Well Christmas has come and gone, as have the New Year celebrations and although Christmas was a cooking marathon, it was lovely with all the family here. The New Year for us is just another day and now we are faced with the inevitable tidy up. The outside lights are down as are the cards and this afternoon it is the tree in the hall to be dismantled and all the baubles packed away until next year.
There must be millions doing the same thing and reflecting on the year ahead. What will it all hold and how do I rid myself of this feeling of discomfort and unhappiness at the thought of the continuing battles with the AP. Even with the family here and subsequent visitors she still had to try and be in control, attempting to dominate our friends by going into gush and burble mode. She now gets everything confused but I have learnt to turn off to most of the things said because at the end of the day, do they matter? I no longer rise to her littles jibes but I still wake up in the morning and wonder how much longer can the LSO and myself put up with the tyranny of having her living with us.
Whilst we had visitors she would gush about the food but the minute we were back to the three of us she reverted to being utterly thankless, eating with her fingers and putting chewed food back on her plate, a particularly unpleasant practice. We have asked her not to do this but to use her cutlery and so far of late, she has been a little better. But I have come to dread mealtimes, not only preparing them, what will she not eat today but also having to witness the whole procedure.
I’ve also found it difficult to be disciplined about the diet. I am the same weight now as I was before Christmas, which is good but my mindset is not. I am pulling things together and have started my daily tracker again but need to get out with the LSO and the dogs. I need some clean air in my lungs and a clear head to keep myself on track with everything. In fact I just need to get out. I feel as if I have been housebound for weeks and the walls are closing in on me despite my attempts to divert my thoughts with activities such as my latest knitting project.
I don’t believe in new year resolutions but if I did do one it would have to be about positivity. The AP will be heading up to Scotland for the month of April but that is three months away which in reality is not long so that’s at least a more positive thought.
Well, our month without the AP is over and her one hundredth birthday has been successfully celebrated in style and is now over so we are back to the same old routine and the same old repetitive conversations.
At least with the summer looming the weather will be better and the AP can sit out under the shade and catch a few rays. They might work a miracle and improve her attitude and behaviour but I won’t be holding my breath. Sadly the AP’s very presence has ratcheted up the angst and watching her pretend to all and sundry during the celebrations that she is this dear, sweet little old lady has caused the LSO and myself much frustration. The reality is very much the opposite. At this very moment I am listening to the conversation between my lovely cousin from Canada and the AP and no matter what is said the AP manages with amazing skill to bring everything back to herself! I have to be thankful that there is some conversation at all because in truth I have nothing to say to her which is sad in itself but anything in the present is promptly forgotten, hence the repetition and the past is always the same old stories over and over again.
Our month off was pretty stressful but all the boiler work is completed and the results have been definitely worth it, just having a shower is a joy. But the LSO and I now need a break! What a joke but I suppose October isn’t too far away as long as my equally lovely Scottish cousins will have the AP back.
Now I must really get to grips with the diet and next Monday I will start the 5:2 diet in earnest. I am also looking at a low carb regime following Genius Foods. Our darling daughter has sent me some information on podcasts to listen too and the LSO and I will be following this new, according to the LSO, tyranny (typical male response) as soon as I have sorted the meals out. I haven’t gained the weight I lost originally but equally haven’t lost any more. I try to tell myself that being positive is the way to go but do know that as far as the AP is concerned it can only get worse but in the meantime I will endeavour to be a better person and think better thoughts.
Well, perhaps the title is a little misleading. I am attempting to move forward be it in small steps but I do believe that is better than not moving at all or even slipping backwards.
Looking philosophically at everything I am always interested in how there is a balance in everything. It equates I suppose to the fact there are always opposites at work in our lives. Good and evil, Yin and Yan, hot and cold, happiness and sadness, up and down, in and out and many more. I can remember years ago saying to our children that the world has to have these opposites, otherwise we can never experience the good things in life without the bad. But it does seem to be at times extreme and sadly we had the news today that our son and his partner have lost the much wanted baby they were expecting at the end of August. We are all upset at the news and my heart physically hurts for them and it is difficult to see any reason for all this. There are few words that express all our feelings, all we can do at times like this is keep the love alive and believe in the future.
