The Boiler


The boiler broke. Three full days we were without heating and hot water, three days and three nights. It was hell on earth, not an experience that I would wish to repeat in any haste. The simplest of every day necessities, heat, was removed from my life for three days and I went into free fall. Down, down and down further. By Sunday night I was sobbing “I don’t know what to do, I can’t go on”.  Funny maybe, but I don’t just mean the cold can’t continue, I mean I can’t continue. Thud as I reach the bottom of my pit, “hello” says my unwelcome friend, depression, arms out stretched and ready to take hold.

“I need to order a part” the engineer says. “It won’t be here till Monday”

Right so I’ve waited a day and a half already now I need to wait two more nights and another day.

“Ok we can do this” I’m mentally convincing myself “It will be fun all snuggled together around the lounge fire for warmth”.  Stood in my kitchen, I blow into my cupped hands; I can see the small cloud my warm breath creates before me. Taking in the news I deliver a phony speech about how “it’s fine and of course we’ll be ok, no we don’t need a small heater, see you Monday, bye”

As I walk back along the hall way I drag my fingers across the radiator, something I’d done a lot in the last two days. I realise it’s an action I take when feeling cold to find some reassuring warmth, but it’s not there today, in return I receive ice cold metal that shocks my sensors each time I reach for it. I’m felling completely miserable.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “What a bloody drama queen” and yes I whole heartedly agree, it all seems a bit melodramatic and over the top. I’m not saying that this is completely out of character because that would be an utter lie, there is a very good reason why I am a member of my local amateur dramatics society, but this whole chain of events has got me thinking. Why is it that a broken down boiler or even say a dumping of snow seem to have such an unsettling effect on me?

The obvious shared characteristic of these two events is the cold and feeling cold. I’ve not kept it politely hidden under a bushel that I HATE feeling cold. I find the discomfort of being cold mentally very challenging, like a painful distraction akin to someone sticking pins in me over and over. I really don’t like it, don’t handle it well and therefore find having to deal with being cold a hardship. I would also like to add that I don’t feel that mentally I am pathetic on all fronts; in fact I can be very determined and strong willed on a lot of matters, marathon running, giving up alcohol and parenting my kids. But the cold has me beaten.

And then there is the very precarious balancing act which is our family life. I’d like to think that six years with my two boys has taught me many many things. I have become attuned to how best to support their needs and ensure that our life at home is as least disruptive as possible for all of us. This requires a fairly set routine in the week for mornings and evenings. Few extra curricula activities, especially none after seven o’clock, as the tiredness is too hard for either to handle. Occasionally we have friends over for tea but our house is never awash with children or adults just “popping” in. To be honest, Monday to Friday, most of our time is spent as our family of four because that is mostly how we assure minimum anxiety and maximum relaxation from the pressures of school. Weekends are far less rigid but again are often spent as a family at home, sometimes with visitors but less so than we used to, it’s just easier this way.

Some days, when my eyes blink open I am immediately faced with a negotiation to be made, a spat to settle or manipulating question to field. In my very bleary state, not a morning person, I have to think  three steps ahead to keep all confrontation to a minimum and all possible options on track for school. And so to yet another day when the skills, knowledge, strength you acquire goes head to head with the ever changing nature of the traumatised child. Like a carefully balanced set of scales that teeter in a state of perpetual uneasiness, you fight on to maintain equilibrium.

Patience, empathy, ignoring, forgiveness and forgetting, hugs, holding and love, versus, hurting other children, swearing at teachers, exhausted melt downs, “I hate you”, “I want to throw myself down the stairs”, head banging, room trashing, shouting, screaming, crying. That’s in a single week.

To me this was not a bad week for us, just a normal week in which I pulled on all my strengths, skills and learnt strategies to ensure that everything remained as calm and normal as possible. And it was all working fine until….. The boiler broke.

That broken boiler jolted my scales into complete disproportion and weighed heavily into the negative. One extra thing to deal with and I was over the edge, especially considering it also meant dealing with being cold. By Sunday night I was a miserable mess dreading the days ahead and fearing that depression may be coming knocking.

Ten o’clock Monday morning, engineer has been, I’ve been for a long run and I’m enjoying a nice hot shower to wash away my weekend. My mood is up I’m planning ahead and my suspected guest, that old friend, he’s moved on already.  The Scales have been recalibrated and another lesson has been learnt. Moving to the sun needs to be considered at length.


