Sisters, Study-Avoidance & Melting Crayons

So I’m back from my trip to Sweden, and at the moment it feels like it has done me a world of good. It was simply great to spend a whole week with my sisters and their little families and just enjoy being alive. The weather was great and although we all took turns taking ill, all in all it was just really nice to hang out. We basically ate, watched my youngest nephew run around and ate some more. That is, that’s what my sisters and I did. The boys were busy digging in the garden, planting a hedge around it. And in between that we managed to watch a film, teach my sister’s dog to go on the slippery-dip and get my youngest sister and her man to understand how to solve the first two layers of the Rubik’s cube intuitively.

Oh, and my sisters and brothers-in-law gave me the super-awesomest prezzie ever; the new iPad [which I am, incidentally, using as we speak, in conjunction with my bluetooth keyboard].

I feel that this trip has really helped to reset my brain. I feel so much happier than I have in the past several months, and although I am still having flashbacks it’s nowhere near as bad as it was, pre-trip.

Since I’ve been back I’ve started a new course, and – true to form – I’ve excelled at the art of study-avoidance. I am feeling a bit unhappy about having chosen the course I have; a very basic psychology course about stuff I pretty much already know, but just want to get on paper that I do in fact know it. It’s very hard to motivate oneself to read material about stuff you already know, when the main focus ends up being trying to remember sources for future reference, rather than actually learning. That said, of course anything psychology related will always push your little grey cells into action, and you’ll realise you have thoughts and ideas you might not have had when you originally read about a specific study. In short; once I actually open the book, I do get quite into what I’m reading.. it’s just getting to that point of opening the book, which holds me back. There are always a million other things I feel I need to read; blogs, news, tweets, facebook updates.. You know how it goes.. And that’s before I’ve even got to the various iPlayer programs I simply must catch up on, not to mention the millions of YouTube clips I feel will enrich my life to no end..

I do slightly regret that I didn’t decide to do the course on the autistic spectrum which was also on offer. I would really have liked to have been reading that right now. But, I’m trying to use it as a carrot of sorts. If I manage to get through this course [ie find a way to utilise good days of fewer flashbacks, days when I have a reasonable level of concentration] then I’ll be allowed to do the autistic spectrum one after.

So, I suppose that’s all good. Especially the part where I am actually, actively, looking ahead, into the future. The last few months have been so rough, it’s been very hard to think like that, to imagine a time when things feel different, but right now things seems to have swung around for me a bit.

Also, since I’ve been back, I’ve been feeling a lot more creative. I have been working on my book, which is ever so slowly taking shape, and I find myself curious to find out where the characters will take me. And that’s always a good sign.

On top of that very specific writing, my sister and I also hatched an idea about setting up a collaborative writing site online, the idea being that you could go to the site, read something someone has posted and then take over the writing, or join in. I for one have several writing projects which I have started, but which are now mainly collecting dust on my harddrive. What you could do on this new site is to upload what you have written and invite others to complete it, or to co-write it with you. Or you might want to be someone else for a day [come on, we all have those days].. Well, you could go onto the site as a character and join in some playwriting, adding lines on behalf of your character. This is all still in its infancy, but, I only posted the idea late last night on another blog, and I’ve already had people contact me to say they would be interested in joining or starting writing projects.

Observant readers will have noticed that while I have written about how great it was to be with my sisters and how that’s really helped resetting the serotonin levels I’ve omitted to talk about seeing my father the first time in over two years. This is, of course, not by chance. In short, it was actually really lovely seeing him and his boyfriend, and spending time with them. But, knowing me, I tend to only begin processing these kind of encounters a while after getting back to the UK. So, keep an eye out and there will more than likely be an update on this particular part of my trip to Sweden.

In terms of not having therapy, well, there is no getting around it – that is still really hard. I miss my space to voice my thoughts. Of course I talk to my friends and I do my writing and all of that, but there just isn’t a substitute for therapy. Therapists definitely should not be allowed to have children! [..says the Therapist’s Daughter..] July – or whenever A. in reality decides to go back to work – feels very very far away indeed..

Anyway, me and my new iPad and bluetooth keyboard need to get to the library now, so I’ll leave you here for now.

Do be kind to yourself, and enjoy the utterly ESSENTIAL YouTube video below..

