The other side of the door

To K,

If you had been there would you have known something was wrong? Would you have checked where I was staying and made sure I got home safely? Would you have seen the deep criss-cross of cuts on my arms and legs and talked to me instead of pretending they weren’t there or getting angry with me for hurting you? Would you have given me a safe space to be me instead of giving me another reason to get out of my head? Would you have left me all alone in my room dealing with the loss of a love you didn’t even know about?

When I was late for my lift home – something so out of character because I was so scared of Mum – instead of being angry with me would you have known that something bad had happened and asked if I wanted to talk? Would you have told me about love and loss and how to look after myself when my heart was broken and I was feeling rejected and alone? Instead of leaving me alone in my room to cut  would you have made me a hot water bottle and a cup of tea and stayed in my room until I fell asleep? The next day would you have taken me out to distract me and made sure I felt beautiful and loved and held, even if not by him?

When I was wasted on a school night and hadn’t told you were I was, would you have looked past your anger to the fact that I was broken? Would you have known I felt suicidal and like giving up and tried to help me? Would you have helped me make sense of how I was feeling and explained that it hurt me more to lose people because of my childhood? Would you have helped me find other ways to release my feelings? Would you have saved me from going through the same thing over and over again? Would you have knocked on my door and asked if I was okay and not shuddered and turned away when you saw the blood?

When you found lighters in my pockets and rizlas in my bag would you have accepted my lies or asked me why I was smoking, helped me love myself enough to not want to hurt my growing body? Would you have left me alone in the house for whole weeks at a time when I was 14 and made it so easy for me stop eating for days at a time? Would you have cared that I was letting men I barely knew stay the night? Would you have cared that I kissed random men in the street just to make myself feel a little less self-loathing? Would you have asked me why I let my best friend belittle me and embarrass me and put me down? Would you have cared that I had stopped studying, stopped caring, about the thing that had always mattered most to me?

If you had been there would it have been enough to stop me hurting myself with razors and alcohol and one-night stands, or was it already too late?

From Phoebe

 

Fifteen

He tastes of chocolate milk and looks just like Tim Wheeler from Ash. I am 14 and giddy with the excitement of entering this adult world of house parties and shared cigarettes and real people living real lives. He tells me I am beautiful and I believe him. His arms are around me as we kiss and it is the most perfect experience of my life so far. I have never wanted anyone the way I want him and by 3am it feels as though we will be together forever.

********************

We are kissing on the bed at the party, oblivious to the people laughing and talking all around us. I am drunk and my head is spinning. His kisses are perfect – not too wet, not too dry, long and slow and deep. I have waited my whole life to be kissed like this, instead of the slobbery tongue-sliding experiences I’d had with boys my age. I lose myself in his smile as he breaks away, just to look at me again. I feel him putting his hand under my skirt. I feel his hand in my underwear. I don’t know what he is doing but it hurts. I pretend it doesn’t, keep kissing him back, focus only on the delicious sensations of his lips on my lips and his body against mine. His fingers jab and poke and I want it to stop but I don’t pull away because I want him to kiss me forever.

********************

It is time to go home. We laugh and twirl in the road and stop to kiss in the middle of the street. He gives me a piggyback down St James’ Road and writes his number on my hand. It takes forever to say goodbye and as soon as I am inside I miss him. I run to the garden and we kiss through the hedge and then my friend and I share a cigarette on the swing and I soak in the beauty of that moment. I am tingling with the anticipation of what is to come. I don’t yet know that nights like this rarely turn into a happy ever after.

********************

It is Friday night and we are playing giant Jenga in the pub. Pubs are our hang out now. Just like that. My best friend gets served alcohol in a newsagent for the first time and we share a can of special brew in the street. It is 6 days since I saw him and every night this week I have waited by the phone. We go to his house. He is at work and his house mate tells me to go and see him there. I am 14 and tipsy and the hotel is expensive. Maybe I am asked to leave. I definitely don’t belong there. He is working behind the bar and he tells me to come back at 11 when he finishes. Even though my mum is picking me up I wait for him. He tells me nothing can happen between us because I am too young. He says he shouldn’t care what people think but he does. Maybe I cry. Maybe I say ‘okay’. Maybe I say nothing at all. Inside it feels as though I am holding my breath even as I am speaking. I get yelled at for being late but I don’t care. I rip my skin open with a razor blade and watch the beads of blood forming. It feels as though more than just my heart is breaking.

