2016 – The Year of No

I’ve just had the worst New Year’s Eve that I’ve had for years but I have learnt a valuable lesson from it – I do too much and take on too much for other people and it’s time to stop. If ever there was a time of change, it’s at the beginning of a new year.

Gary asked me two weeks ago if I wanted to go out for a curry with him and a load of people from the pub for New Year’s Eve. I said I didn’t as I’d have no money and no babysitter. I said I was okay with him going out still and I would be happy to spend NYE at home, on my own doing what I do every year which is to get Annie to bed at a decent time, then sit and reflect on the year that’s been and look forward to the coming year and what I hope to achieve. But, when Gary suggested a compromise to the situation I re-thought it and realised I could have the best of both worlds. Gary suggested that he drop his car at mine, walk into town, have a curry with his friends and then come back here to me for around 10 pm and we’d spend the rest of the evening together celebrating. I said he didn’t have to do that but he made a point of saying, “No, I want to spend NYE with you” and so it was all arranged. I would still get my time to write and reflect, he would still get his time out but then we’d both be together as the year changed. I was really looking forward to it as it would be the first time in years that I’ve spent with someone other than the kids on NYE so I went and bought some drink and a load of snacks but it just didn’t work out that way.

Alice is in America again visiting her friend and I am missing her like mad. I’ve been fighting back tears all day so I decided to distract myself with taking the Christmas decorations down and getting the house cleaned and tidy for the new year but Josh also decided that it was the time to empty his room ready to decorate it. I ended up with enough washing to keep me busy for the next three months, dust everywhere, nine bin bags of rubbish, just from his room, piled up on the landing and in the hallway and no way of getting into the loft to put the Christmas decorations away that I’d taken down. The whole house ended up much much more of a mess than before I’d started.

Halfway through the day, Dad turned up and while it was lovely to see him, he stayed much longer than he usually does which held me up. While here he talked endlessly about the new business he’s creating and how he wants me to get involved but he made me feel pressured to start working on it NOW instead of appreciating that while he may not like to take time off for Christmas and New Year, maybe I do. He also spoke of his stress with my sister, Izzy and Sasha, constantly asking him for money and asked my advice on what to do.

At 6 pm when I should have been settling down for a nice quiet evening, Mum rang up because she needed to talk and wanted advice. She’s got it into her head that Izzy might be taking drugs and might lose the kids and she didn’t know what to do and so I ended up spending a further 45 minutes talking her down and advising her on what I thought, despite knowing it would go in one ear and out the other.

No sooner was I off the phone, and Gary turned up to drop his car off and casually dropped into conversation, right in front of Annie so I couldn’t say anything, that he might stay out with his mates to see in the New Year instead of coming back early as arranged. I felt really disappointed and hurt. My day was going from bad to worse, I was missing Alice more and more, Josh was shouting and swearing about trying to get a takeaway delivered, the house was a shit tip, Annie was crying because she was lonely and pissed off that we don’t celebrate New Year when “all” her friends do (one does), and I felt like the world’s worst mum because Katie came down, saw the chaos and promptly disappeared for the night. I ended up having Annie’s cousin over to sleep which meant the living room was taken over by the girls so no New Year’s rituals for me and no time for myself to do my own thing.

Just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore, my phone rang. It was Izzy. I haven’t spoken to her in weeks. She, like Sasha, only contacts me now when she wants something but I didn’t think she’d be wanting something so late in the day on NYE. I was wrong. She wanted advice on what to do about her eldest, Louise, as she was ruining her night and could I ring Louise and persuade her to come and stay with me for the night and could I come down and collect her too! I said no. 

As I was talking to Izzy, Louise was messaging me on Facebook wanting advice about Izzy and so I then spent the next 90 minutes chatting to Louise and trying to help her see that the future may seem bleak now but that it wouldn’t always be that way and by the time I got off, I promptly burst into tears and wished for New Years of the past where all my children were home with me, watching Glee together, eating junk food and just having a really lovely night together. Instead, I’d had stress, grief, hassle and been let down, and my whole night seemed ruined.

