All posts by Daydreamer mum

About Daydreamer mum

Single mum of 4, bookworm, gin fan, Overuser of exclamation marks, Loves Doctor Who, Write as I speak... A lot of waffle and 80% nonsense. Take a look at my blog covering life after domestic abuse, parenting teens and a littler one and anything else I feel I need to talk about

Not a perfect victim …

I’m not going to comment or give my opinion on the Johnny Depp , Amber Heard court case. I’ve been on the internet way too long to fall down that rabbithole. What I would like to use my little space on the internet to talk about though is how easy it is to appear to be a totally unreliable witness to your own abuse .

Before I left the abusive relationship I had very naïve ideas about what would happen when I finally disclosed abuse. Maybe you are a person who shares these thoughts , maybe it’s not something that has ever crossed your mind . In my head I thought I’d escape him , get my life back and start again. I assumed that when I told someone , I’d be believed without question. I believed women coming forward to the police , to social services would be given sympathy and support and care . I know that often this is the case. Not often enough , but often. What I was shocked and taken aback by though in my own experience ( and as I always say I’m not claiming to speak for all survivors of abuse. I can only tell my story ) was the ‘prove it ‘ attitude . Again it’s something it’s difficult to know how hard proving abuse is . I had spent almost a decade doing everything I could to cover abuse , to not draw attention to it , to pretending I was in a healthy relationship to every doctor , midwife , health visitor and police officer I had ever come into contact with. Doesn’t leave you with much evidence .

Can i take this moment to say if you are in an abusive relationship and do need advice about documenting what you are going through https://www.womensaid.org.uk/ can help with advice.

I was never in a huge courtroom , reliving my trauma to a huge TV audience (though let me be clear , had my abuser been able to make that happen he most certainly would have ) The main place I had to try and make myself believed was in the Family Court. I was not a great witness , I was not a perfect victim. He said she said did not leave me at a place where I was convincing .

I was abused .

Repeatedly and relentlessly .

Physically and Psychologically .

That’s the truth , but let me tell you all the ways that if you didn’t know me …didn’t know him . I would have appeared an unreliable witness to my own experiences

I HAD NO CHEER SQUAD

My abuser had people willing to vouch for him. There in black and white I read how they had never ever seen abuse towards me from him. Arguing oh yeah they’d seen that .

“She gave as good as she got”

“Six of one half a dozen of the other “

They hadn’t seen arguing , by then I didn’t argue back. It wasn’t worth the consequences. These people claimed never to have seen injuries or bruises , never saw him physically attack me . They did , they saw , they heard . However they were willing to testify the opposite such was their need to protect him and his reputation and in turn theirs over anything . I had no such people. I’d been isolated . You know the saying the loudest vessels make the most noise . Well it seems people desperate to protect themselves can assemble a pretty loud squad too. Drowning out the voice of a vulnerable , hurt , abused woman is not that hard to do.

I stumbled and faltered recounting my experiences

Speaking out loud about incidents that have happened to me , that I have been keeping hidden for years and years was hard . Being interviewed about them for a court report ? I can’t imagine they sounded credible . I self censored each word , each sentence as they came out of my mouth. Did they seem too mean ? Did they sound too unbelievable ? If no one is going to believe me anyway should I even tell the most humiliating incidents ? Shame is huge during and after abuse . I’ll focus on the shame aspect later but it is excruciating telling someone else what has happened . I stumbled on words , my sentences often sounded all jumbled making no sense at all . The nerves involved in putting your true story out there to be judged , to be decided if you are telling the truth or not , after spending so long doing anything and everything to stop this story coming out? Well the nerves and the fear they don’t really help for a clear , concise narrative.

I was very aware what a risk telling my truth was

No one else seemed to be . Solicitors , CAFCASS , Social workers? I went through this over a decade ago and I hope things are a little better now (I’m no longer so naive as to believe they are) I knew leaving abuse was a very dangerous time . I’m even more aware now of how many women are murdered when they leave as a last act of control. He had told me exactly what would happen if I left . Everyone would think me crazy and they’d take my children. That was his mantra ( and one he did everything he could to make true) I always had this in my mind , so even when disclosing I did minimise incidents . Maybe if I told enough to be taken seriously but not enough to make him really angry , maybe I could get help and be safe too?? If I told the actual truth , the whole gruesome lot …well surely he would kill us all. Can you see how that if this was my inner monologue how unreliable my outer one would sound ? My story has continued to be a risk to tell I have to say. I’ve had unpleasantness on my Twitter , libel threatened with this blog ?? Abusive men do not like recognising themselves in experiences you talk about.

