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lundi 13 juillet 2015

15

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.

But.

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...

vendredi 2 janvier 2015

New Year's questionnaire, the return

New Year

The New Year's Questionnaire

Instead of an actual update, I'm going to (once again) do this New Year's questionnaire.

In short, for those of you not reading my woefully irregular posts, 2014 (like just about every year for as long as I can remember) sucked big time (and, after only 1 day, 2015 isn't set to be great either, but it at least has time to improve).

OK, here we go.

Thanks again to Linda for this...

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?

Hmmm. Not a huge amount. I didn't seem to do much of anything, to be honest, let alone new stuff. I guess I could mention electroshock therapy. I'd certainly never done that before...

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

No real resolutions, but, having lost over 10 kg in the last 6 months, I am kind of hoping to be able to maintain my new weight

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! My upstairs neighbours had a little girl on 4 July. We're not close friends, but they are close in terms of distance!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes. My best friend from middle school - still my friend more than 30 years later, even though we never saw each other any more, died on 27 December. Cancer sucks

5. What countries did you visit?

Portugal - I took the girls to Lisbon for a week in July

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

A steady income, mental stability, a normal life (as normal as my life can ever be). This desire never seems to change...

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

3 March, the day my beloved Tom died. 26 May, the day our new kitten, Smoky, came into our lives and also the day I was discharged from the mental institution I'd been in for 4 months

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not going bankrupt, I guess

9. What was your biggest failure?

Only just not going bankrupt. Or possibly my failures as a mother. Tough one to call

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Same allergies as every year now apparently, and then ongoing bipolar issues

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The whole "trying not to go bankrupt" thing has meant I haven't bought many things this year...

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

No one has stood out, I'm afraid

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Probably mine, at the personal level. At the "celebrity" level, I'd have to say the French President's ex-girlfriend, Valérie Trierweiler

14. Where did most of your money go?

Trying to pay off the huge amount of debt I have

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

Nothing

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

There are several, mainly through the incessant YouTub-ing of the girls: 1D's "Steal my girl", for example, plus French "stars" such as Black M, Indila...

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

a) happier or sadder? About the same, unfortunately

b) thinner or fatter? About 10 kg thinner

c) richer or poorer? Also about the same - too in debt, anyway

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

Be normal (I don't even know what that means, to be honest)

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

Spend time in psychiatric establishments

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Here at home, just me and Y (and the cats, of course). Two of his friends came round in the evening. Then Y left for 2 weeks with his family in Algeria the next day

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?

This is a tough one, too. My relationship with Y sprang back to life sometime between February and April (the electroshocks have made me lose all memory of that period...), but I'm having trouble believing it will last - regardless of my hopes that it does

22. What was your favourite TV programme?

I've spent quite a lot of time watching the National Geographic Channel, but not a particular programme

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

No

24. What was the best book you read?

I seem to have lost the ability to read books, which still appalls me!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Pffff, I'm waaay too old for this question

26. What did you want and get?

Nothing

27. What did you want and not get?

A decent income may sound materialistic, but it really would be nice!

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

I took L. to see "Paddington" just before Christmas and that was quite good. I think it was in 2014 that I also saw Baz Luhrman's "The Great Gatsby", and I loved that...

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

I turned 45 (God help me) in May. As is the case most years, I can't really remember much about it. I was still a patient of the psychiatric establishment, so it couldn't have been particularly exciting I guess

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

Not being so heavily in debt

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

I still really, really don't have a "fashion concept"

32. What kept you sane?

Nothing, apparently

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

Pat Monahan - still, but now accompanied by Alexander Skarsgard and Joe Manganiello from True Blood. This hasn't changed, amazingly

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I'm still not really interested in politics, but the various troubles around the world are disturbing

35. Who did you miss?

My friends in England - I don't see them nearly often enough; my friend in South Africa. This hasn't changed either.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Being pretty much a hermit, it isn't surprising that I don't think I met anyone new in 2014

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014

That raising tweens/teenagers is a challenge at a whole range of levels

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
These haven't changed either: there are two: first, from Train's early hit, "Meet Virginia":

"She pulls her hair back as she screams, "I don't really want to live this life!"
Second, from "Chasing cars" by Snow Patrol:

"If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world"

Rendez-vous in 12 months for the next depressing installment of my miserable life.

jeudi 1 janvier 2015

Life sucks

As usual, it's been a while. Apparently, one of the many things I suck at is being regular in my blog posts...

To keep you up to date, we haven't taken Zorro back to the refuge - he's still with us, but remains wild and unsociable. We didn't take him back for the simple reason that we couldn't actually catch him and put him in the travel case. We did, however, adopt the kitten I mentioned - his name is Smoky and he's absolutely adorable, despite the (many) stupid things he does. He's almost 9 months old, he's cute, and affectionate, and everything I could wish for in a cat. His only "failing" is that he isn't Tom, and we all know that's not his fault...

Other than that, my life continues to suck big time. I got my freedom back at the end of May, and the judge removed the tutor from my existence at about the same time. However, it turns out that he left me with more debt than he cleared up, so I've spent the last 7 months trying to pay it all off. I've done my best, I've paid off a huge amount, but still have a huge amount to pay. And of course, work has been erratic at best, non-existent at worst. My "career" is, it seems, more or less over.

In other news, I randomly stopped taking my meds at about the end of June, just because I hate the idea of putting toxic chemicals into my body. Naturally, my shrink has no idea of this, and I have absolutely no intention of telling him. I do NOT want him sectioning me again. I've done OK so far, though I'm not in great shape tonight...

Let me explain.

It's New Year's Eve, or technically New Year's Day now (yay! party! NOT), and I'm alone with the cats. This has been a wretched "holiday" season. The girls went to Paris on 22 December and came back a week later, meaning I wasn't with them for Christmas or Cs 13th birthday. Y left for 2 weeks in Algeria on 26 December. He comes back very late on 10 January, and leaves for 5 days in Porto on the 12th. It's like Cien años de soledad condensed into one, 3-week period.

On top of that, a friend who was my best friend for many, many years died on the 27th and, even though I haven't seen her for years, even though our contact was almost solely through Facebook, it felt as though the world had once again fallen apart. The funeral's on the 23rd, and I can't afford to go, which makes me feel even worse.

I got drunk the night I heard of her death, I got drunk and cried a lot. A real pity party. But the truth is, all this misery is just the culmination of a globally shitty, shitty year.

I'm too scared to hope that 2015 will be better, because I've hoped for that every year, and each year has been worse than the one before. I'm terrified to even contemplate what more shit can possibly come my way.

I nevertheless wish anyone who does actually read this all the best for 2015. It's just that I'm not hopeful in my particular case.

I might even try and write here more often - though that could be more of a threat than a promise given the continual outpourings of misery you get...