A touch of honesty

Hello πŸ™‚

I’ve not written for a while, but I’ve been planning a new twist to the blog. I have settled on another, very specific purpose for it, that I’ll pursue for as long as seems apt.

Most people that know me know me for being open and honest about my life and the things I find difficult. Yet I’ve been on a journey through counselling over the last 18 months and what I’m learning is just how much I edit myself. Just how much I contain and hide (especially from myself) in order to fit in and save face.

Right now I am facing, more painfully than I ever have done, just how much anxiety I suffer. Just how much I canΒ hate the way I feel. Just how much I sometimes wish, wish, wish I were somebody else. I’ve been hiding it for years from everyone I love and, especially, from myself. The only sure way to stop me from sharing it.

It is okay. I am learning and, once again, it feels like a steep learning curve. It is terrifying to be confronted with the strength of feeling I have. I am learning that I get angry about simple things not going as I need them to. I am scared witless about the things I want from others and life being plain to all.Β After suppressing it for years, the reality of me feels chaotic and overwhelming. I am just learning to stop clinging to plans and spreadsheets (anyone remember the holiday in Cornwall I planned on a spreadsheet and tweeted about?) in order to save myself from my feelings. I have barely allowed myself to feel angry about interactions with another person since I was first married. That was about 15 years ago now.

Having feelings about stuff is currently terrifying. I am desperately afraid that no one I care about will accept me if I share how I feel. How I really feel about things. I can only bear to test it slowly and only with a very few people. However, I know that studying an MA (the origination of this blog back in 2008) was utterly terrifying. And I completed that fucker, with flair and panache πŸ˜‰

I’m bricking it, but I’m determined to explore who I really am and do it in my own, inimitable style. I want to use this blog to share some of my findings from my counselling and self exploration journey, hence from now on this blog will be titled …

The Glass on the Table.

 

 

Raise a glass with me?

Dear lovely people who know me in person, who know me online and anyone else who, for whatever reason, finds themselves reading my blog:

I would like to invite you to celebrate something quietly with me πŸ™‚ After a couple of years of largely self imposed hell and a frustratingly slow journey back, I finally feel more confident about life and my ability to live it again. It has been a long time coming and my relief at finding myself a calm, reasonably sane person again is measurable.

Anyone who reads my blog or knows me well will know that I, like many people, suffer my bouts of anxiety and depression. They are usually caused by trying to be someone I am not and live up to expectations that I perceive the world to have of me. As I’ve been busy playing this game over the last 2 years my physical health has also suffered, and I’ve found myself consistently lacking in energy and always (I mean ALWAYS) ill with a snuffle.

Today, I have decided, is the day that I celebrate clawing my way back to a position of equilibrium and confidently looking ahead to the future. My future is less plotted and certain than it ever has been. And don’t get me wrong, this scares the shit out of me. It is, however, how I want it to be and I know I’ll be ok.

I’ve stopped waking up with a dread of how the day will be every day. I’ve started running again. I actually can’t remember the last day I woke up and I had to take myself back to bed with a cold and overwhelming tiredness. Some time in early Feb maybe? I know I am good at my job, at the work I do and I KNOW I am valuable to the people in my life (colleagues and friends). I can generate this internally and am not completely reliant on feedback from other people to evaluate my strengths.

As I sit, quietly, in the home I bought through my hard won professional success, I really don’t know what the future holds. And I can’t promise I won’t try and break myself again πŸ˜‰

But for all the people who listen when I am despondent or stuck in self criticism – thank you. For all of you who are pleased to see me when I turn up at the pub, or on your doorstep, or in your Twitter feed – thank you. Life is unpredictable, it’s scary and sometimes painful. I also wouldn’t stop living it for the world. I renew my promise to throw myself at life with everything I have and share whatever of it I can, with the new caveat that this may include time for reflection and quiet enjoyment of the things around me.

For anyone who feels that life is all a bit much sometimes and can’t the rest of the world just f-off for a bit: I know how you feel. I’ve been there and I’ll admit it openly. I’ll go there again, but all in all I judge it to be worth sticking out the difficult bits.

Here’s to the beautiful stuff. The moments of connection with others, the joy of discovering new things about yourself, the calm of staring out over the sky and being right here, right now.

