Dare to dream

I wake early, just as the morning light is starting to glow outside the window. I stretch and feel the warm strength of the body next to me. I turn carefully to see the night black hair and beard and caramel skin. I inflate with love as I breath him in.

Cautious not to wake him, I gently remove him hand from my waist and he turns over in the movement so I can see his toned back. I smile. I’m so happy.

I get up and dressed then quietly leave the house, dog bounding in front of me. The morning is warm but there is a cool bite to the breeze.

I return 30 minutes later, relishing in the fresh air and the warmth to my muscles. I feed and water the dog and jump in the shower.

I’m still amazed that I’ve managed to keep the weight off. I’m definitely not perfect, but I’m fitter and slimmer fitter than I’ve ever been. I dry off and wrap the towel around me and go back tonight room.

He’s still asleep. As I towel dry and brush my hair, I watch him knowing that I must wake him soon. I moisturise my body and just as I reach down for my underwear, I hear his voice deep and sleepy, calling my back to bed.

I crawl in next to him and I feel so happy, excited and content as his arms circle me, our legs entwine and I feel his soft, soft kisses. Before long, we are making love.

Too soon, we are getting up. Whilst he showers, I go down and make breakfast and put something in the slow cooker for later.

He comes down and I inhale when I see his black hair, wet and brushed back. He teases me and we laugh. I hurriedly drink tea whilst he eats before I leave the house for work.

I arrive home before him. I check our dinner, before changing and doing some chores. He arrives home and kisses me sweetly before changing and lying on the couch.

Just before dinner is ready, he gets up and sets the table and we sit and eat together, talking about our day. After clearing up together, we both sit on the couch, his legs in my lap. I catch-up on a few emails whilst he plays on his phone but after half an hour, he calls his parents. I speak to them briefly, missing them, and telling them that we will be over to visit soon. I leave him to talk to them and go upstairs to put away some washing and freshen up.

Before long, he has followed me upstairs and he grabs me, kissing me and slapping my bottom in jest. He changes and we lock the house before getting in the car.

He loves his car. It’s one of the first things he saved up for and it is his pride and joy. We drive for around half an hour, music playing with words I think I will never understand, and arrive at the seaside town.

After checking and double checking he’s locked the car, we start to walk hand in hand. We stroll towards the beach and walk along the promenade in the fading light. I know people look at him – I love to look at him! – but the squeeze of his hand and his jokes and laughter make me know I am the only one for him.

We make our way to a bar and sit outside drinking soft drinks and talking and laughing. Soon we are heading home.

As I put a load of washing om, he takes the dog out. When he returns, we lock up and head to our bedroom. He turns on the TV as he lies on bed and I sit and take my makeup off. I then get in alongside him, and read a little, my head resting on his chest. My eyes begin to droop and so I put my book down and kiss him softly. He turns off the TV and we kiss a little before I turn and go to sleep: he puts his headphone in and plays on his phone whilst I sleep.

I wake in the morning to his body holding me tight and his hands caressing my skin. We make love again, slowly and luxuriously, and then I reluctantly get up to shower.

I make coffee and take the dog in the garden whilst I drink it. Before long, he joins me outside and drinks his tea whilst we plan the day ahead.

He takes the dog out for a run whilst I prepare breakfast and call my children to check when they will arrive.

Once again, we eat together and then he goes to clean his car whilst I prepare a picnic. My son arrives during that time and I sit and listen to him whilst I finish preparing.

We have a wonderful day out. I love watching him with my son and the relationship they are building. They are friends and I am so happy to see how relaxed they are – that is until their competitive side comes out!

We arrive home late in the afternoon and the pair of them go on to the xbox whilst I start preparing dinner. During this time, my other children arrive with their other half. The house is filled with laughter and talking.

He helps me prepare the rest of the food and we cook together, listening and laughing at the sibling taunting. Finally, we go outside and eat around the table, nightlights glowing in the garden and the smell of honeysuckle in the air.

As the night turns to chill, we return to the house. My daughter and her partner leave but the rest of us play games for a while before we all return to our rooms.

