Just so you know

Aldi is having a ‘special’ on Gluten Free food! How nice!

Except…erm…most of us have to eat every day. And, well, don’t choose to have an allergy/intolerance to Gluten or indeed have Celiac disease.

It is a lot better than it was. Asda, Tesco and Morrisons deserve hero status in my book. There are now lots of options, and even better, the prices have come down. I no longer have to pay £3.50 for a loaf that is smaller than a 400g normal loaf.

BUT…

There is something else that really, really irritates me. And I’m sorry if this applies to you. I am. But this is how I feel.

Shops, restaurants, cafes are going out of their way to prepare vegan food. It is everywhere. And that is not a bad thing, I guess, except for one detail. Gluten Free comes a miserly second to this approach. And why is this an issue?

Because, I would guess, the vast majority of Vegans choose to eat that way. Most Gluten Free eaters do not choose to be Gluten Free. (I know some people do as they think it is a weight loss tool. Words fail me).

Gluten makes me sick. Really sick. Between 20 minutes and an hour after eating it, I go quiet. I am dazed. My nose goes bright red. My head feels heavy. My breathing quickens. And then I just flop. And I can’t move. I’m drowsy, lethargic, can’t walk unaided. I will sleep for hours. Later, I will have crippling stomach ache and diarrhoea. And the shivers. For days my stomach will hurt me.

I don’t choose to be Gluten Free. Most Gluten Free substitutes taste awful, cost the earth and have more calories in them.

Just so you know. It is great that there are most vegan choices. Just don’t forget that Gluten Free is not a choice for most.

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Happy?

I forced myself into action yesterday. In cartoonesque fashion, I pictured a numbing bubble coming from my solar plexus and consuming me, anaesthetising my pain and fears.

Of course there were ripples of hurt which threatened to pop said bubble. But I didn’t allow myself to dwell.

Instead, I sat with my legend planner – the new one I bought when I first realised I had issues at work – and planned how I was going to work on my house in the next 8 weeks.

For, I realised, with or without him my life will go on. That’s a fact.

I had my union meeting yesterday too and things are moving along. My settlement should be completed in the next few weeks. I will paid until Christmas but officially leave their employment at the end of August. This means that I can start a new job in September. I just need to find one.

So, I reasoned, that gave me eight weeks to spend time with my family and get my house sorted. There is tidying, cleaning and decorating to be done. As seems to be the annual tradition, the kids want to swap rooms. There’s plenty to do.

My numbing-bubble visualisation got me through the day. I thoroughly cleaned the lounge and made dinner. I didn’t allow myself to go back to bed. As I said, I can’t pretend that my hurt didn’t threaten to overwhelm me. I just didn’t let it.

Wildcard called me as much as usual yesterday. He was a little more chatty. The slow thaw continues. I even got a kiss goodnight. I actually plucked up the courage to tell him what my ex had said. I could see him thinking and processing that, and I know that he will need time to do so.

Later, I spoke to my London friend about her upcoming trip to see her boyfriend and we discussed Wildcard’s continued sulkiness. She advised that I be normal now and don’t bring it up again. She was surprised he was still moody- over nothing – but said it showed his jealousy. I took her advice on board.

So this morning, I chose to be happy. I put my makeup on before he called. I sent a lovely good morning message. And when he called before work, I was bright and cheerful.

“Why are you happy this day?”

“Because I love you.”

He pulled his usual face in attempt to tease me. His parents got in the car because they wanted taking somewhere, and Wildcard kept me on the phone the whole journey. Once they had left he asked me again:

“Why are you happy?”

I told him that I had spent the week crying and not sleeping and feeling sick. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was choosing to be happy.

He said little but again I could see this running through his mind.

As he parked up at work, I said my customary goodbye whilst he said his sulky one. But as I showered him with phone kisses and I love yous, there was a little amusement there which he tried to hide.

He is still sulking. I am still nervous. But there is nothing more I can do. I’ve apologised and cried till I couldn’t breathe. I’ve not slept and panicked and ruminated. I’ve tried to explain, ignore and now I choose to be happy. Not because I am, but because that is what I need to do.

Maybe I should have done things differently. Maybe he is overreacting. But I still love him. This will need discussing at some point but when he is ready.

In regards to my August trip- well, that remains to be seen. I could cancel, rearrange or…and here is a thought…actually go. I’ve looked at some hotels which aren’t too expensive. I have a week to make a decision. Let’s see what the next few days hold.

