The value of complaining (even when others are worse off)

h07act0xagy-jordan-whittSometimes I find it so hard to say ‘I am finding this hard’. I would rather go through an experience twice than tell other people I am struggling.

But *deep breath* I am finding it so hard at the moment.

Nibs has either been sick or teething since October. As he sees me as a giant human handkerchief (snail trails of snot! Why that’s just what I always wanted to complete this look) I’ve been ill too. Winter so far has been such an unrelenting germfest I am considering encasing him in a bubble and just tossing Ella’s kitchen pouches through a hatch.

I respond to illness with the emotional maturity of a petulant three year. ‘NOOOO, this is so unfair. Why me???!!’ *Throws tissues on the floor* In the good old days being ill meant time off, throwing a pity party in bed with snacks and tv and not emerging until I felt better. Now being ill means juggling an ill grumpy baby who swings between climbing the walls out of boredom and howling on mummy. No bed, no tv, no down time.

I could cope with this if I had slept. But in addition to illness Nibs has been teething and waking screaming every two hours. Fellow mum’s trade sleep deprivation stories like warrior’s comparing scars. Pre motherhood friends are less interested in hearing you bore on about how tired you are… again.

There are other reasons as well. This time of year has never been particularly kind to me and mine. But mainly it’s the illness and lack of sleep.

Lately I feel…

Frayed at the edges
Like I am running on empty
Like I have nothing left to give.

Not great when you have a tiny being utterly dependent on you.

This is not the problem. Because it’s the weekend He Who Shall Not Be Named (HWSNBN) will be on the case. And then I just have to survive the next week before he is off for Christmas. Everything is better when he’s around. Somehow around him it feels safe to share when I am finding things a bit shit. Everyone else? Not so much.

The problem is that it takes until I am drowning for me to mumble ‘Hey, this water’s a bit deep, eh?’

When I am hurting, my first response is to try and convince myself it isn’t that bad. When I am finally able to acknowledge it is that bad I then engage in a round of twisted comparisons.

You can’t complain about motherhood because you struggled with infertility, you should be grateful to have a baby at all.

You can’t complain because your baby wakes every two hours when your friends baby wakes every hour.

You can’t complain about finding it hard because you’ve got a loving and supportive husband. You’re finding it hard? Think of all the single mums out there.

You can’t complain about struggling with one baby when your friend has two.

You can’t complain about your baby because your friend’s babies died and they would kill to experience those sleepless nights you’re moaning about.

You can’t complain you’re finding it hard mothering an able-bodied child because your parents raised your sister who is disabled.

You can’t complain because your baby is safe, warm and fed. Think of those poor babies in Aleppo.

So it goes until I am throughly shamed and silenced. And so I don’t complain, I don’t ask for help until things get really bad and by then it’s almost too late.

Don’t get me wrong there is a value in recognising your privilege and feeling grateful for what you have compared to others.

But pain is not a zero sum game. If it was there would ONE person in this entire world who was objectively judged the worse off and had the right to complain and the rest of us would shut the hell up. If I am finding it hard it does not take away from my friend who is also struggling. There is room enough for both our experiences.

So this month I am going to try and speak up when I am finding things shit to people other than HWSNBN. Eeek!

I need to speak up when things are hard because naming a feeling helps reduce the intensity. It stops it from being trapped and magnified in the echo chamber in my head.

I need to share so that other people can know what is going on with me and step up to offer their support, if they want.

I need to be honest because this feeling that everything is a bit shit is just as valid as the feeling that everything is wonderful.

I want to speak about this because other people being open about struggling has made me feel less alone. And I hope by sharing this other people will remember it’s normal to find things tough.

Finally having a bitch as well as being necessary, helpful and normal can be fun too.

So *deep breath* I’m struggling. Anything you want to get off your chest, let me know in the comments.

The middle

The middle

photo-1470713810641-8136c29329b4

Credit: Mark Basarab

I have always loved before and after stories. Cinderella transforming into a princess. The ugly duckling becoming a swan. The hungry caterpillar emerging from it’s chrysalis.

