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dimanche 7 février 2016

New month, new post

It will almost certainly come as no surprise to anyone to learn that I'm feeling singularly overwhelmed, stressed, scared, whatever.

Crappy bits of administrative guff that really do need to be taken care of, but that just aren't being taken care of at all;

Crappy life situations that really do need to be dealt with, but that just aren't being dealt with at all;

[Interlude: can you see a pattern forming here?]

Crappy health and hygiene situations that really do need to be looked into, but that just aren't being looked into at all;

You get the picture.

My sweet little L is going through a spectacularly rough time. There are endless, endless arguments between her and her sister, her and D, her and both of them. She's refused to sleep at D's place since Tuesday and claims she "never wants to go back there". *sigh*

She very clearly needs help - help of a professional kind, I mean - but any mention of such a thing and she goes ballistic. So things just stay as they are. She has "behaviours" that aren't acceptable, she gets punished at school, she gets punished by D, she's at permanent war with C...

There's only with me that she seems to find some kind of tranquillity, except for the fact that she's a chronic insomniac and is frequently still awake at 1 am, even on school nights... Even when I try and make sure she's in bed by 9.30 pm...

I'm lost, struggling, trying to do my best and, as ever, pretty much failing.

The only highlight in this cloud of darkness is that I've booked a week's holiday for me and the girls in August in Naples. If the girls don't fight all the time, it should be quite a good holiday - there are lots of lovely things to visit, in Naples itself, plus Pompei and Herculaneum of course, plus Vesuvius, the Isle of Capri... I'm really looking forward to it, even though it's months and months away...

Other than that, my life is just a steady stream of same old, same old.

Debt, not enough work, crappy living habits when Y isn't here (as he isn't now - he flew to Latvia on 24 January and won't be back till the end of this month), stress, worry about the girls, worry in general, insomnia, bla, bla, bla.

I feel like a record that just gets played over and over again, no year being any noticeably different from any other, just mild degress of change in the level of terribleness.


lundi 25 janvier 2016

New Year's questionnaire

The New Year's Questionnaire

Total radio-blog silence since July... Possibly a new record!

Anyway. Let's see how things stand. What kind of year was 2015 in the Magic27 house?

I feel kind of obliged to admit that 2015 was, without doubt, a better year than the previous...euh...6. That doesn't, of course, mean that it was a good year, just a better one. But progress is progress; let's hope 2015 was just the start of a decidedly upward trend!

Thanks again to Linda for this...

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?

I'm really not sure about this one. I have no idea. So, probably nothing I suppose...

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't really make any resolutions last year. As a result, I'll probably try and think up something vaguely attainable for 2012 (say, eating less crap or going to bed earlier) and hope I fare better

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No. But my lovely upstairs neighbour is due to do so in March this year...

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?

England, Italy and Scotland.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

This never seems to change, from one year to the next: a better financial situation. But I'm going to add to that a second thing: a better relationship with my 14-year-old daughter, C. Because that area of my life is a disaster!

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

I'm getting the impression that 2015 was a fairly bland year - there aren't any dates that jump out at me.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Staying financially afloat, staying out of a psychiatric establishment.

9. What was your biggest failure?

By far, my relationship with C.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Horrible allergies as usual, starting in late January and lasting till around June (a record), plus the usual psychiatric problems, but thankfully nothing else.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Nothing in particular, but buying a new dress always fills me with a ridiculous amount of joy...

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Can't think of anyone in particular.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

No one in particular that I know in real life. In CelebWorld, I'd have to say Donald Trump.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Paying off my debts (that never changes), paying all the official crap I have to pay and...pretty dresses probably!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I really don't think I have the ability to get wildly excited about anything... I was moderately excited at the prospect of going to Rome.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

Mostly songs L listens to - Taylor Swift's Blank Space is one I certainly seemed to hear about a million times a day!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? About the same.

b) thinner or fatter? Thinner (because I went cold turkey on all the medication the shrink prescribes (he still prescribes because I haven't dared tell him) and thus don't take anything at all any more).

c) richer or poorer? About the same.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Travel, laugh, feel happy.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?


20. How did you spend Christmas?

The girls and I travelled to see my dad in Scotland. We arrived late on 22 December and came home on 30December. It went OK, though my relationship with my dad is a bit strained. It also rained a LOT, which meant we didn't leave the house very much...

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?

No. I'm still with Y, but (and I've never said this "out loud" before) it's not love. Not on my side, anyway.

