Trip 5, Day 2

I’m so full of the most delicious food. The weather is scorching. And I’m totally relaxed.

Ok, not completely.

I have written before about Day 3 wobbles. Yes, I know it’s Day 2, but I need to understand why they happen. My previous theory was that the build up of adrenalin, anxiety, excitement finally dissipate on this day, leading to an emotional outbreak.

That still may be the case. However, I’ve had a new revelation.

Last night and today have been as magical as ever. We’ve laughed, we’ve loved. We cuddled, we’ve relaxed.

And it’s in these moments, these moments of absolute bliss, that my heart just swells fit to bursting with love.

Today, he asked for the ring I’d made him. I’d brought it but hadn’t given it him as … well, because it clearly meant more to me than him. I asked him where mine was – he said he didn’t have one.

But he asked for the one I had made, and I gave it him. He asked which finger and we had the whole engagement finger discussion, just like time I was there. He did the whole pretend proposal thing too. I’m not fooled. But he’s kept his ring on and I caught him showing his mother too. He’s worn it all through dinner too.

So, Day 3 wobbles are about fear. Fear that these big feelings I have are not reciprocated. They start earlier than Day 3 and build. It’s disappointment that he’s not showing his big feelings like I am (like a woman to be fair).

I promised myself I would be positive, and I’m really trying to be. I trying not to let expectations or conditions ruin my trip. I’m trying to be the best me I can – happy and relaxed.

But, I can tell you this. Everytime I see that silver ring flash on his hand I feel a pang of some unnamed amalgamation of feelings. I want it to be real, so badly. I want to belong to him, and him to me. I long for it. It hurts that it’s not real. It’s disappointment and fear that it never will be. It’s hatred for myself that I’m not good enough for him to ask me. It’s disillusionment- there is nothing I can do.

Expectations have a huge part to play in this. I knew this when I was stood waiting for the train. My Expectations cause my pain. Hope causes me pain.

So I go back to my affirmations.

I’m here with no expectations. I’m going to laugh and love and relax. I’m going to enjoy his company and not put any pressures on me or him or our relationship.

I’m going to appreciate every wonderful moment without letting unrealistic expectations cloud the good I have.

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The ups and downs

Hello there everyone. I’m on my lunch break.

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks. I’m sat with a knot in my stomach.

After weeks of contemplation, stress and feeling lost I finally made some decisions about my life.

I decided that I would continue with my application outside of education. I also decided that I would apply for the school leadership role which I had been approached about. Finally, I decided I would have to tell my current employer about it, thus risking his childish wrath again and losing any opportunity for the enhanced role if I’m not successful on the other two.

So how’s that worked out for me?

The interview was Thursday evening. I walked out feeling I had done all I can (within reason) and a renewed confidence in all I’ve achieved. It would be down to what they were truly looking for. I was told me would find out Monday.

This meant, as I may not get the job, I had to fill in the application for the school as that deadline was also Monday.

As Monday dragged on with no communication from the charity, I realised that I needed to let my boss know now. No more hiding behind possibilities. I wrote the email and sent it off.

It’s now Tuesday afternoon. I still haven’t heard from the charity.

I had no strong feeling either way about my chances but knew I had done the best I could. Regardless, I still had a miniscule thread of hope that I would be successful. Today, I’ve emailed them to say thanks for the opportunity and that I assume it wasn’t successful. I’ve asked for feedback. So far, nothing.

A little but of me is angry. They seemed so nice! So apologetic when they kept moving the interview date! But to not communicate at all now? I’m disappointed. Don’t keep me hanging. Rip the plaster off in one go and let the air get to the wound.

Last night I started looking a few more possibilities. My boss emailed me back and was rather magnanimous. And then I realised that it is unlikely I will find what I want in the next few weeks and he knows it. He’s probably quite smug. There a few jobs out there and I will apply for them.

Overall, I’m kicking myself for not pursuing the business. That’s what I really want. I wouldn’t treat people as I have been treated.

And so, life goes up and down.

The hopelessness of hope

Are you a positive person or negative? An optimist or a pessimist? Glass half full or half empty?

