Midnight musings

I’m doing that thing the American summer camp leaders say the kids shouldn’t do, write when tired.

Tired people are sad and negative.

They didn’t want the daily letters home to worry the parents as the kids would normally be perked up again the next morning.

So unfortunately I’m an American child. Which is basically the worst kind of child (sorry people reading in America…but I’m sure if you’d served wealthy, obnoxious New York pre-teens breakfast, dinner and lunch every day for an entire summer you’d 100% agree).

If you ignore the wealthy bit that’s kind of a good metaphor for my lockdown life. My emotions are up and down, the closer to midnight it is the more fed up I feel.

This really wasn’t the blog I was planning early evening today. After a rocky start we had a lovely front garden picnic, war songs were playing, Emily was doing a wriggly little dance, bears were getting fed and the sun was shining.

Then I thought sod it, she’s not tired, and we watched the BBC VE Day special till after We’ll Meet Again (sadly no one on my street went out to sing). We had little dances together and kept popping out to the garden to listen to the evening birdsong laying on our backs under the trees. It was all very idyllic, I was full of gratitude.

Bedtime wasn’t as horrific as it can be, I watched a bit of Netflix and then succumbed to the news. Oh my god fuck the news. Fuck off. The world is falling apart, I won’t list the Covid related things that upset me – I’m sure you’re aware of all of the real life nightmares unfolding around the world. And if you aren’t then congratulations for avoiding excessive news you clever egg.

But I also read an article about humidity related climate events that aren’t predicted to happen until near the end of the century. These are life threatening to large populations, people just don’t survive without air conditioning in that level of humidity. If you can’t afford air con you die. However warning signs are that it is happening now, not fifty years from now.

I also fell into an idiots obsession with cyber warfare and I’m reading a book by one of Obama’s advisors on the topic. So that’s cheery.

So despite all this global level terror I do still manage to allocate a fair bit of time to speculating when I can see people again.

Mid afternoon I’m thinking, this is fine. I don’t like people anyway. Yes a bit of sex would be nice but so is saving £300 and 40 hours a month commuting.

By midnight I’m so lonely, I not only want sex but a hug. I want a fully grown human sleeping next to me at night. I am all the kinds of needy that The Unexpected Joys of Being Single tried to stop me being.

I know no one ever feels completely static in their emotions. Even when life is steady we go up and down. I am particularly affected by tiredness. But lockdown has brought the ups and downs to roller-coaster levels. Dancing at 8pm and crying at midnight (although I think the latter was definitely impacted by After Life on Netflix).

So anyway, it’s always nice to get things off your chest. Maybe someone reading this is travelling on the roller-coaster too and feels the same. It’s reassuring to know you aren’t the only one feeling a bit weird. And if you are having a proper bad day read this to feel a little more normal Are You Basically Three Today?

Where’s my bloody village?

An acceptable 3 miles from Dominoes but a frustrating 19 miles from Papa John’s.

I’m going to have another single parent rant over here…but it also applies to dual parent families.

Parenting is fucking hard all round. Gold star for you if you got through the week without questioning your sanity.

They say it takes a village and it is A THING.

I’m going to go off on a tangent here but I will get back to the point…

In terms of human history we have spent 5% of it as farming communities and before that we were chilling as hunter gatherers. I say chilling as we were quite literally chilling most of our lives. The labour hours were far lower, we didn’t have many possessions so didn’t spend much time cleaning, mending or looking after things. There would be a bit of the odd fire tending and weaving wicker baskets or gathering berries – but you would be doing it with a bunch of gals.

Your community would be somewhere between 25 and 150. Enough to be pretty pally with everyone, you don’t have to watch over your little ones like a hawk – no one can kidnap them, where would they even go? They would just be scampering around with their friends and all the villagers are half keeping an eye on all the little while chilling and doing the odd bit of work.

No one hoards food, the men go out hunting until there is enough for 2-3 days and then everyone hangs out on an evening, singing songs, telling stories and having sex.

One tribal group living this life still have a little ritual where the men bring the hunting spoils home and all the women do a little ‘give me your meat’ song and dance. In this scenario ‘meat’ refers to both animal meat and cock. Always good to know the penis jokes transcend time and place.

In this group the ongoing idea is the more actual meat you bring home the more your ‘meat’ gets enjoyed by the ladies. But in true village community spirit the men divvy up the spoils on the edge of the village before the hunt celebration. Everyone gets a nice bit of BBQ and sex in equal measure. Friendship is a lovely thing.

I am a big fan of the hunter gatherer lifestyle. The whole killing the smallest twin at childbirth thing takes the shine off a bit so I’m not fully on board…but still, sex and meat.

Then things got a whole lot shitter at the agricultural revolution. You’re working harder for less reward, farming is a cruel mistress. Yields are variable, for millenia the labour effort was insane and the nutritional content far lower than anything that had gone before.

Now to put things in perspective: if human evolution is the span of a human life of 80 years you spent your first 76 years as a hunter gatherer, four years as a farmer and about a week as an industrial revolution dogsbody.

