Sleep eludes me.

Sleep eludes me.

As usual for me, I’m laying here and on my phone. Because I can’t put it down. And because there’s no point putting it down.

It’s not like I’m going to fall asleep….. not yet. Not until the meds kick in and my brain goes numb yet again.

That sounds terrible doesn’t it. I’m somewhat dependent on medicine to make me sleep. And I say somewhat because as afraid as I am of not sleeping, I’m also afraid of addiction. So I will promise you that I’m very careful. I have a mixture of sleep aids and I mix them up. I go 2-3 nights with nothing. And those nights I barely sleep the first two but the third I fall asleep fast – because I’m exhausted. Beyond exhausted. Then a couple of nights I’ll take half an antihistamine. And one night I’ll take half a sleeping tablet. Other nights I’ll end up with a migraine from the stress of trying to sleep and not getting enough sleep so those nights I fight the pain till I’m not able to bear it any longer and I cave in and sleep when the pain meds give me relief from the pain. Some nights I try herbal sleep aids. And sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t… you never quite know. Some nights I resort to anti-anxiety meds. But I’m so worried about any one of them not working, that I’m too scared to take any of them regularly. Or more than half at a time – except when I took a whole Ativan before my eye surgery. Because the fear of remembering that overcame the fear of the pills not working….. Lesser of two evils really was that one.

I’ve tried so many things. Magnesium powder. Iron supplements. A super dark room. No technology after 7pm (do you even know how hard that was???). Regular waking times. Lots of sunshine during the day. Tart cherry juice. Melatonin. Good multivitamins. Probiotics. Meditation. Sleep inducing sounds.

You name it, I’ve tried it.

And it’s ridiculous. Because I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. Not the illegal kind. And I finally have the ability to sleep (child related story for another time) yet it eludes me.

Some nights I feel like it’s almost in my reach…. and then another daft thought hits and I wish I could stop them. I wish I knew how.

You see I think about absolutely ridiculous things so far out of my control…. yet they control me.

Like earthquakes. I’m terrified of them. I’m so certain my home will be destroyed, my babies and partner killed. Me hurt. And some nights it’s so bad that I make my kids sleep in my room using the excuse that I just love them and want them close. But they have no idea it’s that I’m terrified of not being able to get to them fast enough if another big quake hits. And that ones been so much worse since the quake that damaged much of our city. I can’t blame that entirely but it does seem like it triggered me somewhat.

Another one is fire. For no reason whatsoever I go through nights convinced our home will burn to the ground and we will all die. Or worse, I won’t be able to save one of my children. It’s so bad that I turn off almost all multi boxes in my house every night. In fact during the day as I use things I turn the multi box on to use them then turn them right off again. Ironically even as I’ve typed this I had to run upstairs to check on my child and check I turned off a Scentsy Warmer. And there was no way I could not check. It would have played in my mind till I went up.

I worry about my partners work and him being hurt on the job.

I worry about my kids at school and what if the youngest chokes on a grape. Or the oldest gets bullied and commit suicide. Even though I know both are ridiculous. Grapes must be halved at kindy and my son is more likely to be captured by aliens than be bullied at his amazing school.

I know all the things I worry about are so stupid. And I try to tell myself this every day.

No the plane I’m on won’t crash.

Yes my kids dad can keep them alive while I’m away working for 27 hours because that’s the most I can stand to be away from them for even though getting the early flight home cost me eleventy billion dollars and I officially made no money on that work trip.

My gas hot water cylinder isn’t going to spontaneously combust and blow me up. Because that’s just weird. I mean really. Who has even heard of that happening in real life????? Hmm actually don’t answer that one….

The air conditioning unit isn’t going to cause a roof fire and burn us to the ground. Because it just won’t alright? Got it?

That little wobble wasn’t a precursor to a soul destroying earthquake you are just sitting in a rocking chair you twit.

That noise wasn’t a demon attacking your house it was just next doors cat jumping off the roof and onto the carport roof on his way out roaming. The same as every other night at 10pm for the last 7 years.

No you don’t need a wine to calm your nerves because the phone rang. No one has died. Your partners been on call nights for years so you should be bloody well used to it by now.

