Monthly Archives

June 2018

Life

This one was easy

14th June 2018

Picture of R sewing

Just to set the scene of how I’ve started this post. Got the kids to bed, I’m sitting on the sofa, in the dark pretty much, I’ve got Love island on in the background and I’m listening to the TEDIOUS discussion of who is in a love frenzy with who. What a rough show, I’m basically observing a fickle bunch of sex pests with varying levels of filler. Anyway, there’s stuff ALL OVER THE KITCHEN. The shopping got delivered earlier and I DIDN’T PUT IT AWAY! BECAUSE I CAN. (I’ll do it in the morning)

The day started well but has subsequently collapsed a bit, I’ve got a sore arm from going to the doctor and having a lump sliced out of it under local this afternoon. In the waiting room I got blindsided by someone that hadn’t slept for 28 hours. Now, just picking up the laptop reminds me I need to bloody back this thing up and get my development environment sorted. This means going through photos etc… not feeling it.

In any case I’m supposed to be writing the third blog so best get on it. I really don’t know how much longer I can keep this up! Writing everyday, working, trying to be a good person… it’s a push.  I knew the last bit of positive feedback I gave as soon as I read the question. I paid for Ruby’s sewing class on Monday and once the payment cleared I emailed: ‘I’d just like to let you know how happy Ruby is when she returns from these classes. Thank you for making them so enjoyable, she absolutely loves them.’

I have made a point of giving compliments for a long time, or feedback – letting someone  know I appreciate their effort. I don’t compliment on aesthetics (appearance or material stuff) unless I genuinely like something. I have to believe it if I say it. The other day, I admired the shade of pink someone was wearing and she said ‘you said that last time I wore this.’ Listen…I am consistent!

That said, it’s made me think I should follow up more often if something is good or someone does a great job. I know I always appreciate an email thanking me for my time, for organising something or for making them feel welcome, even though it’s my job and I get paid for it. Yesterday, I turned a letter around in a few hours that an ex member of staff needed to send off to future employers and the smiley face I got back  with a thank you did make me feel ever so slightly lighter.

I think, one of the best places I’ve found to repeatedly find people giving positive feedback is at running events. The people who shout ‘you’re doing really well’ when you’re not even half way. The runner that puts a hand on your arm while you’re walking and feeling sick and says, ‘keep it going’, someone who watches you faltering in the distance, catches you up, tells you they’re there for you and promises to stay with you until the end. The group that shout ‘she’s bringing it back!!!!!’ when you leave your mates in the crowd and head into the event with a renewed burst of energy, or the people you run with when you’re in the midst of vast distances, 30 or 40 miles in. At those times you have to be honest, in a way that isn’t always easy in real life and say ‘I’m really struggling here, I hurt all over, you need to talk me out of it because I’m a bit broken.’ and then you’re hit with positivity to raise your game.

What I am absolutely SHIT at is thank you’s. I don’t know if I’m rebelling against a childhood of having to write out thank you cards after birthdays or Christmas but I’m shocking at sending them. I often write them, just don’t send them. Not sure the back story to that, but I’ll hold my hands up, I’m rubbish.

This encouraging and appreciating stuff is necessary and essential in life, to feel like you matter and to make others know that they do. Even the briefest of smiles or the shortest text can lift my day if it’s not going in the right direction. Any positivity steers us all back. Find at least one thing every day to appreciate someone for, and get it out there. To the encouragers! Keep it going…

(I’m journalling from ‘The Year of You” – mainly because I need some kind of prompt to write this so I don’t have to think too much. Ha!)

 

Life

The good stuff

13th June 2018

Picture of a red shirtI’m trying to think of a recent compliment. Two people said I looked really ‘comfy’ at work yesterday, I’m not sure that counts. Better than tired, I had to ban any comments whatsoever about my appearance because I kept getting that: the new rule is ‘good, bad, ugly I don’t want to hear it thanks.’

Erm…My friend Mary called me a ‘walking library’ yesterday. The last few years I’ve read a ton and she was reading a book I hadn’t read which she liked ( she’s reading: ‘Why buddhism is true‘ – I added it to my goodreads)

Ruby and I made coleslaw the other night for dinner and she said “you could win awards for your coleslaw. You could enter cooking competitions and you would win.” Maybe I should be writing a post about coleslaw.

