Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Adjusting (or not)

I find it difficult to get used to this place. The next door neighbor is a single mum with three young kids, and from my point of view the kids are out of control, the whole family constantly screaming at each other (and worse on occasion). Though her youngest and mine rarely play together- the pervasiveness of their life is starting to affect my kids. Rafe, who is normally incredibly good natured, has started screaming at me. I have long learned how to handle that type of behaviour and can nip it in the bud with a stern word of warning, but it disturbs me just the same. My daughter,11, occasionally plays with the other girls on the street, and afterwards she is belligerent, demanding and snotty. Trying to manage these new behaviours is demanding as they are not part of my kids normal makeup, and are the result of influence. I find that I have to be even more strict than usual and can’t let them get away with it for a second. My eldest is son is thankfully not yet affected, he is not allowed to hang out with the few boys his age on the street as I know they smoke and drink. He’d like to go to the skatepark but the kids there are nasty little cretins and Dev finds that instead of just being able to play, he has to spend his whole time arguing or standing up for himself. Never mind that he is bigger than the kids and could easily lay them out if he decided to let them have it, that’s not in his genetic makeup and I think they see that.

The nights are difficult. Though we are fairly tucked away, our road is some sort of bus through-fare and they come and go at all hours. People come and go all night as well, usually loud and drunkenly. The dogs of the neighbourhood wake me up early every morning with collective howling and barking. During the day the street is full of kids, normally just playing, but when the neighbor kids are about you can be sure their mother will turn up soon and they will all start screaming again, usually just outside our windows. The little one, only 6, will inevitably start crying and there will be more screaming and I end up pacing the floor, wondering what I can do and usually just taking my kids to the park so they don’t have to listen to it anymore. Once I could hear her sobbing through the walls with occasional screaming at the kids and I gathered up all my courage and went over to ask if I could help, maybe by taking her kids to the park or something, she pretended not to be there, and when I pressed said she was fine, thank you.

Her behaviour disturbs me, especially as I worry about her kids, and the effect on mine, and initially I was very judgemental about her. I softened though when I remembered being a single mother for 8 years with two kids, one of which would later be diagnosed with a “social communication disorder”, which just means he screamed a lot as a kid, and occasionally jumped out of moving cars on busy roads because he couldn’t control his anger. It took me a few years to get the hang of this parenting stuff, and I remember being so hard on my son for silly things. I want to help my new neighbour, but she clearly does not want my help. She struts around the neighbourhood, wine class in hand, screaming at her kids or sobbing about some transgression to the adolescent girls that make up her entourage. I find myself less sympathetic and understanding and more irritated and disgusted. When the screaming starts I twitch the curtains, worried she will strike one of the children and knowing that if, when, it happens I will not be able to stay out of it anymore. My family knows this, and while I don’t think they would truly want me to stand back if she were beating them, I know they want me to be quiet, mind my own business, not get involved. I feel embarrassed that they feel this way, that I am some big mouth always getting involved in things that they don’t think concern me. I feel ashamed of them, too. We once came across a man and a woman fighting in the back of the van at a red light. We could see him punching her, could see the blood on her face and clothes. Instinctively I got out of the car, started to shout at them but was dragged back in by the sounds of my family shouting at me. I knew it could end up with me being hurt and didn’t want my kids to see that, so I got back in, and called the police instead. I thought perhaps I had taught my kids an important lesson that night, but now I wonder. Could it be that I am raising kids, and am married to a man, who can stand back and do nothing while others are hurt or treated badly and worse, believe that is better somehow than getting involved?

I long for our detached house in the tiny little cul-de-sac, where the cats could sleep all day on the road outside without ever being disturbed, where the nights were mostly silent and the only noise on a Sunday morning are the church bells in town, which I opened my windows wide to, so that we could hear them better, especially in the winter, when they chime Christmas carols.

