Blood

Yesterday was traumatic and I’ve only started processing it now.

The last weekend of the school holidays.  The kids arrived back from their dad’s on Saturday morning and immediately asked for friends to come round and play.  I agreed this would be a good idea.  Myself and the dog had stayed at my boyfriend’s house on Friday night (part of our bickering was the fact that I was putting off travelling to his because my dog gets so anxious in the car that he vomits everywhere – think of baby puke and multiply by 100 for level of grossness and you’re maybe close).  The dog dosed up on travel sickness tablets (active ingredient – ginger) had not puked in the car and his level of anxiety was visibly reduced. I was feeling elated and triumphant!  But I knew I had lots of washing to do from our holidays and a playdate would keep the kids occupied whilst I washed, hung, folded and hung up/stuffed into drawers (I don’t as a rule iron unless completely necessary hence I walk around looking artfully disheveled most of the time).  Lunch was eaten, two friends arrived and fun ensued.  The play date turned into a sleepover.  Why not?  My son had been awarded a distinction in his first piano exam.  They both deserved to round off the holidays with a treat.  My boyfriend arrived, dinner eaten we all walked down to the seafront with the dog for ice creams then up home to get into jammies.  Both kids and friends slept well.

In the morning Boyfriend and I have a good honest chat about where we were and a lot of our issues were laid out thoughtfully and honestly by both of us.  Things were looking good – the day looked bright.  Breakfast served up and eaten.  Four children bouncing on the trampoline in the back garden; well three bouncing and one lying in the middle being bounced.  Then a few rounds of hide and seek then mums returned for pick up.  My son was asked to go and play with his friend in return for the sleepover.  The mum in question – a new mum for the third time – was experiencing her first hangover post-birth (red wine, her homemade stew uneaten – school boy error) and thought that they boys could play together and she could hopefully get some quiet time with the new baby who was herself recovering from the dreaded pox.

So that left me, Boyfriend and my daughter.  And the dog.  We took a short drive to a great park.  We had it to ourselves for the first wee while.  All the good folk at church or still in bed.  Then we went on further down the road to some beautiful rock pools – some fairly large.  A young couple in wet suits took turns jumping into them with one of those underwater cameras.  The dog was super excited; I think he thought they were ducks.  The boy helped the girl across the rocks.  She slipped and he picked her up and dusted her off.  I must admit I was a little envious.  Wish I’d experienced young love on this beautiful coastline.  Me and my daughter got our sandals off and it was lovely feeling the warm water and the sand between our toes.  We collected shells for some future art project and my Boyfriend and I considered gathering the dry driftwood for firewood.

Our tummies started to rumble so we drove home, dropped the dog off and had lunch in one of our favourite cafes.  Boyfriend left for home.  He likes to prepare for the week ahead and me and my daughter did some grocery shopping and returned home.  We settled infront of the TV.  Thoughts of making a bolognese for Monday night’s dinner in my head but I couldn’t quite bring myself to stop snuggling  and move from the sofa.  A knock on the door sent the dog barking.  My daughter’s friend asking to play.  Earlier in the week my daughter had been in tears as the same little girl hadn’t wanted to play with her.  The day before when she came to the door my daughter had firmly said that on this occasion she didn’t want to play with her (getting her own back?) but today they both seemed to want to play so instead of getting up to make the bolognese I stuck on Big Little Lies on Sky catch up (totally fallen in love with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon all over again!) and put off again.  And then disaster struck.

