Friday, 30 October 2009

Friday night - Home alone and it's OK

Last weekend my sister's boyfriend chose to have a drunken rant at me for being wallowing and self pitying, prompted by me breaking a glass and being over apologetic.

I didn't recognise myself at all in the words coming from his mouth. Yes, I have rough ride over the past few years, and I have sought support from those around me. However, I've done my best to keep my head up, keep smiling, laugh it off, and not take the 'woe is me' position. Maybe I have been self pitying, and just not realised it. Have I?

There are times in my life, when under pressure, that I have have exploded. I am ashamed and horrified by them. I remember that gut wrenching feeling of losing control, not understanding what was happening to me, almost seeing myself from the outside, and the proverbial red mist descending.

This was not one of them.

I don't feel like that any more. Facing my life head on has dismantled the fear and anger that was once a tight fist in my chest.

I listened calmly while he ranted, asked questions when I didn't understand what he was saying, cried a little and then asked a friend to call me a taxi. I crumbled when I was outside in the rain and let the tears flow.

Tonight, I tried quietly and politely to ask if we could clear the air. I asked gently without blame or accusation. He ran away in childish huff. I left the pub. I had no wish to spend an evening in someone's company who would't talk to me.

Weirdly, I was quite pleased and proud. No anger. No red mist. I let it go, even though I was upset. I said what I needed to, I can't do anything else now.

One day, one incident, or problem or challenge at a time, I am proving to myself that I am OK. I have sunk as low as I could go, and have risen again. All that fear and anger has dissolved.

The stroppy toddler can take responsibility for himself. I've done my best. And a glass of wine and skype chat with my best friend in Dubai will do as well as the evening I had planned.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Nearly November

Sometimes, when it's cold I sleep with woollen socks and a hot water bottle. Other times, I sleep in my smaller, cosier spare bedroom in the single bed. Every time, it is never as nice as having strong arms wrapped round me and a hairy belly against the small of my back.

The clocks  have changed. It is dark by 5.30pm. It is getting colder.

For the first time since last winter, I am wondering where I will sleep tonight.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The general synopsis at 0015

Often it takes a while to calm my busy brain and find sleep, even if i'm exhausted. In bed I listen Radio 4 and the World Service, concentrating on the words coming from the little radio alarm beside my bed enables me to focus and steer my thoughts away from my day.

The shipping forecast hypnotises me. My mind wanders round the map of the British Isles and its shipping areas, and I think of all those others listening on boats and ships from Iceland to Spain. These calmly delivered words have become a sort of nautical and meteoroligical meditation....

The general synopsis at midnight:

Low 600 miles west of ireland 985 expected 120 miles south of Iceland 993 by midday tomorrow.

The area forecasts for the next 24 hours:

Viking: Southeasterly 5 to 7, perhaps gale 8 later, veering southwesterly 3 in southwest later. Moderate or rough. Rain. Moderate or good, occasionally poor.

North Utsire South Utsire: Northerly 3 veering southeasterly 5 to 7, perhaps gale 8 later. moderate or rough. Rain. Good, becoming moderate or poor.


Forties Cromarty Forth Tyne Dogger: Southeasterly 5 to 7, veering southwesterly 4 except in northeast Forties. Slight or moderate. Rain. Moderate or poor.

Fisher: Variable 4 becoming easterly 5 to 7, veering southwesterly 4 later except in northeast. Slight or moderate. Rain. Moderate or good...........

and on into the night....





Monday, 26 October 2009

This is enough for now

I want to be happy, and right now, for the most part I am.

When I think of happiness, I do think of laughter, or joy, but mostly I think of contentment. I don't need to be joyous to appreciate what I have, and to be grateful for living my life well (I haven't always). Life, as we all know, is messy and complicated. Somewhere within all the difficult bits, and the moments that shine contentment has emerged.

After a week of music, friends, debate, being on the receiving end of a painful drunken rant, and some small achievements I can say that right here, right now on the cusp of a new week that I am content with the one that's passing. If that's happiness, it'll do for me. Simple pleasures, truthfulness and good company.

PS this is now a highly edited version of last night's witterings. I had a lovely evening at an exhibition launch and then an accoustic session accompanied by a generous helping of red wine. Noone should be allowed to be (mildly) drunk in charge of a blog!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Happy ever after?

Last night I received a marriage proposal.....

It's just a pity it came from an old friend/ex fling whose logic was thus;

We are attracted to one another, we know that that side of things would be fun

We are friends, and can laugh and talk and trust each other

There's not enough frisson for us to have been anything more than lovers in the past (we did try some dating earlier this year). However, if things don't work out with his current girlfriend, he reckons I'd do......he was being earnest.

