Unraveling

Things are not good here.

Each day, I feel another bit of me fall off and wither away. Nothing seems to stop the decline.

All my hard won progress of the past five years is disintegrating and I don’t know if I have the strength to go through that fight again.

I’m exhausted, but can’t sleep. I’m lonely, but can’t face people. My word is shrinking to protect me, despite knowing that will harm me further.

The brain demons are out to play and I’m powerless against them.

And that is not ok

Don’t

If in doubt, don’t speak.

Don’t express your feelings.

Don’t try and resolve uncertainty with words.

Don’t pour out your heart, spend hours making sure it’s factual, without too much emotion, without passive aggression,

Don’t be honest and open.

Don’t be you.

Instinct

Never ignore your gut feeling.

I’ve ignored my gut feeling in the past. I suppressed it and believed what another told me, in-spite of my instinct screaming something was wrong.

It very nearly destroyed me. It shattered my sense of self and destroyed my trust in myself. It took years of work to put myself back together, piece by piece.

I was scared of allowing myself to ever be vulnerable again.

But I was brave. I let down the walls a bit. I was so happy. I felt alive.

Still, I promised myself I’d never, ever ignore my instinct again.

It seems I don’t learn.

The desire to feel special to someone, overrode any sense of self preservation.

So here we are again.

Foolish, a bit broken and despairing at my lack of sense. I ignored it. I was stupid. I’ve been burnt again.

Recover, rebuild and relearn

Midnight musings

My mind is not a happy place at present. The past year has played havoc with my mental health, as it has with millions of others across the country. My old companions, depression and anxiety, have made an unwelcome return and seen immune to my efforts to quash them.

The anxiety is, in many ways, understandable: we’re on the brink of the country reopening. Socialising will be possible in a safer way than since 2019. Pubs and bars will be full of life and laughter. And people.

To the socially anxious, this is a double edged sword. There’s a real longing to be with people again – I have, with some degree of surprise, realised I actually like people far more than I thought. Whilst I was not a party animal pre-covid, the nights out I did have, sharing a few drinks with my friends, were a great source of joy. I’ve talked repeatedly over the past year about The Things I’m Going To Do once it is over. Now that time is coming, I cannot quite commit to anything.

A trip to London, to visit museums, abbeys and wander, as well as to meet many lovely Twitter friends, has been high on the list. To that end, I’ve chosen hotels, checked dates, added train tickets to my basket…and then hesitated. I rationalise it’s to give myself time to double check things, but I’ve now gone through this process around five times and I can’t click ‘Book now’. Stymied by the Fear. Again.

The depression, or, more accurately at present, low mood, is not helping matters one bit. Over the past few weeks I’ve been aware I’ve retreated more. Driving places that I was walking to. Communication being more erratic – I tweet great volumes of utter nonsense, or just scroll, wordlessly. Even my constant text companion, my best friend in all the world, has received far fewer texts (five a day, instead of the twenty plus that’s our norm). My sleep pattern has reverted to its depressed norm; staying up until 4am, unable to find the off switch. Exhausted during the day, but bright eyed and bushy tailed come 9pm. Housework is sliding, whilst the sense of being ‘not good enough’ is growing. I’m trying to hold back the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Consequently, the negative self talk has seized its chance. It is back with a vengeance. Whilst I am much better at ignoring it than I previously was, it’s not something I’ve perfected yet. I’m not sure anyone ever does. This really hasn’t been helped by the realisation that the heady surge in self confidence and self worth I experienced in 2019 (discussed here https://emilyboots09.wordpress.com/2020/09/17/musings-on-the-past-year/), seems to have been almost entirely based on another’s opinion of me.

I celebrated this new found sense of confidence with glee. I put it down to the hard work I had done in counselling over the previous three years. I was a woman with a sense of self, a sense of purpose and a swagger.

Lockdown knocked that. Holed up in the house for months didn’t really give the opportunity to cement my new found mindset. Nonetheless, I was confident that I’d be fine once I got back out there.

This year has shattered that illusion. The one who had given me such a monumental boost in confidence has, for a number of reasons, not been around as much. Increasingly, I’ve reverted to the people pleasing behaviour I worked so hard to rid myself of. Trying to second guess their wants and needs. Berating myself for words and deeds. Stupid woman has become a repeated refrain.

Uncertainty is not a great place to be, but it shouldn’t be able to dissolve self esteem.

