Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Friday, October 31, 2008

Changing Hurts.

Growing pains of the soul and mind are no less painful than those of the body.

At the moment I'm digging deep into my childhood, doing the work I need to do to understand why I get pulled into negative relationships time and time again. Part of the answer is the straightforward issue of being an Aspie growing up in a neurotypical word which has given me a desperate need to belong, to be normal, to be seen as fitting in. Sticking with bananaheads because being in a grown-up relationship made me one of the "real people" is part of my problem.

But the more painful issue is one of sibling dynamics. Throughout my childhood, my brother was the one who acted up and acted out. Not that he had no reason - diagnosed with ADHD and undiagnosed with Aspergers, he didn't exactly have it easy. But his problems were so visible. He got into trouble, he had manic episodes, he broke windows, he had to change schools so many times because the staff were running out of patience with his issues. Not all the time - not every day - but he was certainly a high-maintenance child.

I was the opposite. I never acted out, and when my problems did bubble to the surface, they came in the form of hysterics and inconsolable tears. I was a withdrawn, introverted child, the polar opposite of my brother. My problems were no less severe - diagnosed ADD and undiagnosed Aspergers - but I was no trouble. My brother received the lion's share of everyone's attention, because he had to. He needed it, for sure. But I needed it too . . . and never got it. That is the great unmet need of my childhood - for someone to look past the fact that my brother was loud and I was quiet, and realise that I needed help too.

Time and time again, when my brother worked himself up into a state and started acting out, my parents would rescue him - new school, new counsellor, new hobby etc. For years and years and years I waited for my parents to rescue me too. I just knew that sooner or later they would realise just how much pain I was in, how much I was struggling at school, and pull me out, find me a school that would work for me. It never happened . . . because they never knew. And I never asked for help. How could I ask, when my brother so clearly needed their attention more than I?

One effect of this dynamic is relatively easy to deal with: I need to learn to acknowledge my own needs, recognise them as valid, and be prepared to stand up for them. Another effect . . . not so easy. I have to ask myself: do I get into these relationships where I am still suffering and still living out that silently-going-crazy coping role because I am still waiting to be rescued? Is the part of me that puts up with these relationships that same little girl who waited all those years for someone to notice the pain? Am I unable to say no to crazy-making situations because it's my way of giving the universe / my peers / my parents / others one last chance to do what I needed them to do all those years ago?

I have to put that pain to bed forever before I can let someone into my life. I need to make peace with the fact that child-Christine and teen-Christine are never going to be rescued. I have to learn to live with how it was, not how it should have been.

I haven't the faintest idea where to start, but I'll get there somehow.

I'm watching "The Holiday" this evening and want to share this quote:

Iris: "I wanted to get away from one guy, an ex-boyfriend who just got engaged and forgot to tell me."
Arthur: "So, he’s a schmuck."
Iris: "As a matter of fact he is a huge schmuck . . . how did you know?"
Arthur: "He let you go. This is not a hard one to figure out."


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This year's NaNoWriMo starts on Saturday, and this year I'm going to make a proper go of it. I've intended to for the past two years and barely wrote a word, but this year I believe I can do it - really believe. I'm working on a fairly lightweight YA fantasy piece which I'm plotting based on the various stories and 'pretends' I enjoyed around the ages 12-14. Because it's a part of me it's fairly easy to work on. You have to write around 1700 words per day to complete NaNo, but I'm up for it. 50,000 words is a fine size for a YA novel, so if I manage it I'll have the complete first draft of a YA book.

So, the plotting begins . . .

Monday, October 27, 2008

Setting it Straight

I have mentioned before the wonderful blog Getting Past Your Past, an incredibly empowering resource for people who are grieving over their break-up and are ready to question why it went wrong and what they can do to end up in a good relationship next time. The site advocates using a tool called the "Relationship Inventory" to take stock of what went wrong and right in your last relationship, and what that meant in terms of your own satisfaction. Some of the questions are hard to answer, because they ask you to question your own beliefs and understandings. But when you finish, it feels good. Oh, so good.

These are some of the things I’ve discovered so far.

1. S was controlling, manipulative, jealous, passive-aggressive, inflexible and enormously self-centred.

2. I ignored S’s behaviour because I was busy being the ‘good’ girlfriend and enabling S’s behaviour because giving in to him meant that I was not being a brat.

3. This was an issue for me because I have struggled against a tendency to a volatile temper. I had formerly adopted crazy-making habits and was determined to defeat them, to the point where I failed to maintain basic standards about how I could be treated.

