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Sarah Wilson’s ‘First, we make the beast beautiful’

11th December 2018

I reached out for this beautiful book yesterday. I have been reading it in heavy gulps over the last few months as and when. It’s this years 39th book. Quite the reading ride. One more to go until I hit my target for 2018. I was anxious as a child, the atmosphere at home was unpredictable at times. I slept with a bag at the foot of my bed in case of fire and I think it’s fair to say I’ve always carried some weight of worry about where I belong, where my space is.

I love Sarah’s work, her writing and her take on life I found reading her explorations on meaning, unhappiness, discontent and anxiety reassuring. I’m not here to write my own meditation – but if you like to explore the way you think and feel this little book is a thought provoking companion.

“Since childhood I have cried out to know where I fit, for life to make sense, to learn how to sit comfortably with myself on that bench in the sun. After thirty-odd years of doing the damn journey, have I arrived somewhere? Anywhere? Is that the question you now ask me? 

David Brooks write that those who embark on the road to character as he puts it, or the path to meaning and sense as I’m putting it, don’t come out healed. They come out different.”

I re-watched this video as a consequence and I’ve downloaded the anti-anxiety diet on kindle. Back to morning routines, meditation, gratitude and exercise. If I’m being totally honest, right now, my “inside people” are a bit weary.

Crochet Life

This week

9th December 2018

I have been feeling the passing of time and the fragility of life with intensity this week. It’s another single parent birthday for the second born and Christmas is coming up. I want to not feel bleak about this, but I do to be honest, and a bit bloody resentful. Family is an intrinsic want in my life. A friend from Book club of long ago died last weekend, far too young, too vibrant and with far too much left to do. And she was Kind and Thoughtful. It makes me pause and wonder if I’m doing things right and what I’m doing wrong. It’s been a week of big thinks.

 

 

 

I watched Forrest Gump with the first born last night and I sobbed as usual through one of my favourite films. I do wonder if maybe my teenage self subconsciously buried that ‘I just felt like running’ line and decided to live it? I really need to run again. Maybe I will run London dressed like Forrest. I realise it’s been done before – but the idea of hearing ‘run Forrest run’ for 26.2 miles is actually quite appealing.

I went for a walk with the dog this morning – I bumped into a woman I used to childmind for. I don’t think she could remember my name, let alone my children’s, or probably the fact I used to cook her kids eggs every morning with my own two children under the age of 5. She asked after my two – we made polite conversation in the woods. It made me reflect that I have met so many people and done so many other things since that point in my life. I was, at the time trying to make some money alongside balancing a young family and feeling pretty inferior. If you’d told me then what would subsequently unfold I would honestly think you’d been smoking crack.

However I do think Amy of then would be pretty proud of Amy now. Now Amy has in that time run marathons and ultras and got a dog and made alot of stuff and finally got “proper jobs”. I have kept learning and growing. I do actually like myself. I mean that’s got to be something, if it came down to it, I’d know I did what I could, with what I had, where I was. That is not to say that me right now is feeling all that great about right now. The house is chaotic, there’s so much bloody life admin to take care of, so many material things in this building I need to move and take care of. I haven’t ever written ‘that book’, I can barely get round to finishing the laundry in order to do the vacuuming, George’s party to celebrate his birthday has not been organised, I’ve overspent, I’m in desperate need of holiday and I want to actually finish one of the books I have on the go.

But, let’s round up the good stuff for the week as is the way in the digital space :

:: IFINISHEDABLOODYBLANKET! ::

This hasn’t happened for some time and the child it is for is now 6 months old, but look! It’s a beaut of 16 squares.

:: I WENT TO THE BRIGHTON CENTRE FOR CAROLS ::

Yes, I might have had flashbacks to climbing the stairs up to the auditorium with my cousin and Lianne (hey Lianne!!!! — I know you like a shoutout) for a basement jaxx gig back in the day, but this time I had a child of mine holding a hand either side and it was really quite beautiful listening to 1200 angelic little people voices singing carols whilst doing makaton. The part at the kiosk where I had to say I wanted to buy some chips about 12 times even after being presented with a 7up and then a diet 7up was weird, I genuinely thought I might be having a stroke and not communicating properly, but as George kept volleying his head between us in wide eyed disbelief between me and the woman behind the counter, someone behind me in the queue backed me up with ‘SHE JUST WANTS CHIPS!’

