06:30 this morning I found myself in the middle of a meltdown, to the point I was sobbing; not something I do often (unless watching a sad film - occasionally a happy one will do it too) and certainly not something I do in front of my Mum - she's old school and we were told as kids to "Pull yourself together" or" Get on with it" so I always feel as though I'm being really pathetic and useless if I show any kind of emotional outburst in front of her. She was partly responsible for it, although not at all really; it was just me being pathetic for no real reason, although, in my defence, I'd not had a very good night, sleep wise.
My meltdown was due to a complete lack of confidence in myself, which is not often something I suffer from.
Today, I have my brothers car. I like driving my brothers cars because he always has newer and nicer ones than I do. I've been known to buy one of his when he's moving on to his next. Last year I drove a Mazda, the year before a BMW (I kept that one for a few weeks as we were in lockdown; it was great because I had it during the summer and you could turn the aircon on before you get into it so it would always be cold when I got into it - all cars should have this option). I have his car because he has my 8 year old Dacia; the garage near to where he lives is better than any I have around my way, so he takes mine when it needs to be MOT'd (or if it needs some work doing to it). Turning 8 on the 31st this month (I've had him from new) my MOT is due and I can't tax him on Tuesday without it. Last night my brother brought over his newest car "The Duchess" so named because of her size, prowess and the attention she commands. Whilst only 6 inches (16.2cm - 162mm to those of you who use the metric system) wider than mine, she is 34.6 inches (88.1cm - 881mm) longer than mine, which, when you are used to driving a smaller car is HUGE.
It was a common thing to hear when I was younger "Put Sarah behind a steering wheel and she can drive anything". To a point this was true. I had that arrogance, that confidence. I drove a 16 seat minibus once, would get in any car and drive it without thinking. I was a "White Van Driver" for a while in a proper old style transit.
The I swapped my bigger first car (a Chrysler Alpine which would jump out of gear whenever it felt like it) for a tiny little Yugo 45. The Alpine - named, Terence - was a gorgeous dark metallic green with black bumpers and go-faster stripes down the side (I've searched all over the web for a photo but none match how he looked, so not sure if the person before us had a special paint job on it). The pic below is the same shape. The picture of the Yugo is almost identical but mine was a little more of a deeper red. I'm still amazed how I managed to get my Mum, Dad, Brother, Cat, Dog, Hamster all our bedding, clothes (for 2 weeks) and a box of food into the Yugo, when we'd struggled before with Terence. That was some journey - all 240 miles of it (coming back my Grandad was with us so he took some of our bits home in his car so it was a little easier).
I was on my second Yugo (my family were not, and neither am I, wealthy) when again, we were on holiday on the East Coast (these were free as the people my grandparents worked for own many properties and would allow us to stay in them at no cost - I'm sure the cost to my grandparents with the work they did for the owners was far greater than an any monetary cost) when my uncle asked me to drive his car. This was the first time I ever felt my confidence in my driving abilities; he had a Vauxhall Cavalier - almost double the size of my car. I'm not sure if it was because it belonged to him that I didn't feel comfortable about driving it, but I point-blankedly refused to drive it, citing that it was "Too big" for me to drive (a few years later I bought my brothers Cavi off him and it was the 2nd best car I've ever owned/driven and not once did I feel it was too big).
After the cavi (someone wrote it off) I tended to stick to middle-of-the-road size cars. I had a proton, then my Megane (best car I've ever owned and if some Granadan lorry driver hadn't wiped it off the face of the earth on the motorway on cold January morning, I would still be driving it now). I had a couple more meganes after (both of those being coupes - my main was a hatchback) along with a multitude of cars. The lorry driver hadn't been insured and because he was a foreigner the police could do nothing about it, so let him carry on his way. My insurance were never going to pay what my car was worth so it ended up costing me money and for a decade I could only afford cheap second hand cars - the reason they were cheap is because they were on their way out of existence. All of those cars were smaller though - one of them being my Mum's old Nissan Micra (a cracking little car but it was only 3 door and was just that little bit too small for me as I was going away camping a lot back; with 2 teenagers and all our camping gear it was a struggle to fit it all in - one year my uncle loaned me his Renault Scenic and we still struggled). That's why in 2014 my uncle and aunt loaned me the money to buy a brand new car (they were going to sell me their scenic - which I would have loved - but their son quit his job, losing his company car in the process so they gave it to him). When I say brand new, we weren't talking a new megane or BMW, but they loaned me enough to buy my Dacia, which had just 11 miles on the clock when I picked him up. I became a stereotype for the first time in my life buying that car; I was officially a middle-aged woman with a Dacia. It's a great car to drive, cheap to run, tax and insure, but that doesn't mean if I didn't have the money I wouldn't 'trade up'. I'd need to win the lottery to afford a new Renault (which will always be top-of-my-list) or a BMW (yes, I could see myself driving one of those these days) but a second hand (newish) Peugeot 2008 or a brand new MG wouldn't be turned away and to me either of those would definitely be a 'trade-up' but Dustin is great, gets me where I need to go, and has never really cost me much (this MOT is the most expensive but he is having new brakes (pads and discs) new front tyres and has had to have a new wing mirror because some twat hit it when driving past him as he was parked outside work). I know his history and if I'm lucky he'll still be keeping me going when I hit that 70 year old mark and they take my license away from me.
