Sunday, 23 July 2017

I can't sit still.

I'm having real trouble putting my leg up and doing nothing. I have such a long to do list and I can't do it. 

"Ask for help!" I get told. But I can't because it's the weekend and people are busy helping themselves. 

"Do you write?" I was asked recently. You know I do. You read my blog. You've been reading it for four years.

"Yes, kind of" I replied, truthfully, "I thought you knew I did?" I risked.

"No, I didn't know" he lied. Or maybe he didn't. Maybe he'd forgotten that he'd featured once before. Before I was told not to ask him for help and not to write because I shouldn't.

Oh dear, it's going to be one of those days. It's got me in the early hours. I need to run it off but I can't. 

Ask for help? Sometimes you just have to accept it's going to be a shitty day with a shitty head full of unanswered questions and not a pair of hands in sight. I need a hug. A genuine hug. No more words.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Shock.

I'm not sure you ever get over a shock. I learnt yesterday that we are all born with the built in fear of loud noises, the default is set jump which I do, more so than most. And the fear of falling over a cliff. Which I don't. The shock of sudden death is known as traumatic and can take years to accept and deal with properly. I accept that. I am still reeling from the loss of my sister at Christmas. I think we all are to be honest but life carries on and has that incredible way of smoothing out without much effort from us. We keep going, keep doing our thing, whatever that may be and time ticks on. It has been over 6 months now and I have completely lost this year. I have a small voice upstairs calling me and I'm hoping he might settle again so I can greedily write for longer.. It's doubtful.

My book is being looked at by someone who will help me get it ready for publishing. She doesn't want to change the story. She made me very proud of myself yesterday which is something I feel rarely. It's going to be ready by the first week in September. 

I am in shock that something that has been so hard to let go of, has been described as 'a brave, fascinating story'.. 

I am writing the sequel.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Higher love.

I'm back in the room. Thank God. I had a shitty few days. Not really shitty days but a shitty mood that in turn made my days shitty. Isn't it stupid how we let a bad mood destroy a perfectly lovely day? Childish really not to appreciate life as it is and be grateful that we are here after all. We don't need to be here but we are, so better to smile and do the best we can. There's already far too much moaning and misery without going along in a strop because .. what? I didn't get what I wanted? I may as well have stamped my feet in a tantrum. Although I couldn't. I'm embarrassed that I allowed the circumstances to monopolise my life for over 24 hours. I am hurt (yes I know I've said that already) but it's a constant thing at the moment. I can't shake it. I want to make it better. I want to tell my sister that it's okay because it is. It will be okay. I want to hold her hand as she lies in the hospital, unconscious taking her last breaths. I want to hold her hand as she flies home unaware that her life is over. I want to tell her that I will look after her children as best I can for the rest of my life. Unconditionally. Her boy who is now my boy. I love him with a deeper love than I thought possible. He is and always will be hers but he is mine and therefore so is she.

Shitty mood passed, I am waiting to see what my mobility will be for the next few months. I am stuck. I am stationary. I have friends who have taken my children to school and I have friends who have taken me to the supermarket but it hurts that I need help. And I do need help. We'll see what they say. It was a surprise that it was broken, maybe I'll surprise them by being mended already. Fingers crossed.

I'm having my windows cleaned tomorrow. Jobs being ticked off a list that I haven't had a chance to even consider. For months I have put my head down and charged ahead looking after my sisters boy, my girls and my daily business. Have I looked after myself? No I haven't. I have the chance to stop now and pay attention to what is important. I need to listen to my soul. At least when the windows are squeaky clean I will be able to see out towards a future. Because that's what I have ahead of me.

I am always on the go. I rarely stop. I am no different to many but I thrive on dead lines, pressure and time keeping.

"Just because you're not headed to a final destination doesn't mean you should assume that you have lost your drive. The stage between journeys can become a wonderful period of relaxation that prepares you for the path that soon will be revealed to you" Madisyn Taylor.

