Out With Old, In With The New

Junk piled into Imogen’s room (granddaughter)
More junk!
Even more junk!
More junk still!
Junk and the washing in Tom’s room (I forgot to take more photos, but believe me, it was a lot worse than this!)

Just for a change, this post contains mostly photos. It may not be of interest to anyone else, but hey, it made me happy to write it as it’s about my forthcoming family situation.

I’m finally getting there … I shared a post back in May called Family Moving In. It will make a lot more sense if you read this briefly to get an idea of what’s happening for me in my life at present. I wrote in that post about my son, Tom, and two grandchildren, Imogen (9) and Charlie (7), needing to move in with me. There’s been a slight change of plan. Tom is now moving up North (UK) to be closer to his work, but the children live not far from me with their mother (Tom’s ex-wife) This means that instead of being with me full-time, my son and the children will be here several times a month rather than permanently. I have to say, apart from the fact that it’ll be so lovely to see them all more often, it’s quite a relief that they won’t be here full-time. I’ve lived alone, quite happily, for over twenty years, so it would have been a tough change of circumstances for me. It means I’ll still have to write and study.

Since that last post, the house has been in a state of chaos. I’ve had to get two spare rooms turned from junk rooms into bedrooms. The work has been hard even though I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of help from friends and professionals to decorate, lay new carpets etc. Imogen’s room looks beautiful and fit for a princess. I’m so happy with it. Tom and Charlie’s room is now a bright new bedroom, too. Below are the photos of the finished rooms.

These are the photos of Imogen’s room …

And these are the photos of Tom and Charlie’s room …

The trio bunk (double at the bottom for Tom and single at the top for Charlie)
New furniture and other bits
Thought Charlie would like the metal bike on the wall. Underneath (but not clear) is a photo of Charlie in his karate gear and a picture of Peanut
Modern art
Family – Love
The lightshade isn’t up yet. It’ll look like the night sky when it is

Contrary to the hesitancy I felt when I wrote the first post, Family Moving In, about this situation, I’m now so looking forward to them all coming to stay with me. I’ve done my best to make their spaces as homely and comfortable as possible. It’ll surprise them all as they haven’t seen the rooms yet. I hope they are as delighted as I am with the finished result. When they come to stay for the first time (in a couple of weeks), I’ll buy a big celebration cake and have candles on it to celebrate many happy years together in the future.

Decluttering the Clutter – Stage 1

The mountains of clutter in the garage!

I’ve just been so exhausted with all the goings-on this week that I can barely think. You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything on my blog this past week. I’m usually known for my punctuality, but this week, it was impossible. On May the 2nd, I posted a piece entitled Family Moving In. I explained there that my son, Tom, and two young grandchildren, will be moving in with me for, possibly, the long term. It was meant to have happened by now, but as circumstances are, it’s more likely to be in the autumn.

Nevertheless, the junk room must be turned back into a bedroom for my son and young grandson (7). My granddaughter (9) already has her own room (my daughter’s old bedroom) as she’s previously come for sleepovers. There’s so much to do, as you can imagine. In addition, the garage needed to be cleared out so that Tom would have storage space when he moves in. I had a friend, Callie, come over on Monday morning to help with this onerous task. I’d hired a 6-yard skip which is currently sitting on the front lawn, slowly killing the grass!

Bearing in mind that I never go into the garage as I don’t own a car, I was mortified by the sight that greeted us when I opened the garage door. What a mess! Callie put her hands on her hips and rolled her sleeves up to the elbow. She meant business. “Where on Earth do we start?” she exclaimed in horror. I was physically unable to help, so she got stuck in while I gave instructions. She does house clearance as a part-time job, so was an expert on decluttering. Just as well with that lot to go through.

There were items in there that had been in the garage for decades – ancient tins of unusable paint, rusty and broken garden and DIY tools that hadn’t seen the light of day for many years, an old vacuum cleaner that I’m keeping for emergencies, big pieces of cardboard that my new kitchen came packed in about seven years ago, offcuts of chipboard shelves, rolls of old Lino and carpet … I could go on, but we’d be here all day. There were so many things I would have hung on to if it hadn’t been for Callie’s ruthless personality. Just as well as we’d have got nowhere with me in charge. As she worked through the clutter, she threw most of it into the skip. I couldn’t believe how much stuff I’d collected over the years.

After three hours, we decided that we’d done all we could do. We stood back and admired the beautifully tidy garage that I could now call my own.

Almost there

And this, ladies and gentlemen, was what the skip looked like when we’d finished!

In the last couple of days, I’ve had the decorator in to strip out the junk room. It’s been chaos here. It’s also meant having to get up very early every morning (I’m not usually an early bird, so I’m tired out). Once he’s finished, the carpet has got to go down. Then, it’ll be getting new furniture and beds. That’s a whole other story – I’ll be writing about those adventures in my next post.

