How have I come to this?

This afternoon I need to drive to the other side of Southampton for a covid test. I haven’t been that way for years. I know the way to where I need to be. It is only 20 miles each way.

There are roadworks most of the way from here to there. Those who think they know best are turning our motorway into a “smart motorway”. The rest of us think it’s a waste of time energy and money not to mention unsafe. I am going to give myself an hour to get there just in case of delays.

Even just a few years ago I would have thought nothing of doing this journey. I enjoyed driving and often made journeys of several hundred miles. Now I am feeling anxious about it.

When did I change. Has my joy of driving stopped suddenly or has it crept up on me slowly?

Since having this new car I have only stayed local. Maybe going a bit further today will help. I have been driving automatic cars for a few years but this one is manual. I had forgotten how often you have to change gear when driving around town. Perhaps driving along the motorway will help. Either way it isn’t going to stop me going to other places when required, it just might need more mental preparation.

The domino effect

It feels to me that I am experiencing the domino effect. Each domino that falls knocks the next which then leads to the next.

Dominoes

Each time I have any serious health issues I get radical treatment which cures the problem.

Unfortunately that treatment leads to another serious problem. That then gets treated but then leads to the next problem.

I am currently waiting for a date to have an endoscopy to rule out cancer. I’m feeling a bit anxious if truth be told.

Alcohol and the family

A couple of days ago I noticed that someone had been having a good look around this blog. Whether it was someone I know or not I don’t know. That someone had looked at lots of posts including one called where has my dad gone.

As i scrolled through the list of posts looked at I knew what most of them were about but this one puzzled me. My dad died in 1995. So it couldn’t be about him. This particular post was written back in 2015.

Reading it again it took me a little while to remember it. I was describing a visit to one of my sons in London. On the way to the flat he shared with his now wife and another couple. They stopped at a local shop. Whilst they were inside (I was waiting outside with my youngest son). A drunk was ejected from the store.

When my other son came out he asked “where has my dad gone?” I knew instinctively what he was on about. Growing up with an alcoholic father had an impact on my boys. This particular son could do a very accurate impression of his dad when he was drunk.

When my two eldest sons were going off to university within a week of each other I wanted to take my boys out for a drink. All four of them chose non alcoholic drinks even though two were old enough to drink and one was 17.

All four boys are now adults (2 are fathers) they do all drink now but only moderately. As a young adult my eldest son used to be the designated driver when out with mates. My second son was usually the one taking care of his drunken mates. Although I have heard a few tales of his drunkenness. My younger two are not keen on alcohol.

Talking about it earlier my mother commented that when she came to our house once when eldest was about 8 or 9 he told her. ” If you have come to see my part time father, he’s at the pub”. It is sad that from a very young age he knew the telephone number of the pub off by heart. ( Before mobile phones).

As a family our lives revolved around the pub even if we were not in one. If we went anywhere at the weekends we had to be back before the pub opened. My husband couldn’t cope with getting there after the door was unlocked. During the day his friends would come and go but he would still be there.

He would frequently phone home to say he would be back in half an hour. Other times he wanted me to fetch him. When I did (with boys in tow) he would need to finish his drink. I always refused to have a drink. Sometimes it would take several hours before he managed to leave. Often I just left him there and went home.

My boys grew up knowing that their father was very good at making promises. Not good at keeping them. They learnt never to expect him to keep a promise. He would buy them play station games or football shirts to make up for not being there. I lost count of the birthdays he missed because he was five minutes away in the pub. I don’t know where he got the money for his guilt gifts. We never had enough money for the bills.

I learnt over the years that everything was an excuse to drink. Bad day at work, good day at work, hot day, wet day. Money worries or me being annoyed with him.

After I divorced him he was upset that he didn’t want to be a weekend father. I said that would be an improvement. He would arrange to see the boys. Not do much the eldest as he was off leading his own life. Frequently he would either cancel seeing them or he wanted them to lend him money for cigarettes or beer or both. When they did see him I would drop them off. Happy to have some me time. It never lasted. I think 2 hours was the longest before I got the plea from them to pick them up.

I am happy to say that he gave up drinking about 4 or maybe it’s 5 years ago now. He is better for it. He is trying hard to rebuild his relationship with his sons and have a good relationship with our grandchildren.

Since i moved back here to live with my mother I see him regularly. He has been a great help to both of us in the last couple of years. I wouldn’t go back to him but we are at least friends now.

