Happy Father’s Day

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It’s Father’s Day in the UK today.

So,  once more it’s time for the perfunctory buying of cards, searching for one that doesn’t include: “You’re the greatest”, “Number one Dad”,  or “I love you”.  Because,  I am many things, but I am not fake or false.  I often wonder if he knows;  if he realises that I do things like this out of duty,  rather than love.

My dad’s not a bad person,  not at all.  But, not an easy one to like,  either.  Part of me feels sorry for him:  his mum died when he was 13,  and he had a tough adolescence,  leaving home to join the army when he was 17.  He very recently revealed that he had been on anti-depressants for nearly ten years,  over 20 years ago.  I remember him drinking a lot in those days,  and he shared with me that he was in a bad place back then.  He was horrible during those times.  We would sit in dread waiting for him to come home from the pub;  cringe as his loud voice permeated through the walls as he ranted and raved, hurling horribly abusive words at my mum.   I remember standing on the other side of the wall with hands balled so tightly,  anger cursing through my impotent 14 year old self,  as he swore and raged.  During those years,   I would ask my mum repeatedly in exasperation why she didn’t just leave him, why she stayed with someone who had a tongue so viciously cruel (both under the influence and sober),  yet she never had an answer.

I wasn’t allowed to have friends home. If,  by some chance,  they were there when he turned up,  he had the ability to cause a scene without saying a word.  He would enter the room,  his face contorted with fury,  snatch up the newspaper with dramatic force,  and slam the door for good measure. There was never any need for words,  for his hostility stabbed deeper than anything he could say. It embarrassed and humiliated me;  made my insides shrivel to the size of a pea.  Life with him was like teetering on egg-shells.

Some days,  he was happy.  He would sing,  grab us in an arm-lock,  or give us “stubble-burn”. I loved those brief moments,  when we’d laugh as a family,  just for a second.  But he was unpredictable;  his euphoric mood could be wiped out in seconds,  often by something inconsequential or irrelevant we’d say,  or do.  The memory of laughter fading as quickly as it came.

For a long time,  I blamed my dad for everything that was wrong with me.  If only he’d told me he loved me, I wouldn’t have needed to wade through a ton of selfish,  useless boyfriends,  begging to be loved. If he’d told me I was beautiful,  perhaps I might believe it was true, instead of having a fragile, easily shattered self-esteem. Had he not been so critical, then maybe I would go a little easier on myself,  be happy with my achievements, rather than always feeling inadequate. With age has come the realisation that it is not his fault, not really.  My lack of self-esteem might have been boosted by an empathic,  observant parent,  but not necessarily so.  My dad is the product of his own upbringing. He is a man simply trying to deal with the cards he has been dealt.  He is clueless. I feel no anger towards him now;  there’s no wallowing in the past.  I think it unfair to apportion blame;  how can you hold someone accountable when they are totally unaware of their actions?  And he is blissfully unaware of the effect he had on me.

There’s power in letting go. There’s also power in accepting everything that has happened, and laying it quietly away in a box. It’s a choice,  simple as that.  I could have chosen to be bitter and hateful about him for the rest of my life,  or I could take the mistakes he made,  and ensure that they are never repeated with my children.  Because of him,  I will never underestimate the crushing power of the spoken word,  or how easily a sensitive soul can be trampled into the dirt by a casually flung criticism.  Because of him,  I am so aware of the influence I have as parent,  and how to hold that gift of authority in my hand,  like a fragile butterfly.

Despite that,  I am aware of the envy I have for people with parents who are everything to them; jealous of the close,  protective bond between father and daughter.  If I am honest,  I could simply cut all ties,  without feeling any regret or remorse.  I once read that if someone doesn’t enhance or contribute to your life in any way at all,  you should cut them free.  My dad doesn’t bring anything into my life,  other than a feeling of inadequacy.  Only I can’t do that;  I can’t just eject him from my life.  He would be confused and sad;  and despite everything,  I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings,  even though he’d trampled on mine over and over again.  And,  because I know he loves me;  I just don’t love him the same way.

