spiders

Bloody things.

I’ve managed to go a year without having to deal with them and suddenly they are bloody everywhere. I hate the little buggers. In my twenties, I think I would have termed myself arachnophobic. I would literally not be able to move if I saw one and just screamed, frozen to the spot.

Having children forced me into the it’s fine — it’s only a spider school of thought, but I still can’t bear to go near them. If I squint, so as not to look at hem directly, I can just about Dyson them up, on full extended nozzle (unwillingly, I might add; I have strong Buddhist tendencies and wish no harm to anything, but I just can’t bring myself to go near them). Of course, when I was married it was always my husband that dealt with them. Now it’s down to me.

To make matters worse, I was doing some yoga the other morning and while ‘relaxing in child’s pose’ I felt a tickle on my face, sat up and there was a bloody great spider scuttling off of my yoga mat. You can imagine my reaction. I mean, f**k — it was ON MY FACE and then ran off with my Zen.

I have tried to use this experience therapeutically and have told myself that despite having had a spider ON MY FACE, I am fine, nothing has changed and this should help me get over the whole eight-legged fear.

I will try to make it my new mantra: *spiders are my friend, spiders are my friend…

 

*they are not.

 

beginnings

Tomorrow is 1st September and this is a big day for me. Not only is it the beginning of autumn, which is my very favourite season, it marks a year since I started to move out and go it alone.

Financially, I gave myself a year to dip into savings and keep life afloat. From tomorrow, I am on a strict budget and one which I must stick to. I’ve never been great with money or budgets, I’m the sort that stuffs unopened credit card statements into a drawer and who flinches every time I get cash out, just in case it won’t let me. Anyway, it’s time to grow up and take responsibility. Waitrose will be swapped for Lidl, cards for cash and one huge financial plus will be that I am giving up wine. We have a volatile relationship and it’s not my friend.

I have led a much healthier lifestyle over the past few months with daily yoga, trips to the gym and eating few carbs (another enemy of my body) and lots of veggies and fruit. This, I need to maintain (although this past week has been v unhealthy and, as a result, I feel like a big blob and lethargic and just…ugh). I have also just started meditating and I plan to continue with 5 mins a day, building up to 10 and longer etc. Just the regular practice of it (like the yoga) I think will help my general well-being.

I had a huge panic attack recently, out of the blue, and it really shook me. I refuse to let anxiety get the better of me and aim very much to live a holistically healthy lifestyle. Although not one part of my life is secure at the moment (which is where I think, perhaps, it stemmed from), I feel really positive about moving forward. I have made some big and difficult personal decisions, including ending a relationship that is doing me no good, even though I desperately want it. I have also forced myself to get extra work to supplement my part-time wages and acknowledged that I need to take responsibility for myself and my decisions, especially those that affect my children. I think, with the separation and everything, I had allowed myself too much rope, become too self-centred and had forgotten what really matters. As I said, I’ve had a lot of small ‘epiphanies’ over this summer and I am ready to make September the start of a better me; a healthier, kinder, more assertive me. No magic wands, no knights in shining armour (am reluctantly realising, after 44 years, that they don’t exist) — just day-by-day, little-by-little changes for the better. Mentally, finding more strength; physically, tightening up (habits and body fat!) and emotionally, giving myself some care and protection.

I’m looking forward to it; I feel more positive than I have in a very long time. I have good friends to support me and a lifetime of possibilities ahead. That’s what I want to focus on.

yoga

I’ve taken up yoga in recent months; a friend of mine has commented that I have been channelling my ‘inner hippy’ and she’s absolutely right.

I’ve always had slightly Buddhist leanings and truly believe in the balance and force of the Earth in itself. I also believe in essential oils and flower blends and the power of nature. To avoid raised eyebrows or, perhaps, to conform to what I’m ‘supposed’ to live like, I’ve always quashed these feelings, but in recent months I have felt to need to embrace them and have finally taken up yoga, albeit a DIY version.

I can’t afford to go to yoga classes — time or money. However, I do have a great app which I absolutely love and find myself waking up at 6am each morning, keen to get in 20 minutes of yoga (and more recently trying to learn meditation too) before the kids wake up or before the day has to start. Not only am I feeling more flexible and in tune with my body, but I feel calmer and more ready to take on the day. I am instructed to take that lovely after-yoga feeling with you into the rest of your day and I do.

Well, mostly. Obviously, there are mornings when the kids won’t get ready on time and we lose a shoe and forget to take the ballet/music/sports page into school and then the traffic is worse because we’ve left late and I arrive at work fists clenched and brow furrowed. At times like these, that ‘lovely yoga feeling’ has been well and truly flattened by the wheels of reality but, on the whole, I do take it into my day and try to close my eyes and remember it when I get stressed or anxious. Even on the bad days, I can usually scrape it off the road and re-mould it into some sort of respite for the afternoon.

