Friday, 19 September 2014

Mission Mildly Difficult


- Got locked out and had to crawl through the grate at the front of the house, only to find - quelle horrible suprise - that there is now a second grate behind the first grate and it has a combination padlock on. Twenty minutes head first down a tiny brick tunnel trying various combinations surrounded by all the spiders of Belgium has left me with elbow abrasions, a mysterious forehead lump and PTSD.

- I got spooked riding and ended up in tears. Nothing actually happened, so I don't really know what to make of it, I just had a comprehensive failure of courage.  Now I am scared I will never get my confidence back, because I am getting older and more breakable (or rather, more conscious of my own breakability) and fear seems an ever more potent force. That is a lot of 'more' in one sentence.

Ideally, one would react to the terrors and fragilities of life by seizing every opportunity for joy and living fully and fearlessly, but I am very bad at that. I feel so anxious so much of the time, it is exhausting and unnecessary. I have had a CBT-style book called "Overcoming Anxiety" on my Kindle for about a year, but it is not helping. Its whole strategy seems mainly based around asking yourself 'what's the worst that could happen' and 'would you cope' to which my answers are "THE MOST TERRIBLE THINGS IMAGINABLE, THINGS ONLY WHISPERED OF IN THE DARKEST OF NIGHTMARES" and "HELL, NO".

It is a particular sadness in relation to the riding, because in my head this is one of the few things I am good at, but it appears I am not good at it any longer, because I just think 'fuck, I am at the mercy of several tonnes of unpredictable, flighty equine death-muscle' whenever I get on. I do still adore being around horses though (the smell, the velvety noses, the general loveliness of them). I will persist, for now, even though it is a very expensive way to make oneself miserable, because I will feel even worse if I give up.

- One of those evenings where the children were evasive weasels about homework, tellings-off from teachers and lost books, all of which came to a head at half past fecking bedtime when a succession of sorry sagas were revealed. I said things like "this is simply not good enough" and was generally a sanctimonious dickhead. Also, no one should have to multiply anything by 0,15 at 7am as we were required to this morning, thanks to forgotten maths homework.

- Due to all of the above I had to resort to gin, but the gin we have in the house must be made of anti-freeze and polonium, because it systematically gives me the headache from hell, so by shortly after half past fecking bedtime I was in my own bed, keening gently with a tisane and a Nurofen.

- I have singularly failed to do any work yet today and it is half past twelve. Oh! And now it's twenty to one because I can't think of a title.


- I managed my Mission Impossible style crawl/combination lock housebreak. So no emergency locksmith €€€€.

- Despite unwisely leaving the house for as many as two whole hours, I managed to be in for two deliveries, the bastards at DHL/Bpost must be devastated. I also drove past our front door looking for a parking space and saw a man with another parcel banging on our front door, so rolled down the window and said "that's my house". Somewhat worryingly, he happily handed over parcel in the middle of the street without even asking for my ID, which may go some way to explaining where most of my post from the past 5 years has gone.

- Both children went to the dentist yesterday and neither has any caries so I am €80 down, but at least do not have to sink into self-loathing at my poor, fruit juice and chocolate button based, parenting. I have also woman-ed up and booked my own overdue dental check for next week, which is very much a DOWN, but I am calling it an UP due to the unusual display of bravery it constitutes. Also I still have that stash of Valium from when my back gave out for when I go, which is very much an UP. NB: the dentist tutoies me. Is this pleasant informality or rude? Difficult to tell.

- In further dental news the orthodontist said that L's treatment (€€€€€€) "touche à sa fin" which I interpret as 'regretfully, I cannot rinse you for €100 a month for much longer'. He would not be more specific than that, but hopefully this dark era of the Roomba and the dog sharing whole packets of dental elastics between them will soon be over. L has been an absolute trooper about the endless ghastliness of it and I am delighted at the prospect that he will soon be free of both wires and the spectre of British Teeth, like my own.

- Netflix has finally arrived in Belgium six months after my secret squirrel UK Netflix account stopped working, so I can spend the weekend bingeing on the second series of Orange is the New Black.

- I am about to give up and go and sit in the garden and share some tremendously greasy noodles with the chickens and the dog, because I am 40 in two months and I need to stop worrying about every idiotic thing under the sun and the only way I know of doing this is by sitting outside for a while with some carbohydrates and some stupid livestock.

A picture:

I haven't taken any pictures this week so here are some disdainful giraffes from last Saturday:


38% weary
20% aching
12% broken flies
10% eclair plans
10% bacon plans
10% dozing plans

You? Plans, ups and downs, anxiety strategies?


Simon said...

I, too, have booked a dentist appointment for next week. Mainly because one of my molars has started to wobble.
And we signed up for Netflix this morning. This is not going to help with all the other more important, grown-up things I should be doing in the evenings.

cruella said...

Sorry, can't comment because I AM STUCK IN THE TINY BRICK TUNNEL. Please expand.

Alison said...

I know it's just the way the photo was taken and it's just bits of tree, but the giraffe looks like it's sporting nasal tassles.

Mrs Jones said...

All the cool giraffes are sporting nasal tassles this year! Also, horse-riding - yep, same thing happened to me. Suddenly started envisaging all the broken bones and death that were bound to happen to me because several tonnes of beast with the brainpower of a pea got startled by a plastic bag. And I didn't want to end up a tetraplegic because of a fecking plastic bag. So I had to stop - it was sad because, like you, I enjoyed being around the horses but I do have to say it did save me an awful lot of money which can then be spent on better quality gin.

Anonymous said...

