Puking Your Guts Up

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I was raised a good girl with my mother dreaming that I would make the transition into a young lady rapidly after turning ten.  That never happened; silly microscopic handbags, flouncy brown Austrian blinds, having my beloved cabin bed confiscated, a nasty nylon net curtain style bedcover all helped put me off the concept.  But in this ideal world in which we were raised, bodily functions didn’t happen, in fact, they just didn’t exist.  So I’m going to be rude and talk about the worse one.

Throwing up.

It is the most humiliating experience imaginable.  Actually, don’t even try and imagine it.  It’s not at all pleasant.

This is your body in revolt, conspiring against you at every muscle twitch, dry heave and projectile spewing.

I know the science behind the reaction but I always wonder why, why do we have to vomit?

It reduces you into a quivering, pathetic mass, probably more a blob, of humanity.  It feels bad and tastes nasty.  It’s absolutely exhausting, draining you of whatever little energy you didn’t really have left.

The only thing that you remain passionate about is whatever receptacle that you’re desperately clinging to, be it a plastic washing up bowl or the porcelain of the now beloved toilet.  Your eyes remain fixed on the target, tremulous at the idea of letting go and trying to find some rest.  Whilst you grip to this pitiable salvation, all will be well.  Or at least easier and cleaner.  Head slumped, eyes bleary, arms locked in a passionate embrace around the toilet bowl – it’s never going to be a good look.

A sip of water is all that can pass your cracked lips, one miserly sip at a time, bringing refreshment to your fouled mouth.  The foetid smell rises and clings to your very being.  Even when the evidence is disposed of, your martyr’s sign is still around your neck, proclaimed in the funk that follows you.  You shiver, weak all over from the effort and slightly dazed by the violence of your involuntary spasms.

I hate being sick.  It doesn’t happen too often, fortunately.  The very idea of it makes me feel miserable.  Nausea makes me hide under my duvet, frozen in a petrified immobility for fear of upsetting the balance further.  I am one of those wretched beings who are not blest with an early warning system.  If I start to think to myself, ‘I feel …’, then it’s too late.  Far too late.  The misery has commenced.

Throwing up is so undignified, one of the most degrading experiences of human life.  I recommend trying to avoid it as much as possible, you won’t enjoy it but you probably already know that.

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I Want to Go on the Swings

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I’ve been thinking, I do do that, you know.  Random, profound thoughts that strike me at odd moments, fleeting moments of insight or inspiration that disappear faster than invisible ink and I never seem able to recall them.  Mostly I’ve been thinking about life, my life, past, present and future.   Don’t worry this isn’t going to be another whiny post, I’m sorry about those but hey, this blog is about my life and thoughts so you’re going to hear all about that if you visit.  (I wouldn’t like to say that this blog is all about me, that sounds a little too hedonistic, big headed but there is something inherently self-centred about a personal blog and I’m sure that you realise that).  Besides whatever the medium when something bad happens, we humans do feel the need to talk about it, to discuss it and mull over.  I don’t even think that we do it for the sympathy, I think it’s more about getting something out there, off our chests and away a lot of the time.  Anyway, that’s enough off-subject rambling so I’ll try to come back to my subject now.

I want to go on the swings.

That’s what I’ve concluded.

Don’t you love that feeling of freedom and peace that you have when you’re sailing through the air on a plank seat and kicking your heels back?  It’s joyous, pure joy.  Add in some sunshine, a soft breeze, some greenery, wow, that’s positively magical.

But I haven’t been living my life like that.  I haven’t.  I’d describe myself as quite irrepresible, someone who runs around with the children, climbing the climbing frames, sliding down slides, swinging on the swings.  That’s who I am.  Or is it?  I think that instead it is my ideal.  Or maybe that should be idyll, I’m not sure.  But I do know that I’m not like that at the moment.

