To Raise Your Blood Pressure…

  • simply take a few news items from around the world
  • read the ‘witty’ and ‘informed’ comments below the said news items
  • scroll down through a Twitter storm
  • realise how lucky you are that you no longer look at Facebook (because the comments there are even uglier)
  • feel the hairs on the back of your neck rising when you recognise that people and countries that you thought were politically mature and sophisticated seem to be sleepwalking into situations you were desperate to leave behind once upon a time
  • breathe in, breathe out, tell yourself you are over-reacting
  • have far more deadlines and projects going on than one person with normal capabilities and normal working hours can accomplish
  • have tricky conversations all day at work
  • get stuck in rush hour delays
  • come home to lazy teenagers who ask ‘What’s for supper?’ but haven’t thought at all about clearing the table or buying milk
  • do not allow yourself be provoked by emails from your ex (i.e. do learn to swallow down all the clever retorts that he might then forward to his solicitor to use against you in court)
  • go out to buy tonic water to make yourself a G&T
  • realise it’s the third time this week you’ve been buying tonic water at the corner shop
  • worry about the amount of alcohol you are consuming
  • wonder if you could drink gin without the tonic
  • agree with your mother on the phone about what a failure your life has been and will be, how she told you so years ago if only you’d listened, and how much better the sons and daughters of her acquaintances are doing
  • oh, don’t forget to hmm-hmm and not answer back when she says about how much children of divorce suffer and how they are irretrievably damaged, she knows of approximately three such examples herself and can remind you of them repeatedly
  • feel guilty for making faces at the phone when you hold it a distance to escape the monotony
  • worry about your father’s health and whether you will have to care for your mother in her undoubtedly difficult old age, full of health problems and loneliness, for ‘age will not wither her… complaints’
  • accept that your children will probably not care for you in old age, although you’ve been a much kinder, more understanding and less demanding mother to them than yours has been to you
  • compose yet another letter for your French pension provider to try and figure out if you will have any pension rights there at all after Brexit
  • try to find an affordable smaller (but not too small) house in your area in case you have to sell the current one – although you have lost the will to move or even to decorate or do any home improvements, knowing that it will just be a stop-gap solution for 4-5 years and a total waste of money
  • make a list of To Do lists and watch the money go down, down, down in your account as you buy all the ‘back to school’ necessities
  • find out the cost of a barrister and watch your account being emptied even more
  • buy a book reviewed by a blogger friend to make you feel better
  • feel guilty about spending £9 on a book or £15 on a film or play, although saving that amount won’t actually help with the legal costs
  • drown your guilt in cake
  • wonder until what time the corner shop is open and if you can still nip over there for another cake and a tonic water

That’s just an average day: anything I’ve missed out?

36 thoughts on “To Raise Your Blood Pressure…”

  1. Oh, Marinasofia you’ve managed to make me laugh, wince and nod in agreement with your first few points about the state of politics. I hope books and friendship continue to offer solace, and that the rest eases for you as soon as possible.

  2. I share your pain on the current affairs Marina Sofia! And I have to remind myself that those who shout the loudest do not necessarily make up the majority of humankind, even though they try and convince us otherwise. There’s probably not enough gin and cake in the world right now, but we can try…

  3. So…how are things going with you, Marina Sofia? Oh…never mind. I am sorry to hear that all of these things are piling up at once. Some of them really resonate with me. And, yet, somehow, you are able to find the humour in it – I give you credit. If it’s any comfort, I think it heaps up on all of us at time. Oh, and Kate is right: it’s fine to drink gin without tonic.

  4. Marina, hang in there. I have been in the same place, losing everything I had that mattered to me, and realising that the people I thought were there to support me were not going to do that at all. But we are tougher than we think, and things do get better.
    Some advice: be kind to yourself, and don’t feel guilty about giving yourself treats. You are worth it.
    Avoid people who make you feel worse. You don’t have to listen to your mother. You are probably doing it because despite the rational evidence of past experience, you want her to be what she is not. You are deluding yourself that she will turn into a loving person who will make you feel better. Reframe the relationship on your terms, not hers. Do not let her hurt you when you are vulnerable.
    Do the same thing with emails from your Ex. With him, you will discuss child support and access and nothing else.
    Sit those teenagers down and tell them that yes, you are sorry this has happened and you understand that they are feeling sad, but there are new terms of engagement and ‘what’s for dinner’ is going to be replaced by ‘it’s my turn, what would you like me to cook for dinner tonight?’ Teach them a repertoire of simple meals and grin and bear if it if you have a few culinary disasters. They will learn, or they will go hungry. My Ex departed without warning the same year that The Offspring had his finals (Year 12) and he cooked dinner every second night, and each Saturday we both did the housework until it was all done. This was necessary because I was working 70 hour weeks, coaching every night after school to pay the bills, but our relationship was strengthened in adversity and we are both proud of the way we coped and looked after each other.
    And it just so happens that I spoke to The Offspring tonight, and he’s just fine, not irretrievably damaged at all, happily married with a career that he loves. (Oh yes, and he passed his exams and got into uni).
    Don’t try to be perfect: for now, aim to survive. And one day, before you know it, you’ll look back on this time, with your kids by your side, and realise that you’re not just surviving, you’re thriving.

