Tuesday, 15 January 2019

We need to talk

"We need to talk".  Those 4 ominous words that you never want to hear from your partner, that fill you with dread in the pit of your stomach and make your hands sweat.

Aric broke up with me on December 4th. I felt like my life had ended.  I cried - howled - for 7 hours straight, with an hour of sleep in between.  The sleep was peaceful, and when I woke up, reality hit me that we weren't going to be together anymore, I wasn't going to live in this house anymore, I wasn't going to go to America with him, we weren't going to get married, his parents wouldn't become my family, I wasn't going to go to Beirut with him, I wasn't going to have kids with him, or a house, or a dog, or a cat, he wasn't going to be in my life any more. I howled again, and considered raiding his medicine cabinet for whatever pills he had so that I could sleep and never wake up and deal with this pain again.

I didn't do that - instead I texted my friends, and went to work, all puffy eyed and red faced, and soaked in the comfort of my colleagues and friends. 

I suffered my first panic attack.  I was packing up my stuff in his house and got so overwhelmed by it all.  I started to shake and couldn't stop.  I collapsed at the top of the stairs as I was scared I was going to fall down, and I felt dizzy. My face started to tingle with pins and needles and I couldn't breathe.  He calmed me down and sat me on the sofa and held my hand until I felt normal again.

I haven't been able to eat properly for 6 weeks. It's done wonders for weightloss, but the only things I have been managing to eat are sweet things, which isn't great fuel for my body.  My sweat has also started to smell disgusting.  I googled this, and apparently when you sweat from stress, it comes from different glands compared to exercise sweat.  The bacteria prefer sweat from stress glands, which make you smell worse.  I also wasn't able to sleep.  I was waking up every day at 4am on the dot and not being able to get back to sleep.  Luckily this has stopped now, and my sweat is getting back to normal.  I am also starting to feel hungry again. 

Slowly but surely I am feeling more normal.  My friends and family and colleagues have been incredible.  Mostly people have been saying the right things.  I don't want to hear 'you're better off without him', 'he's a dick', 'you'll find someone else'.  None of these things help - I am not better off without him (nor am I better with him), he isn't a dick (he just isn't ready to make a commitment, and has legitimate worries about the future - I am not making excuses for him, and I am still very hurt he doesn't want to make things work, but I understand where he is coming from), and yes, whilst I will find someone else, that doesn't help right now when I still love the one I want to be with and felt so sure about and was convinced I would grow old with. 

But - most people haven't said these things.  Most people have said 'time is a great healer', 'nothing that I will say will make the pain any less, but know I have been through it and have come out the other side stronger and you will too' and 'i love you', 'be kind to yourself'.  Everyone is different, but I have found these things very helpful in my path to getting through this.  I have especially been beating myself up over how terrible I have felt.  This is truly the worst thing I have ever gone through - worse than my parents breaking up or any other break up.  I felt like my world had ended and I didn't want to carry on anymore.  The future I had been slowly warming myself up to and a few months ago, in my head, committed to, was suddenly ripped away with no warning. It was hard to comprehend, but in the end, it was another break up - I have been through many before, and I felt guilty and pathetic and weak at feeling so devastated by it and being knocked to the ground by it.  But people have been kind and given me the time I need to grieve, and lent me their ears for when I want to talk about it, and let me know they care about me.  It's been wonderful and a sunlight in the darkness of grief.  It's kept me from losing myself.

So if you're reading this and you're one of the people who have helped - thank you from the very bottom of my heart.  I really, truly appreciate everything - even the simplest act of giving me your attention when I needed it helped more than you could ever know.

I know I am not through it yet - after all, time is a great healer, but finally, I am feeling more human, and a little bit less broken.  I know it'll get hard again and it probably won't get easier for a while yet, but I am writing this now so I can look back on it and realise that once upon a time, it was truly terrible, but over time it did get better - and so if it gets worse again, I know it'll eventually be OK.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Being a bird mum

We found a baby bird!!!! (Well Aric did, I nearly trod on him).  Aric spotted the helpless but feisty little thing on the pavement outside some shops.  We looked around and there was a super tall tree above us - we had no chance of putting him back in the nest, and he was too young and featherless to survive on the floor.  We made a decision to take him home with us and then work out what to do from there.

Aric wrapped him up in his jacket and we walked home giddy with excitement - maybe we could raise him as our own and then The Dodo would do a viral video about us! (Literally my lifelong dream).