Fractured not broken

The other night and it was at night I wrote a post about waiting. I wrote it because I had been reading Abbie Greaves book The end of the Earth. It had taken me back to when I was a young adult. I couldn’t sleep because of the thoughts going round and round in my head. Once I had written it and I apologise I didn’t read it through so there are bound to be errors.

One of my new blogging friends Bitchy after 60 commented that with everything I have been through it would have broken most people.

That post only scratched the surface of what my life has been like in the last 50+ years. I’m not broken yet. I have many emotional fractures and my body is falling apart but nothing has broken me yet.

Last night mother asked if I had experienced depression or anxiety in the last year. The question was in relation to the covid-19 pandemic. The answer is no. I am lucky to have technology that has allowed me to keep in contact with family and friends. I could also order whatever I needed online. I also have plenty to keep me occupied. My garden, reading, knitting etc.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced anxiety or feeling in low spirits. I have but more in respect of my health than the pandemic.

Besotted granny

One of my friends has joined the besotted granny brigade. Her granddaughter is 4 months old and she is so in love with her.

For years I said I wasn’t ready to become a granny. I hadn’t finished being a mother. Then a few years ago I started to worry about my health etc, that was when it hit me that if my sons didn’t hurry up and start having children I would be to old/ill to enjoy them.

Three years ago I became a granny for the first time. I instantly fell in love with my grandson. Teddy is three now. I was afraid that he wouldn’t know who I am what with covid restrictions and them living in London. Video calls were me watching him play whilst I chatted to his daddy. The other week when lockdown rules were eased I got to spend time with him in the garden (very cold). Then last week on his birthday we had a video call where he actually talked to me. He showed me his toys and books. Today we had another video call with him interacting with me. He knows that I am granny. I love this new stage in our relationship.

19 months ago my eldest son provided me with a granddaughter. After 4 sons and a grandson I was delighted to finally have a girl in the family. She has always been used to video calling with her other family and with me so she has always been interactive. When she visited our garden the other week she would take gammy by the hand to look at things or fill her little watering can.

We also had a video call today. She tells me lots of things that I don’t always understand but her speech is coming along well.

This granny is besotted with both my grandchildren.

Waiting

Last week I wrote about Abbie Greaves book The Silent Treatment and I was looking forward to reading her second book The Ends of The Earth. I finished reading it a couple of days ago. I would recommend it however it is a heart felt tale of love and pain.

Reading this book was bitter sweet for me. I enjoy Abbie’s writing but some of the characters took me back to my past. I’m not saying that these characters in anyway resemble me or my past. There are aspects of this sad tale which remind me of one of the bad times in my life.

Some people in my real life know bits of my story but I guess my mother is the only one who knows most of it and even so I didn’t divulge some of my truth until many years later.

When i was 20 I had been engaged for 2 years to M. After a falling out with his mother I was treated more like his mistress/dirty secret than his fiancé. Eventually I had had enough and broke it off. Some months later I began seeing A. He was an older man but we got on really well and he treated me so much better. He was serving in the army but we spent as much time as we could together. We had mutual friend that he stayed with at weekends.

At the time I had joined the Territorial Army in my spare time. I remember once being embarrassed when A had dropped me off for my weekly training. Someone commented about my dad dropping me off. Anyway it was t few days after my 21st birthday that I had been away on a weekend training exercise on Salisbury Plain. When I got back on Sunday night A met me at the barracks to take me home. He took me to our friend’s flat.

He wanted sex. I was tired, battered and bruised. I wanted nothing more than to sleep. He forced himself on me. I made it clear I wasn’t in the right frame of mind or body for sex. That didn’t stop him. I don’t remember how I got home, I guess A drove me. The following Saturday he came to see me. I told him we were finished. He was not happy. He raped me in my parents living room. I never saw him again for which I was glad. I never told anyone what had happened.

At that time police were not sympathetic and I knew that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, after all he was my boyfriend and this was years before domestic rape was recognised. Later I. The year I got back together with M. It didn’t work out, I had changed. Not only that but I found being alone with him difficult. I couldn’t cope with intimacy, I would always see the face of A looming over me. After several months I broke off my relationship again.

I found an ad in the local paper for a week in Austria traveling by coach. By this time I was 22 and in need of a break. I was travelling alone. Being one of the last passengers to catch the coach I had a seat behind the driver. During the long drive I got chatting to both drivers. Once in Austria we were split up around the village. If memory serves me right there were three of us staying in the house where I was staying.

