The Monday Feeling

I have a super power. I’m not sure why but wherever I go, people tell me things. Deep and meaningful snippets of detail from their lives that I don’t ask for. I love it though – it makes me feel good to be trusted and it must mean I have an open face.

I think sometimes if you make eye contact with someone you tend to connect with them whether you like it or not. This can backfire in certain social situations, like on holiday when you want to be left alone or on the bus. On the plane to Copenhagen, which was delayed for 2.5 hours, I got talking to the American guy beside me and by the time I’d landed I knew his fiance’s name, how he proposed, their upcoming wedding date, where he worked in Chicago and his favourite film. Not to mention his political views and where he stood on religion.

For the most part I wouldn’t change a thing – I’d much rather be approachable than not. I’m giggling as I think about the handful of friends I have that would seriously disagree with me.

Anyway, I was going to write about my favourite witch films today but have decided to bump that post in favour of this one because I’m kind of buzzing about a conversation I had with the woman in the Co-op last week, and this morning.

Before I start, I should write a disclaimer to say that the Co-op seems to be the scene of a lot of these scenarios for me. Years ago I befriended a guy behind the counter who used to give me leftover flowers most mornings and then went off to have a tummy tuck. My friend Darren found it hilarious how much information I would be bombarded with while handing over money for my cheese & pickle sandwiches. And all while the queue backed up behind me considerably.

Now it’s a woman in town who’s a little bit younger than me. On Friday she was all over the place so I asked her if she was okay. She revealed that she was in a 17 year relationship that had gone off the boil and was now messaging someone else. While I didn’t ask, she was pretty willing to go in on the fact that her long-term boyfriend was taking her for granted and the new one was exciting and super-attentive (they always are at this stage, babe). I had to tell her I’d been there in the same situation because I have – and that she should seriously try to do what’s right for herself.

Well! This morning she greeted me with the biggest smile and told me she’d ended it over the weekend. Nothing about the new guy because it isn’t even about him. It’s about her. She said she was walking on air and that it went so much better than she’d anticipated. Now she has the rest of her life to look forward to – and won’t be turning 40 in a horrible relationship. And man, I FELT HER. I felt it all.

I have been there and I remember the absolute high of finally being free, the greatest feeling of all time. The fear, the anticipation, the realisation that all future decisions were my own, that I had a choice – and that I could change everything if I wanted to. She’s going to feel up and down for a while but over all, she’s going to feel on top of the goddamn world and it makes me so happy for her. You go for it, girl, enjoy every minute!

So people tell me things and I love it but I particularly love it when it’s a good story and one I can personally cheer for. She’s so nice this lady that I imagine we could be friends in IRL. And as for all the other secrets well they stay here with me, not to be blogged about. Ever.

“That’s why her hair is so big, it’s full of secrets.” ~ Damian, Mean Girls

The Scariest Tale of All

I often think about fear and how it affects me. All my life I think I’ve been afraid to try too hard. Sounds pretty general (and maybe relatable?) but if I’m honest, if I’d pushed myself harder in certain areas, things could have been different. Higher education for instance or my so-called talent for spinning a sentence – I’ve been scared to put myself out there in such a way that I actually get some of the things I want.

I am content with what I have though, and I’m genuinely happy with my life. We could always do more or have more but it’s important to appreciate our lot too – so I’m not lamenting anything really, or wishing I’d done things differently. I was meant to be a underachiever and that’s okay, I’m alright, kid.

The one thing that truly terrifies me though is getting older. On one hand we gain wisdom (supposedly) with every passing year but I’m genuinely afraid to get to a point where I’ve lost all my teeth and my knees don’t work anymore. The world is still so obsessed with youth and beauty – and even though I barely have either now, the complete loss of it is very hard to come to terms with. One day I will be a real and true elderly woman with a blue rinse and there’s nothing I can do to stop the process.

I once read an article by a woman who wrote that being middle-aged was the hardest thing to get used to because nobody sees you anymore. I thought at the time this sounded stupid but turns out to be true. You hit 40 and you’re suddenly invisible, the see-through best friend to all your hot younger pals. I am sort of joking, but only because if I don’t I will cry.

So if right now you asked me what my greatest fear is, after sharks, I would say it’s getting older. I’m scared and it is inevitable: I will age. I’m ageing now – every second of every single day I am getting older and I can’t slow it down – so I have to accept it. I can’t let the fear rule my life – I have to remind myself that with every thing I lose, I gain something new. Experience, wisdom, wrinkles.

