Crossroads: 1. an intersection of two or more roads.
2. a point at which a crucial decision must be made which will have far-reaching consequences.
Ever feel like you don’t quite fit? Like what used to work no longer does and now it feels plain awkward, unpleasant almost?
I very much feel like I’ve reached a set of crossroads in my life and that I need to make a decision which could take me in any number of directions. Fundamentally I know that direction will not be the one from where I’ve come – for at the moment at least, my current path is one I no longer wish to walk upon.
I’ve always been very aware of my mortality and of making every second in life count. For example, I’m ridiculously bad at saving; often enjoying spending sprees if I can, not seeing the point in being the richest person in the graveyard. I like things to be immediate, present. I am impatient and hate waiting with a passion. Why wait to enjoy life when I can theoretically do it now? And it’s this constant thought that has led me to where I currently stand, at these crossroads.
Deciding your own fate is quite a powerful tool. The possibilities – even with three children in tow – are pretty much endless. It’s having the courage and determination to make those decisions that’s the problem. It’s easy to get comfortable, muddle on by vaguely satisfied with your lot. However familiarity often breeds contempt, and we can begin to resent what once held enjoyment. The everyday groundhogness of life (I talk about his often) can undoubtedly be wearing and tiresome.
I think for me I’ve had a sudden realisation that no one else is responsible for my happiness – and I am fed up of my mood being solely dependent on the moods of others. I’d like to be in control of my own emotions and I’m sure that if I was doing something with my life that made me happy, I may have more of a grip on them instead of finding everything so sodding overwhelming.
So I’ve made a big decision. It may never actually come to fruition and I might be kidding myself that it’s even possible, but you know what, if I don’t try I’ll never know and will spend forever regretting it, slowly becoming more miserable by the day.
And so, my decision is…
To apply to go back to university and do a Creative Writing Masters.
I love writing, and I always have. It’s saved me from PND, it’s cathartic, exciting, rewarding. I fizz with ideas and physically feel like I am going to explode if I don’t write them down. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, but have never dreamed possible.
This week has been spent drafting and redrafting (a stupid number of times) personal statements and short stories for submission. The thought of doing the course excites me more than I ever thought possible and yes…I am well aware that I might not even get on it (I often doubt my writing and think it sounds like something a ten year old would’ve written!) but at least I’ll have tried. Done something positive to realise that ever hopeful dream of living to work!
So for now the decision about which direction to take at these crossroads is an easy and amazingly exciting one. My happiness is very much my responsibility – and I’m going to do everything I can to make myself ecstatic.
Tears: Lacrimation, or lachrymation, (from Latin lacrima, meaning “tear”) is the secretion of tears. Tears formed through crying are associated with strong internal emotions.
Tears bubble under the surface,
I will not set them free.
They won’t escape, just bubble there;
Always a part of me.
Sadness washes over at times;
Overwhelming, sudden, shock.
Instead of listening, addressing, dealing,
It’s in a box, shut tight, no lock.
Not wanting to admit the pain,
Not seeing the honest truths.
Smile and say I am ok,
Believe it, as if smiling is proof.
Please don’t ask too many questions,
Please don’t delve too deep.
I will not cry, I won’t go there,
I cannot bear to weep.
Just know I take cover, hide away,
Say I’m ok, that I’m fine.
Tears will always bubble inside,
But that’s where they’ll stay for some time.
Hope: Hope is the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or in the world at large.
Post natal depression – when you are living it, or watching someone live it – is hell on earth. It’s dark, isolating, terrifying. Intrusive thoughts are your daily companion and the world can pass by in a blur of tears and panic attacks. It is a part of my life I’ve worked damn hard to come out the other side of (three sodding times) and is something I’m terrified of returning. I didn’t realise, until this week, how good I have become at boxing up those hideous times in my mind, and moving those negative dark thoughts and feelings into a part of my brain that I never want to access. I’ve blocked it out, hidden it away and got on with life.
But ignoring something is never wise is it? Ignoring something never means it’s going to go away, and magically disappear. Generally I find that if I ignore something it can come back twice as hard to bite me firmly and painfully on the ass.
Life keeps me very busy and keeps my mind active and full of a multitude of different things…so it doesn’t have room for the past. It doesn’t like to share space with anything other than the present or the future. My mind likes thoughts about what I need to put in a packed lunch, or what I need to buy at the supermarket, or teach my year 5s that afternoon. I’ve become an expert at living in the moment and ignoring anything that stands in the way of that – even a panic attack. And I honestly didn’t realise how good at this I’d become, even almost convincing myself that I’d never really been that ill. That yes, I’d cried a bit and had been sleep deprived, but other than that I’d been ok. Just a bit down and desperate. A sleep deprived mum. It’s not like I was looking back through rose tinted spectacles…I just wasn’t looking back.
