Sticking plaster

Yesterday was a day for trial and error, with emphasis on the error. With one simple action, I managed to make one child cry and the other refuse to talk to me. I learnt something from it though, which, as I tell my students, made the process worthwhile if not as satisfying as originally planned.

You have probably seen that the featured picture is not me. I wish it was, but I will come back to that in a moment.

Last night it was my turn to host book club. It is a small group created by my friend and has swelled and declined like the waves but contains friends and friends of friends. It is informal, contains enough teachers to be suitably analytical but plays no pretence – we enjoy socialising, eating snacks and drinking wine.  I have met new people and have read books I would never have picked up (but absolutely love) and being really honest, has been my one constant source of social interaction for some years.

The original night was scheduled over Christmas but I cancelled it.  Not only was my household full of seasonal ailments and viruses but I recognised that I was not managing my stress very well too and couldn’t have faced it anyway. Yesterday was easier than I thought: I spent the day cleaning and tidying (yes I said DAY) and was actually looking forward to seeing my friends.

In November, I wrote a post expressing my frustration and wanting to start my life again but also that I felt I mustn’t rush for anyone’s sake.  You can read it here. It’s funny reading it back as I seem so much more optimistic than now.  Anyway, although I had put back many of my photographs after Christmas (I replaced them with Christmassy ornaments over the holidays), I purposefully did not put back my frame wedding photos or the photos of me and my husband together. Instead I left them on top of the cupboard, flat.  Seems silly now, but in my mind it looked like I was about to put them up at some point. That was my first error. Yesterday I took the plunge and swapped some of the photos. Not just the ones of me and him but others too – updated with newer pictures. I replaced the wedding photo with a precious and fragile drawing my elderly aunt had made some years ago before she was consumed by her dementia and put it back on the shelf.   Error number two and three.

My daughter (twelve going-on-sixteen) noticed immediately and demanded to know what I had done with the picture of her dad (apparently the fact that I also in the picture had escaped her mind). I explained that it was still safe in the frame behind the very precious drawing and she was welcome to have it in her room if she wished. She ran off upstairs crying.

Minutes later, my ten year old son appeared asking what was wrong with his sister. You can see where this is going. He proceeded to ignore me completely – silent treatment and all – until tea was ready. Once I had them round the table I explained myself. I thought it would upset them to see it all the time, it upset me, time to move on etc etc. My son replied: you should have asked us. Very true, I should. Lesson learnt.    I thought that by doing it slowly it would hurt them less. I have now decided that I am wrong and I think this is partly why I feel so anxious.  I am living in limbo with a great big sticking plaster (bandaid?) supposedly keeping me together but actually making me feel worse.  Apart from a select bag of clothes which he collected a few days after he left, all of my husband’s belongings are still in the house. Everywhere. I don’t think it is allowing any of us to move on: the sticking plaster needs to be removed, feelings needed to be aired and we all need to heal.

This afternoon, whilst my children were spending time with their dad, I have started to tidy and pack his things out of our my bedroom. No, I haven’t asked him as such. Funnily enough, this week we briefly discussed his lack of progress in finding a new home (he hasn’t started looking yet) and I said that it was time he started to move some of his things out.  We have been split up over three months now and I am shamed to say, little progress has been made to sort out the clothes that were thrown in the middle of our last, heated row as a couple – they have been stuffed back into his wardrobe.  The items he threw when he emptied boxes have been carelessly tidied away. I feel that the room is like a leech, sucking the positivity out of me as it reminds me -like no other place – of pregnancy belly rubs and labour pains; talking long into the night of our dreams and disappointments; my crying over his insensitivity after a row; my rage as I fumed in contemplation at the insults we had just unleashed at each other; nights of lovemaking and equally, nights where I lay there alone.

I have carefully folded and packed the clothes he has seemingly abandoned. I have neatly packed books and CDs into boxes. They still remain in my room, but they now lie there in a state of readiness rather than a dismal reminder of what happened.  I have not quite ripped off the plaster but I have given it a warning tug.

Further to my analogy of a sticking plaster, I must also mention my medications.  I have only been on them for three weeks and the Doctor has had to play around with the combination to balance a good sleep and no anxiety with zombie-like numbness and perpetual drowsiness.  Even so soon, though, I have felt the benefits. With a history of mental illness in my family, I have silently sworn for so long that I would not allow myself to feel so depressed: I would fight and win. Depression and anxiety are illnesses and going to the doctors was the best thing to do.  The low dose I am on is helping and that is what matters. My final error yesterday was thinking I could miss a dose to have a glass of wine with my friends. I wanted to feel normal, like the old me, and didn’t want to explain why I wasn’t enjoying a glass of my favourite red with them. I enjoyed my wine, I enjoyed being with my friends.  I didn’t enjoy the lows of today and the wave of anxiety and binge eating that accompanied it.  It wasn’t worth it. That sticking plaster needs to stay in place for now whilst I deal with the aftermath of ending a thirteen year relationship and becoming a  full time working mum to three children.

And the picture above? Just an insert from the frame which I had lazily tucked behind my wedding photo. I only saw it when I dismantled it again to put back my wedding photo to give to my daughter. That picture made me more emotional than my actual photo. How can two models look more in love than we did in any of our wedding photos?  The truth hurts. That’s a ripped off plaster and no mistake.




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