I’ll reply to everyone as soon as possible. Love you all xxx
The 13th of February this year was a Tuesday. My fiancé and partner of almost fifteen years was at work. We had just that week decided on our wedding venue and had signed a contract with our wedding coordinator to secure the hotel. We were to be married in December.
That evening I went swimming with my mother. My fiancé told me that he was playing football with friends. I knew he was lying but I pretended otherwise.
I came out to the car after my swim and checked my phone. A notification told me that someone I didn’t know was attempting to contact me on Facebook Messenger.
Before I opened the message, I knew. I knew what it was. I knew I was going to be told something that would change my life forever. That five seconds before I opened the message was the longest moment of my life.
For the past year and a half, my relationship with J had been horrific. He treated me so poorly. He barely spoke to me with anything other than contempt and disdain. He didn’t touch me, kiss me, hug me. He showed no interest in me or my friends. He was cold, distant, perpetually distracted. He never looked at me. I would tell him I loved him, and his eyes would stay focused on his shoes while he’d murmur ‘you don’t need to say that to me so much.’
I felt rejected beyond belief. We were engaged, yet I felt I was forcing him into a marriage he clearly didn’t want. I tried to give him space. I tried to talk to him. I cried almost every day. I had nightmares. My friends and family were concerned. I took leave from work and started a course of anti-anxiety medications. I was broken.
And yet, I didn’t leave. I don’t know why. I guess the relationship was all I had ever known. I had never been single, never known myself to exist as an adult outside of the relationship. I was frightened. I figured I’d be alone forever if I didn’t marry him. I thought we had so much in common that I’d never find the same kind of relationship with anyone. I pushed away all the negative thoughts.
I knew he was cheating on me. He alternated between being distant and cold and then guilty and loving. He was insanely possessive over his phone. He ignored me on social media. He hid me from people like he was ashamed of me.
He was a mess. I was a mess.
The human mind is an odd thing. My friends would describe me as strong, as a ‘take no bull-shit from anyone’ kind of girl. But I let this go on. I lay in bed at night beside a man I knew was being unfaithful. I didn’t have the strength to deal with it.
I did confront him. Of course I did. Many, many times. I sent him emails, I wrote him letters, I tried to sit down and talk to him calmly.
I know you’re being unfaithful. I know. Can you please have the decency to tell me yourself and not let me find out in some horrific manner that devastates me?
You’re being paranoid. God, you have so many trust issues. How is this ever going to work if you don’t trust me?!
I only learned the definition of gas-lighting this year. Basically, it refers to someone manipulating you and causing you to completely question your entire reality. Although I knew he was cheating, I still questioned myself.
Am I paranoid?
Is it my anxiety?
Am I pushing him away?
And in all of this, we were planning a wedding. It’s not one of my finer moments in life, but at least I’ve gotten out before I committed to what I can only call a pathological liar. He sat with me in the hotel we were to be married in, knowing he’d been betraying me for over a year, and signed a contract holding the venue. He sat among my friends, my family, knowing that he was hurting someone they loved in the most horrible way.
That Tuesday night, I took a deep breath before I opened the message. I knew what the message was. But I wasn’t prepared for how hurtful it would be. The woman described every painful detail of the year long affair she’d been having with my fiancé. The boy I had loved since I was fifteen years old. The only man I’d ever slept with. The person who knew me better than anybody, who saw me at my worst, at my most vulnerable. I thought he was my soulmate. My best friend.
Her message, looking back on it, was the ramblings of a woman who consumed by bitterness and resentment and completely self-centered. There was no apology. There was no acceptance of her part in all of this. She knew he was in a relationship. She blamed him and him alone. It was awful on her, she wrote. She’d been very stressed and upset by it all. There was no acknowledgement of my pain or the betrayal done to me by both of them. It was an entirely selfish message. She was twisting the knife in the cruelest of ways. He had broken it off with her that week and decided that he did, in fact, want to marry me.
Lucky fucking me, right?!
