I've not written here in months. I have always found that when I'm in a dark place, writing has helped. I've been in a great place mentally up until last week. Last week has caused me to relive the past and question many things.
Since losing my husband and long term partner of 22 years, I had a relationship. For the majority of its short term, it was amazing. I fell hook, line and sinker! It didn't end well.
I'm a passionate woman, wearing my heart on my sleeve (but hide a huge amount of feelings). It was always going to take someone pretty special to make me feel and love again.
I thought I'd met “the one” but it seems I was wrong. I questioned myself, cried myself to sleep many times trying to analyse what went wrong.
Last week after 16 months of no contact he messaged me. My immediate emotions were shocked, confused and happy. I still don't know why I was happy, but I was. A long time has passed. I've changed in many ways, but after agreeing to meet him, I felt odd. It was so good seeing him. The physical attraction was there. The intellectual attraction was there. The emotional attraction!
Well, that's a sticking point. I loved this man. There had only ever been one other I had felt this way, but sometimes with him, it feels like I was conversing with a Robot. I'm not allowed to have feelings without it being passive-aggressive, or I'm putting him down! As a woman who feels and loves, I need to be heard.
There were so many amazing things about this man, and I proudly at the time was his biggest cheerleader. It was never enough! His ironing was more of a priority! My feelings always made him feel I was putting him down, that he wasn't good enough. That is complete bollocks! He was more than good enough. To me, he was perfect. Not in a saintly way, but perfect for me.
I've tried for many months to block him out of my mind. Him reappearing in my life has caused many emotions. Happiness, fear, but above all questions. Why? Why now?
Our communication is great one on one, but via text or email it turns into a battle. It's awful, frustrating, and I know it causes more pain. What should I do? If I don't respond I'm wrong, if I do, it fuels it. I'm lost!
Do I wish he'd not returned to my life? I don't know. When we met, it was so comfortable. We laughed and seemed to reconnect so easily. But that long-standing problem is there. Communication! Discussion without condemnation. Is it something we can ever overcome? I don't know. All I know is I'm confused, frustrated and hurting all over again!
It's been a year since I started writing this blog, and what a year it's been! When I started writing, I was in a really dark place. Life had lost all meaning for me and I really couldn't see a light at the end of a very long dark tunnel. We were just entering another lockdown, and I can honestly say I'd never felt quite so alone as I did back then. Writing the blog has been extremely cathartic and has helped me in many ways. Writing my feelings down has helped me to overcome the dark times. I've written more than I've submitted as some stuff is just too personal to put in the public domain, but for someone who has hidden her feelings for a long time, the release my writing has given me is huge.
I quite often read back over my previous ramblings, and I'm encouraged by how far I've come. With the help of the RTT hypnotherapy, learning to set boundaries, and practising mindfulness, my mental health has improved significantly. I still have dark moments, but they are no longer having the impact on my life like before. A few weeks after starting this blog I started my other "jokey" blog and my Facebook group which has given me so much pleasure and fun. I've made some amazing friendships and as I've said before I could never have imagined what I could have got from a daft Facebook group.
My group has just under 1200 members and still continues to grow. I'm still receiving messages to say how the group has helped so many people going through rough times, and the sense of achievement is fantastic. I've met with a few members already and have been invited to spend time in some amazing destinations like Australia, The Norfolk Islands and Florida with some members I've got to know well over the past 11 months. Maybe next year I'll get there. One of my members who lives 3800 miles away in Manitoba, Canada, is coming over to visit in the New Year and I can't wait to finally meet him in person after many months of messages and calls. These people, who I would never have met if not for the group, have helped me more than they will ever know.
We have just had the 5th anniversary of my husband's death, and last year was the hardest it had ever been. It's always a tough day and as it's bonfire night the sound of the fireworks for a couple of weeks before always seem to highlight the day. I was a little emotional on the day itself, but so much better than I was a year ago.
The following day, my friend came down from Cheshire, and we went to see Portsmouth play at Fratton. I hadn't seen him since August, and it was the first football match I've been to since the pandemic started. After that, we ventured into Southsea for drinks and a meal. We had such a great day and night. I seem to have done more since July than I had in the last 2 years. I went to Victorious a couple of months back and saw Madness. I've wanted to see them for years, and I was not disappointed. It was amazing and for me meant I could finally dance again. Well, I use the word dance lightly, I threw myself around like a Looney for hours and struggled to walk the next day, but it was worth it. I've been to a couple of belated birthday parties for friends who turned 50 during the pandemic and again danced, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed mixing. I've a concert on my birthday in a couple of weeks at the O2 in London, as a present from my daughter and her partner. It will be the farthest I've travelled in a long time, and I'm looking forward to spending the time with my daughter. One of my friends has organised a group of us to go out the day after to celebrate my birthday and I cannot wait as I did nothing for my birthday last year.
I'm a sociable person and finally feel like I'm getting my life back. Work is going well. I can now work from home 3 days a week and the office the other 2. This has helped give me a great work/life balance, and I've found at my age I appreciate that more than ever. I've started dating again and have met some nice guys and had some lovely days/evenings in good company. Only one has ticked all the boxes, but he lives 150 miles away. Typical! It's early days; I'm enjoying getting to know him, but I have found that I've built some pretty big walls up to protect me, and they are a little too solid at the moment, so for now I'm enjoying the single life. What is meant to be, will be.
I realised another 4 weeks have gone by, and I've not written. Yes, I've been busy as life has been returning to some form of normality, but that's a bit of a lame excuse. There is always a quiet moment in the day. I've sat and looked back at my other entries and when I first started this blog I was in a bad way emotionally. I had so many thoughts and feelings flying around that I found putting fingers to keys or pen to paper was the best way for me to deal with it. Now I'm in a much happier place, I guess I haven't found the need to spill all.
Last night my Facebook group that I started as a bit of a joke 9 months ago reached 1000 members. This morning, a further 20 people have requested to join. I can honestly say I felt really emotional when it hit that number. It may seem stupid to some that a Facebook group means that much, but to me, it means the world.
I would never have guessed that writing about my daft and dire dating experiences would have opened my world up like it has. My group, as I've said on here before, really has bought people together. I thought that maybe once lockdown ended and people went back to their busy lives that the group would dwindle, but the opposite has happened. I'm still receiving so many messages from people saying the group has helped them or what a fun thing it is to be a part of. The number of new friendships and even relationships that have formed as a result of perfect strangers chatting online is fantastic. I have been privileged to meet several of my group members and have formed some great friendships with many, and more to meet in the future.
