Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Spring! Again

Yesterday was my idea of a perfect day, weather-wise. I love storms, don't get me wrong, but yesterday . . . it was 25 C at the maximum, with a light breeze and clear blue skies. It was a public holiday so Little Country Town was still and peaceful all day. All you could hear, other than the occasional car or child's laugh, were crickets and birds and the breeze rustling the trees. It was glorious! And it was my first t-shirt day of the year, too (ie a day where one can wear a short-sleeved shirt from morning to bedtime without feeling too cold). Such a yummy day!

Today it's cooler with scattered showers lol. But we need the rain so I'm not complaining. The farmers will be glad.

I'm currently sitting around on Tuesday morning waiting for a call back from a dentist. I managed to chip a tooth on Sunday, and while it doesn't hurt, it definitely needs to be examined. The chip is on one of my front teeth and occurred where there was a slight discolouration, so I suspect that there was a small cavity and the front of it has just flaked off . I haven't been able to afford to get dental work done - despite having private health cover! - for a long time, but this made me realise that it's time. So I'm going to go get a scale and clean and get yelled at as per a normal dental visit (not that I don't take care of my teeth, but it's been way too long!). And I'm going to get them to tally up everything that needs to be done, find out what my health care will cover per year, and get the urgent stuff done this year then the less urgent next year and so on until my teeth are up to standard again. They're very nice teeth and I don't want to have any problems with them further down the line.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Well, I did it . . .

About half an hour ago I phoned S and told him that I'd been thinking it over and had decided that we should just call it quits because I didn't think we were going to work things out. He basically just said "okay" which was both relieving and maddening in a way! He was either relieved or just didn't care. Hard to tell. We're going to try to meet up on Thursday to swap back anything we have that belongs to the other, and then that will be it.

The phone call was short and amicable, but I still cried afterwards and had to call Mum. I'm sad that a relationship that had such promise at the start didn't work out, and I'm sad that S turned out to be so different to the person I thought he was to start with. I know I did most definitely love him once, but the way he's treated me over the past eight weeks has killed that off completely. I feel angry and frustrated that I wasted so much time appeasing and coddling him when it turned out that he was going to take me for granted no matter what I did; and I feel like I've been betrayed because I put so much trust and effort into a relationship with someone who was not prepared to do the same. I'm not sorry it's over, but I'm sorry it had to be this way at all. 

I am now just trying to remind myself that I am a good person, a worthy person, and I deserve better than a guy who is going to treat me like that. There are, as they say, plenty more fish in the sea (if I hear that one more time . . .). In the meantime, I'm going to stay here for two more years so that my position becomes substantive and I can pick and choose my jobs in the future. I'm going to nest a bit and make this house my home for the rest of the time I'm here. Beyond that, I have no particular plans, and I'm enjoying the feeling of just being able to relax and enjoy life day-by-day for a while.

Here's to the future!

Friday, September 26, 2008

HOLIDAYS!

As of half an hour ago, I'm on holiday for two weeks. And I've officially survived three quarters of my first year of teaching!

I'm going to spend my two weeks sorting stuff out around the house, working in the garden, going for walks, writing a bit if I can, and generally getting my life back into order, post-S. I want to end the holidays really feeling like I own the space around me, inside and outside this house.

And, of course, I'll have to plan for next term! I already know the basics of what I'm doing, I just need to nut out the specifics.

*Relaxes*

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I joined a choir!

I'm feeling a lot better today than I did yesterday. The headache has finally eased off a bit, thank goodness, and I've brought my worries under control. Own your mistakes, do what you can to repair them, and give the rest to God . . . that's the formula that has worked for me today. Things aren't perfect, but I can breathe again.

Anyways, after I realised that I didn't want to be with S any more and that I was going to be staying in Little Country Town for the time being, I looked up a few of the community organisations that I was keen to be involved in back when I first ranked the schools. The town half an hour north of here was my first choice because it had a choir and a theatre group, and I decided that since I'm going to live here for a few years I was going to put down roots for a while. So, I phoned the guy who runs the choir and found out where and when. Tonight was my first practice session, and I feel so good! We sang quite a few different songs, including a few that I knew and could sing along to without music. We sang a few rounds as warm-ups, which were fun, a sweet little hymn, a few Australian songs (including 'I Still Call Australia Home' which I love and have been longing to sing) and a couple of show tunes. It was fantastic, and I've been invited to participate in their next performance, which is only next week! We'll be singing 'My Country' and 'I Still Call Australia Home' at the regional judging of the Tidy Towns competition. I'm just thrilled. 

And *then* they found out that I play the flute as well, and they went crazy with plans. In November we're performing at some sort of nature festival thing that the town is having, and they've decided that a solo flute playing in the background would be perfect for when people are arriving and settling in. I'm going to have to start practicing up a few tunes! I've already decided that I'll start with 'Colours of the Wind' from Pocahontas - it's beautiful, it'll sound haunting in an outdoor setting, and it's about nature. Perfect!

