Phoenix Fights

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


SONGS OF ANGER 2 – WHAT IS IT ABOUT MEN – Amy Winehouse #bullying #intimidation

Having spent the last hour on Twitter ranting furiously at people bemoaning the sacking of (ex) BBC bully Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, I realised that something had been triggered for me personality, so decided to take a deep breath, make a soothing mug of tea and figure out what was really bothering me.

So there I was cuppa in hand, pondering my emotions carefully and it turns out that…



It’s definitely Clarkson.

Theres nothing I hate more than a bully.  Especially in the workplace.  In a position of authority.

As I was at the mercy of one of them for about 3 years.


Plus, it’s a shame I didn’t know that punching someone out in the workplace was OK, as I’d have had a field day on my exit interview 😉

Then this song came to mind, Amy Winehouse’s sublime ‘What is it about Men?’.

More to the point, what is it about me and men?

This might sound like an obvious thing to say, but I’m not good with shouty, violent, threatening men.  Right, so I don’t suppose anyone is, but my reaction tends to be different to most people’s when confronted by them.

Instead of being afraid and cautious around them, I want to get in their face and scream at them.  Mainly I suspect it’s because I was too small, weak and vulnerable to defend myself properly when I was a kid.  it’s put me in danger a number of times, but when the volcanic rage erupts I don’t tend to care about the consequences.

Sertraline helps. Thank God.

Something else added fuel to the fire the other day, and whilst I didn’t think it affected me at the time, I suspect I’m pretty tense about it now.

To cut a long story short, the other day in group therapy, one of the guys pulled out a knife.

Shocking, I know. That said, I immediately recognised that he was doing it for attention.  Whilst always very needy and attention seeking, he is generally good natured, but this time I sensed his moodiness and resentment when we all were sat in reception waiting to be picked up by our shrink.

Anyway, this guy drinks green tea (or something suspiciously murky anyway) and always adds a slice of fresh lemon to his brew whilst we’re getting settled, but to date a knife has never emerged.  The other day however, he rather theatrically took out an entire fruit, produced a serrated paring knife and proceeded to carve a slice mid air, smirking arrogantly whilst doing so.

A couple of the younger girls looked pretty unnerved, as they have also been abused in the past, and, by all accounts this guy once killed someone, but I was never going to give him the satisfaction of showing any kind of reaction whatsoever.

My suspicions that it was all for show were confirmed because even when he had his segment, he kept it out and at one stage even held it between his teeth.

The shrinks froze.

I glanced at him in derision.

What the fuck are you doing?’ I asked, ‘you look like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean.’

He grinned knowingly ‘Ah sorry about that!  I just have to have lemon in my tea!  I wasn’t about to go on a, um, another killing spree…’

‘Well if you are, feel free to start with me.’

He then put it away and we continued with the session, but every now and then he’d punctuate the conversation with some aggressive aside or comment.

Afterwards the girls were concerned, as he has kicked off in therapy before (never in front of me) but I tried to reassure them.

‘Don’t worry, it’s all for effect’ i soothed, ‘he’s just trying to get attention.’

But over the last few days, I’ve become more and more angry about it, and I just know I’m going to confront him next session.

When I started group therapy, I was under the impression that all the participants were female, so when i turned up for the first session and saw two men sat there, I was not comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong.  I get on with blokes very well socially and as friends.  I’m just not good at showing any vulnerability in front of them.  But I gritted my teeth and got on with it.

And now, six months later, one guy has issues with me, and gives me sly little passive aggressive digs because I don’t want to have contact with him outside the sessions (something the girls have no problem with).  And now this little turd thinks he can bully us into indulging his demands for friendship and love, facilitate his excessive neediness by tolerating the the long, boring, droning monologues that he foists on the group.

And more and more, I feel that I can share less and less because of the male presence.

It’s not like I didn’t try, but me, men and trust go together like lemons, salt and paper cuts.

I could let this slide, of course.

I could accentuate the positive as another song goes.  Make lemons into lemonade and try and give him the attention he so craves.

But right now I’m more inclined to stick those lemons in the freezer, and when they’re hard, take them out and peg them at his stupid, smirking fizzog next time he pulls a stunt like that.

I hoped it might do me good to work with both sexes, but it’s honestly not working out that way.

How the hell am I supposed to build solid bridges with my male family?  Accept authority from a male boss?

Let a man access my body, and more frightening still, my heart again?

I know I have to speak up, but if I do I’m going to try and address it with integrity but there is no point of me attending these session if they’re making me worse.

It’s a lonely place without intimacy with beings that make up half the population.

Men, I miss you; do you think we can work this out?

‘It’s bricked up in my head, it’s shoved under my bed
And I question myself again: what is it ’bout men?
My protective side has grown a mile wide
And I question myself again: what is it ’bout men?

What is it about men?





You know what they say about old habits dying hard?

Well it’s a cliche for a reason.  And it’s especially hard to challenge them when they’ve been over a half a decade in the making.

