Saturday, 26 November 2011

Honestly, this is my life. (Warning, potentially upsetting tl;dr post)

Ok, I've been guiltily aware of the bookmark to my blog log in page at the top of my browser, staring at me as if to say "remember me? You promised me the whole world! Your soul! You haven't visited me in months!"
And I confess I was pleasantly surprised just now to find I'd not only an entry or two for September after all (so still in my once-a-month minimum remit), but I've also checked the stats to find that I am as without readers as my blog has been without updates. Jolly good!

I deliberated today over whether to start a whole new blog. Keep this one for reviews or topical rants, and open another just to pour my heart out and to lay bare my emotions. Ok, maybe not quite that far, but I could try. One of the blogs I have linked in my Other Blogs lists is someone I know personally. I've not seen her since before graduation, but I know a little of what's been going on with her and I just wish I could be as honest and open about my feelings, friends and personal life as she is. I really do. There's something almost inspiring in her simple honesty that feels almost liberating. As though, if I were to follow suit, I would be free and feel better and end up having a richer life out of it. Anyway, that's how I feel reading her entries, even if I end up crying with her.

I can say this much, anyway, I have had a fairly up and down few months at home. I have had 7 weeks of counselling sessions, which have ended, and I think they helped a little. I have found a job. I have got back together with my ex boyfriend, which still leaves me with fits of anxiety and small panic attacks occasionally, as supportive and wonderful as he's been about things. I'm slowly unwrapping some baggage and finding out what's underneath, and asserting myself as a person - not always with positive results, if I go too far and upset other people, or been disappointed and taken my frustration and disappointment out on others.
I've also been taking driving lessons - I'm doing quite well and have passed my Theory test first time, so that's out of the way now. I have a car. She's called Daphne.

All this stuff has happened and in some ways my mind hasn't really managed to catch up yet, or to adjust. In fact, I only went to one book club session because I randomly landed myself with this job in Sainsbury's (history degree be damned) soon afterwards and my shift does not allow for attendance. So that shot that horse in the face!

Where to begin. I suppose I should say that getting back with my boyfriend was perhaps one of the bravest things I've done in a long time. Dramatic? Yeah, maybe. But after having been dropped out of the blue for no specific reason, and then to find out over some months that things weren't the way I had been told they were, yeah I was insecure, anxious. Terrified, frankly. And then there was the fear that people would label me as being weak or stupid, as they disapprove of my decision to try again. I did think to myself, "god, what if I'm one of those t.v. characters that is forever kept on a string and doesn't have the strength to say, 'No. Fuck you. No more.'?"
Now a days, I am more scared that things have changed. Or they haven't changed enough. Or maybe the months apart were instead better and he's regretting recommitting with me. What if things never happen the way we want them to and it draws out into a horrible show that just wastes our time?
Unlike before, though, I am able to talk to him about these things. And he's slowly opening up to me a bit more, too. Communication was an issue before - particularly on his side. And when I'm with him, the majority of my little voices get muted and die away. I've always felt safe around him, and comfortable to be myself properly. He is one of the few people that listens to everything I have to say or share with him, regardless of whether it interests him or not. At least, he hides his boredom fairly well. One of the best moments of when I saw him a few weeks ago was actually when we were exchanging silly mishaps from our childhoods. I don't hear much from him, cause he didn't enjoy it that much. But it was just so wonderful hearing stupid things like he'd burned his leg on a lamp. And the way his face lit up telling me about the comic series he loved as a child (Sonic fan). It was really the best hour or so. It was like opening the doors on an advent calendar and peeping in to see small moments of him as a boy.
I hope that he keeps telling me things - even if they're sad or his fears and anxieties. I've honestly never felt closer to him. I do get plagued by the memory of how certain events felt. I am still grieving, in a way, for our break up. Grieving takes a long time. But overall, he makes me happy.

I said I saw a counsellor. Well the mention of grief ties in nicely with that. When I was 9 and a half, my mother died of cancer. It was all very quick. The diagnosis itself took a damn long time, you see. Too long. And then it was too late. I watched her waste away, unable to get out of bed or to walk properly across the landing to put me to bed. I helped out when I could. I emptied her sick bucket when she'd been sick. I can still remember the smell, because the antibiotics and drugs she was on mixed together smelled almost exactly like the weird strawberry slimquick milkshakes she made before she got ill. Well, these worked better for weight loss than the slimquick. I can remember asking my grandmother if she was dying, and the look on her face when she said "what do you think?". That wasn't a sarcastic "what do you think?". It was the only way to acknowledge the fact without ever having to say it. It was quite obvious what was happening, even to two small children. Even if dying wasn't a concept relate-able to people in the same way as to pet rabbits or gerbils.
I can remember the exact feeling I got in my gut when the woman who looked after us after school on Mondays brought us home from my brother's 7th birthday party, and my grandmother took her back to her car with a grave look on her face. We were herded into the living room, where we were sat down and told.
We all dealt with things differently. My grandmother and brother cried openly and talked about her a lot. I hated crying and would bottle it up and only cry when people couldn't see. My granddad was the same. I don't think I've really seen him cry before. I felt as though I had to be a rock. I cried at the funeral though. There's no way out of crying at a funeral.