And . . . I'M DOING MUSIC AGAIN! NOT JUST TEACHING, BUT DOING! *Tears of joy*. I hadn't really realised how much I missed it, it's been such a long time (2004 was the last time I played or sang in an ensemble!). I'm a touch rusty, but I'll brush up quick enough.

Thank God for opportunities like this. It's so much fun, and it's also making Christmas sparkle in my mind - I have no doubt that the choir does Christmas performances. A solid-gold excuse to sing Christmas carols pretty near constantly - what more could a girl want?

*Happy*

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

*Cries*

I'm tearing my hair out this evening . . . I'm exhausted but no matter what I do I can't settle to sleep. I'm not well for a start. Yesterday I had such a bad headache that I went to bed at 7pm and slept the clock around from 7:30pm to 7:30am with barely a stir. My headache was just as bad today and made worse in the afternoon by my two most difficult kids who decided to behave like absolute little jerks in the last hour before school ended and left me feeling like a complete useless fraud who can't actually teach at all. I came home to bills and a house that desperately needs a spring clean which I won't have time to give it for another three days, and when I tried to go to bed at 7:30pm after nearly dozing off on the couch, I just couldn't settle. I'm still furious with the two kids and with myself over the afternoon's shenanigans, I'm terrified that the mother of one will bitch about me to the principal (who knows what the kid is like, but still), and I'm incredibly frustrated and miserable that my family are all so far away and I'm so alone and lost and hopeless. I tried all my usual tricks to settle my mind - listening to music and focusing on the synaesthetic aspects; reading; praying; but nothing has worked at all. Listening to music just made things worse because "The Horses" by Daryl Braithwaite came on and it's a song I associate with Dad and of course it was too late in the evening by then to phone anyone so I wound up crying instead. So I've given up, come back online and I'm whinging to anyone and everyone who will listen . . . including you, my readers, and the two friends who've just popped up with IMs on facebook. If I can't sleep, I'll damn well complain about it.

*is actually feeling somewhat better already*

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday

I'm feeling a bit mooksy this evening, because I put a dent in my car today :-( I was a wee bit careless in a parking lot and caught the rear passenger-side door panel on a pillar when I was creeping into a parking spot. There are now two long scrapes in the paint, and the panel has popped inwards. I'm not sure if my insurance covers driver stupidity - I've never had to make a claim before! - but I'll get it sorted one way or another. It's not serious, and I'm trying to take it philosophically. Everyone I know has dented their car sometime, it's not such a big deal. But it's annoying.

It's over a week now since I started giving my relationship with S the "Wait, what?" treatment and began to realise that it wasn't what I wanted. With every day that goes by I'm more sure that I've made the right decision. I'm enjoying life again, I'm feeling secure and strong in myself, and I'm giving some attention to my own wants and needs finally. Several people at school have commented on how happy I look! I'm spending my spare time doing little things that will lead to my greater happiness and comfort for as long as I'm in Little Country Town, such as turning part of my verandah into a sanctuary where I can sit when the summer heat begins, and hanging some LotR artwork posters I bought recently. 

I went to Perth today and priced up a whole heap of things for my sanctuary, and bought a few of them. It'll be a long process to get it all set up. So far I've got curtains for both side of it, decorative glass pieces to weight the bottom of the curtains, and some electronics. From my assorted boxes of stuff-I've-already got, I've grabbed a small decorative fountain (meant to be indoors only but it should be protected enough on the verandah), various plastic plant pots, a metal wall sconce for candles and various hanging crystals. For the moment, two of my old cane dining chairs will have to suffice for seating, but eventually I'm going to add a proper cushioned seat, fairy lights, some small tables, a rubber mat on the floor, plants in the pots (some herbs and some of my favourite flowering cottage plants), hanging baskets of fuchsias and ferns, a water feature complete with fish, and various bits of artwork with relaxing and spiritual images. It's going to be very pretty :-)

While I was there, I had to do my usual September eyeroll - the supermarkets and department stores have their Christmas merchandise on the shelves already. Gah! It does NOT take three and a half months to buy chocolates and decorations for a celebration that lasts one day! By the time we get to Christmas these days everyone is sick of it. It takes the specialness out of it when a quarter of the year is saturated with it! I wish they would keep Christmas stuff for December only. It would be so much more fun that way. Ho hum!

I've been sleeping very badly this week, and I'm not quite sure why. You'd think I'd be sleeping better now that the weight of an unhappy relationship has been lifted and I'm taking my life back into my own hands! But every night I have trouble dropping off, and when I do, I can't seem to stay asleep - I either jolt awake at every little noise, or I have dreams or nightmares that become increasingly absurd or distressing until I wake up feeling shaky. I need some rest!