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Burn Out

A few months ago something started to happen that I wasn’t expecting. I stopped caring about my psychology degree. It was like I had been racing along my degree track, working at furious pace to get my degree next year, really enjoying my two current courses and suddenly ran headlong into a brick wall. I just didn’t care anymore at all. I’d sit and stare at the computer for hours, meaning to write an essay, or do some research and I’d open up a document or log into the search facility only to realize suddenly that at some point I’d switched to facebook and had been staring at that for 20 minutes. I stopped going to the library cold, it’s been two months at least since I’ve been, and I used to go five days a week and spend three hours there studying. I’ve had extensions for my last four assignments and only completed them by staying up and working through the night before and the entire day they were due.

My son had broken his leg and there was the eviction and money worries and of course all the other stuff going on in a family of five and I was finding this feeling of not caring was becoming usual. Poor attitudes or behaviour from my children which I would never normally put up with, I’d shrug my shoulders at. I couldn’t muster up any interest in anything, my kitchen whiteboard had the same information on it for three weeks at one point. And then I started crying. I’d be completely unmoved by anything for days, and then I’d wake up morning feeling like the whole world was crashing down on me and I just wanted to go home and crawl into my own bed 6000 miles away and sob and sob. (Which is funny because my mom sold that bed, which I loved, ages ago) I’d be walking through the grocery store, robotically picking up every piece of junk food there, not even realizing it and occasionally turning to my husband and standing in the middle of the aisle crying as he held me.

I could see that something was wrong, really very wrong so I finally went to my doctor who, obviously, diagnosed me with depression and gave me the British or generic or whatever version of Prozac and told me to take a 2 month extension on all my course work and come back in two weeks. I promised I would. But, you can’t take two month extensions on OU course work, that would put me two months behind on my next two assignments as well, not to mention putting me smack dab in the middle exam revision time. I was afraid that telling the OU would be disastrous- would they insist I drop my courses? Take a sabbatical? Would it delay getting my degree? So, I kept quite. And I didn’t go back to my doctor, because she would ask about the extensions and what would I say?

I took the pills, and after the third week stopped taking them, I don’t know why, it started with just forgetting and I kept on forgetting. Now I feel like I’m back where I was a month ago. Staring at the computer, knowing I have a huge project due, but not able to do anything. Not caring. Knowing I have another assignment due for my other course, but I haven’t even cracked the new books on that one yet. The whiteboard in my kitchen has the same stuff on it that it did last week. I wander through the grocery store, blindly picking up crap, only to be humiliated when I get to the checkout and discover I have tarts, cakes, cookies, makings for chocolate cream pie, and ice cream piled up on the belt.

I’m not sure what this is, perhaps the equivalent of the runners wall. I know I was better after I’d been on the pills for a couple of weeks, so they must have been helping, and I know I need to get back to the doctor and sort it out. But, I’m worried. Am I sabotaging my degree? How will I break through this? Why is it happening? Is it just a temporary wall? Am I truly burned out? Is it just biological- depression, fucked up neurotransmitters in my brain?

I feel awful, and I tear myself down. I’m lazy, not dedicated, irresponsible, not cut out for it. Then I cry, then I just stay away from it. Avoid the computer, the books completely. Then it all starts again. I wish I knew who to talk to about it, I wish I knew someone who had been through a similar time and could hold my hand through it. I feel like I’m throwing my degree away and I can’t stop myself.

Greed and Anger and the cruelty of eviction.

2010 was a hard year for me. 2011 was a chance for things to be better, a fresh start in a new year. Unfortunately, 2011 was doomed from the start. My husband lost his job early on, I was already not working due to valid personal reasons. We missed a months rent, but within two weeks it was sorted and paid in full. Within that time, and after I’d already explained and made a significant partial payment, my landlord had been at the door screaming about eviction in front of my kids. Please keep in mind that by that point we had lived here two years and had never missed a single rent payment. The next month, it was clear we would not be able to pay in full, we prepared for eviction, but our housing benefit came through and while it wouldn’t pay the full amount each month,it would pay most of it, the shortfall being less than £200. The one month back rent was paid, with even the difference paid by us. Technically we were not behind anymore. Yet, our landlord came to us, verbally abused us, called me stupid, and threw an eviction notice in my face and screamed at us about the “condition of the house” (normal ware and tear to the carpets and the crappy to begin with kitchen cupboards, which I have complained about three times). The benefits coming in do not cover even our normal expenses, and we certainly can’t pay the excess rent each month, so I understand his right to evict us.