22. What was your favourite TV programme?

I enjoyed Better Call Saul, and (for some inexplicable reason) I love watching the French equivalent of Bake Off, called Le Meilleur Pâtissier.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

There were several times during the year in which I hated my ex, D, but it would be unfair to say it was true all year.

24. What was the best book you read?

I enjoyed Grady Hendrix's Satan Loves You. It was deliciously irreverent and very funny!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I am definitely too old to be making musical "discoveries"!

26. What did you want and get?

I asked for Adele's new CD, 25, and got that from my dad, and I asked for a couple of books (the latest Asterix album and the latest Largo Winch album) and got both of them from Lydie.

27. What did you want and not get?

Jewellery from my favourite jeweller here in Montpellier - I left hints, even said it out loud, but no one listened...

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

I don't think I saw a single film at the cinema this year that wasn't a kids' film...

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 46 (God help me) in May. To be honest, I can't really remember much about it. It was a little tense because C was here and so was Y, and they barely speak to each other.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Less financial stress.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Hardly a fashion concept, but I do like wearing dresses...

32. What kept you sane?

My private, secret, only-exists-in-my-head world.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Pat Monahan - still. Plus Johnny Depp, as always.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I find politics in general depressing. But the presidential campaign in the US, and in particular the Republican primaries, are worse than anything...

35. Who did you miss?

An unfortunate incident with my friend J in 2014 (an incident involving L, revealing her many "issues"), plus a lot of difficult situations in J's own life, have meant that J and I have had almost no contact, and that breaks my heart...

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I joined a group of English-speaking women back in 2014, and many of them are great and have become friends. In 2015, I met one in particular with whom I feel a real connection: we have a lot of things in common! So yes, R is the best new person I met in 2015.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015

That I really do need to make an effort to leave my comfort zone (i.e. my sofa) and get out there, amongst (carefully selected) people...

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Same as every year: it's from Train's early hit, "Meet Virginia":

"She pulls her hair back as she screams, "I don't really want to live this life!"

So there you have it. A slightly more positive review than in recent years, but there's still an awful lot that could be improved. Do I dare to hope that 2016 will continue in this upward vein?!

lundi 13 juillet 2015


Sometimes, I catch a glimpse of you and can't believe how beautiful you are... Your long, blond hair "swishes" in that special way that mine never will, your blue, blue eyes sparkle as the sunlight of summer catches them. Your long, tanned legs still have that baby giraffe look to them, but I can see the hints of the lovely young woman you will soon be.

I see you with your friends, giggling as you all pore over someone's latest post on Facebook or whatever it is that you girls find so funny. Your laughter blends with theirs, like a symphony of carefree fun...

I see the joy in your eyes as you discover your "mention très bien" for the "Brevet des collèges", your first taste of an actual, national exam, and my heart swells with pride.

I hear you talking excitedly down the phone about the high school you will start attending in September, your plans for the summer, the boys you have crushes on, the music you like, the cute dress you just bought in the sales, the nail art you just did on your toes...

I watch you happily playing Uno with your sisters, content to go back to being a little girl for just a short while.

I see you gently touch your beloved teddy bear every night before you go to sleep, even though you no longer hold him close to you as you used to.

I try to imagine what the future will bring, what paths you will choose, what decisions you will make.

Yes, sometimes I catch a glimpse of you and realise that the tiny, tiny baby born 15 years ago today is no longer a little girl. You are gradually transforming into a beautiful, beautiful butterfly, unfurling your silky, colourful wings, preparing to take flight for the first time.

I know that this lovely girl I see is an illusion, a mirage; I know that you exist only in a parallel universe, one where the day you were born wasn't also the day you died. I know that you were never officially given a name or a burial. I know that your time here with us was so short that most people never get the chance to catch sight of you as I do.

But I see you everywhere, and I always will. I love you with all my heart, you are my very sweetest angel.

And that is why, my darling Eva, I wish you the very happiest of 15th birthdays. May all your dreams come true.

dimanche 14 juin 2015

Reading matter

Break out the Muscat de Rivesaltes, guys, this is my own, personal book club. There's no set topic. Oh... wait. Maybe there is...

First up: a happy little pairing:
Lionel Shriver's "We need to talk about Kevin"
Jodi Piccoult's "19 minutes"
Both of these are about screwed up, psychologically damaged teenagers who go on a murderous rampage around their high schools. Hmm. Comedies, then.

Second; a couple more Jodi Piccoult novels:
My sister's keeper - another happy story of terminal illness in a child, designer babies, moral dilemma and death.
The pact - a cheerful tale of teenage suicide.
There's obviously a high giggle factor here, too.

Finally: a selection (free choice, people) of Michael Connelly or Jonathan Kellerman thrillers.
These involve brutal murders, criminal psychology and the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles.