When I wake in the morning I am alone but see the coffee waiting for me on the bedside table. I can hear him talking to his brother on the phone downstairs amongst the shouts of my son reacting to the game he’s playing. I lazily walk downstairs and am greeted with breakfast and a kiss. We eat and then I get ready for the day.

My family soon arrive and its all hands on deck as we prepare a huge dinner for us all.

As I prepare, I watch as he teases my niece and nephew or talks to my sisters. I feel so much love for everyone here right now. And happy – I’m so, so happy. Life isn’t easy and we have our ups and downs but I knew this moment was worth waiting for.

Grave

I’ve written a number of posts recently. They are currently sitting in the draft folder, that graveyard for the unpublished.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with them: they’re just incomplete. I write without a plan or even a clear process – diary-like, I write what is relevant at the time. Believe it or not, I am conscious of making mistakes (although I am aware I do) and will leave a post for checking and publishing later. This, clearly, often doesn’t happen. When I finally go back to the post it is no longer relevant so I don’t post it. Silly, really, as this matters only to me.

I’m sat on the 12.47pm train to London. I shouldn’t be.

The plan was to get the 18.47 train. But then life spun, as it often does I’ve realised, and my options changed.

On Sunday evening, my sister text me quite late at night, asking if I was awake. She called me, and let me know that my cousin was in hospital in a coma. He had collapsed whilst eating and they suspected a heart attack or stroke. His own father had died at a similar age of a heart attack. Unfortunately, many of my Dad’s siblings had heart issues, as did my dad.

I haven’t seen my cousin for a while. He is older than me and since Dad’s death, I see less and less of his family. This cousin used to visit my Dad regularly though – one or twice a fortnight – and was one of the few people who did. He had shown me kindness in the past, and whilst latterly had clearly been poisoned by my evil step-brother, I was sad about him.

I didn’t sleep well.

The next morning, I was informed that he had indeed died, not of a heart attack. It appears he had choked on his food. The ambulance did not arrive for 50 minutes.

I don’t know any more than this. My guess is that his wife had suspected the heart attack and maybe didn’t check. Or perhaps she was unable to help him. Either way, my heart ached for her and how she must feel now.

Yesterday I felt low, grave, morose. I drove to town to drop off my PCR test but there was no excitement. I got home, exhausted, and messaged my boss to let him know I was not great. He offered the rest of the week off and after much stressing and contemplating, I agreed.

At 10am this morning I changed my train ticket, hastily finished preparations, and here I am.

I still feel low. I should be excited, and there have been moments of that, but I’m not really.

As usual, I have put my own pressures and worries on to this trip before I even started. This situation has just added to it.

What I will say, is that his face has been the only thing to make me feel an ounce of happiness. He is like a sunbeam, breaking through my dark clouds.

I can’t wait to see him.

Happy?

I forced myself into action yesterday. In cartoonesque fashion, I pictured a numbing bubble coming from my solar plexus and consuming me, anaesthetising my pain and fears.

Of course there were ripples of hurt which threatened to pop said bubble. But I didn’t allow myself to dwell.

Instead, I sat with my legend planner – the new one I bought when I first realised I had issues at work – and planned how I was going to work on my house in the next 8 weeks.

For, I realised, with or without him my life will go on. That’s a fact.

I had my union meeting yesterday too and things are moving along. My settlement should be completed in the next few weeks. I will paid until Christmas but officially leave their employment at the end of August. This means that I can start a new job in September. I just need to find one.

So, I reasoned, that gave me eight weeks to spend time with my family and get my house sorted. There is tidying, cleaning and decorating to be done. As seems to be the annual tradition, the kids want to swap rooms. There’s plenty to do.

My numbing-bubble visualisation got me through the day. I thoroughly cleaned the lounge and made dinner. I didn’t allow myself to go back to bed. As I said, I can’t pretend that my hurt didn’t threaten to overwhelm me. I just didn’t let it.

Wildcard called me as much as usual yesterday. He was a little more chatty. The slow thaw continues. I even got a kiss goodnight. I actually plucked up the courage to tell him what my ex had said. I could see him thinking and processing that, and I know that he will need time to do so.