And yes the smallest one is still breathing and if you keep poking the sleeping bear, it’s going to wake up thinking it’s had a nap now and then you really won’t get to sleep for the night because come 4am you will be far too busy losing your ever loving mind whilst trying to convince said child that; it really is night time, yes the sun is down, no your not lying, that everyone else on the planet is sleeping and so should they be, no they can’t bounce on the bed or play Xbox, the internet doesn’t work at night, it’s not breakfast time yet, no they can’t have some bubbles (soda) and then giving up and handing them an iPad if they will just shut up and stick their headphones on and let you sleep for five minutes before you have to get up and start the school run.

I am so guilty of that last one that it’s not even funny. Even if it is just a tiny bit amusing right now…. while he’s sound asleep.

Right now though? My eyes are heavy. And my child on the right is breathing noisily which makes me strangely relaxed. I know he’s alive. My partner on my left is snoring and I have a snoring child on the bed at the foot of mine.

Everyone present and accounted for. So now I can let myself drift away. Into a restless sleep where I’ll be up ten times and wake up at 7am wishing I could have five more hours sleep but if I try I’ll be wide awake by 8.30 and having to get out of bed.

So I bid you adieu.

And I offer thanks to my Dr for tonight’s sleep action.

Fuck Cancer.

Fuck Cancer.

Apologies in advance for the multitude of times I want to say Fuck Cancer.

The brief part of the year where one slides into another has forever been turned into a horrific time of year for us. It’s so unbelievably hard now.

In September 2016 my Nana was diagnosed with secondary brain cancer and given 6 weeks to live. My Dad and I (with a few weeks help from an aunt) nursed her for almost four months at home before we couldn’t do anymore and put her into respite for 5 days to have a break. She went downhill so rapidly in there that bar one short visit home for the day, they forced her into end stage hospital care. She passed away 10 days after going into hospice and my Dad and I were devastated.

We buried her just before Christmas.

Then at the end of January, just barely past Christmas and my Nana’s loss, a man who was like a second father to me, for almost 20 years, suddenly went downhill fast. One day he was working 7-7 and fine and the next he didn’t turn up for work. We knew he had cancer but we thought he had ages. Bad days happened though during his fight so we didn’t think too much of it the first day. The second we were confused, and the third we had the bomb dropped that he may never be back at work. The fifth his children arrived and the sixth we spent a whole day talking about old times, his children all together and laughing and reminiscing. The seventh day he was gone. Like an explosion, he passed away about 3am. We got the call and rushed up there knowing we were too late and feeling guilty for leaving the night before.

Those two losses were truly devastating and even more so, when they were so close together.

I was so close to my Nan. I would spend most of a day every Thursday with her. And I would take her to appointments. I would colour her hair. We would go out for coffee. She would help me with the boys and I would help with whatever she needed. And in her last months I was with her almost every day. Life was put on hold to care for her and her decline was terrifyingly fast. It was so incredibly hard watching the strong, ferocious woman she was become bed bound. Needing constant supervision, she couldn’t walk, couldn’t toilet herself. The radiation made her hair fall out – her hair that was her pride and joy with 6 weekly colours and 3 monthly perms. And it felt like it was too fast….. it took me 2 years to take the weekly alarms out of my phone for my days with Nana. I almost couldn’t do it as my heart still wanted to go. I still had so much to say even though we spoke so often.

And if I thought Nana went fast my ‘other’ Dad went even faster and it was a dizzying week. I was barely getting my head around him suddenly seeming so sick when he too had been so incredibly strong! He had fought bowel cancer with a week off work total. And they cleared him for a whole month before they told us that they had found liver and lung tumours which were aggressive and mostly untreatable. They did try a long course of chemo but he told them no more in early December because he wanted to enjoy Christmas. If it was possibly his last he wanted to enjoy tasting food. He wanted to eat without a mouth full of ulcers. He wanted his taste buds back. He wanted to be able to have a Christmas without nausea and vomiting. And he got it. Even if that Christmas for us was a more somber affair as we knew what he’d given up and we knew time was ticking now. But we had no idea how much or how little time there was…..

The last week we had him, my partner and I spent every minute awake up there with him. On the Thursday night his daughter and another son arrived. On the Friday night his last son arrived. And on the Thursday I made his favourite cakes. Those were the last things he ate and to this day I haven’t been able to bring myself to make them again.

