The Inevitable Return

I will be sad when the world returns

When I can no longer feed and nourish my soul

The bird song is so loud and the pace is a bearable one.

The balancing act of food and exercise

And the stretch of the aching body on the yoga mat

The hunching on the edge of the sofa with the laptop balanced is taking its toll.

Listening, learning and thinking

Shaping the emancipation 

Admittedly the children live in their rooms

But they are here, safe, silent, not interacting – but here – safe and present in a menial way

I like milling ..  and pondering … and those that I love the most being in such close proximity

As I bumble along with my day

I will miss them,

And the bird song, and the time to lavish upon myself

I thought I loved the rush, the fullness, the bustle

But it seems I like the sounds of nature,

The pottering and them ….

Most of all …. I like them.

It’s Time …..

I can’t shake the sadness

Of the strangulation of time

It creeps around my lungs

As my mind frantically searches for memories

Do I have enough? Why are they so vague?

We haven’t had enough time!

You don’t stride away confidently

You are as unready as I am

Fearful of the unknown

Whilst surrounded by those that are so assured

With age you are finding fear

Like a choking smoke screen

Blurring the beauty of the world in front of you

Trust me as I push you into the fog

Into the allurement of the haze

For it is as wondrous as you deserve

Explore without fear

For I am here, standing on the outside

Holding your angst and trepidation

Tread carefully but firmly

Open your eyes to all that you may see

And feel your heart filling

Your soul thriving

And your spirit flourishing

Trust in me

As I believe in you

Finally, I choose to Love Myself!

Ageing is viewed as a negative part of life in our western society. So much so that we are taught to hate ourselves for getting older. We hate the lines that appear at the side of our ages, be repulsed by the sagging of our skin and disappointed that the best of us that has left behind. This isn’t an Angela thing – it is so inground in our society that we dread it and take extreme measures to combat it. Well many of us do …. But not me. Not because I am adverse to borrowing a little help to defy the ageing process – but because I have an anxiety disorder that tells me that I will definitely be the one who ends up looking like a puffa fish when I have opted for a little lift. So instead I chose the option that many of us do – I chose to hate myself! I chose to begin to cover up more, go out less, take fewer photos and accept my place in life that I am no longer attractive, and I no longer have a right to be happy with myself aesthetically.

I was ok with this. After all, I am not young – I have had my time, I am nearly the end of my 30’s and as a result it is somewhat uncouth to flaunt your good looks anyway – right? The problem with this acceptance – is that I cared less and therefore I sunk even further into the pit of self-loathing that I ever thought possible.

I stopped weighing myself, it didn’t matter how much I weighed now – did it? This resulted in a large rise of weight of about 2 stones in 2 years (ridiculously unhealthy for anyone). I no longer wore make up (surely that would just look like was trying to look attractive – and the last thing I wanted was somebody looking at me anyway). I stopped buying new clothes – I knew that there was no attire on this planet that could cover up the mess that I had become and so I decided not to try. And of course, I was in a permanent eternal winter, where shaving was un—necessary, there was definitely nobody I would allow near and my clothes would keep it out of view anyway.

And of course, I stopped having sex! This definitely needs a paragraph of its own. Maybe it is harder for the men reading this to understand than it will be for the women to understand – but sex for most women is psychological. Not only do you need to have feelings for that person (or maybe a connection at the least), but you need to have feelings for yourself too. I feel sad to admit at times, that I felt that my husband was taking pity on me, or simply fulfilling his physical desire to have sex. I truly couldn’t imagine how he could feel any different. I wanted sex to be basic and over quickly, so that I wouldn’t have to feel his hands trace my curves, or imagine the thoughts of repulsion circling his head.

And it wasn’t just about things that I didn’t do. It was much more about my feelings towards myself. And Jesus, were those unhealthy! And I must say, upon reflection, that I feel so sorry for that woman. A woman who felt so disgusted in the vehicle that she was carrying her through life, that she decided to physically hide it from view and constantly bully and intimidate it with reminders of how worthless and disgusting she was.  Whilst there will always be people that cast these aspergions to you, surely the one person who should always love you …. is you!

