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.

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.

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.

Positive v negative

“Well son, I’m afraid life doesn’t work like that. You will have problems every day and you have to learn to deal with them.”

Oh yes.

My parent-wisdom words, no doubt regurgitated from hearing them myself as a child.

Is it wisdom though? Am I teaching resilience there or perpetuating negative thinking? As in, they’re not problems but a natural part of day to day life?

April has been a ‘problematic’ month for me.

I came home from seeing Wildcard, exhausted after travel and heart ache, and threw myself into work. Then a moroseness swept over me. And flu. So my solution was to stay in bed for four days. Yes I was ill, but equally I was down.

I got better, but within a week I was ill again. The annual, ‘Is it hay-fever, is it a summer cold’ debate resulted in a fever induced covid test which of course, turned out positive.

I’m grateful I didn’t have it as bad as some. But it was bad enough, despite my three vaccines. Head cold, fever, tight chest, aching limbs and neck, cough and absolute fatigue. As the days went on, a temporary well feeling would be quickly met with a need to go back to bed. My re-test only became negative after 8 days, and whilst I could have followed ‘Government’ guidelines after 5 days to return to work, as I am sure they are banking on, I couldn’t face going and infecting someone else.

Unfortunately, morals don’t always pay and I will be missing a week’s wage in what will already be a tight month. I will survive. And that is positive thinking for you. Or possibly sheer dumb avoidance. I can’t change the situation either way and it could be worse. Maybe karma will send me some better luck.

Of course, positive thinking doesn’t immediately help my daughter when she has been ‘dumped’ by another 18 years old who has decided after months of sweet talk and pursuit that he doesn’t want a relationship. It doesn’t help my son who is still waiting for his ASD diagnosis or not as the case may be. In these situations, a dose a negative actually does the world of good – in life, it seems that things always be a lot worse more often than a lot better.

This is my current and forced train of thought over the booked but no longer required trip to see Wildcard in the May Half term. As both sisters and my daughter are away themselves, there is no one to house and pet sit. I haven’t really got the money to pay for train tickets and a hotel and Wildcard didn’t even know I’d booked and nor has he asked if I am going. So, I’m not.

No, I haven’t yet tried to move the tickets and yes, I have longingly looked at my flights and train ticket prices. But it’s impossible at the moment so I need to just get over it.

On the plus side, one of his brothers is finally going over after three years (covid) and as this was one of the stipulations for Wildcard deciding that he is ready to let his parents fend for themselves so he can marry me, I guess this is another occasion for trying to see the positive side.

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 4: day 4 …😔

It’s 5am. I did it again.

I’m finding this hard to write, pausing before every word because I don’t know how to explain. My feelings are undecided, confused. I don’t understand myself.

I don’t know where to start.

I will be succinct and factual. That’s something new for me, isn’t it?

I was angry with him. I lost my temper. OK.. so why?

He came home at lunch and everything was fine after the previous night’s hiccup. We spent the day on the sofa. He watched a national football game. We played a game of draughts. He watched a series on his phone and played his football computer game. Later, I asked if we could watch a film together and he said we could, in the evening. But when that time came, he said he was too tired and we would do it Sunday.

I got a quick kiss and a goodnight and he went to bed. I was disappointed and angry. I sent him a sarcastic message.

He didn’t see it. I then heard the music from his game and I lost it. I stormed out the bedroom, stood at the end of his bed, glared, and stomped back.

He followed.

I was angry. I said that I wasn’t his wife, I was his girlfriend and he needed to make an effort. Ouch. He replied that they are the same thing, aren’t they? I said: “I’m your wife when you put a ring on my finger.” Ouch. (I would still want an effort if we were married though, surely? I’ve been down that road.)

He was genuinely confounded. He laughed at first as we rolled off what he had done that day. But he had absolutely no idea what we could have done instead. He was confused and surprised.

Problem is, neither could I. This is why I am confused. This is why I am writing this at 5am to work it out.

Did I feel happy? Yes. He spent most of the day on the sofa with me, his feet in my lap. I enjoyed when we played the game and when we took 10 minutes to take a walk on his rooftop. I would take this over not being with him any day.

Was I frustrated? Yes. I’ve come a long way, spent a lot of money, to be sat on a couch watching him play a football game on his phone. I felt like I had made all the effort. Throughout the day, I sent pictures of him on his phone (with humorous but clearly frustrated captions) and at one point danced around the room to get his attention.

Did I enjoy the day? Yes. Did I want more? Yes.

Does effort = feelings? In my head, at that moment in time it certainly seems to.

He told me, there and then, “I don’t show my feelings.”

So, let’s unpick that right now.

I undoubtedly show and tell my feelings probably too much. Losing my dad taught me the importance of telling those you love how you feel as often as the feeling hits you. He shows his feelings, of course he does. But he is very guarded and I feel like there is a whole well of emotion hidden that I don’t comprehend. So, if he doesn’t or can’t spell it out for me, my over-imaginative brain makes up its own mind. As I’m anxious and afraid, it’s often negative.

