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Divorce Diary – Day 26 Emotions

I have just scared myself writing this. Day 26 already!!! A month since this all happened, probably longer yet it still feels likes days, maybe weeks.
It’s still 5AM and my sleep hasn’t improved in the slightest. In those 26 days I think I have slept beyond 5AM 2-3 times. This has clearly screwed me over in a handful of ways, and more annoyingly, is becoming habit.
Me ? In some aspects everything has changed and others – nothing. The rollercoaster is still there and I’m still onboard clinging on looking for the emergency stop.
The only thing which seems to help is talking. Talking to anyone if I am so blunt about it. Clearly, in the beginning I was reluctant to speak to anyone but a very close circle of friends. Now I have, I have realised that the world willn ot end because I share a sad moment of my life with someone. You can clearly see the people who have been through it respond to you in a different way. I can also clearly see my own reaction by telling them. I think the simplist way to describe it is relief.
There have been a few occasions now, where I have planned a casual chat and few drinks with friends. No agenda, no bashing or probing. Just normal, casual chatting. I had been the one offering thoughts on my situation which were answered honestly and without predujice from whoever I spoke to. That isn’t to say they were just agreeing with me. It is also no coincidence that the times I had slept well was after these chats. I wasn’t divulging any major secret or sticking the knife into, I pause here as I do not know what to write. I would pen ‘wife’ which, technically she is, but it seems wrong. Spouse maybe ? Dunno, feel free to provide me with a suitable response!
Either way I have found talking seems to help for now. I am aware that people may be tiring to my offloading however. I have no evidence to support this, but I have seen other people react in similar ways in different environments tire quickly to ‘drama’ where one person who may clearly be going throught the mill offloads constantly which then irritates others. If you are reading this and know me, then I am sure you understand. Either way, I am conscous of it. I sincirely hope I have said thankyou to all that I have offloaded to because my-god I have appreciated it!
So, other than talking what else has changed ? My moods still rotate quickly, without notice which I try not to effect too much my life. I clearly fail at this which the kids pick up on in an instant. My youngest can read my body language like a book and peeks under my glasses checking for a tear in my eye often. I don’t try and hide it now though. I just squeeze his hand or hug him and tell him it’s OK. He did that last night and told me he was sleeping with me to make sure I’m OK. Kids see things for exactly what they are at times – don’t underestimte them!!
I have now been in contact with a solicitor. I believe most offer 30 mins consultation and advice prior to using them. I did need this as they take the emotion away from the facts. I knew pretty much what I wanted / needed / accepted but the give you an authorititative response with no grey area. You also learn why studying law is profitable. Fixed fee for divirce and a ballpark fee for a financial settlement. This is purely down to how much effort is involved and time they take. RE: divorce, there is a Government website where you can get divorced. This is perhaps a sad reflection of our current times. £550 via the gov.uk route of £1420 via a solicitor. Needless to say I am exploring the online route fully! Then the words decree nisi and decree absolute. I have now learned that the Decree nisi is the start fo the divorce and the Decree Absolute is as the name suggests, the end of it. You apply for a divorce, both parties get sent legal paperwork, if you both agree then the decree nisi is granted. Then it gets processed and if there are no issues the Decree Absolute is granted and you are both single and free to marry. Simple…..
All of this has to be done juggling life and kids and work without losing the plot and whilst communicating with the ex of course in a calm and civil manner. My phone says otherwise but I am getting there.
We have discussed what we both want, we have just about agreed a middle ground, we have to put it into writing and then I have to pay for it (OK i don’t have to but I choose to for the bigger financial picture).
These are all just steps on the journey which can be done. It’s hard but you get used to it.

Divorce Diary – Day 10 Telling people.

