I’d be lying if I said that I resembled anything other than a sheet of uncooked, filo pastry at the moment (metaphorically, of course, although I do feel a bit transparent, pale, and pasty at the moment – gotta love the British climate!). What I mean is that I feel like I am spread a bit thin.
I know this is a bit of a weird analogy to use, but I am a GBBO fan/loser (decide for yourself). For those of you not in the UK, ‘The Great British Bake Off’ is a baking competition and week by week the contestants take on various baking challenges set around a theme: bread week, cake week, biscuit week, pudding week…
I often get the sense of being like an unskilled/unfortunate baker on pastry week. I try to get lovely thin sheets of filo (read as high functioning, optimum performance in life) and invariably just try that bit too hard, stretch the sheet a bit much and then a whacking great hole appears and the whole thing is totally fucked.
My filo pastry (life/self/who knows?- the metaphor has run its distance) has torn and split more times that I can count now. I try and patch it back up with a bit of egg wash (I need to get that bake in the oven!) but ultimately I am not going to be crowned ‘Star Baker’ any time soon.
So that’s exactly how I feel right now. I’m sure no one is any the wiser after that convoluted explanation.
Let’s start again.
Things in my life are ok, or as ok as they ever are. There hasn’t been any more significant trauma or upheaval in the last week or so, nothing has really changed, but I think the cumulative effect of the last few weeks and years (cancer, bereavement, and mental health struggles) combined with having zero time to myself is finally catching up with me.
I feel like I am spread a bit thin and the cracks are starting to show now. Those of you that follow this blog may well be thinking, “hang on a minute, love, the ‘cracks’ are more like ‘chasms’ and have been around for ages” and of course you’d be totally right. What I mean is the face I present outwardly in my day-to-day life is beginning to crack. The painted smile and the ‘can do’ attitude is faltering. I literally don’t think I can take on much more without things falling apart and so it is daft that I have been taking more and more things on…
It’s not totally desperate yet. I think I can pull this back from the brink by saying ‘no’ a bit more frequently and take some time out over Christmas. Right now I am just about functioning in my day-to-day and not spending hours lying in bed whenever the opportunity presents….which is probably because there have been no opportunities presenting for me to do that!! I am shattered and could do with a rest. I’m fighting my second chest infection in as many months and need to recharge my batteries.
I have been unusually busy this last week which is why I haven’t sat down to write anything, not because I don’t have things to say (I have two good – but tough- therapy sessions to talk about! – yay!), I just literally have not had the time or the space to really sit down and think or process much. I am always at the bottom of my ‘to do’ list and things keep cropping up that require my time and attention.
I wish I could say that the reason I haven’t been able to sit and write is because I have been undertaking highly stimulating activities (oh, god, I haven’t even had time for that in the last couple of weeks – no wonder I feel like a woman on the edge!…brb….!) but it’s not the case.
Actually this whole blog post is just me moaning. I’m really just complaining about niggly things that on top of the ‘big stuff’ that I am shackled to and drag along behind me are making me feel a bit shaky. There are too many plates spinning and it’s only a matter of time until one smashes on the floor. Or I breakdown.
The daily current ‘ugh’ is the school run stuff and ‘being a mum’ duties. I just want to make it absolutely clear here that although I excel at small talk and ‘mum’ things and being the organiser … I literally want to hang myself sometimes in the playground, or sitting at martial arts lessons, swimming lessons or blah blah blah. I sit there wondering where ‘I’ have gone. Who am I now?
I love that my kids do these things and are growing in competence and confidence but continually running about getting everyone to the right place, at the right time, with the right gear is a bit draining, frankly…. and that’s before you add in being an acceptable mother in conversation with people you have nothing in common with, whilst watching the kids do these things. I identify more with the women in ‘Bad Moms’…which means I don’t feel like I fit the mould!
Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids and would die for them but I could not give even the tiniest nugget of shit about either of their nativity plays (so shoot me already – it’s just a fucking hassle – where do I get a sodding horse outfit from anyway?!); how to organise the ‘bring and share’ Christmas lunch (title is self-evident is it not?); or ensuring that exactly 50% of the ‘mum’s Christmas night out’ meal (heaven help me!) is paid for by a certain date with pre-selected menu choice…… I mean really, I just want to die. I used to have a career and I was not completely intellectually dead.
I am aware that, to date, I have participated in the bare minimum of mum things, i.e PTA, fundraisers or whatever. I am more of a drop and run type mum at the gates: kiss, cuddle, ‘have a nice day’, and then get my head down and get the hell out of there. So of course, lately not wanting to be the mum that doesn’t do enough, (I tell you mums are a judging cliquey bunch) to show willing I recently attended a pre-school committee meeting…..FUCK ME!
If you don’t have kids then you can have no idea what level of torture something like this is to anyone with half a brain cell. Think bad, inefficient staff meeting and then add on an extra hour for good measure. I recommend one of two things to you, 1) don’t have kids, 2) take a leaf out of my book, learn from my error, and NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES GO TO ONE OF THESE MEETINGS.
A few weeks back it was that time of year where some members were standing down and others were required to fill the roles…you can see where this is going can’t you? They needed a chair and vice-chair among other roles. The vice-chair line manages the staff and is responsible for observing learning in the setting, ensuring quality, keeping the development plan up-to-date and accurate, and the person deals with Ofsted… basically it’s the bit that makes sure everything is good for inspection.
So there I was, there to make up the numbers when suddenly all eyes were on me.
