Icy Adventures

Part of my recovery from (ew, I have to say it again) love addiction, involves not using anything to numb the pain and discomfort I’m feeling. No alcohol. No drugs. No distracting relationships, and – the author is very clear on this point – no using food to the same end. Easy for her to say!

This is similar to my decision to stop my course of anti-depressants. Since I’m in a place where I can cope without them, I decided that I needed to let myself feel the things I was avoiding. I can’t address my problems if I don’t know what they are. Although I’ve been an emotional eater for as long as I’ve had emotions, for some reason I didn’t consider until I read the words on the page how much my eating habits should absolutely be categorised alongside those other more insidious things. I’ve been doing ok with that so far, with only one rogue sandwich that wasn’t entirely on plan. Even that wasn’t because I was miserable as such, just annoyed that the scales haven’t been budging. More on that in a bit…

This week I started my ‘inner child’ work. I’m still very new to this side of things so don’t really know how to adequately explain the concept of the inner child, but this first stage involves me writing out every significant event in my life to date – good things, bad things, turning points etc.

I got to age ten and I was done, I needed a break. My time of the month is on its way which in itself brings sadness and a massive dip in energy, so I decided to wait until those feelings abate before I continue. This is self-care, y’all!

Weirdly, the only two events I’ve come up with so far that weren’t negative were the birth of my brother and sister. Weird because I honestly can’t remember feeling worried that they’d replace me as number one child, and weird because once they learned to walk we did not get along. It got even worse when they started talking. Ugh!

The idea of the exercise is to look for patterns and identify what triggers a tantrum in your inner child despite you now being a bona fide grown up.

Already it’s not hard for me to work out. Abandonment, abandonment, abandonment. When someone in my life nowadays disappears, my inner child is scared out of her wits. All she can think is they’re not coming back. They’re never coming back. This always happens. People always leave me.

After growing up with a father who would go out drinking ‘for a couple of hours’ in the afternoon, and next thing you know you’re pacing the living room at 3am with your mum, wondering if it’s time to start ringing around the local hospitals, you would think I’d be more discerning with my own partners. Nope, my relationship past is littered with no-shows and disappearing acts.

Past Hayley has let her inner child take over, and I’ve ended up throwing mobile phones up the wall on more than one occasion, crying, pleading, just quietly being frantic with worry so as not to cause a fuss but being totally unable to function till he shows. Definitely more quietly worrying in recent times – there’s no point telling someone how much their disappearing upsets me only for them to promise they won’t do in future, then… just keep on doing it.

Future Hayley might well end up in this situation again, but future Hayley will be whole and healed. She’ll go about her business when he doesn’t show, because her life is full of things she loves to do. She knows that his behaviour is nothing to do with her not being ‘good enough’. She already knows her worth. When he does surface, she’ll decide that this kind of behaviour is not what she wants from a partner, and she’ll move on, making space for someone more deserving.

Whilst going over all this I cried several times, occasionally over things I thought I’d forgotten about. That’s good, that’s progress. Then I felt crappy for a while, now I feel a bit better. That’s how it works I suppose. I’m pleased I’ve made a start, because I approached this exercise with the enthusiasm of someone who’s about to have their teeth drilled into with no anaesthetic. I’m guessing the teeth drilling would be worse. Marginally.

A chap at work mentioned that I looked serene and asked if it was because I had a new man in my life. I was surprised on two counts – one, because no man I’ve ever been interested in has been the type to bring the slightest bit of serenity, and two, because I have so much inner turmoil right now. I guess my poker face must be improving.

I’ve decided to schedule two afternoons a week for ‘thinking time’, like I’d be possibly be doing if I were seeing an actual therapist. That way (I hope) it won’t overwhelm me.

I’m trying not to panic about weighing in, which is happening later on. This week I’ve been doing a low-carb version of Slimming World known as SP, where you eat lots of protein and lots of low energy-density foods. People in group who have done it have had fantastic losses, but I’ve been absolutely smashing it and yet the scales have refused to budge.

I put off weighing myself till Thursday, then I couldn’t help myself any longer. I was tired and hungry, I was sure I was going to see a great loss, and I wanted to get a buzz from seeing that it was working. Except… one pound ON. I’ve been so good, that shouldn’t be physically possible! So I cracked and ate a sandwich, immediately regretting it.

Saturday and Sunday, I ditched SP before any more sandwich incidents could occur, but to be honest I’m quite proud of myself for stopping at that one sandwich. That’s pretty impressive for me.

I really do have a distinct feeling of not having done ‘enough’ this week. I’ve been too tired to walk every day, but the two trips I did take around the park yielded good fungal results.

Yesterday morning was spent having the best time with my brother. I suggested we check out a country park that’s new to us, but by the time I finished work I was regretting having suggested it. This is normal for me – I get too tired and tell myself ‘next Sunday I’ll just sleep all day!’ Then I go out, have fun, and decide it was worth it after all.

In fact yesterday was the most pure, unadulterated fun I’ve had in ages.

We got to the park a couple of hours before the visitor centre opens, and there were only a couple of dog walkers about. It was freezing, literally. There was a blanket of ice over everything but the sun was out and everything was mightily pretty.

There were loads of puddles that were frozen over, and I think we stepped in every single one. Any toddlers arriving later on would no doubt be disappointed, but that’s not my problem. They should have got their parents up earlier, right?

Just look how thick the ice was!

Stomping over icy, crunchy grass and stepping in creaky, glassy ice puddles are two of the most satisfying things in the whole world. Fact.

I also did something scary, something I haven’t done in years. Have you been down a slide as an adult? Looking from the top it seemed so steep. Surely I’d go flying off the end and possibly really hurt myself? My brother decided to film it, because if I did hurt myself, filming it would of course be even more hilarious. Thanks bro.

Ok, perhaps I wasn’t in danger after all! Injury averted, a walk through the more wooded parts got me a few more lovely shots.

As we headed back towards the visitor centre, we realised our early start paid off because it was packed. But we absolutely had to go in to get deer food. The park has fallow deer that live there all year round and they are cuuuuuuute!

