Snowflake Nation.

On Wednesday morning as I got ready for work, I sat down to drink my coffee and scroll through my Facebook feed.  This is my morning ritual every week day before I put my makeup on.  My Facebook “Memories” popped up and I was promptly reminded that it was one year ago that Belgium received a terror attack.  It was a day that I will always remember and is particularly close to my heart because I am the result of a Belgian immigrant.  My grandfather came to England with his mother and siblings in 1930 to escape The Great Depression.  Thanks to immigration, I am here.  I took a moment to remember that sad day from 12 months ago, and then I went to work.  That afternoon whilst sat at my desk, a news alert appeared on my phone and it was at that moment I learnt of a terrorist attack on my own country.  I followed the story online as it unfolded before my very eyes.  I felt numb.

And then the tirade of comments and hatred from the closet xenophobics came.  People I used to enjoy conversing and spending time with.  I respect that it is possible to remain friends with someone and share a different opinion to them, but with the comments I’ve seen from those people, I’m not sure that personally I can remain friends with them.  I don’t deal well with confrontation anyway and it only gives me flashbacks.  But I do love a good, well structured debate and hearing why someone has those particular views. That isn’t what I was getting here though.  Venom and hate poured all over social media.  One that particularly  got to me was a “friend” who posted this to their Facebook:

“Where’s all of the usual left wing bullshit about Islam being a religion of peace?  Feel free to unfriend me if this offends you.  After you have clicked unfriend, go and bury your head in the sand with all of the other snowflakes.”

I’ve since learnt what calling someone a “snowflake” means.

(slang, pejorative) Someone who believes they are as unique and special as a snowflake; someone hypersensitive to insult or offense, especially a young person with politically correct sensibilities

The Collins dictionary refers to it as:

“The young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to offence than previous generation.”

I wouldn’t say that I’m hypersensitive at all, but if standing up for people from all walks of life makes me a fucking snowflake, then so be it.

I will not tolerate someone spouting racial and xenophobic abuse behind the safety of a computer screen.  Hell, I wouldn’t accept it if someone was stood in front me saying it.  The hatred in this country is unreal at the moment and I will not sit by and let people get away with it unchallenged.  What we need right now is to focus on the incredible job that our security and health services did when things went down that Wednesday afternoon.  We need to focus on the good in the world, because it’s too easy to let the evil take over.  There are bad people in ALL walks of life and ALL religions.  Religion is not the issue here, extremism is.

I will leave you with one of the greatest speeches of all time from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator.  It makes every hair on the back of my neck stand to attention and gives me waves of shivers.  The words spoken here were true in the 1940s when the film was released, and it saddens me that they are still relevant today.  Let love win.  For once.

I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor, that’s not my business.
I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone.
I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white.
We all want to help one another, human beings are like that.
We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.
We don’t want to hate and despise one another.
In this world there is room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.
The way of life can be free and beautiful.
But we have lost the way.

With love, Darling Soul x

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In memory of those lives that were lost in the attacks on Westminster – 22nd March 2017

Springtime Wishes.

Happy first day of Spring!  The weather is starting to warm up at long last and life is beginning to appear outside in the form of buds and daffodils.  It’s almost the end of March already, which means we’re coming up 4 months into 2017. I don’t really do New Years Resolutions but I do like to give myself goals and aspirations for the upcoming year ahead.  Last year was spent doing nothing but healing.  In hindsight, it can feel a little like wasted days but after everything I had endured, it was necessary healing time that I needed in order to get myself to the point that I’m at now.  But I promised myself that this year I would become stronger and that I would start living my life for me.  I’ve spent the past 10 years of my life in other people’s shadows and my lack of self confidence made me feel like I wasn’t smart enough to achieve what I really want in life.  Forget New Years Eve.  Springtime is the perfect time to realise your dreams and ambitions, and create their foundations.

