It’s that time of year again. The time when everyone wants one of my spoons!
Just over a year ago I learnt of the Spoons Theory. It has been suggested that each of us has a certain amount of spoons each morning when we wake up, and over the course of the day we use those spoons to stir different pots, until they run out. Sometimes we can borrow from the following day but… that leaves us with less spoons for the following days pots. My understanding is that when I am struggling with my depression I have less spoons, so can stir less pots. Constantly borrowing from the next day leaves me in a bit of a muddle until I run out completely and everything comes crashing down around me.
And at this time of year there are a lot of pots that need stirring!!
Much earlier this year I was able to change my thinking on spoons a little bit. A friend shared a ted talk (my first ever) and I then went on a binge, stumbling across Sarah Knight and The Magic of Not Giving a Fuck. I have had a number of breakthrough moments this year, where I have learnt to manage my life and depression, and her idea on a fuck budget has helped me use my spoons effectively, while still being a decent human being.
I don’t celebrate christmas for me, I do it for my children. But I am learning to use my spoons carefully to keep them happy and myself well.
My gift to you:
Click the lips to see what everyone else is up to:
Nobody looks good in their darkest hours. But it is those hours that make us who we are.
Disclaimer: This is one of the darkest times and therefore the hardest posts for me to get out of my head. I have made peace with so much of my past, but I am unhappy with my behaviour around this time. It also heralds the start of my complete emotional collapse and subsequent recovery. Needless to say I am not surprised it has taken me three weeks of procrastination to face these words.
The darkest of times were approaching, but Christmas was over and I had M home again.
I had collected him from the marina, and we had reunited physically as soon as the opportunity arose. We celebrated a joyful post-christmas with the boys and saw the new year in together. The next time I saw him, a week later, something was different. The warmth was gone, he was stiff and frosty. No matter, I thought, he must just be tired from work. My plans for a move were coming together, my work transfer was imminent and when I was home I was packing. Life was busy, but from my side life was good.
I was to work three days in Devon and stay with M for the two nights in the middle for the first 3 weeks in my new post, before I moved down with the boys.
The first week was lovely. The second week I woke up on the first night to M panting another woman’s name. It was disconcerting, and it played on my mind as the darkest hours slipped away and dawn arrived. I asked him about her over breakfast. He raged, accused me of snooping in his tablet and phone. I hadn’t, I wouldn’t, why would I have? I hadn’t fully trusted him, but I had alway thought that was because of everything I had been through with P. How could I trust anyone I was that intimate with?
After work he had calmed enough to have a decent conversation.
He told me how my accusation had made him feel, how hurt he was and how someone had snooped his phone before when he was less than trustworthy. It had made him angry to think I didn’t trust him “after all we have been through together”. I was sorry that I had made him feel like that, genuinely. My question had hurt him, come close to harming us. We went to bed, I curled up in his arms. Safe, content. Mostly….
It was a night when I could not sleep. Something wasn’t quite right…
So I got out of bed, slipped out of the room with his tablet and guessed his password. My heart in my mouth I went through it. His messaging apps had contact with women talking about intimate moments they had shared, since we had become a monogamous (at his suggestion) couple. His deleted files held pictures, more messages from women I knew, had talked with recently…
I hated myself straight away, knew that it was wrong.
I put the tablet down, went back to his arms and pondered while sleep eluded me. I now understand that we set our own bar in life, but at this point I was so beyond broken. M was my safe space and I adored him. I had broken his trust by going through his tablet, I could forgive him for his lack of honesty. My intuition had been right all along but now that I knew the truth I could let it go, we could carry on as we had been. I slept fitfully that night, the shame of what I had done will never leave me.
After a few hours of disturbed sleep I woke with M, we went about our daily business.
I returned home that night, collected my boys and put them to bed. That evening M didn’t answer the phone. The next evening he called me, asking if I had been through his tablet. Of course I lied, he hung up on me. I called him back, got a tirade of abuse all of which I had earned. He hung up on me again. A short text stating he didn’t want to talk to me. He would decide when he was ready to talk to me.
