Cautiously optimistic

The days are getting warmer. The clocks in the UK have switched to BST which means the evenings are longer. The buds on the trees and plants in the garden are forming, and my mood is improving slowly, slowly.

There is a lot of ‘stuff’ going on; son#2 has very bad anxiety at the moment, to the extent that hes vomiting every morning before school and closed and withdrawn much of the rest of the time. Last week he disappeared for the day, causing me huge angst and worry about his whereabouts. He has public exams coming up soon and the worry about his performance (and entry to the next stage of education) is definitely not helping his low self esteem, negative perception of the world and fretting about his future. I have been very worried about his lack of commitment to study, but on the day he went missing, when all I wanted was to find him safe, helped me to see that , in the end, his well-being is far more important than good exam grades. If he needs to he can always go back to formal education – but right now he needs loving, attention, soothing and support. We have an appointment with the adolescent mental health services, and I have found a highly qualified, kind, woman psychotherapist who will see him weekly from today .

I have been surprisingly successful in expunging my ex Partner from my conscious mind. Since I decided that further reflection / rumination was unhelpful to me, and begun making a conscious effort NOT to dwell on past hurts, I have managed to largely draw a veil over the ‘what if..’ questions. I seem to have, at last, accepted that this is who he is, and at least partially forgiven myself for not seeing it sooner. My reflections nowadays are more about myself, what I need or want, both in the present moment and in the future. I feel that this is progress

I seem to have more headspace as well.

I’m beginning to see how much my capacity for good parenting was undermined, that the constant struggle to ‘protect’ the kids from exP’s ill temper and bullying meant that I was unable to put in effective strategies to manage some behaviours because I felt so guilty that I allowed him to do that. A chance comment from Angela has been running round my head, that the “kids know that I love them”. I think I have been under the impression that they would not KNOW that I loved them, and therefore any conflict / boundaries provoked by me could lead to a catastrophic breakdown in our relationship. That me not letting them largely do what they wanted would lead to a permanent estrangement. Of course this is what I saw as a child (I was pretty estranged from my emotionally absent and critical father and I am certainly not able to be emotionally open or vulnerable with my mother) This is also what has happened to ExP’s kids who avoid him as much as they can, because the critical, overbearing, bullying parent is not someone they enjoy spending time with. But of course, I can set boundaries and expectations calmly and still have fun with and support the kids. This is a bit of a work in progress, but as my mind slowly clears of its overwhelming, all encompassing heartache and preoccupation with my failed relationship, I am more emotionally present, and more able to parent effectively. It will never be easy for me to be stern / consistent with sanctions etc, but I think I can do a better job than I have been.

There is also the brain space to have a bit of fun and engage more. The kids don’t want to spend much of their leisure time with their mum, but I’m trying to find stiff that we CAN do to together so son3 and I made lots of cookies and decorated them on Sunday, and I have a plan to take son2 to the theatre during the Easter holidays … small things to make connections. I’m trying to get away from the rather flat, self absorbed introspection, coupled with mindless TV that has occupied much of my non working time.

I do feel cautiously optimistic. I’m hoping its not another ‘false dawn’, but I feel like the boys and I are doing better, I’m finding my feet again and regaining my confidence; there is no need to let anyone else into our bubble and every opportunity for us to do well in the future.

I am SO happy that I decided to stop drinking. I really really don’t want to drink now, which is something I could never have imagined feeling 2 years ago. I can only see alcohol as the route to more trouble and quite definitely not something I want to risk again.