I’m tired, sweaty, itchy, dirty and thoroughly proud of myself.
About two weeks ago, I retrieved my sturdy walking boots from the porch. They hadn’t been used for probably four years. Maybe four. They were dusty and full of cobwebs but in excellent condition. I vacuumed them sprayed them with insecticide, just to be on the safe side, and left them to settle.
Today, I vacuumed them again and put them on. They felt big. Big girl boots. Probably because the last time I wore them, I was wearing walking socks and was hiking with my friend. I was a different person then.
I was the type of person who went on adventures. I drove for hours, my friend and I, looking for somewhere new to explore. I worked in the garden – gave myself a project and did it. I hated my body – had no self confidence – but was willing to try to combat it through walking and gardening. I went on holidays with friends. I went out.
I was finding myself again. My Dad had died and I had grieved deeply. But I’d decided to start again, just like he had at 39. I was still grieving, but I had hope.
Today, I put the boots on and I mowed the front lawn. I haven’t mowed the front lawn in about three years. It had a strim at some point. I told myself I was ‘letting it rewild’ and I was ‘helping nature’. No, I couldn’t cope.
Three quarters of the way through mowing – it was hard work with grass so long – Wildcard called. By the time I returned, my lawn was covered with bees. Yes, bees. My neighbour said they were ground bees. I hadn’t seen many bees prior to this, which is strange, but nonetheless the lawn was alive with bees.
But this isn’t about mowing the lawn, although that was an achievement in itself.
No. Unable to continue, I drew my attention to the wooden fence at the side of my property . Not that you can see the fence. You can see that it’s leaning. You can see the rambling rose bush and ivy my dad loved are rampant. But no, you can’t see the fence.
Or should I say, couldn’t. I got out my trusty loppers, and I got started. I don’t know how long I’ve worked for, but my forearms and back are aching. It’s looking a bit like Sideshow Bob now as I haven’t managed the top yet. But I am so proud, just to have done that much.
In putting those boots back on, it’s like I rediscovered a part of myself that I had hidden or blocked out. I believed she wasn’t there anymore.
From seemingly out of nowhere, my anxiety hit me this week. From a tight chest, racing heart and even a red nose (don’t ask), I’ve had physical as well as emotional signals.
All week, I’ve pretty much focused on putting one foot in front of another. Unfortunately, my feet don’t really want to do that today. Overwhelm is a regular bedfellow of anxiety.
As I trudged through the sleepless nights, wobbly days and physical symptoms, I allowed myself – only briefly- to consider why anxiety had a hold on me. After all, I’m now on a low dose medication that I wasn’t on before. True, it was the first week back after Easter. And, I was on my period. An unfortunate combination, particularly following a week of norovirus at my house.
Today though, I need to dig deeper to get a hold of this demon and shove him backninto the out of hell where he belongs . My period is over, as is my first week back (and Ramadan which is a whole other story), and I’m sitting here still feeling like an elephant is hitching a ride on my chest.
Let’s start with work.
The Friday that school broke up, I’d had a tumultuous day. On the one hand, I’d had a meeting in which I was basically told they want to keep me there and are doing everything they can to make that happen, including creating a new job and already are advertising for the temporary role I am filling. But, there was a bit of drama from one of the existing staff as he feels like he’s ‘out of the loop’ as so much has been given to me as the experienced veteran to his ‘trainee’. As I left the building, I caught him and another colleague whispering. And, as I’m paranoid, have self-diagnosed PTSD on this etc, I immediately thought it was about me as I’d just left the room.
Coming back to work; that colleague situation; the decision to stay; and a shed load of work which was nearly finished but I was anxious about because, hey when you’ve been kicked down repeatedly you stop valuing what you do and worry it isn’t as good as you think….all excellent fodder for the anxiety demon within.
I needn’t have worried. First day back I was again asked if I would stay and I have agreed. It’s the right decision for the short term and that’s what matters. The school are really happy. I had a day working with the young whipper-snapper and things seem OK now. And, all involved were really happy with the work I had completed.
I’ve also taken on another three hours of tutoring a week. It’s someone I know (but not well) and they were desperate. The boy is a carbon copy of my son in many ways and I want to help. The money will also come in handy.
I’m wondering if it is a step too far – too much work – but again, in the short term I can do this. I can always revise this decision in the coming weeks.
After my big DIY push and a week of family illness, I haven’t done a great deal. I went back to work with a beautiful porch and front door but organised chaos behind it. Normally, I spend my holidays getting everything reset.
Add the extra tutoring, extreme tiredness and a heavy period and, well, I’ve done next to nothing this week. I’d planned to work inside and out today. I’ve done little. Ah well.
