Phoenix Fights

Fighting the FEAR, depression and BDP on a daily basis AND making my own bread. Bring it on 2016….


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IT’S ‘JUST ONE THING’ MY SOUL MAY BE FEELING

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Sorry for the radio silence.  Have had just had three days of hell, brought on by yet another frigging birthday, having to resort to applying for benefits and the betrayal of a friend which left me a knuckle biting, goggle box watching, contracted, balled up, terrified wreck who ground her teeth to a bloody mess every night.  And it’s a bugger to get those pillowcases clean afterwards!

I wasn’t rendered completely inactive though.

Unfortunately.

I’ve had to ban myself from eBay after incessant stalking of Joyce McKinney levels via the ‘ending soon’ option, and have spent a small fortunate on stuff I don’t really need, just to distract me from the pain of my crisis which was threatening to obliterate me.

So it felt like I couldn’t get any lower.

But I’m alive, I have a roof over my head, and I have options. But it’s up to me to take direct action in order to change my situation.

Plus I got an email from my very own celebrity stalker, Dr Rick Hanson.

Ole Rick’s always emailing me.  I mean it’s getting embarrassing, and there are days when I open the message, stare at his perky, happy, successful visage and think ‘You again? Really?!  Back the hell off, geezer!’ but there is no doubt he means well, and today’s missive totally hit the spot, so, as it’s not on his website yet, I thought I’d share it with you.  I’ve bolded the bits that resonate the most with me.

The Practice 
Keep going.

Why?

I once attended a workshop led by Joseph Goldstein, a Buddhist teacher. I had realized something about the lack of a fixed self, and shared the insight with him. He nodded and said, “Yes, right.” I felt seen for taking a step forward. Then he smiled and added something I’ve never forgotten: “Keep going.”

Of all the factors that lead to happiness and success – such as class origins, intelligence, personality, character, looks, luck, race – the one that typically makes the most difference over time is persistence. Knocked down ten times, you get up ten times.

If you keep going, you might not reach your goal – but if you stop, you’ll never reach it.

We respect people who persist. There’s a magic in determination that draws others toward it and elicits their support.

And you just don’t know when your day will finally come. There are so many stories of “overnight success” that actually arrived after many years of effort, often including some failures. For example, Dwight Eisenhower was an obscure colonel in 1939 – and nearly forty-nine years old – when Germany invaded Poland to begin World War II; four years later he was in charge of all Allied forces in Europe; nine years after that he was elected president.

How? 

Make sure your goals are worthy of your perseverance. You can be determined to a fault. Don’t “keep going” down a tunnel with no cheese. Consider the collateral damage: are you winning battles but losing the “war” of overall health, well-being, integrity, and welfare of others?

Know the feeling of tenacious persistence. It could be fierce, strong, stubborn, unyielding, clear, inspired, surrendered, on-mission, purposeful, focused, committed – or all of these. Recall a time you had this feeling, and know it again in your body. Call it up whenever you need to draw on resources inside to keep going.

Take the step that’s right in front of you – one after another. I’ve taught many people to rock climb: Beginners will often have one foot down low and one foot at knee level, on solid placements, plus two good handholds, yet they can’t find any new holds, so they feel stuck. But when they simply stand up on the higher foothold – taking the step that’s available – that brings higher handholds and footholds within reach.

Find the pace you can sustain; life’s a marathon, not a sprint. For example, on my first Boy Scout backpack trip, I was a skinny, nerdy, unathletic kid. But I wanted to be the first to our campsite. We set out and the burly “alpha” boys raced ahead, while I kept up a slow-but-steady pace. After a few miles, I passed them sitting down on the side of the trail. They were startled to see me trucking along and soon got up and raced past me. But after another few miles, once again they were laid out by the side of the trail, this time really fried as I walked past them – and I was very happy to get the first, really cool tent spot.

Keep going in your mind even if you can’t make any headway in the world. Maybe you’re truly stuck in some situation – a job, an illness, a certain sort of marriage. But at least you can continue to reflect on what’s happening, learn to cope with it better, and love the people around you. And over time maybe things will improve. As Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Have faith that your efforts will pay off. You may have heard this teaching story: A bunch of frogs fell into a vat of cream. They couldn’t jump out, and one after another drowned. But one frog refused to quit and kept swimming and staying alive, even after all the other frogs had died. Finally its movements churned the cream to solid butter – and it hopped out to safety.

Keep churning!

Isn’t he annoying?!  One of those ‘lemons to lemonade’ types, whereas no doubt I’d cut the lemon in two, bite down on half of it, squirt the other in my eyes then apply it to a particularly deep paper cut, such is my desire for self destruction….

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But, all joking aside, the one thing that made my ears prick up in this instance was his reference to tenacious persistence.

I know I have this in spades. Trouble is it only comes out in bad situations where i feel I need to defend myself, and then I’m a like a rottweiler on steroids with an elastic band around it’s balls.  Furious, dogged (sorry), committed and determined, I hang in there, fight clean, fight dirty, and ‘never stop fighting till the fight is done’.

So why can’t I harness this trait and use it for positive things instead of attack mode?  It’s possible. Isn’t it?

So from now on, before I hit the hay, I’m going to write a list of what I want/need to do the next day.  I may not do all of them.  Hell I may not do any of them.  But at least I’ll try.

I’m going to try and fight my urge to procrastinate by watching bad TV, unnecessary eBaying, playing scrabble and fannying around on the internet.

