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.

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.

Misery

I don’t want to eat

I don’t want to cook

I’ve done both but have had no joy

From sticky sweetness cloying in my mouth

Sticking in my throat.

I don’t sleep but

I don’t want to be awake.

I don’t want to read

Don’t want to watch TV:

They can’t numb my mind any more.

I don’t want people

Though, I don’t want

To be alone.

Indoors I’m angry

Outdoors I’m bitter.

I don’t want sunshine or

Sounds of birds.

I don’t want my bed, or sofa

Or a refreshing shower.

What I want,

Is to not feel like

This.

Finding happiness

I’ve been in bed for a day and a half.

My yearly – is it hay-fever, is it a cold and now, is it covid – started a few days after I returned. Admittedly, antihistamines did seem to take the edge off but I know if I had started them in February, it probably wouldn’t have hit me so bad. As it is, I have ended up with a mild chest infection and coldsores all over my nose. I was out of condition before I left- no wonder now that I am run down.

So when my children finally went to their Dad’s on Sunday, I succumbed to it and basically stayed in bed until about an hour ago.

Am I unwell? Yes. Could I have have got up and motivated myself? Theoretically, yes. But I was heart-weary and head-weary and body-weary so I didn’t.

I’ve read, and read and read. This is what I used to do, long ago before the responsibilities of being a single mother kicked in. I guess now, it’s only like binge-watching Netflix. So I don’t feel guilty at all. Every cough and snuffle has given me permission. In those books, everything else disappears. And for someone whose head constantly feels like it’s at war with fighting thoughts and emotions and ideas, it feels like bliss to just read.

I still can’t find my happiness.

I’m not stupid, WordPress. One of my biggest fears is being seen as foolish. I’ve heard myself enough times to know that. My hard won intelligence is all I have. I’m not beautiful. I’m not sexy. I’m not socially skilled and surrounded by countless friends. No. I’m average. I’m overweight. I’m alone.

I had a very honest conversation with my mum last week. I’d been writing a post for here, sorting through my thoughts about the future – before I’d allowed realisation to fully take over. I’d considered what my mum had done all those years ago: her new life now, and how we were all bitter about it.

I’m not bitter anymore. Who are we to dictate the life she wants? We have our own lives. Her relationship with her partner is what matters. We will always be here, waiting for her, if she needs us. But finally, I understood, and I wanted her to know.

We talked about the house too and how it feels like a noose around my neck. I’ve never, truly, been able to enjoy this house. For years, my half-family’s jealousy has tainted it, as they have then tainted any relationship I now have with my Dad’s family. I am well and truly the black sheep. And then are all the memories of my Dad. They’re everywhere. And for so long, I couldn’t even stand being out in the garden because of them.

What I’ve realised, lying in my bed in between devouring pages of my book, is why I’ve felt lost for (at least) the past 4 years. Why I still feel lost now.

I made a decision as a child which carried me for 30 years. I decided that I was going to work hard and I was going to care for my parents. I promised myself that I would look after them as they got old and that they wouldn’t have to worry any more. I’d seen their struggles after my Dad’s heart attack. I’d seen their struggles as arthritis crippled my mum. No more.

And you know what? I did it. I worked hard throughout school and college and university. I chose a career that financially made sense, not because it was where my passions lay. A career which would pay off all my student loans and that would give me a lump sum of money after a few years. At every stage of my teaching career, I have said that this would not be my job for the rest of my life. Regardless, I proved myself time and time again. I advanced in my career. I relished in the praise and pride of my family, for the only thing I could do to be noticed positively – advance in my career. Because its the only thing that I was ever noticed for. 

And so, I bought my parents’ house and saved them from debt. I cared for my father until the second he died. I relished in the pride of my family at ‘how well I had done’ and pushed and pushed myself to prove how good I was. I wasn’t accepted by my dad’s family, so I would fight for their respect in a different way.

I did what I thought I should. I got married. I pushed for that marriage too, for acceptance, even though I knew he wasn’t right for me. For a small moment, I had it all. I felt success. I’d bought my parent’s home and was supporting them financially. I had a husband and a career. I had my babies. But that feeling of success was fleeting. I wasn’t happy in my marriage. I wasn’t happy in my work. And whilst I pushed and strived in an attempt to find that happiness, to work for it, I never truly got there as such.

When I had my breakdown, my burnout, seven months before my Dad died, I think I knew. Everything I had worked for was coming to an end. My Dad was dying and no amount of hard work would save him. I’d reached the pinnacle of my career, as far as I wanted to go. And as much as I was succeeding, I was failing too. Because it didn’t matter any more. I had felt my dad’s pride, I’d achieved it. But it couldn’t save him or me.