So what goes wrong, when you suddenly realise how much you hate yourself.  Well that bit was easy, I threw myself into things I did like about my life, my family and my work primarily. And the distraction was so welcomed that it became obsessional. I immersed myself in things that I could control, because it was so much easier than the things that I felt I couldn’t control.  I couldn’t speed back up my metabolism, the more I dieted the fatter I got, my bones had begin to ache and exercise seemed like something that was way beyond my capability (despite sadly being only 39!!). The more I worked, the less I looked after myself, and the more I isolated myself from relationships. Not just my marriage, but my friendships too. Because friendships meant nights out, outfits, photos!!! That had all become so uncomfortable that I would do anything to avoid it.

The realisation that I had hit this point in my life, did not come on my decline, but only at my rock bottom (or maybe my husband will say at the purchase of my large pants). Some sensibility kicked in that I had not managed to grasp before. I felt sorry for me, I felt cruel and I wanted to fix myself, I realised that I didn’t deserve the constant humiliating, the shrouding, the refusal to allow myself to dare to even respect my new self. And that, quite possibly, nobody found my being as repulsive as I found myself. I’m an educator, and something that I reminded myself was – if you tell somebody something enough, they will believe it. I allowed that dress size, those pounds on the scales and my rolls of flab to tell me that I was a lesser being in society. And I truly, truly believed it. It was clearly time to practise what I preached. It was time to love myself, forgetting what other people may or may not have thought and just to see what would happen. Like I had with so many young minds under my wing.

And , the process has begun. I have taken myself back to my hairdressers, tamed the leg hair, bought some new clothes, and whilst putting make up on initially seems like an effort – I can’t believe how different it made me feel (once I had moved beyond the ‘feeling like a transvestite stage’ of course. I have used some of my time to ease myself into exercise through Yoga (maybe that bit is a middle-aged thing – considering I have given up the pole) and I aim to build back up into a good exercise routine. I aim to go back to caring about what I pull on in a morning, ensure my hair is brushed and to lavish my skin with crème if it is needed. And as for sex, well maybe I need to work on me before I can work on anybody else – and maybe that is ok.

But it is important that you understand that I didn’t wake up with a cure. I woke up with a realisation – the realisation that I didn’t deserve to be hated …. Definitely not by myself.

Reflections on a Metamorphosis – The NYE conversation many of us need – but nobody wants to have.

