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.
A year ago I could never have imagined living as we have done. It still seems so surreal. I have to pinch myself that what has occurred really did happen. My life has changed so much in 12 months and not just because of a global pandemic. I have had some incredibly low points and some amazing highs.
The past week has been a week full of learning. Not just in an academic sense but learning more about myself and others. My appetite to learn and experience new things is bigger now than it has been in years. I started my short psychology course and whilst it is interesting it is not challenging enough. I've always regretted not completing my A Levels and the course has sparked an interest into further learning. I am not ready to commit to 2 years of study alongside my current work and other projects I have on the go, I do however want to push my learning capabilities further.
The therapy I have been having has made a huge impact in my life, my only regret is not doing it sooner. My confidence seems to be growing day by day in all aspects of my life. I've found a new confidence in standing up for myself and putting my needs first. For too long I have put others' feelings above my own. I became a bit of a doormat and as long as everyone else was happy, cared for and had what they needed that was what mattered. Often this was at the detriment to myself. I wouldn't necessarily say how I felt as I'd be too worried it may hurt someone's feelings, so instead I would hold it in, bottle it up until it broke out in an emotional response that would only end up making me feel ten times worse. I have spent quite a bit of time on me this past week.
Apart from nurturing my brain I have been a little indulgent in my personal time. Instead of just jumping in and out of the shower for hygiene purposes I took time to feel the water on my skin. To look at the patterns the water made. Whilst making a coffee I took time to watch how the granules fell into the cup, how the steam rose up from the kettle then disappeared, how the water acted when poured. When I drank my coffee I held it in my mouth a little longer to appreciate and savour the aroma and taste. I told my friend what I had done, and she thought I had gone mad. I encouraged her to try it. She did and phoned me to say it was great. Those couple of extra minutes with the most simplest of tasks made me aware of all of my senses, something we often take for granted. What may seem stupid to some has made me feel more alert and alive than I would ever have thought.
The group I created at the end of last year continues to grow with 550 members now. I would never have thought three months ago that some daft writing I did has developed into what it has. The group and page gave me so much during a particularly tough time. The group has developed into a community of people to have fun, network, share and support one another. One of the members mentioned she used to sing but hadn't for a very long time. I encouraged her to post a video up. She did and it was amazing. She did a piano version of Radiohead's Creep and the many comments she got were fantastic. It really is such a good feeling to be a part of that.
Some years ago I did a personality traits test. I retook the test at the weekend. The test focuses on five personality aspects Mind, Energy, Nature, Tactics and Identity. Together they make up the sixteen personalities of the NERIS Type Explorer Test that I took, which was inspired by Carl Jung and mother-daughter, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Meyers. My result has not changed. I am ENFP-T a Campaigner. It describes my personality pretty damn accurately. The website I have used has a host of tools for personal growth. It identifies my strengths and weaknesses. My weaknesses I have always been able to identify with but struggled with my strengths. The tools help you to understand your traits and how to leverage them to grow as a person. I shared the link on my group and many took part and all said how like them the trait was. It really is insightful.
Evenings are becoming lighter, spring is not far off and life is improving by the day. I'm excited at the prospect of finally being able to spend time with my daughter at the end of the month and I am looking forward to life gradually returning to some sort of normality.
If anyone is interested in the personality traits test here is the link.
Life really does change in an instance. When I wrote last Tuesday things were going really well. The therapy was working, and I was feeling confident, happy and had no signs of anxiety. Wednesday took the wind out of my sails and made me face something that nobody likes to think or talk about. Mortality. Death.
My first encounter with death was when I was 23 and my Grandad passed away. I was devastated. He was my favourite Grandfather, I was his eldest grandchild and the apple of his eye. The day after he passed I found out I was pregnant with my first child. That gave the family something really positive to look forward to and was a huge comfort to me. The next person close to me to pass away was my father-in-law 12 years ago. 8 years ago I received a cancer diagnosis but only thought briefly of my own mortality before going in to fight mode to battle the damn thing. When I was forty I lost my other Grandad. He was 96 and had a great life so whilst I knew I would miss him in my life I couldn't be sad.