4. I also ignored S’s increasingly crazy-making behaviour because I did not have the self-confidence to admit that I could see that it was going wrong.

5. This was a self-confidence issue for me because I felt that being in a proper adult relationship was a validation of my own status as a genuine adult, meant that I was ‘keeping up’ with my partnered friends and cousins. These are two issues I have struggled with. By backing out of the relationship I would be going back to the ‘single and failing at life’ tag I’d ascribed to myself.

6. I have self-esteem issues for a number of reasons going right back to the first few years of school. One is the simple fact that having an Aspergers brain means that I have felt different, substandard and confused for much of my life. Another is my role of silent child / ‘the one who copes’ in my family structure. The latter has resulted in my aversion towards asking for help and a habit of belittling my own needs because, as a child, my needs were never as great as those of my brother. I have also developed the habit of belittling my achievements, because what I achieved in spite of my minor needs were never as impressive as what others (ie my brother) achieved in the face of his greater needs. This is a false perception, and a belief not shared by other people, who see my achievements independently to others’ and are really very proud of me.

7. In most of my relationships, I have repeated the pattern of accepting what I should not accept, because I lacked the self-confidence to draw the line at the risk of losing the relationship. In these situations I was clinging to the validation that being in any relationship provided, and doubted my own ability to distinguish between acceptable friction and unacceptable behaviour. I broke up with B because of his denigrating behaviour, then reneged and had to find it out again in the repeat relationship. I took it from E until my walk-over-ness drove him away. I caught it in time with N. With C, I allowed actual abuse to drag on for a year before finally refusing to accept it any longer, precipitating the breakup. D drove himself away by buying into his own crazy-making manipulation, but I had realised that the relationship was going to end because of it. With S, I pretended that I could accept and deal with the treatment I was receiving, and although I still have no idea exactly what precipitated the breakup on S’s part, the way he was treating me was appalling and I should not have been allowing it.

8. The key for me to have successful relationships in the future is to develop an unassailable feeling of self-worth, and to be absolutely clear with myself about what I will and will not accept from others. To do this I will need to unpack every layer of my self-doubt, address every false perception, reject every unwarranted label, and replace the falsehoods with positive truths that will support my belief that I deserve only the best treatment from only the best people. Then, and only then, will I be ready for another relationship.

So there it is. I have a LOT of work ahead of me. I don’t know how long it will take, and for some parts I don’t even know how I will achieve it. But I’m going to get there. No more crazy-making, no more doubt. I’m going to get to the bottom of this.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

And more spiders . . .

I whipper-snippered my front lawn today, because it badly needed trimming. I'm quite proud of myself because it's a hot and tiring job to do but I went ahead and did it. As for the spiders - I had to clean a red-back and its egg sacs off the whipper-snipper, and disturbed a huntsman / wolf spider and some sort of garden spider, with a big triangular silvery body.

I also got the couches for my outdoor area (bought some old couches from a friend who wanted to get rid of them - easy!).

I've put in my uni application and now I just have to wait - I won't know until mid-January.

I'm feeling pretty happy and confident and self-worthy today. I'm getting there!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


As a result of all the therapy, reading and intensive self-help work I've been doing, I've been making a few decisions lately centring around building my own life and getting on with living it, regardless of what anyone else is doing. One decision I've made as a result is that I'm getting a kitten in December. I want more pets :-) I'm tossing up between a grey tabby or a black and white one. Wait and see what's available at the time, I guess!

The other decision is that I'm going back to uni. Don't panic, though, I'm not giving up teaching lol. For a while now I've been saying that when I'm staying at home with small kids I'll go back to uni externally and do another Bachelors degree part-time. I'd decided to major in creative writing and minor in web computing or theology, depending on my mood! Well, I've come to the realisation that I REALLY want to do that degree for its own sake, not just as an intellectual challenge. I WANT my BA Hons in creative writing, and I WANT to be able to program enough to create webpages and write basic Java applications. Those are things I have identified as personal goals, and to hell with waiting. I have enough free time in my evenings to be doing two external units a semester now.

So, I'm enrolling in an external BA in Creative Arts at Murdoch Uni, to start in February / March next year. I'll probably get advanced standing for the whole of first year, because I've already got three degrees, but I will still need to do several first year units as prerequisites for later units. In the first semester I'll probably take ICT 102 (Intro to Computer Science) and EGL 114 (Intro to Creative Arts). Second semester will be ICT 108 (Intro to Multimedia and the Internet) and EGL 122 (Creative Writing: Text and Practice I).