This feeling of achievement and knowing how it has helped others and not only myself is fantastic, however it is marred with sadness. On Tuesday, I was notified that one of my group members had passed away. Steve had been a very active member of the group, was very witty and entertaining. Although I had never met him in person, we had chatted, and he had recently started to develop a relationship with another of the group members. I knew of his demons in his past, but was still utterly shocked to learn of his passing. Details are unclear around the circumstances, but I was completely humbled when one of his friends contacted me to say they knew Steve had been a member of the group. They just wanted to thank me for the joy it bought him and what it meant to his family to know we saw him as they did. Steve leaves behind 4 young children, and already my amazing group are looking at raising money to give a little help.
I know I'm a pleaser and fixer by nature, and Wednesday I struggled with the what ifs. What if I'd messaged him to check in as he'd been quiet for a few days, something I've done in the past with him and other members. The reality is I'll never know.
I've learnt a huge amount over the months since I started writing this and part of what I've learnt is that I cannot please everyone, I cannot fix everyone and I can change none. I can only please, fix or change what I do or feel, my own behaviours and actions. I've learned to remove myself from situations where it is detrimental to my happiness. I'm always being told I'm too nice or care too much, and I never understood how anyone can care too much or be too nice. Now I do!
I've had group members say the group 'saved' them. Truth be told, it saved me. It has helped me to open my eyes and mind, to accept who I am and who I want to be. It has been the light in my dark and has given me back something I lost. A sense of pride and achievement.
It's been several weeks since I've written and what a few weeks it's been. I had my second jab mid June and within a couple of weeks was unwell. I had a reaction to the first jab but it only lasted a few days.
By the beginning of July I was getting pains in my lower back and tummy and felt generally run down. I tried to see a Doctor which was not a simple thing. After phone consultations I was prescribed Antibiotics. After a week there was no improvement and the Doctor decided I needed to be seen. He examined me, did a urine test and confirmed I had a kidney infection so further antibiotics were given and I was sent for blood tests.
After a few more days I was getting worse. Back to the Doctors! Again I was told I had a kidney infection but some of the other symptoms I had didn't fit. Due to my medical history there were other concerns and I must admit I was worried.
In May 2013 after almost 9 months of being told I had constant infections I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. When I was finally diagnosed I was relieved as it felt that I hadn't been believed for such a long time. I had a radical hysterectomy on 2nd July 2013 but they decided to leave my ovaries so as to avoid early menopause for as long as possible. I had all my lymph nodes on both sides removed. The surgery was a success and I was fortunate enough not to need chemo or radiotherapy. I was checked regularly and was signed off in 2018 and told I was 5 years cancer free.
8 years on and it felt like history repeating itself. My Doctor referred me to QA for urgent tests and within 5 days I had a Cystoscopy. A camera inserted into my bladder. The consultant told me there and then that he wanted me to also have an urgent CT scan and more blood tests. After my appointment I fell apart. When I had cancer previously I was so positive and determined it wouldn't beat me. After my Cystoscopy I felt very alone and scared that it had returned. Last time I was able to have my husband come with me for tests and appointments. This time due to Covid I had to attend all on my own. My children and parents were incredibly worried as they could see how poorly I was. My Mum kept hugging me (something she doesn't usually do).
The hardest part is the wait for results. Trying to keep my mind occupied whilst feeling unwell is incredibly difficult. I had amazing support from friends but it's the nights when you are all alone and your mind starts talking to you. I didn't want to add to my family's worry so I did what I always do and tried to keep a brave face. Most of the time I pulled it off although one occasion I did break down in front of my parents and instantly regretted it. I could see how worried they were and the exchange of looks between them just confirmed they really were thinking the worst.
After 5 courses of antibiotics I was informed the CT results showed no recurrence of Cancer. The relief was immense. I cried again in the consultant's room with absolute relief. I was informed I have a large kidney stone and that is the cause of the infections. I've been referred to the Renal department to decide what course of action will be taken.
The same day I was given my results I went out for coffee with my parents. We were sitting outside the coffee shop enjoying the sun and I noticed I'd been bitten a few times on my leg by a mosquito. Annoying little things! My Mum popped off to shops and came back with some Anthisan. Insect bite relief cream that I have used for years. I got home and put a few spots of the cream on my leg. Within an hour the area I had put the cream on had gone bright red. Within 2 hours my entire thigh was covered in a red blotchy rash and my hands were sore and swelling. By 7pm that evening my whole body was covered in a rash and my hands were so swollen I couldn't bend my fingers. My face had started to swell and my lips were tingling. My throat also became very sore. I was a little worried so I phoned 111. It took nearly 50 minutes to get through but then 15 minutes later the lady on the phone had sent an ambulance to me.
The ambulance arrived within minutes and I was checked over, given antihistamine and observed. After an hour the paramedics left but told me to phone 999 if I got worse. I felt dreadful. Dizzy, itchy and hot all over. I went for a cool shower and layed on my bed. After a couple of hours I started to feel worse but I didn't think it warranted using precious 999 resources so I took more antihistamine.
At 5am my son came down as he had work at 6. He took one look at me and said he was not going in. I could barely see as my eyes were closing due to the swelling. I assured him I was OK even though I felt far from it and as soon as he left for work I phoned my parents. My dad came straight round and we went off to the hospital.
I arrived at A and E and was informed there was up to a 20 hour wait. Ambulances were queuing and apparently there was not one available bed in the hospital. My Dad was unable to come in with me so I prepared myself for a long time on my own. Within 5 minutes I was triaged and then taken to a bed in A and E. A couple of minutes later I was hooked up to the blood pressure machine and told I needed an ECG as my heart rate was all over the place. I had a cannula inserted in my arm and blood was taken, then I was given IV antihistamine, steroids and hydrocortisone.
I felt so dizzy and my breathing was a little laboured. I was told I was having a massive allergic reaction. My throat felt like it was closing and everything seemed so strange. I dozed on the bed as I felt as if the plug had been pulled and all my energy had vanished. The Doctor came to see me and confirmed I'd reacted to the Anthisan cream. I've used this stuff for years and was puzzled as to why I had suddenly reacted now. I was given more steroids and told if this didn't work I would be admitted into hospital.
