Monday, 16 December 2013

I'm wearing too many clothes

I've written newsy posts recently - you all know that Mini has left school now and starts at a new school soon.

Today I'm going to share my feelings with you because quite honestly they've been a bit up and down recently and only two or three people really know about it. Truth is, there are a number of people who are relatively close to us, but they're all too busy (or at least that how it feels) and I don't want to bother them with my (possibly irrational) dear reader, you're getting lumbered with the job instead!
And not only that, I tend to hide away and duck down when I'm feeling low. If I start cancelling plans, it's usually because I'm either ill or feeling low. They're the times I need the most support, but have a tendency to shut myself away and find it pretty much impossible to ask for help. A few people know this and are good at pulling me out, and to them I'm grateful.

I recently went to a large event, in a place that I'm very familiar and comfortable with, I might even go so far as to say it's one of my favourite places to be especially at this time of year. I'd only met one other person before, but 'talked' online to lots of others, and count them as my friends.

I came away feeling scared, wobbly, physically sick, tearful and alone. My husband and kids came to pick me up, but I felt disconnected from them. I didn't know who I was because this type of event was the sort of thing I used to do all the time with work, yet I had no confidence this time, and felt like I was there as a fake. I'd lost my identity. More than that, I just felt totally confused and lost. At times I was standing in a room full of hundreds of people, but had never felt so alone. I stood outside for some air, with people pushing past doing their Christmas shopping, and instead of enjoying a bit of a break from family life I felt panicky, small and vulnerable. A nervous breakdown perhaps? I don't know.

And now, a month later, I'm still feeling just as unsure of myself. And worse, unsure of my relationship with the NC, with my kids, of everything. It's been a really difficult time, and I'm grateful to the NC who is really the only person who knows the extent of my feelings and is still putting up with me. Mini is about to go through one of the biggest changes in his life and I feel like I'm the only one supporting him...everyone else is going about their lives - even those people who are really important to him, and I'm the one whose trying to hold it together for him, whilst inside I don't even know who I am anymore.

It kind of feels like all the different roles that I have are an item of clothing - mummy, wife, friend, daughter, website host, in-law, aunty, blogger, trustee, Godmother, cook, cleaner, taxi driver, and sometimes I can wear lots of those things and feel OK, but other times I have to wear them all and it gets too hot and I get panicky and nothing fits properly, and I just want to hide in the shower and wish them all away. Trouble is, I'm not sure who I'd find underneath all of those clothes these days...

When they're all out at school and work, I sit home and cry. I cry for all the things I've done and don't anymore, I cry for all the things that I miss, I cry for all the things that I don't have. And when I'm not crying, I'd like to say I'm doing all the mundane things that stay at home mums do, but in all honesty I'm struggling to even flick a duster around, so instead I sit and paint my nails - because people who have nicely manicured nails aren't struggling are they? Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for all that I have, but I'm clearly going through a big grieving process right now...

And here comes the big admission. I'm jealous. Jealous of all those mums who *seem* to have it easier than me, jealous of people who get more support than me, jealous of people who have their mums close by. Jealousy is an ugly thing, but I can't help how I feel at the moment.

Do you know where the real me is these days? Can you tell her to come on home because I miss her...and if you know any of the other bits of me, can you just give those bits a hug every now and then. x


  1. Oh, I don't really know you, only what I know from reading your blog - I feel as though I can't speak to the deeper things in your life, or offer any meaningful advice I'm afraid - sorry! But I will say this: I don't really believe in a 'real me'. Not in the sense of a constant unchanging sense of 'me' that can be lost and found. My experience is that 'me' is a more flexible and changeable concept than that, adapting according to the different seasons of our lives that we find ourselves in. These times of adaptation and change can be confusing and painful, but the 'me' that emerges at the end of it, ready to deal with the new reality, is just as much the 'real me' as the 'me' we remember from before. My 'real me' does things for myself (rarely), does things for others (mostly these days!), still does some old things and remembers others fondly, looks forward to some new things and dreads others. I had nearly 40 years of single, childless 'real me' and now my life has completely changed, and 'me' is having to change too! Seems to me like you've had a fair bit of stress as of late - maybe your 'me' is just a little tired of coping and responding and managing and has gone for a rest? And maybe, after a rest, your 'me' will emerge, transformed for the new reality like a butterfly struggling out of its cocoon. I hope those around you are able to give you the support and love you need during this time.

