A new rhythm

I don’t want to be tempting fate here, because every time I think things are settling down and getting better, the universe seems to think that it’s a challenge to see how it could shake me up.

BUT, things have been going rather well. The children and I have settled into a new routine, which seems to be working better. They are now with me for a week, and then with their dad for a week. It seems to be working. For now.

I have had some time to do things for myself. I have dusted off the ol’ harp and reminded my fingers how to pick out a tune or two. It is a little frustrating to think that technically I have been playing the harp for nearly 15 years, but in actuality, I am still very much a beginner, struggling with even the most basic tunes!

I do still have to sell my horse, but for the moment I am in firm denial of that fact. It keeps me from getting too sad. But it also makes it hard to go there and ride, because in the back of my mind a little voice keeps saying: it’s such a waste of energy! But I still go. And I still feel better every time I get off. Even on days like today when I hadn’t ridden for a week and the blustering wind made for a very spooky horse. I still sit in the stable for hours afterwards and listen to my favourite sound in the whole wide word: horses munching on their hay at the end of the day….

I potter around my drought-stricken garden, trying to keep my vegetables alive with the kids’ bath water and dish water. The grass has gone dry and yellow and it seems I won’t be needing to use my new lawnmower again any time soon.

But, I find myself humming while doing the dishes and not worrying so much if the cats don’t come home by midnight. So far, they have always come back from roaming the neighbourhood, so I guess they know their way around now.

Yes, indeed, life is good at the moment!

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Random ramblings on “love”

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People are strange creatures. We spend so much time and energy trying to “fit in” and trying to be like everyone else, and at the same time, we want to be made to feel “special”. You join a group on Facebook that self-identify as “empaths” and everyone there is so very happy to find a group where they fit in and “belong”, but at the same time, they are there because the rest of the world just don’t understand what it’s like to be so special, and different.

And then there are the groups of people (mostly women, funnily enough) that you find on the twin flame groups. Their love is so special and although they are not with their “twin” right now, they will get there in the end and it will so, so worthwhile. I call bullshit. That’s not love. It may be a special connection. But it’s not love.

We have this warped idea of what “love” looks like because fairy tales, books and movies tell us about the process of finding some random person that gets the chemicals in your body going and then they “live happily ever after”. It may well have been hard for those people to get their act together and overcome a few things in order to end up together, but that’s not the end. In fact, most stories stop, right there, right at the beginning! They don’t tell you what to do when the chemicals wear off and it starts getting really hard to even like the person you once thought you loved.

I still don’t know the answer to that. Is love giving your everything to someone who only gives you back half? Is love waiting for someone to get to grips with themselves, losing yourself in the process? Is love letting someone go in order for them to be happy? Is love continually forgiving breaches of trust and taking someone back that cheated on you? It always seems to involve great sacrifices, “love” does. But at the same time, people will tell you that love is not supposed to be hard, love is supposed lift you up, make you feel good and make you a better person. I think, that in a healthy functioning relationship, there will be equal doses of most of the above. But I don’t know…

When I was a teenager, my mother once told me that in any relationship, one partner will always love the other more. I always thought that my ex-husband loved me more than I did him. But now, after everything has broken apart, I think that perhaps I had been wrong all along. In a bit of a masochistic streak, I went and looked at all our old pictures. He never smiled. He never even looked happy. During the whole dissolution of the marriage, countless people asked me if we were ever happy. I don’t know. We weren’t always as miserable as we were towards the end, but I don’t remember. We must have been, at some point? But our marriage broke down and disintegrated into nothing but mutual resentment. That can’t have been love…?

Not even the dictionary is particularly helpful in this regard, simply defining it as ” a strong feeling of affection”, or “a great interest or pleasure in something”, “feel deep affection or sexual love for…”

Nowhere does it actually state that “love” should last a lifetime or overcome everything. Perhaps we put too much meaning into one silly little word…

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Who are you without a horse?

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I haven’t written about horses or riding in a really long time. It’s not because I haven’t been riding, it’s just that it’s a bit of a touchy topic with me as of late. As regular readers of my blog may know, I got divorced earlier this year. *Yeah, I mention that a lot, it’s a pretty big thing in my life at the minute!

