Wed 6 September
I’ve had a rough night. My head is like mincemeat; I can’t find a clear thought. My current mission in life is to keep things simple, to seek a clear path, to not over complicate, to not be too busy and to learn to say no.
I forget to say no and by habit I try to accommodate everyone. It’s easier sometimes to help other people follow their dreams, find peace and be happy, than it is to do it for myself.
And to give good advice, which I somehow omit to take heed to myself.
So, I’ve been awake through the night, listening to my watch alarm sound off at every hour. Mostly I was thinking that I didn’t want to attend this work meeting that I’d agreed to. I tossed and turned feeling more and more belligerent and begrudging about giving three unpaid hours of my time to better the cause of another. Admittedly it was a charity and a cause I very much believe in, but in the process, once again, to the detriment of my own needy cause of trying to get my life in some kind of order.
It took at least four hourly alerts to go by before I came to the realization that I didn’t have to go to the meeting. It’s the first day at High School for my youngest, the last full day I get to spend with my mother before she returns to South Africa, countless loose ends at work that I need to tie up, a still messy house to sort and a blog to write. I don’t have to go!
Only then did I manage to get to sleep.
I thought I was doing all right, I haven’t cried for at least a week.
At the weekend I went to the most wonderful wedding with my lover, a pure celebration of love and mutual appreciation. I knew no one, went to a venue I hadn’t been before, stayed in a hotel with little soaps, chocolates and a swimming pool. It was all in Liverpool but it felt like we were in an exotic European location. It was glorious, we danced, we ate, we made new friends, my lover cried when the vows were exchanged, we ate some more, danced even more and tottered back to our hotel room.
I was so happy and I didn’t once think of Kevin.
I haven’t been in this situation since he died, or possibly I haven’t allowed myself this: joy, fun, laughter.
Partly, I think, the enjoyment was about being around people I didn’t know and more importantly, around people that didn’t know Kevin.
Immersed in this loving, caring familiarity, I basked in the intimacy whilst remaining completely anonymous.
A swim and a Jacuzzi in the early morning, coffee in the mid morning haze, a view of the Mersey and a cruise ship docked nearby. It was all completely unfamiliar and I didn’t want it to end.
Saturday 9th September
I’m lying in the bracken, my ever-faithful dog at my feet, the sound of home-made didgeridoos bellowing a basal hum, the banging of drums to a distant beat… well, the bashing of a load of kitchen implements and bits of wood against various other found objects; buckets, wheelbarrows, tire rims. And the sound of people having fun in the woods.
We’re in a community woodland in Scotland, I don’t know how I managed to get us here, but we made it. My dearest mother left us two nights ago, I went to work the following morning, picked the girls up from school and then we headed north.
Not to mention the morning of our departure, which heralded the most horrendous kick off between my lover and my youngest. Its all tricky territory, an obstacle course, a minefield and on this particular occasion, a battlefield.
It was my lover’s first overnight stay in over a month of my mother’s visit. It was possibly too soon after she left, only hours. We’d missed each other and were hungry for each other’s company. My youngest had given up her bedroom for a month, we’d all adjusted to having another adult keeping order and discipline, which I’d loved but my children had struggled with.
I felt exhausted, but what’s new, and the intensity of the last month was hitting me hard. I was dreading the potential come down after her imminent departure, alone again to fend for myself and my family. Back to our triangle where there is always one feeling left out, always one at odds with the other two.
In the morning, I come downstairs and my lover is in a storm, about to blow a gasket. My youngest is fuming, in tears and my oldest has scuttled away. All this in the space of a few minutes, he only preceded me by moments.
My lover hisses that my daughter is unmanageable and needs discipline ‘Be the adult’, he says.
My blood boils, I want to scream at him, I want to break down in tears, ‘You don’t understand. Nobody understands.’
I’m so tired of all of it. My daughter exhausts me but on the bigger picture, I think she is doing really well. Apparently I can’t see the truth because I love her too much.
But I’m out of ideas, I don’t know what else to try, I can’t discern which is which anymore. I can’t disentangle the grief from the PTSD, puberty from impetuousness, the autism spectrum disorder from the just plain selfish, the rudeness from anxiety and frustration.
Now he accuses her of being a narcissist.
Are they bouncing off each other? Are they just too similar or do they just dislike each other?
Is it just not possible for me to enjoy a little love, support and interaction with another grownup?
I am flummoxed, I feel flattened, my daughter is refusing to be in the same space as my lover.
Suffice for now, we are 200 miles away, in Scotland, with a bunch of outdoor loving, family focused, child centred friends, all intent on having fun, nurturing respect, embracing nature with all its risks, wild weather and wetness.
In trying to simplify my life and get back to the basics, how did I let it all get so complicated?
Right now it couldn’t get much more basic; cooking on open fires, outdoor games, whittling, building shelters; the challenge is bringing this all back into my life.
For starters I’ve whittled myself a fabulous butter knife! Well, I mostly supported the children while they learned knife safety and respectful tool usage but I couldn’t contain myself and had to have a go.
On reflection, I find that I am still locked in; I can’t allow myself to get involved, to relax and just to be, without Kevin in my life. Especially in times like these, I can feel his presence, his shadow and his echo; when the drums are going he would be stuck in, keeping the beat going, when the singing starts he’d be straight in there, getting it going.
And the girls would also have a dad, like their friends, to lark about and be embarrassed by (but secretly be ever so proud of).