Back to reality though, and the weigh in results are in. I’m in shock, because I was so sure I’d messed it all up. In fact, I lost 3lbs!

This week I’m really not going to weigh myself at home, honestly. It’s more trouble than it’s worth.

With that I must sign off as group is about to begin. Have a fab week everyone!

Hayley x

Addictions

Now that I have significantly less troubles on my plate, I’ve found that some brain fog has dissipated and I can think clearly again. Since I currently have the mental capacity to do so, I’ve started reading Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood.

It took me a long time to discover this book. Every relationship I’ve had so far has found me getting myself in worse and worse situations, so much so that with the last one (not counting Gentleman Friend, he was just a slight regression) I thought another one like that might very well be the end of me. I knew something had to change, but didn’t know what. I had no explanation as to why I got involved in the first place (knowing full well he wasn’t right for me), why my feelings were so intense, why I found it so hard to walk away… I felt lost and hopeless, doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over.

I eventually found my way to this book via several Instagram accounts and a Facebook support group for women like me, but I had it on my Kindle for a long time before I found the courage to start reading it.

Basically, and it’s absolutely mortifying for me to admit this, I am addicted to what I have (up to this point) perceived as love. It’s even more cringy that when I think of that, I think of that godawful Robert Palmer song too. Aren’t things embarrassing enough already?

Thus far, I’ve been attracted to men who I think need me. If they need me, then it won’t matter if I’m essentially unlovable. I’ve made myself so useful, that they won’t want to leave me. It never occurred to me in any of my relationships whether they were actually worth it or not. Some of them, I’ve realised afterwards, I never even particularly liked. Yet the feelings were so all-consuming at the time, I felt compelled to act the way I did. I don’t think it would be exaggerating to call it obsession.

It’s so exhausting, trying to keep him happy all the time and feeling absolutely, 100% responsible if he isn’t, that it starts to take a physical toll on the body. You know how I’ve been struggling with my energy levels for so long? Totally normal. I spent over a year just giving and giving but riding off the adrenaline of conflict and uncertainty. When that was gone, well, I was spent.

The book says that people of my background often have an underlying depression (yep) but when we are so full of adrenaline it’s physically impossible to be depressed. Bad news is, this is of course unsustainable and you’re left with a deeper depression that the one you started with (yep).

Such women may unconsciously seek the powerful stimulation of a difficult and dramatic relationship in order to stir their glands to release adrenaline-an exercise similar to whipping a tired, over-worked horse in order to get a few more miles out of the poor, exhausted beast. This is why, when the strong stimulant of involvement in an unhealthy relationship is removed, either because the relationship ends or because the man begins to recover from his problems and relate to her in a healthier way, a woman of this type will usually sink into depression.

Robin Norwood

Damn. I did wonder why, after the initial relief of ending things for good, I felt so awful all the time.

Then there’s the emptiness that you feel. I’m still struggling with how to just sit and be me and I still feel pretty much detached from everything and everyone. One woman described how she felt after the relationship ended: ‘At first I was so empty I felt like the wind was blowing through me’. I really felt that. I spent so much time and energy pouring everything I had into another person, I didn’t know what to do when he was gone. It felt like I was gone.

Of course there are many more facets to why I am the way I am that need to be examined and dealt with, but already this book has been so helpful that I found I had to get a physical copy so that I can more easily highlight and bookmark the bits that are helping me the most.

As for how to actually heal, well I’m just starting on those chapters, but it’s going to be intense. Simple, but definitely not easy. With Gentleman Friend, I’m pretty sure he was just a very unhealthy distraction, because even with what I’ve learned so far I can’t go back to how I was. Now I know better, I have the responsibility to be and do better. I definitely found myself trying to recreate those ‘highs’ I’d known from before, but thankfully it never got that far.

Okay, enough of the deep stuff. I’ll only be doing that in small, manageable chunks. It takes it out of me I tell you!

This week has seen things just getting better and better. I’ve managed to go out on a few walks, and although I’d planned to do more than actually got done, I also managed to sleep when I needed to instead of trying to pour from an empty cup. I got an average of 9 hours a day, which is unheard of, whilst also having plenty of Pea time, time for journaling, and making sure I stayed on plan with food.

I also found even more cool stuff at the park.

We’re now entering the quiet time of work – February and March are typically the months where we have the least amount to do, and as such we’ve been offered the opportunity to book unpaid leave.

Make no mistake, I really cannot afford to do this, but I’ve decided to make my wellbeing a top priority. I have a week off at the beginning of February, and a week off at the end of March. Apart from doing a few odd things I’ve been meaning to get around to, I’m going to go on some fabulous walks, do plenty of work on myself and generally take time to look after myself properly. Because to be quite honest, I really need this. I see it as the perfect opportunity to completely recharge before I get on with evolving into the next version of myself. The one that doesn’t get into bad relationships!

Today was weigh day, but before I went I made the time to make myself an espresso using some very thoughtful Christmas presents from my brother. Ironically, I’ve been too tired to use them until now.

I was given roasted coffee beans, a hand bean-grinder and a stovetop espresso maker, along with a cute-as-hell double-walled glass to drink it from. It was smooth as hell, but also nearly blew my head off! In a good way.

There are certainly quicker and easier ways to make coffee at home, but I really enjoyed the process of the grinding and smelling the intense aroma of the beans. It was quite relaxing… until I drank all the caffeine and got the jitters!

This week I really wasn’t sure whether I’d lose any weight come weigh-in time. Not because I haven’t been on plan (I’ve been a veritable angel) but because my home scales just weren’t budging. I know, I know, I shouldn’t weigh at home! In my defence I did manage to prevent myself from self-sabotaging, and as a result I got a 2lb loss and Slimmer of the Week, again! This time I did share it with four other very deserving people-it’s nice that so many of us got a piece of the action.

I’m trying not to think too far ahead, but it cannot escape my notice that I still have 8 lbs to lose before I’m lower than my start weight, and that I cannot wait for. In the meantime all I can do is keep plodding on.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Busy

Weirdly, the first work week of January was quite busy, with no opportunity for going home early. This is good, because it means I won’t lose money. The first sniff of an early finish and I’m outta there.