I’m going to try and fight for a better life, fight to make people see and treat me better, fight for my rightful place in this world, fight my shame and self recrimination, and show those nagging, tormenting mind monkeys of mine where the door is.

I’m not always well or motivated enough to read all of Rick’s emails, but when I do I find that they are always compassionate, practical and inspiring and it won’t hurt you to subscribe to them as there are days when they are the only thing that get me out of my pit.

So whilst the image of buttery frogs makes me want to break out garlic and breadcrumbs à la française, I’ll try to keep churning and not disintegrate into a pool of congealed mess every time something or someone hits me.

And there’ll be more missiles to come; i can feel it.

But that’s life, isn’t it?

Dontcha just lurve Karma folks? 😉

Namaste x

http://www.rickhanson.net/writings/just-one-thing


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CASHMERE CUDDLES, WOOLLEN LOVE

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If you were to pass me in the street, you’d probably think that I look like the average, mild mannered, rapidly ageing, peri menopausal maiden, if a little frosty about the edges.

But I have a secret life.

I’m a very adept, dedicated, highly skilled, sniper.

Not the kind that fires semi automatic weapons at passing civilians, of course.  Although in the neighbourhood I live in, it’s not unheard of and sometimes a prudent course of action if you’re carrying a designer handbag, the latest iPhone or even a six pack of Fosters.

I’m one of those really annoying people that goes on eBay and just when the last seconds of an auction are ticking away, jumps in at the last moment and bids for your item, and usually stealing the deal right from under your nose.

Nice huh?

But I don’t do it to annoy.  I’m kinda of addicted because it’s (a) something to do, (b) a cheap(ish) thrill and ( c) I’m hunting, not wabbits, but super warm, beautiful cashmere goods.

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I’ve always wanted a 100% cashmere coat, but would never stump up for the price of a new one, as, rather like buying a new car, it’s one hell of an investment and loses value the minute you walk it out of the shop.  Plus, I’m unemployed.  So I peruse eBay just waiting for the right item to pop it’s head up, then I can monitor my target and wait those 45 seconds at the end of the auction to strike.

And it’s turned into something of an obsession.

Especially when something I want is elusive or in short supply, then I’ll usually end up hunting it down to some small village in the Cotwolds and demand to buy it, which is why I ended up driving 40 miles to a small exclusive boutique the other day to purchase a beautiful mohair car coat that I hadn’t even tried on, as it was the last size 10 in existence.  Fortunately it fit me, but to be honest I barely ever go out anymore, haven’t worn it yet, and not sure when I will, so quite why I felt compelled to buy it right now I do not know.

But it’s winter, cold, and as a tallish person with long extremities I always get the urge to swathe myself in warm sumptuous layers to protect me from the weather.  I’ve always been quite a sensuous person too, so am very attracted to natural fabrics that feel good against the skin.  Cashmere, wool, mohair, brushed cotton, alpaca, you name it and you’ll find me buried under a pile of it come October through to March.

And in the summer, when the weather is hot (ha!), cottons, silk, linen and light denim make up the majority of my wardrobe.

I’m not rich or a snob, it’s not about that.  I love brushed cotton as much as virgin wool, but I can’t abide anything unnatural, itchy or sweat inducing against my skin, but nice fabrics and yarns feel like caresses to me, which probably boils down to the fact that in my day to day life, I am rarely physically touched.

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Of course I get light, air kissy, mwah mwah embraces from my London friends when I meet them, but apart from when I see my family, it’s rare that I am on the receiving end of a proper embrace, let alone a cuddle.  And when you see photographs of me with a group of people, I’m always slightly separate/aloof from the group, even if I’m liked by them, as ironically from a body language point of view, I strongly suspect that I put out an untouchable vibe, when I’m probably more in need of physical contact than anyone I know.

And don’t even get me started about sex. The thought of it is just unimaginable to me right now.

There is no doubt that I am lonely, isolated, and as a result I have built myself a very comfortable, homely fortress here in South London, and with it’s plush carpets, log fire and cosy nooks and armchairs strewn with throws, it would be the ideal little sanctuary to come home to.

If I ever went out that is.

And as much as I love and appreciate my home and the garments that make up my wardrobe, there are times where I’d be willing to set a match to the lot of it in exchange for a cuddle from someone who loved and will love and take care of me until the day I die.

But until that person comes along, if they ever do, I will stay here snug in my lonely bunker, behind the blanketed barricades, scanning the horizon for something that will kill the pain.

If only for sixty seconds.


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Daily Prompt: Mirror, Mirror – WHAT YOU LOOKIN’ AT?

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Look in the mirror. Does the person you see match the person you feel like on the inside? How much stock do you put in appearances?

I’ll be straight with you; I don’t like looking in the mirror, as I hate how I look.  

Sometimes when I do it, I don’t even recognise myself which is, as you can imagine, pretty unnerving, but a lot of times in the past, I’ve been grateful for the way my appearance has protected me.

Because, if my face is not animated or smiling, I can look a bit severe/intimidating.  

Not out of choice, but a combination of genetics, shitty karma, desire for self protection, gambolling paranoia and a sharp whack with the ugly stick tends to mean I can emanate a certain ‘Get the fuck away from me or suffer the consequences!’ vibe, if you will.

A black guy who was trying to chat me up a few years ago, told me confidentially in amused tones, that when he’d seen me before, he’d thought I was racist.  When I asked why, he said I looked like a racist. What does a racist look like?  You, he replied.  Strangely enough he never did get into my knickers but hopefully this example will illustrate that I don’t exactly have the angelic visage of J Lo or the sweet girl next door looks of Holly Willoughby.  More like the stern, patrician appearance of Maggie Thatcher, alas.

