Defiant

I will admit it. One day was not quite enough to get my head straight.

Yesterday I continued to mope. I defiantly ate chocolate brownies for breakfast (no one is ever going to love me so I may as well eat whatever I want). I didn’t get changed and refused to get in the shower.

By mid morning though, the depression started to lift. Still clad in pyjamas, I began to drift about – tidying here and there- and trying to focus on something positive. On Tuesday, a big group of us are going camping in the Lakes; so for a little while, this occupied my mind.

In trying to find the right charger for the air pump, I searched through my bed drawer and came across an old journal. Knowing that I had written about Lost Soul in it all those years ago, I allowed myself a peek into its pages in an act of sheer self-sabotage.

I ended up reading all of it, knelt on my bedroom floor.

There were moments long forgotten alongside those memories that I still hold dear. But more than anything I was moved by the voice of my writing… its pain and desperation, the fleeting happiness and enduring hope.

“My head is aching with all the thoughts that are running through it. I wish I had a machine so that I could just extract it all…. Why am I so pathetic? Why can’t I just sort my head out?… He keeps telling me he loves me… He said he wants a relationship with someone just like me but not me as he doesn’t want to lose me. He said that I don’t realise how wonderful I am… I’m trying to gain perspective, trying to console my aching heart. He’s apologised for leading me on, hurting me.”

I was struck by the repetition of my thoughts and feelings. All these years on and nothing had changed. I became so angry: with him and myself. How had I allowed myself to fall back into this situation?

I still love him. But I am no closer to ever being with him and don’t think that I ever will be.

And rather than give blame to him or me for what has happened, I come to realise that this was always going to happen. The hope that I had long had, buried deep inside, was always going to come to the surface when I became single again.

Now, though, I had my answer. Hope is futile. It is never going to happen. So my grief over the past few days was necessary to – as I’ve already said in my posts – to purge that hope, and him, from my system.

I felt angry, yes, but defiant too. And dare I say it, positive too.

Now I can truly start. I have grieved my broken marriage and fought may way through the exhausted depression left in its wake. I have now mourned a love that I had put on the highest pedestal, somewhere which it probably did not deserve to be. I’ve survived it though; the crushing disappointment and the attack on my self esteem.

It’s clichéd, but now I realise that I’ve got to show myself some love. I’ve been battered by so many things in the past few years and yet most of them can be attributed to my love of someone – my parents, my husband, my lover. All that energy and love, although well spent then, has taken its toll on me. Sadly, I cannot say that I have felt the same energy and love coming my way because they were unable to for so many reasons. I suppose I could say, in some ways at least, that I have felt unloved but perhaps more precisely, I have not felt like someone’s priority. I have put my family, my children, my husband and my job first for so long that my mind could not cope any longer.

My body has bourn the brunt of this self neglect and abuse for years. I have talked before about my emotional over-eating, lack of exercise and just general lack of care.

People will hurt me for the rest of my life – it is human nature after all. Their misdemeanours will be forgiven and forgotten because that is what love means. But the same cannot be said for myself. Hurting myself cannot be forgiven because there is no excuse for it.

I can be a better mum, teacher, daughter, sister and friend- not by trying harder or working longer but by being a better me. And I am the only person that can make that happen.

There’s a powerful voice in my head that tells me that I will never do it. Or if I do, that it won’t last or it won’t make me happy. This voice has encouraged the chocolate brownie breakfasts and the scraping back of unwashed hair and the dry skin and the chipped nail polish and the ill fitting clothes. This voice has whispered my self imposed failings continually in my ear until my heart has recognised them as truth.

No more.

I am going to truly devote time and love to myself. I’m going to show myself the love that I show those around me. I’m going to give myself the quality time that I reserve for those I love. I’m going to give myself the little acts of kindness that I use to show someone I care or in recognition of a need in them.

This blog, this journal, is so important to me. Starting from the middle was created because I recognised that I needed to start my life afresh somehow – something was wrong or missing.

Now, I have an idea of how I will do this. The last ten months have been a long and arduous journey to the truth:

To be a better me, I need to love me better.

