This one has felt like a long time coming. Over a month to be exact. The last month or so days have gone a bit like this: 6.30am wrench my eyes open to the sound of the cup of tea being placed next to me. Sit up, sip, think about how lucky i am that i have a husband who knows how to make the perfect cup of English Breakfast (also that i have a gracious husband who knows i don't even begin to closely resemble 'pleasant' until this happens). I think also, to be honest, he fears for our children. 6.45am things begin to look brighter, and sounds of a child screaming "that's mine, give it back", "Muuummmmyyyyy, can you wipe my boooottttooommm?" and "tan i dow in d darden (translated as 'can i go in the garden') begin to resonate around the house. And i know all is well. Then to get up, throw my clothes and sergeant major hat on and after a few little morning coughs, find my fish wife voice (this is fortunately never far away, as a mum of boys). It's a military operation. Breakfast, school uniforms on, one episode of whatever the current Netflix obsession is, out the door, back in the door, out the door, often back in one more time just for good measure (usually as a response to a 'this is the worst day of my life' kind of tantrum because the bear we need for school 'isn't allowed to have a label on', and various other nonsensical traumas). The drop-off comes and goes and i enjoy the routine of either going to work and racing back to collect the children, ready for chaos to re-commence, or having a day pottering with my darling little boy who likes to 'help' me with jobs and who has the capacity to evoke such an intense myriad of feelings all at once. I feel i need to just pause here for an example.
It's 5.30am, my husband is away. My boy is ginger...so i will call him thus.
Me: "darling, it's sleepy time"
Ginger counts '1,2,3,7,9,5' freckles on my nose
Me: "nunite, byebyes time"
Ginger picks his nose and tells me his bogies 'are gross'
Me: "sshhhhh" (patting his back)
Ginger sticks his finger in my eye then sings 'I like to move it move it' whilst rhythmically bum shuffling around my bed.
Needless to say, a few minutes later, Ginger was drinking apple juice in front of Sarah & Duck
A myriad of feelings. AND there was no one there to make my tea.
Ok, back to it.
3.30pm and i have all my boys back with me. A comforting hubbub of bottom and willy chat circles around me, somebody screaming because they have been sat on or poked in the ear and it's so bad that there is 'blood' (a scratch too small for the naked eye to see, even with a proper special squint on) but nevertheless a plaster is needed. And one of my favourite kinds of noise: silence. I'm sorry but those who don't let their kids watch TV? I have all sorts of thoughts about those people. Don't get me wrong, i take great pleasure in listening to the squeals of delight as my children jump on and pummel each other. I sit and smile as i hear them playing hide and seek and playing the sorts of games that involve the perpetual use of the sentence 'pretend that you are...'. But i also relish every single one of those tv induced coma moments, when three beautifully innocent, blue-eyed, dirty-faced little boys sit still...in a line on the sofa...and i can just look at them and capture a moment. I can also get on with things without being harassed too, which is truly wonderful.
5pm teatime comes and goes, normally ending with a flick or smear of something sticky on the wall, and a pile of regurgitated something on the side of a plate (because it tasted stringy). A second wind surfaces and three boys simultaneously explode into a whirlwind of all kinds of mental.
Then the glorious 7pm is imminent.
A few days ago, just as bedtime stories were about to begin, i accidentally sat on my phone. "What's that noise?" one of the boys exclaimed as "Can i help you?" bellowed out of my back pocket. An eventful half an hour followed as my boys met Siri, asking the inevitable questions (that i'm sure she is used to when she meets small children) such as "why does my poo smell?", "do you look like a bottom?" and giggley (various renditions of) "pongy pongy poo poo pants". Siri was quite confused. Pictures of public toilets and the Bristol Stool Chart flashed up fleetingly before the next request was bellowed, as Siri repeated "poo poo pants" back to us, telling us she "didn't understand the question" (prudish loser). Typically i couldn't help myself and requested information that made her utter the words "well, that's not very nice". Standard.
Needless to say, the boys went to bed feeling happy that day. Tick. Love. Well done me for not shouting too much today. Success.