Anyway, I can see it is making a positive difference and I hope that meditation will too. I’m not keen on mindfulness practice, but am finding that yoga mediation allows me to shut off the world and just be.

Even if it’s just for 5 minutes.

going it alone

The emotional effects of being single for the first time in 16 years come in waves and sometimes, like the tide, you can hop over them, sometimes they crash into you and sometimes they simply cover your feet in an icy slurry of sand and salt.

At the moment, I seem to have the sand between my toes. Things are OK, but there are gritty reminders of going it alone: keeping on top of bills, nobody but you to make you a cup of tea and having nobody to go places with. The latter is especially niggling at the moment — possible because the weather has been glorious and staying in seems a gloomy option.

Now, on the whole, I am (and always have been) very happy to go places by myself, be it the cinema or the pub, but lately I have been yearning to go on a long country walk, soak up the sunshine, admire nature, end up in the pub for a sneaky shandy and to let the afternoon creep into evening and have one of those halcyon days we all dream of. And I have the time to do it, but nobody to go with. And it’s not just chocolate box walks, actually. It’s things like someone to go to the garden centre with, to have Sunday lunch in the pub with, someone to cook for at home.

I know. I’m being maudlin. Again. There are plenty of positives about being alone, which I promise I will write about in a more cheerful mood. But, for today, I will continue to look out of my window at the sunshine and wonder if I can be bothered to light up a barbecue and make up some Pimms. Just for me.

neighbours

Back in the days when we were together and living the dream, we got on really well with our neighbours. Martin would donate his allotment veg to our Sunday roast, cut our trees and tidy our wayward front garden. His wife, Jenny, who was recovering from cancer and all sorts of horribleness, was always there with a smile and ready to hand over any of the many parcels Amazon delivered to her while we were out. We gave them wine each year and a card to say how grateful we were.

Turns out, Jenny isn’t speaking to me any more. Seems (according to my husband) that she launched a tirade about what a terrible mother/wife I am and HOW could I move out  – what about the children?

‘Just don’t bump into Jenny,’ he said tonight.

And I cried and cried. Another affirmation that I am, in fact, a horrible person. Everybody thinks the same thing, so, I am realising, it must be them who are right and me who is wrong. I wondered about driving off the road tonight, did a little swerve; thought of my children and steadied myself.

My neighbours here don’t know anything about me. And I’m keeping it that way.

winging it

I logged on with full intention of writing a post about how tricky things are, how Christmas feels weird this year and how coping with ill kids when your are poorly yourself is not something I want to repeat anytime soon. Then I paused for a moment and thought, for Christ’s sake — who the hell wants to read another post, moaning about how life sucks at the moment. Not that anyone is reading this blog anyway, but just in case somebody lost their way on the internet and wandered over, it’s not what you want to lighten your day.

I started this blog as a means of venting, yes. But there’s venting/moaning and venting/airing. I need to do more airing and less moaning.

One thing I have learned in spades recently is that I am far more self-centred than I thought I was. I hope I’m not selfish, but I do seem to have turned into someone where life seems to be all about me and my woes. I’m bored of it, so my friends and family must be utterly sick of it. So wrapped up was I in my ‘inner-turmoils’ that I unintentionally hurt one of my best friends by not asking about her hospital tests. I thought she didn’t want to talk about it, but what she really meant was that she needed me to make her talk about it, not keep quiet. She needed me to think a little more about her and what she was feeling and needing, and I didn’t.

It was, however, the kick up the arse I needed to do a bit of introspection and realise that I need to change my habits. I think they are habits formed from self-preservation, but they are excluding those I love and that makes me feel horrible.

Going it alone IS tough. Just managing the arrangements of who is where, when and what they need, whose house that’s at and when the next pick-up is, is enough to drive you to the pinot each night. I think it’s the weird mix of total responsibility of going it alone, yet having to share the responsibility with someone else at the same time.

Take Christmas. I used to organise EVERYTHING. The lot. And moaned about it. Now, I find myself with a scant three weeks to go and no food booked/organised, not sure who has bought what for who, arrangements, who is visiting whose family and when and then there’s the decorations…each one lovingly bought and loved by me over the years and the vast majority now not in my house. When I did fight for some of them, I got short shrift and made to feel guilty for asking. These are decorations I have collected for over 15 years, some of them before I even met my husband and some that belonged to my grandmother. Yet, I seem to have to fight for them. It’s a sore point, as you can tell.

Anyway, back to the organisation. So, because I used to do everything, I knew exactly what was what and had control of the situation. Now, it feels like I have no idea what’s happening; my husband can’t seem to make a decision and yet, I am no longer in a position to do it for him and just tell him (fair enough, but unproductive, all the same). So, God knows what will happen this year; I will just have to wing it.