Through out our stay there were events and trips each day. Most of the group were couples or groups. I was just me and often found myself with the drivers and our tour rep. Looking back I know that was a mistake. I was beginning to feel an attachment to the taller of the drivers C. We were spending more and more of our spare time together. Until I ended up spending the night with him. C was an older man (apparently I prefer older men), but younger than A. Amazingly when I was with C I didn’t see A’s face.

By the time I returned home we had swapped phone numbers. He had my home number and my work number. Whenever he was between trips I would catch a train to London where we would stay in cheap hotels. He told me he wouldn’t marry me but he wanted us to live together. I spent a few days with him staying with a friend of his. I applied for a job at his local airport.

Then the unthinkable happened. I hit a call from an older woman claiming to be his wife. S was 14 years older than him and he was 14 years older than me. I guess I will never know the real truth. C told me that he had married S to help her and her two daughters (my age). Every time he tried to leave her she cut her wrists or some other cry for attention.

For months I had to have my calls screened both at home and at work. S or her daughter would call me saying nasty things. I stopped seeing C. Then one night he arrived at my home saying he had left her. He couldn’t take it anymore. The next day we found a bedsit near to my work. That first week it was great coming back every evening to my meal cooked for me. The two of us together making plans. It wasn’t so great for C, he wasn’t used to being in a strange town alone all day with no work. It was his off season.

He told me that he had a friend in Norfolk who could give him work as a taxi driver Monday to Friday. He would be back at the weekends. He never came back. I refused to get upset. I couldn’t phone him, we didn’t have mobile phones in those days. After a few weeks I had a phone call from the Samaritans supposedly searching for C on S’s behalf.

I stayed at the bedsit until the end of our 3 month contract then moved back to my parents. While I was at the bedsit I didn’t see anyone outside of work and a few visits to my parents in the next town. I couldn’t give up on C, I couldn’t forget about him and move on. I needed to know where he was and what had happened. I kept my grief tucked inside me. I never cried, my health began to suffer.

I remember one day phoning my mother at work in a panic. I felt as though my life had collapsed, I didn’t know how I would get through the next minute let alone the next hour. I don’t remember what happened next but I got through the day. My work was suffering, eventually I handed in my notice. I knew I couldn’t carry on with my job in the state I was in.

I managed to persuade my Dr that I needed help but I didn’t want pills. He arranged for a councillor to visit me at home. Unfortunately he was about to change jobs so I only saw him the once. He told me that I was clinically depressed. We went through everything in my life that was making me feel so bad. That helped, just breaking it all down into different problems.

About a month later I got a job working in a bar then a job as an hotel receptionist. One afternoon on my way home I stopped at our local supermarket. On the way out I saw a face I never expected to see again. It was C. He waited for me to walk me home. As soon as I was home I ran to the bathroom to be sick.

It was 11 months since he had left me. He thought he could pick up where he left me. He explained that he had gone to Norfolk as planned but he had phoned home to check how S was. She was in hospital after another suicide attempt. So he went back to look after her. Now she was well and he was able to leave. I saw him a few times over the next couple of months.

I became pregnant, he said he was decorating the flat for S then we would be together. I lost the baby. Suddenly he was unavailable again. He did arrange to see me over the August bank holiday. Bizarrely I stayed with his younger step daughter and partner. We had become friends over the phone. She didn’t agree with how her mother and sister had been towards me. Anyway when I was supposed to see C it was S who turned up. I was suddenly very ill in the bathroom. Later we spoke and found that neither if us were the bitch we had thought.

Over the years I have wondered what happened to C and S. I moved on with my life. I met the man who gave me my four sons.

Abbie’s book was nothing like my story but it did get me thinking about it. I just remembered that one of my colleagues way back then once said to me. ” Your live life might not be happy but it’s interesting” . Thinking back on that comment I don’t know why she thought it was interesting.

Disrespected

I have just been reading about a cleaner who retired from her job after 35 years. Her latest boss had been cruel and disrespectful. However the cleaner showed that she was the better person when she left. The note she left behind reminded the staff that they should always be kind and not think themselves better than anyone even the cleaner.

Back in the late 1990s I had gone back to work part time after having my children. I had a part time temporary job for 4 months. I took the summer off to look after my children in the school holidays. When the children went back to school I took another part time job until Christmas. It was in the accounts department of a local distribution company. I had always liked working in accounts. It is possible that I could have enjoyed working there but I didn’t. I dreaded every day and couldn’t wait to get out of there on my last day.

