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.

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Yesterday I felt like things were aligning positively.

I had my interview. I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted the job but it was a good opportunity, paid well and I had done well to get this far.

I felt like I did ok. I wasn’t too nervous. My presentation went as planned. I answered the questions and tried to get my research in. At the end I was told that the start date could be September which was perfect. I could have my summer with my kids and Wildcard, recuperate and start a new career.

Even better, my sister sent me a screenshot of an industry specialist predicting that Wildcard’s country would be on the greenlist.

In the afternoon, I finally-finally spent some time considering my future and what I really want. I still don’t know exactly bit I have an idea. If I am brave enough.

I also spent some time scouring jobs and felt some relief that, actually, there are quite a few I am interested in and I may have a chance at. There is a big wide world outside of school.

So, all good then.

Until today.

Yes, I am tired. Yes, my son and his friends kept me up all night. Yes, there had been a minor concern with Wildcard (which was nothing as usual). But it gets worse.

I didn’t pass my assessment interview and I won’t be put forward for the last stage. I didn’t know how I felt when I read it. Now I realise more than anything it was fear that I am still without a job.

And of course, last night was the news that the UK Government has characteristically gone back on what they’ve promised and there are actually less countries on green now and more on red. And Wildcard’s country still isn’t open anyway, as of today. So, yes, bad day.

I’ve been ok though. A little quiet and pensive but no tears. I’ve just got to keep on. There are about four jobs I am interested in now. A couple are long shots and a couple sound wonderful but don’t pay well. Could I start my tutor business to top up my wage until it takes off properly?

My own business is what I want. What I’ve wanted for a long time. See, I told you I’d finally allowed myself to think about it. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‡

But. The thing I am most worried about is not having enough money to survive. I’ve looked at where I can make savings, and, there aren’t many to be honest. I don’t get any financial help from my ex – I help him! – and that is unlikely to change for some time.

A job is better than no job. Right?

Do I go for the jobs I really like the sound of, but don’t pay as much? Or do I force myself to apply for teaching jobs even though I don’t want to? Do I try to be brave and go for some of the other management jobs that I like the sound of but have no idea if I even have a slim chance?

And the conclusion is?

I’m going to apply for anything that takes my fancy and see what happens.

Irony

The irony of this blog has not been lost on me. I started it when I separated from my husband in an attempt to see this as a positive chance to start my life again.

The irony of course, comes from what happened afterwards. Seems like Life wanted to change anyway, regardless of my marital status.

In November last year I had a ‘breakdown’, although I much prefer the Teaching Unions’ labelling of ‘burnout’. I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. Once the tiredness had finally ebbed, I was left with a numbing darkness: a malevolent emptiness which reeked on my own self-dissatisfaction and sense of failure. In those burned out eyes of mine, I had failed at my marriage, failed to keep my Dad well, failed at my job because I wasn’t strong enough, and failed as a mother because I was weak and a mess.

Months later, sedated by antidepressants and the memories of counselling, I returned to work. The phased return helped and soon I was feeling like the old me again. Not the new me my blog had promised to recount, but the old me.

And then, only a couple of months later, Dad deteriorated further. We thought we were losing him in April but he survived somehow and we were told that he was at the end of his life and we should prepare that he would have about twelve months with us. I believed we would be lucky to have another Christmas with him, but I hoped. He was a strong man despite his illness.

He returned home frail and didn’t seem to recover the way we had hoped. There were more tests, doctor’s appointments, carers… And then the ambulance calls in the middle of the night, only for him to be sent home days later with more medication.

Then in May he was admitted again with severe anaemia. Within days, a chest infection started. Then a little heart attack. And still we had hope. We had til Christmas, didn’t we? We had a year! He’d pulled through before.

After a week we started to doubt. He was not getting better. The hospital were not giving up, but our hope was fading. Our handsome, strong Dad was pale and weak and sleepy. He was black and blue from blood tests and transfusions.

And then, on June 6th, after discussion with the doctors, we made the decision to withdraw treatment – Dad’s non-invasive ventilator – the thing that was keeping him alive. He wasn’t getting better and we couldn’t see him suffer any longer.

Dad died less than twelve hours later with me and my two sisters by his side. And my life as I knew it ended.

I’m not the same person without my Dad. I’ve lost what little strength I had recovered after my ‘burnout’. A colleague has described me as a ‘broken woman’ and its stark accuracy startled me. I feel broken.

The clichรฉs – a ‘part of me is missing’, ‘something has died inside me’ – how I wish they were metaphorical! I always thought they were but then I had never experienced grief like this before.

I write about my grief to cope with it. To remember it. Because it, in a slightly strange way, is also a part of Dad and I don’t want to forget this part either. And I hope these honest reflections can help someone too. Help them realise that they are not going mad, that these tumultuous feelings are a normal part of grief. Grief is not just crippling sadness – something I didn’t know until now. Grief is a very lonely place.

Change was a positive aspiration two years ago. It’s now a source of anxiety and pain.

My counsellor tells me that my grief is ‘healthy’. I’m told that it’s ‘selfless’ which is a good thing apparently. These are just words to me. I’m glad I’m not dipping back into depression again but these words mean nothing. I’m still grieving.

For six months I have tried to do what is expected of me. Carry on with my life. Keep being a mum and a teacher, a sister and a homeowner. As each month has passed, I’ve tried to hide the grief which is still as strong as it has ever been. (Maybe that’s it – you never get over it, you just learn to hide it better? ) Apparently, I’m not doing very well at this.

