It’s a beautiful day.

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

I’m sat outside. Not in bed.

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

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

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

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

WordPress, I need your help.

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

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

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

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

Many thanks in anticipation.

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Balance reminders

I’ve taken a shower today. That’s a positive. Don’t take showers for granted: at your lowest, even taking a shower is too much.

Other than that, not a great day.

I didn’t sleep well. Minor issues with Wildcard played – and continue to play – with my head.

I woke to an email from work with a date to see Occupational Health next week. Considering I only sent in my sick note yesterday, I felt this was very quick. I sunk lower in to that dark pit and have struggled to get out of it since.

Why would anyone think I want to talk about how I feel about my work, my life, to a medical professional who is being paid by my employer? Maybe that is paranoia or narrow thinking. Either way, the thought of doing so fills me with complete and shuddering anxiety.

*****

I’m writing a few hours after the above.

I’ve spoken to my union who have given me some reassurance about the OH appointment. I feel a little better.

I have unfortunately, had another issue with Wildcard. I don’t know what to think. My catastrophising brain thinks that maybe, these recent problems are heading for the end.

We’ve had a few challenging weeks. My negative and anxious mindset about my job have caused issues between me and him. He’s forgiven me each time but no one can be naive enough to think that is the end of it. It tips the balance just a little the wrong way.

What with that, and the more recent issues, worried he’s beginning to think I am too much. Not worth it.

I’ve got another major issue going on with my son which I haven’t mentioned yet here. It started at the weekend.

In both cases – my situation at work and with my son – cultural and language barriers are preventing me from explaining to Wildcard well, and him from understanding well.

I’ve tried.

I know what some of you are thinking – if he can’t stand by you now, then he’s not the right person etc etc.

Truth is, how long should a person have to stand by you? Why should they suffer because you are?

If he walks away, any semblance of happiness I have will go. I will implode. But, I can’t blame him. I can’t. He’s under no obligation. We are not married. Maybe, I have just become too much. I love him so much that I should not be a source of unhappiness for him. Even if it destroys what’s left of me in the process.

I’m sat in my wilderness, cold and shivering.

I’ve made myself get out of my bed.

My daughter has pointed out that I’ve done all I can in each and every situation of my life that’s causing my stress. Despite the hours in bed and my overall anxiety, I have actively tried to find solutions and help for all of them. It was a positive reminder.

I will hold on to that.

Apples

Here’s a question for you… do you know where your happy places are?

Now, before you answer that – as I am sure certain things jumped straight into your mind – think carefully. Really think. Don’t answer with what you are supposed to say. What everyone says. Just let yourself think.

Yesterday, as my post spelled out, I was not in a great place. I haven’t been for weeks.

If we rewind six months, I was contemplating my future. Unsure of what to do, I spent weeks…months not deciding anything, and feeling the pressure of the decision.

In the end I chose to go back to my career. I was swayed by the job I was offered and the money it would give me. I made a plan. How I would use the money wisely this time to build the future I want. How I would take the job offered to me to ease myself back in, rebuild confidence and learn. Find myself.

There and then, as 1st September loomed closer, I felt positive. Excited. Nervous, yes, but up for the challenge.

From day one, it has been awful.

Everything I had been told was a lie. Whilst I had been told the road was tough, I accepted the role on fabrications of ‘solid teams’, ‘high staff morale’ and ‘recent improvements’. I was swayed by ‘major investment’, ‘forward thinking management’ and ‘good behaviour’.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope and Hell No.

From day one, I saw the divided senior team of which I was supposed to be part. I wasn’t part of either side. I wasn’t invited to meetings. I was ignored.

The rooms hadn’t been renovated. Instead, nothing worked. No whiteboard, electrical or otherwise. No ability to print.

No key, no pass, no induction.

Timetables and rooms were wrong. Resources were given two days in advance of teaching and yet I was expected to be leading a department who had not been led for years.

