Habits, foggy, sense of identity and getting shit done.

I have been on annual leave this week. I still get up ridiculously early. I was awake at 5 today. It is a habit I have had since being a young adult. I feel guilty if I sleep beyond 8am. I find I am more alert and can get things done in the morning. The majority of the blogs I write (like this one) are written in the morning. If am working from home I will start at 7am. I think some of it comes from having an underlying anxiety. Foggy hangs about in the morning, so the sooner I occupy my mind with writing or working the sooner he drifts into the background. Last week I mentioned that he was playing a big part in my life again, since Mum died. Since exposing him in the blog, he has started to fade back to normal levels of anxiety. He is still hanging around and generally pounces in the early morning and late afternoon. There are still a few things in my head that I need to pay attention to, before he will go away.

For quite a few years now I have working on myself to create a more balanced sustainable identity that is less self destructive. I had been doing quite a good job, my confidence has grown, I have been more willing to share some of my vulnerabilities, and learn from myself. After my Mum was diagnosed with lung cancer I did take a bit of a dip, but generally I managed to keep myself on a fairly even keel, with a few blips. Then in late spring this year it became clear that Mum was in the last weeks of her life. Myself and Lisa went to see her at the end of May. She was quite well and able to get out and about, we asked her where she wanted to go for a day out. She told us she wanted to go to the seaside. So we took her to Prestatyn, somewhere we used to go with her when the boys were younger. The weather wasn’t great, it was windy and cold, but she loved it. We walked along the front, sat and had a coffee and then had a drive along the coast. That was the last time she went to the seaside.

We went back to Chester in early July, it was very warm but she wasn’t as well. I realised that it would not be long before I would never visit Mum’s home again. I had grown up there, it hit me that it was a huge part of my life. I went around the house one afternoon and took pictures of the rooms and the gardens. I could not bear the thought of me never seeing those rooms again. A few weeks later I was there again, this time though was the last time. At the beginning of August I came back to help care for Mum, as Louise was struggling to keep on top of her pain and Mum would not let her stay. If I came she had no choice but to let me stay. I stayed there until she died on 28th August.

I know I have written about this before, but I needed to write it down to make sense of how I am feeling right now, and to get a sense of what has happened since 2019 when Mum was diagnosed. 2019 and was a challenging year. Mum was diagnosed, Ben left to go to University, I gave up Nursing to work full-time in Organisational Development. My sense of identity was put under severe pressure. Then the next year there was global pandemic, and Jack left to go to University and I couldn’t go and see Mum for months. I think on the whole apart from a little bit of naval gazing and self pity from time to time, and coped quite well. Writing my blog helped a lot. It helped me sort through my shit. Then Mum died, the most important person in my life, she was constant throughout my life. I know how incredibly luck I am to have had a parent that never once let me down. She was not perfect, she got on my nerves, and we had loads of arguments, but she always let me know that she loved me. The first word I think of, when I think of Mum is love. Now she is gone, the gap she has left has shattered the sense of who I am, my confidence has gone, and my anxiety has grown. I am in the process of reframing my relationship with Mum, to fill that gap with gratitude and joy that we were all so blessed to have been loved by her. It is a work in progress, and it is challenging not to revert back to unhelpful self destructive habits. The advantage I have now is that I have greater sense of what is important to me, and this pain I feel is worth it for being so blessed in the first place.

Foggy is still knocking about, but his unhelpful impact is beginning to fade and his helpful function is beginning to come to the fore. Afterall he does help me get shit done.

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Published by Matt Smith Personal and Professional Coach

Performance and Life Coach

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