      1. Well, I’ve kept most of my life private online, but hey, I don’t mind sharing when I think it might help. It’s so easy to feel like a failure when a marriage breaks up, and sometimes guilt and shame makes us tolerate unacceptable behaviours from other people, almost as if we think we deserve to be punished.
        But all kinds of nice people marry the wrong person and it doesn’t work out. It doesn’t change who you really are, and you still deserve a nice life, like everybody else.

  5. I seem to spend most of my life listening to other people’s opinions about politics, conspiracy theories, football, music etc. and why everything I do, like or think is wrong. I’m often criticised for things I haven’t said but have apparently implied.

  6. When mum calls and starts her lectures, I’d put the phone down and walk away. Let her have at it.
    It’s so odd that she keeps talking about stuff that is DONE. I mean you can’t get in a time machine and go back and change things.
    I know someone who has gone through a horrendous divorce and has been fighting on the assets. It’s incredible to hear the behaviour some people are capable of during this unfortunate phase of life. And as for staying married, as a philosophy: no way, life’s too short and if things go wrong, they go wrong. Some partners take the idea of no divorce as a licence to behave as they want. Divorce is a wonderful thing IMO. Not the process but the ability.
    I agree with Lisa: treats are essential. No one else will do it if you don’t. And if that make day-to-day a little more pleasant, then who cares.

    1. Ha, ha, you should hear my mother going on and on about things that happened 30-40 years ago, the house she didn’t buy, the investment she didn’t make, the fact that I refused to consider studying medicine etc. etc.
      And yes, I’ve felt SO much better, freer, stronger since my divorce. If only this uncertainty about assets division would end…

  7. Oh Marina… your blood pressure must be through the roof. And I sympathise and empathise (especially with the mother stuff… I got told I had a nice fat tummy on my recent visit, and I’ve lost weight!) Lisa has very wise advice. Sending you virtual hugs of support. X

    1. Ah, I forgot to mention her constant gripes about my weight and health… Ignoring is the best option, I find. Trying to explain patiently only leads to escalation of conflict.

  8. Reading this long list I kept wondering how much more stress can one person take? With everything you are dealing with, your treats are your lifeline.
    As for your mum, one suggestion – tell her the next time she begins a rant that you do love to talk to her but if every time you do, it ends up with her giving you a string of criticism, then you’ll feel you have no option but to put the phone down. I had to do this once with my mum and it worked. she hadn’t realised how bad she had become

    1. Ah, you don’t know my mum… The best time was when she was offended with something I said and refused to speak to me for a few months (she would get my father to phone instead). It didn’t last.

  9. Omigosh. And I thought I had a stressful life! You deserve all the treats you need. And since I had a difficult mother, I kept the calls to a minimum and short. When she vented or yelled, I held the phone away so I couldn’t hear her. And get off the phone; your children need you, dinner needs cooking, schoolwork done, whatever you need to say.
    And with the ex, keep emails to a minimum and short. Don’t rise to the bait. Just talk essentials about the children.
    And with your sons, they are old enough to help out. When my mother went to college, my sister and I had assigned tasks about dinner and generally helping out. We did not complain. We knew how important going to college was to her. You need to sit them down and explain how it’s a collective household and that you work and commute and do everything else and you need them to help out. Then give them specific tasks. And dinner can be salads and tuna and cans of bean soup with vegetables thrown in or sandwiches. It doesn’t have to be elaborate every day. Give yourself a break. And they should know how to do their laundry and clean their rooms.
    But on the gin and tonic and treats, you should do what you need to do. I pig out on low-fat frozen yogurt, but sometimes I blow it.
    And get yourself books, too, as treats.

  10. So many women share the sentiments on your list which I know from experience could have been even longer !! I hope it is some consolation that you have “global sisters” that share your pain….X

  11. I’ve clicked ‘like’ when of course, I don’t like at all that you’re juggling so many stresses. But I do like that you can find a modicum of humour and vast reserves of strength with which to arm yourself against the tide. Hang in there!

  12. Sending warm hugs from Lyon, there’s a bottomless stock of them.

    I think it’s time to consider cooking and household duties as indispensable skills for teenage boys to aquire. They won’t learn them from their father and think how much your daughter in laws will love you for that.
    See: it’s easy to put them to work and not feel guilty about it. 🙂

    And I like Guy’s idea of putting down the phone during a motherly rant.

    Bon courage.

    PS and cut yourself some slack. Your kids seem well adjusted and perfect mothers are mythical creatures.

    1. Awww, thank you so much, Emma! The boys do know how to cook some things, and they help out with other housework, but I do have to prod and beg and remind.

  13. I’m not sure if the chorus of supportive comments might be beneficial for your blood pressure, but in case it helps, I add my 2 cents and hope you’re taking good care of yourself. You’re going through a lot. I’m sending you good vibes and virtual French cakes and wines.

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