All the very best and more,

xx

I really need to try this, but maybe on a black or gray canvas, 
and just letting the crayons melt organically in the sun..
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The Greatest Joy & The Biggest Sorrow

They say that the greatest joy in life is having children. The flip-side of that is, of course, that the biggest sorrow is not having them. And I suppose this is a large part of what I find myself dealing with right now. I am not saying that the meaning of life is to have children, but it has always felt like that is the meaning of my life; it has always been what I have wanted more than anything for myself. Yes, I would love the husband, the lovely house, the great job, the riches to be able to choose leading a humble life-style, but all of those things have always been secondary to the deep desire to have children. Nothing compares to that.

So, finding myself here, at thirty-five, having none of the above things, it’s a pretty painful place to be, and none causes me more pain than the lack of children..

I trained in childcare, it was a natural choice, I have a lot of experience in caring for children from well before I ever made that choice; my mother was a childminder, so growing up I was always surrounded by children – there was always someone to look after. Then came my sisters, who – at least I’d like to think – I’ve had a fair part in helping shape. Their father died when they were very young, back when I was 11, and I have spent a lot of time looking after them. Next came my nephews, the two oldest ones – the first when I was 12, the second about when I was 15, both of whom I would regularly be taking care of.

They are all grown up now, my sisters have finished their studies, and are now working in their chosen fields. I’m still as close to them as ever and see them as often as I can, even though this is not nearly as often as I would like. I sometimes forget that they are adults now, one of them already a mother herself; it’s kind of hard to not think of them as ‘little’ when you so vividly remember them at one or four or toothless six.. Every once in a while I slip [especially in therapy, I’ve noticed], and I will call them The Kids, rather than My Sisters. I guess it tells you something of how I feel about them..

But, in reality, I have no children of my own. Every single day my biological clock ticks louder and louder, sometimes it feels completely deafening, and even if I try – even for a minute – to get away from it, I can’t. It’s always there, ticking away in the background.

I was recently diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome [PCOS], something which I had suspected for some time. This is not great news when it comes to the possibility of having children. It is also not the end of the world. PCOS is fairly common, and many women with PCOS will be able to conceive and carry to term healthy and hopefully happy babies. But it is also one of the most common explanations for infertility, since it often means either irregular ovulation or even completely missed ovulation. One of two critical parts in the conception of a child [the other, of course, being a healthy sperm reaching the egg]. No ovulation means no children. That’s the basic science.

Ever since I was officially diagnosed I have been more than ever aware of how badly I want to have children of my own, and by cruel chance there just happen to be women around me falling pregnant left, right and diagonally. [Cruel for me, happy for them, I should say.] Aside from A. being pregnant, there are a number of other women in my life who are also expecting.  And that is one of the hardest things to deal with, because you have to deal with mixed emotions to an extreme degree. On the one hand I am genuinely happy for them,  I really am – I don’t wish to take anything away from their happiness,  but is also always tainted by jealousy, by wishing it could be me, and by the increasing realisation that it may never be me.

I have always said that if I am told, categorically, that I cannot have children, that will be the end of me. That is how I have always felt about it, or at least for as long as I can remember. There are other things in my life which are at times excruciatingly painful to live with; the flashbacks, the nightmares, the memories of what happened to me as a child, which have more than once pushed me to try to end my life. I work really hard to not get back to that place, and the thought of one day having children has always been my motivation for holding on to the hope that things can change, things can be different.

If that hope were to be taken away, I know I could not go on. Sadly, that’s not just in a manner of speaking, it’s a fact.

I’m not naïve, or at least I’d like to think that I’m not. I realise that having children does not change what has happened before, and I would never ever choose to have children based on the hope of that happening; it would be a terrible and impossible burden to place on the child’s shoulders. But I do believe, and you can ask almost anyone who has ever had a child to confirm this, having a child changes you, changes the way you view things, shifts the focus from yourself at the centre of your life to them. Not perhaps every single second of every singe minute, but as a life perspective.

It has always been my view, and I stand by it still, that people should only have children if they want to be parents. Not because The Time Was Right, or because All Of My Friends Are Having Children or because That’s What You Do, Isn’t It? or because Oops!. You have children because you want to be a parent to them. To responsibly raise the next generation, to experience love in a different way and to pass that love on to your children. And then your children’s children. And if you’re really lucky, your children’s children’s children. You get the idea.

As you can imagine this is something I have spent a lot of time thinking about throughout my life, and the thought that there is an ever growing likelihood with each passing month that I will never get to experience or share that love, it’s really getting to me, in a big way.