The first blood curdling scream made me pause the TV.  I ran into the hall, daughter covered in blood.  Between tears she told me she had fallen out of the trampoline.  She was clutching the back of her head, her face red, hot and wet.  I took her bloody hand away and parted her dark matted hair.  All I could see was a deep pool of almost black pulsating blood. I looked down at a few drops on her grey wool jumper and smeared them with my finger.  Seconds passed.  I grabbed a box of tissues, car keys, phone.  I got my daughter to hold a wad of tissues to the back of her head and told her to press as hard as she could. I threw the dog into the kitchen.  Locked the back door, tried to calm myself and my voice as I told her friend she would have to go home now (she lives in our cul-de-sac).  I phoned a friend and neighbour in a panic.  She was alone with her two boys – I don’t know what I needed from her I think I just needed to tell someone that I was driving to A&E.  She texted saying her husband was returning from watching the match.  She asked what I needed her to do?  I said it was fine as I started the engine.

The drive to the hospital usually takes half an hour.  I drove quickly, checking my rear view mirror for blue lights.  My daughter was scared, I was scared.  Just a few days previously she had asked my brother, her beloved uncle, about the time I had slipped in the bath as a child – probably the same age as she is now – and was rushed to hospital for stitches.  Did it hurt?  Do they put you to sleep?  Will I need stitches?  Am I going to die?  I want to go home.  I feel sick.  I don’t want to stay in hospital.  I held her hand between gear changes, I told her she would never be alone, I would stay with her always.  It wouldn’t hurt, everything would be okay.  Tissues were given to her to catch nervous vomit and spit.  Her arm started to hurt from holding the back of her head.  I got her to change hands and asked to see the tissue.  Not as much blood as before, it was stopping, I told her this was a good sign.  We arrived at A&E.  I’m usually terrible at parking.  The only space available was tight but I reversed in like a pro and ran into the hospital clutching her hand.

We were seen quickly by a nurse. Pulse rate was okay.  Kidney dish infront of her now to vomit into.  Light shone in her eyes.  She seemed okay.  Now the doctor.  He got me to part her hair – sticky and congealed with blood, fresh tears appeared.  I was hurting her but we had to see the damage.  It was judged as ‘not too bad’.  I got her to lie on the bed and water and glue were applied to knit the two sides of flesh together.  A head injury leaflet was given and on the way out to the car her father was phoned.  I waited for the blame and judgement but to be fair to him it didn’t come (not to my face anyway – he probably saved it whilst discussing my poor parenting skills with his girlfriend).  We stopped at his on the way home so he could see her.  By this point the panic was subsiding but the pain was ramping up.  Calpol was needed.  Home, jammies, medicine administered.  Her brother arrived home.  He had missed the whole emergency, thankfully.

We rounded off the weekend with a game of monopoly.  It felt surreal but it was enjoyable all the same.  My son following the same game plan as he always does; buy up all the utilities and train stations.  My daughter being frugal as usual.  Me taking pity on the poor streets – the pinks and light blues that give a meager £12 rent when an opponent lands on them.  I had one glass of fizz leftover from Saturday night.  Purely medicinal.  I had to be able to drive in the middle of the night if she started being sick again or she couldn’t be woken.  My friend who I had called in a panic texted to say she would keep her phone on and if needed could come over to sit with my son if a 3am drive to the hospital was necessary.

At 9pm I took my first proper breath and realised I had been shallow breathing for 4 hours.

Gin & Tonic Poached Pears, April 2017

thoughts of this summery dessert keeping me going this Monday x

ellenlunney

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We had our first mini dinner-party in our new place in London last week, so I decided to make poached pears for dessert, as in my view, these are the most stylish way there is to end a meal.

They remind me of dinner parties at home back in the 90s, when my mum would reappear after the meal with a cold bowl of crème fraîche & a steaming casserole pot of a dozen pears that had been poached in an exotic & effortlessly glamorous combination of honey, orange juice and, most unusually, black pepper. The black pepper cooked out to a delicate, vaguely Asian gentle warmth that Jamie Oliver would no doubt describe as a ‘hum’… and our guests inevitably adored them every single time.

