So Close

..to collapsing.

I’m doing quite well. I’m struggling with getting the hours in for work in the weeks when the kids are with me. I struggle to be in any way interested in work. I’m not finding time for practicing music. I’m finding it hard to get to bed in time when the kids are not with me. All these situations are known, I know why they are the way they are, I consistently try to make them better, which sometimes works, sometimes not. They belong to my steady state, and people around me who might be affected by these things know about them too. I’m not hiding anything.

On the positive side, my steady state also includes finding time for quite a bit of physical activity with running and gym sessions. It includes having time for meaningful communication and staying in touch with the kids as they are rapidly growing up. I’m still doing music – cello in the orchestra, and an occasional solo singing gig. The house is reasonably clean, there are clean clothes and clean dishes for everyone, and I manage to prepare healthy meals every day. I’m getting my work done at a sufficient rate of satisfaction for the people affected by it. I’m healthy. I’m managing to improve my nutrition. I’m finding time to support the kids’ education. I usually have a natural smile on my face.

And yet…

It takes so little to push me into hyperventilating, mental panic and huge distress.

On Saturday, all it took was the combination of getting up two hours later than I should have done, playing badly at orchestra rehearsal (because I hadn’t practiced, my cello needs new strings and my technique never has been good enough for fast notes, and I was playing virtually on my own), the prospect of no run that day, instead dashing to pick my mum up and remembering that I would have to go shopping, pack a case for my eldest, prepare his travel-with-gran documents, prepare food for the whole day for him (13 year old boys eat a lot). I also wasn’t quite sure how difficult it would be to free the eldest from his dad that next day – he had agreed with everything, but he had had a cross week last week. For all I knew, he might call the police, at least causing him to miss his flight. He’s pretty unpredictable – the only predictable thing about him is that he won’t do anything that requires physical effort on his part. All this already had me in an unhappy, stressed state.

What toppled the whole thing was Mr M calling to let me know that the get in touch page of his website, both desktop and mobile, which I am working on at the moment, had disappeared, and could I check what had happened? I was driving at the time and had to stop and just breathe for 10 minutes, then I tried to fix the problem from my mobile phone. Of course that didn’t work, but I wasn’t thinking straight – I couldn’t. His website does not have masses of traffic – it’s not as if this problem had to be fixed withing seconds, and I’m not on 24/7 web-admin duty, and he knows full well that I’m learning this stuff as we go along. All the same, it set me off, toppling me down the hill with the brakes dysfunctional, completely out of control.

It takes a lot of energy to regain control, and to get on top of things again. On top of that tottering pile of stuff, ready to be sent down again by any unexpected upset or imbalance. I need to invest in stability, and in taking a look at every stressor in my life, categorising it, and deciding whether there is any better way to deal with it, or even to get rid of it altogether. That’s going to be my project for the next few months I guess.

 

 

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Changes in the Fabric

There are big changes happening in this family at the moment, subtly though, so much so that I wouldn’t notice them if I wasn’t looking for them.

My girl started school last week, for the first time ever in her life, at the age of nearly 12. For her, this is her first major decision in life, with which she is going against her father’s philosophy and at the same time, she is challenging herself to do something that scares her. Before she started, she was expecting her first day to be a huge disappointment, and to be feeling stupid. She’s changed her mind about that, but still, there is a lot for her to learn.

So she is choosing her own path, taking a step away from being with the family 24/7.

The boys don’t quite know what to think about it. They are watching closely, asking her about things. Suddenly, quiet No2 is the courageous one, the one who knows about things the boys have no idea about.  This also brings the boys together much more. No1 is being more considerate and open towards No3, and No3 is more grown up all of a sudden.

I feel as if I am watching from the side, guiding here, supporting there, but mainly observing.

Last week I went to London with the boys for a few days. This had been booked for No2 as well, as the school had told me that she could join in May at first. Then, after the entrance exams, they wanted her there quickly, and T would not let me change the tickets, arguing that the boys should not be punished by No2 starting school. In his view, being in London for 2 days is a once-in-a-lifetime event, apparently, disregarding the fact that I already did the tourist trip to London. He threatened not to sign the school papers if I changed the tickets. “What a jerk”, was No1’s comment. Yes, he is.