:: THE DOG CAME TO WORK ::

To be fair, he’s been into work more than a few times. I don’t want him with me everyday, but the times that he does come in are fun and he brings delight. He really does.

:: I SPIED THIS YEARS FIRST CREME EGGS ::

Yes, I know he’s not born yet for another couple of weeks but let’s all remember he lives again. Through these chocolate eggs.

:: GOT SOME NEW WINTER BOOTS ::

In an ideal world I’m buying blundstone’s, (but as it’s not an ideal world I’ve bought £70 boots from ASOS which aren’t even leather.) I HAD FORGOTTEN JUST HOW COMFY DM’S WERE. I’m also pretty much set at 2019 being a no shop year. I’m definitely not crocheting enough to warrant this blog being about making so perhaps I can write instead on NOT BUYING.

I have also been listening to: The Hurry Slowly Podcast

And listening to Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ on audible.

Oh! And also I’ve been complaining about the £40 Christmas tree I bought on amazon. 

That each branch has 8-10 inches (12 inches if you’re that type of liar) of bare wire seems to be beside the point in the response I got back:

 

 

I just hadn’t open the leaves vertically and horizontally!!! OMG!! Of course that was the issue. Maybs a lighter background was what I needed. Also, a “little different” is the understatement of 2018. I didn’t find it a ‘little different’ – it was an artificial tree that made me question life. Hold up. My entire life is, now, a ‘little different’ in a similar way.

Let me tell you, the returns label is stuck on the box, I’m heading to the post office, this tree does not make my “christsmas” perfect or add more charm, it makes me feel sad about humanity in a George Monbiot sort of way.

I’m moving away from the kitchen table, I’ve had enough of the week. May all who read this stay blessed, be brave and not get shit Christmas trees on amazon.

And may all that cross me know it.

Kiss kiss xx

 

Life

Look for the blue sky

6th December 2018

I don’t really know where to start.

Last week I heard a colleague say she was off instagram for a week – I overheard the rationale and I thought about how I’ve not been on there to post or consume for a couple of months. It’s a whole other bit of writing to articulate the rationale. I feel it needs more deliberate explanation because I’ve been thinking about digital identity and the role social media plays in replacing necessary physical connection our primal ancestry requires and about whether or not I wanted it in my life.

I read around it ALOT and I thought about it to distraction until I did realise it is THE distraction in my life. I’ll get all my thoughts down another time. I did check in though, and as before when I took a break, ‘followers’ in the ether – many of whom I have been in touch with for years were checking in on the DM’s to see if everything was ok, a few knowing of course that everything had been very not ok.

So – against the advice of Jaron Lanier I have officially ‘left’ for now, very possibly forever and I wanted people to know so they didn’t worry, which of course is lovely. This space, where if you’re interested you have a real choice in consuming what I write about is here. This is my place.

I reckon I’ll just pop in here as often as I can and post links, thoughts and makes as and when, work and life are kicking my arse a bit if I’m honest but this can perhaps be a more productive distraction for me that doesn’t involve me endless scrolling. A place where I can share things I’m reading, thinking about and liking. I’m writing it as though I’m writing to a friend I suppose, or myself. I’m not actually convinced anyone except Lianne and Johanna have ever read my blogs (hey both!)

This came up at work today, I feel compromised at in some small way facilitating an ad for alcohol to go viral but it’s really powerful.

 

 

Watch it and weep. If you’ve had an emotionally intense week like me it’s kryptonite.

Life

Everything about this

18th November 2018

I wish this picture was a real reflection of the week. It’s quiet and light and shiny (slightly dusty). I saw the light fall like this on Saturday and I am so pleased I captured it. My week wasn’t like that at all, I’m honestly happy to fold it neatly and pack it away into the past. Going to try posting everyday. Even if it’s small.

Life

Leaves

22nd October 2018

The house is unnaturally quiet because the children aren’t here. I can’t sleep despite a definitive intent to do so, so I’m writing this list I thought about doing earlier in the day – prompts from this MeetMeAtMikes post. It’s been a long short week. The type that leaves you utterly exhausted by life with too many ups and downs squeezed into only a matter of days.