********************

I am so alone with this pain. The loss of something I never had overwhelms me. I have no way of expressing it and I do not even understand what I am feeling. I don’t know how to feel it or let it go. I don’t know that this rejection isn’t about me or that this pain isn’t about Ben. My mum should help me make sense of what has just happened to me but instead the next day she screams at me and throws me out and tells me never to come back. That night I drink vodka and say nothing as some other guy shoves his fingers inside me on the dancefloor. I don’t fall for him the way I fell for Ben though.

********************

It is a Friday at the end of half term. We go to The C_______. Somehow we get wasted on zero money again. We go home with two guys. Brothers. One is the housemate of Ben and it should be strange and awkward but nothing really matters; I am too caught up in the excitement of a 26 year old model kissing me and wanting to take me to bed to feel much of anything at all. When he takes my virginity I am someplace else. Afterwards I talk to Ben, ask him if I’d come to his house instead of turning up at his work whether things would have been different. He says yes, that it was bad timing and he had had a bad day. We arrange for me to go round on Monday. I know he likes me, I can feel it, and two days later I am happier than I have ever been before. I cannot wait to see him after school. His whole life is calling to me. He has a house, a job, money, no parents checking up on his every move. He has a freedom I don’t even know I am longing for.

********************

I am sitting on his lap and we are wrapped tightly around each other. Kissing. More kissing. I could kiss him forever. I sense a swirl of emotions so intense I cannot let myself feel them. We rewind the cassette and Warren G’s voice fills the room again and I know even then that every time I hear this song I will be back in this room. He smiles and flirts and holds me close as we kiss. I don’t want this moment to ever end but I feel him pulling away. I try to bring him back to me but he has already gone. I can’t do this, he says. And I don’t fight. I never fight. Part of me is always waiting for those words.

********************

It is 9.30pm and I am outside with his housemate and my best friend banging my head against the brick wall, hard. I am crying but I cannot feel anything. I do not yet know how deep this wound I am beginning to feel is or just how many times it will open in this way. I am drunk and stoned and I want to die but I am also okay because this doesn’t feel real. Inside is a mashed up tangle of emotions I cannot articulate. I only know this is the worst thing that could have happened and that he has broken my heart again. I get home and my mum is yelling at me because it is a Monday night and I am wasted and she didn’t know where I was. I don’t care. In my room I cut and cut and cut and as the blood pours out of me I release something from my body that I do not even know is there.

********************

It is a Friday in June and England are playing Romania in the World Cup. I am 15 by now and in the pub with friends, drinking pints of lager and waiting for the game to begin. We see him. He stands behind us during the match and when England score he hugs me. He puts his arms around me. We score again and he kisses me and lifts me high in the air. We end up in a nightclub and we kiss for what feels like hours. We stop to kiss over and over again on the way home, down alleyways that will remind me of him for years to come. The next day I am desperate for his touch again. The sun is hot and I am with my friends in the park. It is the day of a big party and we have been excited for weeks. When it comes I would rather be anywhere else though. Anywhere else with him. When I am with him I am beautiful and the hole inside me disappears. I don’t know the hole is there but I will do anything to fill it.

********************

I don’t know how I get hold of his jumper but I do and for a few days or weeks I wear it to school. It is blue and white and soft and it marks me out as different from the other girls. I wear it even when I am dating someone else. I give it back only so I can see him. Every time I am with him he confuses me. I know that he likes me. I can feel it. I want to know if he likes me all the time and only lets himself act on it when he is drunk or if he only likes me when he has been drinking. I obsess over this detail, convinced if I had the answer it would all make sense and I would be okay.

********************

The intensity of my life carries me through – there are always new places, new people and new drinks to try, new people to kiss and obsess over and break up with because I don’t feel enough for them. I don’t think I ever let him go though, because I never let myself feel all the confusing mess of emotions that his attention and his rejection evoke in me. I just replace him with other people and push the pain deep inside me, let it be carried by a part of me that stays hidden for two decades. And in this way the story of Ben is frozen in time and never truly ends.

********************

I wake up and I am still fifteen and my body longs for his as soon as I realise he isn’t there and I am all alone. In the dream he was so real and we had a history made up of all the other dreams that have punctuated the years between then and now. Every time I dream of him he wants me the way he did back then, but I am all grown up and he is allowed to be with me now. For those few hours in the night we have a whole history lived entirely in my unconscious mind. I long to reach out to him but I can’t and the physical loss is intense. I ache for him, the ghost of a person I barely knew. It has been twenty two years and he was never mine, even then. It physically hurts to be in my bed alone, instead of snuggled up and planning a future with him. Ben. His name and face still so familiar after all this time.

