Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

Everything is terrible. Everything. Well, sort of.

I have PMT. Again. (My friend, colleague, and man-who-is-slightly-squeamish-about-female-oversharing, Simon, will point out that this is now the fourth time in two days that I have informed him of this).  You would think that someone, somewhere in the universe, would say ‘It’s ok, Ms. Awesome. You have done enough feeling miserable for one lifetime.  You are now excused from PMT’.  But no, I have spent the past few days feeling miserable and irritable and shouting at my children. And then, of course, feeling guilty for feeling so very irritated by my children.

It *is* hard, when your life is as difficult as mine.  I have no friends, my house is a mess, I am alone all weekend, and it is likely that I will die alone and be eaten by Alsatians.  Although none of these things are true, they *feel* very true just now  Well, my house *is* a mess, but there’s a fairly simple solution to that.

It’s been a funny few weeks.  I have felt like I’ve had lots of possibilities being thrown at me: I found a job I desperately wanted, and was offered an interview, my mortgage company agreed to consider giving me a sole mortgage – it felt like everything was open to me.  And then it all fell down again – the underwriters said no, and it turned out there was no actual funding for the job.

And now, two and (almost) a half years after Ex-Husband left, when I am finally starting to feel stable and happy, I am also able to see the damage the end of my marriage has done to me.  Every so often I discover that a fundamental belief I had about the goodness of the universe has gone.  This morning Ex-Husband picked up the girls.  He has a new car seat for Small Girl.  I say she is not big enough for it yet.  He says she is.  He takes away my baby in a car seat which I do not believe will keep her as safe as she needs to be.  I feel powerless to protect my children.  I cry all the way to work, bawling in the street in a way I have not done for a long time.  It’s not just my fears for Small Girl’s safety; it’s my realisation that the sense of efficacy I have always had, my belief that I can affect and shape the world around me, is gone.

And then, recently, I got out my flexible working contract and discovered that when I changed my hours at work, that was made permanent rather than temporary as I had wanted.  I had relied upon my right to go back to full-time work at any time as part of my argument for being given a sole mortgage, and for my sense of financial security.  But beyond that, I wondered if this had been done on purpose, whether my full-time contract had been taken away from me deliberately and my employers were trying to screw me.  This is nothing to do with the inherent evil of my employers – it was due to a misunderstanding and has been quickly rectified –  and everything to do with my fundamental ability to trust.  I cannot rely on the world to be kind to me. Neither can I trust my friends to actually like me or to continue to like me.  And, although I feel I would now quite like to have another relationship, I find it hard to believe that anyone would really want to go out with me, that anyone could like me that much, and that if they did, we would negotiate all the hurdles, all my fears and issues, that I could make another relationship work.

I know that these are irrational fears.  I’m not asking for sympathy or reassurance.  (Although if you know any funny, interesting, single men in their mid-thirties, I’d welcome an introduction).  I’m just not sure where the healing comes from.  I don’t know how I get past these things.  I have chosen to keep trusting people and so far I have not been let down.  I have set out to shape my life into something I want it to be.  I have chosen to look for the good things in my life.  But I still feel lonely and sad and afraid sometimes.  And I don’t think it’s just the PMT.

Perhaps I am learning to live with reality. There are people out there who can’t be trusted.  I can’t always control what happens to me or the people I care about.  This has always been true.  But in the middle of the cataclysm which caused all this destruction, I found compassion, graciousness, and faithfulness and extraordinary kindness.  I can hold onto these things and I can be brave and I can look for new goodness in an imperfect and uncertain universe.  It’s not over yet.

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Twenty things

Happiness is not conducive to writing entertaining blog posts.  But I find I quite like it.  At first when I noticed a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach – a bit like nervousness, almost anxiety, but somehow not quite –  I would look for the source of the problem, wonder what was wrong.  And then I realised:  I’m just feeling happy.

There are, of course, still things going wrong.  This week I have been ill.  Four days lying on the sofa feeling like I’m going to throw up, too tired to move, alone with no-one to look after me.  Far better than alone but with two children to look after, I should add.   Last night Small Girl threw a tantrum at 12.30 am for approximately 40 minutes because she wanted to go downstairs, which resulted in my neighbours banging on the wall.  I don’t really blame them.  I had very limited options other than capitulating to a habit of midnight feasts, but still this did not feel like a reasonable thing to subject them to.  Life is often far from peachy.  But still, I am happy.

My employers are very keen on positive psychology. So I appear to be contractually obliged to be cheerful at all times, which does not really suit my temperament.  I want to point out that they do now own that part of me.  But as a result I’ve been given some excellent training on how to deal with difficult situations with resilience, and how to be happier.  One thing we are repeatedly advised to do it to write a list every day of twenty things which are good about our life.  Just before the New Year, I decided to give it a go.

And I’ve found that I quite like making this list.  It’s harder after a bad night’s sleep, or when my children are behaving as if they actually want to be locked in the cellar.  And I always have to work a little bit to get to number 20.  But I enjoy that process: the time spent thinking about all the good things in my life.  The general, everyday things: that I have a secure home which I can afford to heat; that I love my children; that we’re all healthy.  The ones specific to that day: that I no longer feel ill; that I’m looking forward to seeing a friend at the weekend; that I had something really nice for dinner.  And, of course, the ones based on the most recent episode of West Wing that I’ve watched.

And I come away feeling that I lead a charmed life.  I can’t say for certain that it’s having benefits beyond the ten minutes or so I spend doing it, but it does seem to have coincided with feeling more positive.  Because it is too painful for me to recommend doing something quite so cheesy and pop-psychology, I won’t.  Carry on being miserable if you like.


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