It’s a humbling experience to realise that your celebrated new sense of self was actually a natural reaction to someone making you feel special. As the doubts around that have grown, the pieces of my new self have begun to fall apart. I’m not entirely sure how to stop the erosion at the moment. But I have to find a way.

Love – not always a many splendored thing

Falling in love is joyous. That floaty feeling when you think of them. The butterflies, the smiles, the bliss.

But falling in love is also hard.

Falling in love when you know you really shouldn’t, is harder still.

I’ve fallen in love with someone who I had no right to fall in love with. Believe me, I did my best not to. Indeed, I was in denial of the fact that I had for months. When it finally dawned on me that I had broken my promise to myself not to love him, I was furious with myself – I fired off an expletive ridden, angry email to my long suffering friend. He simply replied he wondered when I’d finally catch on to what was blatantly obvious to anyone who knew me.

Once that realisation finally came, the battle became keeping it to myself. Telling him was out of the question – part of me desperately wanted to, but most of me was afraid of the impact those words would have…

Why is love so hard?

2020

We made it to the end. This has been a strange year to say the least. Lockdown hit us all, but it’s also been a year of real personal growth in some ways. Not least in my willingness to take and share, photos of myself. I’m not a natural photographer, nor particularly good, but here are some of my favourites from the year.

1. I love this one as I feel it’s strong and sexy.

2. Who doesn’t love fishnets?!

3. A brave one for me. Natural and only one piercing.

4. Summer days in lockdown.

5. A rare good arse photo.

6. Thick thighs…

7. Us. I adore this photo and the time it represents.

8. Blue Monday. One of my most ‘liked’ photos

9. Boots and bum

10. Wrap me up in lights

11. This is me: my first ever #sinfulsunday entry

12. This one has not been published before. It was taken as I played around with lights and it came out far better than I anticipated.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoy! Wishing you all a very happy new year – may next year bring a degree of normality back to all of us.

Treacle

At the beginning of 2020, life was good. I was in a really good place. I was exercising regularly, I was in the best mental health for as long as I can remember. I was happy in a relationship I didn’t expect. I was confident, the brain weasels were absent and I was happy. I was balanced.

Then covid happened. I started shielding before national was announced. It was a novelty at first, having an excuse not to go shopping or the myriad of other mundane tasks. The schools closed snd we had many pyjama days watching films and having fun.

I missed exercising, but thought I’d start soon..

Here we are, eight months later. I don’t have balance. I’m still not exercising, I’m not confident. I’m increasingly unhappy. In truth, I feel as if the wheels have come off.

I feel like I’m wading through treacle. The urge to hide in bed is growing . My anxiety has sky rocketed. I know all the things I ought to do to halt this slide, but translating that knowledge into action feels like a mammoth task at the moment.

The destructive inner voice has an awful lot to say for itself, about my failings and inadequacies. The self loathing is intense. I crave reassurance from others, but it’s only to find a positive to cling to. I risk sabotaging the relationship I hold so dear, in search of reassurance and validation. It is tiresome, draining and relentless. (My inner critic immediately added ‘a bit like you’ to that).

I know I am not alone in experiencing a low. Many of us are struggling with the reality of another lockdown and the restrictions it brings.

I know I will get through this. I will regain the balance I now realise is vital to my mental and physical health. . Until then, it’s a matter of riding the storm and minimising the damage.

This post began life as an entry to Quote Quest on @https://quotequest.littleswitchbitch.com/. I missed the deadline, but these are my thoughts.

The day it changed

November 15th, 2019. New street station. Nervously waiting for a train to arrive.

A simple plan: meet and see how it goes.

It went well. Very, very well. So well in fact, that there have been few days in the year since where we haven’t been in touch. There certainly hasn’t been a day I haven’t thought about him.

It’s been a strange year on many fronts: Covid-19 is the obvious factor, but personally we have both been on our own journeys, distinct and life altering in their separate ways. It is not for me to speak for him, or his experience. I don’t have the authority or the right to.

I can only speak for myself. That day has become symbolic. I have grown in confidence and self awareness, surpassing any expectations I may have had. Counselling, medication and the passing of time, have undoubtedly helped begin to heal the open wounds I’d worn for years.

However, though all that laid the foundations, meeting him is what has provoked the most profound change in me. He has broadened my horizons and fired my imagination. He has, literally, changed my life.

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