Up until a few years ago I would have said that I was a positive person. People have told me I am a positive person. I try to see the good in every situation, try to learn something from the bad.

At some point, that changed for me. How easy it is now to spiral down the rumination vortex to a bleak and dark place.

I’m in my bed looking at two pencil portraits that I made of Wildcard and me. They were copies of stills from videos that he took of us when I visited him in February 2020. I am proud of them. But up until now, they have spent most of their life in a cupboard. Why? Because I feared hanging them up would be a bad omen. That I was being too self-assured about our relationship, presumptuous.

This year, so far with some success, I have been planning and preparing. I’ve used Mel Robbins’ free course and bought a great Legend planner. I haven’t met all my goals. But I feel good about what I have achieved. I feel there is some purpose and plan to what I am doing. To forgive myself for not completing everything is a big step for me.

What I can’t do, and I have tried, is plan my future dreams. My skills at shutting off unwanted emotions are top class – they caused a break down a few years ago. Hiding emotions simply saves them, festering, for another day. The more you hide, the more they multiply and grow strong. I know this.

My top class skills are currently throwing a impenetrable forcefield around my dreams. I start to think of them and whoosh down it comes. Blank. Nothing. Gone. I see a glimpse or a hint and then, no more.

Those dreams are fuelled by hope. Hope that my relationship with Wildcard will continue to stand strong against the pandemic and everything else which makes it hard. Hope that legalities and finances will allow a life together. And … bang. It is down again.

I can’t think about it because it is everything I want. And like the pictures, if I dare to hope…if I dare to dream aloud and acknowledge what I really want, then the fear of the hopelessness if it doesn’t happen is too much to even contemplate.

Equally, the Love is Not Tourism Facebook group gives me mixed feelings. Hope when I see couples still together, still planning on reuniting in the future. Hopeless when I see couples who have parted, no longer able to maintain their love in this situation. When I read of their passion and belief that they were soul mates, that the love was a lie or not strong enough…I am filled with fear that I feel too much. And when I see the wedding pictures – we did it! – I feel hope that one day it will be us and hopelessness that it may never.

I can’t ever imagine a life without him. That is how much I feel. I have possibility in my life now, because of him. My future isn’t fixed. I know that I want him in it. I want what I feel to be the truth, the reality. Because if it not… if I am wrong… I will never feel hope of love again. I will lose all faith in myself and love and a dream future.

So I hope that my dream future is hard to imagine not because I am scared but because it is too wonderful to contemplate or imagine. I truly, truly hope.

Time for the truth.

I always believed that time flies when you’re having fun. I am not having fun. Lockdown is not fun, and yet time is flying.

I have one week left until half term and I’m exhausted. I’m really enjoying my new role and I like the new leadership at my school. Work is hard though. On the plus side, it’s keeping me busy and helping time to pass.

I’d had the mildest hope of travelling in February, 1-year after I had last saw him. I think I knew all along it wasn’t going to happen. When we discussed it some months ago – well let’s face it, when I accused him of not wanting me to go – he talked about the vaccines in both our countries and the hope that we would all be vaccinated in the UK by April. Easter is the perfect time: I have two weeks off,off therefore I can spend some time with Wildcard and with my children. There’s also enough time to quarantine and be tested ready to go back to work. So, after that discussion I booked flights for the beginning of the Easter holiday.

So you see, time flying wasn’t a bad thing. And then the new variant came. Lockdown 2 came, well, lockdown 2 for teachers. And I actually felt a bit of relief: some time to get myself together, focus on my job and myself. And, yeah, lockdown means I have more opportunities to talk with Wildcard each day. I was still hopeful. I accepted quickly that February was a no go. But April, April was the time. Flights booked, Vaccines promised and time.

Sure his country shut borders to the UK. There was still time though. Vaccination was going a-pace in the UK, plus we were in lockdown and the cases were starting to fall. There was still time.

On Thursday night, hope died. An email telling me my flights were cancelled. Worse, was when I opened the app to see that all flights to his country have been cancelled for the next 6 months.

I can’t describe the shock, the pain, the fear. I sobbed.