I’d achieved everything I had set out to do. And when my dad died, I was lost. Nothing has mattered since. Not the house, not my job. I know my evil half-family expected me to pull out this treasure trove of money that I had hidden and renovate the house to unknown splendour when Dad died. There was no money. My money was spent on my family. And once Dad died, this house became just that. A house. A house of memories.

When Dad died, my purpose died. My fight died. I’d had his pride. I’d cared for him. I’d proved myself to him, time and time again. I was a good daughter. I won. Finally, after years of being hated, after years of being the outsider, after years of watching my dad choose my warped and tragic half sister, every time, I’d proved my love to my dad. I was there, every step of the way. I wasn’t a bad person. I didn’t deserve to be so hated and despised. Hated for being born. Hated for being another wedge between his first family and him: the first born. In those final years of his life, I was there for him. I cared for him. I kept my promise.

When he died, nothing mattered any more. My job, the money, my house. For a while, supporting my sisters and my children was my focus. I’ve done that. And they’ve supported me. I no longer feel the need to support them as I once did – we’ve become more equal now as their lives have fallen into place and as mine has come crashing down.

Wildcard said to me, only a month ago, that he couldn’t understand why I tried to be so perfect all the time. I just needed to be myself.

It’s hard to be yourself when you feel like no-one likes you.

It’s hard to be yourself when you’ve strived for so long to be something else, just to gain the love and respect you crave.

It’s hard to be yourself when you don’t know who that is any more.

I’m following the same pattern. I’m fighting for his love and his respect and him. I’m trying to be the best I can be, all the time, so that I don’t have to live with rejection from yet another source.

I want someone to see the good in me. Not because I’ve fought for it. Not because of what it will do for them. But because they can see the person I truly am.

I’m fighting for his love. I’m pushing for his acceptance and commitment because I don’t want to be alone. He is my life.

But I want someone to fight for me. Not too late, like so many have done before. But now.

I can’t plan my life going forward, because I don’t know if he is going to be in it.

Maybe he has his own promises to keep, that’s is why he won’t talk of the future.

All I know, is that I clung to that ring, my ring, in the hope that he was fighting for me. He’s since told me that it ‘was a game’, not serious. That he would propose to me, not with my own ring, but that he will do it properly with the one that he buys. And whilst I love that sentiment, can wish for nothing better, I don’t hold the hope that it will ever happen.

I don’t know when I’m going back. I don’t know if he will ever propose or if he will continue to make excuses. I know that he is still hiding me, his little secret. I know that I am the one pushing the engagement, again. Pushing for acceptance. Pushing to belong. When I’m there, I feel like I belong but the fear that I’m fooling myself overrides any real enjoyment I have.

Problem this time, is I don’t know what else I can do. I can’t make myself younger or more beautiful. I’ve lost weight and gained weight and neither have made a difference because I know I can’t have the body he probably wants me to have. I have no idea what to fight for or strive for to make him want me because I think deep down, I know I can never be that.

And that is why I can’t find my happiness.

Trip four: Day two

I’m hungry. Urgh.

I have a 25 minute wait until my gate opens. The airport is busy, even at 6am, and I have found a comfortable spot I don’t want to relinquish. Oh, the trials of solo travel.

I slept fitfully last night, in part due to the strange room, and the rest due to noise and knowing I needed to get up at 4.30am.

A lot of the darkness has cleared however, knowing grief, which unfortunately I do, it will come again… but I’m safe for now.

I feel pretty today. I’m wearing a baby pink jumper with a cut out back, comfy jeans and black pumps. Somehow, washing my hair in whatever Holiday Inn provided in the shower has defined my natural curls. I feel cute. I’m just hoping that this lasts until 4pm when I finally arrived at my destination.

I remember speaking once to my London friend, and her saying that she hoped her boyfriend realised the difficulties of getting over there. In truth, neither he nor Wildcard have any idea. Searching for dates and tickets, getting time off, sorting kids and household and pets, insurance, currency, covid tests, train tickets, hotels. And then, for me, a day and a half of travel. Unfortunately, there is no direct route to his city from the north of England, so I have to travel to London or get connecting flights. It so happens that on this trip, to maximise the short time I am there, I’ve had to get a connecting flight anyway.

I will be honest, I wanted to throw this is his face last night when we had our little bicker. I didn’t, because I knew the bickering was my fault. Plus, he would retort that it was my choice to come, and my choice to come now. Which is true.

Yesterday, tired-grieving me allowed herself to fall into the always-unhelpful pity party which is: it is not like it was when I first came.

