Tag Archive | life

I don’t fancy yours much..

Quite a while ago, I wrote a blog about being happy with my lot. The sentiment still stands, but I can’t help but have a little wobble off my high horse every now and then.

It often happens when someone questions me. The question could be anything, and my answer is often so mundane compared to theirs. The question asker could be a lifelong friend, or merely a regular customer in the shop.

What are you up to?
Are you going on holiday this year?
Why don’t you live together yet?

I still live in the town where I was born and I’ve had the same job for 8 years.

No, I’m not going on holiday this year, I can’t really afford it.

We just don’t.

Not always, but occasionally, I get looked at with sympathy.

Don’t. Please don’t.

You may not fancy my answers much for yourself, but I don’t need pity.

Because…..

There’s one very important question you haven’t asked me.

Are you happy?

Go on, give it a try. Ask me. And then, ask yourself the same question, with your part time/flexible hours job, your third holiday of the year booked, and the all consuming relationship you have which leaves you little time to do what you like (of course I generalise for the sake of this post, but I hope you get what I mean).

My answer would be a resounding YES.

Now I’m not saying that “you” aren’t happy. I’m sure you are, but it baffles me that you think I deserve a sympathetic look if I don’t  have the same as you. Work five days a week, with no holiday to look forward to, no partner to go home to? My life may be different to yours, but can’t we both be happy?

Trust me, even without those things, I am, and I can be, happy.

So, the first question.

What are you up to?

I tend to keep a job unless I’m pushed, i.e. made redundant. I’m not a huge fan of change. I get wound up and nervous about starting all over again. I’m not the kind of person who gets curious about whether the grass is any greener on the other side. Could I go get a similar job with more money and less hours? Absolutely no doubt about it. Do I want to? Not particularly. With High Street shops closing left, right and centre, if there is such a position out there, I’m not sure anyone would leave it unless they feared for the future of the company. There’s no better indication at the moment about the security of a company than how quickly it’s turning over staff and how many people who have had long standing positions there are jumping ship. In most jobs, you are just a number. Job satisfaction for me, especially at my age, is more about my immediate circle. My little team are a great bunch of people. Not just colleagues, but friends. I’ve never been materialistic, never will be. Much to my exes dismay. He mistook my stubbornness to change jobs or seek a higher wage, as me having no motivation. Nope. Not at all. I value mental health and well-being over a new laptop, better phone, etc. I don’t want to change. I’m happy, and at the moment at least, stable where I am. Would a different job change things for me and potentially my partner? Possibly, but there’s my point. Nothing NEEDS to change. I’m not moaning.

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Which leads me onto the next question, which, when I answer , seems to elicit a response of “Awww , that’s a shame”.

Are you going on holiday this year?

Nope.
Number one reason is cost. Secondly, remember I was left with two dogs when “he” left me. Putting them in kennels would cost a lot on top of the holiday, and that extra cost would stress me out so much I wouldn’t even enjoy the bloody holiday. Thirdly, work schedules for my other half and I are hit and miss. Despite me giving him my booked weeks, there’s no guarantee he’ll get the same. HOWEVER…… every single day off we get together throughout the year, we have lunch out, very often have day trips out and about. I’d put money on the fact that we do more as a couple out and about than the average married couple. Just the two of us. Neither of us stood cooking in the kitchen for the other. More often than not, we drive out into the middle of nowhere and end up eating somewhere we’ve never been before. There’s no routine. Nothing to get bored with. Nothing to argue about. Just new, different, fun. Give me that 52 weeks of the year over a week long holiday any day! Every single day we have together is different. Every single day is filled with so much laughter. My life isn’t a never ending routine of “normal” that leaves me with a burning desire to spend money I don’t really have on “getting away”. Each day off with my other half is a mystery until he turns up on my doorstep. My idea of excitement may not match yours, but do you know what? It doesn’t matter!!

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And last but not least…

Why don’t you live together yet?

Believe me, I get this more often than you’d think. It’s usually accompanied with a confused, quizzical look and ….”But you’ve been together 4 years?”… yeah, and?

I’m often tempted to answer “because I don’t want to”.  At the end of the day, you’re all assuming that’s what we want. This is the only one I’m not going to give you a full answer to. All I’m going to say is, it’s circumstances. I actually don’t need to explain ourselves on this one.
There are, of course, some obvious factors.

I have two female dogs, one particularly boisterous, he has an elderly, grumpy male dog. It wouldn’t work.

My financial status is crap. I don’t mind admitting that, because it wasn’t MY unreasonable spending that left me that way. It’s amazing how much baggage you unwillingly still have to carry just because someone once “put a ring on it”.

Have we talked about living together? Yes, of course. I’m 100% positive it will happen one day. In the future. When? Who knows? Does it matter? Let me refer you to the answer to the previous question.
Am I in a hurry to give up the lunches out and the random day trips to the zoo, the beach, the middle of blooming nowhere? Nope, not I! Getting to experience these things that I haven’t done since I was a child myself, or when my son was small, takes on a whole new level of appreciation when done with your soul mate.
Am I in a hurry to get into a routine of mundane, arguments about whose turn it is to cook, wash up, put washing on, pick washing up etc etc. Not quite yet. Been there, done that, cried the tears. Lost the plot.

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I’m a simple person with simple expectations.

At the moment, I have my health.

At the moment, I am happy.

Am I rich? Good God, no. Even if I was, the above two statements are not a guarantee.

Over the last year, on average, we have had one whole day a week together. 52 days that have each been different from the last, and different from the next. From fish and chips in a field, to a fancy restaurant in the country, we have eaten out more times in one year than I ever did during 15 years of marriage.

You can not begin to measure the value of spending time with someone who WANTS to spend their day with you, over someone who HAS to spend their time with you.

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My point is this. We can all be happy. Just because you don’t get how my life could possibly make me happy, it doesn’t mean I’m not. What I have and how I do things may not be for you, but it works for me. I’m a firm believer of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

We all get our “happy” fix in different ways.

I wouldn’t change mine for the world.

Version 2.0- User Manual- Inner workings of an over thinking paranoid mind. Nov/Dec edition

​Upon meeting me for the first time, I probably won’t reveal an awful lot about myself. I imagine I give off the impression I’m confident, talkative and quite strong in mind. After a few meetings or conversations, I may start to tell you the things that have happened over the past few years, the things that essentially have made me into the character you meet today. Even then, I’ll appear to tell you with confidence, you’ll think I’m coping quite well, I’ve even been called brave. Someone once said “inspirational”.
I’m not brave.

I’m not inspirational.
It’s an act I’ve rehearsed, and practised, and honed to perfection in order to get through those conversions without letting out the blubbering wreck that still lives with me, albeit it occasionally, in my busy, over thinking little head. It gets crowded in there. In my little head. So every now and again, I have to let that blubbering wreck out, so the confident, coping version of me can stretch it’s legs and limber up for the hardest season of the year. Winter is shit. Yearly I feel the need to write something like this as, with each year that passes, new people join my life and those people have only ever known the version of me that I now portray on a regular basis. They might never have witnessed my very rare breakdowns, as they only happen in front of people that know me, know why, and I feel safe doing so in front of. However, if you’re still around in my life in November or December, the chances of meeting the wreck is increased, so you kinda need to know the warts and all “me”. Both versions.

 

The prompt for this particular blog is the fact that on Friday 26th October, I had to kick the emotional wreck out of my head for a short while so that I could process stuff on my own without her snivelling in my inner ear. So, out into the real world she came. Tears and all. Whilst I was at work, on my own. I had to get my Mum to phone the shop to speak to “her” as for that short time, rational me couldn’t get through to “her” , and to be frank, “she” needed to let it all out before I let “her” back into the safety of our shared accommodation in my head. 
Now let’s face it, the saying goes “there’s a time and a place for everything”, and that wasn’t the time or the place for that to have happened. I didn’t see it coming and certainly didn’t plan for it to happen right then and there. But it did. And here I find myself explaining why, and also preparing those of you who have only known me this year, that early year me is a very different jigsaw puzzle to the one you’ll have to try and figure out in any given November or December going forward. 
So here’s the re-cap. The full stories can be found in previous posts so a little scrolling back is in order.
On December 28th 2013, my older sister passed away suddenly, aged just 39. Having seen her alive and well on Christmas Day, it was the biggest, most shocking event of my life to date. No time to mentally prepare. No chance to say goodbye. On November 6th, a week today, she should be celebrating her 44th birthday. Instead, she’ll be 39 forever, with 5 birthdays celebrated with the stars. It kills me each year that I’m now older than my older sister. It’s not right. It’s not normal. My family no longer has a normal. 
On December 11th 2014, my husband of 14 years, partner for 17 years, told me he couldn’t give me a hug as I cried over the approaching one year anniversary of my sister’s passing, because he no longer loved me and apparently hadn’t for two years. As he fell asleep and snored upstairs, I cried downstairs until, at 3am, I decided to kick him out and off he went to his parents. 

