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It’s not you, it’s not even me. Its, erm, Complicated…?

I can see the headline now…“Instant Messaging Apps Fed My Paranoia”



I feel the need to apologise to everyone who currently knows me.

I’ve touched on my paranoid,over thinking mind before,and I even went as far as saying I no longer stress and worry about what people think. However that isn’t entirely true. 

When something “changes”, I assume the worst. My track record proves I’m usually right. That’s a hard feeling to shake.

I still worry. 

I’m still paranoid. 

I’ll still doubt you.  

I’ll still over analyise things. 

Its not your fault. Trust me though, its not really mine either. I wasn’t always this way. I’ve been broken, and although I’m essentially fully healed, there’s still a weak point. Certain situations balance precariously on that weak spot and, yes, it means I “have my moments”. Please, understand them and bear with me.  I am a better, stronger, more confident version of myself than I ever have been before. And, as much as I’m less tolerant of bullshit and being treated like crap, my good nature, and need to try and find the good in people and situations that really do have no good in them, still lingers. Its who I am. I care too much. Because of this, I struggle to remember not everyone is like me.

And here’s a confession for you. A blog exclusive, if you like.

I struggle to let go of things that were once so good but no longer are. My mind doesn’t accept that its often better to draw a line completely than try and salvage some of what once was, in order to cling onto a good memory. Now, this isn’t because I want things to be the same, or want someone back. Far from it. It isn’t every situation either. My marriage was so stale, and the good times were so long ago and so overshadowed by the bad times and revelations, that I successfully let go quicker than even I thought possible. And I have no problem moving on. No, the reason is because I don’t want something that was so meaningful to me to appear to mean nothing to them.

If you’ve read previous blogs of mine, you will be forgiven for jumping to conclusions and expecting me to go ” I’ve been cheated on, I don’t trust anyone “. I’m not going to. Yes. It played a part but it goes deeper than that. It goes deep into the depths of my self doubt and my own head. So, why am I saying its not me? Well, if it was me, paranoia would’ve played a part in my whole life and it hasn’t. If I was to try and pin point when it started, I’d say 2 years and 6 months ago. AFTER my marriage ended. 

When I started dating the person I ended up marrying, neither of us had mobile phones. Contact was made using an old fashioned land line, a couple of evenings a week. We both worked in town so it was easy to pop along and see each other at lunch time if we wanted to.  We got our first mobile phones together, but by that point we were living together. There was no chance to build up a routine of ” contact”.  I had no chance to start wondering “why haven’t I heard from him!”.

18 years later when I become single again, times have changed. I initially started talking to the guy I ended up dating just after my marriage broke up, G, on Facebook. Messenger has this handy little way of bobbing a persons picture down next to a message you’ve sent to show they have indeed read the message. Then it would conveniently show a wobbling “…” to indicate they were replying. Our messenger conversations had a very definate  start and finish. I wasn’t left hanging. We’d say goodnight and that would be it till one of us said “Morning”. We soon awkwardly exchanged numbers in my shop, remember G worked in the shopping centre where my workplace was located, and constant messaging commenced. I’m sure you’re all thinking my god she’s obsessive, but it genuinely was him more than me. He’d walk past my shop and wave, and by the next time I had chance to check my phone, he’d sent about five messages. I loved it. I thrived on it. In the later years of my marriage I wasn’t made to feel attractive. I actually told my then husband that I felt he would rather be anywhere but home with me and although he denied it, I knew how it was wrong that he’d come home later and later and then go straight to his ” office” in the cellar (how right was I in the end!?). I had sensed I was losing him, and despite his insistance it was all in my head, I was right. And he told me he hadn’t loved me for two years. So, he lied too. Now, I had a man texting me with things like “although my eyes are watching my boys play football, my mind is on you”. How is a girl not meant to love that!?!  After a few days of not seeing me, he’d tell me how much he missed me. Heading home after evenings at his, he’d message saying he wished I hadn’t had to go.  His favourite phrase in broken English was ” why you so lovely?”.  I got used to it. I got attached to the contact. No end or beginning to conversations, just a never ending stream of messages that only paused when we were together. I hadn’t had that kind of attention, hadn’t felt so wanted, in a very, very long time. Due to working in maintenance, he had early and late shifts to do work out of hours, but he gave me his time and made effort.

