’ve fought drought and floods, heat and cold. Now I’ve pushed through. The journey is just beginning though: I’m just a little seedling. But I’m strong, I know that.

This weekend is a big one. My daughter’s 18th, her party, and I am going to see Wildcard for two weeks.

I’m feeling many, many feelings and emotions about both events. But I’m not letting them overwhelm me. It’s a battle sometimes, but I’m winning the war overall.

Although I should be doing a number of things on my prep list, I’m sat relaxing with an ice pack on my shin. Sunday’s gardening for the party resulted in a horsefly bite which is now infected. It’s trebled in size since Sunday and is red, hot and firm to the touch. I have been given antibiotics but I’m terrified – my mum suffers from lymphadaema and cellulitis and has never seemed to be completely clear of it for some years. I’ve long been scared that I will get this. My leg is elevated and I’m taking my medicine so I just hope that I start seeing some improvement overnight or I will have to be seen again.

It’s hard not to attribute this to my weight, although horseflies aren’t prejudiced. Mum is severely overweight. She wasn’t always though. And then of course was my Aunty’s comment that I had been ‘really skinny’ the first time I’d visited Wildcard – a stone and half lighter to be fair – which hasn’t helped.

But, to ensure the self-hatred knife gets truly embedded in my newly reformed confidence, I ran in to an old friend this afternoon as I was shopping.

Not to speak to of course. I saw her before she saw me and then something I’d bought triggered the door alarm and I returned to the till. So she definitely saw me.

We haven’t spoken for about six months. Before that, probably another six months. This was the friend that I used to go out with a couple of times a week – shopping walking, coffee. Our friendship deteriorated rapidly when I started my relationship with Wildcard. She was prejudiced, jealous and disagreed wholeheartedly with my relationship. Some of her words still haunt me – she was someone whose advice and support I once highly valued.

We drifted apart. She re-befriended her long time best friend that she had fought with when she became closer to me. She didn’t contact me when she contracted Covid and became seriously ill – instead, allowing her best friend to contact a work colleague she didn’t actually trust. But then, I didn’t contact her either.

We met briefly last year. She was due to return to work after long covid and I was about to sign my termination agreement.

Last week I actually messaged her – I’d been thinking about her and had discovered one of her favourite artists was visiting our local city. Her reply was dismissive. She didn’t take the olive branch and our two message conversation ended there.

When I spotted her, I was struck by three things. 1 – I didn’t want to speak to her. I was embarrassed and knew there was nothing to say that meant anything anymore. 2 – I was happy to see she was with her daughter and two grandchildren (small babies) and that the 5 year feud was over. 3 – she had lost a lot of weight. As in, barely recognisable.

I’m slightly shamed to say, that’s what I am now obsessing about. She had lost a lot of weight when we first became good friends and then plateaued. She then put a little back on. At that point, I lost my 3.5 stone. I’ve now put some back on and she’s lost even more.

I’m really, really pleased for her. Her life appears to be back in order now. I wish she hadn’t seen me still in the struggles of mine but that is entirely pride.

We meet people for a reason. At a particular time. We support them, they support us. And when that need is no longer there, we drift apart. We fight for those we can’t live without. We fight the grief of when we lose them because they can’t or won’t be with us anymore.

I’m hoping when I next see her, my pride will diminish and I will have the confidence to say hello. I had a feeling that this would have been unwelcome though- by the time I left the shop she was walking away. She could have waited if she wanted to speak to me – clearly she didn’t either.

As the days pass by, I know I can’t live without Wildcard. But I also know that something has shifted there, too. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s there. A few weeks ago I was really anxious about it. I also started putting the pressure on for this trip – setting a benchmark of expectations that will only cause stress and arguments when I get there .

But…there will come a time soon when I may need to make decisions. That is – if he doesn’t make any.

I’m finding it hard to picture our future now . I don’t know how this will all work out. It scares me. I want to fight for him. But maybe, like my once-was friend , he won’t want that.

My plan? Enjoy and see. Let my little life-seedling bask in the warmth and see what happens.

Interview 2

So, I didn’t get the job I wanted. But it’s OK. I left feeling I had done the best I could and if I didn’t get it, it wasn’t right for me.

I was eventually contacted Wednesday afternoon. Friday, I had my feedback. It was as expected – someone with more business experience got the role. They gave me a couple of tips to help but it all ended with me feeling generally OK about the whole thing.

Tomorrow is my interview for the school position. I still am not 100% that I want it

Why?

(FEEL FREE TO SEND VIRTUAL KICKS)

Because I want my own business.

However, this is a means to an end:

Get back on board with my career.

Get my finances straight.

