What’s really scary

I’ve got a tikka masala simmering and pilau rice steaming in the last of the stock and spices. It’s all in defiance, of course.

I had a heated discussion this morning with my 18 year old daughter. I commented that, whilst I am happy for her to cook when she wanted, could she please 1)clean up after and 2) stop wasting food. Probably 2/3 of what she makes is thrown out. As I’m gluten free, I can’t eat it. She doesn’t like eating previous frozen leftovers, apparently. She doesn’t appear to like eating leftovers full stop to be honest. She commented that I only cook what the boys want (true, when they’re here) and that I have a freezer full of leftovers that I don’t eat.

In defiance, I’ve pulled out two tubs of leftover curry from the freezer. And that’s tea. It is true I have a freezer full of leftovers. I do eat some of them. Some, I have no idea what they are because I tell myself that I will remember but I rarely do. A few others are soups I made which were …OK… Good enough to keep but not good enough to tempt me to eat them. I’m being a hypocrite.

My relationship with my daughter is…complex, challenging, fragile, tricky. All of those words and none of them.

She is my princess. I’m very proud of her and yet terrified of her at the same time. She’s nothing like me. She’s not who I thought she would be – and for that reason, I’m proud and terrified. But mainly confused.

She belongs to a time that I don’t understand – social media and non- relationship relationships. She’s fiercely independent and confident as well as being clingy and anxious.

She has told me to stay out of her life when making life decisions such as college etc and then I’ve watched her struggle, knowing she’d made the wrong one. Just to spite me, apparently.

It’s hard to see her lost and yet know she’s not willing for me to help her.

And yet, she’s happy for me to chauffeur her round, give her money, tidy her room and make her food on demand – particularly when she’s spent all day in bed.

I’m frustrated that she’s been ill for what seems like months but does little to care for herself and is angry when I comment on/advise her how to care for herself.

Truth is, she’s transforming from a child to an adult and there is no manual to tell you which parts will change in what order. Sometimes she acts like an adult, sometimes like a child. So, I live in permanent confusion, frustration and terror.

Stepping back makes me feel like a bad parent. Nagging, apparently, makes me a bad parent.

She can hug me and call me ‘mummy’ one moment, then remind me she is an adult and do what she wants the next. Scary stuff.

I worry that my mistakes and issues will cause her psychological hangups in the future. I’m scared I haven’t been the role model for her that I should have been.

She’s been a daddy’s girl for as long as I remember but she’s chosen to live with me permanently. Sometimes, it’s like living with a lodger. Sometimes like having my little girl back.

Today, I read a Facebook post from Amy’s mum. Amy had been 22 years old when she died. Only four years older than my daughter.

I need to try harder. And by harder, I mean differently.

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2.40am

I can’t remember the last time I slept on a couch: One Christmas a few years ago when Dad had died and I spent Christmas Eve with my sister and her now ex husband?

I not going to entirely blame their 6 year omd son now, who is asleep in my bed alongside his 7 year old niece. I could blame my 9 year old son who championed a ‘sleepover’ but didn’t actually want anyone sleeping in his room (not even his bed!l…perhaps he knew something I didn’t.

Since 11pm, after giggles and snuggles and photos sent to mummies (them happy, me in mock despair) I’ve been kicked repeatedly, shouted at in sleep, shouted at awake, covers repeatedly pulled from me.

What’s not helped is I’m actually unwell too (I did warn my sisters) and suspect that I may well have a temperature too. I know that I have barely slept, and if I have, it’s that sleep where you think you’re awake but very still and can’t move.

So, I’ve moved to the couch.

Today, well yesterday really, I finally went to my the school and retrieved my things from my office. It’s taken me all week to build myself up to do that, a few days of procrastination, and my sister coming with me. Maybe that’s part of the reason I agreed to a sleepover.

I also received my last paycheck today. There’s some comfort in that until I realise that from Monday I’m not actually earning anything. Eeek. Some trawling through job sites found some more tutoring agencies looking for Tutors and with better pay than last year…so, there’s hope I guess.

