Tag Archives: Relationships

Long weekend bliss

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Long weekend bliss

I can’t say that 2016 up until now has been more stressful than previous years, but it has been relentless and exhausting, up until now. I haven’t been on a holiday this long weekend but I feel like I’ve had one, simply because there has not been something pressing or urgent to do and I’ve had the opportunity to rest and do things I enjoy, without the weight of things I should be doing instead weighing on my shoulders.

A dear friend came to visit on Saturday, which was actually Mr Z’s and my anniversary but he was at work. I gave a tour of my new home, discussing all our plans to update and renovate, then we went out shopping. It’s been so long since I’ve been shopping with a girlfriend I’d forgotten how much fun it was! 

Mr Z and I went out to a lovely dinner after work, and the rest of the weekend was spent relaxing, gardening and cooking. We had fantastic spring weather on Sunday, giving us the opportunity to try out our backyard pizza oven which Mr Z had spent time restoring to working condition. It was perfect, like camping without ever leaving home. Bliss! The bliss didn’t end there, I used the leftover pizza dough to make cinnamon scrolls for breakfast the next morning, a perfect way to start a public holiday!

That’s not to say we didn’t celebrate our anniversary in a bigger way, particularly being our last before the arrival of our baby, it’s just that with all the stress the previous week Mr Z treated me to a evening away in a luxury hotel in the city last weekend, bringing the celebration forward because I had obviously needed the treat then.

The pizza oven

Our quaint bush backyard

Preparing the pizza dough

My first pizza ready to go – we were learning lessons! It turned out that the dough was sticky and the oven not hot enough but it was still delicious

A much improved second attempt

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I’m NOT glowing

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I’m NOT glowing

Who ever said pregnant women glow? Do glowing, serene pregnant women even exist? I’m not glowing and I’m not serene. At least I’m over the 24×7 nausea – that started to let up around 18 weeks – only to be replaced by chronic hip and leg pain from sciatica. My working days are long, I have a 1.5 hour train ride between work and home and while I used to find it relaxing the sciatica now means that by the time I get off the train some days I’m almost in tears of pain. It’s my left side, the side you are supposed to sleep on, so that’s going just great too.

For a long while there were relentless pressures. There were left over issues to resolve from our residential move – the unpacking that took too long due to the exhaustion; the fight with the landlord over the bond as he tried to claim for things that he wasn’t entitled to; and the need to complete my last subject at uni while battling the exhaustion, nausea and competing priorities, which included working out why after 6 weeks they still hadn’t connected our internet at home. That makes it particularly difficult to do an online university course I have to say. I got allocated a new project at work that involved learning new technologies and mastering them to consultant level asap. My eldest son’s problems at school escalated, adding regular phone calls at work from the school about his behaviour that cumulated in a 4 day suspension. Teenage hormones and Aspergers just don’t mix. He then ran off to his father’s place to avoid punishment, bringing dealing with my ex-husband into the mix, like things weren’t stressful enough. Oh, and Mr Z was still only working 2 afternoons a week as my maternity leave looms and the mortgage remains a constant.

Amongst it all I got an email from Mr Z’s mother – she wanted to get to know me, which weekend (during my peak uni assessment time) was going to suit me for a visit? Did I mention I don’t have a good relationship with my mother and my last mother-in-law lived up to the quintessential MIL reputation in what could have been an award winning way? I felt pressure on my pressures, I cried, mothers scare me and I didn’t need yet another one in my life to show me disapproval, to kick me while I’m down. I developed a case of mild shingles due to all the stress, which just further exasperated the stress because now the baby was at risk. I felt like I was on the verge of a breakdown.

Then suddenly it all stopped. The rental tribunal came and went having ruled in our favour; the school princIple turned out to be lovely and not at all on the verge of expelling my little trouble maker, she wanted to know how better they could help him; the new mother-in-law was kind and very supportive; I got my uni assignments finished and will graduate after all; Mr Z has several great looking opportunities for work; and the school holidays arrived and the kids went away, my mother’s duties disappearing along with them.