Unsurprisingly, I declined.

Unsurprisingly, he was drunk. And this whole conversation was carried out by telephone while he ate pizza. Clearly romance isn't dead!

Today we laughed about it.

Friday, 23 October 2009

And again....

That red and purple was beginning to be a bit over-powering, so it's back to something calmer but still a little bleak. Perhaps my blog's appearance will follow my moods like some virtual chameleon?

I will try to continue to learn to tweak and add and all the rest. I love colours and stumbled on this site a while ago. There is a huge range of down loadable palettes, patterns - easy to use with hex and rgb codes, various down load options - but mostly I love love it because it's beautiful.

http://www.colourlovers.com/

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Trick or treat?

Last night an email hit my in-box that made me cringe.

An old friend is having a Halloween party. It'll be a fun evening with good people; no bullshit, no agendas, just simple straightforward giggling, conversation and so on. No pressure.

So, what's the problem? Fancy dress.

The last fancy dress party I went to was an ex's 40th. The location, format and company for the weekend were perfect. Problem was that the more he looked forward to the idea of dressing up, the more I felt awful. The Elvis costume was booked for him with much glee.

I was already nervous about the weekend as it would be the first time I would meet his family and many of his friends who live in different parts of the country. I offered to do the catering, which I enjoy, as a birthday present. Added worry, but also fun and something I could do for him.

The closer we got to it the more hideous I began to feel.

I wear clothes because I have to. I have a completely neutral view towards them and my body. They serve a function, and I do my best to look reasonable, but they hold no joy for me. I wear simple things and quirky jewellery (I love vintage beads more than anything). I'm not glamorous, but can be elegant. I never wear anything that makes me stand out from the crowd.

Fancy dress makes me feel awkward and shy and clumsy and fat and ugly and self conscious. It is not fun. I understand that some people think it is.

I tried not to say too much about as I didn't want to spoil his excitement and any minor comments were brushed off with 'you'll be fine' kind and conciliatory responses. I didn't tell him how sick I felt about it all.

When it came to it, I had a friend help me do my hair and I reluctantly got organised. I was running later than everyone else as the food took first priority. I wanted to run away. I delayed going into the hall. Got into ticked off for being slow and eventually emerged. I refused to be made a fuss of in thank you speeches, and luked in a corner. I didn't want anyone looking at me. Of course they were - 'Who's the girlfriend?' 'what's she like?'....

Horrible. I felt like an incompetent child and didn't behave as socially as usual. Typically I'm a great hostess, and I let myself down that night.

So, I have to face these demons all over again on the 31st or will I just make an excuse and not go? Will I go and not dress up – disrespectful and fun-spoiling? Will I put on a brave face, drink too much, smoke too much, hate every second?

These people are friends, they love me and accept me for who I am. Why can't I do the same?

Why can't I bring to bear the confident, creative, clever girl I am in my professional life to a world of devils tails and witches hats and cross dressing?

I will paint on a smile and endure.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A question

There are a millon sentimental quotations out there on the subject of regret (better to regret the things you have done than the things you haven't, better to have loved and lost etc.....). I wonder if people believe them, or if it's what we tell ourselves to dull the pain of loss or stupidity or moments of weakness?

I'm not sure I believe people who tell me they have no regrets.Who are they trying to convince, me or themselves?

Monday, 19 October 2009

Is there anybody out there?

I kind of underestimated the importance of spirituality to me in connecting with other people, and writing last night has reminded of its impact for me in relationships and attraction.


Of the encounters below, I've had two conversations on the subject – from completely different perspectives. One with a man who, in his early forties, has decided that after all he does believe in God, and hasn't quite decided what that means for him yet. He is open to exploration and acknowledges his views will grow and change.

The other was an adamant atheist. An atheist who was scornful about those who do hold religious views, have a faith or any kind of spirituality or curiosity. He's made his judgement, and believes himself to be correct and all others wrong. This was a huge turn off.

Until my parents became ill about five years ago, and caring responsibilities kicked in with full force, I did believe in God. I haven't ever rejected God, but instead found myself abandoned. That sense I had of a dialogue disappeared. I was upset by this, and sad that when I needed someone, something, anything to bring relief to my life that that solace and refuge had gone.

I'm not a great fan of religious dogma and I've always struggled with the church as a formal institution (although I do appreciate the community that it offers). Over the years I've explored my faith (or lack thereof), read and discussed the issue with many. I've engaged with it. I've listened and I've challenged my views. I respect the choices and beliefs of others. It is not for me to judge, which is why the staunch atheist's dismissals irritated me. It told me more about him as a person and his limited degree of empathy than many conversations might have.