Now, I need someone to come and make me a lovely hot cuppa and settle me down with a box of chocolates and a new head.

Family Moving In!

(Image courtesy of Pexels)

Well, that was a blow! It’s Sunday afternoon. I’ve just had a very long phone call with my son, Tom. He was married about 16 years ago and had two children, but that didn’t work out, and he split up with Karen after ten miserable years together. Since then, he’s been in a relationship with a woman called Kim, but that’s not working out either (after six years). Tom and Kim had bought a big house between them as Tom has got my two youngest grandchildren, aged nine and seven. I call them my ‘little ones’ because my daughter and son-in-law have ‘my girls’ who are older. Kim has three much older girls still living at home. As a Mum, I sensed something was wrong quite some time ago. I hadn’t said anything, but Tom just called to say they’re definitely splitting up. The house will have to be sold.

Tom had a question to ask me. In fact, it was a huge ask. He said the big house would have to be sold so that he and Kim could afford to each find somewhere smaller for themselves. Until then, he can’t stay in the house with Kim as they’re not getting on well at all.

“Can the children and I come and stay with you for a few months, please?” I wasn’t expecting that! I’ve been living alone very happily for many years, and as much as I’d love to see more of them, I need and enjoy my space and privacy. I like that it gives me plenty of time to do some studying and writing. What on Earth do I say? We talked at length; “Can I think about this for a couple of days, please, Tom”? Tom was willing to do that, naturally. I love them all very dearly, but suddenly going from living alone to having the house occupied by family will be a bit of a shock, to say the least.

There’ll be a whole heap of things that will have to happen first if I agree. They’ll have to sleep in the spare room and the junk storage room. They’ll need clearing out, decorating, carpeting and new beds and furnishings to make it habitable. They haven’t been touched for decades. The garage will have to be cleared of ‘stuff’ so that Tom has some space to store furniture etc. It’s going to be chaos. I hate having decorators in because of all the mess too.

I’ve now got a couple of days to think about all this. I really don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s come like a bolt out of the blue. Tom is an adult, so I didn’t ever expect to be playing the role of Mum again. I’m not sure I can go ahead with it, but what else do I do?

STRONGER THAN THIS …

broken chain

I thought I was stronger than this but I’m crumbling albeit slowly but very definitely, nevertheless. Little pieces of me are starting to fall and land at my feet like stones tumbling down a mountainside. My head feels as if it is less firmly rooted on my spine than it ought to be and as if all that is holding it there is a piece of stretched knitting yarn. My vision has now become blurred and my eyesight, dim. My skin falls in flakes around me on the floor giving the appearance of a light snow storm on the mid blue carpet, and my hair has become thinner in places, exposing patches of a shiny white scalp beneath.

I didn’t think it was possible for a human being to disintegrate before their own eyes, or perhaps I’m only just on the outside looking inwards. Is there is fur in my arteries and knots in my veins? The tendons of my limbs contract uncontrollably and my bones crack, oh, so painfully. My brain cells are diminishing in number as the clock on the kitchen wall ticks the seconds away. “Why is this happening to me?”, what few of them I have left are screaming at me.

“This punishment”, I hear calling from the distance; “this is happening to you because you are inherently evil”, a voice reverberates through my mind. The words etched in each ripple of thought that flows from the centre of my skull.

I wake in the night, screaming for some crumb of comfort that is no longer there or available. I realize that I am alone, completely and utterly alone in the pitch black night. It’s cold, and I am shivering as I grasp at my red fleece blanket that covers the duvet that has slipped from my bed to the floor.

I find myself thinking back on the day that has just past – it has been a nightmare. My mum had her ultrasound scan today that has showed her cancer has returned – I’m the only one she has told so far tonight; she is in a state of shock and I am utterly devastated. The hospital is reluctant to try chemo or radiotherapy given my mum’s age and vulnerable state of general health.

My dear son, Tom, returned earlier today from his first holiday away with his children alone only to find that burglars have got into his home. We don’t know the full scale of the losses or damage done to the property and its contents yet but it is heartbreaking.

My best friend has quite unexpectedly, and unjustly lost her job and her union are claiming for unfair dismissal.

My daughter hasn’t spoken to me since my recent assault and I can’t find out why. I’m also still waiting for support from the Victim Support Agency but have heard nothing since the attack and am not coping very well.

I have had to pay for a new pair of glasses this week and am now unable to pay the mortgage this month but that is the least of my worries.

I just want to scream, “Stop the world; I want to get off”, but that would be selfish of me. My support (for what it is worth), is much needed by my loved ones around me at a time like this and I tell myself, “I thought I was stronger than this, but I am crumbling….”

It is dark in my bedroom – I reach for the light somehow hoping that all this will have been a bad dream. I am cold. I am alone. I am very scared.

