Divided

12/12/11/13:47

I mean, it’s only now that I feel more relaxed. I think it’s because I’m doing what I want to do – Ian Curtis

Lately I’ve been researching Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division who, on the early morning of the 18th May 1980, hanged himself. He committed suicide the day before Joy Division were about to embark on their inaugural tour of America. He left behind a legacy, a dark poetry, an estranged and broken wife, a host of friends and acquaintances and a little girl barely into her first year.

He was twenty three when he died. Curtis, while suffering from depression, also suffered from crippling epilepsy. His epileptic fits onstage during performances are well documented. His spontaneous, whirling, dangerous energy during performances is certainly, if not naturally, inspired by his condition.

Joy Division in my opinion capture a moment in time. The post war, Cold…

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Going for broke

money

It’s been a while since I depressed and dumbfounded the internet by talking about anxiety and mental health ishoos, so I thought why not brighten up my weekend by writing about it again? It’s all fun and games, innit? Since I wrote Rocking Chair, my anxiety has been a lot better. In fact, it’s been better than it has been in a long, long time. This is GOOD news. Yay, go team! But. But but but. There are still parts of it lurking about, and affecting daily tings and dat.

I’m really bad with money. Awful. Can’t budget, the only way around this is to leave my debit card at home. Recently, the chip stopped working on my card which was absolutely brilliant for saving the pennies. Talking to others with similar disorders, they have all recounted the same things. There’s a few reasons for this. I think I have some idea why. Shall we bullet point? Let’s totally bullet point.

Why anxiety makes you about as financially savvy as a pair of slippers, by Ruth, aged 28 in five weeks time:

  • ‘Shopping around’. You know when you call up, say, your insurance company, or electricity provider to get a quote? Sometimes you can get discounts and percentages off, by quoting the price of their competitors and by generally being a bit savvy and cheeky. In theory. If you have anxiety, this kind of false confidence is really difficult to muster up. Those price comparison sites are good, don’t get me wrong, but very often the best deals to be had are when you talk to someone over the phone. Ack.
  • Complaining: Overcharged? Fees all over the shop? This involves complaining, phoning, compiling concise emails and ting. Again, a huge mountain to over-come. So, I (we?) don’t. I’m probably owed hundreds in erroneous fees on various bank accounts. In fact, complaining in general to Big Scary Organisations generally goes as thus:

Me: You have charged me 15% of my total value fee, you were only meant to take 5%!
Them: Yeah? And? We do what we want * sighs in a surly manner. Snaps bubblegum *
Me: Of course, yes, SO sorry, sorry, yes.

  • Checking your bank balance. Always assuming the worst case scenario, I rarely check my bank balance. Aaaand this is why, nine days into the month, I usually end up with a tenner in my bank account to last me until the next payday. I could cry. It’s all my own fault, I know this. Eedjit.
  • Asking your employers for a payrise. This doesn’t apply to me, but LOTS of you out there are awesome at what you do and damn STRAIGHT you need, and deserve, a raise. What are the chances you’ll broach this with the head honchos? Zilch. I’m right, yeah? Yeah.
  • Savings. Putting money aside for the future. The future scares the living daylights out of me. What if I’m…? But what if I haven’t….? Lately, people have asked me ‘What are you going to do if you’re still living at home when you’re 30?’. What happens at thirty that’s so terrifying, by the way? I’ve been made to feel as if my upcoming birthday (five weeks, baby! FIVE WEEKS!) is just a slow glare down the barrel of the gun until the big THREE OH. What was I saying? Oh yeah, savings. I don’t do that. It’s scary. I think if I go and open a savings account, the buildings society people will laugh at me, think I’m stupid, and confuse me with percentages and interest rates and blaaaaaargh. No.

Now. A lot of the above * points up there * is all down to confidence, and the general not having any confidence in yourself dealio. In my case this is kind of…strange, a bit of a contradiction. On Saturday night, I randomly decided to talk to (read: invade other people’s conversations) outside a bar. If I’m able to do that, then why can’t I tell NatWest they owe me £188 in charges? Riddle me THAT. Please. If you wouldn’t mind, that would be terribly kind.