So,  I continue to act out the dutiful daughter routine;  to keep up the illusion that our relationship isn’t strained,  that it wasn’t permanently damaged all those years ago.  Some would undoubtedly say that it’s not too late,  to make amends now,  before it is too late.  But the stark truth is that I don’t want to.  Will I one day live to regret it?  Possibly.  I just think some things deteriorate so far that there isn’t any way back;  and for me,  I don’t even need there to be a way back.

 

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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It’s my birthday, and I’ll dress young if I want to

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So,  I had a little,  teensy-weensy birthday last week.  I have now reached the grand old age of 47.  Cue trumpet fanfare.  Thankfully,  it doesn’t concern me that another year has crept up and taken me in a strangle-hold;   I am not the kind of person who worries about growing old.  No!  I don’t care.  Because,  although my bones may creak,  my youth  (in spirit,  anyway)  continues to soar.

No, the problem is not getting older.  My problem is not  realising  that I am getting older.

To start off with,  I have recently started jogging.  Okay, that’s not too bad,  I hear you say.  In fact,  at my age,  it is probably even admired.   The problem is that when I catch a glimpse of older women out running,  I never associate myself with them.  No.  In my mind,  I look like the young 20-something  who runs along effortlessly,  with the agile limbs of an impala,  raising not one drop of sweat for her troubles.

Positive thinking?  Or,  downright delusional?

Well,  considering that  in reality,  I know that I resemble a puffing,  tired,  crimson-faced elephant more than I do an impala,  I think we can say that it veers more towards the delusional.

I don’t want to be the wizened old crow standing at the bar in her leopard-skin mini-dress, imagining  that she could give Rihanna a run for her money.  Or holding onto a bottle of tequila while her peers are holding on to their Zimmer-frames.   Yet, at the same time,  I am not quite ready for granny-jeans and comfy shoes.

Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t about vanity.  This isn’t me thinking that I am still super-fabulous. This isn’t about me wanting to be super-fabulous,  at all.  This is about me being seemingly unable to picture myself as a 47 year old.  That is,  until I catch an unsuspecting glimpse in the mirror and see my mum’s face staring back.  Then,  boy,  it’s undeniable.

Another thing that is undeniable are photos.  Ever looked at yourself in a picture and thought “that’s not me”?  I do it all the time.  So does a friend of a similar age.  When going out for a night on the town,  we both look in the mirror and think we look great.  Then,  when we see photos of the night,  the reality is harsh;  we realise that we didn’t look quite as amazing as we’d thought.  It’s kind of like a reverse body dysmorphia.

So, no. I am not worried about getting old. I just worry that I am starting to look ridiculous.

I want to buy a pair of Converse.  I want a girly pink or light yellow.  But, the more I think about it,  the more ridiculous I feel.  I have seen a cheap pair of Levis,  and I want them.  But,  when is it no longer acceptable for a woman to wear Levis and Converse?  If I was a celebrity,  I am sure these are not questions I would ever consider.  Sadly, I am not.  I am Mrs Suburbia,  from Every-day-town,  who is rocketing towards 50 like there’s no tomorrow.

I have long hair.  Another conundrum keeping me awake at night.  At what age should a woman snip it all off?  We’ve all seen older ladies with long hair;  and come on,  it ain’t pretty.   Long hair just looks wrong beyond a certain age;  but,  I don’t want a grey bob.  Please,  not a grey bob.

So,  what do you do?  How do you dress age appropriately,  if “appropriate” clothes feel wrong for you?  Is it okay to dress how you feel,  regardless of how old you are?  Or,  should you get a grip,  face facts,  and stop deluding yourself?

Ah.  No doubt these are age-old questions,  deliberated throughout the generations.  I guess that I will continue in my jeans until someone throws a pair of elasticated nylon trousers at me.  Then, and only then,  will I reconsider.