As anyone who follows this blog will know that I haven’t always had a great relationship with my family, and you will also understand why.

But of late, my relationship with my brother James is OK.

Distant, even more distant since I’ve been in financial dire straights, but whenever we see one another we’ve managed to have a nice time and while away a couple of hours or so before the other has to go home.

And I’m regularly invited to spend Christmas with him and his family.  Mainly because it’s traditional, and the fact that I’m ‘Aunty Present’ and, until this year, brought lots of goodies for all to enjoy.

But apart from that, my presence isn’t really required.  Oh I’m welcome, in theory, to go spend the weekend with them.  Subject to approval and with the proviso that I might need to entertain myself as they all go about their business, and treat me with about as much interest as the family gerbil (who eventually died of starvation/dehydration, poor thing).


And if there’s a formal family thing with long lost rellies, I’ll be required to rock up, despite the fact that the venue is about 400 miles away from my home (and 40 from theirs) and that I have to spend a total of 8-9 hours on the motorway, and money (that I haven’t got) to eat at a shit restaurant whose sole USP is the ability to acquire faux fillets made up of re-consituted poultry skin/scrag/ligament mush that has been combined with water and additives, moulded, frozen, defrosted, cooked and presented to the unsuspecting diner as a chicken breast, smothered in some kind of white jizzy goop that itself masquerades as some kind of cheese sauce. With chips of course.


Other than that, I am apparently obsolete.  Peripheral.  Forgettable.

And every now and then I’ll see evidence on Facebook or via some other social media platform that he and my cousin and their respective broods have all got together at each others homes or gone on some jolly outing or other without inviting me.

And it hurts.


When we were kids, my brother hated me (and in turn I hated him back), and turned to our cousin (who lived walking distance away) for succour and companionship which is probably one of the reasons that I’m the fuck up of the family and he isn’t.  Because even though our shared childhood was not the best, our mother loved him and he had Jack, so he was never alone.  Being the same sex, there’s was a natural bond, as was the habit of turning on me, an obvious target, to mock, jeer at, and pick fights with.

Me?  I had no one, not even a best friend once I turned geek, and I have forever felt like I am on the outside looking in.

And neither Jack nor James were ever encouraged to include or be kind to me.

They were lads.  And lads didn’t play with girls oop North, so they were let off the hook so to speak.

And as we came into our teens, and I strived to find some tribe to fit in with (be it mod, punk, new romantic), this was an endless source of amusement for this smug twosome, who, yes you’ve guessed it, went to uni, found a lovely inclusive brainbox peer group to join, and more life long friends to bolster their egos and emotional security.

I however flitted from one incarnation to another, and do so to this day.

Because I have no real clue who I am.

Over the years, I did form something of a relationship with my cousin, and once upon a time you could have called us ‘close’ as he would tell me things he couldn’t share with Jack, but when my brother and I fell out for 3 years, I was left in no doubt where I was in the family hierarchy.

No I couldn’t come for Christmas, Easter or Bank Holiday.  What were my motives?  Was I doing this to wind up Jack?

They could see me in March, some random weekend or a cold wet day in January; wouldn’t that be special?


And after Jack and I eventually made up, I was no longer the black sheep of the family hence James welcomed back into the fold and was invited to everything!


Except I was indignant, bruised and in no mood to be humoured.

Nowadays everything has gone back to normal and I’m back on the outside looking in.  And today I made one last try to connect with my family, find out when the next big hoo ha would be, and get myself invited to it via my sister in law.

She sounded defensive and perplexed.

‘Why do you ask?  When?  What are you thinking?  Here, Jack’s, yours, somewhere in the middle?’

(In other words ‘What do you want from us exactly? Anyone would think you were family or something!’)

‘I honestly don’t mind Jen, I just thought it would be nice for us to all catch up sometime.’

‘Well Jack and James have just been away, we’re off doing something else Easter with my sister (oh the irony), then I’m back at work, Jack is blah blah blah……….but maybe we’ll catch up in August 2020 when I might be in London?’

Hey ho.  After over half a decade of being second tier, why did I ever think it might change?

It would be easier to get Clark Kent and Superman in the same room at one time.

I get it.  i genuinely do.  Spending time together for them comes naturally.  They’re more brothers than Jack and I were ever siblings. They both have kids.  They live quite close to one another.  Lots of their get togethers are probably arranged quite spontaneously.

I, however, take effort.  Not to mention that fact that I’m a little….


….and unpredictable nowadays. What if I rained on their lovely fraternal parade?

As for the bullying, I suppose kids are kids, and they didn’t know how damaging an effect their behaviour would have on me.

Boys will be boys.

And lets face it they weren’t the only ones who picked on me.  Once you’re being victimised it’s like you send out a high pitch signal that unleashes the dogs of war onto you.  It’s like those bastards can sniff the vulnerable out and let rip knowing you will take their shit.

To this day though, any word or story of bullying is guaranteed to get my hackles up.