Now I find myself sitting in the resounding silence, feeling disoriented. Spring has arrived, there’s warmth in the sun, the blossoms are out and I even have time to enjoy it. My over-wound nervous system seems to twitch though, I have moments of panic that there’s something I should be doing and it takes a minute or two to mentally run through the issues and reassure myself that no, I’m not dropping any balls, and my breathing starts to return to normal. I feel agitated, not knowing how to cope with having nothing pressing to deal with. Then bub kicks me and I spend a moment focused on her and let the peace and joy I should be feeling finally wash over me. Maybe I might get a chance to glow serenely after all, even if it’s just for a week.

Goodbye chaos, I’ve gained control…

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Goodbye chaos, I’ve gained control…

It’s hard to believe it’s the end of August already. I mean I know the years go by fast at this stage but this one, this one has gone by in the blink of an eye. If in the last few years I felt my life was a little on pause, a little stagnating, this year it has shot forward with a jolt in a way that has left me standing here wondering what on earth just happened. In hindsight, the previous years were all a lead up to this, what I thought was stagnation was actually preparation and planning.

So what has happened this year? Well I’ve been away for so long that there’s some catching up to do. Mr Z and I benefited greatly from some time apart, realising that we still had a strong friendship and foundation of caring that meant we were able to resolve our differences and come back together with renewed and more realistic expectations. I had time to remember what my own plans had been for my life prior to having met him, and spent time getting those back on track. 

I re-committed to my studies and finally saw that financial planner and got back into the mortgage game, buying my own place before being completely priced out of the Sydney market. As it was I’ve moved to the very outskirts of the universe to do it, my commute to the office in the center of Sydney takes two hours door to door, with just over an hour and a half of that being on a train. No matter, I reasoned, the trip is comfortable and gives me time to study, the results of which will enable me to get a job away from the corporate city life in the future. The kids aren’t young anymore, they are old enough to travel to and from school independently, and I’m lucky enough to have shorter work hours that mean I still leave and arrive at home at the same sort of times that many of my friends that work close to home do anyway. 

It was an awesome plan, I’d lined up all my ducks in a row, I was in a relationship but still independent, money would be tight but I was fully in control of my life. No more landlords, no more moving, no more stress for an uncertain future. The future was here, finally I could take some time to kick back and enjoy life a little. My backyard is my own little bush oasis, I could hang pictures on the walls in my home, I could build a vegetable garden. Sure it’s a long way away from the city but I’m a mountain girl at heart anyway, my soul is at peace out there, it’s a place I love going home to and the kids love it too.

Now the last time I thought I had finally reached a position like that was when the kids were a lot younger and had gone away with their father on a holiday for two whole weeks. Rather than despair at the emptiness I decided to invest in myself, telling the naturopath I booked that it was my time to finally look at myself and my health and get everything in order – for me. I was a single, working mum but life had settled down into a regular, manageable routine, and it was time to factor in some self care. Two days later I got the news that my ex had broken his leg in multiple places, I needed to fly out to the remote location he was in and bring the kids home, and look after them for the next several months on my own, he was out of action. I’m just lucky I managed to hold onto my job and pay my rent during that time, and needless to say my stress related issues I had been determined to tackle doubled overnight. We all survived though. Just.

I know you know where this is going, the writing was always on the wall wasn’t it? Here I was thinking similar things, not having learnt yet that life is not like that, well not mine anyway. No sooner than I had committed to the purchase of a small, three bedroom house on the edge of the earth that was just perfect for us, and just affordable for me, feeling quietly just a little bit proud of my complete independence, I found out that I was pregnant. 

We broke up

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We broke up

Looking back now I can see I stayed far too long in this relationship. I wonder if I hadn’t been supporting Mr Z through his master’s degree and felt if we parted ways that it would affect his study that I might have done it sooner. The truth is that my needs weren’t being met and I had been unhappy for a long time, but there always seemed to be a reason not to give up. If I was a bit more tolerant, if I was a bit more patient, if I managed my own emotions better, if I was more understanding, if I appreciated what I did get out of the relationship a bit more then it would all get better.

