An Oasis.

KM finally made it down for his visit. We chose to stay at a charming local hotel for a couple of nights, and I’d bought The Game of Life for us to play seen as we have rediscovered our love of board games.

I took nothing Uni related with me, which is actually quite unusual.

We enjoyed dinner together on Friday night at the hotel restaurant and I sat there feeling like a proper grownup on a proper date. You can tell it was posh as everyone was talking in hushed voices, our wine came in a wine bucket and the waiter called me madam plus it passed KM’s “fancy place test.” His hypothesis: if you pay before you eat = not so posh. Whereas if you pay after you eat then it must be classy.  I looked across the table at KM and it really hit me how much I miss just going out to dinner with him for a nice meal and some conversation. We talked about KM’s business and some projects he’s working on. We talked about our flat (where KM is still currently living) and how much we miss THE best cat ever: Benji, who is sadly no longer with us. I realised how much I miss this.  We’ve been together going on 12 years. Yes, there have been a few ups and downs along the way and even a couple of break ups, but I love the guy to bits (thankfully – seen as I’m marrying him.)  Now that we are living at other ends of the country and only seeing each other every couple of weeks, I feel sometimes like I haven’t got a clue what’s going on in his life.  I don’t mean to sound controlling, but I like coming home at the end of each day and getting a little report on the days happenings, cooking together and snuggling up in bed. When that report happens by phone or in our case more often than not by Skype text…well it’s just not the same.

Not only that, but my brain totally can’t keep track of all the things I need/want to share with him or worse: I assume I told him about something only to find out I didn’t and he has no clue what I’m talking about.

This weekend was like a little oasis in the desert – 2 precious days of time together.  It was wonderful. We didn’t do anything particularly special. There were no grand adventures or days out, in fact we didn’t even leave Salisbury. Sometimes the simple things in life can bring as much pleasure as the grandest of adventures. We enjoyed some great food together, shopped at the weekly market for my groceries and caught a film. On Sunday afternoon I found myself sat in our room knitting and enjoying my new drink of choice: peppermint tea. KM was taking a nap. During this couple of hours peaceful contemplation two strange and delightful thoughts struck me…

First I really do feel more peaceful when KM is nearby, I relax better, feel safer and happier within myself. Even when he’s not doing anything to directly affect the way I feel (at this point he was lightly snoring but I’m sure he wasn’t doing it for my benefit). This is love to me; grand romantic gestures are all well and good and I’m not going to fool anybody if I try to claim I don’t enjoy them, but it’s this calm quiet unassuming love that endures. I don’t believe in the popular analogy where two become one through marriage, it’s simple maths to me … I will not become less than I currently am through marriage, nor do I expect KM to stop wishing I would do the dishes more often, or scale down my shoe collection, I expect we will continue to have the same fiery, bickering relationship we have always had as each of us walks the line between the person we are currently and the person we wish to be. I see the union more as a bonding of a complimentary pair. Each remaining separate, but reinforced and strengthened by the presence of the other. KM’s love for me enables me to go out into the big wide scary world and be more myself knowing that I have a safe haven at home with him in our KM-ALI bubble. It’s easier to stand tall on your own two feet when you know someone is willing to catch you when you fall. We won’t always get it right, but our intentions are true. I really believe I’m marrying an amazing man, though after nearly 12 years I’m far from setting either of us on a pedestal of being perfect or even perfect for each other. It’s not inconceivable to me that on the surface of planet Earth there might not be a woman who is a better match for my KM… somewhere… (Hopefully far, far away where he will never meet her :P) But KM has given me his piece of his heart, and it’s the most valuable thing I own.

Second, it was truly odd to me to find myself mindlessly knitting for a couple of hours without once feeling guilty about the huge mountain of Uni work waiting for me when I get home (by 3 hours the guilt was back in full force) I actually found myself thinking wow this is what a real day off feels like? It was bizarre for my fried brain to realise that a day will actually come when I will actually have days off. Whole days… no guilt included… what an amazing luxury. 2 years and counting… Keep swimming, Ali, Keep swimming.

I have to admit to feeling mentally stretched to my limit right now, between missing KM, learning to drive, trying to change my exercise and diet habits, planning a Wedding, and year 2 of my training… I’m left reminded of the women I look after in labour who are often brought to the point where they believe they can’t go on anymore only to find somewhere within themselves the strength to endure a little more… a little more… a little more … pushed to their very limits the strength of women amazes me almost daily, I find myself looking for that same power somewhere within myself, not to birth a child but to build the life I want for myself.