But most industrial revolution dogsbodies have lived in multi generational households. You would also have your aunties, uncles and cousins in the same village. Your mates from the factory / mill live down the road. Basically there are a fuck load of potential babysitters if a disaster arises (as in…you want ten fucking minutes to yourself before you totally lose your shit). And you probably lose your shit less frequently because there is always someone to have a chat with. Yes the physical and medical dangers were far higher but socially, mentally and emotionally it was quite a different scenario.

But we aren’t living that life anymore. For most of us it became common to have both parents in the house working and to move away from extended family somewhere around (I’m guessing here) the 1980s / 1990s and after. So in evolutionary terms that’s two decades out of 6 million years. I’ve really not done the maths on this one but I’m going to say that’s what…ten minutes of your 80 year life?

So…do you think 10 minutes is enough for our mental and emotional comfort levels to adjust to such a radical adjustment to labour, social life and responsibility?

I can tell you from my stress levels the last couple of weeks it really, really is not.

Fuck me it has been hard.

But I have finally returned to my original point.

It’s hard, it’s so fucking hard.

I am a credit underwriter but lately I’ve been helping out the debt collection team making arrears calls. It’s not an easy time to collect money in, no one fucking has any because we are in the most significant economic shutdown since (or potentially eclipsing) the world wars.

And I’m trying to do it with a wild toddler in the background.

I’m also trying to stop my house falling apart, make sure we both eat well and get outside for some fresh air every day. Coupled with the fact that most nights I get woken up between every half hour and every three hours… I’m fucking tired.

But not just that, I’m lonely. I want a hug, I want sex, I want to sit next to my friends and family and colleagues – not waving into a camera.

And the thing is, I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m bloody lucky! I have a house with two gardens (both small…but still counts). At the back of my garden there is a footpath leading out to various woods and fields to explore.

The only reason I can focus for enough to bang on about human evolution in the context of a human lifespan is because my ex has taken her for a government sanctioned day at his house.

I’m sat here drinking coffee from a new mug my mum sent to cheer me up, looking at some flowers my sister sent to cheer me up. I’m listening to Amazon music to chill myself out because I can afford the subscription. I’m really fucking lucky.

But it kind of isn’t about that. Celebrities have got some shit for sitting crying in their mansions about lockdown. It’s not fair, it’s hard for all of us.

Money and housing and all the rest can make sadness and loneliness a whole lot more comfortable but you’re still sad and lonely.

We are a species that needs human connection, if this makes you feel sad then don’t be hard on yourself, it is what we were designed around.

Here’s hoping this shitstorm will be over soon and all my fellow in a relationship but not cohabiting friends will get back to ALL THE SEX as soon as possible.

This former hunter gatherer needs the meat.

What a dickhead

No I’m not talking about a toddler (or ex) here.

But I’ve had this massive dickhead somehow get into my head and all he (I’m making it a man, obviously) says is:

‘you’re not good at anything’

‘you’re not good at anything’

I’m not sure how he gained access. I’m not hormonal, I’m no more tired than usual, no one has been mean to me and yet here my unwelcome lodger is.

Fuck you men

Obviously theory one is going to be thrown at men. But not in the men are shit way I normally like to joke about. In the I’m dating someone who is good at everything way. He is an actual, genuine, proper adult. Whereas I can’t even buy lightbulbs properly. Rather than thinking it is nice to be dating someone who is intelligent it just makes me aware of everything I don’t know (a lot), and all the things I’m shit at (pretty much everything). And then I jump on the negative thought train and things spiral and I start acting like a weirdo which is less than ideal.

Maybe I’m the fuck up

Theory two kind of suggests that this dickhead isn’t in fact a dickhead but a fact teller. I keep fucking up. Multiple times I have forgotten to put my handbreak on and rather than thinking, fuck I forgot my handbreak, I sat in a confused gaze wondering how the world is moving away from my car and what has happened to my eyesight. I smashed a glass last night, I spill drinks on a daily basis and my ability to remember a password is laughable. I have three debit / credit cards on rotation (plus cash reserves) as normally at least one is missing.

Whilst these things can be acceptable, or even endearing if you are Zooey Deschanel type with other skills. However I can’t counter act my deficiencies with… incredible cake baking skills (?) I’m not actually sure what makes up for the above. What I do know is that if someone asked me what I’m good at I would answer…uh…um…modesty?

Or it is that toddlers fuck you up

My back up scape goat after men, toddlers. Because what’s the point in becoming a parent if you can’t blame crap on your child.

I know that one of the things I would like to say I’m good at is parenting. But after the absolute fiasco that was shoe shopping in Clarks today (among many many other things) I’m backing away from that one. And although Emily isn’t asking questions yet I’m somewhat bracing myself for all the questions that she will ask that I know zero about. My science knowledge is zero, I know the name of only one dinosaur – I’ve no idea what children want the answers to but I’m guessing plenty of stuff I have no idea about. And if I did once know then I’ve probably forgotten due to sleep deprivation. Lose lose.