In a recent episode of ‘The Gift’ one man, Jon, who bullied and beat up on another boy, Simon, at school for 10 years, suddenly got guilt pangs and sought him out via the show to apologise, wanting forgiveness.

90% of the British public were touched by his efforts and sniffled sentimentally into a Kleenex.

The other 10% (yes, me included) wanted his blood.

I’m sorry but who the actual fuck did he think he was to seek Simon out demanding forgiveness?  What brought on this sudden retrospective stab of conscience?  Why should he be made to feel better about his vile behaviour?

Miraculously though, when they finally came face to face on a pier, Simon (a big bruiser of a man nowadays) to my huge disappointment, didn’t smash him in the face, pick him up by the scruff of his neck, shake him like a rag doll and throw him into the sea.

He forgave him.

Jon, you are lucky it wasn’t me you sought pardon from as I’d have kicked you so hard that your balls would be jostling for position alongside your tonsils to this very day.


I have such a long way to go.

Have I forgiven my tormentors, including John and Jack?  I thought I had.  But clearly it goes so much deeper than that.  And maybe they sense this.

Time to stop misting up that window and pawing at that door.

It was never my place to begin with.

Aunty C and the shrinks are right.  My sense of home and belonging has to start with me.

Back to the drawing board.

Namaste x




I don’t know if any of you watch British Celebrity Big Brother, but this year has been a doozy.

The ‘housemates’ include hateful panto-esque Twitter villainess cum rent-a-gob Katie Hopkins, RuPaul muse and radio host Michelle Visage who was ‘weaned off the teats of drag queens’, 80’s soulster Alexander O’Neill, plastic surgery casualty Alicia Duvall, creepy ‘comedian’ and actor Ken Morley, serial womaniser and reality TV star Callum Best, and hyperactive Baywatch star Jeremy Jackson.

And whilst this colourful cast of characters might not sound like a sure in recipe for trouble to you, this shit has gone nuclear.

We’ve had sexual inappropriateness, racism, sexual harassment, bullying, sleep deprivation, bitch fights, al fresco simulated solo sex and a bunny (ornamental not real) beheading, and I’m not gonna lie, it has been riveting viewing.

But there comes a point where someone has to cry ‘Enough!’ and pull the plug on this shit.  Or at the very least remove the walking wounded.

Ken and Jeremy are gone (see and the tabloid press for info), but undoubtably the ‘star’ of the show has been the increasingly dysfunctional, terminally annoying Perez Hilton and he is still cavorting around the old town of Elstree tormenting everyone in sight in the hope that he can be booted out and get to keep his no doubt exorbitant fee.

He even goaded Alexander into calling him a ‘f****t’, something I doubt he would have done had he not being pushed, but the house now consists of the participators, the interferers (yes I’m talking about you Nadia Sawalha), the ‘I’m keeping well out of this shit’ers, and, as of Friday night, unlikely peace envoy, model and business woman Katie Price.


Sadly though, I think it’s gonna take more than magic wand wielding KP in fairy godmother mode to fix this cursed domicile.

She may get a gratis polite 12-24 hours if she’s lucky, then once again, all hell will break loose, as Perez has alienated nearly all of his housemates now, and having heard the cries ‘Get Perez Out!’ from the general public that were meant to love him, he wants out.  And he ain’t going empty handed.  And Big Brother/Endemol have no intention of paying and releasing him, not until they allow him to push himself to the brink, crank the viewing figures up even more, giving them the opportunity to milk this demented cash cow to the max.

The trouble is, to my mind, this boy is crack’in up and he’s putting money before his mental health and the retention of the last shreds of his dignity.

Plus, after days of being on pretty much her best behaviour (well for her anyway), the repellent, sadistic bully Katie Hopkins is out of her box, has tasted blood and runs around nipping at his heels trying to expedite his downfall, kidding herself that this will raise her profile and likeabilty with the British public, whilst he bellows at her bull like, as they reenact some particularly dark episode of ‘Cow and Chicken’.

This is not entertainment.

It’s ugly and by watching it we are mocking the afflicted.

Hell, even Danny Dyer has dismissed it on Twitter as being ‘Like a snuff movie.  Or holding hands with Max Clifford.’

And it brings back painful memories of my own psychological downfall back in 2012.

Whilst I was not working in the same kind of environment as Perez or getting anything like as much exposure, I could feel people watching me like I was a soap opera on legs.

And whilst I did not seek expose my condition or deliberately draw attention to myself, the longer I stayed, the more the gossip fed mob goggled at me, in the office, in the cafe, in the lift, hotly debating what might happen next.

And whilst I wasn’t holding out for a pay out, a pay out would have to be negotiated in order for me to survive post expulsion.

And whilst I didn’t walk, because I was determined to be heard, I could have.

And maybe, just maybe I should have.

It’s hard to determine whether I did the right thing for myself back then.  I believed I behaved with dignity and hung on because I was not going to be intimidated and forced out by a huge American company who had allowed me to be bullied and mistreated and I was determined that, even if I did not survive the outcome, that this would never happen to anyone else after I was gone.