This evening, I picked some wild daffodils from my garden and I put them in a vase.  They are such a gorgeous, vivid yellow.  Ironically, this is also the colour of the solar plexus chakra.  The solar plexus chakra is responsible for the following:

  • Will power
  • Taking responsibility for one’s life
  • Mental abilities and intellect
  • Forming personal opinions and beliefs
  • Making decisions
  • Personal identity, self assurance and confidence

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I haven’t always been in control of my life (who has?!) and I certainly have lacked in confidence in myself over the years.  Where I am now is probably the most self assured I have ever felt in my life and I feel that finding meditation and spiritual development has aided me in that greatly.  I am slowly beginning to take control of my life.  I recognise that I am not an especially academic person but I now finally feel in a position where I can hopefully change that.  I left school to work full time at the age of 17.  I have stayed within the same organisation for almost 12 years, floating from job to job without much of a plan.  My goal in life used to be get married and have my own family, but things didn’t work out that way.  Here I am, divorced and approaching 30 years of age.  This is not where I expected to be at all.  I thought I’d have at least one child by this point.  I have cats instead of children, which is hindsight is probably a blessing in disguise after everything that has happened over the past 18 months.  I’ve spent far too much time wallowing and I’ve also spent too much time doing jobs that I don’t really care for.  The organisation that I work for has treated me well and I enjoy working for them, but I will never be able to really apply myself if I stay there.  So using springtime inspiration to fufil hopeful oppotunities, I have been seriously considering taking up an Open University degree.  It’s not going to be easy and it will take me 6 years to complete it alongside full time work, but I feel that I’m ready for it.  I care a lot for people and I find interest in discovering what makes them tick.  I have so many friends that come to me with their problems, so I figured it was about time that I got paid for it!  Counselling degree, here I come.

Another solar plexus beauty is my “Wish Jar”.  Every week, I write down the positive things that happenend before dropping the card inside of the jar.  I thought it would be something that I would forget to do and struggle to keep on top of, but it’s been so easy.  Every Sunday/Monday evening, I write those happy notes on some card and then I let go.  I’ve enjoyed watching the little notes grow in number every week with my left handed, slightly smudgy cursive letters.  I look forward to reading back over each and every single one of them at the end of the year before I scrapbook them and imortalise them on my increasingly full bookcase.

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So, Happy First Day of Spring!  Take charge of your life and treat yourself like a little budding flower.  You need water, sunlight and nuturing first before you can fully embrace you in all of your wonderful you-ness 🙂

And before I go, I just had to share this!  I found it last night and it had me in hysterics.  Perhaps my heart chakra could do with some work…right, off to do the dishes and some meditation before bed!

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With love, Darling Soul x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hand on Heart.

I mentioned in my previous post briefly about the time that my ex husband spent in a psychiatric hospital following his affair.  I’ve avoided talking about that part of my life in depth for a while with anyone, and the effect that it still has on me 13 months later but I think that it would do me some good to get it off my chest.  So let’s go back to December 2015…

He came home for a week (he was away with the Army in the US for 7 months) and told me it was over.  The reason that he had come home was for his sister’s wedding and spent the entire duration of that event avoiding me.  Even his friends and family had noticed, as he was usually always touching me in some way like holding my hand or resting his hand on my lower back or leg.  This time, he couldn’t be further away from me both emotionally and physically.  We were in the hotel room after his sister’s wedding and I broke down after holding it together for so long.  I didn’t want to spoil his sister’s special day.  And then he told me it was over.  No real explanations, just excuses.

“I can’t deal with your self esteem issues anymore.”

“I never wanted the cats but you got them anyway.”

“You have no ambition.”

The next day, we went home and cancelled our upcoming honeymoon.  It was a late honeymoon because the Army always got in the way of our plans.  Then he left and went back to his parents’ house before heading back to the US for another 3 months.

I kept our separation close to my chest because I was sure that he was just having a 30 year old crisis or something.  Those that knew what had happened were sure that he must’ve found someone else for him to behave this erratically, but I just wouldn’t believe it.  I trusted in him with every fiber of my being, and I think that is why what came next totally traumatised me.

We spoke on and off for the next few months.  He told me that he needed space.  I gave him that.  On 9th December, we were talking on FaceTime.  He was starting to come round to the idea of trying to work things out and of course, I was elated.  He said that he needed to go to the bathroom and would come back in a minute, so I waited with just the screen lighting up my face in the darkness of our bedroom back home.  It was 2am my time, 8pm his time.  In the time that he was off screen, I received a message on Facebook from someone that I didn’t know.