Obviously, I’m glad she told me. I’m glad she provided me with all the painful details of their relationship. It allowed me to see him for the person he really was: a liar. The worst kind of liar. And god, was he manipulative. He made me question my own sanity. I thought that there was a good chance I was actually suffering from paranoid delusions. I lay awake almost every night wondering if I was, in fact, insane.
I had a lot of questions: Where? When?
I thought we were happy. Only a few months before the affair begun, we were living hundreds of miles apart and he was pledging his undying love for me. I didn’t understand it. Weren’t we best friends? Hadn’t it always been us against the world?
Confronting him didn’t help. He was weirdly calm. He told me that he didn’t love her, never had. She wasn’t even that attractive. He didn’t know what he was thinking. He loved me, of course. He wanted to marry me.
He was deluded. He believed that now that I knew, we could move on together and build a marriage. I sat in disbelief. He seemed to think we would be okay now. That we could move on from this.
To put it into context: I had always been the biggest emotional support in his life. I cheered him on when no one else would. I gave everything of myself to him. I ruthlessly defended him to friends and family who told me he wasn’t good enough. I supported him financially when he had nothing. I was a damn good girlfriend and amazing friend to him.
And he pursued an affair with someone else. Only a few months after my aunt died from cancer. While living in her house, I might add. While having the affair, he sat with me in my doctor’s office while I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder.
I had many, many questions:
Why didn’t you just leave me?
Did you laugh with her like you did with me? Did ye have private jokes?
Did you love her?
Why did you not just admit it when I gave you so many chances?
Did you ever feel guilty?
When did you actively decide to do this?
And most of all…why?!
I struggled to understand the why. I still do. Without sounding horribly shallow, the woman was not extremely attractive. She was older. A writer would describe her as homely. So maybe they had a deep, emotional connection? Well, no, that didn’t appear to be the case either. I think I would have found it easier to comprehend if it made sense. But it didn’t. I kept trying to rationalize it in a petty, immature way: I’m prettier than her, I’m smarter. I’m more accomplished, more successful. Why wasn’t that enough?
It doesn’t matter. None of that matters. If Beyoncé gets cheated on, anyone can get cheated on.
And that became my mantra:
It is not, and never was, me.
He tried to reassure me that he didn’t love her; that I was the one he wanted. But I was done. The betrayal was too much. I didn’t know who this person was. He was a virtual stranger to me. I remember sitting across from him and thinking ‘who the hell are you? Who is this person I’ve lived with for thirteen years?’
The final nail in the coffin came when the other woman told me that he had taken her out for dinner the previous week. It wasn’t the thoughts of them having sex, or even sitting in our car together, or kissing that killed me. It was the fact that he hadn’t brought me to dinner in years. I imagined them, laughing together, sitting in some intimate restaurant completely unaware of the pain they were inflicting on me. It was a pain like nothing I’ve ever felt.
I told him to leave the next day. A bizarre clarity came over me. I was rid of him finally. I realised in that moment something that really set me free: I didn’t love him anymore. I had loved someone else entirely. Someone I perceived as honest, dependable, trustworthy. Someone who would never hurt me. Someone who would always love me and realise how lucky he was to have such a loyal and loving girlfriend. He was not that guy. Did I want the master manipulator and liar? Um, no thanks.
Bizarrely, I found the breakup easy. I mean this when I say it: I have never been happier. I know a lot of people might think I’m being conceited. That I’m saying this to exact some kind of petty revenge, like ‘look how great I’m doing, la la la’. But that’s not the case.
My friends and I have become so much closer. My best friend’s relationship ended only two months after mine. I’ve spent so much more time surrounding myself with friends and family. I’ve widened my circle considerably. My house is rarely empty. I’ve reconnected with old friends. I’ve dated. I’ve met amazing men; men who have treated me well and who remain my friends. I’ve even had one or two short term relationships. I’m not ready for anything more just yet because I’m enjoying myself too much. But I’ve met guys who are successful, funny, smart, who quote random TV shows just like me, who make me feel sexy and special all at once. They give me what I never got from him: Time. Attention. Affection.
And I’m getting ready to properly date now. I feel like I might finally be able to commit myself to something more. I guess time will tell.