All hope was gone. In that moment, the future was gone. There’s no way he would wait all that time and surely he wouldn’t put his life on hold for another 6 months. Another 6-months of waiting. My heart broke. There’s nothing I can do about it.

Somehow I got through Friday in work. I actually think seeing the children and my colleagues helped a little; even the mask hid my swollen eyes a little.

The moment I saw him, when I got home from work and he called me, I cried again. I told him what had happened and he laughed because he was right, again. He laughed in disbelief that I would cry over it. Which made me cry even more because it felt like he didn’t care. I do him an injustice: he’s just more pragmatic, you’re coming summer” he said. His view is that it is life and there’s nothing we can do so there is no point getting upset.

Maybe he’s right – of course he is. But it doesn’t stop it from hurting. 6-months seems a long time now, a lot can happen and of course, in my mind, it’s all bad.

I know he loves me. He tells me he loves me, he shows me he loves me. If I dare to let myself believe it and experience it without fear then I know he loves me to my very soul.

But you want to know the truth? Finally, do you want to know entirely where all the fear comes from?

He wants a baby.

And you know what else? I want to give him one. I want a baby with him. I want us to have a baby together.

Here’s the thing: I love my children with all my heart and I wouldn’t change having them for anything. But I didn’t have them because I wanted a baby with their dad.

I want to have a baby with Wildcard.

In 2 months time, I turn 41. Time is running out – hell, it probably already has – but I still had hope. In a time where coronavirus didn’t exist I imagined 3 or 4 trips to his country in 2020. I pictured him meeting my children. And provided it all went well, I thought that maybe this year we would be married.

So whilst I recognised it would be difficult, there was a chance.

This, this is the root of my anxiety. The more time passes, the less likely that I can give him a baby. Whilst young, beautiful girls swarm around him, and family members try to set him up, I’m thousands of miles away, ageing.

Sometimes I guilt myself that I should do the right thing and let him go because it’s highly likely I can’t give him what he wants.

Just stop and think about that for a second.

Finally, I meet the man of my dreams. He is everything I want, I love everything about him. He makes me feel more alive than any other man has ever done and I want to share a wonderful life with him. And I want to give him a baby.

But despite that, despite all that love and attraction we both feel …I should let him go.

He is not stupid and his job has something to do with reproduction in animals – he must know, I tell myself, he must know and he still wants me. Maybe he is just hoping as I do.

Truly, I believe if our relationship ends it will because of this, if not directly then indirectly, because of my fear and my jealousy.

So there you have it: the truth.

Spri-nter

I awoke this morning to the beautiful sounds of birdsong. It was last year since I have heard such a beautiful dawn chorus and it lifted my heart as well as saddened it too – I remember very clearly the dawn chorus which accompanied me as I watched my Dad leave in the ambulance.

Even so, it was a lovely way to wake up this morning.

This afternoon was great too. For the first time in seven months my friend and I went out walking again.

We’ve not been out walking since the beginning of the summer holidays and before she weirded out on me.

We went to a National Trust property, wrapped up warm but loving the sunshine. We bought sandwiches and coffee from the restaurant and found an obliging bench to sit and eat. Then it started to hail. Yes, hail.

We sheltered under the bare branches on a huge tree which surprisingly helped. Ten minutes later the sun was shining again and we set off through the parkland. It felt amazing to breathe in the crisp air, feel the faint heat of winter sunshine on my face and feel my body respond to the exercise. We then wandered through the gardens and saw a fantastic display of early spring flowers.

Dad loved his snowdrops and always pointed them out.

Word has it that they are the symbol of renewed life: the end of the death that winter brings.

We talked of our fathers and how, if they had met, they would have got on so well. They had so much in common and it’s sad that they didn’t get a chance to meet. We laughed at things they would have said to each other and then the strangest thing happened.

In the shrubbery, not a metre from us, was a Robin. As we got closer it didn’t move – just looked around and sang.

My photos do not do justice to how close this bird was to us. Just as I was saying to my friend that there must be something wrong with it, another one appeared on the same shrub!

To both of us it was a sign – it was too unusual for it not to be. We carried on, hearts swelling and renewed. We felt that our Dads had heard us and were telling us they were here.

