Sunday, 21 December 2014

Last Posting Date

Here's something else I struggle with: thinking things through in advance.

This usually manifests in a boringly normal way; I am late for most things. Routine things are okay now, like work. I got fed up of arriving sweaty and panicked or worrying I was going to lose my job constantly and decided to try and fix that and it works okay for the most part. It's routine, it makes sense. I may occasionally run for the train and suspect it may all fall apart if I ever learn to drive, but hey.

The event that inspired me to write this post was realising, at almost 2 am, that it is now four days before Christmas and hence too late to post any parcels back home. I had sort of vaguely mentioned this to my husband this morning in a sort of "Oh, weren't we going to do that?" manner. He said no.

So how does this happen? Presumably I had some kind of idea that I wanted to send a box of stuff home. So how does it get to this point where I'm suddenly realising it's too late? This is what I've deduced happens. I'm milling around quite happily, living my life, vaguely thinking about sending a box of stuff for Christmas, but Christmas is months away. Don't need to think about that yet! And then suddenly the day draws close. I think about sending a box for more than a few seconds and realise that I needed to:
1. Get an idea of what kind of thing I wanted to buy, either by going and looking around shops or by speaking to the intended recipient.
2. Actually buy the stuff. Could possibly be combined with 1.
3. Buy or find an envelope and/or box of the appropriate size.
4. Pack the items rather than letting them sit in the house for weeks.
5. Post them in time for the appropriate date.

This all seems a little overwhelming when I realise it hopelessly too late. I should have thought about thus earlier, then I'd have time. The steps I'm missing are these two.
1. Work out what all of those steps in the first list actually are.
2. Working backwards from the last posting date, work out how much time (realistically) each step needs and hence when it needs to be started/finished by.

Fine, you think. Now it's all sorted. Except no, because it doesn't matter how long or short this list of tasks and allocated time is, the fact is that I needed to do that second list (the thinking in advance part) in advance. To even conceive the first list I need to do the second and to conceive the second list, I need to do... the second. Great. Thanks, brain! I assume that other people do these things semi-automatically, but somehow when they made my neural circuits that part got short-circuited, leaving me standing there on 20th December feeling crappy that I haven't sent a Christmas parcel to my folks. Well, thank god for internet shopping!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

It never rains in southern california

I was talking about emotional abuse and I wrote this, and wanted to share it. 

I feel like my ex robbed me of my chance to be a good mother. I'm sure some would say that is excuses, I left when DS was one so I should have been able to be a good mother after then (and I believe I was a good mother before I left, too.) But I feel like he stole it because if it had been up to my judgement, I wouldn't have got pregnant in that situation or relationship, at that time of my life. He pushed and pushed and pushed until my heart won out over my head and I fell into that dream, of course as soon as it happened, I knew I'd be raising my child alone.

I am angry that he pushed me to make a decision I was doing quite well at saying no to, despite wanting it, and then dropped the ball. I can count on one hand the number of nappies he changed, I remember every one because it was such a drama trying to get him to do anything. He hasn't seen our son for four years. And yet occasionally when my six year old has a tantrum, something in that expression, my ex's face flashes through his, and I have to remind myself "You are not him".

I'm not a great mum. I'm okay but I'm not great. I'm still recovering from that relationship and I haven't had any space to do so, so I make my own space by pushing anyone and everyone away sometimes. You're not supposed to push your child away, but I have to to survive, and I am only just surviving. I am thankful every day that I happened across someone who is caring, who fills both gaps - my gap and my ex's gap. Really, they are both his gaps. His doing. Honestly if I think about my marriage too hard I know that I don't deserve it. I am not a good or easy wife. But I am in some ways forced to be a wife, to share my life and my home with this child, who I love, and this man, who I also love, but feel neither of them get anywhere close to the best of me.

I sleepwalk through most of these years. I have a poor grasp of time. Months and days feel the same, sometimes crawlingly slow but mostly vanishingly fast. My memory doesn't work like it used to, but mostly this sense of time going too fast. It never used to be this bad, before.

It's hard even to focus for a full post. I want to say more, but it's gone. The title is an autocorrect that I accidentally typed in, but it sort of fits. I'm tired - that's another thing, I'm exhausted all of the time. I feel like I could sleep for weeks.

