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 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.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

It's official!

Right. It's a done deal. I have not officially signed the contract but I have informed my Head of School and many of my colleagues and friends. Mike had told his friends and we have started looking at locations to move! Very very exciting! I actually need this "task" not to be too sad about leaving friends I've shared the happiest and saddest times of the last 10 years. Hopefully we will stay in touch and more.

We are going to lake Tahoe on saturday for a week, it will be great to be away and regroup as a family, I feel I have been so distracted, nearly as if I've been living on some other planet.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The next step of the negotiation

Well well well, they cam back with a much more appropriate offer and I am now much more enthusiastic. In fact I have almost accepted it, just checking minor details. So it looks like we will be moving over to the UK!

I still have to sort out the situation at my current university. My plan was to talk to my colleagues/friends in person, as I got back, before rumours started. Same for my research group, I have funds to bring them all with me but it may still be a hard decision for some of them. I also ideally would like to keep some affiliation with such university, mostly because I have quite a bit of funding that are not transferrable but perhaps I can use them in Ireland for a while. So I talked to a senior colleague, who I have always considered my mentor and while he is sad I'm leaving he gave me his blessing. However something quite unpleasant happened and it seems the fact that I may be leaving has already been used politically to change some dynamics within the School. That pissed me off no end as I still have to go back and be there for a few months and the thought of finding a hostile environment makes me sick to my stomach. So I have started to inform my group already, have to do it via Skype and in bits and pieces as they are in different places. And the friends...may actually find out before I can say anything directly to them. The stress of it all has brought back my beloved headaches...


One more month in Davis and this summer has just flown by. We love it here so much, the children have developed a fantastic bond, Martina toilet trained and has been sleeping in a normal bed since we arrived with only a few falls and overall it has been a great working eperience. Who knows maybe we can do it again soon!