Fire, coffee, sharps, breakfast, oh wait no – forgot to turn the dishwasher on before going to bed! Nooo…. try again; washing up, breakfast, laundry away, laundry on, laundry out…..
And an afternoon off.
Which if life was fair (to me!) I’d be able to spend sitting and hooking. Not being climbed on, mauled, jumped on, sat on, and smiling (mostly). By the time Steve was on his way home I’d decided we were going to go Outside. It’s been a beautiful sunny day, just shy of 10C, and so warm in the sun-trap living room that I was actually considering opening a window but kept getting distracted before I could act on the thought.
We went outside. The kids played on the climbing frame, I watched, assisted, brought out bikes, considered how to build a shelter onto the side of the climbing frame using some of the sycamore I’d cut up the other week, wondered what was needed to fix the slide to the climbing frame.
The boys wanted to use Big Tools to do some digging so they got a shovel and a fork and attacked some dirt and found a giant pupa! I asked the internet what it was that my boys had just dug up and the consensus was a moth pupa. I had it on the palm of my hand again when I took it back out to tell the boys what it was, and as I noticed that it was sort of curved when I was sure it had been dead straight earlier – it wriggled and I am totally not ashamed to admit that I screamed and dropped it and had to pick it up on a piece of bark after that!
Steve came home. All fixing / building jobs got automatically transferred to him. Slide fixed on, kids super-excited…
… and then my insecurities got the better of me. I can’t do it. I can’t build a shelter, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know any knots apart from a reef knot and a russian join for yarn. I’m looking for guidance but I feel put down, I feel stupid. I can’t do it. So I fight, argue, hackles raised, defensive. It’s a vicious spiral and at least one of the kids can feel it. Erika had enough and wanted to go to sleep, and I took the escape route gratefully (if not especially graciously).
I realised that my reaction stems from childhood memories, the memories themselves are lost but the feelings remain. I don’t know what happened any more, but the feeling of being made to feel stupid or silly for not getting something right, something that was apparently really obvious which was why I was stupid for getting it wrong, that feeling of shame is powerful and has kept its tendrils well and truly hooked into me as I’ve grown up. I hate trying to do anything new if I have an audience. I struggle to even practise the piano when anyone is around. I’ve not realised just how much it’s crushed me over the years, and I feel like I’m only just beginning to scratch the surface but that feeling of shame is massive, and awful. It’s why I wanted to figure out how to use a saw on my own. It’s why I waited until I was in the woodland by myself before trying to fell my first tree – and why I can laugh about it now, because it’s me choosing to let people know. It’s why I point blank refuse to ever be in a situation where I’m going to be made a “laughing stock” of, even for fun, like a bucket of gloop over my head or a custard pie in my face. I won’t even join in a snowball fight, I make excuses like I don’t want to risk breaking my glasses (it’s a good excuse). It’s why I hate speaking in my danish language lessons, and have to almost be a different person to do it and cope with it. It’s why I struggle so much to show off my art or to believe it’s actually good enough that anyone could really want it in their home, or if they’re just humouring me. It’s become a huge control exercise, and it has controlled me for my entire adult life and it has to stop. It has to.
I have to let my children see the billions of mistakes I make, the countless failures and almosts that happen, as well as the times I get it right. I have to let them watch me try, and fail, and get up again, and try, and fail, and pick myself up again. Maybe I need to show them how awful I am at balancing on a skateboard…. maybe I ought to put body armour on first, given how well I know myself. I never let them see me fail!! I just don’t! If I think I’m not going to be able to do something, I won’t even try. And I have to change that, for all our sakes, but especially for my kids.
I know how to fail and how to mess up and how to pick myself up and try again. And now I need to know and understand and trust that my family aren’t laughing at me when I fall on my face. Nor are they mad at me, or frustrated with me when I mess up. They love me. They understand that loving laughter helps. And we can lift each other and try again.
It’s left me so drained, processing all that. I hope Erika lets me sleep well; I hope she sleeps well.