So it’s now 9:30pm. England have won 6-1, the country seems happy and its baking hot. An I am in a good place for none of those reasons. The difference is I have took the step to tell people. It started at work last Thursday (It is Sunday now). I had slowly been getting my head around telling people. Rewind 2 weeks and I never opened up to anyone. Since then my world has turned upside down, I couldnt cope, and I was forced to talk. It started with someone in the office. A woman I have worked with for years, got on ok with and was in the right place and the right time when I hit bottom and reached out. It wasnt pretty, I wasnt in control and I blubbered away. There then followed a small group which I confided in. I opened up and they were fantastic. We messaged infrequently. Thankfully there had all seen divorce, knew how cruel it can be and saw exactly what I was going through and where I was. They became my support group and christ I needed it. I learnt very quickly that I could trust them. I cried to them, opened up to them, and was honest with them. I shared my life, emotions and feelings – all things which could be used to tear someone apart. But they didnt judge or react. They saw the broken man in front of them and wanted to help, and they did. They listened, advised and told me it would get better. I didnt believe or see it, but they were right.
That gave me the belief and confidence to tell everyone at work. I spoke to each person individually, with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. I wobbled but I didnt break. It is one step on the path.
A few days later I took the choice to tell a different group of friends I play sport with. This was complicated as both the kids are involved as was mum and I was already aware that telling my side of the story with people mum interacts with goes down like a lead baloon. I asked my eldest about it and he asked if I could tell mum which I did. This also had other consequences though which I didnt realise, I will get to that. So I told the blokes I played with.
Some knew, most didnt, all were shocked. Some offered help, advice and comfort, but they carried on. There was no drama. This helped me ask I was feeling awkward for how to say it, react and wonder if it was my fault. There was beer involved and I relaxed, got home and went to bed.
Small miracle! I woke up at ~ 730AM this morning, albeit with a hangover SLEEP!!! I grabbed a drink of water and lazed watching the news whilst playing on my phone.
I may even have drifted back to sleep. I then saw a message on my phone. It was someone from the club which I didnt see the night before. He had heard and was offering support and was a shock to him. He then said about the stuff on Facebook… Pardon ? was my repsonse.
What had transpired was that as I had asked mum if I could tell people at the club, she had took that as she was telling people too, via a Facebook relationship status saying new relationship with the new man, and then pics out with him the day before which my youngest was in (I was aware that he was going). Well that is opening up to everyone. I had tried to speak to people directly, clearly mum had a different approach. This has consequences though. I had tried to explain to thosew I spoke to that there are 2 sides to any story, but this was a press release, no detail boom. The problem is that people se it and make an instant judgement. Sides are taken and there is no description or explaination never mind an apology. This had an interesting response though. By now (the end of the day) several people have contacted me very clearly unhappy with what they have seen. More sympathy and support had been offered.
There isnt any right or wrong with all of this (that may be debateable at some point in the future) neither of us are perfect and squeaky clean in this. But she has lost some of the people that I think she probably had. I also have been supported by people making their own decisions and backing me. I can’t help but that it does make me happy.
I guess the bigger picture here is it’s easier to say nothing. The fear of being judged, the fear of opening up, the fear of admitting a mistake, the fear of doing something about it. Or maybe the fear of just plain talking.
I have very quickly realised none of these are healthy. I learnt the hard way, and thankfully the people I initally opened up to were fantastic.

Divorce Diary – Start (aka day 9)