Only Happy When It Rains

It’s, like, really really hot out. Did you know? No one has mentioned it ever, anywhere. I like sunshine, but I don’t like heat. It’s nice in theory, but I melt and get angry and petulant when temperatures rise about about 22 degrees. “It’s toooo hooooootttt. I’m hooooott. I’m sooooo sweatttyyyy neeeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuuuurghhhh”. I’m a joy to be around.
westminster-autumnleaves2

Nope. I’m afraid my heart belongs to Autumn. And, also to a lesser extent, winter. I love layering. Or is it layers? I like layers. Trifle has layers. And Tiramisu. And Melanzane. Oh god, food is bloody brilliant. What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Autumn. I love it. Skinny jeans, big cardis. Hats, I love a hat. Basically, I like to be in clothes that are slouchy and comforting but sturdy. I’m no waif and there is NOTHING sturdy about vest tops which are so skimpy, that they could easily be sneezed away should your hayfever get that dire. Also, sandals. They cut my feet up, and I hate getting my feet out, they’re pallid and I’ve had too many misadventures with fake tan to have at them with any of that again. I know I’m not the only one out there. Comfort over anything else for me now. Bah humbug. Sweaty icks, begone. Out with you *pouts*

It’s not actually my slow decline into middle(ish) age that has brought this on. I’ve always loved Autumn. For me, it has always signalled promise, hope and new beginnings. New school terms, everything fresh and smelling of disinfectant after a deep clean over the Summer term. New stationery, cruelly sharpened pencils from WH Smith, and a starchy, stiff uniform. Fresh pages in the pristine exercise books. Such hope and look to the future, which slowly morphed into doom when I hit my GCSE and A-Level years. Even though I’m no longer in school, and I certainly don’t get to go out and play Rounders for an hour every week (mores the pity) Autumn still has a hold of my heart, not least because my birthday is in September. FYI, I’ll be turning 21 for the…er…7th time.

Autumn. A fresh start. A new year. Some people feel this way on January 1st, some feel it in the Spring, when everything is in bloom,  awake from the bitterly cold and elongated winter months (this is the UK. Our Winters are Game Of Thrones-like, and decades long). Autumn, or fall as my American pals (howdy!) refer to it as, Fall, is my BFF. Summer is a pressure cooker, I find, of either scorching temperatures (we have a heatwave EVERY year, and EVERY year it’s ‘unexpected’ and the roads buckle and the tubes become vehicles into hell itself). Or, it’s dull and cold and everyone feels really cheated. September marks the end of it, it’s a blessed relief. Kids go back to school, parents breathe a sigh of relief. Those working contractually in academia have another nine months of tenure. Dissertations get started. Leaves get crunched underfoot, I always dig out my battered Sixth Form copy of Keats, and have a read of Ode To Autum and think ‘Good lord, look at all that clever annotation circa lower Sixth. No idea what I was banging on about, bless’. Everyone starts adding nutmeg and cinnamon to their lattes. Muslin and the lightest cotton is replaced by sheepskin.

Oh gawd. It’s just lovely. I can haz September nao?


*All my cards on the table for you, my fabulous readers. This is a sponsored post.

Maturity

The Musings of GaiaMojo

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I remember being a kid and looking up to my older brother.

He is 7 years older than me and although now it doesn’t seem like much, when I was a kid he seemed so grown up. He was allowed to do stuff I wasn’t allowed to, talk to our Mum about things I wasn’t allowed to, talk to Mum in a way I absolutely wasn’t allowed to. He was so grown up!

Of course, at the time he was about 16. I now have a 17 year old son and I know full well that he isn’t yet grown up or mature and nor was my brother at that time.