I need to see a doctor, I know, but time... slips away. There is always something in the way and meanwhile months and years go past.

Maybe another five years and I'll be better?

Sunday, 30 November 2014


And the last post I didn't finish brings my number of drafts up equal to my number of published posts.

I really really miss writing, but can't seem to get into it at all :(

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Thank you, Wil Wheaton

So I saw this tweet the other day.
It made me feel sad and comforted in equal measure. (Or not because WTF who measures feelings, they're not cake ingredients, you can't put them in a cup. Whatever it's a sentence opener. Yes I talk to my actual brain like this, what?) (ahem) .

I felt sad because I know how that feels, and because I was exactly there, riding the depression train down to the pit and saying "Hey wait, I wanted to -" but you can't get off because NOPE this is a one way train and the only way is down and it's going too fast for you to notice, normally. So I felt that. But I was more selfish, because the first thing that I felt, the first thing that always hits me when someone admits their depression is relief, and there are two levels to this relief. The first is "Thank God I am not alone", and I do honestly think that that incredibly simple sentiment can mean so much. It does to me, anyway. When I hear someone say "You are not alone", and I can tell by their words or their eyes or the way that their voice intones that they know, and they mean it, that helps most of all. Nobody talks about depression, not really and not relating to themselves. It is shameful or embarrassing. There is a fear that nobody will know how to react and will feel awkward. It's especially rare for someone in the public eye to speak out.

The second level is different. You can know intellectually that depression is an illness, a fault in the brain wiring or hormones, or a reaction to an unimaginable situation, but the way that the beastly thing is designed overrides any kind of logic or intellect with an overriding sense of "You suck. Everything is all your fault. Especially the way you're feeling right now. Oh, you know what, just this. It's a much better explanation than I can do and it has funny pictures.

Anyway. To see someone like Wil Wheaton, who is extremely funny, clever, talented, kind and successful all at once admit that he also suffers from depression is like a revelation. He has all these amazing things - an awesome job, bags of talent and fun, his own TV show, a wife who he comes across that he genuinely adores and has fun with, great kids he loves and is proud of, he has all of these things and he is still depressed. That means that (although you knew this before) it's not you. It's really just NOT you being useless and pointless and a waste of human space. You could be awesome and you would still get depression. Look at these awesome people who are stuck on the stupid train with you. It is just an illness, and it doesn't need to define you. In the meantime, maybe we can party on the train. Or at least sit around and play sad music and hold hands. Does anyone have a guitar?

Thursday, 26 June 2014

I am 26

I have just turned 26.

I have a five year old son who I often struggle with but who is starting to show his true personality and that awes me completely.

I am married, have been for around 6 months. My husband is great and I could not imagine life without him, but he is in pain and he doesn't like to talk about things which hurt, and I worry that I am not noticing enough.

We want to start trying for a baby but there are medical issues which need to be discussed first. This is one of the things my husband is struggling with.

We live in Germany, where neither of us are from. I am working as an English teacher and really really love it. I should be taking both German and driving lessons, but I am taking neither.

Our flat is tiny and we have to consciously work out ways to get space from each other (it means taking turns to "walk the child" and sticking to bedtimes, in practice. And headphones. We have an abundance of headphones.) We want pets but we don't have the room, or the money or the time at the moment.

A lot of our friends are stunningly rich expats (or so it feels) and we are just about hanging on financially. (Although better off than we were in the UK.) But we are here and that is a thrill in itself. We did it.

I feel like I am teetering on the edge of a quicksand pit of depression and I am trying to block it out because I have been in that pit before and I don't want to get stuck in it again. I am surrounded by beautiful buildings, skies and mountains and a beautiful boy and kind people (who all feel like strangers, but that is because most of them are) and I'm even feeling a lot more confident in myself these days but still it is there, and I'm trying to ignore it and I don't know how to get away.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Basically, I am a massive twat.

Sometimes (okay most of the time) I am terrible at expressing myself.

I seem to be incapable of saying anything without it coming out critical. Can't say anything nice without adding a point for improvement. Can't state something nicely that I want changing, have to blurt out something hurtful instead.

It's shit and the net result is, I'm pissing off the people I love or I keep stuff inside which is bothering me because I don't trust myself to say it in a tactful way.

