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

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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

One year on.

This time last year, I signed for the keys to my house following the separation between my now ex husband and I.  In all of my adult life, I had never lived alone and I remember almost shaking with the anticipation of what was to come next.  I had no idea what to expect or if I could even do this.  I wanted to prove to him that I could do this without any of his help.  “Put your big girl pants on and just deal with it” he used to say to me, even throughout our relationship.  He was adamant that I was incapable of being on my own, when in fact the irony in this is that that actually mirrors his own feelings.  He has proven to the world that he is incapable of being alone by hopping from one woman to the next, never really understanding himself.

I remember walking down the mossy slate path to my new home and turning the keys in the lock for the first time.  My heart was thumping in my chest as I explored each room, picturing where my furniture and belongings would go.  After all, I had no one to tell me where I could and couldn’t put my things now.  I imagined my cats sleeping by the fireplace after a long day of playing in the garden.  I could see myself with my feet up on the sofa, cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other.  I could see myself in the garden laughing with my friends on a warm summer’s evening.  I was eager for the memories that I would create in my new home; alone.  Then when my furniture arrived and was put in place by the removal guys, I was given some paperwork to sign before they left.  I sat down on the sofa and it was so quiet, I could hear their truck’s engine start as they then drove off down the road.  I suddenly burst into tears and I don’t think I stopped crying for a good 20 minutes or so.  For the first time since my marriage fell apart, I was totally alone.

Seeing this photo of me holding my new keys for the first time has had me reminiscing about probably the hardest time in my life.  I am smiling in the photo yet I look beyond exhausted, following weeks of going back and forth emotionally as my ex husband played games with both my heart and the heart of the woman he cheated on me with.  Mentally I was exhausted too, after supporting my ex husband during his time in a psychiatric ward.  He had threatened to take his own life after his bubble was burst and he had simultaneously lost both his wife and girlfriend in the blink of an eye as we finally found out about each other following nearly 5 months of deception and lies.

I wish I could go back to this time a year ago, and tell myself that it’ll all be okay.  When times are hard, everyone tells you that things will work out eventually, but at that time you don’t believe it.  At that time, the pain I was suffering caused me to almost take my own life.  This is not something that I am proud of, but it is the truth.  To be honest, the only thing that stopped me from doing it was my cats.  That probably sounds stupid, but I had two little souls in fur coats that depended on me and loved me unconditionally.  I rescued them from a very bad start in life and it wasn’t fair of me to put them in another bad situation.  They saved my life.  And I am so grateful for them, and my incredible friends and family for being the constant in my life.

Over the past year, things have slowly fallen into place.  I am settled now into my solitary home life, which is something I have come to enjoy.  I take great solace in doing what I want and when I want, no one to question me or answer to.  My life had always revolved around my ex husband you see, his wants and needs and even his career took over my life. My next puzzle piece will be securing a position in a job of my choosing.  Because of my ex husband’s career in the military, mine always took a back seat.  We moved often and I was never able to fully settle into a role.  It’s my time now.

With love, Darling Soul x

PS. When you’re having a hard time and nothing seems to be going right, remember…this, too, will pass.

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She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay.

I’m having one of those days today, so to cheer myself up I’ve put my “Good Mood Tunes” playlist on in the office.  A song came on that gave me some strength during hard times, and I thought that I’d share it with you all.  I kind of feel like it’s my anthem!

She thinks she’s all alone
And all her hopes are gone
And so I wrote this song
So she can move along

Well, things were bad
She was in despair
Well, things were bad.
And you were never there

But things were bad
She came up for air
She said a little prayer
She found herself

Yeah, she’s got a light in her face
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay
Yeah, she’s got life in her veins.
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay.
No SOS needed; no rescuing, she’s fine out there
No SOS needed; no rescuing, she’s fine out there
Yeah, she’s got life in her veins
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay

She looks into the sky
And all her tears are dry
She kiss her fears goodbye
She’s gonna be alright.