However the 18 month battle invariably left me with scars that are today, nearly two years later, still scabbing over and not yet healed.

Which is why I implore Perez Hilton’s advisors to bust him out of there, fee or no fee, before he does something even more stupid to himself.

Which is why I implore Big Brother/Endomol to meet Perez and his people half way and facilitate his release because the quicker he comes out, the less damage limitation he’ll have to do and his career, in the US at least, may survive this ugly, humiliating charade.

Because nervous breakdowns do not great headlines make.

Suicide even less so.

Think about it Endomol, do you really want his blood on your hands?

Or, if I really want to reach you where you live, do you really want the doors to that house to close for the final time this month?

Who wins?

You decide.





It seems to me that going past the dreaded 50th birthday landmark makes people want to start digging around in their past to find out what has happened to whom, on a far too regular basis.

And if I were to hazard a guess why this phenomenon takes place, I would say that the unfulfilled, regretful and bored empty nesters tend to do this because they want to either compare themselves with their old schoolmates, hook up with some old boyfriend/girlfriend, or simply try and recapture their long lost youth by reminiscing about the old days.

Those of you who know me may have gathered that I’m not a fan of anything or anyone from my past re-emerging into MY present, uninvited.  They’d be about as welcome as one of my forty odd year old stools popping up in the loo, Mr Hanky stylee shouting ‘Howdy ho!  Guess who?’  

Ever the bridge burner, cutter offer and drawer of lines under the past, I like to past lovers/friends/employers to remain in the parallel universe they occupy and stay the hell outta Sistaville.

They have their country, I have mine.

They have their county, I have mine.

They have their borough, I have mine,

They have their street, I have mine.


OK, so I do know that I’m rapidly running out Sista only territory (hence my fondness of pseudonyms), and I don’t have any lifelong friends so I’m pretty lonely hence it might not have been the best life coping strategy to adopt, but it’s a bit late for this old bitch to learn new tricks.

Well, that’s debatable I guess as ‘networking’ <shudders> is something I’m going to need to embrace moving forward according to the dreaded ‘book’, but what I didn’t welcome or accept is an unwelcome blast from the past knocking on my cyber door the other day.

Some woman whose name I’d never heard of tried to ‘friend’ me on Facebook.

I didn’t recognise her face, we didn’t have friends in common, so I was about to reject her and move on, when I noticed that she used to go to the same school as me.

Curious I had a look at her profile with something akin to dread churning in my stomach.  Of course I recognised the Christian name, but this was 40 years ago, so how was I supposed to know if it was her or not?

Then I saw the old 70’s photo of her family that she must have scanned and uploaded, and immediately knew it was Sally B.

The only close friend I had in my childhood.

The very same friend who fucked me off when I started getting bullied and picked on at senior school.

Well she actually picked a fight with me over a necklace but we both knew that she manufactured it as an excuse to break away from me, or only see me when her popular new friends weren’t around.  What she didn’t bank on though was my uncanny ability to totally cut off from people and, if encountering them again in public, being able to look through them as if they were a pane of glass and/or a piece of shit in the street.  And given that I was geeky and she was cool, Sal was very indignant about my coldness, so sent her younger brother out to beat me up, and he kicked the hell out of me.

We had been friends since we were about 6, which is pretty much a lifetime when you are 12 years old, so the break up felt like the end of the world, as it was the ultimate betrayal and indeed full confirmation to me that no one, but NO ONE could be trusted.

Over the years I got my own back.

I got contact lens and bleached my hair.  I became skinny, sexy and cool.  I had a very hot boyfriend.  I hung out with a band.  I moved to London.  I brought home an even hotter boyfriend.  I had expensive clothes.  I went to all the best clubs in London.  I travelled the world.  Well I got beyond Costa del Chipshop which is probably more than she ever did.

And whilst I don’t remember her seeing me in all my punky/new romantic, trendy, hot other half glory, Shitsville was a small town and I’m pretty damn sure she got to hear about it all.   Especially when I turned up to mass one Easter, Siouxie Sue’d up to the eyeballs, in leathers with my hot Italian Catholic BF (his idea, not mine) and stunned the entire congregation.

So fuck her and market stall clothes, her chavvy boyfriend, her lame job and predictable, shitty small town life.

As the years have gone by, whilst I still have some family oop North, I rarely find myself in that neck of the woods, so I pretty much forgot all about her.

Until now.

And before you say it, I KNOW.

We were only kids.  And kids are horrible.

But being a fucked up, BPD, revenge loving bitch, I find to my surprise that I still hate her.  And her horrible family.  Just looking at that photo makes my lip curl with contempt.

And as I scrutinise her profile I see she is friends with a few of the other thuggish bitches that made my life an utter misery all those years ago.  And I smile cruelly to myself at the way they look, the clothes they are wearing, the jobs they are (or mainly are not) doing, and inwardly jeer at their appalling grammar, shit taste in music, middle aged outlook and the fact that yes, they are still living in Shitsville and probably will for the rest of their days.