So, things are rough right now. Very very rough. To the point where I wonder if I can get through this, or if I even want to. If, maybe, I’m getting to the end of the line here? I just don’t know. I’m trying to hold on, but it feels like my grip is slipping, and I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes to not let go.

Not the happiest of notes to end a post on, but – hey – this is an honesty-focused blog, and there is a warning that things on this blog may not always be nice..

xx

Help! My Therapist Is Pregnant

Ever since I began seeing A. about two and a half years ago the fact that she is very obviously of child bearing age and would thus in all likelihood at some point want to have children has been brewing at the back of my mind. It’s one of those worries that has been there from the get go, and on more than one occasion I have actually talked myself into believing A. was pregnant when she wasn’t. Rather unsurprisingly, this has usually been at times when I myself have been particularly worried about the possibility that I may never get to experience motherhood.

The one thing I’ve always said is that when it does happens, well, I won’t deal well with it. I will hate it.

Now that it has happened, it feels very different to how I imagined it would. I can’t really say whether I’m dealing with it in a good or a bad way, I’m simply dealing with it on a day-to-day, session-to-session basis. Some days it all feels very OK, and on other days not at all. Sometimes the way I feel about A.’s pregnancy will even shift within a single session! And whether my feelings are positive or negative is definitely more random than cyclic.

As I mentioned in my previous post, prior to A. actually telling me she’s pregnant, I had already somehow worked it out, but decided to push it aside. Even though I on almost all levels knew this wasn’t the case, I tried very hard to convince myself that it was just another one of those false alarms, that it was all in my head, all to do with me, nothing to do with reality. I was working very hard at pushing myself into denial, until A. burst the bubble.

The way she broke it to me was something along the lines of “There’s something I need to talk to you about. I think you may already know..” at the very beginning of a session. She then told me she wasn’t exactly sure how it was going to work, in terms of her having time off, but that she thought she’d have three months off. My instant reaction to that was “That’s not very long” failing to explain that by that I meant that it wasn’t very long for the baby. For me, any break longer than a week is an absolute eternity, and fills me with out-of this-world anxiety.

Child-related themes have always been fairly frequent in my therapy, as having children has been my number one dream since I was a kid myself, so it’s hard to say if A. being pregnant has pushed those issues more to the forefront or not – it’s never particularly far off my mind – but I can say one thing for sure: having someone sitting across from you looking very pregnant will inevitably be a bit in your face; it’s not exactly something which can be readily ignored. [Although I have read case studies of clients apparently doing just that right up until the baby was born].

There are so many different aspects to all of this. There’s the outrageously jealous she’s having what I want most of all aspect, there’s the classic but I want to be your baby aspect, the I don’t want to share you with anyone sibling-rivalry perspective and – of course – the I really don’t want to think about it but you’ve been having sex borderline Oedipal side to it. There is also feelings of wow I’m so unbelievably happy for you and the somewhat odd I feel really sad that I won’t get to know this child I see growing before me.

There are moments when I really wish A. wasn’t pregnant, and other times I’m genuinely panicking at the thought of anything going wrong with the pregnancy.

I guess in a way you could say that A.’s being pregnant is one of those boundary blurrings that can’t really be avoided, and as I have said to A. more than once, I have a feeling that the next few months will be a bit of a roller coaster in terms of how I’ll respond to it all. Some days I feel completely freaked out by the huge unknowable factor which comes naturally with something like this: there is no way of knowing exactly from when A. will need to be off, there is no way of knowing when she’ll be back [in my mind I am mentally preparing for a much longer break than three months], there is also no knowing where I’ll be at when the break does happen, and there is no knowing where I’ll be at the end of it. What if things just plummet? What do I do? And, oddly just as frightening; what if I deal really well with the break, cope in a way I hadn’t expected? What would that say about the work we have been doing? About our relationship?

Scary stuff, all of it, let me tell you.

So.. watch this space and brace yourself for more than one serious freak-out.

All the very best and more,

xx

Massive Attack – Teardrop

The Happier Side of Memory Lane – An Entry About The Art of Study Avoidance

I should be studying. I really should. Should be reading about how the brain organises memory. It is really interesting, but, seriously – Wimbledon is on, the weather is great, surely it’s not right to have to sit down with books and notes and things like that? I’d much rather do other things. Like writing somewhat pointless blog entries..