One more week of school and then I've got two weeks' holidays. I am looking forward to them so, so much!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Little Country Town

Some of you might remember when, around this time last year, I found out that I was going to be teaching in the wheatbelt in 2008. As chronicled on this blog, I borrowed Mum's car and spent a day doing a big loop-around drive through the wheatbelt to get a feel for the landscape.

When doing my research before the drive, I noticed a particular little town that had a cafe, and made note that I could stop for lunch there. I did just that, and had a lovely lunch before driving around the town and past the school. Something about that little town drew me to it, and when it came time to rank the schools pre-placement, I put that town second, after a larger town 30 minutes further north.

That little town is the one I was placed in, the one in which I currently live and teach. No other town grabbed me like this one. There was just something about it. A presentiment? Or a self-fulfilling prophecy? Either way, this became my place.

When I moved out here, I found myself really falling in love with the town - until S warned me that I was not to get too attached to it as he had no interest in the area and we were going to move somewhere else.

Looking back, this was just one of so many times where I gave in unconditionally to what he wanted, knowing that the fuss he would create if I wanted to propose an alternative was simply not worth it, knowing deep down that he couldn't handle the drama of a genuine thrashing-out of a compromise. I wanted to stay - most days! - but I caved to his demand that we live elsewhere with only token resistance, despite the fact that it meant giving up my substantive position at this school, thus delaying my acceptance as a permanent employee of the department. He didn't care about that. My career was totally irrelevant to his calculations; when I mentioned the problem he just suggested that we spend another year in a long-distance relationship, because he certainly wasn't going to apply around here just to be near me and my job.

What the f*** was I thinking putting up with that? How could I have been so unutterably stupid for so long? If we'd thrashed it out and made the decision together, fine. But we didn't . . . I just gave in so that the relationship wouldn't give way under the strain.

Anyway, so here I am. I have a substantive position, and if I stay in it until the end of next year I'll have my permanency, which makes me eligible for transfers and maternity leave and all of that sort of thing. Staying here is the logical thing to do. And I find that despite having had days when I wanted to shake some residents of this place until their teeth rattled, this little town still has a hold over me. It wanted me when I first saw it, and called out to me when I left it. Later, it drew me in and made me its own.

So who knows what will happen now. I've told the school that I'm not transferring and will be here next year for sure. My kids are all very excited - I'll still be taking the 5/6/7 class so this year's 5s and 6s will be next year's 6s and 7s, and therefore still in my class. I'm starting to think and plan for the future, with the eyes-wide-open knowledge that my plans will probably be thrown into disarray by events unforseen.

And I have discovered, most importantly of all, that I am no longer afraid of the future. For the first time in my life, I am really, truly, genuinely excited about the unknown. This is a massive leap for me, a real first. I don't know when, if ever, I will meet a guy, get married, have kids, travel overseas, buy a house, choose a long-term town, get another cat, get a dog, pay off my debts, buy a better television . . . my future has no shape beyond 'stay here next year', and that's fine. I will probably spend Christmas morning alone before going to Mum's place, and that's fine. I have nothing in the future to cling on to, and that's fine.

This watershed of confidence and security is an eye-opener. S started talking about "if we get married, and I can't see why we wouldn't" on our second date. How much of what I felt for him was genuine love, and how much was delight in the promises and in his love for me? Did I convince myself that friendly affection was earth-shattering love because here at last was an old-fashioned guy with diamond rings in mind? 

Right now my feelings are mostly anger, disappointment in his behaviour, and frustration with myself for playing the doormat because I was afraid of playing the harridan. S's inflexibility meant that anything more than doormat behaviour was harridan behaviour to him, and I got suckered into maintaining the status quo. Bah. I still feel fond of him, very much so, but I don't think I love him. It's more like I feel about my close male friends, especially during those times when I've wanted to give them a slap upside the head for being idiots. I still care for him, but the trust is gone and the dynamic has been permanently altered. Besides which, if we were to reconcile, we would be spending another year in a long distance relationship, and I honestly don't believe that what we have is enough to survive that. Some relationships have it, and some don't. I know I couldn't deal with another year of this distance and doubt. I'd rather grieve and move on permanently and live my life than live in flux waiting for S's next freak-out.

I'm still giving it time. Perhaps in another week I will feel differently about him, want him back. But more and more I'm feeling that the burden of an unhealthy relationship is falling away, and very little could persuade me to take it up again.

PS: Huge thankyous and hugs to everyone who has left supportive and helpful comments over the past few days. You guys rock. I've taken something from everyone who has commented, emailed or sent me facebook messages. It has been a great help and comfort and I deeply appreciate it. Thank you!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Life, the next bit

Monday today, and it didn't take long for most of the staff to find out what my weekend was like. The reaction was unanimous:

a) No one is in the least surprised that we broke up;
b) Everyone is proud of me for being positive and focusing on the future;
c) Everyone is agreed that I Should Not Put Up With That Crap, and if the relationship is to continue then Things Have To Change;
d) Everyone said some variation on You're Well Shot Of Him, There's Plenty More Fish In The Sea, You Need To Look After Number One or You Could Do So Much Better.