I talk to her. She tells me things and sometimes, I laugh because I hear myself saying something like, "Oh Shut up, Obviously I know that". Her boy was playing with a toy tractor in the dogs water bowl and making a bloody mess this morning. I said, "Why would you do that? It's the dogs bowl!" and she said "He's 2 and a half". But I'm here and she isn't. I wish it was different but I am so loving having him in my family. He fits perfectly. Literally like he's been here forever. Nothing has ever been this easy. He joined us when my heart was broken but has helped me accept that my broken heart is okay. It doesn't need to mend. It's okay to feel pain and it's okay to allow the pain let love in. The possibility of maybe, just maybe allowing myself to be happy. I might even consider sharing my time with another adult. Only maybe. I had absolutely and completely written that off and I'm not saying that I will because I still see a man holding a glass of wine in France as I sit in my nightie watching the sunrise. Of that, I am certain. I think I am almost 60 years old then but I'm very happy about that.

"You're very lucky that you still feel connected to her" I was told this morning. I am unbelievably lucky that I know, without doubt, that she is guiding me and sometimes, pushing me into situations that create a stir, a smile and a shake of my head. Her ex fell arse over tit in the fathers race in front of the whole school.. That was her. No question. My broken knee cap? Could she be that powerful? Probably not but she can allow me to sit still and be quiet. Hear her, hear myself and allow time to heal me and adjust to this massive change.  I am doing for her what she wished she could have done. Better, I hope. Not meaning to insult or be smart. I'm not implying that I am better but I am saying that I can do this. I've got it.

"Daboo Mummy" my favourite words ever. Fact.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rcsfj9s_aBs

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Another shift.

I have bust my knee. Quite extraordinary and I can't get my head around it at all because I haven't fallen over and the X-ray showed an impact break. Straight through the kneecap. My consultant at the fracture clinic seems to think it might have been cracked for a few weeks and when I ran a 10K last weekend, the ligaments simply pulled the patella apart. I am in a leg brace and it will take 12 weeks to mend. That's a very long time for a mother of three to sit still. It's a very long time for a woman who runs four times a week to sit still. It's a very, very long time for a woman who usually 'does' to not do. And, again, you really find out who your friends are. Huge kisses to the ones that have stepped up. No pun intended. 

I started my life being abused. A few people know this, not many. I have never really spoken about it. To a councillor, a kindred spirit, a boyfriend who I was told I could trust because they would always be there for me.. Yeah, about that. And because I accepted being abused as my norm, I started life with very little self esteem. I didn't pick up much more throughout my teenage years and then into my 20's, it seemed I was attracted to abusers like a magnet on a fridge. Mental, and emotional abuse luckily more than physical although there was one who thought it was okay to thump me simply for breathing too loudly. WTF? No abuse is acceptable. My mind was played with, my heart ripped up and I was treated like no girl should ever be treated. I was never really good enough for any one of my boyfriends. That hurts. Truthfully, they were never good enough for me either but they didn't need to be mean and take with them the tiny bit of self worth I had. Boys in a break up are bastards. 

I am nearly 46 years old. I know that I'm intolerant of bullshit and bad behaviour but what else is there? If someone shows complete lack of respect, why would I want to be near them? I don't. Not one bit. It has reduced my friendship groups. It has alienated me from old friends who once would roar with laughter as I relayed a tale in the days when we felt invincible. The trouble is, as you get older, you soon realise that life is precious. We are not invincible and words more so than actions can really hurt. That's my main issue right now, I am hurt. It is physical and I'm not talking about my inconvenient broken knee, I am talking about the pain of losing my sister. The other half of me who witnessed my abuse and who wished she could help when she couldn't. I remember her saying after Mum died, how horrible it was for her to know I was being hurt but not being able to do anything about it. Maybe through fear, I'm not sure. I would like to think that I might have tried if roles were reversed. Who knows. I don't blame her for staying silent. She was, after all, only 5 years old. 