So I lie here in bed. Time 04:18 which is fast becoming my new ‘Normal’ wake up time. My current mood has been really happy, sad, then happy already this morning before I put the kettle on and grabbed the laptop.
I was happy for 5 min as soon as I woke up circa 4AM as I had been dreaming. Dreaming of nothing, dreaming of a giant red cabbage juggling – anything, nothing. I recalled this dream in bed for 5 min. And then it hit me. Reality, normality, the hurt and lonliness. I liken it to someone taking a frying pan and smashing it into your face and then trying to physically rip your heart out while you are awake. ‘REMEMBER – YOU ARE IN YOUR BED ALONE AND YOUR WIFE (well former one – complicated) IS IN BED WITH SOMEONE ELSE AND HAS LEFT YOU’ simple as that. It hits you every morning without fail. I have decided to write about it now. Maybe to try and express my emotions, maybe for sympathy, mainly if I don’t, I would be crying into a pillow instead like normal, and I really don’t want to do that any more. So I got up, went downstairs and then was happy for the 2nd time in ~ 8 minutes. Time is 04:05. I actually expected it to be 03:xx. That means I have slepts for maybe an hour more than I have been – that makes me happy.
Sleep is working its evil to me at the minute. I know it, I see it and I can’t do a bloody thing to stop it!
Well, actually I can. Well, I think i can and I read and heard things yesterday which I need to try and put into practise. I work at Solvay, and yesterday they shut 2 of their local plants and instead of work we were all at a safety day. This comprised of 40 minute exercises to make you aware of your everyday life at work and at home. Fire demonstrations, hazard identification, dealing with spills and one session on mental wellbeing. This was the spanner in the works!
I knew this was going to test me, and it did. Not because it was hard, but because it would make me see things which I knew were true and were trying to control. We sat in a circle with a sheet of paper on the chair which we are reading. I have it with me now and are reading it again (I will take a pic of it and attach if I remember).
STRESS MANAGEMENT it reads qith a small questionaire on the first page.
HOW STRESSED WERE YOU – on a scale of 0-10… erm right now, here, probably an 8 or 9 SHIT!
WHAT ARE YOU STRESSED THINIKING ABOUT – being asked directly if I am ok as I know I will burst into tears
There is a box on the form listing the common forms of stress and I am asked to circle them (I didn’t). “Anxiety, Agression, Nausea, Tearful” are all on there and many more – I recognise them all.
It then asks HOW DOES YOUR STRESS AFFECT THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU and Bang there it is. Open wound, finger poking right in and tears in eyes again. I could cynically write ‘Well it makes your wife* fuck off with someone else’ but there is much, much more to it than that – but its also probably true.
We then talk about how to control it – OK now we get somewhere. Some topics are listed. “Nutrition, Medication, Exercise, Sleep, Therapies and Relaxation”
I focus on Nutrition. A poor diet and screw you over, who knew. Too much caffine can over stimulate a stressed system and alcohol can raise hyperactivity and stress. Drink more water.
So as I lie here in bed with my 2nd cup of decaff tea there are ways to help yourself. None of this is rocket science, but now it matters. I smiled ironically reading that back. Who am I kidding, it always mattered.
I drink too much. Have done for years, known about, admitted it but did nothing about it. It has certainly been an issue in my marriage. Maybe my work and marriage made me drink – not sure. But it is a coping mechanism, a quick fix. I have drunk noticably less in the 9 days since D-Day which i will sarcastically call it, when we both finally said we going our own ways and it wasnt going to work. I don’t know why less, but less. I have also eaten less. Reduced appitite etc all signs on this list of a warning light. So ok I now have some remidies in black and white in front of me.
The session went on and we all did some meditation under direction. I took this seriously and could feel emotions changing, but then that screwed me up. I was basically slowing breathing and tensing musciles in my body breathing in, then releasing them breathing out. This stimulates physical, emotional and chemical responses in your body and I could definitely feel them.
I left the session in tears again and thanked the person who led it. The only problem was that the door was open and I was then thinking about everything and by body was responding. My mind responded with anger (again one of the things on the list). I guess this is just one of the stages of dealing with divorce, I hope so and not just the real me. This was transfixed on how could she have made the decision to leave so quickly.
The reality for me it this. Around 5 Jun 18 Sam told me she wasn’t in love with me any more and did’t want to be with me. We argued, walked on eggshells, got drunk, avoided the truth and generally upset each other until on 14 Jun 18 I asked if there was anyone else invloved and got told yes. Bombshell expolodes. D-Day and we both know there is no coming back. 16 Jun 18 I am told she in moving in with said person.
I have dealt (or not) with this as best I have, but yesterday the Anger came out.
How could a normal person decide this in such a short space of time (again there is much, much more to this than a single decision), how can you seemingly go from one happy family to another while I am left crying (or now writing) at 4AM on my own.
The day unfolded with text flying between us, increasingly more agressive if not truthful. As i finally drove home, I was again aware of the effect sleep was playing as I was physically tired as well as mentally.
It was a fullon day and I hadn’t really relaxed. I got home, had a bath and then Sam returned.
The defences were up and I wanted to talk (probably rant is a better term – but this shit needed to come out).
We have both always said the kids come first, but you have to keep telling yourself that. I wanted to chat out of the house but Sam didn’t. We went into a room, door windows shut and talked, then shouted and my anger took over. I don’t know what I hoped to achieve, maybe get how hurt I was over, maybe hurt her back by shouting. None of it worked. We both got upset and I stomped off threatening to change the locks. Sam followed and we shouted in front of the kids. We were both out of line with that and the kids get effected. My eyes are watering now writing this.
Thankfully were are both adults and sensible enough to do this correctly and we drove off in the middle of nowhere and finished the argument. Well it wasn’t and argument it was me ranting at the person who had hurt me. Getting it out and showing her. It needed to happen, but then the evening was spent fixing the damage casued to the kids. Thankfully, I have 2 brilliant ones who can be honest and open to. But that was really a low point of my life.
The highlight of the day was chatting to my Eldest who is 17. I talked to him about my emotions and not being able to handle them and how it effects him and his brother. I asked for a hug and he gave me the best hug ever. He doesn’t show emotion and is too much like me it scares me. A Proper hug.

