Frozen heart

Hey there,

I know I’ve been quiet again. From nothing to daily posts…and then I go again.

The day after my last post, reality hit. I started writing a new post.. mainly along the lines of ‘what have I done?’. Repeatedly.

It didn’t help that a colleague messaged me to tell me big changes had happened at my (now) old school. Should I have just waited?

No, I shouldn’t. I can’t deny my financial worries haven’t plagued me all week because they have.

But…

The same day I got a call to say I had been cleared to work. Wednesday I met the young man and I started tutoring him Friday. I also told the company I wasn’t happy with the pay, and they’ve raised it and extra £5 an hour.

Thursday I went for an interview at another agency. It’s local, I like the manager, and he’s said he can find me work and – more than that – he’ll find me exactly the right place.

Friday afternoon I got a call from a third agency. They’ve said pretty much the same thing – they have contacts, they can find me work. They mentioned a job that I can start immediately, subject to checks etc. It will be until July.

So…all in all…I know, financially I’m in for a rough ride in the next few months. But I will get there.

As usual, I’m undecided in which route to take. I’m not planning on making a decision for a day or too.

I can’t…I just can’t get my business idea out of my head. I’ve talked about this..or a simple version of this… for 8 years or so. It won’t come out of my head.

And yet…I’m not really doing anything about it. Yes, I’m thinking a lot. I’ve done some planning. I’ve made a few small steps, unfortunately which haven’t got me even to the starting block never mind off it. But in my heart, this is what I should do.

My head.. well my head tells me to tale the financially secure version. The version which helps everyone but…freezes my heart.

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Sensible

How are we in the middle of January already?!

As suspected, it wasn’t long before things with Wildcard went back to normal. Sensible me knew this would happen. Unfortunately, sensible me doesn’t always prevail.

I had a HUGE row with my ex this week. I say row but it was more me shouting at him. And that was purposeful. You see, he timed his conversation purposely to ensure both sons were home and listening on loud speaker. He then manipulates the conversation so I explode, and then hammers the message home to my children – quite overtly and calmly – that I am the issue.

In truth, he is selfish and manipulative and deceptive. My daughter – daddy’s girl by the way – is aware of this. My boys are not.

I’ve read somewhere that disappointment comes from expectation. I expect my ex to treat me with respect. I expect him to play fair. I expect him to be considerate. In reality, he doesn’t. Hence the divorce I guess. What I won’t do, is play his game. I could tell my children so many things about him, but I don’t. He can make his own mistakes.

Sensible me knew what he was doing. And as Wildcard said, I should have calmly played along. Then, when the boys weren’t there, I could have said my piece without them hearing. I wasn’t sensible. I was outraged.

Sensible me also knows that I am not earning enough money and that next month I am going to struggle. I’m still lost in indecision. More tutoring? This will take time away from my children and Wildcard – what’s the point in me leaving a high powered career to only overwork myself again? Supply or a permanent teaching post? See above. I don’t want it. I DON’T WANT IT.

I still want my own business. I still want to be creative and helpful and flexible. The small business I launched just before Christmas didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. I’ve done little with it since.

And so, all this ties together to mean one big … huge…decision.

I’m considering selling part of my property to my sister.

She is desperate to have our childhood home. Or at least a part of it – buy land and build on it. At present, she couldn’t afford all of it, but some of it. Financially, I need help. Paying off some of the mortgage or debt would help. I fell out of love with my home years ago. There has been years of conflict over my buying the house from my parents. My step brother and sister hate me for it and subconsciously, I can’t get past that. Finally, my sisters are worried that if I marry again, I may lose part of the house – their childhood home – in another divorce. Including if I was to marry Wildcard, and particularly because of their wariness of his Nationality and intentions.

Oh and my ex is still on the deeds.

He offered to be taken off some time ago but we haven’t got round to it. I don’t know if I will be able to remortgage now I am earning half of what I once earned. It’s a mess.

I’ve looked at a few solicitors and am considering making an appointment to get some advice. If my sister bought half of the property, I could pay off my mortgage, my debt, make a few improvements and maybe even give my ex a little. Even though he doesn’t deserve it.

It would mean that the pressure to work ridiculous hours goes. It seems a sensible option but of course there are negatives too.