2016 is what gave me my fear of death. Not of my own but of losing people I love. In the space of 3 months both my Nans and my husband passed away. It was too much to take onboard and process what was happening, and I became incredibly fearful of losing my children. I wanted to wrap them in cotton wool, not let them out. I knew this was completely irrational and the bereavement counsellor I saw at the time helped me to deal with the pain I was in and let them live their lives. I had a stroke 7 months after my husband passed away and again was not scared about dying. I have a warped sense of humour and can joke about my own death. I talk openly about what I want at my funeral and have even put down what songs I want played to remember me. They are upbeat, and I just want people to have a party when I pop off. What did scare me was the thought of losing another person I love.
Last Wednesday evening I took a call from my mum to say my Aunt was in the intensive care unit in Essex. This was totally unexpected. She had been unwell at the end of last year when she was taken to hospital as having difficulty breathing. During the current pandemic this was a huge worry, but she was informed she had a hernia pressing on her lung and would need an operation but nothing more sinister. She has been awaiting a referral since November. Wednesday night we found out it is not a hernia but one massive tumour and a second smaller one in her lung. As of this morning it has been confirmed it is cancer. My Aunt battled and successfully overcame breast cancer 21 years ago, so this is a huge shock for the whole family.
As my parents were both in the Navy the majority of my family do not live locally, but we are very close-knit. Due to lockdown to make up for the lack of visits last year we had weekly zoom quizzes to keep in touch which were great fun. I have yet to meet my cousin's baby who is now 7 months old. The closeness I have with my family has always been there. When I was younger my brother and I would spend 2 to 3 weeks of our school summer holidays at my grandparents, so it was always a home from home for me. I was always extremely close to my Aunt. She has no children of her own but has been very important and instrumental in my life. She was the one I could talk to when my parents "didn't understand" the hormonal, knew better than everyone teenager. I would often go and stay with her on my own, and we would go out shopping or to concerts, shows or meals, things I never did with my parents. I could also confide in her about anything.
The night my mum called I couldn't sleep. I was in shock. That shock turned to anger on Thursday as we received updates on my aunt's condition. Due to lockdown she can have no visitors. The information we are receiving is minimal and very frustrating. As a family we have really been through it in the past 4 years and this just added to my anger.
I was angry that yet another family member has been misdiagnosed and not given thorough tests when initially presenting with symptoms. I was angry that I can't comfort my daughter who is so distressed as her Grandmother is also currently battling and undergoing treatment for breast cancer. I had no answer for her when she asked me why is this happening to us, why is life so unfair. I was also angry as my mum is so upset she can not be with her sister at the worst possible time. I was angry at everything but didn't know where to direct it.
That night I had to host a zoom meeting for my group therapy session, so I did my usual, buried my feelings and put a smile on. Although the session was really successful I felt exhausted at the end, pretending I was fine and the floodgates opened. My son must have heard me crying, and he came into my room. He asked me what was up and in a snotty teary way I ranted about how crap life is. This was totally unfair of me to put this on a 16-year-old but he astounded me. He gave me a hug and said "yeah we've had some crap mum, but others have it worse". He went on to comfort me and actually spoke more sense than most adults I know.
My son amazes me. At 16, he has been through and lost more than most adults my age but his resilience and matter of fact attitude is really rather humbling. What was I doing ranting and raving about things I have no control of when this kid can take all the awful things he's been through in such a short time, on the chin. I am so proud of how my son reacts in the face of adversity, and he really has inspired me. After his dad passed away I worried he would go off the rails. I need not have. He has more sense and is more level-headed than many I know, and he is the one who keeps me on the rails.
