5 Weeks

Commencing from the 27th of this last June, has been the most difficult month of my life. After the natural build up of emotions to turning 30, having moved into London, and questioned whether it was in fact for the right job, my boyfriend and I took a romantic mini break away to Venice, to ring in this new decade.

Venice was everything I had hoped it would be. There wasn’t a single angle you could look at this city of love in which she didn’t glow with beauty, history and water. We ate every kind of pasta and pizza and ice cream. We walked through the beautiful maze like streets and watched the sunset on the grand canal. As we ate my birthday meal next to the water, the breeze keeping us cool, the Aperol Spritz in my hand so fresh, and a man I felt understood and truly cared in front of me I thought ‘Well, maybe 30 won’t be so bad.’

Cut to- two weeks later. I am crying on the sofa, a headache from the gin I had drunk the night before, my face tear stained, puffy and pink. A week after we had returned from our trip, my partner ended the relationship after a ghostly few days of silence. To say that it felt like my world had collapsed around me is an understatement. He had become an anchor, a reassurance and source of confidence that not only was I loveable, my life was headed in the right direction at a point at which I was already struggling with a great deal of anxiety and a job I knew I didn’t really suit.

What I mainly remember from this last month, from this hellish July, is a feeling of being totally unanchored. That my life was a mistake and I was simply a mess that no man in his right mind would invest in. Unlovable. Fat. Vapid. Unappealing. All my worst fears about myself and how he saw me, completely confirmed. Friends (the ones I could face telling) did what they could, sending messages of reassurance and anger and love. I reached out to multiple mental health and medical professionals, as I knew and could feel I had never swam in waters this dark and dangerous, and so alone before.

I tried to face going into work, I really did. The few days I did make it back in were a complete embarrassment. I was unable to focus and was crying on and off uncontrollably throughout the day. I got a sick note from my doctor, a diagnosis of severe depression and anxiety, but none of this was enough for them not to terminate my employment. To think we live in a time when mental health is constantly discussed and acknowledged, that companies constantly reiterate how important their employees well being is to them, but when push comes to shove- when you’re at your absolute worst and your mental health is at a dangerous low, if you can’t come in and pretend…. You’re out.

I was, I have to confess, a little relieved at the back of my mind. I knew from the beginning that it was not the right job for me. That working on technical aspects of web content, on descriptions of obscure and mundane building materials was not what I should be doing, and nor were they paying me enough to continue with it long term. Nothing about it was sustainable. And so it ended.

In my better moments I’ve been able to look at both of these endings as a possibility for something more suited and much better to be found. Obviously I have prioritised finding a new job, which thankfully I have. One that pays better, is based in journalism and allows for hybrid working several days of the week. In all honesty the job search was an almost welcome distraction. Something I could put my energies into other than the sheer grief and loss of losing love.

Love. I know I have a long journey of healing ahead. The the gaping wound that has been left in his abrupt and violent absence will only heal in time, with work, perseverance and care. I watched a new Netflix show the other day, in which a wise and biting drag queen/ psychologist turns to our newly single and deeply bitter protagonist and tells him ‘You want to love? Fine! Love yourself. Love the people around you who still want to be there.’ I will try to do this, instead of focusing so much energy on someone who, in the end, made the choice to leave, and made sure in no uncertain terms that I knew he did not, and would never love me.

So hear I sit, just over a month since all of this happened, and only now able to sit and type out the maelstrom which has been my complete headspace for the last 5 weeks. I have lost parents, faced people I care about getting sick, had an abusive partner in the past, an abusive and unwell mother in the present, but I can truly say nothing has ever hit so brutally, so unexpectedly and so catastrophically as this loss. It is of course, still early days. I know there’s lots of steps I need to take to get back to some version of myself that I can actually like. With therapy and time, and a support system of professionals and friends, I hope I can find that version of me again. The one I can look at in the mirror, take out in public, enjoy the company of friends with, and not feel ashamed of what and who I am.

As for looking for love, that one can take a back seat. For the first time in my life I feel wounded enough that my heart needs to be closed for a while. A wall is being built, little by little over the days and empty nights. Whatever interactions there may be, they can exist at arms length. I will never be so vulnerable to heartbreak again. I’m not sure I could survive it a second time.

(Painting at Kenwood House titled: The Spinstress)

Tattoos, Trains & Saturn Returns

The last several months have been a whirlwind of trials, joy and change. A loss and then reuniting of love, which continues to bring me comfort and joy in an ever vexing, questioning and turbulent world. Finally, with the new year, after a year and a half of shooting hundreds (potentially a thousand) job applications into the ever rejecting void, I struct- not gold… but perhaps a semi precious stone of a job. A step forward, finally. The grief and frustration I felt over the summer of this last year that I was treading water, a vessel of unfulfilled potential and leaking money, has finally been replaced by the precious fresh air of nerves and excitement about the future. It’s a starting job, not highly paid, but it’s the job for a writer.

That might sound somewhat like posturing, but I feel it’s so much about a sense of identity. I’ve never been the person who wanted to move to London, or had their sights set on a particular job. But I knew I was searching desperately for my next step, the next leap upwards in my life, and it was time. Bedford has been a step sideways, not backwards, but not into the future of my career either. This job is a huge step up on a hopefully long ladder ahead of me. I will be moving to one of the great cities in the world, about to turn 30, the start of a fresh decade of life, and doing it with a more concrete sense of who I am, what I want and most importantly what I need than I have ever had before.

While the journey has not been perfect; I live in a ramshackle house, my journey with alcohol and self management continues, my lover at once disposed of me in a flash, only to slowly let me back into his arms, a little at a time, and a great friend has let me down (she was to move to London with me and make it an adventure between the two of use together), it once again feels propelled forward, by my own leg work and hope, yes, but also by the world and a spot of good luck here and there making all the difference. I do not expect perfection when I move to London; I know life will continue to oscillate between the marvellous and mundane, that people will continue to surprise and appaul, but I know regardless I will be living the life that I am meant to be living.

As I let sips of Rioja warm my mouth and stomach, sitting here in this blissfully empty and chilled wine bar on the busy Bedford road, I feel lucky and loved. I watched a documentary about the renowned chef Wolfgang Puck, and made a note of what he believed led to his true success in life; luck, timing, talent, hard work and perseverance. Whilst we can only pray to the elements and Gods for the occasional gift of luck and good timing, and a generous splash of talent, the undeniable fact is the greatest at what they do would have nothing if they did not put in the sweat, the sober days, the paper work and discipline. This is what I try and remind myself of all the time, that there was a reason I was so fat before, I let myself get that way, that I let myself fail my first degree and let myself fall into depressions at different points in my life. Now, I choose to gamble on the balance, to strive for discipline and self care for (hopefully) the majority of my week- to go to the gym, to work, to do the facemasks and get the good nights sleep… which in turn makes the nights of love and wine, of pizza and debauchery all the more pleasurable. Pleasurable because I know and feel that I deserve it, that I can practice love and care when it’s needed, and that part of that is to let my spirit run free and wild when it needs to. To embrace my dark side, as well as my light.