When it comes to NYE, it is almost like you have to pick sides. You are either ready to take on the world with a metaphorical steel baton or you are sticking your – again ‘metaphorical’ heels in the ground and declaring to the world that you are quite obviously ridiculously satisfied with your life, and therefore will not be changing a god damn thing. And nope – this blog is not a declaration that I am ‘Ms Sit on the Fence’ and will charge ahead steely, taking no prisoners whilst conquering my to do lists in a vain attempt to become ‘Ms Perfection’ herself, but am also obviously outwardly desperate for you all to know, that I am eternally grateful for all that life has given, and I am only having resolutions because I am driven, and not because I need to change.
Nope! This post is none of that drivelly shit! Instead I wanted to blog about the realness of the years that have washed over me and the fluidity of the feelings for the impending year. So, if you aren’t into the deep analysis of the human psyche, a sprinkling of wallowing, penned with raw excitement about a life we have yet to live, then this post won’t be for you. And I am sure that facebook can fill the gap in your life with some of the previously mentioned stereotyped posts. Here goes therefore, my New Year’s musings of which, not being a psychologist, I can only base on my own learnings of the last few years.
I’m definitely either a schizophrenic or I have bipolar. I don’t use these terms loosely, I mean it, and no, this isn’t one of my comedic posts that you are more used to! I am not feeling that kind of vibe today, at least my soul isn’t. Within seconds I can go from feeling like I am riding on Beyonce’s yacht to feeling like there is no point in getting out of bed today – as nothing can come of it. I’m hoping that at least one of you resonate with that? But one thing 2019 has bought me is the peace and serenity to understand that my unstable demeanour is ridiculously common, and ‘rock bottom’ is not the end of the road.
It is of course a torturous darkness that ¬has the capability to keep you entrapped for an infinite amount of time. A darkness that keeps you isolated, admittedly from those that seek to do you harm, but also from the people that possess the power to guide you more quickly from the murky depths. It starves you of emotion and of life. Not just your life, but perhaps those around you too, if you are lucky enough to have people around you whose life halts during your enslavement in the hole of despair.
Before I myself hit these murky depths, I saved a quote on my phone “Life can be amazing, and then it can be awful, and back to amazing again”. I love it, but I can’t say I got it – I wanted to though. But on the dawn of this new year, I can say I not only get it – but I feel it! I have spent my whole life avoiding the pitfalls, or at best, pretending that they weren’t happening. Avoiding relationships, running away from difficult situations, walking the safe path – all in order to avoid the pain and heartbreak that it ‘could’ bring. I actually got better at this as I got older, and I saw that as maturity, and getting better at the complexities of ‘life’. But only now, (whilst I hate to say this) in my middle age, that I realise, I wasn’t avoiding the pitfalls, I was actually avoiding life! And I can’t say that is not a bitter thought.
And if I hadn’t hit the ‘rock bottom’ mentioned earlier, I imagine I would still be smugly avoiding negative vibes, naïvely thinking I had it all figured! But it was in the raw, painful, messy abyss of the dark sadness that I realised I was still breathing. Albeit this breathing was shallow, quickened and painful – but I was breathing all the same. There wasn’t much else I realised at the time – that was to come later – but the other thing I did realise is that when the only positive element you can find about your existence is that you can still breathe, you are truly laid in the foundations of the nothingness. The pragmatic thing about being at base level – things can’t get any worse.
So all there is to do now, is to navigate your way back to the top, ok maybe middle, well for now, let’s just settle for head above the water. This process (and it is one hell of a process) is not quick, it is a complex, tangled and torturous affair. And whilst loving hands can soothe and guide you to the surface, there isn’t really an action plan that can be followed, there is no one size fits all. But what there is, is a labyrinth of lessons (without David Bowie in leggings more is the pity). I’m not convinced that these lessons can be learnt many places, but being laid on the foundations of life is one of them. And I’m not exaggerating when I say, that these are perhaps the most valuable lessons that a human can learn, especially one in such despair.
What are these lessons I hold in such high regard? Well, I would probably call it something really cringey like – The Awakening! Except I won’t, because that simply reminds me of the Jehovah’s Witness books that they regularly stuff through my door. But you get the concept – right? When everything stops around you (or at least you are too broken to take in the happenings) you begin to notice the tiny things that you were too preoccupied to notice before. Like the bird at the feeder, the taste of food, the way your daughter’s eyes glow when she gets excited, the sensation of a hug. The truth is, these aren’t ‘tiny’ things – they are the most significant, consequential moments of a person’s life. And whilst the pain you are enduring is destroying you, you become grateful that you can actually feel something again – even if that is pain. Because the depressing truth is, you couldn’t feel a damn thing for so long. Only when every emotion is stripped from us, do we realise how even pain is comforting – the ability to feel. The tragedy is, most of us only realise these two nuggets of wisdom, when it is far too late. The gift of the darkness? You have the time and the anguish to finally learn it.
