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..
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.
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?
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.