A song

There’s a song here – I’m dimly aware of the music, though can’t ‘hear’ it clearly enough to write it down.  It’s a light, trippy, cheerful tune with an element of tribute to U2, as U2 fans will see from the words (by the way did anyone see that alleged competition on Facebook to win places at a U2 rehearsal?  I bet it was a scam but if it wasn’t it would be fab.!).

You broke my heart; tore me apart

Left me to fall, careless if I hit the wall

I was born to sing for you and yet you were so cruel

I fell for you utterly but ended feeling a fool.


I’m picking up the pieces, the pieces get fixed up

I was close to being shattered, completely, utterly *ucked

But I’m picking up the pieces, the pieces get glued back up.


You told me you were serious, didn’t want to lose me

Held me close on waking, trying not to move me

Slept with my jumper when I wasn’t there

Worshipped me, adored me – of that I was aware.


So I’m picking up the pieces, the pieces get fixed up

I was close to being shattered, completely, utterly *ucked

And I’m picking up the pieces which get glued back up.


Life goes on regardless – in fact it’s pretty good

Knowing all along that for my kids it really should

Despite the times when, broken, I wanted it to stop

We were one, we were much the same – and the pieces got picked up.


I’m picking up the pieces, the pieces get fixed up

I was close to being shattered, completely, utterly *ucked

But I’m picking up the pieces, the pieces are glued back up.


We’re told there are three stages to grief.  The initial devastating sorrow; anger; then acceptance.  There’s a peace in acceptance but, I have realised recently, it doesn’t necessarily mean that happiness has returned and that all pain has gone.

I had thought that acceptance was about feeling cheerful again; moving on; forgetting the loved one and the past.  It’s not.  It’s about accepting that you have a great hole in your life and that life goes on despite it.  You learn to live with it.

In the past I always ran away: a different country, a different job, a change of address. My immediate, and ongoing, reaction to the sad events of the past year or so has been that I would move away: but because of my children I can’t, and nor do I want to, leave them.  Not only do they need their father as well as their mother (however crazy and emotional/volatile she may be at times), but I need them.

What my recent trip to Italy made me realise in any case is that you can’t run away from the pain of losing someone.  That hole where that person fitted goes with you wherever you travel.  And, at the same time, I miss my children when I’m away, especially if – as occurred this time – I can’t contact them.  Coming home was painful in some ways but the cuddles of my children and their pleasure at seeing me more than made up for it.  My daughter, who doesn’t normally like kisses, has kissed me a couple of times over the past two days, and given me plenty of hugs; my eldest didn’t stop chatting in the car when I fetched him from school (he can sometimes be a silent almost-teenager); and my youngest was full of cuddles and kisses as he always is, but also didn’t object when he had to leave his Dad’s and come to my house.  Their love is priceless.  Perhaps I should add that they have just as much love for their Dad as they do for me, and if we can live separately but be amicable enough that the children don’t feel torn between us, then we will have, in some small way, succeeded.  Another form of acceptance: that we offer different parenting styles and a different emotional ‘background’ to the children, but that neither is wrong or right, and neither is better or worse than the other.

Meanwhile two authors have brought the pain of loss and how to deal with it home to me recently, both of whom found some solace in their children.  I’m grateful for their books as whilst they’re about loved ones dying, loss is loss however it occurs.  However much you try to put a brave face on it, get on with life, and be cheerful, ultimately there are times when the tears just have to be allowed to come and the hurt and pain surfaces all over again.  This beautiful passage from Cathy Rentzenbrink’s heart-rending book The Last Act of Love (pub. Picador), about coming to terms with the devasting accident to and then death of her brother, was something I wanted to keep and to share:

“I know I’m damaged.  As I’ve walked through fire, bits of me have burnt off – but I accept that.  I’ve come across a new word.  Kintsugi is a Japenese style of ceramics where broken crockery is mended in an intentionally obvious way.  Rather than try to hide the crack, it is filled in with gold and the breakage becomes a part of the object’s story.  I love this idea.

I think how I am often drawn to broken people and find them beautiful.  I have decided that I can stop yearning to be fixed or trying to hide the scars: I can decide to think of my brokenness as an integral and even beautiful part of me…

…I no longer expect that my tears will come to an end.  I am no longer surprised that my reservoir of grief is so full and refillable.  Because I am no longer surprised, I am much better able to live with it.  I weave it into my days.  I can cry and laugh at the same time.

