Learning to Blog Again

(I wrote this post in early 2015, but never published it. I just read it for the first time since saving in drafts. Even though my life has changed immeasurably – I now work full time and my partner recently moved in – it is still relevant.)

This morning, I woke up with a clear head and a dawning realisation:

It’s time I learned some self-discipline.

For the past few weeks, I’ve had a run of waking up drained after just a few hours’ sleep. I usually end up dragging my duvet downstairs onto the sofa and dozing in front of daytime TV. When I’m fully awake, activities include researching random subjects on Google, posting on Facebook, sometimes not getting dressed until the afternoon. My little house is starting to look a mess, my bed has gone unmade for days and downstairs has descended a little further into chaos. I haven’t written anything for months. I started to art journal and then stopped again. I’m eating too much, too often and all the wrong foods. I plan to exercise every day, then fail to get off my expanding backside. At the moment, this is too big a part of my life. I know for a fact it doesn’t have to be the rest of it.

I’m honestly not lazy…I’m at my happiest when I have a project to work on and something to achieve. I am easily distracted though, especially when self sabotaging thoughts begin to knaw at me. I hate the days I spend sitting in front of programmes I barely glance at, phone glued to my hand…Though just occasionally, the seemingly pointless information I gather whilst trawling the web has a purpose. Off the back of listening to Tricky’s 2008 album Knowle West Boy (After being in Bristol visiting friends the weekend before) I searched his name on Google and found a Guardian interview from 2010.

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/sep/19/tricky-mixed-race-interview

He had just released Mixed Race, and was talking about how he had struggled to make sense of his life. The darkness he still felt in his mind after a harsh and violent upbringing I was a big fan of his in my late teens, the album Maxinquay was a large part of my life’s soundtrack from then into my 20s. I didn’t find out until later that was a tribute to his late Mother, who took her life when he was just four. The whole Trip Hop scene fascinated me through the 90s – I felt drawn to the South West, thinking it a place full of the sinister and unknown. Though I’ve always tried to stay away from physical violence (I’ve only ever fought in the times where I’ve needed to defend myself) None of us can help it when our thoughts stray to into murky water. I more than identify with those unable to put the past to rest, having spent years looking for somewhere to be accepted. It felt as if I was spending my life on the run from my hometown, but it turned out to be from myself. Finally, I settled in Nottingham seven years ago. Like Tricky, my adult life has been fairly nomadic. The locations he has lived in have been far more glamorous than mine however! In reference to living and working in the USA, he said

“The thing is,” he says, “you have really got to be disciplined in LA. And I found that hard.”

Just one word has circled my mind since I read it: Disciplined. This is often the case when a page or article resonates with me. I read quickly and take away the parts I can apply to myself. Or WANT to apply. It’s made me realise that I’ve been lacking in it for far too long. I’ve lived much of my life in chaos, constantly moving on. Quick to forgive, forgetting nothing but the most valuable lessons that needed to be learned. In friendships, relationships and my working life alike. One particularly forthright manager described me as

“Lurching from crisis to crisis!”

When I was called into an inevitable meeting to “Discuss my performance” typical of my early working life. These usually resulted in the termination of another temporary contract. It’s true, I did come up with some increasingly elaborate excuses for my lateness and absences. Burst pipes, collapsing ceilings. IBS. I was too ashamed to admit my own thoughts sometimes held me prisoner even then. Each excuse was met with increasing cynicism and disbelief, until the expected happened and I was let go. I kept working, hounding agencies, pounding pavements. Updating that CV. I’d just rented the first place of my own I’d ever had and was damned if I was going to lose it. One thing I had in abundance back then was energy! So personally, I think the way she described my situation was wrong. Nothing as negative as that. As in all lives, terrible things have happened, followed by the amazing, the indescribable, the tedious and the in between times. We all deal with such changes in our own way. Some people thrive, some sink and others carry on regardless. I happen to have a condition which skews the way I look at the world and relate to people. I under and overreact to situations. Sometimes the gravity of a situation doesn’t hit me for days, weeks or even months afterwards. I am not Borderline Personality Disorder however. I HAVE Borderline Personality Disorder. I also have naturally dark brown hair and freckles, a tendency to gain weight around my middle, a lot of creative talent but a godawful singing voice (It’s not true that all Welsh people are blessed in that way! Come to one of the local bar’s Heavy Metal Karaoke Nights and hear me belting out Cherry Bomb or Dead Prudence and I’ll prove it!) These are the components which make me up. And many more besides.

