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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BOYS WILL BE BOYS

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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).

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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.

Classy.

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.

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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?

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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!

Hurray!

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….

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….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.

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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.

<sigh…>

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

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b053kxhs

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SEVERANCE

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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.

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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

OPTIMISTIC MIX TRACK 13 – Roll With It – OASIS

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I think I’m being tested.

This morning, I received a very exciting email asking me to come into town this afternoon to discuss some paid work, and was asked to dress to impress.

It was all a bit last minute but it sounded very promising and I was most excited, and ran around like a mad woman (yes I know 😉 ), trawled through my wardrobe for the perfect outfit, washed my hair and put it up, trowelled on the make up, got done up to the nines, paid London congestion charge to take my car into the zone, so I wouldn’t get rained on, accidentally drove into a bus lane (SHIT!) because I was so nervous, paid a small fortune to a sweet genial man to park near the venue, refreshed my lipstick, took a deep breath and teetered over to the cobbles in my most elegant heels, trying not to perspire in the sunny, humid atmosphere and, for once, 20 minutes early, reported to reception.

Phew!

And as I scaled the stairs to the interview room, I imagined that this was going to be the start of a new phase for me, a successful happy trouble free period where I would get a working life back on track, earn something akin to a living, and maybe even excel at something that I found fun and exhilarating.

Then as I approached the lady in charge, and before I even took my coat off, greeted me with this immortal line.

‘Oh dear.  You’re younger than we thought. I don’t think this is the right job for you.’

And that was it. Blown out of the water in less than a minute, with a bright smile and barely an apology for wasting my time, money and energy, when they knew my age and what I looked like from the onset and still asked me to attend, plus they almost seemed to take some kind of perverse joy in seeing my face fall at being dismissed so rudely.

I did myself proud though.

I did not let those arrogant, power crazy bitches see my disappointment. Not one flicker. And if they were waiting for me to grovel or plead my case, they were wasting their time.

I gave them a dazzling smile, thanked them for their time and exited with my head held high.

And as I drove home I realised that there would potentially be many more days like this, where I would have to interact with the ignorant, and I would have to roll with the punches and gird myself against letting the disappointments in my future overwhelm me into fully blown ‘dark days’.

Sure I would learn something from today and guard against any further invitations from this company and companies like them, but to be able to do something you like (well, don’t mind too much) for a living comes at a cost and such roles are hard fought for hence competition is fierce. I have however vowed that I will never let anyone see my vulnerability again, and I plan to stick to that, no matter how people treat me.

As for those who really overstep the mark…

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Going back to today, all I can do is try and focus on the positives:

1. I look younger than my age. Apparently this isn’t perceptible from my photos, even those that have been photoshopped, but, hey, whatvs… 😉

2. I had the guts to grab an opportunity and run with it.

3. I didn’t get hit/killed when I drove into the bus lane (and hopefully won’t get fined, please God…)

4. A very handsome guy flirted with me en route.

5. My lovely friend was there to cheer me on when I told her the news, and commiserate with me when I was dumped, bless her heart.

6.  The lovely car park guy on hearing my hard luck tale, fully refunded my parking costs, how sweet was that?

7. After my Lenten deprival I can now fit into my slinky 1950’s Betty Page dress again!

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8. I have about 2 kilos of high quality chocolate squirrelled away in my kitchen!  But will only have one.  Chocolate, not kilo that is. 😉

Those Oasis boys know a bit about rolling with it, and whilst they’ve had their ups and downs, they’re still out there doing their thing.  We’re a tenacious lot us Mancs, and as Liam has frequently demonstrated, not a race to be messed with!

Play this song when you feel down and beaten, and I hope it gives you inspiration.

Namaste x

 


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Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon – LOVING THE ALIEN

What giant step did you take where you hoped your leg wouldn’t break? Was it worth it, were you successful in walking on the moon, or did your leg break?

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Space; The final front ear.  

Or something like that.  I can’t think straight right now.  And I can’t be bothered to google it.

First of all I’d like to stress that I shouldn’t be here in the first place.  I knew from the off that this wasn’t my planet.