Although outwardly I thought I seemed quite calm, what with waiting for mum’s hospital results and the added stress of man trouble, apparently I wasn’t fooling anyone.

At work, my friend J was a huge support, but we spent way too much time talking. So this week (I’m back in tonight) I’m going to have to crack on. Even when I’m being ‘lazy’, I’m normally more than capable of hitting my targets, however if you have a good work ethic and put in that extra bit of effort, at the times when you aren’t feeling so great you’re more likely to be given a bit of a reprieve. Give and take and all that.

At home, I mostly just hid, but I think I’ve finally snapped out of my hibernation phase. For the first time in months, I’ve been able to get up during the day and do stuff. Thinking about the past and trying to heal those wounds is really, really tough. Exhausting, actually, and since I’ve still got a long way to go I’m likely to have many more periods where it gets worse, then better, then much worse, then great, then average, then worse… you get the idea. It must be done though, because I think this is the culmination of 37 years of stuffing everything I didn’t know how to deal with deep down inside me, and it simply refuses to be contained for one second longer.

People have come to the rescue though. Although I was busy with chores on Sunday, when my friend M offered to meet for coffee in the evening I nearly bit his hand off at the chance of a distraction. I didn’t finish the things I needed to do, but never mind, it’ll wait.

It’s impossible to stay any kind of unhappy or stressed when you’re chauffeured to Costa in an ex Royal Mail van painted (badly) to look like the van from the A-Team.

You’d think that having coffee in the afternoon might have hindered my sleep, but I was that tired it really didn’t make a difference. I’m glad I managed to sleep, because I wanted Sunday over and done with quickly before I had the chance to freak out too much over my mum’s hospital results on Monday morning.

When I woke up Monday morning, really not wanting anything else to deal with, I found that Gentleman Friend had messaged me at 3:30am. The reason for his silence was that he needed ‘me time’. He said he was sorry, and that he knew it was selfish, and asked what I was up to.

I waited till I’d calmed down a bit to reply. You see, everyone, and I mean everyone is absolutely entitled to time alone or to have space whenever they want or need it. Therefore I made it totally clear that needing that isn’t selfish at all. But for the love of god is it too much to ask for that to be communicated rather than just being ignored for 8 days? I didn’t say it quite like that, but that was the gist of it.

I mean, if you really do want time alone then surely you don’t go out of your way to invite someone out then just not bother to follow through without a single word?

So, I said thanks for getting back to me, wished him well, deleted all of his pictures and messages, and carried on with my life.

Done.

Back to the hospital results then. I haven’t gone into details, because I didn’t want to think about it too much, but before Christmas the reason my mum was in hospital was to have a tumour removed. Yesterday’s appointment was to find out what it was and what happens next.

I’ll be forever grateful that my brother came along with us, and that the doctor was running very late, because it took me 50 minutes of driving round and round the multi-storey before I found a parking space. I believe the barriers were broken and saying there were spaces when there weren’t, because I was not the only one doing circuits of the car park.

When I met up with my mum and brother, we didn’t have to wait much longer before she was called. Here’s the good bit – the tumour she had removed was cancerous, but they got it all, it hadn’t reached the muscle of the organ (the bladder) and it’s the least aggressive type of cancer there is. She doesn’t need any further treatment, just regular check ups. In the event it does return, there’s a whole load of various treatments available. The doctor said if he had to have cancer, then he’d choose this kind.

Obviously it’s still terrifying, but as these things go we really couldn’t have hoped for better. I didn’t realise exactly how stressed we’d all been until we got home and started to process that she’s ok. To be honest, I could have laid down there and then and slept for about 20 hours, but there were more things to be done!

Since the day after Boxing Day, I have been super good. I have been out on many walks, and taken many lovely photographs.

Last Saturday, I took my old Russian Helios Lens out with me on my walk and got some gorgeous shots. What’s more, the sun very kindly made an appearance.

The last one is my favourite. I never usually do anything abstract, but I think it’s lovely.

The question is, did all of this hard work pay off when I weighed in Monday evening? The answer is… YES! I lost 3lbs, which I think is great considering I managed to pull back a huge gain and get away with a maintain when I officially weighed in on the last day of the year.

AND I got this, which was most unexpected!

After group, I went for a coffee with my friend Tom, in a McDonald’s of all places. We met at 7pm, when most coffee shops shut, so we didn’t have a huge amount of options. It was surprisingly nice though, and can someone tell me how long table service has been a thing?

Because I’d love another good result on the scales next week, I’m keeping the hard work going. It’s so strange (but GREAT) to want to get out of bed again. I hope I can keep this going for a good long while.

Today I did a six mile walk, and I took my camera with me again. For my own purposes, I’m choosing one shot a day to add to a ‘Walks of 2020 album’ that I can look back on at the end of the year. If some shots are samey or not that interesting, it doesn’t really matter as long as they capture something about that particular walk.

I wasn’t expecting to get anything interesting since I went to the same park on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, but I still managed to find new things.

Pretty awesome.

Well then, I’d best get a nice, healthy dinner on the go before work. I cannot tell you all how good it feels to be writing whilst feeling something like my old self.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

19 to 20

I literally cannot help myself. I’m positively compelled to get reflective towards the end of a month, year, decade… hell, even the end of a week if I’m honest.

2016 was the year I began the attempt to consciously build and shape my life, starting with sorting my weight out. In a way, it’s been a success. I have managed to protect a five stone weight loss, give or take a few pounds at times of particular stress, for two years. Even taking into account the massive gains of recent months, this is still the best I’ve ever done. I’m proud and relieved in equal measure. The last few years haven’t been for nothing after all.

My weight was taking a downwards trend right up until November last year, when I started nearing my target. It’s fairly easy not to think about other important, life-impacting things when you’re focused on that one goal, especially when being successful at weight loss has been something that’s eluded you your entire life up until that point.