The antidote

Haha…obviously I don’t know the solution. That’s what the whole post is about, how useless I am.

I do however love a good moan so today I’ve whinged to my dad and one of my WhatsApp groups. Whilst my wonderful ego flattering school friends did a fabulous job, my inner dickhead could think of a counter argument to everything (cunt).

As my solution to everything is reading, I’m going to try to read my way out of this one. Even if it is unsuccessful at least it is a distraction that may get me out of this funk.

I’m thinking The Chimp Paradox may be relevant, but I also think it could be patronising corporate bullshit which will piss me off.

Potentially The Comparison Cure, however I think this may be less relevant and just something I want to read because Instagram told me to.

So I’d really appreciate any good recommendations for self help books / blogs / other to evict the dickhead. Thanks.

Shit mum awards

I wish I was writing a funny post about some amusing mum fail. I’m not. I’m just feeling shitty if I’m honest.

We had a good morning, soft play with some friends we haven’t seen in a while and their toddlers. We even managed a four toddler group photo with all little faces in the same direction.

But I always feel slightly on edge. The tantrums are intense at the moment. Last night there was a twenty minute stint of screaming and floor rolling on account of me opening a cupboard containing biscuits (which she isn’t allowed). I tried what I could: cuddles, soothing words, back strokes and everything just made her worse so I sat on the sofa and waited it out. I’m so anti cry it out but nothing was helping and I was at a loss. It was pretty shit.

Tonight we were breastfeeding to sleep but Emily likes to touch my skin, scratch and grip my collar bone. It’s even more annoying than it sounds and I don’t want it to become a habit…cue screaming. In the end she fell asleep in a exhausted grump clinging on to a plastic toy. Normally she falls asleep snuggled up to me, so although I should be happy that I could sneak away for some freedom I just feel a bit shit about the whole thing.

I’m trying not to fall into the self pitying hole of ‘poor me my child sleeps the worst / my child tantrums the most’ etc etc. But also…my child tantrums the most. I know this because strangers come up to me full of sympathy saying ‘oh dear, I remember the time my daughter did that’. I’m like oh yeah THE TIME your daughter did that? Yeah? This is THE TIME this morning and I’m pretty sure there is going to be another time again today. Maybe two.

But why do some toddlers tantrum more than others? Is she acting out because I don’t give her enough love and attention? Is she acting out because she is spoilt because she gets too much love and attention?

Oh my god there is so much potential for self criticism and guilt.

And then you can do the fun thing where you get to worry about the worry. Is she tantruming because I’m a stressy mum? Does my worry cause the thing that causes the worry in a stress – tantrum – stress cycle of hell?!

And I wonder, do we all feel like this? I’ve had a few mums tell me they ‘loved every minute of being a mother’. Congratulations to you women (dickheads). I certainly don’t love every minute of being a mother.

But then I remembered the Duchess of Cambridge interview with Giovana Fletcher (fucking loved it, it wasn’t even that exciting but…a princess!!). If you don’t know then Kate is doing research on early years development, she’s also raising three of the most privileged children ever AND she gets the mum guilt too.

If Cambridge Kate gets mum guilt, then maybe we all do. So maybe I should try and forget about it. Maybe acknowledging that some days are shit, we all have them and we all have shit feelings and we should accept them and stop worrying about it.

Any tips on ‘stop worrying about it’ are VERY welcome. Even more welcome are handy tantrum eradication techniques.

Or instead I’m eating an entire mini eggs Easter egg two months before Easter. I’m also watching a Netflix dating show where someone proposed after three conversations. YOLO.

Post-psychopath aspirations

i hardened under the last loss. it took something human out of me. i used to be so deeply emotional i’d crumble on demand. but now the water has made it’s exit. of course I care about the ones around me. i’m just struggling to show it. a wall is getting in the way. i used to dream about being so strong nothing could shake me. now. i am so strong. that nothing shakes me. and all I dream is to soften.

– Numbness, Rupi Kaur

Scrolling through Instagram this really resonated with me. I felt like this was worth talking about, because people aren’t normally that honest about how they feel, which is a shame.

People can be hard on themselves for their own feelings. It’s quite easy to assume that you are crazy because most people keep their strangest thoughts hidden. No one wants to be the first to open up in case it puts everyone off, but the irony is that when you let yourself be truly vulnerable with honesty that is when you normally endear yourself most to other people.

To start with an unnecessary amount of context: my first boyfriend cheated on me after four years together. I spent the best part of a year on an emotional roller-coaster. I was up and down, drinking till I was falling down drunk, not eating enough, still having sex in an ‘I’m over him’ way (I was definitely not over him). I was a nightmare, as I’m sure my poor university housemates would confirm.

This time I felt like my new tiny housemate deserved better treatment, you should at least aim not to fuck up your children. Spending my days indulgently crying and drinking and fucking was not going to cut it.