Fortunately the medication worked and the swelling on my face started to reduce. After awhile the Doctor said I could go home but I have been referred to allergy clinic to see if this was due to a combination of meds, infection and being incredibly run down or whether I have developed an allergy that may require an epinephrine auto injector (epipen) for future.
The reaction was two weeks ago this weekend. After being discharged from hospital I was given 4 days of Steroids and have antihistamine on hand. I'm awaiting referral appointments to both Renal and Allergy departments but as of this week I feel really well.
It has certainly been an awful few weeks and has given me a lot to think about going forward. I've some amazing people in my life who have been fantastic support over the past few weeks. I've got lots planned for this month and I'm really excited to be seeing Madness at Victorious Festival in a few weeks. I've said for a while that life is short and we need to live not exist. These last few weeks have reiterated that to me even more than before.
It's hard to take in that we are halfway through 2021. Life seems to have been in limbo for the best part of 15 months, although thankfully it does seem to be going in the right direction now. Last weekend I did something I haven't done in a few years. I partied hard! Last Friday, several of my local group members met up for drinks. We started at 4pm, the weather was fantastic, and we all got on so well even though most had never met one another before. We are all in our 40s, and it was like we had all been caged up for so long. This was the first time that some of us had been out and socialised, and we certainly made the most of it.
We left the pub at closing time then continued our party after in one of the members gardens, finally making our way home at 4am. After a few hours of sleep, I was up and out. A friend treated my son and I to a pub lunch by the water. It was baking hot weather but so lovely to eat, chat and enjoy the view. Also, a very rare occurrence for my son to spend the day out with me. We bumped into a few more people and another day of impromptu partying began.
It would seem I had forgotten I was 46 and that after hardly drinking for months the body doesn't recover like it used to. Sunday I suffered. Yes, totally self-inflicted but well worth it. I pottered around the house but really didn't feel great. Fortunately Monday was a bank holiday, so I had another full day to recover before work and boy I needed it.
About a year after my husband passed away I got into the habit of going out every day and for about 3 months partied far too much and honestly didn't really enjoy it. On reflection, it was to escape being in the house alone. My children had adjusted after their loss and were living their lives, and I felt lost. Rather than deal with it productively, I guess I hit the self-destruct button. It was only when my children pointed out what I was doing that I took stock and took control of my life. A few months later I was talked into joining a dating site. For anyone who has ever read my other blog will know, it was certainly an eye-opener.
I did meet a great guy and for six months we would go out for meals, cinema, concerts. We went away together and really got on well. 3 years later we are still friends. Nothing went badly between us. It just fizzled out, but he gave me the confidence to carry on dating and over the years I've met some very weird, some very nice and some down right strange people on my quest to find love again. I had my first relationship that for the most part was very good, and I saw a future I liked the look of. Sadly, it didn't work out. I started my other blog and then my group and this has opened my world up in ways I could never have imagined.
I run a Facebook group about dating and starting again, and many people have asked if I'm going to start dating again now the world has opened back up. I did set up my dating profile again, a couple of months back and quickly made it private when I realised it's the same old thing, and it bores me and my heart really wasn't in it. Being inundated with inappropriate messages is not my idea of fun and if I'm brutally honest there is not one person on these sites who has sparked my interest in a while.
Some photos were taken last weekend and sent to me of our night out. Although I hate my own photo being taken I look really happy, and I am, but as I looked at them, I realised there is something missing in my life. I miss being part of a couple. I miss someone to just cuddle up on the sofa and watch crap TV with. I miss the simple things like a good morning or good night text, holding hands and going for a walk. I miss the intimacy you can only get from a partner. Things that are all too often taken for granted.
This got me thinking about what I want. I do not want to be a party animal that is trying to fill a void by going out all the time. Neither do I want to waste time sifting through the endless mountain of inappropriate messages or men whilst trying to find someone honest and decent. I believe in fate, being in the right place at the right time. So whilst I may dip in and out of the dating apps (it does provide a source of amusement at times), I think I will leave my love life in the hands of fate. If it's meant to be, it will be. I'm a sociable person and my confidence is growing all the time, and I'm meeting new people through my group or work, so who knows what is in store for my future.
3 weeks have flown by since I last wrote. With further restrictions being lifted life is beginning to be fun again. I am now going into the office 3 days per week and work is definitely getting busier.
Last Thursday I had to take a huge step out of my comfort zone and give a presentation via zoom to a very large potential client. In a 'normal' world it would have meant a long journey to the North East. The introduction of many now working from home has eliminated that, so I guess one positive has come from the lockdowns we have endured.
Usually in my work I am very confident but the morning of the presentation I woke up and was a bundle of nerves. I had my hypnotherapy in February for my confidence, self-esteem and self-worth, and it has been life changing. Thursday did put it to the test. My therapist has helped me overcome my anxiety by getting me to realise the same physical symptoms I experience when anxious are identical to those when I'm excited about something, so Thursday I just kept reminding myself I was excited to have been given the opportunity to deliver this presentation.
30 minutes before the presentation I went for a walk to clear my head. I then went to the ladies and stood looking in the mirror and told myself out loud I can do this. I was dressed in business wear, the first time since November, I looked the part and felt totally at ease and confident entering the zoom conference in front of 3 senior managers and the MD of the company I was presenting to.
My presentation was to last an hour and I knew I was the last person they would be seeing that day, with 4 competitors before me. No pressure! With the help of my Networks Director the presentation was delivered. At the end I was informed a decision would be made in two weeks. I was also a little worried when one of the senior managers said he'd like to provide feedback. My heart sank when he said I've not done this with the others but…. He went on to say how impressed he was and lots of other fantastic comments. I wanted to burst with happiness but had to maintain my professionalism. I did pretty much float home.
Personally, life is going well. My Facebook group is continuing to grow. With just under 800 members and fantastic feedback and reviews I really cannot believe how well it has done in just over 4 months. I continually get comments saying what a fantastic group it is, how much fun people are having and what I love is the fact that so many people, like me, have connected with others we would never have met. I've already met with a few people who I've got to know through my group and have a night out planned this week to meet with about 10 others.