Later, I spoke to my London friend about her upcoming trip to see her boyfriend and we discussed Wildcard’s continued sulkiness. She advised that I be normal now and don’t bring it up again. She was surprised he was still moody- over nothing – but said it showed his jealousy. I took her advice on board.

So this morning, I chose to be happy. I put my makeup on before he called. I sent a lovely good morning message. And when he called before work, I was bright and cheerful.

“Why are you happy this day?”

“Because I love you.”

He pulled his usual face in attempt to tease me. His parents got in the car because they wanted taking somewhere, and Wildcard kept me on the phone the whole journey. Once they had left he asked me again:

“Why are you happy?”

I told him that I had spent the week crying and not sleeping and feeling sick. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was choosing to be happy.

He said little but again I could see this running through his mind.

As he parked up at work, I said my customary goodbye whilst he said his sulky one. But as I showered him with phone kisses and I love yous, there was a little amusement there which he tried to hide.

He is still sulking. I am still nervous. But there is nothing more I can do. I’ve apologised and cried till I couldn’t breathe. I’ve not slept and panicked and ruminated. I’ve tried to explain, ignore and now I choose to be happy. Not because I am, but because that is what I need to do.

Maybe I should have done things differently. Maybe he is overreacting. But I still love him. This will need discussing at some point but when he is ready.

In regards to my August trip- well, that remains to be seen. I could cancel, rearrange or…and here is a thought…actually go. I’ve looked at some hotels which aren’t too expensive. I have a week to make a decision. Let’s see what the next few days hold.

Three – 19th April, 2020

Three things I have learnt about life by the age of 40:

  1. It is never too late to start looking after yourself. And when you do, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
  2. Learning to put myself first sometimes was one of the hardest but most rewarding lessons I’ve had to learn, particularly not feeling guilty when I do it.
  3. You have the life you have by choice. You choose who to love and how to live. You choose what to accept and what to change.

Three things that I have learnt about love by the age of 40:

  1. At 40, you can love as passionately as a teenager and behave the same way.
  2. There truly is someone out there who will light up your soul, challenge your thinking and make you grow, and know you better than you know yourself. Don’t settle.
  3. Loving yourself is the most important love you will ever give and receive. It makes you a better person.

Three things I have learnt about happiness by the age of 40:

  1. You are responsible for your own happiness, no one else. It is the choices you make, ever day.
  2. Being content is not the same as being happy.
  3. Do things that make you happy every day. Why not? The cleaning will be there again tomorrow.

A life lived without happiness is not a life lived.

The sharing, the look, the love.

The share… A mixture of feelings. Intrepidation as I walk through the garden because I try to see it with fresh eyes, their eyes. I want them to love it which is bizarre in itself as they may never get to see it in person. A sobering thought.

After, I hastily show them as it was: pictures of long ago, of a time when my father would be seen daily with his hoe or his wheelbarrow. His mother smiles and compliments and I am happy.

What are they thinking? Why does it matter so much? Why did he want me to show them?

The call ends, for now.

The look… Later, we are laughing again. He pauses in his mimicry and mischievousness to look at me, eyes crinkled in a smile. I know that look, love that look, as I know it mirrors mine. He disappears for a moment and then when he returns I watch him. I’m always watching him.

He’s preparing some food and whilst he does, a look of such intensity passes his face. In the hours and hours of my study of his face this look is new. At first it excites: it shows off his deep dark eyes well, his full lips pursed invitingly. But, within moments, my attraction is forgotten. I sense that this face is not as it should be.

I ask if he is OK, and he says yes but I know better.

We walk to his room and he lies down, his head resting on his hand, on his pillow. There is sadness on his face.

And so the dance begins… The to and fro, the questions and answers, the hiding and seeking. Eventually he tells me.

As he was talking with me, he had remembered something he had watched on the news earlier that day. It had come to him and replayed in his mind and had made him sad. He asked if I wanted to see and I agreed because I wanted to understand this transformation in him.

