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.

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.

7th June: Feeling lonely

It was just me and Emily today, which happens a lot and I’m normally fine with but today I just feel really lonely.

I’m also really stressed about how I’ll cope when I go back to work. Mostly the thought of getting a strong willed baby out the door before 8am…a strong willed baby that likes a lie in and all day with her mummy. I think most parents do a tag team thing where they take it in turns to get ready while the other feeds / dresses baby.

And also how i’ll cope working nearly full time on very little sleep. And do the food, housework and laundry.

And survive financially.

Having someone to chat to every evening and just help out so I can get ready for bed would be a massive luxury.

Literally just a hug, a chat and ten minutes help would go so far to making everything feel more manageable.

My friend just got dumped and is back on online dating straight away for an ego boost. She suggested I do the same so I filled out a profile for something to pass the time. Definitely a bad idea, none of the men were as right for me as my ex so I deleted the account quickly feeling even more negative about the future as I did before.

Dating apps are sad places when you are already feeling lonely.

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.