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spider season?

It's been hot and stormy in Western Australia this week, and apparently that's brought out the spiders. Yesterday I killed an enormous red-back in my bathroom, and today I found a medium-sized huntsman or wolf spider in a box in my classroom (accompanied by a shriek on my behalf and an immediate demand to see the spider on the behalf of the kids!).

I've got a splitting headache from the heat and the humidity, but I'm enjoying the intermittent storms. I usually love this sort of weather, but the over-30 C days have been a real shock for October - this is January weather!

Seven weeks and four days of term left . . .

ADDING: It's the following day, and I just evicted another nearly identical wolf spider / huntsman, this time from my house - it was on the floor right in front of the couch I sit in to watch TV and go on the laptop. Eek!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I'm in kind of a ratty mood this evening, and have been for most of the day.

I think the day was pretty much doomed from the time I woke up, because just prior to that I was dreaming about S, like he used to be back before he lost interest. *snarls*

The day was mixed up because we had a special sports incursion happening (inflatable squash courts, WTF) and the kids were rowdy because of that and because of the broody weather we're having (35 C and thunderstorms, yay). Most of them weren't straight-out naughty, just noisy and easily distracted and not wanting to get a lot of work done. One girl WAS very naughty and disobedient and I'm going to have to call her mother in for a conference because she's suddenly redeveloped a habit of being rude and defiant that we thought we'd sorted out last term. Not happy.

Then I found out that the principal is strongly considering giving me the next class down (the 2/3/4 class) because a particular parent has caused so much trouble for me this year. Now, I can see where she's coming from - I have NOT enjoyed the stress of dealing with that parent's obnoxiousness, and all three of her kids are in the 5/6/7 class next year. It'll be intense and quite possibly very unpleasant for whomever takes the class next year and I've done my turn dealing with it! But at the same time I love most of the kids in this class and I've invested so much in them, and it'll be VERY hard to turn them over to someone else, even if it's for the best. And there's so many things I'd hoped to do with them next year! And it seems so unfair that one obnoxious parent can make so much trouble that the school has to change an effective staffing arrangement to head off potential issues.

Whatever happens I'll compromise and cope and get on with my job, but they're my first class and I guess no class anywhere will ever be quite the same. So I'm feeling kind of sad and down and uncertain. The 2/3/4s are a nice age group too and I'm sure I'll have fun, but I'll miss my bright, on-the-ball, savvy older kids.

On the upside, the principal is talking about making my role as a music teacher more official, and having me teach in the classroom for 4 days and take all 3 classes in succession for music on the 5th day. Which would be AWESOME. I suggested that I could teach drama as well, and she said that was a really good idea too, so I might be doing both. The current 2/3/4 teacher would do the same for everyone for Phys Ed if that went ahead, which would be a really great way of doing things and I really like the thought. That would go a long way towards making up for the change of classes! So it's not all bad. I guess the inevitable end-of-first-year-of-teaching separation tears are just coming early lol.

So . . . yeah. I'm just kind of cranky and out-of-sorts. Probably what I need is a good solid walk in the fresh air. But, thunderstorms. Lots of them. I love thunderstorms but going walking during one is just plain stupid.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Healthy Eating

I've so far lost 7.8kg overall, but I plateaued over the holidays and have neither lost any more nor gained anything back. Following the advice of my mother and the Weight Watchers site, I've switched plans from the Points plan to the Core plan.

The points plan operates on the traditional calorie reduction method - every food is allocated a points value based on the number of kilojoules and the amount of saturated fat. You get a certain number of points per day which will provide slightly less than the number of calories you need to maintain your current weight, and voila! Weight loss happens.

The Core plan works by forcing you to skew your food choices all the way up to the healthy end of the scale, and control quantities by tracking your hunger and keeping it within the "comfort zone" of 'slightly hungry' to 'satisfied' (you are supposed to learn to avoid dipping into 'starving' or going over the line into 'stuffed'). After only half a day on it, I feel really positive about it. I think, even more than the Points plan, the Core plan teaches the habits that will lead to sustained long-term healthy eating, even after the weight is lost.