What started off as a bit of a joke at a very low point in my life has turned into something I am incredibly proud of creating. My therapist has been giving her services free each week to my group members, and we have covered so many topics including, confidence, self-esteem, setting boundaries, creating your own reality and many more. My silly little group has turned into a safe, fun network of like-minded people. We laugh and joke, there is a lot of innuendo and banter. We tell our stories, which are always met with positive and encouraging remarks. One of my male group members put a comment up the other day saying he thought my group was the best he had come across and congratulated me on starting it. I'm learning to accept and appreciate the compliments I receive, something I always hid away from before as I never thought I was worthy of them. Now I embrace it.
Somebody I cut ties with in January reached out to me 2 weeks ago. We had been friends for a number of years, but he did something that hurt me. I now know my reason for feeling hurt was because I never set boundaries. That was due to my lack of confidence. I do not hold grudges and I did accept the olive branch that was handed to me. He said he had missed me, and he does appreciate me. Something his actions didn't show in the past, but I guess that was because I allowed it.
I am still the same person I have always been but this time I have boundaries. I know my worth. I feel like me but a better version of me. I've stopped trying to please everyone all of the time at the detriment of my feelings. I like who I am. I like how I look and I'm happy. This version of me is taking some getting used to for my friend which I find amusing. Every day I continue to learn more about myself, about who I am, what I want and what I need, and I'm rather enjoying the journey.
It's been almost a month since I last wrote. Life has been a little crazy in the past few weeks and each time I've had five minutes to myself to write I've just come to a complete block.
I had my first jab on the 25th March and felt a little rough a couple of days later. 12 days later though I felt really unwell. High temperature, shivering and a general feeling like someone had pulled the plug out. I ached all over, had a constant headache and felt sick. I'm not one to take time off work, but I was incapable of doing anything. I did a lateral flow COVID-19 test and that was negative but after a couple of days feeling like this I was a little worried. I spoke to my Dr and had a test sent out, fortunately it was negative and the Dr has put it down to a reaction to the jab. After 5 days I felt OK just a little worn down.
Since the easing of the lockdown restrictions I've been travelling to the office 2 days per week and it has been so lovely to see colleagues. To actually see faces without masks. I've managed to meet up with some old friends and also with some new friends made through my group. I really enjoy being in company. To spend a few hours in a garden or walking along the beach having a coffee, chat and a laugh has been so needed.
We have had some happy news in our family, the first in a while. My daughter proposed to her partner on her partner's birthday, and she said yes! My daughter had spoken to me a couple of months ago telling me her plans and asking for my opinion on a choice of rings. It meant so much that she included me and her partner's mum in the proposal plan. Being a big softy I cried with happiness when she told me and struggled to contain my excitement when the day came. A couple of days after I spent the afternoon with my future daughter-in-law, and although they are not planning to get married in the immediate future she did tell me what they are thinking of. It was so lovely spending time with just her as my daughter was at work. I feel so lucky that my daughter is so happy in her life.
My son is 17 this week and I always get emotional around my children's birthdays. He is growing up so quickly. He's just applied for an engineering apprenticeship and got an interview next week. I am so proud of the young man he is growing into. He also gave me a huge scare two weeks ago.
Both of my children are type 1 diabetics. My daughter was only diagnosed last year aged 21, but my son was diagnosed at 12. The first year after diagnosis was a massive learning curve. He had to carb count which meant weighing everything he ate and working out the number of carbs in the ingredients, then working out how much insulin to take. Due to his age and his hormones going mad it was a very up and down time with several hospital admissions whilst we learnt to adjust to this new and ongoing way of life for him.
Type 1 diabetes is considered a lifelong chronic illness and can cause many complications. My son learnt very quickly how to manage his diabetes to the best of his ability, but there are factors that are beyond his control that can cause huge problems. His ever-changing hormones as a teenager or when he has a sickness bug or even the common cold can affect his sugars. Hypoglycaemia and Hyperglycaemia are common for T1 diabetics and whilst we now recognise the symptoms and can usually manage the highs and lows without medical intervention there are times when it just doesn't work.
Two weeks ago was one of these times. My son had been perfectly OK all day. His sugars for the most part are exactly where they need to be on a day to day basis. He went out at about 8pm that evening for a walk with his friend. He was home 30 minutes later and said he was having a low. He looked awful and was dripping in sweat. This is unusual for him. Usually with a low he gets dizzy, verbally aggressive and if too low gets disorientated, slurs his words and is lethargic. That alone is scary, but this was something different. I checked his blood sugars, and they were at 1.6, this is dangerously low. He had told me he felt low halfway through his walk and had eaten some high sugar bars, but it had not helped. His clothes were soaked with sweat, and he was shaking uncontrollably. I got him out of his wet clothes and wrapped him in a duvet. I needed to treat the low so gave him something to bring his sugars up. I checked his temperature and was shocked as he was at 32.5 degrees. Hypothermic. This has only ever happened once before and that was in 30 degree heat in July just after he was diagnosed.
He sounded like he was drunk. His words were slurred, and he was finding it difficult to think or process what was being said to him. I know with hypothermia you need to warm the person slowly, but I also had to continue to treat his low. After 30 minutes of doing this and with no improvements I phoned the hospital. Fortunately we have a direct number to the Children's Assessment Unit, and they are fantastic at giving us advice or if more urgent treatment is needed they organise directly.
Although I was scared I was so calm. The hospital was concerned but reassured me I was doing everything right. We needed to wait another 30 minutes, keep warming him gradually and treating the lows but if no improvement an ambulance would have been needed. I did exactly as required. His sugars started to rise, but he was still incredibly cold. With his sugars rising he was able to get into a warm shower. After a while his temperature rose to 34. I spoke to the hospital again, and they were happy an ambulance wasn't needed although from previous experience his sugars can then go the opposite way then plummet again taking us back to step 1.
This low and hypothermia had really taken it out of him, and he just wanted to sleep. I kept him in my lounge and let him sleep on the sofa as I still needed to monitor his sugars and temp for a while. Eventually at 11.30pm I was happy he was stable enough to go to bed. I however needed to check him again an hour later and repeat throughout the night every two hours. It is like having a newborn baby again. After he went to bed my calmness disappeared, and I sat and sobbed. I had been running on adrenaline and when that leaves your body it can cause a low. My son is growing up and wants to live a normal life. I worry about if things like this happen when he is away from home, who will help him? Would he be able to phone for help? The reality that I cannot be there for him forever hit me like a brick.