Making : No making. None at all. So many unfinished projects.
Cooking : Roasting some veg and a chicken this afternoon has been about the extent of it.
Drinking : Wine on Thursday/Friday, but have again, gone back hard to the chinese pu’er.
Listening to: The High Low, Billie Eilish, Solitude by Michael Harris on audible, and I finished Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – I thought it was too ambitious and a bit long for me, but I was determined to finish and it accompanied me on my walk to and from work for many days.
Reading: I finished Lily Allen’s “My thoughts exactly” and Christina Patterson’s “The art of not falling apart” – currently laughing through “Let Go My Hand” by Edward Docx.
Next read: Actually going to finish “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott.
Wanting: To get up early each morning to write.
Looking: At the work of Yuni Yoshida – she’s amazing
Playing: With morphing SVG’s using greensock’s plugin.
Deciding: No decisions made this week.
Wishing: For a holiday. Some sun. A break.
Enjoying: A 90 minute deep tissue massage.
Waiting: For the kids new squishies to arrive.
Liking: My new house plants from the Open Market last weekend. I WILL get them potted this week.
Wondering: When my energy will come back.
Loving: Sitting in bed reading.
Pondering: The idea that social media is now a form of social bonding and how that relates to the online identity. Michael Harris talks about it in the book Solitude. I can’t stop thinking about it.
Considering: The next stage of my life.
Buying: Lots of clothes off ebay recently. It’s got to stop.
Watching: First Dates Hotel.
Next watch: Finishing Killing Eve this week.
Hoping: Always hoping.
Marvelling: At just how much water came through the roof last Sunday night in the epic rain and how I am still wearing only a t-shirt outside when it is mid October.
Cringing: When I wear red lipstick, eat and get it on my nose.
Needing: To apply for Ruby’s secondary school.
Questioning: The impact of identity on habits, the impact of language: saying ‘I am’ instead of “I’m trying to”. See atomic habits
Smelling: The roses in the park. Still going strong.
Wearing: Anything I like. It’s so nice to have a job where I can put on trainers or denim to work. Not to be underestimated.
Following: I’ve dipped into observe the socials but I’m not posting.
Worrying: Actually I’ve sort of discovered recently, that when the worst has happened, you worry less, but I did worry the dog had fleas and took him to the vet and got told I was paranoid.
Noticing: That every morning I am tired, no matter how much sleep I get.
Knowing: I need to start training. As in, actually running.
Thinking: About this quote: “We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them.” – William Arthur Ward.
Admiring: The houseplants I have managed to grow and keep alive.
Sorting: All the children’s things.
Getting: UP – I’m finishing this in the morning, and now I am GETTING UP.
Bookmarking: This exchange by creatives on what to do about their social media accounts.
Coveting: Freshly painted walls.
Disliking: Leaving for work without eating. Must. Get. Up. Earlier.
Opening: Lots of books being delivered.
Giggling: Still laughing at this.
Feeling: Like morning is coming too soon.
Snacking: Edamame with salt.
Hearing: The house shifting with no-one in it.

Books Life

tsundoku

7th October 2018

Books by my bed

As much as I like to borrow books I love to have them also. Everything about the stacks of reading material beside my bed is making me happy.

In no particular order:

The lost flowers of Alice  Hart: Holly Ringland, passed to me by my sister Hannah.

Everything I know about love: Dolly Alderton, a birthday present from my friend Caroline because we both love listening to the High Low podcast.

The Way of the happy woman: Sara Avant Stover, because this book is a nourishing companion to my life and I’m not looking after myself properly at the moment

Let go my hand: Edward Docx, an author I hadn’t heard of but I signed myself up for a writing workshop with him in November last Friday evening. Happy Birthday to me.

A question of trust: Penny Vincenzi, because I love her doorstop books. I hadn’t realised she had died and so sadly read her obituary today also, she’s a bit of an inspiration to me.

Willpower: Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, because I need to exercise a bit more discipline, ritual and routine in my life to get what I want to get done, done. I can be determined and focused, but currently outside of work and feeding the children I’ve lost the thread a bit with my creating, my fitness and my money. That in turn makes me not feel on top of life.