And you don't have to be constantly weighing and measuring and counting, which is awesome! As long as you chose foods from the 'allowed' list, you can eat as much as you need to maintain that hunger comfort level, and you don't starve yourself or overeat. The list is really diverse - good carbohydrates (ie all-bran cereal, pasta and wholegrain bread and potato and so on), lean meats, skim milk, low fat ricotta & cottage cheese, pretty much all vegetables, most fruits except for really wicked ones like avocado, diet soft drinks, cordials, jellies, jams etc, eggs, some cooking sauces, some cooking oils (in small quantities), tea, coffee - it's an amazing list. It's perfectly possible to eat a very satisfying diet without stepping outside the list. For when you do need to step outside it, you get 21 points to spend per week - 3 per day. That could, for example, allow you to have a tablespoon of mayonnaise on your salad, two weight watchers cookies at morning tea and a small glass of wine with dinner. Those little treats can make all the difference as you don't have to feel deprived.

More than any other diet I've seen, the Core plan sets you up to think about good food vs treat food in the way you must think about it if you're going to keep the weight off. Those top-of-the pyramid foods are put right into perspective with this plan, and it reminds you that if you want to eat high-calorie foods, you have to make the amount very small to avoid impacting on your health. A very good precedent to set for life after weight loss!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Living History

The stock market crash is in every news bulletin here, as I'm sure it is all over the world. This evening, the TV news is reporting an unprecedented demand for charity services, and has shown scenes of massive crowds queuing for food hand-outs. There have always been such food hand-outs and the newsfolk may only be making a big deal out of them because everyone is running scared at the moment, but on the balance of evidence it looks like there really has been a massive surge in people desperately needing support just to survive.

I can't help wondering what it felt like back in 1929, when the world was still reeling and confused and not quite sure where it was going to go. The histories we are taught are coloured with the benefit of hindsight - we read them already knowing how the story ended. It's very hard to get inside the minds of the people who lived through it, to watch through their eyes as they saw the bouncing pebbles become an avalanche.

What was that like?

Was it like this?

One week down . . .

. . . eight weeks and four days to go.

Me, wishing the term away? Naaah.

Actually it's been a very good first week. Admittedly that's been because my two weakest and most difficult students have been absent, but still, it's been good. The two new kids have upped the positive atmosphere of the classroom and made things a bit fresh and new, so it's been good. I've enjoyed teaching this week and I've felt comfortable and capable. Yay!

And this has me tickled this afternoon:

Gotta love xkcd

Barring the fact that I do struggle as far as the couch in my jammies before getting online, that is me. And I love it. Connectedness is good!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wow hot

The news said today was the hottest October day in 8 years, and the hottest day we've had since April. 35 degrees C (95 F) in October? YOWCH.

My Wednesdays have suddenly got busy - I have choir every second Wednesday, and a lady has just started running 'body balance' (yoga + pilates + tai chi) classes every Wednesday so I'm going to go on my alternate Wednesdays. The class was really good - a great workout - but I'm going to be sore tomorrow!

Monday, October 13, 2008

School Rant

We had a school direction workshop this afternoon with the staff and several community members. The instrumental music teacher (who teaches one day per week, one child at a time, and has only ever taught one-on-one music, she's not a trained teacher) kept going on about how the children aren't having enough fun in class, how every single lesson should be fun, and how there should be an educational games corner in the classroom so that the kids are motivated to get their work done. This is a load of complete crap. I teach about 25 lessons a week, to 19 kids of three age groups and about 10 ability levels. A classroom teacher CAN NOT make every single one of those lessons an all-singing all-dancing fun-filled extravaganza. It is physically impossible. There are not enough hours in the day to do that kind of preparation. And fun does. not. equal. learning. You can engage the kids, get them interested, make the set-up of the lesson enticing and intriguing, but sooner or later the kids have to sit down and do some work. And that will not be fun. It might be enjoyable, it might be pleasant, it might be satisfying, but fun? No, and it's not meant to be. Learning is hard work. It can be nice, but it's rarely fun. And furthermore, this is a senior primary school classroom. When my year sevens get to high school next year, no one is going to give a fig about whether they are having "fun". They will expect them to sit down, shut up and do their work. That doesn't mean I have to be be strict and cranky with them, but it's my duty as their teacher to make sure that they have the skills to actually sit there and get stuff done without expecting constant entertainment.