********************

All day I can feel him on my skin even though it all happened in my head. All day I can sense him close by even though he is further away than ever. A whole lifetime has passed since those days, so many relationships have come and gone, but I can still feel it all as though it were yesterday. And all day I am flooded with the pain of not having a mum to turn to when my heart was breaking, and with the memory of an annihilating loss so intense I feel as though it will swallow me up. I grew up in a house where every single thing I did apart from school work was secret and every single time I was in pain I had to hide it. There was never anyone to help soothe my pain, never anyone to talk to, the double blade of a safety razor and a bottle of vodka was so often my only comfort.

********************

It is surreal to be working and reliving such intensity at the same time. I cannot tell anyone what is happening for me or that a part of me I cannot fully access feels the longing and the loss of something that happened more than twenty years ago so acutely that I wonder if we will ever be free, that there are so many things I never let go because no one helped me grasp them and look at them and so release their hold over me. I keep it all inside and I do my job but all day it is like I am living two different lives – then and now, and at times I cannot work out which is real.

 

Me

Over the weekend I was reflecting in my journal how long it has taken to have a true sense of who I am. I remember writing something around 5 years ago, when I was very actively trying to heal myself but wasn’t yet in therapy, about who I am as a person, but looking back I can see it was all about how I come across externally and how I fitted into the outside world. It was positive, it was about me being a good person, but reading it now it is clear that it wasn’t written from inside me. It wasn’t about what made me happy, what is and isn’t right for me, what brings me joy and peace and how I want to spend my time. I don’t think I had a sense of who I was at all back then. A huge amount of my time was spent doing things to escape the insatiable pit of need inside me. And I had no idea what I wanted or enjoyed because I was so busy twisting myself into all kinds of shapes to fit what other people wanted and expected of me. I was reading about the enneagram over the weekend, which is a fascinating addition in my journey of self-discovery, and I realised how much I like being at home and having cosy, quiet times with a blanket. I used to want to make the most of every minute I wasn’t being a mum – seeing friends, going out, getting things done. Turns out what I really needed was time to just be, at home, by myself. In a life that is often a whirlwind of things needing doing and places to go, over the past six months I’ve realised how precious time by myself at home is, and how much I love so many of the things that are already part of my life.

I love comfort – blankets, cuddlies, snuggling up, zoning out. I love nature and sunshine and being outside in wild places. I love deep, intense conversations and one-to-one time with special people. I love reading for fun and escapism. I love being on my bike. I love laughing at simple things and finding people to share my dark sense of humour with (not thinking of anyone in particular here #amber). I love my research and writing and imparting my knowledge and new ways of seeing the world to others. I love the bunnies and just being in the garden watching them. I love days when there is nothing to do and the possibilities are endless. I love when I make a new friend I really connect with and when they tell me they feel the same about me.

I hate making decisions. I hate conflict. I hate scary films and people arguing around me. I hate being in big groups of people I don’t know that well when my role is not clear and I don’t know what’s expected of me. I hate cramming too much into a day. I hate supermarkets and having to go into town. Right now in my life I hate cooking and preparing food because sometimes it feels like all I ever do.

I love making my home a clean, tidy, spacious place to be. I love calm and quiet time at home alone. I love cancelled plans and unexpectedly having time to myself. I love candles and incense and crystals and the moon. I love reggae and techno and house music and banging bass lines. I love dancing as the sun comes up. I love meeting new people, making new connections, and having conversations just for the sake of talking. I love it when all I can hear is silence. I love healthy comfort foods – dahl and soups and homemade bread. I love Cornwall and coastal paths and walking by the sea. I love tree tunnel lanes and paths by the river, stepping stones and picnics under trees. I love magic and fairy tales and glitter and the colour purple. I love flowers and trees, hearing running water and listening to the sea. I love playing cards in the pub with a bag of crisps. I love having meals cooked for me and trips to the cinema. I love finding common ground, people who are vegan for the animals and when someone tells me they are also a feminist.

