Every New Year I like to look back at the previous year and to encourage other bloggers and my readers to do so. It can help make sense of the negative stuff and remind you to celebrate the great things in life too. Here are my personal highs and lows of 2020 when the world changed radically and my own life did too. It is a difficult year to reflect on personally to be honest with so much angst, indecision, loss and pain along the way. I am hoping this post may help me make some sort of sense of it all.
What was your happiest event?
Even in the challenging years there are happy moments. It was a delight to revisit my college for a job interview which in a funny way set me on an unexpected path altogether. I was so happy to reunite with my 19 year old son after 7 long months apart and to develop a renewed bond with my older brother.
Later in the year I would be reunited with my other two children after a gut-wrenching 4 and a half long months apart due to the global pandemic. I have seen them grow in confidence and have fuller lives since their return to formal education and the UK. This was ultimately worth leaving my beloved village in France for and I just wish my husband had felt the same way and joined us. I don’t think I will ever understand why he could not make that sacrifice for the welfare of our children. Ultimately, he must of course live his own life his own way.
Myself and my younger two children had a very happy Christmas together with laughs, games and musicals.
What was the saddest thing to happen?
Last year I said that having my son live in another country was very much like a bereavement. I was wrong to say that. 2020 saw many bereaved unexpectedly due to the pandemic of course. My heart goes out to all those who have lost someone.
I got a wake-up call on making the most of every minute of life this year. On returning from the supermarket, I was putting shopping away when my oldest son arrived in the kitchen doorway to announce his friend was dead. He was killed in a road traffic accident just as he was on the cusp of a positive life-changing relocation.
I have had a very sad year when I felt I had no choice but to give up on something I had worked on and enjoyed for so many years. It is like grief to this day but nothing on the scale of what that young man’s parents must be facing.
What was the most unlikely thing to happen that actually went ahead and did?
A new man entered my life and loved me.
Who let you down?
I found it very difficult that when I was separated from my younger children due to the pandemic, contact was irregular for weeks. I feel my husband could have done more to encourage and facilitate this contact.
Although there was some positive contact with my husband, he often seemed angry at me. It seemed to me that whether I was with him or apart from him, he remained angry however hard I tried to please him. I accept he will have his own reality of course.
For the record, I worked very hard to save my marriage and I acknowledge my husband did too over the years.
I got tempted when someone appeared to think I was OK and actually lovely to him. I was wrong. I know that and have called myself some harsh names in recent months. Those who know me will know I was the most unlikely person to let another man into my life. Fortunately those who mean the most to me do not view me as a cheat. I feel I let myself down but what is done is done and I can’t beat myself up for a lifetime.
Who supported you?
My biggest support this year was my brother who provided housing for me during the first lockdown when I was only expected to be with him for a week or two. He entertained me and listened to me. He asked me important questions about the direction my life was going in. He moved house to make space for my children to come over to the United Kingdom. He has really gone above and beyond this year.
Online friends from school, college, the blogosphere and former workplaces have backed me in so many ways and a special mention goes to DS who made herself available morning, noon and night as I struggled with so many emotions.
The man who decided I was wonderful has dealt with my confusion, tears and angst in the most amazing way. It can’t have been much fun to be honest.
My colleagues were patient and understanding particularly when my work was adversely affected by what I was going through.
Tell us what you learned.
At the end of 2019 I had worked out I needed to build a future for myself and the children. I have worked out that I am capable of setting a goal and achieving it.
I have also learned that I can be loved and desired again. That remains the most almighty shock. To put things in context my husband had moved not only out of my bed but onto a different floor in the house in 2019. That did my self-esteem no good at all after so many years together.
I have learned that I may not like it but I can live without people I love.
I have learned that I am perfectly capable of not arguing in a relationship.
I have learned to always listen to my mother’s instinct. When my son mentioned feeling unwell in an email something told me it was appendicitis and I did everything including things he did not like to get him to a hospital. Job done and he had a slow but ultimately successful recovery after the removal of his appendix.
I have learned you do get used to empty nest syndrome over time.
Tell us what made you laugh
My French friends.
Silly television shows.
To be honest I have laughed a lot this year but not in a free way very often as everything has felt tinged with sadness.
Tell us the things that made you cry
The end of my marriage.
The fact my husband did not put up a fight for me.
Leaving my beloved France. I should also mention I cried to hear from numerous French friends which was and remains a delight. I will drink a glass with them again one day.
Tell us three things your child or children did to make you feel proud.
My oldest son did brilliantly on his Access course and got 5 university offers. He had the courage to go miles away from home choosing Exeter where he is studying politics. He had a bumpy start with the pandemic restrictions, a gammy appendix and the loss of a very close friend. He stayed there at Christmas to do lots of work and to try and make it work despite that difficult start.
My daughter surprised us all with how bravely she left the safety of home education to go to college. She is growing in confidence all the time and has clear thoughts on what she wants to do next year. She also dyed her hair blue!
My youngest son left home education to start GCSE years in a new secondary school. He has got up on time, not had one absence or late day apart from one trip to the opticians. He works hard and came top of the class in a chemistry test. Not bad for a kid who was out of school for 5 years or so. He has also started his first relationship of the boyfriend and girlfriend variety.
The fact my children can all smile and laugh and thrive after such a life-transforming year amazes me. They are wonderful.
Tell us the things that made you proud of yourself.
Finally realising I had to push through to get a career of my own and more importantly a structured education for my children even if that meant living in a different country to my husband.
Handling things however challenging.
Starting to believe there is life in the old girl yet!
Taking a chance and reaping the benefits.
Saying yes to the good stuff.
Tell us the challenges you overcame
Please refer to the words above lol!
I got a new job.
I got my 3 children into education to suit their individual needs.
I paid off some debts.
I realised I am OK even if some people don’t believe me to be so.
I had a bad fall in Christmas week and had to go for treatment immediately as I had bashed my head and was pouring with blood. Apparently I was very brave. All year I felt like I had had a bang to the head with all the strange happenings so I find it amusing the year ended with a real bang to the head.
Tell us the things you would like to change about your life in 2020
This is how I answered this question last year.
I would like to build on a burgeoning self-belief.
I would like to see all my children in some sort of formal learning.
I would like a new challenge on the work front.
I would like to keep a special promise to my daughter about her birthday.
I would like to see my oldest son again.
I would like to help my youngest son make progress towards his dream to be a chef.
There are other things too but I am going to take those gently rather than make any of those daft resolution things.
Well, I will leave it for you to decide how that went!
In 2021, I want to become a bit healthier but that’s OK as I don’t drink often these days and have lost weight. The big thing is to create a home for myself and my children. Living with my brother is OK but I want a home of my own if that makes sense. I hope to change jobs too and to become involved in the community in some way. I would like to visit friends overseas and to travel more generally. Mainly I hope the grief at the loss of my husband eases and that I start to live in the present more of the time enjoying the very real joys available to me.
Needless to say, if the pandemic could shift its sorry arse, that would help too!
So there you have my personal highs and lows of 2020.
Wishing all my readers an amazing 2021!