I do not mourn my marriage ending in December, but I will never forgive the timing, the way it all happened and the way it’s been ever since. Also, nothing could’ve felt worse than losing my sister the previous year. Compared to that, this was nothing. Plus certain actions and behaviours on his part made it very easy to move on from the break up and find myself happier in a relationship than I’ve ever been in my life. But I still resent the lies and deceit behind the whole charade leading up to that event. I am bitter. I won’t forgive or forget because it wasn’t as simple as it was made out to be. 
So, perhaps unsurprisingly, the next two months are always hard for me. It is inevitable that the face I present to the outside world will crack occasionally. 

Fast forward to Friday 26th October 2018 and a series of unfortunate events that led to the release of my weaker self. Some events directly associated with my own circumstances, others not, but they were certainly a contributing factor. 
On the Wednesday, I’d seen my best friend for the first time, properly, in a long, long time. She’d been dealing with a lot of stuff, illnesses in the family, work, sleep issues, relationship yours ups and downs. Through messenger and WhatsApp, I was getting half a story, and I’d been frantically trying to pin her down for a catch up for weeks because I was worried. I’m a worrier. Always have been, always will be. I had wound myself up in knots about not being there for her when she needed me. She was there for me throughout the two most shocking events of my life and I desperately wanted to return the favour. I know she has other people she can talk to, but I need to be there for me, she means the world to me and I was reduced to tears each time a meet up couldn’t happen. I knew there was more going on in her head than was being revealed by typed messages. So, when we met, I let her talk. By the end of our evening together, we were having a laugh. The magnitude of what she was dealing with and the fact she could still go on to have a laugh made me realise, she’s the brave one. She’s inspirational. Not me. On the Thursday night, the night before my break down, she needed me so I called her and spent the best part of the evening on the phone to her as she poured her heart out and battled with her thoughts. I was pleased I could be her shoulder to cry on. I can’t fix things, but I can fill my role of best friend and listen.
Another good friend of mine was spending her last week off work before working straight through over Christmas and New Year, visiting her Mum, who had taken ill suddenly, in hospital. Again, not being able to physically do anything to ease her pain, it hurt me. I kept in touch, and thought of her daily.  No one should go through something like that alone. She returned to work this week, not knowing what was going on and literally having to take each day as it came. That’s brave. That’s inspirational.
I love my friends like family. When they hurt, I hurt.

On my break down day, I’d said goodbye to my son as I left for work and he left for school, knowing that I’d be going home to an empty house and not seeing him again until the Tuesday. Although grateful he still has two parents that love him and want to see him, I still hate it. I have a feeling that his dad thinks I use that time to go out and party, when in fact the opposite is true. More often than not, I’m sat home alone in the evenings. Sure, I’ll see my other half when his shifts allow it to be so, but sods law often has it that when my son is away, my partner works late shifts. I didn’t sign up for sharing my time with my son. I signed up for a family unit. I’m traditional in that respect. I wouldn’t change a thing in the way my life has turned out since the bad stuff. Except that. I’d change something so I never had to say goodbye to my son, only “see you later”. I know that can never happen, as, when he gets even more independent and older still, he’ll eventually be leaving home and going away. I can handle the thought of that though, as it means he’s making his own life. At the moment I feel it’s been taken away from me.  On top of this, my ex has already indicated that he wants our son for at least half of Christmas Day this year.  Now bear with me as I explain this one before you think I’m being an unreasonable, selfish, bitch. Selfish is one word I would never use to describe myself. When we spilt, as it was already fairly close to Christmas, I made it clear that I would never, ever stop him seeing our son on Christmas Day. The first year was awkward. He came round in the morning and we handed out the gifts I’d bought from “us” . Awkward, but worth it for our son. 2015 I think was pretty much the same deal. The following year, I think he decided to have our son in the week running up to Christmas Day and brought him back on Christmas eve. His choice. Seeing him Christmas Day was not discussed. The option, as has always been was there. He chose not to take it. Last year, the ex and his partner went away to a secluded cottage for Christmas. Again, his choice as to whether he saw our son or not. So imagine my shock when this year he suggests having him for half the day, in a text which, quite frankly, ignored the fact that the last two years he chose not to see him at all. A text which suggested that as I’d had “the boy” every year since we split, it was actually now his turn. I HAVE NEVER EVER RECINDED THE COMPROMISE OF LETTING HIM SEE HIM. ALSO, I WILL NEVER EVER CHOOSE A SCENARIO WHICH MEANS I WOULDN’T SEE HIM. Even as an adult, I have seen my parents every single Christmas Day. My upset comes from the fact that for the first time in my 41 years on this twisted planet, I face waking up on Christmas Day alone. Sure, I’ll see my partner, but not until the evening as the Christmas eve shift usually renders him useless until about mid day. I could go to my parents, but they usually have my nephews round in the morning with us so that they can give their grandchildren their presents together. My sons absence means that if I do that, they won’t get to see him Christmas Day. Why should they miss out? Christmas Day after lunch, my son and I watch TV and eat junk. I don’t drive, so with the current proposed plans, I’m going to have to walk round to my parents in the afternoon instead, which means potentially missing my nephews. It’s screwed up what we have salvaged of Christmas just because this year, it suits HIS plans to see him. Also, he’s always had him New Year since the first year when he thought better of leaving me on my own after being dumped. This year however, he said our son will want to be with his friends this year. Our son is 15. You tell me where he can go at that age on New year’s eve!? Again, I strongly feel this year they have New Year plans that don’t accommodate a teenager, so he dictates I can have him. Knowing also that I’ve spent New years eves with my partner. 

I am truly terrified of Christmas this year. Christmas for me is family and home. I don’t want to go to the pub. I don’t want to see friends just because I’m on my own. I have a traditional idea in my head of what the festive season is like and I don’t want to accept that this year will be so far removed from that. I don’t want to “have our Christmas Day on Boxing Day”. 

So on to potentially the hardest part of my blog..

The day we lost my sister, has been a date I’ve been unable to work since it happened.

However, it is becoming problematic at work.

Last year, for example, Christmas Eve,Christmas day and Boxing day all fell in the same week as the 28th of December.

As a retail worker, I only get two days off a week.

For me it’s been an ongoing problem to try and have either Christmas Eve or Boxing day off along with Christmas day, and I do the same thing for all my staff in order to give us all a fair Christmas. However with me wanting the 28th of December off too, this causes problems. Last year the area manager kindly let me take 3 days off Christmas week, and only have one day off the following week, the week between Christmas and New Year.

Not only did this mean I was incredibly tired the week after Christmas, with the January sales kicking in, it also meant that the week that my son was at home before he went back to school, I only had the one day off with him.
I don’t know how I’m going to be on that day, but I feel I need to try. What are my other options, never work that day ever again in my life? 
I do nothing on that day when I take it off, I sit at home I think and basically I waste a day off.
There’s nothing I can do. This will be the 5th year without my sister, and in all honesty I think I need to move on. It will never get any easier, it will never get any better.
It definitely won’t bring my sister back. And all I do is waste a day with my son when I don’t do anything with him. I’m not prepared to do this anymore. I need to be here for the people that are still here, the people that are with me today, and the people that still love me and I love them. 
It could be a day when the blubbering wreck is the only person you see. But until I work it, I just don’t know how I’m going to be. But I do know this..

I want to spend more time with my son.
More quality time, where I’ll be free of mind to do whatever I wish with him. When “she” has been locked up again for another 10 months. 
I hate being like this. Over thinking and worrying take over my life. I reveal to very few people what I’m like. You meet a confident, happy person who appears in control of what life throws her way. You don’t see the person sat at home, desperately wanting to go out but instead has wound herself up in knots about something she can’t control and the evening just passes her by. 

At any given time, I am dealing with a thousand different things in my head. I can’t talk about them. I don’t want anyone to fix me. I will stew them over and over on my own. No-one can do anything to help. All you can do to help is remember that behind the confident facade, I am.struggling. Remember that. If you think I’m being offish, it’s not intentional, it’s because I’m working through something in my head, trying to keep the wreck inside. If you think I’m being anti social , I’m probably sat at home having a battle with “her”.

I will be there for you if you need me. I’ll never let you down. I’ll offer you coffee, companionship, whatever you need. 

You’ll rarely see “her” , but she’s always there, often forced to stay behind the divider in my mind so that I can help you instead, because I want to. It gives me a purpose. Left to my own devices, “she” makes more appearances. 

All the above has led me to the decision to come off Facebook for the foreseeable future. Facebook is full of irrelevant, silly stuff that we all spend so much time idly scrolling through, not looking up to take stock of what’s going on in the real world. Facebook, and social media in general, also ruins friendships. Blatantly and obviously screaming “look what I’m upto” , knowing no invite to join such shenanigans had been offered your way. Quite frankly, while my already over thinking, paranoid brain struggles even more over the next two months, I don’t want a part of the petty competitions that play out in front of my eyes against the white and blue background of Facebook. I am simply not playing. Real life is not a competition. Even if it was, for two months at least, I don’t have the fight to compete. I’m throwing in the gloves. And the towel. Time out. I lose. 

I will be here for anyone that needs me.Always and forever. 