What most of you probably do not know, is that my buying a horse was stated as the reason my betrothed chose to break his matrimonial promises. It sounds silly, doesn’t it? (It is of course not the whole story, but we will leave it there). It went like this: “If you don’t sell the horse, we have nothing to talk about.” It turned out that there was a lot more to talk about – in the divorce lawyers’ chambers….What irks me the most about the whole scenario is that he knew from day one that this was who I was. The day he first laid eyes on me, I was sitting outside cleaning my saddle for God’s sake! I had just used half my bursary money to buy a horse! He knew this! It’s not like it was a new obsession that came along with me entering a mid-life crisis – I was BORN like this!!! It was never going to change and I told him so on numerous occasions and I honestly believed that he was one of those rare men who got that. But it wasn’t the first time I was wrong and won’t be the last.

After fighting tooth and nail for my kids this past year, and trying to build a new life from scratch, the one thing that kept me from going insane was that fucking horse. She tried to buck me off, she went like a superstar, she caused me anguish and she brought me joy. But she was there. At the end of any given day, no matter how hard I had to fight to survive that particular day, she didn’t mind if I came into her stable and cried into her mane. She would quietly chew her hay and let me sit and just be.

I have lived in survival mode for the most part of two years now and I am finished. I have given up everything I possibly could, but the math just won’t work. I will have to let her go. And I fear it will destroy me.

When I was nine years old, I got my first horse – after nine years’ of asking, begging and pleading. It was the only thing I ever wanted out of life: my own horse. I have never had a big vision of my life, or a dream of where I want to be or what I want to do. I just wanted a horse. Once, when I had just finished my degree and was about to go into my honours year, I sold my horse (this was the third one I had owned…). The first died of cancer and the second went over the rainbow bridge last year after almost 13 years of faithful service. I am a very pragmatic person when it comes to life decisions – once you made it, you move on. You did the best with what you had at hand at that point in time, but if there was one decision I have always regretted, it was selling that horse. I think I could have tried harder, or done more to try and keep her.

This time around, I just don’t see a way out. But the personal cost will be immense. It wasn’t that difficult to redefine myself as a single person again, albeit a single mother with children. I had been single most of my life anyway. I got married “late” in my life at age 28 and really thought that I had it figured out. Wrong. Again. It was really hard to redefine myself as a mother – as someone who has to be dependable at all times, seeing as I had two other little humans depending on me. But I did it.

Having to redefine myself as someone who doesn’t have a horse: I tried that twice before and I just couldn’t. As mentioned above, I used my bursary to buy a horse while studying. I tried for two years to be horseless after she had to be put to sleep in 2015. It didn’t work and I ended up with current horse and current marital status. I just don’t know who I am if I don’t have a horse. I know I can ride other horses. There are many people who would be happy to offer me “a ride”. It’s not the same…The connection we have with a horse that is “ours” is just different. Your heart beats synchronise and your thoughts flow on the same wave-length. Non-horsey people simply cannot understand it. You only think something and your horse does it. You have your own special language. It’s a spiritual connection. It’s on another level of existence altogether.

As I sit here typing, tears are running down my cheeks and dripping on my keyboard. Because I think that after fighting so hard, for so long, this might be the thing that kills me….

I’m sorry if the picture was misleading…it should be more like: “Once the lady has bought a horse, please pay it’s stabling!”

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On the edge of insanity

20150221_105053Actually, to be honest, I don’t know what it’s like to be insane. Or maybe I do…maybe I am insane? I don’t really know anymore. I always surmised that if you were truly insane you wouldn’t know it and therefore it wouldn’t actually bother you. But these days I am not sure…