Today I met with some truly inspirational people. People who’ve suffered with pre and post natal depression, post traumatic stress disorder, post natal anxiety and puerperal psychosis, or who’ve supported a loved one through it. People affected by perinatal mental health problems and have lived to tell the tale an are now working hard to support others. And today we talked about the illness, discussed how we can raise awareness and start a national week or month dedicated to perinatal mental health awareness and support. Today I remembered what it was like, revisited a time in my life I’d give anything to be able to forget. It was exciting and draining all at the same time and tonight I am at a loss for words as to how best describe how I am feeling. The thought of others suffering what I did makes me want to cry, but it also puts a fire in my belly that is so strong and powerful it makes me determined to do everything I can to support them, and help them, and let them know that this isn’t the end, that they can get better – that there is hope.
Here is a link to the blog post I wrote in January that got the ball rolling 🙂
Complete: having all parts or elements; lacking nothing; whole; entire; full: a complete set of Mark Twain’s writings. Finished; ended; concluded: a complete orbit.
The weekend just passed was one of those weekends where you don’t really do anything, but you get a lot done. No family or friends visiting it was just the five of us, and Saturday morning was focused on organising and decluttering. We seem to be a family that collects stuff, stuff in every room of the house, stuff we don’t use or need and stuff that doesn’t necessarily belong here anymore. For example, my bedroom currently houses an old car seat; which is no longer needed or used. Our youngest’s room has a bed guard and dismantled Jumperoo in it, sitting unassuming in the opposite corner to his cot; and our kitchen has umpteen unused gadgets covering either what little workspace we have or in nooks and crannies on the floor. And do not get me started on our garage, which unsurprisingly isn’t currently used for parking our car.
So, on Saturday morning, a visit to the tip was in order and the pram I’d first used when having our youngest (now broken) (pram, not youngest) was casually thrown into the boot of the car with a load of clothes and some other random bits and bobs.
Putting the pram into the car it didn’t hit me. Driving to the tip it didn’t hit me. Wheeling the pram over to the designated area it didn’t hit me. But driving past it, sitting there empty and broken, it did hit me. Hit me that it was the pram which had carried my last baby. I mentally went back in time and remembered using the pram on walks we’d been on, holidays where I’d pushed and rocked him to sleep in it; day trips, school runs, supermarket visits. And out of no-where I began to cry! I felt so daft for it was just a silly old broken pram…and yet it represented so much – and it was like saying goodbye to a part of my life that I’d never get back.
As we drove on to do our supermarket shopping (we really know how to have a good time don’t we?!) my husband asked me what was wrong. And so I told him that I was sad I wouldn’t be having anymore babies, and that leaving the pram at the tip had brought this home to me. And he sighed. And he looked at the road straight ahead and calmly said, ‘I’d quite like another baby.’ My eyes opened wide, as did my mouth! What! Another baby! That’s crazy! Or…was it…?
As we did the shopping we found ourselves excitedly chatting about babies, how amazing they are, how we’re awake all of the time now anyway so one more wouldn’t make a difference. We got a bit carried away (no, not that carried away!) and spent the rest of the day wondering ‘what if?’ and reliving happy memories of when our boys were babies.
And so, for the rest of the weekend, and even today, it got me thinking….thinking about how when you have children do you ever know if you’re done and would like no more? Is there a maternal switch that just turns off and you’re happy with your lot? Or as mums, do we always think…one more, maybe just one more?
I vowed, vehemently so, that I would NEVER EVER IN A MILLION YEARS have another baby after I had my youngest, and yet now he’s nearly two I find myself craving a newborn and being unbelievably broody – even though the PND I suffered afterwards was something I wouldn’t want to put anyone through ever again. I love babies, I love my babies, and could literally make a million of them if it was physically and practically possible. But it’s not is it, finances and the size of my house are all factors for a start. As is my mental health and our other children. I’m so fortunate to have been blessed with three amazing children, three healthy children whose lives are pretty fab at the moment. Deciding whether to have another baby or not isn’t just my decision, nor is it just mine and my husband’s…there is so much more at stake and so many more people involved and affected by it. (including my best friend, who firmly stated that she’d be moving abroad if I ever announced a fourth pregnancy)
In all honesty – even though I’m still clearly thinking about it today – as the days have passed since the pram went to a new home, I’ve become less enamoured with the idea of another baby. A sleepless night and eight loads of washing this morning later have helped confirm that opinion. I guess I know the reality of what having another child means, and that excites me and unnerves me all at the same time. It hard work, babies and children are hard work…and it’s relentless….and yet it’s all worth it and for me is the most wonderful thing in the world. And so I keep thinking – is our family complete, will it ever be complete, or will I always want one more…just one more…
Seems my decision at the moment, quite possibly isn’t a final one…
What do you think? Is deciding to have a baby ever an easy decision? Are we ruled by our hearts or our heads, and do we truly know when our family is complete?
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