Mud

Ever had one of those dreams where you are desperate to get somewhere, or away from something, and even though your panting and sweating and giving your all, you are not getting anywhere? It is like your feet are in quick sand or mud and there is nothing you can do about it.

I’m living that at the moment. I know I need to keep busy. I know that there are lots of things that I could be doing – should be doing- in regards to a new job or career. Motivation is like the tide at the moment – sometimes it is there, sometimes it is not.

Today, I didn’t want to get up. I haven’t logged on to my online course. But I did finish my painting and I have worked through another few chapters of my self-help book. I also, finally, picked up my increased medication.

The book has made me consider all areas of my life and what I am not happy about. It has then asked me to write down all the excuses I have for not doing something about my unhappiness. Fear and confidence seem to play a big part. No surprises there then.

But, I am not going to get anywhere unless I do something. And that is what the book is about – motivating yourself through the fear, the lows and the mud-wading dreams.

It is also interesting to see where I can’t change things because they are out of my control. Most of my concerns around Wildcard are just that – things out of our control. I wish knowing that stopped me worrying. It doesn’t. And out of all the areas of my life, it is the one I worry about the most. Well, until all this bother with work.

Work. What a sticky yucky mud-fest that has turned out to be. An area of my life that I once had really pride in. Now? Here are my choices…

  • Go back to work and ‘fight’ for my job whilst watching my back and being very aware that they want me and my expensive salary gone
  • Quit. Find another teaching job. There are few teaching jobs at this time of year and none at my level. Unlikely they will want to pay me for a standard teacher post as I am too expensive.
  • Quit. Try tutoring. I’ve no idea if this is enough to keep me afloat financially.
  • Quit. Get out of teaching completely. How transferable are my skills?

It is a mess. And of course, I am getting differing advice from different people. I’ve wanted my own business for along time but, savings are few and I am alone in this.

I will never know unless I try. I’ve had two weeks of intermittent wallowing. I’ve another two weeks off. Time to put my all into trying. Wish me luck.

Kick

Wednesday was a day of promise and productivity. Thursday was a slump day that slid into a morose Friday.

I’ve bought a book from my favourite motivation speaker, Mel Robbins. I couldn’t read it. I’ve still got my online interview to complete and two courses to start. I did neither.

Instead, I meandered around the house, aimlessly trying to find motivation only to somehow find myself back in bed. My settlement letter finally arrived – recorded delivery, so they didn’t need to keep calling to ask if it had arrived.

My cat walked in dripping with blood from an unknown source. A £220 trip to the vet later and we are still hoping he will be ok.

I had two missed calls from an unknown mobile number. No messages left. That had me in an anxious state for hours until they called back and it was Occupational Health organising a meeting.

And whilst the celebration of Eid means my gorgeous boyfriend is less hangry and tired, three days of family time means reduced time for me. He still called and text regularly and told me he loved me and missed me, but calls were short. I know I am being completely selfish here. I just really needed him and wanted him.

My sister chose this week to have another argument about him. Whilst inunderstand her caution and wariness, the only arguments she has for me not being with him are:

His nationality

Her disbelief in long distance relationships.

Hardly concrete arguments. I said she is prejudiced and negative and whilst I understand her concern, she doesn’t need to bring it up all the time and be critical without just cause. Apparently because she loves me and has known me the longest, I should listen to her. I do, I just don’t need to hear it all the time. Or see the look on her face.

My other sister, whilst generally supportive and stuck in the middle, is going through her own crisis at the moment. Covid has delayed her nursing career starting (ironic, I know). She is anxious, paranoid and is arguing with her husband. She doesn’t listen and she doesn’t let things go. She is also constantly needing financial help – fine, when I have the money, but I don’t know how long I will have it for.

So, in summary: I’m feeling very, very sorry for myself. I feel like I am kicked from all angles.

And then…

Last night, my ex came by my house to pick up my daughter and to collect various items as it was his turn to have the children.

My beautiful boy: my ADHD, autistic 14 year old was in despair. He wouldn’t speak. He didn’t want to leave. He started crying, hyperventilating. Finally, finally, after a big hug he opened up.

He hates seeing me sad. He is worried about me being alone. He is scared that I am going to commit suicide.

And that, friends, was the biggest kick up the backside, slap in the face, reality check I needed.

