What is it…?

I’m 42.

Is this a mid life crisis? Is this what it feels like? I’ve had a successful life in Western terms: University education, promising career of promotions, married, children, mortgage, own car. Admittedly, no savings. No drugs, crime or deviance in my life.

So why, please tell me, do I feel like I’m at that godforsaken crossroads AGAIN? The one where I have absolutely no idea which path to take.

And…what’s worse…I have no one to ask.

Yes, yes…I know…it’s my decision to make. My life, my decision.

But a rather alarming thought hit me before, as I was stewing in the unfortunate circumstances surrounding me. I genuinely have no one to ask. No father. My mother is, sadly, no longer the person I would go to for advice though I love her dearly. My younger sisters are struggling in their own lives. I have no grandparents. And…well…

Wildcard. Maybe my sister was right all those months ago when we argued. Maybe he and I don’t talk about anything deep and meaningful. I don’t tell him everything. I try. I give him the headlines, hoping he will understand. I’m not sure he does. And he rarely comments. Sometimes I ask him for an opinion and he won’t give me one. He says he doesn’t really understand or he doesn’t know. Not in all situations, granted. But in enough for it now to worry me.

But, what is it?? These are my problems and I have to deal with them? Or he’s my partner so we’re in this together? Hypothetically, of course.

Does he care when I’m upset or stressed? 100%. Does he try to cheer me up? Absolutely. Does he give me answers or suggestions? Occasionally. Am I trying to talk this situation positive? Yep.

My career is a stalled car. Quite a fancy one. I’m currently trying to decide whether to strip it for parts, fix it, dump it or upcycle it. I. Just. Don’t. Know.

What is it at the moment? Please reach out and let me know what you think of this….everyone around me seems to be struggling. My ex is off sick with stress. My youngest sister is at rock bottom. My other sister is struggling financially and feels something is missing in her life. My mum and partner are about to be made homeless. My eldest son was suicidal and has just been excluded from school. My daughter is as lost as me…barely finished studying, failed to get into Uni whilst also claiming she didn’t want to, walked out of an apprenticeship over poor conditions and pay, has no direction and is currently constantly ill and unemployed.

Is this a midlife crisis? Or is this just a really unfortunate set of circumstances? Is this Covid? The UK recession? The cost of living?

If this had happened 4 years ago, would I have had the strength and confidence to help them, like I used to? Should I be thinking about this…or again, are these their problems to solve? Do I carry their weight on my shoulders unhelpfully for all involved?

What is it? I’ve no one else to ask.

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I have come to the conclusion, after much pondering, that I may well have had my second breakdown/burnout/whatever it’s name is now.

The weird thing is…I didn’t feel it, as such. I’ve felt crushing anxiety – that much is true. About a year ago I upped my low dose antidepressant because of all the bother that was starting the academy take over. So, yes, the anxiety was there.

What wasn’t there, was that deep dark numb pit that I fell in. The one that, last time, I hadn’t known was swallowing my whole path until I was in it head first. When I think back to that time – weirdly around this time of year too (!!!!) in 2017, I can’t remember a great deal. I remember that first moment. I remember days staring out the window at the field opposite accompanied by my cat and a hot drink. I remember that I didn’t shower much and I wore my depression hat – a glittery silver woolly hat – to hide my grief.

So no, that hasn’t happened. I’ve avoided the deep dark pit. Don’t get me wrong, a few times I’ve thought I’ve seen him far up ahead but I was wrong.

Anxiety- yes. Depression – no. However, there are signs that I’ve not been quite right recently.

First, Wildcard noticed. He notices everything. Second, I’ve put weight on and my nails are short. Third, I can’t get on top of my house. You’d think with not working for 6 months I would have mastered it. Despite feeling like I’ve tried nearly every day, I’ve failed. Completely. More recently, I’ve even stopped with my facials and putting make up on and I think that was why Wildcard was so suspicious when I went to the Christmas Market spruced up like a turkey. This last month I’ve stopped using the Fabulous App. I’ve stopped drawing and painting.

There is sufficient evidence there to say that despite feeling otherwise, I’ve had some sort of mental episode. Why haven’t I felt the depression? Well, it could be my tablets working. It could be that I am generally happier (that needs some pondering). It could be because of Wildcard. He’s the only new thing in my life.