The more people I speak to about my business plan, the more they tell me to go for it. There is no business like mine in the area, and adding the niche I would eventually like to adapt to, I have these feelings that this could work. It also could fail terribly which is what is stopping me. From a risk perspective, my biggest issue if it failed initially would be the cost of the course which gives me adherence to the body who will approve insurance. And, actually, whilst I certainly don’t have that money to throw away, it is an investment which ever way you look at it.

WordPress, I’m going to do it.

Resilience is relative

Just so you know, I hate that word. With an absolute soul shuddering passion. 
It's a word some people use to dismiss other's feelings and make them feel weak and unworthy. It tells them that they should be stronger, not show their emotions. It hints that you're being perceived as lesser, broken.
I really don't know if this is just British culture - stiff upper lip, you know what I am talking about - this idea that we should all be built with some innate iron strength to cope when life really is the pits.
Resilience is relative though, isn't it?
Someone losing their job with a bank full of savings and a spouse on a decent income is different to a single parent losing their job up to their eyes in debt. And yet, both will feel the strain in their own way, relative to their situation. Therefore, telling someone to be 'resilient' really annoys me. You, on your high horse...you have no idea how that person feels it's not your life, your context, its theirs. Just because you can cope in those set of circumstances but in your context, doesn't mean they can. 
Show them love. Show them care and empathy. Give them a little strength to find their own path to survival. Don't tell them to be resilient.

I saw my cousin last night (his wife is who I’d taken the pot rose to a few days ago).  He told me I was brave for what I had done in leaving my career. “Or stupid,” I replied.

“No.” He said. “You’d have been stupid to carry on, feeling like that.”

*****

It’s another beautiful autumnal day. Golden leaves are falling now. I’m sat outside in a short sleeved t shirt and whilst I’m not warm, I’m liking the slight chill to the breeze that’s rustling the leaves.

My mind was full of Amy last night. I didn’t know her well – knew her little son more who played with my son and niece and nephew – but knew her enough to say hello and stop and chat. I looked at her Facebook page and saw pictures of her happy little family and the gratitude she had for them.

Thinking about that little family’s loss now, things get put in perspective.

So what if I actually shampooed my carpet, only for it to go smelly, leading me to cover it in bicarb (Internet hack) which won’t vacuum up so I now have a cow patterned carpet?

So what if I left a job that left me soul broken? So what if I don’t have spare cash anymore? I have my life and my kids and my family and my Wildcard.

There’s so many clichés to say here….life is short, you only live once, you could die tomorrow.

Clichés are almost as bad as the word ‘resilience’. They are poignant and important but deemed irrelevant by over or improper use.

I’ve had a very lucky life, compared to some.   I’ve had a difficult life compared to others.

What I do know is I’ve spent a large part of it unhappy when I didn’t need to. Either because my head was stuck in the negative or I failed to change my life when I should have. No more.

Life is short but…

Life is beautiful. Life is Love.

If you let it be.

Love

Love is the most important thing in the world, without question. I believe that, heart and body and soul. It's loving your family and friends. It's loving your significant other. It's about loving the world around you: your home, your town, your environment. This world. It's about loving the job you do so you give your all and your best - making the world a better place. It's about loving the world you inhabit, filling your life with the things that you love to do...Reading, travel, painting, coffee, sport... whatever makes you happy. That's what a good life is: surrounding yourself and the world you inhabit with love. 

My sisters live on the same little road. It’s a row of terraced houses. Over the years, they’ve built a little sense of community – parties and celebrations. By default, I’ve been included too. The children play out on the front grass…running up and down, playing on bikes, going into each other’s homes.

There’s one little boy. He’s a little sweetheart . He’s blond haired abd blue eyed. He’s about 5 or 6. His baby sister is not even one yet. He’s got young parents- early 20s. They’re a lovely little family.