  1. thefamilyof5 February 6, 2013 / 1:16 pm

    Your reaction to life without heating was exactly the same as mine in October when our boiler broke. I cried like a baby, I hate being cold. We have an electric shower purposefully incase we ever faced this scenario but no boiler meant no heating! It upset me so much that I didn’t care if it could be repaired, it was 10yrs old and therefore now deemed unreliable in my head, I couldn’t trust it, it had to go, we had it replaced. But that didn’t ease my panic either, my trust in heating appliances had been lost, the thought of being cold again was too much of a risk, as it could happen at any time again and then what would we do. So we had a log burner installed as well. I feel much more at ease about our heating situation now :) but I often wonder if I’d have coped with a 2days of no heating better if I wasn’t already run down from the stresses of daily life with 3 traumatised children, sometimes being warm is the only bit of comfort we have left isn’t it x

    • thepuffindiaries February 6, 2013 / 7:11 pm

      I don’t wish anyone else to be cold but it is so relieving to know that I’m not the only one that’s suffered. We have an open fire but of course this required us all being in the same room for great lengths of time which can be very taxing. Glad to hear you are well prepared now. Thanks for reading. x

  2. Jaime Oliver February 6, 2013 / 3:06 pm

    great post! it will be warm tomorrow!! :-0

  3. thenonehandman February 6, 2013 / 4:23 pm

    Sometimes it is the most seemingly innocuous thing that can tip you over; the proverbial straw braking the camel’s back, so don’t worry about over reacting Moving to a warmer climate might help though!

    • thepuffindiaries February 6, 2013 / 5:08 pm

      Thank you, and I think you’re right, it just takes one little thing sometimes. I got both your comments, I’ve chosen the best!

  4. Considerer February 6, 2013 / 6:29 pm

    No, I’m with you on this. I *hate* the cold and absolutely don’t function in it. So glad it got fixed in the end. What a nightmare!

    • thepuffindiaries February 6, 2013 / 7:22 pm

      I’m enjoying the support on this matter it is making me feel less of a drama queen. Thank you. x

  5. ellieallatsea February 6, 2013 / 8:40 pm

    I don’t cope well with physical discomfort and would have been a miserable wreck too. We have a log burner in the lounge and if I could afford to I’d put one in every room! So glad it’s fixed!

    • thepuffindiaries February 6, 2013 / 9:16 pm

      we have fire places in a number of rooms just not all functioning. Anyway I’d need a house maid to come and light them before I’d get out of bed. Thanks for stopping by. x

  6. older mum in a muddle February 7, 2013 / 5:07 pm

    I think we may be kindred spirits – I don’t get along with the cold at all well either – I just become so grumpy – funnily enough I wear bed socks at night, they keep me nice and warm. Our boiler broke last Autumn – that freaked me out. Can’t imagine what it was like having it go over the Winter. There are some things that really get us, no matter how strong we are

    • thepuffindiaries February 7, 2013 / 7:54 pm

      I now realise that there are many people like us, I think a support group may be needed. I too wear bed socks. x

  7. Lindsay February 7, 2013 / 5:57 pm

    I am soooo with you. Where I live (Calgary Alberta Canada) it gets COLD. I hate every minute of it. This year we’ve had snow since mid October and in February we usually get a week of -40. Although the temperature hasn’t actually been too bad this winter compared to others so maybe we’ll skip that torture this year! Why I live here is beyond me! Nothing makes me happier than flips flops and breezy skirt…dreaming of June….. Hope things are warming up for you!

    • thepuffindiaries February 7, 2013 / 7:53 pm

      Oh how I dream of flip flops and the warmth of the sun on my shoulders. Unfortunately Calgary is now at the bottom of my list of places to move too and I feel utterly pathetic when you’ve lived with -40. Wishing a very warm summe r…soon.

  8. Emma February 7, 2013 / 6:59 pm

    I hate boilers… Ours is playing up and involved a very grumpy Bavarian coming around and treading mud all over the house. I didn’t make him a cup of tea! Glad yours is all sorted. Funny the things that knock us off kilter isn’t it? (:

    • thepuffindiaries February 7, 2013 / 7:50 pm

      Our engineer was very nice and apologetic about the wait, so I couldn’t take it out on him. But yes it was the thing that sent me over. x

  9. fabfortymum February 7, 2013 / 11:32 pm

    Oh Sarah, your reaction is pretty much how I would feel too. I don’t mind the cold outside – but NOT in the house. We’ve been without power on and off over the past few days because of the high winds. We live in the countryside, just outside of the town ringmain and are linked to a substation. The slightest wind and bang, no phone, no power. Our heating is oil fired, but of course we need electricity to fire the boiler! Our fire has a back boiler which can heat the radiators too, but of course once again, we need electricity to fire the pump! It happens loads during winter, but I will never get used to it or like it.

    I hope you are toasty warm now x

    • thepuffindiaries February 8, 2013 / 7:26 am

      We are lovely and warm thank you. Your situation sounds tough. I find things that I can’t control like that which then restrict what I can do always make me wobbly. Thanks for reading. x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *