Tuesday 9th December
A kind stranger said to me that I need to be gentle on my family and myself, that we need to surround ourselves in gentleness and kind loving people. It was like an arrow of realization to my heart and that was it, I’m in tears again.
I’ve been flailing to stay afloat, trying to be tough, focusing on survival, just getting out of bed in the morning is a task in itself, sometimes monumental.
But now, my children seem to be at peace. We are being gentle with each other, the outbursts have diminished, we’re taking the slow lane and enjoying being together, doing very little.
I’m concentrating on being there for them, listening to them, only doing one thing at a time. Frankly I’m no use at multi tasking, anymore, and if I do, I have no recollection of what I’ve done – not a good look to have.
I was even allowed to sing out loud with my youngest, which is unheard of; usually I am silenced immediately as soon as I break into song. But we belted out Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, in the car together and it was a beautiful, memorable milestone.
My youngest is lighter, more content and I am so relieved.
Since I’ve started taking the slow lane, allowing us all to ease the pace, life has vastly improved. I have finished all my work sessions for the year, I am now on monitoring, evaluation and report writing, I don’t have any more people to deal with and hopefully no more ‘situations’ and ‘unexpected issues’ to remedy.
But I suddenly seem to have collapsed and lost all confidence. And I feel very low and quite broken.
But it’s okay! I am occupying the low lane, acknowledging this transient state, not attaching myself and trying not to respond to the massive cold sore I am getting, which only happens when I have a high fever or am completely run down. Clue, ping!
I still can’t say ‘no’ to anyone I have lost confidence in life; always assume others are right, that I am wrong.
This has become apparent.
My lover is now angry with me.
I told him that I need him to lay off the praise. He spends whole conversations telling me I’m brilliant. Call it disbelief, call it boredom, it’s just plain awkward and a complete conversation killer and I don’t know how to respond. I know I am duty bound to accept the compliment, to imbibe the praise and dutifully feel better about life…
But, suddenly, I am at rock bottom again. I don’t understand, I have not discerned any triggers but I see the symptoms. This outrageous attack of fever blisters is an extreme indicator of being run down. I don’t feel run down; I don’t feel exhausted, what’s going on?
My lover is angry with me, as apparently something is different. I don’t know.
A bit of space needed, perhaps? A little legroom? I don’t know, I have no clue.
But I have had a little think, an observation of myself and I know this…
At this time, it doesn’t take long to go from feeling fine to absolute zero, from doing quite well to skidding along rock bottom.
It’s all about building resilience.
I am very hard on myself. I suddenly have no confidence. How can I believe in myself when I have let my life partner down?
Right now I need to focus on things that build my confidence not challenge it.
Sure I am in complete conviction of challenging oneself, step out of your comfort zone, push yourself out of your depth, shake it all up.
And really, I do this all the time; I live outside of my comfort zone! I push and encourage my children constantly (perhaps too much). As a consequence they have become super safe, no risk takers, home loving, play it safers, possibly to compensate for their mother, “Miss Health and Safety Nightmare” as their dad affectionately named me.
I take risks; I throw myself out there, no thoughts for the consequences.
But it’s not like that anymore. I’ve taken a blow and recovery could be slow.
And my girls are teaching me; it’s all right to take it slow.
I was offered a Directorship position in a charity that I’ve been freelancing for. My lover urged me “take the gap, assume leadership”.
I wasn’t comfortable.
The thing is, I’ve been taking it down a level, to my children’s comfort zone and I think that’s where I need to be for a while.
My oldest is off school today. I only took the dog around the block and arrived home to find her in tears. She too didn’t know what was wrong, which I understand too well. Sometimes you just have to go with it, not question it or turn it into something it isn’t, feel it, be it and let it go.
If you search too hard to find reasons there is a danger of bringing up a whole load of other issues you weren’t actually looking for.
The key point of today’s story is how could I ever possibly hold down a full time job when my family is so needy.
It’s a question of priorities.
Wednesday 29 November
And he’s gone again
So, my lover has exited the building, again.
This time I think he has exited our lives.
I was angry, now I just feel a sense of relief, I can feel the ground again.
He was having another go at me about the behaviour of my youngest. He had popped over on short notice. I already had an arrangement with my daughter; she wanted to make cupcakes and asked us to clear the kitchen for 7pm.
Big on schedules, planning and minutiae, it was part of a detailed plan of bribery to get her classmates’ vote on a team project. She was voted the most responsible and capable member of her group and is also the only child allowed to use an oven on her own.
She’d planned it with me and I agreed to leave her to it. I didn’t mind, she’s been doing so well, self managing her anxiety and learning to recognise and deal with her triggers.
But enter my lover who didn’t want to play ball, took offence to being dictated to by an eleven year old and promptly wanted to leave, with immediate effect.
Leaving seems to be what he does best. Despite my explanations of our pre-arranged agreements, he just wasn’t having it, and wouldn’t understand it – although he did stay for a little while. we hung out in the upstairs passageway, which was actually quite fun.
Today I returned back from work, it was late, dark and I had a banging headache. I rang him for a quick catch up – it’s quite nice now as I get to do the calling.
I had finally managed to gently mention that it would be helpful if he could not call me so much, the girls were getting upset by the constant phone calls, disrupting meal times, interrupting one-on-one family times, peppering my working day with constant conversations.
I’d counted the calls, ranging on average from 15-22 a day and it was all getting a bit much; I was battling to get a flow on anything.
Apparently this upset him, it was hard for me to mention, as I didn’t want to upset him or hurt his feelings. He ‘loves me so very much’, apparently, so it shouldn’t have been a lot to ask.
Well, it did upset him, and now apparently my daughter’s behaviour has also upset him.
He’s walked out on me that many times that I’ve finally called it a day and I feel fine.
I think my little girls are the best that they have been in a very long time; we’re finding a homeostasis together.
We’re strong, and they’re wonderful. The cats and the dog are intrinsic parts of our whole and we all adore each other.
Did I mention that he hates cats, actually he’s terrified of them and the latest is that apparently my cooking is awful.
This upset me. It’s the first time anyone has said that to me, most people think I cook amazing food (I don’t think he likes vegetables!), but mostly what upset me is that, for me, one of the most loving expressions of our feelings is to prepare food for the ones we love.
To share food, meal times and break bread together is a primal sharing, communal, deeply human activity.
Take that option away and the future suddenly seems bleak.
I feel like my love and creativity has been stifled.