The uncertain believer was open to listening, sharing, acknowledging and not judging, which in itself surprised me. I've known him for many years, ordinarily he's man of very strong views - politically and otherwise.

So, where do I stand on all this now? I would loosely describe myself as Christian Humanist.....it's the closest I can get to something that makes sense. But, labels are only labels.

A sense of spirituality exits for me, in that I do think about these things and I'm overawed by moments in life that go beyond and by beauty in its many shapes. These moments, however, are often very ordinary.

If spirituality is a journey of understanding, seeking wisdom, value and hope, looking harder and deeper and acknowledging that there is more than the individual, then it is important to me and the connections that I make.

The 'Christian' simply acknowledges the faith that I once had and the cultural paradigm I grew up in. I also think Jesus seems like he was a good guy, divine or otherwise. As a friend puts it 'Jesus was a social worker'. I like that.

Humanism makes sense to me, although I'm agnostic rather than atheist. It is postive and inclusive, seeking out meaning, purpose and takes responsibility for the common good. Weirdly, I quite like going to church. I like the quiet meditative moments, beautiful buildings and the singing.

So, I guess I'm open to sharing my life with people of all views,as long they respect mine, but not those who belittle. Bigots – it seems atheists can be as closed as any religious fundamentalist - are not welcome in my life. That particular atheist would be shocked to learn that's how he appears.

Anagrams and physics

Attraction is like magnets, not like glue. It can't stick people together, it draws us in and can be pulled apart. Without it there is only friendship. This states that the obvious, but sometimes I need to remind myself.

There have been men in my life where lust has led us to one another, but has been insufficient to make some greater intimacy grow. Horse before cart. Over the years I've experienced lust, and tried naively to create the desire to know someone better where intimacy couldn't exist, hoping lust would become more than than sex. I've given in to it also, acknowledging that is all it is, and enjoying its fruits without guilt or expectation.

It amuses me that 'lust' is an anagram of 'slut'....

For me, lust is not attraction. It is the cheap substitute which often blinds and confuses, unless taken at face value.

However, this year has seen me face the opposite problem. I've been back on the dating scene again, enduring awkward coffees and fun times.

There are three men worth noting, weirdly beginning on the first of January and setting the scene for a different kind of year.

They have been creative, intelligent, amusing and intense encounters. A scientist, photographer and a musician. Each of them I have wanted to be more than they became. On paper, wonderful men who should have captured my heart, mind and body. But, that spark hasn't been there. That sense that even though you're not sure what is, you want to know more. That undefinable thing that makes you crave knowledge of another human being, physically and mentally. I have wished, and wished and wished for it to appear and all I have found is companionship or sex.

That spark has emerged with men who I haven't been sexually drawn to in the first instance, but something....something has made me seek out more. And that has grown into a physical desire that was invisible at first meeting. Not this year.

It has confused me. I was beginning to wonder if I wasn't seeing something, was there something about me that couldn't play this game? That, because of my past and its weakening hold over me, only dangerous or needy men would ever be attractive? Hearing my therapist's voice in my head, I have tried to be patient, give it/them a chance. I eventually realised I was leading two of them on out of a selfish want for something that could not be.

It has deepened my belief that I need to feel that spark of potential to desire wholly - physically, mentally, spiritually and in compromising, loving friendship – for me to work past the first tentative steps and roller-coaster early months.

The score sheet?

Lust 1
Friendship 1
History books 1
Spark 0

I'm turning into Bridget Jones again. Gag me if it gets worse. Really, do feel free....

Friday, 16 October 2009

Yoga isn't enough

It's Friday night and I'm home alone, well, apart from my mother's dog. I have a cold and a chest infection and this week has been a write off. All I want to do is hibernate. I'm not sick sick. Just not well.

I work from home and could so easily not leave my flat or see another human being from one day to the next. I make myself go out, do things, play fiddle in a pub session, have lunchtime coffees.
Today has been beautiful, bright and cold and the dog forces me to go out. We walk, I need this. I could so easily have gone nowhere, done nothing. At least being ill has given me an excuse this week not to feel guilty about wallowing.

I need to develop a better routine, or this could become all too tempting.

Fortunately, being ill has strengthened my conviction that I need to get back to gym. I'm not a sporty person but I fell in love it, much to my surprise when I started exercising seriously for the first time about five years ago.