I hate multi-tasking and too many competing demands on my time. I hate when the house is messy. I hate it when my views are undermined and people misunderstand me. I hate unexpected invitations and changing plans and clutter around me and feeling suffocated by too much stuff. I hate asking for help, admitting I’m struggling, feeling overlooked and left out, being minimised, people normalising my trauma. I hate washing up, traffic jams, wasting time, things taking longer than I expected. I hate seeing people unexpectedly when I’m out, uninvited visitors, loud noises and interruptions.

I love coming home to an empty house, having Friday nights to myself so I can hide from the world after a busy week. I love making my home clean and tidy on a Saturday morning. I love snuggling with a blanket to watch a familiar film, comfy clothes, putting my pyjamas on, early nights. I love skating, climbing, running, swimming in the sea. I love buying a whole pile of books in a second hand bookshop. I love fairy lights, twinkly things, sparklers and glitter. I love camping and starlit skies, watching the moon rise and paddling in the sea as the sun goes down. I love learning new things about ancient belief systems and how they apply to my life. I love having straightened hair and shaved legs and wearing dresses in summer. I love frosty mornings and seeing the pink streaks of sky as the sun rises when I am cycling to work. I love rollercoasters, people who make me laugh uncontrollably, and being able to share my growth and process and discover new things about myself through talking to those I am close to. I love rainbows and stormy seas and the smell of the woods when the sun comes out after it has rained.

I read this list to K earlier and she said it was really beautiful and that it is astonishing that I have so much that I love, and that it is perfect that so much of what I love contradicts. And she pointed out how when I’m in a very, very bad place I can’t see these things or feel them at all, but they are always there, and that there is so much I appreciate and that I truly, truly do love being part of this world. And she is right – I do, when I can hold onto all these beautiful, simple things that make me happy and feel alive then being me is really a wonderful thing. Everything I love is so uncomplicated, so attainable – it is all right there already. And seeing what I hate and knowing why and owning it instead of pretending I’m okay with it has been one of the hugest parts of all the healing I’ve done in the past few months. I honestly feel so amazed to look back on all the growth and healing of the past few years and how it is starting to give me a true sense of who I really am inside and what I want more of in my life. After years and years of having no sense of who I was beyond what I was moulded into and the societal norms I tried to fulfill, coming to life in this way feels so special and freeing.

Thirteen

For my beautiful daughter on your 13th birthday,

What changes these last 13 years have brought for us both. It is hard to put into words all that has happened, all we have shared, how much we have both grown, in so many ways, during your life so far. Sometimes when I look at you I feel so honoured to have you as a daughter, to be the one who has watched you become the incredible young woman I see today, to be the one you turn to when the world outside our home is harsh and cruel and uncertain. Proud doesn’t even come close to how I feel when I think of who you are. I love your passion, your enthusiasm, your determination, your joyful spirit and your contagious laugh. I love the person you are growing up to be and I love looking back at who you were as a toddler and young child and seeing things I didn’t see at the time – hints and glimpses of the person you would grow up to be. I imagine we have some tumultuous times ahead as you enter your teenage days, but despite that I am so excited to see how you grow and flourish over the coming years and what path your life will take.

We have had so much fun together, shared so many happy times, laughed so much and developed our own private world of understanding so that we can communicate so much without words. I know you so well, you are a part of me, but I also know there is so much about you that I don’t know or understand, and as the years pass there will be more and more of you that you keep hidden from me, and whilst I know this is exactly how it should be, I already feel wistful for those days when I was the centre of your universe. We are close though, we have so much fun together and talk so easily, and I remain hopeful that I will always be the person you turn to when you are in need or want to share good news.

Last night after school you were distraught after some really mean girls at school were sending horrible messages about you and one of them threatened to ruin your birthday. I said you could take today off school if you wanted, but you bravely set off this morning, keen to see your friends and show off your new-to-you jacket and giant birthday badge. I admire you so much for not being scared and for standing up for yourself. And I am proud of myself for nurturing you well enough that you feel able to do this. You stand by your convictions and your sense of self, you know yourself to be a kind person, and you are able to look for evidence of how many people do like you even when it seems to you as though the whole of your school is against you.

I have so many happy memories from the past 13 years – swimming in the sea, camping and building fires, laughing at the bunnies, ice skating, going to Thorpe Park and to see Taylor Swift at Wembley, walks on the moors and in the woods, watching you splash around in muddy puddles and hearing you laugh and sing in bed talking to your toys. We have laughed so much, squabbled quite a bit, and had some rows over things so silly that even at the time we couldn’t stop ourselves from laughing. I have spent so many hours watching you in awe, amazed at your imagination, your ability to play and create, your sense of joy in the world, your ability to be completely alive. You have taught me so much about what is important and what it means to truly love someone and put their needs first.