The following day I had to go to work, exhausted as up at 2am, again at 4 then up for work at 6. My son spent the day with his grandparents as he was still feeling wiped out and his temp was still only 35 degrees. We don't know what caused it, but it can happen at any time without warning. My son has a great circle of friends who are for the most part sensible, and they know of my son's condition. This does help put my mind at rest a little. I can't wrap my kids up in cotton wool but oh it is so hard sometimes. After it all returns to normal my son is fine but gets cross that I worry too much. Maybe he will understand one day when he has children of his own that all you want to do as a parent is protect your child. I would do anything for my children not to have this illness, but I cannot change it. I have to let him grow and get on with his life whilst keeping my fears hidden away.
On Friday he will be 17. He is excitedly talking about learning to drive, holidays with friends and the possibility of travelling in the future. I will happily support my son in everything he wants to do but inside I will always worry, sometimes too much, but that's what mums do.
I wanted to write about the fantastic last 2 weeks I'd had, about the excitement and emotion of finally seeing my daughter. About the day I spent with my friend who I'd bumped into last year for the first time in 25 years and how we had a great day, and he had me laughing until my sides hurt. All of this happened and was amazing but from Friday until Monday it was overcast with sadness.
Easter Sunday would have been my husband's birthday. The fifth one since he passed away, so why did it feel like the first all over again?
I really was the happiest I've been in a long time but waking up on Good Friday I felt as flat as a pancake. It's quite normal for me to feel off, in the build up to an anniversary, but I'd not felt this flat in a long time. I found myself withdrawing. I stopped interacting with my group and stopped responding to friends. I was irritable and also worried my dark depressive period I'd suffered from October till January was returning.
I felt lost and a huge sense of sadness. I couldn't work out why the build up to this particular anniversary was hitting me harder than previously. Last year I was OK for his birthday. I was more than OK. Someone came to stay on that day for the first lockdown, so I was busy sorting and arranging the house. Easter fell later last year so by the time that came around I had company and was distracted. This year the birthday falling on Easter and being relatively alone hit me hard, a 16-year-old boy who is also grieving doesn't want to sit with his sad old mum, he wants to deal with things his way which is OK by me.
All day Friday and Saturday I felt on the brink of tears. I tried everything to lift my mood. I practised the mindfulness that has been working well for me, I tried to read, I certainly didn't want to listen to music as I knew that would start me off crying if certain songs played. I went for walks but all I saw were happy families and couples holding hands, that made me feel even worse. Even when my mental health has been at its worst I can usually fake it and portray to the outside world I'm fine, but I couldn't find the energy to do that.
Sunday came along and it was awful. I woke up crying. How bloody stupid! It's been 5 years since so why was I in this state. The more I cried, the more frustrated I got with myself. I had no motivation to do anything. My son had gone for a walk, he likes to act as if an anniversary is a normal day, so I was conscious of being upset in front of him. I did drag myself into the shower whilst he was out and just slumped to the floor in a ball and sobbed. The floodgates had opened and I couldn't stop. I knew I had to pull myself together for the sake of my son, so I got dried, put on some clothes but really couldn't face anything, so I climbed into bed. I must have cried myself to sleep. I woke up a couple of hours later feeling emotionally exhausted. I'd lost my appetite over the past couple of days and really couldn't stomach a meal. I cooked for my son crying the whole time. I hid away whilst he came down to eat, and when he went back up I came back down.
I've been a member of a group for young widows and widowers for quite a while and know that it is usually a great place to get some support or advice. Sometimes just chatting to someone who has experienced something similar is such a help. I chatted to a lady who was 10 years older than me but who had lost her partner at the same age I had. She got me completely. She said she had found the anniversaries since lockdown particularly difficult even though she's happily remarried for the past 5 years. This helped me to feel 'normal' and to stop beating myself up.
Grief is a peculiar thing. When Andy first passed away I was still trying to process his illness, but I went through the motions. I cried every morning on waking, on and off throughout the day and cried myself to sleep every night. There were many times I wished I wouldn't wake up, so I could be with him but knew I had to carry on as my kids needed me more than ever. Then after a few months I noticed I didn't wake up crying but then may do for another week or so. I laughed and felt guilty for doing so. Then I'd notice I didn't fall asleep crying and so on and so on until I realised it had been a week with no tears, then a month. Laughter comes easily and without guilt. Anniversaries come and go. The first ones are awful. The second ones are bad, the third a sadness. Each one becomes a little easier to live through. For the past 2 years I've been OK for most of the anniversaries except for the anniversary of his death last November when I was at a real low point and of course this weekend just gone.
There is no instruction manual on how to grieve. There is no timescale for how long it will last. Everybody grieves differently there is no right or wrong. Grief for me is like the sea. Like a tide, grief ebbs and flows. You can go months with a calm still sea then suddenly without warning a wave of sadness can hit. It can last moments it can last days but with each wave you know it won't last forever. It will subside until the next storm, or until a pebble causes a ripple effect. For me grief is not like depression, with depression you have no idea when 'normality' will ever return. Depression becomes your normality. Grief is different, it's a process. It is painful at times, but I believe it is healthy to grieve. You can only grieve for something or someone you have loved and lost. People always say time is a great healer. I agree to a certain extent, as time goes on you learn to live without that person. You learn a new way of life. I'm learning that it's OK to still grieve and that some years may be different to others and that too is OK. The strangest of years we've all had combined with the anniversary of a loved one has just been harder than normal to get through but unlike those early days of grieving where you never think you'll smile again you learn that you will and the memories of the past will once again give you pleasure not pain.
Today, apart from feeling unwell as a reaction to my COVID-19 jab 12 days ago, I'm OK. I have a temperature, ache all over, but the sadness has lifted (my lateral flow test was thankfully negative). I'm also prepared that future anniversaries will come and go without any sadness, but there could be that one in the future where it is difficult to get through and that is allowed. Grief is a perfectly normal part of life that I have to accept. I cannot control it. I just need to ride the waves when they appear and remember it does get easier again.
I've written and re-written this so many times. Each time it just seems like a huge block of words on a page. Not because I'm sad, quite the opposite actually. I'm a bundle of excitement. I feel like a kid at Christmas and my brain is working faster than my pen so to speak, so words are just tumbling out at a rate of knots. I have so many exciting and happy things going on at the moment I feel like I'm going to burst. None of it is life changing, but I haven't been this excited about anything since the early months of 2020, and it feels good.