I’ve become a better person throughout all of this. I lost stones of weight. I went back blond. I got an amazing job. I feel great. I go places I never would have went before. I’m out of a horrible rut that I was stuck in for years.
And despite what he put me through, I hope my ex is happy. I really don’t wish him any ill-will. Even when people around me verbally bash him, I still find myself defending him. Old habits, and all that. He was a silly person in ways, ignorant, selfish, deceitful. But he’s not a bad person. Genuinely. I know, under it all, there was a time when he loved me. A time when we were happy. And we had fun. To this day, I still see things that I know would make him laugh. I see things that remind me of him constantly. I have fond memories of our time together but unfortunately, they’ve been tainted by his betrayal. Honestly though, whatever he does in life, and wherever he goes, I hope he’s happy. And I hope to god he never does this to another person again. Maybe someday we might even be friends.
I acknowledge that we got involved too young. We fell in love quickly and absolutely. But the fire burned out long ago and I guess we just kept hoping it would reignite again some day. We should have parted ways, but we didn’t. That’s why I would advise anyone having sincere doubts about their relationship to really, really consider whether it adds value to your life or makes you happy. Mine didn’t. And if I didn’t receive that message on that random Tuesday night, I’d probably be getting married.
To anyone who has been betrayed, or hurt like me, I’ll say this:
It’s okay. Pain is inevitable in life. But choose to see it as something cleansing, something that indicates the end of something bad. Learn from it. Let it teach you so that you can avoid its cause again. And love yourself; you really should be your own best friend.
If you read this far, thank you! I needed to get all of this out. It’s been hugely therapeutic. Whoever you are, I hope you’re having a wonderful day.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here
For serious though, if you imagine me as some kind of Marcia Brady character and you’d like to keep imagining that, it’s probably in your best interests NOT to read this. I’m nice most of the time, but I’m also a flawed hot mess, so, hey, proceed with caution. And if you’re going to judge me, do it quietly, ok?
So those of you who know anything about my life know two things: I like cats. I broke up with my cheating ex-fiancé at the beginning of the year. The breakup was rough, yes, but I actually felt an overwhelming sense of relief because our relationship had turned more toxic than whoever the hell Britney was singing about circa 2003. I guess everyone reacts differently to a breakup.
My reaction was…weird. I guess because I was cheated on, I somewhat immaturely (but understandably) sought validation. I wanted to feel attractive and desired. I’d also been in my relationship since I was fifteen years old and I’d only ever seriously dated one person. So I felt that I had missed out on years of good (and bad) dates. I joined Tinder almost immediately. It’s important to note that I wasn’t looking for anything beyond dating and or…what’s a polite and tasteful way to say hook-ups?
Ah, Tinder. It’s great and all but what Tinder giveth, Tinder taketh away. Mostly my dignity. Tinder is crazy, yo. I’m going to share my experiences right from that first post-breakup date to now because you guys really get off on laughing at me, don’t you? DON’T YOU?!
Full disclosure: I’m not going to discuss every encounter I’ve had because A) There’ve been, ahem, a few B) You guys would have me shipped to the nearest convent and exorcised and C) because some of the guys know about my blog and I don’t want to make them uncomfortable and or have them send me dead animals in the mail.
So I start matching guys like a rabid hyena (is that a terrible analogy? Why would a hyena be on Tinder? I have so many questions). I don’t usually initiate conversation because ain’t nobody got time for that. I let the guys message me. If they can spell, construct a semi-coherent sentence, make me laugh and look at least semi-attractive, I’ll give them a chance. The messages come thick and fast and I’m like a kid in a sweet shop. Handsome guys, great jobs, flattering and complimenting me like I’m some kind of Disney princess, what’s not to love? So initially, I was like
My first date was with a solicitor who was handsome, funny and extremely charming. On Tinder. In person, he was coked off his face and was just about the most intense yet distracted person I’ve ever spoken to. As we were just meeting for a quick drink, I was able to back the f**k outta that situation pretty quickly. I doubt he even remembers meeting me. Dope. He was also wearing a GIANT parka in a very hot bar. Like, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.
