Size twenty thighs squeezed into size 14 leggings, check. Trendy trainers, check. Loose fitting, very long top, check. Yoga mat, check. Courage firmly in my two hands, check. I'm ready for my first ever Pilates class and am hoping that as it's an over 50s class at 11:30 on a Monday morning, all the bright young things with their supple backs and slender hips that twist behind their shoulders with ease, will be out there making the world a better place and not in a Pilates class making all the rest of us feel useless and inferior. As usual with anything new, I'm really not up for it and am having to beat myself up to go; but let's be positive shall we, it's the start of a brand new me...yay!!
Fifteen months ago I applied for my pension from France...15 months! and I still have nothing. I call and call and call and write and write and email and email, but nothing. On Friday I got another number to call from the Normandy faction: the International faction. They work three days a week, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at specific times; I've so far tried to call four times and each time I get the same answerphone message: 'All the lines are busy at the moment please call back later'. Arrrrrrgh. Still, I guess it's better than the 36 month average wait I've been told there is to get a certificate of nationality to renew my identity card.
From the same book by Kerry Wilkinson:
"We sit on the sofa and there's a minute or two where neither of us speaks...Conversation isn't easy because there's only really one thing we can talk about - us. I can't imagine having the same types of breezy conversations that Nattie and I enjoyed.
It's then that it dawns on me that this is what it's supposed to be like between a mother and daughter. Thirteen years apart or not, there are meant to be secrets and things that aren't shared. This is probably how we'd be around each other even if there weren't those missing years.
The mothers and daughters who go around as if they're sisters are the exceptions. The weird exceptions. Mothers who should know better, refusing to grow up, or daughters who can't find friends their own age. It must be a female thing. There are plenty of dads who refuse to grow up - but none I've met who hang around with their sons as if thery're all brothers."
From The Girl Who Came Back , by Kerry Wilkinson:
"What sort of person wants their own daughter to give away a grandchild? How is that a thing? It's easy to abdicate responsibility by saying it's a generational thing, that isn't an excuse, not when other people's lives are involved. If so, where does it end? Slave masters were misunderstood do-gooders trying to give immigrants a purpose? Ku Klux Klan members didn't know any different? Sometimes a line has to be drawn to say that it's not about generations or a change in attitudes. It isn't younger people versus older, men against women or straight versus gay. It's about arseholes being arseholes."
Not sure I agree with the wording of that last phrase, I'd be more measured, but the sentiment is the same I guess. However you put it though, it's clear that such a thing blights the lives of everyone concerned.
In our freezer Sid has put half a loaf of white sliced bread. We don't eat white sliced bread, but Sid's son does, for his breakfast; the bread is 'in case he comes to visit unexpectedly'. That's not going to happen, but the bread will always be there for him...just in case.
Hang on, I need to count on my fingers...seventh day of retirement, except that I went in yesterday to help with the payroll, but that's it. This morning, 9:21 and I've done nothing, still in my dressing gown and sitting here writing. This will definately not do; it's as if I'm coming out of a long illness, not quite sure what to do with myself, not quite sure what I CAN do with myself, not sure if my body can do anything but sit at a computer all day. It hurts. Everywhere. It's quite frightening, I hope I'm capable of more than just working and looking after other people. Right. Get dressed, plan the day, go out...
I'm reading the above book at the moment, it's written by a man but from the perspective of a girl that was abducted aged eight and kept in a box under her captor's bed for two years before escaping and living in a mall for two years; she was then taken into care and at sixteen emancipates herself and embarks on a career in journalism, becoming the editor in chief of a news channel. She doesn't remember her name or her parents and the police can't find them...hmm, a bit unbelievable, but that's not why I'm writing about it here. In amongst all that there are a number of little gems in this book, things well worth noting down and remembering:
'Ever watch a bird build its nest? It's got part of a vine, a clump of matted hair, maybe a piece of cloth, some twigs and grass, God knows what else. But somehow it all gets plaited together, turns into this place she lives. That's what we all do - it's no different'
'We think we're communicating, we insist that in our culture we're communicting continuously, but for all the constant noise and the clamor of media in our lives it's still mostly smoke and mirrors. We have all these special vocabularies, professional, ethic, personal - with just enough overlap to allow us to convince ourselves we share a common language. We talk and talk, make shadows on the wall with our hands, when all wer're really doing is bouncing the ball from flipper to flipper, trying to keep it in play as long as we can.'