Added to that, there is a major job that needs doing.
The septic tank needs emptying. 🤢
No, I’m not personally going to empty it. But still.
Why is this stressful? It’s embarrassing. It’s disgusting. The path to the offensive pit is purposefully overgrown and also embarrassing. I have tried all week to find someone to do it and struggled. I’m currently making my family shower at their Dad’s and have used my sister’s washing machine. Yep, it’s that full. Not overflowing. But full.
I finally found someone yesterday who will empty it. They said ‘sometime next week’, ‘we will call you’ and it starts from ‘£200’ depending on the job. I don’t deal with uncertain plans very well. I like to know what I’m doing.
The price is nearly double what I paid last time and could be more. I’ve a feeling I’m going to be told some remedial work will need doing and I can’t afford that. So… yep, anxiety. I will feel better when it is done and it definitely needs doing, regardless of other jobs I had previously put before it.
Where to start..? My daughter is still static. I had a frank conversation with her two weeks ago and another slightly angered text message rant with her on Thursday. Finally, she’s getting the message that she can no longer spend her 18th year of life in bed. Her anaemia is much improved so she now needs to get motivated. And help more round the house in the meantime.
My son is mere weeks away from his formeal exams. He still refuses to do any kind of revision or study, no matter the persuasion, bribe, support etc etc. That and the lack of school support means he’s going to come out with the bare minimum at best. I keep telling myself that there is nothing more I can do: it is his decision. Maybe there is a bigger lesson he needs to learn here.
The end of Ramadan, finally. Things have been better since our blowout anyway, but they should just slide back to normalcy from now. It’s five weeks until I go. Everything is booked and I am very, very excited.
However, my anxiety has unfortunately dredged up some unhealthy eating habits and so I need to work on this from here on. I’m ‘out of condition’: my skin is dry, hair needs a good cut and henna, and I need to get my nails shaped. Five weeks to make myself my best, by looking after myself the best I can.
Oh, and did I mention I am excited? Last night he teased me with virtual kisses. Yes, I’m very excited.
So there is my counter attack to the anxiety devil. I’ve acknowledged the sources, recognised that actually, there is still a lot to be happy about, and I’ve had a relax to process. Take that, anxiety.
Look at my beautiful cat 😍. I will explain why I have posted a picture of him, momentarily. (And yes, that is a black cat Halloween sticker, in memory of my other cat who recently died 😢)
I’ve had a strange afternoon. Strange, because I don’t really have another word to explain how I feel right now.
The past 36 hours I came down with stomach flu. I spent most of Tuesday night being sick, Wednesday I slept and then was just on the couch with no energy and aching all over.
This morning, I felt weak and achy. By lunch time I had finally eaten some homemade soup, had showered and felt a little better.
My house was clean (enough), washing was on the line and I didn’t feel well enough to do anything else strenuous.
I’d had some errant thoughts, as you sometimes do when you lie around with nothing to do. I’d thought about what I’d said in my birthday post, about not being able to have Wildcard’s baby. Whilst the passing of one day probably hasn’t made much of a difference, it marked the passing of a deadline I’d given myself.
And, of course, as is often the way, this thought then cascaded into so many others. I wanted answers, insight. And it resulted in me deciding to read my journal- my blog, right from the beginning. Whilst I’d re-read my time with Wildcard some months ago, I’ve never gone back to the beginning.
I started writing on WordPress the day my marriage ended in 2016.
It’s been an amazing read. And I’m not talking about the quality of my writing here, I’m talking about my life.
There were posts I remembered that I thought I had written much more recently. That was weird. There were many posts where I barely recognised myself. There were posts which described a life I haven’t lived for a very long time (Covid??).
But what a life. I always feel bad saying this, because I know my life is so much better than some people have to deal with. But my life has been tough.
I read about the end of my marriage and how, despite knowing it was the right decision, my grief in the months that followed. The beginning of a depression which fluctuated over a year and then ended in 2017 with my breakdown/burnout. I hadn’t realised it had started so long before that. The burnout I remember, vividly. There is a post where I document just sitting and staring out the window each morning, just me and my coffee and my cat (yup, that beauty up there ❤️ who helped me through it all. I’d forgotten.)
I read through my slow recovery and my gradual return to a workplace which- I can see now – had become toxic in my absence. And then my Dad’s slow decline and death months later.
Then grief, grief, grief.
There are many tales of Lost Soul. My goodness. I can see why I am so anxious in love now, I really can. It’s no wonder! Everything I went through – and I can’t say ‘what he put me through’ – because I went beyond my better judgement every time and allowed it.
