Relationships are important in life, no matter where they are.  Some are personal, some are professional, but they are all necessary.  Today I want to focus more on personal relationships, particularly those of family.

communicationI have a wonderful connection and bond with my Mother.  She is someone who has supported me when I needed it, and I have supported her over the years too.  We both have a similar sense of humour (definitely from her side of the family) and both are fiercely protective of our children.  Our relationship has had its ups and downs, like most, but for me, Mum was my best friend for years before I could learn to trust other people again.

My stepfather and I have a common bond, and that is depression.  We have both suffered from it, and understand it on a deeper level than our spouses, and while he doesn’t speak much about it, I know that he understands if I need to talk about it.  He can sense when things aren’t right with me, and I appreciate that.  He loves me like a daughter, and I love him like a father.

My best friend, is more like a sister to me.  She has helped me through thick and thin since we first got to know each other about 4 years ago.  I can honestly say I love her without flinching or getting embarrassed.  I have been there for her too and while she has issues that I don’t understand, I don’t try to understand them either.  I just be there for her, a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with, watch movies with, share secrets with.

My husband.  Until recently, this has been a difficult relationship.  All relationships with spouses can be hard, and you always compare others as having a better relationship than yours.  Here’s a word of advice.  Don’t.

My beloved watching his mates "stand"

My beloved watching his mates “stand”

We have had our ups and downs and until recently, we have cruised along, probably more like got stuck in the groove and just rode it out.  We were both stuck in our own ways and ideas and not prepared to give up for anyone.  Not even each other.  Things came to a head about three or four weeks ago when we sat down and both told each other that we weren’t happy.  I had even gone as far as looking at other properties that I could live in.

When we both realised that we have been feeling the same way, we were able to have open and honest communication between us.  All the walls that we had built between ourselves were brought down and we listened to each other.  Funny thing was, we both nodded and agreed at the same times about the same points – we felt neither listened to the other, that we weren’t being understood, or that we both thought the other was dumping on them when we had a disagreement.  This was startling news to both of us.  If I felt like he was dumping stuff on me, and expecting me to take it, what was I dumping on him?  We both shared a lot about ourselves to each other.

The comment came up about couples that we knew that had split up.  And it was something I learnt a while ago.  Never judge other people’s relationships.  This came about when we lived next door to the Vicar and his wife.  While the Vicar is held in high esteem without our community, his relationship with his wife was completely different from what I expected.  She wore the pants, not him.  Another couple that we thought were extremely together and onto it, separated during this year.  It surprised and shocked both of us.  We thought they had the perfect relationship.  But now, we both realise that there is no such thing as a perfect relationship, and it is something that constantly has to be worked on, to grow and improve.

For the first time in 9 years, I felt I was being listened to as a person.  My husbands expectations of me became clearer, as my expectations dawned on him.  We could see what the other wanted and didn’t want as if there were a piece of glass between us, instead of a mirror reflecting back what we wanted to see.

My husband and I both attend counselling now, and it is wonderful the journey that we are now on.  While we are focusing on each other, we have also turned our attention to our children, who especially need guidance, and both of us feel able to do this now without too much complication.  We also have family time, where we go out and do something as a family, as well as a date day / night once a month where we do something together, just the two of us.  We also have our own separate time to ourselves, away from the other and work, so we can appreciate and fulfil our own needs as well.

So the lesson I have learnt is to be open and honest with my communication, to actively listen to my husband (try paraphrasing) and to appreciate him for who he is.  Be prepared to sit down and listen to them, put aside your differences and look at the problem.  I’ve stopped comparing our relationship to others, because their’s isn’t perfect, and ours never will be either, but it is the flaws that sometimes draws us together.  Flaws can be strengths if your partner can help you with them.  


Christmas Wisdom

I had a mini meltdown the other day, because Christmas isn’t my favourite time of year.

Thanks Charlie Boyd  :o)

Thanks Charlie Boyd 😀

It is crowded, pushy, and with so many dissected families now (and yes, I mean dissected) it means several Christmas’ in one day.  Too stressful if you ask me!  If I had a choice, I would go bush for two weeks and come out again after New Years.

I have to admit that I am a lot more relaxed now than I used to be, reviewing my year and even the last two years.  I used to be so rigid in my ways, had schedules that I followed, and stressed out if I didn’t make it somewhere on time.  I remember doing that from when I was a teenager, it was my way of coping with the life that I lived.

Now, if I am late, sorry, I tried (although I still hear Ants Parder saying “if you’re on time, you’re late!”) but I am not sweating the small stuff any more.  I don’t have a schedule (other than my work schedule).  If I want to go into town, damn it, I will (35 minute drive in either direction!).  If I have several events lined up in one day, I don’t worry if I miss one or two of them, because I need to look after myself, and if that is one message I could get out there to Mum’s, Writers, friends, fellow depression sufferers, it is this:

“Take care of yourself first, then you can look after the others better.”

It is really important that you take time out and spend time alone, away from your children, those things that harm you, or your thoughts.  Go and lie out in the sunshine, take a bike ride, go for a walk, let your mind wander free.  Give yourself the time, each and every day, to take care of yourself.

As for my Christmas meltdown, I felt really stupid afterwards.  It was unnecessary really, but at that moment, I just couldn’t take the pressure.  Fortunately I had my Mum there who talked me through it (I love my Mum! x x) and I was able to see how fruitless my pity party was.

