The real ring

This blog’s title is poignant for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, apologies if you saw the clearly unfinished/not even started post which just contained a picture of a ring:

I attempted to delete it but I can still see it on the feed.

Now let me explain what the post was meant to be about. ūüėä

My second child is 11 years old and he is in his last year of primary school. He’s the one I worry about for a multitude of reasons. He is a handsome, enthusiastic, intelligent, loving but extremely sensitive boy. He has had some trouble with school which has had a serious effect on his confidence and self esteem. He’s very good at putting on a show of confidence and bravado but underneath is a child who is craving success and acknowledgement. Throw in an antagonistic relationship with his dad and there you have my beautiful boy.

His primary school has gift sales at various points of the year. The gifts are inexpensive Рno more than £2 and often less Рand help the children with using money and confidence to buy.

My son’s buying experiences have been interesting. One year he came home with twenty-five – yes twenty five – mini bouncy balls for himself. He once bought me an orange lipstick. So let’s just say his buying has not always been geared towards the occasion. ūüėä

For Mother’s Day this year, he came home with a little candle, a necklace and a ring.

The ring fit my little finger perfectly and I haven’t had it off my finger since. It’s silver with a little blue/turquoise stone and is just the sort of style that I love. Naturally, being a toyshop ring, the silver coating is already wearing off to show whatever orange metal it is made out of. The stone is in wonky. But I love it because it is from my son. I don’t know if he chose that ring because he knew I would like it or whether it was a fluke but I do love it.

But it isn’t going to last. And knowing my son, that will hurt when it snaps or the stone falls out. Hence my search for a ‘real’ replacement. It has taken a while – I can’t afford to spend too much and of course it needs to look as close as it can to the original. The above ring is as close as I can get – the shoulders on the toy ring don’t have gems but the shape is identical. The ring above is sterling silver and blue zircon. It should last.

I don’t wear or buy a lot of jewelry. I don’t have anything of real monetary value. Gosh there are some beautiful rings out there though and I was ogling quite a few while I searched for the ring.

I’ve been engaged twice and neither time have I had the ring buying experience. The first time round we just happened to see a ring in a second hand shop that I liked whilst looking for a present for his mum. It was gold and cubic zirconia. I liked it, it was cheap, and I was sensitive to the fact that he would never have the money to go ring shopping like young girls dream of.

The second ring, from the man I actually married, I bought myself from a shopping channel. It is gold with small diamonds and I bought it with some birthday money because I didn’t own a ring. Weeks later when my husband proposed he admitted that he hadn’t bought a ring but said that he would start saving. Knowing how bad he was with money (one of the reasons we eventually separated) I suggested using the ring in the interim.

The real one never materialised. The Christmas before our first separation, he had asked me what I wanted for Christmas, again acknowledging that he didn’t have much money (I had bought the children’s presents). I told him I would be happy with a bottle of wine but asked that as it was my 30th birthday in April, I would love a new engagement ring. It did not need to be expensive but one that he had chosen specifically for me. I’m not materialistic and a ring for a maximum ¬£100-¬£200 would have been more than enough- it was the fact that he had saved and bought it was what mattered.

Needless to say the ring never came. A few weeks before my 30th after a prolonged period of moodiness, he admitted that he hadn’t saved any money so couldn’t buy me the ring. As the money had been spent on his addiction – and the reason we ultimately split after ten years – I was upset but tried to be understanding.

Searching for my mother’s day replacement ring, I thought about how exciting and romantic it must be to look at rings together with the person you love. There were so many pretty rings and as I had set the ‘refine’ tab to under ¬£50 it was sad to see so many pretty rings, so cheap, that both of these men could have bought me but never did. I didn’t need an expensive diamond solitaire. It didn’t need to be the value of a month’s wage. I just wanted a pretty ring thoughtfully chosen and paid for by the man I loved.

So perhaps you can see why that little toyshop ring is so precious to me. Even with the replacement, I will never throw it away. It will take pride of place in my jewellery box where hopefully it will last until my dying day.

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21

After braving late night Christmas shopping at Asda (we could actually park which is a bonus!) I came home and unpacked and sent my children off to bed.

My daughter had been watching “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and after crossing off items from my list in a most satisfying way, I watched the second half of the film.

I love this film. I’ve not watched it in such a long time. Colin Firth is just dreamy and Hugh Grant is great as the slime-ball seducer.

The film brings back so many memories for me. I was 21 when the film was released. I had just bought a brand new computer (my uni lecturer had not been impressed with my second hand word-processor) and had treated myself to some DVD’s. I can’t remember exactly but these DVD’s were of some significance – maybe they were the first ones I had bought myself (??) as I can’t believe they were the first I had owned. It seems funny now as many people are getting rid of DVD’s now in exchange for digital versions. Anyway, I would sit in my tiny boxroom and watch Bridget Jones on my new desktop. I’d get so excited every time I watched it: laughing, hoping and stomach turning. Of course I was totally in love with Mark Darcy (character and actor) and just reveled in the idea that opposites could attract – there was hope for me yet!