After a while together, his messaging habits changed. I’d not get a morning text if he was on an early shift. He stopped saying he missed me. Messages were ended with a “x” rather than “xxxx”. My work mates said it was normal. It couldn’t possibly keep up the way it was. My rational mind agreed, but my paranoid mind thought, and knew,better. It had changed without warning. I’m very, very intuitive. What was right..? Rational mind or paranoid mind? Two weeks after I felt things had changed, he ended things. The whole its not you, its me, routine. My paranoid mind was right. It had been fuelled with being right, so my inclination to trust my gut feeling rather than be rational dug its heels in and stands firmly by my side to this day. G adamantly promised he wanted to keep a friendship, so I tried and quickly realised it was only me making the effort. For months after, I kept a few special text messages from him locked on my phone. It was clear he didn’t treasure our time together as much as I did. That hurt. That made my paranoia look at it all differently and doubt what we had. When your paranoia is right about a feeling, its hard to ignore when it crops up again. It took me ages to delete those texts, even after I started online dating.

The good thing about texting though, was that you were never really sure if a message had been read. You know, I’ve since realised this ignorance is bliss. 

My next relationship was the alley cat musician. Meeting online meant I had no way of knowing he’d read messages until he replied. Sure, you could pay for membership to allow you to see when messages had been read, but I wasn’t quite at that stage yet! We exchanged numbers on my birthday, a week after we’d started chatting. Texts were consistent till our first date, then completely ramped up after meeting, again, on his part more than mine. When he went to Italy for three weeks he said it’d be hard to keep in touch daily, but I heard from him way more than I expected to. One particular text exchange went as follows:-

D:- I’m so excited xx

Me:- About what? Xx

D:- Us xx

How is a girl meant to respond to that? I was giddy with excitement. Remember my blog about the power of words? They need to be used wisely. You don’t use simple words like that if you have no intention of following through. Maybe I’m gullible….? I know I cling to such words. Words are my thing, remember. Use them on me and be warned, I’ll fall for it every time.

 After Italy, I got a new phone which enabled me to install WhatsApp, something he’d been asking me to do since we got numbers. Word of warning, WhatsApp is not good for a paranoid person. It was the beginning of the end for mine and Ds relationship. 

WhatsApp has 3 indicators for the status of a message.

1 grey tick- message has been received by WhatsApp server. (The recipients phone is likely off, out of signal or service is down if it remains on this for a while)

2 grey ticks- message has been sent to recipients phone but has not yet been read.

2 blue ticks- message has been read by recipient.

Added to this, you can see if someone is online. If they haven’t changed their settings, you can potentially see WHEN they were last on. You can even check what time a message was read. WhatsApp is creating stalkers! 

This is what a paranoid mind sees.

1 grey tick- the person has blocked you.

2 grey ticks- they’ve got it, why haven’t they read it? Are they ignoring me, they’ve been online since I sent it!!

2 blue ticks- they’ve seen it. They’re not typing. They are ignoring me. Its been an hour since they read it.  Oh, they are online now…. Nope, still not replying. I’ll send them another just in case… 

D would often go AWOL for whole evenings , with messages not even reaching his phone. I’d wake the next morning to find he’d read them at some ungodly hour of the morning but still not replied. Even after nights we were due to see each other. I’d send a rant. Which would get ignored.  I’d get paranoid that if I didn’t message him, he’d think I’d stopped caring and then he’d never message and I’d lose him anyway. I’d send another to be told “I’m not getting into an argument, you’re pushing me away”. The original messages long since losing their meaning. It infuriated me. When I tried the same tactics with him, he turned nasty on me! We never really broke up. I just gave up. He never explained nor apologised just kept telling me I was wrong. Maybe I was too much, but come on…. He’s meant to be coming to see me but his phone remains off all night…..?? I think I had every right to rant! I’d go on and on at him, like poking a bear hoping for a reaction. The more he didn’t reply, the more I went on. He told me on numerous occassions that I was pushing him away. Truth be told, I’d long given up on him but he kept telling me to ” give him time” and I so desperately wanted the “I’m so excited” text exchange to be real. 