The bad patches always take me by surprise, as if they’d sneaked up on me out of nowhere.  However if I take the time to reflect then I see that the signs were always there.  This whole past year has been rough, if I see myself in mental snapshots then it’s me holding myself back, sore and too tired or about to be sore and not wanting to risk being too tired.  No, if I’m even more honest, it goes back further.  You know we’ve had some rough times over the last few years.  I’ve been desperately trying to hold myself together all that time, terrified of what the tomorrow might bring in terms of my own health.  I haven’t had the time or strength to allow myself to be ill.  I switched to energy saving mode and struggled on through, trying to spare myself whenever I could and always waiting for the Big One.

At the moment, I am tired by anything and everything.  Sounds, lights, feelings, movement.  It’s all exhausting and sometimes it’s just like sensory overload.  But before I was still avoiding all those things, worried about the consequences and trying to eke out whatever energy I did have.  Because of course I don’t feel the ‘tiredness’ straight away, it catches up with me days later when it’s too late.  So you learn caution, you brace yourself and live almost in fear.

That’s not really living though.  It’s an exercise in survival.  You’re just doing the sheer basics of what is necessary to get through each day and there’s very little joy or pleasure, it is just survival.

You lose yourself along the way though.

And you still end up crashing.

So what’s the point?

I don’t know.  Survival, I guess.  Well, I’ve survived.  So far.  I don’t know what the future holds but I do want to change my attitude.

I want to live, I want to enjoy life.

I want to go on the swings.

The Mask I Wear

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~ Trigger Alert! ~

It’s funny because I actually hate wearing masks, claustrophobic with scratchy edges, eyeholes positioned carefully to be in the wrong place for me blearily staring out without the safety of my glasses underneath.  It was cool to use masks in our drama work at school, I’d wriggle out, try and find some other role for myself.  The cheap, white plastic faces that the others delighted in, high art at its very best, just meant fear and induced panic to me.  I was never cool.

You see part of the problem is that I already was wearing a mask.  Some paint their faces, an inch of slap, to hide behind and to pretend that they’re something that they fear that they might not be.  Others create intricate masks, masks that allow them to play a role whilst hiding the reality beneath.

I don’t know what role I was hoping to create.  I think it was generic ‘normal’.  I don’t remember consciously creating the part nor do I remember the moment when I first donned the mask.  But now it accompanies me everywhere, I don’t go out without it.  I even forget that I am wearing it.

This mask allows me to be, relatively, cool and collected.  This mask gives me a veneer of confidence, a quiet assurance that I try to pass off.  It permits me to function in a demanding world without a barrage of questions, without exposing myself to the pain, threats and dangers that everyday life poses.

I got so nervous about going out; I felt somehow that I had no right to be out and about, I was embarrassed by being out and about, that I used to force myself to greet strangers in the street.  Don’t worry this was perfectly normal behaviour for everyone else; I grew up in a small, friendly town.  Eventually I built up the confidence to ask questions in shops, I would force myself to walk in and find something to ask about.  Asserting my right to be present in their shop.

I was talking to a friend the other day.  She hadn’t realised that I was shy.  I am, painfully shy.  I hate talking to people; will do anything to avoid it.  I only do it for the sake of politeness; I have mastered the art of small talk.  I have even mastered the art of small talk without looking like I am being tortured.  I do it to fit in, I do it to be ‘normal’, I do it because it is expected.  When I have to go out to something social, my stomach churns with nerves, never mind butterflies it is an entire fleet of Wellington bombers.  And not in rubber boots either, hobnailed ones.

My nerves got so bad that I once developed a stutter.  I’ve suffered with panic attacks for over a decade.

But life has to go on.

I got through the stutter by pretending that I was performing a role.  I could speak in public by pretending to be someone else.

I guess that that is where the mask partly comes from.  But there were other expectations too.  Expectations that family, culture, society all impress upon you.  You try not to let anyone down and to do that, you have to become someone or something else.

Otherwise most days I wouldn’t be able to function.

Now I am so used to wearing it that I forget that I am wearing it.  The role I have unwittingly created is also a burden to me.  It is a responsibility to keep it up, to maintain it daily.  A responsibility and a struggle.  I can’t just crack now because everyone knows the other me.  I can’t burst into tears for the slightest reason.  I can’t ask for help.  Because with this mask on, I am in control, everything is under control.

