I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I wanted to kick of New Year’s resolution number 1 of writing more blog posts by doing the obligatory ‘Welcome to the New Year’ post (struggling a bit on New Year’s reso number 2 of ‘be more punctual)’. We’re actually 17 days into the New Year but as its still January, it still counts (I make the rules around here) and the first few weeks have actually given me a bit of time to have a good old think about 2018 and reflect on 2017 (well that’s my excuse anyway).
To be honest, I started the first few days of the year feeling a bit weird – stuck between old and new. I scrolled past the countless ‘new year, new start’ posts brimming with optimism and while I felt an element of that too, I also felt really daunted about what 2018 might bring. Maybe it’s natural to reflect on the closing of a year or maybe it was just the hangover of the New Year festivities but whatever it was, for the first day or two of 2018, I felt a little ‘out at sea’ struggling to see the lighthouse in the distance and with little navigation.*
*I feel like I should probably warn you that from here on in, expect there to be more nautical related analogies, I know it’s a bit naff but it works.
You see, I AM still stuck between old and new. I have loose ends from an old life to deal with which aside from being no fun, also leaves one huge question mark over the future – cue frequent pangs of anxiety. But, before we go there, let’s start at the beginning.
Ah 2017, what a strange year you were. If you’ve read my earlier posts it will be no surprise to find that, jokes aside, it started of pretty badly and I found it incredibly tough. While I don’t need to go through all of that again in this post (you can read about it here), suffice to say that a year ago, the festivities had been completely overshadowed by the circumstances I found myself in and I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Frankly, I just wanted to get through Christmas as quickly as possible so I could get back to work and ignore the whole thing.
The first few months of 2017 were really hard; there’s no other way to describe it really. I managed to tread water for the most part but, more often than not, I found myself in a battle to just get through the day, to try and stay positive and keep it together. I had slowly started to put my energy back into finishing renovating the house and began to immerse myself in things I enjoyed like interiors. By March, I had decided to launch the blog I’d talked about for so long and that’s when things began to change.
It was almost like as the world emerged from a wintery darkness so did I. As Spring brought a new lease of life I too was given a boost when the lovely Charlotte from ‘The home that made me’ asked me to guest post for her. I don’t think she will ever fully realise just how much that lifted me and gave me a much-needed focus where I could channel all my hurt and upset into doing something creative. It really was perfect timing. And as clichéd as it sounds, I’m not sure where I would be if that hadn’t happened.
Weirdly, the day that blog post landed I had THE toughest day. It had started well, I was full of the joys of Spring, I was wearing my new pink Laura Ashley coat, feeling pretty good as my phone went crazy with messages and new follows but then I ended up in one of the worst meetings I had ever been in at work and for the first time in my entire work history I ended up in tears thanks to my then boss being a bit of a [insert expletive here]. If that hadn’t killed my buzz enough, it was also the day that my ‘soon to be ex’ or ‘STBE’ for short husband decided to be a bit of a [insert expletive here – my choice would be ‘starts with a T rhymes with cat’] and start texting after months of silence. So, overwhelmed with emotion, I fled work and just remember being stood in the car park, the sunshine of that beautiful March morning beaming down on me, tears streaming down my face, phone still going mad thinking – how can it be such a sh*te day yet such a good one all at the same time? For the record, I ignored the ‘starts with a T rhymes with cat’ husband, got an apology from my boss and enjoyed the rest of the day. However, every time I wear that pink coat it still reminds me of that day!
Anyway, I had found my stride again by late Spring and was enjoying ‘project Instagram’ which was distracting me from the darker side of my life. May, normally one of my absolute favourite months, brought with it the first wedding anniversary since my husband left so it always had the potential to be a bit sh*t. But, as soon as the aftershock from that had settled, BOOM – the next strike landed. Unannounced, and with no warning whatsoever, I returned home from a lovely weekend away to find a solicitor’s letter on my doormat. I didn’t think ‘starts with T rhymes with cat’ could be more of a ‘starts with P rhymes with stick’; turns out I was wrong and he excelled himself with this particular move. He, who had cheated on me while undergoing IVF, who then left without a trace and put me through hell skilfully assisted by his ‘single white female’ affair partner (we’ll go with SWF for short) intended to divorce ME for MY unreasonable behaviour – say what? He also chucked in a little ‘sell the house in 21 days or I’ll take you to court to force you out’ for good measure. Cue my introduction to the world of Divorce.
I suspect like a lot of people with no previous experience of the D bomb (both our parents are still married), I hadn’t much of a clue as to the harsh realities of the situation. No one handed me that pamphlet when I blissfully walked down the aisle.