It pisses me off when people hold parents to higher standards, but I do feel that as a non parent you get more free reign to fuck up your life. As a parent you are somewhat obliged to ensure you have good mental health, small people are massive copycats. So in the spirit of not being an emotionally unstable single mother raising an equally disastrous child I had already booked in for my first counselling session before my husband confirmed he would be leaving me (thank you Bupa – I do realise most people don’t have this and the NHS lists aren’t great. I am lucky.)

I very much entered counselling in the self assured state of knowing I probably wasn’t the most fucked up person this 60 something counsellor had dealt with. It’s nice to know you won’t be judged, you can be brutally honest. I had ten sessions and it really helped. I spent a lot of time being told I was normal, being shocked at the realisations of why things went wrong – and then being told it was OK, it happens.

But then I got on with my life, I could have had more counselling but with a job and a child to arrange care for it seemed like unnecessary effort. Only I didn’t have a sounding board to offload my strange thoughts onto every week.

By the September (which is a significant month, as it was only my third wedding anniversary) I was in a fairly strange place mentally. I wasn’t missing my husband or relationship – but I was worried about how I had changed as a person. I was definitely more resilient and strong, but I was a little bit concerned I was an unfeeling psychopath. In my grand quest to not fuck up my child being an unfeeling psychopath was one of the more concerning points. I wasn’t sat contemplating this all day long, obviously working and toddler management (as well as borderline phone addiction + tinder + bumble) kept me busy. But it was a nagging thought.

One afternoon someone checked in on me (knowing September could be a trigger) and we were chatting. She had been through a divorce with children, but was a lot further on the other side. Something she said about the emotionally numb feeling that she felt hit a nerve. I couldn’t help but cry. I’m not a massive crier – the act of crying itself felt like it went some way to confirming I wasn’t a psychopath. But on the whole it just felt so good to know that I wasn’t the only one that felt like that. But better – that it goes away.

I cried so much after the relationship breakdown. I managed to be pretty cheery a lot of the time (I’m sure breastfeeding hormones helped me out there). But I also spent many hours – most of them in the middle of the night – crying. Often so badly I could barely breathe. Borderline panic attack with chest pains crying.

But then I gradually just stopped giving a shit. Maybe I was too tired, maybe I was a psychopath, maybe being tired makes you a psychopath (probably). Whilst it was beneficial to my general functioning I just didn’t feel like me anymore.

I’m not the type of person to cry at anything and everything – but I did give a reasonable amount of caring thoughts to people I know, but also just the world in general. For context every Christmas when most people are enjoying themselves I would spend an unreasonable amount of time getting really sad thinking about all of the single parents spending the day alone because their children are with the other parent and how lonely that would be (the irony being that my first solo Christmas was bloody wonderful). So I’m not a completely self absorbed person under normal circumstances.

But the relationship breakdown left me detached. I could hear about something sad and acknowledge it was sad, then quickly move on. Things didn’t affect me in the same way. An emotional story wouldn’t leave me feeling like there was a heavy weight in my heart and leave me drifting back to it distractedly in the days that followed. I felt a bit like a robot.

Maybe some self defensive part of me will always be a little hardened – more than I was before. Maybe that is a normal part of growing up and having life experiences. My friend who reached out to me confirmed she isn’t the woman she used to be, these things change you. But it meant so much to know that I wasn’t alone. Safety in numbers is reassuring and honesty is a relief.

Maybe someone will be reading this and worrying they are an emotionally detached robot. I hope you aren’t worrying any more, we are all allowed to be a bit unstable every now and again, it won’t last – it will be ok.

As for me this is another funny month. February is when when my husband left me. So it has now been a year and I feel like a confirmed non-psychopath. Maybe I can say I am a post-psychopath. I wish I remembered what it was, I know it was something little, but recently something pulled at my heartstrings like it should do. I finally got the reassurance I was coming back to myself again.

I think back in the autumn I didn’t have the emotional capacity to deal with anything. I’d processed such huge amounts of emotion already my mind and body were on sabbatical – unnecessary feelings were being turned away. Now I feel like a normal person again, a really fucking tired one, but about as emotionally stable as anyone. I’m sure the year cut off isn’t a reliable formula for everyone but I’m glad I’m here.

Less bullshit more books

If you know me then you’ll know I’ve had a crappy couple of weeks…wedding anniversary blaaahh.

So I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating and something I read during the shittest weeks at the start of the year was:

My happiness does not depend on other people’s decisions

And I’m trying to live by that. No point wallowing, you’re allowed a little cry but it’s best to stop there.

I’m trying to stay cheery and positive, but sometimes things get on top of me. I ended up having a heart to heart with someone at work last week and cried at my desk. And because it was 4.30 and a Friday I thought fuck it, I’m going to treat myself to a proper sob. I took myself off for a ten minute proper crying session in the shower room.

YOLO

If you have read pretty much anything I’ve done you’ll know I’m really into the self care (generally food based). But somehow stuffing my face with multiple McDonald’s per week isn’t completely safeguarding my wellbeing and mental stability. So odd.

So fresh from my crying fest I rang my acupuncturist. Because everyone loves Adam I couldn’t get in until next Tuesday. Damn I’m looking forward to that acupuncture session.

