Saturday, February 6, 2016

How to be a Brit

It's nearly time. On monday I'm starting in the UK. And for the last 10 days or so my anxiety is back. Ah I was doing so well... but no obviously not. Just give me something to look forward to, some target, something to develop and the anxiety just seem to come associated.

I started having this back pain which moved to the left side and comes around the upper part of the stomach...I know I know it has the classic signs of stress and all, but what can I tell you...

Things with Mike seem to have stabilised, I do my things he does his. On wednesday, our of the blue, he took me out for dinner. First time in 13 years I think. It was a lovely evening, the conversation was very normal. But it's as if I am now living in my head, with my own real life somewhere else and my actual real life is some sort of intrusion. Science is going very well, my group is really delivering and in particular a collaborative project is amazing. I brought a student with me to Switzerland (where the collaborator is based) and we got a day on the slopes too. I so so love skiing, it was just one of those perfect days. Made me realise how much I actually miss the continent, the possibility of just hopping on the car and go to the Alps for a day. Maybe one day...

As for the UK. I thought I was just looking forward to starting, it will be really intense at least until the summer when the family moves over too, I'm flying out every monday morning at 8 am and back every wednesday night with a 9pm flight. I'm not even sure they will like this much at all in the new place, but there's no way I can stay without seeing the children for 5 days a week. Plus I'm teaching in Dublin thursday and friday and I still have my group here. But I also don't have any commitments till the autumn semester, I will just write papers and grant proposals. Can really do this anywhere.
I have an Airb&b sorted at least till I find a house, and it will save me a good bit of money as I will only pay for the day I'm using it. My office over there should also be sorted, at least I hope so.

Oliver has had a couple of really bad days. Days where I think I want to have him assessed. Today he got to the point of actually hitting me. I really don't think it's normal. And what makes him escalate is nothing. Literally nothing. And he would make a scene like he is possessed. Nothing calms him and even if you give in to whatever it is he wants that very second, 10 minutes later there is another more pressing request. Today we went from water (no problem) to juice (no there is no juice, I'm sorry) to ice-cream, to electric toothbrush, vitamins, cake, nuts, marshmallows. In the space of 2 hours. 2 hours. We were out shopping and what seemed to work was to let him take what he wanted (vitamins) only to trade it in if he then wanted something different. We went home with a bag of nuts.  And it started this morning just out of bed. We don't know what to do. And this adds to my anxiety. Any suggestions is welcomed.

Martina thank god is the sweetest child. I don't even know how she is not influenced (though at times she is) and is just very very reasonable, and fun to be around. Let's hope it will last forever.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016

And we turned another page of the calendar! We are still in Italy at my parents, not too easy at times but not bad either. We will be back in Dublin on the 3rd. Mike and I sleep at my sisters most nights but all is calm. I try to be affectionate but that's all I manage and we had not further talk.

Oliver turned 5 today, can you believe this? He is a very good child most of the time but can still be impossible. I hope next year I will be able to say we have finally gotten over the tantrums (much much rarer thankfully). He seems to need very little sleep, and that worries my a bit, mostly because I am certain when he sleeps less he also much more prone to silly behaviour. He is highly articulated and has a great memory so we have to be quite careful as silly distractions doesn't work at all anymore.

Martina is the sweetest girl, so so affectionate and just a very content child. Long may this last!

And I'm looking forward to the new year, I hope it will bring some clarity and calm in my mind, I am sure that moving will be great too and will give me so much to look forward to.

I wish you all much love and I feel blessed to have you to share my journey.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Ask me if I'm happy

This is the title of an Italian movie I really liked (and I think it sounds better in Italian than in English, but ah well).

So what's new. Not much. The teaching term is over, now one week of apparent calm and then exams will storm the buildings like every year. It will be over too eventually.
Mike is back to his normal self. No real conversation since, he is still doing things for the move, looking for a job, making arrangements for early January to go over etc. Our talking is back to trivial and day to day stuff. We did the shopping for Christmas on line for the children and he did most of the research which was good.

Yesterday we went out for lunch. For the first time in years I'd say we had a baby sitter and we went with friends into town for a catch up and a bite to eat. It was nice, we get on very well with them and yet it felt to me I was acting all the time. Acting to be happy in my relationship, acting to be interested in the upcoming wedding of two of our friends, acting to cheer the news of the third pregnancy of another common friend. They all looked so so happy...
When we came home we put up the Christmas tree (never one of my favourite things to do really) and I was looking at Mike and the children fluffing up the branches (we have a very expensive, very real looking fake tree) and putting up the decoration and I was feeling so much sadness... I'm sure it's also hormonal but still. I so wish I could share that happiness that lightness of the heart...while I just wished I was somewhere else. And this is so so heavy on me, I feel totally responsible for the lack of enthusiasm, for again feeling very much alone (I worry a lot about the move and just keep it to myself, Mike never asks), completely preoccupied with things other than the family and it's not right. I started thinking it will be the last Christmas in this house for sure, got a bit emotional. When I told Mike he said "let's make it a good one" and he is right, I just don't know where to find the magic dust...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The talk

I brought the children to Italy the last weekend of October and I flew back late on monday while they stayed with my parents till the following thursday. I had a super time, talked a lot with my sister and my best friend and things became even clearer.