But when the other stuff ain’t right, you end up building on top of rickety foundations. Cracks start appearing in the walls, and you can only turn the other way for so long. As such I spent most of 2019 tearing what I’d built to the ground in order to clear space for me to start over. I’m going into 2020 with a determination to build new, solid, foundations, and from there, I’m going to build something good, something sturdy. One brick at a time.

The last day of 2019 started off ok. I cleaned out the refrigerator of the few veggies that perished over Christmas, took delivery of my online shopping, and refilled it with plenty of healthy Slimming World Free Foods.

Then I went out for my last walk of the year, on what was turning out to be a foggy and soggy day. You know, kind that never gets fully light.

The weather matched my mood though, because I’m still really upset about my ‘friend’. I was thinking – if we had met on a dating app, hooked up a few times and this happened I could probably shrug it off. Just block him and get on with my life. But we’ve known each other for a decade. I think that’s why it hurts so much.

So on my walk I did a lot of stomping to try and work it all out of my system. It helped a little.

Despite being such a dull-looking day, there were curiosities to be found, such as this decorated Christmas tree. I’ve seen it before, but it’s never been decorated this nicely until now. If I remember I might add something myself next Christmas.

It was also a good opportunity for me to try out my new socks. Waterproof ones, no less. I found out about them from a post in a hiking group I’m in on Facebook. Even many seasoned hikers use them if they get leaks in otherwise comfortable boots, rather than going through the horrible process of having to break in a new pair.

Since my most comfy footwear isn’t waterproof, I decided to give them a go.

They work! Although since the muddy water was so cold I could feel it going in, my feet stayed completely dry. Pretty cool.

When I got home all the fresh air had tired me out, but no one was as tired as Newton was. He was visiting while his human parents were out shopping in London, and we had a good old cuddle on the sofa. If you are in any doubt about just how sleepy he was, check out his sleeping positions.

New Year’s Eve is typically quite hard for me, and last night was no exception. I was mulling over the last year and finding it so hard to remember the good and positive things. But then I looked at the doggo on my lap, and of course welcoming him into the family made the whole 12 months worthwhile.

I think my current views are clouded by my recent rejection, especially as I’ve been so clearly reminded of previous abandonments lately. I’m guessing the way I feel about being stood up has little to do with actually being stood up. I believe I had hoped for a distraction to make me feel less of a failure last night, and instead I just got a reminder of everything I was trying not to think about.

There’s also the fact that the last two New Year’s that stick in my mind weren’t good ones. There’s the one where my uncles decided it would be a good idea to spike my drinks with numerous other spirits, so I ended up getting absolutely paralytic. I have a vague recollection of my cousin’s fiancé kissing me in the hall as the clock hit midnight, then of my friend trying to drag me up from the pavement outside because I literally couldn’t stand up.

After that, my cousin’s fiancé came on to me and some other relatives at another party (this time I mercifully had my wits about me) so after speaking with my mum (I was still quite young at the time), she spoke to my aunty about it. The response was that I wasn’t to believed, and my cousin ended up marrying the guy. Needless to say, they aren’t still together.

The other one was in 1999 where I was in Cardiff seeing the Manics at the Millenium Stadium. Which sounds pretty cool, but I was so unhappy. I didn’t really feel like I fit in with my group of friends, plus we were staying with friends of friends and I was so shy and uncomfortable. But back then I would have done anything, anything to see my beloved Manics, therefore it seemed like a good idea at the time.

We stayed with student friends, and the house was grim. I got an allergic reaction off of a manky cushion I used as a pillow that night (I didn’t even have a blanket, and I still remember how awfully cold it was) and my face went all bobbly and swelled up. I had to go to the doctors when I got home as by that point my eyes were reduced to tiny slits.

So yeah, it would have been cool to have a distraction from those particular thoughts, but it wasn’t to be. It’s got to be a good thing, because these are thoughts I haven’t entertained in many, many years. How about I deal with them now, and in 12 months time be in a much better place? Sounds like a plan.

The rest of the evening was spent watching Blade Runner 2049 with the family (awesome) then I got an early night as I was planning a very early morning.

The little brother agreed to come out walking with me, and as is tradition we try to leave as early as possible. The problem is, he left the planning up to me which never, ever works out.

You see, I forgot that it’s winter, so when we got to our destination it was can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face dark. So, we had a nap in the car while we waited for daylight, then enjoyed our first walk of 2020.

It was much like yesterday’s one – foggy and soggy! But we did what we set out to do, which for me was to start the year off how I want it to continue. I want to do much more walking and exploring than I did last year, no matter what the weather, and take more pictures with my DSLR.

I’m back at work tonight which means some semblance of routine and normality again, which will hopefully help get me out of this little funk I’m in right now.

I’m sure it’ll pass, because I’m doing the work to make it that way. Building them foundations.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Theft

Recovery isn’t always linear, I’m beginning to find. I read that at some point this year, and it helps me to remember it. After having a terrible experience, I’m getting better at recognising when things aren’t right with a potential romantic interest. Better, but far from perfect.

So, despite numerous red flags, I kept going with my most recent gentleman friend. I didn’t have any particular hopes for us before Christmas Eve, but when he ended up coming home with me I felt that something had changed, that there was something more. I’m not talking about the physical side of things, by the way, and I’m absolutely sure he felt it too.

Even speaking to him Boxing Day, things felt different. And then… nothing. I finally plucked up the courage to call yesterday morning, which is something I wouldn’t do with anyone else, but since this person is always losing/breaking phones, it’s more than possible he just wasn’t getting my messages.

Then when I called, he sounded genuinely pleased to hear from me. I suggested meeting up at some vague point before New Year’s Eve, but then he invited me out that very night. He said he’d message me to confirm the details, but… nothing. I’ve heard nothing since.

It may seem like a minor thing, but it isn’t the first time it’s happened. If I stuck around, I’m sure it wouldn’t be the last. What I want from a relationship (amongst other things) is stability and consistency, and he can’t offer either of these, for whatever reason.

Whether he can’t or he won’t, it’s all the same. It’ll just be even more painful to carry on down this road. Therefore that’s it, I really am done with this one, and I’m glad I’m drawing a line and not carrying this situation into next year. I had a little cry last night, remembered to give myself a pat on the back for only letting this go on for a couple of weeks instead of over a year like the last one, and got myself out for weigh in this morning.