I was so glad I was able to do that before he couldn’t eat anymore. I’m grateful to him for asking for them. And thankful that I took the time to make them.

His decline was head spinningly fast. He was laughing and happy on the Saturday evening. But then he got suddenly exhausted. As if the day had taken every last ounce of his energy. And when he fell asleep we hadn’t been able to wake him when we were leaving to go home…. we had discussed staying. But we were told to go. That he would be okay. We left about midnight. And the call came just after 3am. That heartbreaking phone call that as soon as the phone rang we both sat bolt upright and looked at each other. I remember saying oh no… and he answered it. We were told he was gone and to come now. So we dressed and grabbed the kids in their jammie’s and sleeping and loaded them into the car and we rushed up there. It was horrific. I just couldn’t believe it was only a few hours since we had been with him and now he was gone.

Both left huge holes in our lives and my kids lives.

They lost a Grandad and a Great-Grandmother in just weeks. And both were so important to both of the boys. But more so my oldest son who was best friends with his Grandad. He lived there every weekend and half the week. They were inseparable. And grandad was at our house every single day. He never missed coffee in the mornings with the kids and always came to say goodbye before leaving work for the night. He wouldn’t dream of going home without seeing his boys! He was so close to my elder boy and was starting to get almost as close to my younger boy as he was growing to adore his Grandad as much as his brother did. My heart hurts every day still when I watch both boys developing and growing and I think that he is missing out on these boys potential. And they are missing him. I think often how much he would have adored them both. How much he did adore them, but I often see little things and think oh man. If only he was able to have seen that personality trait of the boys…. or how much he would have loved to share his world with them. They were the centre of his universe and the thing he cared about the most.

I have his photo in my lounge and we talk to him every day. And every day we wish he was here with us and every day I’m still mad he’s not. That life is just too unfair. My babies deserved more time with their Grandad. We deserved more time wth him. We need him…. still.

And I feel like even though it’s been a few years now, I’m still learning to live without both he and my Nana. Isn’t that terrible? I feel like I’m still grieving them both!

I wonder when it ends….. if you ever stop missing them so desperately?

Losing my daughter

Losing my daughter

This post is probably a bit of an open letter to her.
She was only 1 when as her father tells it, I deserted her.
And in a way maybe I did. Because I wasn’t strong enough to fight back, because he sucked all of the fire from my soul. Because I let him take me to the brink of destruction, where I stood on the edge, and if it hadn’t been for the hand of a friend, I could have easily fallen into an abyss from which I wouldn’t have returned.

I did walk away. And I own that.
But not because I wanted to but because I was pushed. And initially I wanted to take her with me – I always wanted her with me. But he wouldn’t let that happen.
And I wasn’t strong enough to fight him physically, or force him to let her come with me.
I had no power when it came to him.

Every. Single. Day.
Even now, more than 20 years later.
I think about her and most days it’s with a mixture of sadness and being proud that I gave birth to her. Because every day I see things she’s doing as an adult. Living her life. I am so grateful that she had the chance to become an amazing woman.
And I’m sad because I missed a lot of it.

There’s a lot I’ll skip here, because 20 years of experiences is a lot of ‘stuff’ but I’m going to share some excerpts of some of the good and bad times we had.

When I first left, there were a couple of months of radio silence. I would have sneak conversations on the phone with her Grandmother. Because her Dad refused to speck to me. I would get rushed whispers and I would get hung up on if he was coming. So he didn’t know I was speaking to her.
But I never got to hear her voice. Or see her face.
Until one day, he called me.
And after the initial stomach plunging moment, I picked up the phone fast. And I said hello as calmly as I could, though my whole body was shaking, with fear of what was coming.
But he was civil. He said my daughter wanted to see me and wouldn’t be consoled, so he was bringing her to my city. I stood there and let the tears run down my face, aching to hold her. And I asked when. He said that he was half way there, he would be there in a few hours and he wanted an address.
I gave him my mothers. Because I didn’t want him to know where I lived. He told me what time he would be there and I said I’d be waiting.
And I hung up on the phone… wondering if I was dreaming or this was real?
It was real.

And surreal at the same time.
As that strange visit, where I was on edge and terrified, but focused on my baby girl. Started a few years where we would do three weeks turn about with her. Where until she was at kindy, we would both take turns collecting her.

