Monday, 19 June 2017

How To Start All Over Again, Again... Part 1


It can happen in a multitude of ways. It could have been of your own making, it could have been done to you, or it could be a deadly combination of both.  Perhaps it was an event that’s left you stunned. Or maybe it quietly seeped in without your realising till now. Now you know though, it’s obvious. Life is remarkably different and you didn’t plan it this way. 

In the long hours of frustration where you try and figure out “how” and “why” and “what the actual fuck” you’ll periodically find yourself sighing, shutting your eyes slowly and surrendering aloud “It is what it is”. Your identity was once so bound up in what you had, but now you feel much more defined by what you’ve lost. You’re forever changed, you’re the walking wounded, there’s a limp to your step, you’re a cat with a big ol’ chunk taken out of her ear. You visibly tell a story of the shit that has went down. 

There is an uncomfortable stillness now and a ringing in your ear. There are gaping voids that used to be full to brim. When you wake in the morning, there are no messages waiting to be read.  Your weekend plans are nil and the streets are full of ghosts from your former life. Your resources are depleted and you feel vulnerable. 

Though the circumstances will be unique and that can leave you feeling so very isolated, the sobering reality is - you aren’t the first. 

Yes, you don’t know it yet but by feeling like you don’t belong in your own life you’ll find belonging among the least likely of sorts - those who’ve lost their jobs, their faith, their hope, their loved ones, their standing in a community, their lovers, their friends, those who have lost respect for themselves, or others. The loss makes you feel like a loser and losers don’t feel like they have much to bring to the table. But you’re welcome at this table 

Welcome to the club that you never wanted to be part of. You recognise some of the members, maybe you used to throw them sympathetic glances as your sped by in the fast lane, maybe their limping slowed you down and frustrated you, maybe you found them altogether unsightly and turned your gaze away. Well, you’re one of them now. At first you’ll be ashamed. But then you’ll start to feel a sense of belonging among the Comrades in Loss.  Eventually you’ll feel proud of your membership. You’ll learn that all the greatest people walk with a limp and when they speak, you’ll hear the hard earned authority in their voice, a voice that has a warmth of humility that can only be gained through the humiliation of life going unexpectedly off piste. 

But all that wisdom and solidarity is yet to come. For now you have to let the dust settle.  It’s hard to see when the air is thick from the aftermath.  Like a wave hitting you, you’re scrambling under the surface needing a fresh supply of air but not knowing which way is up.  It’s disorientating, I know. 

For those of you that needed the repetition of ‘Again’ in the title: you didn’t think you’d find yourself here again, at least not so soon.  For you, this isn’t just 'Plan B', you’ve worked your way further into the alphabet by now.  Maybe you thought you’d already had your portion of lessons learned? Maybe you’re confused because you’ve already stepped into the great unknown and built a life from rubble.  Maybe you spent years quietly growing in confidence, learning to own your story and even grew to be proud of your battle scars.  But we all know what pride comes before. And so here you are... again.  

All the old motivational platitudes fall on deaf ears because really, sometimes what doesn’t kill you...accumulates. But here is one aphorism that is important for you to hear:
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” - Heraclitus

You are not the same, this is not the same.  Yes old wounds may be opening and that is producing an all too familiar pain. What you thought was fresh, green, hope has not gone forth and prospered. And you’re back to the dust again. But you’ve acquired muscle memory - and you didn’t have that the first time around. It is precisely because you’ve been through this before that means your approach and perspective can be better, your recovery process honed. I’m trying hard not to say the phrase “fail better”, but dammit it’s true, you’ve learnt to fail better. The muscle memory engages and you know that right now is not a time to react, “this is the time to be slow, lie low to the wall, until the bitter weather passes.” (John O'Donohue)

This is your desert time, but it won't last forty years because you've read Oh the Places You’ll Go too many times. You, my friend are resilient and despite how you feel in this terrible moment, you'll eventually find the courage to build things again. But first reflect, recoup, take stock...



Thursday, 11 May 2017

Upon the DVD Release of La La Land.