But I stayed.  I had no choice.  I existed, I blended in as much as I could, and I survived.  I did everything I could to fit in, pass for one of you, find a tribe, belong.  But it never really worked and whether it was apparent to others or not, I have always been the loner, the odd one out, on the outside looking in.  Humans are smart and their instincts subliminally warn them not to get too close to the alien in their midst.

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‘You’re too honest/simplistic/blunt/frank/obvious/naive!’ they would chide/laugh/scold ‘That’s not how to make friends/do business/deal with confrontation/get what you want!  You have to pretend/lie/bullshit/flatter/connive/kowtow/deceive to get things done!  And if you don’t believe in what you’re doing or saying?  Fake it to make it!’

‘Um, what about being myself?’ I’d ask

‘Urgh, what are you talking about?  Who wants to see that?!  No, you need to be different things for different people in order to get what you want in this life, so how could that work?’

So I act? Every time I encounter someone new I morph into my interpretation of what they want me to be?

But i was never any good at that.

And then one day, it all got too much, and I cracked and took that giant step when I walked out of my life, cut all ties and fled back to my own space where I could escape these mad, cruel, ruthless, lying freaks; hide, lick my wounds and regroup.

With the aid of hefty doses of Sertraline of course.  My SSRI Sista.  My saviour.

Space (bass?); How low can you go?

Pretty damn low actually.  I was exhausted, battle torn and afraid.

But I had a plan, and that was to avoid the avaricious, ruthless, two faced members of this race and only mix with my true friends and the good humans.   The honest, the true, the kind, the ethical, the like minded souls, and then I could just be myself, and they’d accept and love my fucked up personality disordered alien ass and I’d be able to settle into something vaguely resembling a life until the Big Guy figures out he dropped me off at the wrong stop.

So I lowered my meds, researched jobs/courses/activities/retreats and sought out the spiritual, the creative, the kind and the ethical and tried to get back into being back on the Mother Earth ship.

Are you surprised to discover that things didn’t quite work out as planned?

Turns out the spiritual/creative/ethical/kind etc. can also betray, lie, manipulate, hurt and let you down.  So I now don’t trust anyone and I’m more alone than ever.

Mission aborted!

Take more happy pills and put your helmet on.

And now, I’m drifting, spaced, watching the minutes, hours, days tick by, vaguely aware that I’m running out of oxygen and trying to find it within me to give a shit.

And I don’t think George Clooney is coming any time soon to rescue me. 😦

So I drink, and sleep and drift and wait.

Planet earth is poo, and there’s nothing I can do.

And as much as somewhere under this cloud of chemicals I rage, seethe and despair of my pain and abandonment, I have to make myself remember.

It’s not you, it’s me.

No truer cliche has been quoth.

So I can stay like this or come down a bit, tune into my inner sat nav and try and find my way back by forgiving and making allowances for the failings and flaws of others.

But most of all my own.

So I pray.  And hope.

That my prayers may break the sky in two

Believing the strangest things

Loving the Alien

Can you hear me Major Tom?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/daily-prompt-moon-walking/

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CHRISTMAS 3 – THE FAMILY A.K.A. ‘IT’S BEHIND ME’

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This year, I decided to go and stay with my family for a few days over the Christmas period.  I don’t always go, and we haven’t always been in touch at Christmas, but this time, it turned out to be the gift that kept on giving.

In it’s way.

There has been a lot of turbulence within what’s left of my tribe, but in the last couple of years or so we have worked hard to get on and reform bonds, and for the most part, we now get on pretty well, but despite our silent resolution to shove past recriminations under the carpet, little reminders have a habit of rudely popping back up when I least expect it.

Christmas gift shopping for them has always been an anxious task for me.  Making sure I buy for all family members and their broods, buy stuff that they’ll like, take along enough food/drink goodies to please/appease and not appear like a freeloader, whilst, especially this year, trying not to break the bank and get myself into debt over a celebration that is all but over come the end of Boxing Day.

I have no kids and no partner, so there is no his/hers sharing the cost comfort zone for this little black duck, but I give because I want to, I enjoy getting it right, and don’t keep tally.