Slowly, slowly, in 2019, you start to see me returning – my grief settling, my infatuation with Lost Soul burnt out, my depression subdued. And then I meet Wildcard.
I stopped reading at that point. Mainly because my eldest son has now started vomiting 🤢.
I feel…so sorry for myself and yet so proud. When you’re living through it, hard as it was, you don’t see the interconnectivity of things. How quickly my grief over the end of my marriage and struggling as a full time working mum with work issues, met the devastation of a rapidly declining Dad. Betrayals in love, betrayals in friendships. It’s no wonder I’ve been how I am, no wonder at all.
There is beauty there too. I saw just how much I tried to do. I was a good mum, even when I thought I wasn’t. I was a good mum through those years of no support from my ex, and with my Dad being ill in this house. I did my best, I really did.
I saw the real self depreciation. Post after post about my weight. Whilst it’s true, I’m nearly 5 stone lighter than that now (and have no wish to get back there), the self hatred is hard to take.
The following was particularly poignant:
To be honest, in just writing this I have summed up the cause of all that I am feeling. There is no time in my life where I don’t feel pressured by outside influences; my roles as mother, daughter, sister, homeowner, teacher. I need to unpick all this, refine and define my roles and carve out a new role as caretaker for ME. That is the one area I am truly failing at, not the others like I believe. I need to keep telling myself that. My one, and only one, failure in my life so far is not caring for myself.
If I have done one thing this past few years, unbeknownst to myself or not, I have battled this. I still do. I don’t feel the pressures so much as the guilt when I neglect one or other but im working on it. Something to unpick with my new counsellor, I think.
I’ve realised something else too. I’m not as bad now as I have been. There is a fight in me that wasn’t there before. My depression never really left me, I think. But I have learnt to fight it and knowingly too now, want to defeat it for good.
This evening, I’ve had laughter with Wildcard (amongst trips upstairs with sick bags for my son.) I feel a certain peace.
Yes, it’s important to look back. For those of you whose blog serves as a journal: I strongly recommend it.
And for those few on here that have stuck by me through all this: thank you. 😊
I guess it’s normal to look closely at your life with a magnifying glass of unrivalled introspection when it’s your birthday.
Whilst I indeed remain gratefully content with my situation in life, as per my birthday post…
… I also can’t deny that I still have that inner need for action: that unsettled feeling deep inside, and the belief that I’m not doing something I should. That I’m capable of more, if not something different to what I’m doing now:
I think it’s why I can’t really settle back into teaching. I still love teaching and helping children, but at the same time I know there has been a shift somewhere and I should be doing something else. I believe I thought going back a few steps into classroom teaching would help. It has in some ways – I’m relaxed and have found my confidence again – but that nagging itch is still there.
When I met Wildcard, he became my new focus: the life we could have together. If I’m being honest, and this is something people around me have probably known for some time, I’ve put my life on hold in some ways, waiting for him. I’ve not wanted to spend money unnecessarily. My social life has shrunk to include him and my immediate family. Problem is, after 3.5 years, there’s still no concrete plans. Arranging a visit takes months because he can’t make a decision.
This Easter, unique circumstances have come together to reawaken part of me that had disappeared. I spoke to my friend with whom I travelled to Prague, Austria and Italy. Photographs of travels with an old work friend, around Wales and the UK, jumped up on my Google photo memory feed. I’ve felt the pull towards visiting an art museum and remembered that was how I enjoyed my birthday 5 years ago. Before Covid. Before Wildcard. Before Dad died.
So whilst my dreams have become lost somehow, and I’m still no clearer on how to find them anymore, I’ve realised that I still have a desire to travel.
Herein is the difficulty.
One, when I think about travelling, I want to travel with Wildcard. Whilst we have seen a lot of his country and have plans to see more, his er…hesitancy.. to commit is impeding our ability to travel as a couple.
Two, my funds are limited. In a choice between seeing him and travel, he wins every time.
Three, I could travel with my kids but it’s not the same thing. I don’t want to sit on a beach and swim in a pool. I don’t want that type of holiday, and I feel bad for being so selfish about it, but when money’s tight I’m not going to use it on that. I give my kids everything I have every day. I’m trying to not feel guilty for finally wanting to reserve some of the money I earn to do what I want. It has taken me a long time to feel this way. If I was to take them anywhere, it would be to visit Wildcard and his parents – something all my kids want but – unsurprisingly – hasn’t been firmly discussed.
Four, I don’t then, have anyone else to travel with. My Prague-visiting friend is in a relationship and wants to travel with him, understandably. The other friend is no longer a friend since my relationship blossomed with Wildcard.