Finally, and on the happiest note, we had the loveliest Christmas with mum that we have had in a decade. Whilst we boozed and partied in the lounge with martinis and wine, she was calm, and confident and sweet to be around. I had missed her. We cooked, and walked and made log fires. I did overdo the booze, yes, I know the limit where I can have physical anxiety is too far now. But for the most part it was a joyful and peaceful festive period in the chill and sunset darkness of Suffolk, one I hope will come again in the future. I also had the celebration of myself, finally, of getting proper tattoos. I had fallen in love with the symbolism and beauty of the cherry blossom. It’s representation of the beauty and frail nature of life, of the passing of time and celebration of spring, of my favourite film and the fact we had one in the front garden of my fathers house, all made it the perfect feature to have on my body. I’ve also long found delicate hand and finger tattoos fascinating and alluring, and so got a diamond and representation of my lucky number (4) on my left hand, and had the amateur tattoo done by my friend turned into a sparkling star on my right. I felt peaceful and ready as they were getting done, and have been content and happy whenever I look at them since.

Right, I think that’s a lovely splash of reflection and writing for today. Tonight, there will be pizza, and cuddles, and films, and maybe a little fire 🔥.

I look forward to reading back on these one day, and realising the transformations that explode in between these little speech bubbles of my life.

I Challenge You, Christmas

Is it just me… or does this oncoming time of year often truly suck? It’s a time that is wrapped in expense, expectation, poor mental health and nostalgia all at once. A time that often forces us to spend days with family (which can be either wonderful or woeful) with a weighing pressure that the experience should be entirely wholesome, jolly and peaceful. I love the season we have just had. The cooling off of the summer into chilly October, the bronze and golden autumn leaves and sunshine, mulled wine, fireworks (wonderful to go to a public display again!), pumpkin carving, hot chocolates, getting dressed up for Halloween, the list goes on.

That time of year has always felt like my Christmas, only better. You can spend time with who you want to, celebrate as little or as much as you like – go all out with decorations, music, movies and cheer, or simply relax at home. Christmas has always inverted all of this, a bizarre combination of overindulgence and religious solemnity, no freedom to simply be who you are and express yourself. However, after the last two years of utter pandemic bedlam, I’m ready to challenge Christmas and say, for once, I’d like to be happy. Are they ideal circumstances this year? Of course not. I’m single, working in a job that is fine but not my career, and coronavirus still swirls around us. However, we have some freedoms back, I’m feeling pretty good about where I am regardless of the setbacks – I have wonderful friends, a few potential males in my life, several tattoos booked that I’m more than excited to get, I’m working in a job I enjoy, I have a lovely bedroom and roof over my head, I’m working out regularly and continuing to journey forward and try and find a place to start my writing career. It could be worse. I’m independent, and that’s not a small thing.

So this year, my wish is for Christmas not to be steeped in sorrow. Of course, there are parts of this I cannot control – my mothers mental health at the top of that list, the sad likelihood a beloved personality or two always seems to pass away near Christmas day, the possibility they may try and throw another lockdown over us (something I think at this point would be utterly pointless and people will fully reject) and the frankly apocalyptic headlines that now seem never ending on the news. Things I can control: how I look after my mental health, not being reckless with finances, getting fun things booked in the diary, working out my body, and making the best of each day. The endless barrage of global warming terror, political corruption, human suffering, pandemic statistics and terrorism is enough to make anyone despair, but somehow, someway, we find the ability to continue being hopeful (mostly) and attempting to build our lives into something to be proud of. So, I shall go and get my Christmasy nails done, make sure my Christmas jumper is packed, play Christmas Jazz and cook the Christmas beef with my brother, all in the hope that maybe, this year, it might just be a merry one.

2021. The Year of ‘Unfortunately’

Well, it has been quite some time since I have written on here, and as part of trying to build my online presence and keep my writing muscles strong I have decided – why not blog again?

Life has been chaos since last May, in many ways. I left my home from home Portsmouth, and lived for three maddening months at my mothers. Despite our best efforts – our personalities clash whenever forced to spend any significant amount of time together, so along with her drinking demons rearing their ugly heads, it was time to pack my suitcase come October and seek a new place of refuge in the maelstrom of job searching .

That is how I ended up here, in Bedford. For one reason or another, this strange town with it’s mixes of cultures, classes and problems, is the place I end up when in a serious time of need. This time, it was my godmother who offered me food and a roof whilst I unrelentingly applied for all manner of writing work online, to rarely much avail. However, with a second lock down clamped around us through the dark winter months, we all knew it was time for me to find my own space again by the Christmas season. That sense of middle class homelessness and disillusionment were a heavy weight around me always- wondering how after three full, thriving and successful years in Portsmouth, I had somehow ended up alone, jobless and depending on the kindness of friends to provide me with a home in such a bleak time. There came one small sliver of hope in the form of a part time job in a local Bedford school, so I took it. This spurred me on to find a cheap double room in a local house, a mere minutes walk from where I would be working with six other housemates. As much as the house had rough edges and unclean bathrooms, I was encouraged to sign my name to it – so I did.

I unpacked my things, repacked my suitcase to spend Christmas in London with my brother (a far safer alternative to my mother at that time) which was the one moment of genuine happiness in the festive season. London was a strange ghost town, grey skies and chilly winds blew as my brother and I huddled down in our plush air bnb, drinking Prosecco and watching The Grinch in all it’s glorious warm hearted glee. New Years Eve was spent in a house full of strangers, fearing the potential of working in a school with covid cases skyrocketing, but once I began supervising the children of key workers, life began to find a little of it’s rhythm again. I began to take better care of myself, taking long walks to work and back and doing yoga classes online in my bedroom.

There also began to emerge more than a little magic and chemistry with my housemate downstairs, a handsome and smooth American from Tennessee. With flesh holes in his ears, tattoos and an accent I had never heard outside of movies and highly controversial political views, he was a delightful shock to my system, and I instantly began to like him. This grew over time, polite chats in the corridor turning to walks in the park, then to teas in the afternoon, then to dinners in the evening, then to sleepovers on the weekend. We gently and slowly fell into a romance during a lockdown, neither of us having looked for it, both delighted to have found such a happy surprise in such a dreary world. Yet, as with all things, it hasn’t lasted. Six months in, and one strange event broke the bliss of a happy relationship, which led to an argument one Monday evening. The argument led to a lone walk to the park to meet him the next evening, which led to an abrupt and heart breaking end to the affair, at least for me.