I was in the heat of an argument with my sister. I was upset because she keeps saying she’s coming round then doesn’t. She clumsily told me that with my ‘extra’ time at the moment, I’m expecting to see them more and they can’t. She tried to take it back, said she hadn’t meant it that way. I was upset, saying that I understood that I was being too demanding of their time because I was low. I just want to be with my sisters: catching up for coffee etc like they do, living so close. She said I was being too negative and had taken her words wrong. She went upstairs to the bathroom.

I checked my phone to find out youngest sister had finally responded. Except… except she’d responded by telling us news. Amy had died this morning. The neighbour…the young mother with a beautiful blond haired boy and a baby girl not yet one and a partner who adores her.

The cruelty of this world hit me, once again. That little boy – so sweet and innocent – has lost his mother. That little baby girl will never know her mother. That man, barely a man, is now left with two young children and his grief.

Love them. Show them love every single day. Even when they make you angry. Even when they've hurt you. Love them, because one day, they may not be there to feel that Love anymore through choice or fate or death. 

Just love. That’s all and everything we can do.

Glamorous

I’ve unfortunately hit the brakes today. It’s midday and I just don’t feel like doing anything.

I haven’t been entirely slovenly though. I woke up early today, using Mel Robbins’ ‘wake up challenge’ as inspiration. Nighttime is often a trigger for me: I know when I turn off that light my mind will race. I’d taken to scrolling just to block thoughts until I’m too exhausted to do anything but sleep. Unfortunately, that way I can hit 1am or later before actually dropping off. Recently I’ve switched back to reading and whilst I’m still passing midnight awake, it’s got to be better than scrolling. Naturally, I’m sleeping in later which is unhelpful.

Well, today the alarm was set for 6.45 and up I got. I took my boys to school, only to discover that on his first day back, my eldest had forgotten to take his ADHD medication.

I returned home, showered and beautified a little and then braved visiting the school with his meds.

As I’ve mentioned previously, this is the school I worked at for over 10 years and the subject of the end of my leadership career 18 months ago. I’ve not stepped foot in it since then, even though my son goes there. Today, I had no choice. Today, I had to do this for him.

Those were my thoughts as I pulled up to the school. I took a deep breath or three, firmly planted my brave face on, and walked in.

I was met with the receptionist, someone I knew from my time there. She looked happy to see me and commented on how well I looked, saying I looked glamorous! I was wearing a slightly bobbly pink jumper and black jeans, so hardly glamorous, but I took the compliment. She whispered about how bad the school was and how unhappy she was there…seems to be a running theme in schools at the moment. I said hello to a couple of other colleagues, gave my son his meds and walked out with my head held high. Whilst I’m not going to happily walk in there again unless necessary, I achieved something today.

I came home, picked up the carpet cleaner and returned it to the store, picking up a few groceries on the way. Since coming home and eating, I don’t feel like doing anything. Not in a depressive way – I actually feel good – but in a lazy way.

It’s now the evening. My writing was interrupted by a message from my cousin’s wife – she’s been a bit low so I went out to meet her and bought her a cute little pot rose. We chatted briefly and I told her about my dream business – despite all the struggles she is having, she encouraged me to do it. I’m tempted just to book the training and go for it. I returned home to clean and completed all the new agency paperwork I was avoiding.

I’m getting there. I’m doing it. I didn’t go back to bed, I didn’t just sit there.

I can do this.

Today

Today, I felt love.

Today, I felt peace.

Today, I felt anger.

Today, I felt fear.

Today, I felt proud.

Today, I felt disappointment.

Today, I felt inspired.

*******

Where to start…?

Today started out with anxiety. My son was returning to school after a week for a meeting about the support they would hopefully put in place for him. My ex took him for the meeting. I used to work there and so couldn’t face it, but I’d done the preparations by emailing requests and speaking to the staff member yesterday.

My ex and son came after the meeting and said it had gone really well. The teacher had brought a copy of my email and had agreed to everything on it. My ex hadn’t had to intervene (I’d prepped him on what to say) and my son was calm and prepared for hai return tomorrow.