I then messaged Gary in the vain hope that he would be coming here straight after his meal. I said that as the girls were in the living room, to come straight into the bedroom where I’d be. I’d done my hair and makeup and put on clean clothes awaiting him but he texted back half an hour later to say they’d just finished their meal and had gone on to the pub. That really fucking hurt. When he asked if I was ok, I said that no, I wasn’t. I’d had a shit day, and even shitter night and that he’d promised to spend the evening with me and had now instead chosen yet another pissed up evening with his mates instead of with me and I felt as if they only reason he’d suggested it in the first place was so he could sleep here instead of having to make the much longer walk home. He said he’d come back later, get his keys and walk home. At that point it was 11.40pm, he’d actually have had time to walk back to mine and be here for midnight but again, he chose not to.

As the fireworks started going off I cried myself to sleep. At 12.20, Gary texted me to say ‘Happy New Year……Love you.’  Talk about kicking someone when they’re down! It may have been a great night for him but it certainly wasn’t for me. I ignored him. He eventually turned up here at 2am, let himself in, woke me up with his noise, grabbed his keys and coat then ignored me when I asked what he was doing. He left the house, got into his car and drove home, extremely drunk. I rang him to tell him not to be so stupid (not for the first time), and he cut off my calls every time. When he got home, he rang me back and once again, tried to blame me for having to drive home drunk. I put the phone down on him and sent him a shitty text about how he’d promised to spend the evening with me but left me feeling really hurt. He said he’d talk to me in the morning when I wasn’t being so erratic! I told him not to bother and I cried myself back to sleep.

I woke this morning and once again, I cried. In fact, I’ve cried on and off for the last four hours. I miss Alice so much and all I wanted was for Gary to be here with me to spend the night together as he said he would, and it’s so painful that he went back on what he said he would do, leaving me on my own, when just for once I’d dared to dream that I wouldn’t be.

But last night taught me something that I really needed to learn. I do far too much for others while they give me very very little, if anything, in return. I have bent over backwards over the last few months to help Gary with various things. I do everything he asks and more and he repays me by leaving me in tears. It’s not happening in 2016. If I stay with him, and currently I’m undecided after last night, he will be hearing an awful lot more “NO” from me than he ever has. I suspect when his many needs stop being pandered to and catered for, he’ll lose interest. I will not be helping him put his decorations away on Sunday as he has asked me to and I will not be helping him choose a paint colour for his living room, nor will I help him pick furniture and accessories. Until he can appreciate what I do for him and start giving some back, he’s getting nothing more from me.

Izzy and Sasha, who only ever contact me when they want something, will be told NO every single time from now on. If they can’t be bothered to have a relationship with me, to spend time with me or even speak to me on the phone, then they can forget about having anything else from me.

All those that constantly want my advice, can fucking well pay for it if they want it that badly. I am not a free-for-all to pick up and put down as and when they see fit. Mum, Dad – they both need to get a backbone and stand their ground. I can not continue to hold them up.

And so, while I often think that a new year heralds an exciting time of saying yes to whatever life brings my way, this year, I think I have to make this a year of no. I’ll still say yes to life but to all the people that act as the leeches in my life, it’s a resounding NO. This year there are goals I want to achieve by the end of the year and saying yes to others will take away the time I have for me and my children and so this year is as much the year of me as it is the year of no.

I plan on working through the mammoth list of books that I have on my kindle and on my shelves. I’ve set myself the goal of actually finishing books, not just starting them so there will be a lot more reading going on this year. I also plan on writing a lot more. I’ve set up a pen name, Annie Miller, and I plan on starting to write properly and share it publically because for the first time in my life, I want my voice to be heard.  I also want to make this a year when I get healthier. Slowly, but surely, I want to rid myself of the crap from my diet and start to introduce some exercise, little by little. I’m pretty sure the menopause is starting early for me; my periods are becoming more and more erratic and there’s no other sign clearer for me that I am ageing and so I must start to take proper care of my body. By the end of the year, or the beginning of next, I’m hoping to have the fitness, health and confidence to enter a mud run.

And that is about it. The home educating with Annie, and Katie to a lesser degree, will continue, hopefully successfully. Alice, I hope will continue to thrive in college and then move on to better things, and as for Josh, he’ll hopefully be taking driving lessons this year and that will open up new avenues for him.

The one thing I won’t be doing today, like so many people I see on Facebook, is to wish it to be ‘your year’ or the best year ever because that to me is bullshit. Given the way my year has started, I’ll be realistic and say that like all years, it will no doubt have its ups and its downs but no doubt at the end of the year, it will all have balanced out, hopefully with some or all of my goals met by the end of it.

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