Lunch time culminated in a roll-call of all local young single guys . . . aaaack they're going to try to marry me off to one of the locals! Lol.

I have felt a huge surge of confidence in myself today. This morning I got to school feeling in control and full of energy, rather than dreary and tired after yet another miserable evening. The day flew by and I taught a whole lot of interesting, solid lessons. After school, rather than feeling exhausted and defeated, I was able to tackle everything I needed to do right away, and the lesson ideas came easily and pleasantly. I got so much done. Then this evening I came home knowing I could spend the evening living in my house and doing what needed to be done, rather than (as formerly) hanging around waiting for S to come online because he would sulk if I wasn't available; or (as latterly) hanging around hoping that S would speak to me and tell me what the hell was going on. Now I've eaten a lovely dinner and I'm feeling relaxed and happy and full of hope for the future.

Maybe S and I can work things out. I don't know. What I do know is that I want to be with someone who tackles life with courage and enthusiasm, rather than treating everything as a disaster that can never be rectified. Can an inflexible, sooky 35-year-old drama llama learn to live joyfully? Maybe he can. But I've had enough of relationships that suck the joy out of life. My whole world this year has been about constantly bolstering and reassuring S and walking on eggshells to avoid upsetting him, without the least bit of support in return. I am not a doormat. I want to live, not be trampled and torn. Enough is enough.

PS: I forgot, it was Jemima-Cat's second birthday yesterday. My itty bitty kitty is all growed up! :-D

PPS: I also forgot to post my weigh-in yesterday. It was 74.6. I lost 800g last week and I've now lost 6.8kg overall. Another 1.3kg and I will have lost 10% of my starting weight, and another 3.2kg to go before I reach my initial 10kg goal! I'm really doing this! 18.2kg to go . . . I'm really looking forward to being thin! And as nice as 'thin and engaged' would have been, 'thin, single and looking' does sound awfully appealing lol.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pros and Cons

Note: if the sheer wall of text here is daunting, I’ve provided a tl;dr summary at the bottom!

Every time our relationship has encountered the slightest hiccup, S has asked whether our relationship is really working out. More recently, he’s said he feels that things will never be right between us again, because we’ve both said things to hurt each other. I’ve always kept a hopeful, positive attitude and I’ve always been the one to point out the good things in the relationship, to reassure him that passing arguments were not the end of the relationship. Otherwise they would have been, time and time again.

To do this, I had to put my own doubts aside. S was not someone with whom I could discuss his behaviour; he could not accept any criticism without shifting gear into histrionics and melodrama. I’ve not always been the best at taking criticism either, but since some wake-up calls last year I have been very conscious of that element of my personality and I have made a massive effort to take criticism on board and alter my behaviour where it’s not acceptable. And I can see the differences in myself. So anyway, I would reassure him, and never raised my own doubts because there was no way he could discuss them without getting defensive.

It’s time, now, for me to look at whether he is right. Is the relationship workable, or is it fundamentally flawed?

I’m going to discuss the cons first – the things that have made me doubt the relationship over the months. The point of this is not to paint S’s character or the relationship black, to talk myself out of the relationship, or to whinge about how he was bad and I was good. It is very subjective, because people live subjective lives. I need to see whether these aspects are going to be a problem in my subjective moments, not just in my quiet, self-aware, rational moments! In some ways it probably will sound like a string of complaints, but I’ll try to be analytical.

Con #1: Negativity. As mentioned above, any hiccup would cause S to revert to a litany starting with ‘I just don’t know if our relationship will work out’. There were no suggestions or strategies, no sense of responsibility, just a hopeless despair. I can see why in the first few months of a relationship you might question it, but it never changed, and my suggestions and reassurances and hope never stuck, so I wound up repeating my own litany in the routine, starting with ‘every couple I know have fights’ and so on. I don’t think it’s healthy in a relationship for one person to always be dragging everything down and the other always trying to bolster it. I think you have to be equally invested in making it work, equally willing to try, equally hopeful and enthusiastic for the future. We definitely weren’t equal in those regards.

Con #2: Food. I have a medical condition called hypoglycaemia. To combat the symptoms of this I need to ensure that I eat at regular intervals, otherwise I can get sick quite quickly. S was well aware of this from our first date. However, he has never been prepared to adapt to it. In the evening he insists on doing several hours of exercise and having a shower before cooking dinner, no matter how desperately my body needs carbohydrates in order to keep functioning. If I got hungry before dinner his solution was to offer me crisps or chocolate, despite the fact that I was trying to stick to a weight-loss diet. No matter how I tried to persuade him, he would not change dinner time to one that was medically appropriate for me. There was no way I could adjust my eating schedules enough to cater to his eating time, because as a teacher I have to eat lunch at a fixed time, and I can’t just snack on whatever I want in the afternoon when I’m trying to lose weight.