I could do with a compassionate midwife figure to support and guide me at times hehe

Ali xX

One of the guys

I’ve spent a lot of today eating rubbish, drinking Coke and watching the game. How about them Vikings huh? Oh and did you see Brett Favre’s version of “Pants on the Ground” which was, I’ll admit was a lot cooler once I understood the reference.  Hay, I live in the UK – I’m allowed to be out of the American Idol loop, even though I have to admit a bit of a crush on Simon Cowell that calls my sanity into question. I went straight onto the Jets/Chargers match up without even a timeout.  After that, I was suffering from a massive testosterone overdose and I had to turn to a couple of hours of  Dress Heels Jewelry and “who are you wearing?” in the form of the Golden Globes Red Carpet show just to remind myself that I am, in fact, a chick. Previous years I’ve been all over the fashion and the glamour, even the gossip. Did you see Mariah Carrey’s dress not quite covering her tits enough to stop me mistaking her for someone who has sex for a living? Do you, like me, prefer Drew Barrymore with dark hair, love that Sandra Bullock came dressed in purple (actually I just love Sandra Bullock… yay for her win).  I’m totally made up that Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep were giving lessons in classy as I think I’ll add them to my role models list. And as for Heidi Klum…well that girl just owns sexy in a way that makes her destined to be envied but never equaled by us mere mortal women (God like powers is the only reasonable explanation, clearly!)…  but this year i have a confession…*whispers* I had more fun with the football. Crap… what happened to me!? 

While  I am not your pink fluffy kind of girly princess  (make it purple and sparkly and I’m so there) its true my reasons for choosing which side to root for this NFL filled Sunday were totally based on female logic. I don’t like Tony Romo and the Vikings wear purple. I liked the Jets when I was in NJ because my brother/dad loved the Giants and I’m contrary like that.   And yet, recently I’m becoming more and more disconcerted by the realization that, in a disturbing number of ways, stereotypically at least, I’m so the guy in this relationship.  You know, the one who refuses to cook, doesn’t know how to work a washing machine, almost kicks KM out of the room when its “baseball time”, can’t hear a thing when the football’s on TV and NEVER “has a headache”. I’m seriously in danger of letting out a belch or two without gagging. if I suddenly start scratching my groin in public SHOOT ME ! 

Before you start thinking… saying KM is my bitch out loud… he is in no way shape or form feminine. Seriously, he could be mistaken for a cave man. Dude speaks fluent grunt, laughs at his own farts and won’t wear pants if he thinks he can get away with it. Far be it from me to insult his manhood and I’d advise you not to do so either, but that’s enough about him.

When did I lose this sense of myself as a woman?  When I think about It, I laugh at the ridiculous notion that anyone could find me attractive and not see me as defunct, broken, useless, carrying too much weight with awful tits.

My body failed to develop any form of breasts. My mum took me to buy a bra more out of pity (everyone else had them) than actual need. She kept telling me reassuring stories about how all the women in my family got theirs after they had kids (fat lot of use that is to me now. Nature is withholding motherhood and apparently breasts too!?) Yeah it sucked, but most people get over it right? Not me. I can’t stand mine; I can’t cope with anyone drawing attention to them in any way. I get thrown off… shudder… and have to look the other way if God forbid KM should touch them even though I enjoy the sensation. It’s nuts and that’s why I will personally bitch slap anyone who says I’m planning a boob job for anyone other than me. Let’s face it I’m fighting a losing battle really, when the pair of us could be the reincarnation of Shrek and Fiona shaving side by side in the bathroom mirror each morning… no, I haven’t quite been reduced to that yet.

I seriously need to… what is the opposite of man up??

Ali xX

Good to be home

We’re hoooome! YAY.  Hello 2010. We survived… just. We’ll forget the fact that I’m freezing my a$$ off in a house that’s so cold I’m sat here writing in my new warm bright red winter coat (thanks Mum). I know, you’re giggling at my melodramatics, but it’s not just me. Honest. KM also has his winter hat on to cover his ears ‘cause they were too cold. Couple that with his über-sexy Incredible Hulk t-shirt and you realize that we’re really going for sexy in the Cyster Act household. That will teach us to go away and not have the heating turn on at all for the 4 days we were gone. I think we have now established that KM’s tolerance level is set at about two days when it comes to dealing with my mum. He hardly stopped to say goodbye to her as we were leaving today. The man saw the steps onto the bus and he was off. Home time! All in all, I’m still calling the trip a success because despite KM’s grumpy contrary attitude and my mother’s post midnight rants about my weight, my lack of discipline or self control, the fact that women are mostly better off without a man in their life… I held it together and did not dissolve into a gibbering crying wreck, ready to give up on everything. I’m not doing anything to make my mother proud. Apparently she’s holding onto hope that I’ll wake up and realize I’m too smart to get married and I really aught to go and train as a teacher. Along with this Epiphany will apparently come the knowledge that being unable to have kids is no big deal because they are not worth it and the world is far to cruel. It wouldn’t be fair to bring a baby into the place anyway. Can you tell she over indulged on the champagne a little? But I’m not going to rant and rave and crucify her for it because, well, lots of people do: it was New Years Eve after all. I held my ground. I know what I want to do with my life now and teaching is NOT it. Infertility is a BIG deal to me even if she was not that fussed on having kids. I had my heart set on it. I’m coming to realize that she won’t ever understand. It’s sad and I guess I find it hard to accept, but I love her anyway. Since I don’t appear to feel, I’m not angry about it anymore. The things she says just don’t seem to get under my skin like they used to and that’s a very good thing. I’ll just keep working on myself, my goals, my dreams, doing things that make me proud of myself regardless of her opinion.