It’s fair to say I found myself on a pretty steep and brutal learning curve over the summer, owing mostly to the fact that when you have an ex-partner determined to be, and to quote my solicitor, ‘just about as aggressive and unfair as it’s possible to be,’ it’s never going to be pretty. Lots of people had previously said to me that, given the circumstances, my ex’s moral code would kick in and I could hope to be left in a good position. Nope. Selfish doesn’t come close and so amidst the various threats, including trying to evict me from my home, the battle commenced. But, I put on my ‘big girl pants’ (and my @mutha.hood ‘Strong Girls Club’ sweater), hired a Solicitor and tried to get on with my Summer.
Given all that was going on Summer was actually pretty magical. I had a great holiday to Ibiza and did lots of fun stuff with friends, old and new, and made some amazing memories that I will cherish forever. I also decided to share my story on here. I felt like I had been hiding behind my pretty squares and felt like a bit of a fraud when the constant ‘ah you look like you have such a perfect life’ comments began to get to me. So, I posted about ‘situation crazy’ and was genuinely blown away by the response. Turns out writing about it helped a lot of people and talking about it helped me, so it was win-win.
If the impending divorce was blooper number 1, then towards the end of the summer came blooper number 2 when the company that I had worked for for over a decade had a major reshuffle and it was time to go. With about 101 projects that had been stacking up and no time to do any of them, I decided to take some time for me, to heal properly and have a much-needed break. Though terrifying, I knew it was another ‘right time’ occurrence.
Over the Autumn, ‘situation crazy’ continued to rumble away with new legal circumstances coming to light (‘starts with T rhymes with cat’ really is knocking them out the park) and then came the news that he was expecting a baby with ‘SWF,’ news that while it hurt me, didn’t surprise me as I’d always figured it was more of a ‘when’ than an ‘if’ as did everyone else – I mean so far it’s been pretty textbook and this is normally how this type of story goes – right? The part that I found most difficult to deal with is that, like mostly everything else I know, that news also came from a well-meaning third party (cowardice is my ‘starts with a T rhymes with cat – STBE’s one true strength).
By this time however, I had truly turned a corner and like I’ve said in earlier posts, I really could see the crazy for what it was. Even though at times it’s been particularly devastating, at others it’s been truly fascinating watching this epic mid-life crisis unfold – I’ll save some of the finer (and funnier) details for future posts.
Autumn was the game changer for me; some time out and a little perspective left me feeling calmer, happier and the icing on the cake was the arrival of my gorgeous niece Maisie Rose. She really is the most perfect little human and I am the proudest aunty. She’s given my whole family a much-needed lift and she’s just amazing!
Wow this is turning out to be a spectacularly long post are you even still with me?
By the time winter came around, my mind was well and truly focused on ME and MY LIFE, the pervasive thoughts of a previous life mostly gone. The sentimental day dreaming I was perpetually stuck in at the beginning of the year of ‘what once was’ (majorly distorted by rose tinted glasses I might add) had been overtaken by the acceptance of ‘what really is’ and I thanked my lucky stars for dodging a bullet. By the time Pret’s Christmas lunch landed on the shelves, I was embracing full-on festive excitement.
Christmas 2017 was a stark contrast to 2016. It was the best Christmas I’d had in years and I enjoyed every second. At New Year, old acquaintances really were forgot and I felt incredibly grateful for all that’s good but to come back to where I started this blog post (in what feels like about 8 million words ago), I also felt very ‘what now.’
To pick up on the nautical analogy once more (sorry), the whole experience from the day ‘starts with T’ left and throughout most of 2017, felt like trying to stay afloat. Almost every time it felt like a big wave had passed and I had just about got my head above water long enough to breathe, then another one came along and sunk me again. At times, I genuinely felt like I was drowning. It’s been hard to stay upbeat a lot of the time but luckily for me I’ve been thrown a few life rafts (boom, boom) in the form of family and friends, old and new, and with opportunities appearing that might not have come about had this whole situation not happened.
For me, the New Year IS daunting; I don’t know what 2018 will bring. Pretty much every aspect of my life has changed – home, family, career, so nothing is certain right now BUT then was it ever? IS it ever? I’ve said it before and will say it again, if I’ve learnt anything it’s that things can change in a heartbeat and life can turn out so differently to that which you planned. It’s good to plan and have goals, but it’s also important to remain open minded, flexible and ready to ‘change course.’ Above all else, I’ve learned that you can be tougher than you think and despite things that challenge us or even cause us great pain, focusing on what IS good in your life can help immensely. There simply isn’t enough room left in this post to talk about some of the things I will be focusing on in 2018 – a bit more about me and what I’m passionate about so I will save ‘what Katy did next’ for another time.
I may have won a few battles so far but the war isn’t over. I’ve still got some healing to do, I’ve got some confidence to build and some energy to recoup. Some things I feel ready for, some I don’t, some things I’m excited for and some I’m uncertain or wary of. I don’t know what will happen, especially with the home I have worked so hard to create. What I do know is this year will definitely bring some challenges in all aspects of my life but I’ve still got my ‘Strong Girls Club’ sweater on and I don’t go down without a fight so bring on the next 52 weeks (well technically its 50 now)!