I’m avoiding stuff though. I’m plodding along, doing whatever I actually do each day and avoiding a whole heap of crap in the corner. I know I need to deal with it. I know that if I don’t, eventually that pile of crap is going to devour me. I just can’t seem to start or sustain a start.

I was notified this week that I have been writing this blog for five years. Five years! My blog is nowhere near as successful as some, and particularly some of you who read my blog. I know in part that’s because I don’t always put myself out there and join in with other blogs. Something else I stopped doing and need to start. But my near 500 followers mean a lot to me, the ones that have been with me for a long time (Anna and Susie) and those who comment and give me advice (Kay and Writerswithoutwords). Thank you to all of you. 🥰🥰

It was a shock though to realise that I started this blog because my life had been through a major life changing event- the permanent separation from my husband. I wanted a new life, a new me, and this blog was going to document that. My Cinderella style transformation.

Yeah. That hasn’t happened.

Life has hit me with a few more catastrophic events to deal with.

And yet, I am a very different person than I was five years ago. My priorities have changed. My goals. I’m still lost but in a different way.

I’ve written before about not quite knowing how I want my life to be. Not being sure how or where to start.

I think I’ve realised that there is a really good reason I haven’t done much over the last six months.

I just wasn’t ready.

Six months rest and recuperation is nothing over the course of a whole life time. So my friend wisely said.

And so, whilst I didn’t feel it the same, I acknowledge the time nonetheless.

I was not ready. But now I am.

Decisions and positivity

31st August 2021

Today is weird day. As in, I’ve felt weird all day. It is the last day of my employment. The last day of my current career, a career I’ve been in for 18 years.

I don’t know how to feel. I’ve loved being a teacher but have been unhappy for some time.

I’m tired of initiatives, jumping on bandwagons, the career obsessed, the paranoid, the power hungry, the government interference, the lack of team work, new apps and websites, assessment without levels, new exam specs, ever shifting grade boundaries and goal posts, revolving policies, academies, endless paperwork, watching my back…I could go on. I will miss the kids. Their innocence, their hopes, their fears, their characters, their laughter, their honesty, their gratitude, their potential. So I guess that is how I feel.

People have said that once this is all over, I will feel better and will want to go back to teaching. It hasn’t happened yet. I’ve considered tutoring but I don’t want to. I’ve considered supply but I don’t want to. Yes, I’m scared of failing. But there’s more. I’ve lost my passion for the job. I am disheartened, burnt out and can’t trust any more.

However, I’m a single mother whose ex borrows money from me rather than contributes. I have a mortgage to pay. Three children to look after. 

When I get my settlement money, I need to be careful. There isn’t any more after that.


As today is September 3rd, you can see that I didn’t finish that post. I didn’t know what else to say.

I’m still unsure what to do. I’m stood at a crossroads. The way behind me has the Great Wall of China, a landmine field  Sleeping Beauty’s thorn wall and goodness knows what else blocking me. I can’t go back.

But in front of me are many paths. I know which one I want to take but that one is the scariest. There are much easier paths that I just don’t want. Decisions, decisions.

I go to see Wildcard in two weeks. I’m excited. I know that I could work a little before then (if I take the easy, less desirable path) but it is not difficult to choose to wait until I get back. More decisions.

On a positive note, I’m on day six of a detox diet. It’s basically vegan with reduced sugar and caffeine too – I’m only having honey occasionally and one coffee a day. There’s lots of healthy grains, pulses, fruit and veg and nuts. Today I am eating chia pudding for the first time and trying to convince myself it doesn’t look like frogspawn. Quinoa looks like bird seed. But, I’m doing well.

Hope you’re well too. After all, positivity is a state of mind.

Control

It is 7.22am and I am on my first train on my little solo trip to London. Last night, I wasn’t sure I would make it.

Considering I have had three hours sleep, I have to applaud myself for being on this train at all.

My trip was planned as a soul searching journey. I still am not sure what to do about my life. The end of August is creeping ever nearer and from September 1st, I am officially unemployed.