So, other than my brothers cars (all of which have been smaller, or of a similar size to mine) 'The Beast' I drove in the USA (three times the size of mine with everything on the wrong side of the car, driving on the wrong side of the road) moving a friends truck just 100ft I've only driven my little Dustin since 2014. As I've got older I've found I have lost a bit of confidence in regards to getting through gaps; my car is wider than it looks/feels. Other than that I've really enjoyed driving; I do still avoid motorways if I can but having been hit several times by the Granadan in his 40tonne lorry that's to be expected. That's not due to a confidence issue; more down to the fact it wasn't a nice experience and I can't afford a new car. Then my brother got 'The Duchess' and she is huge by comparison and I'm not going to lie; driving her for the first time I was slightly nervous, to the point I asked my brother to drive back. You would think if anything was going to make me nervous it would have been 'The Beast' (it was a Buick Enclave) because of it being the first time I'd ever driven a left-hand drive but I got in that thing during rush hour and away we went... whoosh... I genuinely enjoyed driving it, so much so, we're going for a similar size when we visit the USA next.
Knowing I was going to be having his car today, my brother came over the other week to do a few odd-jobs at home and sent me out for a drive in his car to give me chance to get used to her. We were out for an hour, had a BMW driver stop to let us through a gap - that's a once-in-a-lifetime experience - and I felt extremely confident about using her whilst mine was in the garage. Until yesterday; then something in me flipped and I found myself feeling very unsure. A few passing comments later in the evening and I found myself getting bang on one about a lot of things.
On Tuesday of this week a water company turned up on our estate - with no warning - and they've pretty much taken over. They've closed parking areas (which I am sure if you live on an estate will know that even taking away just one parking space can cause chaos) as well as digging up half the roads around the area. I'm lucky (for now; that may change when my neighbour moves next month) in that I can park outside my garage) but getting to my garage though is a totally other matter because I am the one tucked furthest away in the corner and those at the entrance don't really give a shit about those of us the other side. As long as they can park and get out, we don't matter. We have a block of separate garages in the middle which others will park against; the houses the other side will park at their garage and this leaves just enough room to squeeze a car through. If they don't park well it can cause carnage. When I left this morning there were cars everywhere (see diagram a bit further below). Because of this I wondered if I should walk to work instead of drive. At the end of the day part of the reason for moving into the shop we are in now was because it was close enough for me to be able to walk. I love walking. Used to do it all the time. It was nothing for me to walk 7 miles in one go and not even notice it. I got a dog 15 years ago as an excuse to make me go for a walk because the older I got the more I found myself relying on the car. Regarding the shop though I walked to work each morning, and home again each evening. I would play dodgems with the kids on their way to school which wasn't fun; it was really hard not to shove some of them into the oncoming traffic. Then one day it was slinging it down with rain and I had a delivery come in, but my driver had left and refused to come back. I had to shut the shop, walk home, get my car, drive back to the shop to find no parking spaces, before loading up to go down the delivery. The whole thing should have taken me away from the shop for no more than 10 minutes; it took almost 90 so the following day I drove to work 'just-in-case'. With the car directly outside I could load up a full round, nip off, do them, and get back before anyone really noticed I was gone. Eventually I found myself driving even if I didn't need to; it was a bad habit I had got into.
