Bleurgh

That’s how I feel. I’ve had four days of eating a load of sugar and I feel awful. My skin looks awful. My stomach looks like I’ve put on a kilo. I probably have.

My period is imminent. Work is crazy and life is so busy. There’s nothing wrong with any of it, but at the moment I feel like it all just sucks. All of it. Too much, too overwhelming, too everything.

I was doing so well.

It’s the SUGAR. It derails every other plan and system I put in place. It is a true addiction and I have got to break it.

I’m going to try again tomorrow. Get back up, dust myself down. Don’t lose three weeks of hard work over this.

1. Eat three meals a day
2. Stay away from sugary food
3. Drink water earlier in the day
4. Get enough sleep
5. Move my body

It’s not rocket science. It’s not a punishing health/fitness regime. It’s not anti-social, restrictive or weird.

It’s all I need to do to feel a million times better than I do now.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow morning I am going to tell sugar we’re over. There’s no room in my life for you anymore. It’s been fun, but you are not good for me and you make me feel bad about myself. We really are done.

Struggling

I’ve been at this point many, many times. Several weeks in, feeling better, eating better.

And then I just stop doing it all.

I’ve had a dreadful week of sleep, it’s a few days until my period, work has been busier than it has for a while and the kids have been especially challenging. I feel exhausted by the effort of daily life.

I’ve stopped taking my supplements, and I’ve started eating sugar again. I have a big spot on my face as a reward.

I feel defeated. This is the point where I always slip back to old habits and stay there until I feel so horrible I make another “fresh start”.

Mentally I have given up. I don’t know why this always happens and I don’t know what to do about it.

I’ve been here so many times and I am so disappointed in myself.

Why do I not have the skillset to maintain a decision once made?

Money

(Just before I start, I’ve had wine today and Tues, but none on Mon and Weds, so not quite cut it out in the week, but it’s better than drinking every night.)

Money was bound to come up sooner or later with the mental decluttering I’m doing.

I’m trying to stay conscious of my emotional state and work through things as they cause me problems, and today’s issue is definitely money. I sat down and did a long overdue bank reconciliation and my financial situation is dire. Really dire. I am £6611 in debt. I do a tiny bit of freelancing on the side, which brings in the odd few hundred, but I haven’t worked in earnest since I left my job in Feb 2013, over four years ago.

I was so depressed at this figure today, and then I found myself stuck in the common thought of Why am I such a financial failure when I am educated and reasonably intelligent? which always makes me feel utterly crap.

I have changed jobs about as many times as people change underpants and have always found sticking to one thing to be tremendously difficult. I was also (hindsight tells me), not very good in the workplace at establishing boundaries, being heard, and standing up for myself. I allowed people to treat me as a friend, the nice girl, the confidant, the co-conspirator and the one who always had a joke to tell. I didn’t have leadership qualities, even though I had leadership aspirations. I always felt like a bit of an imposter – never as grown up as all the other grown-ups I worked with. I acted like the new girl for most of my 20 year work history (all because I wanted people to like me. People-pleasing is a destructive force for sure).

Sigh.

And of course, I went to a not very good university to get a masters in my late twenties, which cost me quite a lot. No one ever really explained the value of cost-benefit analysis to me, but I’ve spent the afternoon thinking maybe I didn’t get back the value I invested in getting a masters from a not very good university.

Let’s find out.

At the time I returned to uni I was earning £19,000.

I worked part time during my degree and earned £4,660.

I borrowed £9,000 to support myself for the year. So the year I was at uni cost me:

£9000 loan + £14340 in lost earnings + loan interest estimated at £2,000 = £25,340

Assuming my wages would have risen with inflation, my old wage (had I not been promoted or anything), my actual earnings post-degree, the difference, and the time to pay off my year out must be something like this:

Years after degree - original earnings, actual earnings, difference, reducing cost of degree
1 - 19311, 19642, 331, -25009
2 - 19681, 23466, 3785, -21224
3 - 20265, 30780, 10515, -10709
4 - 20694, 30199, 9505, -1204
5 - 21337, 31658, 10321, +9117

So, four years down the line I was almost paid off, and five years down the line I was in credit to the tune of £9k. I basically raised my annual wages by 10k.