Whilst travelling alone, my initial plan was to meet a friend there. We would have lunch today and then go out for dinner tomorrow night. Saturday daytime I had promised myself a leisurely stroll around as many museums as I wish – no pressure from anyone else, I could stand and stare or avoid as I would choose. I had booked a hotel need Hyde Park and planned to stroll around there too.

I was excited. I love travelling: culture, history and new experiences. It invigorates my mind and my soul and it is what I need right now. At home, I can’t think. My mind is crammed with thoughts and ideas and worries and concerns. I can’t sift through it all to make actual decisions.

I watched a great TED talk with Tony Robbins this week. He talked about decisions and actions. I realised, much like what I have learned with Mel Robbins, that decisions are power. When we make a decision and see it through, we then control our life. Everything we do or not do, comes from a decision.

So, I’ve made the decision not to go to London for the weekend as planned but just for the day.

Why?

I’ve mentioned my planned and then booked London trip to Wildcard a few times over the past week. Our conversation about this has been limited – I know that when he listens but is silent he is thinking and processing. I knew he wasn’t keen on me going there for some reason.

Last night we had our usual evening call. Despite his bout of covid, he is recovering well and was in high spirits. Until, that is, I told him that I was getting the train early. He had forgot (not unusal) that I was going today. That wasn’t the problem. It was when I told him I was returning on Sunday that was the problem.

Before you judge, as I am sure you will, there are a few things to remember. His culture is so different to mine and probably yours. I have accepted that as I have accepted all of him in loving him. Next, for the majority of our relationship we have been blighted by Covid. He barely knew pre-covid me. The one who went on holidays with friends, day trips walking and sightseeing regularly, out for coffee each week. He knows the woman who has been at home for 18 months, my only travel being to him.

The ironic thing of course is that my new found confidence in travelling alone has come from him and my trips to see him. Going down to London doesn’t seem that big a deal after navigating layovers in Spain. When I don’t speak Spanish. And got lost.

Nonetheless, he wasn’t happy. He couldn’t understand why I would go and stay there alone. He was suspicious and jealous and confused. Why wasn’t I going with my family? Why wasn’t I going with a friend? I tried to explain needing alone time and also that none of my family have the same love of museums and galleries as me, but he just couldn’t get it.

He talked about the seriousness of our relationship – would I travel alone if we were married? I answered no.

My number one choice, every single time would be to travel to or with him. Without question. I can’t wait to see him again and to take my family with me. If we were married, I would have no need to travel alone. I would hope we would be travelling together. For him, my solo trip was almost an act of defiance against our relationship – a kind of declaration of my still-singledom.

In my culture, without a ring on my finger, I kind of still am. In his, I am not. We are serious therefore we may as well as be married. I probably knew that deep down. In a way, it is comforting to have it confirmed.

By the end of the call though, as he had calmed down, he repeatedly told me to go on my trip. He claimed he had been joking – he wasn’t- and that he knew I loved him so it was not a problem. He said that there would be a discussion if I didn’t go.

Within ten minutes of our call ending – me still in shock and not sure what to do for the best – he had messaged apologising. He told me to forget all he had said and enjoy my trip. I reiterated that I never had any intention of hurting him and I could cancel. Considering our relationship recently, the fact that London isn’t going anywhere, I would have done this. He repeatedly told me to go: there wasn’t a problem.

Hence, my dilemma. I had a decision to make.

Yes, it is my life. Yes it is my choice. But it my choice to be with him and my decision to spend my life with him. Was this trip more important than him? Definitely not. Clearly, next time there needs to be a much more detailed conversation before I book anything.

And so, I choose this compromise and middle ground. I go for the day. He had been relatively happy with that in comparison. I am still going so not completely bowing down but am nodding to his feelings. I’m showing him that I care and he is important.

So that is my decision. Emphasis on MY.

I wish this trip hadn’t coincided with a cake order, but so-be-it. I had made the choice to take on the order, knowing I was travelling. I finished what I could for 2am, slept until 5am and got up to finish.

You know what this shows? I can do amazing things when I choose.

Decisions, decisions

It has been an interesting couple of days.

After much discussion, contemplation, Google use and note making, I’ve decided to go to see Wildcard.

