The sleeping demons

Oh anxiety, you dark devil

From seemingly out of nowhere, my anxiety hit me this week. From a tight chest, racing heart and even a red nose (don’t ask), I’ve had physical as well as emotional signals.

All week, I’ve pretty much focused on putting one foot in front of another. Unfortunately, my feet don’t really want to do that today. Overwhelm is a regular bedfellow of anxiety.

As I trudged through the sleepless nights, wobbly days and physical symptoms, I allowed myself – only briefly- to consider why anxiety had a hold on me. After all, I’m now on a low dose medication that I wasn’t on before. True, it was the first week back after Easter. And, I was on my period. An unfortunate combination, particularly following a week of norovirus at my house.

Today though, I need to dig deeper to get a hold of this demon and shove him backninto the out of hell where he belongs . My period is over, as is my first week back (and Ramadan which is a whole other story), and I’m sitting here still feeling like an elephant is hitching a ride on my chest.

Let’s start with work.

The Friday that school broke up, I’d had a tumultuous day. On the one hand, I’d had a meeting in which I was basically told they want to keep me there and are doing everything they can to make that happen, including creating a new job and already are advertising for the temporary role I am filling. But, there was a bit of drama from one of the existing staff as he feels like he’s ‘out of the loop’ as so much has been given to me as the experienced veteran to his ‘trainee’. As I left the building, I caught him and another colleague whispering. And, as I’m paranoid, have self-diagnosed PTSD on this etc, I immediately thought it was about me as I’d just left the room.

Coming back to work; that colleague situation; the decision to stay; and a shed load of work which was nearly finished but I was anxious about because, hey when you’ve been kicked down repeatedly you stop valuing what you do and worry it isn’t as good as you think….all excellent fodder for the anxiety demon within.

I needn’t have worried. First day back I was again asked if I would stay and I have agreed. It’s the right decision for the short term and that’s what matters. The school are really happy. I had a day working with the young whipper-snapper and things seem OK now. And, all involved were really happy with the work I had completed.

I’ve also taken on another three hours of tutoring a week. It’s someone I know (but not well) and they were desperate. The boy is a carbon copy of my son in many ways and I want to help. The money will also come in handy.

I’m wondering if it is a step too far – too much work – but again, in the short term I can do this. I can always revise this decision in the coming weeks.


After my big DIY push and a week of family illness, I haven’t done a great deal. I went back to work with a beautiful porch and front door but organised chaos behind it. Normally, I spend my holidays getting everything reset.

Add the extra tutoring, extreme tiredness and a heavy period and, well, I’ve done next to nothing this week. I’d planned to work inside and out today. I’ve done little. Ah well.

Added to that, there is a major job that needs doing.

The septic tank needs emptying. 🤢

No, I’m not personally going to empty it. But still.

Why is this stressful? It’s embarrassing. It’s disgusting. The path to the offensive pit is purposefully overgrown and also embarrassing. I have tried all week to find someone to do it and struggled. I’m currently making my family shower at their Dad’s and have used my sister’s washing machine. Yep, it’s that full. Not overflowing. But full.

I finally found someone yesterday who will empty it. They said ‘sometime next week’, ‘we will call you’ and it starts from ‘£200’ depending on the job. I don’t deal with uncertain plans very well. I like to know what I’m doing.

The price is nearly double what I paid last time and could be more. I’ve a feeling I’m going to be told some remedial work will need doing and I can’t afford that. So… yep, anxiety. I will feel better when it is done and it definitely needs doing, regardless of other jobs I had previously put before it.


Where to start..? My daughter is still static. I had a frank conversation with her two weeks ago and another slightly angered text message rant with her on Thursday. Finally, she’s getting the message that she can no longer spend her 18th year of life in bed. Her anaemia is much improved so she now needs to get motivated. And help more round the house in the meantime.

