Saturday, 27 August 2011

Going it alone

I just finished watching shadowlands, the film about C.S lewis and the loss of his wife. The film deals with his struggle to make sense of love, loss and pain and how it can exist alongside faith in a loving God. One of my favourite lines is a"we live to know we are not alone".

Nick has been away for nearly a week. The first couple of days were physically painful as i faced the time he is away stretching out before me. But once i was able to see and talk to him via the wonders of skype, i felt so much better.

Talking to him reminded me that our love and commitment remains and that we are the same people, despite the separation. He is still my hubby, just enjoying the sights of Barcelona.
Now i miss him but i am getting on with it.

In the film, Joy, Lewis' wife, challenges him to face the fact that she is dying and not to remain in denial in an attempt to protect the love and happiness during her remission. Instead she says "the pain is part of the happiness. That's the deal".  In the past i have run away from pain.

When we lost our first baby when we were 17 weeks pregnant, i could not face my pain. I was afraid of it, of it engulfing me and drowning in it. But facing it was what would have been the only act of mothering that i could have for that child. My fear of my pain robbed me of the validation of loss that pain and grief provide. Pain and grief at love unfulfilled. In a sense i lost the joy of being a mother, even in a small by running from it.

But who could blame me? Pain and grief are experiences that our society leaves us unprepared for. 
We have very few rituals of loss which allow open expression of pain and the anger, confusion, raw pain and fear that is part of death. Funerals are well choreographed, it is not polite to lose poise, especially in pakeha culture. Add to this the taboo of children lost in pregnancy and we are all really unprepared for the reality that we all will die.

So what does this have to do with hubby enjoying flamenco and paella on the other side of the world?

Well, that i choose to acknowledge, experience and feel the pain of missing my hubby. I am not enjoying it and i have cried. But facing this small pain reminds me of the miracle of love, finding someone to share this life with, in all its technicolour triumph and tragedy. And as i learn to be in my pain in the small things i believe i will experience more of the joy and reality of this life. Who wants to live a censored existence, partially numb to all that life holds? I don't want pain but what a tragedy if the intensity of love and loss is only experienced variously through literature and film.

Sunday, 21 August 2011


In less than 48 hours hubby flies to Spain for two and a half weeks. He will be having an adventure with his best mate. They have been friends since childhood and still argue about which one of them peed in the bath. Hubby has had a travel itch for a while and i decided that before we settle down and have a mortgage, he should scratch it. Lots of people have asked him what he did to convince me to agree to him going. The conversation went something like this:
"i want to travel but traveling now with a toddler would mean spending lots of money and it would be really hard."
"i don't want to live overseas for the next few years so we can travel."
"i want to buy a house and settle down."
"okay, but could i visit Paul in Spain?"
"i think that would be really good for you. So since we are settling down can i get two kittens?"

So since i get a house and two kittens, that Spain was a good compromise. But now i am facing the next couple of weeks without him and knowing he is going to have an amazing time, i don't feel so generous. In fact i feel terrified and grief stricken.

I have relied on hubby so much over the last couple of years. Before we became parents i did too. But i hadn't experienced the desperation and loneliness of looking after a child, not feeling like i can cope or even survive. Until relatively recently i have always had in the back of my mind that he is only a phone call away and can come and save me.

But Spain is a long way away and 17 days is a long time.

Now i know there are lots of mums who have to deal with their husbands being away for longer, have more kids and a lot less support. But it is big for me.

Depression has chipped away at my resilience and belief in my ability to cope. Hubby knows the reality of the way life can feel to me and i can always count on his support. Without him i am forced to rely on myself. And i struggle to feel safe in my own hands. Mental illness means i often question my judgment and decision making. I don't fully trust my perception of things and so having someone at home to taking things through with is so important. He also knows the warning signs and can make me aware of a downhill slide before it builds any momentum.

Don't get me wrong. I have some wonderful people i can call on for help. But it is just not the same as that person who knows you so intimately that you can do life together without having to check what the next move is and can know what each other needs just through a look or tone of voice.

But on Tuesday he really is going. And the anticipation is horrible. But i think i will suprise myself with how resilient i am and how much i have learnt about doing life over the last couple of years. And i really hope that he learns too. Whatever he needs right now.

And you know what they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder and hopefully we will return to each other as more than we were before.

The courage to share your reality

A friend has just started writing a blog about her life and what she has been thinking about. She mentioned me in her first post. It is very flattering to be mentioned, let alone linked to. It is good to be reminded of the impact each of our journeys can have on the people around you, if you just have the courage to share. It can be tempting to use privacy as a way to ccontinue the illusion that "i'm great" (cue empty smile). But what is life uf not being authentic and real about life. What reward do we get for being staunch? And if te community we are part of can't deal with our reality then who really has the problem?

So thank you Sarah for taking the risk and sharing your life. I for one, am grateful.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

It is not that easy

This  is my first mobile post  so excuse te typos. Deciding to do what  is best for  me is easier  said than done. Knowing does  not make me want to make good choices. I don't seem to want to live with the reality of what i say i want to do. Very Paul. I don't  often feel biblical.:)

So will power doesn't seem to be the answer.