I did stick up a list above my desk that Ruby wrote out and left in my bedroom which is complimentary and makes me smile (what is it about lists? I love a list) but it’s a bit ‘my children love me’, which is let’s face it, mostly a given when they’re under the age of 10.

OK, the nicest thing anyone said to me recently was that they felt better after talking to me. The day I’m thinking of was at work and I all I did was listen properly, everyone has so much stuff going on in their lives, I didn’t really do anything and both people who’d popped in to see me at independent times said ‘I feel better now I’ve talked to you’.

Oh! I was wearing my new red shirt the other day and two people said they loved it. That’s a good compliment.

 

Apart from that. I’m out.

 

Life

The year of me: My closest friend

12th June 2018

Picture of Hannah Braime's The Year of You

“Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another”

-Derek Walcott.

I got an idea in Cornwall when I downloaded this book. The weekend before I’d been walking the dog in the woods with my friend Gill and I’d said maybe I’d start writing my blog again. For no real purpose really, I don’t have any proper blog plans, originally I changed my online name (I am eye-rolling as I type) to ‘discostitches’ to start writing patterns and sell more handmade items as a sideline. Well, you can see, a few years on, no patterns, minimal making and currently a complete creative hiatus. This space has been pretty defunct and I’ve pretty much avoided posting anything at such a difficult time in my life and in the life of my family but I like writing, I keep paying the site fees and I think maybe I need a focus, some sort of outlet, not necessarily about everything but at least about something. The therapist I’ve just concluded sessions with described life at present as living ‘a half life’. That’s my life she’s talking about and the sad thing is I agree with her. Everything is so transitional and overwhelming, that after a total burn out I don’t do any of the things I used to enjoy. I’m too tired to run, my appetite is all over the place, mainly lacking, I just can’t eat very much, it feels odd. I sleep a ton, I feel weary, I want to make stuff but I can’t concentrate for very long. I wrote about that yesterday, but it made me too sad reading it back so I didn’t publish it. I did the same thing when my dad died, stopped writing, got detached. Less than a week before he died I got a call to the hospice and he’d pulled the sink in his en suite off the wall because he’d been in so much pain. I couldn’t write about that or what followed that day. I couldn’t write about the daily awfulness of what it’s like to lose someone like that and watch the life ebb from their body while they are wracked in pain. I tried here. (I can’t believe that blog is still up! I certainly don’t pay for it anymore) I couldn’t write about the whole terrible and intense six months leading up to his death. Then my father in law died in a similar way three years later and three years after that the husband/kid’s dad left. All a clusterfuck of absolute shitfulness over years, which to be honest, has made me not want to write and right now, not want to do much of anything. I work, I walk the dog and I cook dinner. The essentials. 

Anyway the book. This book came up in my kindle recommends I think and I’ve chosen it to be my written prompt for a blog. The year of me. I can overthink the oversharing if I like but my energy is so limited currently that feels like a waste of resources and I’ve done this blogging thing before. I used to enjoy it. Maybe I’ll actually write it more than once. Maybe I’ll get unstuck. What mercy. Being unstuck is the end game because stuck is no fun and right now it’s what I’m in, leaden, heavy, stultifying stuckness. Generously I’ll call it a life pause. People keep saying this is “the start of my new life” but it’s also completely different and hard to get used to. The only issue I’ve got is writing what I want to write now and being worried if it’s something I’m going to want to have put out there in 10 years time. I feel I’m trying to navigate a very difficult headspace.

So, the idea is, you get a prompt everyday and then you write out the answer. Of course, I’ve started in June, the month of ‘relationships’ so I feel like I’ve immediately put myself on a bit of a back foot, being in the midst of a separation after an almost 13 year relationship, I’ve not written properly in ages, so I’m nervous I’ll write rubbish, but to quote my mate Nathalie last week ‘life’s a fucking bitch’. And it really is. As there’s loads of rubbish written, adding mine is the least of it I think.