I could literally hear my heart shattering in the deafening silence that followed.
What followed was me trying to pick up the pieces of my broken heart, but in the jumble of shards were piece of Ms deceit and Ps abuse. I had protected myself from the true extent of the abuse with the safety blanket of M and now I was alone to deal with all of the bad things that had happened, which were all my fault. After me breaking M’s trust and rifling through his private space the next thing that was my fault was my inadequacy as a wife. If I had been better at that he wouldn’t have abused the children, he wouldn’t have needed to rape me…
At the darkest moment my phone pinged.
It was my former manager, now training as a counsellor. A random message asking how I had been enjoying the start of 2017 so far. She was the first person I spoke to about my realisation. Very briefly I recounted how P had taken what he wanted from me while our infant slept on my chest. Two minutes later I had the rape crisis website on the thread. She wasn’t an expert in trauma (or anything at that point) but she was certain that if I called the help line I would be able to get some support. Three days later I called. I remember the gentle voice at the other end of the line even now, I spoke carefully. I didn’t think any of this was Ps fault, I knew that if I had been a better wife it wouldn’t have happened. As I was about to move counties I was given the contact details for my soon to be local support service. I emailed and waited, with instructions that I could call the national team back at any time.
M and I were soon talking again. He was to help me move, and though it was bitter-sweet I will be forever grateful for his support.
Over the months that followed I was able to turn the love that I felt for M into friendship rather than romantic attachment and I am genuinely pleased to have him as a friend and confidante. He soon got a new girlfriend, and he still hasn’t told me that it is the lady whose name he said in the middle of the night. Then again, I haven’t told him about all that I found. The months that followed were interesting, exciting and beyond scary… but those are stories for other posts. For now I am just pleased to get through this one.
On paper it should have been something to look forward to, a time to cherish with my boys. P had told me, in no uncertain terms, that when I ended things with him I had ruined Christmas for him forever. With that in mind I would “need to have the children for the big day.” No big problem, you would think, but he had always made me feel like a failure at Christmas so any joy that I may have brought from my own childhood had been reduced to zero over our marriage. The confidence I had in making it a nice day for the boys was not high. Add to that his desperately sad Facebook post on Christmas day 2015, and my eldest spent the build up to the festivities worrying about his dad.
What about M? He would be around, surely?
The plan was that he would spend Christmas eve with his mum and the day with his dad, who had just lost his wife to cancer. Then he would hot foot it up the coast to spend Christmas night and boxing day with me and the boys. I was always excited to see him, and I knew the boys would wrap him up in festive fun. M was as enthusiastic about Christmas as I was, and when he called me one lunchtime with a strained voice I knew something was up. There was an offer to join a friend of his to deliver a yacht from Portugal to the uk. He didn’t know whether he should go, or if he needed to stay and fulfill his duties as son and boyfriend. I gave him my blessing, genuinely excited by this opportunity. A little jealous perhaps, but genuinely happy for his opportunity. Once he had built up the courage to talk to his family they were all happy for him too.
As the dutiful girlfriend I drove him and his friend to the airport, dropping them in the car park before heading on my way.
One message pinged through before I was 5 miles away:
Thank you for bringing me, and being so wonderfully you. I hope you are not too sad, show me your smile. xxx
To which I responded with a quick selfie, of me trying to smile with wet eyes. I had a few hours to kill so I went on a mini adventure of my own to a nearby seaside town where I could have a cuppa and a walk on the beach. Sitting down to a steaming brew after a long cold walk I opened my phone. First thing was a message:
My beautiful girl. 🙂 Fire alarms, airport evacuated, delayed flight. Off again now. I’ll let you know when I’m safely landed. I love you xxx
Then I tapped my Facebook app as I sipped the cup of brown liquid. M had updated his profile picture. There I was! The picture I had sent him just a couple of hours ago. That put a smile on my face.
Getting home, still smiling and feeling loved, I collected the boys.