I’m not sure if I give off the impression that I am mentally stable but I feel almost crazy most of the time. My heart rate is ridiculous…always over 100BPM when I measure it. This must be boosting my metabolism as I’m eating ridiculous quantities of food but I’m borderline underweight. My poor body is running on adrenaline with barely any sleep to recover.

So I’m a quite optimistic that acupuncture will slow me down a bit and chill me out.

But also I’m slipping into bad habits. I’ve given up on Tinder and Bumble as I was matching with people, maybe sending one message and then wanting to keep chatting but generally being too much of a tired woman / lazy procrastinator to continue. So no point really. Goodbye dating apps.

I’ve got a couple of people on WhatsApp still…who I’ve met in real life. But I’m finding myself checking to see if if I have messages a lot. I think I have some sad trying to feel validated by male attention thing going on. It’s not feminist, it’s not living by my happiness not depending on other people’s decisions mantra. It’s not on.

My happiness will not depend on WhatsApp notifications.

I am more than my phone 💪🏻

So anyway…back to my earlier point.

BOOKS

I’m always reading but lately I’ve been reading a lot of sex psychology / anthropology type stuff. At first it started off super interesting (read Sex at Dawn right now…after this blog I mean). But then I was like ah damn I wish I had sex on tap. Damn all these married women I know with access to whenever they want it sex DAMN THEM. But also I got a bit annoyed at men. Many, many different statistics pointing out the fact that men just want young, attractive, big boobed, small waisted, big hipped women with beautiful clear skin and good muscle tone. For fucks sake.

One of the books I read said that when women say they like a man with a good sense of humour they mean he makes them laugh. Whereas men say the same but really mean they want a woman who laughs at their jokes. I feel the exemplifies what irritates me about men.

And back to my main point. I’m not feeling great. Not terrible but not as good as I could be feeling. Because I’m binge eating and checking messages too often.

Do I want to be fat and disappointed and needy?

Nope.

So I’m going to read novels. This will fix EVERYTHING I’m sure.

It also goes towards ticking off one of my 40 before 40 goals

I nearly went with the BBC book challenge that was going around a few years ago. But that had the bloody bible on it. There’s no chance I’m sitting down cover to cover reading the bible. Or the complete works of Shakespeare for that matter.

So I found this Penguin reader inspired list that I’m going for. First up is Great Gatsby which I’ve read (and you should too) but next is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez which I haven’t actually heard of but I am optimistic will tip me out of this mood and get me off being such a needy person.

Also if you see me in real life and I’m walking around clasping a McDonald’s coffee cup checking my phone do please tell me I’m a twat. I need to mend my ways big time. Thanks pals.

Pure, spiky vulnerability. Or…are you basically three today?

Bit of a lazy post, 90% copied from a book. I’m reading I’m absolutely fine: A Manual for imperfect women pretty much because Claudia Winkleman said it was brilliant and I like her. I’m not even through the free sample yet but I’m feeling generally a bit mental at the moment and it’s always fun to have someone tell you they are a bit mental too. So here’s an excerpt:

Someone has hurt my feelings and I am holding a massive grudge. I only refer to them by their full name and I do not wish them well. I need my hand held. Metaphorically. I do not know that I need my hand held but then someone –metaphorically –DARES to hold my hand and I feel a bit less at sea. I can’t do anything. I just can’t, I just can’t, I just can’t. I’m hungry and I can’t concentrate, I don’t know what I want to eat and I might not eat just to make it worse. Today, I am basically three. I have no emotional regulation, no ability to self-soothe, I am low-level vengeful and not to be trusted. I am not able to properly look after myself and I might cry, hit or slightly wet myself at any point. I am hot. I am cold. I like you. I hate you. I am JEALOUS. Everyone has better toys. My inner maniac has taken hold of the wheel and put her tiny foot down and God knows what is going to happen next. I am a liability but it really isn’t hormonal. For once. Or tiredness. For twice. It just is what it is. Pure, spiky vulnerability. Maybe we should add this to our support-arsenal? What about a simple, ‘So, are you basically three today?’YES YES YES. Thank God someone understands.

NB: I had to pause writing the tiny amount I actually wrote because I couldn’t spell excerpt without getting on Google. I hate baby brain / sleep deprivation brain.

Books for a divorcing single mum

Here are a few books that I’ve enjoyed since finding out that ’till death do us part’ actually meant 2.5 years and a baby. I’m not bitter, I’m not bitter at all.

(I’ve actually read way way more as I’m constantly reading but not constantly reading about divorce, do message me if you like a bit of book chat)

Split, a story of love betrayal and divorce. Suzanne Finnamore

I so enjoyed this book, it was both funny and heartbreaking but always honest. The woman is a gorgeous media type living in California, she is well off with a beautiful home and friends to casually drink champagne with over brunch. You wouldn’t think it would be relatable but the lines like this one you realise we all have the same struggles:

“I am drunk in front of the television, chain-smoking. I have not bathed in two days.”