So maybe there is a theme after all.

I swear, people, I've been on the muscat since I took C. back to her dad's and am slowly falling apart.

All these joyous books about death and the dark side of life have helped me come to the shocking (to me, anyway) realisation that I cannot possibly allow myself to commit suicide, however appealing it might seem, because I can't bear the thought of what it would do to C and L. Yet, at the same time, the thought of having to live like this for the rest of my miserable life fills me with such despair that I think I'll implode.

I truly don't know what to do.

Somebody. Anybody. Please.

Help me.

jeudi 11 juin 2015

Probably not a good sign...

...2 posts in as many hours.


I can't stop crying. I've been binge-watching TV and DVDs since I took the girls home at 7 this evening: I cried at a Stéphane Plaza house-hunting show. I cried at Grey's Anatomy. I've cried through several episodes of Glee.

This is most definitely not a good sign.

Life coach? Screw that

My life is so screwed up. And in so, so many ways.

I could make a career change and become a life coach for those seeking new, innovative means of falling down the deep, dark hole.

To (badly) paraphrase Shakespeare, "How shall I screw up? Let me count the ways..."

My family life is a disaster. I have an elder daughter (aged 13-and-a-half-going-on-18) that I barely see. She's clearly punishing me for a whole range of perceived and actual failings on my part, to such an extent that when I DO see her (essentially Wednesday afternoons and occasional bits of weekends), she remains distant, actively hostile to Y, glued to any kind of screen and 100% a Daddy's girl. She just wrote to her new Australian penpal that she "lives with her dad". She refuses to sleep here. Every time she's here when Y is here, it's like there's a huge, grey cloud of pure lead hanging over us. She defends D at every opportunity, regardless of whether he's to blame or at fault, or not. I have a younger daughter (aged 11) that I see pretty much every day, and she's the light in my life, without any doubt. But I'm scared it will all change when she joins her sister at middle school in September. She also has a multitude of "issues", including chronic hoarding, possible kleptomania and a severe lack of self-confidence. And I feel to blame for all that too. Even she rarely sleeps here, and I miss her morning bedhead, her bedtime rituals; I miss being more than a couple-of-hours-every-evening, part-time mother. I've failed both my daughters because of what happened to D and me, what I did 3 years ago, how things have been ever since. I've missed so much of their lives and I'll never get that time back.

My professional life is a disaster. Spending 18 months in a psychiatric institute (including almost a year of that in the "secure" facility) has slashed my client list and, as a result, my income. I spend waaaay too many hours a week with no work to do at all. Worse still, I have little to no ambition and so am doing absolutely nothing about this situation - no courses to learn new (complementary or totally different) skills, no prospecting (I'm absolutely, totally incapable of prospecting), no networking, no nothing really.

Consequently, my financial situation is precarious at best, and would be a total, living-in-a-box-under-a-bridge disaster if my dad didn't keep sending me money. I'm immeasurably grateful to him for this and will never be able to thank him enough, but I also feel deeply ashamed to be 46 (God help me) and still so dependent on him. I also know he's deeply disappointed in me and pretty much every single life choice I've ever made. Speaking to him makes me feel more depressed than you can ever imagine. And I hate myself for that, too.

My mental health is a disaster. I see Dr H almost every week, but stopped taking the medication more than a year ago (though I obviously haven't told him that). I find it impossible to tell him about all the black stuff inside my head because I'm too scared he'll send me back there. I practice what I'm not going to tell him in my head all the time, then, when I get there, I'm monosyllabic or - worse - mute.

My personal life is...well...complicated. Y and I get on fine, but the situation between him and C brings tears to my eyes without fail and fills my heart with so much sadness that I can barely stand it. Y has many, many issues of his own and seems incapable of doing anything about them, leaving me to try and pick up the pieces. And failing at that too. Plus there's D. My feelings for him range from pretty much total indifference to outright hatred. Sometimes, he makes me so angry I could scream. I know he's not entirely to blame for all the crap that's happened to me in the last few years, but he's certainly responsible for a part of it, and I HATE him for it. I HATE what he did to me and yes, I'm still bitter and twisted about it, even though it's been more than 5 years ago.

And then, finally, my social life is also a disaster. I'm increasingly loathe to leave the house, limiting my outings to collecting L from school, taking her to her circus class once a week (now finished till September), running the occasional, essential errand and forcing myself to a fortnightly coffee morning with lovely English-speaking friends. Their lives are so different, so alien that I feel like a fly spying on their conversations. I hear them talking about the places they visit (almost everyone knows the region better than I do, even when they've only been here a matter of months and I've been here since 1999), the trips they go on, their "normal" lives (husbands who work, children who live with them, money in the bank...), and I feel like a freak. Always, ever. Again.

