She married her true soul mate. The one she had been waiting for. The one for whom she had turned down the others who'd come before. As soon as she had met him, she knew he was the one. Despite initial reservations, to his charms she did succumb. 'Be grateful for what you've got.' Weekends travelling to see him, to and fro on South West trains. Lunch in child-friendly restaurants, pushing the buggy through the rain. One of two other females, quite a challenging, complex game. Hoping, helping, supporting, though she found it a bit insane. 'Be grateful for what you've got.' At the altar, on one condition that her dad had asked him to accept, 'Don't make her wait for babies, treat her right and don't neglect to remember all she does to raise your child whom she protects from harm, often to her detriment with no acknowledgment nor respect.' 'Be grateful for what you've got.' But, no babies came, month after month for the yo-yo, part-time mother. Though sadness and confusion grew, she kept on caring for another's child who made the pain much worse, Often she needed to recover from the consuming visits of the child she'd promised to love forever. 'Be grateful for what you've got.' The mounting grief would swell then ebb, though she rarely complained of this feeling. No, she didn't speak of the emptiness left by her step-daughter's abrupt leaving. The tension built as the couple tried for her own baby she dreamt of conceiving. But when nothing happened time and time again she spent her nights silently grieving. 'Be grateful for what you've got.' Not many knew of this inner struggle for each day she reapplied her smile. Lipstick in place and hair done well, no cracks to betray her trial. She tackled life with positivity, stayed busy, worked hard and with style. But the secret stone in her solar plexus was dragging her further into exile. 'Be grateful for what you've got.' Her marriage, by now heavy with struggle, burdened by guilt, grief and tension hit a new and major crisis that rendered her bed bound with depression. She'd spent years fighting to stay strong, conquering fear and apprehension, but crippled by anxiety, now she lay staring at the ceiling of her bedroom. 'Be grateful for what you've got.' Extreme exhaustion and panic attacks are not a pleasant sight. Frequent episodes could paralyse her both day and through out the night. Uncontrollable tears, pains and body shakes made her ashamed and gave her such a fright that she wondered if she'd finally lost her mind, but though it was close, she hadn't yet, not quite. 'Be grateful for what you've got.' Slowly, the pills she took began to help. The psychologist was essential too. Together they rebuilt their marriage, acknowledging all the tests they had been through. Step by step, she regained her strength, searching for fresh hope in something new that could help her once again feel positive, not so sad, alone and blue. 'Be grateful for what you've got.' Now when asked how she is getting on, she speaks out more honestly. It’s healthy to share the truth with others not just a few friends and family. It takes courage to speak of personal struggles, through it we can gain such liberty. But just be prepared to forgive that most infuriating phrase of complete stupidity, 'Be grateful for what you've got.'
'I must use my core muscles. Just two minutes more.' I tell myself repeatedly whilst upside down on our bedroom floor. For stability I've wedged myself between the radiator and the door. It's quite a challenge admittedly and actually quite a bore. The top of my head's now throbbing and my muscles they now ache I try to cycle with more gusto, but my arms begin to shake. You must think, 'What's she up to? What a palaver, for goodness sake!' But I'm desperate and this could really work. There's an awful lot at stake. I visualise the Olympics, the champions whom I've seen who've persevered and mastered the perfect gymnastics routine. Their mental strength is astounding. They forge forward toward their dream. I'm inspired, but tired and starkers. Our 'Olympic games' are a bit obscene! Back to the frantic cycling. I pump my legs whilst still on my head. My husband looks over with pity, tucked up cosily on his side of our bed. All he can see are my legs akimbo, thankfully not my face that's beetroot red. I know he thinks all this is futile, although that's not what he's actually said. So I call out to him whilst puffing "Baby, this time it might really work!" I've always tried to remain positive, but it's humiliating. I feel an utter burk. I wish we could make love more spontaneously, be free to sleep, cuddle or go berserk. But behind the intimacy of our relationship, the pressures of duty and functionality lurk. All too often my fertile, ovulation window dictates our passionate habits. The looming shadow of obligation means we have to get at it like rabbits. Bleary eyed and numb with exhaustion, stressed by work and at the end of our wits, we summon the energy to get our jig on, not to lose faith in these fruity antics. During the first few years, there were candles, a little music and some fairy lights. I used to bother to shave my hairy legs, now they're enough to cause a fright! I used to be the epitome of Aphrodite. A temptress, transforming myself at night. Now I leave my thermal socks on to keep my feet warm and legs out of sight! You would certainly think that I'm crackers if you could see my butt in the air. Each month I'm clutching at fewer straws, seven years and still not getting anywhere. Perhaps it is sadly pointless, this often forced tragicomedy affair. But one day we might hit the jackpot and it'll be gymnastics that do get us there!