 

 

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I wrote this post for another blog a while ago, and while I totally agree with every sentiment I wrote, I apologise for sounding a bit shouty!

Hyperemesis, what?

Yeah, I know. A bit of a mouthful, eh?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (let’s just shorten it to HG, shall we?) is kind of like morning sickness. Well, no, it isn’t kind of like morning sickness at all. Not even BAD morning sickness. It is so far removed from morning sickness that it shouldn’t even be used in the same sentence. Or paragraph. Or at all.

But, because so many people (even so-called medical “professionals”) don’t fully understand it, they like to slide it away into a box, neatly filed under morning sickness. Calling HG morning sickness is like saying that Hitler was a little intolerant at times. Yes, you vomit with both HG and morning sickness, but that is where the similarity ends.

Morning sickness is a natural reaction to hormones present during pregnancy. HG is an abnormal reaction. Morning sickness has usually ended by the 12th week. HG is just getting started then. Morning sickness means that you vomit once or twice, in the morning. HG means that you vomit constantly. All day, every day, until the very end.

In all fairness (I am trying to be fair here, as opposed to smashing the laptop in sheer frustration), I can kind of see why medical professionals fail to recognise the seriousness of the condition because it is kind of similar to morning sickness. But what I will NEVER understand is why so many people simply refuse to listen to women who repeatedly report just how ill they are. Women with HG are not drama-queens, they are not looking for attention and neither are they imagining it. All they want is to feel well and to enjoy the beauty that is carrying a baby inside their body. But they can’t. They have been robbed of that special time and that is a hard thing to accept. Even years after the pregnancy.

Awareness of the condition IS growing, albeit slowly. But women are still forced into terminations because their bodies can’t cope and babies are still dying because their mum’s body is so badly dehydrated and unable to sustain them. This is a serious condition that has far-reaching consequences if not treated properly.

It’s time the medical profession bucked their ideas up, got their heads out of their arses and began to take this seriously. It wasn’t so many years ago that HG was seen as psychosomatic, imagined illness caused by women not really wanting to be pregnant.

So, a few words of advice for anyone that has a friend or partner with HG: firstly, listen to her and believe her. She is NOT exaggerating, she really DOES feel that bad and yes, every single second of the day is nothing less than PURE torture. She needs your help and understanding, because living with HG is sometimes tough, so tough, that there are days when you really don’t want to live a second longer. That’s the truth about HG.

Check out the HER website for more info: http://www.helpher.org/

Facebook support: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2587175083/

My ezine article: http://ezinearticles.com/?Hyperemesis-Gravidarum:-The-Truth&id=8158358

A hatred of noise…..

Well, this is exciting.

The first post, in a brand, spanking new blog!

Where to start? Well, why not with the reason for starting this blog: the realisation that at 46, I am still learning more about myself every day (often hard to accept for the girl who thought she knew everything at 17). I want to share my take on the world, including experiences, opinions and beliefs.

In the last six months, I have made two startling, and life-changing discoveries. The first was that I have something called Misophonia (the second I will save for another post). This is a very little- known condition (so much so that my spell check fails to recognise it), that is often described as a hatred of noise. I wouldn’t put it that simply; to me, it is fairly complex, and doesn’t only involve noise (peripheral movement, such as jiggling legs, is also a trigger for me, and many others). The cause is unknown, but it is classed as a neurological disorder. I am not going to explain it in detail, but here is a website that has more information: http://misophonia.com/symptoms-triggers/. The reactions in Misophonia sufferers are unique, and causes a fight or flight response. With me, it has usually been fight.

