Cold Feet?

Cold Feet?

I am engaged. My partner asked me to marry him and I said yes. We have begun planning our wedding.

On day one, I was excited and so happy that I couldn’t stop smiling. On day two, the anxiety began setting in.

I love this man and have wanted to be his wife since our first 6 months together. He will be an amazing husband and father and I would spend the rest of my life with him without thinking twice, but then he asked me if I would spend the rest of my life with him.

The proposal didn’t come as a great surprise, we’d talked about it a lot before and I even knew that he’d bought me a ring and was having trouble with getting it delivered during a pandemic, so I knew it was coming and never worried about it. I have looked forward to being his wife for years and never felt anything but happy and confident about it, so why am I feeling like this now that I’ve said yes?

I keep asking myself, as is my practice, what is this feeling and why am I feeling it. The first thought I had, in it’s rawest form was, if I swear on all that I believe in to be with him for the rest of my life, then I actually have to do that. I only make promises I intend to keep, I will only consider divorce in the most extreme of circumstances. So then the questions follow; do I not want to be with him for the rest of my life? Do I imagine us splitting up? Is there someone else I’d rather be with? Or would I rather be alone? But as I already said, I do want to be with him and only him until I die. I’ve wanted that with surety and steadiness for a long time. So it’s not that.

I delved in a little further and found a fear that I would lose my independence. Every decision I made in life would have to include or consider him. I wouldn’t be free to do whatever I wanted without first considering the impact that it would have on him. But I already live like that, and have done for the past two years. I don’t want to do anything that would impact him negatively, and everything I do want are things he wants too. So that’s not it.

Perhaps it’s the idea of the ceremony. I am religious and he is not, nor are either of our families, but if I’m going to make these solemn promises to him then I want it to be in my tradition and with blessings that mean something to me. He is more than happy for us to do that and is helping me to plan that kind of event, but it still feels self-indulgent. To stand up in front of our friends and family and say “this is who I am and what I want so this is how we’re going to do it” makes me feel uncomfortable. But then again, the wedding is about my partner and I making promises and commitments to each other, not about putting on a show for our guests, and as I said before, I would want to make those promises in a way that is meaningful to me, otherwise they won’t mean anything. So I guess it’s not that.

I have always feared change in my life and getting married seems like a big one. Except it’s not really. My name will change and some other legal formalities (nothing major, nor detrimental) will occur, but other than that, we will still live in the same house, with the same cat and the same jobs and hobbies, we’ll just be married, that’s all. So it’s not that either.

Currently, I believe that what I’m feeling is a generalised anxiety that comes with making any large decision in your life without having certainty of the future. We cannot foresee what may happen in our lives and making a commitment so big on faith is a scary thing to do. I have experienced similar anxieties when choosing a university to go to, or buying a car. The difference with those things is that the commitment was short term and reversible, this one is not. Therefore it is not completely unreasonable to expect a higher level of anxiety.

The fear of loss and hurt is strong in me too. Maybe he’ll leave me, betray me, lie to me, and even if he doesn’t, eventually he’ll die, and I don’t know if I can handle a loss like that. There have been many times in my life where I wanted to avoid investing emotion so I would not experience such pain, but I was convinced by well meaning people to ignore my instincts and take the risk (“Life is risky”, “What if everything goes right?”, “If you don’t take that chance you might miss out on something great”). Then my fears would come true, and I’d be destroyed again. Every time I have trusted someone not to hurt me, they have hurt me, usually very badly.

It’s also worth considering that I have never seen a marriage that I coveted or admired. I was never a girl who dreamed about her wedding day and never saw marriage as wonderful thing to aspire to.

So there are no real reasons for me to feel so anxious, and yet many reasons why I am. I will try to meditate on these things and hope that I am consoled by the idea that these fears come from nothing substantial. I have to assure myself that the potential gains outweigh the potential losses and then take the leap of faith.