I had my first child when I was 19. I didn’t think I was grown up, I didn’t even try to pretend I was. I just wanted to do the very best I could for him. I knew I’d…

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Got Milk

I’m a sucker for trashy magazines. Closer, Look, Heat. I buy them all and devour them, even though it’s the same features in each one, with the same library stock photos. I gorge on celebrity gossip and seasonal fashion and then I feel a bit sick and dirty afterwards. Love it.

keep calm

But do you know what I don’t love? Anti-breastmilk features in magazines. Heat, I am looking at you here. Page 26, of this week’s issue. Small write up on Alicia Silverstone’s milk sharing venture. Lovely, thought I. I like Alicia Silverstone, she seems a good egg. Oh. Oh whats THIS? “A doubtless worthy cause, but one that makes us feel a bit icky”. Oh HELL NAW. Heat: You have a circulation 261,715 per week, and a readership of 1,320,000 (figures from July-December 2012). 83.7% of your readers are women, aged 15-44. Many of your target audience are Mothers who are breastfeeding. Or have breastfed. Or who will breastfeed. I used to love buying Heat every Tuesday, sitting down and reading it, Brownies shovelled into my face whilst I breastfed my baby. My youngest fed until she was 22 months old. That’s a lot of Tuesday Heat Breastfeeds. I will no longer be purchasing Heat. Milk sharing, as described by Heat, is  not ‘a worthy cause’. It is not even a cause. It is contributing to every Mother and baby’s human right to breastfeed, giving access to breastmilk should they so wish. This isn’t a charity Gala. This is real fucking life, and it’s a big deal. Milk Banking, Milk Sharing, even cross feeding are concepts that don’t have nearly enough awareness around them. It’s all a bit shrouded in mystery, but a vital service that needs to be spoken about.

I am extremely pro-breastfeeding. I don’t get irate or animated about many social issues, but this I do. It is a political issue. It is a feminist issue. I have been publicly snarked at for breastfeeding. I have also been publicly applauded and supported for breastfeeding. I’m no longer nursing my youngest, and this makes me feel a bit sad actually. I struggled with parenting, but whatever happened I knew that nursing was a bond we had that couldn’t be broken. The fact that it was so good for her, and her brother before her, was just a happy aside. Incidentally, the most supportive people I’ve experienced of breastfeeding, are men. Young ones, under 30 in most cases. Now, this shocked me when I first started out. I thought women would be my main cheerleaders, all women together, we shall overcome. Not so. It was the boys, the men that were. I once gushed to an extended family member about what a good job she’d done bringing her boys up because when they visited me and my then 3 day old baby girl, they didn’t bat an eyelid when I constantly fed the baby. It didn’t phase them. They came and hugged me goodbye mid feed. THE most supportive and gung ho friend, was my friend Seann. Tattooed, pierced, lairy, drummer in a metal band. Loved babies, and applauded what a good job I was doing for mine, which definitely and explicitly included nursing them. My friend Simon, whose sister is against the odds, continuing to breastfeed. We spoke about reflux, and elimination diets. I was floored. I was in awe. It’s the support and acceptance and YOU GO GIRL of ‘uninterested parties’ which actually helps the most. This helps to normalise breastfeeding. Hollie McNish,  poet, spoke about this  very recently, in a spoken word youtube video that quickly, and rightly, went viral “I think we should try to get used to this”. We should. Never a truer word spoken. Breasts are not icky. Breasts are not primarily sexy. Breastmilk is not icky. Breastmilk saves lives. Heat magazine, wrap your editorial heads around this.