I mean, is this something you can learn? I don't know how to do it and it's upsetting me.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Dark Playground

I saw this post on Wait But Why a few days ago and it so utterly resonated with me that I had to repost it. I was just waiting for a good moment to introduce it.

Why Procrastinators Procrastinate

I'm not going to summarise, because it is brilliance and it needs to be read, especially if you've ever struggled with procrastination and been told "You just need to be more organised!" "It's all about good time management!" "You should learn to prioritise." or the killer "Well, it clearly isn't important to you. If it was you would have spent more time on it." Raise your hand if you have heard all of these, tried all of these, and still failed.

The Dark Playground is such a genius concept. I can't personally get my head around the idea of the monkey, but the playground is SO true and it's so refreshing to see it laid out like that. Helpful too. At least in theory. I can now tell you exactly when I'm in the dark playground. I spent all of today in it. Okay so that didn't help me get out of it (mainly because there wasn't some clear cut actual thing I could think of that I was avoiding, just general housework dirge) but acknowledgement is the first step towards defeat! Or something.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

This is why people normally do the married thing before they have kids

I was just reading this post which I found through ikea hackers (sorry, but actual decoration blogs of people with perfect homes and even more perfect accessories just make me feel jealous and depressed, especially when I look around my own house which is full of "That'll do for now" and "mismatched and/or shabby, but definitely not chic" and "My landlord's taste in decoration (and budget)." - but I digress. I really liked the little anecdote they had about choosing lamps, and how having matching taste in lamps (or not) can seem like the MOST pressing and MOST ridiculously important thing at the time and the author managed to convey very convincingly the sheer panic of realising that, fuck, I've decided to spend my life with this person and what if we don't agree on the best way to make sandwiches???

We had a definite sandwich moment today. I bought a baguette, a real French baguette, and felt all pleased with myself and cultural as I carried it home in my arms because I hadn't brought my bag, and presented it to Creepy with a flourish. "I bought lunch!" I said proudly. "Now we can make a picnic if we need to go out!" He was pleased but said he wasn't ready to go yet. It was his weekend to choose, so I sat down and internetted for a while until he got up and looked as though he was starting to make sandwiches.

First he complained that I could have got some actual food. I felt deflated. I had specifically not bought things like meat and other fillings because the last time I remembered looking in the fridge, we had enough. Secret of Adulthood #1: Remember that groceries (and other supplies) can also get used up by people other than you. Anyway, he set about making some sandwiches and I said, oh, I'll make my own. I had a very specific idea of a sandwich, and I didn't want him ruining it when I'd gone to the trouble of actually buying nice bread. He refused and I became a bit panicky. I may have shouted at this point. He later told me that I had, anyway. So then he got a bit antsy at being shouted at and basically it was all one big mood/weird/disaster. All over a stupid sandwich. And he cut the bread wrong, so even when I made my own sandwich, it wasn't what I wanted it to be anyway. AND HELLO IT WAS A FUCKING SANDWICH.

And I can look back at this and realise that it's just all kinds of ridiculous, and would it have even mattered if he made my sandwich with the gross kind of weird sausage, and anyway HE WAS ASKING what I wanted in it, but instead I just panicked because he didn't do it in the same way as me. And I hate the way that he fries foods, but I've sort of lost how to ask "Please could you try using a bit less fat or drain it before you put mine on the plate or at least use a nice kind of oil and not the cheapest vegetable oil in the supermarket" without whining or shouting or panicking (which leads to shouting, which I don't get. How come me from the non-shouty to the point of frustrating family explodes at the slightest stress whereas he from the shouting-replaces-all-emotion family hates shouting and really doesn't know how to deal with it?)

We keep having total communication failures as well currently. Tonight we both failed to put Mini D to bed because we were assuming the other was doing it. When we went around the supermarket I was told halfway through "Well you're supposed to be seeing what we need for X situation" Thanks. Would have been nice to know that from the start! And the other weekend we argued about whether we had planned to clean that weekend or not. And this is really hard - to resolve when every time I try to resolve something I feel either attacked or terrified (not him, just previous abuse stuff coming up) overthink how to say it, fight the tendency to shout by having a shouting match in my head which then leads to tears because it doesn't get resolved. I want to be able to have these conversations with him but it feels unfair to do that around Mini D when I am prone to shouting or crying and don't seem to be able to resolve things without either of those happening. It would have been nice, on reflection, to have time without him to figure that kind of stuff out.

