To All Our Exes, Everywhere.

Today finds me in a reflective mood. I’ve been mulling over my past, what has gone before and how it changed me over the years. Not missing it, wallowing in how badly I was treated or feeling guilty about what I cannot change. Instead, I’ve been thinking about milestones I’ve reached in experience and emotional intelligence. How different types of relationships ended – friendships, professional and romantic – and what they taught me about life. It has taken more than half my “adult” life, but I’m confident that I’ve learned from them at last.

As with anything healthy, it’s a precarious balance. That halfway line between repeating past mistakes and seeing red flags where there are none is elusive. It is difficult to apply logic to the emotional extremes found in relationships with others. It can be hard to let go of the most miserable of situations. Even when we part company physically, emotional ties can be harder to sever. Over time, memories become distorted. We focus too much on the bad times, or miss good times which may have not been that great. Sometimes we dwell too hard and who said what, which of us were the guilty party and forget that we survived it. Not all relationships end that end badly were abusive, but not all that ended well are worth looking at through rose-tinted lenses. As I’ve often been heard to say

“They’re all exes for a reason!”

We miss people though, we miss situations. Though not everything we miss was good or healthy for us, it doesn’t stop us harking back. There is substance abuse in my past, going way back. A number of my friendships and relationships were dominated by getting wrecked. When it lost its appeal (or the supply dried up), cracks began to appear. Alcohol, illicit substances, sex, attention, drama, emotional support are all addictive. Anything is if you consume enough of it. Nothing works for long when you’re running away from yourself.

Through the wonders of year spent overthinking, social media apps throwing the past up and a seemingly endless capacity for remembering trivia…I bring you the “Ex Directory!”

  • To the boss who didn’t really want an assistant and so refused to train me up effectively.  Then proceeded to bully me at every opportunity for not doing my job properly.
  • To any ex who preferred women on a computer screen or with staples through their stomachs, compared me unfavourably to lovers long gone or picked holes in my appearance.
  • To anyone who hurt my self-confidence by mocking my weight, physical appearance or mental health challenges. Behind my back or to my face.
  • To those who decided I was “Untrustworthy”, a “Bad Friend” or “Possessed by The Devil” (Yes, that happened!) for not doing exactly what they wanted, when they wanted it done.
  • To anyone abusive, across the entire spectrum.
  • To those who have passed away and are deeply missed.
  • To those who can no longer have me in their lives because of my reckless and unpredictable behaviour over the years.
  • To those who gave me abundant chances, only to find me ever more unreliable.

Thank you.

Each and every one of you.

Don’t mistake this for some masochistic confession that I liked the abuse and deserved it all. I don’t believe I deserved everything that happened over the years. Nor is it a victim’s list of everything I’ve had to endure, Oh Poor Me! I’m fully aware that life with me can be hard going. I don’t think anyone should have had to suffer because of my actions. Mental illness or not, or I hold myself accountable for what I say and do. The majority of people on this list appear more than once (With a few exceptions) Nobody is born either good or bad; and the human condition has a lot to answer for. I finally realise though, everyone and each situation in the directory taught me something. I find myself at a point in life where I have healthy boundaries, am self-aware and able to take responsibility for things I can affect and change. And it feels really fucking good to be in control of myself! Things I can’t do anything about may hurt, piss me off or send me incandescent with rage at times. Huge a cliche as it is, when others behave badly it says way more about them than it does us. It’s natural and OK to be angry. We’re all terrified of feeling anything but positive nowadays. We trample on sadness, annoyance, fear and anything but happiness…Squashing them down for fear of anyone else realising how we really feel. Negativity reminds us what we don’t want, what we can step forward from. I know how to put it down to where I came from now, and mean it.