Hmm. So actually I think my very basic cost-benefit analysis shows that it was financially worth it. There is the factor of potential promotions had I stayed in the same line of work for five years. But I just can’t know that – and given my promotion history it may never have happened.

So, that’s not the problem. My degree was totally worth it.

But where did I go wrong and how did I end up almost £7k in debt?

I dug myself out of debt once before (probably around £5k), and maintained that status quo until I went on maternity leave for the first time. It is not easy going from earning a decent full time income to earning statutory maternity pay.

For four years I have spent carelessly. That is how I have ended up almost £7k in debt. The big question is:

Why do I spend carelessly?

Having thought about this, I guess the real reason is that my lifestyle choices are more expensive than the income that I have available to support them.

It’s that simple.

I am living a false life where I think I can buy things I want. I am avoiding reality.

We live in a wealthy area and our kids go to school with kids from wealthy homes. It’s a state school, but it’s a good area. We’re lucky – the kids benefit from a good education for free. But we socialise with people who are relatively better off than we are. They are nice people. We’ve lived here 10 years now and we feel the same as them… but we aren’t. Or at least, I’m not. My husband earns a good wage, but not enough to cover my overspending.

Part of this is about self-acceptance (I’m starting to think almost everything comes back to this most important of concepts). If I accept that I have to budget, even though I mix with people who seemingly don’t, then I will be able to stick within my spending limits.

But if I don’t accept myself and my own financial limitations, I end up like I am now. Debt-ridden and miserable.

So perhaps I need to be more self-aware with my spending. Perhaps I need to ask myself: Can I afford this, or am I just pretending I can afford it?

Because if I can’t afford it, it doesn’t make me any worse or any better. It’s just who I am. And that is perfectly okay.

Day 37

My mood has really stabilised after the vortex of sugar withdrawal. I have more patience with the children and I am just happier.

My sleep is suffering still, waking and insomnia are a problem.

My joint pain is so much better. The joints are still horribly tender to touch, but basic movement is now fine, which is mountains better than where I was at the beginning (god, even getting up off the sofa was a total nightmare at the end of the day).

So, changes I’ve successfully made so far:

  1. Cutting out sugar
  2. Restarting exercise
  3. Eating a bit more home cooked food and a few less takeaways
  4. Supplement regime to help my arthritis

Changes I need to focus on, in addition to continuing the above:

  1. Better quality sleep
  2. Some strength exercises
  3. Cutting down the alcohol

Going to try not drinking Mon-Thu. Starts tomorrow.

Shame Log #3

Wow. All this mental unburdening is quite the thing. I just want to spill the beans on everything to get the sense of peace it gives me afterwards. I should have done this years ago.

Once I had experienced the attention that boys could give me, I needed it all the time. After the first foursome date I arranged and the loss of my virginity at 15, came another boyfriend. He was needier than I could handle – the irony was that I wanted all the love and attention, but when I got it it made me feel like the boy was weak and pathetic. I was destined to end up chasing bad guys (who I’m certain I would have rejected had they behaved better and declared their love), and feeling suffocated by the guys who were actually capable of showing me love.

My parents never displayed any kind of physical affection towards me, so I found it oppressive to be pawed at, but I also criticised anyone who didn’t demonstrate they loved me physically. When my new boyfriend stated “I love you” in a wobbly voice at the end of one of our phone calls, I ran a mile. 

I ended it and got straight into a relationship with a Turkish boy who lived nearby. He was 15 and a complete novice around girls, so at first he seemed sweet and charming.

Because I was so ashamed of having already slept with someone, I made the mistake of telling him I was still a virgin (as he was). We slept together just before my 16th birthday. By this point his controlling personality had started to emerge. He wanted to dictate what I wore, how I behaved, and where I went.

In the new year, a friend from school started to spend more time with me and him and his friends. We would all hang around together in parks or at whoevers house had an absent parent. We were all children of separated parents who worked, left unsupervised too often.