They had been with P, for their first Christmas. Hyped up, full of sugar and singing daddy’s praises I got them to bed. Two more days to the big day and they were only going to get more excitable, as children do! By Christmas eve I was feeling overwhelmed. Getting them to bed on the night before christmas was such a challenge. Then I had to organise the presents and by the time midnight slipped past I was in floods of tears. Dreading the noise and excitement of the following day, missing M, just wanting a cuddle… And to top it all off I had burnt my red cabbage trying to get ahead of the game! A game I didn’t want to play, but that I felt it was expected of me.
Surrounded by wrapping paper and piles of gifts my phone suddenly began to ring.
Through the tears and the snot I answered the phone. He was just pulling in to harbour where the two of them would be resting and collecting the third sailor for the long stretch home. He missed me and wanted to say hello as he knew how hard I would be finding the preparations. We chatted about the boat and his crew mate as well as how his journey was going so far. With his voice in my heart I slept well and woke to the excited voices of two little boys who had received a visit from father Christmas.
The day was as difficult as I had expected.
Excited children and my grumpy mum. My home filled up with my brother and his family mid-afternoon, just when all I wanted was to shut the doors and regain some calm again. More food, more gifts, more excited children. And one more phone call from M, who had spent the day trying to cook a roast dinner as they sailed across the bay of Biscay. Now they were all sat on the deck eating together, and he was in range of masts so could talk to me and the boys. Somehow that grounded me enough to get through the rest of the day until, with the boys in bed and the dishes done I was able to sit down quietly and chill out. Stretching out on the sofa I flicked on the Christmas news and saw that George Michael had died. This was all the encouragement I needed to let out the tears which I had been holding back all day.
I would like to be able to understand my son. He lives in his own magic world and sometimes I find things are lost in translation.
What is going right in my life?
A lot of things are going right at the moment. I’m getting the support I need for my son, not just from the school but healthcare professionals as well. The steps I am taking steps finding the right home for my little family seem to be in the right direction. I discovered today that I have passed my module and so I am one year closer to achieving my study aspirations.
What am I most grateful for? List 10 things.
An ability to learn.
My wonderful friends.
Sir and his ongoing tasks.
My desire to keep going…
The weather. Whatever it is I love it.
When did I experience joy this week?
When I collected my boys after their weekend away. Those hugs are always full of joy.
List a small victory/success?
I took my boys to a bouldering gym today. I had originally thought I would sit and watch them doing their thing in the kids club because I don’t have the strength to climb. Well, I decided that I would give it a go. The old me who had no confidence would have stopped there but…. Not the new me. And I surprised myself, hugely!
What is bothering me & why?
I am very lucky to have a wonderful group of close friends, and a fantastic set of friends who are less close but no less important. It is the people who sit on the edges and pretend to be friendly but are in fact unpleasant to be around. That is what bothers me. And they bother me because I can’t do anything about them. I don’t bitch or moan or gossip, but they do. I have always been a fan of the saying Keep your side of the street clean. It has got me through a lot of moments where I wanted to air my dirty laundry. But, grrrrrr…..it is so frustrating!
What are my priorities at the moment?
My number one priority is to keep my children safe and well. This includes finding a home which is right rather than a home which is just almost there. Continuing with my study and ongoing tasks rank right up there as well.
What do I love about my self?
I love the way that I am soft edges and yet firm in my approach. I am honest, caring and loving, but I don’t suffer fools gladly. Tenacity and a competitive spirit, which means I will keep going until I figure it out (whatever it is) to the best of my ability. I love that I am always learning, and this is such an important skill for me in all areas of my life. Also my eyes. I love my eyes.
Who means the world to me & why?
My children, because there is no-one else who would be able to drive me to distraction and yet give me a squidgy cuddle and the whole troubling situation is set to rights! I love them unconditionally.
I have 7 people in my most close group. They are who I call my 3am friends. Have you ever had one of those nights where the darkness is all-consuming? Since having these friends I have never needed to make that call, but I know they are there, as I am for them. This isn’t the only reason I love each and every one of them, but they know I adore them.
Sir… Sir has given me so much. For such a long time he was the candle that illuminated my world, even when he wasn’t in contact. Now he has given me the candle and I can light my own world while he is unable to do that for me. I look forward to the time I can hand it back to him. Not because I am unable to hold it for myself, but because I love the way that I can brighten his world better with both hands free.