I have worked out that the only way to be alive in the world is to carry out acts of love and hope for the best.”



Broken glass










Glass splinters.  A hundred pieces, sharp shards and lethal motes,

Shrapnel sticking in the vulnerable skin and pricking the vessels.

Rain runs down windows.  Pooling, flooding, ponding,

Creating bog where once ground was firm.

Broken hearts shatter, softness torn by unseen glass,

An explosion within the shell of ribs.  No protection now.


Running, she stops, doubling over as the pain

Blasts through her body.  Mind breaks, tears flow

Expressing sorrow where once was joy, laughter, love.

Everything now an effort.  Work might distract – doesn’t –

Children bring laughter but questions and memories –

Bed is a soft lingering haven but for the recollection of adoration

Lying there imprinted on the pillow.

Unfinished, a love not given the chance to become mundane

Creates endless heart, mind and soul ache where once was joy.

You learn to live with it.  But shattered.

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Grief, marriage, life – ruminations

I’ve just finished reading Nora McInery Purmort’s book It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too).  It was one of those impulse buys in Waterstones – and a compulsive read (I’ve now passed it on to a friend).

There’s an awful lot in the book which reflects things I have thought and written myself, albeit triggered by different events and reasons.  She comments in one chapter on how grief makes you quite self-centred: I had been thinking recently how introverted and rather insular I had been as I moved through my depression.  To a certain extent I beat myself up for not thinking about others more, but I think it’s probably a survival of the fittest thing – face up to your blackest thoughts and moods on your own and come through them the stronger for it, and also give yourself the time to do so in order to recover.  Sadly, one of the things which stopped me being quite so self-centred was a friend’s husband leaving her: I began to think about her and supporting her rather than being quite so wrapped up in myself, although having said that I have only been able to do so as I had moved on enough from my blackest place.

I’ve always believed that too much time on your own engenders being self-centred in any case, but I also now think that sometimes it’s just necessary.  It’s like the passage I have previously referred to from Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, about walking into depression.  Recognising such feelings and living through them, instead of trying to sweep them under the carpet and pretend they don’t exist, is just sometimes what you have to do.  Nobody can be happy all the time: though Nora Mc P’s title is significant in that it is perfectly OK to laugh even in the middle of the worst grief you’ve ever suffered.  I’m sure the inmates of the concentration camps managed to laugh at times despite the appalling conditions in which they existed – they made the effort to form orchestras and play music, so why not also to laugh, difficult as that may seem?

There were a handful of passages in the book which I noted down as I wanted to keep them.  One chapter was, I think, perhaps as much as anything the writer wanting to make herself feel better – it was full of positive self-belief comments, and was about how you’re doing a good job.  I especially liked “you’re single because you just cannot be tamed right now”.  She also had things to say about marriage (I’ve always loved the comment that marriage should be to someone you can’t bear to be without, and also what she says which is “don’t marry a friend” – something which I’ve realised for myself (you need passion in a marriage): “Marriage isn’t supposed to feel like a cage, it’s supposed to feel like a hug that lasts just a few seconds too long”.

Related to that was her philosophy about life generally, and about giving up certain things, and taking risks: “the world will keep spinning, and your life will get a little bit better every time you give up on the shit that is taking you away from your one wild and precious life”.  And along the same lines, I can’t remember whether she wrote this or quoted it or I read it somewhere else: “Life’s journey is not to arrive safely at the grave in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘holy fuck, what a ride!’ “.

The book was a fantastic reminder to live life to the full – to follow dreams and take risks (without being stupid about it).  Most of us still have to pay the mortgage and be responsible for our children, but we can surely do so whilst being true to the very essence of who we are.  And usually when you take the (sometimes brave or seemingly foolhardy) step of following a different path, of taking what appears to be a risk, things just amazingly slot into place and you find a happiness and fulfillment you never dreamed possible: your one wild and precious life.

One wild and precious life

Apologia to a lost love


I’ve edited this a bit today.  This is a past love; it was intense and amazing but it was almost unreal as well.  I saw the guy in question recently about to go into the Co-op.  I had been intending to go into the Co-op as well, but instead I walked away.  I realised then that I want this to just be in the past, as a memory – I have moved forward, and am ready to move forward in other ways as well, from my marriage and to create a ‘new’ relationship with my children.   

