Defining the dream

I haven’t written half as much as I wanted or probably needed to, about my last trip to see Wildcard. In summary….it was wonderful but challenging.

At times I felt so loved and cherished- not just by him but also by his family. I felt so much love from them and for them. I was happy and content.

At times, I felt confused. I felt like I wasn’t sure how he felt about me, what was happening.

Once again, there was no conversation about our future. There was no proposal. I half expected this, but I can’t pretend there wasn’t hope somewhere.

I came home frustrated with myself for my conflicting feelings. I came home disappointed that he hadn’t committed.

A few days ago, I told him I had posted a parcel out – the photobook of our little holiday with his parents, and some other little gifts. He asked why I had posted them, and I replied: because I don’t know when I’m coming next – do you?

He then did his typical thing. He joked. He told me “next year”. I did my typical of not being sure if he was serious, and became distant. At this point, he told me he was joking and that I could come when I want, as long as it didn’t coincide with his brothers coming (which I wholeheartedly understand).

It had unsettled me though, a little. Because it was clear that he still has no concrete plan for commitment.

This was brought up with my sister and we had a long conversation. She said my family had expected me to come home engaged. We discussed this. I told her that neither of us were in the position to do this – I needed to sort my career, finances and house. He needed to secure his parents and wait for his brothers to be in a position to help. When I said I would give him one more year, she surprised me by asking why I would put a limit on, if he was all I wanted?

Good point.

Because, as my London friend commented: I don’t want to wait for him, only for him to change his mind at some point in the future. I am TERRIFIED of this.

Waiting for it is not helping me. I’m anxious and clingy. I’m needy and demanding. It’s not the waiting but the uncertainty.

I truly believe that he thinks all is well. His actions would suggest that he believes me to be his wife and when the right time comes, it will be made official and he will move here.

The problem, of course, is that my life has undergone a massive upheaval is the last 18 months. The upheaval isn’t over yet. Most of this is completely outside of him and his control. THAT, I need to accept.

I’ve been unable to truly determine what I want from my life for a long, long time. I had once achieved all I wanted. Yet, I wasn’t happy. Most of that has now changed or disappeared. All I know now, is that I want him.

What does that actually mean?

Finally, finally, I’ve allowed myself to truly think about that. I’ve made myself daydream about a weekend in the life with him. I felt it as I wrote…every touch, laugh and look. You can find it here:

https://startingfromthemiddleblog.wordpress.com/2022/08/14/dare-to-dream/

I can’t coast any longer. I’ve made one decision- about my career – and whilst I’m not sure it is the right one, I’ve made a plan. This daydream was about my love life and my family life. It’s something I haven’t dared to do for a long time out-of fear.

I’ve started to analyse it. In my next post, you’ll hear what I think this all means.

Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview 2

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

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

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

Why?

(FEEL FREE TO SEND VIRTUAL KICKS)

Because I want my own business.

However, this is a means to an end:

Get back on board with my career.

Get my finances straight.

Learn from my new employer.

Start saving for my business.

Leave when ready and start my own venture.

See? A solid plan.

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

Wish me luck.

The ups and downs

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

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

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

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

So how’s that worked out for me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so, life goes up and down.

Talking to myself

I’m at crisis point decision-wise. It’s now or never.

I have a number of paths ahead of me.

The first is to jump back into my career, at a stage not far from where I left it. Responsibility, good pay and my career would be back on track with barely an issue from my year’s absence. I have a very good chance of getting this job.

But…I don’t know if I want it. Thinking positively, I may love it again. A new school, new ethos, new situation. Or, I maybe I will feel frustrated at the symmetry of two academy chains and hate what it has made me become.

The second is to stay with the company I am with. My boss wants me to stay and has offered me an improved package to keep me. Up until recently, I’ve been happy there. But it is a much lower salary than I am capable, albeit for less stress. I’m also unhappy with the way he has gone about trying to keep me – some very large red flags are waving at the moment. I don’t like being manipulated and that’s what he did. I recognise that he needs me to stay on and he is thinking about his business. I also acknowledge that he has been great other than that. But….I’m not happy with him and I can’t let it lie. It’s a nasty irritation that I can’t ignore.

Then there’s the job I have an interview for. I want this job. I have no idea on the salary but I don’t care if I can make it up with tutoring. It excites me and will challenge me and will look good on my CV. It will develop new skills and experiences and I think it will give me job satisfaction.

I think I’ve just answered my question.

However… this job is not guaranteed. If I go for it, I am going to have to pass on the other two opportunities. If I don’t get it, I will have to find a new job. I don’t trust my boss-with those-big-red-flags will treat me well again.