My favourite part is the end where they finally kiss in the snow. Ah, it is so magical. Love it..

I was in a good place back then. I was in the second year of my degree which I was absolutely loving. I had lost loads of weight and was slim for the first time in my life. I had got rid of an absolute arse of a boyfriend who had sucked every bit of confidence and happiness out of me in 2000 and I had finally realised that I was so much better without him. I had met a new best friend and we were having great fun. I had a job and money. I was happy. Actually happy.

I wasn’t short of male attention but couldn’t find someone decent long term. I didn’t care though and decided to focus on my career and eventually my own place. I was going to move away and start afresh with this new found confidence and happiness.

Two years later and I had met my husband to be. And here I am.

I suppose in my current mindset it would be easy to talk of regret. But I don’t have any. Sure, I’m separated, fat and depressed but I have three beautiful children, my own home and a career. ūüėä

I do want that feeling again though. Not being 21 again, just that feeling that all is well with the world. Happy. It’s sad to say, but I can’t remember the last time I was truly happy- fleeting moments, yes, but not all encompassing happiness. Perhaps 2018 is the year that I regain it.

Intimacy: part one

I dragged myself out of bed on Saturday. I’d had a good week: another successful camping trip to a beautiful spot in Morecambe Bay:

Waking up to views of sea, sand and mountains is pretty unbeatable.

We came home Friday and that evening I went to the wedding reception of a good friend. It was good to see him happy.

Saturday morning was hellish though. Added to that, I knew that I needed to go to Marks and Spencers to pick up the uniform I had ordered. I hate going to any shop on a Saturday but needs must.

Whilst there, I picked up two bottles of fizz, cards and bottles bags: one for my sister for her good exam results and one for Lost Soul.

I’ve debated this all week. I’ve not heard from him since the beginning of August and our one way talk. He has just completed his degree (as a ‘mature’ student of 30). He once told me that I was instrumental in encouraging him to go to uni. I am proud of him. I wanted to show that.

But, I am fully aware that this could be perceived in so many other ways. I decided that it is what a friend would do and that is what we said we were.

I decided that I would drop it off on the way home and as I had my youngest in the car I would be able to decline an invitation in the house. Job done.

Problem was, I had no pen. A quick detour home was needed…

Those of a romantic nature would call it fate. Others, coincidence. But, yes, his car was parked on my drive.

He hasn’t been to my house since July and that was to see my sister and brother in law who were there at the time. He hasn’t been to my house to see me for about five years.

I was actually shaking as I walked in to the house and through to my dad’s living room where Lost Soul was.

I made him coffee, we all chatted, he was very surprised and pleased with his bubbles and then I went back into my house to put away my shopping.

He soon followed.

He asked if I fancied sharing the wine with him and suggested that he brought his new Xbox round to play like the old times. We had once had an amazing night on the kinect where I have never laughed and sweated so much in my whole life. He brought this up too as a good memory for him.

I agreed but was conscious that I had friends over that evening.

He went home and came back quickly with his Xbox. He made a big fuss of my ten year old son and they played together for most of the afternoon.

I may have had a poker face but I was a pool of madness underneath. I know this was just friendly but the reference to the past and the memory of a time when we had been very intimate threw me. Before long, I suggested to invite my brother in law and nephew – I couldn’t do this alone with him and I figured there was safety in numbers.

In my head I was wondering what I was going to do later when my friends came over. As I had already invited my sisters too, I decided that it was no real problem to have the men there too.

The evening went off well enough. The wine flowed, the take away was good and I can’t pretend that I wasn’t interested in what my friends would think of Lost Soul. In company, he can be quite brash and loud almost and I could see that he wasn’t to the taste of one of my friends. When he left the room she told me he was ‘beneath me’ and I deserved better. She also said she could see we had things in common but didn’t understand why we hadn’t had sex. My best friend declined to comment. I should have realised that wasn’t a good thing.

When my sister and b.i.l decided to leave, I fully expected him to go too – he lives near them and my sister was driving – but he didn’t. He also didn’t leave when my friends left.

Soon it was just me and him.

Clarity in the cold light of day

It is barely 6am. I am sat outside in my Pj’s, a fleece hoodie and my walking boots. I was tired of teetering on the edge of a single air bed, worrying about where my hands were and where his body was in comparison to mine ..

I want to tell you that I had the strength to push him away and say no.

I didn’t. Well, not exactly.

Not that anything physical happened of course – apart from holding my hand and frequent hugs, there was nothing romantic.

Like old times, it was clear other people thought that something was happening.

He got really drunk. Again, nothing new.

When drunk, the same old self-critical bs comes out his mouth. (This perhaps a little unfair, but please remember that this is the day after the night before and I’m cold and tired.) I don’t call him Lost Soul for nothing.