MY EMOTIONS WENT AGAINST ME

This is one thing I know has not improved I see it all the time still now . If I cried retelling horrific abuse then I was hysterical and over emotional and couldn’t be trusted . If I turned that off and just kept calm and numb well that implied that I was cold and calculating . I’d clearly made this whole thing up in order to snatch this poor mans family away from him. What kind of a woman could recount such awful abuse and assault without even shedding a tear ? Clearly made up . I was way more the numb version though. I’d been turned that way over years of psychological abuse. The only way I could get through day to day in an intolerable situation is to cut off all emotions . It seems to be believed a woman has to meet some kind of middle ground . The same did not go for my abuser though , him shedding tears meant he was definitely telling the truth ….HE WAS CRYING!!

MY TIMELINE IS MESSED UP

Related to the numbness I just spoke about is a trauma induced memory loss. I have and had blocked out so much to protect my brain and to allow me to carry on faking my day to day life during the abuse that afterwards and still now there are huge sections of my memory seemingly erased forever . Got to tell you friends – “I can’t remember” in relation to dates and times is really unhelpful to your cause (again if you are in an abusive relationship right now and need help with documenting Women’s Aid and similar can advise) I’ve heralded doing the Freedom Programme as a massive turning point for me mentally to help process the abuse . Talking to women who have been through the same as you can be an absolute sanity saver . When in an abusive relationship you do believe that it is only you who has been through this particular thing , this particular tactic which helps in keeping you isolated . This is why my blog is so important to me . I receive messages from women saying that they truly believed it was only them who felt or behaved a certain way before reading. Talking through specific incidents during the Freedom Programme because it was such a safe space seemed to bring other incidents I believed I had forgotten back into my mind . Sounds convenient eh ? The abuser wanted to tell everyone so . Ah load of victims sat together man hating and now she has all these extra memories???Hmmmm very suspicious .

I WAS FOREVER ON THE DEFENSIVE

I didn’t initiate court proceedings . He did . The woman he thought he knew would have received court papers KNEW she wouldn’t be believed ,KNEW she’d be labelled mad and lose her children right ? He’d put a lot of work into ensuring we shared these beliefs and we did . He’d have expected this move to have scared me back. When it didn’t though ? Well then court became a punishment for disobedience. How can you hurt a very private person the most? Well public shame should do the trick. Watch her have to relieve what you did to her , recount it .

I was always on the defensive , answering his accusations . Replying to his demands and assertions . Our motivations were different and therefore always answering and never being able to question also leaves you appearing as though you have something to answer for ? Something else that damages credibility.

As I said at the beginning I was an unreliable witness to the abuse I know for sure happened . I was not a perfect victim , I didn’t cry on cue my ‘story’ changed and didn’t flow correctly . I struggle with eye contact and fidgeting as a result of abuse , but look she can’t even look at you to answer a question , a sure sign of deception right. Has to be lying ?

I’ve seen so much on social media about the big case , written by strangers and we’re all entitled to have an opinion I guess . I mean maybe sometimes it’s ok to not voice your thoughts too. I’m not saying anyone is right or is wrong , what do I know ?I’m just a woman spouting her thoughts on the internet.

I’ve also seen things being written by people I do know though , who know me in all manner of ways . I’ve tried to be objective and I know many people don’t know that much about how domestic abuse works or how as I said at the beginning how hard it is to prove. I see words written …probably just someone writing their take on a stranger , miles away that they want to vocalise their opinion on which we all do . I’m the worst myself for celebrity gossip and nonsense , however when I see “I don’t believe her ” I read that they don’t believe me.

The Freedom Programme I mentioned earlier as an amazing resource whether you have left or are in an abusive relationship is just here : https://www.freedomprogramme.co.uk/

Not a natural runner…

I have a big run plan set for 2022 , lots of events in the diary culminating in the big marathon I seem to have been training forever for due to covid and foot fractures. I am quite excited but I am by no means a natural runner . I twist and turn between love and hate over and over. If I could transcript my thoughts during a run I think they would read strikingly similar to this .

WAKE UP : Wow brand new day , have a run scheduled best get it done first thing so it’s out of the way and I can’t make excuses up to myself not to run.

GET READY : arrrgghh where the hell are my fave leggings ? The ones with the deep pocket for my phone and aren’t too tight on the tummy ??? My god sports bras and sizeable boobs are hard work . I’m going to struggle to get the bra off once it’s on ….hmmm maybe that guy was right when he said I was the wrong shape to be a runner …right I am good to go , wonder how cold it is and if I need a little jacket, ah no I’ll work harder if I’m a bit chilly will soon warm up!

30 MINS LATER : Sat in full run gear sat on the sofa staring at the wall, daydreaming .

30 MINS AFTER THAT : Still sat staring at the wall daydreaming .

OUT THE DOOR : Ooo should take a pic is a run still a run without photographic evidence ?? Man I look a bit rough , why did I choose such an unglamorous hobby ?

FIRST MILE : I effing hate running , hate it !! I could be on the sofa eating crisps right now .

My trainers feel a bit strange maybe I should just go home.

Knew I should have brought my jacket maybe should call it a day and head back.