The thing was Mr Z was soon to finish his study for the year, and he would have time for me at long last. As it got closer though I realised I was dreading that. Yes, I had been feeling isolated, yes I had been feeling very lonely and really needed to make some plans with someone and have things to do together, but the divide between Mr Z and I was so wide now that I felt lonelier in his company than I did when actually on my own. It wasn’t working.

I had given too much, there was nothing left to give, if the relationship was going to heal it was because he would recognise that and do something to fix it, he would give back. I knew though that he wasn’t capable of it. He wasn’t capable of noticing, he wasn’t capable of putting himself in my shoes and seeing things from my point of view and working out my needs. I had been telling him what my needs were quite directly but it had become the endless drone of demands and nagging to him, I could see it. He wasn’t listening, he didn’t want to.

He was soon to finish uni, he would be free to get a job, and anywhere he wanted to, he wouldn’t need my support anymore. His relationship with his own children had deteriorated to almost non-existent – something that I was never comfortable with – and the only ties he now had were to me, and my family. He started making comments about my lead weights, my albatrosses: my children. I am a mother I told him, I love my children and meeting the challenges of parenting is fulfilling. I wanted to settle down, buy a property, grow a garden, get a dog. I want that life, he had told me he wanted that life, but clearly he wanted freedom.

As the end of his last semester approached his need for me diminished and his evasiveness over the future grew. He had never consistently pulled his own weight and it was getting worse now, arguments about him contributing to the rent and expenses escalated (along with his complaints about my children). He’d always claimed he would give back, later, when he had a full time job. It was increasing clear that he wouldn’t. My resentment grew, simmering inside me and too frequently boiling over into nasty arguments. I didn’t like myself anymore.

There had always been part of me that had seen this coming, but I had continually given him the benefit of the doubt. Classes ended, I had intended to let him stay until his exams were over at least, but I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t last that long. Feeling like the worst person in the world I asked him to leave; he went to his mother’s place, a four hour drive away. He returned only on the days of his exams, then he was gone for good.

I waited for the heartbreak, that almost physical pain. I waited for the feeling of emptiness and disconnection to wash over me. I waited for all those feelings to hit me like a tonne of bricks, but they didn’t. I felt some fear for the future, some fear at having no backup if something happened with the kids, and an old familiar ache at the prospect of facing a future alone, but I didn’t feel heartbreak. He hadn’t given me enough for me to miss anything when he was gone, he had only taken and drained, and now all I felt was relief.

I am free.

Blogger recognition award nominations

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Blogger recognition award nominations

I’d like to say a big thank you to Alyssa at Simple Alyssums for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award, it really did make my day, but I also want to apologise that it has taken me so long to respond. My blog is very new and it took me a few days to try and work out who I would nominate because I have enjoyed so many blogs. Unfortunately during that time my life turned upside-down as it became clear my relationship needed to end and I choose to stay away from blogging for a while, I was just not in a space in which I could write. I’m getting back there now though, and looking forward to enjoying it again. On a brighter note please do go check out Alyssa’s blog at https://simplealyssums.wordpress.com, she is a beautiful person with a great outlook on life!

The rules

Thank whoever nominated you and include a link to their blog

Write a post and give a brief story of how your blog started

Give a piece of advice or two to new bloggers

Select 5 other blogs you want to give the award to

Let the nominees know you have nominated them and provide a link to the nomination details.

My blogging story

This year has been quite a trying and eventful year for me and originally looked for a journal app in order to start journaling to help me manage my life, but decided to create a blog instead as I felt the potential that other people might read it would help to keep me more accountable to my thoughts and resolutions. I felt blogging would encourage me to think more carefully before I write so that my ‘journal’ didn’t turn into nothing more than a series of vents with little insight attached – and no action. I blog for me, not to entertain other people or to increase stats etc, but also to connect to other people, and I’ve found this WordPress space a great way of doing that.