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Furthermore, although poached pears look fairly complex; elegant & structural in their pale, syrupy nakedness; they couldn’t be easier to make & actually benefit…

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Pity party for one

I have been so up and down lately.  Emotionally everywhere.  Doubting myself and others, questioning myself, my actions, my feelings to the ninth degree.  My boyfriend and I have had quite a few tense discussions on whatsapp around our feelings for each other; what I perceive as lack of effort or enthusiasm (or passion?) on his part, and what he perceives in me as lacking effort/taking him for granted/neglectful behaviour.  I’ve been really reflective.  As discussed previously, maybe it’s this time of year?   I also worked out that I had got engaged and was baptised into the Catholic church 12 years ago around Easter.  Since then my faith has ebbed and flowed throughout my life – through celebrations and low times.  My children attend a catholic primary school and that keeps me connected to the chapel as I sit, usually tense beside my ex, but delighted and full of pride as they go through all the rites of passage that I went through on one night as a 26 year old (I think, maths is definitely not my strong point).  I love being reminded of the ceremonial nature of mass that appealed to me in the first instance; the lighting of candles, incense, transubstantiation, singing, reciting of psalms and prayers.  I have fond memories of attending mass with my gran when little – she would make me a packed lunch and let me eat my sandwiches and take in my surroundings for the duration of the service.  My gran was my Catholic role model really.  Always caring for others with a large whisky and ginger on the side.  Whenever we lost so much as a sock she would insist on praying to St Anthony and low and behold the sock would miraculously turn up – the power of prayer!  My children have also got to the age that when we do attend mass (which isn’t as often as we should) I actually get some time for quiet contemplation which I think is needed; taking time to speak to whichever God or higher power you believe in (be it in church, at the end of a long day or sitting on the doorstep in the evening with a cup of tea) is, I think, a really helpful tool.

I don’t know why I find myself looking back on past behaviours and events so frequently recently and I’m beginning to think it’s holding me back or jeopardizing what I have now.  I think I’m petrified of following the same pattern of my previous relationship.  I know that he was unfaithful but I must somehow be partly to blame for him feeling so strongly for another person (and so miserable) that he was willing to leave the family home to pursue this relationship? What if it’s me?  What if I’m no good in a relationship?  Too selfish, too self-consumed (these blog posts would suggest the latter), too quick to get comfortable and neglect the person that I’m with.  What if I’m lazy?  Expect people to do too much for me? And then I think did I not get anything out of my two stints in counselling?  Why am I thinking these horrible negative thoughts about myself? Relationships break down everyday.  This is a fact of life and I have the misfortune to be in this ‘club’ now.  I have accepted this and must move on – not keep indulging in this pity party for one (hence the title).

So add another person into this heady mix with their own history and their own ‘baggage’ and it makes for an extremely difficult rocky road to navigate.  And sometimes I think is it actually worth the effort but above all else I love this person and I believe this person loves and respects me.  I enjoy spending time with this person, even if it’s curled up on the sofa watching nonsense on TV and perhaps things aren’t meant to be easy.  All relationships need work and I’m learning that embarking on a relationship at this time of my life with all the other added complications is probably twice as hard and maybe I need to relax a little.  On the advice of my good friend I have above all else been attempting to convey my feelings as openly and honestly as possible, even if it’s not pleasant and it may lead to further discussions and confrontation.  After all, what’s the point in keeping these things to yourself and letting them fester?  This is extremely difficult for me.  I’ve come from a point where I kept my disappointments and hurt to myself but I know that this isn’t healthy on any level so I am trying everyday to live a more honest, authentic life (thanks to fellow blogger KE Garland for the phrasing there!).

