Hello dear readers of my blog, I hope you've been well.
Generally I'm not a fan of blogs that begin with apologies and explanations for time passed but in this case something is making me do just that. Probably because the reason for my absence here is a story in itself, but the delay is because the story is not mine and that makes the telling difficult.
So often over the past seven years of my life I've found the best way to deal with the words that swirl around my head and keep my eyes open and my mind ticking every night is to type them into my blog. Once they are out of my head and published with some pretty pictures, something in me changes and I can see clearer and move on, or at least move.
But this story feels different because it belongs to one of my daughters. All that is mine is my response. How can I write the painful details of this period of time without betraying the trust of another? And is it possible to write the story from my point of view when the story isn't mine to tell?
I think I have no choice but to try.
You see the story itself has been playing out in the school yard but on such a level that I have never experienced in my almost 16 years of parenting, and even in my 44 years of life.
Generally, in difficult times my pattern of behaviour is to experience things like this in the fullest way. To immerse myself in the situation, to dissect every detail, to feel every sharp angle, to analyse and question and discuss and shout and cry. And then after a while I find that I can see things a bit clearer without all the added emotion, and I can move on to the solution.
For some reason though, this time I haven't been able to move through and beyond the emotional, beside-myself stage, and instead have been stuck here for months. We've tried facing the problem head on, we've tried dealing with all the side issues, we've tried building resilience and also taking the easy way out, but nothing changes.
It has been interesting to watch myself from the outside going through this difficult time. Because it has dragged on for so long I've been able to watch how the stress affects my coping mechanisms and my life. A few weeks ago I found myself at gym on a particularly difficult day. I had always assumed that physical exertion would be a great way to help me cope, and even get rid of all the nervous energy building up. In fact that's probably the main reason I go at all. But this time I found myself moving as if under water. I had no energy and was clumsy and powerless. My trainer described the damage that cortisol, stress hormones, can do to your system, and gave me a series of stretches to do instead. Sitting cross legged on the mat, twisted all the way around to one side, I just felt angry that this nasty situation had invaded yet another part of my life.
I've studied my own childhood, focusing on a time when I was excluded and had to make another group of friends, but I can't find any anger or betrayal in that situation to make me feel like I'm playing it out now.
I worry about the damage it's doing to our family when so many of our conversations seem to end up there, going round in another circle.
I find myself not trusting my responses.
I notice that whenever my thoughts go to this situation my tummy fills with ants that start crawling up to my lungs and then my throat.
I'm embarrassed that my reactions to this nastiness are inappropriate and filled with swear words and things I don't really mean.
I realised that even geographical distance doesn't give me emotional distance. A few days holiday with my mum in a cottage on the edge of a nearby forest made the worry bigger rather than smaller.
And the worst part is that I can't work out if my behaviour is supportive any more. As a parent I want my child to feel like I have her back, to feel safe with me and that I am here for her and adore her. But I don't want to live this out for her. So how do I do that? Somehow I'm missing the ability to separate. This situation is nasty, possibly even dangerous, but still my losing it doesn't do anything at all to fix it.
So far the things I've found that really work for me are farm work, taking a big slow breath before reacting and reading in bed at night until I am so tired I cannot keep my eyes open.
A few days ago I was telling my farmer boy the story a friend had told me about how stressed she'd been lately and how she'd almost had a nervous breakdown. That's how I've been, I told him, but he said he disagreed completely. He thought I'd been dealing with it. Interesting.
In any case, this isn't a story that is over yet unfortunately, but this is an intermission thankfully, as the girls are on school holidays and we've taken them far away from home to escape the cold and the mud. I am hoping that by typing bits of it out I'll be able to have space from it for the next little while and that I'll be able to break the blog drought and get back to blogging about knitting and books and food and family.