But my scary exterior, like antibiotics, didn’t just see off dangerous infiltrators (arseholes, sexists, bullies and bitches), but also the good folk.  Like timid but lovely potential pals, soul sisters and, last but not least, potential life partners. 😦

And now that I’m working on trying to be more open, friendly and accepting, the ever-so-helpful ageing process is colluding with the menopause and my dastardly karma and offering me jowls, dragging down the corners of my mouth and thinning my face, none of which scream ‘lovely, warm person, with a heart of gold and so much love to give’, fiendish bastards that they are.

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And just to add insult to injury, I am also cursed with looking like a ‘lady’, which is what a lot of people refer to me as, especially when they don’t know me.  Which despite what you think, isn’t a compliment, as it means they think I’m rather straight, formal and foreboding, which could not be further from the truth.

Because whilst my dubious exterior hides, yes, a life long depressive with serious issues, it also masks a die hard wind up merchant, with a blistering sense of humour, a love of mischief, and, at times, the irresistible impulse to behave like a cross between Jim Carrey, Joan Rivers and a five year old after too many e-numbers.

People forget that middle aged women were once young and in their youth, have probably behaved worse than they did, and let’s face it, my generation ruled with regard to shocking a nation, so anything done nowadays in the name of rebellion is tedious and derivative as far as I’m concerned, hence I love encountering young pseudos who try and shock me as they always go away red in the face, with a rather profane flea in their ear.

On the plus (and I suppose minus) side, not too many people see me nowadays, so when I need to interact with the Great British public, I find myself trying to dress accordingly to fit in,hence don’t end up getting chased into the nearest train station like the Elephant Man.

Going to the supermarket?  Scruff out, keep head down.

Going dancing?  Wear something youngish, but not mutton.  Speak as quietly as possible so as not to be heard over the din, then I won’t be asked awkward questions like ‘What do you do for a living?’

Meeting people from my past?  Not that this has happened yet, but when I does I will try and concoct something that screams happiness, fulfilment, spiritual enlightenment and success which may involve smiling continuously, wearing a bindi and going barefoot whilst adorned in designer brands (from eBay) and leaping around with a bit of chiffon.

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Yesterday I went on a mad mission to hunt down a coat (more on that later) in a smart part of town, so had to raid my old wardrobe and wear something tasteful/expensive and look every inch of the ‘successful’, stylish, monied (ish) senior exec that I once was, and ended up in a very expensive shop negotiating with the sales manager over the price of a cashmere coat. Thank the Lord I bit down my urge to seal the deal and walked away with this very pricey prize, but there is no doubt that this woman totally bought my act and had no idea that I was half mad and down on my uppers, about to go on benefits.

So, to my mind, whilst someone’s appearance can be indicative of who they are, you would be a fool to put too much stock into such things, especially as despite all my different guises and ageing fizzog, no matter how I look or what I’m wearing, this picture actually illustrates who I really am.

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Think about this next time you see an ageing harridan, a fat, overprivileged banker, a hooded youth or blonde Barbie’d bimbo and try and hold back your misgivings and prejudices.  

All you are privy to at that moment in time is the vehicle, not the driver.

Let the light of who you are shine in your eyes, and judge lest no ye be judged.

Innit. 😉

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/daily-prompt-mirrored/

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PITY PARTY TRACK 16 – Maybe Tomorrow STEREOPHONICS

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So here it is, the first Pity Party track of 2014, think I did quite well to keep it in all in for this long…

Everything about this song resonates deep within me; the inexplicable dissatisfaction when everyone around seems happy, the incessant, deep, damaging introspection that has me picking away at myself like a crusty, inflamed boil, and that fucking metronome slowly ticking away the seconds of my life day after day, night after night without seemingly any end in sight.

The song is so beautiful though and the ‘hmm, hmm’ of the backing vocals are hypnotic and almost mantra like, and, hey, I’ve always loved Tomorrow.

Until it becomes today.

Because then it gets written off and my focus is again on the next tomorrow, which despite all the songs to the contrary always betrays me and comes. Much to my chagrin.

And nearly ever day I fail to make something of it.

Maybe tomorrow will be different. But it rarely is.

metronome

I’ve been down and
I’m wondering why
These little black clouds
Keep walking around
With me
With me


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BLOGGING FOR MENTAL HEALTH – LIKE MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT

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OK, we’re half way into January already, how did I miss this?!

Oh, I remember, I was kinda busy as this excerpt from my diary illustrates:

The nerve of WordPress. Inviting me to blog for Mental Health – on such short notice! Even if I wanted to go my schedule wouldn’t allow it. 4:00, wallow in self pity; 4:30, stare into the abyss; 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one; 5:30, jazzercize; 6:30, dinner with me – I can’t cancel that again; 7:00, wrestle with my self-loathing… I’m booked. Of course, if I bump the loathing to 9, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness. But what would I wear?

Actually, that belongs to the Grinch, but is remarkable similar to a day in the life of moi.

A potted (or potty?) history for you; I am HSP and have suffered from depression as far back as I remember.  In the summer of 2014 I walked out of my job after being bullied and pressured to torturous levels as a result of sharing my condition with my line manager (I know – a regular prince, hey?), promptly melted, Wicked  Witch of the West like, into a sticky, heaving puddle of self hatred and humiliation and slept for six months, then started Phoenix Flights on the stroke of midnight New Year’s eve 2012 as a way to offload somewhere safe, work through my aims and recovery for 2013, sharing what I did and how I progressed online.