Do What You Love Without Judgement

Do What You Love Without Judgement

We are our own toughest critics (unless we are narcissists) and this often prevents us from doing our best work. This is something I have noticed in my writing. I’m always conscious that someone will be reading it, so I end up trying to write for my audience rather than for myself. This usually ends up with me getting annoyed and frustrated, and barely getting anything done because I keep deleting and rewriting my work until I decide enough is enough and give up for the day.

Writing is my creative outlet of choice. I’ve always been a writer since I first learned how, and have had fantasies about becoming a famous author. I have a hard-drive full of poems, short stories, and novels that have been started but will never be finished. I’m always thinking about them and things that I want to add. I always imagine the feeling I get when I write and how happy I will be when I finish one. But whenever I open up one of my books, I spend so much time reading and rewriting that I never make any progress.

But yesterday, I did something different. Yesterday, I had an idea in my head of where I wanted a story to go. I had seen it play out in my head and I wanted to get it down, so I started writing. The difference this time was that I was so excited about my plot development, that I forgot to worry about what other people would think about my writing. I didn’t stop to reread what I’d done, I made no edits, no changes, I just let the ideas flow out of me. I’d written three full pages before I stopped and was surprised to see so much production.

I still didn’t reread it, I didn’t want to ruin the feeling I was having. I had fun and was able to fully immerse myself in the story and interact with my characters fully. I have decided that this is the way I should have been writing all along. After all, there’s no point in writing for an imaginary audience if I’m never able to finish a book to be read. So from now on, I’m going to write without judgement and criticism from beginning to end. Once the story is complete, then I can put on my editors hat and start making it suitable for publication.

For now, it’s enough for me to enjoy the process and find out how some of my characters end up.
Trading Places

Trading Places

To listen to me read this blog post, please click here: Reading “Trading Places”

My partner is ill. He has shingles. He has been describing to me the kind of pain he’s been feeling, a sensitivity on the skin and shooting pains like electrical shocks through him. Everything he talks about is very familiar to me. It’s the kind of pain that I get in my legs when I’ve over-exerted myself, or I’m in a flare, or sometimes if I’ve just been wearing tight trousers or leggings all day. I told him, “That’s what I feel when my legs get twitchy.” I call it that because the ‘electric shocks’ make the muscles spasm, and my legs literally jump and twitch, sometimes even while I’m sleeping. Again, this is something he is experiencing and also describes the muscle ache that feels like you’ve been working out.

As much as I hate seeing him in pain and I want him to feel better, I feel a strange kind of validation that he now knows my pain. From this point on, when my legs start to twitch he’ll have a better, fuller understanding of what I’m feeling. He’s always been sympathetic and caring and understanding, so it’s not like this new knowing will change his behaviour towards me, but I will feel more understood all the same. Like trying to explain colours to a colour blind person. They might sort of understand what you’re getting at but they can’t know what those colours really look like without seeing them.

It’s also a strange experience being on the other side of this dynamic. Seeing his pain and understanding what it feels like. Knowing that there is nothing I can do to help. Appreciating for the first time what it’s like to see the person you love in pain and being unable to do anything about it. I wish that I could take it from him since I have more experience with this kind of pain.

In a way, it feels personal, like it’s my pain. Like the universe accidentally gave it to the wrong person and I want to be able to say “Oops, that was meant for me” and take it from him. But of course, I can’t. I just have to watch and wait and remind him to take his pills and bring him cups of tea.

I guess every now and again, a little role reversal is useful in a relationship. Being able to view a situation from the other persons perspective gives you a kind of empathy that you can’t get any other way. It might not change the way you behave but I believe that sharing that experience increases the bond between you. Therefore, as much as I hate that this is happening to him, I’m also really glad. I just hope it’s over soon.

Dancing In The Streets

Dancing In The Streets

To listen to me read this blog post, please click here: Reading “Dancing in the Streets”

Not many people know this about me, but I love to tap dance.