And I wonder what the fuck she thinks we have to say to one another after all these years.  Does she remember what she did? Is she sorry?  What she couldn’t possibly know is that she was my first ever severance.  And whilst over the years, I could do it with nary a flicker of emotion, as we all know, the first cut is the deepest, and losing the only person on the same wavelength as me at such a tender age was like losing a limb.

Severance Leg

So, to be perfectly honest, whilst I’d like to say I’d rise above it, I don’t know if I’d be able to stop myself from being horrible to her if we did enter into some kind of dialogue.

So much for my Tutu approved Forgiveness course.  Sorry Des 😦  It is pretty apparent to me now, like diet and exercise, I am going to have to work on this deeply challenging skill for the rest of my life, because I hate how this ugly emotion makes me feel inside.

So for now, I think it best to ignore her and move on, as, if I can only look back in anger, it’s best not to look back at all.

‘And so, Sally can wait….’

Sorry…couldn’t resist that…. 😉

Namaste x



Most nights, I don’t get to sleep until the wee hours, and lay twisted up with fear of what the following day might bring.

‘Wooooo,’ howls my hypothalamus from a place where it is seemingly Halloween all year round, ‘beware sleep as it will only deliver you to the new day, where you will be eaten by a sabre toothed tiger, trampled by a mammoth or burned on the pyre by the rest of your tribe. You know they hate you.  They’re talking about you now you know; I can hear them. They hate your new puma skin and say your cave’s a mess.  Woooo….’

Hypothalamus, it’s not the stone age anymore, you twat. I’m lying in a bed, here?!

‘Woooo, do not close your eyes, there is still much danger,’ it insists, getting into it’s stride ‘those girls at school can’t wait to beat the shit out of you, and they’ll be there in assembly, right behind you, spitting in your hair and jabbing you in the back with a ruler, then they’ll get you at break time.  And there’s no point in running home and expecting sanctuary ‘cos your Mum with scream at you, make you feel like shit for being so weak, and send you right back, and then….’

Hypothalamus, I’m 50! I don’t go to school anymore, and my Mum is dead! What the fuck is your problem?

‘Wooo,’ it insists ‘beware the night, as it will surely bring the day where….’


Where what? I sleep late, stay in, eat too much, lie on my bed with the cats and watch ‘Real Housewives’?

It is silent for a while but then creeps back just as I am nodding off.

ooooooooo,’ it keens softly only adding to it’s menace, ‘you know that you can’t stay in that cave forever.  And when you go out, such dangers and cruelties await you, the like of which you have never seen. You think you had it bad as a teenager? Just wait and see what the world has in store for an out of work, menopausal depressive with a bad reputation and a mob of ill wishers just waiting for you to trip so that they can fall upon you, spit in your face and tear your throat out. Night, fucking, night.’

No one can say that the ancient brain is rational, but in the cold, wee hours of the morning, it ain’t half convincing.

But I think I have turned a bit of a corner this morning.

I think.

I’m not going to promise anything or make any elaborate claims, as you’ve heard it all before, but I do feel that I finally know what has been going on for me. As in someone who has actually been slapped around the face, rather than remembering it in the long distant past or fearing it in an uncertain future.

And I’m hoping it might have woken me up.

My cheek stings, my neck aches and a white handprint emblazons my cheek.

But the day is fine, the cats are purring, and as yet, I see no monsters out there.

Only trees, people and the occasional fox slink past, it’s fur burnished orange in the Winter sunlight.


Namaste x




There’s a joke that comedian Harry Hill used to tell about his Nana, and it went something like this:

‘Ah, my Nana she’s always knitting.  She sits in her favourite armchair and she goes <miming the actions, elbows bent and jiggling furiously> “Knit, knit, knit!  Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit!”.  Then one I day I said “Nana, you might want to try it now with wool and needles?”’

OK, so you had to be there…..

But that’s been me of late; head bent, arms out, knitting away furiously, at top speed, counting all the knits, cables and pearls in my head in order to drown out those voices of doom whispering in my ear.

And because they keep trying to break my concentration, I keep going wrong.

In fact, I’ve had to unravel half of this wretched garment at least three times, because I didn’t pay enough attention to or fully understand the instructions, and each time I go wrong, I groan, pull out reams of stitches swearing profusely, then stuff it back in it’s bag before going to the kitchen to seek comfort in a soothing cup of tea or glass of wine.

But I always come back.

I don’t quit.


Because no one knows that I keep messing up.

No one can see.

Or judge.

Anyway, this bloody yarn cost a fortune and I’ll be blowed if I let a bit of applied mathematics bamboozle me 😉

It’s the same with baking.  I’ll have a crack at something, it usually turns out, in which case I’ll try and make it even better next time, but when it doesn’t I’ll figure out what went wrong and try again until I get it right.

In this instance however, it’s also a good way of procrastinating and avoiding doing something I should have done weeks, no, months ago if I’m being honest.