I am sitting in my office, crying hysterically. I opened my purse to look for my driver’s licence and didn’t see it in it’s usual spot. I had used it the day before and put it in my pocket afterwards. After that, I had been traipsing all over the Cape Flats and I assume I lost it somewhere. I have a little melt-down. OK, no, I lie, I have a massive melt-down. One of my colleagues takes the purse and looks properly, finding the errant licence in another spot in my purse. The tears won’t stop. I am now ugly-crying; Heaving shoulders, snot everywhere and my face puce. A bit of an over reaction you may think. And you would be correct.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am not very good in high-stress situations, but this is a little extreme. Even for me. The problem is, I have been over-reacting like this for what seems like forever now, but is probably only the last eight months or so. The nine months before that were not exactly a picnic either. There has been a LOT of shit happening in my little life the past 18 months or so. I went through one rather acrimonious divorce, moved twice, had my house burgled, my phone stolen and my brother-in-law died. Oh, and let’s not forget that I am being wrongly pursued by SARS (The South African Revenue Service) for a vast amount of money that they have already subtracted from my divorce pay-out and now want me to pay again! I have only recently started paying my 30-year bond and have no spare money lying around anywhere. My income will soon be further diminished as my ex-husband only agreed to keep me on his medical aid for a year.

Medical Aid. Yes, so that was a little bit of a precursor to that latest melt-down there in the office. I have mental health issues. This has been well established. I suffer from anxiety and depression. No-one has ever been able to decide or figure out whether the depression is the cause or the effect of the anxiety. I have tried many drugs and about just as many different mental health practitioners. I have a deep-seated distrust and even deeper dislike of the medical profession. I always have had and in my life have only met one or two doctors that have shown me that they are actually doing the work because they want to help people and not just for the money. Especially psychiatrists. As I’ve said before: psychiatry is in my opinion not a very exact science. In fact, there is more guessing going on than anything else. No-one can honestly tell you they know what they are doing and what is going to work! So why on earth they get paid such ridiculous amounts of money is something I simply do not understand.

But back to medical aid. I was introduced to a psychiatrist (actually, by one of the two doctors I do like and trust) at the beginning of my divorce. (The previous one I had to fire). This new one however, seems to be one of those who don’t really try to help you, but instead tries to push as many drugs as possible. I have so many pills in my kitchen cupboard, I could open a pharmacy! And if the drugs don’t work, she tries to commit you to a clinic. Now, me, I don’t like people an awful lot. Strangers, even less so. So I have kicked against being hospitalised and drugged to vegetative state with all of my being. (I also checked myself out of hospital less than 48 hours after my son’s birth, so I have nothing in particular against mental hospitals. (I just don’t like hospitals, or doctors, like I said.) Or drugs, actually. I seem to be one of those people who are super sensitive to drugs and have every conceivable bad reaction on doses that are so low I am told they can’t possibly do anything yet! But there you have it. Anyhow. So two days before above-mentioned meltdown, I had an appointment with my drug pusher. She suggested yet more drugs. After I wrote her and my psychologist a very nice email explaining that I really did not need to be hospitalised, I am just TIRED. Fuck, I have had a LOT of SHIT happen to me in the last two years. Even a normal person would struggle! But seriously, all I need is a TIME-OUT! I need to sit on the beach and watch the waves. I need to sit in a field and watch my horse and have the breeze play with my hair. I need to weed my garden…no, really, I do need to do that. The point is that I need TIME. ALONE TIME. Not time sharing a bedroom with some stranger and building mozaic arts and crafts and talking to a psychologist who in the past year has managed to help me exactly FUCKALL.

Anyhow. More drugs were prescribed in spite of my protestation. But that wasn’t the real problem. The real problem was that a day later they called to inform me that the medical aid will not cover my appointment. Let me tell you, it is an ASTRONOMICAL amount of money! It’s two weeks’s worth of groceries kinda money! I have this woman’s mobile number so I sent her a message saying that I was very sorry, but I couldn’t afford her appointments any longer and would therefore not be able to continue taking the drugs she just prescribed as I could not pay for the follow-up appointment in a month’s time. Now, dear reader. This is someone who was apparently so worried about me two weeks ago that she insisted I be hospitalised so she could monitor the mountain of drugs she wanted to give me. Who in fact threatened to force me into hospital if I did not go by free will. She did not even bother to reply to me. She had her secretary phone me to tell me I could come by and pick up the script for my old drugs which I was taking when I first started going to see her. No “sorry about your situation, I hope you get help somewhere” , Not even a  “Thank you for helping me pay my enormous mansion and putting my kids throught private school.” NOTHING.