And if asked I will talk to you honestly, happily and at length about my own before and after stories; afterwards. I’ll tell you about how I went from desperately trying to earn my place in the world to believing (most of the time) that I was enough. I will talk to you about what grief taught me about love. I will describe my struggle with infertility and how I lost three stone to access IVF and instead fell pregnant naturally.

The key word in that sentence above is afterwards. People tell me that admire my honesty in writing about the situations I have found hard. My reaction is always mixed: part proud but also part feeling like I have just pulled off a con. It’s takes courage to show somebody your scars, it another thing entirely to show somebody your wounds.

I am very good at talking about difficult experiences afterwards. When time has lent some distance and perspective and things are less raw. But sharing that brutiful (half beautiful/half brutal) bit in the middle of something I am struggling with? Ugh.

When I am in the middle of something hard, I cannot find the words to name what is happening to me.

When I am in the middle of something hard, I feel an expectation that I need to go away in private and figure my shit about before I can be in company again.

When I am in the middle of something hard I feel so bruised and skinless that an inadvertent glance could hurt me.

When I am in the middle of something hard I feel stuck. I cannot go back and unknow what I have learnt. But I have no idea how to move forward.

When I am in the middle of something hard I don’t know the story ends. I don’t know whether I will triumph or fail. I don’t know what the meaning of this experience will be until afterwards.

When I am in the middle of something hard, the last thing I want to do is talk about it.

But that’s what I ask my clients to do every day. There is so much I could say about what is happening within me right now. But I am in the middle – so I don’t. Until now that is.

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-12-23-26

I read this quote from Glennon Doyle Melton, one of the writers who inspired me and it floored me. Yes, it is important to share our truth but what about sharing our unknowing. Why don’t we talk about the bits of our life that are still in construction. So inspired I am trying something new today. Even though thinking about hitting publish gives me a knot in my chest and that sinking sensation of being emotional naked.

Here are some things I am in the middle of:

Work

I’ve always been ambitious, it’s one of my defining characteristics. But when people ask me ‘when are you going back to work?’ I want to jam my fingers in my ears and sing loudly until they go away.

I don’t want to work again, ever. Despite the fact I love my job and staying home isn’t an option financially. I am desperately frightened that if I go back to work that ‘Push the river’ side of me, that relentless driving force will take over. And there won’t be any space for me or Nibs or anything other than pushing forward at all costs. Until I have figured out how I can work without letting it take over – I don’t want to go back. I expect my motherhood bubble will pop at some point and I may long for another identity other than mother and to exercise my intellectual muscles. But for the moment…

nope

Self-care

Having and mothering a baby has made me realise how abysmal I am at mothering myself. If I were an actual mother and child I would report me to social services for neglect. I have realised recently where this lack of self-care comes from. But I don’t know how to move forward and it makes me feel sad and stuck. Why can take care of other people, but not myself? I am starting to notice how much this is affecting my relationships with my husband, child, family and friends. And it the affect on them that is motivating me to change, not on me. That fact makes me feel even sadder. I am trying to go back to basics and ask myself daily what I need. But it is so hard and humiliating. Shouldn’t I have learnt how to take care of myself already? Is it too late to learn?

Body

I eat emotionally, always have done, and it’s becoming a problem. I eat as a reward, out of comfort, to console myself or just mindlessly. I worry that Nibs will see me and develop some of my habits. The worst thing about this, is that I successfully lost a lot of weight before getting pregnant through revolutionising my eating habits. When I was pregnant I was really careful about what I ate. But the combination of breastfeeding, tiredness, and boredom have meant I have been eating cake like it’s going out of fashion.