And so, tired from my walk, I too felt on the cusp of change. From the cold and icy hail to the warm sunshine… the bare limbs of trees to the early flowers…. the sight and song of birds…

A hint of spring yet still winter too… Spri-nter. ☺

And although I’m still in the darkness of my grief, there are signs of positivity too.

Possibilities

Wow. It is amazing when your mind, even for a short time, is occupied by something other.

When your heart beats in your chest for another reason than grief.

I’ve met him twice now. He’s from an external agency, so he is not somebody I will see frequently.

Which of course, is an absolute shame. Not because anything will happen – it won’t for many, many reasons – but because he is a welcome distraction.

He’s tall, and dark and attractive. He’s confident and passionate about his job. He’s friendly.

He’s someone that makes me think of possibilities. Of kissing someone again. Of trusting someone again. Of loving someone again. Not him, but someone.

I like this feeling.

Hope

I’ve got to nothing to say.

Nothing to give.

No answers.

No insights.

None.

So,

Each day,

Each and every day,

I’m going to try to live my life

With love in my heart

Light in my eyes

And hope that life can be good.

Daydream

I walk out of my sister’s new house smiling. It’s so good to see the place finished and even better to see her happy. She has had no end of trouble with cracked plaster, unreliable workmen and a broken boiler. Now, walls are silky smooth and painted in warm pastels. The new flooring is imminent and there will be a housewarming before long.

As I turn to wave goodbye to my beautiful niece who is giggling in the arms of my sister, I catch sight of the dark blue car parked behind mine. Whilst my eyes are looking at the childish glee of a two year old blowing kisses, my mind is processing what I have just seen.

It’s him. My stomach flips. I walk down the path but my head is racing. I barely register the close of the door behind me. He is in the driver’s seat, hands still on the wheel although the engine isn’t on. He’s staring in front of him. His attention is caught by my movement and he moves quickly to open the car door.

At this point I am stood by my own car, keys in hand. I smile at him. Some thing is clearly wrong: he seems preoccupied.

He closes his door and looks at me.

“Hi.”

“Hello, ” I reply.

Before I can say any more he is striding over to me, only stopping when he is stood right in front of me. He reaches out for my hand and I give it willingly.

He pulls me close and, looking into my eyes for a brief second, pulls me the final short distance so that he can kiss me.

The kiss is intense, slow and sensuous. My head is reeling.

He pulls away but we are so close that I can feel his warmth.

“I saw your car and I had to stop. I just needed to see you. To see your face.”

I smile but am not sure how to reply.

“I miss you when you are not there. I want to be with you. Do you want to be with me still?”

I nod slowly and he pulls me in for another kiss.

Emptiness 

Believe it or not, depression is not one emotion. It is a rollercoaster of emotions that leave you feeling out of control. Most of the time, you have no real understanding of why you feel that way. That then adds a huge dollop of hopelessness on top to weigh you down further. 

Emptiness is the one I hate the most. It signifies resignation to the fact that I can’t change anything so I may as well not (allow myself to) feel anything. 

You trudge through the day world-weary and heavy limbed. The world is grey. You notice only that still greyness around you- nothing else catches your interest or imagination. You’re too tired to get angry or upset. You just plod on. 

Having successfully completed my CBT, I understand now that emptiness is both an avoidance and a coping mechanism. My mind, protecting my body from the ill effects of stress and anxiety, turns the switch to nought. 

I’m crying inside for the loss of him that never was. I’m so angry with myself for being so pathetic and weak and powerless. I’m frustrated that I can’t create a version on myself that I am proud of and that helps me get the life that I want. 

Seven months ago, I would have sank lower and lower into that emptiness: the sinkhole of empty emotions and avoidance. 

Today, I hide behind the emptiness, skirting around its depths,  because it makes those around me think that I am OK.  In being able to list how I feel, for you, I am showing that I have made some progress at least. 

The grey is swirling, showing glimpses of colours so iridescent that I cannot look. They dance in and out of sight, taunting me, teasing me, showing me that there is another way to live. I just need to learn how to reach out and touch them, allowing the colours to swirl and spread over me: a life of light and beauty and excitement that can be mine. I’m going to take my children with me. 

Thank you for listening.