The Compassionate Mind: Paul Gilbert, because I pulled an angel card the other day I hadn’t before that said I should exercise compassion, then I saw this book on the shelf that day in Waterstones. I think probably I need to exercise a bit more self compassion, I’ve had to tilt a little out of some parts of my life while I get to grips with my new role as a junior creative developer and I’m constantly berating myself for not being more organised. It’s not always home cooked meals from scratch like it used to be and sometimes I don’t have time to make packed lunches. I need to do things like change the energy provider, file the paperwork and sort the garden out. Keeping on top of the house is a daily struggle. Most often I am in bed at the same time as the children during the week because I’m so exhausted and it feels like nothing else gets done. There are so many imperfections and things I would like to be better at but I have to remember I am holding down a job, the kids and the dog are happy, there’s always deliveroo, the world is still turning and everyday I start afresh.

Magazines: Flow/Frankie both purchased at Magazine.

I cannot imagine life without reading. I’m so looking forward to curling up with these in the evenings.

Life

Back: This week

6th October 2018

Picture of the book 'The Art of Falling apart"

I’ve gone cool on instagram. Again. It got to be too earnest a digital space for me to inhabit. I don’t want to consume there, I don’t want to participate in the glib, prosaic, pretty much formulaic style of copy I seemed to be actually quite ok at. Basically, I’m conflicted for a number of reasons I can’t currently find it within myself to elaborate on, but I’ve not been on there all week save to see a photo taken of me on Friday lunchtime being gloriously happy holding my friends baby. It’s weird all this digital content we can create, feel compelled to create, it’s all tied up with recognition and value/significance, I just want anyone that wants to read what I write to have intentionally sought it. Not by virtue of a follow once, long ago, on a platform that seeks to hold our attention, because you’re here. You’re reading this. It’s too difficult to explain in a few short sentences, perhaps I’ll try another time.

I also gave up on the challenge ‘a year of you’ – it got to the relationship part and the words ‘fuck this’ made me not want to do it anymore. Just being honest.

Today has been lazy. I’ve got the children all weekend and we had to set out with the dog to get George to his martial arts class in swift haste because no-one was ready in time. Ruby and I then pointlessly drove round for a bit before parking the car in the local supermarket and attempting to take the dog up the moving walkway (the lift wasn’t working) to wander round London Road. He was having none of it, lay on the floor in absolute terror, resisting going anywhere near it with the considerable strength of his entire being. Like many other escalators and bridges of the past, it didn’t happen. We got back in the car and had to park somewhere else.

We then had bacon sandwiches at the cafe next door and got my fringe trimmed by my lovely hairdresser who always make sure she holds me in a hug before making me look like myself again. Since being back I’ve sat with Ruby and helped her code a rudimentary page for a science project. It’s got animated text so far and we plan to add to it over the coming days. She even created her own timeline! In between I have been dipping in and out of this wonderful book “The art of falling apart” by Christina Patterson. I delight in reading but weekends are my binge. This book has described something I have been through recently through the stories of others and although it feels quite close to the bone sometimes and I have physically felt uncomfortable during the reading, I am enjoying something sometimes only the written word can do, making you feel less alone.

Off the back of searching for everything Christina has ever written on the internet, on a link frenzy I came across these words said by John Docx on being a writer: “to give precise and enduring expression to the human experience”. I’m writing now – I don’t feel I’ve quite given precise and enduring expression to my human experience, but what I do know is that I have liked to write here in the past. I know that sometimes, the things I have written have made people I don’t know write to me and tell me their stories. That’s what we’re all doing, sharing stories of our experience. I ended up buying all his books too and then being freakishly alarmed by them arriving and being handed to me hours later – bloody prime, I’ve got proper tsundoku at the moment, piles and piles of material to read. It makes me feel content in a way that a full freezer does.

If you’ve ever felt your life has hit the skids, accompany your demise by reading this book, it covers all the horrors of what can and perhaps will unfold in any human experience. It will prove the human ability for resilience. It will make you want to believe in the words by Brad Meltzer.

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.

 

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.