My second date was actually on the same night. Yes, I know that’s insane. But I’m a little insane. I was pissed off about the cocaine-addled solicitor so I wanted to meet someone normal and down-to-earth. This guy (let’s call him…Blueberry) was pretty attractive, and we had struck up quite the rapport. When I met him, he was shy and awkward. I talked. A lot. He listened and laughed. We kissed and I wasn’t that into it. But he’d travelled into the city to see me and I stupidly felt I owed him (don’t worry, I get better as time goes on). He was nice but I didn’t fancy him. So that was a nice date but it just didn’t give me the feels.
Then there was Ryan Gosling. Ok, not actually Ryan Gosling, but mother of god this guy was freakin’ haaaaawt. He actually looked quite like Ryan Phillipe. True story. We had nothing in common and it was purely physical but *blesses self* it was fun. Like, House of Mirrors and candy floss fun. And exactly what I needed at the time. It fizzled out pretty quickly because I think we maybe ever exchanged, like, three words to each other. Woah, that’s bad. *clutches rosary beads*
Ooh, let me tell you about acid guy. So I meet a guy for a few dates who is just about the most complex guy I’ve ever known. By day, he’s a financial analyst for a very prestigious insurance firm, by night he takes what I can only describe as a SHITLOAD of LSD. I don’t actually know this until about date number three and I moonwalk my way outta this situation pretty quickly too. He was actually a very sweet guy; but like a hyperactive puppy. You ever see that episode of Friends with Alec Baldwin? Yeeeeeah. There’s only so much ‘OMG YOU’RE SO PRETTY, I WANNA KISS YOU, LETS DANCE, DO YOU LIKE ESPRESSO, IS THAT A SQUIRREL?!’ that one can take. And he wanted to kiss. All. The. Time. I’m not talking about hot steamy makeout sessions. I’m talking literally every second of every moment that we’re together to the point that my oxygen levels are depleting to a point that I’m actually scared of dying. Not. Cool. But he was very funny and very kind and made me feel very good about myself. I know, I know, you shouldn’t seek validation from external sources but…he said I was purdy.
And then there was personal trainer guy who was also studying fashion design. Yeah. That’s a thing. He was…different. He was tattooed and handsome and my Mam would have hated him. He was incredibly sweet. Too sweet. Guys, I broke his heart. Ugh. I know what it’s like to be hurt so I really hate the idea of hurting someone else. But I was in a very self-destructive place and I couldn’t even conceive of committing to anyone. I still can’t.
He showered me with gifts. He brought me away on trips all over the country. He wanted to be around me all the time. And I felt suffocated. We’d known each other three weeks when he started talking about traveling together. I tried to break it off, but he just wouldn’t take ‘I’m not ready’ for an answer. He tagged me in things on Facebook, he messaged me constantly, he pestered me to the point that I almost had to block him. Instead, I told him to chill a bit, and he did. Phew. He still slides into the ole DMs every so often but I just don’t have any attraction to him now. Is that bad? Am I bad? Who knows?! Don’t answer that.
The next guy was great. He was incredibly funny, handsome, friendly…we clicked from the start. Again, there was never potential for anything more than a fun fling, but this guy was just about the most interesting out of all of my Tinder conquests. I can’t really explain why. He’s just a really good person. And I really liked his company. The fact that we clicked physically helped too, I guess 😋 He was creative, like me, with similar interests and passions. He was intelligent. He had a really cool and different job that he was so passionate about. He made me laugh out loud which is actually pretty hard- *sees a picture of a gorilla in a tutu* BAHAHAHAHAHA. Sorry, what was I saying??? Anyway, that guy was fun. His texts always made me smile. Our first date was also one of the more fun ones that I’ve had, and there’s nothing like a great first date. Or a bad one. We’ll get to that.