I thought I’d be done in a year and come January 2014 everything would be, if not roses, on track with regards to my recovery and being able to lead a full, normal life.

Remember that saying about making plans if you want God to chortle?!

Turns out it takes longer than 12 months to unravel over half a century of sh*te, and having just being diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, my journey and my blog (now Phoenix FIGHTS) continues into 2014 with a special focus on Fear, my biggest demon of all.

Any masochists out there wanting to know anymore, please take a look at my ‘About’ and ‘Background’ pages.

All joking and banter aside, writing this has been a life line for me, as has the support and interaction from all of my treasured followers, and if anyone reading my endless gouts of runny, putrid, prolific verbal diarrhoea helps anyone other than myself, I’m profoundly grateful as you may be helping me burn off some of the truckload of hideous karma I appear to have accumulated through my lifetime(s) – every little helps!

I’ll even cancel Jazzercise for you! 😉

Keep on keepin’ on.  I have no idea what I’m doing here or what this here life thing is all about, but we count and should be valued, not just by our family, friends and loved ones, but to society as a whole, did they but know it, and if you ask me, it’s about time they did!

Big love

Sista Sertraline of the 7 Wounds x

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2014 Project.  I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

The following bloggers/blogs have taken the Blog For Mental Health 2014 pledge: 

Alice In Borderland – Blog For Mental Health 2014
Another Hope Entirely – Blog for Mental Health
Bipolar and BPD Support – Blog for Mental Health 2014
Bipolar For Life – Two Hebrew Kings Blog For Mental Health
Blogging Astrid – Blog for Mental Health 2014
BlueHero – Blog For Mental Health 2014
A Borderline Life – Blog for Mental Health 2014
A Canvas Of The Minds – Blog For Mental Health 2014 (official BFMH launch post)
CardCastlesInTheSky – Writing & Illustrating for Mental Health
Chopping Potatoes – I Pledge Awareness . . . to the Cause
Calamity Rae – Blogging for Mental Health – Complex PTSD and Poems from my Chapbook
The Cosmic Carousel – Truth, Justice, and a Pledge
a day with depression – Blog for Mental Health 2014
Depression and Bipolar Disorder – Blog For Mental Health
Diagnosably Delicious – Blog for Mental Health 2014
Disorderly Chickadee – Blog For Mental Health 2014
Echoes of My Past – Blog For Mental Health 2014
Faerie Thoughts – Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project
fractalthoughts – I Pledge to Blog for Mental Health in 2014
Girl Filth – Blog for Mental Health 2014
Half of a Soul – Life with BPD – Blogging for Mental Health 2014
How do you eat an elephant? – Blog for mental health 2014
Human In Recovery – Mentally Ill or Neurodiverse?
I Was Just Thinking. . . – Still Crazy After All These Years – BFMH 2014
Infinite Sadness… or hope? – Blog For Mental Health 2014 Four In Four
kittyramirezdotcom – Blog for Mental Health 2014
The Magical Thinker – I pledge my blog for Mental Health!
Marci, Mental Health, & More – Blog For Mental Health 2014
Maree Roche – Bipolar Blessings – Huh? No! Wait! What?!
Mental in the Midwest – blog for mental health 2014
Mindful Musings at Midlife – BLOG FOR MENTAL HEALTH 2014 PROJECT
Mom N Daughter Savings – I Fought As Hard As I Could Today, But Still Lost!
Much Madness – III – Blog For Mental Health 2014
My Mind Matters – Blog For Mental Health 2014
Naked Nerves – Blog for Mental Health 2014
No Holding Back – Lying Cold and on the Floor
Not a Punk Rocker – Going in Circles
Notes From The Devil Dollhaus – Blog For Mental Health 2014 pledge
onbeingmindful – Blog for Mental Health 2014
THE OVERCOMING – Suffering and Honesty: Blogging for Mental Health in 2014
PDX Social Safety Net – Blog for Mental Health 2014
Pieces of Me – Blog For Mental Health 2014
PixyGiggles – Blog For Mental Health 2014
Pride in Madness – Blog for Mental Health 2014
Rearranging Letters – M is for Mental Health
Return to Rural – Blog for Mental Health 2014
RosieSmrtiePants – Blog For Mental Health 2014
Sad Mum Happy Mum – My commitment to Mental Health
Shedding Light on Mental Illness – Blog for Mental Health 2014
Snake Lady Librarian – I: Blog for Mental Health 2014
Spaghetti Squiggles – Blog for Mental Health 2014!!!
Stuphblog – Blog For Mental Health 2014
Surviving Out Loud – Blog For Mental Health 2014 – Eradicate the Stigma
the tao of jaklumen – Journey out of the darkness, into the light Blog For Mental Health 2014
tara82blog – Don’t Panic! Don’t Panic!
that cynking feeling – Chilling thought
Teen writings:) – Blog For Mental Health 2014
Trauma and Dissociation – Blog For Mental Health 2014 – fighting stigma together
Under Reconstruction – Why I’m happy to talk about my depression / Blog for Mental Health 2014
UnFocused – Blog For Mental Health 2014
welcome to grand central – My Long Road Back – Blog For Mental Health 2014
Write into the Light – Pledge to Blog for Mental Health
W.T.F. – Alice In Her Own Wonderland
You Won’t Tame This Sassy Cat – Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project
Young Adult DBSA Dual Diagnosis Addison Meeting – Blog For Mental Health 2014

http://acanvasoftheminds.com/2014/01/07/blog-for-mental-health-2014/


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FEAR SMACK DOWN 1 – SPINNING AROUND