Friday was my aunt's birthday. I felt incredibly sad as she is alone in the ICU, but I knew I couldn't dwell on it. I needed to go to the office to pick some bits up. It is the first time since November I have ventured over there. Fortunately it was a lovely sunny day so the ferry and train journey were actually really enjoyable. A journey I used to hate doing was a welcome break in what has been a stagnant few months. On the way back I took time to appreciate where I live. I spent ages just looking at the water; it really is rather calming. It made me think long and hard. I cannot control when I or the people I love die. It is the one thing in life that is a certainty. What I can control is how I will be remembered. What is the legacy, if you like, that I want to leave behind.
Material possessions matter not. What I achieve in work will not be remembered. What matters, is knowing you were loved and those close to you know you loved them. I have told my children every day of their lives that I love them, although I could not remember when I last told my parents or extended members of my family. I have always said life is short, and we need to make the most of it. This doesn't mean by necessarily going anywhere but making the most of what time we have on this planet and appreciating and making the most of those we love. Tell and show the people close to you how you feel. Resolve differences, hold no grudge and have no regrets. If I can get to the end of my days knowing I did everything I could to ensure my loved ones know what they meant to me then I have lived a full life.
My Aunt is an incredibly strong lady and whilst she has a huge battle to come I know that with the whole family to support her she will give it all she can. I have spent the weekend writing letters for when my time comes. I have also made sure my family knows how I feel about them now. My brother reached out to me before Christmas and after an estranged relationship for many years he is trying to build bridges. I was reluctant to let him back into mine and my children's lives but tomorrow is not promised only today, so we are starting again with baby steps. I can not live in fear of something that will ultimately come to us all. I can live each day as if it's the last. Look forward to the future but live, learn, laugh and love right now.
It's been 11 days since my hypnosis for confidence, self-esteem and self-worth and I can honestly say I feel great. I hosted a Zoom video call last Thursday night for my group, something I would never have done before in a social context, and I loved every minute of it. I have found confidence in everything from work through to my personal life and my anxiety remains under control as a result. I am still in awe at how I am feeling and acting but also still sceptical and have a small doubt that it could end.
I have always been fascinated by psychology, I started an A level in it whilst at college many years ago but sadly didn't complete due to circumstances at the time. Having my therapy and hypnosis has awakened a thirst for knowledge in me that I haven't had for a long while. I have signed up for a short psychology course starting from this week. Whilst I have no wish to pursue this as a career I am fascinated with how our brains work and how as humans we process thoughts and feelings. I have spent a lot of time looking at things that have happened in the past couple of years in my life. Events and people and what triggers my emotions and how I handle them. I now have a much clearer understanding of myself. I am relishing the fact that I continue to learn and grow each day.
My therapist had very kindly offered to run some sessions for my group. The first session last Thursday was an introductory to the psychology of relationships and dating. She got us to play a game that was great fun and showed us our personality types, ideal partners personality and preferred sex life. This generated a huge amount of laughs but was very interesting, thought-provoking and strangely true for all. The feedback from the session was fantastic, and we are running 5 more all completely free over the next few weeks. This week is all about confidence. I cannot wait.
Work has become a joy again. I am thriving and pushing harder than ever to gain the promotion I want. Personally life is fun right now. Yes we are still in lockdown. No I cannot socialise in person, but I can still enjoy things. Something I seemed to have forgotten to do in many months. I have not stopped smiling for the last 11 days. I actually wake up looking forward to what each day has to offer.
My group has been a huge factor in the fun I am having. Being in contact with so many new people from all different walks of life is providing me new hope and possibilities. Friday night we had a virtual 80's party. It started at 7pm and went on til the early hours with over 200 people taking part. Some were on video chats others just using text or comments, some posted pictures of themselves dancing. It was such a good laugh and a much-needed release in the current times whilst following the rules. There were definitely a few sore heads the following morning!
My bucket list is growing and one of my things 'to do' is looking like a real possibility next year. I have wanted to go to The Isle of Man TT since I was about 17. One of my group members lives there and has offered myself and a couple of others to stay so all we need to do is organise our travel when it does eventually happen. I am looking forward to ticking things off my list. I know life is incredibly short, and I want to live and make the most of it, not get 20 or 30 years older and be full of regret for time wasted.