Right now, in fact. So I’d been talking to Doucheface (charming name, I know) on Tinder for weeks but I didn’t feel terribly drawn to him. Physically, he wasn’t my type but he promised me that if I went on a date with him, he would show me a great time. I liked his confidence and his perseverance so I agreed. Ugh. Mis. Take. So he picked me up in a spang new BMW. I mean, cool and all, but he looked at me as I sat in as if I should be salivating and ripping his belt off.
He spends the whole date talking about how wealthy he is, how hard he works, how great his life is. He tells me that he has the amazing house, the car and now all he needs is, and I quote, ‘a hot blonde with big boobs.’ I actually gag into my gin and tonic. I ask him to take me home and when he tries to kiss me, I turn away and tell him I just wasn’t feeling it. Then I get the ‘oh, well I’m not used to this happening’ speech. Sure you’re not, dude. Sure.
Then I met a guy I actually really liked. He was a builder by trade. He had travelled the world and had such amazing experiences to share. He was rugged and ridiculously handsome and so sweet that I couldn’t help but develop the most juvenile infatuation with him. He was kind to me but he was…broken. He suffered with quite serious mental health issues and we felt that with my own anxiety would just compound his issues and we would ultimately end up in quite a destructive relationship, so we ended what was a very short, but very passionate fling. He was a very sweet person though and I’m glad I met him.
There was Scottish guy who I met on a night out who was hilariously crazy and I couldn’t understand anything he said. We talked about films, his experiences of growing up in Glasgow and he made me laugh too. Again, it wouldn’t have gone anywhere because I wasn’t sure if he was telling me he liked me or reciting the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody. Accents, amiright?! We did have a dance-off because everyone can understand the can-can.
Then there was another guy who laid it on a little too thick. He became extremely clingy and needy and I couldn’t deal with it, so I had to let him down gently. He was sweet, successful and so much better than having to beg someone to date him. He irritated me a little by telling me that I needed a man in my life. No, hun, I don’t need a man at all. I’m good. He insisted that having a boyfriend would be good for me. That I needed minding. I get that his intentions were good and all, but it was a little condescending.
And zen zere was ze French guy. Oh guys. Attractive doesn’t cover it. Like, it was, as the French say, reeee-dicilouse, eh? He had the brownest eyes, the curliest mop of jet-black hair and the most arresting smile I’ve ever seen. And that accent would have melted lead. Or something that doesn’t melt easily, I dunno. This was by far the most intense fling I’ve had.
The attraction was instant and all-consuming. He was not only gorgeous, but intelligent and absolutely hilarious. He could make me laugh even when I didn’t want to. He was affectionate beyond belief and he remembered even the most insignificant things I told him. That meant a lot. We texted each other constantly. It was hot and heavy, but it was also meaningful and sweet.
So it got complicated. We both wanted to keep it casual. But that’s hard when you’re texting a lot, video chatting and cuddling. So he told me he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t do the friends with benefits thing because it was too complicated. I totally respect that. I’m not ready for anything deeper or more meaningful right now. It’s too soon for me. But I’ll miss that ridiculously sexy French boy.
The last guy was just…I’m so confused about him. I DON’T GET BOYS. So he’s from the same town as me. And hey, I don’t want to insult the local men, but it’s slim pickins guys. This guy is in Cambridge studying physics. I mean, this is me guys: the space nerd. So I was drawn to him like a moth to a flame. We met for a walk and he was the preppy, very handsome type that your mother would put out the best doilies for. We seemed to hit it off, and we met again for wine, but it was…weird. It was like he wanted to be there, but he didn’t. It was like he was resisting something but that he really didn’t want to. I know I’m not explaining this well. He was very conflicted when it came to making a move on me. So I’m worried that I’ve now kissed a guy who has a girlfriend. I just have an intuition about these things. If that’s the case; my bad. But I didn’t know. I also forget his name, which is pretty d*ckish of me but don’t tell anyone, k?