What infuriates me is his complete unwillingness to work with us for even a few months while I find a job and D gets some training to qualify him for something new. His unwillingness to admit that we are not the months behind with our rent that he has claimed we are to the council and that we can prove it. His abusive and horrible attitude, his coldheartedness. We have three young children, we have lived here without incident for over two years, we are trying to get back on our feet. He is getting his money, every month. Yet, almost every week he turns up and insults and treats us like trash, demands to know when he will get his money (I only assume he means the difference between monthly rent and our benefit) and when we will get out of the house. Threatens to have his guys force the door and get in (to do what? I’m terrified to ask). I point out that any excess rent due once we have vacated he may take out of our £1250 deposit. He has more or less admitted he did not, as the law demands, protect out deposit when we moved in.

We do not have £2000 sitting around for a new deposit so we’ve had to go begging to the council for emergency housing. They insist we stay here until after the date on our notice, until a court order has been gotten by the landlord and bailiffs are standing on our doorstep, only then will the council step in and get us into a new place.

It is hard to write this, to make it public knowledge. I feel ashamed. Like we are awful people who refuse to pay our rent. We aren’t, we’ve paid our rent on time in this house for over two years, and continue to do so. We paid our rent on time in every house we’ve lived in over the last six years. We’ve worked so hard for the last six years to cope with exorbitant rent, utility, transportation food and clothing costs. We buy the cheapest food, the cheapest clothing. I am studying for a degree, taking as many courses as my university will allow each year to finish as soon as possible. (I should point out that it is only this year I have qualified for financial aid, I have paid for all my courses since 2008 out of pocket) My husband is taking courses, 4 different ones, all in different areas, trying to gain qualifications to get a new job.

So, even though I am ashamed, I am also angry. What’s so wrong with taking a slightly smaller amount of rent for six months, or even a year? What’s so wrong with trying to work with good tenants who are struggling but trying to get back on their feet? What gives a landlord the right to be abusive and cruel? Is it greed? Our landlords actions the last few months have shocked us. Previously we would have said he was a good landlord, if not a bit annoying in his tendency to ignore minor (to him) problems. He has shown his true colours with this, lying to the council about our rent payments and the amount of our rent, lying to us, even accusing us of doing damage to the property which he knows is specified in the inspection as pre-existing to our tenancy. To demand we pay money we categorically do not owe, especially when we paid a large deposit which should cover all rent owing on our departure. What gave him the right to spend that money instead of protecting it as he is required to by law?

I feel broken down by this. I am afraid, first and foremost that the council will not come through for us and we will end up living in our car, if it’s not repossessed first! (Though I am being reassured this will not happen) I am afraid the landlord will force his way in and have our things removed before our notice is up, while we sit and wait for the council to help us. He comes here and only wants to deal with my husband, who is soft spoken and will agree to things he shouldn’t just so the landlord won’t scream and swear at him. I have to be the strong one and I don’t feel strong. I have to stand up and say no to this man who is bigger than me and nasty and cruel to me. I have to tell him to go, and point out that he is lying and that he has not done what he is required to by law. I have to instruct my oldest son that he is not to open the door to the landlord if we are not in.

We asked my inlaws if we could move in with them just while we tried to get back on our feet and they refused. Which is their right of course, but when they have three extra bedrooms and we have offered to pay rent and a share of the utilties and buy and prepare our own food and try to be as little nuisciance as possible, I can’t help but feel aggrieved by this.

I try to hide all of this, I don’t want people to know all our problems, or, worse think badly of us, but my blog is the place where I share my feelings and I can’t keep quite about this anymore. We are being forced out, over a measly £150 a month. Never once did he ask why, or how can I help, or how long do you think it will take to get back on your feet? From day one it was lies and insults and “GET OUT.”