Thankfully, I’ve somehow managed to stay the same since my last weigh in, though I can’t actually remember when that was. Yay for Christmas miracles!

After getting weighed, I then went out leafleting for my consultant. I went yesterday too, figuring that it would be good in several different ways. I get to do some exercise, I help my friend promote her business, and it boosts my commitment to my Slimming World group.

Both times we went out were eventful. In case you don’t know, when posting leaflets it’s a good idea to take a wooden spoon with you, to help you poke the leaflet through the letterbox.

For me, mainly this helps stop your hands from getting sore, because some letterboxes really are more hazardous than you might expect, but it’s also in case your fingers get bitten by a dog.

I didn’t think this would ever really happen, but then the very first time I posted a leaflet through a door yesterday, a humongous-sounding beast grabbed the leaflet and the spoon right out of my hand. I tried to hold on, but it was too damn strong!

Feeling utterly bemused, I rang the doorbell to ask for the spoon back, but no one was home. Some very confused dog owner is probably even now wondering why someone posted a wooden spoon to them. I for one am just glad it’s not my fingers they found on their doormat.

Then today we split into two groups and I went off with a lovely lady with blue hair. In the first street, she had a fall and couldn’t carry on. Although she wouldn’t admit it to begin with and I did have to practically force her to go home rather than trying to continue. Hopefully nothing is broken!

Since coming home I’ve been planning how I’m going to smash my weight loss goals, which is now absolutely essential since I have broken my very favourite item of clothing.

This is an unmitigated disaster. I have other cold-weather items but nothing compares to these babies, and my tummy has gone and burst through the zip! They are £90 to buy new, so although a lovely work friend has donated her pair to me, I’ll be getting these ones repaired at some point.

I also can’t risk wearing the new pair yet, in case I break those too. So yeah, I’m getting serious about this now.

I’m using Slimming World’s own 12 week journal to keep me on track, using my favourite ever picture of me as inspiration. That photo was also taken on the day I last felt genuinely OK.

It was taken in May, at the Swingamajig festival. I felt so good – slim, confident, excited about the future… I just felt like myself. Then everything came crashing down.

I already have tickets for Swingamajig 2020, which takes place on the 8th of May. By then I aim to be back on that good place or, scratch that, even better. For the first time in a long time I really believe that will happen.

I’m just going to take it one day at a time, and congratulate myself for every day that I stay on plan. If I don’t achieve anything else, at the end of the day I can say to myself ‘I did a positive thing, just for me, and I’m proud of myself for doing it’. If nothing else, at least I’ll have that.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Christmas Past

This post is being very stubborn. It just doesn’t seem to want to be written, but I’m forcing it out onto the page. I need to draw a line under this Christmas business before I can move on to healthier, more positive things, and the best way for me to do that is to write about it. No matter how much the words don’t want to come. I think I more than proved my point in my last entry, because I now feel a lot better after purging that from my system.

So, Christmas 2019 then. Honestly? I’m glad it’s over. The whole of December has been a month of backtracking, broken promises (to myself) and failures, and although I did have fun on occasion I struggled to find the tiniest jot of Christmas spirit. This used to be the norm with me, but over the last few years I found myself being able to enjoy the season again. When I think back on it, this coincided largely with me being in control of my diet and actually managing to lose some damn weight!

If there’s anything I haven’t been lately, it’s in control.

I went out Christmas Eve with a group of work friends, a night out I’d been looking forward to for ages. But because of how I feel about my size, these kind of events are again tainted for me. I’d hoped I’d left those kinds of feelings in the past where they belong, but my four stone (YES, FOUR!!!) weight gain since November 2018 refuses to be ignored. I wanted to feel on top of the world, but instead I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious.

I bought a shiny dress specially for the occasion, knowing that I’d be way overdressed compared to my friends. I nearly swapped it out for an oversized black jumper at the last minute, but then I ran out of time so I had to just go with it. I met with my gentleman friend at his house as he lives round the corner from me (don’t ask. I said I was backtracking didn’t I?!) and walking to his in this dress at 11am got me some stares I tell you.

I was definitely the best-dressed on the council estate that morning! After a while I did start to feel more comfortable in my outfit, but I couldn’t help thinking back to how I looked last Christmas. It was my slimmest Christmas ever in fact.

Size 22 vs size 14. Sigh.

I wish I could have worn the Mrs Claus outfit on the night out instead, but it’ll be remaining in the loft till next year.

Because I was feeling sorry for myself, I ended up eating like a pig right up until the night out which meant I was bigger and more bloated than I would have been if I just hadn’t thought about it. It’s so typical of me, I do wonder if I’ll ever stop sabotaging myself in that way.

Christmas Eve ended up being rather special, but I struggled big time with Christmas Day. I’m still suffering massively with tiredness (I woke up at 2am Christmas Eve morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, and Christmas Eve night wasn’t much better) so I felt that because I couldn’t be the happy, energetic person I wanted to be, that I ruined it for everyone else. It was still a nice day though, and someone who definitely wasn’t complaining was Newton, who got a massive pile of presents all to himself.

He was so well behaved, and so tolerant of us dressing him up. He really couldn’t give a damn, probably because he had a massive pile of wrapping paper to destroy. He loves paper, so his first Christmas was a massive success. Such a spoilt doggo.

Christmas night I’d planned a surprise Christmas disco for everyone. I bought a little LED disco light which was actually awesome and a fantastic bargain, we had glow sticks, and I bought some wigs so we could dress up and take some photo booth-style photos. It was fun but we were all so pooped by this stage, it wasn’t quite the event I had envisioned. 

It still made for some interesting photos so I shouldn’t complain.

The idea for Boxing Day was to get right back on plan and change my gosh darn life, and it nearly worked dammit. I slipped at lunch time, but since then I’ve been perfect. Ok, it’s only been one day, but it’s something right?

