The ups and downs

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

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

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

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

So how’s that worked out for me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so, life goes up and down.

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.

Talking to myself

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

I have a number of paths ahead of me.

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

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

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

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

I think I’ve just answered my question.

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

Am I being injust and unfair?

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

The rat, the dog and the Honeysuckle

Oh sweet, sweet coincidences!

I will learn your lessons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I could hear it gnawing.

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

Yep, I invited them in with that comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything will be ok.

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

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

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.

My birthday

“Tell me something good.”

“I can’t. I don’t have the words.”

“Yes you do.”

“You know I’m not good in English.”

“Yes you are. Go on, tell me something good.”

“I love you. And I miss you.”

His eyes were closed, head resting on his hand which lay between him and his pillow. At first his words seemed unreal, almost humoured in tone: his go-to when I ask him to open up. But then, as he continued, his tone changed and I knew that every word he said was true.

“I miss your kisses and your hugs. I miss coming to you in the morning and coming next to you in the bed. I miss wrapping your legs with my legs. I miss kissing you and touching your body. I miss making love.

I miss your laughter and your smiles. I miss coming home from work and you’re waiting for me.”

He laughs a little.

“I miss those kisses where I am afraid, but you hold me with both hands and you kiss me again and again. And I am afraid my parents will see but you kiss me again.”

Tears ran down my face as he spoke but I was smiling too. For he said everything that I felt, everything that I loved and everything that I missed too.

The best birthday present I have ever received.

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.

One said he loved me

One said he loved me, but played me like a game,

One said he loved me, but loved another just the same,

One said loved me, but later laughed upon my face,

One said he loved me, then disappeared without a trace.

When you say you love me, don’t be surprised if I do fear.

When you say you love me, speak to my heart not just my ear.

When you say you love me, say it loud so the world does know,

For perhaps when you say you love me, I won’t be afraid you’ll go.

Insatiable

There is a hard stone in the middle of my chest, weighing me down. I feel like it’s threatening to pull me over and then down, down, down in to the earth.

Very little seems to take away the sensation. I’m binge eating like never before: each day telling myself that tomorrow I will eat better. But my non-hunger is insatiable. Nothing helps so I keep cramming it in. I crave salt and then sugar. I am thirsty. Nothing satisfies me.

I miss him.

I always miss him. Every day. And every time I go, I don’t want to leave him. But this time was different. I didn’t want to come home.

When I did, the world seemed dull. Like all the colours were muted. Cold seems to seep from the ground and into my bones. I walked into my home, and I hated it. I hated everything about it.

My children arrived and for a moment, when they hugged me and kissed me, my heart was light again. But soon they were bickering and arguing…the dishwasher needed emptying, food needed cooking, and needed to unpack…and I didn’t want to. I don’t want this life.

Just thinking that makes me feel bad. Another stone drops into my heart, heavy and aching. How can I be happy leaving my children behind? I’m not.

But nothing, even them, is erasing that heaviness in my chest.

Last night, for a moment, I was free.

As I do sometimes, towards the end of our call, I ask him to tell me something nice. He usually does the opposite in jest and makes me laugh, or acts like a pantomime dame in his over exaggeration.

But last night, he told me he misses me. He misses my lips and my kisses. He misses my face and my smile. He misses my eyes, he misses my laugh.

And my heart felt light. I felt my soul soar, I was surprised at his honesty, his tone, his rush of words like he had no control. And I told him, “you sound serious this time baby.” And this time, this time he was.