One Sunday, out walking along the beach with the dog, I went to cross over the boat launch bit outside the local sailing club. It had been raining, was in the midst of winter (the only time I am interested in visiting a beach) and I was proudly wearing my new wellies. Them fuckers never got worn again, because I ended up slipping and went straight down onto my bum, on concrete. Yes, it did very much hurt - my pride more than anything (which is odd because I don't actually have any pride and have been known to slip up on dry ground before). For a few weeks my back hurt a little but I got on with it - as you do. A few months after I was walking through the local woods (I should never have got a dog!) when I caught my foot on a tree branch and ended up sliding down an embankment 25feet deep. When I landed at the bottom my left foot was tucked up backwards, behind my knee. To say it hurt would be an understatement. So, there I was; a fucked up back, a knee that was killing me and no way I was going to be walking 7 miles for a while. I still have the bad back (turns out I trapped a nerve) I still have issues with the knee (not surprising really). I also now have a bursitis on my right heel and I have sciatica. There are some days when just getting out of bed to pee can make me feel as though my whole body is being stabbed by a thousand knives. I can't let it stop me though; I have to work, I have to live, but walking for enjoyment has definitely fallen by the wayside. Because of that I have become lazy; the lazier I get, the more pain I experience when I do have a busy day, especially at work. During busy times I spend my whole day popping pain pills. There's nothing that can be done for any of it. A chiropractor may ease things a little but it won't last. Like most people who suffer with issues that cannot be seen I don't talk about it; I just got on with it. I may ask people to slow down a little when we're out because if the knee starts to twang or the nerve starts to play up it can be excruciatingly painful. Just sleeping slightly wrong can kick it all off. I've bought a proper mattress to help, and have those weird shaped pillows which put you in the weirdest positions; they really help, IF I stay in the one position all night. I am not a 'one position' person. I can go to bed one on side then wake up, not just on the other side, but at the bottom of the bed as well. I've always been restless and nothing I've tried has ever helped with that. Not exercising so much means I have also put on weight, a lot of weight. Weight I could not afford to put on. Weight gain which genuinely scares me because I am at the age now where I could just drop dead from a heart attack at any moment. People fitter/healthier than me often do. The thought of dying before I've got to do all I want to do terrifies me, yet no matter how hard I try I just don't seem to be able to lose it (going through the menopause doesn't help either). Now when I tell people I can't walk far because of my knee they'll say (quite sarcastically whilst trying to sound sympathetic) "Is that because you've put on a few pounds?" No, it's fucking no; fuck off, is what I want to say. Instead I just nod and agree, whilst inside I am seething. The seething then turns to me hating on myself because I am the only one who can really do anything about it, yet haven't got a clue what to try next as I've tried pretty much all of it and am still failing.
My Mum, love her, does have this way of dishing out a backhanded compliment. She can also be quite hurtful with the things she says at times. A while back she compared me to the 'Fat Controller'. It wasn't meant how it came across, however, there was still that undertone to it. She's pass comments if I'm helping her with things like "you'd think being 25 years younger you'd be able to do this easier than I can!". I get "if you could just lose your tummy you wouldn't look so fat" and "ooh, I don't think you should wear that; it shows off your role of flab". Things which aren't meant in a nasty way but which, when you hear so many of them, begin to chip away at you. Most days I ignore them, ignore all of it. I tell myself I'm happy with who I am (sometimes I even mean it) and that I don't give a shit when anyone else things - the reality of that is that I really don't give a shit what anyone else thinks, yet at the same time, when it got to last night and Mum made the comment "maybe you should walk to work tomorrow; it wouldn't hurt to try and do something to shift the weight. It was why you got that shop" followed with "you can't use the kids as an excuse this week either because they're on holiday" that I realised she thinks I chose to drive purely based on the kids. I don't; I choose to drive because it hurts like hell to walk. The pavements to the shop are so uneven, leaning one way, dipping another, before tipping a completely different way. It's hard enough for someone with 2 good legs and a strong back to keep on top of it all - a moving wonky floor in a fun house is easier to walk on - yet alone someone with the knee, ankle and back issues I am struggling with. It's also a main road and I know how judgement people can be (I live with a judgemental person). I know a lot of them sitting in their cars in the traffic jams there always are on my route home, are looking at me, a middle aged FAT woman, struggling to walk along the pavement and they are thinking I cannot walk well because I'm fat, when in fact I've got fatter (let's no lie about this; I've never been a delicate wall flower. I knew how easy it was for me to put on weight and I allowed it to happen - for reasons I'm not willing to discuss with anyone but it was a manageable weight which never hindered me. I still ran up a 60ft hill, 9000ft above sea level, with an incline of 20% just a few years back - I'm not even sure I could walk it now, however the thought of exposing myself to those people in their cars judging me is something I mentally couldn't take right now.
