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

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

A Wet Start

Oh look, it’s November! October was a really hard month for me, but it all turned out ok. I’m alive, I’m breathing, I’m ready to try again continue. Life goes on, things get better, and progress isn’t linear.

I opened a can of worms, which was totally necessary. I’ve been unpacking a load of crap from my past which has made me (amongst a plethora another emotions), angry, sad… and hopeful. There are things I didn’t want to look at ever again, things I didn’t know to look for in the first place, things I thought were gone, but all of these buried things have a way of showing up in our lives without us even realising. Until I acknowledge them and deal with them, I can’t have a full life.

Last week I did wonder if it would have been better not to have opened the can and stay quietly yet comfortably miserable for the rest of my life, but in recent times it’s been anything but comfortable. The only way is forwards.

On a very soggy walk this morning, I had an epiphany regarding my first proper relationship in 2005. When I was a kid my dad would often go out, get drunk and not come home when he said he would. I’m not talking a little bit late, I’m talking more like a day late. Kids pick up on things, and I saw how it left my mum bereft.

Fast forward back to 2005, and the logical part of me knows that all men aren’t like that. Then the guy I was seeing at the time, quite reasonably, couldn’t make the last train home after hanging out with work friends in London and had to stay over. He let me know so I didn’t worry, but I felt abandoned. It was so, so painful. My head knew that his behaviour was reasonable and ordinary, but my body was reliving everything from when I was a kid, making me feel scared, anxious… bereft.

I’ve been reading about how the body remembers what the mind forgets, which I couldn’t really understand at first. Then when I thought back to that example, I totally got it.

What’s more, while I’m waiting for a professional to talk over these things with, I’ve found a Facebook group run by one of my favourite Instagram accounts, Loving Me After We. When you join you are provided with prompts and guidance to start the work of healing. I see this as a very good starting point. I’ll do that and see how I go.

If it gets too much, I’ll remember that this work is difficult, and cut myself some damn slack.

So, this morning, straight after work, I went for a walk in my up-until-today favourite park. I realised that I don’t actually like the park as much as I thought I did – it is good for working out because it’s very hilly, but the park round the corner from me (the one with all the mushrooms) is actually much nicer.

I’ve been avoiding this particular park because I didn’t want to bump into a particular person I know, but I decided to stop not doing things for that reason. It was only when I got there I noticed it didn’t hold the same appeal that it used to.

This is good, because I faced that particular fear so I can stop wishing I could go there. Now I just don’t want to go there!

Having said that, it was still a nice walk. It drizzled the whole time but it was still warm enough and so refreshing after spending a night in a dusty warehouse. I took a couple of photos, but not too many because I didn’t want to destroy my camera, and well, it was mostly just grey anyway.

Anyway, the important thing is that I got out. My new plan is to be out walking Monday to a Friday, then spend time on the more arty things I like on Saturdays and Sundays. I’m going to try hard to get back into a healthy routine.

November goals right there!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

A Dip

I normally get really down when it’s my birthday but weirdly, this year it never happened. Once my birthday was done however I found my mood dropping drastically by the day. It’s probably a coincidence, because I no longer get those ‘oh my god I’m failing at life! I should have a husband, children, my own house and a fulfilling job by now!’ moments. In fact these days I’m positively relieved I don’t have some of those.

I thought perhaps I’d had some kind of breakthrough where I wouldn’t ever feel as bad again as I do right now. Perhaps that was naive of me. Ok, definitely naive of me, because once more I feel more than a little lost and I suppose betrayed by my own body and mind. We weren’t supposed to be doing this any more!

I haven’t helped myself this weekend. I’ve eaten aaaaaaall the pizza in an attempt to numb the pain, and had a couple of bottles of wine, too. Which has definitely just made me feel even worse in the long run, and helped me put back on all the weight I lost over the last couple of weeks. I skipped group this week too, and might do the same next week. It’s the Mr Sleek and Miss Slinky awards (the most cringe-worthy of them all) and I’m really not feeling up to a taster night.

So what I’ve done is add to the bad feelings I already had, which now I’m feeling guilty about. Guilt, guilt and more guilt, about so many things! In a matter of days I’ve gone from feeling pretty much ok and quite positive to completely overwhelmed with everything and like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ve hardly touched the art supplies I got for my birthday that I was so excited to get, (more guilt) because I’ve barely had the energy to even sit and watch a movie. Quite frankly, this is all bullshit and I’m sick of this awful cycle.

On the plus side I had a telephone appointment today to find out what help I can get for all of this. I’ve been referred for counselling, with the only downside being I will have to wait somewhere between 6 to 18 weeks for my first appointment. I suppose I’ll just have to keep doing the best I can in the meantime.

I did manage to drag myself out on Sunday even though it was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. Newton has now been fully immunised and is allowed out for walkies, so me and little brother visited the sister so we could all take him to the park.

He was loving it! It took us a while to get there because he wanted to stop and sniff everything, but eventually we got to an open area where he could have a good run. He’s still so tiny but he’s bloody fast!