Whilst becoming so emotionless has its bonuses, you are however, undoubtably being robbed of the best thing about being human – feeling. Strangely enough, any feeling is good – I don’t know why this is? Some of my most favourite memories are crying into my pillow after being dumped by a spotty, greasy teenager. Don’t get me wrong – I also loved the feeling of brimming with emotion whilst watching a magical Disney parade on Xmas day, snuggled up in my scarf whilst clinging to my beautiful children, guarded by my attentive husband. But none the less, it is undeniable that all emotion is important. Surely it is the only reason I had ‘The Fray’ on repeat for a good 6 months.
Despite the negative description of my experiences deep in my darkness, the point of these ramblings are not to dwell of the painful memories of days unable to leave the sofa, or the irrational tears when my phone would randomly ring – but instead to share the metamorphosis that can evolve the ‘broken you’.
I struggle to do nothing: along with the bi-polar, it is probably fair to assume I have ADHD (I’m playing all the cards today). Relaxing is definitely not something I do – and controversially so – not something I want to do either. I like to be busy and feel ridiculously useless if I stop! My therapist has her thoughts behind why this is, she thinks I am still avoiding thinking and feeling by making myself so busy that I don’t have to do indulge myself in something that could irregulate my heart beat – if only for a second. But when you are encompassed by the fog – it is pretty impossible to function (as I am sure many of you know). Any energy you had is sucked from your sinking body, your ability to make sense of the ever-pervading circling thoughts, dissipated! Without permission, your bodywork ceases, your brain halts. I suppose you have to consider if the darkness is an infliction of abuse and torment or if it is indeed simply nature’s way of taking you back under its wing. Forcing you to think, feel – as distressing as that may be at the time – maybe it is the only way to deliver us into the life we are refusing to live.
So, when you arrive gasping at the surface, sure you have had a hell of a shitty time. But as you climb out of the water, that is when you got to be part of your new world. The world you are so ridiculously grateful to be part of, the one that you are finally excited about. And I don’t mean because you have convinced yourself that you are going to be a millionaire after 6 months of selling Avon, I mean because you don’t just get it – you feel it! And by ‘it’ – I mean everything!
Of course, this means therefore, that everything there forth is beyond the concept of wondrous! Doesn’t it? Hell no! But what I believe it does mean, is that you can live every day like you are on a journey, not a commute. You are not on your way anywhere, you are ‘existing’ in that moment. And that isn’t a negative term. You are god damn lucky to ‘exist’, as mundane as that may sound, because one day – you won’t! And chances are, on the day you cease to be, you will have that awakening, if you haven’t been lucky enough to have it already – except you won’t have time left to ‘feel’ it.
There will be downs – at times, more than ups, but tread the labyrinth as slowly and carefully as your body and mind will allow, take the opportunity to guilt free, re visit the beauty of all elements of your extraordinary life. ‘Your’ life! For you to mould, for you to create – for you to live! Whatever that shape resembles – go make it!
So resolutions then? Is the paramount promise to yourself really to go to the gym? Or to watch an extra hour of Netflix? (although I can’t argue with the temptation of the latter). Or can it just be so much more simple than that? Can you promise yourself to be awake? To be Happy? To be grateful? I don’t say it because it is easy – looking around at society, it is clearly the hardest resolution you could ever try to keep. But every day is a new beginning, and with it brings a chance for us to at least take a moment of simplistic happiness for ourselves. Is that really too much to ask?
So me? I will grab some more sunsets, I will enjoy a coffee without my laptop in tow, I will listen ‘properly’ to my children when they speak, and I will lay on my bed alone just listening to music. And I won’t feel guilty because I am looking after me. I will except that I am important and not a second fiddle to any other human in my life, including my children. Because the truth is, if I don’t allow myself to be awake and to enjoy my existence, I will plunge right back into that darkness where my journey really began. And whilst I am grateful for the courageous, resilient woman that I emerged from that darkness as, I have no time left to waste in that void.
If you are unsure of what resolutions you should make, don’t listen to those that tell you not to make them! Just think about them more carefully. Pull yourself away from the mainstream and explore what is really important. And you know deep inside what is really important – it’s you – and that’s ok! Let 2020 be about you – allow yourself to present – allow yourself to be happy – whatever it takes.
Happy 2020 everyone – I raise a glass to ‘you’ and wish you an absolutely fantastic journey, whatever that may look like. I hope this message spreads far and wide to let those who need it know that there is hope.
Love Angela xxx