Sweating out my frustration and stress was something I loved. I loved what it did to my body too. Now everything feels too soft. I need to get some of my power back. I want to be stronger, fitter, more able. I want that time to switch off my ever racing mind and sweat it all out. I want to cede control to a bossy instructor.

I am competitive enough that I will work hard.

I want to regain command of my physical self. I can do something about that.

Will I?

Humph!

I'm not a skilled template tweaker, and somehow, somewhere I managed to fuck up my other one in trying to move the site meter (it's saved somewhere, but where?). I liked the photo at the top, even if the rest left much to be desired. So, until I fix it or find an alternative, this passionate and somewhat violent red will have to suffice. To be avoided by those with hangovers I suspect.

One day I'm going to figure out all this techy stuff. Who needs Latin, when there's Html to be learned? I don't suppose the poetry's so good though!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Deaf Ears

I don't need to have the last word. I don't need to be right or wrong. I just want to be understood. I sometimes wonder if I'm speaking a different language. I am trying to stop editing my words so that I do not offend, or upset, or challenge losing my voice along the way. I am trying to be truthful.

My mother has spent my life telling me that 'if I say black is white, black is white'. Any attempt at putting across another opinion or asking her to see someone else's view met with that helpful remark. I learned that it was her way or no way at all.

I didn't shut up, I kept fighting, kept trying to be heard, kept getting shot down. I was relived when I left home. I was tired of trying. Tired of fighting. Tired of not being heard. I learned to save my energy for the battles I could fight and hid the rest.

In all those years, I don't know I ever told my mother about the name calling, and the like. I remember being told about sticks, and stones....' Perhaps I did try. I know I stopped telling her things. A recent conversation has shown she hasn't got any idea of quite how much I put up with, and probably never will.

Any argument or discussion where I feel I am not being understood still stirs up that urge to fight back and be acknowledged in some way. I am thirteen again.

If someone tells me 'there's nothing else to say' or 'let's leave it there' or 'let's agree to disagree' or, or, or.....

It lights an old touch paper. These words translate in my head as 'your views or feelings are unimportant, I don't care, I don't want to know what you think, I don't respect you, I don't love you'.

I fight back harder than I should because I am thirteen again, not thirty something, and I am trying to be heard. All I want is for someone to ask me 'what do you think?' or 'I don't understand, why don't you tell me?'. Is that so much to ask? Perhaps it my responsibility to be more eloquent.

But am I thirteen again, and hurt, and scared of everything slipping through my fingers. I fight back in a fit of unreasonable proportion. Or, I am silent. Choosing my battles. Or, I am silent. Scared of my vulnerability.

She still doesn't listen.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Sleepless

I woke in the middle of the night with a start. A noise had disturbed me. Was it the front door, a window? Someone in the house? I gave myself a fright. Panic.

I'm sure it was just my mobile phone battery dying, reminding me to plug it in. Another lost hour of sleep.


Sometimes I hate living on my own. I light candles and switch on the TV or radio in order that there is something living and bright and noisy.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

An introduction

Some time ago I explained my reasons for writing here. My blog is anonymous to all, apart from the friend who's been mentioned here previously. It is a space for thoughts I have nowhere else to put or struggle to say out loud. It is a diary of sorts and a world apart from reality.

Somewhere along the lines I became a person who performed for those around me. I learned to conform to expectations, learned to please, and hid myself away. I felt like a fraud.

After crumbling last year, I started counselling to help me sort through the quagmire of broken bits. I could never have anticipated the journey that process began. It was a journey that started with external influences on my life, and then turned inwards. Through turning inwards, I am beginning to learn to share what I found there. I'm learning to give a bit of myself, take risks with my emotions and let people see the 'weak' version of me. The two selves may emerge one day as a whole, mask removed and integrity in place. I hope so. I'm trying.

A conversation has made me want to share a little of the external self here too, and give this a context.

In real life I work in the not for profit sector. I am privileged to work in a world of passionate and committed people who really do believe they can change the world bit by bit (so do I).

I am an outspoken, clever, compassionate girl with good friends. I am active and busy. I volunteer. I play the fiddle. I have fun and interesting times.

All sounds a bit conceited. The next bit? Sentimental, trite perhaps.

But, I'm a bit like a three legged dog. I live life and pursue my career reasonably well, but I often stumble. I am inhibited by the part of me that is more present in these pages than the everyday me. They are both real and true, but quite different. The scared, vulnerable, hurt me is here without the fa├žade.

Not embracing the blogging 'me' has caused me to damage many things. I am a procrastinator as I'm scared of success/failure. I argue over things that are seemingly insignificant because a button has been pushed by someone to whom it is invisible and fires up things in me that are terrified. I run from emotional intimacy because I'm scared that if someone truly knows me they will dislike what's on the inside and on, and on, and on....