Despite being a really attractive man, he has low self esteem. He puts on a front of charming arrogance at times, only showing his true self to a chosen few. I call him out on it regularly – it is one of the things he loves about me apparently.

And then it happened. Finally.

I’m not sure how the conversation moved around to this. But things needed to be said and I needed to say them, once and for all. He agreed.

I told him that last time, I ended up broken hearted. That his actions and words had confused me so many times. That I was attracted to him and that I had felt a connection with him that I had never felt with anyone else.

But, for whatever reason, we’d pulled away from each other and that I had missed him over the years.

Therwas an awkward moment where I went in for a hug and he thought I was going in for a romantic kiss.

He commented here that I had been the one who pulled away from the friendship. Although I knew this to be true, I’d always thought he’d consider himself to be the one that pulled away and this surprised me. He also said that he had sensed that I had been unsure of what I had wanted. This flummoxed me a little.

I then went on to say that I had got over this (I’m not entirely lying, I had for a while) but that our intimacy a few weeks ago had highlighted a few things.

He held his head down at this point.

I told him that I did not regret it. I told him that it was as far as I wanted to go because I was unsure of his feelings. What it had given me was some clarity – I hadn’t imagined our connection.

He agreed. He felt the connection and attraction too. He said that he could be himself around me – he trusted me. But..

I cut in here.

I said that I recognised that he needed a young single woman whom he could start a life with. And that I needed someone dependable and strong to share my life with. Despite our chemistry, we were not right for each other.

He agreed and commented that he recognised that he was not dependable and that he had let me down. He said he had had no idea that I had felt that way in the past and was sorry that he had “led” me on and upset me. He said that he still wanted me.

Moments later, he pulled me close so that our foreheads rested on each other as we spoke. I couldn’t stand it; the intensity of feelings. I weighed it up and went for it. He pulled away.

I said, quite calmly in fact, that I wasn’t going to kiss him like that (not strictly true, but I was going to see what happened). He said that it was not that he didn’t want to but that he had feelings for someone else.

I once again called him out on this and rather frustratedly. I pointed out that this was identical to what happened initially all those years ago – he admits he has feelings for me then starts talking about someone else. I also said that this pattern also occurred when he was at a low point – he fixates on someone he can’t have. At this moment, it is some girl in Leeds (miles and miles away!).

He wasn’t happy about this. I won’t dignify his comments by putting them on here but he said that he thought she was the one and that it could get serious. Bs.

I went on to say that I was independent and was in no rush to get in to any relationship. He called me out on this, recognising my own need for intimacy. He asked me what I was looking for in a man.

It also turns out that he had told my sister and brother-in-law about our intimacy. I was surprised.

Despite all this, a tension had lifted. I felt better – at the time anyway – and we rejoined the party at the stage.

A little while later we were all back at the tent. He sat next to me as I cooked some food for everyone. The flirty banter was much the same, even though I felt we had had some clarity. At one point, he commented that he was cold. I touched his hand – mine were warm. He asked me to leave my hand there.

After food, he realised that his taxi was not going to arrive any time soon and so asked if he could sleep with me in my ‘bedroom’.

There was a ridiculous situation where he lay on the cold floor for a while because he would not be happy if she did the same with another man. I commented that we were just friends, I had three layers on and he was freezing. I was toasty with my single duvet – it was up to him. He eventually got on to the single air bed with me and I cuddled him warm. Genuinely, there was no other option but I realise that it was far from ideal.

It is difficult to lie together on a single mattress, holding each other close without touching each other in an intimate way. We just about managed it amongst some laughing. At times he would hold my hand or stroke my arm. Other times he would pull away.

As I sit here typing, I can hear him move on my airbed. Part of me is annoyed because I want to go to sleep on my airbed.

Things in some ways are still not as clear as I thought they were. I did a lot of the talking last night and some of it was said in self preservation. His actions and his words are still conflicting.

What was clear is that nothing has changed. And I mean that in both senses of the phrase. We are still drawn to each other and people still think there is more going on than there is.

He is still playing games though. This elasticated friendship is still very much in play and he wants to be in control. I believe this the one area of his life where he has felt in control.

In the cold light of the morning, I’m not sure how much I influenced the steer of the conversation with my words and actions. From things he said, he is confused that I keep turning him down for sexual intimacy.

He still has a power over me that I can’t resist. But I know him so well that I preempt his games with blocks. I no doubt confuse him as much as he does me.

I can’t do this though. I want to think that despite my blocks, he would have told me truly how he had felt if he had wanted more. I can’t be sure though.

But I know from my own reflections recently that I can’t go through this again but that I am as much the game player as him.

True love shouldn’t feel like this.

Fantasy

There have been times when I have been accused of living in literature. Being an English teacher, I suppose this is partly true. I love reading. Reading shaped my career path and showed me ways to be a good mother. It created an interest in previously unknown places. 
This is not what my family meant though. They say that I have unrealistic expectations of love and life through what I have read. 