It started when I was about 7-10 years old and I took up tap and modern dancing. I loved the rhythm of it and the way I could move my foot in a particular way and it would make a noise. I also find the tapping sound itself very pleasing, like a round of applause for yourself.

I was a pudgy child and my dance teacher let me know it. She said I “bounded across the stage like a heffalump”. I gave up dancing and that sentence haunted me while I developed anorexia.

As an older teenager and young adult I often thought about taking it back up again. I really did love it and missed it a lot but my low self esteem (perpetuated by my family) prevented me from pursuing it.

Eventually I decided it was time I did something for me. That was when I bought these shoes and started going to lessons once a week. It made me very happy but my self esteem continued to get in the way then finally PTSD stopped me going.

I put a lot of effort into recovering my mental health and just when I started to feel like I was a person again, my physical health kicked me in the metaphorical testicles. My tap shoes went away and every now and then I’d pull them out, open the box, stroke them, sigh deeply, maybe cry a bit, then put them away again.

Today, I found them while going through some boxes and the feeling I had when I opened the box was so different. I lifted them out and examined them closely, all the little scuffs and scratches, and I smiled. Tap dancing no longer feels like a lost love that I’ll never see again.

I plan to take up tap dancing again once I’m driving (hopefully early February). Not having to rely on busses makes more time and places available to me, and my health is no longer an issue. I can’t wait to get started again. I can’t wait to do what I love without fear.

New Year, New Decade, New Experiences.

New Year, New Decade, New Experiences.

To listen to me read this blog post, please click here: Reading “New Year, New Decade, New Experiences”

From what I can tell from my social media pages, most people seem to have had a rough 2019. I, therefore, feel lucky and guilty that I have had a good year. The first half was a little touch-and-go but the second half was the best I’ve had in as long as I can remember. And I plan to make 2020 even better.

TRIGGER WARNING: This post is going to be self-indulgent and a little braggy. If you don’t like reading about other people’s happiness and good fortunes then stop reading now.

There’s no denying that the main reason for my happiness is my improved health and, as mentioned in a previous post, that is almost completely down to my amazing, supportive partner. I spent the majority of my illness thinking about all the things I would do if I wasn’t ill. Therefor, when my health began to improve I began to do as many of those things as possible. My main restriction shifted from energy levels to time in the day, and that is an incredible feeling.

So I guess we should start with my physical improvements. I have talked about this in more detail before so I’ll just highlight my favourite bits. I do yoga. Walking a mile to the shop is not something I have to worry about. I took up running again. Every morning I can get up, shower, brush my teeth, dress, do my hair and make-up and feel ready for the day, not ready for bed. But more than that, we can go out, for meals, to shows, to fairs and fetes, or just for a walk around the park. It’s so good to spend time with the man I love outside of this house. And inside the house I can indulge my inner housewife with cleaning, baking, mending and crafting. I can “waste” energy on doing things that are completely frivolous and purely for my own enjoyment. I feel like I can function normally again and that is such a blessing.

Secondly, this is my final year of university, which for me is the culmination of 5 years of pursuing the future that I wanted for myself. Going back to education as a mature student with anxiety and depression was daunting enough, but to get M.E in the first year of this journey really tested how much I wanted it. In year 2 I was almost completely bedbound but still managed to drag myself through because this really is the most important thing that I have ever done with my life. I am sad and scared that it is ending because it has become familiar and safe, and has helped me to grow and develop as a person. I am also excited to move onto the next step of this process and actually begin living the life I have been working towards. So many more doors will open up to me once this one has closed behind me. I have also done some work experience over the summer which provided me with connections, taken on some part-time work which has given me experience, and given guided tours of the university to potential applicants which made me so proud and happy for the next generation of Biology students.