Arrgghh wrong playlist ,I need Missy Elliott right now this is total bs !!

What is even the point of running , it’s just getting from A to B just a bit faster.

My bra strap is rubbing that’s not good maybe I should get a new sports bra and hold off running until after that?

I honestly just don’t think it’s meant to be today ,let’s just stop and go home

Think I’m going to give up running anyway,stick to yoga!

ONE SINGLE FOOTSTEP OVER A MILE :

Isn’t running the most amazing thing , I feel so great right now! I just bloody love running , maybe I’ll do more than one marathon ….oooo maybe next year I could run like half a dozen , maybe I’ll do an ultra!!!

END OF RUN : Yes!!! Check out this running high , I feel amazing . I’m going to do some strength work this afternoon , probably a yoga session, maybe even a HIIT class as I feel so strong and amazing and unstoppable .Just sit of the sofa and drink my water then back to it.

30 MINS LATER : Sat on the sofa in (now pretty gross) running gear ….staring at the wall , mustering up the energy to run a bath.

You see what I mean , not at all a born runner but I try !!

I’ll never be speedy (I blame the pesky boobs) but I’ll be there ,giving it a go !!

Here’s to a no covid cancelling , injury free run year!!!

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New Years Eve

New Years Eve during the abusive relationship was the worst day of the year .

Yes the violence would often ramp up after drinking , yes the ‘arguments’ would have been choreographed by him to take up a lot of the evening . Wasn’t the violence and shouting and abuse that would make me hate New Years Eve though. It was worse than that .

It was the hope that killed it for me . Must have only been a couple years into the relationship I first did it . With Big Ben doing it’s thing , watching the fireworks on TV , fake smiling and wishing his family “Happy New Year!” I gave myself a couple of minutes out of the festivities to tell myself ..This time next year. This time next year I would be out of this , this time next year I would be free. Allowed myself to imagine a life that wasn’t being worn down daily with criticism and violence and emotional torture . My promise to myself that I would do something to change the situation I was in.

This is why I hate New Years Eve. The year would happen and there I was …still there , still being hurt . Big Ben doing it’s thing , watching the fireworks on TV , fake smiling and wishing his family “Happy New Year!” The promises I made myself each year about getting out I didn’t even believe myself anymore . I didn’t stop telling myself this time next year… I just wept as I promised now . They were empty words and a dream I could never realise. I was resigned to this being my life until I died (probably at his hands . I know that sounds dramatic but I knew it ,could almost feel it getting closer)

This whole brand new year , new start ,fresh slate feeling was no longer applicable to me . That was for other people . Hope , happiness , love that was for other people it was not for me .

My survival technique was to choose numb , I shut down emotionally . Almost totally .

The numbness with a side helping of trauma is the reason I don’t remember my last New Years Eve in the relationship. Not so much as a fleeting memory , nothing at all. I know how it will have been Big Ben doing it’s thing , watching the fireworks on TV , fake smiling and wishing his family “Happy New Year!” I have no memory though . I wonder if I made myself the promise that year or if I was so numb I could no longer even manage that . I wish I could remember . I think so anyway , maybe something even more awful than usual happened that night and I’ve put it out of my head for a reason.

There was a last time though , there was a last time . I wish I could go back and tell that traumatised into numbness girl . Tell her Kelly , you NEVER have to do this again. It’s going to be ok, I’m sorry it’s taken so long but this time next year , I promise this time next year you won’t be here. Big Ben doing it’s thing , watching the fireworks on TV , fake smiling and wishing his family “Happy New Year!” You’ll be free .

I’ve been away for 14 New Years Eve’s now but still this day makes me feel that despair I felt back then. It’s stuck with me and no matter how hard I try it remains . I’ve battled so many of the issues he left me with, I’ve conquered so many mental triggers but when I wake on this day I feel it immediately . My tummy feels off , I tense , my whole body switches into battle mode. Then , and quicker and quicker as the years pass, my body catches up with my brain. No need to tense those shoulders , no need to feel sick .

I am safe , I am free .

I think of that girl still on New Year , I think of her trapped and terrified and shutting down her emotions as a survival technique. The girl , the woman, the mother who didn’t feel love or affection( snotty toddler cuddles aside) or even basic care from another adult human being for so many years.

It makes me so bloody grateful , so very grateful for the life I have now . So grateful for the New Years Eve I’m about to have . Out for dinner with the youngest , our New Years Eve tradition before home , pjs , snacks , movies under a blanket . Probably not the most exciting end of a year , but it’s relaxed and it’s cosy and it’s calm . All the things that girl I used to be would have given anything for .

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The Illusion of the Nice Guy

Whenever a man is accused of  abusive behaviour some things follow like night follows day.

Usually said man will deny deny deny! Against witnesses, against evidence. Deny deny deny! There’s a witch hunt, that woman has never liked him, she’s out for revenge. Attempts to sully her name happen. In the case of famous men, in the case of a work colleague, in the case of your partner. Obviously with men in the spotlight who are famous and well known this is amplified yet further.