And you still wonder why I hate doctors?

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Needing to hit the pause button

Today is World Mental Health Awareness Day. Everywhere I look I see how we are “breaking the stigma” of people with mental health problems and creating awareness and preventing suicide. I see it, but I don’t feel it.

I started writing this blog when I was going through a particularly tough time in my life. It was not the first tough time and it most certainly wasn’t the last. I don’t really write for other people. I just write because when I formulate the thoughts and tinker with them until they say what I need them to mean, I am basically sitting here figuring things out for myself. I have gathered a few followers over the years. Many people I know read this blog, and then there are some I don’t know from Adam. Some have commented and said they enjoy reading it and others have been deeply offended. Like I said, I write for me, however selfish that may be. All the same, it’s nice when my strung-together thoughts also mean something to someone else and helps them along. Even if it’s just one person, once, somewhere…The point of this whole digression is, dear reader of this blog, you must remember that although I share deep intimate moments here, they are still only small moments of what I feel and experience. Even if I wrote daily, it could never capture the entirety of me and my life.  I give you little snapshots and hope that they have some meaning for someone, somewhere…Because. As a person who suffers from anxiety and at times almost unbearable depression, it’s nice to feel wanted and needed and useful.

Now, back to Mental Health Awareness. Even though we have come a long way from the days of tying people to beds and shocking them until they turned into patty pans, or simply locking them up for being different, the human psyche remains mostly a mystery. The fields of psychiatry and psychology remain uncertain at the best of times; guessing games. Hit and miss. No-one really knows what they are doing.

There are hundreds of drugs out there to treat depression and anxiety, yet no two people react the same. It is never a guarantee that one regimen will work the same for two people. The same goes for all the “paint-by-number” follow-the-recipe therapy-types there are out there. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Psychodynamic Therapy. Emotion-focused Therapy. Mindfulness-based Therapy. Like everything else in life, there is simply not a single cookie-cutter solution that works for everyone. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have been “therapised” a fair bit and I am still depressed. I am still anxious. I most people’s views, I am probably altogether unstable…

Personally, I think it’s a lifestyle problem. We have to rush through life to “reach our goals”. We are pushed through school like meat through a sausage machine. From a very young age, focus is placed on achievements, rather than finding what makes us happy. Even “finding what makes you happy” and “living your dream” is turned into some follow the recipe scheme so one asshole somewhere can make a lot of money from it. This is not a new idea, and it’s certainly not mine; the world is so money-driven that it simply wouldn’t “pay” if people suddenly decided to be happy with their lives. We are driven and money-crazed and competitive. I for one, am tired. I have been saying this for a long time and because of the world I live in, I just don’t know how to make it happen, but I need a break! I need a time-out. From Life.

I need to be able to sit in my garden and watch the flowers grow. I need to sit on the beach and watch the waves crash into the shore – for hours at a time, without worrying about where I need to be next, and what I’m going to do in an hour’s time. I need to spend time with my horse. Real time. Not just an hour snatched after work here and there. The same goes for my kids!

Last week I took them on holiday. It was the first time since the divorce that just the three of us attempted this. It was almost a major disaster! Because I have lost the ability to “just let go”. I am completely unable to experience any form of joy. I watch them run on the beach and laugh and scream and instead of feeling their joy, I manage a sad, one-corner-smile. I watch the whales frolic in the water, breaching, tail-lobbing and just lazily bobbing about and I realise my fists are clenched so tight I can’t open them as I worry about what we will eat tonight. I would love to be able to take ten deep breaths and feel better. And I take the breaths. Frequently. But it doesn’t work? I do all the exercises and the meditations I can get my hands on. I listen to all the relaxing music I can find. But I still wake up at three in the morning, bone-tired and strung out.