I have an test I need to pass in order to move my business venture along, but for some reason I’ve done everything I can to avoid it.  I doubt it will be that difficult, and if I study enough I should easily pass it, but they prefer that you do it at a centre with other people rather than online.

Other people who’ll find out how thick I am because I’ll get all nervous and get it wrong.

Other people who’ll judge me.

And find me wanting.

And laugh at me behind my back.

I don’t like being tested.

I’ve bailed on practically ever course I’ve ever embarked on and if I’ve managed (or had) to see something through to the bitter end, I’ve put very little effort into studying for it and just about scrape through.

In the workplace if I had to present or take conference calls, I would need beta blockers to quell the panic and stop me shaking as everything I ever knew about the subject would fall through a trap door in my head and I’d stumble and fumble over every sentence like an eejit.

It’s extremely annoying and frustrating and I had no idea why it kept happening to me.

Until now.

Today I remembered.


If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I fully remember my loveless childhood, the indifference of my parents, and the friction between me and my brother, but today it hit me how much it all affected my confidence, hence my education and career.

It wasn’t so much that my parents didn’t really care how I did at school, it was more how little they praised me when, by some miracle, I did achieve anything academically or otherwise.  I grew up in a working class town oop North where praise was hard earned and for the most part, everyone had to pretend to be humble therefore most kids weren’t told how wonderful they were in case they ‘got above themselves.’

Mine weren’t any different.

But that was only part of the problem.  The biggest Jeff Goldblum sized fly in the ointment was how i was treated by the male members of my family.  Especially my brother.

I want to make a point here that, for once, I’m not judging him, because when I look at it objectively, he too was a product of his environment and as a typical boy and a consumate tease, he did everything he could to put me down, wind me up and make me cry.

And because I was (and am) HSP and had no one to love and reassure me the way I needed, or tell me I was anything other than shit, whist I gave as good as  got, I believed everything he ever said to me.

And because I didn’t take it well, he ended up hating me and the teasing rapidly turned to bullying, sneering, mocking and violence.

Which made everything worse for both of us.

I keep walking away from writing this, and coming back to it.

Everything I did was laughable, crap, stupid, pointless, desperate, idiotic, needy, ugly, selfish and WRONG.

I could not do anything good or right in his eyes and if for one single moment I found myself thinking that I looked nice, fitted in. had done something good or had some fun, he would be lying in wait in the wings just waiting to jump out triumphantly and hoot derision at me for ever being stupid enough to believe in myself for one single second.

And because I believed him, I had no confidence, plus I looked like a classic ‘please punch me in the face’ geek, so I had no real friends to confide in.

My parents refused to take sides when we fought, and just screamed and threatened both of us.   They did nothing to stop him hitting me and left me to fight back with all my might, tears streaming down my battered face in outrage and pain.

HSP’s, more than anyone, are delicate little flowers and need a warm, nurturing, reassuring, nourishing garden plus a lot of coaxing in order to flourish and grow.

I had less of a garden and something more along the lines of a cold, dark yard made of filthy, cat piss stained concrete slabs that someone would occasionally throw the odd bottle or brick into.

But I survived.

Because I acquired and developed a number of survival/coping mechanisms in order to get me through life safely.

But there is a difference between surviving and thriving.

That said, I did learn a few talents over the last five decades. But I am only good at them because I tried, screwed up, tried again, got it right and then made the effort to hone these skills.

In sum, I allowed myself to be a bit crap at first.

But I only seem to do this when no one else can judge me.

What I really need to ask myself is does it really matter if they do?

Will the sky really fall in?

Will people really judge me as harshly as I myself tend to judge myself?

And others?

That’s the other rather nasty side effect.

In the past I have been super critical of everyone because I learned from the best.

It’s a defense mechanism you see.  If you get in there first, people will be too scared to back come at you.

But the people who lash out at others invariable do the very same thing to themselves, but even more brutally

This worked for a long time.

But as soon as the frightened, hurt child in me would dare expose her vulnerability to someone she thought loved her, then it was invariably, eventually used against me.

And my heart would harden.

And that 6 inch thick steel door would slam shut again.

And I would vow never to trust anyone again.

So I was either a snarling venus flytrap or small white daisy, just waiting to be trodden underfoot.

I suppose I should aim be more like the Rose, as I get to have a couple of nice sharp thorns if needed, but can risk coming out from under cover whatever the weather, and learn to tend my own garden rather than expect anyone else to turn up with a shovel.  And when I’ve got it how I want it, then and only then will people turn up with cuttings, seeds and the odd thermos of tea if I’m lucky.

Because it’s MY job.

Not theirs.

So I’d better get working and book that test.

Well.  After I’ve done just a few more rows of knitting perhaps….

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Suited, booted, briefcase in hand and into the car with barely a second to lose.

That bastard knew I had meetings at this show, but he deliberately made me attend this nonsensical course that has absolutely nothing to do with what I do or who I liaise with.  I know he’s doing his level to make me crack….