My earliest recollection of Misophonia was at around 12 years old, which is a common age for it to begin. I would (and still do, to some extend) become literally enraged by certain noises, such as my family eating crisps or apples (although this is not an exhaustive list). I would lose my temper, scream obscenities, throw things and just generally behave appallingly. It only happened with people very close to me (the external display of anger, that is; the triggers were all around, but I managed to control my reaction). At that young age, I never thought to remove myself from the situation, and would just stay and shout; I would literally shake with rage. My mum’s reaction was just to condescendingly state that it was okay for me to make a noise eating, but not for them; therefore, I always assumed that it was because I was an intolerant, nasty, and aggressive piece of work. Although it has always triggered anger, I never really associated the noise with the anger, if that makes any sense? Of course, I knew the noise had made me angry, but I think I just believed that I was an angry person who just so happened to be annoyed by noises.

However, everything changed a few months ago. By chance, I stumbled upon a link to a Misophonia website, and for the first time, I discovered that not only was there a name for the emotions and reactions I experienced, but that I was not alone. There were thousands (actually, an infinite amount) of people just like me. The realisation hit me extremely hard. At first, I cried at the realisation that other people felt the same way as me, and that I wasn’t evil and intolerant. And then I cried for the 30-odd wasted years I had punished myself; guiltily recalling events over and over again, where I had screamed at my mum, when she had done nothing wrong. And I also cried with absolute, abject relief: this was NOT my fault; this was out of my control; this was down to a neurological disturbance. It was tough to realise, but so liberating at the same time.

So, how does Misophonia affect the 46-year-old adult? Well, before realising there was a name for what I struggled with, it was hard. Do you know what it feels like to scream at someone because they are making a noise eating? To see the look of hurt and confusion in someone’s eyes? It tears at your soul; that’s for sure. Over the years, it has eased somewhat, but looking back; it has always played a huge, omnipotent part in my life. Knowing it is Misophonia helps beyond words. Now, it is easier for me to remove myself from a potentially fraught situation before it spirals out of control. I am also able to tell my family when I am in the early stages of being triggered; facing it is therapeutic. It’s like saying: “I can feel it approaching, but that’s okay. I have the power to control it”. Of course, I can only control it to a certain extent, but acknowledging it (and understanding that my reaction doesn’t make me a bad person), really helps.

So, I’m getting there. Not all picket fences and roses, but getting there. I still feel guilty, though. I took my children to the cinema last week, and they had popcorn (just the thought of this is hell for Misophonia sufferers). I mentioned to my nine-year-old a couple of times that he was crunching, and moving the popcorn around loudly, but I felt bad. I didn’t want to spoil his fun, so I stuck my fingers in my ears, thinking he wouldn’t see me. I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder, and he whispered “sorry”. I asked him what he was sorry for, and he said, “that my noise is making you sad”. Wow, that’s hard to hear. It’s hard to know your behaviour is having that kind of effect on your children. I’ve talked to them about Misophonia, and I think that on a basic level, they get it, but kids this age often blame themselves for things, and I don’t ever want them to believe that they are doing something wrong. This is MY problem, and it hurts to land it at their feet.

As well as the obvious relief I feel, recognising I have Misophonia has also brought embarrassment; it is something that many sufferers are not willing to share with others.  When I sit and think about Misophonia, it sounds ridiculous in my own head; how could noise make me react in such a violent way? I have told very few people about it; I feel like a fraud, trying to make up a disorder to cover my intolerance.

There has been a fair amount of exposure lately, with several newspaper articles being written. Unfortunately, a lot of negativity and ridicule have arisen from it;  sadly, in today’s society, if you don’t understand something, the easiest thing is to belittle it. The main reason for this is that many feel annoyed by crunching, people eating with their mouth wide open, sneezing, breathing and so on.  What they are failing to understand is that Misophonia sufferers do not feel slightly irritated. They feel agitation, anxiety, rage and often have an acute fear that at any minute, they could completely lose control.

Hopefully, one day they will truly know what causes it, rather than speculation and guesswork, which is all they have now. Perhaps, they may even find a cure. We can live in hope.

If you’d like support, please check out (you don’t need to be from the UK): https://www.facebook.com/groups/25590393130/