“You should check out my profile. You might be interested to know what’s been going on for the past couple of months.”

Curiosity got the better of me and I checked her account, only to be greeted with a profile picture of this woman kissing my husband.  I felt sick.  He came back online and I confronted him.  The good thing about FaceTime is you can’t hide your facial expressions…and he went white as a sheet when I told him what I had just found out.  Suddenly, the threats of suicide from him began.  He threatened to take his own life there and then. Of course, he never would have done it.  It was all an act, but I believed him at the time.  It didn’t become clear that it was an act until much later on.  I stayed on the phone all night with him to make sure that he stayed alive, and he kept telling me how evil that other woman was and how she was a pill popping alcoholic.  I spoke to the Army Welfare Team first thing in the morning and he was put on the first flight home.  Once he was back, he was assessed by a military psychiatrist and then sent to a psychiatric hospital.

I made that journey to the hospital with him.  Little did I know, it would be my last.  I remember sitting in the back of the welfare car with my husband.  It was a dull, cold day and it was trying to snow.  Signs of Christmas were everywhere now.  He was shaking and kept saying “Don’t leave me”.  I held his hand tightly and I played with his wedding ring.  He must’ve put it back on as he wasn’t wearing it before.  It was hard to hold his hand because he had his right arm in a splint.  He told me that he had damaged his hand carrying some heavy boxes.  I later found out that he had actually damaged it by punching a wall because his girlfriend found out about me, his wife, so she left him.  Once we arrived at the hospital, we had to wait to be let inside.  The security was more than I expected although I’m not sure what I was expecting anyway!  This place was not going to let him come and go as he pleased, that was for sure.  I had to wait in the entrance area while some nursing staff took him into a back room to talk to him.  The entrance was also a communal area for other residents of the psychiatric hospital to socialise.  The people here were very unwell and it was perturbing to know that my husband was also unwell and would have to stay here for a while.  The welfare staff kept checking in on me and were trying to reassure me that it was going to be okay, and that they were sure that we would work things out.  Apparently, we just looked like one of those couples who could just get through anything.  When he emerged from the back room, I took his hand and we followed a nurse down to the military wing.  I helped him to settle into his room by unpacking his clothes and rearranging his personal belongings.  He just sat motionless on his new bed while I tried to enthuse him about his new surroundings.  Although I had noticed that every item of furniture in his room was round and soft.  No corners.  No curtains, just a blind that he had no control over.  No pull cords.  Then it dawned on me…this was a room for people who were serious about trying to kill themselves.

I kissed him goodbye and he flinched.  I touched his hand and promised to come and see him the following day after work.  His eyes were hollow and empty.  He watched me as I walked down the long white corridor.  I had seen him watch me but I didn’t need to because I could feel him watching me, to the point where it was unnerving.

The next day, I visited as promised.  I had managed to keep myself occupied all day at work, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for what came when I reached the hospital.  He was an absolute mess.  A wreck.  He had collapsed on the floor as I was sat in the waiting area to see him.  A couple of nurses rushed down the corridor to see to him and asked that I keep my distance until they managed to get him back on his feet and check for injuries.  He was fine, just a little spooked.  I went to see him in his room and he was curled up in the fetal position, staring as the floor.  He refused to look at me or respond to anything that I said.  So I just sat there with him in his room until visiting hours were over.