We put him down on the sofa and he starts chirping away for food - doing that thing they do when they crane their necks as long as they can with their mouths wide open.  We quickly made up some very runny weetabix for him (first thing that came to mind) and he was gobbling it down off my finger.  When he was full, he closed his eyes and went to sleep - so cute!!! We found him a box, put a warm bean bag in it and a bunch of towels and laid him into his little nest, where he promptly woke up, shat everywhere then started chirping for food again.  This was to be our life for the next 3 days.

We did some research on the internet and discovered that you can feed baby birds with softened dog biscuits and egg, so we bought a bag of biscuits and blended them up with water, a hard boiled egg and some random nutrient powder I have and fed him using a pipette.  Luckily for us, baby birds like their night time sleeps, so he was finished feeding by 930pm each night and sleeping, but ready for food at 6am every morning, for pretty much the rest of the day.

We stumbled across a dilemma when we realised we would either need to stay home or take him into work to look after him - luckily my work is pretty laid back plus I am kind of hidden in a corner on a floor where no senior people work, so I snuck him into work and sat him by the window - for the first day no one knew he was there apart from my 2 work friends who sit next to me.

The following day he garnered more interest as he was pretty chirpy and moving about a lot so I had lots of visitors to my desk, including some ecologists who were trying to determine what he was.  From the research I had done, I figured he was either  a Mynah, a Tui (our hope, but it's also illegal to keep them in captivity) or a Starling.  The ecologists thought he could be a Tui.

On Saturday, having looked after him for 2 days solid, I was pretty tired and ready to take him to the bird sanctuary, but Aric wanted to spend more time with him, so we agreed to take him in on Sunday - I was busy diving Saturday anyways and knew Aric would be ready to take him in after a day of looking after him, cute as he is!!!

I was correct, though it was still hard to give him up.  We had invested our time and our love into him and though he caused a little bit of chaos (literally there was poo EVERYWHERE and his food everywhere and we went through so many towels which are now stained with yellow poop) and the house seemed very empty when I came home on Sunday!  However it has made me think about being a baby mum and has put me off the idea for the future at least....it's tiring to have something rely on you!!

Here's some pics we took of him before we handed him over to the bird sanctuary, he's covered in food (it's super hard to feed him without getting him covered in the stuff)

Friday, 16 November 2018

Learning to Scuba dive

Back in April my lovely friend Luise won a voucher for the PADI Open Water elearning in a raffle.  She happens to be a super duper pro diver already, so being the lovely soul she is, gifted me the voucher as she knew Aric was keen on me learning to Scuba. (I guess I was semi-keen too – I just don’t like expensive hobbies as I am a cheap skate – so never even considered learning before.  Plus, it scares me, and I am a baby, and I am really stupid when it comes to knowing how to control my body in situations, so I was worried about pressing wrong buttons and dying of exploding lungs).

Anyways after months of putting it off, I booked it and suddenly the course came round and it was time to learn.

I turned up at the Dive Centre a bag of nerves and slightly disappointed at the size of our group – I was expecting maybe 4 people per dive instructor, instead we were a group of 6 per instructor, 12 in total. They had also messed up the pool booking and hadn’t told us, so we were expecting to go to Newmarket pools (a very handy 15 min walk from my house) and instead had to work out a last minute car pool ride to a pool 30 min drive away.  Not the best start.

After completing some paperwork and being fitted for wetsuits, we loaded the bags and cylinders into the trailer and headed to the pools.  I was so so nervous but luckily there were a few others who felt the same way which made me feel better. 

The first day was HORRIBLE.  I hated nearly all of it.  The pool we were at isn’t the best suited for scuba training – they didn’t know we were coming so we had to wait around for them to sort out lanes for us, then there was a kids water polo match happening in the rest of the pool so there was lots of whistles and shouting and screaming – not the most relaxing of environments and made it very hard to hear what the instructor was trying to tell us.  Because of limited space on poolside I felt like the getting the gear ready aspect was rushed.  We put on our BCDs and weighbelts and got into the pool.  We were given a few breaths underwater with our head in to get used to it, then went down on our knees and practiced things like taking our reg out and putting it back in and purging it, clearing our masks, breathing from someone else’s reg.  I felt like everything was very quick and we weren’t given time to learn – rather time to look at what our instructor was doing and then copy.  I was getting stressed out as I felt like we weren’t actually learning to swim and breathe underwater – rather learning what to do if your air stops working – which admittedly is important, but I would rather learn how to do swimming and breathing and feel comfortable before moving onto the more serious stuff. My mouth kept getting dry from the air, and my jaw hurt from clamping down on the mouthpiece.  My least favourite task of the day was taking my mask off and putting it back on and clearing it.  Even though I knew I had to breathe through my nose to clear my mask, my body wouldn’t obey me and would breathe through my mouth and my mask would remain filled with water, then I would panic and shoot up to the surface coughing and spluttering.  Writing this back makes me laugh as now I can do it fine and it really doesn’t seem like a big deal, but at the time it literally was the worst thing ever and I hated it.