Con #3: Food, Part Two. S flatly refuses to eat any meat that is not diced or minced, he won’t eat cooked vegetables, and he grumbles and complains if he has to eat any home-cooked food that is not one of his half-a-dozen favourite dishes. When he stayed here during prac he tried to take over the cooking completely, so I would have to eat his food at his schedule – despite the fact that I’m a good cook and enjoy being in the kitchen. He refused to even try most of my favourite meals. But heavens forbid I should comment on his cooking! I had to eat exactly what he cooked. I have a fairly mild palate, but if I asked him to make something a bit less spicy, I “hated everything he cooked, he was a horrible person, our relationship was doomed”. Yes, seriously. And when it came to dieting, I wanted to find out how many calories his meals had in them so that I could work out appropriate portion sizes. He refused to give me the recipes or even the lists of ingredients in case I tried cooking them myself or shared the recipe, because they were HIS and no one else could have them.

Con #4: Freedom. S was quite happy to cancel our plans because he wanted to hang out with a friend. Which is fine, he doesn’t see his friends often, and since I don’t either, I know how he feels. But he had a double standard. Several times I cancelled engagements with friends or pulled out of parties because S made too much of a fuss about the interruption to our plans. During the school holidays I would come down from the country and stay with him in the city, but I wasn’t supposed to go and see my friends while I was there, because that would be taking advantage of his house. I could go while he was at work, but I wasn’t allowed a key to the house, so I had to leave when he left and be back within minutes of him getting back or he would sulk. And when he was in Perth and I was in the country, if I wanted to go and hang out with my friends I had to let him know what time I was going to be back, and if I wasn’t online exactly on time he would act like I’d done it deliberately to inconvenience him. The one time I went on a bus with friends to a function and couldn’t tell him what time I would be home, he ranted about it for a week. There was never any suggestion that he was just worried about me, although it might just have been that he wasn’t good at expressing the worry and it came across as nagging control issues instead. But it has made me feel henpecked (yeah wrong gender I know, but translate the gender and you’ll see why I used ‘hen’ regardless . . .) and unable to have a normal social life. That’s not good.

Other Cons:
* We didn’t agree on childrearing – he wanted to use old-style revenge punishment, which is not okay with me.
* We didn’t agree on religion.
* I am better educated than him, and more intelligent in everything except financial management lol. He was insecure about this, and although it didn’t bother me too much, I occasionally found his lack of general knowledge surprising and couldn’t continue certain conversations because he didn’t want me explaining things to him. We couldn’t have in-depth conversations about some things because of that.
* He is an unreliable driver and I frequently felt unsafe when he was speeding, missing merge signs, etc. He has written off two cars (one since I’ve known him) and since an animal was involved both times he denies all responsibility for the crashes. I don’t know about the first accident, but the second . . . yeah, he lost control after a flock of cockatoos flew in front of him on a gravel road. But, he was on a road he knew was bad and dangerous, he was an inexperienced driver on gravel, and he was going 20kmh faster than experienced locals said was safe on that road. I also heard three separate reports afterwards that he’d nearly run other cars off the same road while driving too fast, and he lost control a bit with me in the car the first time he drove that road, so it wasn’t like he hadn’t had warnings that he was doing it wrong. He is totally unapproachable about his driving and once blew his top at me when I mentioned that it worried me when he was doing 20km over the speed limit on a rainy night on a poorly lit winding road - in my car. Once again, not something we could rationally discuss.
* S had these fixed dreams about the way certain things would happen, and wouldn’t change them. For example, he’d always dreamed that when he proposed he would have planned a surprise family dinner in advance, so that he and his new fiancĂ©e could then go and announce it to everyone in person. That won’t work with my family. My parents are divorced and both have remarried, and they simply don’t do dinner together. Plus they both have children so going out to dinner can be a hassle – Mum still needs a babysitter when going out. It’s a cute plan but impractical for my family, and it also doesn’t gel with *my* dream of being able to call my mother in great excitement right after becoming engaged. But he wouldn’t budge on it. Likewise, his idea has always been that his bride’s family and his would have a Christmas barbecue together at his place on Christmas day, because that’s how his parents’ families did it. Again, I have divorced parents and they don’t mix, especially not at Christmas. Plus, Mum is not a big people person and would find it exhausting having to spend the whole day socialising with S’s family. She’s just got to the point where she can cook her own Christmas dinner and just have her immediate family and their partners around for her perfected meal. She’s not going to sacrifice that hard-won pleasure for an unappealing whim promoted by her potential son-in-law. Not going to happen. But S was so inflexibly attached to this dream that he wanted me to pressure Mum into accepting the plan, and pressure my parents into reconciling so they could both be there. He bullied me about it to the point of tears a couple of times. It’s a nice idea but my family are not the same as some hypothetical dream in-laws. It won’t work for them, and he couldn’t get his head around that. Needless to say, I found this irritating! A similar thing cropped up with his ‘dream home’. He is determined that he will get the exact dream home he imagines in his head, complete with a subterranean theatre room. I don’t want that but was prepared to entertain the idea; however I wanted to look realistically at building costs and plan for something affordable. But no. It was his dream house or no house!