The traffic is terrible, and now it’s starting to drizzle.  Shit.  I bet I haven’t to an umbrella and turning up to meetings looking like a drowned rat is not an option.

Raindrops run in greasy, gray rivulets down my windscreen, and as reach to flick on the wipers, I hear my Blackberry bleep.  A message.

I blindly reach out for my briefcase with my left hand and fumble and strain to force my hand under my five year old, heavy-as-a-paving-stone laptop. Someone honks their horn.  The lights have change.  I curse and grab at my phone, then look at the message at the next set of lights.

It’s from my assistant.

‘Hi Sista, just to let you know that you left the hard copies of your presentations on your desk!  Hopefully your laptop is well charged.  Hope the meetings go well, Penny x’

Shit.  Actually it’s not that well charged and I don’t have the leads.  Better bang out those presentations quickly and not exceed 40 minutes or I’m screwed.

Another car sounds its horn.  I quickly turn on the wipers, flick on some music and move off.  I can see the venue about 3 miles ahead of me, hopefully I won’t have to queue too long for my parking spot….

B-bump, b-bump, b-bump, b-bump….

I’m aware that my heartbeat is racing at the speed of knots now, and I didn’t bring my beta blockers as I didn’t think I’d need them today.

Will I remember everything on the presentations if my laptop dies? There are six of them and they’re not very big, but I’m so detached and disinterested in their content, and I can’t seem to make myself remember anything nowadays.

They usually read something like this:

‘Launching in September, featuring some brainless bint, a hundred thousand thingummybobs, target audience mass market couch potatoes, brought from the stable of blah, blah, blah, blah….’

Seriously, who gives a toss?

And I know that I won’t get someone to pay us six figure sums to tap into what we’re selling, as do senior management because others give it away for free, but I’m being made to go through the motions regardless, and jump through hoops of fire like a good little circus pony, who will then have to explain its shaggy maned self to the big fat ringmaster at head office when the audience don’t cough up.

It’s pointless, useless, futile and everyone knows it.  But no one will admit it because they’re afraid they’ll lose their jobs.  I’ve tried, but I’m seen as a trouble maker now and everyone avoids me like the plague….

B-bump, b-bump, b-bump, b-bump….

Getting closer now, just need to follow the signs to the parking bays.  Some dickhead is trying to force his way in front of me which is, in actual fact, physically impossible.  I ignore him and move ahead.  He sounds his horn, his face contorted with rage.  Fuck you arsehole, wait your turn.

The queue is reassuringly short.  Thank God for that, just a couple of cars ahead of me, it’s ten minutes to 2 so I might still make it on time…

What?  It’s full?  It can’t be, I’ve booked in advance!

I wind down the window when I get to the info booth.

‘Hi, I’ve booked a space online, so how do I get to it?’

The guy barely looks up. ‘Paperwork?’

I fumble in my briefcase frantically.  It’s not there.

‘I haven’t got it but you’ll have my car registration on record?’

Guy smirks to himself.

‘Sorry madam, if you don’t have the paperwork, your credit car…’

‘I have my card!’

Sigh.  ‘No madam, you need all three.  I can’t help you, sorry!’

Cursing I pull away, resigning myself to finding a meter somewhere.  But there’s nothing available.

I’m in big trouble now, I have three meetings that I’m going to miss, and if I don’t get there, my hideous boss is going to have a field day.

I’m back on the flyover now and am trying to find a parking place on my Blackberry with one hand and drive with the other.

About to turn right, and….

I’m stuck!  In the box grid!  How did that happen?

I’m now stuck in my car and blocking two out of three lanes coming from the opposite direction, cars are blaring their horns at me, people are screaming abuse at me as they squeeze by, and I’m now in full blown panic attack mode, so when the lights change again, I cannot move.

Now I’m going to get arrested, punched or my car is going to get hit by something.

I am in hell.

I turn the music to drown the uproar and when the lights change again, this time hands trembling, I manage to turn the corner, pull over to the far left lane and stop.

Drivers behind me, realising that I’m not going to move again are understandably apolplectic with rage, and scream insults at me as they fly past.

I shakily turn on my hazards and put my head to the wheel, grip hard and hyperventilate.

Rock music is now playing at a deafening pitch, but I am barely aware of it.  My mouth is dry.  I cannot move for the life of me.  Something wet hits my knee and I realise that I am crying.

I don’t know what to do.  I can’t call the people I’ve arrange to meet because I know I’ll probably sound like a lunatic.  I’m too proud to phone a friend (’50/50?’ some mad voice in my head suggests), and I can’t leave the car because I can’t move.

I just can’t do this anymore.

Just then, a song starts up.  I listen.  Then listen with great intent.  And as the joyful tune permeates my frozen husk, I gradually I start to move a little and manage to lift my head from the steering wheel.

‘Hey bitch! Why don’t you tr….’

I turn to regard my latest abuser, all gold teeth and dreads, who stops his tirade abruptly on seeing my wet, mascara ruined face.

To be honest, I don’t really give a fuck about him.  He is the least of my worries.