He was in and out of the hospital for the next 4 weeks.  They would release him and he would end up back inside again.  He went missing once when he was released, and that only ended up with him being readmitted.  He would call me late at night, threatening suicide again and again.  There was nothing in his room for him to use, not even his cables as they were taken away from him but he phoned me from the communal kitchen saying that he had turned the table upside down and that he was going to spear himself onto one of the legs.  I immediately hung up on him and called the hospital wing directly and a few nurses intervened.  Did I ever think he was really going to take his own life?  I’m not sure.  But it wasn’t something that I was willing to risk.  He would flood and bombard me with texts and pictures of us when we were happy, newly married and carefree.  He would proclaim that he was evil and that he doesn’t belong in this world.  Every time he threatened suicide, he would text “Nanight”.  One time when I visited and he had been doing better, he asked if we could go out and get some food.  Apparently other patients were allowed out with a family member.  I checked in with a nurse and she said it was fine, but I had to sign him out.  We ordered a curry which was something he had missed whilst he had been away in the States.  When I got out of my car to go and collect it, I had to lock him in my car.  Like a child.  For fear that he would escape and run away to carry out what he was in a psychiatric hospital for.  I can’t tell you how much that winded me, having to think of my own husband in that way.  When we got back to the hospital, we ate the food and enjoyed talking over our meal.  One of the nurses even brought a tealight candle out and lit it for us before putting it in the middle of the table.

“Now that’s a bit more romantic!” she laughed.

We smiled and thanked her.  What a sweet thought.  Only, she whispered in my ear before she left the room that I would need to bring the candle back to her as soon as we had finished our meal.  Suddenly it didn’t seem so romantic anymore.  Even the sharp tins that the hot, takeout food came in had to be disposed of in such a way that patients couldn’t get their hands on them.  I’m sure you can guess why.

We watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles on my iPad whilst we spooned on his single bed.  The mattress was like a bloody rock!  He would often be listening to Joshua Radin’s slow and sad accoutic tracks when I entered his room after a long day at work.  Looking back, I’m sure that this was purely for effect.  Sometimes when I visited, he would just lay in my arms while I stoked his hair and drew circles on his back with my forefinger.

And then one day shortly after he was released from hospital, he was back to himself and he dropped me quicker than a brick.  It would seem that all along, he was talking to her on the phone and planning his new life with her.  He used me.  Afterall, she was on the other side of the world so it’s not like she could come and visit.  He actually used and abused my good nature, and my desparation to be there for him and get our marriage back on track.  Seriously.  What a fucking bastard.  I was actually willing to give him a chance after everything that he had put me through.  And it seems that he was never prescribed any medication at all.  Even the military must’ve known that he was faking it.  What a massive kick in the balls that was.  He never belonged in that hospital all along.  Other people in the military wing were suffering from PTSD and were genuinely suffering from mental health issues, and there he was simply because he had made a massive fuck up.  I later decided that the reason why he took it that far was to deflect from what he had done wrong.  By falsifying suicide attempts and pretending to be mentally unwell, he made everyone forget about what he did so we all focussed on “Aaaww, poor guy” instead.  Very devious.

And still people ask me “Why did you stay?”.  Because at least I can say that I tried my damndest to be there for him and to make it work.  And even after the way I was treated by him once he left hospital and in the lead up to the start of our divorce, I can put my hand on my heart and say that I tried everything in my power to save our marriage.  And for that reason alone, all of this pain was worth it.

With love, Darling Soul x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rescued.

Sunday was a beautiful spring day here.  I opened all of the windows in my house to release some of the stagnant energy and to let the sunshine in.  My two cats were curled up on the sofa in a sunbeam that had entered through the front door.  Everyone that has cats know how they love lazing about in sunbeams!  Odin had been scrapping with a neighbourhood cat and had received a scratch to his nose, so after all of that excitement he had got himself comfy on the sofa for the rest of the afternoon.  Freya lay curled up next to him but she was on alert.  She could hear all of the birds twittering away and it held her interest for quite a while.  I sat for 10 minutes or so just watching these two,and every day I am reminded how they saved my life.