Also, because I care too much, I worry unreasonably. On one particular night I was meant to be visited by D and he went AWOL, I woke up to the news that a man in his 40s had fled the scene of a car accident in the early hours of the morning, leaving his passenger who was in his 20s stuck in the wreckage. I knew that an ex band mate of Ds  was returning to his native country that day, so my worried paranoid mind convinced me that D had offered to give his mate a lift to the airport and the crash was them. Trust me, a mind like mine can go there. I felt sick as the day went on. Much later in the afternoon, he sees the messages, even ones telling him about the crash and my assumption. I guessed he was at least alive. Or dying in a ditch! He doesn’t reply. I rant. That night he messages to say he got drunk at a mates and stayed there. No acknowledgement of what he’d put me through. 

We remained friends for a while after, with him insisting I was one of his best friends and he trusted me, but when the ignoring continued and it was only ever me putting the effort in, I realised I had to let go. I tried telling him it was a pointless, one sided friendship and I got told I didn’t understand. That he was “sorting his life out”. Because I cared, I felt I couldn’t let him down. So he got chance after chance but nothing changed. How could a man once so ” excited about us” care so little now? I clung onto the hope he’d get sorted and a friendship would remain. It was pointless. I forced myself to let go. He begged to talk to me to explain himself, but I was done. He accused me of being “like all the others”. That hurt, because I care what people think of me. Even though I was cutting him loose, I didn’t want his parting impression of me to be negative. I battled with myself over the need to rant and justify myself to him. Truth is, he didn’t care, so I shouldn’t. Ignoring his plea to explain himself was probably the first time I ever went against my nature. I sometimes wonder what he’s doing now, but I know he’s probably putting some poor person through the same again. 

This paranoia doesn’t just haunt me in relationships, it extends to friendships and other situations too. I’m currently organising a charity fundraising gig so have been messaging venues and bands. I’m shy on the phone, I can get my point across using the written word so much better. Again, social media apps and instant messaging let’s me know if an enquiry has been read. Sure, I don’t expect immediate replies, but to not answer, EVER? Rude! My feeling is this, if you can take 5 seconds to open an app and read a message, you can surely take two more to type ” yes” “no” or “message u later”. As a result of my own paranoia, I try really really hard to not open a message and let it be seen as read until I can grant a reply. Although I realise not everyone is as obsessive about it as me! 

I’ve said before though, I’m paranoid because I care. Because the person or situation is important to me. I’m sorry. I can’t help it! Its not because I dont trust you, its because I’m scared I’ve done something wrong. I know, I know, the more I bother you, the more likely it is that I’ll end up doing exactly what I’ve been worried about doing!

So, If I’ve asked you a question and I know you’ve seen that question but haven’t answered for a few hours… My mind will go through one, some or all of the following:-

They’re ignoring me

I’ve pissed them off

Oh God they’re dead

I shouldn’t of asked that

I’ve upset them

They’re somewhere they shouldn’t be

They don’t know how to answer, it must be bad.

Paranoia is very, very real. It verges on anxiety. There are many levels. I’m not at the delusional stage. I’m not claiming I have a mental illness either, because, believe me, I know people that have and its way more than what I feel and experience. And I’m not paranoid in a negative way, not really. I’m only paranoid in those situations that are important to me. With the people I am, or have been, close to. Perhaps I have pushed people away in the past. Although my gut feeling tells me if my genuine concern and worry could push them away, maybe they don’t deserve my friendship after all and they were infact wanting to walk away from me for other reasons, just used my guilable nature and turned it against me. If I think you’ve stopped talking to me, I’m not angry at you, I’m worried I’ve done something to cause it! 

I jokingly tell the people who come into my life that I get paranoid. Truth is, its no joke.

My current partner and I don’t live together. I’m grateful he’s not a techy geek. Simple texts is all we have. No read receipts. A vague enough routine for me not to endlessly stress that I’ve said the wrong thing. 

Remember how much words mean to me.

Don’t promise me the world, and leave me waiting for the journey of a lifetime.

Don’t say you’ll get back to me, then leave me hanging.

