25 March. 2020
Stanley last week at the beach.
Everyone is talking about Covid-19 in some form or other. It quite clearly is affecting everyone across the world at the moment.
It’s hard to explain to the kids how serious the situation is. They think they’re invincible and forget that they aren’t, or that we’re over-reacting, and that their behaviour might have severe consequences on others. It’s not because they don’t care, they just don’t want it to apply to them.
In all honesty, I think over last weekend it sunk in a little bit more of how real it was, at least for my kids. Joe, my eldest was very disappointed that we wouldn’t let him go out. He often meets up with others and their cars in the evenings and told us he’d stay in his car but we still said no, making sure we were following all the guidance, even when it’s hard and makes us unpopular and of course that was before the ‘lockdown’ was implemented. We even said no to him going for a walk with a couple of friends. Barn is still running but not at his track and of course, not with his team or his club. He’s worried he has been getting slower, I’ve told him for the time being, it is okay, but it’s making him stress out a bit. Katie is happy, she quite likes hibernating in her room and as long as she’s got her phone and her art supplies she really doesn’t mind what’s going on. She’s quite easygoing like that.
Stanley is of course a lot younger. This time is probably a little more unsettling for him than it is for the others in some ways. Both sets of his grandparents are self-isolating and so is only has seen them from a distance when we’ve dropped things off for them. This might not seem so strange but as his Dad and I work with one set of grandparents, he sees them most days. Now he doesn’t. Secondly, one of his brothers and his sister are no longer at school or college meaning we no longer drive them there in the mornings and he is also not in nursery anymore. Work is like a second home to us all, and we’re no longer there either, so a lot has changed, and he doesn’t understand why. On top of that he is probably picking up my worries about food, feeding a family of six is hard at the best of times! I’m also worrying about work, our company like many others is going to be affected in one way or another by this pandemic.
I’ve tried to keep things normal and not show my worry, but I’ve also been trying to talk to him so he gets it. I’ve told him there is a ‘nasty bug’, and we need to look after everybody and wash our hands a lot. He’s thought it over, and seems to understand, but I didn’t realise how literally he’d taken it until he told me that the Nasty Lady Bug is getting his friends at nursery. It did make me smile! I tried to explain to him that there isn’t a nasty ladybird or ladybug out there, and that it’s an invisible germ that we can’t see, but he seems sure and has told everybody he can about it. So just keep your eyes open in case we’ve missed something and there really is a scary ladybug out there!
Take care and stay safe everyone.
20 March. 2020
Stanley and I at the beach today.
We’ve known for years that the way we are treating the world isn’t sustainable. We know that we can’t go on the way we are, and yet we have.
When I was young (and I’m not that old), recycling wasn’t even a thing. Then banks popped up in car parks to take your recycling to. Our first collection from home was when we first moved into the house we are in now, and we’ve been here 19 years. It was fairly hit and miss, one green box for all the mixed recycling, and it frequently wasn’t picked up, so we would have to throw it away with the rubbish. It was way harder than it needed to be. Now it’s easier, I recycle religiously as many other people do, but it is possible it is too little, too late?
This year we have had storm after storm, creating so much damage and destruction. It’s almost like the earth is fighting back and putting us back in our place. But still, we haven’t stopped. Australia has experienced terrible wildfires and the rest of the world has watched with sympathy, and yet, nothing has really changed.
We’ve had Ebola, Swine Flu, Bird Flu and now Coronavirus… Finally we stop.
And yet, no one wants to. If we do, businesses will fail. Things as we know them will change and it is frightening. I’m not sure how many businesses will survive. Even in light of the governments plans which offer so much to so many, there are still so many more who will slip through, who don’t fit the categories they are offering the help to. It’s hard to make a provision when no one really knows what they are dealing with.
I’ve never known anything like this before. Most people of my age and younger won’t have. The unknown is scary. We can do all we can, but it doesn’t feel like it is enough. Self-isolating is fine, but it is only a matter of time before things grind to a halt.
I’m aware that provision is made for key workers to remain in work and their children in schools. But what if they also contract the virus. What are the contingencies then?
I can’t imagine we are looking at the future as seen on TV in an apocalypse programme, but I’m not quite sure what we are looking at. Especially with the food shortages we are already seeing.
I think this one might take a while to bounce back from. I think changes are afoot and I hope we begin to listen, to slow down while we can because who knows what is round the corner?
On the positive side, my daughter showed me a photo online, the smog had cleared and there were blue skies over China. My son showed me another where the water had cleared in the canals in Venice allowing swans to return, fish to be clearly seen and dolphins have even been spotted.
Maybe on some level we need this? Maybe we need to reset a little? To stop and just be. What else is there we can do? So this morning after I’d done the housework, we played boardgames. This afternoon I took the kids to the beach. It was quiet, with the few people who were there all giving each other plenty of space. It was cold, but sunny and it was beautiful. We just spent time together, and while it won’t pay the bills, it was lovely. I’m going to try and make the most of it if I can.
