I've often been told, when feeling particularly down and desperate, that the best thing to do is to make a list of all I'm grateful for, and then, once that's done, I'll somehow realise that my life isn't the crapfest I believe it to be.
I'm not the world's most adventurous person, but this is a task I probably can do, so here we go.
THINGS I'M GRATEFUL FOR
1. I have 2 daughters I'm inordinately proud of and whom I love with every molecule of my being.
2. My elder daughter is on course to get her Brevet (national diploma taken by all French kids at the end of middle school) with a good grade and has been accepted at the high school she wants for next year.
3. I have 2 cats that I adore.
4. Living in the south of France is most definitely a good thing.
5. I guess I'm in reasonably good health.
THINGS THAT NEVERTHELESS SHOW THAT MY LIFE REALLY IS A CRAPFEST
1. I essentially have no relationship at all with one of my daughters - I feel that if there were actual conflict it might even be better. As it is, we're civil to each other, even reasonably friendly, but she clearly feels no desire to ever spend time with me, so I probably spend less than 10 minutes with her in a week.
2. My other daughter has so many issues that I can't help but feel I'm at least a little responsible. She has chronic insomnia (she's nearly 12 but is rarely asleep before midnight), she has very deep separation anxiety, she's a hoarder, she's very volatile, very insecure...
3. My professional life has essentially ground to a total halt. I've yet to translate 40,000 words in 2016, whereas that used to be my average monthly target (one I reached repeatedly, and exceeded often). I've contacted former clients but have been given different reasons from each of them as to why they no longer work with me - I'm too expensive (I doubt that very much), I don't have the right "profile", they found someone who could provide more services, they found someone with more specialist experience, they found someone quicker, etc.
4. As a result, money is my main worry, occupying my thoughts pretty much all day, every day. If things don't look up significantly in the immediate future, I will have literally € 0 in my savings account, and € 0 in my current account by the end of June. I'll have paid off most of my remaining debt, but will be totally destitute.
5. I hate being so poor, having to think hard before spending even € 0.10. I don't go out, I don't buy things, I don't do anything. It's hard to have to tell L. that no, I can't buy her X right now... I need work, and income, so badly it hurts.
6. My health is probably OK, but I don't have the money to go to the doctor (yes, it's refunded but I still have to pay out first as none of my doctors seems to be equipped with the thingy that pays them directly). I have a number of aches and pains that are becoming chronic, but I can't do anything about them right now.
7. My flat is an embarrassment to me, to the extent that I feel unable to invite anyone here, ever. The furniture is old, mismatched, poor quality and neglected. The décor is a disaster, the kitchen is wretched, the bathroom is horrible, there's stuff everywhere, including bicycles in the sitting room. I hate it, I hate feeling so much of a loser.
8. I'm too embarrassed to ask my dad for money again - he gave me almost € 10,000 at the end of last year, all of which will have gone by the end of June, paying off the various debts accumulated when someone else was appointed to take care of my affairs and made a total mess of it (he did sort out a few things, but totally ignored stuff like VAT, income tax, mortgage repayments, obligatory social contributions etc., leaving me with more than € 30,000 of debt when I got control of my life back 2 years ago). It is now almost all paid off, and there's only another 9 months to go on my mortgage, but if there's no money coming in, I'm still going to end up screwed. And there isn't a bank in France that will give me a loan. Asking my dad is a painful thought - I know he'd help me out, but I also know it would bring me even further down in his opinion of me (already not great), and I don't think I can face that...
9. My relationship with Y is somewhat less than ideal. We seem to irritate each other a great deal at the moment, and our differences seem to be becoming more obvious. We still get on most of the time, but it's a source of dissatisfaction for me and I have the feeling that the fact that we are both incredibly stressed (though about totally different things, of course) really isn't helping.
10. My life is really not much more than an existence. I don't have the means to go places, do things, visit things, eat out, whatever. I rarely leave the house, when I do, I rarely go further than school, L's circus school, etc. I know less about the region I live in than people who've lived here just a few months. It's frustrating, and utterly depressing in the end - I live in a beautiful region, but take no advantage of it.
Hey what do you know? Just 5 things in the "grateful" list, and 10 in the "crapfest" list...
This year can go suck it.