I found a new blog last night while perusing the list of links from the Mumsnet Blogger's Network; Sleep is for the weak runs a writing workshop every week and I found myself getting excited at the thought of joining in.
When I started writing this blog (properly writing, not the 2 or 3 posts I did in 2009 then missing out 2010 completely!) I worried that my writing would be too stilted and I'd have nothing interesting to say. I figured the only people who would want to read it would be Ant and maybe the kids when they're older.
I know that after a few weeks, when I started to wonder if anyone, other than Ant was actually reading my blog, I had fleeting thoughts of giving up again. Then Ant gave me a confidence boost when he told me that not only did he enjoy reading my posts, he thought I was a good writer and he liked my style :)
I stuck with it and started to look forward to posting each day. I came to the conclusion that even if no one else ever read it, I got enjoyment from writing it, my husband got enjoyment from reading it and in the future, my kids could read it and be reminded of happy childhood memories, which is all the incentive I needed.
I'd forgotten how much I actually enjoyed writing and it made me think of Mrs Bourget (hope I spelt that right) who was my favourite teacher at secondary school; she taught English and she helped nurture the love of reading and writing I'd had since I started to learn how at infants school.
Other pupils would groan when Mrs B. announced that we had to write a story from a title she would give us but for me, that was my favourite kind of writing. I would let my imagination run away with me and I would always get great encouragement from her.
I dreamed about being a writer, until the teenager in me took over and made it seem more important to be out with my friends, having a laugh and staying out late, than for me to be at home, working on my writing.
When that teenager left me, I found it really hard to write again. You know the old saying, 'use it or lose it'? Well I figured, after a few years of not using it, I'd gone and lost it.
I was a bit sad at the time but I made myself believe it didn't matter because I wasn't good enough to be a writer anyway.
If I'm totally honest with myself, I still believe that I'm not good enough to be a writer in the professional sense of the word but as a hobby, it''ll do me just fine!
I'm going to do the writing workshop because I feel it will give me a challenge and maybe I'll get back some of what I 'lost' from those wonderful English lessons with Mrs B.
I looked back over some past prompts and picked the first one that jumped out at me.
So here it is, my first entry to the writing workshop.
1. Write something to say thank you to some who has made a difference to your life, whether from your past or present.
- Inspired by the Moiderer’s ‘People I’d like to thank‘
It was an easy choice and probably a predictable one for the people who know me best.
I don't think I can ever thank my husband, Ant, enough for the major changes he's brought to my life.
When we met in 2003, I was a morbidly obese, single mother of a 3-year-old boy. My self-esteem was low, as it had been since I started to realise I was different to all the kids in school.
I made a show of being strong, confident and happy with my life but on a few occasions, when I was honest with myself, I knew I wasn't and I wanted more.
In my mind, everything that was wrong with my life was because I was fat. I wanted to be thin. I 'knew' that if I was thin, I'd be happier. If I was thin, it would solve all my problems. if I was thin, I'd get someone to share my life with. We'd have more children. We'd work together to ensure they'd grow to be healthy, happy adults who make positive contributions to their society and we'd grow old together.
Every day, I hid the real me behind a layer of make-up and a fake smile. I had a few close friends and all my family lived near by so I wasn't alone, but I was lonely.
When I discovered the Internet, and more importantly, MSN groups, I felt like I'd found a place just for me. No one knew I was fat because I never put my photo up. Hiding behind the screen, I could be the strong and confident person I was pretending to be in 'real life'.
My weight didn't hold me back when making friends because it was never an issue.
Ant and I met in one of those MSN groups. It was a group for parents and from first joining, I felt at home there. I didn't plan to meet someone romantically, that's not why I joined. I was there because in the evenings, when Aiden had gone to bed and the friends had gone home, I was lonely.
I posted on the boards and knew I wouldn't get ignored; I went in the chat room and chatted for hours sometimes. Ant would be in there quite often and he'd tease me about being a Freeserve tart (for those who can't remember, Freeserve was an internet service provider and I was a nightly visitor to some of it's, ermmm, chat rooms....I was hooked for a while and really thought I was going to meet my soul mate there. I have to be honest, the conversations I had with most of the people, ok, men, in there turned into them trying to get you to go on webcam and well, they weren't really soul mate material!) because as well as being in the group chat, I'd have a few MSN messenger conversations going on at the same time with the people I'd met on Freeserve.
