A Life Well Lived
I come from a close, caring, dysfunctional family. I was an anxious, sensitive teenager. My mum’s mother had been schizophrenic (we think – was never diagnosed) and my mother feared inherited insanity. My dad had a brother who had a breakdown (manic depression) My dad doesn’t 'Dwell on things’. I had what I now think was a breakdown of sorts and a long period of exhaustion after leaving college. I knew returning home was not a good idea. I did not see a doctor or have a formal diagnosis because I did not want to be medicated – [mental health awareness was fairly rudimentary at that time - I remember my housemate telling me to ‘Just take some E’s’….it was the early 90’s.] So, I got a job working afternoons and found a very good affordable therapist instead.
In my late 20’s, I discovered Buddhism and meditation and I became a retreat junkie instead. I have always worked part time as I am fearful so mindful of balancing my energy and anxiety levels. The upshot of retreatland was that I was meeting lots of rather attractive men who would be lovely but ultimately wanted to be up a mountain in a cave or they were simply dysfunctional too. I spent my most fertile years hanging out in a spiritual organisation that was quite anti marriage and family at that time. As I have also run a parallel life working with children (in very pro marriage and pro-family institutions) I had no desire to be a single parent either; I was understanding what poor means and I could see that parenting is quite stressful, quite a lot of the time. Also, my mother had been a family planning nurse, so I was careful.
I have two older sisters who both met their husbands in their early twenties. In my early thirties they both had two children with hard working, financially capable men. It was very painful being Cinderella, but they have taken great care to include me in their family lives and I have been given special status as Auntie Louise. This has been and is such a joy for me and I am so grateful to my family for this inclusion. I understand other women are not always so fortunate.
In my late 30’s my attempts at dating became quite dark. At the same time, I had become quite stuck in the project I had set up [setting up and running nurture groups for ‘invisible children’ in schools] I was just very tired of doing it all on my own. I engineered an exit route from work and was given redundancy and a work-related trip to India as a last hurrah. I loved India, loved it, so I packed up my flat and lived there for 7 months. I worked in a school and went to the Dalai Lama’s teachings. I also met a Javier Bardem, in Eat Pray Love, lookalike, soundalike.... But then, true to form, he was quite dysfunctional and wanted to be on a motorbike and yes, up a mountain!
When I returned to England, I was ready to pack up the flat properly, give up working in schools and I was going to live and work in a retreat centre.
Then, a year later at 42, my prince arrived. Finally, I reached a point of being relatively secure and content. I felt very strongly that it would be disrespectful to J. to do anything other than really get to know him first. He was rather ambivalent about having children too, but I felt that might have changed with time. So, it was a little late for me. If the relationship had been more established at 42, who knows.
I wonder now, but I don’t regret. I think my life is as it is and I know I / we have created a lovely life, privileged in many ways. My work, however, is still tricky. I enjoy working with the children very much but too often I find being around parents alienating, difficult, boring even. I really need to look at this, particularly as it is such a big part of what I do. So, once again, something fundamental has to change.
So, as I move through my 50’s and beyond, there is The Change of course. But then there are my changes and so the adventure continues.