Getting back on track

I have done two things this weekend that are getting me back on track.

Firstly, I have made a decision to do something that I first did 19 years ago.  When my then husband found out what I was doing he was furious. He thought I was trying to do something to him. He believed I was set on ruining his life.  He just couldn’t see that what I was doing was for me and the children. I was taking care of us. I was making it possible to stay in our marriage. So what was this thing that I had done? I went to Al Anon. For those fortunate enough not to know what that is. Al Anon is a worldwide group set up for the families of alcoholics. Just like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) it is anonymous but instead of helping alcoholics with their addiction, supporting them as they manage without alcohol.

Al Anon is a support group for the wives/husbands/parents/siblings and children of alcoholics.

Al-Anon Family Groups hold regular meetings where members share  their own experience of living with alcoholism. Al-Anon does not offer advice or counselling, but members give each other understanding, strength and hope.

When I took the decision to go to Al Anon, all those years ago, I was in a deep despair. I was pregnant with my fourth child, my husband was drinking heavily and our finances were in trouble. I wanted desperately to leave but I had no money and nowhere to go. If I couldn’t go, then I had to do something to make life easier.  First I sought help from an alcohol and drug abuse councellor. He told me that as I was not the one with the addiction he couldn’t help me but he advised that I had to make a choice. Either leave my husband or if I chose to stay then I must learn to take care of myself and my children and let my husband look after himself. This I actually found easier to do that I had expected. For years his drinking had been the centre of life for all of us not only him.

Anyway, I went along to weekly meetings for about six weeks before he cottoned on to where I had been going. During these weeks I learnt about The Serenity Prayer which has become my Creed. Everything that I learnt there stayed with me and helped me to get through the next ten years.

Recently it was suggested to me that maybe Al-Anon could help me in my current situation.  The person who suggested had no idea that I had been before (why should they). I did explain that I had found the meetings a great help in the past. Then I got to thinking about it. I have been coping with the situation with my current husband  but maybe now is a good time to go back to meetings. Maybe I will learn more, perhaps there have been changes in the help and advice that can be given since that time in 1995. I looked up when and where the local meetings are. Yesterday I was in town and walked to the side road where the meetings are held just to acquaint myself  with the venue.

This time I have been upfront about it and told Owl that I intend to go to meetings, I shall be going for my own benefit.

Secondly, a few months ago I took on a proofreading course, partly because I felt that it might help me with my writing. Also there is a chance of adding to my income.  I am midway through the course. I had not touched it for a few weeks for various reasons. This weekend I promised myself that I would get back to it and this afternoon that is what I have done.

Oh Brian

It feels like a life time away now but in reality it was only 3 years ago (just before I met Owl). I was single and chatting here and there on a few dating websites. This particular Saturday afternoon in early March I was chatting when I received an invitation to chat to Brian. He asked me what I was looking for, I told him that I was just browsing to see who was out there. I wasn’t seriously looking as I was quite happy being single. ( I was only on there that afternoon for something to do).

We quickly moved from the site chat to msn where we chatted for hours. Again later in the evening we chatted again. We seemed to be hitting it off.

He told me that he lived in Birmingham, he had his own ‘Real Estate’ business and often worked in Europe and Scandinavia. I asked him questions about where in he lives in Birmingham, mentioning a few areas that I have heard of. He was very vague. He told me that he was divorced and has one son who he sees whenever he can. Within days he was telling me that he loved me and asked if I loved him. I told him that no matter how well we got on online, I couldn’t say that I loved him before we had even met.

Brian told me that he wanted to move to be with me, he wanted me to look for a house for us. He was also going to buy me a new car a Nissan Duke. I am sorry but if someone loves me and wants to buy me a car surely they would ask which car I would like not tell me what they would buy. A Nissan Duke is not a car that I would ever choose, I think they are ugly. (my apologies to anyone who does have one).

I didn’t do anything about looking for a house as I didn’t take that seriously. Why would someone I had never met make that kind of commitment?

Sometimes when we were chatting he would ask if we could chat on webcam. Yes I was in favour of this as I wanted to see who I was talking to. The picture was never clear but I could see that I was chatting to the man in the photo he had sent me. Sometimes we chatted online during my lunch break. These lunchtime chats were very odd as they appeared to be the kind of chat you get when someone has translated what they wish to say from another language. Stilted and grammatically incorrect. Yet the evening conversations were more flowing. I realised that I was not chatting to just one person.