But things were bad
It was beyond repair.
She was scared
She couldn’t handle it.
Things were bad but now she’s glad
Can’t you tell – she’s walking on air?

Yeah, she’s got a light in her face
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay.
Yeah, she’s got life in her veins.
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay.
No SOS needed; no rescuing, she’s fine out there
No SOS needed; no rescuing, she’s fine out there
Yeah, she’s got life in her veins.
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay

That girl is you, yeah
And that girl is me
That girl is stronger than the raging sea
That girl is you, yeah
And that girl is me
That girl is stronger than the raging sea

Yeah, she’s got a light in her face
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay.
Yeah, she’s got life in her veins.
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay.
No SOS needed; no rescuing, she’s fine out there
No SOS needed; no rescuing, she’s fine out there
Yeah, she’s got life in her veins
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay

Happy Wednesday, all!

With love, Darling Soul x

Loosening my grip.

Sometimes I feel like I won’t find love again.  Not because I don’t want to find it, but because I don’t think I am capable of loving another person again with the sheer intensity that I loved my ex husband.  I have loved people since, but it wasn’t the same.  The walls that I built after the news of my ex’s infidelity are high.  The bricks are tough and strong.  A brick or two may have come loose over these past 18 months nearly, but I just can’t seem to view any possible relationship without scrutinizing every little detail.

Why does he like me?  What does he want?  Why is he saying nice things?  What is he trying to achieve?  I question every little thing and my God, it’s beyond tiring.  For me and those involved.  It takes the fun away from the chase because I’m too busy over analysing the other person’s facial expressions and actions when I should be enjoying their company and what could become.  I question because when my ex husband left, I had several guys act like they wanted to console me when actually all that they wanted was sex.  If that doesn’t make you query everything that someone who supposedly likes you does, then I don’t know what will!  That was a really horrible and confusing time for me, and very unfair and gross that people who I once considered friends would try and take advantage of me in that way when I was especially vulnerable.

Now see, I love animals.  They cheer me up and their love is unconditional.  They ask for nothing in return.  They don’t have ulterior motives (apart from food perhaps!) and they love honestly.  They don’t hate or hurt.  They don’t lie or cheat.  They know when I am sad or upset and they use their own wonderful little ways to make me feel happy again.  Why can’t people be more like animals?  Sometimes I wonder if I would be better off on my own with my animals.  No one to disappoint or hurt me.  But I wasn’t made for this life.  I am energetic, bubbly and I talk far too much.  I wasn’t created to be left alone for long periods of time.  Dammit, being an empath sucks sometimes.

Guess where I’m going this weekend…to see my ex inlaws.  Lots of people are confused as to why I’m going to see them, but it’s not their fault that their son/brother is a dick.  I was very lucky to have a special relationship with my inlaws and right from day one, they treated me like I was part of the family.  Even now, they still do.  I realise that this is not a luxury that many have and I was indeed lucky during my relationship with him, and now it appears that my luck continues even after divorce.  His parents sent me some money for Christmas and asked me to come and visit, so this weekend will be the first time that I’ve seen them in nearly 14 months.  I’m excited to see them all but also nervous.  Their house holds many memories for me and knowing that his new beau has visited their home will probably make me feel slightly uneasy.  Actually to be honest, I have no idea how I will feel.  I do have a meditation class before I head off to see them though, so I hope that I will receive lots of love and light before my journey which will help me to deal with possible conflicting emotions during my visit.

Before I finish up, a very dear friend of mine sent me this little bit of wisdom yesterday.  I think we can all relate in some shape or form.

With love, Darling Soul x

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Elastic heart.

