Living in a hamster wheel

I have been trying to work out if I would feel the way I do about myself if I were suffering from a physical ailment, rather than simply being a bit batshit.

For example, the proverbial pint of milk.

Some days, I can drive to the local fruit and veg shop on the outskirts of the nearest village and can shop there without any problems. Some days, I even manage to go into the village itself, find somewhere to park (old village, narrow streets, far too many cars…) and do normal things like go to the Co-Op or the doctor’s.

But on others, if I can’t find anywhere to park, I panic. One evening, I ended up driving straight through the village and out across the hills in floods of tears and was horrendously lost by the time I talked myself into pulling over.

And on bad days, just the thought of going anywhere is enough to reduce me to a quivering wreck.

Now, when I’m feeling quite rational, I understand that my panic reactions are nothing more than the PTSD at work – I can’t control the situation so my hindbrain overreacts and tells me I’m in danger – and my gut reaction to the “danger” is to flee.

However, just as I end up with a conflict between my rational self and my emotions on my bad days, so I spend my good days in an equally destructive conflict.

Meaning? Well, as I said above, my rational self understands what’s going on and tries to deal with “that” me with empathy and kindness. But something else in me (pride?) is appalled at what I see, views it all as a sign of weakness and failure and is, quite frankly, embarrassed and humiliated by the whole thing.

Would I be like this if I was recovering from an illness or an accident?

Well … probably.

Do I feel like this about other people who are in my situation?

Hell, no!

I would ask why I feel like that about me, but I already know the answer. Indirectly, it’s a by-product of my upbringing. But it’s also directly related to why I’m in this state to begin with. And if that makes no sense to you, don’t worry, I know what I mean.

And that is, I think, at the heart of why I am where I am. Maybe if circumstances were different, I’d have a better relationship with myself. But there’s only so much shit you can swallow before you end up blaming yourself for being in that position in the first place.

I suspect (well, know, since so many friends have told me so) that the first step to my recovery will be to accept what has happened and – more importantly – that none of it is my fault.

I don’t see it like that, however. And therein lies the problem – and the answer to my question.

Anyone else feel like they’re trapped in a hamster’s wheel?!

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Doggy emergency

Earlier this afternoon, I had to perform an emergency operation on Snipe and removed a thorn from her pad.

We were walking in the top paddock when I noticed that she was limping. Much against her will, since she knew what was coming, I persuaded her sit down and had barely begun to examine her foot when she started whining and whimpering in her classic I’m-not-a-wimp-but-it-would-hurt-less-if-you-just-cut-off-leg style that she saves for occasions such as this.

Eventually, it all became too much for her and she lost the use of all four legs, rolling over onto her back, telling me that I had her permission to do what I must, she wasn’t going to survive anyway…

I quickly plucked the offending thorn from her pad and the relief on her face was almost human.

She celebrated by going completely insane and raced back and forth in the way that only Labradors who have been plucked from the jaws of death are able to.

In fact, a bit like this video I took of the two dogs last May:

Everyday, I hope that Snipe will do something to refute her image as the world’s most idiotic dog.

Still, I guess tomorrow’s another day…

It doesn’t interest me…

I really couldn’t be bothered this morning and lay in bed until gone midday. I read some of the time, but mostly just curled up in a ball and thought different thoughts.

In doing so, my mind wandered back to the “armchair Yoga” class I went to yesterday morning in a nearby town, organised by West Somerset Mind. It was a rather odd experience, and since it was my first time, I didn’t exactly find it relaxing, but it was nice to get out and about and meet new people.

Anyway, at the end of the class, the instructor (for want of a better word) read out a poem that I found thought-provoking so I looked it up online:

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dreams
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to
be careful
be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after a night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer,
Canadian Teacher and Author

Incidentally, I wish I’d got in contact with Mind a hell of a lot sooner and urge anyone who is in a similar position to get in touch with them. Not only do they understand what you’re going through and that isolation, no matter what form in takes, breeds even more depression and dark moods, they also do advocacy and help with things like benefits and so on, which would have taken a lot of pressure off my friends.

www.mind.org.uk

Chilin wiv ma boyz

Seeing Mac and Horatio earlier this week, I realised that I’d forgotten how cats manage to make themselves both cuddly and sleek at exactly the same time, though when it came to giving Mac belly-rubs, I was relieved to discover that I’d lost none of my timing vis-a-vis the getaway…!