As for the reward corner - this might help one third of my students, the middling group who are at the 'what do I get out of this from others?' stage. They might hurry up a bit. It will do nothing for my strong third, who have developed an understanding of intrinsic rewards and will gladly finish fast for a bit of praise and their own inner satisfaction. And the remaining third, my weakies, will immediately decide that they will never be quick or accurate enough to get to the reward corner and will simply give up and do even less work than they do already. Not to mention that the whole thrust of what we were taught at uni is to move kids away from external rewards and towards that inner satisfaction. A play corner would be a massive backwards step, and teach them an unrealistic expectation about the world. Your job will not have a play corner.

And also, this music teacher kept saying that she wasn't sure the kids were happy at school. Maybe that's what they tell her. I was too polite to mention that half of her kids dread their music lessons and get more and more tense as their appointed time approaches. She's a nice enough lady and probably teaches quite well, but the kids find her lessons stressful. I guess they're not having enough fun...

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Whatever he wanted, I didn't have it. I tried constantly to change who I was, acted the martyr, tried to alter myself to meet his needs, but it didn't work, because whatever he wanted, I didn't have it.

That does not mean that I am defective in some way. We are different people. I didn't have something that he values, but that may not be a bad thing from my perspective. What he felt was lacking may be something that falls outside my values, something that I do not value. Maybe even something I would not want to have, would never want to have.

I'll never know why, when things were looking so good, he suddenly pulled away, shut me out, ceased to value me. But on the flipside he will never know that in the end I broke up with him because I became aware that he was lacking things that I value, things that I consider vital.

There is no point trying to figure out what went wrong. It's clear that by the end we were not able to value each other. And I can acknowledge that, in a way, I was responsible for the long, drawn-out ending to the relationship and the associated dramas. When you insist on valuing someone who is not valuing you, and insist on giving to someone who is refusing to give in return, you are devaluing yourself. You are openly inviting the other person to treat you as if you don't matter. Your behaviour says "I don't care enough about myself to do the self-respecting thing and tell you to shove it, so you are welcome to adopt the same attitude". By allowing, and inviting, S to brickwall me for two months I showed him that I didn't have enough self-respect to ditch him for being a jerk, and correspondingly he treated me with a complete lack of respect. Damn.

I've decided that I need some time and space to understand myself better. I can't go on having these relationships in which I teach the guy to disrespect me and then despise him for it. I envy the people who have perfectly healthy relationships with themselves and therefore find keeping that balance of respect and love in a relationship easy. But I'm sure that somewhere in here there is a Christine who can succeed at healthy relationships. I just need to find her, cherish her, build her up, drag her to the front and let her loose on the unsuspecting population!

This term is going to be all about me, and the same with the Christmas period. Back on the straight-and-narrow with Weight Watchers, a few more chats with the counsellor, lots of exercise, lots of time spent doing the things I love. Singing, flute playing, reading, writing, teaching well, celebrating life. I won't quite go so far as to say that I'm not going to get involved with anyone during this time, because I'll feel pretty stupid if I get myself healthy and meet someone absolutely wonderful before my arbitrary time limit is quite finished. But in principle I am going to be single until January 1st at the earliest. At the very least, I will not seek a relationship with anyone until then. If someone wonderful finds me and I'm in the right state of mind by then to make something of it, then fine, but I'm not going to go looking for a relationship. I want to get my own life right first.

Yesterday was a good first step along this road, I think. I went to the races in a country town a couple of hours' drive from here, with a group of friends. I was wearing a dress I bought when I was 7 kilos heavier and correspondingly looked far more gorgeous than the last time I wore it. My make-up was perfect, my hair was cute (I wore a fascinator and it actually stayed in my hair, yay!) and my jewellery was delightfully coordinated. In short, I really looked very pretty and felt it, too. Although I'd never been to a racing meet before, I felt confident, supported by my wonderful friends, and attractive. The whole day I felt centred in myself and ready for anything. It was very pleasant and it was the kind of thing I need to do more often. I need to be out there living or I will never learn how to live as me, instead of a pale shadowy miserable Christine. That's part of my aim for this term - to live vividly.

Two very long weeks

It's the last day of the holidays, and I've got a sore neck and shoulders from sleeping badly, and a sore throat for no apparent reason. I'm having trouble picturing myself back at work tomorrow. Thankfully the kids don't start until Tuesday - tomorrow is a staff development day when we will be planning for next year. But still . . . I'm not sure I'm ready to go back to work.

I've had some great times over these holidays - catching up with friends, going to parties, performing with the choir, and yesterday, going to the races in a country town and getting through to the second round of 'Fashions in the Field' (!!). And of course the days of getting stuff done around the house, and the times when I was just sitting around relaxing.