'At some point we realise that it's not going to just happen, that we're going to have to make the decision to become human and put some effort into it. Most start young as a matter of course. Other have good reason for being late starters. But the struggle's the same. We work at making a self for most of a lifetime only to find that the self we've created is inseparable from the struggle.'
'There is no better educator than pain, no better leveler.'
'A glass wall's come up between myself and the world I used to live in, I can see what goes on out there, the sounds reach me, but all I'm able to feel when I put my hand against the glass is the simple heat of it.'
It's quite a 'deep' book, a challenge, that's what I like.
...my feet haven't really touched the ground yet, I haven't had time to think about what has happened. I slept like a log last night and today I'm ready to try and start my new life; the biggest challenge that I'm going to face is lugging this body around, it has to be my first priority or nothing else will happen: going to Noumea, walking, cycling, even just doing things around the house and enjoying using my body. At the moment every movement is blighted by pain and I'm taking a lot of pain killers, which can't be good for me.
One thing I've been thinking about is if Kate can't cope they may cancel my redundancy and now that it has happened I don't want to go back. I need to devise a strategy in case that happens and I have an idea already of how I will manage the situation.
Wednesday morning 9am and I'm still in my PJs having had breakfast in bed and spent an hour practicing my singing and leaning how to edit Recorder + on my phone - I did it in the end so my brain hasn't turned to mush in the hours since I retired. Right now it just feels as if it's a weekend or a day off; Sid's gone to golf and we've got two couples coming to dinner tonight: Ann & Robin and Tony & Rosie, so I'll be cooking later on, but for now it's shower, dress and out for a long walk. I weighed in this morning and I'm just under 14s 13lb, WAAAY too much, but at least I won't be sitting at my desk today, or any other day, ha, ha, instead I'm sitting at my laptop typing this - old habit die hard. I keep thinking: I should have told Kate this, or I should have shown Tracy that, but at the end of the day they are grown women and will work it out for themselves. Still feeling miffed that the Company just got rid of me without a second thought, but hey, so be it. I'll report back later on the first day of the rest of my life...
Heart pounding, muscles straining, breath coming in short, sharp bursts, body writhing; will they? won't they? Yes! They're on! The only pair of jeans I've got left that will go anywhere near me...
Yesterday, feeling very anxious, I went to a well know supermarket and wandered around looking at everything trying to calm down. Not finding anything I wanted, I decided to go into the cafeteria for a skinny decaf latte and while I was sitting there I suddenly wanted cake. Well, this supermarket has the most amazing patisserie counter and they were selling three for the price of two, so I bought an apple turnover, a chocolate eclair and a mini victoria sponge with the firm intention of going home, sitting in front of the television and having all three for my tea instead of the pork chop and cabbage I was going to have.
On the way home I had to stop and post some letters and as I was doing this I saw the bin next to the letter box; I got to wondering what would happen if I binned the cakes right there and then and went for a long walk instead. Dusk was falling, it had been a long day, I was anxious and hyper and really looking forward to binging on my cakes. But. The next thing I knew I'd opened up the boot, taken out the box of cakes and dumped them in the bin; then I went home, put on my trainers and went out for an hour long walk. I was feeling nervous by the time I got back because night had fallen, but, surprisingly, my anxiety levels had fallen dramatically, in fact all the anxiety had gone. I had my pork chop and cabbage and had no more craving all evening.
So. Maybe it's enough just to buy the food and not eat it; maybe the simple act of buying something and intending to eat it is enough to calm my anxiety. If that were true it would be wonderful; next time I'm going to buy 2 litres of ice cream from Tesco for 89p and then put it down the sink. It might cost me a bit of money but worth every penny if it works!
Yes, another rant alert I'm afraid; this time I'm alone here at home with Golfer in hospital after a fall that broke his hip. After mum's stroke and subsequent three years of slow decline; after having to make the decision to stop her meds and watch her slowly die; after Golfer's cancer diagnostic and the months of strain getting him back to a semblance of health, he is now laid up again and I'm the carer again. Not to mention all the heartache and struggling and wasted life that went before all that from the age of 19.