Sunday, 16 March 2014


I swear I need some kind of electronic shock reminder for this writing thing. Then again, knowing me, I'd just ignore it anyway.

This week has mostly been spent ill, at least by Mini-D who got a bout of Scarlet Fever. (He's fine) But this weekend has been nice, a really lovely smooth example of how things work when we aren't overwhelmed by tiredness.

On Saturday Creepy got up with Mini-D when he came to badger me, which was a nice change - I usually reluctantly get up and Creepy sleeps until lunchtime or I will sort of stubbornly not get up and then feel crappy about leaving Mini to his own devices for around 5 hours. (He's fine. He minecrafts and watches TV and pootles in his room.) I fell back to sleep (although I felt OK) and they snuck out of the house to get haircuts and pastries! It was nice to be woken up by two neat, handsome boys on their return (and the bringing of chocolate bread was a great touch too!)

The rest of the weekend was one big roll of pretty much perfect co-operation. Creepy did the dishes while I woke up and ate, I helped Mini set up Terraria (it was his weekend to pick what we do, so, of course, VIDEO GAME FEST!), we played for a bit, Creepy joined in, I got bored and went to do my own thing. Sorted some laundry and vegged on facebook etc. Later Creepy got bored of Terraria too so Mini and I played Worms for (actually hours... oops) while Creepy had a nap and then washed up the lunch plates. I made dinner, sorted some more laundry, chilled out. Creepy put Mini to bed while I was in the cellar with the washing machine, which was a surprise. We basically had an entire evening together without one of us being knackered which hasn't happened in ages.

Today, I did the early shift, started new minecraft world, was going well until epic tantrum of RAGE, decided that although it had been colder, we really needed to get out. So we went on a walk which ended up being right up the castle where you can see around all of the surrounding towns and villages and is pretty fun to do. It was so windy that Mini was being literally blown around, which he found hilarious. Luckily the railings at the castle are thick, close together and almost come up to the top of his head, so I wasn't anxious. It was so funny though, he was laughing so much he was actually squealing with delight, and he's 5 now, those moments don't come so often when you have to be a really grown up cool person.

I made dinner for everyone this time which was pork chops, potato wedges and a sweetcorn salad (tinned sweetcorn, drained, mixed about 60:40 with chopped red pepper, and about 10% little bits of red onion, with mint. It was really surprisingly nice, which was good as I'd just sort of made it up as I went along. We always seem to eat the same side dishes with things - chips or vegetables or a really terrible salad, and I was getting bored of it. Now we are slowly accumulating the parts of an entire kitchen, it's nice to use it. Anyway, the wedges and chops both ended up slightly overdone but it was nice all the same, and it felt really good to be eating proper food as opposed to convenience food or endless pasta (though, I made a really nice pasta sauce last night too!)

At some point in the day Mini said "It's really fun to take turns choosing what we want to do for the weekend, isn't it?" and I just thought it was really lovely, to hear him say that. It's pretty much been a perfect weekend, ideals-wise. We've both done a decent amount of input into the housework without it feeling overwhelming or a drag, and it looks pretty nice in the house too, we've done individual activities with MD and also family activities and the three of us have each had time on our own. It's been restful and fun and restoring and close and just nice :) It's nice to get things right every once in a while.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

One more thing - scheduling.

You'd think I'd have learnt this by now. When someone asks "Are you free to do X" it's perfectly fine to just say "Let me check and get back to you" and not just "Yes". Leads to all sorts of headaches and ridiculousness when I actually check with the other people and they say no.

Bad Habits

When you have a baby, everyone warns you against getting into bad habits. "Don't pick them up every time they cry!" they say, "they'll expect it every time!". Never use a sling, or they'll be clingy. Don't feed them to sleep, they'll never sleep through. Definitely don't ever let them sleep in your bed unless you want them there at 12. Bad habits, they tut ominously.

I never found these bad habits at the time and I find them even less so now. I got into bad habits, I'm still trying to get out of them. Bad habits are not loving your child too much, being too available to them or undertaking any kind of solution which keeps them happy, quite the opposite. I did every one of the "bad habits" for babies and toddlers. Fed to sleep, co-slept, picked up when he cried, even gave into pleading on occasion. I regret none of it, and treasure the memories of him falling contentedly to sleep next to me, peacefully, with no fear or dread of bedtime.