Through my time in the group, I got to know some wonderful people who I'm still in contact with today and who I class as friends, whether we've met in real life or not.
Anyway, to cut a long, long story a little shorter, Ant and I started chatting privately through email then on the phone. I can't begin to describe how nervous I was when he suggested talking on the phone.
He was very charming and soon calmed my nerves. We ended up being on the phone for hours at a time. We'd met in person (at an engagement party of two other members of the group who had fallen in love), before we started getting really friendly so he knew what I looked like. It helped that he knew because I didn't have to face the horrible moment when they ask what you look like and you have to either describe yourself *groan* or send a picture and wait for a response *double groan*.
The pressure was off and even during those first few phone conversations, I was able to be totally honest with him about my weight and how it made me feel.
He came to my house about two weeks after we'd started emailing each other and kissed me in a way that I'd never been kissed before (that song is going to be in my head for the rest of the day now!).
I was in love and that's the first thing I have to thank him for.....he loved me as I was.
He then went on to slowly increase my confidence. He started by addressing the issue of my make-up.
Now if I'm totally honest, I've never really been into make-up. My mum didn't wear it everyday and I found it such a pain to have to spend that amount of time, every day, applying it. As well as not really liking the cost of buying it.
In time, Ant made me believe that I didn't need make-up anymore. He preferred the natural look, and by that I mean the face nature gave me, not a make-up 'style' from Avon!
It was a relief when I finally decided that he was right. I wasn't putting it on for him because he didn't like it, I wasn't putting it on for myself because I didn't like it either so who, exactly, was I putting it on for? I was putting on for those people in the street, who I didn't know, who judged me by the way I looked.
I finally realised I didn't care what they thought anymore. I have Ant to thank for that.
Don't get me wrong, this didn't happen overnight. It happened over a few years. A few years where Ant showed me everyday that I was loveable. That there was someone in this world who wanted to be with just me and who was proud to be with me, even when I wasn't proud to be, well... me.
I have to thank him for our girls. He's 18 years older than me. He'd already raised a family of six children with a wife he adored and who had sadly died.
He knew I wanted more children and I knew that he was at a point in his life where he was ready to relax and enjoy seeing his grown up children marry and have families of their own.
I made a decision to be happy with everything I had; an adorable son, a wonderful man and step mum to six very special people.
He made a decision to become a father all over again, twice, because he knew how important it was to me.
He's a wonderfully thoughtful husband who does his best to keep me happy all the time, even when he's not feeling it himself. He smiles through his bad days, unlike me. I grump and snap on my bad days and he puts up with it.
He supports me and encourages me in anything I want to do and he's always there to help me if I try to give up when he knows I can do it.
I was watching a program last night that said, 'marriage is hard work'. It got me thinking about my marriage and wondering where the hard work was? We're equal partners and we treat each other with the respect each deserves. We don't shout, scream and argue, in fact, we hardly ever have a disagreement and if we do, we tend to reach a compromise fairly quickly.
We don't undermine each other's authority with the children and we always show a united front so they know that what one parent says, the other will too; even if we disagree, the only people who are aware of it are Ant and I. We discuss it in private and decide on a course of action if the situation arises again.
I know this sounds too good to be true and people tend to believe that what you read on the net isn't a true reflection of real life but our marriage isn't hard work. It's easy and reliable and importantly, it's fun; another thing I have to thank my husband for.
I'm not saying we have a perfect life. We've had hard times, same as everyone.
We went through some serious money problems a few years ago when I lost my job, just after Ant had gone self employed. We struggled for 2 years and are only just getting our head above water again.
Ant has suffered with depression for many years, and we've both had to deal with a serious illness. Ant had a heart attack and I had a blood clot in my leg which travelled to my lungs, ending in a pulmonary embolism. I thought I was going to die.
Through everything, Ant has kept me strong.
For that, for more than I have time to write and all of the above, I thank you, my wonderful, darling husband xxx