Then the support act find their voice. When you are abused or sexually harassed by a man and you find the strength in you from somewhere to tell someone. When you’ve spoken your truth in all its raw, painful honesty then that person’s cheerleaders will often come to the foreground. They’ll join him in denial of course but they’ll also assert how they’ve known this man 20 years and he has never abused them so it simply can’t be true. They will pretend not to have witnessed behaviours that you know for sure they did. They’ll help drag your name through the mud such is their need to protect this person. Again with celebrities or famous men this is amplified even more.

I’m talking about domestic abuse in particular due to my lived experiences but I do know this also happens in cases of sexual harassment too.

Throughout there is one mantra.

He’s a Nice Guy.

He would never do anything like that, he’s a Nice Guy.

He’d never hit a woman, he’s a Nice Guy.

He is not a rapist. He’s a Nice Guy.

He would never terrorise his children. He’s a Nice Guy.

When women are murdered by their partners or ex partners , there’ll always be one dodgy journalist at least who’ll find a neighbour to talk of their shock and surprise. He didn’t seem the type. He was quiet, he played with his kids, he took the dog out for walks.

He was a Nice Guy.

Abusive men are usually nice guys. To their friends to their families. To your friends to your families, to you in the beginning.

These men are charmers, sweet talkers, they’re so genuine and caring and loving.

The insidious nature of domestic abuse is what makes it so dangerous and so frightening.

When the Nice Guy asks you to stay in with him rather than go out with your friends, you find it flattering.

When the Nice Guy tells you you don’t need to wear make up, why don’t you take it off before you leave the house? You’re quite charmed.

When the Nice Guy confides in you that your friends are no good, they all secretly laugh at you and hate you. Tells you that there’s only him who really cares you believe it.

When the Nice Guy kicks you in the face for speaking out of turn he’ll apologise and cry and tell you it’s only because he loves you so much and it wouldn’t have happened at all if you’d just kept quiet. You’re worn down by then, you’re ashamed so you believe him. Shame plays such a huge part in why you stay too. As I always say I can only speak for myself but the shame of other people finding out what was happening behind closed doors was so huge I stayed way longer than I ever could or should have had to endure.

When the Nice Guy screams in your face that you can never leave as you can’t cope without him. That no one else will ever want such an ugly, stupid mess. You believe it wholeheartedly.

Then if you’re one of the lucky ones. If you get to leave, if you run away and escape from that torture that was your life. The charm offensive intensifies. Towards you at first. Grand gestures, tears, flowers, on his knees begging you to come back. He must note a change though, a look in your eye, a change in your stance, a different tone of voice. He realises his power is waning and has to turn his charm elsewhere.

He’s good at that.

The Nice Guy will tell your friends and family he’s concerned about your mental health.

He’s likely put years of background into this to make sure they’ll believe he cares.

The Nice Guy will use tears to anyone with authority. The police, the social worker, the court. He’ll break down into heartbroken sobs that his children have been taken away.
He’s a charmer, some people will believe him. Often these people with authority will at first. You shed a tear you’re mentally unstable. He cries and he’s a heartbroken man.

The Nice Guy will have told HIS friends and family lies about why you’ve left. His support act will possibly aid his abuse by calling you a liar. This always hurts more I’ve found oddly.

Unfortunately you can’t pick out the abusive man in a crowd.
You can’t say it can’t be true because they’ve always been nice to you, bloody hell abusing their partner is a full time, intensive job, done over months and years they simply don’t have the time to abuse everyone they know.

You can’t say you’ve never witnessed it so it can’t be true. These men aren’t stupid, every action they ever take is planned and thoughtfully carried out.

I know many really good men (well a couple at least) hell I’m trying to raise two. I’m not saying nice guys don’t exist. I’m just saying maybe we can be a bit gentler with the women speaking out, doing the bravest thing they’ve ever done.

Abusive men are charming and manipulative, they’re good at it. Maybe we can keep that in mind before we judge.

After all. When the Nice Guy IS finalled outed, when the truths are spoken out loud and secrets confided. It’s often the case that your family and friends were never fooled by his acts. It’s often the case that more women will tell their own stories of abuse or bullying by these men. It’s often that fooling people only goes so far. It’s often that the Nice Guy is a label he has given himself and promoted outwardly with every energy resource he has. Because he knows exactly the kind of guy he actually is and it would be terrifying to him for anyone else to find that out.

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Being your own cheerleader!

As has been well documented in this blog there have been periods in my life where I have been surrounded by toxic men who really got their kicks by keeping me down, keeping me small and keeping me quiet. Thankfully those days are behind me and I am free to be myself. Wonderfully chaotic, clumsy, happy motivated me!! I like her! She can be a bit needy at times though this woman, she loves a well done, enjoys being told she’s doing well. Oddly it’s taken until I reached the age of 40 to realise the best person to uplift and encourage myself is me!!!