It was amazing to be so adored and the black pit of depression I went through after this – which was also connected to my divorce and the menopause – was hideous.  However I think I have come through it all – the good and the bad – with a stronger sense of who I am.  That is a great foundation to build on.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


I am sorry.  I am sorry for the hurt we caused each other – we who adored each other.  In the passion of grief, I lashed out: wanting to protect myself; wanting to hurt you as you had hurt me.  An intense, passionate love became an angry, agonising grief: confused and churned up, I was unable to be rational or calm.  I was angry with you for hurting me, and yet frustrated with myself for my own part in creating the situation which meant I got hurt – and which I think also hurt you.

My anger lasted only a little time, relatively speaking, and in any case was interspersed with calmer moments: but you weren’t to know that.  Even so I never stopped loving you – torn between a genuine love which wanted only the best for you and anger for myself, that I could not be part of your life, I was in turmoil.

You said months ago that I didn’t understand.  To an extent you were right – on one level I didn’t – my divorce seemed to be going smoothly and life seemed good – but then my life seemed to fall apart, which has given me a far better understanding and acceptance.  Even so I understood better than you thought I did at the time.  But falling in love makes baggage rise to the surface and my baggage was lack of belief in myself – that someone could adore me so very much.  You told me early on that you “didn’t do casual” and that you had fallen for me, that I wasn’t just an escape or just for sex; but I still felt vulnerable and insecure about you, and hated myself for being so.  I have had to step back to realise how very much you adored me and how much turmoil you must also have been in.

I could see only too painfully clearly how incredibly difficult it was for you: you stood to lose too much.  I tried and wanted to support you but ultimately the conflicts and complexities we both had in our lives were ignited into a volatile and confusing emotional cocktail, fuelled by lack of sleep and too much alcohol.  It got to the stage where I had to look after myself but in the agony of trying to do so, my mind and body broke, and with them my heart.  I could no longer think straight about my own life, let alone have the capacity and compassion to continue to support you fully and completely understand your feelings.  I had to step back and regain my sense of self.  Likewise I understand how you couldn’t support me when I needed you the most.  Neither of us, I think, could cope with the situation we had created.

One thing I was always consistent about was that I loved you, and could no more stop loving you than stop breathing.  I never, ever was inconsistent – if ever you felt let down by me, it was only at those times when I felt pushed away and I had to withdraw, in pain, to protect myself.

When I wrote to you – and that was such a difficult letter to write – to try to clarify things, you said my letter made you love me even more than you did before.  I was on a high from your adoration of me: but the next evening you said it was all about me and that I didn’t understand.  I am still hurt and puzzled as to how you could change so suddenly but perhaps by then we were both each too churned up by our own feelings to hear each other correctly.  You accused me of wearing rose-tinted spectacles: in fact I never did and my very insecurities and internal conflict arose because I could not see how something so precious and amazing could continue.  You said once “I don’t know where this is going”: neither did I, but we never really talked about that, not properly. Looking back now I remember brief phrases which were perhaps the beginnings of conversations which never developed.  You told me you had decided months earlier that you wanted me: I think we were both swept away by our feelings for each other, by wanting each other so much, without having thought further ahead or practically.  It was not black and white, but maybe I gave the impression of thinking it should be straightforward despite knowing it wasn’t.

All I knew was that I wanted to have you in my life, to love you and to be loved by you: but understandably you were afraid of losing your children.  I was lucky: I still saw, and see, my children regularly and frequently and on the whole now have a relatively amicable relationship with my ex.   At the time I couldn’t understand why you couldn’t have the same with your partner and children, but having gone through a very difficult period re. my divorce and childcare I do now understand better. 

I remember that when we came together it was as if we had both found something – had come home.  In the same way as you said you don’t do casual, neither do I.  I don’t get involved with a man just for the sake of having a man around, nor for what he can do for me.  I fell for you without meaning to and because you’re you, and I fell more than I have ever fallen for anyone before: you were the most wonderful man in the world to me.  I now fully understand how love is an addiction, and a broken heart is a physical thing.  The ‘spark’ was huge – a fire, like in that U2 song – and wasn’t something I was ever going to forget or to get over quickly.