But it isn’t.

So what do I do?  I have no choice but to keep on wearing the mask, to continue with my daily performance.  An artiste pandering to some expectant audience.  I have become the mask.  I don’t know if there’s anything underneath anymore.  Or if, maybe, that fragile shell is all that is holding me together and then I don’t really want to risk taking it off either.

Revising Expectations

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I was talking the other day about how I really need to read patterns through thoroughly before embarking on them and I guess that’s really a metaphor for life.  It said there on the very first page on my pattern that it would be about 48 cm but I’d somehow decided that it was going to be about 15-20 cm.  Then I got a little surprised when it kept growing.

Sometimes we don’t read the small print, maybe because we don’t care or because we’re in a rush.  Life has small print.  Life also throws more surprises at you than a piñata.  I think this would also be a judicious place for those unfamiliar American baseball similes, something about curve balls or coming out of left fields.  (Don’t worry, I know even less about cricket, at least baseball bears an uncanny resemblance to the pastime, not sport, of rounders).

Speccy compared it to directions in her comment.  Sometimes you can feel that you’re nearly there but then you notice just one more stage at the very bottom which completely changes the scale of the thing.  I remember turning up somewhere in the very middle of an Irish nowhere with the directions to pull up by a house with a certain colour door to phone for an escort the rest of the way.  It’s rather difficult to tell the colour of a front door in the pitchy black when it’s a long way up a garden.  There’s also been occasions when people who are so familiar with the route omit a key detail in their directions.  It doesn’t help.

The problem in life is that we don’t always get a printout, a pattern or the directions handed to us at the start.  Life has more of an improvised feel, it’s a pattern of our own design.  We try this and adjust that.  But that’s the key point.  You can’t always just keep going on blindly, sometimes you have to look things up or ask for help.  Sometimes you have to look back and adjust the mistakes or change the shapes.  Knitting is more forgiving, you can rip back a little, worse case scenario you can frog the whole thing.  Life doesn’t give you many opportunities to start over so I guess that makes it even more important to review and revise as you go along.

Sometimes a crisis will come along and you have to jump feet first into that deep water.  But sometimes even crises require a different approach.  Sometimes you have to plan before you jump, taking the time to come up with a workable solution rather than making matters worse with two of you now flailing in the water.  Sometimes you’ve been doing all you can to keep someone’s head above the water but there comes a time when you have to hand over to someone else, someone who’s maybe a little more competent or experienced or even just less tired.

Last week was a week when I had to revise my expectations.  It was busy and only my second week out of the fog but I enjoyed it.  It was full of good friends who reached out and helped me get to where I need to be.

But I had to be bold in both senses and ask for that help.  I had to acknowledge that I needed the help first too.  And that I wanted my life to be in a different place.

Then I learnt what true friends are like and how you don’t get burnt when you ask them for help.

I finally accepted that there are days when I can get on with a little housework or some projects and there are other days when my body just wants me to leave it in peace, preferably under a duvet.  You know what, I was fine with it.  I could see my own achievements clearly for once and I was happy with what I had done.

I’ve had to accept that life and housework isn’t about ‘everything’ or ‘perfection’.  It’s about doing what I can when I can.

I’m also learning that my perception of myself isn’t always accurate, others see me differently, in a more positive light.  I see myself as incompetent failure.  My friends, the opposite.  But that’s a discussion for another day about the mask I wear and how I project myself.

When knitting, you can often see the finished article in your head.  That’s what spurs you on.  What’s more difficult, especially when you’re designing your own pattern, is how to get there.  It is a case of improvising but you have to sit yourself down and regularly take stock of where you are and what you need to change.

In life, it can be harder to visualise where we want to end up.  But that’s apparently what drives success, knowing your destination and it being real.  It’s no good kidding ourselves either that we want to be somewhere else and sometimes our journey dictates our current destination.  But you have to keep adjusting your course and if you end up take a stop in some apparently not so pleasant place then you have to revise those expectations one way or another.  Maybe this is where you’re meant to be and it’s not such a bad place after all.  Maybe you need help to get back on the road to your actual destination, maybe you’re a little lost because you haven’t consulted your directions or pattern for a while.