It wasn’t just toxic men who kept me down and didn’t allow me to flourish and shine. I find I often take on the energy of those I’m around. The motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said :

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Now obviously we’re in the midst of a pandemic and stuck home so really for me right now that’s the kids. Come to think of it I am a bit of a moody bum who doesn’t stop eating right now….

Anyway, I digress (STILL the title of my autobiography) However I do kind of identify with the Jim Rohn quote. I’m an optimist by nature but when I am around doom lovers and pessimists it definitely does rub off on me and I find my sparkle less sparkly and my enthusiasm drained. This isn’t good for me at all. Opens up a dark, gloomy rabbit hole of despair waiting for me to hop down.

This is where being your own cheerleader comes in. It’s a relentless job and takes some doing but if you can be responsible for pepping yourself up and giving yourself a high 5 then people around you who don’t make you feel so good about yourself have way less power.

Here’s how I manage to become top cheerleader of me, the head of the #teamkelly club! Ooo I like that, might get t shirts!

#teamkelly

I leave myself notes

On the shopping list, the to do list – any list of demands on my time I’ll usually find added to it a little handwritten “have great day!” note. Written by me of course but just a little reminder makes me smile. Sounds nuts but it works.

Become a weird, dodgy motivational speaker

I am training for a marathon (I know I’ve not mentioned it eh?) I have a marathon training bullet journal full of workout plans and runs that need doing. It started in Jan and leads right up to October when the marathon is due to happen. Sunday is usually a long run day and after the strict note of how long I need to run and a goal time is a lovely message (from me) about how well I’ve done this week and how great I’ll be next week alongside a dodgy motivational quote from the internet!!

Smile

My therapist once told of a little fable whereas a dog was let loose in a hall of mirrors. The dog got scared and started to bark and when he looked in the mirror he saw that scared dog barking at him so responded and began to snarl and growl, seeing the other doing doing the same this continued. Obvious the moral here is what you put out into the world is what you’re going to get back. This stuck with me though so it’s nice to start the day looking into the mirror with a smile, and see that person smiling right back at me.

Celebrate the little wins

The tiny achievements you make are important. They’re usually personal to you too. I hate using the phone so making a phone call for me is a win, well done me you can have a wispa gold for that. I’m a major procrastinator so ticking everything off the to do list? Go me! Pour an wine and slam on some trashy TV.

These may all make me sound a little on the nuts side and to be quite honest I am a little bit. I’m motivated and happy and full of enthusiasm about things I care the most about though, so I think that’s OK!

The objects seeing me through lockdown

Hey everyone, how we doing? Coping OK? Going a bit stir crazy? Absolutely fed up to the back teeth of Microsoft Teams? Yes me too!

I think I may have it a bit easier than many as I have older kids who can work independently, I quite enjoy having an excuse to avoid social interaction and no one has tried to hug me *shudder * in a year!! I’m kind of winning here.

I am finding myself needing to self sooth a lot though. Just to feel comforted and calm and try my absolute best to keep the dreaded anxiety at bay! I’m finding myself equipped with certain things that help with this. Can I share?

MY PHONE

An obvious one really, but I think our phones now are becoming our sole way to keep connected with other people. Particularly if you’re living alone, if you’re a single parent as I am, or suffer any other kind of social exclusion. My phone is rarely out my hands and I’m not even going to feel bad for it as I am craving interaction. My family group chat has become important as an outlet. Twitter makes my day to day life that bit more interesting. I love Twitter, love it and I may be slightly guilty of creating a bit of an echo chamber there but my people there are the good guys, none of the horrid trolling and meanness. Just people trying to muddle through this thing. I’m very grateful to have my phone to create and maintain connections that are no longer physically allowed.

BATHBOMBS

Honestly a stressful day, a sad day, a frustrating day, an infuriating day even just a boring day. Well nothing soothes any of those emotions like a hotter than lava (possible exaggeration) bath with a gorgeous smelling bath bomb in it (Lush for preference to me but whatever you guys love) Laid in a bath I can just feel my stresses fade away!! Maybe that’s what people who like cuddling get from that! I’ll stick with my bath though.

FANCY RUN WATCH

FRW for short. A birthday pressie from the kids is keeping me run motivated and my goodness there are days I am chasing those endorphins and run highs like a pig snuffling for truffles. I did have a bit of a Eureka moment yesterday though about why the FRW works so well to motivate me so well. After a good run, or a fastest mile it gives me a little Well done! Good work! The other day it was frosty out and it gave me a congratulations on running in sub zero temperatures badge!!! Well you know me and how much I LOVE a well done. I wrote about my people pleasing tendencies just here but these tendencies now extend to an object. I want the watch to be pleased with me. So I run!! I’m lame I know! I know!