Anyway, while we were in London, I fell ill. Food-poisoning, I think, but a mild one. One that just caused cramps, blood pressure chaos and feeling so very exhausted. I had an emergency sleep on the steps of the British Museum and various benches there, the tube multiple times, a café, a bus and of course while the kids were waiting for me to get them food. No1 was sweet and took care of me whenever he remembered that I was feeling bad, carrying my bag for me, telling me that we didn’t have to go to xyz if I needed to rest, and stopping No3 from bouncing up and down on me too much. He’s naturally growing into a more caring role, which is beautiful to watch. Once I suggested dropping them off at the flat and going on my own to do some shopping, as it was late. He told me, if they shouldn’t be roaming the streets on their own because of the violence that is everywhere in London (which I had made a point of), then I shouldn’t either, and he would definitely come with me. He bowled me over with this. I let him know that I appreciate the care and the thought from the bottom of my heart.

No3 also made an interesting discovery before we left and I was trying to pack, finish work, book last minute accommodation, get things sorted for No2 and the dog – all at once and with much too little time. “So you DO get tired sometimes, mum!” he said, giving me a hard look. Yes son. I do.

.

Standing in the practice room this morning, taking in what I see.

I see myself in my pyjamas, clutching a cup of tea. My hair is still tied up from washing it last night.

I see and feel peace.

Today, I woke up being the person I want to be.

Man overboard – again

The youngest is back in hospital again – it’s only been two months. He has the same symptoms as last time too, and the doctors have come to the same decision that it is not appendicitis, after having him on the maybe list for the night.

This time, I stayed with him the first night and T. is staying with him now. He tried to bail out by offering to keep the healthy two older kids with him so that I could stay at the hospital. However yesterday, T. had already proudly told me that No 3 had requested his presence for the second night – when the kids would normally be with me – so I wasn’t having any of that, as No 3 was still ok today with that arrangement.

T. is rubbish at looking after people. He can’t do it for more than 8 hours, then he breaks and he “catches” whatever that person has, just that his state is if course always much worse. Of course he doesn’t really get I’ll – it’s all in his head…

But as he always insists that he is capable of every aspect of parenting, the stage is his now to demonstrate his skills for once.

…he already looked a bit broken when we swapped watch today.

I’m fairly relaxed about it because there are nurses around and No 3 is in a safe environment. Never would I have left him to T.’s sole responsibility, in his current state, needing help with everything.

I’ll be back at the hospital tomorrow afternoon, after No 2’s entrance exam at the school of her choice (eeeek!), and we’ll see how things are going and who is in a worse state then.

Dealing with Unreasonability

As twatface can’t be arsed to check when he should pick the kids up whenever it isn’t quite regular (that would be any bank holiday – I have a hunch that he is getting a bit thick and can’t work it out), his latest thing is to send his girl along to suss it out with me.

I imagine the conversation to be something along these lines. I have quite a good idea of how it goes, as I’ve been there myself and I can see her slowly following the same path.

gf: Do you want me to pick the kids up again this week?

twat: umm… yeah… whatever… would be good…

gf: so when are they coming? might be different as it’s the easter weekend.

twat: oh, is it? hmmm… I don’t know

gf: well, at Christmas it was different, wasn’t it? And I ended up driving twice.

twat: hmmmm…..

gf: so, when are they coming?

twat: I have no idea. ex-gf [me] is always so difficult to talk to and she always gets cross with me, regardless of how nice I am. I really can’t face talking to her, and I have a headache too. They’ll probably coming to me from sunday to sunday or from monday to monday… [this is all stated clearly in the court decision btw, and it’s very difficult to misunderstand]

gf: Well, I get along with her, I’ll ask her, as you’re not feeling well

twat: ok, whatever

GF then proceeds to ask me whether the kids are coming Sunday-Sunday or Monday-Monday. I go on to explain to her that it is quite clearly defined, twatface only needs to check the document if he’s already forgotten, and that because of Easter, they are only staying with twatface from Monday-Sunday.

Then she writes: Ok, see you Sunday then!

So I go through it all again, and remind her again that this is twat’s job, and that it is all written down, and that she will not be seeing me on Sunday.

And she then starts to bitch on me!

I did get the last word in the end, proved her wrong, and told her that the fact that she is discussing this with me and the tone in which she is talking to me is totally inappropriate.

She has obviously had to listen to how I turn things around and how I am unreliable and egoistic etc from twatface, and she’s beginning to believe it.

She used to refuse to be his puppet, but since the baby’s been around, she’s becoming more and more of his shadow, just like I was. There is no way I can help her see things for what they are – she would block it out, even if it’s blatantly obvious. I used to do that. Anytime somebody pointed something out to me, I would simply gradually exclude that person from my life – not least because the twat would start telling me what a base person it was.

This also means that she will be up in arms more, as in his head, he leads a life of “me/us against the world”. It also means that it’s now becoming two against one, and they will be strengthening each other in their foul beliefs about me and my long list of faults.

