Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Dear MCI Family

Dear MCI Family

Where do I begin?

I wanted to write to you to say thank you. I wanted to think back on this time last year and breathe a very big sigh of relief that I'm not still there.

I am writing this letter on the second day of my first reading week within the warm, caring arms of you, my loving MCI Family. The last time I was experiencing my first reading week at university, I was spending every morning not wanting to get out of bed, crying my way through the day and not sleeping at night. I was exhausted but unable to sleep. Sad but unable to say why. Crying and unable to stop. Wanting to breathe but finding my airways were tightly closed with a big 'NO ENTRY' sign plastered slap bang in the centre. This time last year my mind was filled with questions and thoughts buzzing backwards and forwards like a swarm of bees knocked down from their comfortable home with no clear idea about what direction they needed to go in. No idea what they were doing. Where they should go. Just like me. I was surrounded by friends and family that wanted to help but didn't know how and, on top of it all, I was in a relationship that I spent more time crying over and feeling anxious about than smiling over, trapped in a metaphorical (although in some ways literal) room with a man who held the key and lacked interest in letting me go for my own happiness...

This time last year, I was miserable.

That smile....or maybe...
Now, I am smiling. I am going to bed at night not dreading the sun rising and not feeling like my pulse is running a marathon while my legs are nailed into the ground. I am lying in bed at night, reading myself to sleep and waking up in the morning not panicking...well...not as much at least...about the day ahead and the things I've got to get done. I'm still anxious, yes, but that's a part of me and I know that will never disappear completely. Butterflies still find my tummy a warm and comfortable home to fly in circles around and about as I make my way through the reading for the next day or the week ahead. The difference is, I'm ok. I'm happy. 10 months and counting of anti-anxiety medication and CBT later and I'm interested in life and the things around me again. This time last year I was trying to force myself to look at the pile of books in front of me and feel an urge to read them and analyse their contents like there's no tomorrow...I was sitting with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach reading a book I wanted nothing more than to read for pleasure and yet not being able to enjoy it. I was looking at essay titles and thinking:



Now, I'm interested. I'm looking at my reading and the chapters in my textbook and reading those for pleasure (nerd!). I'm looking at the essay titles and thinking:

'How the hell am I going to get everything I want to say into only 2000 words?!'

I'm reading lectures for pleasure! Someone take my temperature!
I'm spending the majority of my conversations with my mum (and anyone else who will listen) telling them all about child development and why Montessori is the best. I'm finding myself babysitting or visiting family and watching the children I spend time with with a completely new set of eyes - obviously not literally, I actually really like my eyes - and texting my new group of friends manically to tell them how I just managed to get a child to respond to me because I applied what we'd been talking about in class...jeez, the more I write about this, the dorkier I sound....urgh, who cares! At least I'm happy!

And there's more! I've got friends! I mean...I guess I kind of had friends the last time but it was different. Yes I still keep in contact with a handful and yes, I'm glad that I met them but this time...this time, I really get the people I'm around. We're on the same page not just in the same book. We're similar. I'm spending 3 days a week with a bunch of lovely ladies, gorgeous girlies, wonderful women (I'm pretty proud of all that alliteration, see a term of English Literature did come in handy for me) who all share my interest. They all love children. One even has a child. From the day that I met them, all of 6 weeks and a day ago, I felt at home. I felt I could be myself and that I didn't need to worry. I felt I could relax.

Because now I can, and will, dream big and nobody's going to stop me!
And there's more!

This time last year, I would have occasionally come across a member of staff, during the rare eight or so hours of contact time I had with them a week. I would sit in a lecture hall with 200 other students and feel stupider and stupider by the second. Off I would go to a smaller room to sit and talk, feeling stupider and stupider by the second...

'You didn't understand ANY of it?'


Then back I would crawl to my room where on my bed I would lie or at my desk I would sit (because let's face it sometimes you've got to fake it before you make it....or something) and there I would cry.


Now I go into a small college, with the 15 or so people on my course and I go upstairs. I drop my coat off in my locker and I go into the common room where the same friendly faces of the early bird crew greet me every day. I might make myself a cup of tea or just sit on the sofa and chat to the people around me. Then at 9:30 I head downstairs to the classroom. I sit next to a friend and we spend the next few hours watching cute videos of babies, making colourful mind maps and looking things up in books. We chat about children, our experiences, and  we throw out ideas. At the halfway-through-the-morning mark, we go back upstairs and grab a cup of tea and a biscuit from our cute little class biscuit jar. Back downstairs we go and the videos, chats and colouring pens continue until lunch. The afternoon is the same. Different topic, same idea. Always with a break for tea and a chocolate digestive half way through. 4:30 and we pack up our stuff and I head to the station with my new friend and travel buddy Hannah and off we head home. I spend my evenings cooking, typing up some notes and doing some re-reading before Netflix (what I'm going to do when I finish Gilmore Girls I have no idea!), book and bed. All with a smile.

A smile I keep on Mondays and Tuesdays as I walk 6 minutes down the road to an adorable Montessori nursery filled with 16 gorgeous, tiny humans full of excitement about the day ahead. Excitement that they are free to explore and to learn new things and that nobody is sitting them on a carpet or behind a table and telling them what to do. Excitement when they achieve something new and instantly want to put it in their folder ready to take home at the end of the day. Excitement that they can do things by themselves and that, if and when they need help, the adults are there. Excitement that I'm there, that I'm new. On Mondays and Tuesdays I may not have my MCI family but I have a family of practitioners and 16 two and a half to 4 year old children showing me how it's all done. Wherever I go and wherever I look,  I've got a new family, people who want to help and to keep that smile on my face.

Even this week, as I've sat in my room at my desk or in Starbucks with my laptop in front of me, my tutor has been responding to my emails almost instantly and my MCI family have been on the end of the phone, our Maria Montessori Fangroup on Whatsapp alive as ever.

I'm no longer sitting alone in my room wondering if anyone around me even knows or cares how I'm feeling or what I'm doing. I'm no longer trying to memorize my student number because I'm starting to face the reality that the people 'teaching' me only know me by that string of digits and that my name doesn't matter. I'm no longer wondering why I'm finding it impossible to feel happy.

Because now I am happy.

...this smile!
I have a name, I have friends, I have a passion for what I'm doing and I'm determined that nothing, absolutely nothing, will stand in my way.

So thank you MCI Family.

Thank you with all of my heart,