My son is mere weeks away from his formeal exams. He still refuses to do any kind of revision or study, no matter the persuasion, bribe, support etc etc. That and the lack of school support means he’s going to come out with the bare minimum at best. I keep telling myself that there is nothing more I can do: it is his decision. Maybe there is a bigger lesson he needs to learn here.


The end of Ramadan, finally. Things have been better since our blowout anyway, but they should just slide back to normalcy from now. It’s five weeks until I go. Everything is booked and I am very, very excited.

However, my anxiety has unfortunately dredged up some unhealthy eating habits and so I need to work on this from here on. I’m ‘out of condition’: my skin is dry, hair needs a good cut and henna, and I need to get my nails shaped. Five weeks to make myself my best, by looking after myself the best I can.

Oh, and did I mention I am excited? Last night he teased me with virtual kisses. Yes, I’m very excited.

So there is my counter attack to the anxiety devil. I’ve acknowledged the sources, recognised that actually, there is still a lot to be happy about, and I’ve had a relax to process. Take that, anxiety.


Turning back the page

Look at my beautiful cat 😍. I will explain why I have posted a picture of him, momentarily. (And yes, that is a black cat Halloween sticker, in memory of my other cat who recently died 😢)

I’ve had a strange afternoon. Strange, because I don’t really have another word to explain how I feel right now.

The past 36 hours I came down with stomach flu. I spent most of Tuesday night being sick, Wednesday I slept and then was just on the couch with no energy and aching all over.

This morning, I felt weak and achy. By lunch time I had finally eaten some homemade soup, had showered and felt a little better.

My house was clean (enough), washing was on the line and I didn’t feel well enough to do anything else strenuous.

I’d had some errant thoughts, as you sometimes do when you lie around with nothing to do. I’d thought about what I’d said in my birthday post, about not being able to have Wildcard’s baby. Whilst the passing of one day probably hasn’t made much of a difference, it marked the passing of a deadline I’d given myself.

And, of course, as is often the way, this thought then cascaded into so many others. I wanted answers, insight. And it resulted in me deciding to read my journal- my blog, right from the beginning. Whilst I’d re-read my time with Wildcard some months ago, I’ve never gone back to the beginning.

I started writing on WordPress the day my marriage ended in 2016.

It’s been an amazing read. And I’m not talking about the quality of my writing here, I’m talking about my life.

There were posts I remembered that I thought I had written much more recently. That was weird. There were many posts where I barely recognised myself. There were posts which described a life I haven’t lived for a very long time (Covid??).

But what a life. I always feel bad saying this, because I know my life is so much better than some people have to deal with. But my life has been tough.

I read about the end of my marriage and how, despite knowing it was the right decision, my grief in the months that followed. The beginning of a depression which fluctuated over a year and then ended in 2017 with my breakdown/burnout. I hadn’t realised it had started so long before that. The burnout I remember, vividly. There is a post where I document just sitting and staring out the window each morning, just me and my coffee and my cat (yup, that beauty up there ❤️ who helped me through it all. I’d forgotten.)

I read through my slow recovery and my gradual return to a workplace which- I can see now – had become toxic in my absence. And then my Dad’s slow decline and death months later.

Then grief, grief, grief.

There are many tales of Lost Soul. My goodness. I can see why I am so anxious in love now, I really can. It’s no wonder! Everything I went through – and I can’t say ‘what he put me through’ – because I went beyond my better judgement every time and allowed it.

Slowly, slowly, in 2019, you start to see me returning – my grief settling, my infatuation with Lost Soul burnt out, my depression subdued. And then I meet Wildcard.

I stopped reading at that point. Mainly because my eldest son has now started vomiting 🤢.

I feel…so sorry for myself and yet so proud. When you’re living through it, hard as it was, you don’t see the interconnectivity of things. How quickly my grief over the end of my marriage and struggling as a full time working mum with work issues, met the devastation of a rapidly declining Dad. Betrayals in love, betrayals in friendships. It’s no wonder I’ve been how I am, no wonder at all.