I'm meeting up with a friend I've known since I was 7 and lost touch with. We met again through my group and have arranged to go for a walk on Wednesday. It'll be great to catch up on what's been going on in her life and chat about old times. I also have my jab booked for Thursday afternoon. After them trying for the past 2 weeks to send me to the Isle of Wight I've finally been booked into Guildhall Walk. Most people in my age group are not getting it yet which is why I can't have it locally, so I consider myself lucky as my children are both Type 1 diabetics and the letter of invitation states I'm a carer for a person who is vulnerable to Covid-19. However, I am needle phobic! The thought of the needle, not the vaccine, is already making me nervous. I know, I'm a wimp. The journey to get the jab will be a doddle, but I'm concerned about coming home. I faint every time I have an injection or blood taken so the thought of a bus, ferry and another bus on my own will be interesting. Possibly embarrassing but well worth it. My second jab is already booked for the 13th of June.
This coming weekend is what has got me about ready to pop. I'm going to see my daughter. Apart from a brief moment at Christmas I have not spent anytime with her since her birthday at the end of October. We are meeting up for a drink in the garden rain or shine. I do not care if it is thundering, lightning or throwing it down with hailstones. The gazebo will be up and we are meeting.
I'm also going for garden drinks with a guy who I have known for 34 years. He is a few years older than me and I had a huge schoolgirl crush on him. I was a first year, he was a fifth year, so he never knew, and I don't think he even realised I existed back then. We bumped into each other when we both worked for Butlins 25 years ago but hadn't seen one other until October last year, when I recognised him on my way home from work. After a hilarious chat on the train and ferry, we added each other as friends on Facebook and he has kept me entertained during this last lockdown with his wit and humour. It is going to be great to actually sit and interact with another adult human. 6 months alone with a teenage boy has been a challenge at times.
Next week I go back to the office for 2 days and the plan at the moment is to do so on a weekly basis. Again I'm so looking forward to interacting with people. To see others without a mask on is going to be fantastic. I have missed seeing smiles and people's facial expressions.
The therapy I have had for my self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth has been life changing. I've put some of the weight back on I'd lost at the end of last year, and I'm happy and comfortable with how I look. My parents had commented I had gotten too skinny, as did a couple of people who knew me that I'd bumped into on walks. I think they meant I looked unhealthy, but were too polite to say. On top of my own therapy the therapy sessions we've had in my group have been a massive help. We have covered confidence, trust and last week was boundaries. This week is creating your own reality. The feedback myself and Dawn the therapist have received is fantastic and everyone on these sessions has said how much they have got from it. For me personally I never really set boundaries. As a pleaser with confidence issues, I've never been comfortable verbalizing my boundaries or dealing with it, if I felt that they had been crossed. In the past I allowed 'friends' to treat me however they chose and just put up with it. I no longer have contact with two people I've known a long time as they crossed boundaries time and time again, but I let them. I always thought I would miss these people in my life but in the past 2 months since I last spoke to them, I can honestly say I have not at all. It's also given me a much clearer perspective of what and who I want in my life.
My group is continuing to grow and now has over 600 members. Since I started it as a bit of a joke the day before New Year's Eve, I have been amazed at what has been achieved. I never imagined for one minute I could have created something that has helped so many people. I have already booked in to visit a few members who are scattered around the country and have a few from Australia and Canada who are booking a holiday to the UK for the get together once life has fully returned to normal.
I feel like I did back in December 2019 when life for me was fun and exciting. Spring is officially here, the gardens are starting to come to life after a long tough Autumn/Winter, and that is exactly how I see my life at the moment.
Today is Mothering Sunday. I'm feeling very emotional as it is my first one where I can't see my little girl. She's not actually a little girl anymore, she is a beautiful strong 22 year old woman, but to me she will always be my little girl. I received a bouquet of Roses and Lilies, my favourite flowers, from my daughter and her partner and my present is still to come from my boy. He is really upset it hasn't arrived in time, I have told him it doesn't matter and his thoughtfulness means more.
Today I have thought alot about being a parent. I have been a mum for exactly half my life. I always wanted children but had never put a time frame or age on when. When I met my husband he knew before we got together it was what I wanted. He on the other hand said it was not something he had ever considered and wasn't bothered if he ever had children. 3 years into our relationship I discovered I was pregnant. A happy accident? I didn't see it that way at the time.
My Grandfather had passed away and the following day my husband had gone to work. I was devastated and had taken the day off. A friend came to comfort me. She was heavily pregnant herself and when she arrived at my house took one look at me and told me I looked peaky and was pregnant. I told her I had been crying all night but she insisted on dragging me to Boots Chemists and ordered me to buy a pregnancy test. I was emotionally exhausted so went along with her mad idea for a quiet time of it. We got back to mine and I took the test. I didn't need to wait the 2 minutes as the instructions said, the blue line appeared instantly. I remember standing in my bathroom in utter shock. I walked out of the bathroom and just handed the test to my friend. She was so pleased and excited and hugged me. I stood like a piece of stone. Motionless and totally emotionless.
Although I always wanted children, Andy and I had not ever discussed it fully and I was terrified he would leave. We had been saving hard for a house and used to enjoy the freedom of just us, doing what we wanted when we wanted. A baby was going to change that. I spent the rest of the day rehearsing how I was going to tell him when he got home. I had it all planned out in my head, make him his dinner and then whilst we were relaxing just tell him. I even prepared myself for the expected angry response. He was such a chilled out guy but I was convinced he would go mad.
He came in from work and all my pre-planning went out of the window. The poor sod had barely stepped over the threshold and I just blurted it out. I'm pregnant. I can still see the look of confusion on his face as he said "do you want a cup of tea". I just nodded and sat down. He made the tea, sat down and started to tell me what had happened that day at work. Surely he could not have heard me so I said again I'm pregnant. He looked at me and said he knew and had heard me. I waited for an explosion but nothing. We sat in silence for what seemed an eternity then the phone rang. It was my mum checking to see if I was ok. At the end of the conversation she asked if I was pregnant. What a bizarre question to ask when her Dad had just died but she said she had a strange feeling the last time she had seen me and had actually told my Grandad I was pregnant the day he died. I told her I had taken the test and it was positive. She was so excited, her first grandchild and some happy news for the family at an awful time. I told her not to tell anyone as I had no idea how Andy felt about it.