Don’t tell me you’re excited, then show no evidence of it.
I wasn’t always like this. Maybe one day I won’t be again. If I haven’t driven you all crazy by then!

An Evening with U2Baby

Plans had been made for Saturday 25th March. A long overdue catch up with my best friend S. Couple of bottles of wine, prosecco possibly, take out Chinese and a movie on Sky.

A couple of nights before, another friend, L,  asked me if I was still up for a night of live music. I had completely forgotten she’d mentioned it. A tribute band called U2Baby were performing at a local live music venue. My friend L was photographing the gig. U2 had never really made it onto my playlist. Sure, the singles they released were good, great even, but they had never really grabbed me by the eardrums and compelled me to buy every album in the same way my old favourites Shed Seven and The Bluetones did. I owned a Greatest Hits album. That was all.

So, going to see a tribute act was purely dependent on my best friend. If she didn’t want to go, we wouldn’t. Its fair to say she didn’t take much persuading. Drinks and take out at mine.  Then lift into town with my photographer friends husband. Evening sorted.

With stomachs full of food and heads full of wine, a good night was on the cards regardless. When we got to the venue, my photographer friend L was already buzzing. She’d been at the sound check and assured us we were in for a great night. She was/is a fan of U2, and I knew songs had special meanings for her, good times and bad. I’ve mentioned before about an exes love of Muse, its impossible to hear someone you know talk so passionately about a band and not get sucked into the story yourself. 

Before the gig, L introduced S and I to the lead singer. The “Bono”. Introduction was brief and a little awkward. The poor guy was presented with two slightly tipsy girls when all he wanted to do was prepare to go on stage. I have so much respect for musicians. Putting themselves out there to be looked at, judged, talked about. In my early twenties I got roped into doing three pantomimes. Leading lady. Completely out of my comfort zone. I did it. I had fun, but to say I enjoyed it is a stretch. This guy and his band mates were about to put themselves on stage, through choice, and with the raw emotion attached to music they were obviously passionate about. That’s brave.

When I go to a live gig, I like to sing along, tap my foot, know the lyrics. My biggest concern about this gig was not knowing enough songs to fully enjoy the evening. Worried that not having an emotional connection to any of the songs would somehow take away from my experience. I needn’t of worried. The opening song, ” The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” was not one I was familiar with. However, the opening seconds of the song were almost like an anthem, a chant you’d hear at festivals across the fields. It gripped me and it made me listen. Added to that, the band. They looked like U2. The singer came alive, almost unrecognisable from the guy I’d met not ten minutes before. One song in and I was no longer at a gig. I was at concert. I was at a show. The second song was “Vertigo”. A track I knew. One that I liked and could sing along to. Notes and chords alike were spot on, and I forgot I was sat in a small, local venue, instead being transported to a stadium. The sound at the venue was amazing, top quality and every word rang powerful and clear.   

https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=XthAdHa1MA4

As the set went on, I knew the occasional song, but even those I didn’t know scratched through my surface and reached my emotions. I find meaning in songs, relevance to me and situations I’ve been put in, and the ballads especially spoke of my life. L had made me aware of the song ” Invisible “, she told me that to her, it was a song written for me. Prior to that night I’d googled the song and its lyrics and could see exactly what she meant. 

It’s like the room just cleared of smoke
I didn’t even want the heart you broke
It’s yours to keep
You just might need one

Very few people know the extent of what I’ve had to endure over the last two years. L does. S does. And hearing U2Baby perform this song, it felt as if they did too. My story, sung to a roomful of people. The vocals of lead singer Ric Peace sent shivers down my spine when he hit notes that seemed impossible while belting out poetic lyrics that had somehow passed me by the first time around. I hung on his every word.

The accompanying music was polished and professional, you could tell these guys put a lot of effort into sound quality. Every guitar strum and drumbeat resonated with me on a level I didn’t know I had. 

By the time “Where The Streets Have No Name” was played, I could no longer sit still. I dragged S onto the dancefloor, singing away. I couldn’t help but notice a couple of obvious dedicated U2 fans , centre stage on the dancefloor. Guys that knew every word to every song. And they were loving it. Testament indeed to the quality of the performance we were all being treated to. 