I’ve realised that I have no one to discuss this with. My mum is too close to the situation, as is my other sister. My ex? Absolutely not.

I wish I could discuss this with Wildcard but I can’t for so many reasons. The language barrier. The implications about him. I don’t want him to know that I could be struggling financially in the near future. I don’t want to force a conversation about our future although it is what I really want to do. I wish we could plan together. But he isn’t ready. Maybe I need to be a bit more sensible of the implications of all of that.

In the short term, I need to apply for some more tutoring posts and try to boost my hours as much as I can. My sister owes me money and I will have to ask for it back.

It’s hard work, being sensible.

Too

I have completed my first “full” week of tutoring. Well, as full as it can be at present. I’ve got three full days and two afternoons. I’m loving those two mornings off but realistically I need to be earning more money.

Earlier in the week I was contacted by a teaching agency who had seen my CV online. I was invited to interview and the recruiter was very persistent in saying I could have full time work if I wanted in January. As a supply agency, I could also have short term and emergency cover if I wanted.

I was flattered at her persistence and agreed to go to the interview, which was this evening. I took everything I needed with me to work today, and planned to complete the application form over lunch.

I had a great day. I taught four session and three of those were 1:1. These new pupils could be potentially challenging- and I felt a little like a babysitter at first as I got the sense they were with me because the school couldn’t do anything else with them – but I worked my charm and they slowly but surely got on board.

These boys are only a year older than my own son. Added to that, I’ve always been able to get through to disaffected boys on the whole and get them on side. It’s what I’m good at.

The last session was cancelled so I decided to go and buy lunch before my interview. Except, I realised, I didn’t want to go. I get so much job satisfaction from this role. I don’t want to teach full time again, at the moment anyway. I enjoy working with small groups of pupils who often come to me with no confidence or self esteem. My aim is to give it them.

I’m pretty sure I’ve done the right thing but it has thrown up some questions for me.

How can I increase my income?

How long can I afford to do this?

Am I being selfish?

I still receive daily job emails and I’ve noticed that some of the tutoring agencies pay more. Like £10 an hour more. That’s potentially £250 a week more.

Problem is, I like this agency. It’s a small business and I like the way the owner thinks. He’s paying me the top of what he advertised but I’m wondering if I should have pushed for more when he asked what I was expecting. Weirdly, the agency I didn’t go to asked the same thing.

How do you price yourself? How do you ensure you are not asking too little or too much?

At present, I’m still on probation so I won’t be asking for a rise any time soon. But I will do in the future. The schools seem to be happy with me and 2 out of 3 have asked me to do more work. That’s bringing money in for him too.

For now, and at least until Christmas is over, I’m happy with what I’m doing.

5am

I’m ashamed to say that I’m still awake. It’s 5.30am.

I wish I could say I had been out socialising. Or had spent the night having passionate sex, or talking the night away by candlelight. I’d even settle for working a night shift.

No. Nothing so enjoyable, satisfying or productive. I just can’t sleep.

Since my last ‘woe is me’ post, a few things have happened. My ex apologised…then asked for money. I ranted at my daughter for the unfairness of it all and then realised that I’m to blame. I could say no. I could have a clear picture of my finances to be able to say yes or no.

So this morning in a flurry of purpose, spurred on by last night’s attempt until 2am, I got to work.

Yes, it took hours. Yes, it was absolutely depressing. Yes, I’m going to be severely short of money in January. But I did it. I even managed to sort a few things out.

If my plan to work full time from October had happened, I would be ok. It’s now 22nd Nov and it still hasn’t happened.

I sat and wrote a list of 18 ways I can increase my income. I was pumped, positive. Who says I need one source of income? Why can’t I put all my skills and hobbies to work to earn more cash?

By this afternoon, it had all come crashing down. Maybe, I just need a proper teaching job.

There is a Head of English job going in the next city. It pays well. I could do it. I don’t want it.

I’ve looked at exam marking. Considered babysitting, selling anything sellable in my house and writing. Working abroad. Getting a lodger. Getting an evening job washing dishes like my daughter. Ridiculous.

This, this is why I’m sat here, bleary eyed and a little dizzy and wanting but failing to sleep.

