Demons In The Dark
Coping with unrealistic expectations.
We’ve all been there. Those 1am episodes of insomnia-induced self-analysis and subsequent battles with crippling self-doubt are something we’ve all had to deal with at some point or another. I had one such episode recently and I’m still suffering from the emotional hangover. When we make life choices, especially ones that go against the grain such as choosing to home-educate my children, it’s hard to admit when you are struggling because we fear proving those doubters right. They expected you to fail from the day you made the announcement and so you end up setting the bar so high that you are constantly rowing against the tide of realistic achievement, and then berating yourself for not meeting your own ridiculous standards. I’ve always been a little unconventional, even as a kid. I was never quite comfortable with some of the things my peers expected of me but I went along with them because I wanted to fit in. I have many regrets, and I have many moments where I was proud of myself for saying ‘no’ at the risk of being ostracised from the ‘pack’. Being bullied badly at school (to the point of throwing myself in front of a car aged 14) and suffering through three years of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of various schoolmates had a huge impact on me and how I function as an adult. It’s one of the reasons I chose to homeschool my own children- I did not want them to be subjected to that level of psychological damage and influence. Peer pressure sucks. However, I can safely say that my boys don’t give a crap about designer clothes, mobile phones, or social media. They’re definitely their own people and are perfectly comfortable questioning why they’re required to do something, rather than blind acceptance of ‘authority’. I consider that a win at least. Our homeschool routine is certainly unconventional- other than ‘lessons are Monday to Thursday mornings’ we’re pretty flexible in terms of what, when, and how they learn. But, here’s the thing- after facing my own mortality with cancer, I’m now alarmingly aware of how fast time is passing and how (in my eyes) I feel like my kids are wholly unprepared for life without me. Being in control of their academic and social education is a huge responsibility (made even harder when you’re constantly faced with questions about your choices from conventional parents) and sometimes it overwhelms me to the point where I lay awake at night and question everything. I have to reassure myself that actually, they’re doing okay.
I can cope with my own failings (as I see them) towards myself, but I am always reassessing my approaches on how I’m raising my boys. Complacency is not an option. It’s my job to arm them for adulthood and a life away from the security of home, and it’s in those dark hours of night that the doubting demons plague me. Am I running out of time? Have I done enough? What if the cancer comes back and they’re not ready to face the world without me? Am I being a lazy parent? Should I be enrolling them in every club available? Should I be pushing them more? My head is full of this nonsense. The doubts have spilled over into my life too- in my writing I procrastinate too much trying to make my work as perfect as I can with what’s available to me. I’m impatient for success but then what is success? My benchmarks are always shifting. Amazon UK#1 bestseller, two awards for excellence in writing… not enough! I want more. I want to share my stories with every reader in every country. I want to write ALL the stories but I’m afraid I won’t have enough time. I want to see my books on bookshelves in every store. Whatever I do, I feel like it’s just not enough. I know this stems from my school days and needing to prove to myself and the world that I can do this, I can be whatever I want to be despite the crap I had to endure. I thought I had bags of time to achieve my goals but having cancer showed me that time is a luxury none of us can take for granted. So now I’m trying to reconcile that fact with the idea that I might not achieve everything I want to in the time I am given, and I am struggling with that. I’m so desperate to fit everything in as soon as possible that I’m starting to feel exhausted, and that has the knock on effect of me feeling too tired to do anything!
I’m in remission now, but I live with the ‘fear’ of recurrance daily and a big part of that is the fear that time is running out, and I’m not anywhere near where I want to be in any aspect of my life. These are my demons in the dark and one day I hope to vanquish them
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