Horatio - 30 March 2010

Horatio - 30 March 2010

Mac and Horatio - 30 March 2010

Mac and Horatio - 30 March 2010

Mac - 30 March 2010

Mac - 30 March 2010

I miss having cats around.

So much so, that I’m going to ask my landlords if I can have Queenie here. When I first moved in, they said it wouldn’t be wise to have a cat as they’ve got a semi-feral one who nearly killed the last to live here. However, I’ve been keeping a eye out and I’ve never seen her on “my” side of the farm, so I’m thinking that it’s worth taking the risk.

I’ll speak to them before making any decisions, but I do miss having a cat around the place.

Online … at home!

I spent yesterday and today up in Oxfordshire, visiting B (my ex) and the cats, Mac and Horatio, who are looking sleek and positively radiant. It was lovely to the boys – and B! – and we spent a lovely evening curled up in front of the TV, stuffing our faces with curry and watching Up on DVD. And can I just say that if you haven’t yet seen Up, then get yourself a copy RIGHT NOW as it is simply fan-tastic.

Anyway, after a lovely 24 hours up in the ‘shire, I headed on home and was almost knocked over by Snipe and Midge, who I’d left with Ally for the duration. It was the first time they’d spent a night away from me for two and a half years so it was both good and bad to discover that they’d been absolutely fine during my absence and hadn’t pined at all 🙄 😆

But even better than doggy-kisses was the discovery of a parcel on my doorstep …

I am thrilled to report that TalkTalk, the bastards, have finally sent me my router and connected my broadband.

Yes, you read that right. It may have taken them six weeks but I am finally online and can officially state that anyone in possession of their right mind should do anything, anything rather than sign up with these gits.

But … I’m just happy to be re-connected to the wibbly web at long last. I’ll be even happier if they make good on their promise and give me two months free line rental to make up for their ineptitude!

The truth, it hurts it does

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that there is a massive difference between confiding in someone you know and trust, and baring your soul to a complete stranger, especially when their name is prefixed with the title “Dr” and their profession is psychology.

Some of my nearest and dearest are (horribly) perceptive and hiding anything from them is nigh on impossible but in that case, sharing is a relief, an opportunity to shed grief and distress, to be comforted and cared for.

On the other hand, there is something extremely uncomfortable about sitting in a warm and spacious room while said doctor expertly probes her way through the bones of your life, picking up on every signal, pressing all the right buttons to get the response you didn’t know was on the tip of your tongue, waiting to be confessed like a shameful secret.

Afterwards, drained and exhausted, you stare in horror at the truth you have been forced to admit, wondering how the hell you will ever learn to live with this new and unpleasant knowledge about yourself.

Old ghosts return to haunt your thoughts and you realise that the bogeyman hiding under your bed was, after all, as real as your shadow.

They say that the truth hurts.

They weren’t kidding.

Rats!

Not that I spend any time talking to myself or anything, but I have come to the conclusion that either I slur my words – or Midge needs her ears cleaning out.

She is a keen hunter of El Rodent and gets extremely excited whenever you say the R word. So I tend to avoid it, which is yet another good reason to be grateful that Roland Rat is off the airwaves…

Anyway, like I said, not that I spend any time talking to myself or anything, but it turns out that in addition to the usual rhyming suspects (“Snipe, put down my hat. Immediately!”), Midge was also driven into a ratty-frenzy the other week when I tried to dissuade the Yellow Buffoon from treating the living room as her own private playpen (“Snipe, for crying out loud, calm down and relax!”) and then again when I was pondering the contents of my fridge (“Oooh, I’ve still got some of that chilli sauce left. Pasta for lunch!”).

If this continues, I suspect that there will be one of two possible outcomes. Either I’ll go (even more) potty or the R word will lose all meaning and peace will descend. Two days later, I will, of course, be faced with an rodent infestation of Hitchcock or King proportions…