This year it will be 3 years since Pedro and Felixia (their rescue names!) came to live with my then husband and I.  My ex husband and I were due to move into our first house as opposed to a flat and he knew how much I wanted cats.  P never grew up with animals like I did, so he wasn’t really bothered.  He left the “cat hunting” to me, so I started checking out rescue centres for kitties.  P being the kind of pompous twat that he was, would have preferred pedigree cats.  He was all about showing off and status symbols, but I’ve never bought a cat in my life.  Every pet we had when I was a child was a rescued animal.  I chose to adopt my two from a Spanish rescue charity.  My reason for that is because my family have also adopted animals from foreign countries, mainly Spain due to the way that they are generally treated out there.  So I checked out my chosen charity’s website and fell in love with a grubby, skinny little half Russian Blue street cat.  The charity exclaimed that they could only rescue Pedro if someone paid a deposit to have him because they were short on space in the rehoming centre.  I got the money together, sent the payment and Pedro was safe from the cruel streets.  I then went on to another Spanish charity and asked who needed rescuing the most.  I wasn’t bothered about colour, sex, age etc.  I just wanted to home a cat that needed it the most.  So I was offered a little black and white cat called Josephine, who was struggling with life in the rehoming centre surrounded by so many other cats.  Unfortunately just 3 days before she was due to come to England, she became poorly with a virus so she wasn’t able to come over at that time.  The charity asked if I would consider taking another cat on in Josephine’s place.  Josephine not being well enough at the time meant that there was a space for a cat on the transport which the charity try so hard to fill all gaps before starting their journey to England, which meant no one was getting adopted in Josephine’s place.  I felt bad for little Jo, but they assured me that they had found another home for her once she was well enough to travel again.  So I was offered Felixia.  My ex husband said that she was “ugly”, but I didn’t care.  Of course, she wasn’t ugly at all. She just had a grouchy looking face, but that’s one of the things that I love about her!  She is the sweetest little thing I’ve ever known.

My cats arrived in the country on 15th July 2014.  I must’ve driven friends and family crazy in the lead up because I was that excited about getting them!  I remember picking them up from Portsmouth and bringing them home for the first time.  Odin was so, so timid.  Freya was an instant lap cat!  They’re both such different characters.  Another reason why I love them both so much.  Odin was straight from the streets and even the television and washing machine had him baffled.  He would sit and watch them nervously!  Slowly he came out of his shell and it’s taken a few years, but I think we’re there now.  Freya has always been full of affection but she used to hate being picked up.  She now knows that I’m not going to hurt her and she loves being held as I dance around the house with her.  Freya was rescued from a “killing shelter” with her 5 kittens.  Sadly 2 of them passed away due to a virus, but a lovely lady in Spain has kept her 3 remaining kittens and has given them their forever home.

When my marriage fell apart, I was a mess.  I felt like I wanted to die.  My ex husband had been caught having an affair and ended up in a psychiatric hospital.  I would visit him in hospital, (something that most people don’t understand, but I will perhaps explain my reasons in a future post) and it was so exhausting.  Mentally, I was shot.  But when I came home from a long day at work where I wore a false smile that hurt my face and then travelled to the hospital to watch my husband curl up in the fetal position and sob uncontrollably until visiting hours were over, Odin and Freya were there for me.  They brought me such comfort during those dark times.  I used to lay on the bed with them whilst they purred in my ear at the end of those long days, and I used to think “So this is what unconditional love feels like”.  And that’s why I generally prefer animals over people.  Odin and Freya have never intentionally hurt me, and they never will.  They are always there for me.  I know that they love me, and not just because I feed them! 🙂

On the really bad days where I wanted to take my own life, they were close to me.  They had already suffered abandonment once in their short lives, how could I do that to them again?  I know that no one would love them both like I do.  Odin has a lot of quirks that I don’t think people who had not owned cats before could handle.  Freya is very demanding of affection.  What if her next owner didn’t give her that?  And on the days where I just lay in my bed, festering in my pajamas and staring at a wall for 3 hours solid, Odin and Freya encouraged me to get up.  Someone had to feed them and clean out their litter tray.  No one else was there.  Honestly?  If I didn’t have Odin and Freya, then I really don’t think that I would still be here now.  I’m beginning to think that we rescued each other.

And now that the bad days are over, I have company.  The three of us depend on each other.

With love, Darling Soul x

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The Online Dating Minefield.