Let’s think about this. Those of you who donate blood. This is a good thing, right? I’ve had tranfusions. Thank you, blood donors. You save lives. If a magazine called something like this out as being ‘icky’, then there would be an immediate public outcry. Actually, it probably wouldn’t get past the sub-editors because claiming that donating a life saving property is anything other than fantastic is nothing short of totally ludicrous. Breastmilk is the same. This isn’t a Breast V Formula rant. This is fact. I asked around, and did Scientific Proper Research. No, I didn’t. I asked for retweets and help via Twitter and Facebook and got an overwhelming positive response.  31 Retweets. Countless mothers, tweeting or commented simply ‘I donated’, offering me their overwhelmingly positive and empowering stories, via e-mail (thankyou).  Pauline,  who has donated milk describes it as “If I’d had a sick or early baby, if have been so grateful if someone had donate milk. It’s like blood or organs… If you’d take it, you should donate it (if you can!)” Pauline elaborates, explaining “When my second son was born and breast feeding came much more easily, I decided that I wanted to offer other babies the same nutritional benefits that I was fortunate enough to be able to offer him. I knew that mums of premmies often struggled to express much – if any – milk. I also know that breast milk is the absolute gold standard nutrition for sick babies. Some babies die without breast milk.” There are formal milk banks, and milk sharing associations, but it can also be done informally, Mother to Mother, friend to friend. Emily, a Mother of two who donated milk formally after resarching via UKAMB writes “When my second son was 7 weeks old I saw a cry for help on a group page on facebook. A woman had given birth to her son prematurely, and as a result he had suffered some very severe complications. She had tried to establish supply but didn’t respond well to a pump and while her son was in the NICU, her supply dwindled. When she got her son home, she began to supplement with formula. Unfortunately, due to her sons medical issues the formula made him ill. She tried several types but they all seemed to have the same affect. She still didn’t have enough milk, but while she was rectifying that, she wanted to stop the formula so she got online onto milk sharing sites and forums, parenting groups, whatever she could find and ask for Mums to donate milk. I contacted her. Ber son was just a week older than mine, and I started to pump for him. 6 weeks later, he is thriving, no more sickness or pain, all thanks to donor milk.”
“If for some reason I had to stop breastfeeding my babies, it would devastate me. I breastfeed because I know it to be of utmost importance to my children’s health and development. If I couldn’t do so, I would do my best to source donated breastmilk from another healthy woman, because milk from their own species is infinitely preferable to and less risky than a product manufactured from the milk of another species. Thank god formula exists for those times when it is needed. It surely saves the lives of babies who would otherwise starve. But the fact is, so does milk sharing.”

donated milk

In a similar vein, Ann who has both used and contributed to a milk bank writes “I’m glad I did it, and I will never forget the gathering we were invited to where we were taken to the SCBU to see some of the tiny babies that would benefit from our donations, as well as meeting other mums who’d donated or whose babies had benefited. In fact, it’s making me well up again just thinking about it. Everyone was so grateful for even the paltry litre of milk I was able to donate and quite honestly, far from being icky, I think it’s an amazing thing to do (provided it’s handled properly – that is, you are given a health check beforehand, don’t indulge in risky behaviour and the milk is pooled and pasteurised) particularly for prem or very sick babies.”

Here’s the breaks: Breastfeeding is hard for some. If it came easy for you, then excellent. But some Mother’s, for various reasons, struggle. Some mothers are so ill post birth, that they cannot feed their babies in those first crucial first days. Some mothers die, maternal deaths still happen post birth. Milk sharing, and milk banks give them the chance to be able to provide their babies with milk. Sometimes, it’s in conjunction with mixed feeding, and sometimes it’s to top up the milk that they are able to produce themselves. In any case, I cannot actually think of a singular bad thing about milk banks. Icky? Please. Get a fucking clue.

For more information about Milk Banking and Sharing, have a butchers at UKAMB: UK Association for milk banking http://www.ukamb.org/

The worst thing I could do

the-end

Firstly, I want to say thank you. To everyone who showed their support when I wrote my last post. The response was overwhelming, and I feel so lucky. I did also get a few hate (e)mails, but I expected that, and it wasn’t anything I hadn’t at some point thought about myself anyway.

No matter.

So where to go from there? I wrote about the guilt I had, about leaving the family home and not being with my children. I haven’t ever written about how it feels when a marriage, my marriage ends, and so that is what I’m going to do now. I’ve spoken to a select few about this. Some have heard me crying about this, but I have been holding off writing about it because it’s sad. It’s so sad, so tragic, when you realise that actually, as much as you love someone, you can’t and shouldn’t be together. It’s sad when you’ve stood up, and said vows that you both meant, but even the legally binding words you’ve said can’t save you. I loved my husband. With everything I had. He was my soul-mate, if you believe in things like that. He knew things about me that no-one did, and he accepted them, and loved me for them. I’d had a lot of failed relationships where my partner had realised that I really WAS a lot to handle, and that they simply couldn’t. I’m full on, I know I am. I had been married for just under three years, we’d been together around six years, and lived together for four. In that time, we’d also had two children. But this isn’t about them, this is about me and my husband. We were so alike, and so completely different at the same time. We got together when I was 21, and he was a breath of fresh air because he was so totally honest and up front about wanting a future. Everyone else up to then had mucked me about, uhhmed and ahhed. I was exhausted, much like I’m exhausted now. We argued a lot, we were both very reactionary. I’m nosey, and I keep wanting to ask him “Do you still love me?”. There is no point in doing this, really. We get on fine, and talk about the children and we both want the best thing for them. We’re breaking our backs trying to do the best thing. I can still tell him how I’m feeling, and after a particularly emotionally gruelling day on Tuesday, something that had been building up for days, I cried when I spoke to him about the children. It was just an emotional release. But he asked if I was okay. “I hope you’re allright. Start to feel better soon, okay” “Yeah. I will, it’s just…yeah. I will, thanks. You too”