I felt what only could be described as relief and momentary peace. 🥰

When they left, I got stuck into cleaning my house. I’d hired a carpet cleaner to remove some unfortunate stains caused by pets and kids. It’s hard work but I quite enjoy it. I had done the living room yesterday and did upstairs today. I cleaned both boys’ rooms and listened to a Mel Robbins’ podcast which motivated me further. I was proud of myself. Mel’s podcasts are BRILLIANT and she inspired me to keep going and be positive.

Unfortunately, my sister did not arrive as planned. That annoyed me as it’s not the first time.

By dinner time I was exhausted.

A colleague from school called me and I listened as she moaned about the state of it all. I did not feel one ounce of regret for leaving: she confirmed all my reasons for going.

I then spoke to Wildcard. Today, he showed me love repeatedly. At one point, he’d look at me sneakily and I’d blow him a kiss. He’d look away and then do the whole thing again. This went on much longer than I expected. It was lovely. I felt loved.

Disappointment soon crept in though. At the end of the call, I went downstairs to discover an alarming smell…. turns out, my house isn’t warm enough to dry carpets and the downstairs is starting to smell like damp washing. All that time, effort and money…

So, tomorrow, before I return to vacuum, I will go over the carpet again and see if I can pick up some calor gas for my fire. It’s an expensive way of drying a carpet, but I don’t have much choice. Whilst today I finally braved calling round for a chimney sweep, I can’t risk a fire until its been done and that’s a few weeks off.

Us humans are emotional beings. I like that I’ve felt all this today: it’s better that just feeling depressed.

I’m doing it…I’m clawing my way back up.

Try

My days plod on.

My brave face lens is working most of the time. I may have to ‘gee’ myself up, but after some time I have been taking action.

I’ve cleaned my bedroom. I’ve phoned and emailed my son’s school and dealt best I can with an education establishment that appears not to care. Tomorrow, hopefully, he will go back.

I’ve contacted the agencies. I’ve been sent application emails. No, I’ve not yet dealt with them. But I will.

I’ve got out of bed every day. I’ve tried.

My brave face appears to be working with Wildcard. Things, on the outside at least, seem to have slipped back to where they were. Almost. Kind of. I’m not sure, really.

It’s hard not to question everything in this dark place. Is it me? Is it him? Are we just not meant to be?? Should I give up? How would I cope if he leaves? Should I back off so he misses me? What if he doesn’t? Am I actually happy or not? What the hell is going on?

Yesterday, my sister and her friend came round. We ended up discussing my business idea – my sister’s friend has experience in this line of work and was a great motivator. I was nervous and scared at times but hope began to blossom again.

She said… she said it appears that a lot of my fear is because I’m doing something for myself. That hit home. A lot of my angst about leaving my career was around how I’d let down others, not bringing in that managerial wage. This business is for me…except, my business is to help others. It is a risk though. In today’s financial climate…

I’m back to feeling a little indecisive…about the big things anyway.

But I’m trying. And that’s the best I can do.

One step

I’m sat in my car. It’s a sunny but blustery autumnal day.

Yesterday, the day after I hit rock bottom, I felt a bizarre but kind of muted euphoria. In the depths of my internal crisis, when I had felt like giving up on everything, I hadn’t. I’d sought help. I’d continued to fight.

Today, I’m numb and tired. I’m not sleeping well still. And putting on my brave face is exhausting.

I feel like I am in a little cocoon, sat in this car. The sunlight is reaching me and I can hear the wind through the trees, but I feel protected I guess. Going back in the house means action or bed. I’m not in the mood to make that decision.

Last night I started to listen to Mel Robbins’ latest podcast on anxiety. Unfortunately, I was too tired to concentrate and listen to it all. What I did hear, as she interviewed a medical specialist in the subject, was again the idea that our anxiety comes from within – a built in alarm system, hardwired by our own internal experiences and – in my words – lens. To conquer anxiety, you have to reprogramme and rewire what is causing it – not the external stimulation.

