It is Halloween.
It is Midterm break.
My son and his two pals are running through the leaves, dragging the dogs with them. Races are set up and end in squeals and yelps. The boys are happy out. Their laughter is a delight to hear.
My friend and I sit watching them, hugging our take-out coffees. I am eating chocolate (someone has to!) and she is being abstemious.
Animatedly, I relate funny stories from my week. My work. My kids. My crazy life. I am never boring.
But my friend, training to be a psychotherapist, puts her hand on mine and asks '...but are you okay?'
I can't catch my breath for a moment. I don't feel okay. I am acting. I am covering. I will myself not to cry.
'I feel anxious,' I admit.
There, I said it. And it all comes tumbling out. I feel anxious. I feel sad. I feel alone. I live in a busy house with children and animals and I have wonderful friends but... every day is my responsibility. Every decision is mine. Every mistake is mine. Every joy is mine. Parenting alone is just that - Parenting on your own. It's hard. But the alternative was much harder. I feel lost.
My friend suggests I ask myself one question: 'What do I want?'
I stare blankly. I start to babble, talking about my children, about the special people in my life. She interrupts me: 'I know this is hard but you must put everyone, even your children, aside for this exercise. Call it Stage 1. For this stage, only ask: What do I want?'
I stare blankly. I make the usual jokes about winning the Lotto. About a job in Hollywood. About a filthy-rich lover. My friend waits patiently. I stare blankly again.
She suggests I take a big blank white page. And write or draw or paste or scribble or do something to describe what I want. 'How can you ask the universe/ god(s)/ goddesses/ higher power for what you want when you do not know yourself?'
The red-faced boys spy our coffees and run over.
'Where's our hot chocolate?'
I smile at the happy boys and exhausted dogs. I smile at my psychotherapist-in training friend.
'When you've graduated, you won't charge me for our chats, will you?'
She laughs. We hug each other. The boys playfully punch each other.
So, today I am sitting in front of a big blank white page.
'What do I want?'
Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.