Sometimes I watch my boys playing with their toy blocks. The eldest will carefully place one on top of the other, strategically, methodically. In a couple of minutes he has created a perfect tower, strong and steady. Then, like clockwork, the youngest will bound over and smash it to bits. The saboteur!
The bricks fall and they both giggle at the hilarity of this process. I understand the youngest’s urges, I really do.
The problem is it’s not so hilarious when it’s your life you’re destroying.
Part of my depression over the years has included impulsive behaviour and a sort of self sabotage – especially when my tower is strong and steady. Everything going ok now? Great – what can I do to royally feck it up?
It is usually when I am at my most successful or happy when I can choose to topple my life over.
Diets – I sabotage them all. Relationships – I can walk away and not look back. Jobs – I can be Head of English one minute and the next minute not. Even writing!
Great writing opportunity? Ooh let’s set fire to the pages!
It usually follows a pattern of being strong for a long time and feeling the fight or flight creeping up on you. And for me I guess my impulse is to always fly. (One day I’ll fly away, leave all this to yesterday).
However, there is one thing I have never sabotaged or felt the need to – and that’s my family.
We are a team, a unit. My boys keep me striving, they keep me looking up, breathing and trudging through the quick sand. I would never stamp on their sandcastles. My irrational impulses stop right there.
And yes I might sometimes shout at my husband “Well if you don’t want to be with a nutcase then maybe you should marry someone else!” But he knows I don’t mean it – and he tells me everyday he loves me for my oddities.
I learned something astounding this week too. You might have been impulsive, you might have thought the damage had been done – but if you admit your mistakes and do a bit of damage limitation – colleagues, friends and even employers can surprise you.
And slowly, you can start building your tower back up, only higher this time.