Learn from my new employer.

Start saving for my business.

Leave when ready and start my own venture.

See? A solid plan.

Of course, I have a whole day’s interview to get through first. I’m nervous, doubtful, determined and goodness knows what else.

Wish me luck.

The ups and downs

Hello there everyone. I’m on my lunch break.

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks. I’m sat with a knot in my stomach.

After weeks of contemplation, stress and feeling lost I finally made some decisions about my life.

I decided that I would continue with my application outside of education. I also decided that I would apply for the school leadership role which I had been approached about. Finally, I decided I would have to tell my current employer about it, thus risking his childish wrath again and losing any opportunity for the enhanced role if I’m not successful on the other two.

So how’s that worked out for me?

The interview was Thursday evening. I walked out feeling I had done all I can (within reason) and a renewed confidence in all I’ve achieved. It would be down to what they were truly looking for. I was told me would find out Monday.

This meant, as I may not get the job, I had to fill in the application for the school as that deadline was also Monday.

As Monday dragged on with no communication from the charity, I realised that I needed to let my boss know now. No more hiding behind possibilities. I wrote the email and sent it off.

It’s now Tuesday afternoon. I still haven’t heard from the charity.

I had no strong feeling either way about my chances but knew I had done the best I could. Regardless, I still had a miniscule thread of hope that I would be successful. Today, I’ve emailed them to say thanks for the opportunity and that I assume it wasn’t successful. I’ve asked for feedback. So far, nothing.

A little but of me is angry. They seemed so nice! So apologetic when they kept moving the interview date! But to not communicate at all now? I’m disappointed. Don’t keep me hanging. Rip the plaster off in one go and let the air get to the wound.

Last night I started looking a few more possibilities. My boss emailed me back and was rather magnanimous. And then I realised that it is unlikely I will find what I want in the next few weeks and he knows it. He’s probably quite smug. There a few jobs out there and I will apply for them.

Overall, I’m kicking myself for not pursuing the business. That’s what I really want. I wouldn’t treat people as I have been treated.

And so, life goes up and down.

Time to say goodbye

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Any florists or gardeners out there will not be as impressed of course. This little posy is made from the very few flowers currently growing in my garden.

It’s a symbolic little posy: I like symbolism.

The three red-pink roses are from a rambler that my Dad loved, growing on a fence that he and my uncle build 15 years ago. We placed some of these roses in my Dad’s coffin when he died 4 years and 2 days ago. The purple aquilegia – bright, cheerful and independent – sprout everywhere in my garden, self-seeded by the wind. I hated them at one point for their pesky weed-like determination to flower wherever they wanted. Dad loved them for the same reason. I do now, too.

The yellow iris is actually a water iris that has taken over 3/4 of my pond. My sister threatened to dig them out 5 years ago to my Dad’s protest. She never did and they’ve continued to take over ever since.

The little pink candy-puff flowers, as I call them, were planted by my dad. I think the plant originally came from my uncle, but I’m not sure. Either way, its fluffy cuteness made a welcome addition. Plus, there wasn’t much else I could put in.

The posy was wrapped in a wet piece of kitchen paper, then in foil and then a piece of chiffon ribbon. It went in my handbag.

Throughout the service, I kept checking it was ok..not too squashed as I delved in and out for my tissues. At one point, my son alerted to me to a small aphid crawling on my black cardigan, no doubt from this little bouquet.

At the end, as “Time to say Goodbye” by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli played, tears ran down my face and sobs threatened to erupt into hyperventilation. It was one of my Dad’s favourite songs too and the words were scarily poignant for more than the obvious. I watched the sheer curtains close and the lights dim. As the people in front of me – family – moved out of the crematorium, I pulled out my little posy and stared at it as I blindly walked towards the coffin. Looking up, I asked the funeral director to place it on my uncle’s coffin and I left the building.

He was the last one, the last of my father’s generation.

He was probably my Dad’s best friend and definitely his closest sibling. My Dad respected and trusted him and looked up to him. My uncle visited my Dad on his dying bed, a fact I had forgotten until sat in that crematorium.

My uncle was the hardest working man I knew. He was generous, intelligent and strong. For reasons unexplainable here, I barely saw him in the last few years and I regret that. I have many, many memories of him from my childhood. Memories I will always treasure, like the rose bush he apparently treasured, which I had bought him 10 years ago for his 80th birthday.

Today, I felt like I said goodbye to him and my Dad. I don’t really remember much of my Dad’s funeral and I am the one who organised it. More than that, I feel like I have said goodbye to a whole swathe of life – of my life. There are no holds now, no anchors, nothing left.

I’m too sad today to even know how I feel about that.