I got off the phone and in no uncertain terms informed Andy I was having this baby. He had never even suggested the opposite but had said nothing so I had no idea what was going through his head. The days that followed were extremely strange. He was so good at comforting me over the loss of my Grandad but seemed to avoid any conversation about the baby. This was the first time in our relationship that I felt unsure. I had no idea if he wanted the baby, whether he was planning on leaving or how he felt at all. My mum was keen for me to share the news with my entire family as in her eyes it was the best possible news. I asked Andy if he was happy for me to do so. It seemed he didn't have an opinion and told me to do what I wanted. I told my family. They were ecstatic. This baby was very much wanted by both sides of our families but I still had no idea what would happen to us.
I had a serious car accident 2 weeks after my Grandad died. I was taken to hospital via ambulance and for the first time was terrified for my unborn baby's life. Andy was at the hospital when I arrived and was extremely concerned for me but again no mention of the baby. I had an internal scan and there for the first time I saw the little flicker of my child's heartbeat. I was only 12 weeks pregnant but there on the screen was visible proof of a life growing inside of me. Something as big as a plum was growing and developing rapidly. A baby made of Andy and I. That was the day I became a mum. That was the day I knew it was what I wanted more than anything before.
I was not worried about my own injuries, I was only concerned for my baby. I was assured that the baby was very well protected and no reason for it not to continue to grow. At 16 weeks we went for a routine scan. I was amazed at how much my child had grown. I cried as we heard the heartbeat for the first time and although I had no bump I found myself stroking my tummy. Andy sat in silence. That night whilst in bed I woke feeling a little uncomfortable and noticed I was bleeding. I woke Andy and within minutes he was driving me to the hospital.
Another scan showed my baby was ok, for now, but no explanation as to what was happening and also being told very bluntly it is common to miscarry and I should just go home and rest and what will be will be. I was so scared of losing this little life but knew I had no control over it. Andy fussed over me for the week I was told to bed rest but still no mention of our baby. I was in a constant state of worry that I would lose this little life.
A couple of weeks later I was in work and felt the strangest of feelings. My baby was moving. It is a feeling you can not describe well. The best way I can explain it is like a number of real butterflies moving around inside of you. It is the oddest of feelings but for me reassured me that my baby was doing well. I would sit waiting for that feeling to happen again and again but would get frustrated when Andy couldn't feel it with his hand.
My body was changing drastically. My once flat tummy had turned into a pod belly but I loved it. It was physical proof I was a mum. The movements were becoming more frequent and one night I was laying in bed, Andy had his arm around me and on top of my tummy. I felt my baby move. He leapt out of the bed. I asked him what was wrong and he just said "what on earth was that". I remember laughing at his shock and said it's our baby. He got back into bed and put his hand back on my tummy. He did jolt for the next few movements then he began to stroke my growing belly. It was beautiful.
At 6 months pregnant I said we should start thinking of names. I had bought a book and would read out names I liked. He hated them all. At work one day I again became uncomfortable and again I was bleeding. A colleague drove me to hospital. Yet another scan showed my baby was ok but there was a concern I was going into early labour so I was admitted to hospital. Andy arrived and again was very concerned about me. I was kept in for a couple of days and with no explanation as to what was happening was sent home. Although it was visible to the outside world I was pregnant I was told the baby seemed very small. I was also told if I went into labour at this point, 24 weeks pregnant, that there was a slim chance of survival for my baby.
I knew more than ever I had to have a name for my child. We went home and I read a list of names. Finally he agreed on 2. One boy and one girl's name. I said I wanted the baby to have his surname as we were not married. I was dismayed when he said he didn't mind. I could not fathom for the life of me why he seemed so uninterested in our child.
The weeks went by and I was having regular scans and tests. Still no reason could be found for the bleeding. One midwife told me sometimes it happens and the baby is perfectly ok but I was in a constant state of worry. At 34 weeks pregnant I woke one day and looked in the mirror. My face had ballooned so had my wrists and ankles. I looked like the Michelin man. I phoned the midwife and was asked to go in immediately. My blood pressure was sky high and I was told I had first signs of pre-eclampsia. A condition that affects the arteries carrying blood to the placenta, my baby's lifeline. If left untreated it can be fatal to both mother and baby. I was advised to stop work and rest. I was again told my baby was very small.
I followed the advice of the medical professionals and stopped work. I rested. I was so bored and had never been this inactive. I had a neat little bump and from behind didn't look pregnant but within 2 weeks I looked huge all over. I was constantly in hospital having blood tests, scans and mine and my baby's heart monitored. The swelling had reduced but I was still massive. My due date was getting closer and closer. To be honest I was so uncomfortable I just wanted the baby out. The pre-eclampsia seemed to have disappeared so when my due date did come there was no rush for them to get the baby out much to my dismay. I no longer walked, I waddled. I spent more time in the bathroom than any other room of the house. I looked and felt fat and uncomfortable but with each huge kick my baby gave I knew it was worth it.
I was so excited for my baby's arrival, Andy seemed so uninterested. My mum had been staying with us since just before my due date as I wanted her at the birth with Andy. My hormones had gone haywire and I broke down and cried to my mum that I was worried Andy wouldn't love our baby. She tried to console me but there was little she could say as she had also noticed how detached he seemed. Finally after nearly 2 weeks overdue I was told I would be taken to hospital and my labour induced the following day. I had read so many birthing books and was fully prepared for a long slog of labour.
The morning of my induction arrived I was terrified and excited. I looked around my house as we were leaving knowing that the next time I would be home would be with my little tiny baby. Us two would be a family of 3. We lived 26 miles from the hospital. My mum, Andy and I drove to Musgrove Park Hospital in Somerset in silence. Lots of tests were carried out, I was attached to a monitor and given a pessary to hopefully bring on labour. I was told it could take as many as 4 pessaries and if that didn't work I would be given a cesarean. We sat all day just waiting. Just before visiting hours ended I was given a second pessary. Andy and mum had to leave.