What I learned recently is that in the inevitable ebb and flow of life there comes a time when it can get overwhelming and at that time I feel it’s best to put the blinkers on, live day by day without thinking too hard about what’s happening and just keep the wheels turning until the rough period is over. Emotions come and go through these testing periods and it’s best not to feed too much energy to them, but rather let them wash over without holding on. In that situation I prefer to keep busy and fill my life with things that distract and prevent over thinking, pretty much the opposite to why I blog, which is why I didn’t recently. If I had a blog that was hobby based I probably would have been on here every day, instead I did mindful type activities that capture my entire attention (like practice the piano) and threw myself into work, into a new gym routine, and unfortunately for my bank account, into some home improvements to create a nicer space to enjoy! My advice for any new bloggers would be to respect your own needs first and foremost, there are times for expanding outwards into the world and there are times for turning inward and withdrawing, so know and honour where you are at. Bottom line, blog based on what is right for you, not to please other people.
My nominations

I love talking to people and getting a view of their perspective on life, even if it conflicts with my own ideas as I think its healthy to have my ideas challenged. In keeping with this I do enjoy reading a wide variety of blogs, as you’ll see below. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

http://thelovebungalow.com/

http://deborahparise.com/

http://thelifewithowen.wordpress.com

http://oprahismyreligion.wordpress.com

http://thechastecyclist.com

My message to the broken

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My message to the broken

I read so many blogs where people are lost and struggling, having found themselves dazed and bewildered at rock bottom, the same place I found myself many years ago. My blog is very new so I haven’t gone into much of my past yet, but trust me I have been there, and as someone who has been there this is what I would like to say:

It sucks. Where you are right now definitely sucks, but finding yourself at rock bottom can be a gift because there is no better place to learn life’s lessons and develop life skills than where you are right now. Take time to look at how you got there (it is NOT a punishment), take time to work out what life is trying to teach you because when you come out the other side what you learn right now will benefit you for the rest of your life.

Life will always throw obstacles at you, there will always be challenges, but what you learn when you build yourself back up is that there is nothing that will stop you, you will get through this and you will laugh and love again. You may need to close your heart for a while to heal, but don’t forget to open it back up again when you are stronger because that is where a lot of life’s gifts are, and you will be strong enough to deal with all the challenges love brings because you’ve been there, rock bottom, and you came out the other side and you will again.

Take time to develop, love and nurture yourself, because self belief is a wonderful thing, it opens the world and it’s infinite possibilities to you. You can’t give effectively to other people if you are not giving enough to yourself first. Inner strength is like a muscle, you exercise it to grow stronger, so set yourself challenges, you’ll gain confidence every time you overcome them. Start small – set yourself up to succeed not to fail!

When you fall get back up, dust yourself off and keep going. Expect set-backs, it’s normal, everyone has them, just don’t let yourself be derailed by them, view them as another opportunity to build that inner strength, and that’s something to be grateful for.

Risk making a mistake, it’s another opportunity to learn. When you learn you develop wisdom, who wouldn’t want that? Nurture yourself and be kind to yourself. No-one is perfect, why should you be?

Know the difference between love and dependence and be careful who you admire. Choose good role models and remember that inner strength and inner beauty far outweigh external beauty, there’s just no comparison. 

Finally, when you have healed, and are that amazing, wise, strong person as a result, don’t forget what it felt like and extend kindness to others that find themselves there, they need it.

The challenge

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The challenge

Another Monday morning and a weekend slipped away too fast. MrZ returned with a bad head cold, complaining that he didn’t like to feel mere mortal; to me it’s evidence of the emotional stress of the last week. When he had finally told me he had mid semester exams this week I felt terrible, if I had known that I would have understood his snarkiness and let it slide last week, but I had been too caught up in my own stresses to have put two and two together. We are a family under pressure this year. A family – as Mstr13 said, he’s one of us now, we have to work it out.