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2014 has been a wee bit tough for me so far.  Deaths, illnesses, resigning myself to applying for benefits, baking stall disasters etc., but last night I did my first Fear Smack Down of the year.  🙂

I’d pretty much spent 4 days and nights on my own, and one of my friends, whom I thought was supportive of my illness not only appears to be blanking me *, but has kind of ‘jumped in my grave’ so to speak, and snatched an opportunity away from me that I alerted her to, mug that I am.   And given she is one of my new supposedly ‘positive’ acquisitions, it feels like such a betrayal and makes me fall back into thinking that I can’t trust anyone whatsoever.

So me being me, of course, I found a polite way of saying ‘stuff it up your arse’, backed off and let her keep it.

Then last night, I was meant to be going to a Meet Up group with another new friend who, after asking if she could go with me, cancelled on me at the very last minute.

Instant karma anyone? 😉

I know, I can hardly talk, but it did drag me even further down mood wise.

And as the turbulent storm outside (and the even bigger one in my head) raged, yes, you guessed it, the urge to bail and stay glued to the sofa for the night was almost irresistible.

I did my usual procrastinations to kill time; hoovered the flat, played Scrabble online, sniped a bit on eBay, bleached my teaspoons etc. and all along the voices told me don’t go out, stay in, no one will talk to you let alone dance with you, what are you going to say when they ask you what you do, you’re too late now, look at the state of you, you’re too old for this, stay in and watch TV with us, you don’t need anyone else, you’ll only get hurt….

Then a very familiar voice cut through all of the others and said kindly but insistently ‘Don’t let the child sit in and fester!  Encourage her to go along, and remind her, she can always come home if she doesn’t like it.’

And for once, out of the hundreds of times I failed to listen to Aunty C’s sage words, I slid off the sofa, rushed to the bathroom, hurriedly daubed on some make up, pulled on a top and jeans and scuttled out into the night, muttering to myself ‘It’ll be fine, it’s loud and anonymous; take the car and if it’s awful you can always leg it home quickly.’

And do you know what?

It wasn’t fine.

It was brilliant!

As soon as I got in I spotted someone I’d met before and before I knew it, we got chatting to two other girls and I had friends, for the evening at least.

The bands were loud, too loud for us to chat too much, so I kept my anonymity, hid my nuttiness, and any nervous OTT antics were probably just perceived as me trying to be heard over the din.  The dancing was hilarious, everyone was clowning about and it was so much fun, and I span till I was dizzy, and all I could feel was joy and gratitude to God for this few hours of respite.

I also got a few appreciative looks from the opposite sex, but I avoided their eyes, ducked my head and steered clear.  Run men of Knightsbridge run, you have no idea what you’re dealing with….

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I even had a couple of cheeky ciders, both of which I am regretting this morning, but in all all?

I was glad I went.

So take that Fear!  OK you might be well up on points, and have hundreds to my one so far this year, but I warn you, this time, I’m committed to kicking your arse by the medium of dance.

So, I’m spinning around, move out of my way bitch!

Namaste x

* I could be wrong 😉

EAR WORM No. 18 THE STRANGLERS – WALK ON BY

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I heard this track on the radio today and it took me back to what, now, seems like another life.

To a life where, for a brief period of time, I felt pretty damn formidable.

I was probably at the peak of my attractiveness, my body was lithe and model like, and the boys rather predictably, didn’t seem to care about my dubious nose or big teeth anymore and I hid behind that confident veneer as if my life depended on it.

My punk/new romantic look made my aloof features an advantage, and along with my Miss Whiplash attire and liberal use of black/navy/burgundy/blood red make up atop of my pallid visage, the desired ‘Don’t touch, in fact don’t even look‘ image was complete.

I was earning decent money for once in my life so was starting to realise I didn’t have to rely on anyone anymore.

I’d broken one heart and was about to break another.

The mother who’d never loved me enough had died and after a month of pure agony, my blood was replaced by ice water, my body turned to marble and the six inch thick steel door that stayed in place for a good decade or so, slammed shut on my emotions, making me one very scary bitch indeed.

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If anyone had dared ask, I couldn’t have exactly said I was happy.

I might not have realised how fucking angry I was, but I knew that I was, for once in my life, powerful.

No one was going to make me feel bad anymore. No one was going to let me down when I needed them the most.

And, most importantly of all, no one was going to tell me what to do, least of all a man.

I realise now that under that haughty, superior exterior, I was one sick puppy. But at the time I didn’t know, and if I had known, I wouldn’t have cared.

Anyone who tried to mess with me now was going to pay.

Three decades have passed since that girl partied hard in the clubs of Manchester, outplayed the players, saw dating as a blood sport, and used her sexuality in the most harmful way possible; My looks have faded, my snarl has gone, and after years of therapy, my life blood has returned, my form softened and the steel door has gradually come down.

And for the most part, I don’t like it. And whilst I do still have a weapon, I can’t always find it, plus my challenge is to try to choose my battles and whenever possible, leave it in it’s sheath.

I’m old, unarmed and scared.