    1. I hope you're right....I might even look forward to that me emerging xx

  2. oh dear am so so sorry to hear you are feeling like this, but it is something I can identify with perhaps not in quite the same way but maybe similar? I know that when faced with being home alone when my young children were a similar age to yours and at school/playgroup - even though I too worked part time, I felt that sense of loss of identity and isolation as so many other things took priority over me - that's not to say I didn't want that, but it meant that I no longer knew who I was and I too struggled. I had moments of knowing who I was, but the majority of the time I struggled really until my children were teenagers. I didn't have the problems that you are experiencing with Mini though there were other problems that piled up and that I had to contend with and that I struggled with over many years - some of those I am certain are similar issues but others were possibly quite different. I didn't though wear quite as many 'clothes' as you and maybe that is the problem? Maybe you re trying to wear too many at once? Maybe your expectations are too high? And maybe, just maybe its all starting to catch up with you a bit as you have had a huge amount to contend with. Maybe you would consider some counselling, or seeing your GP and of course I am certain that your Mum would be devastated and really upset to think you couldn't turn to her. I know when I was struggling despite the distance my mum lived from me, I knew I could always ring her and ask for help or advice or just to offload and I did! Often daily or several times a day! And it helped. I think also you sound like you could do with some regular 'me time' for something YOU want to do, something you haven't done or something you used to do pre-children.....that could be something simple like re-taking up an old hobby/interest (e.g I returned to my musical roots and started playing musical instruments again for ME), it could be a new interest (I started studying with the OU for ME). I now know that the worst thing however from my experience was holding it all in and not talking about how I was feeling as much as I should have. I would ask you to definitely consider seeing your GP and definitely open up and talk more honestly to people who are able to offer you some support - even if distance is involved - and use your support network - if you don't tell them, they don't know. Keep your chin up.....and don't forget that your husband, kids and family love you and you are not alone x

    1. Thank you. I am lucky enough to already have counselling sessions, and did in fact mention that I know a lot of mums have a crisis in confidence, especially when returning to work, or doing work-type things. I'm grateful to have this blog, The Adoption Social and trustee duties as something I enjoy, and for my benefit as well as others. I'll contact you direct to talk more xx

  3. I absolutely get where you are coming from. When it's hard, it's hard. I think most of us have these days/weeks/months, which doesn't make it any better for you, but try to remember we are all here with you!

    I felt the greyness approaching a couple of weeks ago, and realised in enough time to keep it at bay, for the minute. Try to find something for you - a treat, a reward, anything that might help you feel a little better. And take care of yourself.

  4. I love your honesty. It helps us all, who surely feel the same from time to time. I certainly do. As my husband says to me when I get overwhelmed: never forget the enormity of what you’re doing! Really. It’s massive. Take a step back from the daily demands and look at what you’re doing through an outsider’s eyes. Let yourself be impressed! That’s the new real you and I bet the old you would be in awe. I say, give yourself credit, take confidence from it and allow yourself a bit of time out and TLC. Yes, paint those nails! Now I'm going to try and heed my own advice.... :)

  5. Oh my goodness. My colleague follows your blog and has just pointed me in the direction of this post. You’ve encapsulated how I feel much of the time at the moment. (In fact, I have a stay-at-home-mum friend who always has a tidy house and perfectly manicured nails and regularly posts pictures of them on facebook!!)

    I'm so sorry that you have lost yourself, it's a frightening feeling and I hope you find a way through. I also hope that, despite how you are feeling at the moment, you can take comfort from the fact that you have made me (and probably others too) feel, for a while, that I am not completely alone, we all go through it. The next step is finding a way out!


  6. Hi Vicki, sorry to hear you are feeling like this. I can relate to some of what you are experiencing. I too have recently had days where I struggle to get out of my pjs, cry, don't want to see or speak to anyone and can't bare to do anything. I have and still am grieving the loss of the life my husband and I had before the children came along and I hate myself for feeling like that as we wanted children so badly!

    I really hope you get the support you need not just in the short term but on a regular basis. I'm still working on figuring out what helps me to get through these grey periods, but I do find talking to other adopters and even my SW has been helpful. I have been surprised by talking to other adopters and birth parents how common these feelings are. I think we are too good at hiding our feelings and putting on our calm faces as though everything is ok. It is refreshing when someone is honest and says no actually life is hard!!

  7. Thank you for your honesty...I am going through something like this at the moment, worn down by the frustrations and difficulties of the relentless grind of the teenage years. It is especially difficult at Christmas to stay buoyant and happy like all "normal" families around you - it can be really lonely.