I arrived on Christmas Eve to warm hugs and appreciative noises for my home made offerings, so it was all so far so good. The younger family members swamped me with hugs, warming my physical contact starved body, and my Grinchy little heart expanded in gratitude.

We ate a light meal, then went to midnight mass, then instead of going to bed, ended up playing a board game until the wee hours.

And then as Christmas Day started in traditional drunken form with a Buck’s Fizz breakfast, I blearily watched my sister’s family’s animated antics, and I could see where my largely suppressed, more exuberant side might have come from, had I felt safe enough to express it.  Everyone pretty much laughs, banters, berates, bickers, scolds and insults another at a deafening pitch, and whilst the more negative exchanges have her casual cruelty stamped all over them, it is fascinating to me that no one takes offence for very long and all friction is usually over in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

It was very different for the two of us.

Maybe her hubby’s slightly saner, more chilled out genes makes for forgiving hearts and sturdier psyches.

And after lunch we play another round of Risk (oh, the irony), and as the competitive, combative screeching reaches eardrum popping proportions, the poor little EMO soul who is dating one of my nieces locks eyes with me in amused despair as it to say ‘Sweet Jesus Christ, is it always like this?’.

We grin amidst the pandemonium and I shrug and reply telepathically.  ‘Yes!  But it’s fun, and only for a few days.  Have another drink, it’ll help!’

Then my brother in law comes in with a tray of snacks and the grin freezes on my face.

I bought that tray over thirty years ago.

‘Sista!  It’s your turn!  Not that you have much to play for now!’ jeers my sister, and I turn back to the table and focus on getting my arse kicked for another hour or so.

And when I pass their bedroom on the way back from the bathroom, I spot my sewing basket.  The one my second boyfriend bought me for my 20 something birthday.

I avert my eyes.

I don’t want to think about this today.

I don’t.

I return to the battlefield, have another drink and forget all about it.

The next day we have the Cinderella panto to go to (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantomime).

Oh  God.

In all honesty, pantomimes are really not my thing but I didn’t want to appear anti social, so I agreed to go along.

Cue lots of ‘It’s behind you!’, men dressed as ugly sisters, women dressed as princes, z list soap actors and X factor stars, ‘Oh, no you didn’t!’, aged back in the day TV entertainers, cheesy jokes and terrible chart song covers, boob jokes, slapstick and audience participation.

The kids loved it.

It went on for three hours and I found the whole thing absolutely gruelling.  This is one of those times when I have to fight hard to look as if everything is alright, when inside I’m dying and desperate to run outside, hijack a passing farming vehicle and head off down the M40 home.  I know this sounds dramatic and to all intents and purposes I just have to stay on my seat until it finishes and not kill anyone, but my clan are now hyper vigilant to any negative changes in my demeanour, so I have to act my socks off, laugh, sing and look like I’m having a marvellous time and not wishing I was somewhere, anywhere else.

If I’d know it was going to be this grim, I’d have offered to babysit my eldest niece’s cute but snot nosed little son, or at the very least licked his sipper cup in the hope that I’d contract his cold and be allowed to stay at home and down port in front of the TV.

But I did it.

As we head home, I’m not the only one who’s drained.  The boyfriend decides to crash, so a duvet is brought down so that he’s not too cold on the sofa.

Again, I go a bit cold.  It is MY duvet that I bought for my first ever flat share in London, all those years ago.

There are also more recent things that have been left at Chez Big Sis, and never seen again.

Books, hats, earrings, and tupperware boxes that I know I’ll never get back.

And who knows, the place is such a mess half the time, it’s easy for a visitor’s odd possession to get lost in the swirling magma of shit on the floor, unnoticed until they eventually arrive home, but I know some are accidentally kept and absorbed into the household, so I am careful to remember to take everything home with me nowadays.

But losing the odd thing doesn’t bother me that much.

It was the en mass ‘possession is nine tenths of the law’ confiscation of pretty much all of my worldly goods in the late 80’s that was the most devastating thing for me.