I spent a long time not knowing how to feel about my relationship with MrZ as he seemed to be full of contradictions and I had trust issues to start with. It’s so hard to get a relationship off the ground in these days of internet dating with everybody feeling like there are endless choices and being so quick to trade anyone that is a less than perfect fit against their checklist of ideals. At this stage of life it is unrealistic to think you’ll enter into a relationship without baggage or that you will meet a person without baggage, it’s just not going to happen. With my personal history of holding on too long and not letting go in the face of a toxic and abusive relationship I was always on high alert in the dating scene, fearful of trusting the wrong person. Despite almost two years with MrZ, I guess I still am.

My biggest leap in terms of feeling comfortable in this relationship has only been fairly recent, when I was confronted with a new round of challenges regarding my high functioning spectrum son. He is not easy to live with and MrZ would sometimes make complaints about him that left me feeling defensive, but not only that, I would get frustrated because in fact MrZ shared a lot of those behaviours, just in adult version. I began to say that to him, which he didn’t like, but it was quite true and he really couldn’t deny it. He would ask me how I put up with a particular behaviour in Mstr13, and I would point out it was the same tolerance that allowed me to put up with a similar behaviour of his. Ouch.

As the issues with Mstr13 at the highschool earlier this year escalated and he refused to re-engage with the sort of help from psychologists that had got us through the primary years, I was forced to learn more about the spectrum myself. He had never had a definitive diagnosis although it had been acknowledged that he was borderline Aspergers (they don’t use that term for high functioning autism anymore, just spectrum disorder). Apparently it is quite common for the symptoms to escalate as puberty hits and that certainly is the experience we are having. It’s been trying.

I began to read anything I could get my hands on about Aspergers, and the more I read and learned the more I recognised MrZ too. Was this a bad thing? I learned that it is highly heredity and MrZ has a brother with autism so it is likely he’s a bit higher on the scale than the average person too. I also recognised my father in these descriptions, and for the first time started to see that Mstr13’s traits came from my side of the family. With all the difficulties I have with his father I had assumed it stemmed from there, but now I could see it is different. This was heartening to me, his father is a narcissistic person with addiction problems and I feared my son following the same path, but now I could see a different path for him, a more positive one that my understanding and support could influence.

I began to look at myself and my family in a different light too – my extreme shyness as a child and being a perfectionist – these can be spectrum traits, and it is quite typical for it to affect boys significantly more than girls. Suddenly a lot more about my dysfunctional family made sense, although my son, like my father, doesn’t have the coldness or lack of empathy that stems from a typical lack of understanding of emotion in spectrum people, if anything we (including myself here) are exceptionally emotional people with too much empathy. MrZ however is not.

While this information helped me understand a lot more about MrZ, it also made me think hard about our relationship. The deep, emotional connection that I crave with my partner is never going to be there, he simply does not experience the world the same way that I do. Our relationship will always be difficult in that regard, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work, in fact if I remain tolerant and he continues to try and respect my emotions we will work, and we might actually make each other more balanced as people. Highly emotional events like my recent miscarriage will always be difficult to navigate however, and I will probably need external support and to be able to not judge MrZ for his inability to give me what I need at that time.

It also explains our communication difficulties, which is another area that needs work and a bit more confidence from me. I need to learn that the contradictions between his words and his behaviour aren’t a sign that I’m being used and deceived, nor is it necessarily a red flag for an abusive relationship, a lot if the time it’s an indication that his focus is on practical issues and he doesn’t think of the emotional effect his words sometimes have on me.

MrZ has already demonstrated that he can step up when I voice my needs clearly, so my biggest challenge is really to understand my own needs at any given time, and to be able to ask for them to be met clearly and succinctly. As a person with a history of not having had much help, even when I ask for it, this is a huge challenge for me. It involves learning to trust, and to rebuild a self esteem that has in the past been battered and bruised. I also need to be able to turn my focus inward sometimes, whereas I am used to my focus being outwards, on my work, on my family, on my relationship. So first and foremost I need to become more self aware and this journal blog will be be the tool I use to do that, to regularly step into the eye of the storm and steal a few minutes peace to think and try and understand what is really going on WITH ME while the whirlwind of life continues all around.