So we’ve made it. We’ve made it to the end of week two of the Summer holidays. The kids have had swimming lessons, we’ve been to the park, gone riding on our bikes, had a new boiler installed (on the hottest day of the year), started the Summer Reading Challenge at the library and watched a load of Disney movies. We’ve survived two weeks with just me and three kids from the moment Nick leaves for work, until he comes home again.
We have done well to get through two weeks, without a schedule to follow, with the kids having no break from each other and me not having a break from them. However the two weeks didn’t start off well. On the first day of the Summer holidays I lost my temper. When I say I lost my temper I don’t mean I yelled a bit. I mean I got to the point of no return. I screamed, I said mean, terrible things and I shamed my little boy. He had pushed me over and above my limits and my emotions came flooding down the other side and swallowed him whole. Things got so bad that to ensure that I didn’t do anything I couldn’t ever forgive myself for, I had to put myself in a ‘time out’. I closed myself away in my bedroom and insisted that no one come and talk to me. At that point I erupted in tears, tears that hurt, tears that felt like my chest was bursting open, tears that felt like they wouldn’t end. I know it sounds melodramatic, but that’s what depression and anxiety can look and feel like sometimes. Sometimes it really does feel like the end of the world, like there is no point of return, like there’s no hope and it my case that means no hope for me.
After I had calmed down from my melt down that had me curled up on the floor of my bedroom I opened my door to find Rufus and Eloise standing there, looks of concern on their beautiful little faces. The first thing I did was apologise to Rufus. He had done something wrong but my reaction was completely over the top and undeserved. Then I hugged them both tight, gave them all the kisses I could muster and went to finish making their dinner.
Two days later I took myself to the doctors and had them increase my anti-depressant dose. I’ve been slowly feeling like I was sinking and that first day of the Summer holidays my head finally sank below the waves.
I can’t change what happened that day, I can’t take back the words I said – just like I can’t take back all the words I’ve said in anger over the last decade. I did those things and while I carry the shame of that with me, I have to accept it and try to do better next time, just as I promised Rufus I would.
Two days after going to the doctor I was in my counsellors office recounting the events of Monday. I then told him everything else. I told him about how I can’t sleep because turtles have straws in their noses, because whales have fishing nets caught around their fins, because abortion bans are being introduced in 2019, because the victims of Grenfell are still not rehomed, because Rufus struggles with his anxiety, because Eloise is going to be starting big school soon, because I feel fat, because money is tight, because I have a list as high as me of things I need to sort out or arrange, because there is just too damn much. Too much. Some days I feel like I can’t breath.
So the title of this article comes from a prayer that addicts recite at their meetings. I am not one to usually quote a prayer but this one has always resonated. ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.’ There I times where I don’t think I am that wise and I’m definitely not serene but I do try to change things. The problem is I’m trying to positively change everything and like the prayer says, there will be things that I can’t and for my own sanity I need to accept it.
I feel like I am losing my mind, losing it to all the thoughts and ideas I have constantly, non-stop. I wish I could turn off the noise in my head and find the serenity of acceptance. So that’s my aim. I am going to find serenity, somehow. I’ll keep going to counselling, I’ll give myself a break from the 24hour news cycle and I will take time to breathe again.
I can’t change the things I’ve done, but I can forgive myself for them.