Stay safe everyone.
12 March. 2020
Barn and me.
My 14 year old son Barn is sitting his English GCSE’s this year. He’s the third of my four to sit these exams so I know roughly what to expect, but that doesn’t make it any easier for him. Just before Christmas he came home to tell me there was a trip to the Theatre Royal in Plymouth to see one of the main plays in his syllabus, ‘An Inspector Calls’. He was interested in going, but by the time I’d logged onto the school’s online payment system not long after, all the available places had gone. He was disappointed, and me being me, I felt like I’d let him down by not getting him a place, even though there was little else I could do. I thought about it and suggested booking it separately and just the two of us going, I wasn’t sure if he would want to go with me or not, but he was happy to, as long as we went on a different day to the rest of the school.
I’d forgotten I hadn’t taken him to the theatre before. It’s something I used to love, and I often used to go with some of my friends, before, when an evening out involved wine. I took my daughter a few years back to see Hairspray which was fun, but even then I was a little preoccupied with wanting to get home afterwards for a glass of wine. I didn’t drink when I was ‘on duty’ as a mum, and not at all when I was driving, but that didn’t stop me wanting to. I always noticed what other people were drinking and felt envious of those who had something I didn’t.
Since I stopped drinking I have got out of the habit of going out. Everything has been a little harder than it was before. I felt for a long time, rightly or wrongly, that I’d be judged, and to be honest staying in felt safer and easier. When you’re in the habit of going home straight after work and staying in all evening, it takes quite a lot to change your habits. It’s scary, and pushes you out of your comfort zone, which is hard when you’re already feeling on edge. I’ve had to relearn a lot of routines and behaviours. I’ve had to acknowledge and sit with feelings I didn’t even know I had. It’s not all bad though. It’s just new.
Although I was looking forward to going out with Barn, I still had that familiar pull reminding me that it would easier to stay at home. I worried that I would be tired in the morning for work, I worried that I would be tired to make the drive home. But, as I try to do at the moment, I pushed myself. We went and it was great. As I said, Barn had never been before and it was lovely to enjoy the experience with him. He was surprised at how big the theatre was, and hadn’t see a live performance like that before so it was all quite new. I did let him down a bit though, only in that I’d promised him ice cream in the interval, and there wasn’t one. I’ll have to make it up to him next time!
I’ve read a couple of books by a writer called Jen Sincero. In one she said, “When you change who you’re being, you’re basically killing off your old identity, which completely freaks your subconscious out.” It’s true. It takes time to change, and you’re fighting against all your ingrained and learned habits that have been with you for years. Before, I always used to feel rushed to get home. I knew that waiting for me there was my familiar glass of wine. My reward at the end of the day. Things do change and although it has taken a lot of time, finally some things seem to be getting a little easier.
I often, although not as often as I used to, get a fleeting panic when it’s getting late at work or similar. I feel like I should be rushing home, but when I stop and think, I realise I have no reason for it. I used to worry about early mornings or late afternoon appointments because they might have affected my plans. Now, they don’t. I can pretty much do what I want to do and there’s no hangover or residual alcohol left hanging around upsetting things. It’s a good place to be. So if you are going through something similar, hang in there. There will be ups and downs, but it does get easier.
Thanks for reading!
10 March. 2020
Me and Lee.
Addiction is non-discriminating, it doesn’t care who you are, where you are from or what you look like. I learned that in recovery. I met people from all walks of life and few were the stereotypes you think of when you imagine what an addict might look like.
Aside from the substances we were recovering from there was nothing that linked us. It was this invisible cord, all of us different, and yet so similar. It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t been through it how it feels to want something you hate, and it’s impossible for them to understand when they don’t live in your crazy brain.
All the way through my ups and downs I have been lucky enough to have one constant, my husband Lee. While he couldn’t always make things easier for me, I certainly couldn’t have done it without him. He has always been there, always tried to understand, even when I didn’t understand myself. I know I’ve made things hard for him over the years, and even at my best, I know I can be a bit of a pain at times, but he is patient, kind and understanding, and I feel so lucky to have him. If I didn’t have him, I don’t know where I’d be now.
So, I suppose, what I’d like to say is, if you have someone that is always there for you, even if they don’t quite get it right, make sure you tell them how much you appreciate it. And if you’re one of those that is always there for someone who is struggling, hang in there, they do appreciate it, even if they don’t say it.
Today is our 19th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary Lee, I love and appreciate you more than you know. 😘💖💖
As always, thank you.
08 March. 2020
I know how I felt about admitting I needed help, but just recently I’ve come to realise I’m not the only one who felt like that. It’s terrifying to admit you need help for anything when you’re used to being a strong, independent person. To come to rely on something, on a substance, and then realise you can’t do without it is an awful feeling. It makes you feel powerless and it destroys relationships, you might feel you can’t talk to anyone, and may not trust yourself, because every time you promise yourself you won’t drink anymore, you let yourself down.