In short, I need to knuckle down and get a grip.

I hear this in my Mother’s voice, circa 1994. I was going through decidedly more than the typical teenage angst. Even though it would be 24 years until I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, I knew there was something wrong beyond rampaging hormones. At this stage, I only self harmed from time to time. It was the preoccupation I’d always had with my fluctuating weight which should have caused more concern. I’d been bulimic for around a year and was finding it harder to keep it a secret. I really didn’t care about getting help, more that nobody found out and gave me grief. My parents dismissed it as “Silliness” and even put my state of mind down to my taste in music. I know they regret this now. Our relationship has been fairly easy to heal…It’s myself I struggle with the most.

It’s time to move on and make something of myself.

That statement has an ominously parental tone too. Though it’s the fact that taken until the alarmingly ripe old age of 37 to reach this epiphany scares me more. By this time in life, so many of my peers are settled in their lives. Families of their own, homes and cars. Established careers and good prospects. I honestly don’t envy them. Bitterness and resentment, honestly what’s the point? I’m already running the gamut of mixed feelings about life as it is. Why add more negativity?  I just want to find a point in my own life where I’m able to take even a little of that for myself. At the moment, I’m a bit too unstable to hold a job down. My moods swing dramatically and I am terrified of making mistakes. When I’m able to behave consistently, I work hard. I’m organised, conscientious, loyal and empathic. I started to work as a Personal Assistant almost two years ago. I genuinely loved my work to begin with; assisting people with mental health issues and physical disabilities to live independently. Time passed and circumstances changed, not for the better. I found my own problems were triggered and began to resurface. I returned to call centre and reception work for a brief period of time. Due to the winter virus’ flying around my immune system took a battering (A surprise repercussion of changing from working one to one with people!) I became physically ill, lost my temporary contract and had another mental health episode. It was horrifically depressing to find myself back to square one. I gathered up all the determination I could and returned to my GP. Though it has taken since January to get this far, I’ve been referred to the local Personality Disorder Network. I was assessed in June and have an appointment in September to discuss my treatment options. The wheels of recovery grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small. The only option will almost certainly be group therapy (I lost my place in one to one psychotherapy at the beginning of 2014. I was trying to get rehoused and kept missing appointments) I’m apprehensive…One course is an introduction and takes place over 12 weeks, the more in-depth course 12 months. I will need to stick at it, and I’m notoriously bad at that. I always used to put it down to laziness. I recognise now, sometimes I have days where I am genuinely unable to leave the house. Through fear, sadness, anger at the past, my thoughts churn and curdle in my head and my stomach starts to hurt. But despite knowing the cause now, I still need to learn to push through it. It’s a means to an end. Perhaps some day I can have the career I want, find fulfilment and feel worthwhile. I don’t care much about wealth or material things. A home of my own, animals, a car,. Maybe a holiday every year. Modest ambitions by most people’s standards. When you count yourself lucky to still be here, they mean a lot more.

So I’m going to begin at the beginning, and start small. A page in my art journal a day. A Blog post per week. Stay busy, keep my mind distracted from what has gone. Who knows where it will lead me? After all: The Future Is Unwritten.

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Binge Eating Disorder: A breakthrough?

Last week saw me confess something I never thought possible to my partner: I have Binge Eating Disorder (B.E.D) It’s been with me since childhood. My weight problem and rectifying my horrendous eating habits are the first thing on my mind on waking, the last before going to sleep at night.