After yesterday's announcement people have a new-found excitement. My social media has blown up overnight with people posting holiday bookings, table reservations at restaurants for 21st June and discussions about garden parties from the end of March. It is great to see the world excited again, but I am just a little reluctant to start making concrete plans and rushing things. I am an optimist but also a realist and a sense of we've been here before is lurking in my mind. Personally I would hate to make plans for it again to be cancelled, this would be a huge slap in the face, so I shall continue one day at a time. Enjoying what I can in the moment and under the circumstances we are in but also remaining hopeful as there is a light at the end of a long tunnel.
A new week has just started. I had my hypnotherapy on Friday. Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT). It's a hybrid therapy that includes hypnosis, hypnotherapy, Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I must admit I was sceptical about it. I've seen hypnosis on shows and always thought it was staged. I joked with the therapist Dawn that I was worried about randomly acting like a chicken afterwards and was assured that would not happen. So what did happen?
I was hypnotised, put into a suggestible state of consciousness. I was awake and aware the whole time. I felt so relaxed and calm. We explored four memories. It was quite bizarre. Two of the four that came out I had never ever thought about. I didn't even realise they were in my head. When I was asked to recount each scene It was as if I was watching a recording on a TV of me but in that moment. I could see every detail as clear as crystal. The feelings those memories evoked were incredibly powerful and emotional.
I always put my lack of confidence, self-esteem and self-worth down to the abusive relationship I had many years ago. What I uncovered is the seeds were sown many more years before that when I was 7.
I was an incredibly tall child. Taller than most adults and was ridiculed for it by children and teachers. The seed was sown, I looked different, was a freak, and ugly, but it was my belief and internal dialogue that it was true that made the seed grow. The relationship I had only consolidated in my head I was that person and was not worthy or good enough.
The final memory was of my husband's funeral. This confused me. I couldn't understand what my confidence had to do with that. Dawn asked me loads of open questions and the answer I gave explained all. The day of his funeral was the day I said goodbye to a man I loved, who loved me unconditionally. A man who loved me no matter how I looked or what I did. Since he passed away I have subconsciously believed I would never be worthy of being loved again. His passing triggered the old feelings and that nobody would see me as he did.
After identifying the root cause Dawn got me to say things out loud. Almost to dispel the feelings of being ugly, different and unlovable. To put them in a time and place that no longer has any relevance or power in my life. I was bought out of my hypnotic state. I was aware I had cried throughout, but I was smiling. I felt an inner peace that I cannot find the right words to describe. We talked further about it and I can honestly say I was amazed at how I felt.
That night I was buzzing. I had a video call with some people I have gotten to know recently but have never met. This is something I would not have done before. Always worrying about how awful I would look on the screen. I was not worried this time. I took the call and I felt fantastic. I ended up having a great evening, and although we are in lockdown it was a fantastic girls night with a lot of laughter.
On Saturday I was asked again by a number of my group members about a party or get together after lockdown. This was something said as a bit of a joke a couple of weeks back by one group member and within a matter of hours escalated quite quickly. I have over 450 members now, and it really has created a little community of people who help one another out. Dawn, my therapist has offered to run some sessions on the group starting from this week for the next 6 weeks, including the psychology of relationships amongst other things. This has been really well-received by the other members and many have confirmed their attendance for the first one. As the group members live all over the place I've started to look at possible venues around the country and see where people are happy and able to travel to. I have never organised anything like this before and to be honest prior to Friday didn't seriously entertain the idea. Now it can be a reality.
Sunday was Valentine's Day. I received 2 E-cards. One was from a guy in the group who lives in Canada, the other was from a guy I dated 3 years ago. Although he is in a relationship he has sent one every year since we met, except last year (he only sends it as a friend). The cards made me laugh, and I'll admit boosted my ego a little. I chatted to the guy I had dated and told him about my hypnotherapy. He has been really supportive over the past few months checking in with me as he knows I've been having a tough time.