I have often said this: If I could go and live in a wood cabin somewhere and eat mushrooms and berries, I would. I really would. But the decisions I have made up to this point in my life prevents me from now packing up and leaving convention behind. I just don’t know how to work what I need, into what I have chosen…

And all of this would be OK. If people would accept that. But even though the asylum van doesn’t come for you in the middle of the night and strap you in a straight-jacket anymore (at least I hope not), being mentally ill is sadly still very much discriminated against. We “openly” talk about it in the relative anonymity of cyber-space, but not many people who meet us in real life have any idea – because we are so afraid of the judgement. And the judgement is real. If you’ve never been sad for reasons you can’t explain, you simply don’t understand where I’m standing. If you’ve never worried non-stop about things “normal” people see as everyday “small stuff” you just can’t get it.

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***I love Eeyore The Smart Ass. He makes my day, every day!

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The more things change, the more they remain the same

We think that because it is 2018 women, (and men) are free from the prejudices of gender roles traditionally assigned to them. It’s simply not true. If it were, I wouldn’t have to feel proud of myself for mowing my own lawn for the first time at the ripe middle age of 39.

But I do! I feel very proud of myself! Despite the fact that I have a number of female friends who are so self-sufficient that they have power tool collections that could put a few men I know to shame, I have never done these things for myself. I had a father and then a husband who just mowed the lawn and fixed things when they broke. Getting divorced sucks on so many levels that I cannot begin to cover all of them in a single post, but there are so many things that I never bothered to learn that I have to take crash courses in now.

Twenty years ago a friend took it upon himself to make me change his car tire. (I don’t think he cared about me becoming self-sufficient; he just thought it would be funny to make me change the tire.) It has come in handy once or twice.

Although I am a horsey person and can carry things that weigh as much as I do, and I am not afraid of physically hard work, there are just many things I have simply never had to do. I can hook a horsebox / trailer up and drive a big car with a horse in it dragging behind me (I am not very good at reversing the combo…). I love gardening and I can dig, prune and weed with anyone. But I have just never had to mow the lawn, although I did learn to drive on a tractor.

I bought the cheapest little lawn mower I could afford. It will probably fall apart in a month or two. It came in a little kit – a lawnmower and a weedeater / strimmer all in one. At least I own a screwdriver (because at one point I had one of those saddles with the changeable trees, hahahaha), so when I opened the box and it came out as loose parts, I could assemble it. And then I could mow my lawn all on my own!

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Man-hunt for little old me

Today, I learnt a number of things:

First, of these things were: If you jump over my wall, try to break open my garage and threaten to smash my front door, my dear darling neighbour-lady, whom I’ve entrusted with my keys, will hand them over and let you into my house. (Today, it saved me from having to repair a smashed front door, I don’t know what will happen next time.)

The second realisation was that without a mobile phone, I feel very, very lost. It feels like I have lost a limb, I am that disconnected from society. This is most perturbing indeed!

Thirdly, and perhaps the most scary was that I am seemingly much more of an unstable person than I realised seeing as people couldn’t get hold of me for three hours and most of them decided that I had done something terrible to myself. (Or maybe I am just that reliable a worker that when I failed to show up for work, everyone assumed the worst? I like version two – let’s go with that).

Lastly, no matter what else my life may be, it is never dull. No problem in my life, ever just has a quick and easy solution. NOT. EVER.

So why would I not show up for work you ask? (It is very much unlike me).

Because last night I had my phone stolen. I had my phone in my jacket pocket while my kids and I were wizzing through the supermarket to get some things. I got home, and there was no phone in my pocket.  So I got back in the car and drove back to the store, thinking maybe I had dropped the phone somewhere and someone might pick it up and like a good citizen return it.

On the way, we stopped at the ex-husband’s house, because I do actually have an extra phone, WITH a SIM card, but for some reason I can’t get the damn thing to work.  And I have never bothered with it, because it just hasn’t been needed. So the phone isn’t set up at all and can’t make calls. But, as ex-husbands go, they are never around when you need them, are they?