It started with an innocent question. My partner noticed food was missing from the fridge on Friday morning. He asked if I had taken it…I was absolutely fucking mortified. Consumed by my own shame over lack of self control. The conversation ended with an almighty row before work. After he left, I sent him the following links:

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/03/5-ways-to-be-an-ally-to-your-partners-eating-disorder-recovery-and-avoid-triggering-them/

http://bingeeatingtherapy.com/2010/11/how-to-talk-to-your-partner-about-your-eating-disorder/

http://bingeeatingtherapy.com/2016/07/10-things-not-say-partner-binge-eating-disorder/

http://www.clearviewwomenscenter.com/BPD-eating-disorders/

https://bedaonline.com/12-ways-to-support-your-partner-with-binge-eating-disorder/

I did not immediately feel better for opening up. My honesty brought back some horrendous memories, thoughts of parental pressure to lose weight from age three. Details of controlling and abusive relationships in my past. Three explosive rows ensued. He finally read through the information earlier today. I began to feel we had reached an understanding: He said that he believed me and wanted to support me in my recovery. I went on to explain that I have no real clue why I feel so out of control around food. My head is crammed with destructive thoughts, I never forget anything. It’s frightening at  times. The desire to squash them down to insignificance is ever present. I have wondered whether it’s self imposed punishment: I don’t deserve to feel good about the way I look. We spoke of the times when I am consumed with self hatred. They never seem to be far away.

I touched upon the hell of constantly feeling like the consolation prize. That whenever I feel second best to someone, anyone. For any reason or none at all…It makes it worse and I can’t stop ruminating. Of remembering things from way before we met that still really hurt. I listed examples, including some from our relationship. We talked, talked and talked some more.

I trust in what he said. I know he is trying to understand, that he is by my side. What I am unclear about is what happens next. Though it won’t come cheap, I am considering private counselling. I’ve been attempting to get help for B.E.D through the NHS since 2012, all to no avail. I owe it to myself to recover from this. I know that I am strong to have survived this. I feel weak against it at the moment though. It’s a horrible, shitty paradox. I’m more hopeful for the future than I was now though.

One foot in front of the other. One day at a time.

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

Vampy 2 17-07-2016.jpg

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!

Facebook, His “Ex” and Boundaries

Facebook is a many splendoured thing.

I always knew this to be true! With my hand held high, I admit I spend far too much time on there. I have a legitimate reason – sort of – keeping in touch with my family, who are dotted about further South. Facebook has also helped my long distance relationship along for two and a half years. A healthy, loving situation of the kind I’d never experienced before. It couldn’t survive without keeping positive, mutual trust and a shared love of silly humour! We chat most mornings on Messenger before he leaves for work, then each evening on the phone. Communication is key…Especially when you live 168 miles apart!

I also spend an unhealthy amount of time on “The Book” looking at cats, pin up girls, videos of daft people pissing about and other manifold delights. Time where I could be writing, drawing, painting, restoring my vintage dining chairs, working on dance routines, reading, trainspotting, collecting stamps…!

I Facebook. Therefore, I Am!

I’m Facebooking in between typing this…Talking about cats with a friend from my hometown.

Did I mention that I like cats?

A recent guilty pleasure has been looking back on old memories. Some make me laugh, others trigger nostalgia and a little sadness for times past. A few make me wonder what the hell I was thinking…But the less said about those the better!

Doing just this on Monday, I came across a lovely photo I’d taken of The Mister on Valentine’s Day 2015. We’d gone on an Excellent Adventure (We like those! We have had many in our time together and long may they continue…) down to Ramsgate on the South Coast of England. We’d been for a long walk around the harbour, along the beach and around the deserted Ferry Port. We both remarked that it looked like something out of a Zombie movie…Just as if everyone working there, waiting for ferries, travelling through had taken fright and abandoned the place. Through the windows of the terminus, you could see there was still cutlery and trays on the counter. Vases with plastic flowers dusty on the tables. It was giggly fun, running about and freaking each other out. It started to rain and we took shelter in a nearby pub (Well, it would have been rude not to!) That’s when I took the picture. He looked cute, really boyish. A week shy of his 30th. Short hair, clean shaven and bloody handsome! So I shared the memory, with the caption

“Handsome Bugger, in’t He?”