NOTEBOOKS

I’m a total stationery lover at the best of times. Can’t beat a pretty notebook and a pen that feels nice in your hands. I also though have learned the best way for me to unburdon myself of worries or stress is to write down what’s on my mind. Once it’s out my head and on the page I feel much better. That’s how I became a Blogger I guess!!

BOOKS

An obvious one for me. When the pandemic began and during the first lockdown I just couldn’t read. I didn’t have the concentration which felt incredibly frustrating to me. Thankfully I’ve overcome that now and what better way to escape our reality currently (which does feel like a Sci fi novel) Than hopping into a whole new world for a little while. This one combines nicely with the hot bubble bath too.

THE DREAM TEAM

Talking of great combos the next items really all come together to make a great team of feel good back up. Them being my TV (don’t recommend the news if you’re de stressing but the obsessive in me has days I just can’t turn it off), fluffy blanket and the kettle with which to make tea to drink whilst snuggled under the fluffy blanket watching trashy TV. My current trash TV pick is Married at First Sight Australia. So much drama you don’t get in the UK version. Feel free to substitute tea for wine as your evening progresses, although a warning from me to you – fluffy blankets don’t enjoy having red wine spilt on them. I’m so so clumsy.

That’s how I’m finding comfort over lockdown. Mostly reading, writing or snuggling!! Let me know your must have items!

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Grateful

Firstly – Happy New Year.

I know how inappropriately glib that statement sounds in the current climate , but I do mean it !! I wish you all a very happy new year to come .

Secondly the title of this post may conjure up ideas of a sickly sweet post , looking for the silver linings of the current terrible time . I promise it’s not that. I’m very fed up I’ve not seen my sister in 10 whole months . Not seen my other family back home in over a year . I miss them and lets not even mention that handsome guy I’m fond of , almost forgotten what he looks like!!

The gratitude of the title was a moment , a brief moment, that happened over the Christmas time that kind of stopped me in my tracks . We had such a nice Christmas , our uni boy was home from university , it was our ‘turn’ with the youngest. It was all 5 of us .Having everyone home together was lovely enough. Christmas eve brought one of uni boy’s famous family quizzes . He had warned us beforehand was actually more of a game show (he’d bought the taskmaster book so had himself as Greg Davies to my Johnny Vegas)We quizzed away and that evening was just so full of laughter it’s bringing tears to my eyes thinking and writing about it . What the hell Kelly ?I’m sure you’re thinking. Do you have a laughter ban in your house or something ?? We don’t. We had a really noisy evening of laughing and everyone teasing one another at their individual game failings . I think maybe it was the game of throwing slices of bread into the toaster (that damn book!) We were all laughing our heads off at teen girls total dominance in the sport . Noisy laughter , bread flinging and a fair few crumbs if I’m honest . That’s when it hit me , hard. Our life could have been so different . There’s an alternate universe where this would never be allowed to happen . Back in the abusive relationship Christmas wasn’t a nice happy smiley time . The kids had fun I think -it’s Christmas ! Some abusive men though like to cause a big fuss on days that aren’t focussed on them. I always knew Christmas , the kids birthdays , my birthday and Mothers day it would inevitably kick off . You’d be treading on eggshells the whole time trying to calm and pacify. It would never work of course . He wanted a tantrum he’d damn well have one even if he had to sit working himself for couple of hours first.

Enough of the dark times though , because these days are a whole different story. The relaxation and joy I feel around big days is a million miles away from that . In that silly moment I was so grateful for where we are now , the way the kids have grown up , the way we fit our little family of 5 . A life I never dreamed was possible , well it was possible , we live it now ! I’m not trying to make out we’re like the Waltons or that we live this little perfect life . I’ve struggled at times during the years since we left . My mental health has impacted on the kids and it hasn’t all been rosy. Even during the worst times though I have never ever ever regretted leaving .

I talk often about how much I enjoy living alone (kids aside obviously) This Christmas though highlighted that again. Where we live now feels like the first place I’ve ever been able to put my own stamp on that feels like home and as time goes on little hang ups that I didn’t even realise I had from back then added to by other critical voices since are lessening . I had the decs up nice and early tat and all. That would never have been allowed . I made Christmas dinner to our liking (late and with pretty crispy pigs in blankets …ah that’s our tradition now!!) I watched the soaps . ON CHRISTMAS DAY!!! Forbidden and frowned upon by anyone I’ve previously shared Christmas Day with!! Well with just us for the festive season I can do whatever I like and I did ! Now the days of ‘friendly’ co-parenting with the youngest’s dad are over too I just have no reason to feel invaded ever. It’s just us! Think it definitely helps that the kids are older too now and the bickerfest that would have gone on in their younger days rarely happens bar the occasional fractious game of Articulate !

I’m going to try and hang on to grateful.

It’s a positive emotion , and I think we’re all going to need some of those during the coming months .

Our lives are not perfect in my house , they are ours though.