And he would send me letters begging me to take him back and demanding to be allowed to stay with me to show me he wanted to change. To be what I wanted. That he didn’t care if I had seen other people. He would not be controlling anymore and he would do anything I asked.
And I wouldn’t. Because I wasn’t the same person I had been and I struggled with the internal demon battle, but I managed to stay strong for myself.
Even after I met someone serious, he would still beg for me to take him back every chance he could. And he made my life awkward and frustrating, but I had to deal with it because I was terrified that if I made too many waves, he would prevent me seeing my daughter. And I would do anything for her.

I have so many beautiful memories of my baby growing up from that time. She was such a beautiful precocious child, who spoke early, and had her mothers very decisive nature, with her fathers way of remembering everything said or promised.
A chatterbox, and a truly sweet soul. She loved everyone and everyone loved her.
We would spend time with her great-grandparents who were smitten with her. And would offer to babysit her while I worked.
And she would stay weekends with her Great-Grandad in a nearby town, and she was the only great-grandchild who he would regularly have come to stay. She was such a beautiful soul and she really enjoyed his company.
Devastatingly to me, she wasn’t allowed to attend any of their funerals.

She wasn’t allowed, because her father remarried.
Which I encouraged actively. I even got them to hook up. He had been telling me he met someone and had been chatting to her online as she lived an hour away – but he had met her at a party at a friends house. And I told him he would be stupid to not ask her out. But he was reluctant, so I messaged her and told her myself, that since he wasn’t going to she should ask him out and I told her he would absolutely say yes!
I thought that by him having someone else, he would leave me alone.
Which did work to a degree, as I did manage to get free of  his unwelcome advances and inappropriate comments and discussions. His creepy touch and the way he would watch me.
She became his new obsession which was in itself a relief and a freeing moment.
I thought her and I were friends, and I would offer her advice when he was acting out. I’d tell her what I wished I’d have the courage to do and didn’t. And I encouraged her not to let him do to her what he did to me.
And they got married.
About the time I was cut off in fact.

It came as a bit of a shock to me, as it was a slow thing. Visits became difficult. Timings awkward, and complaints made about travel. And I always did what I could do to help. We switched to flying to help save time so we could spend more time with her. And I’d often pay for the flights, to ensure I got to see her.
I didn’t pay child support, as he didn’t want it, but I would look after all of her clothing and schooling needs. 4 times a year I would take her shopping. He would let me know by sending an empty suitcase and telling me she had nothing that fitted. And I would fix that. Send her home with an entire new wardrobe of her choosing, and new underwear socks and shoes. Books for school and anything she needed. I often sent up shampoo and conditioner and anything she asked me for.
So as things got trickier, we negotiated new schedules. Changed access weeks to suit him and I got less and less time. Which broke my heart more with every negotiation.

And it all came to head one christmas.
It was my turn that Christmas to see her. As she had been with her Dad the Christmas before, and we had been taking turns. And when I tried to book her travel, he kept putting it off and putting it off until it dawned on me and I confronted him and he admitted he wasn’t sending her for Christmas.
So I went to the courts.
I fought and won that Christmas. It cost me a fortune, but they granted turn about for the custody of her for special holidays. And she did come down that year.
It was our last Christmas together.

The following year, they challenged it in court again.
And this time they won. So I appealed it and we had many, many court hearings over her custody. She was forced into having a lawyer who failed to fight for her like she should have.
Her incompetent lawyer, who originally admitted that my daughters wishes were to see both of us. Didn’t fight when her Dad and his wife filed to have me removed from access for no reason.
There was no one fighting in my corner except me. And the lies that were thrown at me from them were horrific.
And they kept winning. I couldn’t see how and every loss was absolutely devastating.
I was shattering into a thousand pieces and none of those pieces were strong enough to keep fighting. And I didn’t have the money.
As in the end, it came down to a battle of the funds.
One judge would see that it was horrible and would agree to my shared custody terms – which was all I ever asked for. I just wanted time with my baby. I never fought them for full custody as she needed time with her Dad too. And her Grandmother up there.
But I wanted her to be able to share her time with both of us. Fairly.
The next judge would rule that her Dad should have full custody.
The next would rule shared custody.
It was fight after fight and it was extreme elation with the wins, and extreme heartbreak with the losses.
And then it got to the point where I was losing my sanity and my will to live.

