In the last year I have been running regularly - training for a half marathon - and this was helping to stave off the feelings of sadness. In the last two weeks I have been too unwell to run so my moods have been unpredictable and unstable. I'm not at my best when this happens. My emotions are all over the place and I get all sorts of weird physical symptoms that make no sense, but add up to anxiety. Then I have the outbursts brought on by self-loathing. Pushing people away so that they don't have to deal with my unreasonable needy self. The worst thing is I can't control who this happens with and often it's the wrong people who see this 'faulty' version of me. The ones who have little empathy or who like to say, "I care about you," so long as it doesn't involve actually doing anything. I care about people in a practical way - you know hugs, cups of tea, silly little gifts, sending them a song to make them smile or an invitation to do something to cheer them up. Not just saying the words and getting on with my day.
At the moment I am not doing well at parenting. Since I returned to work the boys have had a change of routine that seems to have unsettled them (and us to be honest). It isn't as simple as saying if I was at home things would be better. After all we did that for years. I was fortunate enough to be around for the early days when they needed a lot of care and attention. Of course they still need that, but they are also independent, confident and at school all day so I decided I was ready to do something else. Now I have that dual guilt that comes from thinking about home when I'm at work and vice versa. I get the calls from school to tell me Blue Bear has bumped his head, but he's ok or Brown Bear has been in trouble during football club. The frequency of these calls has a direct impact on my ability to concentrate on my work. I realise I should be able to 'compartmentalise' these different areas, but for me it's all interconnected.
I went back to work full time this year which has meant the whole family has a new routine and new challenges. It is tiring. I leave the house before my kids wake up and some days I don't see Blue Bear at all if I'm out after work as well. It's not what I wanted for them and it is costing me in my relationship with them. I feel so disconnected from my sons sometimes that I really want to spend more time doing the mundane things like dropping them off to school. Not just the frantic pick up in the dark just before the cut-off time for late charges. I know they are in safe hands and they love being in after school clubs, but sometimes I would like to be there a bit more. I know they put up with the absence because they have to, not because it's what they want.
It feels like I am losing my grasp of the 'brave face,' I have been putting on for so long. If anyone asks how I am I barely hold it together to answer them. The banks burst open and I break down in tears and then I feel really embarrassed. I can't really justify being upset about the thing that has made me cry, but I find myself apologising and trying to find explanations to assure the person that it's ok and they didn't do anything wrong. They feel better and I'm still in bits and now I'm too ashamed to talk to them because I made a fool of myself.
The safest thing to do is to retreat into a space that is not filled with judgement or the potential to hurt anyone else. If I just keep myself on safe ground - silly jokes, amusing gifs and familiar memes I can turn their gaze away from how out of control it all feels. I can go through the motions of doing all the things you're supposed to and make small talk. I can't have any deep and meaningful discussions until this passes. I don't know when that will be.
For now I just want to get through one day without crying.