I watch. The boy, small and slight, frightened and alone, is led out of the house. The picture is fuzzy but you can see the little mask on his face. The paramedics are gentle, caring, as he is lifted into the ambulance. Another follows with his bags. Despite this care, there is the knowledge that this little boy is now alone, at 4 years, carrying a virus that he may not survive.

My heart aches for the boy. As a mother…as a human being, you cannot help be touched by that video and all its implications.

But my heart aches for my man too. For his grief. For the way the memory of that video could transform him, so quickly. My heart fills with love for this affectionate and compassionate man and I wish, more than anything, that I could be with him so that my love could pour into him and soothe his pain.

Another day, another ending.

The share… He is lying on his bed again and we are talking. His mother enters and sits with him. He begins to translate. I watch his face as he turns to her, listens, concentrating, and I can hear the lilt and tumble of those words and sounds that I can not understand but love so much. He turns to me then and translates and I write down his instructions.

This carries on for a little while. Occasionally I ask questions, sometimes he mimes to clarify. I’m filled with pride for him as he explains in a language he claims he is not good at but I know better. Hours of us talking every day have helped him and I am proud of that too. Equally though, I can see the concentration on his face and the occasional frustration too.

“You know I get nervous when I have to talk like that and I am trying to listen to my mother and then find the words to tell you. It’s exhausting.” He sees my smile, my laugh and says “but you like it though, don’t you? You like seeing me like that?” He laughs himself but the chance to reply or explain is taken from me as the call has to end abruptly.

The look… Later. Another call. Laughter, laughter, laughter. My sides ache, tears run down my face… And yet, I still see that moment. The moment when he is laughing too, uncontrollably, so much so that he pauses his performance and we just laugh together.

And although he is laughing too, I know this is all for me. I see it in the way he watches me, his smiles at my laughter. He continues until I can barely breathe.

But then he tires and so do I. The joking slows. His head rests on his hand, on his pillow. And at that moment I am overwhelmed. He looks at me with such intensity and love. My heart fills with love and it aches to be near him, my body to touch him, my love to pour into him. I’ve never wanted him so much in all our time together… Our bodies and souls to connect physically as they have just done mentally in our shared laughter.

“What’s this face? I’ve not seen this face before. Tell me what’s on your mind..” and the dance begins, the to and the fro, the questions and answers. I don’t tell him but the explanation is not needed anyway. Within seconds he tells me: knowing me and reading me with ease, as he always does.

As the day before, the call ends with love.

“I love you, so much baby” His voice is soft and a little gruff and the sound and sight of his kisses threaten to overwhelm me.

He watches and waits for mine and I send them, my heart and soul willing for the magic to transport the gesture over time and place so he may feel just a little of what I feel for him.

Actions

Two more sleeps. One more day.

Happy, happy, happy today. ๐Ÿ˜Š

I’m a firm believer in actions speaking louder than words. As an English teacher, that is a painful truth.

I’d learnt from yesterday’s tumultuous contact with Wild Card – I recognised that we are both feeling it, and I was determined that today would be better.

He has made me very much part of his routine which is a good sign and important in a LDR no matter how new. So, when I know that I have an event which will upset this routine, I tell him in advance and remind him earlier in the day.

This morning, because I knew I had a really busy day and meetings after school, I made sure that I messaged him first (it’s usually him). I told him I missed him and was thinking about him and wished him a good day. In return, I got a ๐Ÿ˜˜ at the end of my ‘good morning baby’. A good start.

I had a few hours after school before my meeting and had a few errands to run – one of which was picking up a gift for him and his family. But I made sure that I was back with enough time to call him. I sat in the car at work and called, aware that he wasn’t expecting this and may not answer.

He did and was really surprised, and told me so. Why was I calling? Wasn’t I in a meeting? So I told him that the meeting was soon and showed him the school building on my camera, panning the scene so he could see – including him, like he always does with me. He then asked why I was in the car and I said it was so I could call him. The surprised lift of an eyebrow, totally involuntary, and the little smile said it all. More brownie points for me. โ˜บ

We talked for about twenty minutes and I allowed myself to relax and smile which he commented on. I told him I was excited to see him. He’d been to the supermarket today to try to buy gluten free bread etc but hadn’t managed to find it. I thought that was sweet but told him not to trouble himself. He said he’s going to try a couple more places first. Positive actions.