Self improvement has been a big focus for me this year. Physical improvements I have mentioned, educational improvements too, but I’ve also spent a lot of time on self-reflection and observation. I saw a councillor for a while and she was great. She asked the right questions and got me to focus on who I was and what I can do. Often we look outward to place blame and seek happiness. This year I have learned and internalised the idea that I have no control over others and the world around me, but total control over my own actions. I am responsible for my own happiness and I am to blame for my poor choices or reactions. In this way, I can make my life what I want it. My self-reflection has also lead me to ask the bigger questions too and I’ve revisited Zen Buddhism and listened to the Bhagavad Gita as well as “Letting Go” by David R Hawkins M.D PhD, and “The Madness of Crowds” by Douglas Murray. I also listened to “Battle Scars”, “Break Point”, and “First Man In”, by the hosts of the TV show “SAS: Who Dares Wins”, Jason Fox, Ollie Ollerton and Ant Middleton respectively. I also scattered some fiction in between because even made-up people in made-up situations can teach us things about ourselves. I started a Bullet Journal this year too as a creative outlet and to organise myself, but I also found that it motivated me to be more productive and to enjoy taking time over small details.

My domestic life this year gained a house, a cat and an improvement in my relationship. I don’t wish to talk too much about this as it is not just mine to divulge. My home life is shared with my partner and he deserves his privacy. I will say that I am feeling more like a wife and mother than ever before and that is a warm, comfortable feeling for me. I will be having my 30th birthday this year and I am more than ready for this phase of my life. In fact, I have been waiting for it for a long time but it has been waiting for me to be in the right place and the right time. All the chips are falling into place now and I feel like I am becoming the person I was always supposed to be.

So, to summarise, 2019 has been a year of exponential growth. It has been hard work, exhausting at times, but also enjoyable and so, so worth it. 2020 should continue this trend and although this time next year my life will look completely different, it will also be exactly as it should be.

Happy New Year. Best wishes to all of you.

Caring or Carer

Caring or Carer

I was a young child when my Dad was taken down by his debilitating and painful illness. I watched as my Mother’s life was completely turned upside down. For a long time no one knew if he was even going to survive whatever it was that had suddenly come out of nowhere. My Mum didn’t work or drive but somehow needed to get him to doctors and hospitals, she had to take evening classes so she could get a job and also had three children to look after in the meantime. As much as I admire the strength it took for her to do everything she did (and continues to do), I ended up emotionally neglected and traumatised from growing up with a Father who is in constant pain and needs constant care. As a result of living with that throughout my childhood, I decided that I wouldn’t make that kind of sacrifice in my adult life. I never imagined that I would be the one who may need care.

So now I have to deal with the guilt of inflicting myself on my partner. He is a very caring man, who loves me a lot and some would argue (as he would) that the things he does for me could not be considered sacrifice and are in fact things that any partner would do for the person they love. Even those things that could be considered sacrifices would be so minor that they are sacrifices worth making for my health and happiness. And besides, he knew what he was getting into when he met me and decided I’d be worth it. I understand this argument and respect it, but am fearful of the long term effects, having seen them for myself in my parents marriage. Granted my needs are no where near as extreme as my Father’s, but my illness progression is so unknown that I may end up there yet.

What I am fearful of is the resentment. In the honeymoon faze of a new relationship, of course he is happy to do or not do things for me, but after years of missing out and working hard, of having to do and do without, living in an unbalanced relationship where he constantly has to pick up my slack, resentment feels inevitable. The only way to counteract this is to do as much as I can, when I can, but then that could lead to guilt transfer, where he feels guilty for not doing enough and “forcing” me to do more.

Navigating a relationship around a chronic illness is something that I need to learn to do and I don’t know how to compromise when I can’t give as much as I would like. So I feel guilty for the negative impact I have on his life, I feel guilty that I don’t have the emotional strength to do the same for him (if he needed it), and I feel insecure that I’m not worth the effort.

Managing this illness myself is complicated enough, adding in another person to the equation makes things twice as difficult.