So for now I will keep pushing on through I guess, keep working things out and doing the best I can.  Now the weather is improving perhaps getting out more, exploring more of the beautiful coastline that I have the privilege to live on will help my mental state.  Walking the beach with the dog, reading more, listening to music I love (Prince – one year on, still devastated), enjoying time with my boyfriend, kids, family and friends and just generally trying to be present should help matters.  Perhaps drinking less wine and treating myself to fresh delicious food, proper coffee and sourdough bread (instead of grabbing and eating mindlessly always in a rush) might make a difference too.  Certainly I have about two weeks to go before a substantial birthday celebration with old school friends takes place (hot tub and karaoke are all in place, can’t wait) so at least I can stick by these rules for a fortnight or so before I return to work a hoarse, bloated and obese shadow of my former self 🙂

seriously, the guy has a point

Really engaging piece. I think about this stuff too 🙂

gregfallis.com

I got metaphorically spanked a couple of days ago. Folks have been talking about the Fearless Girl statue ever since it was dropped in Manhattan’s Financial District some five weeks ago.I have occasionally added a comment or two to some of the online discussions about the statue.

Recently most of the Fearless Girldiscussions have focused on the complaints by Arturo Di Modica, the sculptor who createdCharging Bull. He wantsFearless Girl removed, and that boy is taking a metric ton of shit for saying that. Here’s what I said that got me spanked:

The guy has a point.

This happened in maybe three different discussions over the last week or so. In each case I explained briefly why I believe Di Modica has a point (and I’ll explain it again in a bit), and for the most part folks either accepted my comments or ignored them. Which…

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Honesty

well I’m sure glad I scrapped my incoherent ramblings from last night and have started afresh this morning. I’m currently ‘home’ spending a few days with family and for me distance doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, it makes me more paranoid and insecure in my relationships. Or maybe it’s being in my childhood home as an adult; a parent. I’ve regressed to my insecure teenage state yet still have to be a mum with all the answers and a permanent smile on my face. Whatever the reasons I spent most of yesterday bickering over whatsapp with my boyfriend. Maybe I’m still working through the fact that I’ve been tossed aside for a woman at least 10 years my junior or maybe I would be like this anyway but I like plans to be made and stuck to, I like certainty and definites and I definitely do not like ‘well as far as I know I’m free on that date but will have to see nearer the time’. Anyway things were said by both of us that were probably untrue and exaggerated and unnecessarily hurtful and at one point I was accused of practising emotional blackmail which I felt was unfair and hurtful but I guess today is a new day and we are slowly getting back on track. As previously discussed dating and relationships as a single parent (with a new dog! Part of the problem it would seem) are not easy. Responsibilties most of time have to come first, spontaneity second (which is fine by me. I spent the whole of my marriage wishing to be surprised and then when I was it didn’t turn out to be the most pleasant of surprises…) and finances don’t always stretch to dinners out or trips away as they had done previously. I guess all day yesterday I was trying to be honest and lay out how I really felt which is a big thing for me. Again, for a long time I kept quiet for fear of rocking the boat, upsetting the apple cart (where does that come from?! You know what I mean) and that clearly got me nowhere. For once, for one day I just want to be his no.1 priority. That’s all.

I miss her

I’m currently in the strange (unique I think?  I don’t know of any others in this position but maybe I’m just not worldly wise) position where I’m separated from my husband but still fairly close to his family; probably heightened by the fact that my family are across the water, so near yet so far.   It’s not just that, one of his sisters minds my children whilst I work and another sister’s eldest daughter is my god daughter (and my she’s growing into such an amazing, polite, caring, considerate young adult).  Separating every single strand of your life you’ve shared with someone for so long isn’t always easy and isn’t an overnight clean break as much as he wants it to be that way (and I guess I’ve felt that way too on numerous occasions in the past).  It’s also heightened by the fact that we live in a small town – we’re in each other’s lives on a daily basis.