I'm intolerant and I'm impatient. Neither are ideal for a usually active woman but I am trying to accept this sudden immobility and use my time wisely. Which is why I am here, right now, today. All three children are out of the house until later and I am at my desk. No more excuses. I have been given the opportunity to sit and finish what I started years ago. Lucky me. I think.

And because this is me and my space, I can also admit that I am crying. A lot. I don't cry. Not really. But I am crying now. And on the flip side of the coin, I kissed an old friend at the weekend and I didn't expect that either. Not one bit. So I'm feeling lucky, sad and confused all at the same time.

Until tomorrow..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc8X3FXwQCg

Thursday, 8 June 2017

And on..

So I've woken up this morning to an unexpected situation. Another drama. Ain't that the truth. I'm surprised that I have so many Tory voting friends or am I? I don't care how people vote, I do care that people vote for what they truly believe in not what they feel they should believe in.. A hung parliament. Apt words indeed. Let's hope they make the best of the situation we have put ourselves in. Ludicrous. 

This is the first opportunity that I've had to sit down and tap away at my desk. I have a new desk too. An old table actually. It's perfect. I hope. It seems to be perfect so far. Life works like that doesn't it. Throws things at us that might appeal so we grab the opportunity, the chance. It's all about making the effort. Stepping forwards to embrace a possibility and doing the best we can. I guess that's how I see life anyway. I know others might disagree with me, a few certainly will but in my humble opinion, you have to make life what you want it. With kindness and empathy.

I had my cards read many years ago and while clearing out my old desk to make way for the new one, I came across the notes I had written down. It was at a time in my life (isn't it always?) when everything felt upside down. I had just left London with my baby and had no idea what to do. I certainly hadn't found my purpose or my path. Not then. But I had determination. Thank God. That was 11 years ago. I have walked a few roads since that day and taken more turns that I expected. I have held a few hands, I have laughed, cried, screamed, kept quiet. I have fought for change and I have accepted things that I can't. I have lost my mother and my sister. And then having lost them, life was taken away from them both. I have friends who understand that I don't need understanding and I then have friends who don't.

Some little thing is shouting out, "Mummy" from his cot upstairs because I have unsuccessfully sneaked out for a quiet cup of coffee and some time alone. My life has changed. I have been thrown an opportunity which I have grabbed. With both hands and my heart.

"You will have three children"..

Hindsight, a wonderful thing. Thank you very much.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Time goes on.

Ain't that the truth? Quite unbelievably too. Death is natural, normal, common, universal. We all experience it. What I have found to be unexpected was the shock that sudden death brings with it. Not even like the rug being pulled from under your feet but more like a giant's fist being smashed into your chest and then pressing down daily. It becomes difficult to understand even the most obvious logic. You are vulnerable, fragile (although I have disliked that word since someone used it against me as an insult- he was right to use the word, not right to insult me with it) and exposed. Death makes you public property for a time (not sure how long) where loved ones hold you, make you tea, bring you food that they have made especially and run you a bath but also to those that probe, ask intrusive questions, expect detail, question your final decision and take your curveballs personally. Death is over-powering. Death is quite simply a shocker. It doesn't matter what age or what circumstances, it is point blank final and that alone is suffocating.

An old friend came to see me yesterday. I met her when I was 14 years old (so when I say old friend, I mean a friend who I met a long time ago) and the effort she made in doing so did not go unnoticed. She has a 2 year old boy too. They ran along the track together as we snatched a conversation as mothers do. Mutually understanding that a broken conversation is as good as it gets but it didn't matter. The time we spent together was precious and I appreciate her love for sacrificing her saturday afternoon. Not many will do that. She hugged me and I hugged her back. True friendship that had grown apart over the last 3 decades but was still deep rooted. That's another thing about Death- the friendships you think you've lost through time or distance, surprise you. Fundamentally and luckily for me, people really care. Thank you.