It wasn’t until after the show that I discovered the venue was nowhere near full capacity. My memory of the night was very different. Every single person in that room, for me at least, created the atmosphere of a huge crowd. The kind of crowd U2Baby deserve. 

L and I made it our mission to get the guys back to our hometown. As a result I’ve had the pleasure of talking to frontman Ric, and discovering that his passion to not only recreate the sound of U2, but also the look and experience, runs deep. From props, lighting and sound effects, these guys might as well be the real deal. They have their own sound engineer, Matt Rogers, who plays a critical part in getting the U2 sound down to a tee. Matt, I salute you. Job well done. 

My CD collection has grown, purely down to how they have sold songs to me. I’m converted. And our mission succeeded.

Saturday 5th May 2018.

U2Baby will return.

Stay informed and join the group.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/185569531952244/  
I should thank U2 for a new life soundtrack. I should, but I can’t. U2 weren’t there for me in the early days as I chose to lean on lyrics from my old favourites. Instead, I must thank U2Baby for introducing me to  the music of U2.  Some songs I have only heard performed by Ric, Simon, Jon and Ash.

Guys, thank you.

I fell in love that night.

http://www.theu2tributeuk.com

Photos courtesy of Lissywitch Photos

https://m.facebook.com/LissywitchPhoto/

Eight letters. Three words. One meaning.

Who should say I love you first?

You know, I have been struggling to remember the last time someone, other than blood relatives, told me they loved me and meant it. Infact, in my almost 40 years on this planet, I believe I’d only been told twice. Only one of those was genuine. Although I’ve recently started to doubt even that one. As I’ve mentioned before, I met my now ex husband when I just turned 20. I’d had two not serious “boy” friends before that. Love was not a factor. I grew up believing the stereotype that is depicted in romance novels, that men find it harder to show their emotions during romantic encounters, leaving the leading lady rushing in with those three little words. Uttering “I love you”, for the first time is a defining moment in a relationship, for both involved. Saying it first could be like ripping your heart out and showing it to your partner and risk the words escaping into a vortex never to be reciprocated. Being on the receiving end of those words adds weight on your shoulders. Pressure to say it back before you are ready. Guilt if you were feeling it too and realise you should’ve said it all along. Worry that if you say it straight back, even though genuine, your partner will think you’re just saying what they want to hear. Concern that if you never say it, the relationship you were very happy in will change or end completely, even though you felt it was perfect just the way it was without those words being said by either party. Acceptance that, if you don’t feel it too and think you never will, then you’ll break the other persons heart, as you will know they will want to hear it eventually, and face losing them. Oh the power held by such a simple sentence. Eight letters. Three words. One meaning. 

Going back to 1997 when I met my sons father. I genuinely can not remember who said I love you first. Now that doesn’t mean to say it wasn’t some ground breaking, earth shattering, stop the world moment. I’m sure it was. I don’t agree to moving in with someone within a year if those words hadn’t been said and meant. Remember it would’ve been the first time I’d heard them. Maybe its more that unfortunately, the bad blood between us since, has blurred it out. Or maybe that in the final years of our marriage, I was getting the feeling that when I heard the words it was more out of habit and they had lost their sincerity so I did genuinely forget how it felt to hear them and they mean something. Now that statement isn’t me being nasty, its being truthful. Something I now pride myself on being since reading so many untruths about myself posted on social media. Anyway, I digress onto a subject I’m not going to go into. 

Having only had one relationship where those words were said, I went into single life still believing that society accepted the fact that women are way more gushy than men, so saying it first would not be frowned upon or shied away from. Any new, serious, long-term partner would be comfortable with hearing it, wouldn’t they? But I was confused. Its not unfair to say that anyone coming out of an 18 year relationship after hearing the words “I don’t love you anymore”, would probably find it hard saying or hearing those three words again. You’ve heard the saying always the bridesmaid never the bride. Well, I had a slight fear that I may become always the lover never the loved. What if, in my fragile, inexperienced, rather quite naive single state, I would give my heart way too easily and fall hard and fast for men who would never reciprocate my feelings?