In life and knitting, I need to take the time to find out where I’m going to end up and ask myself if that’s really where I want to be.  I probably also need to work on visualising my destination, where I want my life to be.

The indomitable Jester Queen has recommended that share this post with the Just Be Enough Linky.  So here goes!  (I hope it fits).

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Space and Wings

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I don’t have children.  I’m not a parent.  But I think I understand a little of what parenting is like.  It’s that level of responsibility for another being, a human being, one whom is vulnerable and dependent and with whom your heart is entirely bound up.  Sometimes you get that feeling in an adult to adult relationship.  You pour yourself into that other person, doing everything you can for them, to keep them well and healthy and safe.  The problem is that in an adult to adult relationship it can result in an unbalanced relationship.  Adults aren’t meant to be so entirely dependent on each other.  That’s the whole point of being an adult after all.  The one who is giving can only give so much and the other person needs to be appreciative of that help and support.  That help and support also has to make a difference.  I don’t think that there are many situations where such an adult to adult relationship is sustainable for the long term.  There has to be a change at some point, even if it is more heartbreaking.  And it’s so important that the giver can see that they’re making a difference and that they’re appreciated.  Otherwise an already demanding situation becomes an impossible one.  I give.  I’m a generous person.  But there’s only so much that I can give.  And then there’s the fact that I feel.  I feel everything so much and so deeply.  It makes it all the more exhausting, draining even.  It’s very hard.  And it can mean that you’re more tuned into how someone else is feeling and thinking than they are.  They don’t always appreciate it.  You can love them with all your heart but the power to change has to come from them.  They are responsible themselves at the end of the day.  Even if you’re both in denial about this.  Children grow up.  Adults are grown up.  Even when ill or damaged or vulnerable.  They have to have their own space.  They have to take responsibility for themselves.  If they don’t want to help themselves or take their medicine or choose to throw their toys out of the pram, it’s with them.  Not you.  However personal that may feel.  Or however much responsibility you may feel.  The other problem is that you can give too much, you can be bound too tightly to the other person.  You end up forgetting who you are.  You end up not having your own life.  They are your everything and you pour all your energies and resources into them.  That’s not balanced.  Or sustainable.  Adults are fledged.  They might not be the world’s best fliers but they have their own wings.  Sometimes you have to make a heartbreaking decision and let them fly themselves.  You need the space because you are now broken too, drained with nothing left to give.  And the worst is that you know that by letting go, by giving both of you that space you need, that they’re probably just going to crash.  You can see it coming.  But there’s nothing that you can do.  You just have to step back.  You need the space to recover, to breathe and to find yourself.  You’ve done all you can, if not more, even if you’re desperate to just give a little bit more.  But no.  It’s time for a little bit of space.  You need to gather your own strength and look after yourself now.  Because when you’ve done all you can, it’s up to them.  And honestly, that’s always been the case.  Even if you will always feel that responsibility.  Now they need to go out on their own wings.  And you just wait for them to break, heartbroken.

Three Years and Counting

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Sometimes three years can seem like an awfully long time.  Sometimes you’re not quite sure where those three years went.  Sometimes you just don’t know how you made it through those three years.

It’s been three years since everything went pear-shaped and you know what, I’m going to tell you a little about it.  I know that sometimes it seems like all I do is whinge but I need to get this off my chest.  Bear with me.

Here are some of the jolly little hiccups that have happened during those three years:

Husband lost his job.  Husband got very ill.  Nearly lost husband at one point.

Father died suddenly and prematurely.

In our immediate circle there’s been two marriage breakups (one especially nasty) with all the associated fallout plus various feuds and falling outs which have made life particularly difficult for everyone else.#

An assortment of rumbling family problems.

Lost two dear friends who were like parents to me.

