I had this drafted in my head yesterday, but then work landed an URGENT!!! item on my desk in the morning which had me running around drawing lines on maps for the rest of the day. Not that this is a bad thing. Unless you were waiting for this update.
NB: This post is ENTIRELY from my perspective. In reality it was a lot more nuanced than this. As all personal interactions are.
Monday – I was a bit lost because of a thoughtless act of Jed’s and a thoughtless act of mine, where neither of us considered the implications of said decisions/actions. Not a big thing, easily dealt with on a normal week.
Tuesday – we had L in the evening which was fun, with creation of arty type projects from the books and things we’d recently bought for her to do while she was over, rather than always being ‘bored’.
Then Jed left to go to his first night of geek-club. He left with L, as he was running late as L’s mother was running late to pick her up, which is all completely understandable.
Thing is, that I get a little lonely immediately after we have L, as she’s lovely, but quite demanding of attention from everyone, and since I don’t believe in competing for attention or love, especially with a 9 yr old daughter then I take a step back. Generally just need a decent cuddle and a short conversation. Because of the circumstances this didn’t happen, so I was quite lonely that evening. No worries, it could wait until Wednesday, our night.
Wednesday – Looking foward to “our” night together. Met Jed at the pub, went and did some grocery shopping, still feeling a bit lonely and wanting some communication about what had happened and geek club and to celebrate that L seemed to like her new books and that their day together seemed to have gone well.
This didn’t happen, and I handled mishandled the attempt to get conversation happening. It also clashed with one of Jed’s down periods, and so we had a fall-out on the way home, which led to an emotionally exhausting discussion at home, which then led to Jed crashing out on the couch while I cooked dinner and did the washing up. When he woke up, we had another fallout as I was apparently giving him too much information for a simple question. Another night of going to sleep lonely, add with confused and upset. I don’t like going to sleep with those emotions.
Thursday – emails at work to try and calm the situation down, draw a line under it and move forward. Which made sense. However, in reality I suspect we were both still in shock from the night before and trying to be sensible and stoic rather than acknowleding that we were both still quite hurt and in need of comfort and time out. I had plans to meet a friend for dinner, but really wanted to come home and cuddle and sort it out. Jed requested I stay away as he had things to sort out in his head.
Met a friend at Covent Garden, had dinner, vented, laughed, relaxed, thought I could go home and be OK. Nope, didn’t happen, in the way that planned encounters often don’t. We managed to strip open the wounds again. Instead of cuddles and simple chats to reconnect, there was analysis and defensiveness. I was still hiding, desperately wanting encouragement to come out of the cave, and I suspect Jed was was still feeling defensive and isolated himself and was somewhat drunk from being at the pub and a friend’s house that evening and didn’t notice the subtleties of what was going on.
Whichever way, 4th night in a row of going to sleep lonely, and a bit lost, and definitely emotionally worn out and despairing by this stage.
Friday – The concept of hiding in a cave occurred to me on the way to work. One of those semi-regular flashes of insight. It was a strong step in helping to start unravelling what was going on in my head and why I was behaving the way I was. However, I was also seriously contemplating if this whole thing would ever work, or if I’d been completely stupid in pulling apart quite a nice life in Australia to come over here on a massive gamble. And what would I do if it all fell apart? This resulted in a an email to a trusted friend, with wonderfully helpful responses.
Emailing with Jed throughout the morning as well, in which we both realised how far down the spiral we’d gone and that we needed to sort it out before L came over for the weekend. Took the afternoon off work to get ourselves sorted and reconnected, being very gentle and kind and affectionate with each other. This worked wonderfully, and by the time L showed up we were still a bit worn out, but able to be with each other and with her.
I also realised at some stage that the 48 hour rule applies here as well. The 48 hour rule is that in situations of shock my true reactions will not become apparent for 48 hours, as it takes that long for the stress and adrenalin and natural inclination to be reasonable and stoic and fair to all parties, no matter how hurt I am, to wear off. Apparently large, prolonged, stressful misunderstandings count as well.
Saturday – we all caught a bus to Sutton, just because. The bus trip was fun, the shops were rather tiring and all the same as every other major shopping strip in England (boring). Did most of the parenting for the day, until I was completely wiped out and needed time out on the couch.
The neighbours were having a BBQ which we were invited to, so no need to cook. Yay! There was a terrible 5 yr old there, tormenting L and acting out manipulative power relations. I eventually stepped in when she’d been told by her father to pack up and was in the process of using L’s new doll as a tantrum-power-attention-seeking weapon. No-nonsense step-mother to the rescue, with a serious tone and a short, sharp dressing down. Horrid child was quite shocked to be spoken to in such a fashion. Quite satisfying really.
Sunday – bathroom cleaning, lego building with L, my first experience of a full-on 3+ hour sulk from L, and learning to let it go until it had been played out. It was eventually mitigated by a walk up to the common, in which I went collecting blackberries (nom!berries, perfectly in season, and so many of them) and was introduced to elderberries (no, I can’t describe them, they’re just elderberries). Jed came up with a brilliant idea to collect a handful of whirligigs, stand on top of the hill and throw them into the wind. Such a glorious image of these whirligis fluttering around him, catching the afternoon light.
In the end, despite the difficult week, the weekend turned out well. We’ve both learnt a bunch of stuff about ourselves and our reactions and triggers and have come out of it stronger (I hope). I learnt (again) to ask for help and to stop pretending I could carry the weight of my life and stress on my own. It’s not as embarrassing as it seems to admit stuff’s not perfect, and that this doesn’t make me a failure. This is not the first time I’ve learnt this lesson and it won’t be the last I’m sure. But good to mark the next iteration of this lesson.