I need to adopt the same attitude to the AP as she is being more and more irritating as April approaches. I do feel this is probably a sub-conscious reaction to the fact that she is going away for a whole month and will not be able to try to manipulate or dominate us for that time. I have been particularly careful to only do things that I want to do and I am avoiding issues that are contentious as well as ignoring the bullying tactics the AP employs to attempt to try to rule the household. I guess this could be contributing to her attitude at the moment.
The arrival of little Lucie in our lives has been a great experience, she is a remarkably bright puppy and is a delight to have around and even the benign Barney is beginning to settle to the fact that she is here to stay. Puppies are hard work but her presence has taken the focus off the AP and this has really helped the LSO and myself to cope and put strategies in place to keep the AP firmly in her place. She is having to take a back seat which is where she should have been in the beginning and although manoeuvring around the AP’s needs and the puppies needs can be difficult and at times demanding, it is definitely possible.
On another positive note I can report a weight loss of six and three-quarter pounds in two weeks whilst following the 5:2 diet. There is no noticeable change in shape, well I can’t see it but the weight has definitely reduced and I am delighted. I don’t find the regime difficult and in some ways actually enjoy the fast days knowing that I can eat well but reasonably for the other five days. Long may the reduction continue.
I must tackle the wool box, it is time to start knitting again.
The AP has returned and the dear relatives who have looked after her for a month have departed homewards and I feel so down. There are no words to explain this sense of utter despair that has overwhelmed me. As I prepared the dried fruit for my fourth Christmas cake I could have cried.
The AP has not returned in any way nicer it would seem, in her attitude towards the LSO and myself and has already started using the basilisk stare as if she hasn’t heard a word that is being said to her. When she doesn’t respond we explain again to be told with a screwed up face that she has heard everything. This is not easy. Her sweet little old lady pretence slipped at breakfast time in front of the family but a quick recovery was made although her attitude had been observed.
The minute they had gone she headed up to her room. I do not like what this woman has become and am at a loss to know how to deal with this situation. Somehow I must find the mental strength to rise above this terrible feeling of despair and gloom but how on earth do I do this. I have never been someone who wallows in self pity or enjoys being down and depressed. I have always felt that life is worth living and managed, despite difficult times in the past, to pull myself out of being miserable and have found something positive to hang on to.
This time I am really struggling.
I also wonder how much of this extreme emotion is because I have been told I am a Type 2 Diabetic. Maybe some of my reactions are down to the fact that I have just been put on medication to help control the condition as my attempts at dieting have made little difference to my blood sugar levels, in fact the very opposite. I have only been taking these pills for two days so I doubt they are doing much yet and I still have to endeavour to lose weight.
I guess part of the whole problem is the enormity of what I/we are dealing with but if someone else was saying all this to me what would be my reaction? Well, I know I would say two things and one would be to not look at the entire situation as a whole all the time, take small manageable steps in the right direction. Then the other piece of advice would be to take each day as it comes. There is no point in doom and gloom and misery is catching, of that there is no doubt. It is time to man up or in my case woman up and despite the uphill struggle, deal with everything, stop wallowing and follow my own advice.
I have just read through what I have written and actually feel slightly better. What is it about putting down feelings in words that is so cathartic?
How many times do we go around with a song going round and around in the brain? Have you noticed how it always gets stuck in a rut too. Mine today is John Tams singing the song that was used in Sharpe ‘Over the Hills and Faraway’ which must be an indication of how I feel about the AP at the moment
We have just one a week to go before the AP returns from her month long visit to kind relatives in Scotland and my heart feels like it is tightening. It has been a most enjoyable few weeks experiencing the pleasure of freedom. We have just returned from a lovely weekend staying with our son and his partner in their new home, chilling, chatting, watching TV and eating out. Last night I slept like a log which hasn’t happened for years.
