When life gives you lemons

You don’t have to make lemonade.

Yup. You know, when people say you need to make the best of it, it will get better, pull yourself together, blah blah blah.

Black Dog visits.

You need to crawl into your bed and sleep, sometimes as I have done, each day till 11. I sat on my decking every afternoon, in the bit of sun we have had last week, and read 5 murder mystery books. Outside is good. Sun is good.

Supermarket ready meals have been the staple diet for a week.

Last week I did not shop, nor leave the house for 5 days. I saw no one apart from my family and my neighbours, briefly over the garden fence, as I obsessed about washing and pegging out every day because it was sunny. Texted the shopping list to my husband.

On Saturday I eventually got myself dressed in something more than tatty shorts and t shirts (I can not do PJ’s during the day, don’t get that at all) and went out of the house. I coped, although being in a car was a struggle. I had lunch with my family which was good. I even managed some shops (we need stuff for the trip down under) and then came home for a snooze before changing to go to the University of Birmingham Proms.

It was good to get out. Wear proper clothes. Be with people. Talk. Eat proper food.

I have not done one thing on the long To Do list. I have let people down. Possibly won’t get the husbands tax return in before we go. Not booked a service for the car. Not checked out whether we can add some total strangers to our car insurance.

I haven’t started on the big building project. Seven months of living with a crappy kitchen, and here I am. Avoiding builders and kitchen people and not making decisions. Heating ready meals.

On a rainy Sunday, I thought it would be a good idea to go to IKEA. Take the son to choose a desk and husband to choose a mattress. You see now how my brain is not functioning properly.  IKEA. Sunday. Rain.

Fortunately we know the shortcuts, walk anti clockwise and exit through the entrance. Rebels that we are.

And. Buy. Nothing. Yes, we went to IKEA and bought nothing (except lunch). We need to eat. Remember we have lived on take out and ready meals for a week. We did not go into The Market Place. I bought no tea lights, lampshades, paper napkins or glasses. Nothing. For that alone I deserve a medal.

Today, I realised that I was not being kind to myself. Yes we have been in the house for 7 months and still have no decent kitchen. Realistically, can I go away for 4 months and leave a builder and a team of kitchen fitters, plumbers and electricians  in my house, knocking down walls and not be here?

No. I can’t.

Can it be done in the next 4 weeks? No.

Why has nothing happened in 7 months? That is what I was beating myself up about. We moved, we downsized, we had too much stuff. Mother in Law was ill, seriously ill. Many journeys were made up and down motorways, a care home had to be found. My husband was exhausted, upset and needed emotional and practical support.

Then there was death, taxes and funerals. Paperwork, sorting through carefully labelled possessions, decisions to dump or donate.

Phil and I managed to get away for a couple of weeks to make sure our well being was being looked after. 

I managed to book many Australian related things although I still don’t know where we will stay in Brisbane or how we will get there. It is on the To Do list.

I had 4 to do lists on one page the week before last.

I thought I was managing things in my usual control freakish way.

I wasn’t. I took my eye off the back burner and missed things I would have normally noticed. That pot bubbled over.

And life imploded.

Bloody hell and I was pissed off about a kitchen.

That sleeping in, doing nothing, eating crap food, it wasn’t about the kitchen, after all. The other stuff that has happened, you know that imploding stuff and let me tell you it was shitty, bad, scary stuff, was the tipping point.

I coped with the travelling the grief, the exhaustion. I coped with the shitty, bad scary stuff. And then I sat in the sun and read crime novels and ignored the world.

I am still not making lemonade, let me tell you. Bloody impossible in the crappy kitchen.

I will not be ‘pulling myself together’ when the Black Dog visits. Nor will I ask anyone else to do so.

I am cherishing every moment with my lovely family.

Because this happened.