When I met him, dating was a complete unknown to me. I had been in a relationship for 22 years. I had just lost a huge amount of weight and hated my body even more than I had before. He is incredibly good-looking and super confident. I always felt a little intimidated. We dated for 6 months and whilst we got on amazingly ì always knew it would be nothing more than friends. I do remember him saying to me at the time that sexy is an attitude not a dress size. It always stuck in my head, but I never took it onboard. After he listened to me telling him about hypnotherapy he said it to me again. He paid me several other compliments. Before I would have just laughed it off unable to accept he meant it. This time I didn't. After we chatted I went upstairs and coloured my hair. I put a dress, heels and makeup on. The first time in so long. Why did I bother when there is no one to see it? I did it because it made me feel good. I went shopping totally overdressed and made up, but I didn't care. I felt great.
I can see how my attitude has changed already in certain aspects of my life. I am no longer worried about someone saying hurtful or cruel things to me about the way I look as that actually says more about them and where they are in their heads than it does me. My new-found confidence will only enhance me and my life. Will I ever be a person who craves or demands attention in a crowd? No, that is not at all in my nature. I want to be the person who can look at myself inside and out and know and be happy with who I am. Since Friday I can do that.
I hope to be able to look back at these ramblings in a year's time and be proud of myself. I do not want to look back, read this and feel that nothing has changed or be annoyed with myself for not acting on what I have said or done. I am confident that it will not be the case. The skeptic in me did wonder if how I felt was just an in the moment feeling and would it last. What difference would it make to my life? Well I am three days in. I have a recording I listen to every day and will for 21 days. I feel empowered for the first time.
After shopping on Sunday I actually stood and truly looked at myself in a mirror. I stood completely naked. For someone who has avoided mirrors for so long this was unusual. And for the first time I liked what I saw. I didn't criticize how I looked. I just appreciated myself. I have curves, I have scars, I have stretch marks, but they are there for a reason and are a part of the story of my life. I sat listening to music that night. Learning to Fly by Pink Floyd came on. So apt! To me the lyrics are about overcoming personal fear and breaking free from it. I cannot explain how this has worked and I would honestly recommend it to anyone. I feel like I have been given the opportunity to be me. To be happy and comfortable in myself. I am learning to fly.
I have put the link on to Dawn's website in case anyone else feels they could benefit from it.
I have thought and thought and overthought about sending this post. Something that happened with my post the other day, gave me a bit of a kick to do so, along with other things that have recently happened. Sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and do something that fills you with fear. I had spoken with Luke earlier in the summer about writing my ramblings but didn't have the courage at that time. I have been posting for a few months now anonymously, why? I have felt safe. Safe to be able to talk about my deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings without concern of any disapproval or backlash or causing hurt to anyone. It has been incredibly cathartic and helpful to be able to write things I have not been able to find a voice to say. I am fully aware that it is better to get feelings out, not let them fester. It is for me sometimes easier said than done. I have always found it easier to convey my feelings on paper but allow my emotions to get in the way of clearly expressing my true self vocally.
I know the reasons why, and again it is fear. An absolute fear of people’s reactions, a fear that friends or family will read it and criticise, or be hurt by something I have said, fear that my weaknesses will be seen for someone to hurt me and a fear it may open up awkward or difficult conversations.
So, what has changed, why now have I decided to let people see who writes these ramblings? Quite a lot has changed for me, in the past couple of weeks both professionally and personally, and it is time to be brave and build on the positives. I am also ready to move on with the next chapter of my life, a story not yet written.
Professionally I started a brand-new job in a completely new sector to what I have been used to, at the end of September last year. Quite possibly the worst time to change jobs but something I needed to do. At the time I was able to bounce my fears off someone else. Whilst I could not see past the emotional impact my previous job was having on me, they were able to offer a rational and outside perspective which helped me make my decision. The first few months in my new role were incredibly challenging. I was learning new skills, building a client base from scratch in a climate where many people have not been working. I was also going through an incredibly tough time personally.
