Monday, 18 December 2017

A picnic. 2017 reflections 1.0

It's been a little while. Sometimes I go to write and then don't know what to say. A lot has been happening up here in this ol head of mine.

Since my ex-husband Ian's diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease, I have been in touch with him and his wife, H. I went and saw them in August. We all sat and talked for a couple of hours, until Ian's fatigue necessitated a nap.

I have a lot of time for H. She's a good woman.

Ian never had many friends, he was somebody who knew many but could talk with few. He was just very introverted. He and H did some specialty training together and they always got along well and talked often. There was nothing untoward going on between them, while we were married, but I always knew they connected well.

Back in the day, when I was all confused and considering ending my marriage, I did a little mental exercise. I wondered "If he repartners before me, how would I feel?". H's name came up in my head, immediately. I felt sick for about 10 minutes and then I decided that I could manage it.

Of course, when it did happen, a couple of months later, I felt sad, but I understood. I was upset and angry that we could never find that connection, that he could never show me the thought he seemed to be showing H, but the leaving was my decision.

When I saw them back in August, that understanding of how good they were together was reinforced. They loved quiet, and books (mainly science fiction). I felt sad for them. That they would not get the years together they deserved.

Fast forward to Nov, H invited me to Ian's 40th. We had a good chinwag on the phone, maybe about half an hour or more. Comparing mother in law stories. H telling me what was happening with Ian's brother. All was not well there. I was a bit scared that MIL and Ian's brother, who I have not seen in 6 years, would not want me there, but H assured me that Ian was very clear that he wanted me present. I was very honoured, feeling this was a testament to the years we loved each other. Anyway, brother has buggered off overseas to live with his new girlfriend, leaving his brother with MND and his mum undergoing treatment for cancer.

The party was yesterday, a potluck picnic, where we could all bring something to share (ideally gluten free). I was shitting bricks beforehand. I decided that I would make a pavlova to bring. Everybody loves home-made pav (cept maybe Ian).

Making the pav was very stressful. I was insanely worried I would bugger it up. It was not perfect in the end but I got there and bought it along. I bought it along dry, packing some cream, berries and chocolate to sprinkle over at the venue.

I got there. H came up to me and said "I haven't told L (ex-MIL) that you are coming". I grimaced. Shit. I gurded my loins and strutted to where the party-goers were assembled. I plopped my pav on the table. Also present were all of H's family, many from Israel and all celebrating Hannukah.

I looked to Ian. He had faded. His limb muscles were wasted, and his speech barely intelligible. He smiled and said hello. His eyes, always bright blue, had a new intensity to them. Perhaps it is the best way he can communicate now.

I walked over to L. She exclaimed "Cilla" in surprise, stood up, and gave me a hug. She was wearing a cam boot, having recently broken her foot. I asked her what she did to herself, then announced that I bought a pav.

That bit over, I walked around. H asked me how I would like to be introduced. I rolled my eyes and said "I'm the evil ex-wife". She laughed. I then introduced myself as Ian's wife v1.0. Ian's mum had made up a photo album of Ian's life. I was a little sad to see that no photos of our life together were present, but I got it.

Anyway, I chatted with some folk, but mainly kept to my fella. I was glad he was there.

The time came to sing happy birthday. Ian's mum made a short speech, then started crying. Ian and H and their 4 year old boy stood there smiling bravely. My heart broke at that point. My heart breaks typing this. I think it will take a long time until I can think about this without feeling sad.

I assembled the pav. It was consumed by all, and remarked upon. I had many compliments on it, including from H's mum. I suggested that a pav might be an appropriate Hannukah treat. She said yes. We will call it "Hannukova". I felt very happy and proud. The pav redeemed me in a way I cannot fully explain. I suppose I feel like I didn't belong there.

After the pav, I had a chat with L. She told me about her cancer treatment, that she would be moving to a suburb near me to be able to access. I gave her my mobile number and said that, if she wanted, we could go for a coffee. She said that she would like that. We certainly had our differences while Ian and I were married, but we loved each other, and I missed her for a long time after we split up.

My fella and I went and had a look at the sculptures in the park, then went and said our goodbyes. I had to take a nap after getting home. Napping seems to be the thing I do when I just can't handle things. Also I had hit the grog at a ladies night out the night before, so I suppose I had a bit of a delayed hangover.

As much as I dislike writing off whole years, this past year has had more than its share of challenges. That encounter I describe above is but one example of a sad/awkward/difficult encounter that I had to trudge through. I think I did that one quite well (because PAV). There were others that I struggled a bit harder with.

I have been for a few jobs this year, the most recent of which was a few weeks ago. I would like to change my job detail a bit. Alas, I have missed out on a few. It has added to the feeling of inadequacy, and also I have developed a "nobody likes me" complex. Today I went for feedback on this last interview. I did not go as shit as I thought, just the other candidate was able to be more specific about their experience, and I got some good tips.

In the face of quite a few challenges and disappointments recently, perhaps the most difficult thing has been balancing staying realistic with getting hard and negative. My ego has had a few beatings this year, and with it, my attitude has suffered, truth be told.

I was never one to read self-help books, but I have cracked open a few in the last few months. "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" by Mark Manson was great. I will read "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown. I am in the middle of a fiction novel at the moment, but with that I am also reading "Chasing Excellence" by Ben Bergeron, who has coached a few Crossfit athletes who have won the games.

Ben Bergeron is quite matter-of-fact, preferring anecdotes and solid psychological theory to platitudes. He talks about embracing adversity, focussing on the process and the parts of the situation that are under ones control, and about doing the best one can at each juncture, rather than focussing on the outcome. I think this will be my manual for living, going forward. Much of my angst has come from comparing myself to how I think I should be going/living (musterbation), or comparing myself to others, rather than fully embracing and taking advantage of the day.

For the past few Christmases, I have thought "this time next year, I will be pregnant/with a baby". Hence, the last couple of Christmases have stung. Last year, we ran away. This year, I am facing up to it. I have bought a super-tacky electric Xmas candle, so bad its good. Also some glitter gingerbread earrings. My fella bought a proper pine Christmas tree today. Fake it till we make it. As well as tying up some things at work, I will focus on making a great lunch. Saturday will be my family, Sunday we will be hijacking another family's celebration, and Christmas lunch will be at ours, with some randoms and my mum. I am not dreading it. I am kind of looking forward to it.

I hope all that read this have a wonderful festive period, wherever they are.