Poor Waffle, even I have PTSD after reading about that spidery tunnel. So you never have to go through that again, is there anyone you could give an extra set of keys for safekeeping? Or maybe even a locker somewhere you could keep an extra set?
As regards the horse, I think you were just having a bad day and it won't always be like that. Keep riding and it will get better.
As Dooce reminded people on her blog this week, anxiety tends to peak around the equinoxes, so maybe take it easy until it's over and autumn is finally underway? Be gentle with yourself, do the sofa-duvet-book thing again and get more rest.

Anonymous said...

The whole school/homework/ kids combo is really hard sometimes. I sat through a 2 hour meeting the other night in which the teacher proceeded to criticise everything about the kids in the class: too jumpy, too rowdy, too noisy, etc. Eventually I put up my hand and asked if there was anything positive about the kids. She then of course laughed and said they were very energetic and lively and that they had lots of ideas. I think any teacher of preteens deserves a medal, but surely a lively class is better than a demotivated one? The same week included a 25-page handout of maths sheets crammed with questions, reviewing every topic from the previous year, on top of the regular homework. Every teacher seems to be vying for more of their time and they really don't seem to care if the kids end up with 2+ hours per day of homework. There were also several threats of surprise tests in various subjects and ominous warnings to ensure that the children revised every day. Every day? That's ridiculous!
Seriously, back to school is hard for everyone, parents included. So much pressure, so early on.
Having said that, I have found a kitchen timer to be useful in keeping my daughter on task in the evenings. She sets it for 10 minutes, say, and keeps working on whatever she has to do until it goes off. She has to gauge how long a task will take and try to get it done without getting distracted. I think it saves time because otherwise homework would stretch on for the entire evening/ night. Threatening to take her iPod away is also very effective, strangely enough.

blackbird said...

I was given a book with that exact strategy for anxiety by my PTSD therapist and am greatly relieved to read that someone else can imagine what I do.

frau antje said...

Anxiety strategy -- Keep repeating NO EMOTION. Just priming myself for any conversation I might be forced to have with loudest-clown-wins. It must be working, as I seemed to detect a gas leak when lighting a burner and my first and only thought was I should be so lucky.

Anonymous said...

I always found the most useful anxiety strategies (for me, obvs) were about Really Really Practical and Ridiculously Simple Things, like breathing deeply and slowly, rather than rapidly and shallowly.

It turned out I was unknowingly breathing (pretty much all the time) in a manner that would have been useful for over-oxygenating my blood if a panther stole my (non-existent) baby out of my cave and I had to chase after it. Possibly throwing my stone-age gin and tonic at its head.

After a while, when the extremes of anxiety hit,
being aware that I was panther-breathing and trying to slow down, was extremely helpful.

But then, I've never been stuck in a tiny brick tunnel.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the anti-anxiety strategy works best when applied to specific situations. For example, I recently mistakenly brought my son at 9:00 for his first day of nursery instead of 9:30. I got some pursed lips in response and felt nigglingly bad about it in a stupid way that I couldn't shake. Then I thought something along the lines of, "What's the worst thing they could do in retaliation?". And when I actually spelled out to myself that they were highly unlikely to actually try to hurt me or my son, the power of their pursed lips finally vanished. It's been occurring to me recently that behind a lot of my half conscious anxieties is a deeper, perhaps fully unconscious anxiety that people actually want to physically attack me. So people aren't just judging my big bottom, they want to retaliate against my big bottom by killing me. So a fight or flight response gets set in and becomes a way of life. So yes, terrible things hypothetically could happen but when you apply your fear of them to your average uncomfortable situation, you realise they are highly unlikely to be the end result of that particular situation.

Waffle said...


Deena wicked_sassy said...

Not at all helpful, but you might like to know that the words "chicken foot enthusiast websites" were uttered to me by the analyst I work with at our university's institutional review board.

Stacy said...

I second the recommendation to lie low this time of year. Dooce is right on about the change in light affecting a lot of people in a negative way. And for what it's worth, getting on a horse is always a brave thing. As is crawling through a grate--I saw on instagram the picture of it and thought, no effing way. I'd have been in a claustrophobic panic.

Anonymous said...

exactly. you are unbelievably brave to have gone in the tunnel at all - you deserve a special-forces-style SECRET TUNNEL OPERATIVE medal if you ask me.

A Londoner said...

I have been reading your blog for five years now and am thrilled you are still updating - even at half midnight. Good luck with your dentist appointment!

bluetina said...

I love your blog! That's it. Brevity is the soul of wit......

Patience_Crabstick said...

Congratulations on booking your dental appointment. I am terrified of the dentist and have put off my checkup for longer than I am willing to publically admit.

Sally said...

Oh bless you. I'm the same. I've started riding again (after a fall and a 3 year break) and my riding instructor had to remind me to breathe the first time I sat on the school horse. I'mm 40 as well! I think as you get older, and have kids, the whole "self preservation" thing kicks in. I was really shaky riding, and I think if my mare had spooked, I would have dismounted and burst into tears as well. I am terrible at envisaging awful riding accidents whilst I'm actually doing bloody rising trot (i.e. the horse will rear, I will fall off backwards and crash into jumps, become paralysed and have to eat through a tube for the rest of my life) which doesn't help my relaxation. The thing is, I still love doing it! Yay for anxiety ridden older riders! Love your blog...mindfulness helps somewhat if I can remember to do it. Valium also helps...but not whilst riding maybe?!

Anonymous said...

I cackled out loud at the nose tassles comment! Hadn't noticed it till then. So many thanks to the previous commentator. And also to Waffle for the post, obviously.

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