Opinions aside, I could see the effort put in on both sides. KM was making some attempts to find mutual topics for conversation that would avoid confrontation. They actually seem to agree on a lot of things. It made me smile to learn a few things about both of the people I care about by listening to them attempting idle chit chat… that and both of them could talk about cooking or gardening for much longer than I have patience to endure.  Mum was making meals containing all his favorite foods from past visits and for three and half days it was all going much better than I ever could have imagined.

Until, that is, KM let things slip. I guess he was tired and fed up needing to go home but by this morning when we left his grumpiness had reached new heights and he was honestly quite rude to my mother. Here’s me stuck in the middle, stressing already, exhausted from all the underlying tension that had been present, even though we’d successfully avoided it bubbling up to the surface. You see how fast these things spiral. I took my mum’s side because, in my opinion, he was at fault. He’s all “you always follow your mother around like a toddler”… aherm… I am no toddler. Mum and I are struggling to move on from the teenage confrontation years, I grant you… BUT TODDLER?!?!  Now we’re on the coach travelling home barely talking… WOW three days. We managed 3 DAYS… but those last 3 hours and it all collapsed like a pack of cards. We had a four hour journey home to get over it. Normal relations have resumed.

Families… ai!

I’m exhausted… back to the grind (college) tomorrow. What a relief!

Ali xX

Ending on a high.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should auld acquaintaince be forgot
And auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.”

Here we are at the end of the year: about to say goodbye to 2009, end a decade and welcome two thousand and ten or are you a twenty ten person? I’m undecided. It will be a miracle if I’m not still writing 2009 in the middle of February. This year has flown by. I still can’t quite believe it’s about to end. All in all I can say is that 2009 wasn’t that bad. I’m certainly grateful for a number of things.

2009 was the year I: Came out of depression; Stopped having panic attacks on a regular basis; Went back to college; Admitted that I want to pursue Midwifery as a career; Moved towards forgiveness and a better relationship with my mother. I’m feeling so much more hopeful this New Year’s Eve than I was a year ago. Feeling thankful that I still have some good friends out there; thankful that my health has been so much better this year. Grateful that KM and I have been together for the holidays and even thankful that Benji has joined our household to put a smile on my face.

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution kind of person. I have a handful of things I’d like to achieve next year but any time I’ve tried to make a resolution in the past its been history by about the 3rd of January, so this year I’m only going to say one thing and that is that in the first week of January I’m going to evaluate and rewrite my master plan. New Year seems like a good time for that task.

We’re away at my mothers for the New Year’s celebrations. It will be the first time that KM travels with me and stays overnight at my mother’s house and judging by his Facebook comments he’s not looking forward to it one bit: “Practicing his sullen face ready for when he has to spend New Year with the mother-in-law. I should have built up a good sense of churlish bad-temperedness by then.”

I’m a little sad myself. I’d gotten used to watching the Rose Bowl parade and the Winter Classic ice hockey game on New Year’s Day. Gadget Guy’s TiVo is not accessible from my mum’s, but I’m telling myself the New Year is a good time to make an effort to take another step towards a good relationship between us. Wherever you are and however you happen to be celebrating this New Year’s Eve, I hope 2010 brings you great things!

Happy New Year!!

Ali xX

Christmas.

I’m hoping you all had a good Christmas. It turned out lovely over here, starting with waking up on Christmas Eve to find that KM had cleaned the entire kitchen – every single dish. Yes, it looked like Snow White had been in to visit with all her animal friends. We made dinner together and even though it turned into one of those times where I spend so much time working on dinner by the time it’s actually ready to eat I’m just not hungry anymore, cooking was a lot of fun.

My Christmas Eve tradition is to watch Santa Claus The Movie, something I’ve done every year since I was small and watching a worn out old copy taped off the TV and I was still a believer.

I felt the need to go to church on Christmas day. It was oddly peaceful and comforting. The house of God is not a place I’ve visited in years but I’m actually glad I did. I like to say this was a new direction for me that I’ll be going every Sunday from now on. I doubt that’s the case. Being realistic, I’m lazy and getting out of bed on a Sunday morning is hard for me. That’s the sad truth of it. I also don’t believe I necessarily need a church to explore a relationship with god.