Since I can’t beat the passage of time, I’m going to have to own it.

Gaslighting

Excuse the serious post prefacing all the fun Halloween fodder but I wanted to put this together following a conversation I had this morning with my husband.

He was telling me about a woman who went to prison for murdering her husband with a hammer. She’d been driven to breaking point by his behaviour and maybe then this behaviour didn’t have a name. It does now, a word bandied around a lot in the media at the moment: gaslighting.

It’s taken me a while to get my head around the definition of this word and now I have, it’s brought up a lot. In relation to the news story, a change in law to recognise gaslighting as a legit form of abuse has affected the sentence this poor woman has been serving. Turns out this man had been manipulating her and making her think she was crazy from the start. I hope they release her because she could so easily be me.

Just in case you’re not aware, a definition:

Gaslighting is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another person’s reality, by telling them that what they are experiencing isn’t so – and, the gradual giving up on the part of the other person. ~ Dr. Robin Stern, author of The Gaslight Effect

For me that statement rings so familiar, in particular the latter point. My greatest shame in life is how far down I fell as a result of a very bad relationship. Rock bottom. I woke up eventually on the ground, looking upwards thankfully but it would have been such a relief and so easy just to take that final step and just let go.

Of course my experience is in no way as extreme as the woman in this story but that’s the point. Control and manipulation can be so insidious, so commonplace within a relationship that you don’t even recognise it. It’s like a slow gas leak, pumping poison into your self-worth.

The man I lived with cheated but told me I was paranoid when I found nude photos on his phone. He’d emotionally blackmail me into doing things sexually that I definitely wasn’t comfortable with (pictures, public places). When we went to Barcelona he managed to get me to go topless on the beach by going on and on until I felt I had no choice (I cried secretly because I felt so bad about my body then and he knew it).

Often he’d remind me I was very lucky he didn’t hit women – that I needed psychiatric help, and my own mother agreed with him (my mother despised him and would never have entertained a conversation alone with him, yet still I believed him). He’d project every single one of his insecurities and fears onto me and that’s the crock – I believed him. I questioned myself. I lost the will to live and I stopped fighting.

What’s more I believed that I loved him, that no relationship was worthwhile if it wasn’t difficult. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and the thought of him now sickens me to the core. Much as I wish it wasn’t true I still bear the light scars of that relationship – but more than that: I still have work to do on forgiving myself.

I feel like a different person now and my strength probably comes from this experience but I’m glad there’s a term for it now. Or at least that I understand it. I don’t share this to be all woe is me. Many (too many) women will see themselves in these stories but we need to talk about our experiences when we can, to ensure that none of us feel alone in the things we’ve survived.

So when snobs get all high and mighty about a show like Love Island I tell them to shush because at least it’s educating the next generation on what to look out for. Maybe I’d have got out sooner or not gone in at all, if I’d know more about it then.

Peace out, fuck face.

Cry for the Bad Man

Ugh. Some days no matter what you do, things just won’t go your way. One thing can throw you off or get under your skin and then suddenly you’re sobbing for every bad thing that ever happened to you.

That was me this morning, Wasting perfectly good make-up on something (and someone) insignificant but also significant enough to (almost) mess up my day. At times like this I feel it’s good to just embrace the misery. Give it time to be what it is: an outlet.

So what if I want to sob uglyly (a word?) until there’s nothing left? So what if it leads me to remember all the heartbreaks I’ve ever suffered, every rejection, every fear? Dead pets too, why not?

Crying can be cathartic and sometimes so is sadness. It reminds us we’re human and that we care about life and people and ourselves. I am still sensitive after all these years and I’m glad because sensitivity helps me connect to others.

I won’t let it drag me down for long (I’ll fight my depression to the bitter end) but I also think it’s okay to feel your feelings. It passes, so far it always has. As soon as a colleague makes a stupid joke or someone puts a heart shaped Post-It on your desk, it’s gone. Until next time.

How are you today?

Chatty Cathy

A quick and half-arsed catch up post just to check in. I’ve had a really busy, sociable week or so it appears but really it’s just been me sitting in a dark theater sometimes alone, sometimes with friends catching up on all the new movies that have had release dates all at the same fricking time. (Reviews to follow on Thursday Night at the Movies).

We’ve had some busy weekends as well – a trip to Margate (I heart you Margate!) and a 10th Wedding Anniversary – so I’m very much just looking forward to a chilled weekend at home this week; washing some socks and knickers, deep conditioning my hair and catching up on my blogs.