I’m certainly grateful for that!

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So that was 40….

I turned 40 a year ago, give a day or 2. I really didn’t want it to be a mopey ‘oh no I’m getting old’ thing so I decided to make a list of things I was going to do when I turned 40. I was so excited to see how many I could tick off my list.

Optimistic to say the least!

Then. Obviously 2020 happened.

A worldwide pandemic.

No marathons were run, no new countries visited. I didn’t even finish the book despite being stuck in for months as my creativity took a holiday (lucky it!)

However I am a silver linings kind of a woman. It’s probably quite an annoying trait to those around me but I like to try to find a positive in crappy situations. My list of when I turn 40 achievements remains unticked. It’ll keep for 41.

I’ve just achieved different things in my year of being 40 is all.

I’m still running

I’m still running though I have to admit to not exactly training. With the marathon now next October some of the motivation simply isn’t there. I’m not trying to get faster, I’m not running longer I’m just ticking along. I’ve a new improved marathon training plan though (you can tell its serious because I got the glitter pens out to make it) It’s there, ready to go starting on my 41st birthday along with my trusty podcasts

I’ve read a lot

I know! I know! I always read a lot. At the beginning of the first lockdown though I just couldn’t. I had no concentration. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t read. My new hobby became vacantly staring at the wall. Thankfully that didn’t last and I’ve read some fantastic books. I’ll probably write a book round up of the year so I’ll not go on too much but my favourite book of the year so far is A Love Story for Bewildered Girls by Emma Morgan. It was so beautiful and the characters are so well written. I adored every chapter.

Fave book of the year!

I’ve enjoyed the Internet

My name is Kelly and I am a social media addict. I’m still in a mood with Instagram after I accidentally deleted my account last year and had to start from scratch. I’m here by the way, do find me. I’m going to make an effort with it honestly. Twitter is my absolute fave, honestly it’s like a big group of really cool friends who don’t require any real life maintenance.

Living.

The.

Dream.

Lockdown and quarantine has not made me crave human contact no, thanks for asking!. My love for Twitter is steadfast, I know some think it’s a big mean horrible cesspit of a site. Parts of it are, however over the years I have nurtured my little part of it to be filled with general lovliness and great chat. Twitter is also my go to for TV, book and film recommendations. It’s brilliant. It’s not just social media that’s helped in these weird times though. We’ll hurry by the Etsy habit I have developed and instead say its been great through the madness to rely on my family group chat. A great source of happiness and giggles although I worry were anyone outside it to read it we’d all be sectioned (at best) We jumped on the family quiz bandwagon too and I have loved that so much (probably way more than the rest of them if truth be told!)

I’ve enjoyed being me

I know that probably sounds a bit odd. Lockdown though? Social distancing , keeping people at a distance and not leaving the house. Well welcome to my world. This is how I live my life the majority of the time anyway and now it was government guidelines. Added to that my poor children were forced to hang out with me at home it’s like my evil plan has finally come together. It’s been a good time to be an antisocial hermit! I’ve not had to make up an excuse as to why I don’t want to do something for months!! I do miss going out to eat and theatre and about half a dozen people but other than that I’ve just realised that I really am a big fan of who I am and how I live my life. Your 40s are meant to be about self love right??

My things to do when I turn 40 list is now a when I’m 41 list. However being 40 has been pretty good regardless. Here’s to 41, lots of continued time at home but added dates and theatre and yes I hope I’ll finally get to run that bloody marathon! Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say. Maybe 40 has changed me after all?!

Not my Happy Ever After

I’ve got to start by saying I am a bit worried that this post is going to come across as a bit ranty. It’s not really meant to. It comes from a place of curiosity not negativity. This is probably why this post has been hanging out in my head rather than putting itself into sentences and hopping out.

Happy. That’s the aim of the game isn’t it. We all want happiness. Chase it, seek it, embrace it. I certainly do. I just don’t know who got to choose what the ultimate Happy After Ever is though?? Disney certainly plays its part I guess and all the slush movies I watch and books I read play a part too (I know I know I’m part of the problem)

Thing is though, in 2022 should Happy Ever After still be finding the love of your life and being happy forever more. Should it always look like finding a life partner? We’ve all read all the trashy tabloid pieces hand wringing about why Jennifer Aniston, for example, can’t ‘keep’ a man. Why Kylie has never settled down and married. There’s something about us that counts meeting a mate for life as success. Makes not an awful lot of sense does it? You can be professionally successful, rich and beautiful but awwww can’t snag a fella eh?? Poor thing!

I am 42 and live alone. Well as in there is no live in partner here. There’s obviously a whole tribe of kids. No father though, no step dad, no father figure. Just me. I like it this way. I choose it this way.

It seems to me that this unsettles people. It’s meant to make me a bit strange. There’s this odd idea in our society that we should all, women especially, share this one common aim and idea of the same Happy Ever After.