Last Sunday, after some Christmas shopping, I returned home and cried and cried and cried. I went into work Monday morning, frog-eyed and raw, to speak to HR in the hope they’d let me hide myself away in my office and work. Carry on, the way I’m supposed to.

An hour later, I’d let out my grief again. I’d discussed my pain, my fear about Christmas. My fear that people saw through my very carefully constructed facade of being OK.

My fears were well founded. My colleagues say that I am not the same, that I don’t have the same ‘gumption’ I once had.

How hard I have tried to hide this! I know I don’t have the same strength, but I didn’t want everyone else to see this. It was OK in the beginning, people expect you to be that way. But after a time, I believed that I should be back to myself, externally at least.

Although I feel like a failure, I’ve been told that I’m not and people don’t see me as one. I’m not sure I agree on either count.

Day to day, most days, my grief is a burning ember inside me. It’s a gossamer veil that covers me. Change is a catalyst though. It stokes the embers and the grief burns in my chest. Like today – simply preparing for Christmas with final shopping and cleaning and tidying has caused anxiety all day. Such a strange emotion as I’m not sure why it’s anxiety, but that is what I have felt and what I always feel when I experience change since Dad has died.

I know Christmas will be hard. Its a change. I’ve never had a Christmas before without my Dad: now I will never have one again with him. My anxiety is a symptom of this knowledge.

But somehow, this week’s grief and work revelations have created something new in me. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want people to see me as weak. How can I find myself again? I haven’t created these changes but I need to embrace them somehow. Use them as a catalyst for positivity if that is at all possible. That determination, the strength that has been bred in me, encouraged in me, from my Dad, is wanting to fight back. It was fine for me to pretend to be OK if I thought no one realised. Now I know that I have failed to hide it, I’m even more determined.

I can’t change my grief. I can’t erase it or end it. It’s there because I loved my Dad and will always love my Dad so it will always be there too.

I have no answers to this. It’s another irony. I share my grief in this blog because I believe that grief is personal but should not be private. And yet, I’m determined to find a way to hide it.

I’m shaking my head at myself as I write this.

So, to all of you that are missing someone this Christmas, I know how hard this is. I’m with you. We are not alone. I will be sending a prayer to you all, as I pray to my Dad, asking him to send a little bit more of his strength my way.

Merry Christmas xx

Why happiness is mine to accept

To understand this post, you may want to read the previous one first! https://startingfromthemiddleblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/11/why-am-i-depressed/

I have a good job, a nice home and three beautiful and healthy children.

My dad has survived lung cancer and his prostate cancer is in remission. He is still with us.

My relationship with my mum has improved. She is happy and I know she will always be there if I need her.

Never say never. The job I have now is suitable for my situation on the whole. I get time off with my children. My job is enjoyable and challenging and I am good at it. There will be time for change in the future when the moment is right.

My children know they are loved. They know they can depend on me. They may not have as much as some but they have more than others. They are polite and well mannered and have a healthy interest in reading and history and technology, of course.

Happiness is not just for those in a relationship. I can be happy without a man. But at the same time, love could be on the horizon til the day I die.

At least I know that the connection exists. Somewhere, out there is another connection – so strong that nothing will keep us apart.

I tried my best to keep my marriage alive. What I have now are lots of happy memories, three beautiful children and a much better relationship with their dad.

As I write, I am an able bodied woman with no major health concerns other than the need to lose weight. It could be worse.

Life can be good if we open our eyes to it.

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. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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

Happy Blogging!

Xx

Clouds

The weather is so changeable at the moment here in North West UK. At times it is grim; there’s no other word to explain it. It’s windy, it’s raining and the sky is dark. The ground is covered in leaves and broken twigs and small branches.  At other times – often within the same day –  the wind manages to blow away the clouds long enough for the sun to appear.  Then, the green of the outside seems to glow. I love it. 

Like the weather, my mood has been pretty changeable too. It’s been so hard to get up this week and I hate the first few hours of the day as I fight through a medication and /or exhaustion induced fog. I wish I was a morning person. I would love to wake up early, potter about whilst enjoying a leisurely coffee and soaking up a beautifully peaceful morning before I wake the children for school. Never happens. I tried going to bed early. I’ve tried setting my alarm. I’ve tried setting my alarm and putting it far away from my bed. 

One thing I’ve been dwelling on this week is my inability to sustain anything. So for example, I start the school year getting up at 6.30 and end it dragging myself up at 7.15am. I started to wash and dry a load of laundry once a day and now have to deal with washing mountain on a Saturday.  I start a healthy, balanced diet for a few days then descend into binge-eating-chaos. I can’t sustain good habits. 

As I’ve said previously, my counsellor (and family) think that I try to do too much and then berate myself when I fail. It’s true.  I’m getting better but there is no answer for the million and one things I need to do but still aren’t done. The things that stack in my mind like jenga blocks, teetering precariously. 

I am actually boring myself at the moment. I’m sick of the same old boring thoughts in my head. Thoughts that are 75% negative. I’m also sick of thinking about food and dieting. Sick of wondering what diet I can follow and actually stick to. Sick of conflicting advice. And this sense of suspension just means that I overeat. Eurgggh. Not good.  

But. I’ve got the girls coming round tomorrow night to watch a film. Sunday I have the opportunity for another long  walk. The clouds have parted. For now. 

Another sunbeam of success! :