I’m tired…

 

All or Nothing

I could be categorized as an all or nothing person. I either commit, or I don’t. If I don’t, it’s no good waiting another month/year/whatever. It won’t change. If I do, it’s for a long time. You’re stuck with me.

I’ve recently been confronted with a different conception of all or nothing, that I have had a big think about.

My personal all or nothing decision goes something like this:

Do I want to commit to X (a person)?

Yes -> I will do everything I can to be a good and supportive friend/partner/sister etc, and will find a way to create the situation or a situation as close as the circumstances will allow to fulfill this commitment.

No -> I will remain civil but that’s it. I will not invest myself, much interest or any energy in my relationship with this person.

The other type that is new to my mind goes like this, in my current understanding:

Do I have the situation I need to have a satisfying relationship with X?

Yes -> I can commit to X and will invest myself in this relationship

No -> I cannot commit to X and will not invest myself in this relationship under the current circumstances

When these two attitudes meet, it can create quite a bit of confusion and requires a lot of patience and understanding on both sides to prevent it all exploding like oxygen and hydrogen.

While I am losing it because I can’t make sense of the general message of “yes, I want this too” and the lack of display of interest or investment, and am desperately trying to stay in a dialogue and in touch in a meaningful way, they are getting all uncomfortable feeling all my expectations, even if my expectations are only visible between the lines. Commitment is just not an option. That question comes later. They are also constantly letting me down simply by acting in a way that is consistent for them, which they feel and I feel in a not-so-great way.

As I mentioned, I have had a big think about all this. I have come to the conclusion that I can understand both types of all or nothing.

In the first, the more “clingy” all or nothing, there is less chance of it drifting apart because of the distance, because the distance is in fact being reduced as much as possible – by visits, calls, and exchange in general. There is however more risk of the added stress causing damage. Stress by having to adapt to the other person being there for an intense week and then being gone again. Stress by having to be available for calls when normal life is demanding enough. Stress by trying to include somebody in your life who isn’t actually there and needs everything explained and recounted for them.

The second way of feeling obviously does not risk added stress, because there is no need for bridging the circumstances with extra communication and artificial inclusion. But there is a chance of the two people just drifting apart – life gets at us and demands our attention then and there, and so the circumstances just sit and stay as they are. There is also a chance of one or both people changing such a lot without the other being able to follow, that it may feel as if you are suddenly talking to a different person. You simply missed the journey they were on. There is also a risk of getting used to feeling not cared for by X and forgetting what one was striving for in the first place.

I definitely like the aspect of no added stress. I also think (and have experienced) that re-connection is possible even after years of no contact, if the fabric of that basic, deep, unconditional connection was there in the first place. That kind of stuff doesn’t get lost. I am wary though of life redefining priorities in favour of the immediately glaring ones – I don’t want to shelve a life relationship indefinitely just because life keeps throwing little sticks my way. I don’t want to give those sticks that kind of value.

I wonder whether there might be some kind of compromise that really works for both contexts. In general, I don’t like compromises because they usually mean that it’s not great for anybody involved. I wonder if there is an option though, that is good, i.e. better than without and without any added negative feelings for anybody. Something like a fixed time of seeing each other in the context of a holiday, without the visit aspect and the added stress of that. Perhaps a big catch up every x months, but no constant exchange. Maybe something completely different. Most importantly, we need an understanding on both sides that a) anything we are feeling uncomfortable about can be mentioned and will not be judged (even mentioned in an emotional way, because emotions are part of the whole game) and b) that we are both interested in each other being happy and doing our bit to not contribute to unhappiness.

Never make anybody responsible for your happiness or your unhappiness. You are the only person with that responsibility. But, also don’t be a factor causing unhappiness for somebody if it can be prevented or solved differently

I wonder if there is a way to bridge these two very opposite ways of being all or nothing people.

Twatface strikes again

This time by forgetting completely about my daughter’s appointment in town and still being asleep 20 minutes beforehand.

It’s a psychology appointment. It’s something I set up to make sure that my daughter has somebody to help her with the situation at her father’s house. It’s in his interest that she goes there, because it’s giving her somewhere to unload and talk about alternatives to running away from him or something similar.
He’s known that he would have to take her (this is the first time he has had to make any effort at all). I sent it to him as a calendar entry. I asked about it when he didn’t answer. I asked again, until he agreed in writing to take her.

I’m fuming right now.

I only texted her by chance, thinking that she would already be on her way with him, only to hear that actually, no, she was not and he was nowhere near stirring.

Of course I went as fast as possible to pick her up and took her to her appointment. That’s the thing I do, being her mum. It’s what responsible people do.