There is beauty there too. I saw just how much I tried to do. I was a good mum, even when I thought I wasn’t. I was a good mum through those years of no support from my ex, and with my Dad being ill in this house. I did my best, I really did.

I saw the real self depreciation. Post after post about my weight. Whilst it’s true, I’m nearly 5 stone lighter than that now (and have no wish to get back there), the self hatred is hard to take.

The following was particularly poignant:

To be honest, in just writing this I have summed up the cause of all that I am feeling. There is no time in my life where I don’t feel pressured by outside influences; my roles as mother, daughter, sister, homeowner, teacher. I need to unpick all this, refine and define my roles and carve out a new role as caretaker for ME. That is the one area I am truly failing at, not the others like I believe. I need to keep telling myself that. My one, and only one, failure in my life so far is not caring for myself.

If I have done one thing this past few years, unbeknownst to myself or not, I have battled this. I still do. I don’t feel the pressures so much as the guilt when I neglect one or other but im working on it. Something to unpick with my new counsellor, I think.

I’ve realised something else too. I’m not as bad now as I have been. There is a fight in me that wasn’t there before. My depression never really left me, I think. But I have learnt to fight it and knowingly too now, want to defeat it for good.

This evening, I’ve had laughter with Wildcard (amongst trips upstairs with sick bags for my son.) I feel a certain peace.

Yes, it’s important to look back. For those of you whose blog serves as a journal: I strongly recommend it.

And for those few on here that have stuck by me through all this: thank you. 😊


Today, I turned 43. It was a good day.

Some people would not find that cause for celebration. It’s not an important birthday or milestone. I haven’t defeated death with my longevity like my Great Aunt who will be 97 this year. My hair is greyer, my wrinkles that bit deeper. I sometimes worry about my knees. I know, deep in my heart, that the opportunity for one last baby, Wildcard’s baby, has finally gone. And with it, maybe him too.

And yet, I did celebrate today, quietly and sedately.

I’ve long been of the belief that we should celebrate every year of life. Every year passing is indeed a milestone. So many people die too young. Be it illness, accident or suicide: too many people die too young.

My day started with laughter as Wildcard sang me Happy Birthday repeatedly, is as silly a voice he could manage. I also was Gifted with the song in three languages, with added beats and vocal flourishes.

He sent me not one, but three, birthday videos. Being called his ‘queen’, his ‘angel’ and his ‘love’ was pretty special. And yes, definitely made up for the shambles which was Valentine’s. He’s done that exhausted, on Ramadan and ill again. Gifts indeed.

Late morning and afternoon consisted of house tidying, cooking and entertaining visitors. My aunties came and bought me a lovely gift. My sisters then arrived with my nephew and niece. My sons came home.

We had a delicious Easter/Birthday roast. My daughter made me my favourite Gluten Free carrot cake. Ooh and GF brownies to have with icecream.

When the guests left, I watched Tangled with my youngest as he knows it’s my favourite animation. I’m now sat in a hot bath. I’ve used a variety of birthday beauty products. I’m content with life on the 1st day of my 43rd year.

And that is the true gift on your birthday: contentment. I have wished for nothing today, except perhaps for absent people. I have received lovely gifts and wishes and love. There will be women out there who will receive diamonds and cars and expensive dinners on their birthday. There will be women whose birthday is another day where no one cares. There are so many women who will never reach their 40s.

So yes, another year has passed. Reading my posts from this time last year, I could be a little disappointed with myself- angry that I have not made as much progress as I could.

But no, there is no disappointment in another year passing, even one where darkness and depression have threatened. I celebrate and thank God that I am alive and healthy and surrounded by those I love, filled with contentment.

And next year, even if my life is the same, I will be content. I have so much to be thankful and grateful for.

I look forward to another year.


I’m sat in my car.

I can hear the hiss-tap of the rain as it hits my windows and the occasional gust of wind.