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Arrggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhggg… 

As expected, I have seen Lost Soul again. I knew it would be a matter of time. 

Today was my daughter’s thirteenth birthday. Scary. That’s all I will say. 

Part way through he turned up. Yes, there had been an issue last night at my sister’s house where they had a little get-together (I wasn’t there). And yes, apparently they needed to talk about it. He came through the gate and asked me if my sister and b.i.l were there. I said yes. He stood there whilst I spoke to a friend – I was sort of blocking the door. Eventually he said excuse me and I moved to one side. He purposefully touched my arm as he walked past and said thank you. What the ??!! 

I am thoroughly ashamed to say that I played my old game of ‘nonchalant ignorance’ . I act as if  he is not there but not in a passive aggressive way: no, I am the life and soul of the party. 

 As the last of the teenagers leave, my sisters suggest that we have a little get together of our own. He decides to join  us (one huge flaw in my plan as, by pretending he is not there, I didn’t hear his conversation so don’t hear how that decision comes about) and then goes off with my sister and b.i.l for supplies. 

I can’t help myself. Whilst he is gone, I take advantage of my son needing a shower and jump in too. I tidy my bedroom a little. I get changed into some casual but flattering clothing. By the time I’ve put my son to bed, they’re back. I continue to ignore him. In my head, I’m playing it cool, not showing how much I want him. And boy,  do I want him. Even in his casual clothes, just the sight of him makes me ache to be kissing him again. 

We all sit in the garden and we all chat happily.  I, again, purposefully do not lavish any attention on him but aim to be jovial. (I am well aware that this may appear calculating). Then, out if nowhere, he decides that he wants to go home. 

My battered ego flickers. Does he realise that I am ignoring him? Is this his countermove? Is he waiting for me to ask him to stay? Would he stay if I asked? Is he going because he thinks he has no chance of repeating our time together? Is he leaving because he knows my ex will be returning my daughter later tonight so doesn’t want to waste his time? 

Then my b.i.l thinks out loud that perhaps he should go home too. This time I make a fuss – not too much – but it results in my b.i.l deciding to stay. As LS leaves, he walks past me and again touches my arm as he says goodbye. I’m the only one he touched. 

When Lost Soul has gone, I ask why he left. My b.i.l says that he had twisted his arm and that LS half wanted an easy night. I note that he didn’t even drink half of his pint before leaving. 

Maybe he wanted an early night. Maybe he had enough alcohol the night before. Maybe he just didn’t want me to get ideas. 

Either way, he still has a power over me that I can’t resist. I still want him. 

Realisation 

I’ll admit it. I’ve had a few drinks. Don’t let this alarm you. I’m sober enough that these sentences are flowing. I’m sober enough for my brain to be working overload. For me, alcohol produces an honesty that can be brutal sometimes. 

Tonight I’ve had a good time. My best friend and I, plus another one of her friends (a separate post on this coming up at some point). We went for a meal, a few drinks in a wine bar – you get the picture. 

No men though. As in, I didn’t see anyone that I fancied and there wasn’t anyone who liked me. It was disappointing. 

Disappointing because I can state with every honesty that the thought of online dating again depresses me. I cannot go there again. It’s brutal. 

I know I’m fat. And I know that the majority of men did not find that attractive. Yet I need to believe that I have enough about me to attract someone. I could lose weight if I really tried. But I can’t change my face or my personality. Blaming your weight for not being attractive is much easier than facing the truth. 

My friend and I talked about what happened with Lost Soul. She doesnt believe me when I say I have walked away now (metaphorically anyway). She thinks I can’t say no to him. I tried to tell her she’s wrong but part of me hopes he will turn up again. 😔 

And yet, I don’t want another complicated relationship. I’m independent and beginning to love life again. I don’t need a man to make me happy. I can live a good life without one. But the thought of being alone scares me, even though I’m not lonely now.

This got me thinking. Do I just want someone because I want to prove that I am still attractive and desirable? Is this all about my self esteem? Could I be single and happy for the rest of my life? 

I suppose only time will tell. What are your thoughts? 

Trying. 