Towards the end of last year his mum passed away suddenly.  An aggressive form of cancer took this amazingly warm woman who never took herself too seriously and always clicked on the kettle or reached for the wine glasses when you walked into her home.  My feelings were so mixed at the time and still remain so.  I miss her fiercely.  At any time I can burst into tears when a memory is triggered (that first sip of ice cold sauvignon blanc immediately takes me back to many an evening round her kitchen table).  I still think I’m going to bump into her at the shops (she shopped daily for groceries and could spend at least 3 hours ‘up the street’ stopping to chat and make time for every person she met) and when I see a wee red car for a second I can vividly see her behind the wheel driving in a scarily erratic fashion.   Yet in the last three years of her life she stood by her son despite the reality of his betrayal, lies and generally unacceptable behaviour.  I was so cross with her and felt betrayed that she didn’t reach out to me when I so desperately needed help and my mum was so far away.  I’ve recently learnt that she felt she couldn’t express how she truly felt about his behaviour for fear of losing him, as other members of his family have, and that on her death bed she uttered ‘as long as she doesn’t get pregnant’ time and time again.  Alas my partner’s girlfriend is indeed pregnant and I pray on a daily basis that they didn’t announce their happy news before she passed.

With Easter weekend beckoning I find myself in a turmoil of mixed emotions.  Easter Sunday was such a huge deal for her.  All about family – mass in the morning, an Easter egg hunt for the kids round the huge garden and then a feast with egg mayonnaise edging into lasagne on your plate and dry ham boiled within an inch of life (cooking was not her strong point but the wine and craic made up for it).  For the last few Easter Sundays the kids haven’t been with me and I’ve been busy in work entertaining other people’s children (mostly ungrateful and demanding – chocolate for breakfast perhaps?) and I think this has taken my mind off the activities I’m excluded from.  This Easter Sunday I’m not working and it’s the first without her.  During a recent trip to see my soon-to-be-ex-father-in-law (many hyphens) he announced that he may, for the first time, hide the chocolate eggs in the 19 rooms of his huge house.  He obviously felt that a change was needed so that Easter was a celebration for the family rather than a time of sadness.  I felt acutely aware of how my feelings of loss must pale in comparison to his.  If I’m missing her how must he be feeling?  The idea of a soul mate is a cliché I know but he was with this woman for close to 50 years.  I’m sure at times his memories and feelings of loss must be overwhelming.

I think I’m still grieving as I’ve had no one to grieve with and haven’t been given the time or space to work through my feelings.  I didn’t feel welcome to grieve with the family and was basically kept away from the house before the service.   The funeral was horrendous with my ex’s girlfriend (a woman detested by my mother-in-law and the rest of the family) front and centre at the funeral procession holding my daughter’s hand as she entered the chapel.  My daughter could see me crying and was desperate to come and sit beside me but I have again since learnt that my ex’s girlfriend told her to ‘stay put’.  Nice work eh?  Anyway, like many things in my life it’s happened now and I guess I have to work through how I feel in order to move forward.   I will continue to pay frequent visits to her grave and lay flowers (how she loved flowers) when I can as I think this helps me.  This Easter Sunday will be tough I’m sure but I will be nice to myself and get through it the best I can.  And I’m seeing my parents and brother on Monday.  Me and the kids are getting away for a few days so I will look forward to that and try not to be too maudlin.  I will finish now in tears.  Tears are good right?

 

Made it through

Well those two people who are reading this will be pleased to hear I made it through one night alone with my thoughts and my dog.  Yes wine was taken but not excessively so.  I walked the beach with the dog (beach walking and how it makes me feel merits another post to itself) and made myself a delicious dinner (which the dog helped me eat) and settled down to a film which I had been meaning to watch for ages but knew my boyfriend didn’t really fancy.  The kids were returned to me on Saturday morning and the weekend carried on as it always does – passing by in a flash with walks and card games and food and chats and me nagging at them to do things and pick up after themselves and encouraging my son to get off his Xbox or his iPod and really be in the moment (see below!).