Of course it isn’t. It never can be. No, he didn’t message me constantly yesterday, but he was working and he didn’t the first time I came. I allowed that, and a simple and innocent comment from him (do you want me to go whilst you are eating?) To build into a sulky spat which caused an upset. Ah well. All is OK now.

And they have just called us to board early. Result!

Grave

I’ve written a number of posts recently. They are currently sitting in the draft folder, that graveyard for the unpublished.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with them: they’re just incomplete. I write without a plan or even a clear process – diary-like, I write what is relevant at the time. Believe it or not, I am conscious of making mistakes (although I am aware I do) and will leave a post for checking and publishing later. This, clearly, often doesn’t happen. When I finally go back to the post it is no longer relevant so I don’t post it. Silly, really, as this matters only to me.

I’m sat on the 12.47pm train to London. I shouldn’t be.

The plan was to get the 18.47 train. But then life spun, as it often does I’ve realised, and my options changed.

On Sunday evening, my sister text me quite late at night, asking if I was awake. She called me, and let me know that my cousin was in hospital in a coma. He had collapsed whilst eating and they suspected a heart attack or stroke. His own father had died at a similar age of a heart attack. Unfortunately, many of my Dad’s siblings had heart issues, as did my dad.

I haven’t seen my cousin for a while. He is older than me and since Dad’s death, I see less and less of his family. This cousin used to visit my Dad regularly though – one or twice a fortnight – and was one of the few people who did. He had shown me kindness in the past, and whilst latterly had clearly been poisoned by my evil step-brother, I was sad about him.

I didn’t sleep well.

The next morning, I was informed that he had indeed died, not of a heart attack. It appears he had choked on his food. The ambulance did not arrive for 50 minutes.

I don’t know any more than this. My guess is that his wife had suspected the heart attack and maybe didn’t check. Or perhaps she was unable to help him. Either way, my heart ached for her and how she must feel now.

Yesterday I felt low, grave, morose. I drove to town to drop off my PCR test but there was no excitement. I got home, exhausted, and messaged my boss to let him know I was not great. He offered the rest of the week off and after much stressing and contemplating, I agreed.

At 10am this morning I changed my train ticket, hastily finished preparations, and here I am.

I still feel low. I should be excited, and there have been moments of that, but I’m not really.

As usual, I have put my own pressures and worries on to this trip before I even started. This situation has just added to it.

What I will say, is that his face has been the only thing to make me feel an ounce of happiness. He is like a sunbeam, breaking through my dark clouds.

I can’t wait to see him.

I have come to the conclusion, after much pondering, that I may well have had my second breakdown/burnout/whatever it’s name is now.

The weird thing is…I didn’t feel it, as such. I’ve felt crushing anxiety – that much is true. About a year ago I upped my low dose antidepressant because of all the bother that was starting the academy take over. So, yes, the anxiety was there.

What wasn’t there, was that deep dark numb pit that I fell in. The one that, last time, I hadn’t known was swallowing my whole path until I was in it head first. When I think back to that time – weirdly around this time of year too (!!!!) in 2017, I can’t remember a great deal. I remember that first moment. I remember days staring out the window at the field opposite accompanied by my cat and a hot drink. I remember that I didn’t shower much and I wore my depression hat – a glittery silver woolly hat – to hide my grief.

So no, that hasn’t happened. I’ve avoided the deep dark pit. Don’t get me wrong, a few times I’ve thought I’ve seen him far up ahead but I was wrong.

Anxiety- yes. Depression – no. However, there are signs that I’ve not been quite right recently.

First, Wildcard noticed. He notices everything. Second, I’ve put weight on and my nails are short. Third, I can’t get on top of my house. You’d think with not working for 6 months I would have mastered it. Despite feeling like I’ve tried nearly every day, I’ve failed. Completely. More recently, I’ve even stopped with my facials and putting make up on and I think that was why Wildcard was so suspicious when I went to the Christmas Market spruced up like a turkey. This last month I’ve stopped using the Fabulous App. I’ve stopped drawing and painting.

There is sufficient evidence there to say that despite feeling otherwise, I’ve had some sort of mental episode. Why haven’t I felt the depression? Well, it could be my tablets working. It could be that I am generally happier (that needs some pondering). It could be because of Wildcard. He’s the only new thing in my life.

I’m avoiding stuff though. I’m plodding along, doing whatever I actually do each day and avoiding a whole heap of crap in the corner. I know I need to deal with it. I know that if I don’t, eventually that pile of crap is going to devour me. I just can’t seem to start or sustain a start.