I could travel alone. I’m pretty good at that now, thanks to my long distance relationship with Wildcard. It’s just…deep down, I don’t want to do this alone. I remember walking round Sevile on a layover from Wildcard’s Country, and wishing someone was with me to enjoy that beautiful city.
Of course, none of this is helping me with my existential work crisis. Counselling is still months away. Neither is it helping me feel secure in my relationship. The all to real fear that one day he may just leave me after all this waiting (not helped by a few friends making these comments, I might add).
Either way, over the past few days, I’ve started a list of places I want to visit. Just that, I guess, is a start. You can’t travel without a destination.
You can’t move forward without taking the smallest of actions.
I can hear the hiss-tap of the rain as it hits my windows and the occasional gust of wind.
I’m sat in a local beauty spot. Usually you see rolling hills and distant cities. I can just see rain and clouds mostly. UK Spring time apparently started four days ago, and whilst it has been brighter and lighter, winter has not quite given up its hold yet.
The same could be said for me.
On the whole I’m feeling brighter. I like my job and feel more confident and settled than I have in a long time. I’m happy there, for now at least.
Since booking my flights, I’ve felt like my relationship with Wildcard has settled too – thank goodness. Maybe with the pressure off, we’ve both relaxed. We’ve been laughing again, affectionate again. Not that we weren’t before…I guess the undercurrent has gone and not just for me.
My daughter is starting to look better. My son is still having his difficulties but is feeling the positive pull of College.
Winter darkness hasn’t quite disappeared yet. Sometimes inwonder how I will ever find my way out of all this. How will I be truly happy again? What do I want to be happy? Sometimes, it feels like there is now way out and I will continue in this spinning limbo.
I had hoped that the therapy will push me out of the final patch of shadow and into the sunlight. Today though, I’ve been told I will get my therapy in the next 12 weeks. It’s much longer than I had hoped. I can’t seem to find the answers to my worries. Someone to help clear my mind and gain clarity would have really helped. 3+ months waiting for that seems too much.
I have little choice though. I guess I just have to keep going, keep searching for my truth. I refuse to stand still. I refuse to sink. I will cling on to the light, the positives and keep searching.
I wrote the above a few days ago.
It’s Saturday now and I’m cleaning as usual. That’s what I do at weekends, I clean.
It gives me little satisfaction. Although my house looks better for it, and I’ve devised a system that really works with my regular feelings of overwhelm, I can’t stop noticing all the things that need doing: that I haven’t, or can’t do.
I wonder if maybe it is all too much, like some of my relatives think.
As I showered, I contemplated this. I realised something significant. It’s not just fear of failure and rejection that are my triggers. It’s something bigger than that. It’s my fear of not being enough.
This is not a new concept for me: it’s one of my biggest issues with Wildcard, often self imposed. What I realised today is that it is an underlining streak of darkness in all aspects of my life.
I give my all to something or someone, but when I don’t reach what I aspire to, or I don’t get back what I expect, I feel like I’m a failure and or my best is not enough. I’m not enough.
I gave my all to marriage. It failed.
I gave my all to my career. I couldn’t cope anymore and ended it.
I work hard in my home every week. It’s not good enough.
I care and love my kids best I can. They’re still struggling.
I love Wildcard more than I have ever loved another man. Still no commitment.
See what I mean? I give my all, don’t get the returns I expect, so plunge deep into negativity.
I’m truly saddened to hear about Ruth Perry. For any non-UK readers, Ruth was a long standing Headteacher of an ‘Outstanding’ primary school, who committed suicide due to the pressure and unfair practises of Ofsted, the government’s equivalent of the Witch Finder General.. Think along the lines of – they make a judgement before they arrive and look for evidence to fit, ignoring everything else. Her outstanding school was moved to inadequate over one area and elements that could easily remedied. I can only imagine that, realising that despite giving everything to her work, that judgement made her feel she had nothing left to give. It’s an absolute travesty.
I wish I could say I am shocked about a passionate and dedicated teacher committing suicide because of the pressures of the UK education system, but I’m not. I’m surprised that more teachers haven’t reached that level of despair and hopelessness.
I’ve been a teacher for 20 years. I’ve been a leader for 6 of them. I’ve seen the frenzy, panic, and stress caused by Ofsted. I’ve lived through the unfairness and the hopelessness and the disbelief of the unjust practices of our so called ‘majesty’s inspectorate’.
I will say it right now: schools should not be inspected they should be supported. Yes, highly trained experts should visit schools and offer support. They should celebrate the hard work and dedication of the staff who choose this ill-paid, stressful job and guide them to improvements from their vast knowledge of working with other, similar schools. That’s it. That’s what they should do.
But it’s not.