As always with affairs of the heart, it hit me deeply in the chest, with a lot of tears, a lot of chats with friends and a lot of hard nights, waiting for sleep to come only for the plummeting feeling to return to my stomach the moment I awoke the next day. Whilst we are indeed very different, highly contrasting people, the majority of it – I thought – only made us more attractive to the other. I’ve tried to find a way to prove myself to him, to disprove the negative accusations he made before, but it does not seem to be possible. When love is lost – or taken from us by the other ending the relationship, I truly believe we mourn all the possibility we thought laid ahead of us. Holidays away, birthdays, Christmases, even just the quiet evenings curled up together on the sofa, feeling the warmth and touch of another in such a decidedly dangerous and distant world.

For better or for worse, we remain in the same house, and now is only the beginning of the next part of our journey here; no longer being together, yet not hating one another, nor (in my mind) there existing a true reason for us not to continue being happy in each other’s arms and company. I know what is meant for us (hopefully) comes to us eventually, but I am only at the beginning of letting that expectation go that this was what happened with him. Regardless, it has been a relationship that brought me joy, brought me warmth and human connection after feeling so isolated and alone, and getting to know someone from such a different world than my own, that I cannot help but to have been enriched by knowing him and sharing all our turbulent past experiences, and cautious, tentative hopes for the future.

The Other Side Of Isolation…

Here we are, suddenly the end of May and summer is in its strange, social distancing swing in Portsmouth. The weather is beautiful, and a great many are seizing the day and swarming to the beaches and commons in their hordes. There have been a few SMALL relaxations to the rules, ‘now one person can meet someone from outside their household outdoors, as long as they stay more than 2m apart.’ Is allowed. Portsmouth citizens have taken this rule, and made some very flexible interpretations. On my walks out to the seafront for the sake of sanity, fresh air and getting the step count going, over the last few weeks I’ve seen beach parties of teens, large family picnics, football matches and gangs of kids on bikes all jammed together and having the jolliest of times, the 2 meter rule seemingly a distant annoyance of the past.

I don’t resent these people for their gaiety, nor their need to feel togetherness and enjoyment outdoors. I understand why they are behaving how they are. What I cannot forgive however, is the selected ignorance with which many seem to be acting. As if at once they deserve the space and freedom we’ve all been craving over the past few months, and a decrease in deaths by the hundreds from this virus in the news every day means… life is back to normal?

Many friends of mine I’ve spoken to lately have aired similar complaints:

‘I just want it to be over now.’

‘I just want to see my friends.’

‘We’re getting so sick of just the two of us doing nothing!’

‘I miss everyone so much!’

Believe me, I understand. As an extroverted introvert (my official Myers Briggs reading), there have been many, many hours and days throughout the lockdown where seeing people would have made me feel ten times brighter, when the welcome distraction of a drink with friends would have been bliss, and when I’ve frankly felt like I’m counting the hours to another sleep, followed by another day spent with… You guessed it! Me.

But, we as humans are designed to think higher than that of our most basic needs. To remind ourselves that the reason why we have been feeling bored, alone, frustrated and stir crazy is so monumental, dangerous, and historically singular for almost every generation living – we should continue to respect it, and act with caution for the sake of the many. The fact even prominent politicians have been caught out seemingly thinking they are not only exempt from the rules, but in no way accountable to answer for their actions in breaking them, stirs a rage within me when combined with what I see a few minutes from my own door. I feel the horrific inevitability of a second spike looming, if people are not more careful, and more importantly, considerate.

The positives? Well, there have been many if I’m being honest. The deadlines for our degree were finally handed in a few weeks ago, and it at once felt like Christmas, a birthday and the last day of school rolled into one. The same combination of unbridled joy in the moment, pride and excitement at the day having finally arrived after a three year journey, with the strange bitter sweetness that – this path on the journey is now over? No more lectures. No more coffees with pals either praising the merits or slamming the fumblings of that day. No more baked potato lunches before class, or seminars in which we’ll discuss the artistry, storytelling, history and social power of film, nor the technique, beauty, and epic effect of writing in all our lives. I’ll write a post on this when I graduate in July, to try and unroll so many more of these thoughts, which over the next few months I can only imagine will percolate and grow further, as they have been every passing week.

Dare I add more positives? I do. Over the past three months, I’ve proven to myself I am not only capable of cohesive and productive time management when left to my own devices, but that I indeed thrive and enjoy many aspects of this new way of life. I’ve stuck to my regime (for the most part… treat days every week are ABSOLUTELY necessary, as is a PJ day on the sofa emulating a sloth) exercising most days of the week – either yoga or a good stomp to the seafront, and cutting my calories so that for the first time in my adult life – I’m fitting into a size ten dress. This is a girl who was damn near a size 20 and weighing in at well over 16 stone at one point in her life. I feel comfortable in my own skin more so than ever before, and unafraid of being ‘the chubby girl’ in the room anymore. This to me is frankly up there with the degree as achievements go. Not because they both define who I am – or how people may perceive me – but because the greatest reward to come mutually from them is… I’ve proven to myself that I can do it, that I wanted it enough and have reached the goal line, if a little late, and with a few stretch marks… All on my own.

The following few months will see our final assessment marks being returned (can I get an eek…!), the last and most nerve-wracking of which comes out on the day of my birthday. There are nerves, always, about so many large milestones heading toward me – leaving Portsmouth, turning twenty eight, graduating (hopefully) with a good degree, and heading into a new chapter of my life, in what currently is a world spinning more than slightly off its axis. Right now though, in this strange in between stage of being neither working student nor a graduate, not working any shifts nor being unemployed, being separated yet still very much connected, all one can really do is wait… and enjoy the sunshine.

Quarantine a la Clementine

A few weeks later, and here we are. The PM is currently in hospital, the queen has given us a speech of stoicism and hope from the World War Two generation (I found it genuinely moving), and the fatality figures from Covid-19 grow in the hundreds day by day. The government has done its best to step in and help both businesses and individuals in this time of bizarre and surreal need for many, which does bring me a small sense of relief. Every social media platform is flooded with info from the NHS, support for medical and front line workers, and memes focused around isolation and how productive or unproductive, how gluttonous or disciplined, how lonely or together everyone is currently feeling.