I’m lonely. A lot of the time. I hate sleeping alone and as much as I couldn’t stand my husband sleeping diagonally across our bed (why? Why do they do this? He wasn’t even that tall) I miss sleeping in the bed with him. That hurts to admit, but I’m admitting it. I miss the fact it took him bloody hours to make a curry because he was so particular about it. I miss the fact that we couldn’t watch anything on TV without him pointing out what was put in as post-production. I do this too now. I miss how he taught me the safest way to overtake cyclists in our barge of a car, and I miss the fact he could parallel park that thing perfectly in a matter of seconds. I like driving, so sue me. I miss all the good points of our being together, but I do not miss the bad. And towards the end, all of our good points had given way to something so much more flawed, so doomed to fail.

We tried. We both really, really tried. But it didn’t work. So here I am, back at my Mum’s, and happy that I’m here. I can sometimes pretend the past six years hadn’t happened and in the back of my mind, I’m still 21, still single, still naïve and stupid. In reality, I’m not. I’m getting closer and closer to turning 30 and this huge period of my life seemed to have happened and been over before I could take stock. But the hardest thing? The hardest thing is knowing that we’ll always have to see each other, because we have children. I can’t forget him, and I don’t want to, but every time we see each other I think ‘Have we done the right thing?’. Of course we have, yes. We know this, we did the right thing for both our sakes and our children. That doesn’t stop the fact that sometimes I just want it all back, a good day, just once more. But, like Rizzo sings in my most favourite ever musical ever ever, “that’s the worst thing I could do”. This isn’t me saying I want us to get back together, because neither of us wants that. We are genuinely so much better off apart, the children are so much happier with us being separate from each other. I can’t speak for him, but I have learnt so much more about myself and what I actually want from life now that we’re apart. I know what sort of a person I really am now, and I know what I can’t or won’t compromise on. I know that the marriage wasn’t working, and I know that it’s definitely ended, and there’s no going back. That’s not always a bad thing. We can move on and be better people now, because we’re not being held back by what ifs, and anxiety and upset, and worry. And everything else that came along with that.

fwd

If he’s reading this, which I’m not sure he will, I am so proud of you. You’re the best Father I’ve ever seen, our children are so lucky to have you. Everything you do is with them in mind. I can’t ask for much more. Your love for them shines through everything you do. Thank you.

 

When I write things like this, when I have conversations about this sort of thing, I cry. A lot. But then, I stop crying and think, actually. You know. Things are pretty good. Sometimes things are awesome. I have a loving family and I am truly, TRULY blessed to have accepting, supportive and non-judgmental friends- both those I’ve known years and those I’ve only just really met. People can be great, and I’m lucky that MY people are great.

The Guilt Factor

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I’ve been trying to write this sort of post for weeks. Do I put it as my Facebook status? Do I tweet an explanation? Social media, as many of you know, is a central part of me and I’m not even ashamed to admit it because the outreach of, lets be frank, total strangers in some cases has been a lifeline to me over and over again. I’ve alluded to what has been happening and what’s changed. Luckily, my close friends and family know. It’s so hard to say, it’s so hard to admit that I wasn’t right, that I couldn’t make everything keep ticking over nicely.