New Toy – Drone

Following a very fortunate Christmas, I was lucky enough to be presented with a DJI Phantom 3 Drone last Christmas Day.

Following a very short learning curve, I was instantly hooked!  Essentially the drone is a piece of cake to fly and can give some extremely impressive pictures with little to no effort – just a keen eye and some some clear weather is needed!

I was very lucky to find some crisp, cold weather to get my first decent flight around a church nearby. The resulting images and video can be seen below.

vlcsnap-2016-12-28-11h38m11s064Youtube video here

I then took to flying when possible, usually over weekends due to light and weather.  I have been particularly impressed with what I have achieved when mother nature has complied!

 

Is the BTCC being de-valued by a lack of communication and inconsistencies

I returned from the recent #BTCC weekend from Oulton Park having watched a cracking Sunday of racing and nursing some tender skin from too much sun which I am probably not alone with.
My main concern however, is how (from a fan’s perspective) there seems to be strange things going on which, on face value at least, seem not quite right.

I have 2 gripes following the weekend.
1) Engine boost adjustments.
2) There seems to be a re-emergence of tapping whilst racing which has become tolerated.

I must iterate that I am speaking prom the fan viewpoint here. I have no doubt there are justifications for most of the issues, but ‘we’ as fans see very little of them which in turn fuels mis-information and witch hunts against teams / drivers etc. I am also an engineer are like to understand how and why things work.


So point 1 – boost. As FP1 neared, I heard an announcement over the circuit tannoy system that the Subaru BMR team had received a boost increase following a new manifold fitted to the engine this weekend.  As Saturday progressed it was clear that the Subaru team was flying which resulted in Colin Turkington on pole and Jason Plato not far behind. Obviously something had improved massively on the car compared to previous rounds. I had a few conversations with people associated with the teams and press which proved enlightening.
The Subaru engine had a new manifold developed for the weekend and, as a result, received a drop in boost. This was disputed (very loudly by the team and drivers) and was re-instated for qualifying. There was also a bulletin issued prior to the weekend saying that there may be further increases based on how Saturday had progressed. Obviously with 2 cars in the top 5 this was not going to happen!
Now my understanding regarding the manifold and initial drop, was that this was done after Thruxton so around 2 weeks prior to Oulton, however as a fan, I saw no press relating to it.
I also understand that TOCA privately review all data regarding engines which are independently tested and analsyed.  The results provide any adjustment of boost levels after regular, periodic time periods.
This makes perfect sense and maintains a level of equality from a power train point of view. Also, this data is very sensitive and should never be public.
Where I feel TOCA don’t do themselves any favours, is how and when this information is communicated to the public as this fuels much of the negative feelings towards teams and drivers.
I put my hand up to say I a have a small amount of information which can be mis-leading. But part of this is what is fed or mis-fed from TOCA / teams and drivers.
On face value, you could argue a large team with high profile drivers and large manufacturer backed support were keen to see their team and sponsors in the limelight.
I also think Dan Welsh would have loved the same degree of attention and public support in the 2 years he must have been pulling teeth out trying to develop an engine in a similar vain but I didn’t see it and wonder how level the playing field is.