He began to push me about looking for a house. Now I know I can be naive at times but by now I was convinced that this was a scam. I decided to play along and see where  this would go. I printed out about 80 pages of chat, just in case I wneeded to go to the police at any time. I lost count of the times he asked me about how much I earn. How many bank accounts I have etc. I had made it clear from the outset that I was living on very little money.  Eventually I looked at some houses around the £200,000 to £300,000 mark. I sent him the links for these houses saying that I would not want to make the choice alone, if he was planning to live there he should have a say. He told me to aim higher, I asked him what price bracket he wanted to look at. He told me  £900,000+. I found a few, and sent him the links, he chose one that was about 1/2 mile from where I was living.

He then told me that he was going to go away to Africa on business he wanted to buy a diamond mine. (or maybe it was a gold mine). He would then buy a jewellers shop in London and name it after me. Over the next week or so he told me he was busy with looking for the right mine to buy. I did some research on the mines, before asking him a few questions. He was as vague as ever.

The next step was soon apparent, he needed to pay for the house he was buying for us but would be away in Africa, so he was putting his accountant in contact with me to make the arrangements.He had found the mine he wanted to buy and was going over there to finalise the purchase. (Hmm that happened very fast). He gave me his accountant’s name Joe Cole (no not the footballer), who happened to be in Norway at the time.

I then received an email from Joe, I didn’t respond, I just waited. After a day I had a message from Brian, had I heard from Joe? I pretended that I hadn’t. After a while I told him that I had found it in my junk mail. What I didn’t say was that I had already drafted my reply but was delaying sending it.

Hello i am Joe Coleman financier to Mr Brian Boucher. He asked me to contact you so i can know how he will settle the payment of a house he is purchasing  Please contact me back when you get this mail so i can know how to proceed with it okay

Yours faithful
Joe

Dear Joe

thank you for your email, I had been looking out for it as Brian had told me to expect to hear from you. 
Please excuse my ignorance but I do not know what it is that you require from me. As far as I am aware the transaction to purchase a house is to be arranged by yourself on behalf of Brian. Since I have no involvement in this transaction I fail to see what you need from me. 
 
However I am happy to assist you in any way I can.
Yours Sincerely 
Apparently he needed my bank details so that he could send me the money so that I could buy the house for Brian. He need to know how I would prefer to receive the money, cheque or bank transfer?
I declined to answer.
A few days later I had a message from Brian.
I told him that I was very hurt.
Why was I hurt?
Because he thought I would be stupid enough to fall for his scam.
Surprisingly he cut me off.
A couple of weeks later I saw him online so pestered him to talk to me.
Eventually he did.
I can’t remember what I said to him but it ended with him telling me to ‘go away.’
And there was me thinking that he loved me!
I reported him to the dating site giving his username, his email address and that the email address for Joe Cole.
I never heard any more.
I just hope that he has not been able to con any other women, although I expect he has. When I look back at how that whole situation panned out over about 6 weeks, I wonder how any woman can be taken in by men like this, but perhaps if you are very lonely and looking for love you might be less aware. Maybe if I had been desperate to find love I might have been more susceptible.
I will post his photo on here once I find it, as it is on another computer.
 Brian Boucher
Have any of you or your friends had experience of  a scam like this?

Well oiled

This evening Owl and I took a trip out to do a few chores. First we went to the recycle point at one of the local supermarkets. You get points on your card if you recycle glass bottles, cans and plastic bottles. However when we got there the recycle machine was out of operation. There were however some temporary bottle and can banks. Between us we managed to get rid of all that we had brought with us in about 5 minutes.

Following this we went across town to a well known DIY store. We wanted to get some lengths of decking to make repairs to our decking at home. We selected one of those flat bed trolleys, much easier to control than the normal shopping type trolley we used last time.

We knew what we wanted so headed straight to the far left back corner of the store. We were also looking for a rainwater diverter for one of our water butts. The plumbing dept appeared to be for internal plumbing only. Perhaps the piece we want will be in the garden section, after all that’s where the guttering should be in my opinion.  We found the decking we wanted, selected 6 lengths. I didn’t believe we could comfortably transport more  than that at once.