I saw a photograph of a woman I have not seen for over 22 years. Not a close friend,  but at the time we were friends for a season and a reason. I knew she had been in a terrible accident and is in recovery. Has been for a couple of years. Not much more than that, most of it gleaned from fund raising activities and posts on Facebook. Her real friends, who I got in touch with, asked me to send a photo to her as that would help with her memory recall. I did. Nothing prepared me though for seeing her, surrounded by her friends for life, who had taken in a birthday lunch with a bottle of bubbly to share with her. The vibrant, intelligent, beautiful woman I knew was in a hospital bed. No longer on a life support machine, it was clear that she had a long road to recovery.

Was the bad shit I experienced as bad as what my friend and her family and friends have gone and are still going through?

Thankfully, no.

It was still bad shit though, and on a scale of bad scary shit, it was horrible and I never want bad, scary stuff like that to happen ever again.

And then this happened.

Lisa Cherry Beaumont, a life coach who through coaching empowered me to make big changes in my life, I credit with this. The context was, as ever, she was helping someone clarify a confused message about forgiveness.

In order to be happy you need to:

1. Realise that you’ve fucked up in the past.
2. Sit down in your bedroom on your own and make a list of how you’ve fucked up.
3. Forgive yourself for it; recognise that you did the best you could with the awareness you had at the time.
4. Make a promise to yourself that, with your new awareness, you’ll make better choices next time.

And this is what I thought. If I can screw up I need to acknowledge that others also screw up.  Understanding this will help with understanding why that bad, scary stuff happened.

I have messed up.

Other people mess up too.

I did the best I could at the time.

Other people are doing their best, at the time they messed up.

I forgive myself.

Other people can also forgive themselves for messing up.

I am making better choices.

Others can and will make better choices.

I needed to practice gratitude. Stop the negative thoughts. I am not a failure.

The kitchen works. The people who lived here before us made family meals in it and so can I. I have clean hot water, a fridge, a microwave. Food, heat, a bed and a roof over my head.

1. Realise that you’ve fucked up in the past.

The kitchen can wait. I dealt with the lemons and I did good. I didn’t make any lemonade.

I took the Black Dog for a walk. 

In the rain. And noticed things in nature.

No such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothes.

Came home, looked at the to do list. Put going for a walk in the woods on the top of the list and in my diary for every day for the next four weeks.

Started working though to do list. Made phone calls that needed to be made.

I remembered that someday is code for never.

2. Sit down in your bedroom on your own and make a list of how you’ve fucked up.

Acknowledged that listing what I have not done (see above) was very negative of me.

3. Forgive yourself for it; recognise that you did the best you could with the awareness you had at the time.

Recognised that writing (which is when I am in flow) has helped me gather all those virtual post its that I had in my mind, keeping me awake, stopping me from moving forward, and now they are gathered on one page, letting me see the whole picture.

Realised that basically writing stuff, is my therapy (as well as that walk in the woods).

Sometimes a week of sitting in the sun, reading crime novels and living on ready meals, can be how I am kind to me. (I have a good tan and my Vitamin E levels must be high).

How can I possibly help others apply their oxygen masks before putting mine on first? 

How can I help me, if I have not got the tools I need, the resources at hand. Not practiced self care.

Admitting that I cannot handle it all, right now, is not failure.

Realising that I am not superwoman. I have come a long way in the past few months. Achieved so much. I have to remember that.

4. Make a promise to yourself that, with your new awareness, you’ll make better choices next time.

My choices now are to focus on my family, going for walks in nature and the big trip. Eat properly.

The kitchen can wait. The house clearance can wait. Not cancelled, parked. Until November.

Sometimes things do need to be put off.  I was spinning too many plates and if I didn’t put some away, there was a danger of breaking them all.

plate-spinning-o

PS Just sent text to husband to ask him to get dinner. So much was I in the flow, writing this, I ran out of time to shop.

PPS He didn’t see text. Have sent him for sausages. Compared to last week, that is proper food. He suggested supermarket lasagne. He got two no’s.