I was notified this week that I have been writing this blog for five years. Five years! My blog is nowhere near as successful as some, and particularly some of you who read my blog. I know in part that’s because I don’t always put myself out there and join in with other blogs. Something else I stopped doing and need to start. But my near 500 followers mean a lot to me, the ones that have been with me for a long time (Anna and Susie) and those who comment and give me advice (Kay and Writerswithoutwords). Thank you to all of you. 🥰🥰

It was a shock though to realise that I started this blog because my life had been through a major life changing event- the permanent separation from my husband. I wanted a new life, a new me, and this blog was going to document that. My Cinderella style transformation.

Yeah. That hasn’t happened.

Life has hit me with a few more catastrophic events to deal with.

And yet, I am a very different person than I was five years ago. My priorities have changed. My goals. I’m still lost but in a different way.

I’ve written before about not quite knowing how I want my life to be. Not being sure how or where to start.

I think I’ve realised that there is a really good reason I haven’t done much over the last six months.

I just wasn’t ready.

Six months rest and recuperation is nothing over the course of a whole life time. So my friend wisely said.

And so, whilst I didn’t feel it the same, I acknowledge the time nonetheless.

I was not ready. But now I am.

Enough (cont from previous post)

How to explain?

I told him that my last trip with him was the happiest I had been. I was so happy.

But that trip had signalled a ‘mental’ end. For me, I had decided that once I got back there would be no more relaxing and dilly-dallying. No. It was time to start work.

When that didn’t happen (my DBS wasn’t back), I faltered. I mourned not being with him and the life I wanted with him. But I couldn’t motivate myself wholeheartedly to do much else. Whilst I couldn’t explain this to him as eloquently as I have just now, he understood. He told me not to worry – I would be working soon. He told me to fill my time, and my mind, with other work. He’s always right.

I continued. And then…and then there was the incident with my London friend. I hadn’t told him what she had said but he pressed me and so I did. 

This was hard to explain – naturally, he took the affront and felt that she (and I) were accusing him of being bad and of not loving me.

But that isn’t it. I told him that I know he is a good man. Her words, her belief that I was an option actually made me feel bad on me. That I wasn’t good enough. The reason he hasn’t made a commitment or a decision was that I wasn’t good enough.

“Did I say that? Have I ever said that to you? You must understand my thinking.”

He was angry with her for inserting herself so negatively in our relationship. He talked of his culture and the ‘white thread’ that family brought to support a couple when they were struggling.

He said there were no problems between us.  That he just needed time to get everything right where he was, before he made the final move to commitment and leaving his country.

He told me…he told me that he had never met a woman like me before. He told me that I was beautiful and gentle and a good woman, and that his parents had said the same. He said he was the bad one – he didn’t do half of what I did for him and so I had no reason to think bad of myself. When I asked him why he didn’t, and I say that not because I want him to do those things but out of curiosity, he said he wasn’t in the position to do it. It wasn’t his way and I knew his situation. (I repeat, I don’t expect those things from him. I don’t need gifts as such. I perhaps just need a symbol.)

He talked about how we shared our life, and how we had done so for two years now. He told me he had never spent so much virtual time with a woman, none of his ex girlfriends. And I was the only one who knew his family – didn’t I realise that was something special?

That is what he had given me, I concluded. Not a token. He had made the decision to give me his life, of a fashion. Outside of me, and his parents, and his Instagram aspirations he does little else. This isn’t a man going out all the time. He rarely goes anywhere.

I am enough. He told me I am enough. What actually said is that I’m better than, more than that.

So….

Enough already. Stop with the mopsing and the worrying and the overthinking.

I am enough.

Who, what, where?

So, what life do I want? Who do I want to be?

Is this a midlife crisis – is that what it is? Or is this normal?

Let me take you back 5 years.

In 2016 I was 36 years old. My youngest child was 2. I was still married and my Dad was still alive. I had been promoted to Assistant Headteacher a year before and a new Headteacher was just starting at my school, bring anticipation for good things to come. But…

I was very, very unhappy in my marriage and had been since we had got back together. By the end of October we would have separated for good. My Dad was ill. We knew that we were lucky he was still with us but didn’t know how long we would have with him. Work held promise but was a very negative place. Soon, I would have a burnout from the pressure and stress of my life.

A lot can change in five years. Unexpected things happen. Planned things don’t happen. So much is out of our control but then a lot is in our control, but we don’t realise until it is too late.

In my first 40 years, what did I achieve?

I’m proud of my education and career and how hard I worked.

I’m happy that I was able to support my parents financially

I’m happy about the wonderful home I have and have given my children.