I’m sat in a local beauty spot. Usually you see rolling hills and distant cities. I can just see rain and clouds mostly. UK Spring time apparently started four days ago, and whilst it has been brighter and lighter, winter has not quite given up its hold yet.

The same could be said for me.

On the whole I’m feeling brighter. I like my job and feel more confident and settled than I have in a long time. I’m happy there, for now at least.

Since booking my flights, I’ve felt like my relationship with Wildcard has settled too – thank goodness. Maybe with the pressure off, we’ve both relaxed. We’ve been laughing again, affectionate again. Not that we weren’t before…I guess the undercurrent has gone and not just for me.

My daughter is starting to look better. My son is still having his difficulties but is feeling the positive pull of College.

Winter darkness hasn’t quite disappeared yet. Sometimes inwonder how I will ever find my way out of all this. How will I be truly happy again? What do I want to be happy? Sometimes, it feels like there is now way out and I will continue in this spinning limbo.

I had hoped that the therapy will push me out of the final patch of shadow and into the sunlight. Today though, I’ve been told I will get my therapy in the next 12 weeks. It’s much longer than I had hoped. I can’t seem to find the answers to my worries. Someone to help clear my mind and gain clarity would have really helped. 3+ months waiting for that seems too much.

I have little choice though. I guess I just have to keep going, keep searching for my truth. I refuse to stand still. I refuse to sink. I will cling on to the light, the positives and keep searching.


I wrote the above a few days ago.

It’s Saturday now and I’m cleaning as usual. That’s what I do at weekends, I clean.

It gives me little satisfaction. Although my house looks better for it, and I’ve devised a system that really works with my regular feelings of overwhelm, I can’t stop noticing all the things that need doing: that I haven’t, or can’t do.

I wonder if maybe it is all too much, like some of my relatives think.

As I showered, I contemplated this. I realised something significant. It’s not just fear of failure and rejection that are my triggers. It’s something bigger than that. It’s my fear of not being enough.

This is not a new concept for me: it’s one of my biggest issues with Wildcard, often self imposed. What I realised today is that it is an underlining streak of darkness in all aspects of my life.

I give my all to something or someone, but when I don’t reach what I aspire to, or I don’t get back what I expect, I feel like I’m a failure and or my best is not enough. I’m not enough.

I gave my all to marriage. It failed.

I gave my all to my career. I couldn’t cope anymore and ended it.

I work hard in my home every week. It’s not good enough.

I care and love my kids best I can. They’re still struggling.

I love Wildcard more than I have ever loved another man. Still no commitment.

See what I mean? I give my all, don’t get the returns I expect, so plunge deep into negativity.

I have no idea how to break this cycle.

Be Gentle, Be Kind

That there, is a rather indulgent coffee for 4.30pm, made with single cream and some salted caramel syrup. First, I rarely drink coffee in the afternoon as I won’t sleep. I also don’t have syrups in my coffee as they’re too sweet. And cream goes in coffee at Christmas.

As I spent 12 hours overnight in the A&E departments of two hospitals, I think I deserve it.

I originally started a post at 6.30am, sat in a treatment room of the second hospital. I’d been awake all night. My son was sleeping on the ‘bed’. Here’s what I started writing:

How dare I start to feel happy again, finally. My anxiety was slowly being controlled. I am happy at work. Things with Wildcard were steadying. 
I'm sat in A&E with my son and it's 6.30am. We left for the hospital at 10.30pm. We've been awake ever since and this is our third hospital (although the first doesn't really count as they sent us away as apparently 16 years doesn't equate to a child.)
I won't say why we are here. Just like I didn't tell you when my daughter was in A&E just four days ago for an on-going illness that became acute. 
There's nothing quite like thinking your child may be seriously ill. I'm going to allow myself to feel sorry for myself. However, I know thinking does nowhere near compare to knowing - my heart goes out to anyone whose children is poorly. 

Yes, I was kind of bitter and angry there, wasn’t I? Angry at the world.