 

 

ASSAULT

crying woman drawing

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse … they did. On Monday afternoon, I was sexually assaulted. I am still in a state of shock and wasn’t even able to contact the police until this morning. I don’t know where yesterday went – I’ve sort of lost a day somewhere. It keeps trying to sink into my brain, but something in me is desperately fighting it off. I’m feeling a thousand and more emotions all at once and desperately want to get out from inside my head. The reason that I am writing this, not because I wish to draw attention to myself but because my mind is not capable of dealing with all this without my skull exploding into microscopic particles, and my brain cells self-combusting irretrievably if I do not express myself.

It was approximately 2.30 pm when my window-cleaner called. He had been doing this monthly for at least twenty years, and he had always been a friendly man. He was called Bob, and I’d talked with him many a time over the period where my children were growing up and some of the many years when my mental health was bad. I’d always make him a cup of tea, and we’d chat, and then he went on to his next customer

When I became more physically challenged, I was no longer able to make him a drink so he’d come in with my permission to make his own tea. No problem there. He was amicable enough, and we talked about our offspring and lately he’d been talking to me about his young grandson, He proudly showed me photos of himself with his family and this little toddler.

This Monday, it was different. I’d let him in to make his tea, which he did, making me a coffee at the same time. He sat opposite my wheelchair, and we started chatting. He was complimentary about how well I coped and how I was always cheerful, no matter what. (I would almost pride myself at hiding my true feelings from people other than my family and close friends, and even with them, I’m excellent at glossing over the surface of what seem to be insurmountable problems).

Out of the blue, he suddenly lurched forwards, grabbed me and hurled me to the ground. I didn’t stand a chance of defending myself partly because of my disability, and I think, probably also because I was so shocked that I didn’t even scream. It was like watching myself in a slow-motion horror movie. As he assaulted me, I was as terrified as I had been on those numerous occasions that I had been the subject of child sexual abuse. After what seemed like forever, he was disturbed by my phone ringing. This interruption startled him enough into leaving me alone and completely stunned, and he rapidly headed out of the front door.

After that and yesterday? I don’t know where that time went or what I did. It was when I woke up this morning that I realised the enormity and horror of what I’d experienced. I felt muddled, confused and could hardly believe what had happened. I telephoned the police non-emergency number as if, I think, to kid myself that it was no big deal or was of no importance. When somebody finally answered my call, I found myself blurting everything out including how I was so caught up in the horrors of my son and daughter’s lives currently. It was all too overwhelming as I tried to explain myself, going over everything in fast-forward time. The police asked me for the precise details of the event, but I couldn’t be specific. I told them, crying and sobbing, what I had remembered. They reassured me that I’d taken the correct course of action by phoning them. They said, ‘could I get a friend or neighbour to come and sit with me’. I said there was only my next-door neighbour who was near enough but that she had gone out earlier so they just asked if I was able to phone my family and that a police officer would call to let me know what would happen next.

Well, here I am on Thursday morning. The assault happened on Monday, and I rang the police first thing yesterday morning. I waited for their phone call all day. Nothing – absolutely nothing. And today, so far, still nothing – no follow-up telephone call, no visit. I’m reluctant to phone them again because it is of course so trivial and no cause for concern in their eyes.

Yes, I am angry and upset but it seems plain that I’m making mountains out of molehills; that it is of no importance; that perhaps it’s my fault for letting him in. I hadn’t screamed; I hadn’t shouted; I didn’t even try to push him away; I had it coming, and it’ll teach me a lesson for the future.

My world is presently a dark, black hole in the ground and I am at the very bottom of it without a ladder. I don’t know how I’m going to get out of this space.

No – I don’t feel ‘sorry’ for myself; I don’t want pity; I’m just feeling so furious, vulnerable and very, very alone. 

MIND GAMES

Sorry friends…..it’s back to that boring stuff about my kids again…..

I finally drafted a letter to send to both of my children and took it to counselling with me today to discuss with my therapist before finally thinking of sending it to them. I’d made my mind up after spending days, if not weeks or months deliberating over getting this letter ‘right’. It read (respectively):

Dear *Tom/*Clare,

I LOVE YOU; I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED YOU; I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU

but I can’t take the constant pain and rejection from you anymore. I long to be in your life of course and also that of my grandchildren (*J, *B, *I and *C). Now it is time to make a decision. I need to know whether you really want me in your life at the moment.

If you decide to live your daily life without me, then I have to accept that, as I know we all have our separate paths to follow. But I do, very sincerely, ask one thing of you and that is that you don’t ever let my beautiful grandchildren forget me. Maybe, one day, when they are grown, they may want to come and get to know me better. I hope you will encourage them in this.

Of course, I will continue to send them birthday and Christmas cards (and ‘get well’ or ‘congratulations’ etc. as appropriate if I hear of any news) and also small gifts at these times although it will be difficult to to guess what sort of things they like or need as time goes on). Please keep me ‘alive’ in their hearts and minds and remind them frequently that I love them and am thinking of them very often.