There was no possibility of getting us bereavement counselling, as the nearest centre for bereaved children was in another county and had a long waiting list as it was. We didn't want counselling from our school counsellor (lord knows how she got the job) and so we just had each other. We soon found that our friends, though of course sympathetic, were also far too young and inexperienced to know what to say or do. They didn't have time to talk about our mother or to allow us to reminisce or feel sad, the way adults know is important to allow a grieving person to.

Flash forward to when I'm in my teens. Intellectually, I am very well developed. I may be lousy with maths, but it doesn't affect me as severely as it might do.  I had friends, and a strong social group. I was well settled. I invite a friend over for a party of sorts, largely for my brother and his friends. After that, things get strange between us. Then the war with Iraq is announced. I have quite clear views that I didn't believe that there were WMDs and that there was no legal justification for the war. This friend dislikes my views, and then is visibly and outwardly disgusted that I go on an anti-war protest, and makes it clear that I am no long allowed to sit with my friends at lunch time. He made my life very difficult, and even accused me in front of an audience of various things, the most serious of which involved playing for sympathy. Apparently, I brought up my family and my mother's death to get attention, and I looked down on other peoples' parents, particularly those of my then best friend. I was humiliated, ganged up on and a public sacrifice. Only one friend (and we weren't *that* close) comforted me in front of him and told me that he was being a cruel bigot unnecessarily. That was when I closed up completely. I do talk about my family, but only when it is relevant - such as "oh, yes, my grandmother mentioned that" or "oh my brother told me this joke: blah blah blah". I rarely talked about my mother unless someone asked me to, or there was a good memory that was relevant at the time.

My coping mechanism was to just pretend everything was ok, keep my head down, get on with things, and find some other people to hang out with. My last two years of secondary school, I was a bit of a social drifter. I had friends in several groups. I don't think I worked that way consciously, but perhaps it was a bit of a survival technique. If one group of friends were tiring of me, I could move to another, or mix it up a bit during the week to keep things interesting. Eventually this 'friend' allowed me at least to be in the vicinity. Perhaps people had said to him "you can't stop us from talking to her" or something. But he still excluded me or obviously ignored me at every opportunity. I can only put down his behaviour to jealousy or something. Someone once told me that he wasn't at all close to his parents, and that he probably didn't like seeing someone so close to his/her parents/carers as my grandmother and I seemed to be.

I've kept that coping mechanism going all these years. At Sixth Form when my friends started excluding me and discussing my private life/sex life and making up rumours amongst themselves, I just shut off. I'd be around them, but not necessarily put myself out for them any more. Which probably helped to make it worse. I had spent two years trying to balance the expectations and limitations of my grandparents (when they'd be willing to pick me up at night, their strictness levels etc) with those of my friends, who didn't seem to understand that not all parents or carers had the same liberal ethos as their own and I got tired of trying. I was incredibly hurt, actually. I began to question whether I was likeable as a person. Whether I'd been doing something wrong all the time, or I'd said something.
My boyfriend stood by me though, and insisted that it wasn't my fault at all, it was just the way things were conflicting. My counsellor says that this was the case, too. That my life has been littered with unfortunate incidents or conflicts of interests or desires.

Now, though, the coping mechanism is starting to jerk and jar. I get incredibly lonely, because I've nobody to talk to, and when I try to open up, I don't even do it properly. I don't say how I am *feeling*. I am often unable to properly gauge and name an emotion I am feeling at a given point, past the blindingly obvious - anger, frustration, sadness, happiness, boredom. Whilst my intellectual development is very very high, my emotional vocabulary has been stunted by my coping mechanism. I have also never been able to grieve properly any disruptions and changes in my life. I'd settled down after the divorce of my parents and the move to England, gained friends locally and was settled in my mother's house for a short time - only 2.5 years. Then she got ill and we had to move out.
Then she died, and I had to stay at my grandparents' house, losing my local friends and not being able to play out when and where I liked, and being reliant on car lifts to friends' houses. Then my then best friend moved away anyway.
Settle down again at primary school and have to leave! Secondary school, I settle in and then boom. Everything is upside down again. And so on until university. When my boyfriend jilted me, I suppose that was the final straw on my emotional camel's back. If it hadn't been him, it would have been someone else. I was truly heartbroken that I had to graduate university, after a shit first year and only really settling down and being truly happy with two very good friends in my final year and getting into my stride and finding out who I was as a person.

I'm still finding out who I am properly and this year out of studying has been what I needed, as hard as it has been having sporadic social encounters after a year of at-will/whim meet ups with friends.
I've made a few life decisions and I'm trying to establish and channel my own sense of style more clearly (it's difficult when affordable shops don't co-operate with their stock!) And I have started looking ahead more and picturing my future a little more clearly. Not too far ahead. I stop myself too far ahead. It's impossible to plan too far ahead. But the next year or so, certainly, I have started to think about seriously.

Otherwise though, I've made some progress. I'm able to say how someone or something has made me feel, even if I end up going on a tangent about social issues rather than personal. That just takes practice. And perhaps by expressing myself properly in a blog, I'll be able to get used to it. So that's my background, a little.

Anyway. I think that's as much of depressing topics I'll stick in this month's entries. Next entry which I might well just write now will be much more light-hearted. Promise.

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