Maybe acceptance of my reality is a better approach. I have been managing to read my bible more but exercise seems hard to squeeze in. Excuse the pun. I hope that after we move life will have more space. Or may i will just have to accept again that after trying repeatedly, i really can't do everything.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so whatcha going to do about it?

The last several weeks have been like I have suddenly started running, after standing still and looking around for quite a while. Buying a house has given me a sense of security and certainty that I think I have been longing for for a very long time. We haven't even moved yet but the fact that we have made decisions about what the next wee while will be like and where we will be based and that fact that finally we can feel settled is so amazing. It is as if the certainty of it has allowed me to stop wondering and has provided a firm foundation to spring board off.

I have made so many decisions and had such clarity about life and myself in the last few weeks. Following on from accepting myself and thinking about my future, I have applied to train to be a childbirth educator. It involves study by distance, part time for 2 years. It will mean I can teach antenatal classes and I am hoping it will mean I can still earn an income around family life in the future. For a long time I felt a lot of shame about being so interested in pregnancy, childbirth and women's health in general. It almost seemed obscene. I think a lot of that came from having to wait to try to start a family so not having a concrete excuse for my interest. And then I also started to think it was just because I was desperate to have children and since we had to wait and were dealing with the loss of our first baby, it seemed that it was almost a pathological symptom of obsession and grief. But it turns out it really isn't. I just am really into it all. It is fascinating and so important in a woman's life. The idea of having the privilege to help women learn about the process and support them to be empowered through it just seems such an awesome way to use my teaching skills and my enthusiasm for it. So no more shame.

I also had a confronting conversation with a Mum I know. I was saying how hard I find it to make time and space in my life for God, prayer and reading the Bible. In a very gentle way she encouraged me to face the fact that the way life is right now is not actually temporary. It is not as if by next year or even in the next decade I am going to suddenly find it easier to have some quiet time with God. And so instead of using motherhood as an excuse, I needed to accept this reality and make time. I really needed to hear that. So after some perculation I am trying to read my bible every day, however I can manage it. So this morning it was after the first thing housework and breakfast jobs. Ella and I sat on my bed. She drew on my old Word for Today and told me she was reading her Bible and I had a chance to read mine. It was enough for me to get some truth into me and to remind me of how essential it is. When I was going to sleep last night I really felt that I am almost a Christian in history rather than now. I have been running on Sunday school, a basic faith and my own thoughts. I often prayer and I have seen God work continually in my life, but now it is time to start living the way I want to. No more excuses. Just get on with it.

I have written a lot in the past about perfectionism and what a trap it is for me. So I am well aware that I could walk into legalism and trying to do everything 'right'. I have often avoided setting any goals or expectations for myself just to avoid that trap. But it is no way to live. It is just a holding pattern. Instead of telling myself that I "should" be doing this or that, I am just going to get on with it. No expectations of the how, just do it. I know what I need to know. I just have to do it. Not forever. Just today. And then I will do it tomorrow. Depression has taught me that decisions are not made for eternity and steps are not about the marathon. Just each day. So refreshing. I don't have to have the willpower or energy or enthusiasm for the rest of my life. I don't have to learn anything new, read a book about it, ask someone's advice. I just need to do it.

And I am applying this to other areas of my life. I am a comfort eater and do not have great mental or physical resilience. If I feel low or have a hard day I find it easy to justify treating myself to whatever I feel like eating. Recently this had taken on pretty epic proportions, and not surprisingly, so have I! I had great plans to exercise and eat well when I joined the gym a few months ago, but with illness, busyness and lack of motivation, all the gym membership has done is make me feel bad for not going. Over the years I have learnt lots about exercise and eating well. We have very little unhealthy food in the house. But since having Ella I have learnt the wonders of the drive through and 3pm and 8pm are still the times when I regularly 'treat' myself. At some point treats are no longer a treat when they are a regular event. When I weighed myself on Sunday and I could see a whole new decade of numbers appearing before me I had a rude awakening to reality. This accompanied by the fact that my pants are threatening not to fit, was the shock I needed. If I am challenging myself to get on with it in other areas of my life, then why not this?

So yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life. I am not going on a diet or starting some boot camp exercise programme. Instead I am just going to do what I already know. Eat lots of fresh veges and fruit, palm sized protein at each meal. Cut out the bad fats and processed flower and sugar. And get some exercise each day. Yesterday's exercise involved squats so that Ella could ride the seesaw and some vigorous walking. Hopefully today will entail another walk but with the clouds rolling in, it might be some exercises in the lounge when Ella goes to bed. I can keep telling the story that I can't fit exercise in but I know how that story ends. And instead I am going to start telling a new story.

The new story goes something like this:
I love who I am and I choose to treat myself well. I don't choose to do things which might feel good in the moment but make me feel bad in the long run. I want to live well and I deserve to enjoy my life and live it to the fullest. If I can be a good parent to Ella, then I can be good to myself. I am thirsty and greedy for life and all its potential and I want to be able to make the most of it. So I choose to do what I know I need, even if I don't feel like it. Because I am loved and precious and God delights in me. And there is so much to look forward to.

So that's the new story...