No, I haven’t just accepted a marriage proposal, I’m not about to upload videos of candlelit beaches and writing in the sand – still happily single – but I have had some momentous and life-changing events happen of late.
A few weeks ago now, just after writing my last post, I attended the very sad funeral of the brother of a friend, and was sitting mid-service when I felt myself filled with the deepest sense of shame I have ever experienced in my life. Let me explain…
The church was filled to capacity – I have honestly never seen it so full. People of all ages and from all faiths had traveled to be there for this mans send-off. People queued up for the chance to say a few words, offering up a prayer or a word of condolence, offering their shoulders to help bear the burden of loss that this family would be forced to carry.
The priest, who shed his own tears too, spoke so eloquently about this man. About how he touched many lives with his energy and vibrant personality, about how he was loved by everyone because he smiled all the time, even when he was suffering towards the end of his life.
And – here comes the burning shame – how he never stayed still. He was always living his life, always planning the next adventure and working towards making his dreams a reality.
I know, it would be incredibly selfish to sit there at a funeral and feel sorry for myself; that wasn’t quite how I was feeling. I wasn’t jealous that this man had more friends than me, I didn’t feel self-pity because he had had more fun.
I was ashamed.
I have spent the last few years of my life building a little nest for myself, a little squirrel’s den to hide away in when the world gets too scary.
And I have been hiding. During the daytime, I am hiding behind the World’s Best Mother badge, putting 100% of my time and energy into being a mum to my kids. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a job I cherish, and I know how blessed I am to hold this position; but I use it as an excuse to avoid putting any time and energy into me.
It’s the same in the evenings; the kids go to bed and I curl up on the sofa and pretend that I couldn’t possibly get a babysitter if I wanted to go out – I could get a sitter in a matter of minutes, if I just picked up the phone. Why am I lying to myself?
I made the decision, sitting at this man’s funeral, to start living my life properly again. I felt I owed him that much; if I want to be able to look him in the eye when we meet again and tell him that my extra years weren’t “wasted” on me, I need to get back out there and use up every bit of my time – the way he would have.
So; how do we start living again, after years of expertly dodging life?
It really was very simple – I started saying “Yes.”
You see, life throws opportunities at all of us, all the time. There is always someone who needs a hand with something, or who doesn’t want to go somewhere on their own, or who is facing something that you have been through and would appreciate your support.
Quite often, when asked to do something, I would find an excuse, and say to myself “I’ll do that when I’m thin,” or “Someone else could do that much better than me.”
In the past month, I have put my fingers in my ears and ignored those little inner-head voices. And life has come back to our house…
I have agreed to become a mentor at a parenting group.
I have been kayaking with my friend, who didn’t want to try it on her own. (I’m in that picture, above!)
I have met up with friends for several nights out (some messier than others!)
I have agreed to help with a local fair, run by volunteers.
If I was afraid before that my children would miss out because I was doing my own thing too, I was so wrong. My children are delighted to see me out and about, meeting friends and getting involved with various activities. They squealed with laughter when they saw me in a wetsuit, and they looked on with pride when I was thanked by their teachers for assisting with their show. I haven’t neglected them at all; I have shown them how adults are supposed to live, and they are loving it.