Owl left me in charge of the trolley whilst he went in search of the other items he wanted.  After a few moments I was bored of loitering in the wood section. I began to push the trolley through the centre aisle. I walk slowly, taking my time waiting for Owl to appear. My trolley starts to squeal. A very loud high pitch squeal. There is no way that I could creep up on my husband. The whole store can hear my progress as I move with my trolley. It is very embarrassing but it occurs to me that there was no squeal until the wood was loaded onto the trolley.

Owl returns to me and we continue to make our way through the store. I am just starting to say that maybe we should re distribute the weight of the wood into two piles, when one of the store employees rushes over with a can of WD40 in his hand.

‘You have the squeaky one then.’

He sets about spraying all four wheels. However when I start to move again the trolley is still squeaking. The employee again sprays the wheels, this time on the inside. Again I begin to move off, but the squeak is still there, a little more muted but still present. Now, because I have a slight hearing loss, unusually I can hear high pitches better than low pitches. (Most people are the other way around). I am finding this squeak very unpleasant. I try pushing the trolley whilst sticking my fingers in my ears. (Not easy).

‘Maybe we should split the wood into two piles, redistribute the weight?’ I hear myself  saying.

Before anyone can say another word the employee has grabbed 3 of the lengths of wood and moved them to the other side of the trolley so that we now have 2 equal stacks. Hey what do you know, the trolley has stopped squeaking.

‘Can you tell us where we can find one of these water diverters?’

Owl asked the employee, holding up the old one he had brought with us.

‘Try the garden centre.’

‘That’s what my wife said.’

How smug did I feel ?

I left Owl browsing around the store whilst I went through the checkout and loaded up the car. Before settling down with my book to wait for my husband to reappear.

I couldn’t help having a small giggle at the thought of a mere woman out witting to men. I just knew that if the trolley only started to squeak after the wood was loaded that must be the problem not the wheels.

D is for daughter

I have been feeling the need to write something new on here. What could I write about? I didn’t have a clue, then I remembered that back in February 2013 I came up with the idea, following something that Pete Denton had written. Whenever I don’t have a subject to write about I will take the next letter of the alphabet and write a post using that letter. Starting with this post here then going on to letters B and C. Now comes the turn of D. Each time I said to myself D is for … I just kept coming up with the word Daughter. Why could that be? There are many other words I could have chosen but Daughter is the one that I keep hearing in my mind.

Daughter, well I am one. I hope I am a good one although I have never been the perfect daughter, I do try to be the best that I can be. I see some of my friends posting messages to their wonderful daughters on facebook. I don’t have any daughters of my own. I do have one step daughter though, Missy M. Over the last few years since I met Owl, I have had many skype chats with Missy M (who lives in California with her mother and brother and their new family). Last year I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in California for our honeymoon. During that time we spent several days with Missy M, which enabled me to get to know my new step daughter without having a computer screen between us. Five weeks later Missy M and family were in the UK for three weeks so again we were able to spend time with them.

I particularly enjoyed her first visit to our home. She was amazed to see so many things that were familiar to her as well as things that were new to her. She loved our home, she also got on well with my sons, now her step brothers. Poor girl now has one brother and six step brothers and one step sister. Its a good thing that both her parents were past having new babies with their new partners.

I have also come to the realisation in recent months that although none of my boys have married they do have girlfriends who they feel will be their life partners. Prodigal and Model have been together for 10.5 years and although they don’t have that piece of paper that makes it official they are in a committed relationship. I guess that makes Model my daughter in law in all but name.  In a few weeks time Prodigal and Model are moving to London with two of their friends. The house/flat viewings begin this week. Prodigal will be able to get more work in London and hopefully Model will find more opportunities in the fashion industry once they are in the big smoke.

Statto and his girlfriend (who has just qualified as a primary school teacher) will also begin viewings for a new home together, with another couple, in south London, in a few weeks. Whilst Statto and Miss Effervescent have been together a little under a year they already believe that they are a match made in chemistry.

Not to be out done by his elder brothers, Pug and his Princess, have plans to live together next year (their third year at Uni). This year they feel they must concentrate on their studies. They will be living in different student houses in Oxford this year but still try to spend time together when they are neither studying nor working. He has no doubts that Princess will one day become his wife.

It seems that although I don’t have any daughters I do have three young ladies, whom I can consider to be my daughters in law. Not forgetting the lovely Missy M who is my step daughter.

