It’s not so much that I can’t sleep, more that I don’t want to. I’ve been having nightmares. Really horrific ones. Ultra realistic, painful, sad, distressing dreams that leave me feeling shaken, run over and fucked. It’s hard to face the mundane realities of a weekday morning feeling like that. Waking at 6:30 so I have time to paint my sons face for school- some book day dress up thing but he has cheated and chosen a character from a game that they happen to have made a book of after. Good going kid, bend the rules, be who the hell you want in this world and don’t let anybody stop you.
Who the fuck I want to be these days I am not so sure though. For most of my adult life I had no paid job..I mean I was unemployed but I was raising kids. Which is a fucking job. I had stuff I enjoyed doing but had no idea what I wanted to do job wise. To be honest, the word ‘career’ still feels alien on my lips, kind of hollow, meaningless, someone else’s word I’ve borrowed that doesn’t quite fit in my mouth. It still sounds like a pipe dream when I say it. And I have one now. I remember my manager saying ‘You are a professional now’ when the company I’d been volunteering for eventually decided to employ me (to my great surprise) I laughed, I still do whilst pinching myself .
It doesn’t seem real. I keep expecting to lose it, well someone take it away from me, rather than misplace it accidentally. I have this fear of ending up back where I was, signing on at the job centre with some hard faced jobsworth who had all their passion and empathy sucked out of them with the newest cordless vacuum cleaner on entry.
I keep expecting to end up jobless, alone, depressed, bored out of my mind and struggling to raise two kids again. I think about it when I walk past the job centre. I feel this sense of relief at first when I pass, like phew, thank God I don’t have to go there anymore. But in the next breath I am feeling sorry for every other poor bastard that still has to. Then I start wondering when it might be my turn again. And that’s the thing, it doesn’t matter how much life improves, you never really forget where you came from. It’s hard to shake the poverty mindset. It’s hard to relax into a comfortable bed, next to your wonderful partner, with your healthy kids sleeping in adjoining rooms, in the nicest house you’ve ever lived in. It’s fucking odd to find cupboards packed with food and the fridge so full, we have to play food Tetris. We’ve got a tumble dryer and a fucking dish washer! ffs… It doesn’t feel real. I still can’t get my head round it all to be honest. The kids, well they are so adaptable, this is their normal now, but me I feel a bit like I’ve walked into an alternate reality and nobody else seems to have noticed I am not meant to be here yet. Because nothing has ever been certain or lasted in my life up until now.
I’ve finally reached an age where I’ve lived more years than I’ve moved house, but not by much. I feel like my childhood was a series of taster sessions into different lives, areas, schools and social groups. As soon as I’d start settling in somewhere and making friends and feeling at home, we’d move and I’d lose everything. After a while I think I just stopped trying, I ran out of energy for trying to assimilate into a new school and make new friends. All those moves and broken attachments had made me question my identity and left me lacking in confidence and lost, lost again.
When I had my own kids I knew I wanted to give them what I’d never had- stability. I wanted them to feel safe and to be able to trust me. I wanted them to know they were very much wanted and loved. I wanted them to have fun and for us to laugh a lot, talk openly and honestly and to be close – a team. And on reflection- So far, so good I think.
Me and my partner have built and continue to create a relationship that I am proud of too.
I have a job I love and I feel proud of the work I put in to get here. I wasn’t sure I had the staying power and was pleasantly surprised that I had the academic ability. But learning so much about the human condition and myself obviously changed how I see the world, people and relationships immensely. They warned us that the course could lead to divorce for those reasons, I thought I’d be safe as I was single. But it turned out that it was my family and a few friends I would need to remove. Once you have learnt that you are involved in toxic, unloving, abusive relationships, you cannot return to ignorance and you’d be a fool to remain.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
I feel like I have no family at all. I tried many ways to just have a bit more distance so I could breathe, to improve my relationship by talking, writing, trying trying to communicate and be authentic and loving but nothing worked. So I tried to just put up with things and bite my lip but the levels of drama, chaos, selfishness, emotional manipulation of my myself and my kids were just too much and was so at odds with every other aspect of my weird, but lovely new life, it just had to stop. So I have had to say goodbye to one parent all together. The other parent, well they live hundreds of miles away and I am lucky to see them once a year, so no change there…but a deep dread that when I do see them, they may not understand my choice and try to make me feel bad for finally escaping the other. The only other family I have is an uncle who I never see anymore and one elderly grand parent, who I do see but due to their age, frailty and poor memory, there is no more than me listening to a list of recent ailments and letting them see their grandson on their brief visits. I miss them being lucid, I really do. There was a time I felt close to them. I so miss feeling heard and loved .
So not to be overly dramatic or anything but I do get this sense of being orphaned, without any close relatives I can pick up a phone and talk to in a crisis. I sometimes get this strong yearning for home. A home that has never existed, inhabited by a parent that I never had. It’s a really scary, lonely feeling to yearn for the impossible.
Back to the nightmares. They are all about this sense of loss. I realise I am grieving. I remember someone telling me when I was a teenager ‘You never really grow up until one of your parents dies’ I didn’t really understand it at the time but I stored it away as it seemed important. I’m much older now and I know we are all basically alone in this world. I have spent much of my life feeling alone so this is not new to me. But this grief and isolation I feel right now is hard to bear. I feel deeply wounded and every bit of healing I think I achieve can be wiped away when I panic I can hear them at the door, they appear in a dream or a bad memory comes back unexpectedly and just like that the scab is ripped off and I am bleeding and in pain again.
But I am trying to move on. I am trying to enjoy all of the lovely things that I have. But this sadness about the past and this sense of isolation and loss is the backdrop to every other aspect of my life right now. Some days I cope really well, especially when I am busy- probably one of the reasons I love working so much. But often on my days off I get terrible anxiety, what I’m told is ptsd related flashbacks and derealisation, panic attacks, night terrors and days when I feel that depression is taking it’s grip on me again. I struggle so hard to trust and struggle even more to reach out to others.
I don’t know if I even have friends. I barely see the ones I am still in touch with and they are all busy with their own lives. I certainly feel like I could do with some friends. But how do you make new friends at my age? I know I am something of an acquired taste and to be honest I don’t meet many people who strike me as friend material either. This has got me thinking about what I would look for in a friend these days…
I’ve promised myself I will pick up a cheap bike for myself at the end of this month. Cycling reminds me of being young and free and gaining my independence. I love cycling and haven’t done so in years. I look forward to gaining fitness and it could be something I share with my partner too. We need to do more outside of the house together for sure.
I’m not sure how I might go about making new friends. I’ve certainly been trying to nurture the friendships I do have, with little success. So it is time for something new.
It is very much time for everything new it seems. A new family please. I need some older, wiser people and some younger, enthusiastic people and some people my age and some parents and some musicians and some artists and some funny, smart people and some healthy, focused people in my life pronto. I am making room for you, I am keeping my eyes open so I will be ready to meet you. I have a lot to give and I am tired of giving it to the wrong people.