I have just completed my favourite book for the goodness-knows-how-many time. Pride and Prejudice has been my favourite book since I was seventeen. Jane Austen was the focus of my university dissertation. If I could transport back in time, it would be to this world with their manners and their social expectations and their love of ‘polite society’. Of course, being a farmer’s daughter, I would not have socialised amongst the middle class and probably would have been stricken with poverty and disease until I bettered myself with education.  But, the fantasy still appeals. 

I digress. I love Pride and Prejudice because the story is about learning from your mistakes. It’s about accepting that life isn’t perfect but you can find happiness if you open your eyes and heart to all sorts of possibilities. Typical of a good book, every time that I have read it over the past twenty years I find something different that relates to the way I’m feeling at that moment. 

 “Mr Darcy’s behaviour astonished and vexed her… ‘If he fears me, why come hither? If he no longer cares for me why silent? Teazing, Teazing man! I will think no more about him.'” 

The book moves me because it describes how I feel at that moment. It portrays emotions and experiences that I have had.   We can assume then, that Jane Austen was writing from her own experiences or at the very least, from those of someone close to her. It does not follow then that, being fiction, the feelings described are fantastical also.  Books are written from experience or imagination: imagination is the first step towards action. So if I have romantic ideals entrenched in the books that I love, why is that wrong?

How many times have you heard a tale from a friend or family member who has then gone on to say “you couldn’t write this stuff, ” or the like? Reality can sometimes be more fantastical than fiction. The world is an amazing and magical place – anything is possible in time. 

How many times have you visited a place for the first time and been blown away by the beauty of it: a beauty that words and photographs could not measure?

I read because it opens mind to possibilities. It shows me that, somewhere out there, other people have had similar experiences or the same views of what life can be like. 
Pride and Prejudice portrays marriage in many different lights: some successful and others not. I have had an unsuccessful marriage. But I’m not giving in on my romantic ideals or the hopes that I will find someone who will love me and all my flaws but who also, without even realising it, encourages me to be a better person. 

Happy reading! 

Is it me you’re looking for?¬†

The phone rings. I raise my head from reading and smile when I recognise the number. The call is unexpected. I haven’t been waiting anxiously for a text or a WhatsApp. I haven’t replayed every conversation or touch, analysing for signs I may have missed. I haven’t questioned whether he does actually like me or whether he is stringing me along or using me. My life is good: I am happy. He is the beautifully formed cherry on the top. 

He tells me about his day. He likes his job and does well in it, but it doesn’t rule his life. He also talks about his hobbies which captivate me. He then listens to me as I describe my day, offering friendly advice when needed. We arrange to meet up in a few days. 

The days pass quickly and happily. I’ve been out with my children, the necessary housework has been done and I have actually managed a long walk and talk with my friend. 

When we meet I am excited and yet content. My stomach flips at the sight of him… And then at the smell of him.. And then at the touch of him… He makes me feel beautiful and interesting and intelligent. We laugh, we talk. He makes me see the world ina different way whilst respecting my own views and ideas. He inspires me to think and act differently and to be a better version of myself. 

When we are alone our time together is passionate and intimate, frenzied and gentle. I feel complete with him. 

Yet when he is gone my life continues, the earth still moves on its axis.  I’m secure in the knowledge that he is mine and I am his. I enjoy my time without him. I love the time with him. I’m safe in the knowledge that we have all that we need. From time to time we have a wonderful weekend or week together. We spend the days walking in beautiful places or going to museums or art galleries. At night we cook together, share a bottle of wine with friends. Maybe we watch a film cuddled up on the couch. We always make love and sleep side by side. 

One day, when the time is right, we will move in together. We will live together until our dying day. But for now, our lives are better for being with each other. There is an understanding between us that no one else can comprehend. But that’s ok. It works for us. 
If anyone knows this man, please let me know. He’ll be late 30s to early 40s. He will probably look like Adam Levine/Zachary Levi/Gerard Butler/Liam Hemsworth and really fancy overweight, dark haired-green eyed school teachers with three children. 

Cheers WordPress. 

‚ėļ 

From the soul 

I’ve been thinking a lot about my last post and considering how I can feel so strongly about what has happened. It just so happened that I also read Back in Stilettos Again’s last post which resonates a lot:

More Realizations – http://wp.me/p5vuqV-4jk

As I work my way mentally through my past and present, it is easy to see how my current feelings stem from my past. I believe in honesty and straight talking. I have a real dislike of game playing in relationships. 

In April 2011, I had two children, had started a new teaching job the previous September and was living in the house my husband and I had built. My marriage was on the rocks. 

It doesn’t matter what exactly was wrong. He was – repeatedly – doing something I didn’t like and couldn’t accept but he continued to do it, deceitfully and secretive and I would find out periodically. Every time I caught him, a piece of our relationship broke off in to the abyss. You can fill the gaps here: alcohol, drugs, women, gambling – anyone of them can destroy a marriage. 