And during all this who is looking after me? Not even me! I've put on half a stone in the last two weeks and it's a tragedy after working so hard to get back to health and a normal weight. I'm scared. It's like an out of control rollercoaster that you know is going to crash but you can't seem to find the brake. I've been there twice now: twice up to 18 stones, twice back down to 11 stones and I think that a third time would kill me, but I don't know what to do...
I am sooo sick of trying. I try so hard, I restrict my food when I want to eat, I walk and exercise when I don't want to, I spend a fortune on the dentist and the hairdresser and beuaty products and skin treatments... For years and years and years and years I've tried and tried and tried to keep my weight under control; I smile when I want to cry, I accept when I want to break up the place, I suck everything up and never complain or ask for anything, I hide my broken life and put everything else before me, but the battle is NEVER EVER won; it goes on and on and on...
Yep, you guessed it, I put a pound on overnight doing absolutely sod all to deserve it.
It's funny how feeling bad can actually be comforting. When everything is going well and you're near to realising all the goals you've set yourself; when you're happy and relaxed and safe and nothing is wrong in your life it's somehow scary! You need to sabotge yourself a bit so that you can go back to those comforting things you've always done to make yourself feel better. Living without trauma or upset; without needing comfort, is a bit like flying without a safety net; you're so not used to it that it scares you to death.
I'm living next door to an artist! By day he's a builder, but by night he paints and exhibits his work. Golfer and I attended one of his exhibitions last night and he is FANTASTIC; so talented I almost persuaded myself it would be reasonable to part with £500 for one of his paintings...maybe when I get my end of year bonus. Name is Simon Tonkiss, check him out on the internet.
From my mother’s diary on 24th November 1953. I would have been 4 years old.
“Julia sat on the chair for three solid hours last night. Just before 10 o’clock Phil told her that we were ready to go to bed and if she didn’t go up now she could sit there all night by herself. She just got off the chair, went upstairs by herself, got into bed & said goodnight, and we didn’t hear any more out of her at all.”
Having recently had Leo and Rose to stay, the evening after I read this I sat in my lounge with Golfer and tried to envisage either of them sitting on a hard chair for three hours being ignored, without protest, without squirming, without whining, without putting their arms out and crying…and myself keeping up the punishment for three hours, unrelenting, without feeling any concern or compassion or pity for them. I was unable to even imagine it.
It clearly wasn’t a one-off for the words “the chair” imply that it was a regular occurrence. Worse, I’ve seen photos of me when I was four; shy, plump, needy, clinging to my mother’s skirts.
I know things have changed, life was not the same sixty years ago and people are what they are and do the best they can; also that the diaries are filled with happy times and lots of love and laughter, but the thought of that fat, solemn faced little girl being so desperate for company that she was willing to sit in the middle of a room on a hard chair for three hours without moving, without protesting and without receiving the slightest bit of attention, until she gave up, threatened with staying there all night by herself, and even politely said goodnight when she finally had to go to bed alone, fills me with so much rage and revolt that I can hardly breathe.
Last week I went to the gym and worked out for an hour; I did two half hour runs and a six mile walk. Results? I put on half a kilo. Conclusion? Exercise doesn't help you lose weight, only restricting your food intake does.
I've just cancelled my gym subscription and feel as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders...excuse the pun.
Throughout my childhood my needs were sacrificed to my parent's desire to live their lives wherever and however they chose. As a teenager my needs were sacrificed to my parents unwillingness to defy social convention. Later my needs were sacrificed to my sister's needs. Now, my life is being sacrificed to the crushing demands off my mother's old age. So what I want to know is: when is it going to be my turn?
What's the point of people being kind and thoughtful one day and cold and aloof the next? It makes me think that it's all about them and how they are feeling; if you can't rise above what you're thinking and feeling for the good of someone else; if you visit your angst on those nearest to you, who are completely innocent, or simply not doing what you want them to; being what you want them to be, then it's no use being kind and thoughtful when you're feeling better and expecting them to appreciate it...people forgive, but ultimately such behaviour damages relationships by killing spontaneity and giving rise to uneasiness and distrust.