I’m happy and proud to be dating an attractive man. I’m not shallow – he has many other wonderful qualities – but admit that I love how he looks. My female friends and his (Plus a few male ones!) began to agree and it made me smile. The Mister even commented saying

“Cheers Taffer!”

(One of many nicknames he has applied to me over the years…Really the only one that stuck. Earned on account of my being from South Wales. Not to mention my Valleys accent re-emerging after a few too many G&Ts!!)

It was heartfelt, posted in fun but made us feel good. Then I noticed a friend of his post something a little odd. A MARRIED friend of his, thousands of miles away in the USA.

“He really is. Love my XXXX. Miss him too”

I was rather perturbed but slept on it. I’d noticed her post on his page now and then. She often commented on photos I posted of him. I ended up adding her to my page as we were beginning to chat in photo comments. She often referred to him as “her” this and that.  Since they only met a few times, it struck me as oddly proprietory. They shared a post-adolescent Holiday Romance in 2008 and stayed in touch. In 2008, I had never even heard of The Mister. I had a different Mister, and we’ll leave it at that. The future is unwritten, the past best left where it is. Little good ever comes of stirring it up. So I assumed she had a strange way with words and left it at that. I raised an eyebrow at her tone once, when she posted on his wall. She’d demanded in a brattish way that he travelled over to the States for her wedding, which had been brought forward at short notice. (Why was it so imperative he be there anyway? What was he, the groom?!) I suggested he got in touch and gently ask her to back off. Evidently that never happened, given her declaration of love for him on my recent post. The next morning, I revisited her comment and constructed a reply. Publicly. You know, just like her romantic little musing.

“‘Your’ XXX? Lol bless you. Find him attractive by all means. I’ve been in a relationship with him for two and a half years, we have been in love for just over two. I don’t presume to call him “mine” because I don’t believe you can “own” anyone. I would certainly be uncomfortable if anyone claimed I was theirs. I’d respectfully suggest you stick to “Your <HUSBAND’S NAME>” dearie!”

Hoping that was the end of it, I returned to find the thick skinned attention fan had replied once again

“Hehe. I know. I can still call him my brit. (Stupid sticky out tongue emoction) I haven’t seen him in about 2.5 years.”

Oh Really? 

As my mood turned snarky, I politely responded

“I don’t like it. I find it disrespectful to our relationship and I would like it to stop. It isn’t the first time I’ve spotted it and think it’s irritating.”

Then the following to provide a rough guide to those ignorant of how the UK fits together. (E.G Anyone who thinks Brit is an accurate term for Englishman) Call it my public service duty to those who place themselves at the centre of the universe!

“By the way, Brit is incorrect. As far as I’m aware, nobody from the UK would refer to themselves as ‘A Brit’

XXXX is English as he was born in England. I am Welsh as born in Wales. Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are constituent countries of the UK. Not many ppl use Great Britain these days, probably too many dodgy Empirical connotations!”

Clearly oblivious to what I was saying, she replied with

“He has never complained to me about it. Its been my nickname for him for 8 years now.”

(Implying an intimacy which I later found out didn’t actually exist. And that it transcended the fact “Her Brit” has been in a monogamous relationship with myself for 2.5 of those years. What can I say? Girl clearly has problems understanding the way the world works!)

My final reply went thus

“Leave it now please. It isn’t up for discussion and to be honest, you are making yourself look rather silly. I never felt the need to bring it up with him before as I thought it was harmless. Now it’s starting to look as if you are desperate to cling on to a teenage fumble. Really hope you put as much effort into your marriage as you do into mooning after men from the past. XXXX will speak to you in due course. Now do yourself a favour and drop it. I won’t be responding any further.”

Then I simply employed the services of unfriend and block. They come in useful at times!

My partner and I discussed the whole unfortunate episode at length. The conversation was heated, emotional and at times descended into good old fashioned barney territory. I requested he message her and tell her it wasn’t appropriate to refer to him in the way she did. And in fact, ask what the hell she was playing at. Both his message and her responses were sent to me. Her terribly articulate reply claimed her husband doesn’t mind because my partner is in another country. It went on to say that it had taken me two years to get upset about it, my opinion didn’t matter (Referring to me as “her” when she knows my name well. Subtle, dear!) She also sounded rather butt hurt that it had taken “this” to get him to talk to her. Kind of blows a hole right through the “Best of Friends” effect she was going for.