But please remember all I’ve said above. I am writing this to inform the new people in my life what I go through internally. I won’t talk about it often. I’ll never use any of it as an excuse, even if it is the reason behind my actions.

Do not take advantage of my good nature. I’m the girl that will always ask how you’re doing. I’m the girl that will always ask if there’s anything I can do. I am the girl who will always listen, even if I can’t fix anything. 

Exclude me, and I’ll back away. I’m fighting enough battles as it is. 

The things I used to trip upon, I walk all over now. 

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“A little story about quotes”

​I’ve not written a personal blog for quite some time. I usually write about worries, insecurities, things that irk me. My paranoia is also a huge contributing factor to the basis of my blogs. 
The reason I’ve not written?
I’m in a good place. 
A very good place.
Don’t get me wrong, that place isn’t completely trash free. But me, well, I’m coping a little better than I ever used to, and that in itself is a huge achievement.
Making decisions to let things go, not worry or dwell on them, has made such a huge impact on my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a paranoid worrier who thinks I might upset someone just by the tone of my voice when I say “hello” , but essentially I’ve made friends with “reason” . Things bothered me more before than they do now. 
There are a few phrases I’ve used over the last couple of years that I’ve adamantly decided need to be put to good use. Practise what I preach, so to speak. And you know what? It’s not all mumbo jumbo inner self spiritual shit either. It’s worked. Or rather, it’s working. In progress. Some areas still require attention. But I am getting there though. I truly am. 
So what are these phrases and “rules” I’ve applied? Trust me, none of them are unachievable. 

 “Let go of what doesn’t make you happy”

It seems ridiculous that I even have to “action” that one, but I do. For some reason we all cling onto things just because once, at one point in our lives, it made us happy. Even though it has long since stopped enriching our lives, no longer provides any sort of enjoyment, we still keep it because once upon a time, it did. By this I mean friendships, relationships, clothes, trinkets and even memories. We clutch onto these things “just incase”. You know that drawer you have, full of bits and bobs, chargers for devices you no longer own, random bulbs and cables, that no longer have a purpose but you keep just incase they become useful again? Well our brains and hearts have the same compartment for feelings and emotions. But, just like that drawer, every now and then we need to have a clear out. The phone cable that charged your very first mobile flip phone, which was more than adequate to text and call could never be powerful enough to charge your all singing all dancing iPhone that you use as a diary, planner, camera, alarm etc that you have now. It doesn’t even fit. Just like the friendship that once helped you get through your awkward teenage high school years, is now not proving capable of having your back through adult problems. It doesn’t fit anymore. See my point? It can never be what it once was. It’s served a purpose for a while, but no longer does and never will again. There’s no point in keeping hold of it as it will never be able to offer the same function or fulfilment ever again. You’ve out grown each other. Accept it and move on. 
So many people stay in loveless, mundane, boring relationships because they made vows, promises, to a person who once upon a time gave them every reason to smile but now makes no effort to keep that spark alive. Despite trying everything, the relationship has naturally run its course. But rather than break free and seek what they crave, they stick with it because maybe, just maybe it’ll reignite itself. People stay because of the children, thinking it’s the right thing to do. It’s not. Kids pick up on unhappy vibes and it has long term and detrimental effects on them too. There is no shame, if, after trying everything, the relationship brings no enjoyment to anyone involved, in saying goodbye and parting ways. I was guilty of this, staying put when no longer happy, and all that ended up happening was me getting hurt, because I wasn’t brave enough to walk away earlier. Buried my head in the sand and went “la la la” and pretended it would all be ok in the end.  It wasn’t. It got worse. I saw the signs and ignored them because of what I then believed to be the right thing to do. Doing the right thing isn’t always rewarded,I know that now. I shouldve walked away when I’d started to feel lonely and question whether he even wanted to come home. But instead I chose to stick with it because I’d made vows. I was a proud woman and didn’t want to appear like I was giving up. 
I once kept a dress which had long since become too big for me, but I absolutely loved it and I wore it for such a special occasion so I couldn’t get rid of it. It was a big, full length dress that took up a lot of space in my wardrobe. It had been too big for me for 3 years when I finally got rid of it. Although the occasion I wore it for was of huge importance and I felt amazing in it at the time, I was only keeping hold of it for sentimental reasons. I never intended to wear it again. By keeping it, wasn’t I just setting myself up for being a bigger girl again – I’ll keep it just in case I’m ever that size again? If I do get bigger again, so be it,  I’ll just buy a new dress for a special occasion.
Get rid of anything stale and stagnant, physically and emotionally. 


 “Choose Happiness”

I recently went through a run of bad luck, some of it still hanging around like a shadow following me everywhere. One thing after another rained down on me and the weight became hard to carry. They say bad things happen in 3s. Well my quota was up before mid day and it wasn’t showing signs of stopping. I struggled to get motivated at work, my already crap sleeping pattern became even more disrupted, my skin was worse than ever. I was down. I was defeated. I forced myself to do a Happy Days challenge, where for 100 days, I post about something good that has happened that day, to prove to myself that even on the worst days, there’s a little glimmer of sunshine. Some days have been easy, days out with my other half, lunch with my parents, time with my son etc. But other days really were/are a “challenge”. As I write this, I am 53 days into my current self set challenge. And I’m proud to say, so far I’ve succeeded in finding something that has made me smile every day, even if just for a moment. The good things really do out weigh the bad. On the toughest days, I have felt like saying sod this, nothing’s gonna cheer me up, but then I decide to be happy, snap out of it and lo and behold something catches my eye and makes me grateful for the day after all. If you wake up hating the day before it even begins, you are on a downward spiral that you’ll struggle to get out of. Knowing I’ve set myself a silly little challenge to find that happy moment, I know I’ll be actively looking for it all day, thus forcing me, willing me, to make it appear.  I’m not trying to say to the world “look at me, I’m so happy, life is perfect”.  I’m simply trying to prove that a positive mind set can turn a negative, bad day into something not so bad after all. 


” Let whatever happens be ok”

Ok, ok, this one isn’t mine. I stole it from a friend and I know they won’t mind me using it. This is one I NEED to get on board with. I lose hours, day time and night time, worrying. I worry a lot about stuff that doesn’t matter. But mostly, I worry about things I have absolutely no control over. And it’s moments like that where I need to remember this saying. No matter what I do or don’t say, what I do or don’t do, the result will be the same. I can’t change or influence it. All I can do is hope that whatever does happen will be something I can cope with and deal with. I need to accept that some things are bigger than me and what happens will happen whatever I do or don’t do. I’ve always been brought up to be responsible for my own actions, so when events happen that are out of my control, I have a hard time letting go of the responsibility, even when it’s not mine! For example, my mum had an operation recently. No amount of worrying on my part could change the outcome, or assist the doctors. All I could hope for was that the procedure went well and my mum recovered quickly. Wasting a day fretting and pacing would’ve done no one any good. 


 “Be the bigger person”

Over the last few years, I’ve been lured into some serious games of tit for tat bickering. At first, my desire to defend myself was so strong, I retaliated and just ended up miserable and frustrated about what version of events people were believing. Until I learnt to ignore it and let go. Let the truth find its own way out. Stand down and let everyone else carry on digging their own holes. No matter how much the proverbial bear was being poked, I stopped biting. I refrained from bringing my opponent down. And it felt, no feels, so good. Slowly, slowly, by keeping my composure and not hitting out in defence, people are realising that things aren’t quite as they are being described. It pays to hold your head high and say “I’ve done nothing wrong”. There are various quotes about truths but mine is “there are three versions of truth, yours, theirs and the Chinese whispers created by those who mix the two”. When an untruth is told so many times, the person speaking it starts to believe it themselves. When you reach this stage, there is no point trying to prove they are lying anymore. Sit back and watch them tangle themselves up on their own lies.


” Life’s too short”

Since losing my sister in December 2013, this is the one saying I’ve grabbed hold of more than most. My sister was 39. No age at all. Chances and opportunities taken away from her with no warning. For the sake of my parents and my son, I’m not going to waste another day. This saying is the umbrella underneath which all the others sit. It encompasses everything I now believe and strive to put into action. 
Life’s too short to not be happy.

Life’s too short to waste time worrying over things you can’t control.

Life’s too short for regrets.

Life’s too short for “what if”.

Life’s too short for “if only”.

Life’s too short, eat the cake.
My sister didn’t know it was going to be her last day, the day she passed away. She thought there was a tomorrow. A next week. A next year, when she should’ve turned 40. There wasn’t. And it hurts and upsets me deeply that there were so many things my sister wanted to do but didn’t get chance, because she thought she had plenty of time. Don’t put off until tomorrow, things that you can do today. Tomorrow isn’t promised. I won’t waste a day. Even on a day off with nothing to do and nowhere to go, I go out at least once, just for a walk by myself, fresh air and exercise. I purposely take time to appreciate all that life has to offer. 

Another good friend of mine uses “Not my Llama, not my zoo”, which is her version of the phrase :-

not my circusnot my monkeys”  meaning its none of my business and indicates that one is not responsible for controlling or changing a volatile or delicate situation.