Am I being injust and unfair?

Should I go for money? Or time? Or potential job satisfaction?

The rat, the dog and the Honeysuckle

Oh sweet, sweet coincidences!

I will learn your lessons.

The scent of the honeysuckle is bordering on overpowering for some, but not for me. My garden, overgrown as it is, doesn’t have many flowers. There’s quite a few buttercups. Some determined forget-me-nots made an appearance weeks ago. If you look hard enough, you can see a cheeky aquilegia, popping up here and there. My daughter bought me a couple of plants which I potted and they look nice. And in the overgrown ivy, the weight of which is pulling down the decorative fence my dad and uncle built, there is the almost luminescent glow of the red-pink climbing roses that my dad loved, the ones we put in his coffin and a fact that I had forgotten about until this moment. (It’s the anniversary of his death, and it’s my uncle’s funeral this week. Another coincidence.) And then, blending in with it all visually are the honeysuckle.

I can’t remember when I planted them. I would guess around 7 years ago or a little less. If I remember rightly, it was definitely before dad died, when I went throught that gardening phase again. I had subscribed to a garden magazine and bought them on offer. I think there was a clematis too, but I guess that one got smothered by the ivy.

Cheeky aquilegia and my birthday pots.
Dad’s roses
Can you spot the honeysuckle?

When I was stood outside at 5am this morning, dressed only in a vest top and knickers and an air of despair, the scent of honeysuckle was one of the three things that hit me. The scent was stunning and brought me to a halt. The second thing, was how beautiful the morning is at 5am. I breathed it in through every sense and cell of my body: the green, the smells and the sound of garden birds. A sense of wellbeing like no other enveloped me in a warm embrace. The last thing was that I knew, there and then, in that second, that Everything was OK, and I know now that Everything will be OK.

**************************************

The past few days have been hell. I can say that now I’m on the other side. I’ve been tortured by my own mind.

My children left on Wednesday evening. As always, it comes with a sense of relief that I get a break and a sharp pang of loneliness that they are gone and I will never get used to that oxymoron of feelings.

Thursday I was overwhelmed with loneliness. It was a beautiful day and I was determined to do something but with a heart-wrenching acknowledgement that I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t know where I wanted to go. A museum? An art gallery? I knew that being outside made me feel better and I considered a National Trust property. But the desire to be with someone stabbed at me every turn. My sisters and daughter are on holiday. Wildcard is in his country, where I should be if I had got on that booked plane a few days ago. My friends? Ha! What friends?

As I tried to decide where to go, past friends haunted me. Why have they all disappeared? Am I such a bad person? Do I walk away or do they?

That loneliness just compounded everything I was feeling already. Dark, dark thoughts. Hopelessness. Helplessness. Despair.

At some point over the past few days, I’ve prayed for help. I’ve prayed for my dad or my grandad or any of my family to help me. To guide me where I feel lacking.

The first coincidence is that I opened up WordPress in an attempt to write out my feelings, but couldn’t. Instead, I went to my notifications and saw that a previous post had been liked: 5am. Not remembering what it was, I read it. It was from December last year, and recounted the exact feelings and situations that are now plaguing me. Six months later, I’m back in the same situation.

Now is not the time to go into detail on this point, but the summary is this… I have, yet again, to make a career decision. I’ve a number of opportunities in front of me and I need to decide between money, time and career prospects. I’m stumped.

The coincidence of opening that post and reading word for word that I am in a similar situation (but with a lot more positives, I hasten to add) was not lost on me. I didn’t see the positives yesterday, I saw that I hadn’t moved or changed. The acknowledgement that I was still stuck, lost, undecided…wasting my life…added another layer of self hatred and despair on to me.

I’ve contemplated everything the last few days. The thoughts have been fleeting but there. Maybe I’m better off not here. What good am I to anyone? I’ve failed in everything. I’ve lost everything. I’m alone and no one cares. I’ve dwelled on my time at my last school. The end of that time has destroyed me and my confidence, even now a year later. (That I know now, sitting in my garden breathing in honeysuckle.)

I’ve considered my relationship with Wildcard. Is it worth it? Am I waiting round like a fool again, only to be left at some point? How can this ever work? Will he ever, truly and officially, commit? Today, of course, Honeysuckle Day, I see how consistent he has been, unlike others. Whilst he has not yet committed to me in the way I want, we have discussed it and he has been consistent in every other way, more than anyone else. My fear of losing him, my everything outside my children and sisters, terrifies me. I know I will never love again when I lose him, whichever way and whenever that may be.

