For someone who is usually only too happy to share her thoughts and feelings, it always catches me off-guard when I realise I have been bottling things up. I can always tell when I am feeling stressed because it shows in my face. Not in my expression. In my actual face. For a few days now, I’ve been plagued with itchy eyes (rampant hay fever I think) which has made the skin around my eye red and inflamed. I have eczema around my mouth and a nasty cold sore has just cleared up (I managed to ward off two other cold sore attempts with Zovirax).
To have all these things at once is enough to make you feel pretty low but it also made me stop and think. Am I really coping as well as I appear (to myself and to others)? I think the hospital appointments for Austin (nothing serious but anything that is not ‘normal’ is worrisome) combined with Rich being away as well as my sudden need to DO ALL THE THINGS while I am ‘off’ on maternity seems to have taken their toll. In addition, I have just been negotiating my new part-time hours (and perhaps even the mere thought of teaching is stressful enough to bring on one of those cold-sore attempts?).
My internalisation of my negative feelings is not something I consciously do – I am always as surprised as anyone that I am feeling anything other than chipper. Discussing with my parents and it is a family trait which I have inherited from them both – I was never going to avoid it really, was I?
Part of the problem, too, is that I appear to have only two speeds: dead slow and crazy fast, with no happy, ploddy medium in between. In the past month, I signed up for
- #100daysoftrywriting for which I was going to get going with my writing and write every day and finish my book in record time. The reality – I have written more than I have for months but I have also spent most days just thinking about my writing and lamenting the fact that I am incapable of living an orderly, routine-based life;
- YA Buccaneers bootcamp – two months of writing (more non-writing in my case). See above.
- Ali Edwards’s course Storytelling with Project Life – this is something I have enjoyed and worked through properly. I have found it inspiring and useful for how I want to proceed with memory keeping and recording the stories of our lives. And it feels like writing so I feel slightly less guilty about 1 and 2.
- I participated in A Week in the Life (photos all taken but everything still needs to be printed and organised.
- An online course with Future Learn called Teaching Literacy through Film which will be really useful for when I return to work. It only started today and I have already spent an hour on it so I am confident that I will be able to work through this. It is helping me stay connected to teaching at this time when I feel so disconnected from things.
- Tsh Oxenreider’s Upstream Field Guide Course which is all about how to make your life more simple and less cluttered with materialism and stuff. Great in theory but I have barely had time to scratch the surface because of my cluttered life.
- Several other courses about making my life more efficient and orderly and intentional and blah blah blah. I haven’t even had chance to read the emails for these.
Making this list is therapeutic in itself; I can see how bonkers this list is given that my most important job isn’t even mentioned, namely nurturing Austin. And for the most part, that is going extremely well: he is thriving size-wise and development wise; he’s sleeping well at night; he seems happy and healthy. It’s just such a lot of work and perhaps I have been feeling some guilt about the fact that this ‘work’ is not all-consuming every second. Perhaps now I have some spare time, I am trying to fill it with all the things I wish I was doing term time when I’m teaching.
Maybe I am just trying to keep my brain ticking over because the wonderful nurturing of my gorgeous baby can be pretty mundane and monotonous at times (shh I know I am not meant to say this).
Anyway, I am taking this opportunity to say that I need to be a little kinder to myself.
Slow down a bit.
Keep it simple.
Keep going but plod – don’t crawl or sprint.
Focus on just one or two of the things in my list at a time – don’t try to do it all.
Be kind to myself.