Finally, I’ll just mention the time she posted a GIF of a woman taking her top off and bouncing her boobies. Tagged amongst other “Boob Lovers” were The Mister and I. She and her husband went on to have a classy comment conversation below it. They were comparing her apparently ample assets to those of her friend’s . Naturally, said “friend’s” charms came off worst. Way To Go, Darling Girl: Internalised Misogyny, shameless seeking of validation and a nifty way to wheedle folk into thinking about your mammaries! All in one place, from a very public platform. A glittering career in advertising would no doubt be waiting. Unfortunately for that industry, her head is rammed so far up her derriere she lives in permanent darkness. Nevermind though. Any kind of attention is evidently better than none! I mentioned it to a friend as found it highly amusing, in a rather trashy and awkward way. Safe to say, I was laughing at them rather than with! My settings mean I have to approve tags before they appear on my page, which I declined to do. My Mum keeps an eye on me via my page and was sure she wouldn’t want a pair of tits staring her in the face (Both visually on the GIF and figuratively in the comments!) So I directed him to The Mister’s instead, not wanting him to miss out on a laugh at the horny hillbillies! The post had mysteriously vanished and I couldn’t access her profile. Some puritanical soul clearly took offence and reported the post…Almost as funny as the incident itself! The sight of female nipples will be the undoing of decent society. We’ll all turn into sex-crazed lunatics!!

White Traash

The upshot to all this is simple. I’ve requested The Mister cut the silly little cow out of his life or I’m walking away. Shit stirring Not-Quite Ex is never a good look for anyone. Not that I’m concerned with how she presents herself, I’d just rather not waste my time reading it. I’ve asked him to stop trivialising my feelings for fear of upsetting others. People pleasing doesn’t work!! It shatters self-esteem and ruins relationships. Concentrate on yourselves and those close to you. There is no need to consider those who shouldn’t matter, leave them to their own lives.

Even though yesterday felt like one of the worst of the year, I woke this morning feeling like the strong woman I am. Every day is a new beginning if you treat it as such. Enjoy it, make time for yourself and look after the relationships that matter.

Oh, and careful how you Facebook. It’s a bloody minefield!!

 

 

 

 

 

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To begin at the beginning:

It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and- rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishing boat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine tonight in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows’ weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now…

…Look. It is night, dumbly, royally winding though the Coronation cherry trees; going through the graveyard of Bethesda with winds gloved and folded, and dew doffed; tumbling by the Sailors Arms.

Time passes. Listen. Time passes.

Come closer now.

(From Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas)

Let me take you back to 1991…Baggy, Indie, shoegazing times. The British music industry in full swing again, illegal raves. The Hacienda. When Es were good and stories of their paving the way to certain death ruled the newspapers. Except I was 13 and in Form Two (The old name for Year Eight) at the local girls’ school. Under the Long Suffering watchful eye of our English teacher, Mrs Bird we pushed our luck. Her patience often snapped and she bounced around the classroom like a bad tempered cricket ball. We studied Dylan Thomas’ celebrated radio play Under Milk Wood, even putting on a little production at the end of Easter term. Mrs Bird was hilariously eccentric and sometimes a little unhinged. I think back and regret the hard time I gave her, even if it was only in my head. Those times – reading the play aloud in class punctuated by Mrs B’s sudden shouting fits if we giggled or our concentration wavered – seem less than a decade ago. In reality, 24 years have passed. I feel different now…But think I got stuck around 23. Give or take a few days, it’s almost a year since my last post. Over the course of time I quit surviving and started living. So what’s 12 months in the grand scheme of things? The main certainty is: Time has passed. It’s gone from under me…Escaped whilst I was busy doing other things.