But the not-so-great stuff . . .
- Permanently splitting up with S, and the various emotional tempests associated with it
- Chipping a tooth (and paying up for getting it fixed!)
- Dealing with the weird swap-back of stuff with S
- Dad and stepmum splitting up
- Finding out that Mum's family cat, Mia, who is 11 and has cancer, will finally have to be put down. We've had her since I was in high school and I picked her in the first place so I'm very sad about that.
- Jemima's own medical emergency (a scratch to her eye) and the associated vet bill. She will be fine, she just has to have medication put in her eye for a week. Made Friday night and Saturday morning very stressful!

This has really been an astonishingly full holiday. I've been so happy, and so sad, and overall so very confused! So much crammed into two weeks . . . I feel like the world has been saving it up and dumped everything on me in one short period! Hopefully Term 4 will be nice and calm lol. And then it's Christmas, and a whole 6 weeks of holidays! Hurrah!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Grief and Music

Amongst my prayers recently has been one that probably sounds quite odd - thankfulness for the popular music writers, performers and producers who capture shared human experiences so accurately, and therefore allow us to process them more clearly.

Last week I popped the song "Believe" by Cher onto a mix CD without really thinking about it - I knew I liked the song but hadn't listened to it in ages and needed one more song for the CD, so on it went. To my complete astonishment, when I reached that song it fitted the end of my relationship with S perfectly. I've been listening to it frequently ever since. Read the lyrics, it's really quite remarkable:

No matter how hard I try
You keep pushing me aside
And I can't break through
There's no talking to you

So sad that you're leaving
Takes time to believe it
But after all is said and done
You're going to be the lonely one

Do you believe in life after love
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough

What am I supposed to do
Sit around and wait for you?
I can't do that
And there's no turning back

I need time to move on
I need love to feel strong
'Cause I've had time to think it through
And maybe I'm too good for you


But I know that I'll get through this
'Cause I know that I am strong
I don't need you anymore
Oh I don't need you anymore
I don't need you anymore
No I don't need you anymore


Now, I'm enough of a cynic to know that the reason why songs like this become so popular is that they are written to capture a particular set of emotions that are common to a lot of peoples' experience. But still, I think it's good when we're hurting to know that we're not alone, and pop culture, particularly music, can do that very well. So I'm grateful for it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Jealousy, Grief and Learning

I've been doing a lot of reading recently, particularly of a most wonderful blog I've found, Getting Past Your Past. It's all about the process of grieving and letting go, and about learning from your past, so that you can avoid making the same mistakes in relationships that have led you to traumatic break-ups in the first place. I can strongly recommend it. I'm learning a lot from it - many of which are things I already kind of knew, but can no longer avoid when they're being so vibrantly waved in my face!

I can't help but feel jealous of the people I know who married young. I wanted to be a young wife and mother - there's something bewitching about that feeling of being youthful and rosebud-like and falling in love - and I will never have that chance now. In two months I will be 28 years old. The odds of me being married before I'm 30 are next to none, and motherhood is as unimaginably far off as ever.

I also feel jealousy towards the people I know who are my age and are now getting married after having been together for years and years. I've missed that chance too. If I meet someone and we are together for years and years before getting married then I will be getting into my mid 30s, I will have missed my best and safest childbearing years, I'll never have that gorgeous youthful bloom in marriage or motherhood. And it hurts. I feel like I'm out of time, that happiness can only be a cheap, second-rate sort that can never be quite as special as if it happened in my 20s.

Deep down I know this isn't true. But in bad moments part of me feels like my life has been burned to the ground and it's too late to bother rebuilding. I feel like people are laughing at me for still trying to make something of my love-life at my age - shouldn't I just realise that I'm on the shelf and that's my lot in life? Shouldn't I just be happy with my career and my cat, because worthwhile girls are married by now?

A lot of this comes from the cultural belief, still very strong even in our emancipated society, that marriage is the goal and endgame for all women. I know it's not, when I'm rational. I know it's a particular step along a lifelong road of interpersonal relationships, a happenstance not an achievement, etc. But it's programmed in on a primal level to want that security - and yes, the glory of the wedding day. There are very few women who do not want it. The jealousy of those who have it, and the fear of never having it myself, are well and truly tied up in the grief I'm experiencing over the end of the relationship with S.