He’d told me that he hadn’t wanted to cuddle and kiss in bed with me because it always leads to sex and he didn’t feel like having sex (you can imagine how my self esteem dealt with that one at first!) because he was tired and ill.

He’d told me that he hadn’t felt well all day (which I should have known, apparently) and that he had said we could watch a film on Sunday before my flight home. He said we had spent all afternoon and evening together on the sofa (true) so what did I want? What did I want to do?

What did I want…

Alone time. Holding hands. Cuddles. Kisses. Not worrying about his parents walking in. Being unguarded. It didn’t have to be sex. So that’s intimacy, overt signs of love.

What feelings did this situation trigger?

I associate low effort with low interest. My ex husband didn’t try, took me for granted. I eventually walked away. Alongside that, I believe that if we are not making an effort he will get bored and find someone else.

I don’t need taking out BUT if we had gone for a walk (it was raining) or a coffee, I would have felt special. If we had watched a film, it would have felt special because we were doing it together and his attention would have been on me, weirdly. We would have been alone in his room.

My self esteem states that if he doesn’t make an effort, he isn’t interested because he doesn’t tell me otherwise.

So….although I’m not usually bothered about material things or being taken out, when there is no other evidence (like him telling me) I have no other choice but to associate an engagement, a date, a gift, an activity, physical intimacy to his feelings.

Is that it? Is that the problem?

The argument ended with his frustration and my fear that I’d caused another row. I didn’t understand my own behaviour. Why was I arguing about something that deep down I wasn’t actually bothered about? I genuinely don’t care about going out if he doesn’t want to. Material objects are worthless without the thought behind them. I now realise, on some levels, that it is true. I do believe that, even if I seem like I am contradicting myself. I wasn’t bothered. I enjoyed sitting on the sofa with him, his feet on my lap or getting warm between my thighs. I enjoyed him winking at me when he caught me looking. But, as I have to use his actions to understand the depth of his feelings, perhaps I by extension am looking for the substantial always fearful that we are not.

He sat on the edge of the bed frustrated and said he didn’t understand me. Eventually he lay down, his arm draped over his eyes. I was knelt between his legs and rested my head on his lap, gazing into the distance and trying to figure what the hell was going on in my head. It raced from explanation to excuse, trying to understand that rush of anger over something so silly.

With my head on his lap, I kept apologising and telling him to go to bed. He didn’t and said nothing.

After a few moments he sat up and ran his hands up and down my arms. He then planted soft, soft kisses on my lips and cheeks. The kisses became more passionate. He half lifted me and twisted me towards the bed.

“Is this what you want?”

I told him that I had been happy with the kisses and that I knew he didn’t want to have sex so it was fine, we didn’t have to.

We made love instead.

Trip 4: day 2 reunion

He was over an hour late. I kid you not.

He had warned me the day before that there were issues at work and I was aware of the possibility that I may have to wait for him.

When I landed, over-brimming with excitement, I sent him a picture of the airport from the aeroplane window. Within moments he told me he had just got out and would be there within 30 to 40 minutes.

Knowing that his time is not like UK time, I expected him in an hour. I waited in the airport for that hour but as the place emptied – it is small despite being international – I started to feel uncomfortable and a little sad. Why could he have not made the effort to be here, waiting, like he always did?

I went outside and wandered amongst the flowerbed and trees outside the airport. After what seemed like an age but was only 15 minutes, I spotted him walking towards the airport. My heart lurched.

I can’t pretend a part of me wasn’t put out. But on the drive to his home, I reminded myself that he had warned me about this and I had repeatedly told him it was ok. I know there are things going on in his workplace.

Apart from that, the ride home was filled with laughter. He has a knack of making me laugh. It was so lovely to see his parents who had wanted to come with him to pick me up, and I hoped that this meant that their recent feud was passing.

When we arrived, I gave out presents and was happy they were so well received. He apologised that he hadn’t bought me anything. Again, I’m not materialistic and presents are not important to me. I didn’t expect one. And yet, when he said that – acknowledged it- it hurt.

And so, that inner voice is talking again. She’s been fed now and has the strength to whisper in my ear. My brain likewise is looking and finding evidence that what she says is true, because that is what our brains do.

She told me that his kisses were not passionate enough.

She told me that he didn’t sit close enough to me at dinner.

She whispered that he didn’t need to take his phone down to the car when he went to pick up the papers he had left.

I counter argued with the tender kiss he pressed on my neck as he moved past me as I looked out the window….

We had an amazing dinner – his mum had gone all out to make my favourite foods.

He then suggested we went to relax. We went to his room, cuddled, and soon intimacy followed. He laughed that he wouldn’t be able to sleep next to me as we would not get any sleep. See, I told her.

