I have a list of possible things to blog about. It keeps getting longer. And yet I keep putting off the actual blogging. And what stops me? Several things I think, but mainly overthinking. The need to get it right, to be perfect from the off, to create something amazing – immediately.
But really – where’s the fun in that? I’ve tried to do it that way all my life, and it’s dull, it’s hard, it’s stressful, it leads to bucketloads of anxiety. So maybe now we’ll try it differently. And try for a while to not care whether I write crap or not. Literally! The effort it costs me to write the word ‘crap’ on a public platform!! The extra effort it will cost to actually press the Publish button ….
This weekend we went to Liverpool to celebrate my sister’s Birthday. It’s only the second time that I’ve been to Liverpool. I think. We had a great time. A group of us went – friends and family. We went to The Cavern Club which was loud, and full and fun. And had a meal. And spent time in the VIP Hutte under the Christmas tree doing karaoke, and laughing, drinking, and dancing.
Christmas. I love it. And I don’t. All that it’s supposed to be is great. All that we make it is not. I feel anxious at Christmas. Basically because I have lived with anxiety for a long time. I didn’t realise what I was doing to myself for so many years. Trying to live the way everyone else wanted me to, until I no longer knew what I wanted myself, and felt like I constantly needed someone else to tell me what to do, or to reassure me over decisions I made. And all this constant thinking, analysing, trying to be it all, do it all, knowing that I couldn’t, believing I was a failure, not living up to expectations, took it’s toll. It took years to really build, but has been a constant since early childhood. And anxiety and depression became part of my life. Something I lived with. Pretty much constantly. Even when I didn’t realise it, there were thoughts running through my head, in the background, that I was hardly aware of. And when I began to notice this, and listen, I began to realise that these thoughts had become my norm. I didn’t always notice them, but they guided me. And every few years I would have a major breakdown, where everything became impossible. And they were awful, and I would have such a stream of different symptoms, I would be googling and stressing, and making myself worse, and eventually end in hospital having tests for all kinds of things. I would go back on anti-depressants and everything would calm somewhat. But what I didn’t realise was that my thinking wasn’t changing. Because I kept thinking I had to work on it, and if I came off meds too soon, I would be back where I started. And most of the time I didn’t even realise this was going on. And now, at Christmas, I get stressed and anxious – because I’m stressed and anxious. My anxious thoughts come from being anxious, and what I’m learning is – it’s ok. There’s nothing to fix, or work out. I’ve just worn myself out with all the worry and thoughts, and believing the thoughts.
We all believe different things. Whether we realise it or not we are all tied to our beliefs. And our beliefs affect the things we do. What we think about a situation creates our reality, our experience. I believed for years that school was compulsory, and that if your children didn’t go to school you could go to prison. What a way to bring children up, believing this, that children need to go to school to keep their parents out of prison. We may not even realise that we hold these beliefs and ideas. We may not realise what other people are picking up from us. I was in my 40s when I realised that school is not compulsory. But I had to be open to hearing other ideas in order to find this out. Where we lived there was a large traveller community. The authorities were trying everything to get the children into school. It was hailed a great success when one made it through high school. And getting GCSEs ?- these were splashed about on all the media sources. And while I’m not putting down education, I don’t agree with a world that creates rules as though they are truth, that makes people who don’t follow, agree or conform, feel less than. We think that we are such a progressive society, but if we are, we’re sacrificing something for it. Travellers without schooling are humans the same as everyone else. The decision to take away our autonomy has a huge affect on society. And a lot of people can’t even see that it’s being taken away. In a day where we say we value diversity, do we really? I firmly believe that parents should be free to bring their children up as they wish. Our ideas of right and wrong are based on so many lies. In any one day I can hear so many messages about what I’m doing wrong, and how I can put it right. How to be a success. How to change myself in any way. How so many people were ‘just’ cleaners until they were 50. So many messages that say we are not enough as we are. That there’s a right and wrong way of living. That there are so many things that we ‘need’ to be doing.
How about we start from a place of enough and see where we go from there?
This is a learning space. And as I keep realising – so is all of life.
But in this space I’m learning about blogging, and writing and connecting. And many other things. And I keep finding that the voice I write with doesn’t often sound like the voice of who I think I am. And so I keep wanting to change it.
I’m sitting in Starbucks. My daughter is sitting next to me, reading Dan Browns ‘Digital Fortress’ . I’m replying to a comment on my Home School post, and hearing a couple of ladies next to me talk about home schooling, and it’s so exciting. Their children sound very young, and they’ve realised that they are already learning – with or without school. And that there are more ways of raising children than school, or home school that looks like school.
For us, it’s quiet. It’s not endless rounds of groups and people. It’s not sitting with books studying for hours. When my children first deregistered from school – we deschooled. We simply did what we wanted. We spent hours on Minecraft and even went to the Minecraft Convention in London. I played with them. I wanted to see and encourage what interested them. I didn’t impose any time limits. I’d tried that in the past. I didn’t impose bedtimes. I stopped making them eat things that they didn’t want. I stopped limiting. If they wanted chocolate and cake – they could have it. Can you imagine what this looks like? And how a lot of people would view it? But we talked. About eating, about food and health and nutrition, about choices. And it wasn’t and still isn’t all perfect, and idillic. It’s life. Done diffently. My son chose to do GCSEs. He got through them in less than a year, mostly by studying by himself. His own motivation, and then a lot of encouragement and help as the exams approached. He did well and is now studying A levels at college. He passed his driving test and he has a car. He’s looking at going to University next year. He’s quiet, capable, funny, kind, sociable, and has an opinion on everything. He grew out of his Minecraft phase. I didn’t need to limit and nag. He still plays. He plays many games. And sometimes they can engage him for days and weeks. It really isn’t a problem. I find the same thing can happen to me.
My daughter loves to bake. Both my children eat well. Not through force. Through choice. They’re not perfect. We enjoy chocolate, cake and sweets. But not all the time. If there are no limits to what you can have, why binge? Yes, sometimes we still do. Because we can. But not often.
Both children can cook and look after themselves. They keep their rooms clean and tidy. Teenagers! Clean and tidy! Again – not perfect. I didn’t learn to be tidy until my late 30s. And then it was gradual. I began to understand that I couldn’t expect my children to keep things tidy and put things away if I didn’t. And that we had far too much stuff in the house, which meant that we didn’t even have a home for everything. So I began decluttering. This began before the children stopped school. I talked to the children about decluttering and why I was doing it, and began to get them involved in sorting through their toys, games and books. Again, I didn’t force them to get rid of anything, but as they did make space in their rooms, it seemed to get easier for them to let go of things. They began to think about what they needed and wanted – what really wasn’t useful – what they were keeping because it was a gift, or they’d spent money on it, or whatever other reason made them believe that they couldn’t get rid of it. The charity shop, friends, local toddler groups did well from their sorting. And some of it they sold on ebay. And some I actually gave them money for getting rid of. Because I was learning – there are not as many rights and wrongs as we think there are. There is no one way of doing life.