I had been abroad for a few years with a boyfriend, and with their permission, had left my stuff in their attic for safe keeping until I got home.  I think they had thought, or indeed hoped that I’d emigrate our there so when i arrived home three years later, after pretty much having a trail run version of my recent woes, jobless, skint  and on the verge of a breakdown, they met me at the airport and I sensed that they weren’t exactly pleased to see me.

When I arrived at their house, I realised why.

Everywhere I looked, I saw my own household items, books, furniture and ornaments embellishing the rooms of their new home.  I was shocked but when caught staring at them in disbelief, their faces would set like stone in grim collusion as it to say ‘And?  What’s the problem exactly?’

I’ll never forget how cheated, alone and unwanted I felt at that moment.

I did however get about a quarter of my possessions back in the form of clothes and shoes (probably because they wouldn’t have fitted her), but fashion had moved from early 80’s glitz and excess to late 80’s Doc Marten and torn jeans casual minimalism, so were of precious little used to me.

I stayed with them for the maximum of four weeks as I had no money, and as soon as I got a job, I was chivvied out to find a place to stay.

And on leaving, instead of receiving a big hug and the rest of my things back, I was presented with a bill.

A bill, if you please.

Consisting of a cost per day of how much it would have cost me at that current market rate had I rented a room from them (which inadvertently I had been doing), plus food, plus a share of all the household bills.  They didn’t even allow for their own children, it was all divided between the three of us.

I’m amazed that they didn’t add VAT onto it.

And a month to the day of leaving and within hours of receiving my first pay check I was not only chased for some payment but also asked to buy my father a new video player because his was broken and essentially it was made clear that it was my turn to pull my financial weight and pitch in.

And unlike my sister and father, I didn’t own anything other than the clothes I brought back with me.

I literally felt that I had escaped from a frying pan and leapt into an incinerater, as if I’d thought I’d been lonely in another continent, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the way I felt in the boney, cold, reluctant embrace of my family.

An embrace that quickly withdrew when I refused to buy the video player.

Thirty years on, after years of anger, angst, estrangement and eventual reconciliation, I’ve tried to put it all behind me and move on, but it doesn’t help when I see constant physical reminders on my sister’s shelves and in her cupboards.

I think they love me now, or as much as they can, and they have a four storey houseful of stuff, so why the continual obsession with my  things?

Christmas was nice though. Genuinely fun, warm, loving and kind.

Let me make it clear that I don’t think I was entirely without fault during those turbulent times.  I was angry, resentful, bolshy, had a vicious tongue and was pretty much out of my mind.

I just wish I understood what was going on here. Do they think I’ve ponced off of them in the past? That I’m a secret millionaire?  That after all these years, I STILL owe them?

I know that sis used to be a bit obsessed with one of our aged aunts, and would wonder out loud as to whether she had any money stashed away.

I wonder if she and her husband ask each other the same question about me? Do they really care about me or am I just a potential cash cow for them and/or their kids when I kick the bucket?

Fucking chilling isn’t it?

Or maybe I’m just being paranoid.

Then further clarification comes to light.

My middle niece moved into her first flat share this summer, so the last time I was here, I dropped off an old video player, a nice old blanket box and some soft furnishings for her as she didn’t have much by way of possessions.

So on Boxing Day, we were all watching an old Christmas movie and I asked her how the flat was going.

‘Oh I love it Aunty Sista!  We all get on so well and it’s nice having a bit of privacy from this lot’ she replied, shoving her brother off the sofa with a slippered foot as he howled in protest.

‘And did you get that stuff I left you?  Hope it all fits in with your deco?’

There was a momentary uncomfortable silence, then she left out an awkward pealing laugh.

‘Oh, you’ll have to ask Mum about that’ she chuckled, ‘she decided to keep everything for their bedroom!’

And as they all chortled along, silently urging me to share the joke, I fake laugh along with them, vaguely appalled.

For God’s sake, it’s the kid’s first flat! She barely has a stick of furniture to her name!  WTF?!  You can barely see their bedroom carpet for stuff, it looks like someone has upended a car boot sale onto it!

They’re starting to remind me of a domestic version of ‘The Thing’; I sit tight thinking that if their dog to start whining or heading for the door, I’ll be seconds behind it, presents in one hand and car keys in the other.