I had a record-breakingly bad sleep yesterday (a mere three hours, not nearly enough to get through a night shift on) but I did spend a lot of time journaling in preparation for getting everything back on track again. 2018 was a hard year for me, really damn hard, so I was confident at the beginning of the year that 2019 was going to be better. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a whole lot worse. The thing is, I had to let things get worse and make some difficult choices before I even had a shot at them getting better, so now that’s done I know that I can make 2020 the year where things come back together again. Not only that, but they’ll be better than they were to begin with.

What I need to keep in mind though is that there’s every possibility 2020 will throw just as much crap at me, if not more, but the one single, solitary, thing I can change is how I react to the challenges that will no doubt come my way.

I’m not going to let anything beat me, and when I come to write my 2020 Christmas post, neither of us will recognise that tired, bloated woman in the photo above.

But for now, let the work begin!

Hayley x

Triggered

I never really understood what it meant to be triggered. On social media it seems to be a byword for someone who is ‘too sensitive’, and whilst I understand the true meaning of it, I never fully grasped what a crappy thing it is to be triggered until recently. I’m guessing that I’ve been triggered before, but I don’t think I’ve had the self-awareness to recognise it for what it is until now.

At least as far as my own experience goes, being triggered is not just about getting upset over being reminded of something bad in your past. It seems to me that when you are triggered that reminder serves to, emotionally, put you right back in that place you so desperately want to forget.

I really don’t remember much about my childhood, and I prefer to keep it that way, but some things stuck. None of them are good. When I was about 16 my mum got a gall stone stuck in her bile duct, which caused her to go bright yellow. She was admitted to hospital, and since my dad was (is) a complete waste of space, myself and my little brother and sister went to stay with some aunties, on my mum’s side of the family.

That side of the family is extensive. My Nan and granddad popped out kids into the double figures, and cousins, well, we stopped counting when we got past 30. Growing up the message was clear – if anything ever happens we’ll be there for you. What a load of shit.

As a kid we were always visiting my mum’s side of the family. Everyone loved my dad, thought he was a ‘diamond geezer’, but after he dumped his family for some disgusting old trout (after years of emotional abuse I might add) you’d think they’d stand by their sister, right? Nope! Amongst other despicable things, my uncle (my mum’s own brother) let my dad rent his flat, which in itself is pretty low, I think.

So, mum goes into hospital, and I’m already at breaking point at this stage after the messy divorce, plus I’m at a pretty delicate age that’s difficult for any teenager to deal with at the best of times. I’m trying to get to grips with that, plus I’m at college and barely coping with what I now recognise as crippling anxiety. I’m self-harming pretty badly too, but no one knows about that yet.

Thankfully, I go to stay with one aunt and my brother and sister stay with another, but we are only there for one night before they decide they don’t want us.

After being dumped back home where I start to figure out how I’m going to look after two school-age-children, cope with college and try not to worry too much about my mum, the phone rings. It’s my uncle, and he wants to know where my dad is because he hasn’t paid the rent. I said I don’t know (I didn’t, and yes it’s a touchy subject with someone whose family has let them down so monumentally), so he gets angry that I’m not giving him the information he wants. He hangs up the phone but then calls straight back. I don’t answer it, so I’m left a lovely answering machine message informing me I’m a cunt, and that he wouldn’t piss on me if I was on fire. ‘Scuse the foul language, by the way.

That evening an aunt picks us up to take us visiting at the hospital, and I’m told not to tell my mum I’m upset. The one single adult I feel like I have left in the whole world who cares about me, and I’m not allowed to say anything.

Aaaaanyway, mother gets better and I set to work not thinking about this kind of stuff, whilst keeping a hatred of everyone on my mum’s side of the family simmering on a low heat for the rest of eternity.

On Monday, my mum was back in hospital for an operation, and oh boy did I find out what being triggered really meant. On top of being worried about mum, I felt the huge weight of responsibility settle on my shoulders and honestly, I felt like I’d be crushed by it.

Things were very different this time around though. My brother and sister are both adults now, and if I ask them for help, they’ll give it. I’ve got some pretty marvellous friends who are only ever a text or a call away, and I actually have quite an amazing support network at work, of all places.

I know all of this, but for the last two weeks I’ve felt like a frightened and abandoned child who is completely alone in the world. I’ve been wondering whether, if I saw my father, I might try to wring his wrinkly old neck. Because I’m so furious that he wasn’t there when we needed him in the first place. Which is weird, because he’s the very last person I want help from right now. ‘Triggered’ seems like a very small word for such a big feeling.

Whilst waiting for the hospital to ring, a couple of aunties are incessantly trying to get hold of me, wanting updates. Every time the phone makes a sound I’m on it, my heart pounding, anticipating the news of how the operation went. My brother and sister are with me, and they sit up straight and pay attention. The whole room is on high alert. But nope, it’s an annoying aunt. After the initial shot of adrenaline, all I can think is, alternately, ‘where were you when we needed you?’ and ‘I hate you so much, I wish I didn’t have to have anything to do with you’.

Mother is on the mend now, and although we don’t know exactly what the future holds (we are waiting to hear what, if anything, happens next) I’m sure now that I can deal with it. I won’t crumble when my family needs me, and I’m choosing to see it as a good thing that I’ve had to revisit all of these feelings.

By thinking it through, I’ve been able to challenge my own thoughts. I think I’m all alone, but I’m not. I think I can’t cope, but I can. I think everyone will abandon me. They won’t – the family and friends I’ve chosen to keep in my life won’t let me down.

So, this was my brain on Monday. Tuesday was an insanely frustrating day, trying to get my mother out of the hospital, which we eventually achieved a mere 6 hours after she was physically ready to be discharged. About five of those hours were spent waiting for a letter to be printed off for her to take home with her, just outlining what she’d had done. I’m failing to see why that took so long but also, another hour was spent waiting for the pharmacist to deliver some unknown drug for mum to take home with her.

Whilst some poor person was no doubt sitting in recovery for hours waiting for a bed to become available (as my mum had been the day before) a bed was being taken up waiting for a patient to be given Co-codamol, a frikkin drug you can buy in a supermarket for under 30p.