My relationship suffered with my obsession for wanting to see my baby.
We split up around the time that he put his foot down, and $100’000 into the court battles he said no more. There was no more money to fight when it just kept going back and forth like a bad tennis match.
And he wasn’t as emotionally invested as I, as he had not had the chance to ever really be a Dad to her, but he was left picking up the pieces every time my heart was broken yet again.
He was there with me standing at the airport, waiting for her to arrive on a flight, that her father didn’t put her on and didn’t tell me until I panicked that she wasn’t there and called him.
He was there with me at every court hearing.
He was there looking after her with me. Feeding her, clothing her, caring for her.
But at the end of the day, her father would remind him that D was NOT her father and he was nothing to her. He had no say and didn’t matter.
But to me, him shutting down my chances to see my baby, were a kick in the teeth and the last straw.
The day I walked out on him, I hadn’t seen my daughter in over 3 years and I didn’t have it in me to argue with him anymore.

But it didn’t change my reality. I was still without my baby girl and I didn’t know how to live. I left town for a while, did some growing and changing and I returned with a new outlook.
It wasn’t that I stopped wanting my baby, but I decided that I couldn’t continue not to live without her. I had to learn to live without her.
So I took the time to grieve and to learn how to be me without her, and how to let go of the anger and hurt. Shut it down and lock it away – like all the other pain in my life.
Make it disappear.

And I didn’t stop trying to see her.
Eventually I was permitted to go to her. She was not allowed to come to me under any circumstances. Even when she asked herself. And I always felt so sick when she would ask me if she could come with me, or come and stay. because I desperately wanted her to, but as I was fully supervised when I visited her, I had to be so careful with my words. As the wrong thing said – when I spoke from my heart to her, they would stop me being allowed to visit for months. I was punished by them keeping her from me.

I was allowed a few visits after her little brother was born, I was permitted to visit once when he was a newborn.
I was punished after turning up to surprise her for her birthday once. I couldn’t speak or see her for 8 months.
I was allowed to visit again when he was 3.
I wasn’t allowed to come between then nor speak to her. She wasn’t allowed to call me and when I bought her a video cellphone so she could video call me and I could see her, and it was shut off within days. I later found out her step-mother took it and used it herself, it was returned to me when I demanded it, full of text messages, photos and emails belonging to her step-mother.
I had another child. who is now almost 5 and who hasn’t met his half sister.
Because I’ve not been allowed to see her.
I’ve been threatened and told that I’m crazy and I’m not to come near her.

One of her boyfriends contacted me once on Facebook. And he told me she was always talking about me and wanting to see me. She was 16.
He wanted to surprise her and make her happy, and he asked if they could come down for a weekend. He was going to pay for her flights.
I have to admit, I got so excited…. but dread took over. And I was afraid. So I stupidly told him as long as he ran it by her step-mother and father first. And I told him to take a person he trusted who could speak for him. So he took his mother. And he did the right thing and asked if he could take her for a weekend holiday to see me, her mother.
As predicted, her Dad hit the roof and said hell would freeze over first.
He later told me his mother was astounded and tried to speak sense to him, as did he. But her father was completely shut down and walked away.
I wasn’t surprised and I apologised to him. I felt so sad for him and embarrassed for his mother. And devastated for myself and my daughter. As it hurt so much knowing she still wanted to come but couldn’t.
They broke up after a year or so.

Once she turned 18 I would speak to her on messenger apps, when she would contact me. She would tell me things which made my heart sing. I was always so happy after talking to her, even if it was a brief chat. because she was reaching out to me.
And I got brave some days, lightly suggesting she come visit. Asking her to come and see me.
I offered flights, accommodation and everything.
But I’ve had my heart broken every time, as she’s not ready to go against her father, which I respect. It has to be her decision.

I just wish she knows how much it hurts. How hard it can be to breathe some days when I look through old pictures – because that’s all I have.
And every day I look at her and regret every time I have been away from her.

Every day of her life, I’ve woken up and thought of her and wondered if today would be the day I would get to hold her again and see her. Talk to her.
Let her know how much I love her.
And that day hasn’t come yet, but I haven’t given up hope. I made her. I birthed her. I breastfed her.
One day, she has to come back to her mama, right?