I have absolutely no way of getting in touch with anyone. A mere 15 years ago, not having a device semi-permanently attached to my hand with which I can call for help, navigate, check my emails etc, would not have been an issue. But not in 2018! I am not good at handling stressful situations. Never have been, and at the ripe old age of almost 40, I have realised that I just never will be. So, I panic! And what happens when one panics, friends? For some reason, the very organ you need most, stops working. Completely.

I am in tears because let’s face it, this is just the latest in a long, long line of shit things that have happened to me in the last 18 months and my tolerance at this stage is at an all-time low. My children are in tears because who likes it when their mother cries?

We get to the shop and I ask them to review the security footage but no. Nothing can be seen and when we try to call the phone, it is already switched off. A sure sign that whomever found it has no intention of giving it back! Somewhere in that shop, someone had stuck their grubby hands in my pocket and stole my phone right out of it! The reason this is so extra creepy is because one of the two said children were at each of my sides throughout this shopping trip.

We now dash off to the cellular shop where they can hopefully set up the phone that I have, so that at least I have some way of being in touch with the world! Again, no, this is me we’re talking about and for some reason only the cell-phone-shop-people will understand, they can’t do a SIM-swop after 6pm. And because I don’t have the box of the phone, they can’t black-list it, so I will have to come back in the morning. Some more tears and mass hysteria (most of the mass belonging to yours truly) later, we have to accept that nothing can be done until morning.

But I am not completely stupid. I have a computer and I am still connected to Facebook. So I send my boss a message on FB (as I sit here and write, it suddenly strikes me that perhaps an email may have been better, but there you go, there is that vital organ that stops working in a panic!) because who else is going to be looking for me? I have let the boss know that I will be a little late because I have to go and do this phone-thing quickly in the morning.

Everyone calms down to a mild panic and we make it through the night. I drop the kids at school and toddle into the phone shop. Here I am greeted with some more issues that would only ever strike me. They can’t find my number. Then they can’t find my phone on the system. And so it goes…and as always, there are glitches. Because I haven’t had the phone for more than 6 months, the excess is half the cost of the phone. I have put some money away to take the kids on holiday. That washes down the drain in a hurry.What was supposed to have taken 10 minutes, has now been an hour.

But all I need to do now, is go to the police station and get a case number and come back, by which time they will have the new phone ready for me, as I had asked them to insure it when I got the damn thing, less than three weeks ago. But right, we won’t dwell: which police station? Oh any one they say. But they can’t explain to me how to get to it and the phone I have with me, is unable to navigate. (or make calls at this point, so I STILL have no way of letting anyone know where I am, but this will be real quick, right?) NO. I drive up and down looking for something that is supposed to be easy to find. I eventually do find the police station only to be informed that it’s the wrong one and I need to go to another one. This one is easier to find, but busy. It takes a while, but I have my affidavit and a case number. Now just back to the phone shop real quick and I can phone everyone and tell them I’m on my way! (But it shouldn’t be an issue right, because I sent that message?)

Get back to the shop and after sitting around for another hour for some reason, the insurance wasn’t activated so can I please come back tomorrow? They can activate the insurance now, but we can’t put the claim in on the same day. But we can do it the next day. With an affidavit from the day before. That makes absolutely no sense to me and by now I am in full-blown panic mode again and logic has gone right out the door. I still can’t get hold of anyone and no-one can get hold of me. But at least the office isn’t far. I cry and drive and cry and wipe snot because it’s all just too damn much!

I stumble into the office all snot-smeared and puffy-eyed and things proceed to get worse. Apparently, that FB message hadn’t arrived at it’s intended destination. Everyone would like to know where the fuck I have been and what the fuck I have been up to. I try to explain that I didn’t have a phone and no-one could get hold of me but the boss misconstrues it as me saying no-one cared about me. I get told how she and my other colleagues tried to break into my house and how the kind lady next door had opened up for them to check that I wasn’t dead on the floor somewhere and all my friends are worried sick. They had called them all and no-one could get hold of me. They had even called my psychiatrist to find out if I had been to see her! It was all a big bloody circus!

Tomorrow I will hopefully get reinstated on the mobile networks of the world, but this whole palawa has made me realise how ridiculously dependent we have become on stupid little cell phones. I don’t like it one little bit!

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