A beautiful life

Ok, I admit it. I’ve not been taking my medication. My antidepressants. And it’s for no other reason than I keep forgetting. It’s been a few weeks now of having the occasional tablet.

Interestingly, no one has noticed. There hasn’t been a noticeable shift in my moods. I don’t feel much different either. I’d always hoped that once the stress of work had gone then I would be more like myself.

However, work stress hasn’t left me completely as I have said in previous posts. But that is not what this post is about.

I’ve discussed it with my sister and I think I’m going to lower my dose and try to remember to take them. It seems the best plan.

I’ve been thinking about the past year. It was just over a year ago when I had my anti depressants upped the first time. And then again when I was negotiating leaving my career.

I still can’t believe it sometimes. But – as hindsight is such a wonderful thing – I can see how unhappy I was there. In fact, I wonder if I ever was truly happy there. Convenience, and I guess success, made me stay there so long. But no, I wasn’t happy.

But what the academy did to me was worse, I realise that now. I lost complete faith in myself. They stripped me of my confidence and my self esteem. I have spent 10 months doubting everything I do. In those ten months I have put on two stone. I’ve stopped all the healthy habits I once had – like reading, facial care, taking tablets, sleep, eating well, exercise. I’ve stopped putting makeup on each day. And whilst a bit of make up doesn’t matter, what it shows is that I gave up. I gave up.

I was so proud of my weight loss and how it made me feel. I want that back.

I’ve had a disappointing week- my business has not taken off like I’d hoped – but I can’t let this haunt me or put me off.

This is just the beginning of the new life I am going to lead. It’s a very short period of time in my life and it will come and go.

I’ve had a beautiful life so far, despite everything. I had a full childhood and experiences that many have never had. I’ve been loved. I’ve been successful. I’ve had children. I’ve travelled. I’ve built relationships.

I could list the negative things, of course I could. But I won’t. That was my life then, and this is my life now.

I’m not giving up.

Games

During a particular tricky period in our relationship (Ramadan in April last year – my first cancelled trip due to Covid), we started to play an online game.

I’ve never really been one for computer games. Occasionally, when bored, I lay download a couple for a while then delete. I like games involving strategy  – those that make my mind work and make me feel a sense of accomplishment when I solve them.

We started with a game of online Ludo. He had only recently downloaded it through Facebook and asked me to do the same. The first few games he absolutely destroyed me but I didn’t care. In this delicate period of our relationship, it brought us together and gave us something to do, to talk about and laugh about. Eventually … and I mean eventually, I started to win a few games which added to the fun. He won most of the time but whilst I am competitive I didn’t mind because I enjoyed it all so much.

During a recent conversation, chess was brought up and how he would like to play. We discovered that neither of us really knew how but that it may be too difficult to learn together due to the language barrier. He then suggested draughts.

My dad taught me how to play draughts  . Dad always won, but I soon started to learn and would win some games and I liked the strategy and cunning of the game.

So you understand, I was quite happy to find an online version of this game.

He destroys me. Nearly every time. We both started on 500 points – he is now on 27500ish and I am on 7500ish. We have drawn a few times, I have won occasionally. I don’t care though.

Or rather, I didn’t. 

I love that about him – his intelligence, the way his mind works. I don’t mind that I lose because we keep playing and having fun. Am I surprised I lost a lot? Sure. I thought I was reasonably ok at draughts and thought we would be more evenly matched, but it’s ok.

Then, this morning after I lost again, he commented that I always lose and maybe he needs to play with someone else- a stronger player.

Wow, that hurt. He was joking, it was trash talk. But it really stung and – as per goddam usual – my eyes filled up. I thought I had got away with it – it was the end of the call and he wasn’t playing full attention but he noticed as he always does.

How to explain? How to tell him that his comment felt like a knife in my gut – that I am not good enough. That my mind rolled and played with that idea…that I am stupid, not good enough and I never will be. That every moment of my anxiety comes from that – that I am not good enough for him and that one day he will find someone better and I will be left alone.

It is not the winning. I genuinely didn’t care about that because I loved the fact that he won, that he is so intelligent, and that made me more. But his comment – however much he was joking – just made me love myself less.

Is it his job to make me feel good about myself?

If you pay attention to the many online relationship and coaching gurus, no it is not. And I do get that. Confidence comes from within. You have to have pride in yourself, see your own worth – dampen down you inner critic. If I don’t feel positive about myself, how can I expect anyone else to?

But.