I am sad that we hurt each other so much.  It especially hurt and saddened me to feel your disdain; and hurts that I no longer sing for you (“I was born to sing for you“: you were my biggest fan and the one who mattered the most, and I miss that: in my heart I’m still singing for you).  But I am grateful to you for having tapped into the very essence of who I am – you ‘got’ me – and for always being expressive about how very much you adored me.  It’s an incredible feeling, to be so adored and to be told that you make a positive difference to someone’s life.  Thank you.

To have had this even once in my life is fantastic; and I shall remember and cherish how it felt to be so adored.

From Darkness into Light

Easter 2016 (5)
Down in the valley bottom

The cows ambled in an orderly line returning from milking,

Hugging the field edge.

Evening spring sunshine burst goldenly –

Suddenly – (then faded)

Against the grey distant rainclouds feathering the further hills.

Twin souls shone in the summer, and

All basked in their glimmering goldness.

Did it rain that year?  Nobody could say for sure:

Their adoration glowed so brightly

Happiness poured forth, a warm bright sun

Covering everything in the miracle of new love.

It was a marvellous, wondrous, majestic time.

Then early one morning on the cusp of winter

He left.

The door banged shut and the house echoed emptily.

She tumbled blindly, cascading, spiralling




Into the deep dark pit

Stripped of appetite, of flesh, of energy.

Desolation and despair engulfing, smothering her,

Their thick heaviness stifling all feelings.

Null and void

She gave up the struggle of grappling with her inner fears

And closed her heart to pain; to love;

Felt nothing.

And yet too much.

The torture of a broken heart;

Too great a pain, this time, to cover it and walk away;

Too deep a love, too profound the lessons to learn

To ignore it.

Yet not forgotten, not alone:

The miraculous hands of friendship reached out;

Pierced the walls with kindness.

Brick by slow brick they pulled her, lifted her;

Stone by hurtful stone she clambered,

Climbed, scrambled, hands bleeding,

Heart bursting –

Eventually raised her arms, spread her wings

And flew


Up and out of the blackness.

It was dazzling out there in the world, in the light,

In the unaccustomed brightness.

But the strength of emotions

Was life coursing richly through her veins:

An awakening; an opening; a rebirth.

Up in the woods on the hills the trees stood black and stark.

An exhilarating icy wild wind

Blew away the remnants of winter.

Through the devastated woods – nature’s clutter

More beautiful than mankind’s –

Yellow bursts of jubilant daffodils shone,

Shouted joyfully against the brown of the earth,

The grey of the sky;

Nodded their heads, “yes, look closely!”

Buds on trees;

The glorious green shoots of spring underfoot;

The colour of the heart opening: a widening door.

Everything in its season.  Live life.  Fly free. Shine.


imagesWhatever I may have said about my ex-husband – whatever criticisms I, or other people – may have of him, I want to put it on record that I have always respected him for having had the guts and the self-esteem/self-respect to end our marriage.  He was deeply unhappy and felt I undermined him and made him feel small; we were living parallel lives; and our love for each other had died.  Whilst we didn’t have enormous rows, it was still not an affectionate, loving atmosphere for our children to grow up in – rather a distant one where we got on with our separate lives.

More recently I was reading a book which stated that children who grow up in a loveless household are about as likely to learn to develop loving, stable, relationships as they are to fly a jumbo jet without instruction.

David said, as we were in the process of parting, that he didn’t want me fighting for our relationship – clinging on – because I was afraid of being on my own.  In fact the opposite turned out to be the case, and I have seen it with other women before, who have blossomed when they were freed from relationships which were draining them (I guess the same is probably true of men – you don’t realise how much something is pulling you down until you’re free).  I loved having my freedom back and being single again, and in fact being a ‘part-time’ mother suits me well as it means I have allocated time for the vitally important creative side of me (my writing and singing).  I miss the children when they’re not around (although there are times when having all three of them squabbling and nagging at me at once feels like something to get away from!) but I know they are cared for – by David, by his new girlfriend, by David’s family – and I know they’ll be back. And I will always be their mother.

I have also been able to acknowledge that I had not been in love with David for some time, and in fact part of my sadness at the failure of our marriage was sadness that to a certain extent I had failed him.  Not to say that he was perfect – I don’t think either of us was giving the other what (s)he needed in terms of emotional support.  I need a man who makes me feel fantastic (attractive, desirable, feminine), who will help me stay linked to the ground but who also understands my need to fly free – rather like a kite (I once got compared to a butterfly – but they’re a bit flitty… but perhaps that’s how I appear!).  And yes, sometimes kites crash – as I found in November – but they fly again.