Onwards …

Raised on a diet of broken biscuits …

Morning all! There are so many things I’ve been meaning to blog about, but I’ve been prioritising other things lately. However, I have this week off work and I’ll be resurrecting my one blog post a day discipline from last year’s Cornwall holiday with the same theme: blog about a little thing that made a big difference πŸ™‚

I’ve had a big and deeply thought provoking adventure this weekend, only appropriate as a way to round off a truly provocative week at work I guess πŸ˜‰ Apparently I don’t do things the easy way. As a result I am physically and emotionally drained and only part way through recouping a sizeable sleep debt.

My little thing that made a big difference yesterday (Sunday) was receiving a call from the lost property office at London Victoria at 9 pm.

My weekend adventure played itself out in London and I stupidly dropped my mp3 player when getting off the train as I arrived. I realised my mistake within 5 minutes and went back to look for it, to no avail. Unusually for me I decided not to completely cut my losses and I went on a hunt for the lost property office and filed my loss. I had to ask several strangers for help in the course of this, something I usually avoid like the plague. Silly as this may sound, I was proud of myself for doing something positive rather than my usual plan of forgetting and moving on. The chaps behind the counter were friendly: I really appreciated that and told them so.

I had given it up for lost and was resigned to buying a replacement, but I got a call late last night from a chap who said he’d had something handed in. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I had the impression he had gone out of his way to contact me and let me know about it. He said it had been handed in at 9:30 on Saturday evening and apologised for not calling sooner. He urged me to call the lost property office when it was open (between 9-5) to sort out collecting it. I expressed my thanks and we agreed I was lucky it had been handed in.

What a nice thing and I am very grateful to that man for calling me and establishing that it was indeed my property. It made me smile.

Tying this into a wider theme, and to echo something a dear friend recently said to me, I am blessed to have and encounter the people I do in my life. So many people help me and contribute to my life in so many wonderful ways. I am blessed indeed πŸ™‚

Oh and on the cryptic title – lyrics from a song that has been on my mind lately. Not only am I a huge fan of Pulp and not only has Britpop been on my mind lately, but various events have unwittingly reminded me of my teenage angst about not fitting in. Consider it a hint at the backdrop, the bigger picture of where I am right now, that situates the fragment of a story In this blog post.

Happy: a tale of 2 videos :-)

I am awake in the middle of the night. I’m not hugely enthused about this state of affairs and in fact I’m awake because I was upset about something that I refused to give myself space to acknowledge earlier in the week and my brain has chosen now to make me aware of the consequences of that decision. Ah well, it happens …

However, thank goodness for the internet. I found this video in my timeline earlier: a take on the idea of using Pharrell Williams Happy made in my adopted home town of Brighton. Watching it made me smile.

I love the strong University of Sussex flavour in it – I’ve been a part of the university for 10 years as both staff and student and I will forever consider myself a part of the University of Sussex family. I recognise many of the locations in the film specifically from the Uni and I particularly love the scenes in the library. I have spent MANY an hour there, ah fond memories! (It may be worth noting that I never danced in the library …)

I was reminded I meant to watch this after seeing it pop up in my Facebook timeline last week: the Happy (we are from Luton) video. Luton is my actual home town and (sorry all Luton residents, including my Mum) is a place I left at 18 and have never wanted to go back to.

I’ll be honest – I struggle to associate Luton with happiness, but the energy and mood of the video is so infectious that I do now have a connection between Luton and happiness in my mind that extends beyond the joy of seeing my Mum when I visit. A big thank you to all of those people, both the stars and the creators of the videos for sharing their energy and enthusiasm with me. Thanks for making me smile and feel happy.

I think I can go back to sleep now, hurrah! πŸ™‚

Not 100%

I HATE being unwell. Really pisses me off.

I was describing this to my Mum yesterday and I told her that I experience being unwell as a kind of moral affront to my person. “How can I possibly be unwell, this isn’t fair! I’ll just pretend I’m not.”

The other thing I do is take being unwell as a sign of personal failure and therefore a cue for intense introspection. I failed to manage my health well enough, I failed to look after myself properly. Jesus, if only my self righteous arrogance would give me a break!

A dear friend hit upon something useful last year when I was feeling very under the weather. She challenged me with

you don’t love yourself when you’re not performing at 100%

She has a point. All the time I feel unwell I constantly question myself and my experience. Am I really unwell? Am I unwell enough to justify taking it easy and spending the day at home? (Be it a work day or my own time.) Am I unnecessarily giving in to feeling a bit off colour? I endlessly over analyse in order to try and find some certainty. Either YES I’m objectively unwell or NO I’m fine really.