And I know it's something I need to break free from. The more I work through my anger and grief over the break-up, the more I realise that I kept negotiating with S, and putting up with his bad behaviour, long after I should have told him to get stuffed. That willingness to be mistreated was rooted in fear - the fear of losing his promises of a wedding and kids and a loving home. I know objectively that I should have kicked up a massive fuss when S's control behaviours started to show. I know I should have stood firm on wanting to be able to both enjoy our lifestyles, rather than him enjoying his and me constantly trying to compromise so that I didn't affect it. I should, really, have driven him away months and months ago by insisting on being a woman rather than a doormat. I shouldn't have waited and hoped and let him walk all over me because there were diamonds hanging in the balance. And all the more so after he told me he'd bought the ring and was waiting for the right moment after all of his stresses had eased. If that wasn't emotional blackmail, I don't know what is.

And again, it boils down to self-worth. Self-esteem has never been my strong point. For most of my life I've held my self-worth to be a measure of how other people perceived me - which is a self-fulfilling prophecy of disaster. It has led me again and again into the trap of being with guys who use that low self-esteem to get their own way in everything, to appear to build you up while actually tearing you apart. You can't please that kind of man, can't ever be "the one" for them, because they will keep you weak and punish you for your weakness in the same breath. And I fall for it again and again because I'm running out of time and the fear of missing out seems to justify the pain.

Let me say, right now, in public, and where I can be reminded of it: NEVER AGAIN.

Building my own independent sense of self-worth will be a long process. I made mistakes years ago that have left me in a financial hole, and I have self-discipline problems that leave my house messy (not dirty / unsanitary, just terribly disorganised) and leave me always scrambling to catch up in my professional life. I don't even know where to begin changing. I can change the symptoms with to-do lists and budgets, but the underlying problem is always fighting against me. I want so much to be free from all of that - managing my money effectively to get out of the mess, having a home that is easy to take care of not a constant struggle, knowing that I'm doing my best in my job. I just don't know how, and I despise myself for not knowing. And at the same time I know that all the negative emotion in the world won't help, and I try to love myself, be kind to myself, give myself a helping hand to get out of the hole . . . I think I've stopped making sense.

I feel so messed up today.

I feel so alone and unwanted and I know I'll never get finished everything I need to do before the end of the holidays and I can't seem to stop pouring it all out in word documents and blogs. I'd probably feel better if I got up and did something but the words keep coming and my house is so empty and yet so full of inanimate objects screaming at me about the past and the present and the future. If I go out I'm just dodging what needs to be done around the house, but being here is so hard. Maybe I should just go back to bed for a few days.

PS: Dad just rang me to say that he and my stepmother are finally, definitely and completely separating. It wasn't exactly a surprise because it's been on the cards for years, but I'm surprised that it's really happening. It's weird. I don't like my stepmother and have only recently learned to tolerate her with equanimity, and my stepbrother and stepsister I've never been close to although I've watched them grow up. More disentanglements, more grief . . . it was interesting to talk honestly to my Dad for the first time in years, hear him express his emotions, and to find that strangely they're similar to mine - glad it's over, not sorry to be moving on, but so disappointed at the loss of the expected future. We had a good talk and I think it helped both of us. But so strange in some ways, especially when I was having such a bad day, to connect with the parent I least expected to be able to connect with. Life is weird.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


I'm feeling lost and despondent at the moment. I'm very angry with S and have no real outlet for it - there's only so many times you can rant to family and friends or write not-to-be-sent letters, and I don't want to turn this blog into a negative space. I want inner peace, but it's going to take a while. I thought I was okay, and I'm surprised that I've fallen into this low. Of course, being me, I've been doing a bit of research into grief, and you would be amazed how many websites in the 'surviving a break-up' vein contain the words "you thought you were okay, but then...". Heh.

I'm hurting and lonely and craving any kind of comfort. My sleep patterns are all out of whack, I can't concentrate on anything properly without dropping back to the arguing-in-my-head pattern. I've totally lost interest in getting done any of the stuff I wanted or needed to do these holidays, and can't really imagine doing anything except sitting around for the next week. I hate feeling like this and I wish there was someone I could call but it's after midnight. 