And I now realise that Christmas will be what I make it.  I will make it a good family day for my husband, my son, and hopefully my two stepsons.  It will be a day where we enjoy each others company and spend time telling each other how important they are to each other.  If one thing life has taught me this year:

Time is precious, use it wisely.

Another Angel in Heaven

There is a strange pall over the village.  Tragedy has struck and everyone is affected in one way or another.  I did not know the family personally, but I knew them to say hello to.

Yesterday, one of the school children was killed in a motorcycle accident.   And all I can think about is the pain that the mother must be suffering.  I can’t begin to understand that pain, which makes me hurt more for her.

The little girl was an angel, such a beautiful child.  I last saw her on Friday when I was walking my son to school.  Her older brother was frantically pushing his scooter along the footpath, his sister pedalling like a mad woman on a bike too small for her to try and catch up.  She always said hello and had a smile for everyone.  Now that smile is gone.  She is in heaven with the other angels, but that is no consolation for her mother, father or brothers.

It made me think about how precious my son is, and what I would feel if anything should happen to him, and it was beyond comprehension.  I think I would rather die than have to live with that pain.  I am trying not to dwell on it, because I know that it could very easily drag me back into depression.  I have to be thankful that it wasn’t my son, but then I feel guilty for thinking that when a mother has lost a child.

So, to the little angel, enjoy heaven.  To her earthbound family, my sincerest condolences and my thoughts and prayers are with you at this extremely painful time.

The Year in Review

Light at the End of the Tunnel, Kawatiri Tunnel, Feb 2011

This is the time of year where everyone starts to reflect on the year that has been, and starts planning their New Years Resolutions.  I want to look back over the year for another reason, because there has been a lot of turmoil this year for me.

At the beginning of the year, I set the goal of writing three novels and I was well on the way to achieving that.  I had 57,000 on Blood Gold by August, 55,000 on my Ice Planet story, and I planned on doing on in November (for NANO) but instead, my life took a rather drastic turn.

I was diagnosed with depression in February 2011 and working with my Doctor, we tried natural remedies to try and make myself better.  Why I was diagnosed, I don’t know, but for years I spent a lot of time trying to make it right for everyone else, and finally nothing was right for me.  The natural methods worked for a while, but when June hit, I started to feel myself going downhill.  By July I had hit rock bottom and couldn’t make sense of what was going on around me.  I found a lot of the time, I was in tears over the silliest things, things that I would once have coped with.

Everest on my now deceased laptop

Burgess Gang

In September, my beloved laptop crashed, catastrophically, and due to a misguided faith in the life of my laptop, I hadn’t backed up anything for some time.  Hence, I lost pretty much all of Blood Gold and 30k from Ice Planet.  It was gutting.  So much so, that I think this triggered the deepest darkest place.

My writing was important to me.  It was my escape from the real world, it was my opportunity to control a small portion of the chaos that was my life.  By setting myself deadlines and goals, I was able to control how I achieved something.  But instead I found myself without my greatest joy and outlet, and I went back to the Doctors for antidepressants.

The first two weeks were horrific as my body and mind adjusted to the fake feel good chemicals that my body needed.  It must have been so depleted because it was hell for two weeks, but once I turned the corner, I felt much better.

Writing suddenly didn’t seem important.  Nothing was important.  My brain, which was my greatest source of my imagination, deserted me, my dreams left me, I had blank nights, or evenings when I couldn’t even sleep.  My Mum came and stayed with me for two weeks, while I adjusted to my new life.  My son, God bless him, now doesn’t like leaving me, in case I change again.  It has been rough on him.  My husband has also suffered through the harrowing times, but we are all a safe strong unit once again.

Writing has come back in fits and spurts, I have days when I write, but I often go for weeks without writing, and it doesn’t bother me right now.  I am still getting over the effects of the antidepressants.  My mind wanders freely of its own accord (I zone out!), my memory is like a sieve, I only remember what I want to remember (like my counselling sessions) and forget things that don’t seem important (like BGAC meetings!)

Counselling has been a Godsend, I love my counsellor, she is a loving, generous and caring person.  I love that she listens to me, acknowledges me, and tells me that what I am doing and feeling are normal, even if they aren’t!  Because they are normal for me.

One thing I have learnt from counselling is that life is all about choices.  You make

Winter Sunrise

choices that affect your life.  Others make choices and that affects their lives.  You have choices to make about how you react to other peoples choices.

At the moment, I am working on my own choices.  I make my own decisions and I live with the consequences, whether they are positive or negative.  It might sound really simple, but I have had to strip back years of intense anger, hatred and despair to finally come to this point.  To go back over all of the choices I have made in my life and accept the results, good and bad, as part of my life.

I have also accepted that people will make choices that I don’t like.  It doesn’t mean I have to like them or hate them.  That is the decision they have made.

As a result I have noticed an improvement in my relationship with my husband.  Initially I thought he was changing due to the changes in me, but now I realise that he hasn’t changed… I have.   I am more accepting of myself now, knowing that my history has made me who I am, and I can’t go back and change things, I have to see those events as life changing and learn from the mistakes, and move on.

So, this is my year in review.  It has been bad, but it has also been good.  I have grown up. I now accept myself for who I am and what I have to offer, and I have plenty to offer! I have a beautiful and supportive family, who ring me to see how I am.  I have friends who have surrounded me with love and support, and I will be grateful for them.

I will write again, because God gave me a talent, and he won’t take it away from me now.  He is just preparing me for the next phase of my life.  Good things can only happen from now on in!