First of all, there’s the political side to this. Each new government wants to prove how terrible the previous one was, and how wonderful they are. So what do they do? They criticise the education system, raise the bar to standards which terrify children and stress teachers (and then blame teachers when that ridiculous bar can’t be reached).
And let’s be honest here, they want schools to fail. They want them to fail so they can be bought off by the highest bidder – the academies. The academies who are paying their CEOs and directors far above what local authority headteachers etc are paid. In the meantime, academy staff are bullied to leave -so the academy can replace with a cheaper version- and SEN support is reduced to minimal. ‘If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t happen’.
So what that means, if the child doesn’t have a legal document called an ‘Educational Health Care Plan’ then the academy won’t offer support. But this is the problem. One, the NHS is also in crisis, which means that are countless children with special education needs waiting four years for an assessment. Two, even with a diagnosis, cash strapped local authorities deny EHCPs to over half of applicants because they can’t afford them. So what you are left with, is undiagnosed children with no support and diagnosed children with limited support. So these children struggle in school, cause disruption and chaos due to the lack of support and unmet needs…and who gets the blame? Yep, teachers.
Of course, even local authority school are struggling financially. Energy costs, food costs etc…and little government support to help. So, they pile the work on the existing staff, mainly because they can’t afford to pay them properly and now, because teachers are leaving in herds.
The workload and expectations are ridiculous. You are expected to work above and beyond. Read that again. You are expected to work above and beyond. Staff who simply do their job – like most other jobs in this world – are looked down upon.
And that’s not only in the remits of a teacher. No, we are expected to deal with all the social and economic issues too. Schools aren’t just about learning. We support families and children through crisis. We donate food and clothing. We offer counselling and health care.
And you know what, most teachers want to support their children. Most teachers are willing to give extra to help the children in their care. But this is what I want you to realise. Ofsted don’t care about that. Academies don’t care about that.
Are teachers paid well? Comparing to some other careers, yes. Compared to what is expected of them, the demand of the job, the stress- absolutely not. I’d love to know how much money is owed to teachers in one month, from all the resources, gifts and donations they fund out their own pocket. But it’s OK, that’s simultaneously expected and ignored.
Ofsted come in for two days and make a judgment on a school. They don’t truly see anything worthwhile. They see a snapshot. Think about that: two days out of three years and that is the judgement on the school. They don’t offer help and guidance. They bully and cause stress. They are cold, unfeeling and immovable. Probably because the judgement was made before they walked through the door.
An Ofsted visit should feel like the local wise man/woman coming. We should feel respect for their wisdom and gratitude for their kindness. We should want to impress them with all that we are doing, and feel relief that we will be supported and guided through the things we are struggling with. Schools should be desperate for ofsted to visit, just for that support alone.
But no. Instead, overworked and stressed education workers are treated with contempt and scrutiny. They are being made to feel that their best isn’t good enough. They are being made to feel that every extra hour they give, going above and beyond what they are paid to do, isn’t good enough. They’re being made to feel that every hoop they are jumping through, still isn’t good enough.
And it isn’t. Because if schools were actually allowed to use the combined professionalism of the staff within, then schools would improve.
If they made decisions based on the needs of the children, not outside pressures and Ofsted threats, they would improve.
If they were well funded and staffed, and staff worked their just hours and no more, things would improve.
If exam pressures disappeared, children would be children and enjoy learning again. And things would improve.
So, as an experienced teacher and parent, let me make this clear. The Government’s handling of education is INADEQUATE. Ofsted are INADEQUATE. And whilst they fail to recognise this, more teachers will leave the profession, less graduates will sign up for the punishment of this career and sadly, more teachers will suffer at the hands of the stress pushed on them. More teachers will take their own life.
To Ruth’s family, I am so sorry for this tragic loss. I’m sure the words of the many parents and children who mourn her are a true testament to the work she did.
The sky was a bright, bright blue and I felt the promise of spring in the air, finally. It may have been it: the promise of new life and light. It wasn’t though. Moments later, big fat drops of rain descended. I shepherded my son and his friend away from the park and into the car and we began the drive home. Wildcard called and my son answered, and he spoke to him and his friend making them laugh with his joking.
And then it happened. The rainbow appeared, clear and bright and as I approached the last corner before my house it felt like we were driving through the end of it, the haze of colours like a mirage on the edge of my vision. Can that actually happen? I thought. Then it was there again, seemingly over my house.
I’ve had an unsettled couple of days.
Tuesday night, I spent the evening laughing with Wildcard, tears falling down my face like the raindrops of today, but in mirth.
Wednesday morning, when I received my morning call, he kissed me virtually over and over again. I told him, “I want to come in May” just before I said goodbye.