I had been trying to convince myself that this time he was keeping his promise. Then I called home early to pick something up I’d forgotten and caught him. I then did something I had never done in all years – yes,  years – that this had been going on: I asked him to leave. 

I was angry, hurt, bitter. But I was also relieved. Months went by and I wouldn’t let him back. He was arrogant,  defiant then hurt then angry. I wouldn’t go back. 

Months later, I met Lost Soul through my sister and her boyfriend. There was an instant attraction there: he was tall, slim, with almost black hair and green eyes. 

He was a charmer. He knew exactly what to say to any girl in the room, me included. I watched in admiration, awe and jealousy too. 

Then one night, there was a group of us having drinks and playing cards. After a while I chose to sit on the couch and listen to music whilst the other’s played. He came to sit next to me and the rest is history. 

It’s hard to explain what happened in the years that follow because despite being five years later, I still don’t understand and it still stings. 

The connection we had was unbelievable – better than I have ever had in the three long term relationships I have had. We understood each other, supported one another and inspired each other. He was a lost soul- younger than me, had suffered with depression and wasn’t sure where his life would take him. 

I would see him nearly every weekend and in the week too. Sometimes we would kiss, often we didn’t. We would always end up cuddling on the couch or in my bed but nothing really happened. 

It was more than just friends though. There was a passion, a spark,  that everyone around us saw and we felt. I didn’t imagine it, although I have often tried to convince myself I did. 

He’d tell me he loved me, that he’d never met anyone who understood him so clearly. But he was scared of losing me- if we took this further, we could lose what we had. 

In the time we were ‘together’, I know he slept with other women. He wasn’t adverse to one night stands. Just not with me. He was my best friend. I learnt the true meaning of heart ache. In a night out with some friends, one asked me why I was holding my stomach. I hadn’t realised I was. My friend was intuitive enough to know why and we talked about it but could never work out what was going in. 

I spent so many hours trying to decode his behaviour. I came up with many reasons for why he couldn’t commit to a relationship. I was older than him, had children and a career. This would never have been just a fling and he wasn’t ready. My low self esteem blamed my age and my weight. He mentioned my weight in the only row and subsequently the last conversation I had with him before I moved on. 

Some friends felt he was using me. “For what?” I’d ask. Certainly not for sex, definitely not for money. We would watch TV together, sip wine or talk through the night. We’d dance in my living room or play on the x box. 

One day I walked away. I told him I wouldn’t wait. I started online  dating. I cried on the way home from every date because it wasn’t him. He started dating too and we drifted apart. I thought about him, ached for him, every single day for years. 

I convinced myself that I had imagined the whole thing. We were just friends but I wanted more. I imagined the looks he gave me, the tenderness, the passionate kisses. He wasn’t my soul mate. He wasn’t. If it was meant to be, we’d have been together. Other times I would imagine he was my Willoughby (Sense and Sensibility). I blamed my imagination, my love of literature, for constructing an ideal that I would never find. Love doesn’t exist like that, I told myself. All you need is a good man and you can make it work. 

My next relationship lasted six months. On paper, Car-man  was perfect. I didn’t feel that connection but my attraction to him would catch me out when I wasnt thinking about it. He would have married me and given me the world but I felt claustrophobic. I ended it gently. 

Three months after that, after a night out and a heart to heart with good friends, I told my husband that I would give it another go. He had waited in the background through all of this. He had stopped his vice – so he told me- and was again the person I had fallen in love with so many years before. 

I felt nothing when we first kissed again. Sex was problematic. I think he couldn’t cope with the fact that I’d had another relationship, despite what he said.  In desparation, and on only one occasion, I agreed to have sex without a condom in the hope that it would work. Nine months later, we had our third child. I can count on one hand how often we had sex/kissed/cuddled after that. 

Post natal depression hit me like a sledge hammer. It was only when the Health Visitor reflected on my relationship with my husband did realisation hit me. I didn’t love him, hadn’t loved him for so long. I cared deeply for him, felt no antagonism towards him as such, but I didn’t love him. 

Two weeks after I gave birth, Lost Soul reappeared in my life at a celebration. I realised then that I hadn’t imagined any if it. The looks, the feelings, the connection was still there for both of us. He was single again. I was not. I stayed out of his way after a brief chat and tried to ignore the way he watched me from across the room. He left early. 

I tried so hard to make it work with my husband  for so many years. I tried to get back those feelings that we had shared in the first seven years of our relationship.  I continued to tell myself  that there was no such thing as soul mates. Lost Soul was a player, that’s all. Slowly I forgot to think of him every day and the hole in my heart healed. I tried every trick in the book to rekindle my marriage. But I couldn’t.  We were both unhappy. 

I’m August last year, before the split with my ex in October, I again bumped into Lost Soul at my sister’s birthday. It had been two years since I last saw him. He had brought his new girlfriend. We pretended to ignore each other for a while but I caught him watching me. He was drunk: I was driving. 

