The Unmarked Road

Life On The Other Side Of Mental Illness

Category: Relationships and Love

Are You ‘Just’ A Mum?

When I was pregnant I was determined I wasn’t going to become ‘just a mum’. That having a baby wasn’t going to change me as a person. I didn’t want to be one of those simpering idiots who only talked about her baby and had a Pinterest board full of baby led weaning recipes and creative messy play ideas.  I wasn’t going to show off every picture of bath time or video of my precious bundle eating broccoli for the first time. I didn’t really like children anyway (in fact I believe my ‘about’ page still states I am more excited about having kittens than kids!) so I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to become the quintessential earth mother anyway.

Fast forward a year and here I am sitting with my 14 months old hanging off my breast, while I research gentle sleep techniques (because the little shit still wakes every 2 hours, but I won’t let him cry!) and come up with inventive ways to nurture his highly demanding and precious temper tantrums into something positive (call me naive).

You see, the joke of it is that becoming a mother does change you. You can’t help it. Having a child isn’t like having a pet you really really love. Having a child is like ripping out the heart in your chest and letting it go out into the world trying desperately to protect (but not too much!) it from every hurt. Having a child makes you so vulnerable that you can no longer watch or read anything about children that come to harm, because your mind is already a black hole of ‘what ifs’ when it comes to the safety of your child.

So what does that mean for my identity. Who and what am I now?

Identity of self changes over time, of course it does. And with that, so does our voice and the story we’re telling about our lives. Those of you who have been with me since the start, have probably got whiplash from the changes in direction the site has gone under; from business starter, to anxiety sufferer, to mental health survivor, to mother.

To deny that becoming a mother has not only changed me, but also for the better, would be to deny a huge part of me. The part of me that loves to write. Because I can only write what I know, and what I know is that I love being a mum. More than I have ever loved anything.

So what does that mean for the Unmarked Road? Only time will tell whether the site gets a facelift or if I start again completely from scratch. A clean slate (probably the only clean thing for a long time).

But for now I must go and make three different lunches for when the little monster wakes up, because feeding him something other than pickles has become more important than I could have every imagined.

Oh and that Pinterest board? Yes, it has a load of home-sensory ideas. But there are one or two items that hint at an all together different woman. One who still likes to change her hair a few times a year or is a hippy traveller looking for her next adventure.

Because our identity isn’t just one thing, but a puzzle of colourful life experiences that continue to shape who we are.

Valentine’s Day: Why We SHOULD At The Very Least Acknowledge It

Today is a day to celebrate love with that special someone in our lives. It is a day my husband and I don’t celebrate massively; a card, a kiss, a yummy eggs Benedict (my favourite) cooked by Mr J. It is a day that over the commercialised bears and expensive set menus, the message of why we SHOULD at the very least acknowledge it, can get lost. It is a day Mr J and I appreciate how lucky we are to have found each other while reflecting on what could have been if we had previously settled for other partners, ones that didn’t quite fit.

Sure you shouldn’t NEED a day to celebrate your love, but in the madness of every day life it’s nice to have a moment to recognise that finding a life partner is not a given. Those of us who have ‘it’ are blessed, and remembering why it is we chose this person over every other is important, whether on Valentine’s Day or any other.

Most of us have had our share of unsuccessful relationships. Mine were always intense, always serious and ultimately when they ended it was messy, painful and life changing. But I don’t believe that people are bad or toxic. I just believe in bad fits, and in weaknesses that don’t match strengths. I’ve been cheated on, treated like I wasn’t a priority and had my heart-broken. Am I bitter? Absolutely not!

None of the ‘men’ I was with before were right for me, just as I wasn’t right for them.

Valentine's Day

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How My Big News Threw Me Into Disarray

I am working on a more general article on how to deal with huge life altering changes, but for today I thought I’d share some of my own personal feelings.

On Wednesday I shared with you all some of the best news of my life. After 12 long weeks, the emotions of finally being able to see that little face on the ultrasound and meeting our baby for the first time, were truly beautiful and overwhelming. But it doesn’t always start off that way.

Before the scan you don’t have much in the way of proof that there’s an actual baby growing inside of you, and there is this huge part of you that, despite all the sickness and mood-swings and weight gain, is terrified that you’ve made it all up in your head! It is an agonising nearly 3 months, and it is usually during the first trimester that you feel your worst, so not being able to tell everyone to explain why you’re being a tired, temperamental and pretty pathetic lunatic is pretty hard.

On top of that, it doesn’t really sink in that you’re having baby because, as mentioned above, there’s no proof: there’s no bump and you just feel rubbish. It can create an array of mixed emotions and fears.


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Relationships And Love – Cheating And Betrayal: Part 2

I wrote yesterday about how my relationship with an ex taught me how different types of betrayal can have lasting and damaging effects. I used to think cheating was black and white. It isn’t. I learned that it is not just the act of cheating, but the intent behind it, and also how it is handled afterwards that can go on hurting us long after any thoughts of love for a person have evaporated. Here’s the second part of my story, showing how the betrayal ran so much deeper than the physical act of sleeping with another woman. 

After about a year together, Stuart* and I had been arguing worst than normal. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on what was wrong, but something was different. He seemed disconnected. It was enough to urge me to investigate and late one night (after yet another argument), my heart wrenching at the disloyalty of what I was doing, I opened his laptop and started to read his MSN conversation history. After reading a couple, I started to feel like more and more uncomfortable with betraying his trust in this way. There was nothing there! A few nasty messages about me to his friends about me not giving him enough sex, but I was used to that and there was nothing as dramatic as I had feared.

And then, there it was. The conversation I had unknowingly, but instinctively been looking for.

My Birthday - The Day After I Found Out

2 Days Before My 22nd – The Day After I Found Out

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Relationships And Love – Cheating And Betrayal: Part 1

There are many types of betrayal. Ones worse than being cheated on. I know this because having been cheated on, it was in the way it was done and the events leading up to it, that truly haunt me to this day.

In my 3 Minute Memoir yesterday regarding my fiancés stag do, you saw how some old and very difficult emotions resurfaced over the weekend. It reminded me of a dark time with an ex. Even though this particular relationship only lasted a year, it left a wound so deep it is sometimes ripped open by some of the memories I share with you now. Cheating and betrayal often go hand in hand, but don’t always happen at the same time.

Stuart* was different to other guys I’d met. Not instantly attracted to him physically, I was more intrigued by the fact he’d set up his own business at 17 and was at 23 running it successfully. Having come out of my traumatic relationship with Lee* – my first love – Stuart seemed like the exact opposite; had never touched a drug and was driven. After a few dates we embarked on the relationship that I hoped would heal my broken heart. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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