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I believe strongly in the power of coincidences. They’re messages, learning.

Still. I’m not sure what to do with this information at present. I probably should go back to the doctors and reconsider medication. I don’t want to though, because the medication isn’t dealing with what is constantly causing these depressive episodes.

I’m still in the midst of trying to support my son and am waiting for school to contact me to make steps to support him.

I’ve contacted my union to discuss next steps for my resignation, now I have received my letter. I also now need to contact the agencies again to get the ball rolling, ready for November.

I’m trying my positive lens whenever Wildcard calls, and he is still calling. He’s still wearing his ring. And last night he mentioned my visit in December with me and his parents. No plan to end our relationship yet, then. 🥴 He was quiet this morning, but my positive lens shut down any over thinking on that front.

And so, here I am, again. Fighting on, one little step at a time.

For you

This is for you. You know who you are. You’re scrolling mindlessly, just tying to numb yourself. Secretly, you’re hoping you will find something…an answer, a tip, a hack…help. This is for you. You’re not alone.

Well, I got there. I hit the bottom.

My eyes are swollen and I’m exhausted. I cried, inconsolable, last night. A series of probably minor things threw me to the bottom of that dark pit.

In that moment,  you lose all sense of self. All you can see is the darkness and the pain and the misery. You feel like you’ve lost everything, and the weird thing is I’m not sure what comes first – the feeling of losing all, leading to despair… or despair leading to feeling like you’ve lost everything. Maybe they are one and the same.

Depression, crisis, is full of contrasts. You want to be alone but fear it. You want to tackle one of the million things to do but can’t start. You want to feel loved but feel like no one really loves you- and how can they, when you’re like this?

I got my letter from work accepting my resignation. I should be happy. I’m relieved, but not happy. I’m scared.

Wildcard still seems just that step away. He’s not saying I love you like he did. I mentioned it. He told me he wasn’t in the mood for another fight….Later, he called as usual but the call ended earlier than normal. This happens sometimes, I know. But last night I needed him to stay with me. I was too scared to show that. I’m trying, and probably failing, not to chase him away.

Whilst this was happening, I saw on Facebook that my ‘best’ friend, the one who has slowly but surely disappeared out my life, has gone away for the weekend with my replacement and their other halves. They’ve gone to a place where I used to be invited. Not anymore.

My sister messaged to apologise for not turning up as promised – for the second time this week.

I’ve not heard from my other friend for three days. I don’t want to bother her again with my issues but I wish she had messaged.

So, I sat in my darkness. No job, no friend, no love, no acceptance. My house a constant reminder of my failure. I had failed my son. Hating every part of myself and so blinded that I couldn’t see any worth in my life.

I contemplated it. I measured my worth in life to my worth in death. And, I realised that without a will, my death was pretty worthless too. Yep, you read right.

That little voice was my saviour. It gave me a reason. Death was not an option. The little voice told me to call someone, a helpline. I did.

I wasn’t going to commit suicide but I was scared enough that I had thought about it. Weighed it up. I acknowledged that I had hit that bottom but I didn’t want to go any further. I didn’t want to be buried.

This is for you.

I’m sharing my darkest moments for you. You’re not alone in feeling this. And though it may feel like you’re blinded, overwhelmed, alone…you’re not. Somewhere, out there, someone will listen. They will hear you. They understand. And as they listen, little rays of sunlight start to pierce the darkness, so small you can barely see them but you can feel them. You’re still in your pit, right at the bottom. It’s cold and dark and oppressive. But those tiny rays of light are there, trying to burst through…if you will let them. Showing you the way out.

After my hour long talk with the Samaritans, I was calm. I’d sobbed, unable to speak for the first 5 minutes. Then I’d spoken about my career, my son, and my fear I was losing my relationship.