Granny, Nanny or Mum? She was asked in the London playground last week. I laughed because I can. She is beautiful and youthful but her eldest son is 19 years old, so she could actually be a Grandparent. Intrusive questions that we all feel we are entitled to ask. Why are we so rude? I have been asked the most unbelievable questions recently. I will try and create a smile by remembering some.. I have a third book title which is "Don't say that!" and I am looking forward to writing it.

"Are you coping?"

"Are you joking?"

"Did she die as soon as she hit the road?"

"Did she die alone?"

"Can you afford to look after her son?"

"Do you really want to look after her son?"

"Has he had the snip?"

(this was when I realised the human being has very little control over what words are used in an uncomfortable situation and took the opportunity to find humour)

Maybe I should title the third book, "Has he had the snip?" instead although I don't want to encourage  the inappropriate questions. We are all so silly. Not one of us knows the right words at the wrong time. It's awkward and it's completely normal to feel uncomfortable in an unexpected and alien situation but somehow we all need to learn what NOT to say.

As my mother used to say, "If in doubt, don't do it".
As my sister used to say, "Don't tell me, show me".
And as I am now saying, "Say nothing, just hug" because the power of a hug lasts a very long time but stupid words last forever.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Change.

Funny isn't it, how often people admit to not liking change. I love a good shake up. Something to get my teeth into, a challenge, verging on a struggle.. maybe that's a step too far, but in general, I think it's healthy to have an alternative idea, plan, a project on the horizon. I did not expect for a single second to ever inherit a son. I am still in shock that my sister isn't alive. Can I write 'dead' yet? I don't like it but that's the truth. My sister is dead. Fuck, the sentence is ugly. It makes me stop and take a breath. At least I can?

Her son, my boy, is quite the most delicious species of male human being I have ever met. I'm not a huge fan (sorry but it's true) and I haven't had the greatest experiences (bad choices maybe) with those of the opposite sex. I think (in general) they are stupid and selfish and so self- satisfying that it really bores me but OH MY GOD, I am completely in love. He is way more handsome than any other 2 year old that I have ever met and he might be a little 'delayed with his speech' but my god, he can drop kick a ball. He is sociable and funny and so, so loving. And he isn't biologically mine but he is completely and absolutely a part of my family. He is the boy I never had. He is the one that calls me "Mumma" and with out-stretched arms says "Up" for me to scoop him up and hold him close. I adore him with every breath in my body. Exactly the same way as I do my girls. Sometimes more so and is that a terrible thing to admit? How can I love a child so much without having given birth to him? But I do. Completely. Without any effort and without thought. Fuck, I really am the luckiest woman alive. 

And then the reality of the change hits me. I clear out her home, her knicker drawer, her shoes, the kitchen bin.. A word of advice to anyone out there, chuck out what you don't need but most importantly, those things that 'might be useful' almost certainly won't be so don't hoard them.

The bulbs you plant will still appear as flowers in the spring. Your children will have manners and respect their elders and remember to do their teeth at night. The bins will get emptied and someone will open the curtains. The changes that life sometimes throws at us are manageable even when we think life is out of control and too much. Friends will appear from nowhere and they won't be the ones you are expecting to knock on your door. It's not an insult, it's because the ones you expect to know better, don't and aren't capable of dealing with the change in your life. It scares them. Death is terrifying. It is so final that until it actually smacks you in the chest, you cannot imagine the power it holds. Forever. And ever. And breathe if you can and are lucky enough. Amen. Be thankful for the ones that hold your hand. Hug the ones that show you love and accept the loss as a gift otherwise it will destroy you. 

Love you. Always will. 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Happy Mothers Day..

And it will be. For too many reasons to list. It will be a beautiful day filled with complete love (and a few irritations I'm sure) but for the main part of it, I will celebrate (internally and quietly) that I am a mother. I will remember how I got here (even more quietly) and respect my mother for giving me my life. 