So last Saturday, I went on a date with another guy.  We had been texting back and forth for a number of weeks, then one night we were on the phone to each other for 4.5 hours!  I started to think, “Hey, I like this guy”.  I had a really nice evening with him, although conversation didn’t flow as easily as it did on the phone, I just put that down to him coming across as slightly shy.  After our date, we continued to text for a few days before I asked if he wanted to meet again.  He totally avoided the question!  So I decided not to text him and would wait for him to make contact again.  He texted me yesterday evening, asking how my day had been and how I was etc.  I replied but asked again if he wanted to meet up.  This was his reply:

“As for meeting up again, I had a really nice time meeting you, it was fun and a good giggle but for me I didn’t really feel there was any spark there romantically.  It felt more like a friendship thing for me so I would be up for meeting again as it was fun but more as friends rather than a date, still if you’d rather not I’d understand.  Just don’t want to mislead you in any way as I know you’ve had your fair share of being messed about by blokes.”

Firstly, I felt quite hurt.  Did I have a right to feel that way?  Probably not, but my thoughts are if you don’t think something is going to work out, then you don’t continue to text and converse with that person daily.  Secondly for me, unless the date is an awful experience then I think you should always meet a second time.  This Disney style “romantic spark” that he is looking for…it doesn’t exist, in my experience. 

Another issue is that after spending 5 years in an emotionally abusive relationship, I find that my go to thought process is “What did I do wrong?” and “What could I have done better?”. I try to snap myself out of that and since I’ve been loving myself better lately, I find that the thought process lasts only momentarily instead of hours or days on end like it used to. I may be coming across as a whiny little bitch with rejection issues, but this date and my date from the other week are my first experiences of dating full stop. I don’t really have anything to compare them to, so I’m still very much learning. On the plus side, this date didn’t really like cats and when I told him that the cats slept with me on the bed, he told me that it was gross and disgusting. Clearly, it wasn’t meant to work out! Other date is neutral toward cats and I have made many a comment about my two fur kids without him saying “Eewww”. Maybe he’s just being polite…?! For his sake, I hope not!

In my opinion, second guy has lost out here. I am a good woman with so much love to give. First guy is meeting me again tomorrow after work for a drink, and I’m actually looking forward to seeing him. I have thoroughly enjoyed his company so far, talking about anything and everything with no awkward silences or pauses. Let’s see where it goes.

With love, Darling Soul x
 

So with the dates I’ve been going on lately, my parents told me that I should cool it on the “crazy cat lady” front.  I asked why.

“It might put some guys off” they replied.

But you know what?  I don’t actually care.  I have two rescue cats who are a big part of my life.  If I hook up with a guy that dislikes cats, then it’s not going to work, is it?  So I am up front and honest, and yes to some I may come across as a “crazy cat lady”, but it’s part of who I am.  I am passionate about animals and in particular, my pets.

Then someone said that maybe I should take out my nose ring for dates and replace it with a stud.  Why?  I like wearing a nose ring.  I got my nose pierced with a ring about 10 years ago which was before they became fashionable, I can tell you.

Several people have told me “Your eyes are pretty.  You should wear contact lenses or get laser eye surgery.”  I actually like how I look in glasses.

My ex husband hated my weird ear piercings.  At that time, I told them all out because I know he didn’t like them.  Then when we split up, I went and got a new weird ear piercing and put the jewelry back in my other ones!  And they’ve stayed in ever since, whether someone likes them or not.

My teeth are a little crooked in places and I have a chip on my front tooth.  I sometimes bite my nails when I am anxious.  I waffle a lot when talking.  I draw my eyebrows on everyday due to an over plucking incident in the 90s, haha!  I’m a bit overweight and I really enjoy my food.  Sometimes I swear too much.  I am opinionated.  I have broken veins on my nose.  My skin scars really easily.  I click my knuckles and my neck.  I’m incredibly clumsy.

How can you love someone else until you love yourself?  Totally and utterly apologetically.  And I think for the first time in almost 30 years (holy shit, I’m 30 this year!), I’m comfortable in my own skin.  It’s a really great feeling!  Love and enjoy yourself for who you are because you are pretty awesome.

With love, Daring Soul x