I was not set on having a "talk" as such but it somehow happened and there was the right occasion. It started with Mike coming to pick me up at the airport. This would not be too unusual but the fact that he parked the car and actually came inside the terminal definitely was. I thanked him and commented that it was unusual and he said "really?". Yes, really.

We drove into work together and I started asking some questions about his work and the move to the UK and he was yet again completely disengaged on all fronts. So I thought I could not let the opportunity go by and really opened up my soul about how I felt and how little supported I have been feeling all along. He was very quiet. We (I) talked about feelings and emotions, and how I don't feel loved at all, I reported several examples throughout the years and he could only agree that this and that was really not a nice thing to say/do. We talked some more in the evening, I made clear that I don't want to break up the family but I feel very much trapped in a situation where I am alone in most of the important decisions, that I am the one pulling us everywhere, that I don't see him having much of an aspiration for himself in just about anything that goes on. I asked him what does he want for himself and he didn't know. He was clearly shaken and I felt this huge relief of finally having told him. The main points were the lack of sharing thoughts and feelings, the really just having sex was what made us different from the rest of the people we know, and our very different understanding of loving. I don't feel at all we are partners.

A couple of days went by with little conversation of any relevance, the children came back, my parents were here for a few days so not much happening.

Then he emailed me one day last week saying he was barely keeping it together and could we talk some more. So we did of course, I'm never the one that doesn't want to talk. Again it felt like I was the only one talking but I suppose he just wanted to understand more how I felt. In the end it was clear that he missed more the fact that I was no longer affectionate and I explained that I have no problem being affectionate, but not sexual because I can hardly have sex with someone I feel doesn't get me much at all. He accepted that I think. He asked me what I would have done if we had no children, would I have left him? I pointed out I clearly have a very poor track record in the way I choose partners, but that probably I still would have tried to talk to him and get him to at least understand how I feel. I don't know if I can bring back any feelings other than deep family love (but not like a brother, he asked that, no it's much more than that).

Since then he suddenly found a new enthusiasm about the move (he is looking for schools for the children, jobs etc) and went back running. I'm glad for him, I hope he is not doing it just for me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Emotionally starved"

This is the definition my psychotherapist used to describe what is going on inside my head and heart. And I realised this is perfectly fitting.

Till we had plans, things to do, to keep busy, etc. I did not notice that my emotions did not get sufficient attention (understatement of the year). Throughout my infertility years I had you: my cyber friends. A couple of whom are very good friends in real life too. I needed this space where I could talk, open my heart and I knew, I always knew I would have gotten the support, the comfort, the kind words. Mike has always been extremely kind, but never capable of sitting down with me and listen to my broken soul. Or better, he listened. Never had anything to say back. That's just not what we do. And for 12 years I think I was ok with this, I had my friends, I had you, I had my many projects. Oliver, the first years, Martina, her first years... we are busy, not much time to think, to observe and take stock. We always had something to do around the house, holidays to plan. I mostly planned everything, Mike very happy to go along (most of the time) and me happy to do the planning.

I know things changed early this year. Or better, they didn't change at all, I just suddenly saw the situation differently.

As I started looking for a job somewhere else, Mike was not there at all for me. Not a word like...ever. No plans, dreams or even curiosity. Surely he saw how impossible the working environment had become for me, surely he must have known I am not the kind of person that just complains about things. I would have acted. And I did. On my own. I wrote in May how he suddenly had a major display of emotions (all negatives) and that for me was a turning point. The turning point. One of those you remember forever. If my feelings had been tested up till that point, there was when something broke. It's not the job hunting, or the event itself, it's how obviously incapable we are of talking to one another. I did not see that coming at all. Not only that, but on that occasion I absolutely did not share nor I understood his feelings. We are scientists, it's in our nature to have a curious attitude, to love new things, to discover. I realised I would be much better off on my own in my adventure. Clearly the children are a significant factor. I am not doing anything rushed only because of them.

I love him, I will always love him. I just wish I was free and love him from afar, like I love my parents. I'd like to be free to do my things without thinking "oh I better let him know this or the other" and it's always only functional. I am not even mentioning my excitement about starting new things, setting up a new lab, new collaborations, new projects. He never asks of course, but also he is always going to be lukewarm no matter what we say/do.