Santa was good to us. I found myself curling up with my new book on Christmas evening, feeling a little full of wonderful, if overindulgent food, thinking Christmas at home – just the two of us – turned out rather well.

Ali xX

The path that lies ahead..

I could live here !

I am amazed and actually quite chuffed that I came back from my mum’s feeling not only ok about the whole weekend but actually quite happy! I promise it had noting to do with the visit to IKEA as soon as I stepped off the bus. Man, I love that store but its rather hard to get to without a car and a tad pointless if you don’t  have a house in need of furniture. Still, the apple cake went down a treat hehe…

We got on well the whole time I was there. No fighting, no arguing, no yelling between my mother and I. This is “stop the press” front page news. Mum actually admits that I’m looking a lot better (as in happier) these days which just made me smile because I feel a lot better. Even the few little snide remarks kind of just roll off me much easier than they ever used to.

Even when the university visit didn’t go as planned, we somehow managed to not end up with my mother blaming me. I was amazed. I mean, we were both frustrated having driven all that way (about 4 and a half hours) and not being able to actually see the uni because of a mix up with open day dates. I was able to get an idea of what the town itself is like and I’m so excited that I may be living there next year if all goes to plan. I know it’s a REALLY BIG IF but still I’m excited thinking it might happen, which is ground breaking new optimism from me. Usually I’m a glass half empty kind of girl.

Sunday came – departure day   and here I was thinking I actually could happily stay another few days, feelings that were refreshing to say the least. Then something happened. Have you ever wound up in the middle of a really deep conversation unsure where it’s going or even how you got there? Suddenly I’m aware me mum and I are talking about dad: something we haven’t done in years, certainly not since her divorce came through.

It felt slightly like opening a really old closet and being taken aback as a flurry of moths and musty odor hit you in the face. But rather than slamming the doors shut in disgust and vowing never to open that thing again, we were able to have a calm discussion on the subject to sort of let the dust settle.  I have to admit I was surprised – shocked even – by what I saw when the air had cleared. I felt sorry for her. She seems to be living with some guilt over what happened. She has this sadness when she talks about it that really touched me. I just wanted to hug her. Whatever has happened in the past… this felt like a break through… even just a small one. We have a lot of things to get over, but perhaps because of the time that’s past or because I am getting stronger, I wasn’t feeling the weight of all this anger in the same way I have before. It has always been so raw almost like a suppressed rage. In truth, that Sunday morning I don’t recall feeling angry at all. Upset maybe and definitely so very sad.  I feel like I can see a pathway to forgiveness now and that’s amazing. The thing is, I’m not sure who forgiveness will help more: me or my mum. It definitely felt like a weight off my shoulders. I’m getting through this and for the first time. I actually believe I will get past it. Someday what happened won’t dominate my life.  I will beat it. I won’t let it tear me apart.  These are no longer the words of a desperate woman clinging to hope.  I know I can do it. It’s even better than that. I am doing it.

I know I have so much strength inside me. I survived. I’m here… and I keep fighting when I finally get to grips with all this. There will be no stopping me.

I almost feel like I should add and evil laugh after that spiel “Mwuahahahahaha”

Ali xX

Dumb.

“I’m sorry. I can’t translate it into dumb.”  KM told me as I complained that the redraft he had written of my supporting statement sounded too much like him and not enough like me.  It hurt me to hear him say that even though I know he was only joking. I’m over sensitive to these things particularly at the moment given how much STRESS I feel to get this statement perfect. After trying to explain why I was so upset he compounded the problem by telling me I aught to grow a sense of humor. I have a sense of humor – I just didn’t find it funny.

Is this just me?  Possibly. I know now that as a consequence of my past I have real trouble with people poking at me. I can laugh at myself, sure. The problem comes when you attack my intellect, my ability to understand something or my sense of self worth.  The simple way of explaining it is I don’t have to much confidence or self esteem left,  so I don’t appreciate anyone trying to take some of  what I have  from me even if they are joking.  But the real explanation is I can’t register sarcasm when you’re insulting me. I simply can’t tell if you’re joking and my default setting is to assume you mean what you say.  The nasty stuff is easier to believe – especially when those a young person trusts are reinforcing their judgment by yelling it in your face, driving it home with their fists or worse. If I’m not sure what you think of me, I’ll assume you think the worst.  It’s just the way I’ve been wired.

I’m not dumb. Just because I want MY statement to sound different than how you would write it does not mean I’m stupid.

It’s not that he doesn’t support me. He’s not some evil guy. He’d helped me redraft this darn thing three times already. Overall he’s nothing but encouraging of me at college. Potentially, he’s agreed to move anywhere in the country that will let me in to study midwifery next year. That’s a big deal.

Practically he’s doing everything I could ask and more.

It still doesn’t change that this one throw away remark really bothered me….

Ali xX