I believe that there are certain circumstances that have to happen before you lose weight. It’s a bit like planets aligning – doesn’t happen very often and it is a wonderous thing when it does. 

The first two are pretty obvious:

Eat less. 

Exercise more. 

For the lucky some, those two are enough. For the rest of us, they are nigh on impossible to sustain without the big hitters:

Determination 

A positive mindset

Reality check
Let’s start with determination. Put simply, you’ve got to want to do this enough. It’s got to be stronger than the pull of deliciously rich chocolate or a plate of hot vinegary fried chips. Or a cold, cold glass of crisp white wine. Not easy. 

Then there’s a positive mindset. You’ve got to believe you can do this. You might have 5 stone to lose. It might have taken you three months to lose a stone. But with a positive mindset, that’s OK. You see the loss, not the time it has taken you.  And when you’re looking at your saggy, soft body you push away the thoughts that ‘I’m never going to do this’ or ‘no matter how much I lose, I’m still going to have stretchmarks/saggy skin/saggy breasts/bingo wings etc. Because those thoughts are the ones that vindicate a packet of biscuits or two bags of crisps. They welcome the sweet calories of a bar of chocolate like a king welcoming his favourite warrior back from battle. 

But, despite the power of positive mindset, a healthy dose of reality check is essential. “Yay! Well done! You’ve lost two stone. But that doesn’t mean you can now inhale the entire contents of your fridge. It doesn’t mean that you can leave the exercise for a few days. You’ve got to keep going.”

I’m struggling. I’ve been fat for so long that I cannot ever see the day when I’m not fat. I know that the soft saggy skin will never be firm and taut. I can’t imagine the time when I can get up and not be thoroughly disgusted with myself and my body and what I have stuffed into my mouth in the previous 24 hours. I can’t stop myself from thinking that I will never find someone who will love me in the state I am in. 

But I have got pride in my minor achievements. I have walked more in the past two months than I have in the past two years. I have (just about) kept off the two stone I have lost in the past two years. I’m still trying. Yes, I fail. I fail pretty regularly. But I keep dusting myself off and start again.  I keep fighting with my negativity. I keep remembering that the balance is not tipped in my favour. That if I don’t try I’ll never know if the impossible can become possible. 

From the soul 

I’ve been thinking a lot about my last post and considering how I can feel so strongly about what has happened. It just so happened that I also read Back in Stilettos Again’s last post which resonates a lot:

More Realizations – http://wp.me/p5vuqV-4jk

As I work my way mentally through my past and present, it is easy to see how my current feelings stem from my past. I believe in honesty and straight talking. I have a real dislike of game playing in relationships. 

In April 2011, I had two children, had started a new teaching job the previous September and was living in the house my husband and I had built. My marriage was on the rocks. 

It doesn’t matter what exactly was wrong. He was – repeatedly – doing something I didn’t like and couldn’t accept but he continued to do it, deceitfully and secretive and I would find out periodically. Every time I caught him, a piece of our relationship broke off in to the abyss. You can fill the gaps here: alcohol, drugs, women, gambling – anyone of them can destroy a marriage. 

I had been trying to convince myself that this time he was keeping his promise. Then I called home early to pick something up I’d forgotten and caught him. I then did something I had never done in all years – yes,  years – that this had been going on: I asked him to leave. 

I was angry, hurt, bitter. But I was also relieved. Months went by and I wouldn’t let him back. He was arrogant,  defiant then hurt then angry. I wouldn’t go back. 

Months later, I met Lost Soul through my sister and her boyfriend. There was an instant attraction there: he was tall, slim, with almost black hair and green eyes. 

He was a charmer. He knew exactly what to say to any girl in the room, me included. I watched in admiration, awe and jealousy too. 

Then one night, there was a group of us having drinks and playing cards. After a while I chose to sit on the couch and listen to music whilst the other’s played. He came to sit next to me and the rest is history. 

It’s hard to explain what happened in the years that follow because despite being five years later, I still don’t understand and it still stings. 