I hope that in the years to come I shall get on as well with my ‘daughters’ as my mother does with my sisters in law.

 

Text talk

Yesterday evening Pug and Skater were discussing text messages from the other parent.

Apparently he never uses punctuation which makes his messages more difficult to understand. Pug tried reading out his father’s latest text message exactly as it was written. Not only was he out of breath at the end but it still didn’t make a lot of sense. However they had got the gist of what they needed to know. They might be playing golf (pitch and putt) with him one day next week depending on Tony. They don’t know who Tony is but never mind.

Anyway the upshot of this is that I commented that I always use punctuation in my text messages. This was greeted with the response that everybody does. I beg to differ on that one. Some people, and I don’t just mean youngsters, use text speak for any written format. However my sons assure me that all their friends use punctuation and none of them  use ‘text talk’ except for the occasional LOL or FFS or WTF.

I am proud that not only do my boys know how to use the English language as it should be used but they also mix with young men and women who also have a good grasp of our language and don’t abuse its use.

The journey

I have not been on here for a few weeks, firstly life in general was getting in the way. Then I set out on a journey that I had never expected to take. I couldn’t write about it at the time but now I feel that as that particular journey has reached its end, I can now write about it after the fact.

The journey was a personal one involving my work. If inadvertently I offend anyone involved who might happen to read this. Please know that no offence is intended. This is merely my stance on the journey that I took.

I work in an office (not huge but it has doubled in size in the 7 years I have been there). In the department I work we have a Manager, Supervisor and four staff (one p/t). Recently our Supervisor applied for a more senior position in another part of the office. He was successful. He had been in his present position for many years. For some years now I have covered for him when he is on leave. At first the were many discussions behind closed doors. Would a new Supervisor be appointed or would his responsibilities be divided between those of us left?

I gave much consideration as to whether I would want to be the new Supervisor if one was needed. I knew that I could manage the work, but would I want the added responsibility, the added pressure? Now, I like and admire the Manager of our dept, however, she does have a trust problem. She doesn’t trust anyone else to do anything without her checking it. I happen to know that she admires the way I come in and get on with my work without having to constantly ask questions. For this reason I was unsure that I would cope with her constant questions and interference.

This said I told myself that, I still have 15 years before I can retire, she only has 3. Would I be able to manage 3 years? Well maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as I anticipate. On the other hand do I want to stand still for the next 15 years, doing something I have already done for 7 years.

This morning I saw this which I felt was rather apt.

F E A R I chose to do the latter.

When the time came I duly prepared my CV (the first in 7 years), I took my time getting it exactly how I wanted. (printer problems included) but finally it was ready.

I handed in my CV not knowing who else was applying. Then I found out that there were three of us to be interviewed, myself one of my colleagues and an unknown person. We had a week to prepare a 10 minute presentation on our ideas for setting up Telesales within our office.

Despite knowing that my manager and I have a mutual liking and respect for each other, I knew that this was going to be a one horse race, and I was not that horse.

Knowing that a) I’m not the right horse, b) I have never in my life had to put together a presentation. c) I am totally clueless when it comes to setting up and or running a telesales operation.

I thought about doing the first … forget everything and run. I could take the easy option and withdraw my application. I could sentence myself to another 15 years of not progressing. Don’t get me wrong I have enjoyed my job, I have been very lucky in that respect but the last couple of years things have not been quite the same and I can feel myself becoming stale. I don’t get the same job satisfaction that I did have.

I am not a quitter so I took up the challenge, I decided to face everything and rise.

I made discrete enquiries, I sought advice from anyone I felt could help me. My evenings were spent on google searching for relevant information. My weekend was spent putting together my presentation and going over and over what I wanted to say, until I was happy that I had done the best that I could.

My Interview went well, I was nervous but managed to keep my composure throughout the hour I was in there. I was feeling good in myself that day, I had made an effort with my appearance and felt good both on the inside and out. There was nothing more I could do.

I had to wait days before I found out whether I had reached the end of my journey or was I about to start an even bigger journey. When the news came that I had not been successful, I was fine with that. I was probably more relieved than anything. My journey had ended but the main thing was that I had had the courage to make the journey in the first place.

Going on this journey has made me realise that I need new challenges. Maybe there will be other opportunities for me to shine. Perhaps there will be other challenges for me to rise to, I am not afraid. The next time a new journey presents it self to me I won’t be afraid.