From our relationship we have three gorgeous, healthy, lively, bright children who I hope will grow up to be loving, compassionate adults because their parents are both -separately – happy and both love them very much, as well as being incredibly proud of them and of their very unique characters.  I wish David the very best with his new girlfriend, who seems lovely – and who is nothing like as competitive towards him as I was!

David gave me three gifts as a result of our relationship.  One was the children, of course.  Another was that when he left I still had my self-esteem.  And the third was time: time which I could use for myself (if I chose), when I was not being nagged at by anyone else and when I didn’t have to have demands made upon me: time to nurture myself and my creativity, if that was what I chose to do.  Time for writing, singing and running: mind, body and spirit.

And thank you David for the huge support and understanding that you gave me when I recently hit rock bottom.  “Respect”!

Part Two

What I learnt about myself in 2015

I started the year feeling, mostly, good about myself.  My marriage break-up had its low moments but on the whole I was enjoying being single again.  I didn’t want to rush into a new relationship: I felt attractive and thought I’d just try out dating rather than looking for another serious relationship.  My singing confidence was growing, the amount of singing I was doing was increasing, and life felt good.

I joined a dating website for a while, but despite the confidence-boost of men telling me I was gorgeous, I quickly found it wasn’t really for me.  Meanwhile a new restaurant had opened locally.  Early in January I realised that I was incredibly attracted to the Chef-Proprietor.  However he had a partner and children so that was presumably a no-go area.

Over the ensuing months I concentrated on my writing, singing and children and on trying to get a new job.  Somehow though I was increasingly drawn to the restaurant – driving or walking past I’d look out to see if He was there, and when I went in conversations were friendly and flirtatious on both sides.  More and more I wondered if he was actually interested in me too, rather than just flirting with one of his many female customers.

And the singing continued… and I got a new job as a surveyor, based in Whitehaven.  I knew it wasn’t ideal – I don’t like west Cumbria and the journey would be a pain – but I liked my new boss and the money was good and would mean that I could easily take the children on holiday abroad; as well, I hoped, as paying for various improvements I wanted to make to my house.

The last night of June/first night of July it happened – we got involved.  Rapidly it became clear that for both of us this was a passionate, meaningful affair and not just a fling.  Whilst my initial thoughts were that I just wanted an affair or a fling, his comment was that he didn’t do casual and that he had a lot of love to give: and repeatedly he would say how amazing it was to have me with him, and ask what I was doing with him.

I fell in love with him whole-heartedly: like I had never loved a man before.  I realised that in the past I had either tended to love men as friends or had ‘just’ fancied them.  There were only about 5 men, out of the 16 or so I had any, even passing, involvement with, whom I could say I actually loved.  Two were friends more than lovers – including my ex-husband; one was my first ever boyfriend, when I was in my mid- to late-teens; one was a guy who was a friend of a friend and who ended up marrying her.  The fifth was this current man.

At the same time I started the new job.  Over the school summer holidays everything was great, but when term-time returned I found that time for writing and running became almost non-existent.  I was also seeing far less of my children: I rarely picked them up from school and some days, if I had rehearsals for both choir and opera group – on consecutive nights – I might not see them from early Monday morning until after work on the Wednesday.  My relationship with my daughter, who in any case suspected the man was more than just a friend and who accused me of lying to her, particularly deteriorated.

Baggage from my past then reared its head.  With a history of having been a doormat and having been chased, seduced and then dropped by men, my insecurities started shouting at me: exacerbated by the friend who had encouraged my relationship in the first place, who now was suggesting that the man ‘ought’ to have left his partner and kids for me.  Whilst I didn’t agree with her, this made me start questioning everything even more.  To be fair to her, she was just picking up on my negativity and trying to be supportive – I really do not blame her but just myself for allowing myself to be so dogged by my own negative thoughts.

The man insisted I didn’t need to feel threatened by his partner – that they had no relationship; that she was no more than the mother of his children – but still I felt insecure and jealous, and as if he might be slipping away from me and back to her.