Being a mum is tough in so many ways, mostly because my own experience of mothering was so lacking, so distorted and damaging, that I’ve never known what was okay and ‘good enough’ and what wasn’t. It seems as though I’ve made so many mistakes along the way, doing things and speaking in ways that I thought were okay because that’s how my own parents treated me, or acting out in ways that felt totally out of my control because you triggered all the trauma that has lain dormant in me. On good days I can see you are okay though, and that for all my mistakes I haven’t damaged you in the way my own parents damaged me. And whilst mothering you sometimes hurts because it shines a light onto all that I never had growing up, it has given me the opportunity to break the cycle of trauma and abuse that has been passed from generation to generation in both sides of my family for decades. You will have your own healing to do, of course you will – everyone does because love is not perfect and all humans are flawed – but I don’t think you will have to travel to the places I’ve had to in order to do this.

As you turn 13 I wish for so many things for you in the coming years, but most of all I wish that you will continue to know who you are and that you will allow yourself to be really seen and present in the world. I hope that you will hold true to everything you believe in and I promise that I will always be here to hear your ideas about the world as you learn new things and discover new ideas. I promise to support you in your decisions and guide you without shaping your path for you. And I will always provide a safe haven for you to return to.

 

Daylight

In therapy this evening K and young parts started making multi-coloured fimo bunnies to go in a glittery hutch that we are making next week. This might be the most exciting craft project we’ve made together so far. Our real bunnies are probably my system’s biggest resource and the thing that gives us all the most joy. They regularly come in to the therapy space and feature in the Friday email, so when K found some straw-like stuff in some packaging she came up with this idea of something to make in our sessions. I love that she thinks of things like that to do together when we’re not there. It really helps all of us know that not only are we held in mind but that she really knows us and what makes us happy too.

Miffy (5) had written a letter to K after our session last week saying how happy she was that K found her because she had waited such a long time. She also wrote how much she wishes K was there when she was little in a little body, a familiar longing that has become easier to bear over the years. After K read it she said ‘‘That would have been amazing, wouldn’t it? But we have to do it this way round and we’re doing a good job, and it’s never too late’.

And she is right. We have done such good work together and it is providing me with everything I needed and never had growing up. Reaching her again in the past few weeks has been beyond amazing. It helps everything else feel just a little more manageable and it means I feel connected to her and to myself in the time between sessions too, and find it easier to make good choices about how I spend my time and how I care for myself. I knew it would come back eventually but at the same time I couldn’t remember what it felt like to feel connected to her, and waiting in that cut off place was agonising at times.

Years ago, whilst in crisis, I remember sobbing down the phone to her that I wanted her here to share the good things with as well as the bad, and I wanted her here as Nina became a teenager. Well Nina turns 13 next week and there has now been lots of sharing of good things, so those wishes came true and I honestly feel so lucky to have had her beside me as I journeyed into the darkest places inside me. I am so grateful for everything that has happened in her life and my own that brought us both to [county where we live] and has made our work possible all these years. I am so grateful we made it through to the daylight together.

So it goes

I am dreading returning to work tomorrow. I have a huge to do list already I know, but there will likely be 200 – 300 emails waiting for me also. Part of me wants to wade through my inbox this afternoon, just so that 8am tomorrow is a little more bearable. I am not going to though. I’ve not checked work emails this holiday and although the dread about going back has never really left me, I know this has helped a bit to give my mind time off. I realised yesterday that I won’t hear if I am off probation this week after all because I would have needed to have signed off on the forms before they went to the committee. The last date to get everything to the committee in time to be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting was December 20th. As I was on leave that week I didn’t look at emails to see when the forms with the statement from my head of department came back to me for final sign off, so it won’t have gone in. It will now likely not be considered until 20th or even 27th January so that is a long time to wait. I mean, it’s not a long time in the grand scheme of things, but when so much is dependent on it it does seem a very long time. I wish I’d remembered I would need to do this as I would obviously have done it whilst on leave – it is literally just a signature on a form. Anyway, it is what it is.