Later, we went to have tea and cake with his parents again before bed. He couldn’t do enough – checking I was OK, making sure I had everything I needed.

That’s being a good host, she said. He doesn’t have to do that, I replied.

I lay in bed and after 30 minutes he messaged, asking if I was OK. I replied I was, and told him I loved him. He sent a stream of hearts and kisses and hugs emoticons.

He hasn’t told you he loves you, yet, she pointed out.

I slept fitfully, waking repeatedly for no apparent reason. At 5am and got up to go to the toilet and went back to bed to read a little. I heard noises outside my room and felt a little guilty that I may have woken someone.

My door opened and he was there, asking if I was OK and saying that he couldn’t sleep too.

He climbed in to bed next to me and we bundled the blankets around us to keep out the cold. I instantly felt more content with him there and started to feel drowsy…until I was the opposite. What followed was the most tender and intimate love making we had ever had. We then lay together, limbs entwined. Even when he turned over, his legs wiggled back to find me and envelope mine.

See, I told her. He still hasn’t said he loves you, she replied. But hasn’t he just shown me? I exclaimed. Perhaps, she retorted.

Hearing his parents stirring, he got up to leave and gave me a kiss.

I wish my inner voice, my imposter, would just shut the hell up.

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.

Out with the old

Hello WordPress friends! 😊

Since my last post, I’ve been a hive of activity and positivity.

I completed two online, ‘free’ 5 day courses. These courses were run by life coaches: the first by two amazing women, Cheryl and Donna and the other by the enigmatic Tony Robbins.

Donna and Cheryl’s course definitely gave me the ‘aha’ moments they promised. They covered imposter syndrome, limiting beliefs and how to counteract them. Knowing that I wasn’t alone in the feelings and thoughts that have plagued me, discovering what may have triggered these thoughts from childhood, finding that confidence in myself that I thought was long gone…nothing short of transformational.

For over a week after this, my mind was a flurry of passionate planning. The muggy fog that was my head began to clear, and ideas and passions poured out of me, no longer suppressed by my self doubt.

At this point, Tony Robbins course began. Bigger, brasher, with thousands of participants,  Tony gave well over what was promised with sessions lasting 2.5 hours plus each night. As fate would have it, Tony’s course built on what I had already learned and shored up my confidence and determination, and gave me some key techniques to move forward on my dreams and my relationships.

I have filled a journal with notes and ideas, exploring who I want to be and the life I want to live. I’ve said before, this blog was supposed to document this. I’ve long felt that this blog was a failure because it didn’t document any positive changes. It became a vehicle to explore my thoughts and feelings, an online journal I guess. I feel differently now. This blog does chart positive changes. We are all on a journey, we take many paths and routes. My route has meandered. It’s sank to dark depths and slowly crawled upwards again. But it has done what it has supposed to do. Giving me Time. Time to work through the black hole, the quagmire, the sinking pit which was my inner self: full of self doubt and frustration. A purpose unfulfilled, a potential life not followed.

I don’t know where I am on my journey. It has been a long time already, and I’m ok with that now. A break down, a divorce; counselling and journaling; self help books and online courses…all have played a part in moving me steadily up that path.  

I have a vision for my future now. I have realised what I’m good at, what my passions are and what I believe is my purpose. I now need to work for it; climb up the next incline and shrug off the ever-gnawing self doubt.

It’s going to take hard work. But hard work is easier when it is leading towards your passion.

I have an analogy to end with, to exemplify my journey so far…

When I abruptly ended my career as an Assistant Headteacher, I had to step foot in to that building after-hours to collect my things: 18 years worth of paper resources and books. A huge collection. There was no time to sort and organise. They were put in huge cardboard boxes and taken home. For weeks and weeks, probably months, the boxes sat piled up in my living room and even in the boot of my car.

When I started tutoring in November, I started searching through those boxes for resources I needed. In December, as I tidied before Christmas, I sorted through those boxes and stored resources in newly bought filing cabinets. Piles of unwanted paper filled a huge cardboard box. I’ve used this paper to start my fire each morning.

It was hard at first. Seeing notes and ideas and planning from years ago, seeing the eagerness and positivity and dedication which was thrown back in my face when the academy took over, burning into nothing.

Now, in February, I feel nothing as I burn the last few pages. I see a life well-led, a life where I gave my all and helped many. That life is over and instead I feel some pride as I twist the pages into mock- sticks for my fire. Out with the old.

I have a similar feeling as I start to build resources in my new onedrive account. Circumstances have meant that the majority of my electronic resources are lost. I could pursue them, but I won’t. Starting again, building something new and fresh is invigorating: I’ve enough of my old paper resources to inspire me.

Out with the old and in with the new. It’s never too late and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Just keep moving forward, pausing along the way when needed, sprinting when you can, but always heading towards the new, leaving the old behind.

If this post gives even one of you some hope, I will be happy. Reach out if you need to. I’m here.