Online dating is brutal.  But it seems to be the way everyone meets people these days.  You hear about the cutesy stories of couples who met on dating sites and then got married and live happily ever after.  I’m on a low income and I don’t have the money to go out socialising to meet guys in the traditional sense.  I also don’t have the money to spend on subscriptions for online dating sites, so I’m using a couple of free ones.  The problem with that is the free ones tend to attract the loonies and you have to sift through them.  Around Christmas time, one of the well known paid dating sites had a free trial going on, so I signed up and got talking to two guys who I went on dates with.  The second guy lasted one date, but I went on 4 dates with the first guy.  After the fourth date, I decided to call it quits.  He was lovely, but too nice for me.  He needs a nice girl who will heat his hot water bottle for him at night and curl up on his chest whilst he reads his book 20 minutes before bed.  I shit you not, that’s what he does every night.  And that’s absolutely fine, but it’s not for me.  I need someone with a bit of fire in his belly.  I want him to be passionate about life.  Lovely as that guy was, he didn’t have a passionate bone in his body.

So here I am, giving it another shot.  It’s been…about a week I think?  I’ve lost count of how many crazies I’ve had to sift through and I’m already getting bored with it.  I go through phases with online dating.  No money to go out and find someone, so I make an account.  A week later, I get fed up and disheartened so come offline for a while…then it all starts again!  I did get a laugh this week though.  I’d started messaging a guy who is an animal lover…great!  But is also a vegetarian.  And that’s fine.  My best friend is a vegetarian and her husband eats meat, so it’s possible that this could work.  Then he told me that when his meat loving friends come over for a takeaway, he makes them eat from paper plates using disposable cutlery because he will not have meat touching anything in his home.  And for that reason, he will not have a pet that eats meat either.  Well there goes that!  I have two cats who love meat.  Needless to say, I ended the conversation there.

For your entertainment, here’s some of the messages I’ve receieved over the past week…

Heya, thought you sounded really nice, also I loved cats myself, not had luck with pets tbh lol also you look great and I’d love to talk sometime

“Not had luck with pets”…erm, have you been killing them off or something?

Hi, would you be interested in something casual?

Erm.  Nope.

I really love your face and style.  Charmed.  I would like to learn more about you.  I love the expression of your face and the way your eyes are looking at the world.

…NEXT!!!

So another thing which normally becomes a stumbling block is my kinky side. i know its not ideal to bring up in a first message but from previous experience I’ve found its good to just be honest from the start. Im getting old now so shouldn’t be wasting much time. Hetroflexible is a term a lot of people are not familiar with or understand. Basically I’m straight and only date/kiss women but occasionally my kinky side makes me go with guys occasionally.  Could this be a bonus for you?

Each to their own and all, but…nope.

Hello how are you where about in (the town that I live in) are from you if you don’t mind me asking

Oh sure, I live on…hold on a second.  It’s a small town.  I’m not telling you that.

Dropping you a dime coz your looking fine 🙂

*It’s YOU’RE.

Hey you are gorgeous. Could I tempt you to shopping and cocktails sometime x

Not sure what to say about this one.  If you’re paying, then sure!  I need some new clothes.

And that’s just a selection!  I’m sure I’ll come offline again and hope that the crazies go away for a while.  Until next time!

With love, Darling Soul x

 

Lots of llamas.

On Friday, I attended the funeral of one of my mum’s dearest friends. They had been friends for over 40 years. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer just before Christmas and it was hoped that chemotherapy would prolong her life. Her first chemo session was 31 days after her diagnosis. 4 days later, she died. She kept her cancer a secret from everyone except her daughters, so her death was a heavy shock to her friends and other family members. My mum and her other friends were only informed about her cancer just 4 days before she passed away, so mum didn’t really have time to process the fact that the cancer was terminal. I understand Sue’s reasons for keeping it close to her chest though. She was such a lovely lady and she just didn’t want to worry her loved ones.

Sue had been a part of my life, just as any good friends of my parents have. One of her daughters and I even share the same birthday, albeit a few years apart. Sue came to my wedding along with one of my mum’s other close friends. It only seemed right that I went to her funeral to pay my respects. Funeral guests were instructed by her daughters to bring a red rose and wear an item of red. It was their mum’s favourite colour. I wore a black and white skirt, black jumper, red shoes and red lipstick. When I arrived at the crematorium, it was pretty much at the same time as my parents although we had driven in from opposite ends of the country. I greeted my parents and we instantly noted those who were attending the funeral by spotting the individuals wearing items of red and carrying a single red rose each. It was actually quite nice seeing that. In a way, it brought everyone together.