A lot of our time is spent stressing over other people’s situations, things that not only don’t affect us, but that we can’t do anything about anyway. I’m not saying we shouldn’t care, but why stress over something you could potentially walk away from? Why overload your plate even more when you’re already struggling to balance things? Leave it to those involved to sort out. 

I asked the question about what quotes do you live by to a forum I’m a member of on Facebook and the response was immense! So much inspiration! A couple I loved were along very similar lines as each other.
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken”

“If you walk in everyone elses foot prints you will never make any of your own” 

Be yourself. Make your own choices. Act how you want to act. React in a way that comes naturally. Laugh when you want to laugh. Cry when you need to cry. Wear what you want. Eat what you like. Hang out with whoever you want. We don’t need to justify ourselves to anyone. Our individual selves are the most beautiful versions of ourselves. No need to blend in. No need to pretend you’re ok about something if you’re really not. If you want to wear the short skirt , wear it, don’t worry if people are going to think you haven’t got the legs for it. Approaching summer I saw a great post being shared on social media. The caption read “How to get a bikini body in time for Summer”. The pic showed a beautiful plus size woman wearing a bikini. Underneath the picture, the answer said “Buy a bikini. Put it on”. I absolutely love that statement. 

I should probably also say that I have a friend who was born with no legs. His saying is #nolegsnoproblem . His attitude to life is so refreshing. Yeah, he can moan, but never ever about the hand life has dealt him. I think we could all learn a lot from him.

I think the answer that came up most when I asked which quotes people live by was simply
 “Fuck It”.

I can’t change who I am. Paranoid, over sensitive, worrier. But I can change whether or not I care.
Team the popular quote above with my all encompassing quote and, at the age of 41, I have discovered a motto to live by. 


” Fuck it, Life’s too Short”.

The Month of Meh, and how to lighten the dark.

​How many of you reading this are feeling fed up of February? 

I genuinely think its been one of the coldest and wettest February’s for a while in recent years.

Its “meh”. I feel “meh”.

I’m fed up of leaving my house at 8.15am so wrapped up I could easily be mistaken for an abominable snowman. Or a Yeti. Layer upon layer of warm clothes to walk to work in, leaving arms sticking out uncomfortably from your sides as you struggle to do anything while wearing the essential gloves needed to protect hands from the bitter cold. My skin is dry from being out in the cold, then into an artificially heated building. February is not kind to me. February is not selfie month.

And don’t even get me started on the rainy days. And the wind. Add those two elements into the mix and you’ve got the perfect recipe for my worst mood ever. Starting work with bedraggled, wind blown hair, ice reddened face, chapped and dry lips, mud splattered boots and trousers is a look I’m keen to see the back of. I’m longing for the days where I can breeze into work wearing a flowing dress, light jacket, if any at all, and the only redness gracing my cheeks with be the happy, healthy glow of fresh skin, all “Marc Jacobs, Daisy” ad campaign. 
On top of all that, I’m tired. Physically and mentally. I’ve not had a week off work since the third week of October. Retail management means we don’t get time off for Christmas.

I look terrible.

I am shattered.

I’m starting to hate every item of clothing in my winter wardrobe.

It’s too cold to go out and do what I want.

I’m too skint to go out and do what I want.
I should be bloody miserable. I’m not. Sure, I have my moments.

I’m the Queen of Paranoia.

The essence of Self Doubt.

A Gold Medalist in Worrying.

Champion of letting what others think, get to me. 

Ultimately though,  I’m happy.  More so recently than ever before.

And, there is a reason. I think.  A theory I’ve been toying with and inadvertently applying to my own life. I’ve made changes. To myself and around others. 


Fountains
and Drains
I came across this saying/reference when I stumbled upon the blog posts of James Wittering. www.witteringon.org.  I found his blogs fascinating, and binge read his posts so far. He’s a guy, who has been through some break ups, coming to terms with the implications and just trying to get through life positively and without majorly fucking up. I could relate to that. It was actually refreshing to read about these issues from the male point of view. He talked about how he struggled to watch programmes that he and his ex used to watch together. I too have spoke in the past about how my ex and I used to watch certain things together, yet near the end of the marriage they began to fill up Sky Planner as he was never around and how I have never revisited them since. He seemed of similar mind. I then read his blog about fountains and drains. At the time, I couldn’t really relate it to any part of my life, so I read it, enjoyed it and didn’t give it much thought after that.

 Until early this year. 
I was mulling a problem over and over in my head. Like I do, scared that if I told anyone about it, it would make the problem bigger, more real. I didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted to think. To procrastinate. To work it out on my own. Eventually, I did. I made peace with the problem in my head and managed to put a positive spin on it. Then I told a friend about it.  That friend then made a single comment that started with “but”… and everything I’d just reasoned to be true was thrown precariously back into doubt again with one fail swoop. This is when I remembered about the fountains and drains. 
Let me explain..

FOUNTAINS.

Think of your close circle of friends. The people you turn to with good news and bad. When sharing good news with a ” fountain”, they will drink in your every word, then gush with pride and appreciation and shower you with compliments and exclamations of how happy they are for you. They turn your one stream of excitement into a flurry. When faced with your bad news, they will try and put a positive spin on it, try all they can to help you see it as an opportunity. They will give your problem more life ,making it turn from a negative weight on your shoulders, into a fresh bunch of small bite sized issues that they will help you deal with. They are bright, sunny and positive people themselves. They have a positive outlook on life. They also care enough to ask the uncomfortable questions when they think you’re heading down the wrong track. They’ll want to get you back on the right one. Fountains are happy people who see the best even in bad situations. They don’t need other peoples constant approval.  

DRAINS. 

Same scenario with a drain. Tell them some good news, they will let you flood them with your enthusiasm, swill it around a bit, effectively filling them up with your own positive thoughts before they pull the plug with the simplest of statements such as “but” or “what if”, instantly draining your mood. They don’t necessarily mean to, these drains can still be friends, they just don’t know how to be happy if you are. Its their mindset, not yours. They don’t want to see you set yourself up for a fall, so they throw doubt in there to keep your feet on the ground. On the flip side, with bad news, they offer no solution. If you are trying to see light at the end of the tunnel, they will unintentionally flush away any hope of sorting things out, pulling you further down the drain with them. They want to be there for you but can offer no more than ” oh no”, “oh dear” or, if a good thing has gone bad, drains are the ones likely to say “I told you so”. They are often the ones whose own lives are full of drama and they can’t help but drag you in and down with them. They are impossible to please. Never happy.  Drains almost always self deprecate for no reason too. Try on new clothes and say they look fat when they don’t. Stand onstage to perform, and then rip their own performance apart. They aren’t able to say, you know what, I think it suits me. Or, I really enjoyed that, I gave it my all. They do need approval, someone to say don’t be silly you look/did great. 

We all do have both types of friends. Sure, we have drains in our lives that are intentionally trying to bring us down too, but I’ve long learnt to not let them effect my mood. (Or at very least I know about them, I’m aware of their motive, and I’m TRYING not to let them get to me!).

Since remembering about the fountains and drains blog I read, I’ve made a conscious effort to be selective about who I share my news with. Stepping back from the drains, they will only get edited highlights, be included in general chit chat, generic group conversation. Whereas, when I need to share news, good or bad that has effected me, I’ll turn to the fountains, the ones that will lift me up when I’m down and push me higher when I’m already flying high. I’ve put it to the test. I’ve stopped myself confiding in the ones that don’t seem to really listen, or don’t offer any advice. The ones that, after talking to, I only seemed to feel worse about a situation than I did before. You know, I live in my own head a lot of the time anyway, only admitting I struggle sometimes in these blogs, so its hard for me to talk about issues at the best of times. What I was finding was that interactions with drains weren’t helpful. I couldn’t move on. Their doubt was adding to my own. Made me wish I hadn’t said anything after all. Back to square one. Since taking that step back, the only negative thoughts I have to deal with are my own, as my fountain friends will only offer solutions, shine positive lights. I’m just battling my own demons and NOT the drains too.

My other half is a fountain. He sees everything in a positive light, makes the mundane, routine, every day stuff we experience in our lives seem exciting, different. He questions everything, makes me think, challenges my perception of what is “ordinary”. I share my thoughts on a bad day at work with him and he’ll talk about the good that’s happened, point out something I’d overlooked. He doesn’t even do it consciously, its just his natural persona. Upbeat, positive, despite having good excuses to be miserable himself. These are the kind of people I want to be around.
I’m not for a minute saying that I’m wanting to cut the drains out completely. No, not at all. There’s no light without dark. Everyone in our lives adds value in some way. I’m just saying I’m being more selective about how much access I give them to the inner workings of my mind. 

Another lesson I’ve learnt since working over this whole fountains and drains thing is that I too, want to be a fountain. We all know someone who, no matter what you’re talking about, they will have been through the same thing only ten times better, or ten times worse. Both making your own experience seem somewhat less significant. It could’ve been better. Or, oh no, at least it wasn’t as bad as theirs. Really looking into this I wonder if I’ve been a bit of a drain myself. True, the drama that surrounds me is NOT of my own doing, but it does seem I’ve always got something to say. Some big deal to talk about. Have I been neglecting the people that want to confide in me because I’ve been feeling a little miserable myself? I hate that thought. Have I been bringing others down because I always seem to have something to moan and worry about to the point where people who were once good friends have given up on me?