Sent off part two of my application form to do voluntary work late last night. This morning a chap called back. He wants me to come for an interview next Thursday. Great! I really hope I’ll pass, because I am sooo wanting to get back to working with kids. And their parents. :)

Asked the mother of two of the children I’ve nannied for to be my reference. She emailed me back right away to say that of course she’ll be my reference. Very sweet. She also mentioned that they’re going to Switzerland, doing the same trip we did the year I was staying with them and asked if I remember patting the mountain cows.. Boy, do I ever!? Happy memories, I tell you. The girls were great. We had so much fun! That trip was simply brilliant. Sure, it had it’s moments, but all in all – very fond memories. (Just remembered that I wrote a poem of sorts in the guest book at the little chesa I was staying in in Madulain.. Might have to pull out my journal from my stay there and take a trip down memory lane).

It’s really amazing to still be in touch with the parents and children I have nannied for. I’m also in touch with the very first girl I was looking after. That was something like 14 years ago in Australia. I did lose touch with the family for a little bit, but a few years ago I got back in touch with them, and every once in a while I’ll receive a message from M., the girl I took care of. She’s now a young adult, and it’s incredibly satisfying to be able to hear about the things she is getting up to. I’m very proud of her!

In the last several years I have been doing jobs that have nothing to do with children, and although they’ve actually all been very interesting there is something very special about working with children. It’s the kind of job where the reward in many ways is almost instantaneous.

Was thinking about the time I spent in India the other day. For those of you who don’t already know, I spent about six months living and working with the children at an orphanage in a village outside a village outside a village in the Indian outback about ten years ago. Again, it was a very challenging job, but also incredibly rewarding. I probably wouldn’t opt to do it again, but I’m very glad to have had that experience. I learned a lot out there!

The one thing that does make the experience somewhat bittersweet is that I know very little about what came of the 28 children staying at the orphanage. I think about them quite often, and it is difficult to know that, unlike the children I nannied for, life may not have turned out quite so well for these young people. There was one child especially who meant – or, actually, still means – a lot to me. A cheeky but amazingly bright 3-year-old who asked me to be her mother.. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to really be her mother I still wanted to leave something of me behind, so I wrote her a letter and left her my watch, so that she’d be given them both when she’s older. (Having a watch is at an orphanage something very special, and my particular watch had a backlight that the kids would take turns switching on and off). I often wonder if she did get it in the end, and if she remembers me.. I hope so.

Well, I’ve managed to shy away from my studies for a good half hour now. Still, I guess I’ll have to get to it.. Maybe a trip to the library will prove inspirational. At least there I can pretendto be studying..

All the best,

xx

Quick note: As you may have noticed I have re-activated the option to leave comments. If you wish to leave a comment, please do, but do keep it in mind that even if you know who I am, this blog is in essence anonymous. Cheers! :)

Sleeping With Al Green – An Entry About Music Therapy

Ok, so the heading is a little misleading; I didn’t actually sleep with Al Green. But, I did fall asleep with him last night and I woke up again with him this morning, and let me tell you there are worse things a girl can do. There is just something about the good reverend’s sound that I find very soothing. I tend to go through phases in terms of music, and at the moment it’s all Al Green. I had been going through a long period of listening near exclusively to a very specific playlist of tracks sung by Gretchen Peters, Heather Nova, Dixie Chicks and Martina McBride, and then, for some completely unknown reason I came up for air only to dive straight into my Al Green archive. Not sure why. I just did. A bit odd, actually, since I haven’t really listened much to him before. I mean really listened. You know what I mean.

I’m a big believer in the healing power of music. Not just composing it (which I sadly haven’t got the talent for), but just randomly listening to music. Having it around you, allowing yourself to be completely lost in it.

I pretty much use music and lyrics as a replacement for traditional psychopharmaca. If I need something to lift my mood, well there’s a song for it, if I need something to help me settle down, there’s a song for that, too. Also, when words fail me I can often find a line from a song that will express exactly what I wanted to say. My youngest sister and I often communicate by sending texts to each other, not with our own words, but with little bits of lyrics, or lines from books we’ve read, and it’s all that’s needed to let the other one know what we’re thinking of, what mood we’re in and so on.

So, yeah, music is a pretty awesome thing, if you ask me.

I wonder if there is such a thing as music therapy (in the same capacity as there is art therapy). There should be.

Love and Happiness,

xx

A tiny bit of trivia: It’s Al Green’s 63rd birthday tomorrow.

Click “Love and Happiness” and various other hidden links in the text above to hear some great music. (Feel free to ignore the actual videos..)