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And then I realise that whatever this shit is about, it’s not about lack of love.  My sis and her husband adore their brood, and only want the best for them, so who knows where it stems from.  Our impoverished childhood, years of scrimping and saving to support and raise four kids, some kind of psychological disorder, who knows, maybe they’ll end up on one of those ‘crazy hoarders’ documentaries, burrowed under piles of newspapers and surrounded by tut, but a warm rush of hope suddenly cascades over my scabby, old trauma wounds.

Maybe their taking all my stuff wasn’t about me.

Maybe they genuinely thought that they weren’t doing anything wrong.  That if I planned to stay that I’d have offered it to them anyway.

Maybe they have always loved me after all, even if at the same time, they resented my freedom and ability to go away and travel, and couldn’t wait for me to come back, if only to be able to pitch in financially.

I sucked my teeth, rolled my eyes and shook my head reprimandingly at my sister whilst replying to my niece ‘Charming, hey? Don’t worry hon, next time I’ll deliver stuff to your door and not leave it here with this grabby lot!’

My sister adopted a look of mock innocence whilst winking at her daughter and heading out to the kitchen to put the dinner on.

It’s time I got over this painful memory.

It wasn’t and isn’t personal.

It’s behind me.

But if she so much as glances at my new blender, before I get it safely into the boot of my car, there’ll be hell to pay.

OPTIMISTIC MIX TRACK 9 – SAMMY DAVIS JR – I Gotta Be Me

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I went to a cooking class yesterday and did my usual ‘amuse some, alienate others’ thang….

What it is about me I don’t know, but when I am in new company, I get a bit hyperactive and perhaps subconsciously try a little too hard.

I’m don’t know whether I’m on a bipolar high (have refused to be checked or categorised by the NHS to date) or whether I just go a bit ‘Ben Gunn’ because I don’t have many strangers happen upon my island very often, but one things for sure, I never seem to fit in, or fade into the background, and invariably end up pissing someone or t’other off.

Treasure Island - Ben Gunn

I wasn’t trying to upset anyone, but the teacher was a bit uppity and tight arsed, and that didn’t stop me cracking jokes, getting the giggles and behaving a bit giddily, but we were tempering chocolate for four hours,  and in the end everyone was buzzing and having a bit of a laugh.

She did seem to take a particular dislike to me and all my questions though, to the extent of ignoring some that perhaps she couldn’t answer, in which case a simple ‘I don’t know’ might have been more polite and customer friendly?

Whenever this kind of thing has happened in the past, I tended to end up doing a post mortem on said incidents when I got home, before or during my sleep, and used to get in a right state, beating myself up for being so tactless/irritating/stupid, and wondering how I can fix it and make people like me, but this time, as I drove home, all I could hear was this song going round and round in my head.

And I think I’m starting to come to a certain level of peace about myself.

Because instead of fretting about it, or getting angry with the other person/people and having a dig at them, vowing to be their sworn enemy for life for rejecting me and  making me feel so shit about myself, I just thought ‘Hey ho, her loss’.

At last I’m starting to get what Aunty C has been drumming into my head for all of these years.

So, some people don’t like me; in all fairness, I am pretty weird, and if I don’t like everyone, so why should others be any different?

Also, it would kill me to try and be like everyone else, so why not embrace who and what I am?

I don’t often insert lyrics into my posts, but these are so pertinent, I just have to share.

Here’s hoping I can keep this up and end 2013 on a high….

Namaste x

SAMMY DAVIS JR.
“I’ve Gotta Be Me”
Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong

Whether I find a place in this world or never belong
I gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me
What else can I be but what I am

I want to live, not merely survive
And I won’t give up this dream
Of life that keeps me alive
I gotta be me, I gotta be me
The dream that I see makes me what I am

That far-away prize, a world of success
Is waiting for me if I heed the call
I won’t settle down, won’t settle for less
As long as there’s a chance that I can have it all

I’ll go it alone, that’s how it must be
I can’t be right for somebody else
If I’m not right for me
I gotta be free, I’ve gotta be free
Daring to try, to do it or die
I’ve gotta be me

I’ll go it alone, that’s how it must be
I can’t be right for somebody else
If I’m not right for me
I gotta be free, I just gotta be free
Daring to try, to do it or die
I gotta be me

 


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BEWARE THE CUTTER

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Sorry I haven’t been around much this last couple of days, but I’ve kind of hit a pretty jagged brick wall.