I’ve read and re-read this as I’ve been typing it, and the concept that leaps out at me here is ‘inflexibility’. We were unequally flexible. I’ve made a lot of changes, a lot of sacrifices, a lot of compromises to make things work, because I was consciously determined not to let stubbornness, temper or fixed ideals ruin the relationship. S has not been able to show the same level of flexibility. Could he learn flexibility? I’m not sure.

I've also realised that the cons quoted above are not so much separate issues as repeated examples of the same underlying issues. They're illustrations of that same problem I keep coming back to . . . for S, things have to be done his way, and if not then people are either saying he's a horrible person, or they're completely incompatible with him. There's no middle ground, no "oh well, I could give way on this", no "if I think objectively I can see their point". Just "WAH" and "NO!".

Now for the pros to the relationship. Again, the idea is not that I should talk myself in to wanting to continue the relationship over and above any potential problems. The idea is to get a balanced look at the relationship.

Pro #1: Common interests. We both love fantasy and sci-fi. We’ve read a lot of the same books, we like a lot of the same movies, we’re both happy to sit down and watch endless episodes of cult shows together. We had a lot of fun doing that. We also both enjoy writing fiction too.

Pro #2: Uncommon interests. S and I both have ‘obsessions’ that are not mainstream. He collects Star Wars figurines with single-minded determination, and spends ridiculous amounts of money on them; I am a namesnerd and I want to collect porcelain dolls and figurines although I don’t have the money to do so right now. Because we have that common obsessive aspect, we can each respect the other’s need to devote time and money to the ‘mania’, and can tolerate the other’s need to discuss their interest.

Pro #3: Life plans. S and I have very similar ideas about the future. Marriage, overseas travel (including wanting to go to the same places), a house on a large block where we can grow our own fruits and vegetables, starting a family. We also have similar ideas about where we’d like to settle down eventually. If we’re together, neither of us has to sacrifice too much in the way of dream home / dream property / dream lifestyle et cetera.

Pro #4: Feelings. We do, apparently, despite everything, love each other. I don’t feel the earth-shattering devotion towards him that I felt when we first got together, but that’s normal, right? I still definitely feel strong feelings of warmth and affection for him, although I’m wary of using the term ‘love’ right now because I’m just not sure. And he says he still loves me, even though there’s been precious little evidence of it in the past month or so. And we must have been sure of it at one stage – we picked out rings, we made a 5-year plan, designed our ideal wedding – we must have believed that we were in love! I can remember the events, but I can’t recapture the feelings. But they must have been there, and who is to say that they’re not just buried under all this anxiety? I don’t know.

Minor pros:
* S is financially stable, has good career prospects and capital investments. I’m not mercenary but those are advantages on his side!
* His family are pretty normal and nice . . . no crackpots or drug dealers lol. His family like me, and the small selection of my family who have met S like him, too.

Like the cons, the pros all come back to one or two things. The cons came back to tantrums and inflexibility; the pros come back to common interest and common feeling. 

So what’s come out of all of this?

The tl;dr version:

Con: S is sooky, negative and inflexible, which impacts on my mental and physical health and my ability to socialise outside the relationship. And generally annoys me and thwarts my hope and enthusiasm for the future.

Pro: S and I have a lot of common interests and share similar hopes in life, and we do seem to have feelings for each other that would make the relationship flourish if we could get past the negativity.

Verdict: Still full of doubt about the best course of action. The relationship could be wonderful if I was prepared to be the one to compromise 100% of the time, and if I was able to be the one to support and build the relationship 100% of the time. I’m not, so we have a problem. Can we work on the relationship to get it to the point where I don’t feel like I’m constantly bending over backwards and never getting anywhere? Is there any point in trying, or is it too hard? Can love really conquer anything or is there just not enough to work with in this case? I just don’t know.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Warning Bell


Up so early feel so bright
Didn't get much sleep last night
Freight train rattled through my head
Whistle blowing love is dead
Is dead

Heart attacked by fear and doubt
Won't be long till the truth comes out
First impressions never last
Lovers bonds they hold so fast

Restless future burning bright
The past is holding on so tight
Never heard the warning bell
And I just want to wish you well
I just want to wish you well

~ "Wish You Well", Bernard Fanning


I've quoted this song before, and in rather similar circumstances. But then, like now, I did hear the warning bell and was not altogether surprised when the time came. 

S and I have pretty much broken up, at least for the time being.

I have mentioned in a couple of posts that S and I were having a bit of trouble because he was very busy. I haven't really blogged about how he was acting weird and had pulled away all of a sudden and had stopped being affectionate, and how I wasn't coping too well with my wonderful boyfriend suddenly turning into an emotionless brick wall. Probably I should have blogged about it more.