Shit…

So, with my new positive mindset and surroundings, I reached out to some people, friends, that I feel have slipped away from me recently. I’ve tried hard not to talk about my own issues unless they’ve asked, purely focusing on them. I’m not saying I stop caring what they are going through when I’ve got my own stuff to deal with, I’m just saying that I’m acutely aware that I disappear up my own arse. In life, like in these blogs, I tend to go on a bit, repeat myself, go off on tangents, bore people. So I isolate myself from talking about any and all problems until a very small window where I want to vent and get it all off my chest and share it with someone. If the person I want to share with is busy when the window is open, then I’ll slam it shut again, to fester and gather dust until I’m ready again. Its noones fault but my own. But because my head is full of my own unaired issues, I’ve struggled to take on anyone else’s. 

Until now. Now I see where I was going wrong. Focusing too much on the negative and letting other negative people bring me further down. I hate to see others upset or down, but if I was feeling the same I was  struggling to be of any use to them either. 

I’ve stopped sharing as many personal views on Facebook, as that is an obvious red flag for drains to cling onto your words and post their own opinions for you and your other friends to see. It didn’t help to vent on Facebook. My privacy settings are such that the intended targets of my rants would never see what I’d posted. I was simply being a drain on others peoples news feeds. I no longer will be. Lesson learnt. I will like and share and post the good stuff! The stuff that makes people smile. The stuff that makes people realise that no matter what life has thrown at you, you can still be happy, if you filter the people you surround yourself with as actively as you filter your Instagram posts. I genuinely want people to know that despite what’s been thrown my way, I’m good. I don’t want people to worry about me. Or feel sorry for me. And I most certainly am not the victim, as I’ve been accused of playing so many times. I want to inspire. I want to tell you about my insecurities, my issues, my problems but show you that it’ll all be OK. Because I’m OK. I want my words to be honest and helpful. I want to give you hope, not dim the light. 

So from now on, I’m re-routing the stream that is life. It will be pushed through and rationalised out through my fountains, and it’ll flow so fast past the drains that they’ll have no chance to pull the plug. 

Let me start right now. February has been shocking weather wise, but its also marking the end of winter. How glorious will it be to see the flowers of spring coming through? In only a matter of weeks the evenings will be brighter, the air will be warmer, plans can be made to do more outdoors. The bad weather won’t last forever. How much more enjoyable will the walk home from work be without battling the wind with your umbrella? Things to look forward to. To appreciate the beauty you first need to see the worst.
I want to be around fountains, I want to be a fountain.

Hey Now, Haenow, Don’t Dream it’s Over

You all know the song that goes “Last night a DJ saved my life”?

Well, it may be a little extreme but on 14th December 2014, an X Factor winner saved my life. OK, maybe he just cheered me up a bit in reality, but the events leading up to that night meant that winner:- Ben Haenow, will always, ALWAYS hold a special place in my heart.

img_20171207_103140.jpg

*Ben on X Factor, photograph not my own.

Firstly though, let me address the fact that I do, indeed, watch The X Factor. I’m not ashamed. People criticise it, yeah there are novelty acts that slip through every now and then but we’ve got to remember, this is a ” light entertainment ” show aired at a peak time on a Saturday night. The more people talking about it, good or bad, the better. The reason I like it, essentially, boils down to the fact that I love live music. So many times in my life, I’ve been to local pubs and festivals and thought “how have they not hit the big time yet”, or ” its such a shame more people can’t benefit from hearing their voice”. X Factor has become a platform for those very people. I agree, once they hit the live shows, they get a commercial make over and are almost squeezed into a box to conform to what the show thinks they should be. There’s always the ballad diva, the novelty act, the good looking boy with the weakest voice but the voting public of teenage girls will love him. I get it, its pants. However… Remember this, these acts HAVE to sing live EVERY WEEK. They can’t hide behind auto tune. No, not all of them are good. Some look the part, put on the show, but vocally can’t keep it up. On the very, very rarest of occasions, a real talent will slip through. Although I’ve watched every series, I have only ever voted for three acts in the whole time the show has been running. Matt Cardle, Ben Haenow and Louisa Johnson. They all won. Louisa has recently really taken off, with upbeat dance anthems and a duet with Olly Murs. You’d be forgiven for thinking the other two had disappeared off the face of the earth, but you’d be wrong.

I’ve seen Matt Cardle live and his voice is perfection. This is what ex X Factor contestants are used to. Standing on a stage, giving their all to a crowd of people, live. On X Factor, they had a week to learn new songs, they understand delivering a performance. They haven’t been polished and guided through their career with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths. Since winning, Matt has struggled with drink and drug problems, something I don’t condone but can fully understand. You go from Joe Bloggs, painter and decorator, scraping pennies together to get by, to having a record contract, a tour and money overnight. The support isn’t there for them. They choose to go on X Factor to get a break. And that break is instant. Matt checked into rehab, sorted himself and came back with an understated, intimate tour and was moved to tears on stage from the support he still had. Still has. Matt’s albums are mainly self-penned. His voice lends itself to soulful, heart breaking ballads but he’s definitely capable of upbeat too. His X Factor performance of “First time ever I saw your face” was spine tingling.

Matt Cardle, X Factor 2010 winner on tour in Birmingham in 2012. Photograph © me

I was fortunate enough to see Louisa Johnson when she toured with Olly Murs this summer. This is a girl who was just 16 when she auditioned for X Factor. She was studying, rehearsing and performing live every week. That is talent.  Pure and undeniable. Her winners single was a flop and she dropped off the radar after that. That didn’t mean she gave up. Just when people had written her off, she came back with the single “Tears”, a collaboration with Clean Bandit, and firmly established herself as an artist away from the show. She’s taken a more edgy, dancey route and it suits her. This girl too, deserves more recognition than she gets. Her voice is beyond her years.

Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson in 2017. Photograph © me

These three favourite acts of mine to come from the show haven’t even had the biggest success since winning. When you look at the likes of One Direction (who were only ever runners up to Matt Cardle), Little Mix and Leona Lewis, who all have international fame now, you could easily say I’m backing the weakest links. But nope, I have my reasons. And Mr Haenow has earnt my loyalty in a way he’ll never know (unless he reads this blog of course).

So onto 2014, Bens year. From his first audition right through to the final, he was my firm favourite. He had a natural gritty, rocky voice which instantly meant any song he covered sounded different enough from the original and distinctively “Ben”. On screen he came across as a cheeky chappy, white van man, down to earth. Each week he got through he looked genuinely shocked and grateful for the support he was getting. In the final he was up against a sassy, ready made artist in Fleur East. She performed as if she was born to entertain. Firm bookies favourite. But Ben, with renditions of Highway to Hell and Cry me a River both perfectly executed, always had my vote. I always remember the judges telling him how brave he was to sing the first part of “Man in the Mirror” completely acapella, just his voice, raw and exposed.

Now, let me explain my opening comment.

My then husband used to watch X Factor with me. When I say “watch”, he did at least used to be in the same room as me. Albeit on his phone, or his laptop. By 2014, he was aware that Ben was my favourite act that series, but more often than not, he’d be down in the cellar “working” when I was having my Saturday night chill out. Our son was no longer interested in watching TV with Mum and Dad. It became my thing. Watching X Factor on my own. 

The final that year fell on the weekend of 13th/14th December. 

In the early hours of Friday 12th December, I kicked my husband out of our bed where he’d fallen asleep after telling me he no longer loved me, and left me crying downstairs. Yes, while I sat crying, wondering what the hell was going on, what this meant, what happened now… he stayed up in bed, where he’d made the statement after I had said I needed a hug as we approached our first Christmas without my sister, and fallen back asleep so deeply he was snoring. If my memory serves me correctly, at about 2.45am, when I could cry and wonder no more, I went upstairs, woke him up and told him to get out. No man could say he couldn’t hug me because he didn’t love me and hadn’t for two years then stay in our bed and fall back asleep. I didn’t care where he went. 

Since then, a lot of people have said that maybe he couldn’t cope with how he thought I was going to be over Christmas. I’ll let you into a secret. The first Christmas and every one since losing my sister, is crap. No two ways about it. The only person that saw me cry was my husband. The one person that I thought it was safe to cry in front of. The person who had taken vows to protect me. Everyone else saw the brave face. I “got on with it”. I didn’t break down often. When I did it was with him. Turns out, he thought he was being strong for me. He wasn’t. I was strong for myself and my family. He was thinking of himself. Trust me, I’m not being nasty saying that. Comments that have been made since have proved this to me. I’m not cold enough to think my sisters death didn’t effect him too. We’d been in each others families for almost 18 years. I’m not saying he’s heartless, completely. But the thing that has stuck with him the most about my sisters death is the fact they were the same age. To this day he still speaks of her death as a life changing moment for him. How he needed to change his life because life’s too short. Cards on the table, the only change he made was leaving me. And even then he said he hadn’t loved me for two years. Since before my sister passed away. 