At some time in the early hours I started to get some strong pains. I had read all the books so checked my watch. Within 2 minutes I had another. I pressed the buzzer and told the midwife what was happening. She wasn't a particularly warm lady and told me I had hours to go and to just sleep. I couldn't. My back was killing me. I have never suffered back pain and this was awful. I took myself off the monitor as I thought walking might help as I had been laying in the same position for hours. I think I took 3 steps and bang I had a contraction. It wasn't agony but certainly uncomfortable. It seemed to last for ages. It subsided. I took another step and bang it happened again. The woman in the bed opposite who had her baby the day before said I think you are in labour. I felt a pop as my waters burst and just remember staring with my mouth open as this fluid flowed down the ward. The contractions were coming quicker and I couldn't move. The lady opposite pressed her buzzer and again the midwife, who this time had a face like a slapped arse, appeared. She pretty much threw me on my bed, examined me and said I was only 3cm dilated and had hours to go as a first time birth. Whilst she was examining me I was contracting and I laugh at this now but she had her hand stuck in me. I felt like a glove puppet. Sorry a bit graphic but oh so true. Eventually and with much tutting and sighing she unattached herself from me and walked off saying loudly how I was making too much fuss.
The unhelpful midwife returned a few minutes later and stuck a needle in my thigh. It was a sedative to make me relax. The lady in the bed opposite was disgusted and whilst I said nothing she was demanding that I was in labour. The midwife said to me as you are disrupting the ward I'm moving you to the labour suite. I was scared and just wanted Andy and my mum. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. I was unceremoniously dumped in a wheelchair and taken to another part of the hospital. I was handed over to another midwife. This one was a student midwife and was lovely. I asked her to ring Andy to get him to the hospital. It was 3am and the drive took 30 minutes on country roads. She said she would just give me a quick check over then call him. I said I was desperate for the loo so she wheeled me in.
What happened next is like a scene from a comedy to me. Whilst sat on the toilet I started to make some strange noises the midwife asked if I was ok. I couldn't answer. She told me she wanted to take a quick peek and within seconds I was told my baby was coming. I was put back in the wheelchair but as my baby's head was in the way I could not sit properly and was wheeled through the hospital with my legs wide open and my baby's head making its way into the world. I was put on a bed pushed 5 times and at 03.22am delivered my child much to the shock of the poor student midwife who I later found out had never delivered a baby before.
Due to the speed of labour my baby had become distressed and was not breathing. I remember laying on the bed on my own whilst people came running in and out of the room. I hadn't heard any crying from my baby and didn't even know what sex it was. I was starting to feel very lightheaded and sick due to the sedative but didn't want to cause any fuss as I knew they were trying to get my baby breathing. Finally after what seemed like an eternity I heard a cry. Then again but a little louder, then again but this time a full blown bellow. The student came over to tell me I had a little girl and that Andy and mum were on their way. I desperately wanted to hold my baby. I was told they were just going to weigh her then I was going to meet my tiny new daughter. The midwife went to the other end of the room and I caught a glimpse of a baby's leg flailing about as they tried to weigh her. The midwife walked back towards me smiling, holding a blanket in her arms. She then handed me my daughter. My beautiful precious baby but she wasn't tiny she was huge. 9lbs 9oz! I looked at my bundle and was dumb struck. She had masses of black hair, she was beautiful. I couldn't stop staring at her little wrinkled face thinking you are mine.
I heard the door open and saw Andy and my mum walk in. My mum burst into tears. Andy stood motionless. I asked if he wanted to meet his daughter and he just nodded. The midwife got him to sit down and she took our baby and placed her in his arms. He just looked at her then at me then back to her. His mouth moved but no sound came out. He sat for about an hour just holding and looking at her until the twitching new Grandmother could wait no more to hold her first Grandchild.
Later that day Andy drove me to the local maternity home. He had hardly spoken. He got me settled then left. He came back later with flowers and again just sat holding his daughter. After a couple of days I left the maternity hospital and bought our little girl home. Andy had been busy and the once bare empty spare room had been turned into the most beautiful nursery. He would have said it himself but he was pretty useless in those early weeks. He acted like she was made of porcelain. He seemed reluctant to pick her up and even more so to bath her. Nappy duties were not that often for him. For me I was in love. This perfect little human that had grown inside of me was now a part of my world. She was my world. Everything I had ever known up that point had changed. Something as simple as popping to the shop for a pint of milk was not the same but I was a mum. This little girl relied on me for everything.
A couple of months after the birth I went for a bath one night. I sat in the bath and could hear singing. I strained my ears to listen. Andy was singing My Girl. I went downstairs and there he was holding our daughter singing away oblivious to me watching. The tears poured down my face as I could see how much he loved his little girl. I needn't have worried she was his world. Later that night we finally spoke about his lack of reaction or emotion to my pregnancy and the birth. He had never held a baby prior to his daughter and was terrified. He openly admitted he was worried about being a good dad and how it scared him he may let her down. He was shocked to learn I had felt exactly the same about becoming a mother. We talked so freely and frankly about our worries as a Mum and Dad.
By the time I got pregnant again a few years later Andy was a confident and strong reliable father. When I told him the news he grinned and kissed me. He was the one who told our daughter she was going to have a brother or sister. He was the one who picked me up when we lost that little life, he was the one who just a week after I had surgery due to miscarriage, had taken a call from the hospital to tell me they thought I was still pregnant and I was needed to be seen immediately as it would be an ectopic pregnancy and my life was at risk. He was also the one who told me I was still pregnant with the twin of the baby we had lost and how the Drs were amazed this little one had survived the surgery I had. Every day as my pregnancy developed he would talk to my growing bump. When I was again induced for labour he didn't leave my side. When I was rushed into theatre for an emergency c-section after our baby's heart stopped, my parents found him sobbing in my hospital room, terrified our baby and I would not survive. He was the first person to hold our heavy weight 10lb 4oz son and rushed back to the hospital later that day with several baby outfits he had gone out and bought himself.
For 18 years with Andy we co-parented. It drove us crazy sometimes, other times it was a joy. At times we got it horribly wrong. Our kids are 22 and 16 now. They are strong, opinionated, honest, kind and pretty amazing humans in my eyes. Being a parent can be the most rewarding, exciting, frustrating and terrifying thing in the world. There is no instruction manual on what to do. It really is a case of winging it and hoping for the best. I can no longer remember not feeling like a mum and I wouldn't change it for the world.
Today is Mothers Day, a day that children are supposed to show appreciation for their mums. Today I appreciate my own parents probably more than I ever have before. I appreciate my children and can only hope that Andy would be pleased with how I have parented in his absence. The past 5 years have been some of the toughest and most challenging times I've had as a mother. My children and I don't always see eye to eye. They make me laugh. They make me cry but they have made me a mum. They are and will always be my biggest and proudest achievements.