So much so that I have declared this week to be a week of rest and low drama. Need some recuperation time before I burn out emotionally.
This is a really long post (1400 words), but it doesn’t cover two very long weeks. So go and grab a cup of tea/coffee/other beverage of choice, and settle in. Also, no photos this week, I’ve not had time to upload them from the camera, let alone edit and put online.
So, following the week of L, we had the week of divorce related drama. Not my divorce, Jed’s, from his (ex-)wife. Hasty emails flying back and forth trying to deal with old hurts and expectations of future behaviour. At one point I was looking up divorce lawyers and mediation services, trying to work out how we could afford such things, and support Jed through the process. Really NOT FUN.
It was all precipitated by one very thoughtless act of the (ex-)wife, who handed Jed the child arrangements statements which he was expected to sign in a 24 hour period during the week in which we had L stay with us, and he was sick and tired and frustrated from picking her up after school. This was, understandably, no where near enough time for him to process the implications of the document and emotions that went with it, nor the best time for him mentally or emotionally. Really thoughtless, bad communication, and very much taking him for granted (again).
It acted as a catalyst for all of the hurt and frustration of the last couple of years to come bursting out. Which, is not entirely a bad thing, and I’m glad it finally did, but oh, the aftermath! eek! I went into fight-based adrenalin and desire to protect my own mode, which I’ve not felt for a while. It always makes me feel I’m alive, but it’s also very tiring.
We eventually got it sorted and back to the previous status quo, with a new understanding that picking up after school was a very huge burden and perhaps she could find someone else to do this.
Then it was the fortnight of job-related stress. I found 3 jobs I wanted to apply for, all public service type jobs with an application process that is much more involved than simply tailoring a CV. It involves at 6 page (minimum) submission supporting their selection criteria, stating in concrete terms what experience you have that is relevant and means you’re a prospective candidate. It normally takes me at least 3 days to write one, so to have 3 due in a fortnight is a heavy load. Luckily I have now written so many of them that my first step is a copy-paste from previous documents with similar criteria and then editing them, paying attention to their keywords, to ensure they are specific to the criteria. If I ever wanted to write a book, then I’m sure I could successfully write a “how to write an application for the public service” type book.
Midway through the process I found out that I’d not got the position at Dep. Energy and Climate Change that I’d interviewed for in late July. Really disappointing. Really. As I suspected I’d not demonstrated that I had the appropriate civil service aptitudes. This is what tripped me up, as it was the first time I was interviewed on specific attributes, rather than experience relating to the job. For instance, I was asked about how I work in a team, rather than my policy experience. I got really flustered, which made me very unspecific in my answers. Oh well. Lesson learned.
To balance this out, one of the positions I applied for is very similar to the work I did in Australia, such that I changed my usual format and wrote 2/3 page on my previous job and how it directly related to what they were trying to achieve BEFORE I then went on to answer their criteria. I also included a spreadsheet of the projects I’d worked on as extra evidence. Seriously crossed fingers for that position, as it was one of my favourite parts of my previous job.
We went to Edinburgh for the weekend in the middle of this, to hang out with two friends, Tancred and Evelyn. Lovely, lovely time. I took lots of photos (predictably) and I’ll do a longer post when I finally get them scanned and uploaded to Flickr.
Then last week was the week of being out-of-sync. Either Jed was sick&tired/out/wanting to party/emo at exactly the time when I was wanting company/at home/out, then needing peace/being worried about the weekend and what the emo meant but not wanting to engage with it(yes, those slashes divide the various out-of-sync phases of our week and are directly correlated). All part of the ongoing process of bringing two lives together. The lives of two people that have been hurt in various ways in the past and who have resolved to “not do that ever again”, which then triggers various pre-responses when the edge of that behaviour is seen. It’s possibly the biggest test we (and I’m sure, others) face. How to balance personal comfort and needs and flow with joint comfort, needs, expectations and flow. It’s a tough one, particularly given our histories. It cropped up again yesterday, and I suspect will crop up again before we’re done.
On Friday Jed described himself as having “an all over the place week”. I suspect that while our own actions through the week created the various situations, in reality it was all a reaction to the divorce drama and related letting go of old emotions from the week before. That sort of thing creates all sorts of emotional ripples.
The weekend was another weekend with L. On the Saturday we went to Brighton and we mooched around some shops which I’d not been to before. I now understand what Jed meant when he said Brighton was like Newtown. There were alternative culture shops, street markets, cafes, more pedestrians than cars, even the right smell at times. Lovely! Had to drag L through this bit, as it really wasn’t interesting for her. Eventually we went to the lego shop (more pick-and-mix for future projects) and then got to the beach, where we lay down in the sun and L went hunting to stones with holes in them. She found quite a few, 3 of which came home with us
Saturday night I cooked a roast turkey with vegetables. Which L turned her nose up at. Now, I can understand not wanting to eat roast pumpkin. She’s a kid, that’s normal. I was also prepared for an objection to the sweed&carrot mash. But the roast turkey!? wtf? The completely sour face that was pulled at my perfectly roasted turkey joint? I took this personally, really personally. More personally than I should have. It rankled and it hurt. So much so that instead of sitting at the table with her till she’d finished her meal I got up as soon as I’d finished mine and quietly went and built my lego model that I’d got new pieces for, to distance myself from the hurt and the stress. Thankfully Jed was in a head space that allowed him to be more forgiving and gentle and found a way that she’d at least eat something before bed, while understanding what I was going through.
After she’d eaten some sausage rolls instead L sat down next to me and declared she was building a school and “could she use these pieces?” and “what do you think?” and “do you like it?”. All the while, still being hurt I’m trying to not burst out with “I don’t care! You didn’t appreciate the meal I cooked for you. I don’t have to do that, I didn’t have to buy you lunch today, I don’t’ have to re-organise my weekends around you, I don’t have to be nice to you and care for you and dry your hair after your bath and ensure you eat properly. Just leave me alone. And stop using up all the lego I buy, especially those white pieces, so I’m scared I’m going to have to negotiate their use with you in the future when I just want to build wonderfully detailed Adult models”. None of which would have been very fair on her. She’s 10, she doesn’t understand, she was completely oblivious to how her sour face affected me. Sigh. (on a side note, I noticed that her lego building style has improved, it’s now got corners and is a more solid structure. In a more generous mood I would have celebrated this).
I’m learning, again, about sharing and appreciation. Or lack of it. Not fun lessons, and I’m a bit ashamed of some of the emotions it brings up.
Still felt horrible the next day, I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t deal with L, didn’t want to have to deal with L, and felt really worn out by the idea that at some stage during the day I’d end up doing so as Jed would crash out and there’d be no place for me to hide. Also, somewhere underneath was a really strong feeling of not being appreciated, or wanted or needed. I was not in a good place.
So I went out. Had an “I don’t want to be a step-mother today” day. Went to London with some friends and rode around in a double-decker bus just because. Ate a real Australian meat-pie (actually two, they were that good)/ and cringed at the aussie yobs in the shop. Then had restorative tea and pudding with the very lovely Dee and her man-wife. At which time it was 9 pm, and I felt calm and strong enough to go home.
The upshot of this? We need space. While the desire is to move into London, we were looking at 1 bedroom places close to the centre. Now it will be 2 bedroom places further out, which is a better overall balance. Space for all 3 of us to not be in each other’s faces all the time. Which I will get on to, once this entirely necessary week of rest is over.