I do regret getting into the bad habit of not saying "I love you" enough. It doesn't come easily to me, and although my own mother regularly said it to me I found it hard to say it back, it was often mumbled and muffled or just plain avoided. I don't know why this is and it's always bothered me. When I was 14 I wrote her a letter trying to explain this, and I think she still has it.

I have made an effort to try and say "I love you" - at bedtime, at kindergarten drop off time, when I leave the house. It's helped. And the look of happiness and pride on his face reminds me how important it is. It took about two weeks until he started saying it back, I think that's how long it took him to really hear it and believe it, that reminded me as well how important it really is.

I got into the bad habit of saying no. This is another thing that they tell you is a bad habit, not saying no enough, which isn't true. It's easy to say no too much. No we can't go to the park. No I don't want to play. No, later. No, not right now. No, I don't want to hear you. No, you are not important to me. No, just leave me alone. I didn't say the last three of course but I am sure he has heard them, implicitly, with all of the other "No"s. I am not very good at changing this but I would like to. We played Uno today, which I didn't want to do, but enjoyed.

I have a bad habit of hiding myself away and not engaging with anything real or human, unless I can do it through a screen. Of course, he copies this. It is a struggle to drag him away from minecraft. But when it does happen, it is beautiful and he has a wonderful time. I need to remember this and do it more often too.

I read something recently which I thought was brilliant, I could not find the original source, but the author described a "Nice, nice, nice...furious!" cycle that she found herself in with her children. I have to say that I smiled as I read this as I can totally see myself in the same thing. That is one I am happily breaking. It still happens but less so. And we are happier.

What are your bad parenting habits?

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Making Friends

(This entry was started back in August, when we first moved)

I forgot how draining and repetitive and, in short, how much work it is to rebuild a network of friends. Even reading/thinking that sounds so callous when you think about what friendship is and how important friends actually become to your life. It feels surreal now to think that in a few years some of the people I am meeting now may go on to be close friends.

I have done it before, and I can do it again, and this time I have the support of my existing friendship network, even if they are 600 miles away. And I have Creepy, of course. The last time I was consciously building a support network I had lost almost all of my old friends due to the isolation inflicted on me by my ex, and I was still rediscovering who I was after being in such a restrictive cocoon of a relationship, AND suffering from depression to boot. I have my wings, now, and that does help a lot. But. It's still painful to travel for almost an hour on a swelteringly hot tram and feel that the whole exercise was a failure because Mini-D barely made eye contact with any of the other children and instead just quietly attempted to eat all of the host's lovingly prepared snacks. It wasn't a failure, of course. I met some more people and I learned some more things about the local area and I used my general shell-shockedness about the move to try to cover up my ignorance of social cues (I seriously need to work on this. So awkward.) And I made progress. It's just that the process of building a friendship is so slow that when you are really relying on it, it's noticeable.

But it will all be worth it in the end.


We have been here for around 6 months and the process of friend making is still slow. However, I now have three or four people who I could call on for help in my local neighbourhood. I am figuring out who I have similarities with and who I don't and who is kind. I have a job which makes me meet people and soon I will be learning to drive - learning with people is a great friend-maker, I find.

Things are less awkward, and more easy, already.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


I am making resolutions (yeah, a bit late). I decided to go out running again today as it's warmed up enough to do so and although it took a momentous EFFORT to push myself out of the door it was so, so worth it. I felt excited when starting out, decided to explore a new route, found a nice one which takes me over 2 railway bridges and the S-Bahn track, a bridge over a motorway with a stunning view of the hills and scenery (that actually made me stop for a second and think, fuck, this is where I live.) and past a farm right up to some fields. There's also a little pub and a paintball arena that I had no idea existed.

I need to be more present in the world, because I feel like it's passing me by once again. My resolution or current goal is to be out and interact with the world at least twice a day. Anything that gets me out of the house and not just for the minimum time ie picking up Mini D. So work counts, going for a run counts, seeing a friend counts, looking around the shops, taking the camera for a walk, anything really.

I did have a couple of others which were "Do at least one bit of housework every day" and "Spend at least 20 minutes with Mini D every day" but Creepy said that rather than try to do stuff with him, it was better to do stuff for myself and he will follow. So I've been trying this and weirdly he is right!