It wasn’t the work, it was the staff. All young women and one man all working full time and had been there for quite a while. I was the part time assistant. I was treated as though I was stupid and didn’t know anything. Nobody spoke to me. Unless it was a condescending comment.

Just because I was a mother working part time they thought I wasn’t worth as much as them. None of them had yet started a family. I hope that after they had a family they might have remembered what it’s like to be a working mother and maybe try to be kinder.

After the Christmas holidays I was able to go back to the first job. This time I was there for 8 years. Working with much nicer people. I wasn’t the only part time worker and everyone was treated equally. I only left there when I was on sick leave whilst going through my nasty divorce. The Company was in the midst of a restructuring. The part time temporary staff were the first to go.

Was my body ever a temple?

I’m thinking obviously about the saying that your body is a temple.

This is how I thought of my body three years ago https://ladyinredagain.com/2018/01/10/my-body-is-a-temple/

Now I think my body is more like a colander. Until you plug the holes the water or in my case iron will just keep running out.

Reaching the Summit

Yesterday we had a visit from a specialist nurse. She came to assess how mother manages in the house and see what help she could give. Another grab rail will soon be installed.

Mother has been shown better ways of getting in and out of bed and her armchair. She has been forbidden from using the riser function of her chair. If she can do the exercises she has been given she will have more strength in her legs. This will make her less dependent on me which will be good for both of us.

Today I was out of the house for much longer than on any day since my surgery in August. I attended a mini socially distanced online training summit. It was a big occasion for me. Partly by managing to be away from home for more than just one or two hours at a time. Also for socially distanced spending time with friends that I haven’t seen for almost 18 months.

Whilst there I took a phone call from a ‘private number’ which turned out to be one of the drs at our surgery. She had the results of the blood test I had on Wednesday. Apparently I am anaemic again which explains my low energy levels recently. She has read the letter I had sent a few weeks ago. I was then grilled about my bowel problems. She is recommending that I am seen by a gastroenterologist urgently.

I am glad that my problems are being dealt with. However I am trying not to think about what this entails.

Mother survived her day at home alone. I made her lunch before I went out. She tells me that she has done her exercises. Perhaps in the not too distant future we will both be physically better off.

There’s no helping some people

I have been talking to mother about care/nursing homes. She was saying that when my grandfather went into a care home and then a nursing home she didn’t give him any choice of where to go. She chose for him. Both homes were friendly and suited his needs and ours. I particularly liked visiting him in the care home although it was an hour drive for us.

When it was time for him to move to a nursing home we found one closer to us here. I was able to visit on my way home from work. I’m not going to say that he was happy there. I’m not sure he was happy. He was comfortable and well cared for. Unlike many of the other residents he still had his mind in full working order. He missed having anyone to talk to properly.

Mother has made a mental list of things she wants to take with her when/if she needs to go into a care home. She knows which paintings, books and music she wants and if possible her laptop if the home has WiFi. I have suggested several times in the last couple of years that maybe she should consider which homes would suit her otherwise she will be going where ever I find.

Talking of having WiFi reminded me of when my husband sold our marital home. He was 64 and having difficulty looking after himself and our home. I found a flat in sheltered accommodation for him. He checked it out and decided to buy one of the flats there. Not the one I found but another one.

The plan was that he would move straight from the house to the flat. Obviously he would have to sell/store most of the furniture. About two weeks before the planned move he had a meeting with the warden of the flats. This did not go well. Apparently they don’t have facilities for broadband which he needed for his graphic design work. They were also not happy that he wanted to work. (He hadn’t worked during our marriage).

I found him bed and breakfast accommodation to move into until he found somewhere permanent. Instead of a few weeks as originally planned he was there for 9 months. Finally finding a top floor studio flat. (Not ideal for someone who has frequent falls). He has now been in that flat for 2 years. The last time I spoke to him he still didn’t have any internet service connection. His ability to use technology is zero.

I don’t know if it is still the case but at the start of the year he had been having someone check on him weekly and meals delivered daily. He could have avoided so much hassle and be in a much nicer flat than the studio flat he now has if he had bought the original place where he would have had a warden checking on him.

Considering that he can’t use his computer. He can’t even get his TV working and he certainly doesn’t work. It would have been ideal for him. In a much nicer area and close to the town.

Even after leaving him I still did what I could to help him. I’ve stopped now.