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.