When I went to see La La Land back in October I seemed to take an unconscious vow of silence on the film. With hindsight, I can see that this was because I was living through the decline of a relationship that had started beautifully and yet I knew, deep down, was headed (Spoiler alert) in the very same direction as the denouement of the film

Before I went to see it with friends I promised the boyfriend in question “If it’s good I’ll watch it again with you”. Well it was good, but I was silent about that. There was no way I was going to watch it with him for I knew he’d feel it too. The impending end for us had become the ever present elephant in the room and viewing La La Land together would have been like said elephant consuming the ‘Eat Me’ cake from Alice in Wonderland. No cinema screen could have contained it nor could any relationship have further ignored it. The reality was that someday we both knew we’d be strangers in a bar giving each other a gentle nod of acknowledgement to what had passed and what was not to be.

I knew it fair well and yet I wouldn't let my thoughts linger on it for a second. For another 5 months or so I continued to stomp my feet in defiance of what was inevitable because *stomps feet* this time I wanted that dream sequence ending.

Amidst the plastic, Hollywood ascetic and cheesy tunes – there was something commendably real about La La Land. So real that I can’t say I received it enjoyably. It cut too deep, resonated too much. Now the salt on the wound is that it’s released for consumption in your very own home and I am indeed living the outcome of the film. La La Lump in the throat.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Loved Real.


“You know what I’m going to do this year? I’m going to open a credit union account for my face lift – It just makes good sense.”

I shuffle in the chair, make interested ‘uh huh’ sounds and inwardly debate the merit of waging into beauty-parlour-small-talk with my opinion. I try my best to bite my tongue, but I just can’t. What becomes of us if we all just leave these attitudes unchallenged? So I take a deep breath 

“Hmm It’s fun to make the most of what we have, but we are all getting older, isn’t it just better to learn to accept this somehow? – won’t that ultimately make us happier and better people?"

“I hear what you’re saying, but what about Victoria Beckham?”

“I’m not sure what you mean?”

“She isn’t aging. Some people defy aging.” 

Admitting defeat on such specificities I offer my last tuppence worth,

“I guess it’s all fine and well, just as long as you’re giving as much attention to what’s on the inside as what’s on the outside” (preaches to self) 

I am met with stunned silence. Then I hear her whisper-repeat my comment to herself…..more silence. 

“…what’s on the inside, I’ve never heard that before.  I like that. I’m going to remember that”

And now I’m stunned. Stunned and grateful that I move in circles where face-lift-fund comments (and the like) do not go unchallenged.  

It’s all so seductive – you can make yourself a brand new person, again and again.  All you have to do is shop, exercise, groom, tan, bleach, pluck and…. vajazzle (latter worth mentioning on grounds of it’s existence being my case and point. Also, because vajazzle is a funny word)

I pay for my (totally unnecessary and overpriced) treatment and meet eyes with myself in the mirror -  Am I better now? Do I cut it? Can I compete? These are the questions I ashamedly ask myself far too often, I’m no different than face-lift-fund lady really, but I guess at least I know that there are other voices to listen to and there are other faces to look at than Victoria Beckhams (nothing personal on good old posh, I bet she’s a great girl). 

With so many messages thrown at me, It’s hard to hear the signal amongst all the noise.  I’ve heard it said that my value shouldn’t decrease because of someone’s inability to see my worth.  But isn’t that all dependent on how I attribute worth?   If beauty = worth and "Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them." (or, beauty is in the eye of the beholder), then what if no eye beholds and no mind contemplates me? What then is my worth?

We all misplace our worth in some way. I want to hold fast to what I know to be true of my worth.  I believe that I am not loved because I am valuable.  I am valuable because I am loved (cough cough, that was a God bit). So I need not boast in my own efforts, nor must I toil and “try try try” to earn what is freely given. Keeping perspective of this when dating, that is a work in progress because dating exists in a cruel, savage world of first impressions, where image is king. And alas it is The Year of Dating. Survival demands I must learn that dating is something I do, not something that defines. 

To borrow from the Skin Horse in the Velveteen Rabbit (and to manipulate the metaphor somewhat to meet my own needs here) I want to be so real that I don’t mind being hurt, because I know that I am loved though I be shabby and loose in the joints. Imagine how absurd it would be for the Skin Horse to go and get the toy equivalent of a face-lift (all pimpled out like a Bratz doll?) considering the love that has been lavished upon him. He need not earn it.  It’s there. 