He is conflicted about it. He wants me to go but is worried about a variety of things. He has expressed how he feels, on both sides, and has left it to me to decide as ultimately it is me who is taking the risks as he sees it. There was a comment that he thinks I dwell too much on the now and not the future and that I must be sure I’ve done my research and thought things through.

Do I dwell on now??

I actually think that I do worry about the future and probably too much. But at the same time, after losing Dad, I’m very much of the opinion that you do have to live for now. I’ve weighed up every option and going now still seems the best for so many reasons.

The question is…how soon.

My plan was to leave on Sunday. He and his parents are happy with that – I would arrive on the Monday. He was concerned about me being able to get my PCR yest for my return home so I have sourced one at the airport. This means I will have to stay about 5 days longer. What a shame.

But. This is conflicting with something else. My Aunty’s belated 60th Spa weekend, cancelled repeatedly due to Covid.

I love my Aunty. I want to go. The Spa is AMAZING. But I don’t want to be grilled and questioned about my situation, and due to who is going, that will happen. I don’t want to travel to high Covid area and that is what will happen (yes, it is still open). And I don’t want to delay my trip by a week.

Why? Because who knows what will happen in a week. The surging variant here may change which level the UK is on, preventing me from going. There is political unrest which may affect flights or at the very least will make him more panicky – I have checked these things, and I am OK for this coming week. You could argue that another week won’t make a difference. But it might.

So, what to do?

The longer I leave it, the more likely flights will get booked, covid pcr tests will get booked. I want to book today. I will book today. But when for?

Being selfish, I want to go this weekend. Hell, I would go now if I could. I’m sorry for my Aunty, but weighing it up, seeing Wildcard and having a break from my whole sorry situation wins.

Does that sound like a decision made?

I just don’t know.

Morning reflections.

I’ve been up since 4.30am with two vomiting children. Now they’re settled and there is no point in me trying to go back to sleep, it’s given me time to think.

I’m conscious that my last few posts have mainly centred on Wild Card. Don’t think that is because I like him more than Second. My life is never that simple.

I’ve questioned myself about that. I still believe that I like them both but in different ways.

With Wild Card I feel excited and passionate when we talk. He makes me laugh. I’m intrigued by him. But I don’t altogether trust him either which makes me anxious. I can’t believe that he doesn’t have a number of women and I am still surprised that he likes me, although I do believe him when he says he does. You can’t fake some facial expressions. I get the impression that if we were to meet and we liked each other, I would fall hard.

Second is different, culturally as well as feelings wise. He was the front runner for a long time but circumstances – his working at sea for six weeks – has meant that we have only communicated by WhatsApp for the past few weeks. His contact is consistent and regular.

He also makes me laugh – we make each other laugh. We have similar backgrounds and interests. His messages have become more and more affectionate as the weeks have gone on. He is kind and complimentary. And I am attracted to him physically, just slightly less than Wild Card. That’s not a bad thing.

He makes me smile, inside and out. I feel more steady and secure with him, even though there are still no certainties – although he tells me he is certain we will meet.

If the messages, phone calls and video chats are anything to go by, I think we are going to get along well.

But his circumstances are even more difficult than Wild Card’s. Not only does he have a different Nationality to me, which is the reason we have not met yet and won’t do until January (he is spending Christmas at home with his parents), he lives in Scotland and has just bought a house there to be close to his children.

How would a relationship possibly work with him? We live four hours away from each other, when he’s actually in the country and not at sea or visiting his homeland.

So, if anything, I know I’m also wary of falling for him too. The reason I allowed the chats with Wild Card to initiate was to ground my growing interest in Second. Modern dating, remember?

At a friend’s advice, I’ve logged back in to Hinge in attempt to find some more connections to draw myself back into my original ‘flirt and date’ game plan. It’s not working. Despite some interest, I’ve found that I’m half-heartedly messaging back which is unfair to all involved.

The advice I have received on here has been sound and I am grateful for it. I need to keep pulling myself back, enjoy what I have in this moment. I haven’t met either man yet!!! I need to calm down. I’ve had the no-connection dates which had previously held so much promise. There is every chance that a date with either of them would turn into nothing and I am breaking the cardinal rule of no-textationships.