Is that right?

worry, strife and a really uncomfortable bed

We all know how suddenly things happen, lives change. Very often it is the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell’s ingenious invention, that is the harbinger of bad news. Nearly two weeks ago at a few minutes to 2:00, I received a telephone call. I’d been out that day, escorting my youngest sons class on a trip to the library, the walking and the keeping a close eye on and entertaining 4 small children had left me feeling a bit drained and so I settled in to watch a bit of tv with the husband before getting back to my coursework. I had momentarily considered not answering the phone, it being all the way upstairs and me feeling so tired and comfortable on the couch. But, with three kids in three different schools the odds are always in favour of it being one of the schools. So, I rushed up the stairs and leapt on it. And I was right. It was a school. But, not phoning to ask me to collect an ill child (like today), or to bring in that £2 for that school lunch from 3 months ago (like yesterday) or even to schedule a meeting or ask about an after school club or any other mundane thing. No. It was the call you hope you never get from the school.

“Hello, Mrs. G?”
“This is Devon’s school. Could you come to the school please? There’s been an accident, we’ve called the ambulance and they’re on their way”

This is where you stop breathing. This is the split second where your life changes. The moment before you know for sure if your child, who was fit and well and happy and fed and dry and warm and loved only six hours ago when you kissed him goodbye and reminded him to put his best foot forward as he left for school, is alive or dead.

“We think he’s broken his leg.”

And, like that, you can breathe again. You promise to be right there. Rush downstairs, slip your sandals on, calmly tell your husband “It’s the school, they think he’s broken his leg, we need to go”, rush outside, jump in the car and spend the next 5 minutes swearing about the fact you had to send your kid to the school that takes twice the time to get to as the closer one.

the side entrance. Straight into the emergency dep't. and his own special room.

One torturously long walk across the school campus, 20 minutes trying to comfort a teenager alternating between screaming and sucking gas and air and a light and siren ambulance ride later, I was here. Pacing, worrying, not crying.

They didn't know where to take him at first. Is a tall 13 year old still a child?

His thigh had doubled in size, it was hugely swollen and oddly discoloured. But there was no wound, no blood, no bone sticking out. No one could say if it was broken or not, we just had to wait for the xray. We waited. They told me the femur is the biggest and strongest bone in the body, it’s pretty hard to break it, they said. Especially at school. It’s usually car crashes, they said.

snapped.

Usually. Suddenly he was famous. The ambulance crew were back, they crowded around the xray to have a look, then Devon’s bed to more or less congratulate him on achieving a 71mph motorcycle crash injury.

Eventually Devon was taken to the adolescents ward and we spent the night. He was on a heavy dose of morphine and slept and threw up most of the night. The next day, four hours after he was scheduled, he went in for surgery. As I left him in the operating theatre, after telling him I loved him and watching the anaesthetic take hold, knocking him out cold, I finally started to cry. Leaving my child, unconscious, in a strange room, full of strange equipment with strangers who were going to slice his leg open and screw a metal plate to his bone while chatting about their day or their plans for the weekend, went against every maternal instinct I have and I wanted to scoop him up and just run far, far away. Logic dictates I wouldn’t have gotten very far, however what with him being almost a foot taller than I and weighing 50kgs of mostly muscle. Also, I probably would’ve brought him straight back anyway, once he’d been without his morphine long enough to start screaming again. So, I let myself be led out of the room, and the hospital to fetch my little ones from school, while they operated.

He was in surgery about 3 hours, and unconscious another 3 after that. It was a long night, waiting for him to come back to his room, and then to wake up.

out for the count


awake, but tired.

In total we stayed 5 nights. The nurses were lovely, but the parents bed was awful, the “parents” break room dreadful, and getting any useful information out of anyone was akin to breaking through the iron curtain with a heavy stick. I was grateful to get home.

Devon broke his femur, which was repaired using a metal plate and 5 screws. He’s not allowed to put any weight on the leg for 6 weeks, and is living in the living room, only occasionally getting off the couch with the use of crutches or a walker, due to the weight of the huge cast on his leg. He’s likely out of school for the remainder of the year, and no action has been taken against the pupil who threw himself at my son and broke his leg. It’s being called an “accident”, which I suppose is code for “no one wants to take responsibility or even apologize so you should just accept it and get over it”

My intention to “sue” the school for negligence is currently being treated as unreasonable and as if I’m just out for money.

Almost two weeks since the "accident", and still no apology from the boy who did it.

Just. Be…

“For the next week”, she said, “I want you to try and just be. Don’t worry about your to do list, or what your husband should be doing.”