I’ve realized that these nights (and days) are going to happen frequently until the day I die.  I remember when I was going to counseling every week and going through everything in my head.  I was getting near to the end of my second lot of counseling and had started contemplating putting myself out there – that awful world of online dating or the old fashioned way of meeting a random man in a pub and then, well, you know the rest.  My counselor said to me ‘whoever you meet will have baggage’.  She meant they will have a past and they may have their own children.  I think she was trying to politely remind me that I was a fully formed adult with responsibilities; I was a mother of a certain age and as such my relationships going forward would not follow the traditional pattern of meeting a man, marrying, settling down, having children etc etc   And I acknowledged this but didn’t really think about the practicalities of it.  But now I’m living through this and having to accept that my boyfriend is an amazing dad and is frequently taxiing about his children or quite rightly wanting to spend time with them and without me and that’s fine – that’s what parents should do!  Don’t get me wrong, it’s taken me a while to get to this point but I think I’m there.

I need to learn that I’m fine alone and actually I’m always in my head and if I’m not alone, if I’m with my kids, or the rest of the family, or friends or my boyfriend this isn’t an excuse to ignore my thoughts and what’s going on and what memories are being triggered.  It’s not like I can erase nearly 16 years of my life.  It’s not like I can look at my children and engage with them and squeeze them tightly and not think about the man who made these beautiful, amazing, incredibly intelligent (obviously my genes!) children with me.  I see my ex nearly every day of my life.  The kids are not at the age where they can flit between my house and his house independently so this is something I just have to acknowledge and accept.  I should not feel ashamed for thinking about the past nor should I try and force myself to ‘move on’.  Embrace the uncomfortable nature of it, embrace the sadness, embrace any good memories I have and then focus on the present.  Be in the present is that not what ‘they’ say?

Home alone

Tonight I will find myself home alone.  Well albeit with a faithful pup nestling in beside me but without kids or boyfriend (can you call them a boyfriend when you’re ancient?  I never know but partner always seems so corporate). Even 3.5 years down the line of separation/on the road to divorce, the thought of me, myself and I still starts to drip feed a certain low level anxiety.  I can feel it creeping up on me as I mentally plan my evening, as I run through how I no longer talk to myself but a dog who, as long as you talk in an upbeat, high pitched talking to a baby manner seems to understand or at least accept the fact that this strange human who is sometimes on her own and sometimes with other humans – big and small – is talking to them like another human.

So I whatsapped my dear friend about this.  She has always been there for me across the water, sending comfort blankets and cash when needed.  And when  I see her and share wine and laugh and cry and get it all out I feel cleansed.  She asked what exactly I was afraid of.  I think she thought at first it was the physical aspect of being home alone.  It’s not that as I have the aforementioned pup/guard dog (he would make all the right noises if God forbid an intruder entered the house), it’s the headspace you have when you’re on your own.  Even when you’re watching TV or a film or online (that lonely space) or reading an event triggers memories that you thought were happy at the time but these memories are now coloured by hindsight I guess.  You start to see the flaws in what you thought was a perfect day/night away (did I not deserve a spa treat, was I not a worthy wife?)/mundane everyday memory and you start to feel sad about what you have lost.  And I guess scared of what the future holds.  And you start to compare what you had with your current love.  These comparisons can only be described as dangerous.  Now I have no doubt that wine makes this situation worse.  I don’t know if worse is the right word – you perhaps get to the point I have just described quicker and perhaps the highs and lows of whatever you’re thinking about become more flushed with colour (as do your cheeks but hey who’s judging?  A dog?) but you’d get there anyway.

My friend suggested starting an anonymous blog.  She thought other women might be interested.  Selfish I know but I’m more interested in how this process will make me feel.  I’ve been journaling since the start of the year but this will hopefully be another way of me getting everything out and if somebody reads it and it resonates with them and dare  I say it help them in any way then that’s good too.

So tonight’s goal or objective is to not push these thoughts away when they inevitably happen but try and round them off.  This happened, in hindsight these aspects of that time, place, activity were not satisfying.  His behavior wasn’t appropriate, he perhaps wasn’t kind to me and didn’t show me the love that I deserve but it happened and I need to move on with my life and stay in as positive a frame of mind as I can for my own health, my kids’ wellbeing and for the sake of my current relationship.

If you stumbled across this thanks for staying put.