And as if that’s not bad enough, I also think I also just got smacked in the face with a big, scary realisation.

I have this coping technique you see, and whilst it’s served me well for most of my life, I’m not sure it’s doing me any favours anymore.

It goes something like this.

If someone or something hurts or abuses me enough, I cut off.

Big style.

I mean I can pass people in the street and pretend that they don’t exist. I can bump into them at a party and everyone around would think we were total strangers. I can look through them like a pane of glass, and they would not be able to tell what I felt inside. Usually because I’ve cut those feelings off too, like a big, bloody bag of a placenta on the end of the umbilical cord that connected us, and dropped them both into a bin.

And I’m so good at it, I can almost ensure that we never meet again. Don’t ask me how, but for the most part, it’s rare that I cross paths with those who I’ve severed contact with. And if we have any friends in common, they are either sworn to secrecy or only hear a limited amount of information about me so that they can’t pass on any relevant gossip. Knowledge is power and I don’t like my ‘enemies’ knowing my shit, good or bad.

When I finished with my ex fiancee, in some kind of unspoken, almost telepathic agreement, we managed to divide up London between us, and apart from one near miss on the underground shortly after our separation, didn’t run into one another, despite being based on the same side of the river, for near enough fifteen years. I can’t even begin to tell you who ‘owned ‘which suburbs, and/or which boroughs are out of bounds to whom, it was like I was in London and he was in ‘Neverwhere’. Or the other way around.

Whatever. I didn’t care as long as he stayed out of my way.

And when on that fateful day, I did see him in the City a couple of years ago, I couldn’t have been more surprised if he’d come back from the dead.

I was on my lunch hour on my way to a restaurant, and when I saw him coming down the steps of a nearby bank, I froze, then bolted up a side street, heart hammering, hoping with all my heart that he hadn’t seen me.

And when I saw his brother in the post office one morning a week or two after, I was forced to ignored him for a good 20 minutes whilst we both came face to face with one another numerous times in one of those infernal looped queues that seems to go on forever, where he eyed me with sad, beady reproachfulness.

Awkward was not the word.

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I didn’t dislike my ex future brother in law. I just wanted him to doubt that it was me, so he didn’t report anything back to my ex.

I know I sound mad. I know.

And finally when said ex contacted me on my last birthday via LinkinIn to congratulate me on my ‘special’ day, I couldn’t have been more outraged and affronted had he rocked up outside my flat and left a big, steaming, freshly laid turd on the bonnet of my car.

How dare he? Didn’t he remember the rules?

Anyway why would I want to hear from him after all he’d done, nattering away about me being ’50 years young’ (the knob), pretending that everything was just tickety boo and that we could just sweep the past under the carpet (ha, how I remember that little saying and it’s sinister relevance) and act as if we could even contemplate being friends?

Well fuck him. He might want to breach the terms of our unspoken agreement and step over the barrier betwixt here and ‘Neverwhere’, but I for one won’t be rolling out the red carpet or making it easy for him.

So I duly treated this missive with the silent contempt it deserved, and haven’t heard from him since.

And good riddance.

Again, I didn’t and don’t hate him. I just don’t want him in my universe anymore, because that was a different life and he doesn’t belong in this one. I wasted 5 (child bearing years) of my life on that man, and it’s too painful to remember what a mistake it all was. So I pretended that it didn’t happen.

I did a similar thing to my last serious boyfriend (but on a smaller scale) after he seriously wounded me and my pride, and can still remember the devastation on his face when I cut him dead in the street one day and how it affected me not a jot.

That’s the price of hurting me, motherfucker.

Jog on.