I had to phone in sick to work on that Friday, and our son had to take a day off school. Not ideal. I hate calling in sick. I hate letting people down. When I’m genuinely ill I go into work to be sent kicking and screaming home again. Lack of sleep, infact no sleep at all meant I had to take the day off, and our son had woken up and heard it all. There was no blazing row. Just that statement and my following order to get out. On Friday I needed to see my husband and have the inevitable “what now” talk. Long story short. It was over, he moved out. Saturday 13th I was back at work. Admittedly, I found paperwork jobs to keep me busy out back for most of the day. But I was there, doing the job I’m paid to do. That night was the first half of Ben’s X Factor final. The press had pretty much declared Fleur the winner, and although I tuned in, I barely watched as Andrea Faustini was voted off, leaving Fleur and Ben going through to Sundays head to head. I was numb. X Factor no longer seemed important. My life had changed overnight and would never be the same again. Nothing else mattered.

However….

So much did change between 2.45am on Friday morning and that Sunday evening. Although I spent a lot of the time wondering what the hell I was meant to do now, and questioning how it had come to this, seemingly out of the blue, I also took the time to think stuff through, find things out, connect the dots and discover untold truths amongst the outward lies. It really is amazing how hindsight and discovering the truth will turn a situation around. When I should’ve still been mourning my marriage, I was actually starting to feel grateful I was out of it. Truth smacking me round the face, waking me up and forcing me to smell the coffee. Struggling only with how it had taken me so long to see what was going on the whole time. They say love is blind. Love had me blinkered and resigned. The blinkers were now off.

I watched the Sunday night final in bed. Still hurt. Still licking my wounds. Still angry as hell. But already starting to see light at the end of a very instant, very dark tunnel. A tunnel which I zoomed through at break-neck speed thanks to the dangling carrot of truth at the end of it. 

Ben Haenow won the X Factor. My phone was ringing and my best friend S was screaming with joy down it. S had been there first thing the morning after it all happened. She was the Watson to my Sherlock. The left to my right. And she was there for me when I needed her. So was Ben. 

We both loved Ben and when he won, I smiled with genuine happiness for the first time in 3 days. The X Factor winner is so trivial. So unimportant when you look at the bigger picture, but Bens win came at a time when I needed a switch to flip. So soon after my marriage breaking up and despite knowing stuff I hadn’t known three days earlier, I was still having conflicting feelings. I’m not cold hearted. I didn’t instantly stop caring about what I’d lost, what I had, what I was to do now. I got stronger as the minutes passed but I wasn’t about to go out celebrating anytime soon. Bens win made me smile. And the smile didn’t feel out of place on my face at a time where most people would probably still be wallowing under the covers in bed and crying themselves to sleep.  New Years eve, which I spent at another friends house, was the real “fuck this shit I’m not crying anymore” moment for me, but Bens win showed me that I would be fine. I knew, deep down that I would be, but after being with the same guy from when I just turned 20, was I sure?

I distinctly remember my ex calling our son the next day and one of his comments was “I bet your Mum was pleased that her favourite won X Factor”.  My son sheepishly answered yeah, still feeling awkward, confused and not understanding what was going on. That moment was the start of a pattern. No matter how little or how much time passes, what I do, where I go, who I see and how I feel will always be asked of our son. Just because I’m no longer loved, the control is still needed, craved, as if some kind of invisible puppet strings are still attached to me. As the time does go on, however, it’s become easier to ignore. Genuinely, his loss. His problem if he can’t let go. All I did was love him, and want him to love me back. Lesson learnt, I’m not sure he ever truly did. 

Anyway, I digress. Ending on a happy note, its only fitting that December, the worst month of the year for me, has this year, become the month I met Ben Haenow. After buying tickets as a birthday present for S, we attended the gig, the first of his tour, looking forward to fun times with our bestie and a sing a long. We didn’t have VIP meet & greet tickets so when we got in and had a browse at the merchandise, imagine our joy to see Ben just stood there,taking time to personally greet everyone. Even when he was notified he had to go ready for the support act, he still had time to pose for a couple of cheeky selfies and indulge us with a hug and kiss. The gig was amazing. Ben sang songs from his album, new releases and very new material. He was entertaining, enigmatic on stage and his voice was as wonderful as I’d remembered. It was a small venue, and it felt like he was aware of every one in the crowd. Putting on a winners performance.

Ben was buzzing, S and I were happy.

If you read this Ben:- Thank You! I kinda love you. 

Photograph courtesy of S

Photograph © me

Pass the script, I’ve lost the plot.

Its time to set the record straight.

Dear strangers,

Whatever you’ve heard about me is not true.

From me.

Unfortunately, the straightening of said record will never reach its target audience. And I’ll have to live with that. My blogs have been nothing but honest. Nothing but my feelings and experiences. There are two sides to every story, and I believe its about time a bit more of mine was told.

Trust me. I don’t ask for drama. I just want to get on with a quiet, happy life! 

I had four odd holiday days to use up and wanted to take two of them this side of Christmas, and the other two after. I randomly chose 15th and 16th September, and took Sunday 17th as a day off, giving myself a rare weekend off. This was a week where noone else had any holiday booked. As good a week as any.

I don’t think my choice was as random as I first thought it was. I think it was my subconscious telling me to take stock of what’s going on and to take back some control. 

Saturday 16th September 2017 would’ve been my 17th wedding anniversary. Would’ve been, if the man I married in 2000 hadn’t told me in December 2014 that he no longer loved me, and hadn’t for two years. 

Of course, I hadn’t forgotten this date. It was weird in 2015, it barely registered in 2016, so 2017 should’ve been almost insignificant, right?

Wrong.

I woke up Saturday morning thinking maybe I shouldn’t have booked off this weekend. Its fair to say a lot of emotions rushed through me. I felt a bit of a failure, what had I done wrong, why did he stop loving me? Of course I’ve since realised that the “love” stopped when my tolerance and naivety about his behaviour did. I then felt anger. Angry that I’d “wasted” the best part of 1997 through to 2014 with the wrong person. The anger soon dispersed when I heard my 14 year old son clattering around in his room. He is the reason it was all worth it. However, I did too feel stupid. Stupid for sticking with it for so long and not ending it myself. I wasn’t happy. I spent the last few years feeling unloved, lonely, unattractive and I’d started to become suspicious and lies were unfolding. That quickly turned to pride. I made marriage vows that I intended to keep. Good times and bad. I was also proud of how I had handled myself since the split. I didn’t talk about any of this for over a year after he left, despite a very active smear campaign against my character on his part. I only talk about it now because there are only so many straws a camels back can take. I didn’t need to resort to lies. I knew the truth, and at the time I had to trust that everyone else would see it soon enough too. The things I heard about myself were dramatic enough to make an EastEnders script. I stayed silent. 

Perhaps the only emotion I didn’t feel on Saturday morning was sorrow. I wasn’t sad. I didn’t miss it. I didn’t want it back. The time off gave me time to think, and reflect upon exactly what I’ve put up with and how far I’ve come. To finally prove to myself that it really shouldn’t matter what strangers thought of me..

However, I’ve mentioned before how hard it is to not care what people, mostly those strangers, believe about you. They’ve been painted a picture of you from one persons twisted mind and that’s the only picture they’ll ever get to see. To try and get you to see how it feels, I have a task for you. 

Go grab a gossip magazine. You know the type I mean. 

Chat. Take a Break. Woman’s Own. 

Now I want you to read all the “real life” stories. Also the readers letters. Perhaps even the Dear Deirdre page. Next, substitute the name of the main negative character/the villian-if you like, in these articles with your own name. Imagine that there are enough similarities and factual occourances in these articles that even you start to wonder if the stories are, in actual fact, about you.

Then, you realise that hundreds, thousands of people that you don’t know,  are reading these articles that refer to you, and they are believing them. Even though they don’t know you, this will now be what they think of you, and you’ll never, ever have the opportunity to correct them, or change their mind. 

Welcome to my life.

Its being written for me.

Believe it all and you’ll think I live my life like a soap opera. The only place where the ridiculous stories I hear about myself actually take place on a regular basis. I wonder if Adam Woodyatt forgets how to be Adam when someone else is writing a life for him as Ian Beale.

You know the saying “you couldn’t make it up”? Well, my  script writer has been there, done that and proudly wears the T-shirt.

I’ve read so many stories centred round my life, that my reality seems mundane and boring! 

The soap opera scripts don’t stop there. I also suffer hang ups over things people have said about me to me. When my relationship ended with alley cat, we tried to remain friends. In a previous blog I’ve mentioned how one sided it was and I made the choice to let it go. Along with finding out some truths about him stringing several women along and attempting to get money out of them, I sent him a message saying “I’ve been told what’s going on, that’s it, I want no part of it” and he promptly accused me as “being the same as all the others”. In fact I was branded a back stabber. It hurt. I hadn’t got involved with what was being said about him. I gave him chance after chance despite him taking me for granted and walking all over me. He had wronged me , yet I was being made out to be the bad one. 