And, er, that’s it. Look, you’ll possibly judge me. That’s cool. I’ve dated a lot. I’ve dated a lot because I never got a chance to do it when I was young. Dating has been the most fun I’ve had in such a long time. It’s made me like myself. It’s brought me into contact with some of the most amazing, fascinating people. It’s given me experiences and memories that I would never have had if I hadn’t taken a leap of faith. I love going on dates because I love people. It’s also been about seeing what I like, what I don’t like and being more discerning about potential future partners. When it came to my ex, I clearly wasn’t discerning enough. I’ll never let anyone treat me like that again.
I’m cool with being alone too. I’m not always on dates. Right now, I’m actually chilling with my cats and I’m not planning on dating anyone seriously for a while. I’m going to take some time out I think, for a little while anyway. I need to get to know myself outside of a relationship. In time, I’ll be ready for something more. Not right now. Right now, I just want something fun and causal that may or may not involve Netflix, wine and a little nudge nudge, wink wink. Chill guys, I mean backgammon. GEEEZE.
Also, on a totally unrelated note, I GOT ONE OF THOSE JOBS THINGS THAT ADULTS GET. So I’ve been teaching for years as a substitute and I finally secured my own hours in a very prestigious private school. So, happy dance and all that jazz.
I’ve also gone, like, totally blonde. Love it though because now when I say something ridiculously silly, I just point to my hair.
Anyway, feel free to share your own dating stories in the comments so I can judge you right back. Kidding. No I’m not.
How the hell are we??
My life has been a bit currrrazaaay lately (two syllables just didn’t seem like enough, ya know?)
I mean, I don’t even know where to start. I’m still teaching (I like to imagine myself as a non-magical Dumbledore). I am LOVING living alone because, well, naked cleaning. I am probably partying too much, but hey, it never killed anyone, right? (Okay, it’s killed a lot of people, but I’ve made it to 31 and I once attacked a toaster with a knife so I figure I’m lucky to have gotten this far). I’ve gone even blonder. I got my best friend a cat because I’m sound as hell. I’m getting a new tattoo. My friend had a baby. I’m getting another piercing. My cats have mastered teleportation (probably). I got a financial windfall and I’m planning to travel, maybe. Someone sent me flowers and I have no fucking idea who but my cat ate them. I FINALLY finished Ulysses. I started properly writing again and I love it. My friends are all amazing and I never need anything else as long as I have them, except maybe wine, chocolate and cats. And gifs of people falling over. I’ve been doing things I never would have done a year ago. I’ve opened myself up to new experiences, new people, new places. And it’s pretty great.
So that’s been my life. I’ve never felt happier. Sure, the anxiety kicks in every so often. I doubt myself. I doubt my decisions. But most of the time, I’m smiling. I’m laughing. I’m dancing to Carly Rae Jepsen.
That’s the thing about challenges; how you react to them is what defines you. Shit will happen. You can’t always prevent it from happening. But you can choose how you react to it. I’ve chosen to live. To really live. I analyse less and do more. It’s not always smart but it feels good. It feels right, right now at least.
Anyway, I just wanted to check in and say hello. I hope that you are having a peaceful day, whoever you may be and wherever you may be reading this from. Join me in some fancy internet tea and I’ll let you pet my cat which is not a euphemism, you deviant.
I realised I have quite the collection of amazing short stories amassed from my years of moulding young minds (and definitely not playing them early ’90’s hip-hop).
So I thought ‘hey, why not share some of my favourites with you all completely unsolicited because I’m annoying like that’ and ‘I think my cat has telepathic powers’ but mostly the first thing.
This is just perfection. It’s dark, it’s bizarre, it’s vintage Salinger and I love it.
Frank O’ Connor is truly one of the best writers of short fiction. This story may require a little background knowledge on the Irish War of Independence but anyone would enjoy it. If you’re not completely moved by the ending, then you may be a psychopath. Special mention to First Confession also; it’s hilarious.
Man vs Nature…who will win?
Spoiler: Nature, obvs
This story is all kinds of f**ked up and I f**king love it. A story so nice, I swore twice. Special mention to The Tell-Tale Heart also.
The twist in this is great and really makes you think. Also, Dahl rules.