When I got home, I made sure that I text and after I had eaten, called him. We had another, really pleasant, conversation. So different from yesterday although yesterday’s didn’t end badly, just started off a bit tense. Maybe I don’t tell him how I feel enough. Maybe I am too reliant on him to make the first move. Maybe I am allowing my sensitivity and insecurity to cloud what is positive.

All I know is, just those little things today have seemed to make a real difference. But it’s no different with him. Like when he says he will ‘call me later’ and it ends up being only 20 minutes before he calls again. When I catch him smiling or looking at me a certain way. Or when he surprises me with a compliment or a glimpse of how he feels. I don’t do that enough.

I need to remember that my actions are important too. I know he can be as insecure and jealous as me so it makes sense that he will be comforted by the same things as me.

Still

Whatever has bothered him over the past week has clearly passed.

He’s been affectionate all day.

Still attentive.

Still loving.

He asked why I like him, again. More evidence that he is feeling as insecure as I am.

I’m still happy. No stress today. No anxiety. Just happy. Still.

Flourish

The weeks are zooming by. There’s only two left until Easter and the day I take my three children to France, alone.

I’m really excited about showing them France and about spending time with them without distractions.

I’m petrified about the airport and driving abroad, neither of which I have even done without another adult or at all in the case of the driving.

I certainly don’t regret the decision. Since Dad died, I’m more focused on creating memories with my children. If the memory is mum getting arrested for driving on the wrong side of road, we’ll so-be-it.๐Ÿ˜

In essence, I’m trying to fill a massive Dad shaped void in my life. All year I’ve been booking trips and days out and it has helped. I’m doing things I enjoy, things that distract.

I’m the final weeks of Dad’s life, when he was in hospital, my sisters and I were leaving the hospital and stopped at the pay station to pay our parking. On top of the machine was a book, brand new.

There was no one around who could have left this book (we were leaving late at night) and no volunteers on the help desk to hand it to. We decided to take it with us, in order to hand it in when we came in the next day. All good intentions.

I hope whoever forgot their book that day forgives me for not handing it in. It wasn’t intentional. I can’t remember exactly why I didn’t, my only excuse being that my Dad was dying – my head was not thinking of much else.

Nine months later and I have started to read the book.

The book is about using positive psychology to help patients with depression and anxiety overcome their negative thinking patterns. It couldn’t have been more relevant to me unless God had handed it me himself.

I’m only a few chapters in so far and it has been interesting. It gives you exercises to try and a link to their website where you can take free questionnaires/assessments. I have taken the rather long but intriguing personality test which revealed things that I didn’t expect but completely now understand. (The idea is that if you do more activities which use these signature strengths, you will be happier).

I expected creativity to be pretty high in my personality list. I write, craft, bake and design cakes, make learning resources and lessons etc..It wasn’t.

Top of my list:

When I initially got the results I didn’t think the top one was right. I mean, that is me, but at the top?

Thinking about it (yes, I know there is irony there) it is very much me. I need to think things through from all angles before I make a decision. When I haven’t thought things through, I get a real sense of uneasiness. When I have and a decision is made, I get a eureka moment or epiphany. This blog is full of them. This blog is me thinking: I start with an idea of something I want to write about and work through, and the act of writing often helps me work it out. I never know what I’m going to write exactly.

Two is not wholly unexpected. It is evident in my love of art and music and my obsession with the outdoors – trees and mountains and lakes. Maybe this is why the Lake District appeals to me so much – it activates a signature strength therefore makes me feel happy and content.

Three – my motto in life is ‘treat people how you would expect to be treated yourself’. Pretty significant, I would say. My job in leading behaviour in school makes sense too. It’s not the role I ultimately wanted but I don’t hate it.

Four – yep. I loved being a Head of Department, and only wanted a promotion when I felt that I was no longer needed: my department was running like clockwork and had developed into a strong entity. I wanted a challenge and so applied for senior leadership. Ironically, I haven’t had the same satisfaction in this role. I don’t have a team to lead and so this may explain why I feel so isolated at times. It also explains why I have used working parties so many times as I have planned and changed strategies.