I like my counsellor, well as much as you can like anyone who you’ve only met three times and who just sat and listened to you sob for an hour the first two times.  She listens, duh, but she also gets what I’m saying and kind of goes along with me, not in an appeasing way, more as in she’s on the same wavelength. Our first session she honed in quite quickly to my controlling nature, and now she’s trying to help me let go. To. Just. Be.

When she said that to me the other day, the bit about just be, I looked at her and scoffed. Laughed bitingly. Was she out of her mind? But she insisted and I grudgingly promised I’d try. I am. Trying. It’s a funny thing, though. I am this way for good reasons. Those reasons don’t just disappear because I’m trying to just. be. I don’t know how to let go while also keeping the ship afloat.

If I decide not to get on the kids about their chores, I just let it go. Well, you know what happens- they don’t get done. Then the house looks trashed, and I get all stressed and anxious about the house. So, surely it hasn’t worked?  I play these scenarios out for most things, and come to the same conclusion.  Surely the act of just. being. is a luxury reserved for those who are rich and have beautiful homes, the ability to book a warm holiday away from stress, and staff to take care of most of the logistical crap in their lives? Those people are the ones who get to just. be. How the fuck, then, does she expect ME to do it? I’m behind in my studying, behind in my bills, behind in my housekeeping, 80 pounds overweight, supporting three young kids and trying to pick up the pieces of a marriage that exploded quite extraordinarily, with devastating fall out, a year ago.

Shouldn’t this be the point at which I am trying to get even more control over things? I’m torn, anxious, highly stressed and see myself holding on for dear life to the side of a cliff with the deep dark river of Depression flowing far below. Letting go, just being, sounds wonderful. Just very unrealistic.  Letting go means…I’ll fall.

Sleep

For a while now I’ve struggled to sleep. Well, ok 2 months. It seems longer. It started on Halloween. Well, halloween eve/morning really.  We’d taken the kids to a carnival we go to every year. We’d gotten back late, about 11:00. By the time we’d gotten the kids all ready for bed and tucked in, had a chat about whatever and D1 was collecting his stuff, it was midnight. As he was getting ready to go I heard a noise on the front porch. I knew exactly what it was, it’s the same noise I always hear about a second before someone rings the doorbell. One of the wonky stones being stepped on.  I stood up and rushed to the door even as I started to whisper-shout “Someones outside!”.

I flung upon the front door and sure enough, there was some hoody wearing yob on my front porch in the process of stealing my kids carved pumpkins and some of our halloween decorations. I shouted at him, I don’t remember exactly what but I’m sure it was something terribly intimidating like “HEY!”, and he ran off, pumpkin and decorations in tow. I ran after him but he disappeared down the path, though he dropped his loot about halfway down, relatively unharmed, so we were able to collect it.

I felt a bit shaken, but my husband dutifully inspected the path and surrounding area with a flashlight and was sure they were long gone. So, we went in, had a moan about the state of society in this country and he once again prepared to go. Into the kitchen for a quick glass of water. I stood just outside the kitchen door saying something. Suddenly, from behind me, a tremendous crash. I screamed. D ran out behind me. What was it? The window? Yes, the window. Call the police. Even as I was picking up the handset, D had grabbed his flashlight and ran out the door. Helpfully, leaving me terrified and alone.

The woman on the phone was lovely and helpful, promised me the police were on their way, would be there soon. I stood in my doorway, calling for D, crying to the woman on the phone. Eventually I hung up with her and D returned, having chased the bastards until they had disappeared and he couldn’t breathe anymore, being asthmatic and fairly unaccustomed to mad sprinting sessions  in the middle of the night.  We inspected the damage. Both panes of glass, shattered. A brick lying on the grass a few feet away. While it had shattered the window, it thankfully had not come through into the house, had instead bounced back and landed on the grass.  I called the landlord. D taped cardboard over the window. We waited for the police.

And waited. And waited. Around 2am I called and asked if someone was indeed coming out. I was told no, of course not, it’s Halloween and they have more important things to deal with. Someone would come in the next 3 days to take a statement.