So when I had been dating the guy who worked in the shopping centre for just over a month and I knew I’d fallen for him, I thought I felt fine about saying it, because I actually felt he thought the same. Stuff he said, things he’d done. I had keys to his flat! It was a few days after Valentines Day. I’d spent the night at his and had to go to work but he was off so stayed in bed, after getting up and making me coffee. I told him how I felt. Said those simple little words. His response? 

” Be patient, I’m sure the time will come. Trust me” . 

Needless to say, the time never came and two months later it was all over. Now I have pulled that relationship to pieces in my mind.Was it too soon after my marriage split? I don’t think so. Was I really in love or was I just falling quickly because I was scared of being single so close to the age of 40, worried that I wouldn’t find anyone else? It felt like love. Did he really not see himself falling in love with me, despite giving me keys to his flat? He cried when he ended it, a whole other story surrounds his reasons and motives for ending things with me, but I’m not blogging based on suspicion and theories. The fact remains, I said it. It was never said back to me. And it didn’t last much longer after that. It hurt. A lot. Those three little words really really do hold a lot of power. Silently vowed never to be the first to say them again. 

Along came drop dead gorgeous boy. That relationship was a non starter in hindsight. Promised the world, and talked the talk but delivered nothing. I couldn’t fall in love with him. I didn’t see him enough. I could, and did, fall in love with the idea of him. Live gigs, exotic holidays, promises of sexual adventures that made me blush. He just wasn’t “loveable”. Our relationship never really ended so much as just wasn’t a relationship anymore but in a texted argument after it was obvious we were nothing, he told me he loved me, and that he meant it.  He didn’t mean it. I knew that, but it was a mind game very carefully played. He’d always told me he needed time to get himself sorted, was I being too hasty writing him off? Did he, maybe, love me? I never suspected he was cheating on me, but at the same time I never knew where he was and he’d go AWOL. But, what if I was just too broken to notice love when it was right there in my face? Nope, this man didn’t love me, but I’m sure he knew what power those words would hold over a vulnerable woman. Vulnerable yes, broken, no. I so desperately wanted to be loved that for a very brief moment I toyed with the idea of waiting, still, for the man who kept asking me to wait. I called myself Amy Pond, who, as Doctor Who fans will know, was the girl who waited.

 Thankfully, I’m not stupid so that idea didn’t linger long in my mind and although I knew somehow this guy would be a permanent fixture in my life in some capacity, he certainly didn’t and never would deserve my heart.

While doing some research for this blog, I was surprised to find that, although I follow the norm in believing women are more likely to sayvI love you first, studies indicate the opposite is true. The following is taken from an article on counselheal.com. 

According to new research men take on average 88 days for men to say, “I love you” for”very first time to their partners.  As long as that may sound, the study found that women take even longer to profess their love in a relationship. Researchers found that on average women wait 134 days or four months and two weeks before they say the words to their partners.
The study revealed that 39 percent of men say, “I love you” within the first month of seeing someone compared to only 23 percent of women.  Researchers also found that 33 percent of men had met their partner’s family within the first month of dating compared to only 25 percent of women.”

However, if the research is to be believed, how come there are so many  websites and articles dedicated to giving women a list of “Signs that show he loves you even if he doesn’t say it”. If he’s likely to say it before us, surely we won’t be needing to look for signs? Out of curiousity , I googled it the other way round – ” signs that shows she loves you even if she doesn’t say it out loud”. Out of the 11 results that showed up on the first page, only 2 read “she” and not “he”. Surely that’s the proof that we are indeed more forthcoming as men aren’t looking online for lists, they must just know. I’m still confused!

In conclusion, I’m asking myself a different set of questions altogether.

Does it matter who says it first?

If the relationship makes you smile, time is invested in it, you couldn’t imagine life without the other person, its comfortable, you can be yourself, its based on honesty, loyalty is never questioned, would it really matter if those words were never said at all?

My answer to both now is a resounding no.
I have been with my other half for a year and one month now. Those three words have been said by just one of us, long after the research suggests is the average. The words are yet to be returned.
I’m not going to reveal which one of us said it. Suffice to say, neither of us need to google for lists of signs that the other one feels the same. 

Actions really do speak louder than words in this case.