Since we arrived home at 10.30am (he is fine by the way), I’ve slept for a few hours, showered and started some stew:

This is comfort food at its best. It’s made from chicken – bones and all – vegetables and herbs. Full of goodness. What’s more, it’s easy to make and – more importantly- it’s what my dad used to make.

I’m being kind to myself. I hope you noticed the drops of cream on the counter (although that was a little exaggerated) and the dirty pan behind the stew (reality). I should could have got up and cleaned yesterday’s dishes. I haven’t. I made the stew, then made the coffee.

I need comfort and gentleness. The stew is all that, wrapped in a warm Dad hug. I don’t make it much, mainly because it never tastes quite like Dad’s (it is impossible to replicate) and also because it used to make me feel guilty. Dad used to make this regularly – a few times a week with different meat – and I got to the point where I was sick of eating it. I pretended to and binned it. It was one of my sad confessions on his death bed. I loved the stew, loved the fact that he cared enough to make it for me, but sometimes didn’t want it again (sorry Dad).

Now of course, I’d do anything to come home to the smell of it, Dad bustling in the kitchen.

I was angry this morning at the world. Now, I’m not. I’m still exhausted but I’m relieved that my son doesn’t have a life threatening bleed in his neck. I’m grateful for the kindness and understanding of many of the staff which cared for him, and me.

I realised before, walking into the kitchen that I had left dishevelled when I rushed him to A&E last night, that this is the saddest part of depression. You spend months, years trying to fight a mental illness. By the time that you start to recover, you then have to try to wade through the mess of things you neglected because you couldn’t cope. Recovery is hard enough, but having a mountain of unfinished business on top of the gargantuan issues that possibly caused the depression and are still there, is heartbreaking.

I’ve decided to be kind to myself.

I’m slowly, slowly working through the things I put to one side. There are many of them. They worry me. But, I’m being gentle to myself in recognising that I couldn’t manage them then, and expecting a magic wand to resolve them instantaneously now is unhelpful. It will take time and that’s ok. Slow and steady.

So, I made my stew and made my coffee and I sat down to write. I allowed myself time to write this post. The pans will be washed and the cream mopped up, when im ready. They will be done at some point. Leaving them because I’m lazy is not acceptable. Leaving them as an act of kindness to myself when I am physically and emotionally exhausted, is .

The coffee has long gone and my stew is smelling like my childhood home. I’m going to make a fire and bask in the warmth of my home and the luck that both my children and ok and with me.

False smiles hide what the face doth show

By rights, my cheeks should ache. My laughter lines should be deeper. I have smiled and laughed and oozed sweet happiness all week.

Underneath I’ve felt loneliness and jealousy and angst.

He’s tried, I know that. Late night calls on walks where he is exhausted.  Snippety calls to show me where he is. And, once, a message acknowledging that he missed me too and recognised how we hadn’t spoken that day.

Maybe I am a bad person. I’ve hated every moment. I’m so happy that his brother has finally visited, for them and him. For me, it has just hurt. The pain of missing him. The anxiety of feeling he isn’t missing me.

My friend has told me to step out of my feelings of rejection and consider it from his point of view. He’s done his best. He may see my negativity as selfish.

She’s right of course, on every level. An anxious person would feel this two weeks as rejection. Thinking only of how this is hurting me is selfish. And, he’d contacted more than was expected. Just not enough or as much as I wanted.

There’s nothing quite like finally hearing my phone ring, answering in a swell of happiness and love, only for the call to end after 4 minutes.

My mask has slipped on occasion. Most times I replaced it within a nanosecond or was even more Stepford Wife on the next call. I’ve aimed for understanding and caring and supportive. No pressure. But, I’ve told him I miss him, because I do.

The morning after the day we didn’t speak, he called me. It surprised me. And the moment I saw his face, I wept. I tried so hard not to, but I was just so happy to see him. I hoped that his tiredness and the bad light stopped him from seeing. I doubt it.

Tonight is their last night. Today and last night have been the worst for contact and I hit my limit. I’d had enough of feeling like an afterthought.