Many comments have been made to me over the years that I have taken incredibly badly (way too sensitive I am told, yawn) but it is the other comments that have enabled me to stand taller, appreciate that I am allowed to feel happy and given me an inner strength to keep going forwards. I have absolutely no intention (ever) of allowing specks (or buckets) of doubt seep into my certainty and make me question the choice I have made. Absolute and completely right. 

The birds are singing to start this earlier than early Spring morning. I have a cup of coffee and three children in bed inside. The house is clean (enough) for me to leave it today and the dogs were walked for hours yesterday and bathed so all is well. I am going to my favourite shop (with three in tow) to buy some scent and a pair of jeans. Wish me luck..

If I could change the circumstances of how I got here, to this point today, I would in a instant but I can't. Truthfully, I still cannot believe that my sister isn't here. She's with Mum and I guess that's the next best place she could be on Mothering Sunday. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Just for a second, I sit.

I have left the dishwasher open and half-emptied. I haven't yet fed the cats. I haven't made my bed. I haven't even turned on the radio to hear the early morning calm from Clare Balding on Radio 2. I will do, shortly. I haven't changed a nappy. I haven't cooked scrambled egg. 

I have, however, made a cup of coffee and lit a few candles. I have decided that even if it's only a few minutes, I will pause here and allow myself a slower than normal start to the day. 

I was meant to be in Bath running 13.1 miles. Geographically, I could still get there before the klaxon sounds but it isn't possible. I have no help with the children and even with so many wonderful and generous offers, looking after 3 children for a fair few hours is my job, no one else's. I will run it next year. Anyway, it is pouring with rain so that can only be a good thing.

Sunday. My favourite day of the week. My good friend tells me that I'm crazy and on my own loving this day. More so, loving this evening. I enjoy Sunday nights more than any other and if I'm going to be outed as a complete freak, I may as well admit right now that Monday morning is my favourite part of the week. Truthfully. What's not to like? It's the start of another week. That's a positive thing right?

My best friend from school has posted something on social media that is bloody brilliant. Of course it is. It is written by Stephen Hawkins. 

"Remember to look up at the starts and not down at your feet. Never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. If you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away."

Wise words from a brilliant brain. A brilliant post from a wonderful woman. The ones that live honestly and openly are the ones that experience and tell the true story. It is always about truth. I have never had a problem with the truth but I do have a problem with people who think they are entitled to lie. For whatever reason. 

My time to sit has been interrupted so I cannot continue. I will sit again today. I am determined..

I didn't sit again!

24 hours have passed and I find myself thinking, 'Have I got time?' The answer is almost certainly 'No' and yes, I understand that I should 'make time' but with my new adjustments, there isn't the possibility of such an obvious solution. I have had to change everything, almost. I squeeze everything, like everyone else into each day. Selfishly, I try and find a slot for a run but it hasn't been straight-forward. My choice yesterday was to lie on the sofa with the papers or run a quick 5 miles. I chose the latter. Mental health versus physical. I have to tread carefully. With others as well as myself. I'm vulnerable right now and I need support. But people have moved on. Of course they have. 

I get asked, "Are you coping?" 

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Baby in the corner.

My big girl had her first school social last night. It was a hall full of pre-teenage children and a disco (sound system I presume not a duke box or ghetto blaster) but it seems that when it comes to the party scene, nothing much has changed in thirty years. It was agony. She didn't tell me that but I could see from her face (and the expressions of others as they opened the doors at 9.15pm) when they  all spilled with relief into the open air and clutches of us parents. Why bother? I thought to myself. Is it really necessary to put our youngsters through the situation where we can guarantee that peer group pressure will begin and the feelings of inadequacy are ignited. 

"How was it?" I tried with the jolliest of voices as we walked back to our car.

"Terrible" replied my furious, disappointed, irritated and humiliated girl.