But I fight on. For that motherless, abandoned girl for whom love only ever brought insecurity, doubt and pain, who embodied a white hot fury that had to be incarcerated as it was too painful to acknowledge, and I can only hope that I can make a life where she can experience what love, security and self acceptance actually feels like.

So I resist the urge to tool up and fight.

But my God, if I could have put this brain into that young body, I could have ruled the world.

And when I hear this song, I could almost be there, striding into a club, in spike heels, vinyl trousers, flicking my burgundy hair with an insouciant smirk across my plum stained lips.


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TOMORROW

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I am invited to a funeral tomorrow.

It’s the funeral of my friend’s mother, a lovely lady whom I met only once, but whilst seriously physically debilitated, kindness, fun and mischief shone out of her eyes, and I liked her hugely and immediately, along with her husband who is an absolute sweetheart.

But one meeting does not constitute a friendship so I was surprised to receive the invitation.

And I was torn.

Torn between the fear of going into a church and sitting through a funeral and torn between wanting to support my friend.

So I told her ‘If you need me there so support you in any capacity, I’m there.’

But she said ‘Sista, I’ll be in my own world tomorrow and surrounded by my family, and we will support each other but my Father wanted to invite you, so you are more than welcome to come.’

Was surprised and touched to hear that, but am guessing he was moved by the message I sent him about his wife now being with God.  I hope this is true, and that someone was there to greet her, but if nothing else, I know she is at peace and free of the shackles of her broken down physical form which must have at times felt like a prison.

But I won’t be going.

Because I’m frightened.

Frightened because I do not belong.

Frightened to talk to strangers who may ask who I am and what I do (nothing being the answer to both questions).

Frightened because I don’t like funerals.  I have been to too many of my own over the last 50 years.

Frightened because I’m worried I might cry, and if I cry I might never stop.

Because it’s all there, bulging away inside me, tightening my chest, blocking up my throat and causing my head to pound.

A lifetime of tears that I am still unable to shed.

Plus I’m not exactly friends with the Man Upstairs right now and I’m frightened that if I enter those hallowed walls that I’ll start to burn and crisp like Damian from the Omen in a hot deep fat fryer, and my friend and her family can well do without having to scape a soggy, weeping, totally overcome Sista off the floor with a dustpan and brush, or put out my blazing, cursing form with the church fire extinguisher or drive a stake through my heart at the alter.

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But clearly I need to cry.  I rarely cry.  And I think that was why I didn’t get that Sexual Abuse Helpline job all those months ago.

But I absolutely hate it.  I’m incapable of shedding tears without feeling like a weak, vulnerable loser.

But maybe I’ll watch The Green Mile or something, and offload in the privacy and comfort of my own home.  But what I won’t do is make a complete show of myself and embarrass my friend at the funeral of that lovely lady.

So I tell her that I won’t be attending and immediately feel like a pathetic coward and a bad friend.

And then a light came on in my head.

I can give them the cakes and bakes I made for the market!  And when my friend accepts this offer with gratitude I feel that I have at least done something to make their day easier.

This is my second day at home in isolation.

I could, should, go out and do something with the day, which is already half over.

And do what? Spend money I haven’t got?  Walk in the freezing cold for the sake of walking? Go to the cinema on my own?

No way.  I’ll do something tomorrow.  Honest I will, Guv.  But today, I’m doing fuck all.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I loves ya, tomorrow, thank God you’re a day away.


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BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT

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You might remember that business opportunity I was given a week or so ago?

Well I decided to go for it.  Prepped up my little kitchen, went to the cash and carry, spent an entire day baking goodies, bagging up treats and digging out items to decorate our stall and barely took a minute to eat, or more importantly, drink anything, then packed up my car with delicious things, had a bath and a nice glass of red wine to ensure a good night sleep to prepare me for the early start and busy day the next morning.

Unfortunately for me it didn’t quite work out that way.

Most of you know that whilst I’m not a big drinker, I haven’t totally eschewed drinking alcohol on top of my meds, and I generally get away with it.

This night I didn’t.  I can only assume that I was totally dehydrated, as the wine clashed horribly with my medication and I spent the whole night having crazy trippy dreams.

I won’t go into too much detail as I know how boring other people’s dreams tend to be, but I promise you, this was anything but boring. The overlying theme was my being worried about sleeping through my alarm and I kept finding myself in strange landscapes with strange people, trying to find my way home before the alarm went off.  The dream also featured me in various states of undress, insects that stung and laid their eggs on me and when I pulled out the stinger, whole grubs and bugs would ooze out and rapidly be replaced by others, all strung together, Lionel Blair, of all people, kept saying strange things to me, I couldn’t snap the string, I wandered from bus stop to train station, there was a weird keening in the background, and then an eerie cat, who turned out to be a real cat, my Dexter, woke me up glowing fuzzy and green in the dark.  Then I fell asleep again and when I woke up the next time the alarm had gone off and I felt like total dog shit.

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I tried to get out of bed and was nearly sick, and when I closed my eyes again, Lionel was back grinning maniacally saying ‘It’s the schtick.  The SCHTICK’ like a mentalist again, so suffice to say, I didn’t trust myself to drive, let alone work on a market stall, so in the end, I had to let down my friends, and bail.

To say I was devastated was an understatement.

How unlucky can one person get?

I had rung in sick in my last job so many times, that the sense of failure from having to do it for something I genuinely wanted to do for a living came flying back in glorious technicolour.  Plus I had let down my friends, and what the hell was I going to do with all the food?