You guys enjoy reading and I’m going to continue brunching while I still can:
I just wanted to update you all because I’ve gotten a few sweet sympathy emails and I wanted to say a) thank you, you beautiful people and b) I’m not drowning in a sea of merlot and cookie dough ice cream (but what a sea that would be…) But yeah, I’m good.
I’m currently on holidays from work for two, count ’em, TWO weeks…which means that I’m planning to do lots of fun things, like travel around the country in my crap car, while listening to podcasts and taking pictures on my Polaroid. Or visit a dark sky reserve with my darling little telescope. Or I’ll just lie on my sofa staring at my feet and listening to death metal.
Whatever I do, it’ll be fun. And that’s what I need. I could also do with a travel companion who will stop me from accidentally driving off a cliff (again…dammit) so if you know anyone (preferably Tom Hardy but I’m willing to settle) then hit me up.
In other news, I’m looking at traveling for the summer. I have no idea where, but sure isn’t that half the fun? My job means that I have the freedom to do it so why not? My job also means that I have perfected a passive-aggressive look of disdain, but mostly the freedom thing.
If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them! Let me dream for a little while…
There’s so much more that’s been going on in my life. But that’s for another day. Right now, I’m reading the poetry of Byron from a 105 year old book while simultaneously watching Jeremy Kyle. Because classy. Seriously though, the combination is amazing.
Enough about me. How is all with you? What have you been up to? Did you know that goats are actually just male sheep? Probably?
Kisses and hugs that linger for too long xxx
P.S. I was reminded of this scene from The Simpsons on FB today…how amazing/emotionally traumatising is it?!
He writes my experience better than I could
Being a childless woman in your thirties isn’t always easy. I mean sure, I can sleep through the night, drink tequila on a Thursday and decide without any planning to go line dancing or ice-skating, if those were things I wanted to do. But there are downsides to my childlessness: namely, the presumptuous comments of some (of course, not all) mothers I speak to. Because I’m not one of them, I must have a wonderful life. I have such freedom, after all. I must have boundless energy. If I say I went out to the pub for a drink with friends, I’m met with ‘imagine being able to do that’. If I say that I feel a little tired because I’ve had so much overtime, I get ‘just wait till you have kids.’
Shockingly, there are women who are my age who simply don’t want to have children. That’s totally fucking fine. Not every woman has to be a mother. Not ever woman wants to be a mother. That doesn’t make her selfish or vain or proud. And what about the women who can’t have children? I can’t imagine how much senseless comments like the ones I hear on at least a weekly basis must hurt them.
Women who don’t have children are still loving, caring and compassionate. We’re not any more or any less selfish than anyone else. We have as much empathy as the next person. I remember telling someone once that I was anti-capital punishment and their response was ‘you’d think differently if you had kids’ as if I’m somehow incapable at arriving at a reasonable conclusion on the matter because I’m lacking some kind of empathy or sense of outrage that is unique to parents. Lately, I told some colleagues that I was re-reading the novel Room by Emma Donoghue. The plot is admittedly disturbing and the subject matter is dark and distressing. But it is also a well-written novel, about issues (kidnapping, rape) that occur whether we want to think about them or not. My colleagues (whom I really like, respect and get along well with) told me that they couldn’t even bring themselves to read the book. Fair enough, I thought. It is a tough read and not for everyone. But then the conversation turned into six mothers versus me. They told me that because they’re mothers, the thought of reading such a novel is particularly disturbing. I agree; it would be very difficult and you would naturally think of your own children in such a situation and that would be enough to cause you to avoid such narratives. But they didn’t stop there. I was met with comments like ‘you’ll understand when you have kids’ (which I probably just should get tattooed on my forehead) and ‘ god imagine being able to read books like that!’ I was made to feel as if I was some sadistic, voyeuristic sociopath who thrives on the suffering of fictional children. I just choose not to shield myself from difficult realities in life. Paintings by renaissance or impressionist artists can be disturbing and convey great suffering but they can still be beautiful. The same goes for literature and for movies. Appreciating them doesn’t make me some kind of psychopath.
And just because I don’t have children does not make me immune to outrage, shock, pain, compassion or disgust.