And then i start to think. Siri kind of represents all that i am trying to leave behind. She represents some of the many coping mechanisms, safety behaviours, neutralisers that i have so carefully and lovingly built around myself and nurtured over the last 33 years. She represents my need for immediate answers, my inability to tolerate uncertainty, my ability to instantaneously lose myself in a world of uncertainty until i feel so completely trapped in my own mind, so lost that i don't know how on earth i am going to 'do' another day.
Siri represents my fear of getting it wrong. She represents my strive for perfection.
When you ask Siri a question there are so many different versions of 'right'.
Excessive mental chaos, utter exhaustion.
Confusing and upsetting Siri was actually quite an exhilarating experience.
That moment in the day arrived. Time for myself. YES! Relief. Tiredness. Failure. At around 7pm my internal monologue fires up and goes something like this: "I really should sit and do some writing this evening. I have so much that i want to say. I haven't written for so long and i don't want to fail at it this soon. People are going to lose interest. All i actually want to do is sit and watch TV. Oh now it's 9pm, i couldn't possibly start anything now or i will be too wired and won't be able to go to sleep. I will DEFINITELY write my next blog tomorrow evening. I'll start as soon as they boys are in bed. Sigh, i'm off the hook (with myself). Tomorrow is a new day, tomorrow is THE day. Tomorrow comes, the internal monologue is set to repeat, set for 7pm that day and every day thereafter.
When i first started this blog, my plan was to write a weekly post. This happened twice, and only because on those two occasions i happened to be laid up in bed with hours and hours of space ahead of me. I had time, lots of it. Time to indulge my serious 'double edged sword' perfectionist streak. I could take hours over one paragraph. I could scrutinise over grammar, read and re-read sentences to ensure i was saying exactly what i wanted to say, that it was put in exactly the way i wanted to say it.
I often think that i'd like to write a book one day, and i suppose this is the drive for doing this blog. I find writing therapeutic, cathartic. I have spent so many years feeling trapped in my own mind that actually beginning to finally try and make sense of it all, 'un-hook' myself from my thoughts is, albeit hard work, stirring up something in me. I often hear myself saying that i have done so many funny things in the name of anxiety that what i have to say could make for a very entertaining read to many. And paradoxically i'm sat here with so much to say, feeling like i have nothing to say. And i feel stuck. How do i even begin to write about something that has screwed with my mind, that has both terrified and protected me, that has been my attacker and my ally, that has robbed me of life, but has been my life's driving force? The thing that every single doctor i have ever seen before last year has called an 'anxiety disorder' and has thrown pills at. The thing i hold so much hate for, but find such security in. The thing i have been so scared to let go of, but want to throw at such force that it smashes and cracks into tiny pieces, tiny enough that i can hold them all under my feet?
The thing i now know is OCD. Not the sort of "I'm a little bit OCD about folding up all my pants before putting them back in my drawer" type of OCD. Thats not OCD, that's just quirky. I'd love just to be quirky :-)
This blog has felt like a stream of disjointed consciousness. A lyrical (if that is even the right word) representation of the mass of contradictions that is my/the collective mind. A direct encounter with perfectionism, challenging my own desires to make sense, follow a linear pattern that encapsulates everything i want to say in a tidy way with no mess spilling over the sides. Because the mind is messy, and this blog feels messy, and putting it out there makes me feel vulnerable because nothing about it is perfect, and i don't actually feel like i have really actually said anything. Nothing about it feels like it makes sense. But in the same vain, everything about it feels like it makes perfect sense.
I have to learn the art of being ok with getting things wrong, and waffling a bit because otherwise i shut down and i end up doing nothing and surely a messy blog post is better than nothing...right?
Brace yourself, for i am committing my next post (maybe more, we'll see...) to some periods in my life where anxiety has literally paralysed me. I will say now, in advance of reading them that you are free to laugh. Laughter has been, and still is, my best medicine in the shittiest (sorry, no other word seems appropriate) of times. I am not a writer that will over-dramatise things. I am a 'read between the lines' type of writer. I want to be real, to be authentic to who i am, even if at times there are a few spills along the way.