What a prick.

He’s been texting her in the meantime, asking where she was. But not a word of sorry, or thank you, neither to her nor to me. What a waste of space. What a great big effing twatface.

Out of my Comfort Zone

On Monday, I went to the gym.

I’ve never been inside a gym, except once, and that was a kind of wellness place where I just hung around in the pool.

I’m afraid of the gym, in theory. I feel it must be full of muscle packed 20-something guys and hot young chicks, who would certainly look down on me, mother, overworked, not-20-anymore person who runs but doesn’t really know what she is doing.

Only, I also want to strengthen my core, my legs and well… everything. I want to be able to run faster, and I want to be able to recover faster from long runs. So, after much reading of reviews, I signed up for a try-out training session.

It was frightening.

There were lots of 20-somethings there.

Those machines that people apply themselves to are daunting. One of them was called “The Hackschmid”. How is that not frightening.

Not all the people there were half my age though. There were some other people like me. What’s more, there was a friendly atmosphere in there, smiles and friendly nods. Apparently, it is not completely ridiculous that I should enter such a place. The trainer also made me feel comfortable. According to her, I am fit and in good shape. I am far from starting at square 1.

I never dreamed that I would dare to enter a gym on my own, let alone that I would want to sign up to one so that I could go there on a regular basis. But there we are. Things change. I scare myself and do stuff that I don’t actually have the guts to do – but I do them anyway. I shut off the thinking and just do it.

So, with my brain firmly gagged, I walked through that door and found something that I really enjoyed. I’m glad about that new found space in my comfort zone!

Invincible

The house is a mess, I am up to my neck in work deadlines, there are several tasks that really need tackling, but I feel invincible at the moment.

I feel there are so many things moving in the right direction at the moment, the problems seem tiny in comparison.

I am moving my room downstairs by turning half the (huge and very long) living room into my bedroom, thus enabling the kids to each have their own room. The house is a mess as the living room is mostly rearranged, but the partitioning is not in place yet, nor is my bed etc down there yet. I have no idea how I am going to get the mattress down here at all – it’s an all natural fiber futon and weighs a ton – but I am convinced that I will find a way. I am excited about the prospect of each kid having their space, and about having a space for myself in which I can be for myself without having to worry about waking the kids up. I look forward to being able to share my bedroom with somebody without the kids feeling uncomfortable about a stranger’s voice right next to their bedrooms… However dear that voice is to me, for the children, it will be a stranger to start with. And I look forward to having a living room that is simply more attractive, more homely and comfortable than it has been.

I am up to my neck in deadlines and work in general – because I am working with a very special friend on top of my normal job, taking responsibility for his artists website and on top of that, we are working together creatively. Apart from it being fulfilling to see my work actually making a difference, working together creatively is exciting for both of us, as we have known each other for such a long time and things are coming together, enriching the process of creating together massively. So, royalties, here I come – plus I might well be taking on more artists websites in the not-too-distant future. There have been requests already, but nothing specific yet.

Even if this doesn’t grow into a flourishing business (from home or wherever I may be, I might add!), I feel that things are changing at work, too. I feel it might be time to get involved again, with the current changes in management. I believe in the women who will be taking charge soon, and I might stretch my wings a bit. I had given up with that a couple of years ago after a scruffle with the original management, which in my opinion consisted of two dishonest wankers and other naive, forever agreeing and discussing people who however never actually did anything but talking. I only staying at the company because they let me work from home, begrudgingly at first but it has become an unquestioned circumstance, and I couldn’t find any other place where this would be accepted. Also, I changed into a different group, away from wanker-manager, and was henceforth left alone and happy about that.

I’m also awfully excited about my daughter starting school. We went for a first interview last week, and I want to go there, never mind her. I’m looking forward to her spreading her wings, getting in touch with like-minded people and gaining her own standing with people who are on the same kind of level as her in the musical field. I can’t wait for her to start. She finds my excitement about the whole thing a little bit too much, as she is nervous and excited at the same time. She can’t wait to find out what she thinks of the whole thing, but finds me suggesting three times a day that she try the choir as well as play in the orchestra a little bit irritating. I am trying very hard to contain myself.

I’m also excited that the eldest has started actually studying in ernest for iGCSEs. I can’t wait for that either. I’m also loving the fact that he is becoming a very open, easy-going person. He’s got used to awkward conversations with me about just about anything and suddenly, these conversations have lost all their awkwardness and we are able to talk about relationships, sexuality, growing up, you name it, without constraint. It’s wonderful!