Behaviour…. well. They ignore you. They bully, fight, swear. They’re obnoxious and intimidating. But it’s ok, ‘once they get to know you they’re good lads.’

What has been made apparent from my five weeks there, is actually, there is no team. There is no care. There is no leadership. People will tell you they feel sorry for your situation and then load you up with an unobtainable and excessive workload.

Within two weeks, I’d burst in to tears. I wanted to walk out. I was told about how ‘mental health’s an important part of the school’ and maybe I was ‘expecting too much of myself as a perfectionist’. I later found out that this leader had huffed and puffed when she’d found out I was upset and had to speak to me. More lies.

The new academy is hopefully taking over soon (I was told they already had.) But, one teary outburst and lots of happiness since, I know that my card is already marked no matter what they say.

The last few Sundays, working all day, I’ve been miserable. Snapping at my children. Fighting with Wildcard. Crying. Feeling sick.

Tuesday, I woke up ill. The flu-like symptoms that had threatened descended. I planned one day off then back in. At 6am, my whole body screamed differently.

And so it continued.

Whilst I was unwell, I realised that probably half of it was stress. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Work dominated my dreams and waking moments.

After a few heartfilled conversations with friends, family and ex-colleagues, I made my decision and called the doctors. I have two weeks off and a resignation letter ready to send.

I’ve probably thrown away my career. Not sure I care anymore. I’ve cried more about letting family down and worrying about money. It has passed for now.

So, step one complete, I’ve forced myself out of bed.

Yesterday, I made myself pick the apples on my dad’s tree. I waded through 6ft nettles and weeds. I got stung and scratched. But I felt a sense of achievement.

I sat in my happy place – a place I have avoided- and I wrote in my dad’s journal for the first time in 3 years.

And, gazing at the basket of apples, journal on my knee: I felt at peace.

Descent.

I’m sinking.

It’s a slow descent. I suppose I should be grateful for that.

Maybe, maybe…I’m not yet stuck. Maybe, there is still a chance – through determination and strength – I can pull myself out.

I’m tired though. I don’t feel like I have any strength.

And so, slowly slowly I sink.

Perhaps you’re wondering how I got myself into this sinking sand, this bog, this black hole.

Truth is, unfortunately, I saw this coming. Let me explain.

I chose this path tentatively. It took many weeks of thinking, considering and angst to choose this path. And once I chose it, and realised it was not how I had been told it would be, I believed that perhaps fate had led me here. Maybe I had lessons to still learn.

Because despite my excitement and determination and fervour…this road was not the one I expected. I was prepared for the potholes and the dark and the bad bends. I just didn’t expect the whole road would be full of them.

I tried to contain my panic. I tried to be positive, brave. And then I became aware.

In the distance, almost too far ahead to see, I sensed it.

I didn’t want to believe it. I tried ignoring it. At one point, I even searched in the dark, hoping to find something to cling to…to stop me falling.

And strangely, it was whilst I was fumbling in the dark, looking for strength, that I realised it was too late. I’d already started to fall.

Everything is in slow motion now.

Occasionally, as I fall, I sense the world of destruction that lies ahead of me. I see my downfall. You’d think this would give me the stength to claw my way out. It doesn’t. The panic only makes me fall quicker.

Overwhelming is the sense of failure. I’ve clawed myself out of the depths twice now. I’ve dealt with the aftermath, spent an age cleaning myself of the remains of the darkness that cover you, even when you are stood in the light.

Resignation is not a good thing.

I see the world in 360 degrees. At times my mind frantically searched every degree, looking for answers, looking for a way out. But as I spin, I sink.

Other times I’m frozen, watching my slow descent into darkness. And that’s the worst. Part of my mind is still in the light. I can see where I am heading as I can see where I came from. This is where the fear lives.

I fear this place. I’ve dwelled in its depths before.

But I’m not in its depth yet. This is a slow descend.

Maybe, maybe…I’m not yet stuck. Maybe, there is still a chance – through determination and strength – I can pull myself out.

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.