I finally plucked the courage to tell work that I had a medical appointment today. The appointment is actually an assessment call for counselling. I didn’t tell them that. But, having seen how they treat staff with absences or work day requests, I was nervous and perhaps imagined that the leadership team didn’t seem quite so friendly.
And then, Wildcard told me that his brother plans to come for a month now, from mid-June to mid-July and my heart sank further. I didn’t allow myself to think about how hard that month will be, but I did ask of that meant I can’t go in May like suggested. He, of course didn’t know: he hadn’t spoken to his brother specifically and the dates were not confirmed. I tried to tell him my proposed dates but was shut down – he didn’t want to talk about it any more and would let me know once he had spoken to him.
I was glad this was all said over the phone. Huge tears fell and I couldn’t swallow the lump in my throat. He later apologised – knew that he had overstepped. We had a tense conversation. He accused me of demanding an answer to soon, of not understanding that he has to consult all his family before he makes a decision. I told him that if I actually felt like he wanted me there, I may not be so upset. He told me he did, he wanted me there now to kiss and hold me. He made me cry again just thinking about it. My fb friend said that he only said it under pressure and commented that if I didn’t push, he wouldn’t even ask if I was coming.
I cried myself to sleep after realising that if I am not his number one priority now, I never will be and that is why we will never marry.
Yesterday, despite his promise of an answer, he was preoccupied with the late announcement of an important visitor in work. I didn’t ask, obviously.
Today was my telephone appointment. The dam opened. I told them how lost and alone I felt. How I questioned everything in my life but could never find an answer. I told them of my low esteem and confidence and how it was affecting me in my career and my relationship. I talked about the loss of my Dad, my breakdown and my anxiety and overthinking. I told them of my fight to stay out of the darkness but that I needed help to find myself again. She validated my difficulties and acknowledged my fight. I will receive counselling, soon I hope.
A weight lifted over the afternoon.
At 4.30pm, I left the boys in my daughter’s capable hands and set out to buy a chippy tea. The rainbow was bright and full arc this time. Similarly, on the way back, the rainbow seemed to hover around my house as I drove home and the closer I came, moved silently around my garden and out to the fields my dad used to farm. I felt him near.
Sure, it’s a scientific phenomenon. But I felt my dad near. I felt like he was telling me that everything was OK, he’s still near. I felt like he was telling me that things were going to get brighter now, the change in the air is the start of something new for me too.
I don’t know what will happen in my relationship. I think a part of me believes that it is over, and probably knew this in January.
The rest of me only thinks it’s over if I believe it is. If I give up. As yet, I still don’t have an answer about May.
Maybe in itself, that is an answer.
Today, a female work colleague asked if I was with anyone. I told her briefly about my 3.5 year relationship. She asked if we lived together and I of course said no. A natural assumption – not for Wildcard, of course. In talking, I told her that if it didn’t work out, I would give up on love and I meant it.
For now, I’m going to revel in the light of spring and the magic of my rainbow and hope for better things to come, whatever happens.
I’m calm – relatively. It’s morning and despite being a Saturday, I woke quite early. I have a fluffy throw around me, have stoked up the fire and made a coffee, and have some lone time to journal.
This morning I woke to thoughts of redecorating, house maintenance and house work. Literally, these were the thoughts that went through my mind.
I’ve let many, many things slide in the past 5 years and although I knew it – and worried about it – I also know I was an expert at ignoring it. I’ve realised recently, like a dawning awareness, just how much my house has grown tired and unloved.
And it is unloved. It holds far too many memories, far too many feelings of guilt. Fear even.
There are times when I’ve made a beautiful garden. There are times I’ve redecorated and redesigned. But they were in a different lifetime, with a different me. I look back on them, shrouded in the mists of memory, and they are like looking at a version of myself that no longer exists.
I’ve been told, so many times, that this house is ‘too much for me’. Whilst a part of me remains indignant, the proof is before me. Repairs remain unfixed, rooms undecorated, garden overgrown. Inside, some rooms are cluttered, carpets need replacing.
When Dad died, I had the finances to do the work but not the will. I didn’t want anything to change, even the leaking tap. Then, feeling alone, I was fearful of getting work done. There have been many times when I have employed someone, only for the work to be shoddy and overpriced. And, with my new found low-esteem and lack of confidence, I’ve not attempted to do anything myself either.
That last point isn’t quite true. For the last eighteen months, I have slowly started to undo the knots of chaos, caused by my depression. (The fact that I’m even calling it depression is a step forward, I think). I’ve refused to give up. I’ve tidied and organised.