In my little home for one, I genuinely hesitate to say, I seem to be doing relatively well. In the past when sloth and gluttony were an option (I just finished Stephen Fry’s Seven Deadly Sins podcast, bear with me) for an indefinite amount of time, I feel certain I would have taken them. But as with all things, I believe timing is key. Before the spread of the virus had begun, I knew there were several large goals and milestones looming in the distance. The final deadlines for our degree are at the beginning and middle of next month, I knew I wanted to reach a goal weight by both my birthday in June (28, quite looking forward to it🎈) , roughly a stone per each of the years I’d been studying, and having achieved all of this wanted to celebrate in slender style come July with Champagne. True, there will be no graduation ceremony for us- not until a while after at this rate, and the likelihood may be that my birthday will be spent either on my own or in a very limited celebratory fashion. However, some things do still matter and are worth working for. The marks I get for my degree, and the degree itself, will stay with me forever, well into the future when this strange cocoon of Corona is a (hopefully) distant memory for the lucky people left unaffected.

My body will never be angry at me for abstaining from alcohol for a healthy period of time, for doing yoga 3-4 times a week and getting into a healthy range of weight for the first time in my adulthood (fingers crossed). My face and neck will thank me in years to come for the (excessive) research and money I’ve spent in trying to find the best skincare products, routine and ingredients for a ‘glowing and radiant’ complexion (though hormones seem reluctant to ever let me be truly blemish free). And my brain will be all the healthier and fuller in the long run for having read lovely literature, listened to podcasts, audiobooks and music on some long, slightly lonely walks out on the quieter isolation days.

If others are having a similar experience to myself, they may know that perhaps the most joyous aspect of all this tragedy and change is the sheer amount that friends old and new, close by and continents away are reaching out and connecting at the moment. Never in my life have I sent or received more texts, videos, voice messages, photos and memes all with the singular purpose of making the person on the receiving end feel seen, connected with and a little happier that day. This has truly been the brightest light in a sometimes frightening, occasionally depressing time, and I hope our most vivid memory when all this is one day over.

Like with any stressful situation though, there are always those select few. The people who are naturally drawn to negative outlooks and a victim mindset, who even on the best days see the situation as ‘me against the world’, who thrive on the drama and seem far more apt to wallow in the darkness than reach for the light. The natural reaction to hearing about people like this is ‘Well, distance yourself from them! You don’t need that shit in your life right now.’ I quite agree. But sometimes, and I’m certain there are many other people in a similar situation- be it a significant other, friend or relative, you don’t have much of a choice. You have to pick up the phone to hear them slur and repeat themselves for half an hour. You have to hear the news from your sibling about how badly they’re being treated by this person, and not be able to do anything to help them. Hear about how little they’re caring for themselves, and how the time that could be well spent slips them by as they sleep through the day, and self medicate through the night.

I know it’s very complicated, and that these people are often ill in both mental and physical ways, but there is a part of me that knows that there is a choice- because more than once we have all had to make them. You can choose to go to bed early and try to get eight hours, or stay up and drink that bottle of wine. You can choose to smoke those cigarettes or chew some gum to give your lungs a rest. You can choose to listen to an uplifting podcast instead of letting your negative thoughts spiral. Every day we are surrounded by our choices, so to blame the world for our total unhappiness and circumstances is to deny our own power and agency. But enough of that, I’m old enough now to know that some people simply cannot or do not want to change, and all we can do is protect ourselves, and be grateful for the good that’s in our own lives.

That’s how I’d like to end this post I think, on a note of gratitude. Not the smiling at the sunset, ‘isn’t this a wonderful time to be alive?’ kind of gratitude, but the personal, intimate sense of thanks we can all feel, in those quiet moments when we know we are lucky in our own ways, and things really could be much much worse. I’m grateful for my own health, as it is right now, for the flat I sit in and the privacy it gives me, for my body that I can exercise and my brain that can (reluctantly) churn out the essays I need to succeed, for the friends who have recovered and the strangers that have helped them back to health, for the super moon that’s glowing tonight and for the sunshine we can still enjoy every day. I’m grateful for the progress I’m making and the lessons we’re all learning at the moment, and hope we all come out of this better, happier and more thoughtful people.

This Side of Pandemics

You may have heard, things have been a little eventful of late. Back in mid January when my niece came to visit, we first got news on the wind that there was a strange new virus sweeping through a city in China. At the time it felt distant, faraway, like most frightening things do on the news, and the bitching topic of the day was still Brexit. My niece and I are both notable alarmists when it comes to health, and fretted that perhaps… this possibly deadly new virus could make its way to the UK. It was said in the way that one does, as though acknowledging the possibility somehow makes it less likely to come true. How naive we were.

Fast forward two months. I sit, freshly showered and nighttime skin care done, in my quiet flat with Miles Davis playing as I write. What have I done today? Oh this and that. Listened to podcasts, went to the cafe downstairs for a coffee, watched a film, attempted to get my interminable laptop to wake up and work. How have I felt? I awoke with distinct feelings of frustration, unease, anxiety and generally counted the hours in between meals to keep me sane. This is not by choice, and there is also no one to blame. University lectures and seminars are suspended. The gym is closed. Fitness classes cancelled. Venturing outdoors in any unnecessary way is discouraged. My best friend’s wedding in Cyprus is cancelled. Her surprise Hen Do to Dublin, you guessed it. Money is being lost, and days somewhat limited. The first global pandemic in my and many other people’s lifetimes has hit, and in short, we are not in the same world anymore.

I am well aware I am one of the luckier ones. I have a roof over my head, and live (blissfully) alone. I have savings in my account and friends and family that care for me. I am relatively young and relatively fit. I am truly not the one I’m most worried about at the moment. I’m worried about the friends of mine from my degree who have caught the accursed virus, and are soldiering through their fevers, coughs and generally feeling as though they’ve been hit by two buses every day. I’m worried about the students having to share houses with others who aren’t taking the pandemic seriously enough, and think house parties and get togethers are STILL a good idea. I’m worried about my brother, who works with children in central London, rides the tube, and who’s housemate is now in hospital suspected to have COVID-19. I’m worried about the elderly, who now more than ever deserve our help, consideration and respect when the lesser beings in our society adopt a ‘dog eat dog’ mentality, panic buying every pasta packet, every loo roll, every hand-gel and every bag of rice so there is none there for those in need. I’m worried about those with pre existing conditions, who’s immune systems are sadly less able to fight this devious new invader.

I am also thankful. Thankful to the great comedians and actors and entertainers that are putting in so much effort to promote positivity, keep us laughing, keeping us busy and telling us eventually, this will all be ok. Thankful to the brave medical workers of all positions who are putting themselves on the front lines, working through days and nights to do everything they can to keep people healthy, and help those weaker and more vulnerable struck down. Thankful to the scientists and experts informing us of what salient and accurate information there is, as I’ve always believed even in dire situations- knowledge is always power. Thankful to my friends and close family members for checking in, showing they care, and offering to help as they know times are about to get very hard.