Then I remembered that later that afternoon I had to go and talk to someone about claiming benefits as my financial situation is getting quite scary, and I thought I maybe I had found meaning in what had happened.

Maybe I wasn’t meant to start trading until after my therapy?

Mind you, if this was a message from God/Buddha/the Universe/Frith, I’d much sooner they’d told me about it before Id wasted shitloads of money, and baked up a storm, but no matter, I’ll take what i can get, I suppose.

So, come 4pm a very wan, shaky moi headed off to the advice centre armed with a load of paperwork, a bottle of water and a banana cake.  If nothing else, someone was going to enjoy the fruits of my labour and as it turned out, my volunteer Nadia was extremely chuffed to receive my RAK thank you gift too.

And whilst it makes sense for me to claim something (I’ve worked and paid taxes since i was 16 so I’m hardly a benefits scrounger) while I’m getting therapy, it was still disheartening to even consider it, so I went home tired, cakeless, and even though I’d made someone’s day, pretty downhearted.

I then received a text reminding me that I was going to see the movie ‘Gravity’ with my friend Adam that night.

In 3d.  Oh God.

The tickets were already bought, plus it was an early birthday present so I had to go, but believe me, I still felt very spaced out (pardon the pun) and probably wouldn’t even need the special glasses.

The movie, it has to be said, was amazing, especially as at times I actually felt like I was in it, with the added disadvantage of being able to empathise whole heartedly with Sandra Bullock’s character’s space sickness, as I probably felt worse than she did.  I also had to close my eyes in parts and flinched as missiles flew past my beleaguered head wishing fervently that I was at home in my bed, but I survived.

Or thought I had, as when i got home, I felt the onset of one of my mega migraine attacks, and couldn’t take drugs as I was scared of tripping again.

And when it kicked in i remember whining pathetically to God ‘You’re just a big bully!  What the fuck did I ever do to you?’

But when the pain got too much, I thought sod it, and took a Migraleve.  What the hell, it was just a mad dream, and the better of two very unpleasant evils.

Except this time the dream was extremely unpleasant.

I was back in an even more hellish version of my previous job were I was trapped in the building, everyone blatantly hated me, everyone was out to get me and my boss presided over and pushed me toward a variety of tortures and humiliations, none of which I could escape from.

Jesus Christ, I left that job 18 MONTHS AGO!  I’m OVER this!  I’ve even forgiven them, well kind of.

Why won’t it go away?

Then at around 3am, just to enhance the experience, my cats decided to play ‘Murder in the dark’.

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Then the scariest thing of all suddenly hit me.

What if all of this is random? What if there is no meaning to any of it?

What if there is no God, or if there is, he/she doesn’t give a shit and we’re all just ants at his/her sandalled feet, seconds away from being trampled on?

Or maybe all of this navel gazing has accelerated all of my bad karma, and 2014 is my Chinese Year of the Vengeful Payback Dragon from HELL?

I fell back into an uneasy, but thankfully dreamless sleep, woke at 10am bruised, sore and absolutely exhausted and staggered out to the kitchen with my sunglasses on to feed the cats and put the kettle on.

Then when I took them off and open the curtains, I realised that the agony had stopped.

And I was grateful.

But as far as figuring everything out, I don’t want to think about anything today.

This is the support I get, God, for taking a leap of faith and trying to get back on my feet? I get sabotaged?

I doubt you exist anyway, I might as well be trying to communicate with El-ahrairah, the Singing Ringing Tree or the Man in the frigging Moon, and if you do exist, you’re a mean, cruel arse and I’m not talking to you.

Right now, all I believe in is the mug in my hand, the cats at my feet and the mattress under my bum.  At least it hasn’t let me down.

Yet.

But at least it’s here and I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt.


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Good Things Come To Those Who WAIT!!

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A few days ago, a lady from my yoga class, Yvette, brought to my attention a small work opportunity for this weekend.

You think I’d be pleased wouldn’t you?  I was and I am.  But then she went and spoiled it all by saying the most heinous word the world has ever know.

That word was…..URGENT.

And at the very second that she said it, I felt my jaw clench, my bum hole tighten, my shoulders shoot up to my ears, and a shudder pass through my entire body.  My genuinely enthusiastic smile transformed into a grimace and my gaze morphed into a stony glare.

‘I’ll have to look check my diary and come back to you tomorrow,’ I replied politely as she stared back at me, genuinely confused.

‘But, I thought…..’

‘Tomorrow,’ I reiterated kindly, but firmly.

Because, I said in my head, you’re a lovely person and I certainly need to work, but let’s get on thing straight from the get go; Don’t even start that shit with me.

Because I absolutely loathe that word.  As far as I’m concerned it is worse than the ‘c’ word, because at least the ‘c’ word doesn’t pressure me with it’s last minute, unreasonable expectations and threatening implications.

Two years ago, the ‘U Bomb’ was communicated to me on pretty much an hourly basis, and could turn even the most enjoyable task into a chore in a matter of seconds, hence tended to bring out the very worst in me.

‘Urgent?’ I would say, inwardly (and outwardly) bristling, ‘what do you mean, urgent?’

‘Well, tomorrow morning latest.’

‘It’s 5pm, and I’m going out tonight!  How long have you known about this?’

‘Look Sista, I’ve only just heard, so I need you to….etc. etc….’

Right.  Delegation.  The default response for every inept middle manager who has no imagination, no idea how to manage his workload and doesn’t think ahead.  And then they can blame you if it’s late and/or not perfect.  Result!