The connection we had was unbelievable – better than I have ever had in the three long term relationships I have had. We understood each other, supported one another and inspired each other. He was a lost soul- younger than me, had suffered with depression and wasn’t sure where his life would take him. 

I would see him nearly every weekend and in the week too. Sometimes we would kiss, often we didn’t. We would always end up cuddling on the couch or in my bed but nothing really happened. 

It was more than just friends though. There was a passion, a spark,  that everyone around us saw and we felt. I didn’t imagine it, although I have often tried to convince myself I did. 

He’d tell me he loved me, that he’d never met anyone who understood him so clearly. But he was scared of losing me- if we took this further, we could lose what we had. 

In the time we were ‘together’, I know he slept with other women. He wasn’t adverse to one night stands. Just not with me. He was my best friend. I learnt the true meaning of heart ache. In a night out with some friends, one asked me why I was holding my stomach. I hadn’t realised I was. My friend was intuitive enough to know why and we talked about it but could never work out what was going in. 

I spent so many hours trying to decode his behaviour. I came up with many reasons for why he couldn’t commit to a relationship. I was older than him, had children and a career. This would never have been just a fling and he wasn’t ready. My low self esteem blamed my age and my weight. He mentioned my weight in the only row and subsequently the last conversation I had with him before I moved on. 

Some friends felt he was using me. “For what?” I’d ask. Certainly not for sex, definitely not for money. We would watch TV together, sip wine or talk through the night. We’d dance in my living room or play on the x box. 

One day I walked away. I told him I wouldn’t wait. I started online  dating. I cried on the way home from every date because it wasn’t him. He started dating too and we drifted apart. I thought about him, ached for him, every single day for years. 

I convinced myself that I had imagined the whole thing. We were just friends but I wanted more. I imagined the looks he gave me, the tenderness, the passionate kisses. He wasn’t my soul mate. He wasn’t. If it was meant to be, we’d have been together. Other times I would imagine he was my Willoughby (Sense and Sensibility). I blamed my imagination, my love of literature, for constructing an ideal that I would never find. Love doesn’t exist like that, I told myself. All you need is a good man and you can make it work. 

My next relationship lasted six months. On paper, Car-man  was perfect. I didn’t feel that connection but my attraction to him would catch me out when I wasnt thinking about it. He would have married me and given me the world but I felt claustrophobic. I ended it gently. 

Three months after that, after a night out and a heart to heart with good friends, I told my husband that I would give it another go. He had waited in the background through all of this. He had stopped his vice – so he told me- and was again the person I had fallen in love with so many years before. 

I felt nothing when we first kissed again. Sex was problematic. I think he couldn’t cope with the fact that I’d had another relationship, despite what he said.  In desparation, and on only one occasion, I agreed to have sex without a condom in the hope that it would work. Nine months later, we had our third child. I can count on one hand how often we had sex/kissed/cuddled after that. 

Post natal depression hit me like a sledge hammer. It was only when the Health Visitor reflected on my relationship with my husband did realisation hit me. I didn’t love him, hadn’t loved him for so long. I cared deeply for him, felt no antagonism towards him as such, but I didn’t love him. 

Two weeks after I gave birth, Lost Soul reappeared in my life at a celebration. I realised then that I hadn’t imagined any if it. The looks, the feelings, the connection was still there for both of us. He was single again. I was not. I stayed out of his way after a brief chat and tried to ignore the way he watched me from across the room. He left early. 

I tried so hard to make it work with my husband  for so many years. I tried to get back those feelings that we had shared in the first seven years of our relationship.  I continued to tell myself  that there was no such thing as soul mates. Lost Soul was a player, that’s all. Slowly I forgot to think of him every day and the hole in my heart healed. I tried every trick in the book to rekindle my marriage. But I couldn’t.  We were both unhappy. 

I’m August last year, before the split with my ex in October, I again bumped into Lost Soul at my sister’s birthday. It had been two years since I last saw him. He had brought his new girlfriend. We pretended to ignore each other for a while but I caught him watching me. He was drunk: I was driving. 

I heard him talk about me to my brother in law across the table, the band’s music just too loud to hear specifics. 