I knew what they were thinking.
Had it not been the same day as my friend’s funeral I probably would have said ‘not a chance! Don’t you all look at me like that! It isn’t going to happen.’ but instead I said ‘Look, I’ve got to leave in a minute but I can see that my skill set does lend itself to this role, I’ve supervised and trained teachers and am used to dealing with Ofsted, so I’ll do it if you want’. I swear I had an out of body experience and watched myself from above as those words came out of my mouth. WTF?!
So of course, because I am actually pretty astute and capable I have gone into this stuff all guns blazing. There is a lot to do to and there was a meeting this week in which I proposed a strategy for meeting some of the Early Years criteria and how to staff it, then somehow offered to shortlist interviewees for a post in the setting and lead the interview in a couple of weeks. Again WTF? WTF am I doing?
I don’t know.
Ok, maybe if I am honest I do know what’s going here. I am aware that fairly imminently the emotional shit is going to hit the fan (cue Christmas therapy break) and so I am taking on commitments and distractions to keep busy in order to avoid the inevitable.
I am piling things into my calendar to keep busy and also in some weird way to make it so that I have to keep both emotionally and physically intact. Like today, for example, I invited my kids’ half-brother and mum (the kids have the same sperm donor) to visit for three days at the start of my therapy break…which will be lovely, but right now the last thing I need is to be running about after other people.
We all know that this strategy is going to be about as effective as a chocolate fireguard, don’t we?
I know all that will happen is that this feeling of being spread too thin is going to be exacerbated the moment the therapy break kicks in. I know this because since finding out the exact length of the therapy break in Monday’s session my appetite has gone right off, I’ve had to will myself to eat and feel very dissatisfied with my body….ah that wonderful coping mechanism. Suddenly all these niggly activities and drains on my energy feel unmanageable because as I am already starting to sink into the pits of attachment pain.
Basically what I’ve done in the last few weeks is go into denial. I am desperately pretending to myself that my last therapy session is not actually on the 11th of December and that I do not have an almost four week break until the next session on the 8th of January.
The thing is….all the denial in the world isn’t going to change things at 11:20am on the 11th as I walk out of therapy for the last time this year is it?
Did I mention that I hate therapy breaks?
Therapy breaks are the absolute worst! Especially over the holidays when (at least for me) everything seems to trigger me so easily. Something I’ve found during my breaks is that I like to write during that hour where I should be in session. All the things I would say if my therapist were present. I would bet you have internalized your therapist’s voice enough to know what she might say back. Just a suggestion! I think it’s great you’ve found some distractions to keep your mind busy, even if it involves tiresome meetings. I function best that way too. Also glad you are working on self-care and being more assertive so as not to spread yourself too thin. I should take a page from you! 🙂
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I’m not great at internalising my therapist. I tend to get angry and feel like she’s abandoned me… angry toddler! I’ve just read your post but will comment later x
Loved your filo analogy, but I’m sorry your feeling it. Therapy breaks just suck. Attachment pain sucks xx
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Ha! Thanks! That’s how I feel, rubbish pastry! 😂 I’m literally watching myself head into that tunnel of dread and angst with the break. Argh. I have a feeling my posts are going to be a bit monotonous for the next six weeks- here’s a brief synopsis: ‘ahhh therapy break, argh pain, argh abandonment, argh I hate my therapist for leaving me …. but I love her’!!! Hope you’re holding up xxx
Self-care,woman!!! I can see why you’re filling up your time but can you try to schedule some downtime for yourself? U need to or else you’ll implode! Self-care isn’t optional.
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I know you’re right. I realised yesterday what was happening … argh! Off to town now to see a friend and potter round the Christmas market. First day ‘off’ in a while. Although have just totally blitzed the house 😕🤣
Have a nice time x
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Sounds like you’ve got into what I call the ‘doing addiction’. I know it well. And it’s really addictive for me, in the sense that I can’t stop doing it even though I can see it’s not going to end well. Please take even just a little time out. If only to just have a nap or listen to some chilled out music for half an hour. Take it from someone who has just broken for the umpteenth time through the same behaviour. The risks are not worth it. You are worth the self care, even if it means inconveniencing someone or asking for a little help.
The filo thing made me laugh. You know what I thought as I read it? NO SANE PERSON MAKES FILO PASTRY!
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No. No sane person makes any pastry full stop. Shop bought is just fine!
Yeah. You’re right about all this. For the first time, yesterday, I could see what I’m doing – some the ‘busy’ has been unavoidable and I think because I’ve felt stretched I’ve kind of gone bonkers and taken on more…which is totally counterintuitive. You know what I mean though. There’s certainly been a huge element of avoidance in all this too. I’m running away from Christmas break because it is too scary. I need to lean into the feelings though rather than burn out and then let them hit even harder. I get it, it’s just trying to break a habit. Also because I’ve been ill I haven’t been able to turn to exercise to ‘cope’ – I have no reserves, and I’ve been trying to eat better and not go down that route and do I guess it’s just another way of punishing myself and avoiding … next challenge ‘self care’. 💜
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I hate therapy breaks too. I have a 3 week break now until jan 8th. I wish it wasnt so. I have been rereading texts, emails, and listenig to recordings my therapist made me frantically over this past week. I am sending you hugs if you need some and a lot of support during this therapy break. You can get through it, we both can. xxxx
Breaks suck! I hope that you find comfort in listening to messages and rereading texts/emails etc. Tick one day off at a time and be kind to yourself. x
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