(before the mum shamers see this – as a breastfeeding non smoking woman I substitute alcohol and cigarettes for donuts and cake. Not ideal but not worth calling social services for)

But it isn’t all stark truth bombs on falling apart, there are some inspirational parts and it really ends on a high:

“You learn that it can be a life-enhancing gift, and not just a wound taken in a heart-game called marriage. Finally, you understand that the game isn’t to get your husband back, or to get a new one. The game is to get free”

She is also very amusing, I would like to have her as my friend.

The Kick Ass Single Mom, Emma Johnson

I don’t think I would like Emma as my friend. I think she would judge me and my pessimism. She is one of those people Americans would call a Type A personality. The book is quite money focused which is fair enough, money makes the world go round and all that, but I think she is absolutely coming from a place of priveledge which we can’t all tap into.

Her general view is that children should spend their time 50/50 between their parents and as such there is no need for child maintenance to be paid. She also thinks that if you work hard enough you can absolutely make enough money to be very successful in life to support yourself and your children easily and well without any help. My view is that my little baby should have one primary carer and spend the majority of time with me so that she feels settled and attached. Also my soon to be ex husband planned this family with me and is the only father she has so he can bloody well pay child support.

“A Kickass Single Mom never plays victim. You are responsible for your life. You are not allowed to blame your ex… when times get tough. You are never, ever, ever entitled.”

I however do agree with her views on dating and sex. Pretty much go out and have sex and have fun. No reason to pretend to your children that you aren’t dating as they aren’t stupid and will see through it. Just don’t introduce a man to them until you know its serious. Don’t date twats; you are better off single. Don’t waste time being self conscious, there are probably less attractive women than you out there dating and having sex and a fabulous time – think like them. Fair enough.

“If a person does not add to your life and bring you joy when you are together, he or she must go.”

Playgroups and Prosecco

This is funny, I was enjoying it when I thought it was her own real life story and then I thought hang on there are too many funny goings on here and I googled it and it’s basically chick lit. But the author is a good blogger (Slummy Single Mummy) so at least she has experienced being a single mum.

She doesn’t know, but I once saw her crouched behind the sand table, eating loose Wotsits out her handbag, so I recognised a kindred spirit.”

Wild, Cheryl Strayed

Now this one isn’t specifically about divorce and she isn’t a single mother. BUT her life was at a very low point after a divorce but she picked herself up and did an insane cross country hike up the west coast mountain range in the US.

I think she is pretty inspirational. After reading this you will be like YEAH I CAN DO ANYTHING. And maybe want to buy some hiking boots and get walking.

I feel like this quote is pretty symbolic for life in general:

“The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.”

It was, however, written about a lost hiking boot (this book will ring a bell if you’ve seen the Gilmore Girls Netflix reboot when Lorelai almost did the hike but couldn’t pack her bag).

Confessions of a Single Mum, Amy Nickel

No divorce here, just a twatty boyfriend type person who dumped her when he found out she was pregnant. It is a funny personal account of her life:

I totally excuse them for not being mega turned on by swollen everything (and I mean EVERYTHING – thanks to my waxer for letting me know that little titbit)

The Unexpected Joy of Being Single

The woman who wrote this writes for cosmopolitan and uses that amusing glossy magazine style writing. However it is jam packed with psychological input, various studies and links to many other experts and books so you can absolutely go off on a tangent on whatever takes your fancy like I did here.

There are loads of interesting facts like this:

“experts at Rutgers University said that a break-up causes an incredibly similar reaction to drug withdrawal. Brain-imaging scans showed similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving

“Ingrained neural pathways are the route of least resistance” so basically your stupid brain just goes off towards your ex not because he was the love of your life but because its used to going off that way

But she also has some funny anecdotes of her dating past, such as this text she once received:

‘You’re undeniably lovely, but crazy. Goodbye. P.S. Please stop calling me.’

If you’re only going to read one book I say read this one because it’s brilliant.

What kind of ‘Attached’ are you?

NB : The photo has nothing to do with the article. I searched ‘Mental Health’ in the WordPress gallery and this inexplicably came up and I liked it.

One of my close friends is like a self help / psychology / counselling book expert now. She mentioned the theory of attachment styles to me and it really helped to contextualise what happened in my relationship and what I need to look for in future.

Also if you have dated an Anxiously Attached / Avoidant Attached person before this may help you to get your head around their behaviour and realise that old cliche might be true (it’s not you, it’s them).

So anyway here are the three attachment styles:

  • Secure attached. You’re normal. Well done. 50% of the population are secure attached. My very bad summary is that you don’t have any weird issues in relationships. You don’t push people away for no reason, you don’t cling to them desperately and need unnecessary reassurance. You’re not bad, you.
  • Anxious attached. You’re a bit annoying. You are 20% of people. Sorry but you are. You might be paranoid if your partner comes home late. You might need them to repeatedly tell you they love you or you freak out. I’ll bet you’re a proper diva come valentines day. You’re a bit tiring to be with.
  • Avoidant attached. Ooph you’re a frustrating one. You are 25% of people. Do you like to ghost people? I bet you freak out about the prospect of the words ’till death do us part’. Do your eyes drift to your phone if your partner says they need to talk to you about something? I think you could drive people crazy.
  • Avoidant and Attached. Jesus Christ. You are 5% of people. Please don’t date me.

