Best guess

It is really hard to know how to help other people. And for other people to help me. Online, at least for me, the advice is right but what they mean is not. The advice about helping someone who is depressed seems usually to involve listening to them. This is right, if it means listening to what someone says helps them. For me, it is not right if it means expecting me to do the talking. On dark days the doors are shut; it doesn’t feel like a voluntary thing but rather a statement of my reality. Any kind of opening takes the kind of effort required to heave open a great oak door, barring the entrance to a castle that hasn’t moved for centuries. Opening the actual front door feels like that, opening my mouth feels similar. The words lurk somewhere down below in one of the twisting tunnels into which it is not quite possible to peer. Even then, those words aren’t about what’s wrong. I don’t need to talk through a problem. There is no problem, just not enough chemicals in my brain of the right sort. Not a lot to say about that. So I’d much rather hear you talk than do the talking myself. Actually that’s always the case, but typically that’s more to do with introversion than depression.

Perhaps there’s an underlying issue here which can be seen as a tendency to make assumptions and to assume everyone is the same, or could be viewed as a need, in order to give generic advice to make fairly sweeping generalisations. I have also come to wonder to what extent we make assumptions every day about how someone is feeling, what they mean, which come from our own experience and interpretation of the world and may not relate to the person we are hoping to be helpful to. It’s happened a few times here, where my intentions or implication has been interpreted differently to what I intended, and from my point of view a comment that was, I assume intended to be supportive did not really resonate with my actual thoughts and feelings. Or maybe that’s an assumption and there was a deeper point being made that I missed… I wonder how often it’s me that isn’t in line with how someone else is feeling, what they mean. In the end we can only make a best guess, alongside the right questions, with the intention to listen to the answer. I hope you’ll accept my best guess, while I endeavour to accept yours!

Enjoy the pie

So the summer ends. It was lovely. We did a lot of camping and went to Kent which is just about one of my favourite places to go and was as beautiful as I remember. Then we moved house and the children started at their new school and all of a sudden summer is over and a new style of life has begun.

We’ve taken a rental house as near to the new school as possible. It’s nice. The neighbours brought us a freshly made pie the day we moved in. The house is as close as is possible to exactly the same as the house we sold, complete with hatch (we knocked that wall down which made the hatch rather larger). That’s quite strange. It wasn’t like we thought that was the best ever house but it has worked out that we are in a replica. At least the furniture fits.

Children are amazing. They were nervous but it didn’t much show as they walked into their new school and began to find their way. Red said he didn’t have a snack on his first day as he wasn’t sure how that worked, but the second day he did. Good strategy: observe and then act. Myrtle went straight for the pancake; Isobel said that’s what you’re meant to do. Good strategy: check with a friend. They’ve both done so well. I am so relieved. Now I think maybe they can handle anything. I think maybe they think that now too.

The wait on the land seems a bit interminable. Still waiting for the mysterious trustees to meet and confirm that we won’t get a bill for tens of thousands as soon as we get planning permission. Can’t go ahead and buy before we know that so on we wait. And wait.

In the meantime, we will enjoy the pie.

Transition

Birch is wondering whether it would be fun to walk by himself. The big children walked quietly into their new classes for a taster morning at their new school, and we walked round a rather dingy three bed semi for rent, a bit like our old one but not so nice. We are in transition. We are always in transition, just sometimes it’s more obvious than others. This time last year we were making the change from a family of four plus cat to a family of five. The cat is currently on holiday but we hope he’ll come back and be our “plus cat” again. We miss him.

Maybe that’s the trickiest thing about times of transition. You don’t quite know what you’ll miss when the change comes, you also know you’ll never get there, which is to say that you never get to a place of no change, at least not this side of the Big Box.

It did feel like a lot was changing today. Myrtle was pleased to be in purple rather than green. She still seems so small but she set her chin purposefully and in she went. What a fantastic thing, to watch your children face a challenge and have what they need to take it on and come out the other side, smiling. They both had a good morning at their new school. Myrtle found a girl who shares her birthday so obviously they will be friends. I think it was harder for Red; he’s going into year five where the friendships are firmer and the new children will always feel new. He is one of three new starters in his class which may help, and the teachers didn’t put the new kids together which is a good sign. They felt welcome, and Red’s class had a discussion about a book we have at home (The Giving Tree) so he was well prepared.

I am so relieved and very thankful. They are going to be OK. It’ll get harder, but won’t ever seem quite so scary again. And they turned out to be resilient and courageous. It wasn’t too much. It won’t be for me either.

Still waiting on the land.