I’m getting good at that.

wobble

I’m having a wobble.

Everything has suddenly become very overwhelming. Not just the practical matters, but the emotional ones too and that’s when I start to crack.

At the core of everything, I can’t shake the guilt of being the one who broke up the marriage. And because of that I also feel wholly responsible for the outcome of everything. I know I called quits because I was so unhappy, and I can rationalise that this unhappiness was not all my fault, in fact I had tried and tried to make things work whereas I don’t feel my husband did at all. However, it’s strange how all that feels so long ago and views get muddied, feelings get forgotten and the here and now takes over.

I know this will pass. I know I am feeling this way because I have so much to do at work, Christmas is looming and my eldest daughter is having to unexpectedly change schools. For positive reasons, but she can’t see that. Of course she can’t, she’s twelve, and so I am trying to reassure her it will be ok, while wondering myself and, again, feeling responsible as it was me who applied for the new school, because I have moved into its catchment area and know that long-term, it is the best place for her.

It’s just a lot to deal with and even though I’m confident and strong on the outside, I don’t feel it within. Not at the moment. I feel panicky. I feel scared.

I feel weak.

mexican stand-off

It’s been a scratchy few days. A difference in opinion about calendar commitments has resulted in some hostility between my husband and I and, once again, makes me feel guilty when, rationally, I don’t think I should.

He claims his ‘thing’ has been booked in for months. I was meticulous about copying down the calendar before I left and disagree. He is going anyway and says, ‘Yes, actually I think you should cancel your thing.’

He has called my bluff (as I uttered the, ‘Fine, so you want me to cancel my thing?’) but it pushed a button that made me so cross.

His thing: taking our son to another football match (they are season tickers holders and seem to go weekly)

My thing: a dinner and staying over with two old friends.

Saturday is his day to have the kids.

And that’s what makes the difference. That sentence. Suddenly it turns into a battle about who is the better parent. My throwing that at him makes me look like I don’t want my kids. Of course I do. But, thinking it’s a free day, and going out rather than sitting at home watching Bridget Jones seems a good option. Seeing old friends would be a support and a pleasure. Yet, it is me who feels like the ‘baddie’, not him. Because I arranged my life.

That’s the thing, I think. He has said I am ‘in control’ because I broke it up.

I’m not.

I’m not the puppeteer. I started the show, but it’s improvisation, not directed.

But, the assumption of being in control also means I see to be responsible for everything. If you take control of the wheel because the driver has fallen asleep, does that make you responsible?

Answers on a postcard…

saturday night

It’s Saturday.

I have the whole weekend to myself. No kids. No commitments. No life, it seems.

The world is at my feet and I am like a deer in headlights, wondering what to do with it. And then, walking around town, I got all teary. Suddenly felt very alone and very lonely. They sound the same, but I usually LOVE being alone. The lonely bit, not so much. I tell myself it’s self-pity — stop giving in to the ‘woe is me’ and get on with it. But the first Christmas apart is looming and it makes me want to cry. Not because I would change how things are (for now) but Christmas made me sad when we were a family. Mainly because I felt so alone. And, as we all know, if you are alone, Christmas is the time to slap it around your face like a wet kipper

I have cried and felt alone for the last few Christmases, which is sadder, really, because then we were supposed to be ‘together’. Now we are apart, it should feel justified in some way, but trawling through town today, it didn’t feel that way. I felt alone and joyless. I know this sounds really selfish, but I knew nobody would buy me a present, nobody would think what I would really love and get it for me. To be fair, this hasn’t happened for a while, but I suppose being separated erases the hope that it might happen, that he might, this year, think about what I would love and surprise me on Christmas morning.

All the adults in my life have a pact that we will buy for the kids and not each other, which is sensible and financially sound, but it means I don’t get any presents. Not any. And, it’s not about the material gifts, of course, but it’s that feeling…waking up on Christmas morning and not opening anything, Having nothing to touch, sniff, look at, smile at…you know, all that schmaltzy advert stiff that I am so subservient to.

Hey. I sound like a selfish moo, I know. And I genuinely love giving presents more than receiving (it’s really NOT about the present)nand I loved buying my 12-year old her first make-up today. Decent stuff, little tasters of womanhood. I hope she likes it.

Anyway, I have ended up in a trendy bar/bistro drinking a Cosmopolitan and writing this post. Bags at my feet, laptop on the bar and the chatter of Saturday evening around me, I have Saturday night free to go out and live it up, but nobody to do it with. My friends are all busy and I must put up with that galling feeling of what I could be doing and go home, tidy up, stick some bread in the toaster and watch crap tele. The single life.