The feeling that keeps on popping up that I should be over this by now? I know how to eat healthily. I have done it before. I have all the tools in my toolbox but still I keep self sabotaging. Sadly I think the issue is I can moderate my approach to food when other people are at stake – but not when it’s just about me. Instead I circle around and around this issue never progressing

Marriage

He Who Shall Not Be Named (HWSNBN) and I have been in better places. Don’t get me wrong, we’re OK but we could be better. Lack of sleep and lack of time, as individuals and as a couple, has taken its toll. I find this immensely frustrating because as a couples therapist I knew that having a baby was one of the biggest stressors on a relationship and I had a chance to memorise the classic fight up close:

Stay at home parent: I love the baby so much but sometimes looking after him alone is so hard. I resent so much that your life continues almost unchanged whereas I am tethered to a tiny human being. You get to leave, to speak to other adults, to pee in private. I am never alone but I am so lonely.

Working parent: But you get to see it all: all the tiny ways he changes every day. I miss it. I miss him and you get to see him all the time and you don’t appreciate it. He’s growing so fast and I am not here. Plus work isn’t the holiday you think it is.

Repeat ad nausem

9 months ago I assured myself we wouldn’t be like that. Cue hollow laughter. We, OK being brutally honest, I have not been kind to HWSNBN recently.

It is so entwined with me not taking care of myself that I know that before I can reconnect with HWSNBN I need some time for me. To figure out who I am as a mother and individual after this immense lifechanging experience. If I am set boundaries and ask for my needs to be met; I will be a better partner to him. I am not in panic mode at the moment partly because I don’t feel like I have the headspace to panic. We are trying different things – some of which seem to be helping. We’ll see.

The future

I am very torn on if/when we should try for another baby. It took years, and years last time. And I am hyper aware I may not have years of trying left. I never want to go through that agonising desperation of trying and failing to conceive again.

But I am not ready. I am not even close to ready for signing on for the intensity of a newborn. Some days I look at Nibs and he’s so wondrous I can’t imagine not trying to give him his sibling. Some days he seems so big to me and miss him being a tiny baby in my arms with an ache in my womb. Then I have a dark day where I feel like the shittest mum alive and think I am never having any more children. 

So, this is where I am at right in the middle with all the mess and none of the glory. Watch this space.

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-12-05-26

Bleak midwinter

image

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…

As in I’m feeling incredibly sad. I knew this was coming even thoughout the past couple of months I have been genuinely happy and at peace with my life. A friend suggested that maybe I had been burying these issues. But it didn’t feel like I was denial. More that my happiness was that bittersweet sensation of a person who knows that winter is coming but dances in the sunshine anyway.

Like Jacob Marley I’ve been visited by some familiar ghosts. The first let’s call the ghost of primordial darkness. I’ve always found this time of year difficult. And I know from speaking to others and from working with people struggling with their mental health that I’m not alone in this. As the darkness grows like ink swirling through water, as the trees stretch skeletal fingers towards the dying sun, as the earth freezes appearing so barren nothing will grow. Some primal fear catches me and I begin to worry that the light will never come back and we’ll remain in this internal twilight forever. And I always breathe a sigh of relief when we pass midwinter and the longest night and begin to move back towards the light.

The Ghost of past trauma

image

It’s fitting that the actual longest night has always been the anniversary of the darkest night in our family history. 32 years ago today, my first Christmas, my sister was knocked down in a hit and run. I haven’t written about this on the blog before. It isn’t my story and I don’t want to cause any pain by talking about it in detail. But it has always been a difficult day. There is an ambivalence between the pain of what happened to my sister, the loss of the person she could have been, and the joy at the person she has become despite the most difficult odds. My sister is the kindest person I know, a talented artist and a silly bugger. To think only about how she became disabled is to ignore the gift that is her, ‘the girl that lived’. But neither can I deny how sad it is that choices have been taken away from her.

image

Tonight in Brighton there is this pagan festival that sums up this ambivalence. During the burning of the clocks people march through the streets with paper mache clocks and sculptures which they throw in the sea. We are going as a family. Although we haven’t talked about it I think it reminds us that even in the darkest night the sun still rises eventually.