Cutting people out of your life

It’s true, if we forget the past we are destined to repeat it. Remembering doesn’t mean living there though. There are situations I can see coming for miles now, and avoid. As destructive and painful as they were at the time, they are part of my story. If I haven’t lived through them, I wouldn’t recognise them for the scourge they were. I’ve turned my shame into pride at surviving 100% of my worst times. I’ve new goals and ambitions as a result. I aim to secure a place on the Peer Support Training course at Nottingham Recovery College. I submitted my application yesterday. While I know I’m not guaranteed to be accepted, even completing the form and handing it in felt like an achievement. My goal for the future is making a difference: A meaningful and worthwhile role as a Peer Support Worker. The idea of helping others through shared living experience means the world to me. I know that I have hard work ahead, if I’m to make my dreams a reality. I’m prepared though, ready to go forward instead of standing still. I know that I have it in me to make this a success. I’m not used to having this degree of self belief, but long may it continue!

 

 

Organised Chaos as usual!

I’ve currently got every unpartnered sock I own hung over my bedpost. My bedroom looks like the scene of a very ambitious plan to attract Santa Claus early! In reality, it can mean only one thing: It’s time for another of my occasional attempts to “Get Organised!”

I have lived my life in a state of creative chaos for as long as I can remember. My untidiness and constant meltdowns at not being able to find things are legendary. They were a familiar cause of arguments between my parents and I growing up. My Mum in particular, being the sensible and organised being she is. She was continually amazed and annoyed by my ability to live in a mess – and lose any given possession at a moment’s notice. I think she still is…But I love her all the same!

“Tidy your bedroom!”

“Where was it when you saw it last?”

Were as familiar to my ears as any of the smash hits of the 1980s. The last phrase in particular is banned from my house. To utter it here carries the price of my best death stare straight in your direction! Through my teens, the usual adolescent rebellion meant that my room being a tip was a source of pride. I wanted to be different to parents, doesn’t everyone? Though these days (And probably further back than I’d care to admit) my messy habits are more of a nuisance than something to be proud of.

Last week, I noticed myself making excuses to not go training –

I couldn’t find my wristband, which meant I’d have to pay to get in (My membership is on monthly direct debit.)

I didn’t have any tops which worked with the few bottoms I have in my current size. (I hate my muffin top. Muffin tops belong on top of muffins!)

I didn’t have any matching trainer socks clean (Yes, really!)

I will never be one of the beautifully coordinated ladies you see at exercise classes in matching crop tops and leggings (Not that there is anything wrong with being one of those ladies, they look great!) Suitable gym attire for me is clean, comfortable and not too tatty. I honestly don’t care how red, sweaty and unkempt I get whilst working out. To me, that’s a sign of a good session. I really enjoy going to the gym, throwing myself into it and putting in the graft. I like the process, not to mention the progress! It’s so rewarding to see my body toning up and getting stronger. You only have to read further back in this blog (Go on, spoil yourself!) to see for yourself. Three years ago, I was roughly 2 and a half stones lighter and exercised at least 3 times a week.

Wish fat

 

Once excuses creep in, its way too easy to lapse all together. That isn’t an option this time. My mantra now is slim and healthy for life. And with Project Fat Girl Slim to spur me on, it feels very achievable and real.

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/project-fatgirlslim

And as for the joyless task of pairing stray socks together…It’s a work in progress! I have an enormous wardrobe of all kinds of everything: Jackets, frocks, tops, formal wear, casual stuff, accessories and shoes. All ranging between size 12 and size 20 (I’m currently a large 16/small 18, so can’t wait to fit into the lower end of the spectrum!) In addition to this, my hobbies include burlesque and making bags from recycled fabric. I have a dress up box and about a dozen fabric bags! I once had two wardrobes, but the sadly rail gave way in the large one after months of protest. The term “floordrobe” was probably coined for the state of affairs that followed! I also draw, paint, collage and am working on 5 different art journals, so my kitchen and lounge often resemble an explosion in a paper factory. I work under the premise that mess is part and parcel of creativity, though am fully aware that not everyone agrees.