It’s an on going battle though. Now I’m working full time again, I have less time and energy to do it. With everything that happened with my children, even daily chores have slipped this last two weeks. This is why I woke to thoughts of housework this morning.
Just over a year ago, I made the decision to return to full time work. I made a plan. With my salary returned to a decent level, I planned how I would renovate my house step by step. I planned how I would get control of my finances and finally cut the apron strings with my ex-husband. I planned how I would prepare for Wildcard to come to me.
A lot has happened since then. I started and left the job. My son’s mental health declined and my daughter’s physical health with it. My finances nosedived again – I have now spent the money I have saved for Wildcard’s move to the UK, just to survive. The world has descended into financial crisis with rising costs for food and fuel and electric. My dreams of Wildcard coming have faded.
This week, the deputy Headteacher at my new school has thanked me for all I’ve done and told me that she will do all she can to keep me there. There’s no guarantee of a job of course, my contract is a maternity cover and they would need to make a new job for me. There’s also no guarantee that it would pay what I deserve.
I have mixed feelings about it. I am happy there. It is convenient, being local, and the hours are good. I’m working with SEN children which I am passionate about. I’m even enjoying the extra work they are giving me, as they are aware of my background and strengths.
But… I don’t know if I want to be sucked back into that world. There are issues with the place, as documented by the high turnover of staff. They won’t be able to offer me a role back to what I am capable of, even if they wanted to. I could apply for other jobs, more appropriate to my experience and earn good money again. A stab of fear tuns through me at the thought. Whilst I’m happy, I know that’s not what I want for the rest of my life. I know that I still yearn to use this old house and land for some good. I know that I want to be my own boss and to do something that I am passionate about.
How can I start something when I have nothing?
I can’t believe that after nearly two years, I’m still in limbo land. I sometimes wonder if some of my desperation for Wildcard is linked to having a sense of purpose, a direction, a partner. When I dreamed of him coming here, I had a focus. I pictured us working on the house together, building a life together.
Maybe part of what I’ve been feeling this year, is recognition that I can’t put that pressure on him (even if he doesn’t know why). This is my life, my career, my house, my responsibility. Whether he comes, or not, those facts won’t change.
We could talk about my terror that he’s going to decide to come and my house isn’t ready but it would be pointless because I don’t think it will happen. And that’s it, isn’t it? I no longer am confident he will come.
I needed to get my head out of cloud 9. All my hopes and dreams were wrapped up in him. Now, I’m sitting in a rundown house and realising that whilst I dreamed, the outside world continued to age and decay.
Unfortunately, whilst this post has helped me admit some home-truths, it hasn’t yet yielded any of the answers I need. I can only hope that with the clarity that’s dawning, answers – a path – are on their way.
I’ve done it again, but this time it wasn’t my fault. I wrote and redrafted a post five days ago. And then I left it to check and post later. But whenever I do that, as with this time, I forget about it and don’t post it. I have a large number of unpublished but finished posts like that.
That’s why, often, my posts are published and they have mistakes. I will read them through of course but – as I was taught in Uni – if the writing is fresh, your eyes will read what your brain planned, ignoring the mistakes. Therefore, you won’t pick up all the mistakes just the glaring ones. This is where ‘fresh eyes’ come in- someone new to check, or leaving it a few days.
On this occasion, Covid is to blame. Oh yes. I’ve got it again. I’m now on my third day in bed and have a lovely crop of coldsores appearing around my nose for good measure.
And yet, I am pleasantly spritely. Why, I hear you ask?
Possibly, cabin fever. Maybe, I’m so well rested, I’m happy? No, I was really ill and only the last few hours have I started to feel well.
My last, unpublished post was a different matter. I talked about how flat I felt. How I have lost hope.
By stopping the obsessive thoughts about my future with Wildcard, I’d actually removed my hope for them too. So, by taking away all thoughts of them – by focusing on just the present- I’d removed the negative but all the positive too. I felt flat and well…everything is pointless. It’s what happens when you have no direction.
I know, I know. I obsess about him in general. My posts are mainly about him. I don’t know how to change that. My career is a distant, painful memory. I’m floundering in a present with no direction – the only thing I’m certain about, is that I want him.
Back to now. What has changed today?
I can’t tell you exactly. But I will try.
1) I watched a great Netflix series. Something I was genuinely interested in. Why is this important? Because having fun, particularly on your own, is important for your happiness. I’ve realised I do very little which is fun.
2) I called my ex-tutee and his family today to catch up. It was lovely speaking to him. Made me remember I have done some good in this world, even when I didn’t feel my best.
3) Despite not getting paid for this week, I’m getting more money than I thought. Hopefully, I will be ok.