I can’t believe this is the entirety of the situation.  Surely, part of feeling loved is feeling that you are special to that person? That they love all of you: They value your strengths. They find you attractive and sexy.  They love your flaws and your faults because they make you who you are.

In making the person you love feel that love and attraction you feel for them, they feel good about themselves.

So…how does that work then? For someone to love you, you need to feel good about yourself but someone loving you makes you feel good about yourself.  Chicken and egg I think.

Does he make me feel good about myself?

Sometimes. Every call makes me happy. When he tells me misses me – which is not often. When he tells me I look beautiful or that he wants me. When he mentions something about our future.

These things don’t happen every day and I don’t expect them to.

But every day he calls me, every day he kisses me, every day he tells me he loves me. He makes me feel loved.

So what’s my problem? I have absolutely no idea.

His loving me has made me feel better about myself. It has made me want to improve myself more.

I try very hard to be a good person. I work hard. I am successful – I have achieved. I try my best when I can. I try to look after myself – make the best of who and what I am. I have a lot to offer someone.

So why do I feel this way? Why can a throwaway comment make me feel so bad – make me feel like I am not good enough for him?

The seated man

He is taunting me. He sits there, smugly mimicking me with his expressionless, emotionless face.

Apart from getting up with my children and then later to check on my dad, I have been in bed all day. I told myself that I was just going back to ‘get warm’ (we have no heating until the fire is built) but each time I have found my eyes drooping and then have dozed.

I have ignored the vibrations of my activity tracker, the seated man taunting me repeatedly as I lay inactive in my bed.

Work has played on my mind most of all, but also the things that I had planned today. I have accomplished nothing.

As my sister said, in the short history of this depressive episode, this is the first time I have spent all day in bed. One day. Hopefully the last. And if it isn’t? This article may help:

https://www.blurtitout.org/2017/09/21/depression-wont-let-us-out-of-bed/

Tomorrow, I plan to laugh in the face of the seated man.

Guilt

I had my second counselling session today. There is not enough time to write down all that we spoke about but a couple of things resonated with me which I would like to share.

The first was acceptance that my life is challenging and that it probably will be for the foreseeable future. And whilst I should look at little ways of easing the pressure in each area of my life, I also need to be proud of the way that I have managed. Moreover, I also need to look at ways of coping when ‘life happens’: you know, those extra things that happen in life that threaten to just tip you over the edge. This is the life I have and I need it to work for me instead of me always working so hard to please others first. In essence, by putting myself first I will be stronger in my responsibilities for them.

The second was guilt. My counsellor said that guilt was ‘like Marley’ s chain’ and that if we are not careful, we can feel the weight of that guilt all the time, dragging us down. I can’t tell you how much guilt I have, over so many things! The more I thought about it, the more if felt like that scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where the letters starts whooshing through the Dursley’s letterbox – unwanted and plaguing Mr Dursley. The things I feel guilt about or bad about kept coming to me, one after the other. I’m so negative about myself. I don’t believe I’m negative by nature: when myself I believe anything can be worked out if you try hard enough. But I am so negative towards me that it is no wonder I am what I have become.

I think I’ve spoken before about a working mother’s guilt and that has been with me for nearly fourteen years. That’s one very long, heavy chain to drag round. And as I have moved on in my career, it has added a few hefty padlocks too. A few more chains for not helping my kids more with homework (because we only get in at six and there is tea to make, housework to do, three year old to play with/bathe and then bedtime routine); guilt over the housework that I never finish… Forgetting people’s birthdays…. I could go on, and on. I am utterly weighed down by my constant guilt – guilt that I can’t be the person I think I should be. And if honest, this is also the reason why I haven’t tried to find someone new: I don’t believe I’m worthy to find anyone yet. I’m not good enough: I’m not managing my life the way I think I should.

More thinking to do then. 😊

One year on.

A year today I started this blog. Madness. At first I was pretty proud of myself for posting for a whole year, but then I realised it was more than that.

This blog has got me through some really tough times this year. It’s been a friend, a sounding post, a crutch.

Without a shadow of a doubt, on my second and final separation from my husband a year ago, I felt the absence of utter misery and stress would leave me feeling a lot happier. Surprisingly, it didn’t.

My circumstances are a lot different from the first time. I’m older (obviously), have three children (not two), and a more demanding and high pressured job.

I’ve found my separated life to be quite lonely. I’ve gone through dark clouds of depression to euphoric bliss and the boredom of monotony in between:

Dates – nope.

Rooms redecorated – half (don’t ask).

New hobbies – one.

Weight lost – none.

Evaluation of creation of new life? Poor.

But (and there is always a but)..