How I handle this situation is going to affect my children. In a way, this could teach them the power of resilience and positive thinking.

Or, I could continue to feel sorry for myself and let them suffer as they watch me indulgence self pity.

So, this morning, I have got up: washed, dressed, applied make up. I’ve planned my meals for the week. I’m now going to start some housework. This weekend I will get the house in order. Monday, I am going to get my career sorted. Or start to.

I’m going to have bad days. That’s normal. My kids need to see that too. But they need to see that giving up is not an option, and the strong mother they have known is still there.

Birthday

In 55 minutes from this very moment, I turn 41. I feel old. Maybe 41 isn’t old to you. Maybe I am old enough to be your mother or big sister. Either way, my 41st birthday has hung around my neck all week.

I realised whilst lounging in the bath that I haven’t actually celebrated my birthday properly since my Dad died.

On April 2018, my Dad was in hospital. After an evening of pizza, cake and WWE (my son’s request as it was some big event), my sister and I drove to the hospital. Dad was drowsy but woke when we arrived and quickly reached into his hospital bedside to pass me a present and a card. I remember he apologised it wasn’t something more but I was just happy he was still with me.

The card, the last he ever wrote, is forever imprinted in my heart: it forms part of the tattoo that I had about a year after his death. There are photos of us too, me holding the joke moustache pencil topper (like dad’s real tash) to my lips as he kisses my cheek. Daddy. ❤

2019 I purposefully booked a week away in France with my children for my birthday. There were no presents or cards, no other family. I bought us a cake each from the patisserie and we did go out for dinner but it felt like a normal day and that is how I wanted it.

Last year, my 40th, I also chose to have alone. I had originally wanted a garden party in the summer but Covid ruined that. I had also planned to see Wildcard and not let on it was my birthday but covid ruined that too. My dad wasn’t there, mum wasn’t there and I couldn’t see Wildcard. So I spent the day pretty hard to myself with visits from my kids and ex and my sisters. I made my own dinner and my own cake.

This year, I am not ashamed to say that I also want some time alone.

I don’t feel like celebrating. I don’t want another year of me cooking for everyone (although someone usually makes my cake.) We can’t go out for a meal, I can’t see my mum, dad or Wildcard again. No-one can afford gifts and I certainly don’t want them to buy me anything, plus I don’t need or want anything anyway.

I lie.

I want my Dad again. I want my mum to visit. I want Wildcard to be here with my family. I want all the people I love to be around me. And I can’t have it. So because I can’t have it, for the third year running, I don’t want any of it.

Yes I am childish. Yes, I am sulking. But I am very much an all or nothing girl.

However.

I want nothing until tea time. Up until then, I am going to do whatever I want. No housework. No cleaning. No cooking for everyone else ( I love cooking, but noone really cooks for me. My dad did.) I going to eat what I want:

Fresh berries and yoghurt with a side of buttery sourdough toast. I may even have an egg.

A turkey salad sandwich and some crisps.

Ricotta and spinach cannelloni with a side salad.

Birthday carrot cake. Yes, that is a lot but I don’t care. I very rarely eat that much.

At tea time, I have invited my sisters and children and ex round and I am buying pizza for them. The above will be gluten free but the pizza won’t be. I feel like I have fulfilled my obligations to them.

Wildcard has asked me a couple of times what I want for my birthday. I told him the truth: I want him. That’s it.

“It is impossible.” He says.

I tell him he is an intelligent man and he can work it out. Let’s see what he comes up with.

Time for words

I am assuming that I am right in saying that anyone who comes on to WordPress, as a reader or a writer, must love words.

I love words. I’m a reader and a writer. I love the spoken word, the written word, the drawn word, the sung word. Even the implied word. Words fascinate me.

It is hardly surprising then, that my apparent love language is words of affirmation.

Sure, physical touch is important too. I like to be hugged and kissed and caressed. I like making love as an expression of commitment and affection and the sharing and giving of physical pleasure. But, there is a time and a place for such things whereas words are much more flexible. A quick text. A voicemail. An email. A little note on the fridge. A card or letter. A whisper in the ear or against lips in a kiss.

In some ways then, a long distance relationship is a good fit for me. All you really have is conversation and time. You have to talk more because it is so much harder to do anything else. Physical is out the question in between visits, gift buying is more challenging for so many reasons, as are acts of service. So, yes, talking and time are the key things.