At the bar he came over to speak to me, his arm around my waist as he spoke in to my ear over the sounds of the electric guitar. He told me that he often thought of our time together and that he missed me. 

Later, I declined his invitation to go to the next pub with him and his girlfriend. I could see the suspicion in her eyes and I didn’t want either of them to see the jealousy in mine. 

I did offer to drive them to the pub – more to get them out of their so I didn’t have to look at them taking selfies. In an over exaggerated way, he told me he loved me as we walked to the car his girlfriend just the other side of him. I’m the car he fired questions to me, asking about my job, my life, my marriage. He asked for my number as he got out of the car, his girlfriend stood behind him. 

All game playing. Yes, there was a connection but it was never going to happen. I can’t truly trust anything he said to me. I can’t trust my own feelings, my own eyes and my own ears. Another time and another place maybe? Perhaps if I was three years, three stone and three children lighter. Perhaps not. 

And so, I’ve realised that I can’t stand the game playing. I can’t stand lying and deceit. I’m not going to put up with it. And I need a connection because ‘making do’ cannot be made into something it can’t be. What I need is that beautiful and perfect middle ground between my ex and Lost Soul – the best of both of them. There goes my imagination again. 

Red, Red wine 

I am pleased to announce that I have lost 6lb in two weeks. It feels good. Surprisingly, I’ve had a few comments from family and friends who had noticed before I’d told them about it. It certainly picks you up. The diet was given to me by a friend and came out of a magazine: set meals and snacks for five days, strict eating hours and low carbs. I enjoyed the meals and snacks, was hungry occasionally, but managed – I think knowing that I had the weekend helped. What it has done is give me a boost – I’m going to try slimming world again for a few weeks then try it again. 

Naturally following a good loss and a restricted diet and naturally being Mother’s Day, I decide to jeopardise my weight loss by drinking red wine. I love red wine. 

One glass turned to two, then two turned to three. I was pretty merry by this point. The children were in bed, the TV was unappealing so, as the majority of the world do nowadays, I turned to my phone. 

Before I could drain the last drips from the glass I found myself in an online chat room. Don’t judge me. In some ways I prefer it – I want to chat and being naturally shy and self conscious, doing this online is easier at the moment. 

As said in a previous post, I can’t quite bring myself to pay for Match.com. I honestly don’t think I’m ready. But spurred on by the harmless fun I had in Spain, I want to move to the next stage. My experiences with online dating five years ago were not good. I know times have changed and I know that there are many more sites out there.. I’m just not ready. 

The chat rooms are fast paced. There are thousands of people out there and yes, a seemingly large proportion are perverted. Even ones that initially seem nice often end up asking your bra size – I can cope with this by blocking them and moving on. I can talk to men from all over the world and,  hiding behind my username, I can be anonymous. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to play games here. I am me, I take no delight in duping people by pretending to be something I’m not. But I can do this without fear of the next steps. No pressure. 

I have done this a couple of times in the last few months. If I examined myself closely enough, I would probably see that this is when I feel most lonely. But you know what, I find this easy and safe entertainment. 

Last night I got chatting to ‘Jay’. He is 40, lives in London (so miles away) and is single with a 16 year old. We moved off the frequently glitchy and ad-ridden chat site into kik. He seems like a nice guy. I’m far too cautious to believe everything he says but I enjoy his conversation. I’m honest with him, tell him that I’m reluctant to start the whole Internet dating thing again. He advises me to take it at my own pace – I’m in charge of how I want to date – and suggests a few online dating apps to try.   Then he says he wants to hear my voice. I freeze. I stare at my phone, my heart pounding. Then his number appears on my phone. I’m scared, I’m excited. It is 12.30am and I’m in bed. 

I walk downstairs, stare at my phone a bit more and fueled by red wine, dial his number with the safety blanket of 141.

His voice is warm and his accent is slightly RP. I like it. He tells me that I can end the call at any time – he understands – and then we chat. I mainly listen. It wasn’t earth shattering and there were some awkward pauses. But it was nice and it was exciting. In the end I told him I was tired and that my battery was nearly dead (which it was). 