I am doing the best I can to reconcile the two. I will get there. I could not continue as I was. So, some days are good, some days are bad, sometimes I just want to record a moment in my day. For years I have told everyone what I thought, not how I feel. It is time for this to change. These pages are part of my journey.

I neither need nor seek pity or praise, just somewhere to explore.

One day, I would like to learn to write.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Tomorrow

Yesterday was not a good day. I was distracted and exhasted. Today is a flat, non day. Tomorrow I will do better.

Too much noise

I'm never sure what I should do with so many of my thoughts. Where should I put them? Where do they come from? I just sometimes want some peace from my own head. I just want to feel safe. And loved. And calm. Just a little bit of quiet.

I don't trust many of those thoughts. I have sabotaged myself so often that I worry about which I should ignore and which I should listen to. In many ways I know myself well, and sometimes I think I don't know myself at all.

Once a thought plants itself and grows roots, I can't let it go. Each day or week something gets stuck in my head that dominates all other thinking and gets in the way. I would like to be able to choose. Do we all do this? I don't know. I don't like it.

Today I am distracted, absent. The thundercloud is present and I have behaved like a bitch.

I went for coffee with a man who I had a reasonably successful date with a few weeks ago, but had decided I didn't want to see again. We had an evening of interesting discussion, and of talking music, and laughing a little. He is intelligent, tall and creative but something about him was missing. I wasn't attracted to him. I am attracted to his beautiful photography, not to the man.

I did the decent thing and told him afterwards that I didn't think there was enough of a 'spark' for me. The dater's euphemism for 'I don't fancy you'. He had emailed telling me how wonderful I was. It made me uneasy. A couple of weeks passed and, bravely or stupidly, he asked me out again. I agreed to see him because I felt bad. A very poor reason for going on a date. I'm supposed to be focussing on what's good for me, on emotional integrity in my actions, and learning not to do things because they are what other people want. This situation is one where I've not been so successful. Self sacrifice in action. Marvellous.

Today was the day. I didn't want to go, because I knew it might mean having to through all the polite declining all over again. Last night I had some friends round for dinner, so this morning I was tired, fuzzy headed and not much in the mood for being beguiling, witty or even just a little attentive to a near stranger.

I struggled to make any kind of reasonable conversation, he made an effort. I apologised for being on bad from at the start. Less than an hour in I had to make my excuses and leave. He deserved better. He deserved someone to make an effort for him.

Do I now email and apologise for being useless and agree to see him again or do I just let it go? Is this now the thought that will occupy me for the next few days?

It seems that my scribblings of late have been quite focussed on men, and my questions about relationships. I trust this phase will pass as I don't want this place to become some low rent, Bridget Jones style rambling about the woes of a single girl. If it does, shoot me. There are enough women despairing of their single lives and spewing forth on the subject already.

I am lodger free for the first time in six months, and feeling weird about being home alone again. I should be excited about being able to be naked, play the fiddle, make mess, or live tidily, bathe endlessly, instead I am a little jumpy.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Smiling?

I am confused by anyone who is enthusiastic about me, or tells me I am beautiful, or tells me I 'can have anyone I want'. How can I respect someone who holds these thoughts? I cannot believe them to be true, I struggle to respect someone whose opinions are so strange. So I seek out, unknowingly, men whose feelings reflect my own. Any man who feels the way I do about myself can never love me. I sabotage my connections with those whose spirits otherwise could make me sing.

I have a photograph of myself aged about six or so. I am untidy. Someone has tried to sort my hair out, straighten my school tie, make me acceptable. I am trying to smile whilst covering my squint brown first teeth, they have no enamel. I cannot close my mouth properly. I cannot smile properly. It is a sort of awkward grimace instead. This picture makes me weep. I pity the little girl who cannot smile like everyone else. She is not beautiful, or cute. She is loved. And lost. She knows she is not the same as the rest. We are none of us the same though. I hate the lie of our society that celebrates sameness, and punishes those of whose faces do not fit.

My father, when he could still speak, would tell me I was beautiful. I never believed him, but appreciated the gesture.

Logic dictates that I am not fat, nor ugly, nor unacceptable. That I am fine, perhaps even attractive in some ways. My personality is built on rising above the bullying and shame. Have I become externally invincible, impenetrable? Whilst all the while still trying to hide my fear and ugliness. The person I have grown into is capable and independent and worth knowing, but inside I am still the little girl staring back through the years.

Some days I accept myself, even have moments of pride. Today is not one of them.