Wildcard’s love language is definitely time. So again, this works well. He gives me lots of time, we talk a lot. Jackpot.

Almost.

The things about love languages, if you believe it – and the more I think about it, the more I do – is you often give the love language you like to receive.

I tell Wildcard every day that I love him. Repeatedly. Whenever I feel like it in fact. And if he doesn’t like that, well it is tough. I didn’t start the relationship saying it. But the more I love him, the more I say it. I tell him when I miss him. I tell him when he looks good. I tell him when I am horny.

Ironically, he is the better communicator. He fills the gaps and the silences. And there are some – mainly because we talk so often and because of covid there isn’t much to talk about sometimes.

But, as we both like his love language of time, it really doesn’t matter. When Wildcard places his phone on the dining table so that I join him and his family virtually, I love it. It doesn’t matter than I have no idea what they are talking about most of the time. I just love being with him. I don’t mind some of the quiet times and the silences because we will find something to talk about eventually, or we will joke with one another.

He isn’t as forthcoming with his words of affirmation though. Oh, he tells me he loves me – every day, at the end of every video call. Occasionally he will tell me he misses me or that he wants me. Sometimes he will tell me I look beautiful. He is, however, more likely to tease and joke with me because that is who he is.

I love who he is – every little thing about him.

But occasionally…sometimes… I just need to hear it a little more. Maybe I am having a bad day. Maybe I am really missing him. Maybe I am just premenstrual. Just sometimes I need to hear it. Because I can’t just go up to him for a hug or a kiss or hold his hand. I know he gives me his time – so much of it – but sometimes I just need a little more.

I can be in a bit of battle with myself sometimes. Not to get upset or disappointed or panicky when I don’t hear it. I have to remind myself that he shows his love in other ways…

Like, playing an extra game – even though he was about to say goodbye – because he knows I am anxious about something.

Like, going late for his dinner because we are talking.

Like, always returning calls and messages, always checking in regularly.

Like, going for a walk in the cold and wet – which he hates- because we talk less when he doesn’t go out walking.

I could go on and on.

Unfortunately, tonight, I lost the battle a little.

He had put a story on Facebook and it contained the lyrics of a song – first in his language then in English.

I didn’t know the song but the lyrics were along the lines of ‘girl, don’t be a fool. You don’t own me. All I want for you is to walk away’

And in that moment that I read them, my heart sank. So, what did I do in that heart sinking moment? I sent him an exclamation mark in response to his story.

I regretted it straight away but I didn’t have much time for that because he called immediately to ask what was wrong.

I had to answer of course. It was hard to explain so I kept it simple: I didn’t like his lyrics. He could see I was nervous. He assured me that they were not directed at me or anyone else and he even asked me what a couple of the words meant. He said he just liked the song. I told him it was fine and to ignore me but he asked me if he should delete it. I said no repeatedly, but as he saw my nerves he did it anyway.

After we said goodnight again, I sat contemplating the last five minutes and what had just happened.

Why? Why should those words effect me in this way? He has sent me songs directly with written lyrics in both languages, just for me. They’ve been romantic and heartfelt.

This story wasn’t directed at me, but it felt like it. Because…It’s like my worst nightmare come true. Him telling me that he doesn’t feel the way I do about him.

And then I think about time and actions – his love language. All those moments and minutes and hours devoted to me.

I also think about the occasions when he ‘slips up’ and utters something…that when I question him, he claims not to have said. Like they way he likes my beautiful eyes, or the thing I do with my lips (he wouldn’t elaborate on that one so I have no idea) or that he likes everything about me. They are fleeting, unexpected and often so guarded that they mean all the more in that instant – as if he couldn’t help himself from saying them. Or when he mentions a plan for the future unexpectedly… A trip he has thought about maybe.

So, with all these words, what am I saying?

Part of getting to know someone is learning how they love. And it can be hard sometimes if they way they love is different to you. You can’t change someone in that instance and neither should you want to: you’ve fallen in love with them.

Words are so very powerful. They’re so telling. And yet they can also hide and decieve and lie from the mouths of someone distrustful.

Time doesn’t lie. It can’t hide anything. And yet, it says so much.

Cancellation of hope

He likes being right. It is something his brother told me months ago when I was drawn into an amicable disagreement between them. Watching two people disagree in a foreign language is interesting. Particularly when they both turn and attempt to draw you in to their side.