The Ghost of recent loss

I’m sad because Christmas always reminds me of Lianne. If you’ve ever experienced a loss you will know that anniversaries and special occasions are bittersweet. She loved Christmas and every year we would go drinking Christmas eve in reindeer antlers. Spending every Christmas day with a stinking hangover was a small price to pay for a night of laughing with your friends until your ribs ached. Even before she died as she got sicker and sicker and finally was unable to come out, Christmas became infused with fear. Would this be the last Christmas with her? I really miss her and have so much I want to ask her and talk to her about. So Lianne if you’re there and not a ball of energy somewhere or been reincarnated as grumpy cat: what’s heaven like? Are the angels hot? Do you miss us too?

The Ghost of future pain

image

So we’ve covered seasonal pain, old trauma, recent loss and that brings us nicely like Jacob Marley to the ghost of future pain. Another year passes and I am still not pregnant. And I’m not going to lie Internet friends, this fucking sucks. When I started trying for a baby every month I would get my period I would console myself by saying don’t worry it will happen next month or surely the next month after that. By the end of last year during a similar depressive episode I told myself dont worry it will definitely happen next year. This year that hope has burnt away to ash and I no longer make any predictions at all. I hope against all evidence that I could get pregnant next year but know it is equally likely to take years and also there is a possibility, slim but it exists, that it may never happen for us.

Do you want to know the cruelest thing about infertility? As it becomes more clear that the problem is with me I realize I can bear my pain. But I love HWSNBN so much, how can I bear the thought of being the one to prevent his dream of being a father? We talk about it and I know this is my fear not his. That he loves me more than that. But it hurts.

My period was late for a week and a half this month and even though HWSNBN and I tried not to hope we couldn’t help but imagine a different Christmas one of possibility that next year would be different. My period came last night and I wept inconsolably. Speaking to HWSNBN and my parents helped. Knowing that they will be on my side wherever this journey takes me helps. This pain is changing me, tempering me in the fire into a new person but I worry about losing who I was. I worry I might snap and break under the crushing weight of a thousand disappointments.

And so it goes
ESTRAGON: ‘I can’t go on like this.’
VLADIMIR: ‘That’s what you think.
Waiting for Godot, Beckett

image

Like many others with depression I’ve been here before. This is territory I’ve mapped too many times. And there is something almost comforting about the bleakness of the vista, the scarred rock face, the waves tumbling over my head.

There is nothing I can do about these ghosts. The more I work with trauma the more I realize how unhelpful the notion of closure is. There are some wounds that never heal, despite our best efforts we have to learn to limo along with them anyway. I can’t protect myself against past loss or from future pain. All I can do is sit and feel these feelings until they pass. The only way out is through.

Small things help. The realisation that I am not alone, that other people find this time of year difficult too. That there are people who love me even when I am not my best self. Letting go of expectations of how Christmas will be helps. If I cry then I’ll cry and if I laugh that’s OK too. Writing about how I feel here helps even if only my mum reads it.

But the thing that really helps that keeps me trudging forward when path is so dark I can barely see is the knowledge that no matter what long dark night of the soul I am experiencing this too shall pass and somehow, somewhere the light is returning.

What I learnt about marriage, two years in

jonathan-rowans-wedding-jl-222 2.jpg

Two years ago, I married HWSNBN. In front of friends of family I vowed to:

‘love you til the seas run dry, until the sun grows cold and the stars grow old. And if there is another life beyond this, I will love you there too. With these words, and all the words of my heart, I marry you and bind my life to yours.’

One of the oddest things about being married is how natural it feels. I never dreamt I’d be this conventional. Growing up I wanted a loving partner eventually, but a husband never seemed part of my story. As HWSNBN delights in telling people in the early days of our relationship I vehemently announced I didn’t believe in marriage. But I love being married, and here’s the important bit, to him. Here is what I learnt about my marriage two years in.

It feels odd talking about our marriage even to a compulsive oversharer like me. It’s just not done. Other people’s marriages are another country, with their own secret languages and minefields. I am insatiably curious about what goes on there. (Seriously people, tell me more about what goes on in your relationship.)