After greeting old friends and making general chit chat, we all waited outside for the hearse to arrive. I was focusing elsewhere. My parents were engaged in conversation with friends of theirs. My mum suddenly said in my direction, with watery eyes and a gentle smile as the hearse began to slowly drive in “She’s my baby girl. Aren’t you?”.  She’d obviously been conversing with someone about me. It took me by surprise. The relationship my mum and I have can be strained at times, but only because we are so similar in character and because of that, we often clash. I nodded and smiled at my mum, then made a joke about being a big “baby girl” because I was the eldest of her two children. I wish I had just kept my mouth shut and accepted my mum’s sweet words as they were. The hearse drew closer and silence filled the air. The funeral car behind the hearse carrying Sue’s daughters and grandchildren stopped and the passengers got out of the vehicle. An ear piercing shriek from one of the girls broke the silence, followed by thick, heavy sobbing. No doubt at the realisation that her mum was gone. I tried to imagine what that must have felt like and I had to stop myself from crying.

The service was beautiful. No hymns that no one wants to sing anyway, just some of Sue’s favourite music and some kind words said by friends and family members.  About half way through the service, my mum broke down.  She was sat in between myself and my dad and we both reached our hands out towards hers, but she batted us away like pesky flies.  She wanted to be alone in her grief.  Selfishly for a moment, I felt a bit hurt but I gave myself a shake and remembered that everyone grieves differently.  At the end of the service, attendees slowly made their way outside and gently laid a single red rose on the coffin.  Some people whispered something as they put their rose to rest on the wood.  Others said nothing.  Some people kissed the coffin.  I just said “See you, Sue.”

We all moved onto another location in the village for the wake.  Sue had lived here before she became so poorly .  Everyone exchanged fond memories, and photos of Sue in her younger years were being passed around.  We joked about the big hairstyles and interesting fashions in the photos!  She never changed much.  My own mother was in a lot of those photos and facially, she hasn’t changed much either.  In fact, I even noted that she still wears one of the jumpers that she was wearing in the photos taken around the mid to late 80’s!

On my long drive home, I started to sob.  I had to pull myself together.  It was dark and that made it difficult to see the road through the tears.  I held myself together when I was around my mum, but the feelings just hit me when I was alone in my car.  I knew Sue of course, but not in a way to warrant these endless tears that just seemed to come pouring out of the corners of my eyes.  Sue’s daughters are not far off my own age and they have just lost their mum.  I think the tears were actually the reality of loss, that my own parents are not getting any younger.  Yet somehow I seem to need them more at the age of almost 30 than I ever did as a child.  I must speak to my dad on the phone at least 4 times a week.  He often calls me just for a chat when he’s out walking the dogs.  I call on my parents whenever something goes wrong, I need advice or I just want to talk.  I can’t imagine not having them around anymore.  I recall all of the times I said venomous, nasty things towards my parents as a hormone fuelled teenager who wasn’t getting her way.  It makes my heart hurt now, just thinking of it and I don’t even remember the things that were said.

I’ve probably spoken to my parents on the phone (we live 200 miles apart, which is something I am trying to change) 4 times since the funeral on Friday, and even I have noticed that we’re suddenly ending the phone calls with love yous and “lots of llamas”.  “Lots of llamas” is a family joke from when my sister did some charity work in Tanzania, Africa.  She and I were talking on Skype and she was showing off with her newly learnt Swahili words.  We were closing the Skype session and she said something in Swahili that sounded like “lots of llamas”…so I was like, what?  And it turns out, she was actually saying something like “love you lots, bye”!  So now whenever we say goodbye to each other, we say “lots of llamas!”

Life is short.  You just never know what is around that corner.  Grief is the price that we pay for love, but make sure the ones that you love know how you feel.

Lots of llamas, Darling Soul x

Visiting the Outlaws.

Well, here I am kicking myself for not writing sooner because I have a whole tirade of stuff to bore you with!  But I’ll probably break it down into separate posts.

