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