If I could share one message with the world, what would it be?
Honesty is the best policy.
What advice would I give to my younger self?
Trust your intuition.
What lesson did I learn this week?.
If you don’t try you won’t know if you can. If you do try you may surprise yourself!
If I had all the time in the world, what would I do first?
Go for a swim in the sea.
Whats draining my energy?
Running over 20 miles a week and not fuelling up properly.
What does my ideal morning look like?
Ahhh, the boys would get ready to go when they are asked. And I would not have to stand on my doorstep waiting for them rather than losing my temper.
What does my ideal day look like?
Fresh air, open spaces and smiling children (just mine, my ideal day does not include looking after other people’s children!) It is likely there would be a picnic too, one that the boys helped me to make. Then two tired boys in bed on time so I can relax with some smut.
What makes me come alive?
Swimming in the cold sea, or spending time in wide open spaces.
What/who inspires me the most?
My children, Sir and the woman I used-to-be all inspire me to be the best I can be.
What is something I’ve always wanted but too scared to get?
The fear of not being good enough has stopped me from training for and entering a marathon and triathlon. I have a plan for the marathon, and this is tied up with a task. And I have plans afoot for tri training once I am safely through the marathon.
What is something I would love to learn?
Where would I want to live my ideal life?
I haven’t seen enough of the world to answer this one, but I know that I have never felt I have roots anywhere. Germany, Belgium, Holland and Denmark are all places that intrigue me, but that is just where I am wondering about recently.
Where would I like to travel in the next 5 years?
As above, I feel drawn to Germany, Holland, Belgium and Denmark. Really though, anywhere that I can find a cheap flight and accommodation which fits in with my children.
What can I do to take better care of myself?
I can get more sleep. I would also like to eat better.
What hobbies would I like to try?
Triathlon, boxing, wing walking (is that really a hobby?)
When have I done something that I thought I couldn’t do?
Most recently I completed two climbs at the bouldering gym, but before I went along I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to complete half of the easiest one. Over the last 4 years my world has been made up of achieving things I didn’t believe I could do. It is amazing what you can achieve when you have the right mindset, or the right person to teach you how to sail through the fog.
At the end of my life, what do I want my legacy to be?
I want people to see me as someone who had a lot of love to give out. That I was a tenacious achiever who began life as a starter and flourished as a completer. Also that I was a kind person who raised wonderful children and inspired them to be the best they can be.
This time last year I was very unwell. The darkness was almost overwhelming.
I was struggling with my depression and every day I was worried that I would lose the fight. While I picked my way through the dark times that had led me to that point (with professional support) I had the boys as a shining light to guide me back through the darkness. Mindfulness was something that wouldn’t work for me, but the Moors were a place that I could go and feel Small.
And if I was small in this vast landscape then my problems were not that big either.
If the problems weren’t big then I could get past them.
November came, with my birthday, and I reached the lowest point ever. The boys weren’t enough… I just wanted to sleep, to give up. My GP told me to go to the moor, just for a short walk, knowing it would do me good as it was one of my coping strategies. I vaguely remember arriving at Buckland beacon and sitting down on top for a rest and to take it all in, maybe do a little self tie, which often proved helpful.
It was too much.
I don’t remember how I got home, or into bed, but had I not had some rope belonging to a friend in my bag I wouldn’t have made it down safely. How could I ruin her relationship with rope? I shall be forever grateful to her for being relaxed about me returning those hanks of blood red jute-y goodness late.
As you will probably have gathered from my tor bagging adventures I spend a lot of time on the moors, but I had been actively avoiding this spot. That isn’t a hard task when you think how much space there is to roam free. On monday I was brave and ran up there, bagging another tor, well, more specifically a point of interest, for the collection.
The association is gone.
What a difference 8 months makes.
It doesn’t quite fit with where I have got to in my story, but I wanted to share this now as I was so proud of my achievement, but also I want to inspire hope. Darkness is so very difficult, but it can be overcome.