Much in the same way I criticise management for some of the decisions they appear to make in my own work, I feel much of this could be solved with better communication of facts and reviews which, in turn produce changes and effect races / teams and ultimately championships. I also admit I may be barking mad and barking up the wrong tree, but this is my viewpoint which I feel am not alone with speaking to many over the weekend.


Now point 2 – Driving standards and associated punishments (if any)
I read late on Sunday evening after the racing had finished that several reprimands had dished out Oulton Reprimands
I watched the screen infield for race 1 and commented at the time that Jason Plato appeared to run into the Honda of Daniel Lloyd into the hairpin to gain the place, the post race result appearing to be a meager fine and 3 points, but no change to the result. Now if Lloyd braked early resulting in the contact then there is no fault to Jason, but where have the points and fine come from ? Was this a slap on the wrist and a telling off but we are happy to have you back on the podium ? It does look very lenient!
Then in race 2 there seemed to be a continuation of the feud between Josh Cook and Matt Neal as Cook appeared to have a rear bumper hanging off and Neal with front damage.
There have been more issues in the previous rounds and also last year which seemed lenient compared to previous years.
I am not a fan of the ‘bad old days’ in pre NGTC specifications where much of the driving was dirty and push to pass was allowed and you had to go a long way for a reprimand. There were several drivers who took full advantage of this with Messrs Plato and Neal top of the list. Thankfully, this was cracked down on and clean racing encouraged and enforced for a number of years.
Unfortunately, this seems to have lapsed slightly of recent and more importantly seems to have become inconsistent to boot!
Please Alan Gow / Toca / Technical Experts, lets tighten up the controls and raise the standards of driving for the series. This can only be good for the future of the series and teaching such cracking young drivers we currently have that clean racing reaps the rewards of hard work and that we are not looking for stock car drivers!

BTCC, a growing boy and his adventures in his suit!

You may recall a previous blog I made a few years back about Craig (from hereon in Craig is now referred to as Craigo following the Fosters adverts which aired a while back and resulted in his name unofficially changing).
Well Craigo is now 7 and still has a love for motorsport and his Bentley race suit almost fits him now!
In the time since I last wrote, both my wife and myself had become members of the Rob Austin Racing Owners club following various Birthday presents to each other. From the membership of this group, I was fortunate to win a pair of tickets to Croft circuit which one of the members had donated (thanks Nadine :) ).
As raceday arrived, we made the journey from the Midlands up the A1 arriving at the circuit just at race one was underway. Keen to offer thanks for the tickets I sought out the RAROC members who were quickly spotted on the outside of the Hawthorn Bend and we were soon welcomed into the group.
RAROC Croft
It soon became apparent that the group were friendly, helpful and erm… how do I say this politely… a touch mad !
Craigo was happily sat with his new friends who were talking and playing. Obviously, with boys this usually escalates which is where the following picture emerges.
Craigo Hanging Around
I am not quite sure what exactly started this, however I have a suspicion it may have followed Craigo telling his new friends his favorite driver was still Matt Neal which is something of a taboo for RAR fans! Needless to say, Craigo was bonding well with his new friends and spent the whole day sitting, playing and occasionally playing rough as boys do (I do apologise as Craigo was a touch over exuberant at times).Craigo

With is being raceday, Craigo was again on the hunt for more pictures and signatures for his suit, with particular focus on Andy Priaulx and Josh Cook. A short walk to the back of the garages resulted in the following pictures.
DSC_0190

DSC_0189

Craigo was once again over the moon, which as a parent you cannot underestimate just how much can matter.
I would like to thank the people who made all this happen and continue to make the BTCC special for adults and kids.
Josh Cook who was busy when I asked but still was prepared to spare the time to pose for a picture prior to the start of race 2.
To Andy and specifically his wife Jo Priaulx (I didn’t realise you were his wife until afterwards) who spoke to Craigo so nicely and helpfully.

As a slight side note I would also link to this lovely picture which I saw which Colin Turkington tweeted.

As a parent I understand and appreciate fully the time the drivers and teams take for the fans!