I didn’t hide it when he called but we didn’t talk about it either. The phonecall was 2 minutes because he was too tired to talk.

My friend talked me down after that. Once calm, I of course saw how I’d let my emotions take over. Luckily for me: moments later he called again and my smile was back in place.

Tired or not, though, he has called three times since then. I talked out of the explanation for my sad face with something about work. A half truth.

I await my last call. It’s their last night, so it overrides my insecure need for validation. He will be mine again, soon enough, I hope.

And whilst I don’t believe in hiding feelings as it only builds resentment, holding on to wildfire emotions is essential – instead of allowing them to blaze uncontrolled.

Calm, considered discussion of issues is better than emotion filled explosions that I later regret.

Two halves of the same coin

A lot has happened since my last few posts.

Wildcard’s health and subsequent mood have improved. I was really worried about him and us. Things seem OK.

His brother and sister in law arrived six days ago. It’s been a testing time. I’ve had to manage my expectations of him and it’s only going to get trickier. The day after they arrived, he took them out for the day and then they went to visit family. That hurt. Why? Excuse my jealousy, but that’s not the experience I have when I’m there. I may have made a sarky comment to my friend that the sister in law didn’t have to watch him play on his game for days like me (ouch). My friend is being patient with me and taking the brunt of my tantrums. She’s reminding me of his customs, that actually he is calling me a lot more than expected. But, knowing that the sister in law also gets to see/meet family also hurts, as I am hidden away both virtual and in real life. Different contexts, yes, but that’s because of his choice, not mine.

And then there’s the fact that when they got home aftet their day out, I had two minutes with him before he ended the call because they had walked in the room. I was again hurt and confused. I’ve met his brother and sent a painting to the European sister in law. They know I exist, why hide me away? Luckily, she wanted to speak to me so he called back.

Later, he asked me why I had been upset by him going and after I explained myself, he admitted that he doesn’t feel comfortable talking to me while they’re there: it feels disrespectful when he should be giving them his attention and he said he can’t be himself. He’s probably on his best behaviour, not his cheeky self. I understood a little more after that. He has made an effort to call each night though, going for a short walk just so we can talk. I appreciate that.

Amusingly, or not, is that his brother wants to stay up ‘late’ talking. I of course feel some vindication for being upset with him last time I went (and we were in bed by 8pm). Clearly, it’s not just me. But, Wildcard doesn’t seem to tell him to go to bed, even though I know he wants to. It’s a strange dynamic as he has no qualms about telling me but not his brother.

Valentine’s Day was equally tough. I didn’t get my unusual video/montage. In fact, other than a verbal greeting and a few extra pleasantries, he did nothing. That really stung. I dwelled and sulked over that one. The next day, I slipped it into conversation and was told he was busy and hadn’t had the time to think and make something heartfelt ‘sorry’. Can’t say I felt like accepting his apology: he should have made time. But I felt better that, even surreptitiously, I’d aired my feelings. Later when he queried – in jest – if he was a bad boyfriend, I said yes. I never do that. And it shocked him. He said that I never joke like that so must be serious and whilst I later insisted it was a joke, he knew I think.

Am I acting like a spoilt jealous child? Yes, probably.

This evening has been particularly confusing.

Today, he took everyone back to the city to have dinner with another branch of family. He’d commented that this was his brother’s choice (implying he wouldn’t do it, as we all know) but this time there had been an invitation following the visit on Sunday.

Yes, it hurts.

He called me about an hour ago and showed me the room as he often does. This time though, I got to see a small child clamberimg over his sister in law and his cousin’s band setting up to play traditional music for her. He asked if I wanted to watch too, and I readily agreed.

Two sides of the same coin.

One, heart warmed that he wanted to include me. That I got to watch and listen. That he showed me to his immediate family – the ones who know I exist – and join in the smiles and laughter with them. He pulled faces at me to make me laugh and danced with and for me. I loved every second.

The other?