I’ve read the (sample of the) book on this called Attached: Identity your attachment style and find your perfect match available here. But to be honest…it’s a bit long.

I find quizzes are a bit more fun so I suggest using this site which is by the woman who wrote The Unexpected Joys of Being Single (really good). And there is a real life example using 500 Days of Summer.

So I did the quiz and got a high score on Secure Attached, a really low score on Anxious Attached and nothing on Avoidant Attached. So as I’m a top class kind of girl to be attaching onto I’m not arsed to read the big long attachment book. But if you score high on Anxious or Avoidant you might want to have a look as it provides strategies to become more Secure Attached.

But anyway, click on the quiz link!! Quizzes are fun and she goes in way more detail on Attachement styles than I can be arsed with. Here’s that link again so go click on it why don’t ya.

How to feel a little bit better when you’re feeling really shit

Note that I put ‘a little’, if you read a few posts you’ll find I’m not overly qualified for feeling ‘a lot’ better…but here are my two cents anyway:

Put your phone down

…not this second. Read my blog first please. Then put the phone down. For lots of reasons you should put your phone down. The blue light makes you feel stressed and stops you sleeping, the notifications distract you, the social media makes you feel less. I KNOW it’s not easy so if you can’t quite put your phone down I suggest you:

  • download Twilight app to filter out the blue light to help your eyes and your sleep
  • download Offtime app to assist your willpower (it basically locks down your phone apart from selected apps for a specified time)
  • unfollow any perfect dickheads on social media who make you feel like you or your life isn’t enough. Fuck them
  • use apps that make you feel good such as Headspace or Calm
  • follow lovely people on social media who cheer you up (I follow a lot of accounts with landscapes and nature, plus one or two inspirational quote type people)

Pick a book up

Speaking of quotes I really like:

“reading gives us somewhere to go when we have to stay where we are” Mason Cooley

I spent many (many, many, many) hours laid with a sleeping baby in a dark room, unable to move without waking her. After my husband left me I could have gone completely insane with all the thoughts whizzing around my head. Instead I used my Kindle app to take me somewhere else where I wasn’t a scared, anxious and angry single mother.

I know some people prefer TV and movies but I find you can watch them passively and drift into your own world whereas reading a good book is all encompassing. Even if you’re not a reader now I think you should start. Kindle does £1 daily deals and older books can be downloaded for free. Also charity shops sell a lot of books for 50p each and you know…libraries are still a thing. No excuses now.

Put your shoes on and get outside

Even better, if you live somewhere it is possible to then walk up a mountain or hill. The sense of achievement is wonderful, the fresh air clears your head, you don’t feel like a disgusting sofa dwelling animal anymore and… something about endorphins? I don’t know. Just get outside and get walking (or running or cycling or whatever your thing is). Breathe in the fresh air, look around you, notice things you don’t normally see and be mindful.

I’m also going to tell you to take a flask of tea with you. No scientific reason. Just that I think a hot cup of something when you are sat outside mid walk is just a lovely feeling so give it a go.

Pick up a pillow and punch it

Then chill out and get on with your day like a sane person. This is Rita wisdom (my counsellor, and not her exact phrasing). I told her I was struggling with a lot of anger and resentment and she told me I needed to let it out (with the pillow technique) or it would become habitual. If it becomes habitual you will basically become an angry person. You don’t want to be an angry person and no one wants to be around an angry person. Give it to that pillow. As an aside I got angry in the car the other day, I didn’t have a pillow. I punched my hand as an alternative to a pillow and learnt I am better at punching than I anticipated, so I recommend you just wait for a pillow to be available.

The same goes for crying, you can’t just push your feelings away. You need to get them out but once they are out and you’ve had a good cry think fuck that, that’s me done for the day. If I want to have another cry tomorrow I will but now I get on with my life (hopefully by reading or walking 👍).

Prioritise your pals

If there is one thing I learnt from About a Boy it is that no one is an island. Not even Will / Hugh Grant. (I love that movie. SINGLE PARENTS ALONE TOGETHER yeeaah)

Seriously though sometimes you just need to talk to someone. But try to pick the person wisely. Some people are happy to talk but can subtly encourage you to feel sorry for yourself or angry at others. Be conscious of how you feel after you speak to that person (both immediately and in the days and weeks that follow). If they aren’t uplifting then don’t go to them in a crisis.

Pull out a drawer and sort it out

I remember years ago reading an article by a divorce lawyer who deals with high profile Hollywood splits. She said her clients would often call her having a complete meltdown and she never knew how to help them (divorce lawyer…not counsellor) then she started telling them to find a messy drawer, tip it out and tidy it. That small distraction / achievement is often enough to take a person away from a bad mental space.