On top of that everything else felt stressful, as if there just wasn’t time for everything and as if the creative side of me was screaming out to be fulfilled.  There just wasn’t time to do so, and nor did I have the energy.  Late, emotion-filled nights with only a few hours’ sleep before I had to get up for work didn’t help either.  Had I but realised it, I was spiralling down into depression, although still trying to convince myself, and other people, that I was happy.

By the end of October I was – I now realise – pretty wound up.  I wrote the man a letter, asking (basically) where I stood and being completely open and honest about my feelings for him.  He had, somehow, tapped into the very essence of me – into my absolute femininity.  Never had I felt so much love, attraction and passion for a man – I told him once I loved him as much as I loved my children and that I could no more stop loving him than stop breathing.  Whilst I wanted the reassurance that he loved me too, I also wanted to face up to reality.

His reaction was that the letter made him love me more than he already did.  We had a lovely evening together: and another lovely evening the following day.  Until we got into bed – and somehow started rowing – the worst row we had ever had.  When I left in the morning I asked whether he still wanted to talk or whether he wanted to call it a day, and he said he wanted to talk.

The following day (a Saturday) I had a trail run.  My heart felt as if it was breaking.  Could I cope with this relationship – which meant so much to me – any more?  Was I just going to get really badly hurt?  My instinct told me that he loved me too but couldn’t see a way out of his relationship with his children’s mother – they were tied not only in terms of the children, whom clearly he would not want to lose nor to see less of, a threat which she was using to emotionally blackmail him with – but also financially as well.  Being completely financially dependent on him, she was going to fight to keep him, whether or not she still loved him.

On the following Tuesday I spent most of the time at work close to tears.  It felt as if my whole life was falling apart.  I needed the job but hated many aspects of it; I wasn’t spending enough time with my children; my love life seemed to be going pear-shaped; and I didn’t have enough time for singing, running and writing.  All of those were an essential part of me, but I was struggling to remain in touch with that inner part of me and to know what my real feelings were about anything.  I knew I couldn’t go on.  I phoned the Doctor and made an appointment for the next morning.

Having been signed off, ultimately for almost three weeks, and then put on anti-depressants, I began the slow clamber out of my black hole.  I lost my appetite and therefore lots of weight; I was tired and lacking in energy; there were days when tears were never far away.  There were days when I felt as if I was sinking and I would desperately try to hold on to any glimmer of hope; other days when I felt calmer and more in touch with what I really wanted.

Then there was a turning point – a day when I felt creative and more energetic than I had for weeks.  The man, whilst still not giving me the big hugs he had before, started kissing me (briefly) on the lips again, and seeming to be more friendly – seeming to say that he still loved me.  I had been on and off with him myself, finishing things one moment and then telling him I loved him and wanted him the next; and I wondered if he was as confused as I was. Certainly my being more relaxed, happy and friendly seemed to improve things.

But generally I feel as if I’m on a new path.  I’ve perhaps shed some of my baggage about relationships – I think and hope so, at least – and I know now that I need to be doing something work-wise which uses the creative side of me more – writing, promotions, customer service, presentations – and which is nearer to home.

The man has always said how beautiful I am.  I didn’t feel that while I was depressed.  I now feel attractive again, but in a less ‘hyper’ way than I did before.  I also know now that I am able to love a man incredibly deeply, as a woman – which is not to be vulnerable, down-trodden or a doormat but to express my true and deepest inner Empress.

And as I am now happier and more out-going, relaxed and friendly with people – in fact to my old usual self – the world has responded: people seem generally to be being nicer to me!

Who knows what will happen with the man: his relationship with his partner is destructive – toxic to them both, and they each undermine the other’s self-confidence and self-esteem.  It’s not a good environment to bring children up in, which is exactly why David left me (and I don’t think our relationship was anything like so bad, though it had gone much the same way).  But I can’t do anything to change that and one promise I made was not to pressurise him or add to his stresses.  I think I probably did in the end; I think feeling pressurised to be with me, even if I only did it unintentionally, was what made us have that row; but it’s something that he and he alone needs to work out and by pushing me away he has lost someone who was, at her best, wholly supportive of and loving towards him.  I would have done almost anything within reason or within my power for him, although with hindsight I needed to look after myself (and my children) more and to get more sleep.

It’s going to be interesting to look back at this post in 6 months’ or 12 months’ time and see where my life has gone!  Singing; writing; jobs; children; man… this is the year that I hope to be able to hold on to my self-esteem and not to let my baggage get in the way.