"Oh Darling" I stupidly patronised, feeling helpless, "At least you know for next time?"

"Yes", she stated, "because there won't be one".

I had hoped that she might go, make some new friends, gain confidence, dance a little and laugh a lot.  Wishful thinking I know and highly unlikely but it is every parents hope that life is easy after all. 

Ridiculous of me to wish for such a positive outcome when the world we live in delivers us into situations of complete craziness so often without any warning. It's a pity and a shame. But I am glad that she went because she learnt how utterly absurd it is to expect an amazing evening without much effort. To get self respect, happiness and that all round good feeling we crave, we need to begin by loving who we are. My girl might have written off the opportunity to make new friends by being simply asked for her mobile number but she will have learnt that it takes effort to form friendship. And that we can choose who to be friends with and who to trust. 

"Did anyone ask for your number?" (Same meaning as 'Did you dance with anyone?' from back in the day)

"Yes" she said quietly, "But he walked around the hall asking for everyones number".

Another disappointment ticked on her list which can only be a good thing, I'm hoping. 


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The uncertain certainty.

Sometimes I cannot believe how much my life has changed. Since when? Since my sister died? Not just that but yes, I guess that was the biggest turning point in my life so far. There have been a few. Mum dying was pretty enormous. I won't bore you with more details but it was emotionally life-changing and monumentally a huge shift in dynamics. I was able to be me, at last. Well almost. I never thought that my sister would trump my mother. I am not trying to be flippant (cross my heart) but there is no other way of saying it. My sister has blown my mothers departure out of the water and left me with a mind-blowing yet so obvious way forward. Sound complicated? I hope so. I would hate to fail them both.

Here I am, having been out for a birthday drink with my running friend. I left my three children at home. Nothing unusual there except a fortnight ago, I didn't have three, I had two. We are now a family of four and nothing or nobody can change that. He is simply delicious. I am so proud of my girls for being so naturally accepting and warm. They have shown me that (so far) I have done the right thing by them and given them not only a voice but a choice and both decided quite naturally that  my nephew should (without hesitation) join us. Phew. In my gut, I knew that from the moment I heard it was fatal. I can still hear the machines as I close my eyes at night and the thought of my little sister lying unaware is awful. But unaware she was. Never woke up. Somehow and somewhere, she is now able to watch over me. I am completely certain of that. I knew her boy before I had even met him. Thanks to how much I loved her. I hope she knew that. He does. He is fast asleep upstairs surrounded by love and with a family who instinctively and naturally adore him. Lucky thing.

What is it all about? Is it as simple as your time is up when it's up? Absurd risks and bucket lists that we all make but maybe there is always a time limit? I am dead certain that I will be 96. I have said that for years. I might be wrong (unlikely) but if I am, my girls will know what to do. It's in the gut. No complications and no fuss. Simple and straight-forward. Just do it. I made the decision to take on my nephew without even knowing that I was making a decision. That is exactly how it works, how it should be. We all get chances. We have to make decisions. We have opportunities and we can walk by or take a few chances. At some stage not so long ago, I realised that my life was more valuable because of the lives I am responsible for. More so now than ever. So I won't be doing any free-falling or bungy jumping. I won't be climbing Everest or Kilimanjaro and I won't be entering the NY Marathon until all three of my children are old enough to join me. I will, however, be counting my lucky stars that I have been given three children to love. I am fully capable of running on English soil and my bucket list can still remain but might have to be extended for a decade or two. My life  has changed unrecognisably in the last few weeks but I am capable of turning this unexpectedly shitty situation into an opportunity for love, connection and peace. It really is that obvious to me. 

Oh and if you were ever in any doubt, don't question my loyalty. I am stupidly protective. I am, and always will be, the big sister.


I can't sit still.

I'm having real trouble putting my leg up and doing nothing. I have such a long to do list and I can't do it.  "Ask for help!...