So the weekend before last, I went to visit my ex inlaws (I kind of want to call them my outlaws, that sounds more fun!) for the first time since P and I split up for good, which was around 14/15 months ago now.  It was before any of us knew about his affair and we still thought that he was just having a quarter life crisis of something.  We had still stayed in touch after the break up, despite my ex husband displaying his clear dislike for the continued relationship with my outlaws.  But the feeling was very much mutual.  Why would I break off the relationship with them if they wanted to stay in touch and were upset by their own son and brother’s actions?  In fact it was them who invited me to see them.  I kind of thought that the connection we had would tail off, but I guess I was wrong.  They don’t live too far away from me, a couple of hours drive is all.  So after my meditation class, I got in the car and started my journey.  I was fine, singing along to music and carrying on the peaceful feeling leftover from my meditation class.  Then as I got closer, my belly started to do flips.  When I could see their house from the road, I felt so sick that I thought I was going to have to pull over and wretch.  I felt ridiculous for feeling this way and I don’t believe it was nerves about seeing them, I just feel like there are so many memories of us wrapped around their house and where he grew up.  Memories of much happier and carefree times and of when I felt like I would never have to search for someone again because I have found my soulmate.  I pulled up to their house and parked my car where I always used to park when he and I visited.  I got out and walked to the front door, closing the front gate after me before ringing the doorbell and waiting for someone to answer whilst my stomach continued to flip upside down.  I knew who would answer the door before they even got there.  My ex mother in law.  She opened the door and was elated to see me.  She grabbed me, pulled me in close and gave me a big squeeze.  When she squeezed me, she must’ve squeezed some water out of me somewhere because I just cried and returned the squeeze.  Then my ex father in law appeared with a warm smile on his face.  He was always such a lovely gentle giant of a man.  He scooped me up with his big arms and gave me a squish.

“Lovely to see you again.” They both said.  My eyes continued to leak.

I walked through into the kitchen and my two ex sister in laws walked through and greeted me with sweet smiles and tender hugs.  It was clear that they had all missed me.  How could such lovely people have created the monster that was my ex husband?  Then my nephew came down the stairs (I don’t like to call him my ex nephew, it sounds odd).  Almost 18 years old.  I have known this boy since he was 11 and he has grown up dramatically both physically and mentally.  He gave me a big hug and I felt his teenage beard fluff scratch across my cheek and I laughed through my tears!

We didn’t speak about him.  Even when his brother came to visit with my other two nephews, his name went unmentioned.  There was no sign of him in the house either, and I don’t believe it was for my benefit.  Where there used to be a little shrine of photos of him, there only remained one photo and it hid right at the back behind two of his sister’s wedding photos.  The photos of him that used to be on the walls were gone.

We had a wonderful evening, laughing and chatting away.  They enjoyed the wine and chocolates that I had brought them and I equally enjoyed (if not more) the delicious lasagna that my ex mother in law had made.  Just how she always used to!  She even made mince pies (in January!) especially for me because I didn’t see them at Christmas and she knows how much I love her mince pies!  If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is.  I went home with his sister that evening and stayed at her place.  We stayed up past midnight putting the world to rights, having a bit of a gossip and a catch up.  It was perfect.

The next morning, we got up and then headed back to the outlaws for a cooked breakfast. Before I went home, we went to see my ex sister in laws’ new house that she and her husband are hoping to move into in the next few months.  She said with hope that the next time I visit will be for their housewarming party once they’re settled in their new home.  Well, that made me feel good.  Another invite!  What would P say, I wonder.  And M, his new love interest and the woman he cheated on me for.  But you know what?  Who gives a shit what either of them think.

Some people think it’s weird that I still have ties with the outlaws.  They think that I can’t possibly move forward while I still have contact with them.  But how is it fair to cut them off?  They didn’t ask for the shit storm that their son and brother rained over all of us.  They were just as surprised, angry, hurt and disappointed as I was.  They didn’t raise him like this.  They are really good people with warm hearts.  It’s not like I will ever bump into him when I spend time with them as he lives on the other side of the world now.  The best way for him to escape his demons and the hell that he created.  And personally, I feel that it’s testimony to me and how I behaved following his affair that they want to stay in touch. And I’m actually quite proud of that.

With love, Darling Soul x