4) Someone helped me this week – showed me a true and genuine kindness that I will never forget. It has come at a time of need financially and personally. And it felt like a gift from my Dad.
5) I’ve started Tony Robbins’ free five day challenge. Although it’s been pretty similar to a previous challenge I’ve done of his, it’s had a real positive effect on my thinking. That is what I need.
6) I spoke to a counselling service today who have offered me some support. I’m lacking someone to talk to, to help me process my overthinking. Counselling and CBT can help.
7) I realised something. In the three years of my relationship, we’ve dealt with Covid, my career going down the drain along with my confidence, me being over-emotional and everything else in between. He’s still here. He’s still loving me and calling me. I’m not my best and he’s still here.
As Tony Robbins says, what happens in life is for you not to you.
Do I really want wildcard here, when the rest of my life isn’t ready? No. Life is giving me a chance to sort myself out because that is the right thing to do whatever the outcome of my LDR.
As Tony says, I’m in the winter. A life cycle has ended for me. Winter can be long but underneath the surface, bulbs are starting to sprout and trees are storing energy for those glorious leaves again. I feel flat because I’ve not yet set my course, my direction….the ones I can choose.
Well, I’m going to. And I’m going to do it for me.
It may have something to do with the delicious coffee I made myself at 4pm. The one I knew I shouldn’t have, but as I’d only had one terrible decaf instant that morning- and now had a packet of fresh ground – it was allowed.
I’ve been ill all week. All week. I was also ill last week. By the weekend, I felt better. By Tuesday, I was not. I’ve been exhausted all week and just wanted a rest. Me time.
But no. That doesn’t happen much when you’re a mum. And even more so when each one of your children are also ill. Yep, all three.
I started my week with a three day trial at a special school. I was excited about this as ots something I’ve never done and I’m passionate about, having been around my SEN family members.
Nothing about the place shocked me, really. It was how I expected on the whole. I thought, being so excited, that I would either be massively disappointed and hate it or fall in love with the place.
Instead, for the first two days, I felt…meh. Not a lot. By the end of Tuesday, keeping in mind I was feeling ill, I was actually quite frustrated with myself. If this wasn’t intriguing me, what would? Maybe it genuinely is time to leave teaching.
The problem is…problems are… I like teaching. I just don’t like schools. I like helping children. I enjoy being creative. I just don’t like schools. I’ve looked for other jobs and whilst I often have many of the skills they look for, but because they’re not specifically from that industry, I think I don’t have a chance.
My last day was Wednesday. I had a good day. Maybe because I was more settled there – maybe because the children recognised me a bit more, either way I enjoyed it. One little boy came up and hugged me. Another did work when he doesn’t usually. I liked it. But at the end of the day, I walked out no clearer to what was happening. No one spoke to me.
Thursday I was back in my tutoring. The children had missed me. I felt appreciated. I like this job. I love it, in fact. I attended an important meeting for one of the children ans received some really lovely feedback about my work with him. I was also called by the agency to be told I was the favourite for the job at the special school. They had interviews the next day, Friday, and in the interest of fairness had invited me in on Monday for an interview too. OK, I thought. Gives me the weekend to think.
Except, I got a call Friday afternoon offering me the job without the interview. There was someone in 2nd if I rejected it, but they wanted me. There was talk about future responsibilities and permanent positions. There was also talk of a three month trial on daily supply rates – normal in this country- but actually higher than normal for me. Just less than I would be on in a permanent position. I froze, unsure, and asked for time to think. I think I shocked the agency
There was no one to call to discuss. (Woah, that’s just really hit home). I thought, hard.
I’d liked the school overall. It was fantastic experience and would look good on my already good CV. They have a forest school which I’m interested in. It’s local, better pay and provided all is well, it’s a year’s contract with promise of a permanent position. And the three month trial? Well, they’ve given me an escape hatch if I need one.
But…it’s a school. And they’re all the same. And I love my tutoring. And I don’t want to let my tutees down. And I could make good money there.
Except…there is no security, at all. I’ve made it clear how I feel to the recruitment manager and whilst he’s thrown compliments my way, has done nothing to keep me. At any point I could be out of contract. The travel isn’t subsidised, neither are all the resources I have to provide.
And so, in the end, I’ve accepted the job.
Maybe I’m stupid. Maybe I really have had it with schools. But I have to try, again. I need this stability for so many reasons.
I’d like to be able to go food shopping without feeling terrified. I’d like to fix things in my house…
I’d like to financially be ready if Wildcard ever decides to take the next steps. I need to make myself financially independent from my ex.
The experience is fantastic for my CV and for my business idea.
Maybe I will regret this. Maybe it will be the best thing for me. But I’ve made a decision and now need to stick to it.