A) why didn’t they give her the prescription so we could collect it from the pharmacy ourselves? Not that we would have bothered, we have a drawer full of over-the-counter painkillers already… and B) why the flip is the NHS giving out prescriptions for stuff like that in the first place? How much must that cost? At least ask if it’s needed first!

Wednesday I was late getting to sleep as we had shopping delivered, then on Thursday I took my brother to an awards ceremony. I can’t go into details (at his request, he keeps things on the down-low) but we spent the afternoon hobnobbing with important police officers and commissioners. It was a weird kind of afternoon, but we both did surprisingly well in a social situation we both found excruciatingly uncomfortable.

Friday and Saturday I slept most of the day (keep in mind I’ve been working nights as usual) and now finally, finally I’ve had enough rest in order to be able to think straight.

I haven’t felt Christmassy at all so far, and what with everything that’s been going I haven’t felt like wearing my Christmas hats or anything like that. However, I am off work now for four whole nights!

So, expect normal service to resume shortly, with hopefully three weeks’ worth of festivities somehow crammed into a few days. Challenge accepted!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Expectation vs Reality

It’s a lot longer between blog posts than I intended it to be, but it’s been a difficult week-and-a-bit. First of all, the bug I caught wasn’t too bad, but also not conducive to getting much done.

On day one I felt awful – I went to bed shivering and unable to get warm, and woke up with a temperature. As I was lying in bed mustering the energy to get up and prepare Pea’s breakfast, I remembered how as a child my mum would be ripping off my cosy blankets right now and sticking a fan in my face to cool me down, much to my displeasure. But I’m a grown up now, so I had to rip off my own blankets and make sure I got my temperature down before steam started coming out of my ears. Being a grown up sucks.

Once Pea’s breakfast was done I got back to bed and spent the rest of the day literally sweating the bug out. I mean I was drenched, so much so that I had to sleep on a towel at one point, but when I got up for work I felt strangely fine. This is ok with me, because I don’t like using sick days during the peak period at work. It looks suspicious and I feel guilty even when I’ve done nothing wrong.

This carried on for a few days – feeling fine for work at night and getting weirdly sweaty in the day. Attractive, I know! When Sunday’s family Crafternoon came around, I was still feeling pretty rough.

I had a lovely plan of putting decorations on the table, getting a few nibbles, setting out loads of different art and craft options and in general being an awesome host. I just didn’t have it in me though, so what we did have was a great big mess.

I decided to just do one thing – start work on the donkey decoration I’ve been meaning to sew since December 2017. I’ve been so long getting round to it I even convinced myself it was a donkey when it is in fact a bloody reindeer!

I managed to get the body done before our meal, but I ended up finishing it in the early hours of the next morning because my sleep patterns at the weekend are still very much broken.

It’s a bit messy for my liking, and if I make another one there are some changes I’ll make to the instructions to make it better, but it’s still cute and it still looks good on the rainbow tree.

The meal itself was delicious, but still, it would have been so much nicer if I’d been feeling myself. I’ve been to the restaurant once before and I love how cosy it is, and we even had some live music. I’m not sure how I feel about that though. Are you supposed to clap while you’re eating? No one seemed to know what to do. Was I supposed to tip him? Nope, no idea.

Of course we did some pictures before the food came, and as it happens this is the last picture of my hair like that. More on that in a minute.

For starters, we had ‘prawn’ cocktail. I have no idea what it was made of, but it tasted exactly like a real prawn. Unnervingly so. The only reason I wasn’t totally freaked out is because the texture was too firm to be a real prawn.

Once I got used to the idea I really enjoyed it, but not as much as the mains. The cauliflower/broccoli ‘cheese’ was the absolute best bit which I could have eaten all day long.

Dessert was a bit average, but I was stuffed at that point anyway.

It was a very successful first Christmas dinner of the season, but I must admit I’m struggling to find my Christmas spirit this year. I just don’t feel like I normally do, which might be because I’m still finding my feet after a pretty tough year. Plus life keeps throwing spanners in the works every time I start to feel settled.

I think I need to let go of the illusion of control, because let’s face it, there’s very little in life we have any control over whatsoever.

When I started Slimming World in 2016, to a certain extent I forced control on my life. I stopped socialising, I didn’t really do anything as long as it was in line with my goals, completely avoiding anything that wasn’t.

Part of me wants to go back to that so that I can get back on track, but the other part of me wonders if I even can. Maybe it’s just not possible for me to do that any more.

I mentioned a gentleman friend recently, but I’ve realised I’m not even ready to have casual fun. Even at this early stage I feel myself starting to ‘perform’ for affection and not really be my true self. Plus I don’t feel like I’m getting enough respect, and I just can’t go ignoring red flags any more. I know where that leads and it’s nowhere good.

I am worried that this is me controlling this aspect of my life the only way I can right now (by avoiding the situation) but I’ve decided to go with instinct on this one. I’m trusting that it’s not the right time for this – I still have more work to do on myself before I can potentially be with someone in any capacity. It’s just a distraction, stopping me from getting the work done, which maybe I’d be going along with if my feelings weren’t getting slightly hurt along the way. Time to put a stop to that, because gentleman friends are not supposed to make you feel sad. At least I realised this now. Progress, right?!

So, on Tuesday, even though it was the very last thing I felt like doing, I went to get a hair cut.

I was going to ask to keep the same style and just get it tidied up, but then my hairdresser has a way of convincing me to try something new. Instead of a trim, this happened:

Also, how pretty is my eyeshadow? I’ve been saving that one for December. I love the cut and everyone keeps telling me how much it suits me, but I’m mildly freaking out about how chubby my face has got. You’d think it would be enough to keep me on plan really, but sadly it hasn’t.

I did somehow stay on plan all the time I felt poorly, but after the meal out it all went wrong. Having said that, it hasn’t been as bad as it usually is so that’s something. I’ll weigh in later on and start attempt number 482829937.

To be honest I’ll be glad when Christmas is over, as much as I’m trying to go with the flow and take what comes. It’s harder than it looks.

Rather than end on a negative, here’s a picture of Newton modelling his new Christmas jumper (and looking rather fabulous I might add). At least someone’s in the Christmas spirit!