I saw what I have never had. I saw his extended family welcoming her into their home and going all out to make her part of the family. I mentally compared that to me being hidden away, to the fact that there are still no real signs of this situation developing. And my smiles hid the tears I was holding back and the lump in my throat.

He kept me there, with them, for an hour. The lump disappeared and the tears evaporated and my cheeks ached with smiling. I noted he wore his ring and I remembered that, embarrassed or not, he tells me he loves me even when his brother is there. That means something. After watching his aunty lay out a table of refreshments in the sister in law’s honour, he told me he would go.

I thanked him for including me.

I hope, of all hopes, that what this fortnight does is show him what it could be like. His brother is a different character, clearly, and wants to show off his wife and involve her. I hope he sees what our life could be like.


I’ve had a tumultuous time since I last posted.

I spent some more time in my new school and loved it. I also braved a day on supply in a primary school. I don’t know why I was so nervous about it – and avoided it – but I loved my day there. It’s given my confidence that if the work in the special school is not for me, I would be happy working in a primary. It’s also confirmed, again, that I want to start my business. The work situation has settled for now and I am finished for Christmas. In the end, I’ve earned reasonable money the last two months so the pressure is off a little.

I’ve become increasingly aware of how much the end if my leadership career still affects me and my confidence. I thought I was over it but it’s clear I’m not.

The situation with my son continues. We’ve had dramas, periods of calm and full blown anxiety at times. Most of the time, our anxieties have proved to be only that of which I am very grateful. Unfortunately, some immature actions have alerted agencies and us as his parents to his vulnerability to be influenced by others. His SEN makes him both naive and impulsive and his weaker social skills are also not helping. Support is in place now and I’m, finally, beginning to feel we’ve bolted the horse in the stable (rather than when it’s already left, if you know that saying). I can’t pretend I’m not worried but there is some comfort.

My son’s key worker has been a real support and is actually an ex-teacher herself. He has become a real ally. We’ve had some frank conversations about what has happened to both of us and the state of the education system here. She’s given me faith but also insight that I’m not over what happened. I’ve been put forward for more counselling and I’ve accepted. I think it will be good for me and help to release the poison of the past.

Things will Wildcard have been good lately and it’s only 8 days until I fly out to him for my sixth visit. Similarly, there’s been a few events and realisations of late which are helping me to understand him and our situation a little clearer.

My Facebook friend – the one married to a man from Wildcard’s country – continues to be a real friend and source of comfort and understanding. We talk a few times a week and her situation and place within the online community has helped me understand to a greater level, how challenging a marriage of different cultures is – regardless of how much love you have. I think anyone in an LDR of this kind acknowledges the differences but is blinded by their love and wish for a union to really see how hard it can be. My friend, five years into closing the distance, is still learning and experiencing the challenges of different cultures.

Conversely, the World Cup had also highlighted a few things which have led to meaningful conversations with Wildcard. His relationship with his parents and his loyalty and dedication to them, is not just that of a son but also an integral part of his culture and religion. Being the last son there, the eldest son, he feels this responsibility keenly. And, being the eldest and in thar position of responsibility myself once, how can I not understand that?

We’ve had one moment of tension recently, when he mentioned how his brother and his then girlfriend (now wife) had travelled and resided together. This is forbidden in his religion and is something that Wildcard would never do. Unfortunately, my face portrayed my….well, jealousy of this time they’d had alone together. I love Wildcard’s parents, I really do but of course I would like to experience time with Wildcard alone where he is not on edge. Ironically, of course, even if he agreed to it, he would be more anxious than when his parents are there. Wildcard saw my jealous contemplations, questioned me as usual and became frustrated at what I said.

I’ve no doubt that at this current time, he’s doing the best he can. I love him for exactly who he is – I love that he has integrity and is a good man. I’d never want to change him, just for some alone time. I explained that to him and he later told me I had done nothing wrong. The moment passed and has been forgotten. But again, it’s highlighted the type of man he is and why things are as they are.