Jill and I have taken a wee break from the Blog Collab because she’s been doing exciting things (but we’ll be back next week!), and James and I also took August off the podcast because we were just too busy and popular and shit (but we’ll be back in September).

Work is good, I had an interview for a secondment yesterday and I keep thinking back to the interview and how terrible I was – go figure. Do we ever come out of an interview thinking we were amazing and obviously have the job though? My interviewer asked me to name five Buffy characters which I could do easily, despite not being a fan, though my admission of that might have gone against me.

Either way I’m just pleased with myself for going for it and relieved that it’s over. I can relax now and send back the interview outfits I purchased off Buy Now Pay Later ASOS. For me – although obviously I would accept the job like a rat up a drainpipe if it were offered to me – it was more about standing up and saying, Hey I have more to offer, let me show you. It’s a good feeling. Go me.

And, the weather! The UK heatwave appears to have moved on and the Autumn lovers among us (me 100% included) are coming out in full force (maybe prematurely), getting all gee’d up about boots, coat and tights season. I must admit the drop in temperature makes me feel like I can breath again and pulling out my favourite sloppy cardigan has been lovely.

I’m also starting to think excitedly about the thrillers and ghost stories I’ll be reading in October/November, Halloween and the Wes Anderson film festival Brighton is hosting in the same month – as well as my Copenhagen trip with Panda on the 4th. We have our own apartment and in my daydreams we’ll conduct ourselves like sexy spies, all dark glasses and trench coats wafted about the city like enigmas. In reality, we’ll be sweaty tourists, eager to visit the Little Mermaid and complaining of sore feet from all the walking (me). But I cannot wait.

In the meantime, I have decided to wind down the social activities and be as thrifty as possible. My spending needs to be seriously curbed so I can get through these events and Christmas as unscathed as possible. But all in all, life is sweet.

How are you?

Peace

Lately I’ve been feeling really at peace with myself. Like, I actually like who I am, enjoy who I am with others and I accept what I look like too.

Do I wish I looked like Cara Delevingne? Sure, probably. Would I knock off 5-10 years of age if I could for a fresher face? Yes. But there’s something to be said for finally arriving at a place that says you’re happy enough with your lot and wouldn’t change much, if anything about anything.

This time last year I was falling apart. I was so unhappy I was making myself sick and my anxiety was through the roof. I doubted everything and couldn’t take my mind off my own misery. I hated every move I made, thanks to a horrible working environment and wanted to shrink myself down so I took up as little space as possible.

I took stock and got out of there, slowly building myself back up and now, even on a lack lustre day, I feel blessed.

I just think sometimes when you’re feeling yourself and you like who you are, it’s worth acknowledging it. God knows we spend so much time beating ourselves up when we feel the opposite.

How are you?

Old Wounds

As a person who worries way too much about what other people think of me, I often agree to things I don’t want to do.

Nothing crazy, just meetings that don’t really hold any value for either party involved, that are arranged just to tick a box. An obligation box if you will.

That might sound harsh but surely we all do it? I’m trying so hard to be more honest about these things, to only agree to things I want to do, see people who bring me joy – treat my down time as something special, a currency to be used wisely.

This week an old, old friend of a friend contacted me about meeting up as she’ll be in the country in July. I mean, we’re Facebook friends and everything but the basis of our relationship was always my old best friend, the one I broke up with nearly seven years ago. They were in a relationship and I hung out with them a bit when I lived in Vancouver.

When she contacted me it felt rude to say no even though my first instinct was to ignore her message. She hasn’t done anything wrong. But really all we ever had in common was my OBF and she’s not someone I feel like talking about over a pint any time soon. I’m trying to let go of negativity, not rake it all back up.

But saying no does not come naturally. Anyone else the same? It doesn’t mean I’m selfless or saintly, it’s more that need I have to please everyone. It’s exhausting.

But after a pep talk from my friend Darren, in which he made me see I have the right to leave the past where it is, I told her it wasn’t something that would work for me. I told her I’d moved on and that I had no interest in looking  backwards again. And you know what? The world didn’t implode and she doesn’t hate me. We’re still Facebook friends.

A lesson was learnt in that simple action and I suddenly feel quite strong. I’m learning to let go and give myself what I need. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to ever again (except go to work). I don’t have to please everybody all the time. There is always a way to be kind but firm about your feelings and it’s a revelation. Aged 40 I’m still learning to be honest.

Now who else can I cancel?! (Kidding).