Financial problems due to husband losing his job (naturally in very stressful circumstances) and having to live on benefits (don’t let anyone kid you that this is an easy, comfortable lifestyle).  The threat of losing our home has now been over our heads daily for two and a half years.

Applying for and living on benefits.  Don’t go there.

The boiler has died on at least three separate occasions.  I think in the last three years we’ve probably been without hot water for about half that time.

Unfinished DIY projects due to a painful combination of lack of  finance and motivation and our helper going AWOL.

Another relative, in their teens, dying suddenly and tragically.

I don’t do status symbols but our van was probably the closest thing to one.  Giving it up meant losing freedom, independence and being able to help other people.

My own ongoing health problems.

Hmm, what else.

Well, I think that comes to about 700 something on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale * so that really should do it.  But it’s not just the amount of stress that’s difficult to live with but it’s constancy.  It’s feels like that the carpet is about to pulled out from under your feet, again, the whole time.  You’re on edge.  You can’t plan ahead.  You dread tomorrow.

Stress sucks.

* I’m not a big fan of the stress scale, it’s a moderately useful tool but it does seem a little bit dated especially as there seems to be a very suburban, white, male, 1950s bias to it.  Divorce is a pretty big number two and I have a sneaking suspicion that some people might actually welcome that event in their lives.  Foreclosure is about halfway down a list, presumably because it just never happened back then in that world.  The fact that pregnancy only happens to the other spouse definitely suggests that male bias.  Or shock horror, your wife going out to work.  Other quirks include less arguments with spouse being as stressful as a lot more.  Oh and what happened to things like exams or other tests?   Much less racism, sexism or any other form of bullying.  How about being an immigrant or refugee?  The chart deals with nothing like that.  Besides which, stress like pain is a very subjective experience.  You can’t guarantee that two similar people are feeling the same pain or the same amount of pain due to the same experience.  I’m sure if you read through the list, you’d reorder the thing quite quickly and add a few of your own too.

Death of spouse or child
Divorce
Marital Separation
Detention in jail or other institution
Death of a close family member (eg parent or sibling)
Major personal injury or illness
Marriage
Being fired from work
Marital reconcilitation
Retirement
Major change in health or behaviour of family member
Pregnancy of spouse/partner
Sexual difficulties
Gaining a new family member (e.g. through birth, adoption etc)
Major business readjustment (e.g. merger, reorganisation, etc)
Major change in financial state (e.g. a lot worse off or a lot better off)
Death of a close friend
Changing to a different type of work
Major change in the number of arguments with spouse (e.g. a lot more or less)
Taking on a significant (to you) mortgage
Foreclosure on a mortgage or loan
Major change in responsibility at work (e.g. promotion, transfer, demotion)
Son or daughter leaving home (marriage, college etc)
In-law troubles
Outstanding personal achievement
Partner beginning or ceasing work outside of the home
Beginning or ceasing formal schooling
Major change in living conditions (e.g. new house, renovating)
Revision of personal habits (dress, manners, association etc)
Troubles with the boss
Change in residence
Changing to a new school
Major change in usual type and/or amount of recreation
Major change in church or spiritual activities (e.g. a lot more or less than usual)
Major change in social activities (e.g. clubs, dancing, movies etc)
Taking on a small loan (e.g. purchasing car, TV, freezer etc)
Major change in sleeping habits (e.g. a lot more or less)
Major change in number of family get-togethers (e.g. a lot more or less)
Major change in eating habits (e.g. a lot more or less food intake)
Holiday or vacation
Christmas
Minor violations of the law (e.g. traffic or parking infringement)
 www.stresstips.com

It’s a Dog’s Life

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A little something that I found in several places on the web about the canine law of possession:

 

  1. If I like it, it’s mine.
  2. If it’s in my mouth, it’s mine.
  3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.
  4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
  5. If I’m chewing something up, all the pieces are mine.
  6. If its mine, it must never appear to be yours in anyway.
  7. If it looks like mine, it’s mine.
  8. If I saw it first, it’s mine.
  9. If you are playing with something and put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
  10. If it’s broken, it’s yours.

 

Hmm, maybe it’s not just dogs …