I feel I need to add here. I’m not dismissing true love. It’s a gorgeous thing and of course living with the love of your life forever, happy and settled and content is beautiful. I’m all about the happiness. Its just that that’s not what happy contentedness looks like for me. I can’t be the only one surely?

I’ve done the living with a partner thing, the child rearing, the house sharing. It’s well documented in this blog that that was not a pleasant, happy, love filled place. Maybe that does cloud my judgement. It has an impact for sure but not in the way you’d think. I’m not scared to be involved with someone in case it happens again. I have a fantastic man in my life. However an unhappy, unhealthy relationship did make me realise that living alone is fantastic. It’s kind of addictive being able to do what you want without comment.

I do acknowledge that my love of doing things alone isn’t the norm. I love a solo date, I’ve holidayed alone and yes I love living alone. No matter how in love I fall or how much I crave a certain person’s company I’m never ever going to want to live with a man again.

Vocalising this though is where some uncomfortableness (have I just made that word up? Doesn’t seem real?) happens. People question it.

You don’t want to be all alone when the kids leave home?

You’ll be so lonely?

But what if someone extra special rocks up?

You’ll change your mind surely?

It’s actually a bit rude. I don’t ask people ‘ look Susan are you sure you want to live with that lazy mess forever? You might change your mind when he morphs into half man half sofa?’

Worse than the questions though are the head tilts and the sympathy smiles. Those who assume the lady doth protest too much. That actually I say these things to cover up that I really really crave crusty socks on the bedroom floor and facial hair in my sink. I don’t.

If happiness for one person is a happy marriage, kids, a lovely home and a pet then brilliant. If something makes you happy then it absolutely suits you. It’s just happiness for a 40 year old woman, or any woman actually. It’s not a one size fits all kinda deal.

My happy ending looks like peace and independence and having a book wall in my living room and a fitness corner and having the best dates of my life without having to share my bedroom permanently. It’s being able to make plans for the future that only include me. It makes me very happy.

Who knows, maybe in 10 years time I’ll change my mind and want to give up my space to share with someone else. All. The. Time *shudder *

Certainly not a life goal though, there are many more exciting things on the life goal list!!

All That She Wants – Blogtober20 Day 15

I am taking part in Blogtober which involves blogging everyday throughout October. Today’s prompt is All That she Wants.

Aren’t we all left wanting at the minute? In so many different ways . There are so many restrictions on our life and our normal every day normalities. I don’t know about you but I find myself fantasising about the most mundane things. daydreaming about what I’ll do when things are more normal.

So maybe I can use this post to articulate those daydreams…all the things that I want.

I want to see my sister

I’ve chatted much and often about how ace my sister is , how much I love her and much of a fantastic human she is. I’m not giving her anymore airtime she’ll get big headed. I last saw her in March when we had a brilliant day out in Manchester to celebrate her birthday , and as things stand at the minute any future plans we try to make have to come with a massive side order of “fingers crossed”

Bottomless brunch with little sis…..

Extra special mention here goes to obviously I also want to see my niece and nephews , my brother , my in laws ….. Hull itself !!!

I want to go to the theatre

I want to go to the theatre sooooooo much. Going to the theatre is my ultimate treat. That can be Matilda with the girls to see a massive production. Could be a super cool date to see a super cool show . Or way more likely than both of those things, a solo date to the theatre on my own to one of my favourite little Manchester theatres. Going to the theatre on my own is a treat for the soul. I’ve seen so many amazing shows at these places and I so miss it. Autumn is such a lovely theatre time for me usually . Head into Manchester , wander round the Christmas Markets take myself out for dinner then off to the theatre to see a play or a show.

Hope Mill Theatre , Manchester. A real hidden gem

I want to be able to be spontaneous

I want to suggest cocktails in town , or lunch! I want to just head out for the day with small girl without needing to think ahead to book somewhere to eat and weigh up the busyness of the trains , and do we have masks and anti bac etc? I like plans to a degree but I also like the freedom to just do!

I want to do my traditional year highlights

The afore mentioned Christmas markets small girl and I have done every year for the last decade. a big , exciting tradition. Doing something sociable for Halloween be that attending an event or having people over. Bonfire night too!

On a non mum level I missed Edinburgh festival this year for the first time in 3 . I’ll let you in on a secret , even the first year I did that , all on my own it became a highlight and I knew I’d want to return every year. I don’t know if it’ll happen next year or not but small girl fancies coming along too if it does!

I miss you Fringe programme…

I don’t want to get too whingey and miserable. I understand there’s things we all want to do at the moment that we simply can’t. So I’m going to try to embrace what we can do. We can hang out as a family , we can go out for dinner in an organised and forward thinking manner.

We also have Christmas on the horizon…I can say with absolute certainty that it is going to get ALL my attention and devotion. Hobbycraft is still open and I’ve finally gotten around to getting a Pinterest account so that’s something to focus my attention on !!