Yesterday arvo I was down in Perth and sent him a text to let him know that I was there and could drop in before driving home if he wanted me to. I thought he would say no but he said I could come around. I was thinking I would hang out for 15 minutes or so, chat about our weeks, give him some hugs and support, and then drive back here again. I don't know how it happened exactly but we got on to the topic of what's been going on. We didn't argue at all, just talked it all out (and cried a lot). He's very lost and confused and doesn't know what he wants any more, and feels that he needs time to sort things out. He's doubting his teaching ability (prac does that to people) and scared over his parents' health issues, and for some reason he just can't have me in his life while he gets it all sorted out. He told me he didn't want to lead me on because although he still thinks he loves me, he's not sure whether the relationship is working, and he wants to take a break from it and not make any plans for the time being.

He's got two more weeks of prac and then it's school holidays for two weeks. I told him that we could take a break and revisit our relationship by catching up for coffee in the middle weekend of the holidays, and he agreed to that. But I don't know how it will go. I've been reading the warning signs for a couple of months now, and there's a lot of grief going on. I have to start preparing myself for the idea that he's not coming back, and if he does, I may have got to the point where I've processed so much emotion that I can't reconnect. I warned him that a break might sacrifice any further chance for the relationship, and he accepted that but didn't waver.

And I'm torn on how to feel . . . he's treated me like crap these past couple of months and if that's how he handles stress then I'm not so sure I want to be with him anyway . . . what if he abandoned me emotionally when we had small children, for example? Abandonment is not something I'm prepared to put up with in a relationship.

I think I did finally get that through to him how much he was hurting me with that behaviour. I explained how his behaviour appeared from my end, and asked him "what if I suddenly stopped saying 'I love you' or anything like it to you?". He shrugged and said "I probably would have asked straight out what was up". I *didn't* slap him, but patiently pointed out that I had in fact done that repeatedly and he'd either dodged the question or got hysterical and accused me of doubting him. He kind of went "...oh" and a light bulb came on lol. 

I'm glad we had the talk and that I now know exactly what is going on, although in some ways a break is harder than just breaking up, because it's more doubt and indecision. But it also frees me up to make some decisions of my own, and part of me is just a little bit excited at the idea of futures other than the one we've been constructing for the past 11 months. But most of me is just sad and torn and weary.

I don't know what I want.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Nice :-)

I've now lost about 6 kilos (I didn't weigh in this week because I wasn't at home over the weekend) and it's really starting to show. I had to buy new jeans on the weekend because my old ones were absurdly large. Myer had a sale on and I managed to snag $70 jeans for $30, yay! I also finally picked up my contacts on the weekend and I'm planning to wear them pretty much every day, unless it's a weekend day when I'm not planning to leave the house much. And people are noticing. At the family party on Saturday night several aunts, uncles and cousins commented on how well I was looking, and the same with some of the staff at school today.

The weight I've already lost is mking me feel much more energetic - I found myself spontaneously breaking into theatrical dance to some of the songs from "Mamma Mia!" yesterday, something I haven't felt comfortable doing for ages. And the contacts are forcing me to remember to drink water - I'm really bad at making sure that I have a water bottle in my classroom, but I can't neglect drinking while I'm teaching if it means that my contacts are going to go sticky and either blur or get uncomfortable! 

It's all kind of coming together, which is great. Now to get the exercise happening regularly and I'll really be on the way to permanent success.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cultural Privilege

The majority of my extended maternal family are not in the bracket you would call financially privileged in the traditional sense, and those who are have only recently become so. The now-grown-up grandkids were educated in the state school system, and we all went through times when our parents had cash flow problems. We certainly weren't brought up feeling wealthy. And I know I deeply appreciate the help (and presents!) my parents are able to give me now that they have reached a comfortable financial state.

However, there are other forms of privilege. In biology, 'privilege' is any advantage that a parent organism provides for its offspring (the nutrition and safe growing environment of an egg are a privilege a mother bird gives to its chicks, for example). Social animals may also invest their own time in teaching and training their young; another privilege. Humans have taken the latter to the extreme, dedicating amazing amounts of time to this process. This cultural investment in children is supposed to prepare them for living in the culture in which the parents were raised, continuing the culture and ensuring that the child is accepted.

Different parents do this in different ways and to different extents. In the sociology of teaching, the quantity of preparation a child receives towards joining our culture's school system is known as 'cultural capital'. Children who come to school having been exposed to reading and writing, given preliminary education, and taught that education is important have a high cultural capital. Children who come to school from families where education is not valued and who have no prior experience with education have a low cultural capital (this sounds judgemental on the surface but it's not supposed to; it's merely a way of quantifying how prepared a child is for the start of their formal schooling, and it's a strong indicator of whether the child will need extra help to meet expected education standards). The amount of cultural capital that parents can give generally depends on their own level of education and the cultural capital that their parents in turn provided.