I went to bed last night broken and dejected. A failure. I couldn’t sleep at first, not because of my thoughts, unusually, but because of the rodent.

I could hear it gnawing.

I suspected a rat. The noise was too loud. Plus, a few days ago, I noticed that there was a lot of carpet fluff that had been chewed off upstairs near a closed door. I’d shut all the doors and blocked a previous hole I had stupidly left open from a previous year. The coincidence here is that I had stupidly said, not a week ago, to my neighbours, that I’d had no mice in the house since I had my cat Arlo.

Yep, I invited them in with that comment.

I banged about, and let my dog out of my bedroom to see if he would scare it off. Sure, one of the cars would have been better but they do nothing on command so the dog would have to do. The rodant was scared off luckily, enough so we could fall asleep. On my visit to my mum yesterday, we’d talked about the menagerie of pets and how tying they were – part of the reason I hadn’t pushed to use my plane ticket to see Wildcard and why I left mum early to get home to check on them. In answering her question, no I would never get rid of my dog because he makes me feel safe: I bought him when Dad died and I felt so alone in the house. He makes me feel safe.

So we slept. Until 4.30am and the sound of the gnawing woke me again.

It was loud. I wandered out and turned lights on. It was coming from my son’s room, next door to mine, and I walked in to find the noise. I felt the reverberations of the gnawing on the bare floorboards under my feet and I jumped in fear. I stamped on the ground and the noise stopped enough that I went back to bed. It of course started again as soon as I lay down. Somehow I knew that blocking the hole had trapped it.

I went to the bathroom. As I bleakly considered what the hell I was to do as i washed my hands, wishing again I wasn’t alone, I heard a bang and a squeak and shrieked as I saw the rat, being chased by my dog up the stairs and on to the landing. My dog stopped- either by my shriek or as I now suspect, by the scratch he received on his nose the moment he nearly caught it. The rat, now confirmed, hid under the large antique dresser on my landing, close to the previous crime scene of chewed carpets.

This, this was the point that I went downstairs and outside, noting it was 5am as I strode through the kitchen . This was the moment that I stood on my lawn in my knickers, wondering what the hell I was to do, when the smell of honeysuckle, the vibrancy of the morning green, the symphony of birdsong all overpowered me. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t wed the borders or even cut the grass. It was beautiful and peaceful and perfect. This was the moment that all the coincidences came together…when I knew that I had received my messages, my answers, my support, one way or another.

Be it a message from my family, from God, or my own mind…I’ve heard it.

Everything will be ok.

************

If you are wondering, I took my older cat – the only one around – upstairs, after locking my dog in the kitchen. The cat wasn’t interested and ran back downstairs. I went back outside and found a spade, let my dog back upstairs, and attempted to singlehandedly move the antique dresser whilst hoping I would be quick enough to grab the spade and whack it. Realising my optimistic stupidity, I was moving the dresser back when I saw a flash, heard a sound of something ‘falling’ down the stairs and realised the rat had made a dash for it and had no doubt escaped down and out the open doors to outside. My dog made no move to stop it and had simply watched it go and then looked at me. With a small scratch on his nose and the fact it had ran straight past him with little fear, I could hardly blame him for not attempting to get it again. He’d done his job. And seemingly, coincidences have now done there’s.

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.

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.

The catch

Well, I did it. I have actually started my own business.

I know, can you believe it? Me. I have registered the name and business with the Government, paid for a domain and have started building my website.

There is a lot to do. And one could argue that it is not officially a business until I actually sell something. It feels official though, and that is what is important.

This last few days I have had to curb my excitement somewhat in order to actually work on my day job. My boss has given me some admin work and although time consuming, I’m actually enjoying it. By mid week though, I hope to be back on to my business.

For that reason, today has been a bit of a back step. I woke with good intentions but am not sure what I actually did or achieved today. I just felt overwhelmed with everything and didn’t know where to start…kids, business, house, work, garden, me….

Earlier in the week I actually timetabled my whole week. From experience, it is doubtfully that I will stick to it entirely, but it does help with overwhelm usually. When I feel stressed at my workload, I look at my plan and content myself with just doing what is on my list. I ignore the rest for the day they are scheduled. It works 90% of the time.

What I will say about my current situation, is that it is a lonely place. I wish someone was with me in all this. My sister dips in and out, my best friend made a whole load of promises she never kept. Wildcard is…. too far away. He has helped with some things.

Two of my friends have been a great help though. One, who has been a friend for 20 years now, calls me each Monday to see how  I am getting on. She is a great accountability partner and I look forward to her calls and how it spurs me on.