I’m tired. But I’m also tired of lying in bed and worrying, missing, stressing, thinking, hating.

I wish I could afford a life or business coach, but I can’t. I wish I could keep away from my savings but I don’t think I can. I wish I could be there for my children and earn enough money to live comfortably. I think it is impossible.

My positive note for today is that I have faced the rather depressing 6 month old elephant in the room. Now I just need to work out how I can earn some money.

Day 1 – I am loved

My soon to be seventeen year old is fiercely independent. I am proud of her. I’m proud of her determination, her spirit. Her kindness. As a child, she was a timid, blonde haired, blue eyed fairy. As a young adult she is a fighter.

So to see tears well in her eyes tonight…was shocking. Tomorrow I travel. So tonight I asked her what she would like me to bring back. “Nothing,” she said, “just make sure you come back.”

She has been my support and my strength this last week. Nights of no sleep. Endless ruminating and calculating and searching. She told me to go, told me to put myself first. She was angry when my sister was unsupportive and actually phoned her to say her piece. Wisely, my sister didn’t answer.

But then, that shows love too, doesn’t it? My sister not wanting me to go. Actually being unhappy about it. Today, she messaged me early and we have spent most of the day together. There was no apology – her feelings are valid – but effort was made to build bridges.

Later, unexpectedly, she came again with my five year old niece who apparently was crying because she wanted to see me before I left.

My ex’s response was interesting but not unexpected. He flew off the handle, argued about the inconvenience. Later, calmer but not calm, he would tell me that he couldn’t understand how I could leave my children for two weeks or why I am not taking them on holiday instead. My daughter says he still loves me. I don’t know about that.

Money aside – one person’s tickets compared to four- I am going for myself.

My mum, in her own act of love, echoed by my best friend, told me to put myself first for once. Do what I wanted.

Whilst the pull of seeing Wildcard is the driving force, it isn’t the only one. I’m tired. Tired of worrying. Tired of anxiety. Tired of wondering how I will survive once my settlement money goes.

I say I, but it is we. Not just my children. I financially support both my sisters and my ex husband. I’ve paid both sisters’ rent this month. I’ve bought and cooked tea twice at my ex’s house this week as he has no money. Earlier in the week I paid for shopping. I paid for fuel in cars that I will never drive. Tonight, my youngest sister walked out my house with bags of food as she has none either. And it is more than that. I’ve listened and counselled and advised. And yes, to an extent, they have for me too. Whilst I will always help when I can, and worry that I may not be able to much longer, I am tired. Tired of worrying about everyone.

So, tomorrow, I have chosen myself when I go on the first part of my journey. I’m terrified but can’t wait for that feeling of pride in myself when it turns out ok. The freedom of travel alone.

And then, when I finally arrive in Wildcard’s country, I will have time with the man I love. I will have time with his family, who barely speak English and so can’t talk about things that may weihh me down. I will also have time to myself. No house to clean, no sisters to mother, no ex to support. I am going to rest and enjoy but I am also taking my laptop and plan to work too. I will help out round the house – if Wildcard’s mum will let me – and I am hoping we can do some cooking together. I will miss my children more than anything. That is my one regret. But, I hope to come back stronger and be the mother they love, not this shadow-self.

Wildcard is still very anxious about me coming. And that shows love too. His list of concerns, some valid and some just out there, must come from a place of love. I hate that he is worrying and I hope that it doesn’t marr our time together. But I need this trip for more reasons than him, although he remains the biggest one.

So now, I sleep. In 11 hours I will be at the airport. And my act of self love will begin.

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. 😁😇

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.

Torn

I don’t know how I’ve managed to get myself in this situation again. Very much deja vu from last year.

After a fabulous first four weeks of Summer Holiday and a restful yet home-productive fifth week, I met up with my work friend on Thursday. We haven’t seen each other since she joined me for a few days of camping in late July.

She’s had a shocking holiday for a variety of reasons. We had a good time on Thursday despite this and I listened as she told me about the various things that had gone wrong for her, including having to cancel a much awaited trip due to her Mum’s frail state and then a major bust up with her best friend.

She’s low, there’s no doubt about it. As all good friends do, I tried to give advice which of course included trying to make the most of the time left.