That's how I found myself yesterday evening feeling down, and being hard on myself. Knowing my Mum is right, I should have been planning to walk to work, not worrying about how I was going to get my brothers car out from the parking space. My inner confidence wobbled. It completely collapsed when my brother then turned up and said "ooh, it was a bit iffy getting into the garages; someone has parked right on the corner" and whilst I know he didn't mean to make it sound as though I wasn't capable of driving his car (he'd never have left it with me if that thought had even entered his head for a split-second (or less)) because of how I was feeling I took it that he was saying he didn't think me good enough to be able to drive his car out this morning, to get me to work. I then went back to the whole "well, really I should walk anyway; I'm just being a lazy bitch by not doing so". I began to spiral, quite badly too, which this week is really out-of-character as I was having a cracking week up until that point.
By the time I went to bed I was feeling fat and utterly useless. Angry at myself because I should be walking, even angrier that I am letting pain beat me. Upset that I wasn't feeling confident enough to drive my brothers car, something I have always relished. Instead of getting myself into a comfy position in bed, I put myself into the position that you should be in to keep your body aligned. No biggy, easy enough to do, yet I knew I'd never stay like it so I forced myself to stay away; when I did nod off and found myself, upon waking, in a different position I got even angrier at myself for being so useless I can't even get laying down still right, got back into position and forced myself even harder to stay away. The whole time I was awake I was thinking about it all and about how much of a useless waste of space I am. I really did spiral. By the time 6am came around I was feeling exhausted, disgusted with myself, ashamed, worried, angry, pathetic and was questioning what the whole point of me being here was for.
My Mum was already up with a cuppa waiting for me. When she asked how I was feeling (not because she knew anything was wrong, it was just a general "how are you this morning?") I started to tell her about how bad my night had been and before I knew what was happening I was crying; in front of my Mum. This made me worse because the inner me is screaming "STOP YOU IDIOT. You DON'T cry in front of Mum; PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER". Eventually I did stop, apologised to Mum for being a wimp and headed off to work - in my brothers car. There was no way my knee would have got me anywhere.
It was a challenge getting it out from the parking space. The photo at the bottom will show you where I am along with where all the other cars are. The gaps between are just wide enough for one car to drive through; goodness knows what will happen if an ambulance or fire engine ever need to get the back of someone's house. At 3ft longer than mine it was always going to be, but I did it without too much hassle (glad he hasn't got his camera set up in it yet because I did a lot of chatting to myself) and made it to work just as I always knew I could/would. I even managed to spin it round in the round I have to use to turn so I am facing the right way to get home. Parking it outside the shop took me a few attempts because of how wide it is, but also because of how long it is. I know exactly where to position mine so I am just at the edge of the double yellow lines (thus giving more space for other cars). The Duchess wasn't quite so easy until I found the button which gives you a 360' birdseye view of the car; then I was good-to-go and that beauty was parked.
I have asked my brother if I can take it back to him this evening though; pretty sure he doesn't really want to see me again (he's seen me every weekend for the past 3, is seeing me Saturday, and saw me last night) and he said if mine is ready and I'd rather, then that would be fine. I know it means an hours drive in the dark but I'm confident enough to do that to get to him and I'll feel much happier getting mine into it's parking space, and out again tomorrow. It also means he doesn't have to rush over on Saturday, as I have an appointment I need to drive to, but there is no way I would be able to get his car in the tiny parking space I will have once I get there. I'm confident but not stupid. Also, if the water company how dug up more areas around home, as I think they will, I may have to bounce mine over a curb to get parked; I would not want to do that to his in case I damaged it.
Yes, I know some of you who have read this far - pat yourselves on the back if you have - will be thinking "shut up you stupid woman; you have nothing to be whining about" and you are correct. My goodness there are people in this world with real problems, but to me, at this time, I am struggling with my confidence. Tomorrow I may be just like you, although I'd like to think I'm not a judgmental arse and am in fact someone who understands that all feelings are relevant and no matter what it is, if something is making you feel bad the opinion of anyone else is totally irrelevant.
Just to add insult to injury; a childhood friend's Mum has just been in and said to me when we were talking about being hot (weather wise) "No wonder you don't like it; you have enough natural padding to keep you warm". Way to kick a woman when she's already being down and hard on herself.
I think I need a day off...