He frowns, signals whoever is driving to stop (cue more hysterical horn sounding) and shouts something at me.

I turn my face away and fumble in my bag for tissues.

‘Hey lady!’

Suddenly he’s there at my window.  I regard him numbly.

‘Open the window!  I’m not going to nick it!’

What?  Oh, he means the car.  I wind the window down.

‘Help yourself’ I hear myself intone dully, ‘just make sure you take the phone and laptop too.’

He laughs then smiles broadly.

‘Hey!  What you listening to?  Tune!’

I peer at the music panel on my dashboard.

‘Buttercup,’ I offer, not very helpfully.

‘I love this!’ he looks me up and down ‘lookit you in yo straight, smart ass suit, who knew?’

I snuffle at this and manage a thin, watery smile.

‘You OK now?  You ignore those bastards, no one really means it, innit?’

I nod and run the back of my hand shakily across my forehead.

More horns.

‘Gotta go’ he rolls his eyes at the blasts coming from behind us, ‘Buttercup you say?  I’ll play that tonight in my set.  You take care now?’

He briefly touches my hand, winks, gets in his car, which takes off with a roar down the high street.

After ten minutes or so, my breathing is more or less normal, I’ve stopped shaking, so I carefully indicate to come out of my lane and gingerly join the gridlocked mass of traffic and slowly head for home.

That day wasn’t the first day that I crashed and burned in a public place.  But it was the first time my ass was saved by a DJ and a song.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of disco….





I just broke a negative behaviour pattern!

I was supposed to go to a lunch with my sister and cousin and their families to meet a long lost cousin oop North in about a months time, and whilst I confirmed immediately because I am at heart, a people pleaser (at least as far as my family is concerned), somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking uneasily ‘A 150 mile journey?  For lunch?!!’

OK so there is the ‘long lost’ element.  I haven’t seen this woman since I was about six years old, and she is family (by blood anyway) but, fuck me, how interesting/entertaining can she be?!  Plus out of all the family, I’m the one making the longest trip (my sister is travelling a mere forty miles) and the only one not earning at the moment. 

Plus I could always meet her another time when I’m in the neighbourhood or if she’s in London? 

Were this a weekend away, it would be a different proposition but £60 in petrol or train fares plus at least another £50-60 for lunch, taxis, tube/bus fares etc. is quite a lot for two hours in a Berni Inn style ‘restaurant’ for horse steak, limp salad and Mr Whippy style ice cream with someone I may or may not like/get along with?

Also I’ve just been invited to an amazing party the night before which I do not plan to miss, and the thought of sitting on a train or in traffic for six hours in a warm car with a rum hangover doesn’t exactly float my boat.

What I would normally do is feel guilty for being so selfish, or resentful that I was feeling pressured to go, kid myself I would go anyway, obsess about it incessantly for weeks, change my mind in my head umpteen times, and then at the very last minute I’d make up a very creative excuse and pull out, letting down and pissing off all concerned.

This was all in my subconscious of course.  Until now.

What I did today however, was to (a) recognise this behaviour (b) acknowledge what I was really feeling, (c) try to look at the situation without emotion (d) decide whether it was a realistic proposition and more to the point, whether I really wanted to go or not, (e) make a decision and (f) inform everyone about the decision well in advance of the event.

Now, on the negative side, I don’t really know how this will fly with my family.  They may think I’m selfish, lazy, mean, don’t make any effort etc. but quite frankly they were nowhere to be seen when I needed them at Easter, and I managed to manage my expectations there and not resent them celebrating without me (oh yeah, Sista?!), so I think this level of tolerance should cut both ways.

The next behaviour pattern that would kick in would be for me to get really paranoid, justify my reasons to my loved ones again and again, because I desperately want to be understood and accepted by them.  This is because I’ve always been the outsider per se, and now I’m officially the mad aunt in the attic, I feel even more vulnerable and exposed.

I have given my reasons for not attending in my email as I think that is only polite, but even now I’m worried that my sister is cross with me (just received a rather succinct text by way of reply) but I have to hold my nerve, not expose my wounded, uncertain child, and not plead and wheedle with her for understanding and support.

I am not that despised, ostracised, bullied, ugly little kid anymore.  

I do not need them to like my decision.  Only to accept it with good grace.  And if they can’t do that, there is nothing I can do about that other than to leave them stew in their own juices.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family with all my heart and for all I know they could be perfectly OK with my bailing on this lunch.  

But I didn’t have a great childhood and going back to that boat analogy, it was always as if they were all on a big luxury liner and I was either dragged behind in a battle scarred, punctured old dinghy or left behind on shore, so I never really knew (or know) my place with them.  Also, being subject to derision and mockery for decades leaves it’s scars, and I have always had to fight to be taken seriously, and will have to fight extra hard now to win their respect and show that I am fit and able to sail with or alongside them as an equal.


I.  Will.  Not.  Apologise.  Or.  Justify.  My.  Decision.  Further.

And breathe.

God that feels good!