The above is exhausting. And never ending. All of it a way to avoid taking responsibility for making a decision about what I need and what is best for me. All the time being unwell makes me a victim of fate (“it’s not fair!”) or of my own incompetence (“I managed this poorly”) the focus is off my view of me right now and how I refuse to accept that sometimes I don’t match up to who I think I should be. That I’m not perfect.

I HATE that. Really pisses me off πŸ˜‰

Guess I’ve some work still to do on the self acceptance* front …

*As an aside, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the things I value most and want to stand for in my life, more on that soon in another blog post. Acceptance may feature heavily – not because I’m good at it, precisely the opposite.

On forgetting my corporeality

I noticed a theme in my blog posts over Christmas while I was taking the opportunity to slow down and enjoy having some down time. I wrote a lot (because I was thinking a lot) about my physical experiences of the world. I take this for granted most of the time and, actually, spend large chunks of my time blocking out or ignoring my physical experience as much as I can get away with. Otherwise it distracts me from the other stuff I have to do.

I may have discovered a flaw with that plan πŸ˜‰ Yesterday I prioritised work over eating lunch. Only a small thing, something I have done more working days than not over the last year. At 1pm I found myself on a train to London, starting this week’s Brussels trip. I had nothing to eat and no hope of buying anything until I got to St Pancras.

That didn’t bother me unduly, I figured I’d be distracted by being hungry for 15 minutes or so and then get back to worrying about work stuff. What actually happened is that I started to feel really crap, not only hungry but anxious and unable to think clearly. I started worrying about what was going on with me. It took me about an hour to realise this was not me being mentally dysfunctional, but simply a product of low blood sugar levels.

I really did feel terribly anxious and it was a most unpleasant experience. Then I thought about all the days I’ve not eaten properly over the last year, particularly the last 6 months where I’ve struggled a great deal with my anxiety levels relating to work. Finally it dawned – if not eating properly at one lunchtime has that effect on me, perhaps doing the same for days on end has a pretty big negative effect on my ability to cope with life. I suddenly realised just how little care and attention I give to my physical well being when I am caught up with work.

What a daft bint! I have now vowed to prioritise looking after myself because without doing that, everything else becomes that much harder. Only took me 31 years to figure that one out …

Spontaneity: take 2

I wasn’t expecting today to be quite as spontaneous as it turned out to be. I actually had a plan, but stuff happened that needed my attention and the plan was no longer so relevant. So I went with it and my day was challenging, a little bit because my expectations were subverted on a few counts, but mostly because of my internal monologue about stuff.

A run down on the wins and fails of my day …

What worked … What didn’t work so well …
Writing a long email to a friend in order to crystallise and navigate the stuff in my head. Being awake at 5am and spending 3 hours writing out the stuff in my head and taking it all very seriously.
Getting out of bed and of the house on the spur of the moment within about 20 minutes despite being knackered. The museum I decided to go to being closed hence not being able to see the exhibition I wanted to.
Being fine with the museum being closed, wandering in the rain and then happily deciding to sort out some boring chores type stuff that needed doing. Wandering around M&S soaking wet, trying to choose knickers that weren’t horrible when I felt like an (unattractive) drowned rat.
Attempting to use humour to engage female shop assistant on the trials of buying knickers. She asked me with utterly straight face “did you try them on?” NO I DIDN’T! HONESTLY, I CANNOT THINK OF ANYTHING MORE STRESSFUL IN AN ALREADY STRESSFUL SITUATION OF BUYING UNDERWEAR. WHICH I HATE DOING. THAT IS WHY I WAS TRYING TO JOKE ABOUT IT. Not my finest hour πŸ˜‰
Racing the bus around the corner from TKMaxx to the Royal Pavillion and winning! Realising I am considerably less fit than I was 6 months ago when I could do that without slowing down.
Being honest with a friend who let me down at the last minute with plans for NYE about my frustrations and feelings about his lack of communication about the situation. This then leaving space for reaffirming our friendship by talking about a few of the things floating round my head at 5am this morning and him helping me shift my perspective and take it all a bit less seriously. Not managing to meet my mate Ash for a cup of tea due to traffic in Brighton being crap.
Meeting Ash for a pint (well, rum & coke for me) later on. Setting off smoke alarm I didn’t know I had in my flat.