You see, I’m a girl who thrives on structure. As much as I’d like to be the sexy, bohemian soul who drifts through life and achieves great heights without a plan, I’m in fact a very different creature. I’m the girl who likes feeling in safe control of her life (to a healthy extent. There’s always room for nice surprises). I’m the girl who likes getting up at a decent hour (a new phenomenon in my later twenties), having a semi decent plan for the day, going to her lectures, going to the gym, and ticking her way down the list of things to do, feeling satisfied when they’re all achieved. It doesn’t always work, but it’s like mapping a path in front of you instead of walking blind. You’re less likely to stray off the road. I like planning what I eat, and knowing if I stick to the plan and get a bit of exercise in, I’ll continue dropping a few pounds. I’m the girl that functions well without alcohol, that strange best friend and worse enemy, who at once brings so much pleasure, yet so much regret- and will persistently lead myself and many others to go off the boil when left unchecked.

The most difficult part for me, during this very early stage of what I’m sure are harder times to come, is the loss of that structure. Or perhaps, the harder challenge of carving a new structure of my own whilst unaccountable to anyone else. I like that you get checked for your attendance at university, I like that you swipe your card at the gym noting you’ve been there, and I like that you have to print your ticket off to go to the evening yoga classes. It forces you to interact more with people, to see how they’re doing and to make sure you’re keeping up, to have social arrangements before or after these things when you can chat about your life and chow down a baked potato with a hot frothy coffee. Now, we are all islands. Sitting in our separate houses and flats, making our own routines, filling our hours and wondering how long all this will last. What headline will ding dangerously on our phone screen next? What numbers will the media summarise for us to be shocked/ depressed by in the morning?

Again, I know this is probably coming across as rather self absorbed/ ungrateful. But when forced to spend this much time alone, no housemate or significant other to chat with on the sofa, it’s difficult not to get a bit lost in your own thoughts. My worries are different than ‘I hope I don’t catch COVID-19’, in fact I feel it’s a near inevitability that many of us will have it, with symptoms varying from literally NONE, to extremely severe. I’m hopeful and will do all I can to avoid it for others sakes as well as my own, but I worry more about uncertainty.

Crawling slowly towards my goal weight (with many setbacks along the way) I’ve been more successful over the last month or so, going to the gym, yoga, disciplining myself and working for results. I’m worried the absence of the gym and classes and even socialising will slow this down, and I won’t be able to attain what I truly want to by the time I graduate. I’m worried I’ll lose focus on my uni work, though I’m consistently pushing it to the forefront of my mind- and my results will reflect the upheaval and mental space all this change and worry has taken up. My work hours, though never abundant, have been cut back, and I know it’s going to be far harder not to eat dangerously away at my savings through the next few months. I’m worried the absence of structure and company will lead back to bad habits, and I’ll lose the progress I’ve made. The phrase ‘getting my shit together’ has applied at intervals throughout my years, and right now I’m afraid the drama, alarm and illness that will continue to grow will throw me out of the this particular (and rather crucial) phase of it.

I know time heals all things, that this too shall pass and we live in an age of modern science when we can work faster and harder to fight this, but it is still an openly frightening and precarious time. We are watching history being written around us, and I’m at once curious and afraid to see how this chapter ends. For people’s families, their lives, their loved ones, their jobs, their homes. There is a large, hovering question mark over the vast majority of us right now. For now, it is one day at a time in this tiny world of one. I will continue to get up, to be a little productive every day, have a walk, get a coffee… I’ll even try an ‘at home work out’- something I’ve not done since I was seventeen, and little by little, make a new kind of normal. One in which I can more than just survive, one in which I can truly get to thrive, and achieve all the goals that feel not all that far out of reach.

Until next time, be healthy, be happy, be kind. ❤️

Table For One

Loneliness. It’s something I’ve always struggled with. Since I was a little girl, I’d have trouble sleeping alone, the quiet and discomfort of being left alone in the dark something I struggled with for many years. I still hate sleeping in the pitch black. There has to be a source of light, no matter how small, just so I can feel safe. Some might call it pathetic, and I wouldn’t blame them. But to me, it’s one of many ways in which my body and mind struggle with the feeling of there being nothing around me, no one to comfort me. Or care.

I ended my first long term relationship, ever, not too long ago. Less than a week actually. It had been just a little over a year. A year of great sex, trips together, meals out, cooking nights in, walks along the sea front, cuddles through the cold winter nights and strolls through the balmy summer evenings. It had also been a year of tears, of regular arguments, of jealousy and judgement, of paranoia and suspicion, and worst of all a lack of confidence and esteem in myself. I’ve gained weight and not taken good care of myself. I’ve not been the best person I could have been. For the first time ever I found someone who truly wanted to commit to me, and my mind is still struggling on many levels with the fact I’ve thrown that away. The inner doubts begin. What if you never find that again? What if you never find someone as good? As caring? As generous? With whom you shared such passion? All that may be the case. But I have to hope. Hope that I made the right decision for the both of us. That I took control and that will lead to both of our eventual happinesses.

He struggled a great deal through our time together too. With his past. With his fears. With a wall to his emotions that has been up for years and was always difficult for me to see behind, though there were a few glimpses. I learnt more about one persons struggles and the damage love, and even family can do to us on the inside, even when we seem perfect on the exterior. I loved that I was let in, and that he tried so hard to change. And it did work. To an extent. But my own imbalances affected us too. And no matter how hard I tried, my secret shame eventually showed it’s ugly face, and hurt the trust. It is my fault too, and I have to live with that. But I did love him, and I did truly try. I believe he did too. But I think we both knew we couldn’t go on like this forever, being in love for a month or so- until either he or I blew a casket over something seemingly trivial, though of importance to us. Being a writer, putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard helps a lot. It all feels surreal, like it still didn’t really happen, and talking to friends and writing about it seem like the only ways my feet even come close to touching the ground.

I have to come face to face with the fact that I have broken his heart, and also mine. That we both now have to grieve, feel ugly and painful emotions humans never want to, have to take time processing our roles in this, understanding the good and the bad, and hopefully come out the other side a little bruised, a little raw, but having learnt something- and not hating the other person.

Understand, this is not a violent breakup. I do not hate him. In fact, I’m pretty sure I still love him, and those feelings are alive and well. I want to see him, talk to him, be with him. I am by nature a person who wants to give and receive copious amounts of affection and care. To make someone feel truly special and be made to feel the same. These days, I know that makes me a romantic- a most dangerous thing in the age of social media, when being a fuck boy is socially permissible yet girls are still looking for romance and commitment. I have never felt more fulfilled than in this relationship, when I could truly let that side of me shine and make someone else feel the best they possibly could. And he often did the same for me. To summarise, it wasn’t working, except when it was.