Grounded, grounded, grounded. Live in the moment. Learn and grow. Be open to all possibilities, good and bad.

Wish me luck.

Time

I’m bringing a few thoughts in to this post, so please stick with me! I’ve got a busy weekend ahead: social engagements that I’ve avoided since my breakdown. Tonight I’ve been invited to a friend’s house with my sisters. Lost Soul will be there. I can’t pretend that the usual thoughts and feelings didn’t run through my head, just a little, but I’m adamant that I can’t let myself be dragged back into that situation. He is not the one for me and I’ve got to keep telling myself that. Time has proven that he is not the love of my life or my soul mate. If he was, we would have got together properly when we both realised we were single months ago.

Tomorrow night I have book group and they are coming to my house. I’ve not been for months and my friend asking me to host is no doubt a ploy to get me back involved. ☺ The book was really good this month:

In the story, Sir Isaac Newton had discovered that in 2025 at a certain time and place, the present and the past would cross paths, allowing someone to move into 1914. And so, an ex-soldier is sent to change history: to prevent the catastrophic WWI. As with any good book there are plenty of twists and turns. What I loved about it is that it made me think about time and choices. How one event, one decision, can ultimately create a life-path that is then hard to stray from. Similar ideas can be found here:

‘Sliding Doors’ is a film which shows the two different lives that one woman could had led following the different outcomes of one decision.

A completely different plot but still focused on the idea of life choices is this fantastic book:

This book considers the impact a simple decision or action can have on the lives of others, often without us ever realising.

This morning, despite the multitude of things I need to do to prepare the house for tomorrow, I’ve given myself some time to sit and relax. It’s going to be the last time I get on my own for at least a week.

I’ve really appreciated this alone time since I’ve been ill and I think that it has been important for my recovery. I see it as a treat after completing my household chores and I sit in the window, sipping my coffee and watching the sunlight and breeze dancing on the trees. It’s not the most stunning of views but I love it nonetheless.

Today though, alongside this enjoyment of peace and ‘me-time’, my thoughts have been plagued by the ideas I have shared with you. The power decisions and actions have on our lives and the lives of others. Particularly because this coming week marks the 25th anniversary of the murder of James Bulger and, perhaps not wisely, I have watched the TV documentaries that have been on this week.

For those of you who don’t know this sorry tale, James was a month off his third birthday when he was abducted from a shopping precinct in Liverpool by two ten year old boys and then tortured and murdered.

The boys, only eleven when they went to trial, were given eight years in a juvenile rehabilitation centre.

The story is close to home geographically but also at the time I was only twelve myself. My little sister was the same age as James. I couldn’t then and can’t now understand how anyone could do the despicable and cruel things they did to that poor, beautiful little boy.

But what struck me last night as I watched the documentary, was not just how strong James mother was for coping with the death of her son and the knowledge of what was done to him, but her strength in living with those decisions she made at the time.

She talked about how it was the first time she had taken him out without his buggy. How if she had turned left instead of right when she raced out of the shop to find him, she may have seen him being walked off hand in hand with his murderers. She did absolutely nothing wrong. And yet those decisions must haunt her.

Worse perhaps, was the knowledge that over 20 adults saw James as he was carried and dragged two and half miles by the boys. They were stopped only twice by concerned on-lookers. One woman actually managed to pull him away briefly, her daughter grabbing James’ hand before she had been reassured by the murderers that they were taking him to the Police. She let them go. A choice that no doubt plagues her every single day.

And now as one of these boys, now 36 years of age, lives in anonymity somewhere and protected by police, the other is starting his third jail term for having child pornography. And I wonder, can those in situations of power really still stand by their decision to give these murderers only eight years for what they did?

I absolutely believe in rehabilitation and giving those who genuinely deserve it a second chance. But I also believe that this should follow just punishment for what they did: a premeditated murder. Eight years living in what was described as ‘home comforts’ is not just punishment. Although appropriate for the boys in their childhood I personally believe that at the age of 18 they should have transferred to an adult jail for a period of time to experience the reality of the decisions they made on that day. Decisions that impacted so many more people than that poor little boy that they callously took away from those who loved him.