I don’t want anyone to think that I’m having a go at mothers or motherhood. Most mothers I know (my friends and my sister and sister-in-law, for example) serve as great inspirations to me. They’re exactly what I aspire to be if and when I decide to have kids. Even the mothers that do pass thoughtless comments don’t do it out of malice or spite, I know that. Mothers can be wonderful, resilient, kind, beautiful, brave people. Non-mothers can be just as wonderful, just as resilient, just as kind, beautiful and brave.
We are all women, different and the same, and we need to support each other and each other’s choices.
I currently have some kind of head cold/chest infection thing that is making me feel like my head is stuffed with nails and or golf balls. It sucks. But I’m also just a terrible, terrible patient. I get the sniffles? Well, it must be Ebola. I get a muscle pain? Well, it must be some degenerative condition that will render me limbless in six months. Right now, I’m lying on my sofa wailing intermittently while surrounded by tissues and cats.*
I have always been a bad sick person. I mean, you’re not really sick unless you mention it at least thirty times a day, amirite? And you can hardly be expected to help yourself, so it’s essential that someone waits on you hand and foot, serving you hot whiskey and toast while you watch re-runs of Project Runway. Fluid intake is key to a swift recovery. And I’m sure my loved ones wouldn’t want me to die right? RIGHT?
So, tell me about your weekend? *twirls hair* What ya up to? I’ll listen while crying into my whiskey.
*Well, two cats. But they’re on either side of me, so….
Merry Christmas my deers (heh heh). Although it seems that everyone is just a little bit merrier at this time of year, some people struggle more than normal during the festive season. If you are prone to depression or anxiety, Christmas can be a really challenging and difficult time. Here are some tips to help you beat those festive blues:
1. Be sociable
It’s so easy to hide away in this cold and dark weather. Staying inside and shutting yourself off from the world, however, can be damaging in the long term. Meeting friends and family for a meal or even a coffee will automatically make you feel better and you’ll feel good for leaving your house, if even for an hour. Aim to stick to coffee or tea instead of alcohol, which is a depressant and will ultimately make you feel quite down. Hot chocolate is always delicious 😋
2. Make your ‘alone time’ productive
It’s important to strike a balance between socializing and relaxing alone. Time by yourself is necessary and healthy. For some people, however, it can be destructive and lonely. To combat negative feelings, go for a walk somewhere quiet and pretty (this time of year is so beautiful!). Alternatively, you could colour, draw, listen to music, meditate…whatever brings you peace. Don’t let those negative thoughts overwhelm you. If you’re busy, they can’t!
3. Don’t over-indulge
I know. I know. Christmas is all about going BIG. The problem is, however, for people with anxiety, over-indulging in food and alcohol and spending too money is a huge cause of stress. You should absolutely enjoy yourself but remember: moderation is key. Your belly and your bank balance will thank you for it in January!
4. Open up
Some people feel that they can’t express their negative or depressive feelings during the festive period because they’ll be a perceived as a burden or a ‘buzz-kill.’ The truth is, your mental health is important to those that love you and opening up to them shows them that you love and trust them. Bottling up negative thoughts is not helpful to anyone. Sharing your feelings is unbelievably helpful and therapeutic.
5. Find peace in the chaos
Christmas is an insanely busy and manic time. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and over-stimulated by this. Remember to take the time to unwind and switch off. Sitting in a quiet room alone for ten minutes in total silence is a wonderful way of relaxing and de-stressing. Listening to Christmas carols is one of my favourite ways to unwind. Just listen to how peaceful this is:
6. Be kind and spread the love
This time of year can become ridiculously consumerist and materialistic. It’s a lovely feeling to just be kind and thoughtful and it costs nothing! When you are kind to others, it is a wonderful and rewarding feeling that just can’t be bought. Helping out a family member, volunteering for a charity or cooking someone dinner are just some of the kind deeds you can do. The feeling of being the cause of someone’s happiness is really uplifting. You will find when you are kind, you will receive kindness in return.
There you have it guys! I hope this was helpful to some of you and I hope everybody has a peaceful Christmas 🎄