On some level I know I wanted him to fight when I ended it, to draw his sword and declare this would not be. That we should be together and that he was sorry, that it would be ok and we could get through this. Instead there was anger, some apologies, fear of the men who would come after him, that I was already looking, and worst of all tears that broke my heart into a million pieces, and that I’ll never forgive myself for. Right now, for both of us I think, it’s a day at a time. One baby step from morning until night, to survive, to work, to talk about it and make it to the next tumultuous night’s sleep. I worry. Worry that I acted rashly. That I was wrong. That he didn’t deserve it and I’m as insensitive as I am cruel. So I have to talk. Talk to the people who were there with me, on the outside, witnesses to the struggles and the tears, the good times and the terrible, and hope the truth comes from their mouths. My mind is not mine to trust right now, so I must depend on others, and a bit of self care and reflection, to light the way to another day.

You: A Defence of Guinevere Beck

(Spoilers ahead for the first series and book ‘You’)

First thing’s first: I didn’t expect to like this series. I tested the waters tentatively about a year ago, and for whatever reason the first episode did not capture me. I remember thinking that the protagonist and villain, Joe, didn’t seem intimating or frightening to me, and feeling insecure in the face of his obsession- Guinevere Beck, and her glowing beauty, yoga bending body and flourishing life as a twenty something in New York.

However, once season two had been out I gave in to the persistent Netflix screen and positive reviews I had been getting wind of. By the third episode, I was completely hooked. Not necessarily by Joe, who in-spite of his murderous and stalking tendencies has a hardcore female fan base, but for me was simply the unreliable yet tangibly real feeling narrator to the story. Along with the wonderfully intense atmosphere, the dripping gold cinematography of New York and entertaining supporting cast, it was Beck who truly drew me in to the story and didn’t let me go until her (untimely) end.

Many of my female friends balk at this. They find Beck inconsistent, self absorbed, hypocritical, and a pretty bad girlfriend to boot. I however, see her as much more. She is indeed all those things, and many other negative qualities evident in young aspiring writer or artist trying to make it in the big city. She is also however, open, talented, insecure, alluring, sweet, naive, glowing golden in Joe’s gaze, and painfully self aware of her own shortcomings. As a woman in her mid to late twenties (check), studying creative writing (check), living in a city and apartment she can barely afford (check check), wondering wether she will ever amount to anything (check), always feeling a little the outsider (check) and never to be as good as the friends she surrounds herself with (check), I felt myself connecting to this character whilst in the back of my mind knowing, she was inevitably doomed.

Besides wishing I had even a tenth of the actresses beauty (Elizabeth Lail), there were more similarities between myself and the object of Joe’s affections than I could keep count of. At first I thought I was deluding myself with this parallel, complimenting myself that I was in anyway similar to this creative beauty, and object of many men’s (and indeed women’s) desires. Once I recommended the series to my brother however, the similarity was confirmed. He called me on the phone to rave about the climax of the first season, myself very keen to hear his thoughts on the entire thing. Yet, the first words out of his mouth were ‘It’s like this series was written for you!’. My brother is a working psychologist in London, so my ears are always pricked to his insights and views on characters and the human condition. When I asked what he meant, he went on ‘You realise you are basically Beck?’. I was immediately and guiltily flattered. Someone else thinks so too. I demurred in the only way you can when you’re actually thrilled with the feedback you’re hearing. He continued, ‘You even look like her- how can you not see it?’. I felt flooded with a mix of emotions. Being compared to such a central character and gorgeous leading woman barely ever happens to me. And the parallels of our lives were undeniable, down to even a few of the romantic dynamics between her and Joe (both negative and positive). It felt so refreshingly good to feel like for once, I had a mirror to view myself in a popular series, someone I can in a way feel connected to and aspire to, in spite of her many flaws. Yet, underneath all that, I felt the uneasy truth that she is not the victorious heroine in which I can place my hope for a grand future. While she does in fact realise her great potential and writes an (unfortunately posthumous) bestseller (see her heartbreaking monologue in Ep 9 ‘Blackbeard’s Castle’), she is brought down by the end, alone, fighting for her freedom, Joe’s hands grasped around her neck in the dark basement of the bookshop.

Her end is that of the tragic heroine, and makes me wish for so much better for her, myself, and every other woman out there. Whilst imperfect, she is unfailingly hopeful in her own talent, her love affairs with men who use her for sex (and who at times she uses too) and her unending search for her own true Prince Charming. It is this hope that keeps her with Joe, and leads to her tragic demise, and yet also contrasting artistic victory under the saddest of circumstances. I suppose what I would like to say, is that yes, there is a fair amount of Beck within me (down to the face and golden hair), but that there is probably a Beck in so many other young women out there too. Let us treasure her loving heart, her search for success and adoration (both romantically and creatively), and talent, but have our stories end in the daylight, after a life well lived, with our true prince by our side, not with our captor in disguise, down there in the dark.

Back again. Third year begins.

Hello again. I’ve left it much, much too long haven’t I? Trust me, there has been more than enough self flagellation for my lack of writing and consistent blogging, though I have started a food/ Portsmouth review page on Instagram, so not entirely static thankfully.


My word.

How life has changed since last we spoke. I sit now in my relatively new, slightly chilly flat in the centre of Portsmouth, where I now live on my own and even pay my own bills. The building is as central as they come, but old, with single glazing and one brick thick walls. I wish the journey into solo-living was as animated and empowering as everyone imagines, but honestly much of the time is spent wanting to keep the place pest free, thinking about your electricity and heating costs, wondering if the building is even secure, and not feeling entirely comfortable with the fact that I am, genuinely, alone here.

Of course there are the perks. I have to put up with no one’s mess but my own, so for the most part it is very tidy. I don’t have to share any communal areas (the no1 reason I wanted my own place), so the lounge, kitchen and bathroom are totally my domain. My gym and sports centre both sit a stones throw away, as are my lectures, library and the centre of town. I know I am privileged to be able to afford this, and felt frankly at the age of 27, I deserved my own space after sharing accommodation in one way or another my entire life, bar my year spent teaching when I had my own apartment on school grounds. For the most part it’s a mixed bag, but I am grateful, and think the more I use the space and enjoy it with others, the less lonely or wasteful it will feel.

I am also in my final year of university. Several weeks in now. HOW?! How did we get here so quickly. This last summer is a total blur of again- preparation and painting before my big move, clearing out an entire house, times spent with my significant other (both good and bad) and the hard final push to meet my deadlines by the end of June. By the time I moved in here in mid August, the summer felt like it was already fleeing, and I again felt far away from myself. I cannot tell you how much I hate these times when I lose my anchor. I feel like I’m drifting, unattached to the world and not sure what I should be caring about or where my motivation and passion have disappeared to, only recognising the feeling of dread that- perhaps, they may not return.