So I guess you can count the ways in which I've screwed up my life. Except that of course, I probably haven't included everything.

Y has gone home to his family for two weeks. He left this morning and I can already feel myself falling apart - even though when he's here, I yearn for time alone. I'm increasingly convinced that there's no hope for me. I can't live with people, I can't live alone, my daughters don't want to live with me...

There's nothing left. Just that deep, dark hole. It's a scary place but oh, so familiar. And that makes it kind of appealing.

God help me.

vendredi 3 avril 2015

And so, suddenly, it's 3 months later

I make all these wild, unrealistic promises to myself that I'll keep my blog more up to date but of course I never do. I just don't seem to be able to get my act together which pretty much sums up most aspects of my life, I must say...

So. How is 2015 shaping up? I hear (none of) you ask. Wellllll...

I guess it's been (so far) an improvement of the past few years, but that doesn't mean that things are going well. Just not (quite) so hideously.

D and I are barely speaking because his rampant paranoia has once again cranked up a notch and, even though I know I should be more tolerant of someone so clearly mentally unstable, I cannot help but get totally riled and upset and tearful. I'll spare you the details, but he made me so angry yesterday that I could barely contain myself. And we haven't exchanged a (spoken) word since. Just a couple of angry (from me) and snarky (from him) text messages.

My finances are apparently OK, but there are huge potential debts lurking, waiting to pounce: the retirement agency (CIPAV, to name names) have pretty much ignored me for 2 years, meaning I haven't paid them a cent in as long. I've told this to URSSAF, who are technically responsible for passing on all income details to the health and retirement agencies, and whilst the former (health) contact me and extract money out of me, the latter do not and I can't help but feel that a HUGE bill is going to come tumbling through the door sometime soon, and then, I will once again, be horribly in debt.

The cats are fine - Smoky turns 1 in two days, and is as cute as a button but not, apparently, the brightest cat in the world. He gets up to a fair amount of mischief, will eat almost literally anything and needs to be picked up and cuddled very, very regularly. Zorro is now about 18 months and remains totally anti-social, utterly terrified of every human he encounters and as un-pet-like as you can imagine.

My relationship with Y is still going strong, despite C's continued bitchiness and stropiness. He and I get on well, understand each other, enjoy each other's company. I still have the aching feeling that it's all going to come to an end one day - the day he decides he wants children of his own (if mine haven't put him off kids for life...). I guess I should just take this all one day at a time...

And then there are the girls. Oh boy. I see L. a lot - pretty much every day, even though she rarely sleeps here. I pick her up from school every day, she's here every Wednesday from lunchtime on, and I usually see her a little at the weekends. I rarely, however, see C. and Dr H. believes that she's still "punishing" me for all the time I spent in the nut house - she felt that I'd abandoned her and now she's making me pay. We don't fight or anything, but conversation is awkward, stilted, difficult. She's been very unhappy at school this year (the kids in her class are mainly pretty horrible, she has few friends, she's often been excluded) and my heart aches for her. I just don't seem to be able to reach her. She's 13 now and has "things to do" at weekends, she goes back to D's place after school and I basically only ever see her on Wednesday afternoons.

That said, we're going to England for a week this month (17-25 April, I can hardly wait!) and I'm hoping that will bring us back together again a little. I'm also planning to take them on holiday in the summer - either Madrid or Rome, we'll see - and that should be good.

I don't know. When I write it all out like this, it seems like I'm doing fine. My problems don't seem to be any more overwhelming than those faced by everyone else. But inside, I know I'm struggling, I'm finding it hard to get things done, I feel like I'm losing control, little by little. I try, I really do, to keep on top of things, but I still always feel overwhelmed, "dépassée par les événements" so to speak. I'm scared of losing it altogether, scared of ending back there (you know where). Pfffff

Anyway. There you have it. I HAVE been trying to get out more, even though I haven't really succeeded. I went to a Galette des Rois party in January organised by a group of English-speaking women here in the region. I also attend coffee mornings organised by (some of) the same group and last night I even went to one of their "Girls' Night Outs". I never really regret going, I just find it hard to commit myself to going in the first place... But yes, I AM trying, I really am!

I seem to remember that April is the A-Z challenge month. Hmmm. I'll try to find out and, if it is, then I might, just might, end up posting here more often than usual! But don't hold your breathe, I'm not good at keeping this kind of commitment...