In the time which has elapsed, my life has definitely changed. Beyond recognition in some ways. I’ve finally developed boundaries I am able to stick to. When I talk about my past, I can confidently say I put myself in positions I wouldn’t even contemplate going back to. If I’m asked for advice, I can speak confidently when I say the first step is looking after oneself and staying strong. For the first time in a long time, I’m in a healthy relationship. A loving situation with a man who values me for who I am. I’m allowed to express a point of view, to discuss and debate when we don’t agree. We laugh, we have fun. Every day is more a pleasure than a constant war. I no longer have to squash my inner voice flat for fear of offending. The man who starred in The Beautiful Sunday stuck around. Our feelings grew stronger. We made our long distance relationship work for us, and did things the right way…Well, mainly!

*Cue saucy wink*

As a result we’re planning a future together. After having no choice but to get to know each other through endless phone calls, cards, weekends which passed at the speed of light…The weeks and even a fortnight we’ve managed to catch together going by even faster. Time definitely passes. I’ve started to make sense of myself as a whole too…Thinking about myself in terms of emotional and spiritual health. Wellness as a goal, rather than the number on the scales dictating my self worth. I still sometimes berate my body for not doing what I want, but accept I need to commit to change for that to happen. I’d do literally anything to lose that stone…Except eat healthily and work out! I finally realise that weight loss is a tiny facet of self improvement. There really is more to being happy than dropping any number of dress sizes.

Take the sense of humour. It’s much easier to lose than those excess pounds. And way harder to gain back. Mind you, I’ve known for a while mine was resurfacing again. Certain situations had started to make me smile when I recounted them. Even laugh here and there. The bullshit of 2012/13 meant the year was a bit short on laughs. I developed a bit of a zero tolerance policy on finding any of it funny…Though I still laughed at things that did amuse me. I don’t think there’s been one day of my life where I haven’t laughed at something. In the early days of recovery, I was constantly wound up like a wire. I was skittish as hell, ready to scream and jump out of skin at nothing. It suddenly occurred to me earlier, my warped sense of humour is firing on all cylinders once more. I was chatting to a friend online, about love, mental health, stigma, the universe. Everything. A large part of the conversation was taken up with relationships ending and karma doing what she does best. Taking a big juicy chunk out of the deserving’s butt! I was recounting a rather laughter-free situation in the past…Going to my GP to explain my depression seemed to be getting worse. Rather than discussing my options for treatment as expected, I was informed in no uncertain terms that my “low mood” was more than likely down to my being overweight. I was made to stand on the scales and then to sit through a lecture about my BMI. Not what I wanted to hear to be honest. Especially given that I’d had a stand-up row with my ex the night before when he caught me comfort eating. Something weird happened as I was typing…Normally I’d recall how horrendous it all was, how hopeless I felt. This time, all I could think about was the doc’s round tummy straining at his belt, bald head and skinny arms and legs. I started giggling. Now entering raconteur mode, I decided to tell the story of my ex (himself not exactly slimmer of the year. You could have sent school kids outward bounding up his beer belly!) getting his just deserts. After all, it was an amusing one and some conversations need that bit of light relief. Going back to 2012…Time passed (I think we already covered how that goes) I lost a bit of weight, gained it, lost it, gained, lost. The relationship deteriorated. I left…Much later that I should have, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. We attempted to be friends, but the water under the bridge chugged on long and a bit murky. We dropped out of touch…That is, until the ex put himself in a farce of a situation where he started dating a friend’s ex. She was a bit of a catch as far as he was concerned, small, blonde and dirty (apparently) One snag though…He crossed the guy code, dating a friend’s ex when he was still in love with her. Being the big brave bastard he is, my ex was too scared to tell his friend (By all accounts a bit of a nutcase) Apparently he spent an afternoon propping up the bar in the pub his mate ran, listening to him pouring his heart out. Unfortunately, his dumb male ego ran rampant at bagging this fine piece of ass. He was scared of her ex, but proud enough of his catch to brag about it all over his Facebook updates. And thus the shit hitteth the fan…I found myself on the receiving end of inboxed updates from his now EX-Friend (Exes all round in this story!) Unfortunately, the blonde princess my ex bagged himself was pestering her ex the whole time. And as a finishing flourish, she went back to her ex over Christmas. By the time I finished telling the story, I was absolutely howling with laughter. It just sounded so ridiculous, the stuff of the playground. I felt a little cheated too: At the time, I was very much in the fallout of the dark turn we’d taken before we split. Today however,  I saw the whole sorry episode for what it really was. Comedy gold.