In the first two years of a relationship you talk endlessly to your friends about ‘what’s going on.’ Why do the conversations about relationships stop? Is it because I don’t want to see the look of fear in their eyes when I tell them that sometimes when he has a cold he coughs in such an intensely irritating way I want to jab an icepick in his ear. Is it because if I have to hear about how my friends boyfriend prowess in bed or lack thereof and then sit opposite him in the pub, I might jab an icepick in my ear. Or is it because it gets bit boring.

People talk a lot about the wedding but not about the marriage. That ratio feels wrong. A wedding is day and if you’re lucky and I was it’s a really fucking good day. But marriage is what happens when the confetti has blown away, when the champagne is long drunk and live begins again. I really want to ask people questions like: how do you fight? How do you listen to somebody tell the same boring story about their day again? How do you stay together even when tragedy drops the sky?

Marriage is half luck, half work. As is said in our wedding reading. ‘Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.’ The fortunate accident is that in this big world we found each other because I cannot imagine doing this with anybody else. And yes, Tim I get the odds. But I still feel so lucky to have met you HWSNBN. As in I must have saved children from a burning building in a previous life lucky.

I try to not be complacent about marriage. I went into it knowing that half of marriages end in divorce. Statistically we have a fifty/fifty chance at best. I wouldn’t bet on anything else with those odds but I bet on us. And that’s not including the odds of us being separated by something outside of our control: death. So we try hard to be there for each other. To carve out little oasises of time for us. There are some things I just tell him. And vice versa. And whenever we can we dance by the light of the moon. It’s work but it doesn’t feel hard not yet anyway…

I love this quote from Tim Dowling: ‘A little paranoia is a good thing in marriage; complacency is the more dangerous enemy. You should never feel so secure that you are unable to imagine the whole thing falling apart over a long weekend. I can’t give you an exact figure for how many sleepless nights per year you should spend worrying that you’re going to die alone and unhappy if you don’t get your shit together spouse-wise, but it’s somewhere between five and eight.’

In recent months I seriously haven’t had my shit together spouse-wise. I work full-time and also am out most evenings counselling. When I’m not doing those things I am mostly staring at the wall and rocking. Connecting with my husband has moved further down the list as I struggle to find time to do the most basic things to keep myself functioning. I asked him if he felt abandoned expecting anger or hurt. But he simply said: ‘I miss you but I understand. This is not forever and it’s for us.’ I am so much harder on myself than he could ever be. Reader I loved him even more. For example: tonight instead of doing anything elaborate or romantic we’re spending it at home as I am bedridden with a cold. That is love.

People ask me what’s changed. Nothing has. Everything has. The most concrete difference is we fight differently. Before for me, at least, when we fought things felt unstable. There was always the nuclear options of running out the door. Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold. Now when we argue it feels like we are both in the same ship bailing out from the tide. Sometimes we bicker fiercely over the tiller. But we still have the same goal, to keep the boat afloat. That helps. Knowing the way I know which way north is that we are in this together.

It’s nice to have somebody on on my side. So on my side he’ll call me on my bullshit.

There is a sweet spot between connection and distance. He’s my crack. If I could spent every moment together I would because I like the way he makes me feel safe as if nothing bad can touch me. Even if I know that’s not true. But it’s not good for me to always be together. It’s not for us. It’s not for our friends and family who want to spend time for us as people not as a couple. Spend too much time together and I begin to take him for granted. Being alone feels great the first night. I get shit done. I indulge in secret single behaviour (you know eating salted caramel sauce from a saucepan. With your finger. Just me eh?). But my day two I feel hollow as if some part of me has been amputated. I hate it. But I need time apart like a drink of fresh water to remind me of who I am without him. To remind me of how much I love and miss him.

Sometimes I spy him from a distance and I fall in love him all over again. His posture. That vulnerable spot at the nape of his neck. The way he throws his head back exposing his molars when he laughs.

We are stronger together. Without him, I would be a social recluse happier with books than people. Without me, he would be a bear in a china shop unaware of the undercurrents of polite behaviour.

We’ve been together ten years now. I’m not the same girl I was when I met him. My hair is shorter, my waistbands bigger. He’s changed too. But at moments I get glimmers of the boy he was when I first met him faintly like seeing something through water. His fluffy hair, the interest he takes in everything, the way he holds my hand. Softly as if I am precious.