It could totally be me. In fact I think it is me. I tend to get bored. I'm amazed I only noticed it now after 12 years together. With my first husband it took about 4 years total time. Clearly we had no children, it was so much easier to just pack up and go. And we stayed very good friends (if we ever were friends, again we had zero in common, zero conversation, at least with Mike we have the science in common if not so much the emotional connection) we are still in touch for birthdays etc 14 years after splitting up. How do I pick these people? Am I so so blind that I don't see macroscopic stuff like the fact that if I have a concern as irrational as it may be I do not feel understood by my partner? My mom always mentioned how strange it was that Mike had barely any contact with his own family bar the mandatory sunday phone call. And I was getting very much uptight about it answering that the fact that they were less attached didn't mean they didn't love each other. This still stands. I mean...maybe the major thing was when he didn't go home last Christmas when he was told his mother had days to live....I think he loved her. Is that the way I want to be loved? Most definitely not. Can we work on this as a couple? I doubt it. He has not changed, I have.

I need new emotions, new everything. And the children are great, they will always bring something new, it's such an amazing thing seeing the world through their eyes. Now I just have to find a way to move forward, and do the least amount of damage.
As ever, thank you so so much for your shoulders, I desperately need them.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Unsettled boardeline unhappy

It's been a while.

September is over and there was my birthday (forgotten by Mike yet again till the evening) and his (remembered as always). I bought myself my birthday present on his behalf. I carefully chose his present.

I am not happy. Not so much about the birthdays but about the overall feelings and lack of connection. I don't even want to try an fix it which I think it's what is mostly unsettling. I have had these feelings yet again to hop on a plane and take a break from family life. Just be on my own for a few days. At least.

We talk normally about nothing important. Sex is to a minimum and I don't enjoy it at all. It actually annoys me the way he touches me, I just want it to be over with. He doesn't seem to mind, or is not interested or he just doesn't want to talk about it. That's our norm. It has always been our norm.

He has not even started looking for jobs in the UK. Asked me when I think he should start looking...as if he is like....12 or so. I'm so so tired.

The children are at least mostly great. Oliver loves school and while he has to get up much earlier than normal, he is quite ok. Only every evening when I come home (generally minutes after Mike and the children are home) I find him screaming his head off as he is doing time-out for a reason or another. Every. Evening. Every. Evening. So I don't know if every time he deserves this time out but it is clearly not working as it takes three times longer, he is in a fit, we are all stressed out. This morning was not a good one either. Himself and Mike were "doing a race" about getting dressed. Mike won (no comments here). Oliver cried (again it's not normal crying, it's shouting, hitting things etc) for about 20 minutes until I lost my patience and shouted at him back...not proud I know, I do this more often than I would like to admit...but he doesn't hear any reason when he is in such a state. And my day feels completely ruined. Or at least really on a bad start. On the drive to school I tried talking to him, asked him why he was behaving this way ("I don't know") and that I didn't know how to help him. Martina is 2.5 and way more reasonable. Not sure I am doing a good job at all as a mom, certainly not as a wife, and I'm doubting I'm even a good friend to anyone at this moment in time.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Back in Dublin

I of course didn't post in ages and thought I could not have zero entries in the month of August!

We returned to Dublin last tuesday, left California on Monday and I have to say the flight went very well, the children slept for about 5 hours (out of the 9.5 hours journey) and very quickly adjusted to the new time zone.
Our last few weeks in California were fabulous, Tahoe was great and while I suffered from altitude sickness (did not realise at all it was so high), I truly enjoyed it. Work concluded also very well and successfully. My trip to the East Coast was fantastic, I got to appreciate how much warmer a city feels if it's humid. Made lots of connections in Boston which I hope will be productive. Mike and the children coped very well in my week away, in fact I am convinced they are much calmer when I'm not around...should go away more often!

The big news is that Oliver has started school last thursday, my big boy! He seems to love it and we are very grateful for the cultural variety we have in his class, unfortunately this is not yet a common aspects of many schools in Ireland. We'll see how it progresses but so far so good.

Martina is also doing very well, I have sold most of my cloth nappies which I found quite emotional...but it's so good they can get more use and love. We will remove the sides from her cot today, and it seems we could do without the gates at the stairs too.

And my move to Nottingham is official among colleagues and students alike, they were all very very nice and while genuinely sad I am leaving, they saw what a great opportunity this will be for me. I managed to get the best deal with my current institution so I will retain an adjunct professorship for a few years at least and a minimal contract till the end of the summer 2016.

I look forward to moving now, a few things have happened that have really shaken me. Things I thought would never change, did...there may be more changes ahead too.