So, all in all, as the year comes to an end, I’m feeling some peace going into Christmas. I’ve a very busy week ahead of me before I travel but I’m looking forward to happy festivities with my family and then spending a week with the man I love.

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.


I’m in a book hangover. I love it.

For those of you who have never been fortunate – yes, fortunate – to have experienced one yet, let me explain.

A book hangover overwhelms you. It’s when, after – and arguably during – reading a particular book, you get so engrossed in what you’re reading that the essence of the book surrounds you. It’s like being in that book’s bubble or fleece throw or…like that books lens. It’s a warm glow. You think about the book …its words, it’s essence….its ideas. How it made you think and feel.

I’ve read many, many books in my life. Only a small handful have made me feel this way.

I started, and finished, the book within 12 hours including some sleep. I started it last night, read 3/4 before forcing myself to switch off the light at 2am and then finished it this morning.

The book, ‘After you’ by Jo Jo Moyes, just gripped me. It’s a sequel to ‘Me, before you’. That also gave me a book hangover. I’ve had ‘After you’ for 18 months. I started it but wasn’t ready – its themes too painful. 

‘After you’ is a fictional book about living life, starting life again after bereavement. It’s a love story,  a life story. It’s not a self help book or a work of literary heritage. But it moved me to the core. It may not for you – and that, that is the beauty of reading.

I’ve read a lot recently – since finishing my job. That’s one of the biggest ironies of life- as a full time English teacher, I never have the time to read normally. Sad, isn’t it?

I’ve read lots of trashy novels of late – Shades of Grey and others. Sometimes that’s what I want to escape into – stories of passion, strong men and strong but feminine women. It’s not the sex, although there’s nothing wrong with a sexy scene, but I actually like these books. I like reading about how in even romantic fiction, relationships are messed up by people’s pasts, insecurities and jealousy.

And so, here I am. Back in my multicoloured garden, shrouded by my book hangover… which has deliciously merged with other thoughts and events in my head to find those amazing coincidences in life which make you sit up and listen to what the world is trying to tell you.

Life is meant to go wrong.

It really is. Read that again, let it sink in. Life going wrong, is actually right. It’s what is meant to happen. Every wrong turn, bump in the road, false start, stall, breakdown, cruise control,  speed chase….all of it is part and parcel of a normal life.

Often, events on the road of your life happen without you. You don’t cause them or instigate them, but they happen anyway. Sometimes, a seemingly wrong decision- or indecision- causes them. I don’t know what’s worse in that case. But it’s what we do after that matters. What we learn, how we pick ourselves up…it doesn’t matter how long that takes.  It doesn’t matter if we limp or crawl, jog or sprint. It’s just the moving again that matters. Because not moving, is not living. And we have to live to feel alive.

So, after a false start at my new school, today is my last official day there. I’ve spent it so far, finishing a wonderful book and then sitting in my garden with a coffee.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve left my job again. It doesn’t matter that I’ve spent 18 months feeling lost. What matters, now, is what I do after. How I move forward. How I keep going.

The path, road, I’ve been on doesn’t disappear as I move forward. If I turn around and look – something I’ve been doing far too much of – its still there. Every obstacle and every clear road is there for me to see. They’ve shaped me, in a way. But it’s more than that. I’ve shaped myself. I’ve had to adapt to each and every deviation.  I’ve had to overcome it all, one way or another. And I have. I have.

I’ve moved very, very slowly for some time now. But that’s the thing, when you’re moving. You can look out the car window and not have any idea what speed you’re actually going at. The world passes you by at seemingly the same speed regardless of how fast you’re actually going.

And that’s how life is, isn’t it? Time passes regardless. Every moment is a before and a now and an after. The trick is to hold on all at the same time and keep moving. Looking only backwards slows you. Staying in the now stalls you. Looking only forward scares you or makes you race without seeing what’s going on around you. Hold on to all three and just keep moving…moving towards your happily ever after.