Now the problem with doing this I imagine is the possibility of breaking the author’s copyright so I’m not going to write out verbatim the question posed. You’ll have to work it out, or buy the book. It’s a good book, it asks good questions.

Let’s go.

My closest friend.

Do we have to start with that? Today?

Brilliant. 

I was standing on the doormat holding the front door, I’d barely slept in three days, everything pre the weekend had totally spun on it’s axis and right now, my husband was standing on the pavement outside the house holding onto a suitcase. “You were my best friend,” I said. “You’re mine,” he replied, “but I can’t be here anymore”. And that was it, I mean there were accompanying tears and previous conversation, but pretty much: Sudden. Cataclysmic. The end.

Almost thirteen years of day to day. That’s pretty much a third of my current life, including one whole year round the world 24/7. We worked out we’d spent more time with each other than we had with our parents. We were able to talk about anything and everything, the embarassing, the perplexing, the ideas, the dreams, the sadness, the self doubt, the worry, the panic, the day to day, our history, we made REAL PEOPLE, he watched me give birth twice, genuinely when you are at your most physically vulnerable. He held my head when it was pouring with blood after an road accident, we travelled, danced, watched the people we love get married, we saw in birthdays and new years and we’d write our humble brags out or laugh at stupid shit the kids had said that year. We went on holidays and weekend breaks. We got a dog. We had a list of ‘firsts’, all the things we did for the first time together. It was long. We dived oceans around the world, walked in the countryside and saw live music. When I was sick or went to hospital he was there. He was the one who woke me one morning with a hand on my shoulder and delivered the news that my dad had died. When his father died we walked in to see his dad’s body together. At the face of brand new and extinguished life, we were side by side. There’s closeness in that you simply can’t replicate with anyone else. If you’ve experienced either, you know exactly what I mean.

You get to change over the years imperceptibly together, like they say, “make the years combine and the memories entwine,” or you don’t, you keep stuff back, hold some secrets and then apparently the difference is too great or the damage is too awful and in this case suddenly you’re definitely not close friends anymore, there’s barely recognition.

There had been potential plans to move the entire family to Singapore in what amounted to a matter of weeks before we split and it had lulled me into a false sense of security. But the albeit perceived closeness had held in it the implicit belief that no matter what, when the shit hit in life, however I felt about myself, my behaviour or my situation, whether it was good, or totally crappy, there would always be this person to hold my hand and say ‘I’m still here, you don’t have to be perfect but I’m always with you in this.’ Total acceptance. However when the shit hit and things felt so bad and so awful, I found myself very immediately and unexpectedly completely alone looking around for my person. Of course he’d gone, overnight and he didn’t return.

I asked the kids who my closest friend was today, because of this question and they answered: ‘it was daddy….but not anymore’ (then Ruby obviously attempted to state her case for what she clearly imagines is a very prized position)

Who I did consider my closest friend, isn’t. He’s not my person anymore. He’s another person. Now with an entirely different life. The struggle, what the therapist I saw calls ‘the deep grief’ is what I would describe as managing a great absence, very like someone has died, the trust and belief in this person’s unequivocal presence is gone and reminders of this fact hit unexpectedly without warning. It’s very very unfamiliar.

‘You are plugging the gaps of every part he was to you with yourself and other people,’ she said the other week. ‘It’s not ideal for now, but it’s what you have to do, spread it out and find it in different places.’ It’s been over a year now and from the beginning, the mantra everyone repeats is ‘focus on you and the kids’. And that is what I have done. Nature doesn’t allow a vacuum, there are so many truly lovely people surrounding me, who support me and love me, old faces and new, who talk and laugh and eat and run and walk with me. And the dog…. of course the dog.

In the buddhist metta bhavana meditation I sometimes practice, the first stage is sending loving kindness to yourself. It’s really very hard sometimes, to be nice to yourself, particularly when you feel low or crappy and think you’re living an inferior version of your life. But it’s the bit where you hold your own hand, when times are tough or shit is less than ideal. You sit with yourself through the doubt and the swirling thoughts and whether life is good, or crappy, I realised in this space I say ‘I’m still here, you don’t have to be perfect but I’m always with you in this’ – my closest friend, the closest person to me, has been with me right from the start.