And the thing is, everything is urgent nowadays, and no one expects to have to wait around for anything.

We are merely minutes, nay seconds away of buying and viewing movies or music albums.

We no longer have to rely on time consuming memos or pigeon post as we can reach people by email, text or Skype in a matter of seconds.

We can hold meetings with colleagues in different time zones and continents via video conferencing.

As for delaying gratification, it’s practically unheard of.

Want big, soft, chewy American style cookies?  You don’t have to bake or get someone else to bake them anymore, you can buy them pretty much anywhere.

Craving that Jambalaya you had whilst you were holidaying in the Caribbean?  Back in the day, that craving wouldn’t satiated until your next holiday.  Nowadays, no problem, pop down to M&S and they do a pretty fair version of it.

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Dreaming of that amazing Caramelised Orange Trifle you had for pudding on Christmas day?  Well in MY day you would have to wait until the next big family celebration before you’d get to eat anything that exotic again.  Nowadays?  Pop into Waitrose, it’s in their ‘3 course meal for a tenner’ promotion this weekend.

I am not entirely innocent of using the word myself you understand.

In the past, I was forced to use it on, yes you’ve guessed it, pretty much an hourly basis, usually to ensure that I hit my quarterly budget or meet deadlines that, yes, you’ve guessed it, my boss dumped on me at the very last minute.

Or to chase up some poor bastard that hadn’t paid his royalties.

So I was not only the abused, but the abuser by proxy.

So you can understand why urgent is a dirty word to me.

But I am going to come across it back out there in the big wide world, so I’m going to have to learn to deal with it.  But not by panicking, getting cranky or running around like a blue arsed fly just because someone on the other end of a phone tells me to move it.

Later that evening an email comes from Yvette, furnishing myself and another person with more information about the project.  Helpful.  What is not helpful or likely to make me co-operate is the passive aggressive nagging contained therein:

‘….and parking is situated behind the main building, but I can’t confirm until I’ve heard back from Sista………..and it will be an excellent opportunity but until I hear back from EVERYONE I can’t book the space…so if you can ALL come back to me as a matter of URGENCY…..

Grrrrrrrr….

I’m a whisker away of telling her to shove it.

But I chill, and reply with dignity, decorum and above all, confidence and firmness.

‘Hi Yvette, Happy NEW YEAR!  Thanks for letting me know about this great opportunity YESTERDAY.  As I mentioned in our conversation I have an appointment that day that I need to try and move, and won’t be able to speak to the office until EVERYONE IS BACK AT WORK, as most people won’t return from their CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS until Monday 6th Jan.  That said, I’ll call someone first thing Monday morning and get back to you lunchtime latest.  As I mentioned, if this is too late for you, please offer the space to someone else.’

The underlying message?

Your lack of organisation or forward planning is does NOT dictate my working day.  I’ll move as swiftly as I can and give you a estimated response time which I will keep to, and If that’s not good enough?  Jog on.  Oh and another thing? Don’t even think about nagging me on an hourly basis for it, as that shit will only bring you heartache, OK?

As, the only thing worse than someone putting urgent on you is the person who gives you a deadline then keeps defaulting on it, and lets you down, day after day after day.  I have a friend who does that and it drives me absolutely crazy!

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand that we all have days when there is a genuine reason to chase people up for something or other.  But as far as I’m concerned they are like Get Out Of Jail Free cards or Gold Tickets, insomuch as I’ll let you have one, but if I were you, I’d keep it for genuine emergencies, as once it’s gone and you keep crying wolf?

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You won’t be put to the front of the queue but escorted to the back.

The same goes the other way.  i won’t use the ‘u’ word, but will ask for the earliest possible response time and either accept it or go somewhere else.

Because few things are genuinely urgent.

  • A kid accidentally swallowing a bottle of pills needs urgent hospital attention, as does someone with their arm or leg hanging by a bit of tendon.
  • Someone waiting for the sale of their house and the purchase of another to complete in tandem is allowed to get a bit hysterical.
  • If there is a plane or train crash, the when ringing 999 the word urgent is an appropriate one to utilise.

Everything else?  Not so much.

The next time you think something is urgent, ask yourself this.

  • Will the world stop turning on it’s axis?
  • Will the sky fall in?
  • is anyone in danger?
  • Will someone die?
  • Is someone hurt?
  • Will someone lose the roof above their head?

No?

Well get a grip on yourself, be patient, go elsewhere for whatever it is you are waiting for or accept that you won’t be able to do what you need to do on time, as if that’s the case, stressing out will not change anything.

And if it’s your boss who’s putting this shit on you?

Find a better job with a half way talented line manager.  I wish I had done it years and not months ago.

And don’t nag!  For me nagging is the realm of the powerless.  If ever I found myself doing it in my previous lives, I’d always try and turn it around so that I could take back my power and act without the help of the naggee.

EXAMPLE

My ex once volunteered to drive me to my dance class that evening, but when the time came, he was engrossed with something else. Then time marched on, it got later and later, it was too late to get the tube, so I begged, cajoled and pleaded with him to get a move on, and he utter the immortal words:

‘For God’s sake, stop nagging woman!’

Oh dear.

Nagging, I thought?  That’s not good.  How can I rectify this?

His wallet was on the hall table, so I took a £50 note out of it and got a taxi there and back.

Suffice to say, he didn’t pull that stunt on me again.  EVER.

Good things come to those who wait, my friends and the nicer and more reasonable you are to deal with, the quicker you’ll be responded to.

Namaste x