Monday, 16 January 2012

The Year That Wasn't

Mentally I can't write anything else until I've wrapped up last year and sewn some visionary seeds for 2012 which incidentally will be the fodder for my next piece. So I've been particularly inspired by Kate On Thin Ice, Caught Writing and Mummy Plum to mull over the highs and lows of 2011. I feel a little late to the party as this theme did the rounds weeks ago. Oh well better late than never ... 

1. What was your happiest event?
This is a difficult question to answer as 2011 wasn't especially wonderful due to post birth traumatic anxiety plus the emotionally flattening affects of the black dog. But if I am to handpick a few fond memories they would be ...
  • A fairly relaxed sojourn in a heavily wall papered holiday cottage situated amongst the greenery and agricultural odours of the North Norfolk coast.
  • Little A learning and succeeding to walk at 17 months
  • Little A learning to communicate in frighteningly coherent sentences; she can articulate b*gg*r beautifully.

2. What was the saddest thing to happen?
Younger Dad's grandfather and one of his Aunt's passed away. The Aunt had been battling terminal cancer for two years. She'd been doing so well but then suddenly declined last Autumn. Younger Dad's grandfather had lived a very full life having enjoyed a very successful career as a restaurateur, a life long marriage, four children, a double decker amount of grandchildren and lived to see the arrival of four great grandchildren. I find that when a life has been so richly lived it makes the act of letting the deceased go smoother and easier to accept. But when someone dies before their time, Younger Dad's Aunt was only in her fifties, it is so heartbreakingly sad and the memorial less of a celebration of a life amply lived. 

Another sad thing which I need to name and shame so as to remind myself that this must never happen again was a particularly awful argument that took place in front of Little A *lowers head in disgrace* between Younger Dad and I. It was one of those very emotional shouty spats. Little A was 19 months at the time and it distressed her so much that she retrieved a loving photo of mummy and daddy off the speaker stand and promptly shoved it in our waring faces. Younger Dad and I stopped dead in our tracks. I'm afraid to say that my daughter possessed more emotional maturity than the pair of us. Needless to say that scene has never nor will it ever be repeated again. I hope.   

3. What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead?
I was meant to start rebuilding my therapy career but instead found myself setting up a blog which really took me by surprise as I hadn't considered writing before. So penning my thoughts seems to be a new creative outlet for me.

4. Who let you down?
Those nearest and dearest don't generally tend to let me down but 2011 was an exception. Firstly there was my step mother who sensitively reminded me during a particular point of exhaustion in February that I'd made 'a rod for my own back' regarding Little A's sleep and that 'most parents have their babies sleeping through by the time they are six weeks old'! So why are there so many books about the challenges of baby sleep then? Her 'support' made me feel smaller than Tom bloody Thumb.

Secondly my father referred to my lack of solid mental health and ensuing symptoms of anxiety and withdrawal as 'strange behaviour' which I didn't find particularly understanding or supportive. Both my step mum and dad have a bee in their bonnet that I didn't 'join in' when we went to stay with them last Easter. This was during my darkest hour when I was experiencing an unpleasant emotional cocktail of trauma and depression. Socialising isn't easy when one is hidden under a veil of emptiness, despondency and self absorption. A veil incidentally that wasn't of my inviting. A veil which had stealthily crept over me like the march of an incoming tide so that I found myself suddenly marooned on an isolated sandy bank with little connection to the life and happy throng of those on the distant shore. Basically the black dog really cocked its miserable leg on me last year.  

5. Who supported you?
My mother, mother-in-law, best friend, Younger Dad, therapist and my blog. I also want to say how appreciative I am of all the lovely new internet friends I am making; your support has been wonderful. 

6. Tell us one thing you learned
I've always been a total Luddite so it was very refreshing to find that I had some technological spark in me when I set about creating Older Mum. The other thing I've admitted to myself is that I've not been on the best form mentally or emotionally. I blame this on the post natal doldrums which really sank its teeth in when Little A turned one last January. 

7. Tell us one thing that made you laugh
This is going to sound really maudlin but I didn't laugh so much in 2011 on account of how I've been feeling which is pretty depressing in itself as I'm usually rather jovial and game for a laugh. That aside Little A always makes me laugh especially when she has a fit of giggles. Another thing that made me laugh out loud was In The Fright Garden by Mother Venting which totally appealed to my black sense of humour.  

8. Tell us one thing that made you cry
Too many things made me weep but turning 41 ranks high amongst last years tear jerkers. 

9. Tell us three things your child or children did to make you feel proud
Little A walking. Little A talking, and Little A displaying gentle affection and empathy towards other small children; that made me feel very proud. 

10. Tell us one thing that made you proud of yourself
Creating Older Mum and discovering the possibility that maybe just maybe I can write. 

11. Tell us one challenge you overcame
My post natal anxiety with specific trauma focused therapy. Still haven't overcome sinking my finger deeply into the nutella jar though.

12. Tell us three things you would like to change about your life in 2012
More peace
More love
More head space .... and time to write.


  1. You CAN write, you write wonderfully and I always enjoy reading your posts. Bah! to Black Dog for 2012 - I hope he has been banished for good, and the only dogs in your life this year are Puggy like.

    Good luck for this year, I hope it's a stellar one for you.

    1. Thank you. Black dog is being dealt with this year and I have already started to loosen its shackles. Hoorah for pugs! Yes, like you I have a better feeling about this year too.

  2. Lovely piece and not at all late. I'm intrigued by the idea of a heavily wallpapered holiday cottage! I'm imagining flock everywhere. It's rubbish that babies sleep through from 6 weeks, some do, some don't. I got a load of grief about that too but I just thought they know nothing and are showing how ignorant they are. Don't let your dad and step mum make you feel small, feel huge for the enormous thing you are doing. I have a friend with a birth trauma, I think put to bed now it was 4 years ago, but it shook her confidence so much that she couldn't go out for about 6 months. You are doing great, don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. Polly x

  3. Thank you Polly - that was really supportive and very life affirming. Interesting story about your friend - it took me ages to muster up the confidence to leave my home. My confidence was shattered too. It was flock everywhere!

  4. May you find more peace, more love and more head space in 2012... because you have earned it and are worth it. And may you also have more time to write.... because you are just so damn good at it. xo

  5. Thank you! Trying to open up a bit more space for writing. I think I might attend a bloggers conference this year!


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