Last night the panic over not being able to end probation this month was intense. I had to take diazepam at 1am or I never would have slept. I am so in need of some time off sick, but beyond that I really need a year where I am not having to say yes to everything and do loads of ‘impressive’ stuff to show I’ve met the criteria, so I really just want to know if my application has been accepted. I’m obviously scared it won’t be and I’ll have to wait the full 5 years. I worked out if I do get promoted this month, the pay rise will enable me to pay off my debts so that I can probably move to 3 and a half days a week from January 2022 (if I’m allowed to do this). That would be incredible, especially as Nina will be 15 then and it would be nice to have more time for her, and myself, during the GCSE years. Money would be tight, but I also know I cannot keep going like this as it puts so much strain on my physical and mental health. A friend who is signed off from the same institution but on the admin side of things said I have to put my health first when I was saying I can’t afford to reduce my hours at the moment, but the thing is it is not that simple – life is expensive and not having enough money and staying in debt would just create another whole host of worries. I could only just afford to go down to 4 days a week now if I stopped therapy and I really don’t think one extra day a week would help enough. The impact of where I work wouldn’t disappear with a 3 day weekend as it wouldn’t change the nature of what I have to do there. And reducing hours is only possible if I disclose my disability and get it on that basis, and I am not willing to do that until I’m not on probation. And so it goes on…

Just after Christmas the anxiety over work was so high that I didn’t think I would be able to go back at all. I had a seemingly never-ending virus from the 18th of December and last weekend I was feeling so ill and I didn’t think another week off work would be anywhere near enough. It hasn’t been, but I’ve felt more or less better from the virus for the past couple of days and I am going to go back. I mean, I feel I have to but also if I took a couple of weeks off what I’d come back to would be far worse. I have plans in place to try and get through till early April when I can next take some annual leave. I have committed to doing a yoga nidra practice (yoga sleep, like a guided meditation done lying down – it is incredible and I really recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it as the level of consciousness and type of rest it enables is mind-blowing) every day if I can, rather than just sporadically as I have been for the past few years. It’s an incredible way to give both body and mind a rest both during the practice itself, but it also helps with relaxation and deeper more restorative sleep generally too. I’m meditating twice a day also and starting my day with yoga, both of which I did last term until right near the end. And I want to spend more time outside if I can and remember to take breaks and also read novels as focusing on a book really helps my brain when it is over-stimulated too. I just hate how much of my time and energy and capacity for social interaction work takes out of me. There is so much I want to do with my life and whilst I am there I never seem to have enough time. I also know that when things get bad it is easy to think dramatic statements such as ‘I never get time to myself’ ‘I never do anything fun’ or ‘all I do is work and parent’ when they are not actually true, so I am making the effort to recognise when I do enjoyable things and get time to myself as well, to make sure I don’t fall into this mindset. And once the Spring comes and there is more daylight things will lift and feel more spacious I’m sure.

I’ve always been taken with the quote about the need to remember how much we once dreamed of the life we now have. I know this is true – 5 years ago I was just about to graduate from my doctorate and would have given anything to know that what I wanted so badly then would be mine one day. In that time I’ve achieved so much at work and at home but the problem (which isn’t really a problem as it is part of healing from complex trauma and dissociation but is problematic in this context) is that I have changed so much in this time and so I have discovered that what I wanted then no longer serves me. Like I’ve written before, until this year the impact of my PTSD brain on my life and well-being wasn’t really that clear to me. It was all about attachment work and survival a lot of the time. There was always a reason why I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that wasn’t really to do with work, so I thought it would get easier. Now I’ve really seen what the work is doing to me I am no longer able to tolerate it in the same way. My priorities have changed also – I want a gentle life, time to do yoga and write while Nina is at school, time to be in nature when the sky is blue rather than hunched over a laptop indoors. I want more space and time for myself. Many of my colleagues are able to have a life as well as work where we work, but I need so much time to wind down from things that I just don’t seem to have space for much more. I am no longer willing to live like that and it makes it hard as I know I have to keep going for a number of years, till Nina is 18 at least. It helps knowing I am not going to stay forever though, and it changes what I do now as the longer term and moving up the career ladder there are less important. I still love so much of what I do, but it is not compatible with the life I want and need to live.

Anyway, this was mostly just me processing where I am with things at work, so not terribly interesting but it has helped me get some perspective. Holding out for the end of January when I should have heard, and if I’m not successful at that point then I will have to think again about what I am going to do to make this year more manageable…