I’m proud of myself for being brave and getting out of an unhappy marriage and surviving.

I’m happy I finally managed to lose weight and keep some off.

I’m proud that I was able to look after my Dad and be there for my sisters.

I’m proud that I was brave enough to look for love again.

I’m proud that I have travelled, and even more so that I have travelled alone.

But what have I not achieved? What dreams and goals and aspirations are outstanding? What have I always wanted to do but not managed? In 40 years time, what do I want my achievements to be?

In five years time, where and who do I want to be?

Time to think.

Return to the doghouse, or, rejection.

I’ve been home a few days now. I did start to write a post about my final day but didn’t know how to finish it.

I slept the majority of the two days I’ve been home so far. I don’t know why. Sure, travel tires you but I don’t normally feel this tired. I hurt my neck in the journey home- my back pack was far too heavy and I felt it pull. Since then I have limited motion to the right and felt sick with the pain. Maybe that’s what is wrong.

And maybe it is a lot of things.

Perhaps it is the state of the house. I left my 17 year old, seemingly mature daughter to take care of the pets. She had friends round and her Dad and aunties checked on her. The house was a mess. Think: sour milk that never got to the fridge, pizza boxes with mouldy pizza in and enough empty soft drink bottles to make a raft. Oh and she hasn’t washed a towel in two weeks. However, the pets are all well and alive so that is something. I’ve never left her alone before so maybe this is typical.

Maybe it is that I now need to think seriously about my future. I need to find a job or start my business. My hope of coming home with a sense of the future was dashed – I know that I must plan for myself alone.

Maybe it is the fact that my ex is barely speaking to me for going to see Wildcard and Wildcard is now barely speaking to me because he found out that my ex and daughter ended up getting me from the airport when my sister let me down. Yep, figure that one out.

And then this morning I was woken by my nearly 50 year old half sister – the one I haven’t spoken to for three years – at 6.30am crying and hammering on the door. She was drunk, in distress, and had fallen out with my even more aggressive half brother who had pushed her over. I have lots and lots of bad history with her, but I have good also. She is very much alone – a fact she is aware of as much as her blame for that. My Dad would be heartbroken to see her like that. She is involved with a man who is no good and as I sat there and watched her I just felt awful. She has told me some of the things he has said to her, apparently in jest, and I could see how this has made her change her appearance. His drinking and drug use have clearly increased her own drinking. But most of all, I just saw someone who was lost. Missing her Dad (she has no mum) and just craving love and attention to the point of changing herself. I saw me. And I didn’t like it.

How much of what I feel for Wildcard comes from that loneliness, that desperation for love and acceptance? I have lived a life rejected by my half siblings, simply for being born. In turn they have marginalised me from the rest of my dad’s family- only the ones who don’t get on with them, get on with me.

However much they chased me afterwards, my ex husband, my first boyfriend and Lost Soul played with my feelings enough and let me down to the point of rejection. I forgave and accepted and tried, but in the end gave up on them. Once I’d given all I had, there was no more going back – regardless of their promises and pain and love.

I’ve had issues with friends – the one who rejected me because of my relationship with Wildcard for example. And now there is work. Rejection if ever I’ve felt it. I’m not wanted.

So what if, my desperation for a life with Wildcard comes from that? He has shown me undue attention in two years. He is deliciously handsome and funny and knows me like no other. What if my desire to run away from the rejection here is a key incentive in my commitment to him? I would be lying if I told you I hadn’t thought of starting a new life there.

And he does hurt me, from time to time. He says things to make me nervous. He can be childish and maybe even a little spiteful – he’s angry with me now (even though he says he isnt) so his response to my ‘I love you’ is ‘I know’. Oddly, it hasn’t affected me like it usually does. I know him well enough to know why this has put him on edge. I know how he behaves when he feels this way. And I know, usually, it will blow over. He is still calling me and answering my calls and texts. He will stew, he may discuss, he will forget. Maybe.

But no matter which way you look at it, I was desiring more ‘finality’ in our relationship than he was. And that feels like rejection too. Maybe he isn’t ready. Maybe it is finances. Maybe he wants to meet my children. Maybe it is too soon for his parents. Maybe my behaviour freaked him out. Maybe I want too much, too soon. Maybe it is not meant to be.

And this, then, is my problem. I’ve lost all faith in my own judgement and thinking. The more I think, the less I know. The more I think, the more possibilities my stupid brain comes up with. So many, that I can reject and accept everyone with no clear decision on which is most likely.

So, I’m in the doghouse. And I’ve a feeling that I am the only one who can get myself out.