Hayley x

 

Loose Hips and High Arches

From time to time, weighing myself at home isn’t such a bad thing. For most of last week my home scales were showing a 4-5 pound loss, which is awesome! I say most of the week… I mean every day except weigh day, when of course my weight suddenly shot up again. This is the curse of my gosh darn xx chromosomes, so there’s not much that can be done about that.

What’s more, weigh day was also Christmas shopping day so I ventured a few miles out to a town that actually has a high street with shops that are still open. This particular town also has a Wagamama, so I brought a friend along to share lunch with me.

I had my usual kare baruso ramen (14 syns) which is still perfectly on plan but is nonetheless quite a hefty dish. It was also very salty, so after eating a huge bowl of delicious broth, crispy fried tofu, tasty veggies and big fat udon noodles, I was thirsty as hell. When I got home I downed about four pints of water then had a quick nap before group.

I knew that what I’d consumed would affect the scales, but I also knew that it would be temporary. It had no bearing on the actual amount of fat I’d lost over the previous seven days, therefore I wasn’t going to miss out on a nice lunch just to keep the numbers on the scales lower.

Despite all of my heavy foods and drinks, I still managed to lose a pound, so as long as I stick with it I should be destined for an extra good loss come next Monday.

Except… it’s the vegan Christmas meal on Sunday!

As such I’m being extra good for the rest of the week and for once in my life I’m absolutely positive I’m going to stay on plan before and after that meal. Normally it’s a case of ‘I’m really going to try, honest!’ But this is different. I’m doing this.

I nearly messed up Tuesday morning because after a weekend of lots of doing and not much sleeping, I almost reached for many slices of white bread. Instead I had Quorn vegan ham, Ryvita and tomatoes. I win!

Also, my home scales are now showing a midweek 6 pound loss so I’d say it’s fairly likely I’ll still lose next week.

Yesterday I had my physio appointment for my knee, which coincided with the pain in my knee lessening significantly. I felt like a fraud and nearly cancelled my appointment, but it’s a good job I didn’t because it seems there is quite a lot wrong with me!

First of all, the lady asked me to lay down on my back and straighten my legs, getting my knees as flat to the bed as I could. My knees basically bend back the wrong way, so I got them completely flat. The lady was quite surprised – I had no idea that they aren’t supposed to do that!

It turns out I have hyper mobility, meaning that the ligaments in my lower body are waaaaaaay too loose and my knee caps are free to move around much more than they should. Which is why they crunch and click so much. Because of the ligament problem, from childhood I’ve subconsciously learned to lock my knees when I stand for stability rather than engaging the muscles, especially in my right leg, meaning that the muscles are way too weak. Especially in the hip area. So I have some exercises to do to strengthen these muscles which will in turn keep my knee caps where they should be.

In addition to that the physio said she’d never seen arches as high as mine, which cause me to put too much pressure on my toes when I walk. Coupled with my loose hip, it also causes my right knee to turn in when I walk causing more pain.

This is good though, because all of this can be managed with the right exercises. I did ask if I would be able to run, but I was advised to learn how to walk properly first. Fair point I suppose!

Finally, although as I mentioned in my last post it’s a little too early for Christmas things for me, Christmas just will not be contained. There are Christmas songs on the radio at work, and you know what they say – if you can’t beat them, join them!

Most of the presents are wrapped, the tree is up and I’m in love with my decorations. How many people can say they have a bunch of Free Foods on their tree?

I think you’ll agree that the rainbow tree is frikking awesome. And if you don’t? Well, you are just plain wrong!

I only have to wait till Sunday though, then I’m going full on, completely unapologetically, 100% Christmassy. I don’t even care that I’ve woken up feeling rather pants with an icky bug. I’ll just wrap up warm for work and break out the cold and flu tablets till it’s gone. After all…

🎶 It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! 🎶

Hayley x

Not Enough Hats

I can’t WAIT till the first of December! I do try to hold off on the decorations and music until then, plus on that day we are having a festive family craft afternoon followed by a special sibling Christmas dinner at The Oak Tree vegan restaurant.

From a more practical point of view, it means I can stop doing my hair on work days. December means Christmas hat time, but, shock horror, I don’t have as many as I thought I did.

I only have eight.

It was seven, but I found Mr Penguin in Primark yesterday after remembering there was definitely a penguin-shaped hole in my collection. That’s something at least.

It’s unlikely I’m going to find another 7 unique hats in time to have a different one for each shift before I break up for Christmas, so I’ll rather embarrassingly have to wear some of these twice. How awful!

I’m putting on a brave face and trying to stay positive about it nonetheless, which is lucky because as I was getting my Crimbo supplies from the loft I found some things to test my newfound hopeful outlook. Worst of all was my Mrs Santa outfit, in a size 14. I’m currently a size 18, so I won’t even bother trying it on, I’ll just focus on how good I’m going to feel when I wear it next year. Which I definitely will! I will have been at target for months by that point.

I think the reason I’m staying positive is because of a successful shopping trip yesterday. I was browsing the Laura Ashley sale rail when I cam across this purple beauty:

Laura Ashley go up to a size 18, and there was one there so I thought I’d try it on, and take the opportunity to do some ‘before’ selfies as a record of this most recent fresh start.

It fit perfectly. I shall wear the frig out of it this season – including the sibling meal, to Christmas Eve drinks with friends, and Christmas Day. I don’t actually think I have anything else planned, but if something comes up, I’m wearing it!

I did have a changing room revelation. I was thinking back to Christmas 2016. I’d lost 3 stone that year, and although I was feeling a lot better about myself the fact remains I was desperate to lose a couple more stone. To be able to look relatively ‘normal’. To have choices. To shop in Laura Ashley. And here I am, doing what 2016 Hayley only dreamed of!

In reality I don’t look half as bad as my depressed brain said I did. AND my work salopettes are feeling slightly looser already! It only takes a few days of really eating properly for the bloating to go down.

There is hope. I’m back, and I’m really trying to stick around this time.

I even did a little painting.

Just for the fun of it.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x