Why does it keep happening to me?

Am I guliable? Easy to manipulate? Still so unwilling to see anything but good in people? Stay quiet for too long when not happy that I end up just putting up with things so as not to rock the boat?

My friends tell me that those that matter know the truth. That karma will come around! Well, maybe I’m done waiting because, even though I know they’re right, I still worry about what complete strangers think is true about me. Its fucking hard.

So, back to that anniversary weekend.

Fresh from hearing a little story that told how I apparently have ” no ambition”, I was faced with a weekend off with nothing to do. My son had plans. My partner was working. 

The same weekend, my home town was hosting a music festival. Live music at various venues across the city centre. My friend L was photographing the event, but she was having to cover as many bands as possible so if I bumped into her it would be more down to chance than planning. So, I decided to go on my own on the Saturday and Sunday.

Armed with just my compact digital camera and my best “I don’t give a shit” attitude, I decided where I was going to go and for the first time ever, I walked into a pub on my own where I had no intention of meeting someone for a drink, and stood and watched the whole set performed by one of the artists at the festival. 

On my own. 

Little, unambitious, lazy, unstable, thieving, selfish, bitch faced me*

 *(if you believe the stories!) 

Setting the record straight, I am none of those things. 

I took a few photos, I went to a few more venues, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Noone around me knew me, noone had read or heard anything about me. And it felt good. I was just me. And that was OK.

I was back writing my own story.

But as always, it was short lived. 

I started this blog wondering, what do they gain from spreading lies about me? They don’t even get to witness the impact of what they say as I very rarely retaliate unless my sons involved.

Nothing. They just can’t help it. Its a game to them. For them to feel good, feel big, they must bring down those around them.

My own life has enough natural ups and downs that I really don’t feel the need to embellish it to make it, or me, seem more exciting. I also don’t feel the need to lie about someone else to try and make their life harder for my own pleasure . I don’t imagine I have a lifestyle anyone would be envious of. I don’t need people to look up to me. The fact that someone, anyone, would need to make up lies about others and themselves screams to me that THEY are not happy. Someone has suggested that maybe they are jealous of my new life, because theirs is still based on lies. That someone also thought that maybe they’d never really gotten over me, and hated the fact I seemingly moved on so quickly. I’m not sure and I don’t want to know.

Trouble is, I’m not dealing with just a bitter, envious person. 

I’m dealing with a narcissist.

Narcissists have a need to be centre of attention, and they need people to like them, to feed them and supply them. They’ll tailor their lies to specific audiences, partners, business associates, whatever, in order to get them on side so that ultimately they can control them. Some never see through the lies, and will happily go along with the narcissist and do their bidding. I’ve learnt because trust me, I’ve done the research, these are referred to as “flying monkies”.  There are some, like me for several years,  that start to get suspicious but put up with it because they don’t want to believe none of it was ever real. These are the ones that supply the narcissist with drama. By this stage, the narc will know exactly what buttons to press to get a reaction, and can cleverly manipulate the “victim” into thinking THEY are the ones in the wrong. They have spent years learning about you, promising you the best, subconsciously moulding you in order to eventually use all they know about you, against you. They’ll convince you that its all in your head and that you are going mad if you say anything. They’ll successfully reign in their true nature for long enough to make you think it was just a blip and it’ll all be fine. Anything you do is never good enough.

 Then there are those who see the lies, can no longer take it and confront the narcissist about them. As soon as the narc thinks you’re onto them, they will drop you and start telling the world what they’d tried to convince you, that it is in fact YOU that’s the bad guy. You are mentally unstable. Even after the relationship ends with a narc, the abuse won’t. They’ll move on to their next “supply” but while things are rosy for a while with them as they build up their story, they’ll still be fishing for the drama from you. There’s no real reason for it. Dragging you down to make themselves look better is just a game. An ego boost. A power trip. They start the smear campaign to belittle you. Trying to show the flying monkies how it was you that made their life hell. They thrive on “oh how awful, poor you, you’re the better person because of it”.

 The battle to keep my dignity and pride intact is ongoing. Strange really, as I have an awesome group of friends here that can see right through it all, so that should be all that matters. But there’s still a growing number of people in a different city, and honesty, probably across the country now,that think the worst of me. It doesn’t matter to them. They’ll never meet me. 

It matters to me. I never know from one week to the next what I’ve apparently done now. Or what fictitious misdemeanor of mine has prompted a particular outburst. I guess yes, it plays a part in my paranoia, how could it not? I am so the opposite of what some strangers think I am. I’m not nasty or malicious, I don’t want to be centre of attention and I certainly don’t want everyone to know my personal business. Unfortunately, I can’t just throw away the script and start again. The script isn’t even in my own hands. What I do need to do, is being braver and writing my own spin off series. One which has a twist in the tale and exposes the truth in a clever way that leaves the viewers gasping and saying “oh I didn’t see that coming, now it all makes sense”.  Because, you see, the trouble with lies is remembering what you’ve told to who and keeping up the continuity of the story. Things will start to not add up. Doubt about the story will start to creep in, to the point where the person being told the lies starts to take whatever the storyteller says, with a pinch of salt.

It may be a long, drawn out storyline, but I’m in for the long haul now, I have no choice. I don’t want revenge, as such, I just want to clear my name. Pick it up out of the mud its been dragged through and restore it to its former glory (albeit a little rusty, hey, I’m not saying I’m perfect here!)

I’m only 40, I’m hoping I have a good few years for the story to unfold. Hey, I’m even holding out for a documentary here.. You know those “truth exposed” ones you get on random Sky channels. You never know, anything can happen in my story. And it usually bloody does!

F.R.I.E.N.D.S  Who’ll be there for u? 

Let me ask you a question.

How many friends do you have? 

Now, I don’t mean how many people would join you on a drunken night out full of fun and laughter, or shopping sprees and lunches out. I could fill a room with acquaintances  with a bit of planning. I mean those that, even though you rarely speak, let alone see each other, would drop everything if you needed them at short notice. Friends that understand all the factors in your life that make you seem like an unsociable waste of time. I work full time. My son lives with me full time. I don’t have an awful lot of spare cash. I only get to see my partner once, occasionally twice a week, so no, I’m not free on the one night everyone else seems to be. I can be a boring bugger for whom the literal meaning of Netflix and chill is often what I want to do. On my own. If I was my friend, I wouldn’t put up with me.

So, real friends. What are they? What do they do to earn the title? 

I can honestly say, I can count on one hand the people that I class as those that put up with being my friend, a true friend, despite all the above. Five people, spanning my 40 years on this planet. The longest I’ve known for 23 years, the shortest I met this year. 

During school, I was quite shy. I had a very small group of friends, most are still in touch now, two of them are Godparents to my son. It was a small group, and that’s what I was comfortable with. I had classmates. People you’d walk from one lesson to the next with. I was neither bullied nor popular. I just, was. My childhood was wonderful. Easy even. Parents still married, both working, we had regular holidays. Nothing happened that needed me to think about who was there for me in a crisis. I got along with people, but noone new was added to my circle of friends. Then, as I still am today, I was happy with my lot. Never felt I needed more. 

At college, I had to become a little braver! Only one person from my school was going to Art College that I had classed as a friend, and even she was doing a completely different course to my Fine Art & Design. Lunchtimes we would seek each other out, but we had to make new friends. She was more sociable than me. If someone didn’t make an effort with me, I wouldn’t start a conversation. 

One of the first friendships I made at college was with an outgoing, chatty girl from Bangladesh. We had nothing much in common apart from drawing but she was the loud to my quiet. She helped my confidence but she soon switched courses and went to do Textiles leaving me back to square one. We’d catch up lunchtimes, but my days were looking lonely. I was left sat on a table with two guys who had become friends with each other. One of them was a deep thinking, sarcastic guy with a rather bleak outlook on life,  the other a bit more outgoing. I kind of ended up becoming the third wheel in their friendship, but grew particularly close to the deep thinker. After a while, we became inseparable. At lunchtimes we’d escape to the local park for him to have a smoke, and we’d talk and talk. People assumed we were an item. We weren’t and I didn’t see it going that way at all. I was so blooming grateful to find someone who accepted me for the way I was and was happy to just keep me company. I did a two year course at Art college, and the majority of that was spent with this guy. Until, everything changed. Valentines Day came around, and he asked my advice about telling a girl he liked her. I did the whole “you’ll never know if you don’t tell her” and “the worst she can say is no”. Supportive friend and all that. Now reading this you can probably see where this is going. I didn’t, at the time. Maybe because this guy was the first close male friend I’d ever had. I saw no attraction from him, nor did I feel any towards him, so when he replied ” in that case”, while producing a card and a rose from his backpack, I really quite honestly didn’t know what to say or do. Actually I can’t remember what I did do. Perhaps I’ve blocked it out of my mind. All I know is, even though I was keen to keep the friendship, it didn’t last. Well, not in the same way. A trip to Belgium was imminent, and I wanted to be in a room with my friend from Bangladesh. However, her new textiles friends didn’t want me in the room because, and I quote “she’s too quiet, I’d feel awkward trying to talk to her”. Even if we’d still been close, sharing with the deep thinker wouldn’t of been allowed, and I was put in with a girl I barely knew, who got drunk every night and had a fling with the barman. I vividly remember sat in a corridor while her friends comforted her one night after the barman had told he had no intention of keeping in touch after she’d returned home. Sat in the same corridor was the deep thinker. He was there regretting drunkenly sleeping with a girl in our party. We sat in silence and I hoped our friendship could be rekindled when he started telling me what had happened. We did speak a bit more again after that trip, but I’d definitely lost my best friend. I got through the rest of college with no one to really call a best friend. I was too quiet, too boring and didnt smoke nor did I drink excessively. I suppose I never really fit in. I enjoyed my college days, but I came away with very few life experiences. Today, I’m still in touch occasionally with the girl who moved to Textiles. A few others have popped up on Facebook. None of them could be counted on in a crisis.