I am not my job, I am not who I date, I am not the dirty dishes piling up in the sink, I am not how fabulous my hair looked yesterday, I am not the fine lines forming around my eyes, I am not the mysterious feathers that have somehow exploded all over my car, seriously. 
(It's ok to be psyched or bummed about these things (especially the feathers). But I'm learning that a disproportionate response to them is telling of a misplaced sense of worth.)

I am loved, really loved and loved real. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Year of Dating - the Struggle is Real .



So dating,
Hello world,
here I am.  

I’ve taken to wondering if this is something I actually have to put out there, because I seem to fluctuate between two extremes:

  •  Who the hell would want me?!
and

  •  Alright, I know I’m a mess and I’m ginger and all, but I’m kind of cute and I really, really love kissing. 

So I wonder if the best way to figure out which thesis rings most true is to put it out there:
DATING, I’M UP FOR IT.

Back in August I declared (to myself) that this academic year was going to be it: The Year of Dating. Not online dating though, I’m not talking about those kind of dates that you instantly want out of and then cringe/cry all the way home from in the car.  I’m talking about handsome men, chemistry, a wee drink and kissing…always the kissing.

It’s now November and 5 dates, two guys, a few random kisses in bars with total strangers (don’t judge), a whole new wardrobe and (here’s the rub) a lot of tears, later – I’m seriously considering cutting The Year of Dating drastically short. 

It is fun, the adrenaline is pumping, the flirting is swell, the kissing is BEAUT, but the rejection is so very, very frightening and sadly, the rejection, is also real.  In truth, the most harmless of fun has actually been with the strangers because there is no opportunity for rejection if I run away before they’ve even caught my name.

But the guys who know my name, the guys who have already been run through my worthy-meter, they seem so promising, they chase me, they want me, they wine me, they dine me and then – they disappear. And I find myself back to my original conundrum:


  • Who the hell would want me? I clearly do something very wrong a few dates in, yet I can’t seem put my finger on what it may be specifically.  So it must be everything, everything is wrong with me, who the hell would want me.

And


  •  Alright, I’m not looking for love* and marriage here, and let me once and for all dispel the assumption you all may jump to, I’ve been parenting on my own for 6 years, I’m well used to that and I gave up the search for a father figure long, long ago. All I want is some fun – matched with basic respect. Yes, that's right, some level of actual CARE. Is this really too much to ask for? Didn’t you notice I’m kind of cute and LOVE kissing?!

The jury is out, the decision has not yet been made, the love of kissing and prospect of more of it probably delays my conclusion somewhat. The fear of judgment and the possibility of future cringe worthy remorse at this stage of life will limit this post to harmless sharing between friends.  So the world will have to wait for my grand announcement, my coming out, my debutant ball – Year of Dating – I announce you with a whisper. 

 Be gentle with me for I am being so very brave.



* This may be a lie, I might quite like the love bit (goes and hides in a corner and hugs knees).

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

How To Say Goodbye

He's gone. He choose to go. This time not just leaving wife and child, but leaving us all. I keep typing his name into google expecting to see something new from him, a tweet? a pin? anything please, I'll take it...just not this silence. Looking at old emails, I cannot believe that there will be no more, nor any chance to reply?!  How is this the very end.

Trawling through the old photos I have not dared to revisit during the last three years, I can't help but see the shocking similarities between father and son. I wish they could have met. We have all lost so much in this horrific reality.

My days are not hopeless, my daily life is oddly unchanged. But my heart is heavy and when I wake every morning and remember, I am so very sad. Though I know death is not final, it feels so sudden to know we are no longer on the planet together.

I have been writing, trying to somehow draw out straight lines from the tangled, complicated knot in my stomach. Whenever I find some sense I will post it here.


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Broken Silence

I haven't posted here in a long time. So long that I haven't quite known how to break the silence. Where do I start?

Well, to take the pressure of, I'll just begin with this. 

Hi there, How's it going? 

Wednesday, 28 March 2012