On Saturday night, a large portion of Mum's side of the family got together for a party. It happened to coincide with Western Australia's state election, and after dinner we switched the TV on to see how it was going. It turned out to be very interesting - the two major parties won nearly equal numbers of seats so that neither has a clear majority, and we now have a hung parliament, so the premiership will go to whichever major party can broker a deal with the minor parties or the independents and create a majority. The commentating panel was stumped and the computer system they were using went heywire, so the family had a lively and fascinating discussion about politics, the WA political system in general, history and so on. It was great fun, but what I noticed most was the effect it had on the children. There were five children there - my siblings aged 12 and 10, and my cousins aged 15, 11 and 10, along with about 20 adults aged 22 to ~82. The kids were sitting down on the floor, beside or at the feet of the various adults, and not just listening to but participating in the discussion. My family have always been very into children's rights, and children are highly valued and given the ability to participate fully in family discussions. The kids were asking questions, drawing conclusions, creating analogies, and learning more about our parliamentary system in two hours than they would have in an entire term in school.

And it really highlighted something that I already knew, but hadn't fully appreciated - while my childhood was not financially privileged, my extended family was able to provide me and my siblings and cousins with an incredible level of cultural privilege. I realised that every one of those ~20 adults either has a university degree or is working towards one (and several of them have more than one). We have explored a wide range of academic fields, adopted a wide range of belief and value systems and drawn varying conclusions about contentious issues. When combined into one conversation, it's a formiddable quantity of cultural capital being passed on to the children who grow up in that academically charged environment.

I'm very grateful for that, and it was very rewarding to see the younger members of the generation receiving the ongoing benefits of the process. I hope it can continue for the children still to come.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Three weeks to the holidays . . .

Yeah, that's all I've got lol.

Our school is at an athletics carnival tomorrow with two other schools (it's a 'faction' carnival but each school is a faction - we're too small to have intraschool factions). While I'm not particularly looking forward to a day of sensory overload (too much glare from the sun, too much noise from the kids, too much heat . . .), it's at least a day when I don't have to teach. So it's practically the weekend :D

The carnival looks like it's going to be a bit disappointing at this point - one of the other schools has 25 kids off sick. That's out of a school of 60 kids. Yup, nearly half of the kids are away. We've got quite a few off, including two of our best boys, and quite a few others not feeling too great. We don't know about the third school but they're unlikely to be immune. The thing that's going around starts with a splitting headache and a sore throat, and I'm trying to pretend that I haven't had a headache the last three evenings and don't have a slight sore throat. Really truly I don't . . . *sigh* I'm hoping it's just dehydration and will go away. I don't want to be sick! We have a big family gathering on Saturday night!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Spring!

We've been getting warm sunshine during the day for the last few weeks, but the nights have still been bitterly cold, with the temperature plummeting as the sun went down.

This afternoon between 5 and 5:30 I walked out of the supermarket to find that the air blowing on my face was still warm, despite the fact that the sun was going down. It was deliciously warm and fragrant and pleasant. Spring is coming!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Get me outta here

I'm just so sick of everything at the moment . . . I'm sick of kids who are rude and belligerent and spoil things for the rest of the class . . . I'm sick of getting angry with these kids and feeling like I can't contain the frustration for one more minute . . . I'm sick of people snarking and bitching and never offering any support . . . I'm sick of being the strong one who holds up her end of the relationship and giving it everything I've got even when S is unable to offer any support or reassurance . . . I'm sick of trying to manage people so that they don't go all political on me . . . I'm sick of having to diet . . . I'm sick of my unsealable house with its bogong moths and flies and mosquitos and SO much dust . . . I'm sick of the house altogether, with its tiny grubby windows and dingy carpet and no inspiration whatsoever . . . I'm just sick of the endless drudgery of everything.

I know I should be grateful for all the things I've got . . . these are after all the whingings of someone who does have a steady job and money for food and shelter and spending, and so forth . . . but right now I'm even sick of feeling guilty about what I've got and the need to be grateful for it. Feeling like crap when you have three degrees and are living above the breadline is still feeling like crap.



I just want a proper night's sleep where I drop off without spending an hour fretting, and don't get woken by bloody flappy bogong moths every half an hour, and I want to wake up to S hugging me and telling me it's going to be alright. I'm not likely to get any of these things any time soon.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Good news . . .

I found out a little while ago that my lovely aunt-by-marriage is pregnant with her first child! She is only 3 years older than me (married to my mother's youngest brother, 9 years older than me). They got married last September and I don't think anyone expected them to try so soon. The baby is due in April.

I'm extra delighted because my uncle is a lot younger than his siblings, and my grandparents are in their 80s. I know my grandmother in particular was concerned that she wouldn't live to see his kids, but barring anything unexpected there's no reason why she won't be round when this bub is born. That makes me very happy :-)

So . . . SQUEE NEW COUSIN YAY! HURRAH FOR BABIES!