Is this a midlife crisis – is that what it is? Or is this normal?
Let me take you back 5 years.
In 2016 I was 36 years old. My youngest child was 2. I was still married and my Dad was still alive. I had been promoted to Assistant Headteacher a year before and a new Headteacher was just starting at my school, bring anticipation for good things to come. But…
I was very, very unhappy in my marriage and had been since we had got back together. By the end of October we would have separated for good. My Dad was ill. We knew that we were lucky he was still with us but didn’t know how long we would have with him. Work held promise but was a very negative place. Soon, I would have a burnout from the pressure and stress of my life.
A lot can change in five years. Unexpected things happen. Planned things don’t happen. So much is out of our control but then a lot is in our control, but we don’t realise until it is too late.
In my first 40 years, what did I achieve?
I’m proud of my education and career and how hard I worked.
I’m happy that I was able to support my parents financially
I’m happy about the wonderful home I have and have given my children.
I’m proud of myself for being brave and getting out of an unhappy marriage and surviving.
I’m happy I finally managed to lose weight and keep some off.
I’m proud that I was able to look after my Dad and be there for my sisters.
I’m proud that I was brave enough to look for love again.
I’m proud that I have travelled, and even more so that I have travelled alone.
But what have I not achieved? What dreams and goals and aspirations are outstanding? What have I always wanted to do but not managed? In 40 years time, what do I want my achievements to be?
In five years time, where and who do I want to be?
Yesterday was a long day. Very long. I dozed on each flight but you can’t escape that I had been awake over 24 hours before I arrived here.
My friend said that my third visit would feel different and it does. I told him on our last phone call that I could wait to kiss him and hug him. He didn’t say much in reply. I could say that he was driving….but he didn’t reply.
As I came in to land I decided to stop putting pressure on this relationship and just enjoy it for what it is, as it is now. As I said in my last post, now is all we have.
We messaged as I entered the airport but there were no calls as usual. Again, I pushed the negative emotions back.
When I saw him I had the flare of otherness, of excitement, of love and of nerves. He was dressed more informally than last time. I pushed them back again.
He took my case and greeted me with a kiss on each cheek, we then started to walk to the car. It was easy, comfortable. He teased me as normal and I could not feel any nerves between us. It felt really good. Comfortable, natural. Like coming home.
We arrived at his house and I ran to hug his mum. I then went to his/my room to unpack a little and settle. We seemed to almost dance around his room as we both settled and changed. But there were no hugs or kisses. Worry started to creep in.
I was silly to. As everything and everyone settled, probably ten minutes there, he held me – squeezed me – and kissed me so passionately. And then I knew that everything was OK. More than OK.
We had a delicious dinner and we settled into a comfortable silence as we all ate. Then after dinner, we went to his room.
And then there was passionate kissing and touching and love making – and it felt like love, every second of it.
Everything feels so easy this time. Normal and yet special. I’m really happy.
I am genuinely going to be about a million stone when I get home. Wildcard’s country is famous for its hospitality and I completely understand why.
At home, usually because I am on one diet or another, I don’t eat a great deal. Or try not to. So brunch is fruit and yoghurt and almonds. I have a normal dinner. Occasionally, if I am hungry, I will have a snack in the evening. Sometimes I don’t eat anything until dinner. Or maybe just have a banana or a cereal bar.
Here, the main meals are breakfast and lunch. Wildcard’s mum makes me eggs every morning and has baked me gluten free bread which she has just learned how to toast. There is butter, amazing olive oil, homemade jam and she has also been buying gluten free soft cheese. She makes me coffee and warm milk and there is tea. Recently, she has been making me freshly squeezed orange juice too. If I eat a little, they get worried. If I eat what is on my plate, they add more. 😋🤪
She has also made me potato cakes for breakfast – alongside the toast and eggs – and this morning, less than an hour after breakfast, gave me delicious homemade caramel and almond icecream. I took a little slice – she insisted I have more.
Her efforts in providing for me are astounding. Because Wildcard has told her I like salad, every meal I have my own little dish – cucumbers and tomatoes, chopped finely with seasoning and white vinegar. The main meal is always homemade and delicious – fresh vegetables and meat or fish. Accompanying this is rice or potatoes and bread. To finish, freshly cut watermelon or oranges or cherries. Always fresh, always delicious and always local.
Apart from occasionally taking plates into the kitchen, Wildcard’s parents won’t let me do anything. I feel completely lazy. I’ve offered to help, to wash dishes but they won’t let me. Whilst sitting on the couch with Wildcard is dreamy, I feel guilty as I hear his mum working in the kitchen.
They’re just lovely, lovely people. And to think, that just based on their nationality, their religion, their skin colour, some people hate them. I really don’t understand this world at all sometimes.
It goes without saying that I miss Dad every day. It’s a steady constant most of the time, a stream that runs through me and fuels my thoughts and feelings.
And, just like a stream, there are times when the missing-him swells, just a little. Or other times when it cascades over rapids and I can’t breath with the force of it.
Today was a little swell.
It’s been a busy day. A busy couple of days really. My sister and her family have carried on staying here since my trip to France and whilst I love them being here it is hard work. Three adults, two teens and two fives and under, as well as two large dogs and a clutch of cute puppies, sure know how to destroy a house. Having gone on holiday quite quick into the Easter break, I haven’t done my usual holiday cleaning, tidying and sorting. I’m fighting a losing battle. Extra effort is not making a blind bit of difference. I can’t keep it clean and I can’t keep it tidy. Today my mum visited which was lovely, but it added two more adults and another under five for the day.