Now I’m not saying that all of my friends wouldn’t jump in a car to be at my side in an emergency if I needed them. They would, I’m sure of it. As I would for them (if I could drive!). The majority however don’t put up with me on a regular basis. Don’t suffer my insufferable paranoia 

So, on to those that do. Those people that put up with me, put themselves out for me, still love me despite seeing me go through the highs and lows of life, let me rant on and on about the same thing so that I can get it straight in my own head, listen to me justify myself over situations that to them, I don’t need to justify myself over. Like I said, I can count them on one hand.

The one where we wrote to each other.

During our teenage years, my sister and I had several penpals each. Most of them had similar interests in music and football. I found writing to people so much easier than talking to them, a trait that stayed with me. I am so much better at writing than talking! Anyway, some of our penpals we were able to meet up with on big get togethers in Birmingham or London. Others were too far away. Many good friends were made in the process. Again through the wonders of Facebook I’m still in touch with many of them and its great to see marriages, kids and good times for them all. One particular penpal that I started writing to in 1994 though, we’ll call her LC, has become one of the five people that I count as a real true, message whatever time of night, friend, and the one I’ve known the longest. After a penpal advert was published in a football magazine, we started writing to each other. She lived the opposite side of the country but our letters were nothing short of epic. Most of my penpals at the time had really pretty stationery and would write a couple of sheets worth each time. LC and I would use standard A4 ruled paper and our letters would on average be about ten sheets each time, front and back!! We talked about football, boybands, crushes. Everything and anything. As with everything, life got in the way and the letters weren’t as often and eventually stopped but Facebook allowed us to keep in touch. Neither of us could drive and the journey across the country was long and expensive. We talked about meeting up, but logistically it was difficult. However, an opportunity arose in 2010 when I had to attend a course at my work place Head Office near Norwich, which was as near to LC in Ipswich that I was ever likely to get. The hotel they put me in was literally in the middle of nowhere and it was still a bit of a trek for LC, but we did it and finally met for the first time 16 years after becoming friends! Since then I was lucky enough to be able to go to her wedding and we’ve even been to a Reunion concert in Birmingham together. Distance means nothing. She picks up on my vague Facebook statuses and messages me right away, almost knowing what is going on. We don’t talk every day. We don’t need to. I know if I needed an honest unbiased opinion, LC would give it to me. I suppose that’s a good point about a long distance friendship with no real friends in common, you’ll always get an opinion that has your best interests at heart because they aren’t influenced by loyalties to the other people involved in your situation. Its good to have a friend who isn’t in your usual circle. We are determined to meet up again soon, but whether we do or not, the friendship is unbreakable. The distance makes it impossible to fall out over trivial things. I do believe very few people have a friendship like this, but, despite the miles, it works for us.

The one where we’re like sisters.

Next up is a girl I met in my very first job. In 1997, S was literally just 16 and I was 20.  Most people make friends in the workplace, and through staff nights out etc, some become closer than others. S and I were friends at work and after we went onto different jobs we kept in touch, went on memorable nights out, she came to my wedding and we grew to be good friends. She won’t mind me saying that we didn’t talk for a few years, a combination of me feeling she had let me down by not coming to something I felt was important, and work taking her away from our hometown. However, I soon reached out to her again and, after hearing her side of the story, its fair to say, since getting back in touch, we are stronger than ever. I literally love this girl to pieces. The day after my marriage broke up, she was sat in my front room, at short notice, helping me and doing all she could to uncover the truth about things I’d heard regarding the split. She is my rock. She is my concert buddy. She has got my back. She is my bodyguard. She’s first in line to sort anyone out who crosses me. She is my very very best friend. She’s as protective over my son as I am. She’s the bad influence who keeps me out all night despite my insistence it won’t be a late one. Again, work commitments and life mean we don’t talk every day, but when we do get together, its like we’ve never been apart. It doesn’t matter if we’re out on the town or sat watching a movie with take out, we have just as much fun. She’s my go to girl. My partner in crime. The person I’d talk to if I needed to know if camels sweat, or equally if my life depended on it, she’d be there. Good times and bad. This girl whisked me away for a day of pampering for my 40th birthday because she knew I needed it. 

The one where we work together.

My next job at Tiny Computers saw me working with a guy, let’s call him B. I worked here while pregnant with my son in 2003, and through B, I met his girlfriend LJ and their year old daughter. LJ would come in to see B at work, and due to the nature of the job, ie  not constantly run off your feet serving people, I got talking to LJ too. Fast forward a few years and LJ and I were enjoying the same kind of epic nights out that S and I enjoyed, long after I no longer worked with B and she no longer dated him. We’ve been in constant contact and although not out with each other all of the time, we’d still see each other around due to the close proximity of our jobs. Again, a few quieter years where work and being Mum took over for the pair of us, but fond memories of pushing each others children around in their pushchairs were shared. Then a job became available at my current workplace, and LJ was miserable to the point of illness at her job. She applied, was interviewed fairly (and she interviewed fantastically) and she got the job fair and square. Since then, she has worked her way up to become my assistant manager. We’ve both had equally bad times and we are both always rooting for each other for things to turn out for the best. Its probably LJ I feel the most sorry for as out of the 5 friends I’m talking about, she really does have to “put up” with me the most. She’s seen the tears, witnessed the paranoia face to face. The others tend to get the toned down, calmed down messaged version.. While poor LJ gets it in blasts as soon as she gets into work. But then I’ll get the same from her, and that’s why we’re so close. Rough with the smooth. Days at work can be long and slow.. working with LJ, you can add random to the list. With just one look, we know what the other is thinking, and its usually something we shouldn’t be!  On that note though.. it’d be kind of unfair not to mention my other two work girls. We may not have the same number of years friendship under our belts but my gosh have they been there for me. They have literally worked with me through my best and worst days. The lot of them have seen tears, put up with giddy squeals of happiness. Laughed with me, made coffee for me. As a small team of 4, we almost HAVE to get on, but collectively, this lot would be friends through choice now. That goes for ex employees too. Amazing ladies that I miss so much that were and still are there for me. One thing my current workplace attracts is awesome people. Team 133- you know who you are! 

The one where we can cry on each others shoulders.

Fourth on the list of friends I can turn to sort of sneeked up on me. At primary school, our sons became good buddies, and L and I would chat in the playground while waiting for them to finish on the odd occasion I was able to be there due to work commitments. We became friends on social media, which mainly involved sorting out our sons social lives. The more we talked, the more we found we had in common, and more so, how similar we were in character. Both paranoid. Both doubt ourselves. We became each others “pep talk”. Whenever one of us was feeling down, the other would build back up again. That is exactly how this friendship has continued. L is an amazingly talented woman, who shouldn’t need telling that she’s awesome. Understanding where she’s coming from though helps. L really truly came through for me when my marriage broke up. I experienced some very low lows that I hid from the world and couldn’t let my family see after all the suffering they’d already been through. L wouldn’t sugar coat things, she’d relate stories and experiences of her own that proved to me she got me. She understood me. Most importantly, she made me realise it was OK to feel everything I was feeling. I wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t over reacting. Since then, if I need a kick up the backside, I talk to L. And her, to I. We often say to each other its both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very very deeply. L is the one that understands how I can relate songs to my life, because she does too. L is my voice of experience. She is my oracle of advice. She’s the one most likely to tell me “F#&k the lot of them”.

The one where we’ve only just met. 

The final person on my list proves that it doesn’t matter how long someone has been in your life, its how they’ve proved they are there for you in that time. I met them by chance just this year and general chit chat led to more in depth conversation, which led to feeling like I’d known them forever. There is no history to go into on this one as its so new, suffice to say, I feel they are there for me, and I, them. 

Some people come into your life and you get to know them, and you get on well, but you don’t think to tell them if something important happens until you see them again. Occasionally, very very rarely, you’ll meet someone who, with good news or bad, you’ll think to contact straight away, because their opinion on it will matter to you. 

I don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future, but going purely with my gut instinct, I reckon if I was to write this blog again in five years time, the same 5 people will be on it. 

Perhaps there’ll be more added.  I certainly won’t let it lessen without a fight. 

They will always be my friends, they know too much!