I will also continue to send you both birthday and Christmas cards – whether you choose to reciprocate is up to you but I have to respect your decision whatever you decide to do.

If you make the choice to follow your path without me, I will still get on with life and make it happy. I now have college, choir once a week,and will be performing ‘live’ at the Cranstead Theatre in a few weeks’ time, church activities, my current book that I am writing, studying and my involvement with the ACR University and hopefully further opportunities there, possibly opting to do an Open University Degree in the near future. I keep in touch with your Grandma (my Mum) every day because as you know she is getting elderly now and of course frequently with my sister abroad and occasional emails and phone calls to my other two younger sisters.

My door will always be open to you so that if at any time you wish to have a fuller relationship with me, I will be there for you and you will be welcomed with open arms.

So, my darling son/daughter, think carefully and please let me know what you have decided (of course when you have had time to think about it).

With My Love Always and Forever,

Mum xoxoxoxox

My therapist thought long and hard about this and then agreed that I had to take some action to defend myself from their continuing emotional abuse (which is basically what it amounts to). Surely, I’ve had enough abuse in my life without deserving further abuse from both of my children. I cried all the way home in the car with my Support Worker, knowing I should post this letter during the afternoon.

And then out of the blue, the telephone rings. I pick it up and am astonished to hear my daughter’s voice. “Hello”, she says, like no time has elapsed and as if no hurt has occurred. I was shocked! Why is it that just when I think I am sorting my life out or at least attempting to do so, a spanner has to be thrown into the works, so to speak. Not that I refer to my daughter as a ‘spanner’ but hell, do my children know how to get to me in the most painful ways! It was a short conversation but a conversation all the same.

Now, I am in a dilemma…..what do I do about sending that letter? Do I give them a second chance, or more like third, eighth or nineteenth chance? Another chance to hurt me and play mind games with me. I don’t know if I can take any more of this family drama, ongoing as it is. And I’m not sure if I’ll ever mention the subject again here on my blog for the fear of boring the pants off the few faithful followers I have left and just because I am going round in ever decreasing circles and if I don’t watch out, I’ll be running so fast that before I know it I will have disappeared up my own ar*e.

SORRY, RANT OVER AND YES I AM STILL ANGRY AND HURTING, AND IT’S BURNING A HOLE IN MY HEART AND A HOLE IN MY SOUL! x

BITTERSWEET BABY

baby-silhouette

Well……it’s official (apparently)! I am now a Nanny for the fourth time! I heard via text message from another member of my family that my son and daughter-in-law had a baby boy yesterday (my first grandson). That’s all I know – I don’t even know his name. I long to see him but I know this is nigh on impossible given my family situation. Do I feel happy that this new little life has been given into God’s kingdom? Yes. But, how can I be happy when I know I will see as much of this little one as I do of my other grandchildren? He will not know me, just as ‘the girls’ don’t know me and that breaks my heart.

I hear other people my sort of age talking about their grandchildren and how they come and visit with the sons or daughters they have. But not me, and it’s hard to hear sometimes, hard to listen because it is so painful. So, I smile sweetly and say “how lovely for you” and I mean it genuinely – I am happy for them but the pain I feel inside is heart-wrenching and continues to gnaw away at me because I know it will never be that way for me. I am the invisible Nanny, the non-existent one, “the Nanny we don’t talk about because she is a bit funny, (she has mental health problems and has a disability – you know how it is”).

I am deemed as useless as I cannot babysit, go upstairs to admire the gerbils, get down on the floor and play, chase them round the living room etc. What use I am to them? I write in the sky amongst the clouds, “Dear Son/Daughter, I love you – I have always loved you and I want to love my grandchildren and be part of their lives. I can still cuddle them, read them stories and be a positive influence in their lives. I am not mad or stupid. I am not a danger to my grandchildren. I love them and just want the opportunity to get to know them and for them to get to know me. My heart aches with my longing to see them. Is there no hope? Why, please tell me? Why?” Unsent letters, as writing would alienate them further so they remain in the clouds.

I keep journals though; love journals, one for each child where I write what I was thinking about today to do with them. I don’t write anything negative about anyone, especially my son or daughter.

If only…..Life is full of ‘if onlys’. Not just my life but the lives of many others for different reasons. We can but dream sometimes and we have to settle for that and be content, but easy, it is not! My heart is breaking I have to hang on to hope. Hope that one day when they are grown, they will and come and search me out and discover for themselves that I’m not what my son/daughter portray me to be.

“Dear Grandchild, I love you so much. I have always loved you from the minute you were born. I will always be here for you, waiting for you, waiting for the ‘if only’ to come true”.

Make a wish…..

dandelion-wishes