Last Christmas was a fright. After making the six hour treck to Suffolk to stay with my mother and spend time with my brother, it seemed at first all would be well. For the first two days, my mother was sober. We visited the wild and chilly Suffolk coast for a meal in the rustic Harbor restaurant she had been promising to take me to for years. We ate buttery lobster and drank crisp Prosecco before a windy walk on the Suffolk sand dunes. I waded in the waves in my purple wellies and let the bright winter sun warm my face. I was healing a broken heart at the time. The blossoming romance about which I last wrote here, that I had been so afraid had been too good to be true, ended up being just that.

I confess, I naively put all my romantic eggs in one basket, and hoped in spite of some signs to the contrary that my Hollywood style romance would inevitably blossom. It did not. After experiencing my first ever few weeks of ghosting in November (a move where if a person is so emotionally inept/ retarded they simply all-but stop talking to their partner instead of facing the perhaps uncomfortable conversation of honest feelings) I was unceremoniously dumped, via text, during shift whilst they knew I was at work. With the shoulder of my darling brother on the other end of the phone, my wonderful few friends and coursemates both here and faraway, I cried for a few days, took a hot bath, and got back up in time for Christmas.

Over the Yuletide and surrounding weeks I decided to spread my bets, talking to a few different suitors whilst safely far away in my Suffolk homeland. Like I said though, the peace didn’t last long. For whatever secret reason, because of whatever trigger, on the third day, my mother removed her safety ring and jumped off the deep end. Jekyl well and truly began her all too familiar alcoholic transformation into Hyde. By Christmas Day, the only reaction we got from her once my brother and I cooked the Christmas roast and laid out the silverware, candles and crackers on the table, were garbled screeches of expletives from the lounge, and demands for alcohol though she had at this point drunk the house dry and the shops were all closed.

My heart was now broken double-fold. Not only was I wounded from my first romantic rejection in a long time and the loss of that hopefulness, my mother now broke it once more. Instead of joining us in joy and wanting to spend some rare time with her children, she refused to come to the table, or even touch the food we cooked. I decided to leave the following day, comforted only by my brothers company and our shared warmth and friendship which never falters. When my mother was told of my plans to leave, luckily it was enough to wake her up. She realised for once, that she was throwing everything back in our faces, came to the den to apologize, and asked me to stay and not leave her yet. I did.

Once returned to Portsmouth in the new year, I decided to start afresh. I love January. It feels like the month in which anything is possible and the greatest diving board from which to jump with all your aspirations for the year. I was happy to be back in town and safe from family woes. I joined a yoga studio, began eating well and decided to get in shape ready for the spring and summer. Beyond the few others I had been talking to, I had been getting on extremely well with one person in particular. From our first conversation our dialogue had been easy and fun, our humour clicked and there seemed to be for once, that elusive spark. I dated two others before I met him, for the sake of protecting my heart from its last mistake of putting all hope in only one, but from the moment I met the bike rider, we both knew there was something there. Very quickly we began seeing each other every week, and a few months in he asked me to be exclusive, then soon after to be his girlfriend. I’d longed for this to happen all this time, for someone to reach out and say ‘I want you to be my person’ and for me to feel exactly the same way back- that I quite literally shrieked with joy when he asked me that very thing on top of a hill, over looking the sea and sunset as it shone down on Southsea.

The best adventure since my last entry was not in fact with him, but with one of my best friends and fellow student, when we packed our bags in April and took off to Florence. I’m planning on doing a separate blog post about this trip (only six months late), but suffice it to say it was a dream come true, for the most part, and the highlight of my year.

For the rest of the year, life consisted of going to yoga classes, the gym, to lectures, slowly losing weight and spending more and more time with my new biking beau. However, as both deadlines and my birthday approached, life began gathering a negative momentum. Signs of insecurity and anxiety began to show in my beloved, with my own bad habits resurfacing around the same time. I had to extend for my last big piece of coursework in order to attend my aunts funeral, for which my brother got the wrong day, so made me do the trip to Eastbourne (4 hours + on the train) twice. My biker beau and I continued doing wonderful activities together, he took me to my first music festival and got us VIP passes, we ate sushi, visited Arundel, walked through fields of bluebells, took trips to London, Cornwall and Brighton for my birthday, eating wonderful food and embracing being together. As wonderful as each of these sounds, and in many ways they were- they all bare the tint in my memory of having been ruined by a bout of anxiety, jealousy and even paranoia at points. It’s like holding a memory in your hand like a glistening gem stone. You look at it and see it’s beauty and preciousness, but you can never forget or ignore the ugly chip that’s hidden from all other sight but your own.

I’ve learnt over time that these things are not all his fault, or mine. I’ve learnt that we are two very imperfect people, both with separate demons and insecurities just like everyone else, trying to find love and acceptance in another. All we can both do is try and make ourselves better, as indeed we are, and keep faith that the other will get back to that wonderful best you saw, when first enthralled in each others light and personality.

In any case, here we are. A little into third year, with the looming prospects of a two part dissertation, 30 minute script, pitch, presentation and critical essay all ahead- just for now. Not easy days these. My fingers are cold as I type, and a lot of the time I feel distant and far from the person I would like to be. I know the most important thing for me to achieve, and my reason for even being here, is my degree. I know it will not be easy. I know that I will struggle and there will always be days when I doubt myself and if I should even bother. But for now putting pen to paper/ finger to phone has felt good. I feel like I’ve purged half a year of ups, downs, drama and sorrow in a way I could not even to a counsellor/ therapist. Perhaps that is always what I go back to.

Writing is my therapy. Maybe that’s why I should do it more often. I’m going to head downstairs and try and do some writing in a warm coffee shop. Wish me luck, I think I’ll need it for this year.

Love, a new term, a new job, an old me.

I sit writing this at the desk in my new bedroom and relatively new house, looking out into our humble garden and the bright blue autumnal sky shining above. Life is hard, at the moment, but also very good. When I come to write on here it always feels a little daunting, like entering a confessional with yourself and knowing that people will hear whatever it is that may come out. I’ll be quite honest, I’ve barely written over the summer. All my energy was going into moving houses, saying goodbyes, attending graduations, family dramas, and most of all trying to get my own head screwed on straight again. To an extent I both failed and succeeded with this. I had some wonderful times away with friends in early June and got all my travelling done at the start of the season. I’ve lad long lapses of indulgence and feeling anxious and blue, but always find my way and an incentive to climb out of them and back into the sunlight- though I never know for how long.

I felt very lucky to have had friends spoil and love me when my birthday finally came, something that my family struggles to really do in the midst of their own universes now my father is gone. July felt like one long day of packing and painting white walls, of saying goodbye to the sweet girls I lived with last year and moving myself into an entirely new house in a different part of town. By far the best part of the summer was, however, the unadulterated luxury of having a house to myself for a month and a half. Once the initial anxiety and exhaustion of moving subsided and I’d unpacked my surprisingly large amount of nik naks and clothes, I suddenly realized I had room to breath. To be. To think with no eyes around me. My new bedroom is much larger than most I’ve had before, and the large windows let the light in through the day, always giving me something to look at as I sit and think in front of my now ancient laptop.