Anyway, I digress.

He likes being right. So it is naturally that when news broke that Belgium was stopping flights in and out of the UK he laughed. “And you wanted to come!”

I stopped watching the news weeks ago. I don’t hear anything I want to hear. But I looked at the BBC website and saw it was true. New strain. Fears of how quickly it spreads.

I wasn’t laughing.

Seeing that my reaction was somewhat more sombre, he tried to cheer me up. He told me that everything would be OK and not to be upset. We knew this might happen. Well, he did. Boris’ statement of the ability to travel in tier three, however ill-advised, gave me one last spark of hope.

Tonight, history has repeated itself. Just two months before my hoped visit, his country have also suspended flights to the UK. There was only a small hope of me going in February. Now I have none.

I sent him a link to the article, not expecting him to see it until morning. He called me though, drowsy with sleep, to comfort me. He can’t understand why I get upset as he knew this would happen. I’ve got to accept it as there is nothing else we can do.

I know he is right. But it hurts and I miss him. And I want to be with him again, to feel it all again. For him to feel it all again and not forget me. Not make a choice for an easier life and forget me.

He wanted more time. Well he has certainly got it now. It doesn’t make me happy.

Feeling the pressure

Last night, as I was saying goodnight to Wildcard, my 6 year old came running in laughing, shouting that I wanted to marry wildcard and wildcard wanted to marry me. I laughed it off, tickled him, whilst Wildcard asked, ‘What did he say?’ With a smile on his face.

This morning I was unable to deflect and Wildcard asked my son directly. I was surprised a little by Wildcard’s reaction- he smiled at my son and asked, ‘and do you want me to marry your mother?’. My son’s answer was yes because ‘I like you’ and Wildcard replied, ‘good.’

I promise, I did not in any way instigate that.

Later this evening I was enjoying some painting and my 16 year old daughter joined me. She soon gave up on anything serious and started with purposefully childlike stickmen portraits. Wildcard called and I laughingly showed him her ‘talents.’ Upon seeing her pictures he asked her not to forget about him and she happily added him to our family portrait, saying he was one of the family now.

I joked with him that he was now accepted: my son wanted us married and my daughter considered him family.

Later again he called, quite thoughtful. Out of the blue he said he wanted to ask me something – why did I divorce my husband.

This is not the first time he has asked me this question. Previous times have not gone too well – language and cultural barriers as well as there being no easy reason to state. He said he wasn’t ready for the converstaion tonight and there were other things we needed to talk about. He said that if we are going to be in a ‘serious relationship’, ie, with a view to marriage in the future, then there are a lot of things we need to discuss first to make sure we want the same things. He said there has never been the right time – I expect he was waiting for me to visit him to have this conversation face to face – and that there are cultural differences to discuss.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a proposal. But it is an acknowledgement that a year of talking for hours every day is leading somewhere. His culture demands that marriage is discussed properly and that if it is not right, the relationship ends. He made me aware of this when I first spent time with him in February. He’s not said it out loud as yet, but I kind of feel that we are reaching the point where we commit to commitment or we don’t. I’m scared.

So, the divorce talk is scheduled for tomorrow. I have no idea what I am going to say. He knows this. He knows I am worried. He knows that I haven’t explained properly and he hasn’t fully understood. He’s told me not to be nervous, he just wants to understand. He wants to know that the same won’t happen to us. He can’t understand why my husband agreed to a divorce and how I could have had three children with him if I was so unhappy.

How do I explain?

That I’m old fashioned. I believe that marriages take hard work and commitment. That I didn’t want to give up. That I didn’t believe that you could find ‘the one’ – that I had to take my head out of the romance novels and just find a nice man. So when I did, I tried to make it work.

But it didn’t. And at only six months into the relationship, and just as I was about to end it, I discovered I was pregnant.

What follows is a pattern. A life event, often instigated by me (the pregnancy wasn’t!) In an attempt to fix or work on our relationship. A short period of success followed by everything going wrong again… buying a house, getting engaged, holidays.. another baby etc etc. I wanted it to work for my children. It didn’t.

Most people would have probably realised it wasn’t going to work within the first 18 months. I just kept trying.

My ex is not a bad man, but he was never right for me. There was no partnership, no true intimacy, passion or inspiration.

How do I explain that?

Wish me luck.