Marriage is a choice we both make daily. I chose him when he’s popping to the supermarket and I chase after him kissing him ‘goodbye’ as if we’re starring in brief encounters. In case something awful happens I want him to know how much I love him. He hasn’t lived a life in the shadow of uncertainty like I have but he choses me when we kisses me back even though he thinks it’s silly. It’s on such small compromises that a marriage is made.

I chose him when I want to gnaw apart our relationship like an animal in a trap because I cannot stand another repetitive fight about who left crumbs on the bathroom floor but I stay. He chooses me when I woke from my frequent nightmares and he holds me close, strokes my hair and tells me I’ll be OK. He never seems to get bored or frustrated with telling me things are OK.

Over the last year we’ve been struggling with some tough things. But it’s only made us stronger. I chose him when I collapse in pieces on the bathroom floor knowing that he will catch me, always. He chooses me when he picks me up and patiently pieces me back together. He chooses me when he says he is sad knowing that I will hold him until it fades. Even if it takes days.

There are only two pieces of relationship advice I have. The first is figure out: what are you really fighting about? HWSNBN and have two main fights we’ve perfected through long and tedious repetition. The first fight is he loves order and cleanliness and although I like tidiness, I want a flat I can live in more. It was when we were conducting this fight like old pro’s for the 50 millionth time that I realised what we were really fighting about. He was really saying: I want you to respect my need to feel in control of my environment. And I was really saying: I need a space in our flat and to feel like I matter in this relationship. Once we discovered that we could talk about what we were actually fighting about.

My second relationship lesson? Be kind. This less a relationship lesson than a life lesson. You will never regret being kind.

OK, so talk to me in the comments about your relationships past and present. What have you learnt, what have you unlearnt?

Ten years of us

267218_10150699617675347_6780761_n

Dear HWSNBN,

Ten years ago today I was sat next to you in the Funky Fish as this song played:

Praying you’d kiss me. Some wild god must have heard because you finally did and I realised that I never wanted to stop kissing you.

Us the day after. Already I'd decided I didn't want to part from you
Us the day after. Already I’d decided I didn’t want to part from you

It doesn’t feel like ten years has passed. I still feel as if I’m seeing you, discovering my love for you anew and hope I shall never become jaded to what we have.

230647_6252040346_921_n

Over the last ten years a lot has happened, even in the last year.

PicMonkey Collage.jpg

We’ve been to many, many parties.

198754_10150758517550347_3044900_n

We’ve lived in three places, one separately and two together. In 2007 we bought our flat.

I’ve had ten jobs and you’ve had four, you slacker… 🙂

We’ve made some amazing friends and lost some along the way.

New Zealand 2004, Australia 2014, Cuba 2013, Scotland 2010
New Zealand 2004, Australia 2014, Cuba 2013, Scotland 2010

We’ve had so many adventures travelling to the furthest reaches of this small world.

578832_10152045527350347_1901768460_n

You asked me to marry you, and I, of course, said YES. After eight years I had to get used to not being your girlfriend anymore (no more girlfriend points) and becoming your wife.

1012454_10153123059330347_1108939140_n

You supported me as I retrained in my dream job as a counsellor and never complained about the time I spent studying and with my clients but not with you.

1951_113615185346_3227_n

You can still make me laugh…

276_555582473042_3576_n

like nobody else can.

There’s been so many changes that at times it feels as if the world is spinning vertiginously around me. But you remain my constant, my north star.

Thank you for loving me, for taking care of me and for letting me take care of you.

265122_10150714409315347_902468_n

I’m no longer the same girl that you met all those years ago and you aren’t the same boy. But like I wished we’ve grown together not apart. At dinner tonight we sat next to a couple who had been together 50 years, only 40 years to go!

221847_6251605346_5898_n

Happy 10th anniversary HWSNBN. Here’s to us.

227207_6251995346_8561_n

love,

your Rowan

 

 

Home is wherever I’m with you

il_fullxfull.232266926

I have been thinking recently about what makes a home recently as HWSNBN and I are thinking about moving.