So here it is, in black and white. I am no longer living with my husband, and my children. My husband and I are separated, and divorcing. That is a big word. Divorce. Bigger than Marriage, it’s the final nail in the coffin, so serious and macabre. I suppose you could say I am an absent Mother, even though nothing could be further than the truth. I’m not with my children 24/7 anymore, because I’m no longer in the role of a full-time stay at home Mum. My children are always, constantly and harrowingly in my thoughts. Every second of the day. Its 12:15pm as I write this, and they’ll probably be having their lunch in time for their afternoon nap. It’s a gloriously beautiful day, so maybe their Father has taken them to the park, maybe Brockwell Park with it’s water jets?But my children are happy, healthy and loved so, so much. I see them as much as I can. “But…what are you DOING?”. I’ll tell you, shall I? I am avoiding certain shops because their baby aisles are too near the toothbrush aisles. I am avoiding tweeting at certain times because I cannot stand all the references to people’s children. I am squeezing my eyes shut and pretending I’m asleep when I see babies on the tube. I’m feeling guilty. All the time. Guilty that my 23 month old daughter is teething, and I can’t be there to help her, to tag team through the awful nights with her father. Guilty that I can’t provide them with more financial assistance just yet. Guilty that their Dad is doing everything and must be absolutely shattered. I feel silenced. I feel liberated.And I am feeling worried. About everything. What’s going to happen? What do people think of me? Always worrying about what people think of me. And I’m jealous. Jealous that their father has the confidence and enthusiasm to take them to two different playgroups a day. I was always so anxious, so scared, so exhausted. I saw the journey there as a huge obstacle in my way. A bus, sometimes two. My three year old on foot, or standing on the back of the Maclaren, with his baby sister sitting in the pushchair, normally screeching “Out! I get out!”.

Sometimes, though. Sometimes I don’t think about my children. And that’s when the guilt creeps in, just there in the background at first “Hey. Hey, what are you doing?” until it’s there, right up in front of me, in my face “Why aren’t you doing more? Why aren’t you thinking about your children? Why aren’t you calling them, why aren’t you trying to see them?”. Sometimes I’ll catch myself laughing about something, recounting a time from the past, before I was Mrs, before I was Mum and I’ll think “Who are you kidding?”. I am so, so tired of beating myself up. I am so tired of trying to explain my actions, explain myself. There are parts of me that aren’t anything to do with children, that they have no bearing on, when I’m just Me, not Me The Mum.  I know I’m not a monster. I’m just one person, one woman, and sometimes sad stuff happens. Life, innit? What a cunt. The stupid thing is, I’m not actually that sad. My children are thriving, happy, well adjusted. Their Father is amazing in his role as Dad, that’s truly what he was born to do and I cannot fault him one iota in that. I’m no longer anxious, and rock-bottom depressed anymore. The time I get to spend with my children, no matter how brief it may be, is a thousand times better than it was before our situation changed, because we’re all Going To Be Okay now. The guilt will go, I know it’s normal to let go now, I know I’m safe to do so. I’m living back with my Mum, Step Father, Brother and Sister and we’re all closer than ever. That is the best thing to have come out from all this. I feel guilty (again) that I lost touch for so long. I’m sorry, I am truly sorry. Never again.

CardboardEverythingIsOkay

It’s only the past fortnight or so that I’ve actually felt like I know who I am, like I’m walking into the light of the living room from the dark hallway, no lights. I feel like I am awake now, and I know what things I like, how I like to dress, mediocre things like that. I was talking about my favorite film a few nights ago and I said “It’s Ghost World”. I would have been incapable of making a decision like that previously because I didn’t know what I liked; I just felt lost and displaced. I started buying loads of grey marl tops and dresses because that’s what I like. When you’ve changed roles so dramatically, it’s hard to find your place. But I’ve found it now, and I’m okay. I’m being discharged from CBT shortly, and I’m not panicking about it anymore. My name is Ruth. I am 27. I’m a Mother, but I don’t live with my children. I live with my parents, and my siblings. My sister is absolutely hilarious, and I am honored that she’s MY little sister. I like sci-fi, but I’ve only seen one Star Wars film, and the last 25 minutes went over my head. I drink gin. I drink red wine. I don’t like coriander. I refuse to compromise. I swear a lot. I’m a feminist, damn right I am. I’m a good friend. I’m nervous and anxious. I can tell you how to get to any two points in London via bus. I’m Jewish, but I don’t keep Kosher.  I’m okay, and I’m happy. When someone tells me I’m amazing, I’m going to start believing it because I have to take that chance.