The samaritan reminded me of what my daughter had said…I’m not worthless or useless. I was fighting. I had walked away from a school that was dragging me under. That takes strength. I had supported my son repeatedly this week, calling CAMHS, speaking to school and attending appointments with him. She asked me what I would say to myself, if I was my own best friend, in regards to my relationship.

“I’d tell myself that you’re doing the best you can. That you love him and want him to be happy. And that if your unhappiness is making him unhappy, then you can’t blame him for walking away. You love him so much that you want him to be happy. But that’s his choice. You can’t make him stay and you shouldn’t push him away either. Concentrate on getting yourself better. Let him make his own decisions.”

I spent the remainder of my evening scrolling. Looking for answers, help, anything. I came across two things. The first was a Facebook Group of a company that deals in personal coaching. They had a number of podcasts which I watched, mainly around negative energy and biased thinking. The idea that, we live in our own world – our own hologram. We see life through this hologram of our own making, fuelled by our past and our thoughts and our biases.

The second was from Mind Valley. I watched a video and took part in a deep meditation. I then started to watch an interview with Sadhguru about Karma. And again, the same idea came forward – our past life, experiences and thoughts are the lens which we see the world. Like a pair of beer googles or coloured sunglasses, they tint the world in front of us.

I changed the lens…just for a moment. I saw myself, reaching out for help. I saw the self help books in front of me. I saw my return to journal writing, my walks in the garden. I saw my actions to resolve situations that were hurting me. Actions no one else had done – I had done that myself. I saw that Wildcard had called me, as much as always. I saw that he had been upset when I hadn’t kissed him. I saw that, when faced with my sadness, he didn’t know what to do. My black lens was telling me he was walking away. I don’t know if that it true because it is my lens. But what I do know, is that my lens is potentially tinting his.

So my new lens is my brave face. Yes, my life is pretty crap at the moment. Yes, I’m feeling depressed and anxious again. But I am fighting. No one is going to save me. They have their own world and their own lens to deal with. No one can make those actions, I have to do it myself. But they can help. They can walk alongside you. They can help change your lens.

Don’t give up. Ask for help, and it will be there. Change your lens, even just for five minutes each day. Build it up. Look at what you have achieved every day. Getting out of bed. Taking a shower. Calling someone. Reading something. Fighting. Every single action is you fighting. Every action is you NOT giving up.

Keep fighting. Because the only true failure in life, is giving up. And giving up is very, very different to walking away and demanding better for ourselves.

Reach out. You’re not alone in your darkness.

It’s a beautiful day.

This morning’s wins…I’ve practised facial care. I’ve made waffles. I’ve spoken to my mother.

I’m sat outside. Not in bed.

There’s no filter on that photo. Beautiful, isn’t it? Even though my hedge is overgrown and there are nettles in the ‘flower bed’. You can see the roses my dad loved – the ones that have grown into the hawthorn hedge and grow above it to reach the sunlight. It’s October and they are still flowering.

Too high up for a clear picture, but you get the point.

Then there’s the stag horn. Two in fact. These are not the original one. It died years ago. We left these two off shoots – two of many – and they are growing, crooked, in completely the wrong place. Their leaves are just beginning to turn colour. Beautiful.

Neither of these plants should be where they are. They’ve not been cared for or looked after. They’re not planted in the optimum place. In fact, on more than one occasion, I’ve tried to get rid of them -long, long ago when I actually cared for this garden. And yet, there they are on this glorious autumn day. They’ve kept fighting and growing against all odds. And they’re thriving, against all odds.

WordPress, I need your help.

Don’t worry, I’m not asking for money!

For the past 18 months I’ve had a business idea and it’s an idea that won’t go away. It’s something I really want to do but my lack of confidence is stopping me.

What I want from you is your honest opinion. In a way, you are the perfect audience because I’m not trying to sell you my idea because you all live too far away. All I want is your opinion. You have no reason to lie or sugar coat the truth because you don’t actually know me.

If you’re willing to help a stranger from a different land, please get in touch. Ideally, you will have children or nieces or nephews as my business is for children.

Many thanks in anticipation.