More recently, I reached out to a friend from here, just to say hello and catch up but she ended up giving me some great advice too. 😊.

There is help out there, and I appreciate it.

It is just over three weeks until I go to see Wildcard again. It’s been six months since my last visit. It will be a short one – about four days excluding a day of travel each way. He is worth it though.

Of course, that inner voice which I have learnt so much about has raised her ugly head. She tells me that he isn’t excited about me going, doesn’t care in fact. She tells me that perhaps I shouldn’t go, maybe I would be better staying alone.

There are moments when I believe her. I’ve listened to her for so many years, it is hard not to. Then I remind myself that she is scared. She’s just trying to protect me, keep me safe and in the status quo.  Change is scary and dangerous – she is just trying to keep me safe.

Equally, it’s hard not to let my mind go to La La land and imagine all the romantic things I want, that will not happen. Expectation is the root of all disappointment and I refuse to go there again. Well, I’m trying to refuse.

And there it is…the catch. To get what you want you have to follow your dreams. Except in love. Daydreaming about love doesn’t get you anywhere.

Rain, clouds and coffee.

Following yesterday’s post, it’s not to say world is always rosy now. In fact, it definitely has a horse manure hue and stench to it at times.

I’m sat in Dobbies Garden Centre in a smart grey suit. I’ve just eaten a very expensive and below par gluten free bacon sandwich which I paid the extortionate price of £4 for. (Note to Dobbies, saying you have ‘gluten free options’ and offering tiny frozen gluten free bread only, is not the same thing). I’ve just managed to spend £90 in two shops, which is interesting because that’s over half of what I would have earned if I had gone into work today.

I left the house three hours ago and set off to do my first day of supply teaching. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t sleep last night for the first time in months because I didn’t want to go.

I’m loving my tutoring. But if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Due to where I work in the various school, my half term is split over two weeks. So today, arguably a half term day, I thought it best to do a day of supply, you know to get some money in.

I have been hounded by, and finally signed up to, a supply agency. Having never been on supply before, I’m not sure how they are meant to work, but I’m not impressed so far. They’re pushy, presumptive and focused on business and not their staff. I was asked at interview what I wanted to be paid a day and I told them. With my experience, I don’t think it was too much – and they agreed – but it still works out less than what an experienced teacher would earn over a day. Oh well.

Imagine my ‘delight’ then, when I discovered that they were paying me £30 less than requested, only £10 more than a newly qualified teacher (I’ve been teaching 18 years). After some discussion, they offered me an extra £10 and I agreed to do the day begrudgingly. I needed the money and felt that it was worth a try. They promised to discuss further after the day.

So, as I drove through the pouring rain, navigating through motorway roadworks and traffic jams, imagine my surprise when they called me to day that the school had cancelled and could I go elsewhere? I’m not good with sudden change (SEN?!) And I was annoyed at the presumption that I would just agree – they’d actually told the school I was available. The school is one I tutor at, and am doing well in. But having witnessed the plight of supply teachers there first hand, and not wanting to undo all the positive relationships I have made there, I eventually declined after some umming and ahhing. They were surprised and not happy.

Neither was I to be fair. All too quickly, my head descended in to its mind fog; fear and limiting beliefs and inner voices choruses for attention. Had I done the right thing in declining? Can I afford to not work like this? Is the agency going to ‘let me go’? How do I actually feel about that.

So, I drove. I drove with no particular idea of where I wanted to be, but I knew I didn’t want to go home just yet.

Eventually, I walked through the rain to a supermarket and filled the basket with healthy fruit and vegetables. I went to a second shop to buy ambient goods, applauding myself on my economical shopping whilst inside fear raged.

And that’s when I ended up at the garden centre. I needed a coffee, maybe some breakfast and perhaps would spend more money I don’t have.

As I wrote the above, I was called by the agency. They were apologetic about the morning and the impression they had given of themselves. I likewise apologised for seeming awkward. We had a long discussion about what they can offer and what I am ultimately looking for (?!).

After, I left the coffee shop and meandered through the garden centre. I’ve bought some seeds and treated myself to a rose for Valentine’s Day.

The sun is shining now and the clouds have cleared.

It’s easy to allow the negativity and fear to take over. In that state, decision making is useless. I needed time to think, and I did so. I needed time to talk and I did so. I’ve still spent money instead of making it, but so-be-it. I feel more positive about supply next week.

In the meantime, I need to keep making positive steps towards my own business and future. That’s the I love way to ensure I’m doing what I actually want and not what I must.