Signed off Sick

One of David’s friends once said that I sounded happy from my blog: and yet he didn’t think I was.  This was at a time when my marriage was nothing more than parallel lives and I was building up a huge pile of resentment because I felt as if I was doing everything and David was doing nothing (obviously in my mind I was exaggerating things, but that is where we had got to).

I was brought up that to think that I shouldn’t be unhappy about anything – who was I to be unhappy when I had so much – health, money, brains… and more recently three children at an age when many women have given up child-bearing.

But all through my 20s and 30s I suffered from mood swings and at my lowest was conscious of a black hole of loneliness in the pit of my being.  By the time I met David I had gained the self-esteem to have filled in that black hole: even so when I met David I felt truly loved for the first time in my life, and having the children increased that feeling and led to an enormous feeling of fulfillment.  And people kept telling me I was amazing…

It was great.  I felt amazing.  And so I took on more and more.  When David left I still felt amazing, but amazing and single.  And so, ultimately, I got a full-time job (just as Edward started school), even though I knew that in the past that had turned me into a horrible person and that I had always felt vehemently that while the kids were little I only wanted to work part-time: but I wanted the money to be able to take the kids on holiday abroad.  My singing increased: I started my own singing group and accepted almost every offer to sing which I got given.  And I fell in love with a man more whole-heartedly than I had ever fallen in love with anyone before: he made me feel so incredibly and fully feminine and so much that I was my real self.  In addition the job has a long commute over to West Cumbria, which a friend of mine had told me she found hard.  In my pig-headed way I thought I was different from her.  And I also tried to keep up my running…

In September, with the start of term and the sense that autumn was looming, I suddenly began to panic and to feel that everything was about to change.  On some days sheer paranoia set in; I began to feel unhappy about how little I was seeing my children and about the long journey to work and to worry about and question all sorts of things in my life.  I gave myself several kicks up the backside; thought it was perhaps to do with my unsettled past; started checking tarot cards.  Singing still went well and gave me joy and relaxation, but quite often I would get stressed out by my children and end up shouting at them angrily and then feeling guilty.  My daughter said she wanted to go to live with her father.  On a couple of occasions I couldn’t face going to work: one time, driving, I got almost as far as Cockermouth before I pulled into a layby, burst into tears, and then drove home and back to bed.

Last week after a tearful day in the office I finally made an appointment to see my Doctor.  I felt pathetic: why couldn’t I just pull myself together.  She signed me off for two weeks.  The sense of relief was huge but my moods still swing from calm-ish to tearful and even worse.  I have never felt so low in my life before.  The black hole isn’t there: there’s no need for me to be lonely nor to feel I’m doing everything alone, as I am surrounded by good friends, including – perhaps to my surprise – my ex-husband, who has stepped in with understanding and helped with the children, both in terms of having them and in terms of talking about them.  And thank goodness for text messaging and emails which can be of almost instantaneous reassurance (and if they’re not, you just delete them!).

David has lent me a book his girlfriend Rebecca had lent him, called I Had a Black Dog (Matthew Johnstone).  It opens with ‘looking back, Black Dog had been in and out of my life since my early twenties’: how spot on.  My Black Dog hasn’t been around for a few years but he seems to have been gathering a huge amount of strength over the past month or so – and who knows, perhaps for longer – and has leapt out at me and knocked me over.  I’ve been trying to make decisions about major things in my life, and as David says, now is not the time to do that.

I’m only at the beginning of this journey: whilst I feel more optimistic as I write this, I have spent most of today in tears and didn’t even manage to get the kids their breakfast until it was almost lunchtime.  And yes, there are times when I think it would be easier to jump into one of the fast-flowing near flood-level rivers around: except I have three children and I want to see how they turn out, and I also want to see what happens next.  In addition there is a tiny bit of me which never gives up hope that everything will actually turn out OK, one way or another: that dreams can come true.

There is no conclusion to this blogpost as there is no conclusion to this part of my story at the moment.  I just wanted to share it openly as it’s something which has almost taken me by surprise; I always thought you could talk or work yourself out of feeling low but I’m not managing it with this bout.  I’ve always remembered a bit at the beginning of a chapter in Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow where she says she walks into depression and accepts it.  That’s how it is: like an illness which I have to accept and which will pass.   And for now, that’s all I can say.