That night I went to a party and told everyone how much I hated scuba diving and how I didn’t want to go back the next day.  Sunday morning I even had a little cry to myself as I didn’t want to go back but didn’t want to quit and let Aric and Luise down.   So I composed myself and went back and Sunday was SO MUCH BETTER.  This time we started with snorkelling skills (why we didn’t begin with this on Saturday I don’t know!) which I was fine with and got me warmed up for breathing underwater.  Then we geared up and did a bunch of other skills that I was a bit nervous of but needn’t have been – one of them being breathing from a freeflowing regulator.  I thought this would be horrible and I would be choking (as you have to have the regulator half out of your mouth and ‘sip’ the air) but it was fine and you don’t inhale any water at all. Finally, we did my most dreaded skill – removing your mask, swimming for a short distance without it, putting your mask back on and clearing it.  I was worried I would crash into something (I wear contacts so can’t open my eyes under water) but it was fine – the instructor literally dragged me round whilst I closed my eyes tight and thought hard about only breathing through my mouth, then we came to a stop and I put my mask back on and cleared it first time. I was so happy!! This day we even finished before the other group, so we had 10 mins or so to swim around and practice our buoyancy, and he made us remove our masks again, so by this time I was feeling much more comfortable with it.  When I got home Sunday night I felt like a proud kid who’d got a good score at school – I was so happy.

The following weekend we did our open water dives which again I was super nervous of – mainly of the fact it would be a lot colder, we would have outdoor things to contend with such a sealife and currents, and visibility wouldn’t be anything like it would be in the pool. We were also going deeper so it meant I couldn’t shoot up to the top if I panicked as I could cause damage to myself – I would need to remain composed and calm!

Our first day was spent at Matheson’s Bay and was a shore dive, meaning you have to swim out in all your gear to the descent point.  I found the swim quite a struggle – when you wear all the scuba equipment (plus I was wearing 2 wetsuits and a hood for insulation reasons) you’re pretty restricted – it’s like swimming with an uncomfortable, bulky backpack whilst wearing compression tights. It wasn’t fun.  You also have to swim on your back so you can’t see where you’re going. When we went to descend, none of us were weighted properly, so the instructor had to swim back to shore to get some more weights so that we’d sink.  Sigh.  The other nervous girl in our group had a leaky gas cylinder, so that added to our woes. After several failed descents, we were finally weighted properly and headed downwards into the dark murky depths of the bay.  

It was fine! We barely saw any fish, but it was quite surreal being under the sea and sitting on the sandy floor and swimming along with the kelp.  We did a couple of the skills we learned in the pool before working on our buoyancy – I was lucky and managed to pick it up quite quickly but the nervous lady kept suddenly shooting to the surface before being dragged back down by the instructor. When I realised I could control my buoyancy by long, slow, deep breaths it was a game changer!

Due to previous faffing about, we didn’t finish up and get home till much later than planned, which was frustrating as Aric was going to a work Armistice event I wanted to join him at but couldn’t. 

Our final day was spent diving at Goat Island.  I hitched a lift with the dive instructors and as we passed another dive shop, one of them said ‘ah, it would be lovely to work up here wouldn’t it – so pretty’.  The other one replied ‘Nah, I looked at them once but their standards are far too high.  They want everyone to smile all the time, you have to be on time all the time, too much work’.  This quote alone sums up the diveschool I chose to dive with.  I don’t recommend them (Dive HQ Westhaven).  When we were kitting up for the Goat Island dive I went through 3 different gas cylinders as each one of them leaked (and one was only half full) – I had to choose the one that leaked the least.  Diving was much easier this time (even with a leaky cylinder) as I opted for one wet suit and no hood – what I lacked in warmth I made up for in manouverability! We did a few more skills then a bit of an under water swim, before heading back home – where the trailer broke and we got stuck on the motorway for an hour until someone came to pick us up.  No one knew what to do, they couldn’t get hold of the owner and they didn’t know who the vehicle and tow insurance was with.  We spent the hour loading and unloading the trailer and the Ute, then loading it again into the van.  I was not impressed and very glad to eventually arrive home at 7pm – we were meant to be back at the shop at 4.30pm.  Because of this, we also still haven’t been certified and need to go back to the shop at some point this week to fill in the final paperwork. 

Anyway rants aside about the poor service we received and how terrible the company was – I am glad I did it, and relieved it is over.  Bring on the fun dives!