They say I’m doing well, but I guess it depends on how you define the word well. I’m healthy; I have a job, a roof over my head, two beautiful little girls, a very supportive partner, a big loving family and a small group of awesome friends. In my eyes, that makes me richer than many people.
To the outside world, my life may be viewed as a happy one and for the most part, it is. However, the life I portray on social media are the parts I want people to see, therefore, yes; I’m socially well.
What most don’t realise, and the part I rarely share is the hours it cost me in MIND time to get to this point in my life. The struggles, the low points, the lonely, late night cries, the endless loss of sleep, the battles with my own thoughts at two, three and four in a morning.
In August 2014, I split from my husband after eight years of marriage, ending a relationship of thirteen years. At thirty-three years old, I never thought I would find myself in that position. I was starting my life over and I have never been as scared of anything in my life. Not even childbirth. I was suddenly solely responsible for, not only looking after myself but my two little girls – the two most precious things in my life. It turns out; they probably ended up looking after me the most with their innocent little minds, big hearts and simple outlooks on life. Hell, I envied them. I’m still shocked at how isolating it feels when I see their empty beds staring back at me when they are staying at their dad’s. That’s when the sun goes down and the nightmares creep in.
Just because a person chooses to remain private, doesn’t spout all their problems publicly, or struggles to openly discuss them, doesn’t mean they don’t suffer. To the contrary, the quiet ones suffer, too. Being trapped in your own thoughts, not being able to make sense of them enough to talk about them, to even your closest friends, is a scary place to be. Add to that the fear of sounding stupid, the fear of admitting your failings, the fear of how society will judge you and you may find that you understand more why so many people suffer in silence. Sometimes, it’s the safest way to be.
Paranoia and insecurity are a bitch…
Who is going to want me with two kids?
Who is going to want me looking like this?
Who else is going to love my baby born, stretch marks?
Are they looking at me?
Are they whispering about me?
Why didn’t they invite me?
Why didn’t they invite my children?
What damage have I done to my girls?
God, I feel so guilty. How will I provide them with all the love and support they’re missing out on not being in a two parent family?
Did my daughter get into trouble at school because I left her dad? Is she lashing out because of me?
Why don’t my friends like my photos?
Are they judging me now, too?
Why aren’t family supporting my decisions?
Surely they understand?
These are just a few of the questions that my wonderful mind spends hours agonising over.
Insert identity crisis – I’d spent years being Fran the wife, Fran the daughter-in-law,
Fran the mum, but who the hell was Fran? I felt like I had to rediscover myself all over again.
Insert judgement days – I realised no matter what you do, what new things you try, whatever selfie you post, there’s always someone sat there waiting to pounce, to pull you to pieces and criticise you. They have no clue why you’re doing what you’re doing. They have no idea how many hours you spent deliberating over your every step.
Insert the mistakes – I am only human, I will make mistakes, everyone does. I made a ton of them. It’s just a shame others couldn’t admit their mistakes, too. It’s funny how many perfect people there were in my life and it’s even funnier how many friends you truly have (insert sarcasm). I learnt the hard way whom are the good eggs, but the good eggs I have, are keepers for life.
When the sun begins to rise in the morning, there’s a certain calm that ripples through the mind like an ocean gently washing over the shore, taking with it all the silly, unnecessary worry. And as you drag your weary, tired body from the sheets, you begin to wonder what it is about the night that causes such irrationality. You start to be able to rationalise the thoughts in your head that little bit easier, clearer.
You realise it’s not all doom and gloom because despite the disappointment of those you thought you could trust, you know there’s that one friend. That one friend you can rely on at all hours of the day to be on the other end of the phone, regardless of her plans. She picks you up and slaps you down as and when required. That one friend who understands without even having to explain, but that one friend you know you can’t rely on forever. Also, whether realised or not, that one random text asking how you are means the world. Just the thought that someone took a minute out of their day to think about you, means more than they will probably ever know.
On the outside I probably seemed like I was taking it all in my stride, on the inside, I was dying a slow death. My thoughts were killing me day by day, pinning me down and keep me a prisoner in my own mind. It’s cliché but it’s true – when you’re down on your arse, the only way is up. When you’re staring back at the person in the mirror and you don’t even recognise yourself anymore and what you’ve become, then it’s time to have a serious word with the bastards in your head. It’s time to fight. It’s time to take a leaf out of your kid’s book and focus on the positives. It’s time to trust in a few people and let them in. Slowly, but surely, I started to realise…
I have a job.
I have a home.
I have two beautiful little girls.
I have a small group of awesome friends.
I have a big loving family.
With pain comes anger and for a while back there, that’s exactly how I felt; angry and disappointed. It was my decision to leave my marriage. No one said it would be easy, a few said it would be tough but never did I once imagine just how hard it would be. Nothing prepared me for the times I faced.
You find a way to let go of the anger.
You find a way to let go of the hurt.
You find a way to let go of the pain.
You let it go.
You start to live again.
The whole process has taught my MIND many things but one of the most specific is I’ve had to learn is to live without the materialistic things in life. That’s not to say I couldn’t before divorce, it’s just I now have an appreciation for the smaller, understated things – walks in the park, snuggles on the sofa, watching a film with my kids, baking on a Sunday, relaxing in a hot bath, just sitting alone in a quiet room listening to the sound of my calm breath.
I now have a new partner, who accepts my baby stretch marks, who encourages me to be me and not to concern myself with the opinions of others, but most of all, loves my girls just as much as he loves me. There truly are great people out there; you just need to trust and believe in yourself and hope that good things will follow.
2016 – I am grateful to all those who stood by me. I appreciate the things I do have in my life. I have more of an understanding to those who suffer pain, but most importantly, I feel stronger in mind, I am doing well.
Francesca Marlow © 2016
Francesca Marlow discovered her love for writing a few years ago when having some role play fun on Twitter with her best mate. They were inspired to create a world of their own which really helped her to channel every day thoughts and emotions, to deal with the daily grind of ‘life’. Never once did she think it would lead to releasing her first novel which she confesses to being one of the proudest moments.
Aside from releasing a novel, two of Francesca’s biggest accomplishment to date is her two little ladies which mean the world to her. She’s a Yorkshire lass and romantic at heart, with an eclectic taste in music and a great love for films; all of which continue to be a source of creativity as well as well deserved relaxation moments. A new found love for the gym has lead to a healthier, happier Fran, so when she’s not being a mum, working, reading or writing, she can be found lifting weights or just generally exhausted in a heap in her snuggle chair.
Thank you so much for taking part Fran!
To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]
To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]