It was quite the revelation to me: Being better organised can lead to a happier and less stressful life. I’ll try to embrace it…Though can’t promise that I’ll apply that every day, to all aspects of my life. I’ve noticed that the seed of thought has been planted though. And I’m all for flourishing! I’ve made a decision to plan better and think about how my actions now affect the future. Sounds like positive stuff to me. Though I wonder where I was when other people figured this out, it’s better late than never.

I’ve finally got this!

 

 

 

Project Fat Girl Slim, a New Venture!

In stark contrast to my last post, here’s a huge hit of positivity! Life has definitely started looking up: I’ve been attending Nottingham Recovery College since January, and highly recommend their mental health focused courses to others who struggle. I’ve been to classes based on Mindfulness, Creativity for Recovery and Journaling, Moving on From Depression, Coping with Anxiety, Creating Positive Relationships, Assertiveness and Goal Setting. All have been extremely helpful, I can honestly say attending the college has changed my life. I start my final courses in the autumn and will graduate in December. My ultimate goal is to train as a Peer Support Worker. It feels good to find some purpose again.

As well as feeling better in my mental health, I’ve been taking steps to improve my physical being too. A friend who lost 20 stones through healthy eating and willpower encouraged me to go back to a slimming club and start regular exercise again. I started 9 weeks ago and have lost 9.5lbs so far. I’m surprised how much I missed my gym sessions and that I’m toning up already. I’m grateful to Jayne for her support and mentoring over these past seven months. She has battles of her own to fight, but still makes time to support others.

Her dramatic weight loss means she has been left with excess skin, which causes a lot of pain and irritation. She had an operation to remove excess skin on her stomach in April. It went successfully and she is healing well. Unfortunately, she has been refused NHS funding for surgery to remove skin from her arms and legs. I’ve decided to undertake a sponsored slim to help raise funds for Jayne to go private. The procedures will cost around twelve thousand pounds in total, my aim is to raise four hundred to contribute to this

I first heard of Jayne in January 2016. One of my friends in Bristol posted the following link on Facebook. She said that Jayne’s story is an inspiration to those who struggle with their weight, and I couldn’t agree more…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3306786/Mother-ballooned-30-stone-scoffing-junk-food-couldn-t-bothered-cook-sheds-TWO-THIRDS-weight-left-body-pensioner.html

I read Jayne’s story and having spent my entire adult life “Yo-yo dieting” it resonated with me. I sent her a friend request, and we chatted often after that. I spoke to her about my own struggles…She was helpful, supportive and honest with me. She told me I was capable of anything if I could change my mindset. I owe a lot to her advice, and so have decided to  help with her fundraising campaign. I’ve chosen to undertake a sponsored slim, since weight loss triggered our friendship. I’ve named the project “Fat Girl Slim” because it’s something that ought to raise a smile…Though I don’t consider fat an insult in the slightest!

My starting weight is 15 stones 2lbs. I’ve set myself a target weight of 11 stones 7lbs, which means a loss of 3 stones 9lbs. I aim to achieve this in 6 months. After this time, Jayne and I plan to start an online project together. Our intention is to help people who have lost weight to maintain their target. Maintenance has certainly been one the demons I’ve struggled with in the past. With the weight loss industry making as much as it does from slimmers relapsing into their old ways, this isn’t really surprising. No wonder there’s such a plethora of information on how to diet, but so little geared towards keeping it off. It would be good to redress the balance a bit.

Here’s the link to my Crowdfunding page. It would be fantastic to be able to help this strong, determined lady after all she has achieved. If you are able to sponsor me, I’d be so grateful. All donations received with total thanks and gratitude. It’s for a great cause!

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/project-fatgirlslim

April 2016.jpg

At my heaviest 15 stones 11.5lbs, April 2016

Poison Ivy 3.jpg

Poison Ivy 50s Frock – June 2016

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LBD – July 2016

It’s my intention to get slim and be healthy for life. The idea of losing weight, exercising and becoming physically fitter had always been a key part of my recovery. I’d be losing the weight anyway, even if it wasn’t for my sponsored slim. The opportunity to help someone else along the way makes me really happy.

I feel motivated. I feel ready: Time to get on with it!