Sitting in bed with a morning cup of tea and looking at the Thames Estuary glinting in the sunlight I experienced a sense of well being which was further enhanced when I opened my phone to find a message on Facebook from my cousin’s wife in Ayrshire. It was a small video on the ‘Power of Positivity’, quotes from the Dalai Lama and what jumped out at me was that ‘A positive future cannot emerge from the mind of anger and despair.’ Following this I read that ‘Hard times build determination and inner strength. (Do they?) Through them we can begin to understand the uselessness of anger.’ I agree with some of that but when you are ground into the ground it is hard to even think clearly let alone make an effort to have compassion. Am I angry, no not at the moment anyway. Do I feel despair? Yes I do. I need to find some semblance of empathy for the AP in order to deal with the mixed feelings I have at the thought of her return. All food for thought. The Dalai Lama is a wise man. One quote I particularly like is ‘Remember that not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck’ It actually makes me smile – let’s hope it’s true.
But in the meantime we still have some respite left and are planning how to use these few days to get the most out of them. As the great man says ‘See the positive side, the potential and make an effort”
In this case an emotional rollercoaster. I do at times feel sorry for the AP, it’s not much fun getting old and at 99 years of age she is very old but sadly she does little to endear herself to us. Maybe, in her mind, she doesn’t need to as she has everything someone of such a great age could desire really. A space of her own yet people around, regular meals, varied and considered, servants at her beck and call, washing done, all shopping done, cleaning taken care of, bills paid, chauffeurs when needed and all she has to do is care for herself and potter. She can still potter; the AP does several slow circuits of the front garden maybe once a week weather allowing, it is a good size to walk around and she still goes to a weekly keep fit class. We do occasionally arrange for a friend to come over and lunch is duly prepared for them or some wonderful kind friends take her off for the day and entertain her. In the meantime with the aid of magnifiers she can just manage to read and she has her own television.
Does this make for a pleasant and contented existence? Well, no, it would appear not to be the case. The AP announced the other day ‘that time flies by but why should that be the case when she does nothing and is basically bored.’
She has no concept of what her living with us has done to our lives or how bored we have become with the monotony of our existence. We live with, accept it and get on with things as cheerfully as we can but do feel that at a time when we should be enjoying an active retirement, spending more time with our own children and travelling we are here instead, looking after an ungrateful, graceless old lady who has become selfish and self-centred. Thank you and please are words that have vanished from her vocabulary where we are concerned. I know we made this choice but truth be told we had no idea what we were letting yourselves in for and really no-one can explain, only those who have done it understand how relentless it all is.
Tomorrow an old friend of mine is arriving for a few days and I have been told magnanimously that I must have a day out with her on my own. I am almost lost for words. Then later in the week a cousin and her family are arriving for lunch and we are already preparing ourselves for the inevitable gushing and pretence and are just thankful it is only for a day.
Twenty three days to a month of freedom and yes, I am counting.
……….that breaks the camel’s back or so the old adage goes and it is so true. I am trying to be positive but sometimes feel the tide is against me. The pain in my calf continues to cause me distress, it does go away when rested but returns the minute I begin walking. This is not helpful when what I need to do is get regular exercise and all I can do is limp slowly, painfully and miserably. I’ve always said its better to have spots then at least they can be seen and elicit some sympathy or do I really mean some acknowledgement that you really are not right, sympathy just makes me weepy. Then just to make things a bit worse the lady who cleans the house once a week is not coming on Wednesday and we have visitors arriving and commitments that take us away from here.
I know it’s all a bit pathetic and gammy leg or not I am sure I can manage to vacuum and dust and the LSO will clean the bathrooms, so the bedrooms will just have a flick round and stairs won’t get done but does that really matter? The kitchen is huge but apart from the floor it is always kept clean so what’s the problem? Frustration at feeling so trapped at the moment not just emotionally but physically. I do feel a bit overwhelmed sorting out my diet but just generally feel under the weather.
The AP is ok still and really trying to be pleasant. Occasionally the mask slips but we come back later as if nothing has happened.
Four weeks tomorrow we will be beginning our four week break from the relentless routine that has become our lives. I know we must not wish the time away as life is short but in this case I am counting the days.