I heard him talk about me to my brother in law across the table, the band’s music just too loud to hear specifics. 

At the bar he came over to speak to me, his arm around my waist as he spoke in to my ear over the sounds of the electric guitar. He told me that he often thought of our time together and that he missed me. 

Later, I declined his invitation to go to the next pub with him and his girlfriend. I could see the suspicion in her eyes and I didn’t want either of them to see the jealousy in mine. 

I did offer to drive them to the pub – more to get them out of their so I didn’t have to look at them taking selfies. In an over exaggerated way, he told me he loved me as we walked to the car his girlfriend just the other side of him. I’m the car he fired questions to me, asking about my job, my life, my marriage. He asked for my number as he got out of the car, his girlfriend stood behind him. 

All game playing. Yes, there was a connection but it was never going to happen. I can’t truly trust anything he said to me. I can’t trust my own feelings, my own eyes and my own ears. Another time and another place maybe? Perhaps if I was three years, three stone and three children lighter. Perhaps not. 

And so, I’ve realised that I can’t stand the game playing. I can’t stand lying and deceit. I’m not going to put up with it. And I need a connection because ‘making do’ cannot be made into something it can’t be. What I need is that beautiful and perfect middle ground between my ex and Lost Soul – the best of both of them. There goes my imagination again. 

The big plan

I hate that title but I can’t think of a better one.

Today I feel strange.

My cough and cold seem to be¬†waning but I feel woozy headed and tired. I had booked my daughter and I in for a long awaited hair appointment and didn’t want to let her down so we went at 9 am. ¬†It was relaxing and I love my hair but the best part was watching my daughter emerge from the chair feeling happy and confident. ¬†As we drove home she said it was the ‘best day she’d had for ages’ and although I think the hair helped, I can’t help but think it is a little to do with the feeling of today. ¬†Where I am, in the North of England, today has the magical feeling of a promise of spring:

The air is crisp and fresh and wintery thanks to this morning’s frost and the trees are still bare. ¬†The sky is a patchwork of white and grey-blue as the clouds thin to show a hint of the sky underneath. And yet the quality of light seems to make the green of the grass all the more prominent: the snowdrops that are coming out seem to glow in contrast. ¬†I can hear birdsong and although the world is at peace it is still filled with the excitement and promise of spring, almost like the anticipation of spring has magically awakened our senses to the joys of what is to come now winter is slowly ending.¬†

Days like today make you want to go for a walk and just breathe.  And even though I do not feel the joy my daughter feels today, I know that if I was not depressed (or ill for that matter) I would feel like her. A tug of war or see saw effect is playing out in my mind today as the spring light challenges my inner dark.

As I was hanging some washing outside (only thin shirts – it is not that warm!) and enjoying the spring air, I was thinking about how much better you feel when you are outside. ¬†Yesterday I was reading fellow blogger’s post on depression in the news and recommended an article I had read a few years ago about the power of nature to improve your mood. ¬†You can read the blog¬†here¬†and the article from the BBC¬†here.

I thought about my garden. Carved up from what once the council owned small holding my parents rented, it is huge but is in a state of decay and clutter since the onset of my dad’s ill health some years ago. ¬†I have tried to reclaim it from the weeds and mess and once had a blog dedicated to it which I have just recovered the password for – ironically, the blog was as lost as the garden still is. I haven’t read over the posts yet but coincidentally, one of my last posts was about the power of nature:

The Lost Garden Diaries

(The hairs on the back of my neck have just gone…

 

So, in the way that your mind does, mine jumped and skipped from thought to thought until I arrived at my big idea. I’m too woozy and ‘depressed’ to feel excited about it but the flutter of potential excitement has temporarily replaced the drag of anxiety in the pit of my stomach.

Bare with me…

In just over three years, I turn forty.  By the time I am forty, I want to be happy with my weight, healthy and happy.  I want a big party to celebrate this.  I want this party to be at my house meaning the house that I have transformed into the home of me and my three children and father and away from the home that I made with my husband. I want the garden to be similarly transformed to hold said party.

I know this is big. Too big probably. But what it will do is focus my mind.  My garden depresses me for so many reasons so doing it up will make me happier. Being outside makes me happy. Exercise supposedly makes you happy. Exercise makes you lose weight which should make me happy.  Three years is a substantial amount of time to take this reasonably slowly but I know I have the support of my sisters and brother in laws.  I also think it will be a good project for my children too. I have a goal. It is no longer get over my marriage but something more concrete which will help me get over my marriage.  This feels good. Scary, but good.

Sticking plaster

Yesterday was a day for trial and error, with emphasis on the error. With one simple action, I managed to make one child cry and the other refuse to talk to me. I learnt something from it though, which, as I tell my students, made the process worthwhile if not as satisfying as originally planned.