It was as though now my setting was right, I was able to start building myself again. I joined the Pilates studio around the corner (something I’d only ever seen beautiful american girls in films or my very glamorous older sister do), began eating well again and exercising (my propensity for sitting and feeding myself when blue is truly something to behold) and finally got a job at a family owned restaurant just around the corner. So far, so good. Whilst many people were away for the summer or had left permanently, my lovely friend who lives in Fratton was here to experience some of the fun of the summer with me before the year began again, and we christened the house cooking, watched Big Little Lies, celebrated my getting published in the paper together and spent a day rain soaked and laughing at the Victorious music festival. As though written in the early draft of a short story, in the midst of all these things slipping gently into place, he appeared. I’ve dabbled many times with dating Apps, never usually to much avail. The only way I can really explain it to someone who’s never tried finding a date through their phone is: imagine your standing in the middle of a bamboo forest absolutely stifled, with a slightly blunt machete in your hand. Through the thick leaves and criss-cross of trees you think you can see a glimmer of sunshine and a way out, but to do so you must hack, saw and be generally attacked by the undergrowth as you stagger your way through to the light. That’s tinder. You are positively surrounded with men, faces upon faces pop up on your screen, most not to your taste or not attractive, so you swipe left. You swipe left, left, left, left. This can go on for weeks. Then just as you are yet again about to throw the picture automatically off your screen, you stop. You see a face that charms you. He seems nice- maybe even attractive- you think (though you’ve obviously no idea). So you breath in, and make that monumental swipe to the right, the swipe of consent. You sir, may speak to me. Then there’s a pause- have they matched with you too? Have they not seen your profile yet? Have they, dare you even think it… thrown you on top of the pile of corpses to their left? And on it goes from there.

Sometimes they’ve liked you too but you never speak, sometimes they start the conversation and it simply never gets off the ground, sometimes you simply don’t fancy it after a while and they become belligerent and hurt (never a good sign from a stranger) or sometimes you simply never match (‘their loss’ you think with a slightly bruised ego, readjusting your under-eye mask and eating a few more quavers on the sofa). Then one day, lightning strikes. Magic happens. The clouds part. Someone attractive- nee- handsome, has liked you back, but not only that- they’ve started a conversation, not only THAT, they seem to be a genuinely interested, interesting and funny person.

You are immediately suspicious. Possible rapist, serial killer or pervert, you think whilst carrying on the friendly banter, as though you hadn’t a frightened or cagey thought in your head. As time goes on though, they dispel the majority of your fears with elegant words, quick humor and easy charm. You agree, unbelievably, to actually meet the person. In such a tricky, awkward and sometimes plain dangerous world of online dating, trusting your gut can feel at once to be the stupidest thing you could do, but also the sharpest tool at your disposal. You agree somewhere public and safe to meet and a time to do so, continuing to chat or occasionally rescheduling in the meantime. You begin to get quietly excited as the day approaches, but a tempered excitement. You know how badly this could go. At a minimum it could be awkward. At a maximum it could be excruciating. You put on your dress in spite of it all, wave your hair, make your face as pretty as you can and head out, toes, fingers and everything else crossed, keeping the quietest hope in the back of your mind that this could genuinely be a fun evening…

These evenings have been so diverse, awkward, painful, funny and intriguing in the past I’d learned to go in with an open, hopeful, but guarded mind. You make your way to the restaurant and wait, emergency call on stand by if you need to escape. As you distract yourself speaking to the staff or looking around the room, you finally see them. They appear as if out of the air. A being that up until that point had only ever existed on a two dimensional screen is now a living, breathing, smiling tower in front of you, and you smile back. I believe you can know from an initial instinct when you meet if you are going to experience a journey with a person, if they have a part to play in the theater of your life. I felt it then, and since then it’s been a blooming, twisting, laughing whirlwind of a ride, peppered with moments of pain or worry that it’s all too good to be true, that life isn’t meant to be this lovely, and that people aren’t ever truly this good. I refuse to let my mind think that way though, I read a quote once that said ‘my past is what I’ve been through, it’s not who I am. It has helped mold me, but it does not define me.’ and I believe that to be true. I’ve collected many scars by a relatively young age, both internal and external, and it can be a daunting prospect to have someone see them- but to act out of fear and run from a beautiful thing because you cannot be sure they will accept you would be letting the ghosts of pains past control your future. I’ve been reading a little philosophy of late and watching some lectures with some preeminent thinkers of today, and whilst they are not religious in nature, they have no issue in taking the best of the teachings in many faiths and directing their positive instruction and message into a secular life. A favorite of mine is a teaching of Buddha’sftlnemo that goes ‘do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.’ Now, that is not an easy list to follow. But to live a happy, calm, productive and loving life, I think it may be well worth a try….

Terror stuck.

I have had some wonderful times this year. Periods of stability, productivity, happiness, even romance at times, not to mention moments of absolute clarity that I am in fact on the right course for me and surrounded by the right people… But all these things seem to have disappeared with the blow of a feather over the last few weeks- one disappointment/ unexpected turn leading to another. I can’t seem to locate my balance, wherever I look. Can’t seem to spot that anchor that only a few months ago, meant I was feeling my happiest, lightest, cleverest and most comfortable self. I’m leaving for my main summer holiday the day after tomorrow (Budapest and Prague for a week), and all I’ve been able to do over the last several days instead of work out, eat healthy and prepare is- comfort eat to its unhealthiest max, avoid phone-calls, overthink romantic relationships and generally try to escape my current reality. I know there are several large landmarks looming and having happened over the summer already; my first year of uni is over in a blink, my darling niece who I’ve lived with over the last year has left for the trip of a lifetime with her delightful boyfriend having finished her degree, the main person in my life is in and out of the country with less than a shrug, my 26th birthday is less than a month away (over the hump between 20 & 30- its an odd but still very fortunate one), I’ll be moving into a house of strangers in a few months, I’m looking for summer work and my mother is more unwell than she has ever been before. I know that everyone deals with personal problems and turbulence every day- I just wish I had another, more productive/ supportive way of dealing with my own at the moment. I miss the feeling of having foundations under me. Of having comfort and company around me. I’m afraid of the future and what I may lack/ be unable to bring to it. I know that this too shall pass, but when things feel this truly bleak, it feels like a truly lonely and desolate road to walk. I can’t wait to feel like myself again, but until then, it feels like the only honest outlet is through my fingers on my iPad screen. Silly, but at least it’s something.

A cheerier one next time, I promise.