Terrified for my and my kids safety, I had called 999, in tears and practically hysterical.  I was assured the police were coming, were on their way. So, I hung up.   And… they didn’t come.

So, now I struggle to sleep. Any noise panics me. I jump out of bed, fumble for anything I can use as a weapon and burst out of my room. I stand at the top of the stairs for ages. Just…waiting for the noise to come again. Waiting for the intruder to show their face. Wait to be murdered. Wait to protect my kids. I contemplate waking my kids up, and escaping with them onto the roof of the garage outside my sons window. So far I have managed to hold onto enough sense to keep myself from going that far, but it’s not easy. I talk myself down.  Finally I went to the doctor. She referred me for counselling and gave me sleeping pills. Bloody strong ones. I took a pill, rushed through my bedtime routine ( after spending 20 minutes cursing myself for taking the pill. Can’t protect anyone if I’m asleep, can I?! ), then lay in bed. I’d just manage to work myself up when “bam”, I’d be out like a light. This worked. I slept great for two weeks.

But, those pills are addictive. I switched to over the counter ones, which also work. Then, I stopped taking them altogether. Christmas was upon us, I was busy, distracted?, whatever the reason, I was able to go to bed, and fall asleep without any stints at the top of the stairs with a wine bottle gripped in my hands, let alone repeated stints with a hammer.  Yet, I find myself drifting backwards again. For no apparent reason  my ten o’clock bedtime slips past me. I’m not ready yet, there is something else to do. I’ll go to bed in a hour. Yet 11 o’clock fleets swiftly by, followed closely by 12:00, and 1:00 and 2am. If I am lucky, I’l fall asleep on the couch sometime around 4. If not, I’ll stay up till 6 then drag myself upstairs and fall into bed where I’ll sleep until 9:00. (I can do this, I have a teenager who will occasionally feed his  4 year old brother before turning on the tv for him and disappearing back to his room*)

Frankly, I am afraid to sleep. Terrified. If someone will sneak onto my front lawn and throw a brick at my living room window, then really, would they have a problem attacking me? Breaking into my house and stealing our things? Hurting myself or my kids or even my cats? And, when it’s 2am and I’m in the middle of a noise induced fit of terror, my mind preys on me with these thoughts, above all it plays for me on a loop “When it does happen, Erin, when they do break in and attack you, even if you can get to the phone, noone will come. The police won’t come, noone will hear you and noone will come.”

And so I stay awake. I worry I won’t be productive in the morning, I will collapse into bed as soon as it is light out and I will sleep until it is time to leave for school. They will be late, they won’t have proper lunches, I will be  exhausted and stressed and in a  foul mood. But, at least we will have made it through the night, right?

 

uh. hey there!

So, in February I separated from my husband, left my job and became swallowed up by a black hole of depression. I began painting my house to keep me out of my warm, comfy, tear soaked bed, I fell behind in my studies and barely managed to complete one course, while coming perilously close to dropping a second. I comfort ate my way through my course work and my days in general, and gained 20 pounds. Wow. That twenty pounds actually feels like 50, it’s on my ass and in my gut and it’s not pretty.

Just when I was feeling like I was gaining some control and seeing some light at the end of that there tunnel, I got the results back from the exam for the course I only completed by sheer determination, well that and excessive consumption of cherry jaffa cakes, a heartbreaking result- FAIL. A week later, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

While my life isn’t really doing any better, I am feeling better emotionally. I am still having bad days, but they have specific triggers and I can plan for them (helpful!). I am getting the itch to begin blogging again, having stopped when I felt I was just to full of sadness and negativity and it was going to spill out all over my posts.

Having felt I had lost focus and was floundering in the dark I approached my friend Karen and asked if she could do a tarot card reading for me. I’m familiar with tarot and new age beliefs, but it’s definitely not something I spend any time or effort devoting myself to. I really just wanted an outline, or some sort of guidance on where I was headed. The reading was very indepth and her interpretations were very helpful- I feel like I have that outline now, something to look back on when I’m feeling confused and need to get my head straight. So, with that in mind I’ve decided to pick up my virtual pen and come back to my special little site and get back to posting about my life.

Thanks for stopping by, and if you’ve been here before- thanks for sticking with me!

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