I put the phone down and felt… Warm. I can do this. I can put myself out there. I’m under no illusions, even if he liked the picture I tentatively sent we live too far away for this to go anywhere. But I smiled as he spoke and was pleased when he said he’d like to chat again. 

As I lay in bed, I waited to hear  the ping of my phone, half hoping for a final message. It didn’t come and I fell asleep. My disappointment was minimal. 
This morning as I checked the time on my phone, I noticed that he had actually messaged me. Then my phone died. 

When I finally got on I saw that it was to say that he had pictured me smiling throughout our conversation. Clever or intuitive, I’m not sure but I liked it enough to reply that he was right. 

I waited all day but there was no response as he had not read the message. Eventually though he did – the messages were polite but short – asking each other about our day. Then nothing. 

For half an hour I eyed my phone. I can’t explain how I felt. Disappointed is too strong but I suppose my pride didn’t want it to end so soon. Then he replied. He said that he would be happy to speak again tonight. 

It is 9.55 and I haven’t called yet. My eldest is on her way to bed any minute. I’m nervous despite knowing this is going nowhere. There is no red wine to fuel me tonight. But I see this as my dating lessons. I’m practicing my manoeuvres, getting used to the feel of the car again. I’m not sure what is in it for him. Wish me luck. 

Update * 11.05pm. 

I have just finished my call. 

I messaged after my last post. The message was unread for 15 minutes. As is my usual form, over-analysis stared immediately. Had I left it too late? Did he think I was messing him about? Should I just call or text rather than kik – I had his number. Is that what he was expecting? I decided no, so far we had communicated through kik and he didn’t have my number. As I was mentally drafting the message I planned to write:(Sorry I left it so late. Didn’t want to call as you may be busy. I enjoyed speaking to you. Would that have been too much???) he replied, apologising for missing the message. He asked if I still wanted to chat and when I said yes, he asked me to call in about 5 minutes – he would let me know when ready. 

Got to be married. I really don’t want to be this analytical over one phone call and a few messages with a man who lives too far away for comfort. 

I called and we chatted. Again, a couple of awkward moments but nothing out of the ordinary. My, he has a really lovely voice. Warm and deep. He seems nice, intelligent and interesting. Our chat ended quickly as he keep sneezing-as in every couple of minutes – but he ended by saying that he will message me tomorrow. How I’m going to stop myself anticipating that message, I don’t know. Scary stuff. 

Yo-Yo

Sometimes I really do not understand myself.  This is the post I started to write on Thursday:

I’m going to Spain tomorrow for the first time.  I am going with five other ladies,  one a close friend.  The others are friends of hers. 

Why am I not excited?  Why am I not looking forward to sun and sea and sand? Adult conversation? A chance to put myself first? 

This is a wonderful opportunity that many people would jump at and I should be thoroughly ashamed of myself.  Instead,  I am worrying about if  something happens to me.  I’m worried that I am going to feel alone.  Like the token fat ugly woman. 

Today, four days later,  I am home and tired after a wonderful weekend.  We laughed and drank and ate and talked and relaxed and discussed.  I took leisurely showers and got to eat my food in one sitting without being interrupted every five minutes. I was able to apply make up without rushing. 

Even acknowledging the power of the beer goggles,  men wanted to talk to me.  

I felt wanted. I felt fun.  I felt attractive.  Sure,  I needed a pep talk now and again when my low self esteem battled for supremacy in my mind.  But I was liberated from stress and loneliness.  I began to plan how to improve my life for me and my children. My confidence had reappeared – a little flimsy and transparent,  but it was there. The world was filled with possibility.  

Then I came home and went to work.  And I was faced with the same negative and vindictive people who try to make my life a misery each day.  And I went on Facebook (evil as it is) to post photos as I had promised and saw photos of myself which made my low self esteem congratulate itself for its accuracy.  Did I really look like that????!!!! 

And so the yo-yo of anxiety and depression continues. This is what it is like.   There is some improvement of course – in January I felt low all the time.  But,  this is one sparkly and glittery yo-yo now.  And I plan to keep hold of it,  for now at least.