Our little flat is my haven. But sooner rather than later we are going to need somewhere a little bigger for my books and his magic the gathering cards (Yes, reader I married a geek) before our home begins to resemble Hoarders: the bibliophile edition.

I am dreading house hunting as I clearly remember the dawning horror as we viewed places a) we hated; and b) realised that we could barely just afford them. Our task is complicated by the fact we live in Brighton & Hove, a place so cool it rains glitter* (*LIES). Although we have both reluctantly conceded that to afford more than a shoebox we are going to have to look outside of Brighton, far outside of Brighton; I’m going to miss living here.

I wish I was one of those people who didn’t mind where they lived but I do. I grew up in a small town where there was nothing to do and nobody to see. I have done my time living with damp rot in the shape of Jon Bon Jovi’s head; or sleeping with a hat on to protect me from the wind whistling through sash windows; or endless bickering over bills. I’m going to be *gulp* thirty-one, I want to live somewhere where I am unaffected by the great Toilet Paper Rationing of 2008.

More important that physical comfort is feeling emotionally safe. Home has also been on my mind because for a variety of reasons I have chosen not to visit my family home for three months. I was twenty-one when I realised that homes, no matter how beautiful, can become cages too. I can still remember that sensation of opening the front door and waiting anxiety flooding through me as I listened for the sounds of somebody kicking off. It felt like living with a slow gas leak, and it wasn’t until I escaped travelling across continents that I realised how poisonous the atmosphere had become.

Since then it’s been really important to me that my home is a safe space. This month instead of feeling frustrated at the lack of garden, I lay on the sofa and looked around flooded by nostalgia for our home.

I remember the first night we got the keys. We were still living in my old flat which had little things like beds and chairs and working fridge. But we slept on the floor of our new flat anyway, the light seeping through the pinned up bin bags on the window to wake us with the dawn. We were so excited to set up home together.

This is the place where HWSNBN and I lived together for the first time. And although I know that home is wherever he is, the thought of losing those memories makes me sad. The thought that wherever I live next Lianne will never see it makes me feel a little sick inside.

But it’s time. We will start looking for a three bedroom house with a garden as close to Brighton as we can afford. Simple really, but the other things we are looking for are harder to define. A place flooded by light, that seeps across the floor like treacle in winter. A place where the eye is drawn outwards with inner horizons. A safe haven.

Easy, right? Wish me luck.

Any house hunting tips, let me know in the comments.

Dearest HWSNBN

37668b719e8a599b50a49e72a9af77dd (1)

Dearest HWSNBN,

Happy nine-year anniversary! Just writing those words, I feel so old like an ancient relic. But it doesn’t feel like it’s been nine years. I can remember as if was yesterday being that girl sitting in a dingy club wishing with every fibre of her being that the boy sitting next to her would just kiss her. And when that kiss happened, it was worth the wait. You were worth the wait. Almost a decade on you still give me butterflies.

e653a41f8e6f85fdeaa2ab72739fdd3f

 

I have nightmares sometimes and the most terrifying one even worst than the ferret man (*shudders*) is the ‘what ifs’. What if I hadn’t gone to Sussex? What if I hadn’t lived in Park Village in the house next door to you? What if I hadn’t become friends with Sam? What if I had skipped graduation? What if I hadn’t gone out that fateful night nine years? What if  I had never met you. These thoughts terrify me because you have utterly and inexorably changed my life for the better. I can’t imagine who I would be without you but I know I would be lesser, less happy, less grounded and less me.

My love for you grows everyday until I wonder how my body can contain it. Thank you for loving for me. Thank you for making this year despite all the sadness the best year of my life by marrying me. Nine months ago I vowed  ‘to love you til the seas run dry, until the sun grows cold and the stars grow old. And if there is another life beyond this, I will love you there too.’ I still mean every word and I always will.

Happy anniversary HWSNBN and here’s to another year with you. I can’t wait,

love me xxx

e0529511f0366cd34ef242f43660c144