I walked into the utility room and folded some clothes, just to get a breather. I checked myself – what the hell was wrong with me? A week ago I was desperately missing my sisters et Al, but today I’m screaming inside for silence. I then thought of Dad and how he would completely understand this sentiment. He loved his family being around him, hated any of us being away, but he also loved his quiet time too. I smiled to myself as I imagined us sitting together talking about it. Like father, like daughter. It’s why we got on so well.
Part of my break-down recovery involved that quiet time for myself. I’d sit with a coffee and my cat and stare out the living room window. It was peaceful and I allowed my thoughts to flow. It became a ritual, a habit and one that I quickly saw the benefits of when overcoming burn out.
I know I’m needing a bit of that me-time at the moment. I’m craving the silence and the solitude. It sounds awful, I know, but I figure I’m allowed to be selfish sometimes. There’s no one else to look after me, so I need to look after myself.
However, this quiet time is not really happening at the moment and won’t for a few days. I’ve broken the norm and have ran myself an early bath in the hope of stealing a few moments respite from the bustle of my family. I’ve been disturbed three times already. Bless them. For now though, early baths and clothes folding will have to do.
Catching up with my sister and brother in law has been enlightening anyway. It was unfortunate that they were unable to come to France with us (and our other sister) but I think they have enjoyed the little holiday of living in my home for the week.
As life has it sometimes, there has been much discussion about Lost Soul but not involving me as such. It seems that my brother in law has fallen out with him a little and although my sister went out with Lost Soul and other friends in the week, he is clearly up to his old games and tricks. And like the scene from Pride and Prejudice, it is amazing how many people are now claiming they are not that keen on him. Move over Mr Wickham.
It has done me some good though. Following the ‘dear friends’ incident, I am trying to process and work through any remaining feelings or thoughts that stubbornly remain. I’m half convinced they are a habit more than anything now – I still haven’t cried over him and that for me says a lot. The idea of him remains appealing but it’s the thought of him that his games have given hints of and my romantic mind has elaborated upon. It’s not the truth and I am finally, finally, accepting that now. I did what I could to start what I hoped was there. It wasn’t and it didn’t and am truly coming to terms with that.
I’m not lonely. I have lots of people around me. I miss the mental and physical intimacy of a true relationship but I am beginning to think that is a part of my imagination also. I’m beginning to emerge from this stage of my life, slowly and surely. I’m not sure what path I will take or how the next part of my life will turn out, but emerging within me is a determination to enjoy my life whatever happens.
I have accepted that I may not have everything I’ve wanted and dreamed of. That there are so many things in this life that are beyond my control. I’ve accepted that I will hurt because of people and events that I can’t change. I may end up on my own and I actually think I’m at peace with that now.
The death of someone who was your rock, your foundation, initially threatens to unbalance and destroy you. Everything you thought you knew is false, everything you thought you wanted is tasteless. For a while you flit around, searching for something – anything – to prop up those failing foundations and the walls you have built to help you reach your goals. Then you realise that nothing can.
But then, suddenly, that’s OK too. The foundations are being rebuilt by me. I am my father’s daughter and I have strength because of him. My life has changed and although I would give anything to have him back, I’ve accepted that my life is different now and that I have the power to rebuild my life a different way. Most important, is to enjoy the building of it.
So, I’m going to enjoy my crazy house full of family and not feel guilty when I need my silence and solitude. I not going to let my ideals dictate my life but instead enjoy what I have and be open to whatever comes along. These new walls are strong but flexible and living – I’ve learnt they have to be.
So, you’ve finally arrived! There have been times this year when I couldn’t wait for you to get here. Other times I pretty much wanted the world to slow so I could catch my breath. Either way, I’m glad you’re here now.
2017 actually ended the way I would want. My children were happy and we had all a lovely time over Christmas and New Year with my family. It was busy but I am beginning to feel much more rested and rejuvenated. I still don’t feel on top of my game but now that you are here, hoping that will steadily change.
You hold so much promise. I know you don’t have the power to make my life this perfect place I perhaps want it to be, and I know that I need to stop feeling guilty when my life isn’t the way I want it to be. It’s down to me, both scenarios. But as this time of year is about wishes, and hope and looking positively towards the future and being appreciative for what you do have, I thought I’d tell you of what I’ve being thinking.
I want to be there for my children and be able to spend quality time with them without being overly tired or stressed. I want to take them to beautiful and interesting places. I want them to have happy memories of their childhood.
I want a home that is welcoming, warm, tidy and clean. I want to feel like I manage my home without feeling like it manages me. I don’t want it to take too much precious time away from me being with my kids. Can I have the best of both here??
I want to feel enjoyment and security at work. I want to feel satisfaction that I am doing a good job but that I can continue to learn and develop. I want to enjoy it while I am there but I do not want it to be my life. Because it isn’t.
I’ve learnt that there is nothing wrong with having some time to myself: it doesn’t make me a bad mother. I want to spend time with friends and family. I want to go to interesting places. I want to better myself and make myself better. I want someone to love me and to enjoy life with me.
I want to be fit and healthy and full if energy. I want to run and walk and swim. I want to be happy in my skin, happy with who I am. Happy with my imperfections. I want to better myself intellectually. I want to write. I want to feel fulfilled.
I want to be loved. I want to feel like I am at the top of someone’s list for once. I want companionship and friendship and sensuality and affection and laughter.
I know it is a lot to ask 2018, and I know that this is all down to me. But if you could help me out with some of this I would appreciate it. And you would prove to be a much better year than 2017.