I am pleased with myself, too, for keeping it up for the youngest and not falling into the trap of letting go as he is the “baby”. He’s not a baby anymore, and he is having the same hard lessons as the others did. This week he had one about not giving up. I must say, I find it hard. It would be easy to give in and leave it for another day, especially as I’ve been through this with the two other kids already (and will probably have to go through it with them a few more times…). In the end, it wasn’t about finishing the maths exercise at all. It was about staying in control of the frustration, learning that even if it seems difficult to start with, baby steps will get you there. It was about not giving up too easily and believing in oneself.

There is also another development I am insanely pleased about, and it’s been something that has been growing slowly, steadily, without me really noticing. I am feeling more and more comfortable about my body. Sport hasn’t changed my figure very much (I don’t think, anyway!), but I am feeling gradually stronger and I am proud of that. I have something I call a fatpack – where the sixpack should be. It might be a classical cesarean pouch as I’ve only really noticed it very much since little Lily who came by cesarean, but since it has been in my range of attention, it has always felt like a part of my body that doesn’t belong to me. I feel that I can’t get rid of it for just that reason. There is so much pain and grief stored in that fatpack. I once had a massage by a wise woman, who felt her way around my body and actually was massaging my soul. She felt a barrier at my tummy and avoided the area, explaining afterwards that she felt something protecting the area and felt that she didn’t have the right to try to loosen the barrier, it was so tight and “up in arms”. I didn’t think about it a lot, just thought it natural to be so after Lily. Only recently I noticed that I couldn’t even touch myself there. It felt really uncomfortable, as if I was intruding somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be. So I started including this area in my thoughts, giving it attention, love and acceptance. I cried a few times during these mental exercises. Now, I feel that it’s getting better. I feel that this part belongs to me again. It is slowly coming out of hiding standing strong with the rest of my body, scars and all. There is still a lot of work to be done, but my body is moving towards feeling complete within itself – no room for judgement. This is having a domino effect on my general well being and contributing greatly to feeling invincible.

Here’s to positive change!

Here’s to celebrating positive change, and celebrating feeling wonderful.

Here’s to trusting good changes and making them feel welcome.

Here’s to living with both eyes wide open, a soul ready to receive and a mind ready to work.

Never stop, never settle.

There is always a next step to grow towards.

Work Goals

Being a working mum can be a challenge. I personally have a job because I need the income. I am not passionate about my current job and have many ideas of useful activities that I would do instead, but I need to find time to make those ideas real before they will generate income. So I am a little caught, but I suppose that is the same for most of the population.

Right now, it is goal setting time at the company I work for.

In my eyes, this is a big joke.

 

My real goals are:

  • Get my daughter into school this year
  • Start my eldest son off and get him motivated for iGCSEs
  • Strengthen and support the kids with their physical activity
  • Run a half marathon distance
  • Start up my own business (or at least be ready to start the business early next year)
  • Reduce working hours at my current job
  • Do my paid job in such a way that it disrupts life as little as possible
  • Move my room to enable my younger kids to have rooms of their own
  • Reserve time and energy to create and sustain inner balance
  • Sing at least 2 concerts
  • Eliminate the feeling of guilt for failed days/weeks
  • Be enough for myself, consistently

 

My job goals will be something like this:

  • work x% client-billable working hours
  • Fill role of documentation nazi
  • Manage user groups x y and z
  • Get some skills certified

 

The company definitely doesn’t want to know what my goals are. This whole process is just a circus show to ensure that the company’s goals can be handed down to every employee. Making sure that every employee has to define their own goals (in accordance with their manager’s ideas and the global company’s goals) makes HR think that employees will now be motivated, as the goals are now “their” goals. Their personal goals. Goals they care about.

Not.

An employee who likes their job will have inherent career goals which you will hear about, if you are a good manager and a kind human. They will ask for the help they need to develop those goals of theirs. Their personal goals. The ones they care about.

An employee who does the job because they have to (like me) doesn’t care a iota for those goals. They are simply part of the unloved job. Of course I’m going to do the work that I’m given, and I’m going to do it to my best ability. That’s the person I am. But I’m not doing that because I defined those goals for myself. Those goals have nothing to do with what I want – in fact, those goals make me feel even worse about my job than I do already, as they show me that the company / HR etc apparently thinks that I am a stupid individual who falls for these little games.

Please.

Make company goals that everybody has to follow. These are orders. (In real life, this is what happens anyway, just that I have to type in those orders myself and am supposed to feel personally responsible for them)

Leave an option for personal goals which are individually created by employees, and encourage them by all means for the benefit of personal development, but at no point in time make them mandatory, or something that yearly performance is measured by.