I HAVE MADE IT!

I have been a single parent to three gorgeous but highly demanding children whilst holding down a career and attempting to keep my house from looking (and smelling) like a dump.

So my advice to you, ‘newly separated and hopeful’ is:

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to make big changes. Let the dust settle.

Accept that it will take a while for the dust to settle.

Don’t think that the big hole left (however desired) by your ex leaving/getting kicked out is going to be filled with love and wonder and happiness. Not at first anyway. You need to explore every inch of that crater to process what happened: how you feel about it and what you truly want now your dream of night long sex with [insert sexy movie star here] is no longer needed to get you through the pain of a dissolving marriage.

Be kind to yourself. You are going to emote in ways you didn’t know possible. You may even miss him a little. Doesn’t mean you want him back or that you should backtrack on your decision, necessarily. It’s OK to mourn what once was and what could have been.

Give yourself the gift of time. Go out with the girls. Get out in the fresh air whenever you can. Laugh, cook, dance. You don’t need a replacement to make you happy.

Take stock of your achievements regularly. This is a big change to your life. It’s not easy to go it alone.

Don’t be afraid of asking for or accepting help. It doesn’t make you weak. Just reminds you that you are not Wonder Woman. (More’s the pity).

Don’t settle for mediocrity. You’re better than that. You deserve more than that. There’s no rush – get it right this time.

Thank you to all the people who have read my blog and the two special ladies who regularly comment. It is always appreciated. 😊

Here’ s to Year 2 and all that may bring.

Happy Blogging!

Xx

Mirror Mirror

Two weeks. That’s all. Two weeks.

It has felt like an age.

First of all, my Internet router broke. And I refused to pay the £40 that Sky wanted to replace it. So I sulked and used up all my phone data then spent time realising how often I am Googling nonsense.

I also went back to work. I didn’t want to go back to work. Actually, it’s not too bad. I’m sharing an office now and am trying to get on with my new office-sharing co-worker. We are doing a very similar job and yet we tackle it so differently. I don’t dislike the woman but it’s not easy sharing a working space with someone who works so differently. And yet, we have the same favourite book: Pride and Prejudice. I’m hoping that time will help uncover more things in common.

The start of term is strangely unsettling. You are doing a job you do well and have done for many years. And yet, whilst your body is on a whirlwind of a travelator, moving continuously without a chance to step off, your mind is slow – sluggish even – and you struggle to catch up with the momentum of the day. At two weeks, I’ve run through my table, completed all the introductory lessons and am back in the swing. I’m working hard to get myself and my children in a good routine – we are doing OK, just a few necessary tweaks. For someone who is being medicated for anxiety and depression, I play the role of a strong assistant headteacher well. I actually find playing this part easy. At home, where I am myself, I find it hard to stay strong. I feel like a person whose mirror image does not reflect the original.

I don’t want to be on that treadmill again. Wake, dress, work, eat, clean, sleep. But it’s necessary. It’s modern day life. Yet, I want to live. I want my children to experience how wonderful this world really is.

From time to time, I think about how it would feel to be in a relationship again. To feel loved and wanted. To feel the heat of someone’s body as they lay next to me. To wake up and see their face smiling into mine: love reflecting back.

The reality is that I can’t bare to look at myself in the mirror never mind expect someone to want to look at me.

I have a full length mirror in my bedroom but it is still partly obscured by the ex’s belongings that have remained there for the past ten months (still nowhere near getting a house). Even if I could see myself though, I doubt I would.

In my bathroom, the toilet and sink are horizontal to the bathroom window. The window is in ‘quarters’ so that there is a pvc panel which cuts across the length and breadth of the glass. When you are standing near the sink, the pvc cuts you in half vertically bit strangely, for me, the two halves on myself fit together but with my chubby middle missing. And so, what I have, is the ultimate optimal illusion – the window makes me look thinner. Not like one of those weird mirrors that you get in a funfair – I look thinner, and in proportion.

It’s a cruel trick though. Even though my mind knows that the window mirror is not accurate, this image of myself deceives my mind. When I do, on rare occasions, see myself fully I am horrified by what I see.

I want to believe that someone out there will see past my rings of blubber and will love me for who I am. Life isn’t that fair though, is it? The chance of me finding a man that I am attracted to, has a good heart and good prospects and who actually likes me in return is very, very low. I’m scared I will wake up one day and it will be too late. I will be an old, fat lonely woman.

So, tweak my schedule I must. I must slowly but surely perfect the routine of my life so that I can be the best version of me I can be. With or without a man.