P P P Pick up a Penguin

Ah Penguins, remember those chocolatey biscuits with their little jokes on the wrapper?! Fond packed lunch memories 🙂

You probably don’t have any Penguins and I know people say have something healthy blah blah blah but I feel better after a treat. I don’t feel better after binge eating so maybe just have the one Penguin / donut / cinnamon bun or whatever takes your fancy. But hell so what if you do inhale an entire Terry’s Chocolate Orange and packet of Percy Pigs in one sitting at 11pm next to a sleeping baby. It’s probably not a habit you will continue every night for the rest of your life so don’t waste your energy feeling guilty about it. Rita informs me that secret eating is far more common than anyone realises so don’t feel bad about being as greedy as the rest of us.

Positively Perky People

I didn’t intend to do self help via subtitles starting with P but that is where it took me. Anyway I hope my plog may help you get out of a grumpy funk at some point.

Feeling like a failure

Some days I own the title single mother with pride. Single mothers do everything and that makes them extremely capable and strong, who can’t be proud of that! When I read other women’s stories of how they became single mothers I think well done, you had a tough situation and you got through it and thrived. Not that I can say I’m thriving yet. Ultimately I just feel like I’m surviving and the real test will come when I go back to work almost full time and have to manage my time very carefully with a house and clingy co-sleeping baby to deal with.

But other days, to be honest I am embarrassed. I feel like I need to justify myself. I feel like I need to tell people I was happily married, as if to justify that this was a carefully planned and wanted baby. Given that my husband left me quite soon after she was born I worry that people think I am some very irresponsible woman who had a baby with a man she didn’t get on with. Maybe they would judge me more if they knew the truth, that I thought the marriage was strong but ultimately my husband didn’t. How stupid am I not to realise that?

The joke is that when I think of the single mothers that I admire, some of them didn’t plan to have the baby at all. It’s the fact they didn’t plan it and life threw a surprise at them and they not only coped but did a great job and didn’t let it stop them pursuing careers and relationships and happiness.

I wouldn’t judge other single mothers so why do I judge myself? Maybe because I am generally a conventional person in what I want out of life. This is so far removed from what I ever wanted or considered possible that I think I judge myself for letting it happen (not that I really had a say in the matter). One of the things I liked about my husband was that he was dependable and loyal and a family man. Obviously I didn’t really know him, people must be thinking that either I was stupid to not realise that having a family wasn’t for him…or that family life is for him but that I’m such a nightmare that he felt he had to get away from me.

At the end of the day I’m wasting time worrying about what people think as the famous saying goes:

“You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do”

– Olin Miller

And ultimately since sharing with people that I am a single mother I basically have had an outpouring of support. So many women from all corners have offered a shoulder to cry on / ear to moan at. People I barely know have been so kind including generosity from friends online sending an amazing care package to people from my past I haven’t seen in years sending their love and sympathy.

I’ve always had the opinion that people are on the whole good so I don’t know why I waste energy thinking they would perceive me badly for being a single mother. And those that do probably aren’t worth having the good opinion of anyway.

I know a brilliant supporter of women who would be telling me to dust off my crown now so I guess I will.

Getting Counselling

I have always quite liked the idea of having counselling. Basing my knowledge entirely on American TV shows it seems quite a common thing to do over there. They all talk about discussing things with their therapist, even Emily Gilmore has a therapist. So when stuff started getting serious I contacted Bupa (my work pay for Bupa which is really fortunate). Although I have plenty of people to talk things over with they are of course heavily biased towards me and it is hard to know how objective they are being, and indeed whether their advice is actually going to help me move on or in fact stay in an angry place.

So I booked in with Rita. I like Rita, i’ll guess she is in her 60s and she told me that when she had her second baby her husband used her maternity pay that she was going to buy a pram with on stuff for himself and from then on she knew the relationship wasn’t going to work (seriously though, what a knob. The more people I talk to the more I realise the shocking abundance of knobs there are in the world). We have an hour a week, I do sometimes get carried away and just sit down and rant the whole hour about everything that has pissed me off lately. She politely said that while that is totally ok and my choice, it probably won’t help me move forward – fair point Rita.

So anyway she did help me see that my husband and I are fundamentally different people which has helped me make sense of the break up. She also keeps telling me that I am grieving, I think it is really helpful to talk about divorce in terms of grief and loss rather than heartache. For me a big part of the hurt is the loss of the life I thought we would have together. You can’t just ignore grief you have to work through it and process it even if it is really shit. But it is also really important not to be perpetually grieving. It’s ok to get upset but you can’t let it become a habit, every now and then you need to shake yourself down and say that’s it for today. Knowing that you have that counselling session booked in feels like a weight off your mind in a way. Sometimes I think i’ll forget about that today, i’ll wait until tomorrow and talk to Rita rather than dwelling on it now.

It is interesting how many people have told me they have had counselling, on the whole most people are really positive about it. I think everyone could benefit from counselling during hard times it is just a case of finding the right person for you to open up to. I’m definitely glad I did anyway.