You have probably seen that the featured picture is not me. I wish it was, but I will come back to that in a moment.

Last night it was my turn to host book club. It is a small group created by my friend and has swelled and declined like the waves but contains friends and friends of friends. It is informal, contains enough teachers to be suitably analytical but plays no pretence Рwe enjoy socialising, eating snacks and drinking wine.  I have met new people and have read books I would never have picked up (but absolutely love) and being really honest, has been my one constant source of social interaction for some years.

The original night was scheduled over Christmas but I cancelled it. ¬†Not only was my household full of seasonal ailments and viruses but I recognised that I was not managing my stress very well too and couldn’t have faced it anyway. Yesterday was easier than I thought: I spent the day cleaning and tidying (yes I said DAY) and was actually looking forward to seeing my friends.

In November, I wrote a post expressing my frustration and wanting to start my life again but also that I felt I mustn’t rush for anyone’s sake. ¬†You can read it¬†here. It’s funny reading it back as I seem so much more optimistic than now. ¬†Anyway, although I had put back many of my photographs after Christmas (I replaced them with Christmassy ornaments over the holidays), I purposefully did not put back my frame wedding photos or the photos of me and my husband together. Instead I left them on top of the cupboard, flat. ¬†Seems silly now, but in my mind it looked like I was about¬†to put them up at some point. That was my first error. Yesterday I took the plunge and swapped some of the photos. Not just the ones of me and him but others too – updated with newer pictures. I replaced the wedding photo with a precious and fragile drawing my elderly aunt had made some years ago before she was consumed by her dementia and put it back on the shelf. ¬† Error number two and three.

My daughter (twelve going-on-sixteen) noticed immediately and demanded to know what I had done with the picture of her dad (apparently the fact that I also in the picture had escaped her mind). I explained that it was still safe in the frame behind the very precious drawing and she was welcome to have it in her room if she wished. She ran off upstairs crying.

Minutes later, my ten year old son appeared asking what was wrong with his sister. You can see where this is going. He proceeded to ignore me completely – silent treatment and all – until tea was ready. Once I had them round the table I explained myself. I thought it would upset them to see it all the time, it upset me, time to move on etc etc. My son replied: you should have asked us. Very true, I should. Lesson learnt. ¬† ¬†I thought that by doing it slowly it would hurt them less. I have now decided that I am wrong and I think this is partly why I feel so anxious. ¬†I am living in limbo with a great big sticking plaster (bandaid?) supposedly keeping me together but actually making me feel worse. ¬†Apart from a select bag of clothes which he collected a few days after he left, all of my husband’s belongings are still in the house. Everywhere. I don’t think it is allowing any of us to move on: the sticking plaster needs to be removed, feelings needed to be aired and we all need to heal.

This afternoon, whilst my children were spending time with their dad, I have started to tidy and pack his things out of our my bedroom. No, I haven’t asked him as such. Funnily enough, this week we briefly discussed his lack of progress in finding a new home (he hasn’t started looking yet) and I said that it was time he started to move some of his things out. ¬†We have been split up over three months now and I am shamed to say, little progress has been made to sort out the clothes that were thrown in the middle of our last, heated row as a couple – they have been stuffed back into his wardrobe. ¬†The items he threw when he emptied boxes have been carelessly tidied away. I feel that the room is like a leech, sucking the positivity out of me as it reminds me -like no other place – of pregnancy belly rubs and labour pains; talking long into the night of our dreams and disappointments; my crying over his insensitivity after a row; my rage as I fumed in contemplation at the insults we had just unleashed at each other; nights of lovemaking and equally, nights where I lay there alone.

I have carefully folded and packed the clothes he has seemingly abandoned. I have neatly packed books and CDs into boxes. They still remain in my room, but they now lie there in a state of readiness rather than a dismal reminder of what happened.  I have not quite ripped off the plaster but I have given it a warning tug.

Further to my analogy of a sticking plaster, I must also mention my medications. ¬†I have only been on them for three weeks and the Doctor has had to play around with the combination to balance a good sleep and no anxiety with zombie-like numbness and perpetual drowsiness. ¬†Even so soon, though, I have felt the benefits. With a history of mental illness in my family, I have silently sworn for so long that I would not allow myself to feel so depressed: I would fight and win.¬†Depression and anxiety are illnesses and going to the doctors was the best thing to do. ¬†The low dose I am on is helping and that is what matters. My final error yesterday was thinking I could miss a dose to have a glass of wine with my friends. I wanted to feel normal, like the old me, and didn’t want to explain why I wasn’t enjoying a glass of my favourite red with them. I enjoyed my wine, I enjoyed being with my friends. ¬†I didn’t enjoy the lows of today and the wave of anxiety and binge eating that accompanied it. ¬†It wasn’t worth it. That sticking plaster needs to stay in place for now whilst I deal with the aftermath of ending a thirteen year relationship and becoming a ¬†full time working mum to three children.

