“Everyone hates me,” I sobbed through the phone. It was 11pm on Sunday evening and I’d called my mum because, let’s face it, who else can you call at 11pm when you’re a blubbering mess*. “Don’t be stupid” she said. It didn’t help. As I write this I want to say I didn’t used to be like this, but I’m not even sure anymore. Was there a time when I was confident in my friendships? When I felt like colleagues valued chatting to me? Like people wanted to be my friend? I certainly haven’t felt that for the last three years as friendships have waned and faded under the weight of my life changes and challenges.
Sunday didn’t start off a bad day. It started off really good. My son and I woke late after a late night the day before. We lounged in bed before heading downstairs for a lazy breakfast followed by games (connect 4, magnetic pictures and doctors). So far, so good. Who doesn’t love a lazy Sunday? But when you’re a mum, your own mood is so closely connected to the small people in your charge, that it can all change in an instant.
I needed to pop out for some errands and that’s when it all started to go wrong. When it was time to get dressed my son decided he didn’t want to. I tried everything. The negotiation, bribery and shouting tactics all fell on deaf ears. Eventually my threats to leave him home alone were enough to convince him mummy meant business. Finally we got dressed and left the house.
We made it to Iceland without any problems. My son wanted to get out of the buggy. I
stupidly let him. Of course he dawdled in front of me, looking at all the bargain items in the baskets around the aisles. A woman bumped into me as I stood there. I asked my son to keep moving so the lady could get past. The woman in question decided to storm past me tutting. It’s happened so many times since I’ve become a mum – people banging into my buggy, sighing and shouting like I’m the biggest piece of shit ever to walk the earth. I (calmly) told her she didn’t need to be so rude. As I walked on through the shop I had to fight back the tears. All I could think was why does everyone hate me.
We made it to the checkout without any more incidents. Then, as I tried to pile the frozen pizzas on the checkout, they all fell down. I felt the tired and angry eyes of everyone in the long queue bore into me. Suddenly I realised my son was out of sight. I found him and returned to pick up all the pizzas, keeping my head as low as possible so I didn’t have to face the hateful glares.
As we were served, my son stood in his buggy and tried to help pack the bags. Suddenly the buggy went flying as he leaned over to put a pizza in the bag hanging from the handle. Loud screams erupted from his little face. He’d hurt his nose. I took a deep, deep breathe and picked him up. I used all my energy to not fall apart, I focused on comforting him whilst packing the bags and paying for the food. I pushed the buggy to the side of the shop and sat down on the windowsill. We sat there and cuddled as I packed the bags properly.
By the time we got home I was exhausted; emotionally and physically. Since Christmas I’ve felt a lot better. I’ve been doing well. So well in fact that a few weeks ago I wanted to come off my anti-depressants. Now I’m not so sure; this isn’t the first time the cracks have been showing. You see, my feelings of anger and hurt are never far away. Anger that the woman in the street feels the need to treat me like the crap caked on the bottom of her shoe. Hurt that (some of) my siblings haven’t reached out to me in some of the toughest times imaginable over the last three years. Anger that the father of my child can disappear for weeks on end then make a dramatic appearance at the drop of a hat, churning up my insides and sending me reeling into a panic and anxiety that I remember only too well. Hurt that friends have passed me by and don’t have time for me. Anger that colleagues misunderstand me and think I’m not pulling my weight when I have to leave early for a sick child, ignoring the fact that I haven’t taken a lunch break in seven months and reguaraly work extra hours from home. Once the anger and hurt start escaping, I struggle to find the stop clock. The feelings flood out of me until I’m drunk on depression. I can no longer distinguish between a friend who is busy and one who doesn’t care.
Perhaps my ex was right all along – I’m just some horrible person. Or it it “just” the depression talking? 2017 had started off differently, I was keeping my head above water, but the last couple of weeks I’ve found myself sinking again. I’m pulling myself out – so far. Writing this here helps. As a single mum there is rarely anyone to speak to about my feelings and certainly not anyone to tell me little, positive things throughout my week. Even just, “nice dinner” or, “how was your day”. Sure I see friends and we catch up, but it’s different to the little everyday gestures you get when you live with someone (friend or lover). The emotional exhaustion of dealing with a defiant toddler alone day in, day out sometimes becomes too much. The nights where I go to bed in a haze, only to awake with an almighty hangover. I can only describe it as a hangover of the soul – it’s nothing like an alcohol induced one – your whole being feels like it’s awoken from a battering, yet your eyes wake open with a surprise that you’re still here, still breathing, thanks to some unknown force. And I am still here. On the good days I believe that eventually these downward spirals will lessen and one day they may even be gone. Until then I will keep on rising.
*For those of you without mums, or without mums who you can call at 11pm in a blubbering mess I’m sorry. Although me and my mum don’t always see eye to eye I’m really lucky to be able to call on her when I need. I hope you have someone who can just be there to hear your tears.