My friend told my boyfriend I kept a diary and he became obsessed with it. Between them they hatched a plan for her to ask me to go shopping after school and for him to go to our house to steal the diary.

Only my younger brother, 9, was home, and he unwittingly let my boyfriend into the house where he stole the diary and left.

I don’t know if you can imagine how utterly shameful it is to have your diary exposed to the public. These days it would have gone on facebook or something, so at least I can be thankful that wasn’t the case back then.

Worst of all were my deepest secrets about how I had lost my virginity already. My boyfriend called my house and screamed at my Dad that he might have AIDS (which was all over the news constantly).

I wanted to die of shame. I felt sick inside. I turned to my mum and for the first and probably only time ever, she stood up and became a proper parent. She drove me to his house, confronted his mum and asked for the diary back.

You’d think that would be the end of it – but he seemed upset that we had split up. He hung around our house waiting to talk to me, and we ended up back together. The following months were a mess of on/off while he played around with other girls everywhere, including my friend who had set up the diary theft and treated me like a possession of his, verbal abuse and humiliation being his favourite way to reduce me to tears. In a ridiculous teenage stunt to get him to pull in line, I told him I thought I was pregnant (I knew I wasn’t). He told everyone, and then when I said a few days later I wasn’t he told everyone I had had an abortion. Yeah. What a total prick.

With hindsight I can see so clearly how at each step of our relationship I could have done it differently and just walked away. But I didn’t seem to be able to.

In the end, it was circumstance that got me away. My parents divorce came through, both my parents moved away and I was taken in by a kind set of parents whose daughter was my friend so I could do my A-levels. Meeting up became impossible living under a stable family roof and his volatile personality had become an embarrassment to me.

I moved on. Lucky, very lucky.

I was left very emotionally bruised, defensive, angry and ashamed after over a year of allowing him to derail my life. So instead of learning from it, and admitting I had dated a total loser for so long, I covered it up. New home, new friends. Nobody needed to know.

But inside I was a mess. And more mess followed.

How I Feel Now

Retelling this now makes me feel so sad, more than anything. I had so little self-respect and needed affection so badly, I would take anything offered. My parents were pretty much absent, in the midst of sorting out a divorce, both of them out of the house for long hours (doing god knows what), and they did practically zero parenting. I was left, with my 9 year old brother, to navigate personalities that I had no idea how to deal with. I had no support, no sounding board, and no supervision at all. I could stay out all night and my parents wouldn’t ask where I’d been. I was clubbing til 2am every weekend and I don’t think they ever asked where I was going. I was alone and doing the best I could with a very poorly equiped toolbox.

It’s been hard dredging up these memories, but they are me. They are my history. I can’t pretend they aren’t and it’s wrong to try to be someone else. So, welcome back to the real me. I dated a total arsehole for over a year and let him treat me like dirt because I was so short on real love and affection.

Breaking free of a shitty relationship is tough when all you have is emptiness to go back to. My parents gave me nothing, so crumbs of affection from a turd were a better option.

My own shame and lack of self-love left me open to exploitation and actually, I am lucky it wasn’t much worse.

It amazes me now the clarity with which I can see that covering it up as my “shameful past” stopped me from learning how to create a better future. I repeated the same mistakes over and over and over again.

But I didn’t know I needed parental love. Back then I thought I didn’t care about my parents and a relationship with a boy could make me whole. I couldn’t really have known any different until I became a parent myself and the vast blackness of missing love became as clear and obvious as headlights in the night.

I always thought that the things that happened to me did so because I was a failure, faulty, promiscuous, stupid, etc. When I compared myself to all the other girls who had stable family homes I couldn’t understand how I could be so dirty while they stayed so clean and shiny. I see now that we were all the same – we were all teenage girls – I just had no rules, no guidance and no emotional connection with anyone to show me the path I could have taken. It is dark in the woods on your own, and wrong turnings are just wrong turnings. Nothing more.

Insomnia

It’s 2:30am and I’ve been awake for an hour and a half. I’m going to be wrecked tomorrow and it’s Saturday, which means the three children at home and the husband, all needing me to not be wrecked.