And the picture above? Just an insert from the frame which I had lazily tucked behind my wedding photo. I only saw it when I dismantled it again to put back my wedding photo to give to my daughter. That picture made me more emotional than my actual photo. How can two models look more in love than we did in any of our wedding photos? ¬†The truth hurts. That’s a ripped off plaster and no mistake.

 

 

“The best laid plans”

Does Christmas ever go to plan in your house? Is it how you expect it to be? ¬†Or are you one of these laid-back people who ‘goes with the flow’?

I am a teacher so everything has to be planned within a inch of its life. My life is regulated by bells and meetings and calendars and timetables. Of course, there has to be flexibility – we are dealing with children after all – but it is still controlled and calculated and measured.

I attempted to plan Christmas as my inner control-freak needed me to. I needed to be prepared and ready. I needed to know exactly what I was doing and when. Part of that included knowing when my children were seeing their dad.

My husband is not a planner. At all. Perhaps that it unfair- his plans are spontaneous and he doesn’t waver from them as he has just made them so that is what is happening. ¬†This contrasts completely with my need to plan-in-advance addiction.

I was fairly happy with what we had agreed for Christmas as there had been some compromise on both sides. I was a little frustrated with him coming to watch the children open their presents, mainly because he hadn’t bought (or paid for) any of them. ¬†My bitter inner voice felt that he was getting some of the credit and half of the enjoyment for doing nothing. But he isn’t an ungenerous man. Although I usually buy the majority he would also buy a few gifts to help and would enjoy doing so. Not this year and I figure that there must be a good reason for that. ¬†So, ¬†that is what he asked for and it was what the children wanted so I gave in. In return, I got the afternoon to tidy and prepare the house, the dinner and myself before the children were to return to eat Christmas dinner with me. Of course I didn’t want to be apart from them but my consolation was that they would come home to a calm and happy mother, a beautifully set table and a perfectly cooked dinner. I could keep myself busy for that.

But the best laid plans….. He arrived and watched them open their presents and didn’t say a word. I commented on his lack of interaction: he said he was just ‘enjoying watching them’. ¬†To me it was awkward. I don’t know if it was guilt – I certainly hadn’t started an argument about him not contributing to the gifts but he was probably well aware that I wasn’t happy about it.

Whilst I made pancakes I suggested he helped our youngest with the train set. Everything seemed a little better then. Until my family started to arrive to see our father and us. ¬†The atmosphere returned. I was really concious that our children’s excitment to see my family was eating into his time with his and apologised whilst trying to hurry them up into getting ready. ¬†He said it was fine, and meant it I think, but just sat there again. ¬†Eventually the children were ready and they left. ¬†The majority of the morning had felt strained and as it was now lunchtime, part of his time had been taken. I had reassured him that we were only eating at five so to just bring them back for then.

So, imagine my surprise when they returned at 3pm. ¬†He said they see getting bored and wanted to come home. He was emotional when he left. I just don’t understand! Surely he could have entertained them? Played board games or cards, gone for a Christmas walk, watched a Christmas film or played with the toys that his parents had just given them? ¬†I felt guilty again that some of his time with them had been taken by my family but then when would they have seen them? It is just so hard!

My frustration that the house and dinner were not ready on their return was quickly ¬†replaced by the pleasure of having my daughter help with the preparations. ¬†We had a lovely dinner and an evening of board games with my sister. I couldn’t help but think of my other half (when do I start calling him my ex- when we are divorced?) and how the day must not have gone how he had envisaged either. ¬†I ended up inviting him to see the children the next day too even though that had not been the plans either.

I must state at this point that a lot of the advice I have read states that specific visiting days/times are best for the children. My experience so far is that this is really difficult, particularly as he is currently still staying with his parents. ¬†Most of the time that he has with them still seems to be here which makes me feel uncomfortable and anxious ¬†and completely in the way (in my own home). ¬†There seems to be no set times despite my regular encouragement of them. ¬†I am trying to be fair – ¬†I don’t believe in punishing him through the children. ¬†Our failed marriage has nothing to do with his relationship with them. ¬†I want my children to see their dad regularly if that is what they want. But my need for structure and routine is completely at odds with him.

New Year is threatening to turn out in the same way. I have been asking him for some time now – “what are your plans?” Or “what would you like to do with the children at New Year?”. It is particularly complicated due to our middle child’s birthday being on New Year’s Eve. ¬†He keeps telling me that he is thinking about it. ¬†I don’t believe that he is being purposefully awkward – I know him well enough to believe that he truly doesn’t know yet. ¬†In the meantime, the hours and days pass with no plans being made and my stomach churning at my lack of control.

Is this how hard it is going to be? How am I ever going to reestablish my life as a single mother if ¬†I am still beholden to his wants? ¬†How do I keep it amicable and fair if I don’t? I feel the dawn of the new year and its promise of a kick start to my new life and yet I feel like I am still tethered to the old.

Any advice gratefully received.