Attention soon turned to this bank holiday weekend and her desperation to get away for a few days.

I wholeheartedly agree with her. For me and my own grief, travel and trips away have kept me going. They’ve put a renewed purpose in my life which is about me as a person, not me as a daughter, mother, sister, teacher.

She has no one else to go with, can’t face it alone, and I am happy to go apart from some pretty major obstacles in my way:

  1. Childcare. My kids are with their Dad for the majority of the weekend but there will be a morning that I will have to ask my sisters to hell until I get back.
  2. My dogs. Unfortunately my lodger is also away so there are four dogs to look after.
  3. Finances. Other holidays, home improvements, school uniform and then being the family’s personal bank for loans has put a major strain on my finances.

Since yesterday, we have messaged back and forth about places to go. And like last year, she’s not happy with anything that I suggest. Last year, this resulted in us not speaking for two weeks. It has taken us a while to get away from that.

Like her, it hit me this week that the end of the holidays is nigh. I will have school prep to do next week. I need to start with early nights. So the chance of one last cheeky trip is very appealing. You only live once etc…

But there are so many reasons, hurdles, why this is really difficult. And I don’t know what to do.

Time is ticking on and really, we should be leaving in the next few hours. She has given me a get out but I don’t want to let her down any more than she has already?

What do I do??

When and where?

Not that I am counting, but it is now four weeks since my marriage ended.
It has not been, and still isn’t, easy.

For one thing, I have been ill for the past two weeks. I have no doubt that this is post-long-half-term illness amplified with a large dose of post-separation stress. I hate being off work – the fact that I took myself to the doctors not once, not twice, but three times in the last two weeks just highlights how unwell I have been.

Being ill has created the first hurdle in my new marital status. What do you do when your ex offers you help but you are determined to prove that you really don’t need him (and that your choice to end the marriage was correct)? Stubbornness won the battle; illness won the war. I did refuse at first. But the way I had to see it in the end, was that they are still his children and so it is only right that he helps out with their care when I am unable to.

Please do not think I am dwelling in self pity here. This last few weeks have given me a glimpse of what a single parent has to face. I consider myself a strong person, but I have no idea how single parents cope with serious illness particularly if their other half is not in the picture at all. I haven’t coped with a virus.

I feel like I am on the edge of a precipice, looking at a wonderful but strange world that I am desperate to discover. But my own fear -and something else – is pulling me back to the familiar place I have come from.

The desire to change my life, to live without the constraints of the unhappy marriage I was in, is strong right now. But where do I start? When do I start?

My children’s happiness and security is the most important thing for me at the moment. And so, I have to check my desire for urgent change. I am trying to keep some sense of normality for them because, being honest, no matter how amicable this split is, they are not coping. My daughter is intermittently emotional and bitter; my eldest son passive aggressive to aggressive. My youngest just regularly asks for his dad. I don’t know which is worse.

And so, the wedding pictures are still in their frames, still on the shelf. I allow myself the private pleasure of mentally rearranging all the furniture in the living space and my bedroom but I won’t be changing anything yet. Is this some weird type of nesting? The strange thing is, my husband had very little input into how the house was decorated/looked although there were some minor things he insisted upon.

The desire to change is even stronger as I am back in work on Monday. I have missed work in many ways – I am a different version of me there. I have also missed the structure and routine of the day. Yet I know that things have to change here too. This time off has made me realise how much I was hiding my unhappiness in my career. I don’t want to hide anymore – I want that coveted work life balance. Well, as much as a teacher can have that, but that is for another post.

So, what can I do? My first priority has been the finances. I believe honesty is best and so I had a frank conversation with my other half. I have truly thought about his circumstances too and have aimed for fairness for the both of us. Not easy, but necessary. I have then spent the weekend on the net and on the phone. By shopping around, I think I have managed to save a significant amount on my monthly outgoings. Whilst I am not going to endorse comparison websites, I do believe that you can get a good deal on a number of household bills by comparing and swapping.

And so it is a start. I am financial independent and secure. This has given me some peace and confidence. Next stage is me. I can’t change how my house looks, but I can certainly change how I look. No more comfort eating. Somehow, bartering a better deal for my mobile phone tariff seems a lot easier.