Time marches on. It’s a year since I last posted, and 4 years since I started this blog. In that time I have established a new ‘life pattern’ – my house is almost completely renovated, I am well established in my job, my daughter is at Uni and my son in sixth form – both building their independence. The nest will soon be empty, and that throws up all sorts of new opportunities, but also new anxieties.
For the past 10 months, I have been in counselling. I actively decided to seek talking therapy, because I felt I was strong enough to ‘iron out’ some of the things that were causing bumps in the road as I tried to move on with my life. It has been valuable, and I feel that I have gained multiple insights from our sessions. Yet there are still ‘bumps’ that seem to appear repeatedly, and which have still have the ability to floor me.
I wrote this time last year about being in a relationship. That has now ended… in the main because I decided it wasn’t right enough for me, but also in part because at every junction where we had to decide to commit further, I chose the other direction. I tried really hard to lower my guard, but there were times when I just couldn’t. And in the end, I took the decision that we should go our separate ways. He was good looking. And so kind. But the spark that I’m holding out for wasn’t there.
I’ve wondered many times whether it was the right decision, especially since my ‘romantic’ encounters since have been less than successful! The one who lived too far away, the one who gaslit me when I worked out that he was married, the one who thought that weeks on end between dates was sufficient, the one who was more concerned to know my bra size than my brain size. It’s enough to make you want to give up. And you end up thinking that you’re undateable; that you’ll never find anyone to share your life with; that you’re destined for a lonely life. I can tell you that these thoughts are not good for your mental wellbeing! I have felt very alone and very anxious about the future recently. I miss physical and emotional closeness. I’ve made some poor dating choices… and every time a match on a dating site fails, I feel like it’s me that’s the failure. Alone. Unloveable.
I think this relationship anxiety is sometimes heightened by knowing too much about my ex-husband’s life. And though I am quite sure that there is far too much water under the bridge between us, I guess there is still a part of me that grieves the life together that I had thought we were going to have. And another part that resents that life I have instead.
Single parenthood is not an easy ride. I take my hats off to those of you who have had this role since your kids were much younger than mine. Being good cop, bad cop and every cop in between is exhausting. I’ve done the parents’ evenings, the revision timetables, the birds and bees, the drunken parties, the break ups and make ups… the works. I know that I wouldn’t have wanted anything other than to have my kids living with me, they are the most important people in my life and parenting them is the most important role I’ve ever had… but boy is it challenging! Add to that the fact that the job I have is the most demanding I’ve had since pre-kids, and life can seem like a trudge at times. I’ve left behind the notion of being an early bird or night owl and instead find myself more of a permanently exhausted pigeon.
I have spoken to my counsellor about feeling stuck, trapped… of the sense that life is passing me by and of being so busy making sure we all get through the days, that I’m forgetting to actually live them. I tentatively look ahead and start to articulate the things I’d like to do once that elusive ‘freedom’ hits – mainly this involves travel, but possibly also to free myself from the mortgage chains and step into a less demanding job. I know I can start to plan this now, and that in 2 years time, it could all start to unfold. Yet there are days when the thought of being ‘stuck’ for another 24 months / 731 days / 17544 hours … well it seems interminable, and I want out.
There are days when I can’t get myself going – anxiety traps me in my bed or my house and I just can’t function. There are times when I feel that the world we have is so hostile and unfamiliar, I don’t know where I fit in. There are times when I almost feel like I don’t exist. The strong, brave woman who completed 50 challenges and wrote about them…? I don’t know where she’s gone, and I’m not even sure I want to be her anymore.
Hence the title of this blog post. I’m struggling. If you read this and want to reach out and share your experiences or your advice… please do.