Later on it turned chilly and he was getting tired so he was carried some of the way home, the lazy little git. Who can resist a face like that though?

I found more mushrooms too. Ok, so admittedly the weekend wasn’t a complete write off.

Tomorrow I’ll get back on plan and get out for a walk, because I know it will help. It’s just the getting up and starting it that’s the problem. All I want to do is sleep. Anyway, that’s enough moaning for one day.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Counter-cursed

The curse of the Sunday night takeaway has been broken! It wasn’t easy, because Sunday night was also family film night. We’re working our way through the Studio Ghibli classics, and Spirited Away night also coincided with mum and brother’s monthly takeaway. I just tried not to think about it too much, and I got through it without too much bother. Even the smell of the pizza dough seemed less intoxicating than usual.

So with this victory in mind how did I get on at group on Monday? Well, I lost a rather wonderful 6.5 pounds! That’s it, that’s exactly what I needed. Now the ball is rolling again I know I can keep going.

My consultant is lovely, but I didn’t enjoy group all that much this week. I think it was a combination of just being really sleepy and wishing I was in bed, combined with the pungent smell of a fish curry. Yuk! We had a curry night in group, and even if I did trust any of the food (I overheard fish curry lady telling someone her dish was vegetarian) I wouldn’t have fancied it anyway. What I am looking forward to is mocktail night which is coming up next month. That could be interesting, especially as I’m off the sauce. No drinkies for me till Christmas Day!

I had planned to do more walking last week but I was so tired that it never came to fruition. I figured if I let myself get too tired, I’m more likely to go off plan, plus it’s good to let yourself have a decent catch up. I must get out this week though because it’s mushroom season and I want to find some good ones.

The trouble is, my sleep pattern is a little bit messed up. It’s mostly because of Newton! When I got in from work this morning, I should have gone straight to sleep. Instead I spent way too long playing with an energetic puppy. Not sensible! I should be sleeping now really, but I just couldn’t get off.

As ever I think it’s just a case if rebalancing again. I’m doing a more physical job at work tonight and I’m determined to get out for a walk tomorrow, so that should help me reset my pattern.

Yesterday a lot of time was taken up at the hair salon. About three hours actually, but it’s always good to catch up with the awesome dude who has been styling my hair on and off for the last seventeen years. Or thereabouts.

In recent times as you know I’ve struggled to locate my mojo, and I haven’t felt much like myself. However as myself has come back stronger than ever I felt it was time that the outside should match the inside.

I thought about getting my haircut once I’d lost a bit more weight. Then I thought… eff that!

This was me yesterday morning:

This was me yesterday afternoon:

Richard has mulleted me many times over the years. It’s something that really shouldn’t work, but I absolutely love it. Just like the mullet, I’m back!

In fact I’d say I’m more ‘me’ than ever right now. After my latest foray into the world of relationships, I really wondered why I allow myself to be treated badly. The usual suspects didn’t ring true – I don’t crave love or relationships (at least I don’t think I do, perhaps I should question that assumption), I’m really happy when I’m on my own, and I never go actively looking for partners. So I figure it’s not a case of just feeling like I’m not complete without a boyfriend.

But when I fall for someone, I ignore all the red flags and will fold myself in half trying to keep the person who is tearing me apart. I have a telephone assessment for counselling coming up later this month, but from what I can the gather the thing I’m mostly likely to be offered is CBT in order to cope with feelings of depression and anxiety in the future.

But I don’t want to cope. I WANT TO HEAL!

I’ve been asking myself if that’s even possible. Do people ‘get better’ or do they just learn to live with it? Is there something wrong with me? Can I be ‘fixed’? If I want more than CBT, what do I even ask for? Is a more in-depth treatment accessible to me? Do I deserve it? Am I depressed ‘enough’?

The answer popped up most unexpectedly, in the most unlikely of places – Instagram! I stumbled across a whole plethora of help and information after reading about dating advice from someone I follow for a completely different reason and it’s been a total game changer.

I thought I was weird, that others don’t have the same problems as me, but when it comes to love it seems I’m pretty much textbook. Everything I read is almost word-for-word my own experience, and what’s more, I’m learning what do to about it! I’ve never felt so sure that I can stop repeating past mistakes and that something/someone really good is out there waiting for me. I could actually share my life with someone in a really fun, healthy and special way, without destroying myself in the process. WHO KNEW?

Well, a lot of you knew. You tried to tell me, but I didn’t really understand, or if I did and happened to believe it, it didn’t think it could be true for me. I’m sure I’ll go into this more in future posts where I’ll share really valuable resources (I need to make a list and get all of the information in order) but for now let’s just say my mind is well and truly blown. If you are struggling with absolutely anything in life, although social media obviously isn’t a replacement for actual therapy, you can guarantee there’s an Insta-therapist who can point you in the right direction. In my case it simply helped me learn what to ask for. That’s a pretty good starting point.

In the meantime I’ve added a couple of paintings to my Birdtober collection, but I am now a couple of days behind. I intend to catch up tomorrow though and I’m ridiculously excited about fairy wrens. Watch this space.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x