There are still experiences I balk at sharing, but these are generally way further back. I’ll talk about them if I think it’s relevant…Then want to fill my face with junk or drown in a bottle of wine afterwards. I’m getting on top of them though. Be it the Fluoxetine, the much valued support of my family, my Mister and those I’ve identified as my real friends, my being the strong woman people seem to think I am…Or a combination of all the above, I am grateful for my life and more at home than ever here in Nottingham. I’m closer to the goal of being at peace with my demons and confident in myself. It’ll be one hell of a lot easier to take on the world after that!

My aim is to write at least a blog a week. I want my readers to know that The Beautiful Sunday wasn’t the end of my recovery. It was definitely a milestone though. I believe I told you about 14 months ago I’d be back stronger. I like to keep my promises and I hate bullshit, so here I am.

Thanks for sticking with me, I hope it was worth the wait!

The Beautiful Sunday

The Beautiful Sunday started off damp and autumnal. Despite the bold sunlight trying to burst through the stubborn clouds, the wind howled and blew rain against the windows. My cat skulked around your feet as you smoked on the back step, darted out as you closed the door. Bounced around the garden, dodging drops and mewing to be let in as quickly as she’d gone out. Sunday was seldom a day of any note…Sabbath Bloody Sabbath; Catch up TV, cleaning house half-arsedly and frequently nursing a sore head from Saturday night’s shenanigans. A day with its own mundane routines and rituals, which usually added up to a whole heap of nothing.

Sunday 20th October 2013 was different. In a wildly varied year, one day in which I could say with confidence

“Life is Spanky!”

On the surface, an ultimate day of lazing. We got up unhurried and chain-drank tea…Taking it in relays for the lav as a result! As you requested, we watched a DVD of The Mighty Boosh…I convulsed with laughter at the slightest provocation, whilst you were slightly more composed. However, I was encouraged by the number of instances of mutual giggling fits and snuggled closer. At lunchtime,  I knocked up some pasta and we chowed down. I was weirdly gratified when you enjoyed it. Afterwards we lay tangled up together on the sofa. Two pairs of long legs wrapped together in odd but comfortable positions. Arms around each other. Breathing one and other in, my snakey long hair getting in your face. Rather than pulling a strop about it, you merely blew it out of the way. Planet Rock was on the radio, random conversation about everything and anything filled the air and took up hours. We were laughing and snogging each others’ faces off like daft kids. You’re not that young and I’m not that old…8 years’ age gap and enjoying every minute we can get. Long distance, but the times apart sweet like the times together. No awkwardness, treading on eggshells or feeling tested. If this is how it’s meant to be, I want more of it.

Holding you close and AC/DC playing. Finally living in the moment and flipping my weird past the bird…Inviting it to fucking well do one for good. Feeling sad when you had to leave, but looking forward to seeing you again and not getting devoured by melancholy and the infinite sadness. It’s different when you know where you are with someone and not left hanging. Complications, difficult, delusional people were not for fixing. Just for leaving in times gone by where they belonged. Three weeks in and I already knew you’re different to anyone who went before. That the situations I’d felt uncomfortable in were not only wrong, but should never have happened. At last I started to believe I was worth more.

When you’d gone, I fell asleep where we’d been laying together. The cushions smelled faintly of you and Bettiecat curled up into my chest. I woke when you text to say you’d got home safely. I felt content and warm with the memory of a fantastic weekend. I want to thank you from my little toenail up to the longest hair on my head for showing me what it is to be treated properly. Think I forgot years ago. You’re a wonderful man and make me smile every time I think of you.

I guess this blog post is the 21st century version of writing about the person you feel knocked out over in your band’s Zine. I’ve loved the time we’ve spent together, the texts, chats and phone conversations we’ve had when we’ve been apart. Looking forward to seeing you again on Friday; You bright, beautiful, bizarre creature!