In the past two weeks my hard work, resilience and perseverance in my career has really paid off. Deals have been rolling in and this has boosted me no end. I also had a goal for major progression when I started my new job, and this is getting closer to achieve. I was also approached last week by a business contact who has offered me a second job outside my main one. It is something I can do around my current role, fills my time and has opened several other avenues up for me, including the possibility of starting my own business - something I have thought about for a while but never really got beyond the daydreaming stage. Now I am seriously researching this possibility and whilst I am just at the ideas and fact-finding stage it has given me a buzz.
Personally, I have been up and down like a yoyo for a while. I started writing my other blog and created my group as an escape from how I was feeling. It has been, like this blog, surprisingly cathartic and a lot of fun. It is also gaining momentum and has opened other avenues for me to pursue. I have engaged with so many people in the past 2 months, from every walk of life and from all over the globe. I have made acquaintances with some truly wonderful people and know that great friendships are on the horizon. They have also taught me a lot about myself and helped me to realise I will no longer tolerate certain treatment from others, people I have known a long time and considered trusted friends, when in fact their selfishness has had a negative impact in my life. It is quite funny how outside perspective is sometimes all you need to see clearly. And the opinions and feedback from others about me over these past few weeks has benefited me greatly.
I have been dealing with some internal demons, whilst I can quieten them, I cannot silence them and every now and then they rear their ugly heads. One of my biggest demons is my confidence. Confidence in how I look and whether I am worthy or good enough. Externally people see a confident strong woman. That is a mask I have worn for many years and comes from my career. I have always been a top performer in whatever job I have done, progression was always offered not sought. I could look confident although not necessarily feeling it, as I knew my stuff and knew I delivered fantastic results. I guess changing my career paired with my confidence personally, being rock bottom, was a bit of a catalyst to the issues I have encountered since November.
I know I cannot continue to feel the way I do and have sought help through therapy. I had some unofficial counselling back in the summer, but I was reluctant to spill all so to speak, so really was not getting to the root cause. I had a therapy session on Monday and have a 3-hour session booked for Friday, where I am going to be hypnotised. It is to help me address my confidence, self-esteem and self-worth issues. I have been warned it is going to be incredibly emotional but if it works, I am willing to try.
So, who am I.? My name is Samantha, I am a 46-year-old woman. Mother to 2 grown up children. A Business Development Executive for a Telecoms company. Like most people I have been through tough times. I overthink, I self-critique far too much, I am passionate. I love openly and honestly. I have many flaws; I trust too easily but at other times not enough. I put other people’s feelings and needs before my own. I am a pleaser and a fixer and whilst I can be the shoulder to everyone and giver of great advice or so I am told, I will struggle in silence with my own problems. I can be incredibly stubborn. I only ever mean the best and whatever I do is without malice and with the best of intentions, but know I can go about it the wrong way. I also know I can be a total contradiction of myself. I love to laugh and all I want from life is to be happy. But this is me, this is who I am. I do not want to be a different person; I just want to feel better about who I am and what I have to offer to others. I'm a simple person and just want happiness. Is that too much to hope for?
Here's a little story. I hope it raises a smile on this cold Sunday morning.
Most of my dates have been a standard coffee, drink, meal or bowling. I've only gone beyond a first date with a few of those. The ones that remain a first date only were for a multitude of reasons. One of the main reasons for me is laughter. If I don't laugh on a date it's not going to progress.
I love to laugh and humour is an incredibly important trait I look for in a guy. So back in my early naive days of dating, I had got a message from a guy one morning who seemed genuine and was quite witty. His picture was only a face pic. We messaged for a couple of days when he asked if I'd like to go out for a drink.
Now experience has taught me that I need more than 3 days of messaging before I should agree to meet but back then it was all very new. I agreed to a drink, and we arranged to meet at a pub local to me, he lived about 8 miles away. I always let a friend know when and where I am going and have a pre-arranged help sign. On this particular date the pub was less than 5 minutes walk from my house, so I felt very comfortable.
Whilst walking to the pub he messaged to say he had arrived and what would I like to drink. I told him I was on my way and that a white wine would be lovely. Now I was quite impressed at his timeliness and the offer of getting the first drink. Very charming! And yes I'm easily pleased.