I wish I could come to some conclusion about what the hell actually happened. The "too stressed to be in a relationship" line just doesn't wash or tally with so many other things. Did he get cold feet, realise that he didn't love me as much as he thought? Am I being naive about the new female housemate, did he meet someone else? Was it my weight loss . . . things started going weird right after I started losing more than a kilo a week, might that have had something to do with it? When I think about how he used to nag me about my weight, then sabotage my weight-loss at every turn . . . it makes me so damn angry. At least I know I did nothing to cause this, I have no bad behaviour to feel guilty over. In fact I wish I'd done anything sooner, refused to put up with his abandonment earlier, demanded answers when they were first indicated rather than waiting until it became an act of desperation.

And I know that I will never get answers to the above, and don't even need to - worrying through it is all part of the process of getting over him. But I want to sleep, relax, do anything without thinking of it all. Really badly.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sometimes . . .

. . . all you can do in response to people is stare, shrug and move on.

Yesterday afternoon I arranged to go to S's house and drop off the stuff of his that I still had, and get back some stuff of mine. At first he was all "oh I won't be home for an hour" so I said that I would drop his stuff in his garage and get my stuff another time. So then he said "oh well if I'm back before you get there then I'll leave your stuff out for you".

. . .

He was out for the next hour, but could be back within 20 minutes to get my stuff out, but couldn't be there in 20 minutes to meet me.


So I figured he was just trying to avoid seeing me, and that's fair enough. When I got there it was quite obviously contrived - his car was there and his housemate's too, but neither S nor the housemate was anywhere to be seen. I guess they went for a walk or were hiding in the house. Inside the garage I found a pile of four textbooks belonging to me. I took those, left his stuff, and went on my way.

I didn't check my phone at all yesterday evening, so I didn't find the text he sent last night until this morning. I'll quote it:

Thanks for the stuff. I'd given some of it to you as presents, but obviously you didn't want them. I didn't think all of those books were yours? I left a small pile out there for you to sort through.

I just stared at the message, thinking "umm, duh?". Obviously I didn't want the stuff I gave back . . . it was a book he lent me that I didn't enjoy, several pirated DVDs I didn't want in the first place (I don't believe in illegal DVDs but he would have chucked a hissy fit if I didn't accept them), a ceramic artwork he made, and a blockmounted poster he lent me. None of that was stuff I was going to keep whether it was gifted or not. As for my books . . . he never said that the pile was for me to sort through, just that he'd leave my stuff out. And as it happened I did sort through, and they were all mine! Or I wouldn't have taken them!

I didn't reply right away because it was way too early in the morning, and since I was heading straight to Mum's I thought I'd talk it over with her. We decided that I wasn't going to reply at all. Whether the message was a last-minute attempt to stay in touch, or a nasty dig at me for wanting to call off the relationship without any further attempts, or whether it was just honest bewilderment because he was not using his brain . . . I can't fathom what it was intended to achieve and so I'm just going to ignore it. He can figure it out for himself. I don't intend to have any further contact with him unless it's unavoidable for some reason. Thankfully we have no friends in common and can just stay naturally apart. As far as I'm concerned, we have nothing more to say.

The rest of yesterday was rather satisfactory. I got my hair cut in the morning, then headed down to Perth to see the dentist. I thought I was going to get yelled at and told I had heaps of cavities. On the contrary, my x-rays and examination turned up no work needing to be done at all, apart from the chipped tooth! She filled the tooth on the spot, so well that it looks smoother than it did before it was chipped - you wouldn't even know it was filled! - gave me a complete clean and a fluoride treatment, and sent me on my way with nothing but a recommendation to come back next year for a clean & scale. Woohoo!

Then it was over to the counsellor, who is immensely proud of me for breaking up with S properly and moving on (and also said I look fantastic lol - between my freshly cut hair, freshly cleaned teeth, nails that were painted for once, and the glow of being 100% happily single, I did look pretty good!). Then I went to the physio, who fixed up the neck and back pain I've had for the past week since I stupidly demonstrated how to bowl a cricket ball without warming up first. Next came the exchange with S, and then I went to have dinner and stay over with L, a friend from high school. We had a great evening and went to visit our other friend J too, and I had an awesome time.

This morning I went to Mum's as I mentioned, and she took some photos of me to show how much weight I've lost - I might put a before and after on here! Still plenty to go but I'm doing well although I've had a bad couple of weeks. I haven't put any back on but I've plateaud because of the amount of eating out I've done. Back on a strict diet from this evening! Then I drove up to a town north of here to perform with the choir. It was good fun and I think we sang well.

So all in all, despite strange and obtuse ex-boyfriends, I've had a really nice couple of days, and now I'm vegging out as hard as I possibly can hehe.