An ex manager of mine who witnessed my occasionally utilising this malevolent, sphinx like behaviour in the business environment nicknamed it/me the ‘Ice Queen’

‘No, no!’ he’d plead when I was pissed off to the extreme at some stupid wanker who had dared to try and throw me under the bus, ‘Don’t do Ice Queen! Promise me you won’t do Ice Queen!’ But when the Lord hardened this Pharaoh’s heart, there tended to be no going back until blood was shed and scores were settled.

There is also something else about cutting off that I like. It satisfies my need for surety; It’s final.

I recently brought a friendship to an end because it was writhing around in the dirt badly wounded, I was trying to save it, but the other party wanted to play games and drag things out, so I stamped on it, killing it stone dead. I hate suspense and power play, you see, so if someone dicks me around, I’ll make the final decision for the both of us.

I also hate rejection so if I sense it coming, I’ll get in there and be the one to do the dumping first.

So, as you can probably imagine, having cut off from numerous people numerous times, I’m gradually painting myself into an ever descreasing corner, as was made clear by my contact with an ex colleague the other day.

For any of you who have followed my story to date, it will come as no suprise to you that I have cut contact with the majority of my ex colleagues from my last place of work.

And even the people I’m allegedly still in touch with, I’m very cautious with regard to what I let them to know about me now. And they know it, and are understandably not impressed. But I can’t help it. They may have proved themselves untrustworthy and like I keep saying, knowledge is power.

And no one has power over me now.

No one. And I intend to keep it that way.

One of these people, F, was a very good friend of mine, but over the last year, I’ve found that I trust her less and less. Not because she’s done anything bad to me (well not recently anyway) but because she stays with the company, knowing how they behaved and what they did to me. And when I got word about her recent promotion with them, it hit me like a kick in the stomach.

Aunty C (my counsellor) gets cross about this, because as far as she’s concerned, F is who she is and can work with them and not let it get to her, and is entitled to do what she wants with her life. But for some illogical reason, it feels like a massive betrayal to me.

Also (and this is the big, horrible, scary bit) the fact that if she can cope with them and make them like her, that means that there must be something very wrong with me if I can’t.

In addition to this, I can’t help but feel that because she is more ‘in’ with ‘them’ than she ever was, I can’t let her into my life on anything other than a superficial basis anymore.

Knowledge is power.

She hasn’t done anything to me, but I’m now aware that Ive been gradually cutting contact with her.

Because any contact with anyone from WRU reminds me that this little bubble I now occupy, and my tiny little daily triumphs and evolutions will not be enough for much longer.

I was meant to leave this flat in ten minutes for my new writing group, but now I’m frozen to the seat, holding a huge glass of wine in a shaky hand because I know how mental all this sounds.

More than that, whilst I’ve always known that my Demon is Fear, but the realisation of how much it still completely and utterly rules me is absolutely terrifying.

  • Realising how when cutting off, how much good I’m obliterating from my life along with the bad, because I think it will make me safer because I think everyone is out to get me.
  • Not putting myself in situations where I might bump into former colleagues because I think they’ll laugh a/pity/sneer at me and my joblessness.
  • How I hardly try for any jobs because I don’t want any of ‘them’ gloating when they hear about it if I fail.
  • How I won’t apply for jobs that will want a reference from my old company as that will give them power over me and an opportunity to hit back at me
  • How I don’t want them to hear anything about my condition as they’ll pat themselves on the back for what they did to me.
  • How I don’t want them to hear anything good about me because they don’t deserve to feel anything but guilt and fear that what they did might come back to haunt them one day.
  • And that by letting these fears rule me, I’m giving them the one thing I don’t want them to have; complete and total power over me.

Plus, having been out of the marketplace for over a year and still unemployed, could the rumours about me actually be any worse?

And the realisation hits me that I’m still so very ashamed at what happened to me last year, how I was treated, and how useless, stupid and incompetent I felt and still feel to this day.

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And whilst this is very painful to have to admit, I also realise that if I keep cutting off and dividing chunks of territory between me and people who have hurt me, I’m going to end up all alone on a very, very tiny little island indeed.

And then the sharks will circle.

Back to therapy for me….

Jesus when does this shit get better?!