I woke up, mid-dream, when my 5 year old came in asking me to find his teddy. Then he wanted a drink. By the time I was back in bed my brain was in full-on analysis mode and sleep has been impossible.

Here’s what’s keeping me awake:

  1. A stomach ache. We had a takeaway curry for dinner and I overate. I noticed yesterday in the playground that my reflection in the school window showed a very unflattering fat stomach. I look about 4 months pregnant. I’ve put a couple of kilos on since cutting out the sugar and all weight piles on my stomach and nowhere else. I need to eat a bit less.
  2. Yesterday morning when I got home I found a blob of what looked suspiciously like semen on the floor outside the kitchen. So my husband must have had a wank before leaving (I left first), which is his business, but why there and why the fuck didn’t he clear up properly?
  3. The fences are rattling. Our neighbour had concrete post and wood panel fencing fitted a couple of years back and even the slightest amount of wind shakes the panels back and forth in the posts. It is so fucking irritating as our bedroom faces the tiny back garden and every time I start to relax I get a fence-shake in my ear to wake me up again. It wouldn’t be sane to go outside at this hour and hammer some planks into the fences at one end to bolster them against the lawn, but that’s exactly what I feel like doing. 
  4. The heating system/radiator is quietly whistling. I’ve tried to turn the fucking thing off overnight but we have a “weather compensator” which basically means our heating system does whatever the fuck it wants.
  5. Our neighbour has left his conservatory light on, which makes our room light up. It can never be dark enough for me at night, so having the room all lit up isn’t helping either.
  6. You know, my parents never, ever touched or hugged me as a child. How exactly do you get over the feeling that you are just not someone anyone would like to touch? It doesn’t help that I have married a man who is exactly the same. He has never been touchy-feely and never comes anywhere near me.

So there we go. Stupid stuff that normally doesn’t keep me awake but tonight it’s all just really, really irritating.

And once you get annoyed about not being able to sleep – well, you’ve had it. Insomnia has been an ongoing problem for me since my first son was born 7 years ago and it truly, truly sucks.

Wish me luck, it’s been two hours now and I’m going to give sleep another go.

Turning A Corner

Finally my mood is lifting. I feel like I have been through a black tunnel of misery – no joke. It’s day 15 of no sugar and I no longer feel like I want to kill someone. Perhaps just punch them in the face.

The cravings are still there, but they haven’t been as bad for the last two days. I’m not almost crying over the fact that I don’t want to eat any sugar. Now it’s more of a whine in the background: mmm sugary foods. But I’ve stayed strong – and I am feeling better. I feel clear-headed, which is nice. Clear-headed-but-still-a-bit-irritable just about sums it up.

Rash wise, there has been NO change on my breast this week. Nada. I am so disappointed. My toe however, which I wasn’t even thinking about at the time I stopped eating sugary foods, is making a miraculous recovery. This is the same rash that withstood two different types of anti-fungal cream. The top picture is today, the bottom picture is two weeks ago when I started.

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Isn’t that amazing? So, I am successfully killing off whatever fungus that was because I’m not feeding it with any sugar. But what about the rash on my breast? I can now assume that the breast rash is not fungal (I was convinced it was, which was the motivating factor for cutting sugar out in the first place). So it must be something else. Contact dermatitis? Eczema? The thing is, all of these should be helped by cutting out sugar, but no luck so far. I’m going to have to do some more reading I think.

Exercise is also going well, and I am enjoying the running especially now it is not so cold outside. I know I need too start adding in some strength work, but I haven’t quite psyched myself up for it just yet.

Mentally I’m clearing the clutter too. Working through old things, facing up to who I am, getting on with self-acceptance (you can view my mental ramblings in my Shame Log posts).

I think I need to cut down on alcohol. I am still drinking every night, and I couldn’t face giving that up as well as the sugar, but now I’m two weeks in, feeling better, and looking at my mental health, I have to admit that drinking every night is not what I would call self-respect. It’s a comfort thing. I am thinking I might cut down to Fri/Sat/Sun only and try to stay teetotal on Mon-Thu. It’s tough though. I love my wine. Perhaps I will give it a go after the weekend.