And five? Well, I’m a teacher. Says it all really. As a teacher, you are constantly learning and developing yourself to teach better. I love teaching my pupils. And, I also have a long list of things that I want to learn – photography, landscape painting, piano, another language. I’d go back to Uni in a heartbeat; to learn the modules I was unable to choose the first time. I need to make time to learn things.

So, to make myself happier, I need to plan more opportunities to use these strengths.

The other activity that I have used and have found helpful, is the ‘What went well’ log. We use ‘What went well’ (WWW) in school regularly. Pupils reflect on their learning and staff reflect on their teaching – it’s a familiar concept.

I’ve tried positivity logs before and I ran out of steam. The previous one was a ‘thankful log’. There’s only so many times you can write about being thankful for family and friends, health, wealth and opportunities.

The WWW log makes me thi k about my day. Sure, sometimes I struggle to find three but I work on it, think about it and I always do get three. I have downloaded an App on my phone to log them easily and this enables me to look back. In time I will analyse what I’m writing, using a signature strength of course.

This book is helping me. I’d like to think it was fate that we found it. I also like the idea that someone may have left the book there on purpose for someone else to use. (I doubt it as the book was brand new and still had the amazon receipt in).

Either way, my plan is to buy another copy of this book and leave it somewhere in the hope that fate will lead someone else to finding it and using it. In a sense, that’s what I have done here on this blog.

I will update when I have read and used more. Happy reading!

Soundless house –

I creep down the stairs,

carefully, carefully.

Outside, the wind howls and rains harass:

inside is quiet, calm.

Curtains open: the dreary day

threatens to invade,

rain rivulets distorting the dismal grey.

But inside, inside, the glow of the fire and the warmth of the coffee fight back.

And then a sound.

Small feet descending the stairs,

the door opens, the face smiles,

always excited by the promise of a new day.

Like a burst of sunshine, the dreary day is cast away.

My blog is not unique in using imagery of light and darkness to describe depression. The picture you see here is what I now see out of my window. I have actually tried to lighten it but it really is that dark – my beloved hay field has been ploughed.

Those of you will know that spending contemplative time looking out of this window has been part of a successful process in getting over my breakdown. I would complete set tasks and then my reward would be a coffee and a sit down whilst I would look out of my window. Seems so simple, doesn’t it? I suppose it was a kind of Mindfulness – appreciating the world around me. I loved how the changing daylight would affect the colour of the hay stubble. I loved seeing various birds and mammals. Read about it here:

https://wp.me/p86hNl-aq

So, there was a momentary feeling of angst when I came home from work to see the ploughed field. It’s strange how such a simple thing has completely changed the quality of light: for a moment, the darkness of that earth felt oppressive and I certainly didn’t and don’t want to sit and look at it any more.

But, as only someone who has now recovered from depression can, I tried to look for the positive:

This is symbolic perhaps of where I am now. The earth has been turned over, allowing life to start again, allowing a new crop to grow. Is this not what I have been aiming for all this time? I’ve got to see my recovery as a do-over – a chance to change certain areas of my life for the better.

And… This has got me thinking about my love life or, more accurately, lack of it.

I have felt for some time now that I can’t be bothered with the stress of it all… the rejection, the wondering, the over thinking. I also believed strongly that it would be unfair to start a potential relationship when I was mentally unfit – those are my problems to deal with. And I suppose that my low self-esteem recognises that I’m not what I might once have been. Three pregnancies and weight issues will do that to you. ๐Ÿ˜Š

But I don’t want to be alone forever and I don’t know how long forever will be. One depression-thought that hasn’t left me but that is in a much healthier place, is my own mortality.

You have got to live for each day, enjoy your life whilst you can. Clichรฉs but so true! Somewhere there may be someone who will love me, all of me… wobbly bits and all. I can’t close my mind off to that possibility out of fear, just as I can’t close my mind off to things that I can’t influence. Sometimes life throws change at you whether you want it or not. Like the ploughed field, I choose to see the positive in this.