I arrived at the pub, and it was quite busy, there were a few people who I knew in there. They said hello as I was scanning the pub for my date and asked who I was with as anyone who knows me knows I wouldn't have gone to a pub on my own back then. I said I had a date. I was a little nervous about meeting this guy with prying eyes from friends, but I wasn't going to run. I continued to scan the pub and messaged to say I was here but couldn't see him. Out from a little snug area popped a guy and a big smile and a very loud "I'm here". Everyone in the pub heard and turned to look at my date.
My heart sunk!
Have you ever seen Harry Enfield's Kevin and Perry?
Well I was greeted by Kevin. A full-grown man dressed like a teenager 🙈.
He was into body building and had a very low cut t-shirt showing off his chest. A denim jacket, pink skinny Jean's, converse trainers and a baseball cap. Not a great look for a 48-year-old.
I tried incredibly hard to not show my disappointment and to stifle the laugh that was trying so hard to come out, and said to myself it's only one drink. I walked over to "Kevin" and spied a bottle of wine on the table. OK so it's only 2 drinks then. I can do this. I would not have been rude enough back then at this point to leave when someone has made an effort to travel to me and buy drinks. I then spotted an empty pint glass. He gave me a kiss on the cheek and said he was just going to get himself a pint. The bottle of wine it would appear was for me. He came back to the table and poured me a very large glass of wine. A couple of the people I knew had moved close to where we were sitting, and I could see the amused looks on their faces as they spotted my date.
I had chosen the seat opposite his pint glass, but on his return he sat next to me which effectively trapped me between him and the wooden partition. No escape. He pretty much swallowed his pint before he had even finished one sentence and said he was getting another. I was a little concerned about him drinking and driving, but it was OK he hadn't driven. He had come the 8 miles on his scooter. Surely a scooter or a moped comes under the same rules of drinking and driving? No he was fine as he meant an actual foot propelled scooter. Like the ones my kids had aged 10, and he pointed to it under the table.
I found myself taking large sips of my wine but had forgotten it had been several hours since I'd eaten and the wine was going to my head. With each sip he topped up my glass, and I was finding it harder and harder to contain my laughter. Not because anything he said was funny, no, because I was out with a man child and could see my friends enjoying my pain.
The bottle was nearly empty he asked if I'd like another drink. I replied I would get them as I didn't want to come across as not paying my way, even though I knew we would never see each other again, I do not want to be a story of the date who took and gave nothing back. It also meant I could buy him a pint and myself a non-alcoholic throw it down my neck and get out quick drink. I excused myself to the ladies and said I'd get the drinks on my return.
I passed my friends on the way who called me over and literally were killing themselves laughing at my dates choice of attire. I told them of his scooter folded neatly under the table and could still hear the raucous laughter whilst I was in the loo. I came out to find "Kevin" had gone to the bar and ordered our drinks. Yay a second bottle of wine for me 🙄.
Needless to say in my politeness of not wanting to be rude. I got rat arsed. Every time I looked up I could see my friends using my predicament as a source of their evenings entertainment. I could have cried but instead my laughter was unlocked. I have no clue what he was saying I could not stop laughing. Tears were actually rolling down my face. The more I drank, the more I laughed. I came to the end of the second bottle and explained I needed to go. I made up a lame excuse that the babysitter for my children could only do 2 hours. My children at that point were 19 and 13.
We got outside the pub. "Kevin" unfolded his scooter. I again burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. I soon sobered up when he offered to take me home. No no no it's fine., you have further to go. I knew the direction he would have to go to get home, pretty much passing my front door, also I told him I needed to go in the opposite direction. I ended up walking for about 30 minutes still laughing out loud. Probably looking like a drunk nutter.
After a couple of hours and a few strong coffees I received a message from "Kevin" saying he had a great time and loved a woman who laughed so much at his jokes. I didn't reply and needless to say never saw "Kevin" or his scooter again.
I did learn something from this. Never ever go on a date where your friends are.