Highs and lows

8 Sep

I could eat all three in one sitting


I am not in any position to talk about the last week and how it has been for all of us since my husband returned from rehab, because I’ve spent most of it in bed. Lying under sweaty crumpled sheets for days, so far under the duvet that I didn’t even know we were being treated to a summer at last. It was only a virus, but it wiped me – and the idea that I could be the master of peace and order – out.

I wish I could say that things have been fabulous and that the felt-tipped ‘Welcome Home’ banner still hangs proudly in the hall, a sign of the excitement we felt when he was still in and we were waiting for him to come home. But, with timing as bad as a shonky Tardis, as soon as my husband returned, I got sick. Five days in bed, listening to muffled snippets of the family’s conversations (most of them, to each other: “IS THERE ANYTHING TO EAT?”) so I haven’t participated at all.

However, things seemed to have been going fine. Yesterday I woke up feeling vaguely human again and could see that my husband has been coping – or as he calls it ‘white-knuckling it’ all week. There are several cans of Jamaican fizzy grape drinks in our cupboard but no booze: the chaos of it all has not been a trigger for a relapse, which is a feat in itself.

With the burden of the last crazy days of the summer holiday to deal with, I think I would have needed a drink. I have woken up to a house that is probably tidier than before I took to bed. In essence, without me around to pick up people’s dirty knickers, clean the sink and open the door for our ‘too fat for the cat-flap’ cat, the world has not collapsed.

Despite my husband’s ability to hold it together in his early days out, I know he would have liked things to have been different. I would have too. He had a month of order, support and enough calm to put into practice the things he learnt along the way. All that was temporarily lost from the moment he opened our front door.

Last night my husband and I were able to eat dinner alone for the first time in weeks. I asked my him what he missed about the Priory, aside from a maid and three hot cooked meals a day.

“I miss lots of things, but ‘highs and lows’ was really helpful. At the end of each day, we gathered as a group and were asked to briefly list the highs and lows of our day. It reminded us of the things that made us feel good, or bad. Unless you recognise something for what it is, then it’s easy to forget.”

In bed, we changed the routine for once, because before we probably would have talked about all the things that had gone wrong during the day. My husband listed his highs.

“Seeing V going off to school, happy.” (She’s just started secondary and spent as much time perfecting the subtle shading of her bronzer as she did looking at the timetable). “Talking to your mum on the phone. I don’t think I’ve ever spent that long chatting with her… Bumping into your sister in the park… Eating dinner with you for the first time in weeks tonight. Walking through the park with G after school. He seems really happy to have me home…”

Then the lows:

“There haven’t been any real lows. Just the frustration that there’s never any time.”

It was soon my time. With the highs I really had to think about what had given me pleasure. Eating a chocolate-coated peanut butter ice cream in the sunshine. It was bloody delicious, because I felt well again and I was so hungry… Thinking about the holiday I’m going on with my mum, sister and daughter, and imagining the lie-ins and the endless reading… Listening to a Robyn song called ‘Dancing On My Own’ while dancing on my own in the kitchen… Watching George Osborne getting booed at the Paralympics on Youtube.

Lows were easy too: my daughter bounding into my room early evening and saying, in a frustrated tone “Thanks for asking about my first day at school. If my real dad were here, he’d be really annoyed with you.” I had asked her how she was earlier, but she was distracted so I left it. Her dad, the absent one, has never contacted her in an appropriate way (his contact has only ever been to talk about how distraught he is. It was a reminder that my daughter still thinks about her father and must feel upset when major events happen in her life and he’s not aware of them.)

Highs and lows. I urge you to try them. You don’t even need a pen to write things down. Just a few minutes to talk to someone else (or yourself) about what’s been good and not so good for you in your day. Even if you only come up with something as shallow as peanut butter ice cream or a pair of pants that cup your arse cheeks in a pleasing fashion. If it makes you feel genuinely happy, then it’s a high. And the lows. They give you something to think about.


6 Responses to “Highs and lows”

  1. Becky September 8, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    my high is babysitting for three young ones who happily skipped off to bed when i said so…..my low is forgetting my lighter

    • Becky September 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

      ps im not becky…im leanne the babysitter….god i wish i was computer literate !

      • mothersruined September 9, 2012 at 9:27 am #

        Hello Leanne the babysitter (aka Becky). If you have such magic skills, perhaps you could come and help me out at bedtime. Never a high in my house!

  2. Suzie September 11, 2012 at 6:22 am #

    Thanks for another wonderful blogpost. I’ve been keeping a Happiness Diary for a while…mostly full of little things like ice-cream and flowers. But it’s the little things that make the world a much better pace when the chips are down.

  3. Suzie September 11, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    *place (too early for this)

  4. Sarah B September 11, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Grace, glad we are now twitter mates. Have been meaning to email you for some time to send my love in what’s a tough time and compliment your beautiful and quite addictive writing. Let’s have a drink with Jess if you’ve a spare evening some time soon xx

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