The beech tree

I am living in the same house that I was brought up in although it is somewhat altered. I’ve lived here for 38 of my 40 years.

I bought the house from my parents 14 years ago and extended it. The garden is huge but not as big as it was when I was a child as it was then a small holding.

Before the extension was built, there was a line of beech hedging that ran along the side of the house and drive, separating the farm. The hedge was tall and my dad cut a walk way through it so we could access the caravan-come-play den. Even when the caravan was gone, the archway was an entrance to a magical world or a great escape route for hide and seek. In spring I loved to touch the slightly furry unopened leaves.

When the extension was built, the hedge came down – all except one lone bush. That bush became a tree.

Over the years I’ve had a few rows with my dad about this tree and others. Whilst I love trees, I’m not sure they should be that big and so close to the house. I also believe in some strategic pruning to help them retain a good shape. My dad disagreed. He loved trees and didn’t believe in pruning.

Dad died, but the tree still stands. In spring and summer, I love sitting back in my chair and gazing up at the patterned leaves against the blue sky.

This summer, I moved my seating area to under this tree and fought with dead leaves and bugs to wrap fairy lights around it.

And now, in autumn, I love gazing at the changing colours and tactfully ignore the thousands of leaves I should be brushing up.

Life changes. We change, we shift. We can be quick to dismiss something, lodged in a mindset that ends up being the wrong one. We should pause, reflect , and see things for what they truly are – not what we suppose them to be.

Honest reflections

Has it really been over two weeks since my last post?

The situation with Wild Card resolved itself. Things got back to normal.

It has made me think though- of course it has. When does it not?

I still love him as much as ever. He has been a daily part of my life for 11 months now. He is a part of my routine.

I miss him achingly every single day  despite the texts and the two or three videochats a day. I think about him when I wake up, when I go to sleep. After all this time, and despite the ups and downs, and only being with him once, I still feel the same.

That’s not to say that all is perfect – roses and hearts and dreamy eyed happiness. No relationship is perfect. We are human, after all.

I still worry that I feel more than him. I blame a history of poor relationships which have damaged my self-confidence and beliefs. I also think he doesn’t help this sometimes too, with his teasing and joking.

One of you advised me – ‘love should feel like love.’ You’re so right. And I have been thinking about this, believe me.

Do I feel loved?

Yes, I do, most of the time. It’s in my daily calls. In the twinkle in his eye when he teases me. In all the times he checks I am OK. The times when he delays eating with his family to talk to me or ensure I am alright. It’s in the ‘I love yous’ and the ‘baby’s. It’s in his kisses and his smiles. In his extra calls.

And the times when I don’t feel loved? Well, this is the problem. I’m not entirely sure that these times are not of my own invention – when I am insecure and when I don’t get what I expect.

Because, don’t we all experience love differently? Don’t we all show our love in different ways?

Wild Card is a dream I didn’t know I needed. Falling in love with him was a surprise.

I had made a life for myself. I was content. Perhaps not happy as such, so my sisters say, but content.

And he was more than I expected I would find…

To find someone I was wholly attracted to, mind body and soul who apparently likes me too. 

To find someone who challenges my thinking, inspires me. Someone who supports me and cares for me. Someone who is strong but isn’t afraid to show vulnerability too. Someone with ambition but who can be humble.

Someone who loves me, despite my flaws and failings. A man who loves me enough to put effort into our relationship. Who wants the best for me, for us.

And he is all of that and so I’ve imagined a life with him there and I have imagined him here.

I love his culture, his lifestyle, his connection to family. I love the values that we both share.

I want to be with him. I want to live with him. I want a life with him. I know that.

But for that to happen, I need to know he loves me with the depth of feeling I do. That he feels our connection and the good things that have come from being together. I need to know he sees this positive future that I imagine.

Part of the problem, is that I can’t believe it. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not perfect.  Sometimes he is just plain hardwork. But I still can’t believe I, me, I have found this man and feel this love.

So I distrust it. I don’t trust my thoughts and feelings and I am suspicious of his. You’ve been wrong before, I tell myself. You’re letting your imagination run away with itself, I prompt.

How do I combat that? It is not going away. It doesn’t seem to matter to my brain that he always calls. That he forgives me when I do or say something stupid. That we are surviving this situation with Covid. That he talks about the time that we will be together with certainty. That we have been together eleven months.

The problem is me, I know that. And of course, that just makes me feel worse.