There isn’t a rule book for dealing with addiction, though thankfully more and more people are beginning to talk about it. The stigma is being broken and it is easier to ask for help or if not ask, it’s easier to access shared experiences.
I don’t think the openness actually makes it easier to talk to your loved ones though. They are the hardest to talk to. Although an addict’s mind is centred primarily on getting the next fix, and the logistics of getting it, ultimately they are at their lowest point when they need help, and admitting that they need it is not only almost impossible, but worse than that is the possibility that they might fail.
I knew I had a problem quite a while before I stopped drinking. They say you need to hit rock bottom and I think that is probably right. I was scared to admit it though, once I had got through the questioning and the denial, because I wasn’t sure 1) how I would cope without alcohol in my life but more importantly 2) I was afraid if I did admit it, that I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. I didn’t want to seem weak, and unable to kick my habit, even though realistically, I couldn’t kick it. Looking back I know I wasn’t weak, but ill, only then I didn’t understand that. I was so afraid of letting my family down. It was frightening.
Everyone is very different in their approaches to life, and their addictions. I’ve just read a book about a woman who ended up stealing money from her family to fund her habit. Her mother even became her carer as she was physically dependent on the habit and unable to get clean. While I know what addiction and dependency on a substance are like, this is a situation I don’t understand. To admit you have a problem and not do your best to get over it doesn’t make sense to me. But then everyone has a different circle of support and as I have said before, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my family. At the same point knowing that you are asking them to understand you and stand by you, even though you can be irrational is hard. I know I was irrational, and tearful. I still am at times, but I guess to a certain extent that is normal.
The fear was a big thing for me though, it was there making me feel I couldn’t admit my problem, that I couldn’t move forward, but it was wrong. I am moving forward every day, and every day I move a little bit further from the person I was and that feels good. I’m not even so fearful now that I’ll slip back. I don’t think I will. Although I’ve been told complacency is the worst, as you feel secure and are actually more likely to fail. That doesn’t mean it is easy for me not to drink, I have days where it is quite hard not to feel tempted by alcohol, I guess for me, the difference is that I no longer want to. Now, that is a feeling that makes me feel good.
Thanks for reading!
06 March. 2020
Stanley and me.
I took my littlest son to a soft play centre last week. He had been jumping on my bed (he’s two), and when I asked him to stop, he asked to go to soft play. It was raining, it’s been a while since I’ve taken him and it was my day off from work so it seemed like a nice thing to do. I’ve always enjoyed things like that, where I can play with the kids, but in all honesty I am not great with the etiquette that goes with it. For example, why do I seem to attract all the children whose parents are happy drinking tea and chatting? I only took one of my children and yet I end up with a trail of others. I don’t mind, but it is awkward, I don’t want to be rude to them, but one in particular was so demanding and I just wanted to play with my son.
I’m a people pleaser, I don’t choose to be but it is one of those annoying habits I can’t quite knock on the head, so I don’t want to upset kids, although I also try not to encourage them. I also feel like I might be judged if I show impatience, even though it shouldn’t matter, I don’t even know these people! I’m not rude and this little one just followed me around trying to tell me all about her holiday on an aeroplane. Stanley tried to talk to her although she was a couple of years older, and mentioned his holiday which was sweet, but she didn’t even hear him. It was clearly an adults attention she was after. I think my experience of working with vulnerable children in the past has also made me wary of dealing with other people’s kids when out and about. It’s all too easy for actions to be misinterpreted and for that reason, I’d prefer not to be in any situation where that could happen.
Eventually I think the child’s mum cottoned on to the fact that I was being followed around, and she left her drink to come and watch her child play, and so Stanley and I had a bit more freedom. It was so nice just being able to run around with him and explore. Being able to go in the week meant it was really quiet and there were only about ten or twelve other toddlers there so we didn’t have to wait for anything.
We climbed, we rolled, we slid, it was fun, and it reminded me of being a kid again. Except it wore me out a lot quicker than it would have done then. Mind you, every time we went on the big slide, I had to carry two sacks and Stanley up the stairs. He was more than happy to race me back down to the bottom, before going again.
I think though, (and I am not suggesting you all go immediately to your nearest soft play centre), that play is important. It doesn’t matter how old we are or what we do, but having fun without worry or judgement, whether it is running, climbing or dancing in the kitchen where no-one can see you is important. All too often we get weighed down by our daily lives, the work, the bills, the grind. It’s all vital, we clearly need our jobs to pay our way through life, but it shouldn’t be the only thing in our lives. We should make time to do things that are fun, that make us laugh and that make us feel good. Otherwise, what is the point?
So am I the only adult that likes soft play?
Thanks for reading!