The Trouble with Love

For the best part of almost two years I have been a little lost in myself while loving someone else. What started as friendship soon turned into lust, like and then love. My boyfriend and I are coming up to our two year anniversary and for those that have been reading my blog for the last six years you’ll know that relationships aren’t really my strength.

I’ve struggled with letting people in in the past and have been called out on that more than a few times. This relationship is no different in some respects.

We got together during a group holiday with friends in New York City. We had been growing closer to each other for a few months before our trip, and it was during a hiking trip up Mount Snowdon where I realised I liked him.

When we went to New York I had said to friends beforehand that this trip would either bring us together or would be the end of the crush. We kissed on day two, after a very drunken night out in Greenwich Village.

We spent the rest of the trip hiding our togetherness from our friends, who later told us they already knew we would get together.

When we got back to London we established that we would see how it went with each other, and not put a label on it yet. A few months later we went to Rome for his birthday, where he told me he loves me, and I told him I did too.

Not long after that my Dad told us about his cancer returning.

My Dad battled his final cancer for four months, and then he passed. In that four months my boyfriend struggled with my evolving emotions as the realisation that I was going to lose my Dad began to hit me.

For my 30th birthday we booked a trip to Rhodes, after weeks of trying to figure out where to go and him saying no to my dream of spending my 30th in Los Angeles; partly because he hated LA, and partly because my birthday falls in the summer holidays where travel is at it’s most expensive. So LA was a no, and we argued over where to go for weeks before I had had enough and booked Rhodes.

It would have been a nice holiday if I hadn’t been stressed and deeply depressed about my Dad’s illness.

I had told my family that I would be putting my phone on airplane mode for the holiday, to get away from the stress at home and to have a break, but that if they needed to contact me they should contact my boyfriend and he would tell me what was happening.

My eldest sister was the gatekeeper for this, as she could see how fast I was deteriorating back into depression and wanted to help keep me afloat. My boyfriend tried his hardest to make me happy on the holiday but my stress and depression was too much for both of us and we fought a lot on the trip.

By the end of the holiday we had decided to take a break from each other.

When we landed back in London, we went to my boyfriends house before I left to go to mine when I got a call from my eldest sister. She told me that she hadn’t wanted to tell me on my birthday holiday as she wanted me to have a good time, but the nurses had told our Dad he only had a few months to live. If I had thought I was stressed before, it was nothing to getting that call.

A month later, less one day, my Dad passed away.

Throughout it all, my boyfriend and I fought. We would fight, break up, cry and get back together, promising each other to try harder.

I had told my boyfriend a lot about my Dad’s past and what life had been like growing up with him. I had done this in the hope that it would help him understand me better. It hadn’t occurred to me that it would make him hate my Dad as much as it did.

Trying to cope with losing my Dad was hard enough, but not feeling like I could lean on my boyfriend during this time because of his hatred for my Dad made life so much harder.

When I tried to talk about happy memories I was met with “but he did this/that/the other”; it didn’t help and made me sink further into myself while trying to grieve.

I had known my Dad wasn’t perfect, but he was and always will be my Dad. For all the bad memories I have great ones too, and I know that he was trying his hardest with the cards he was dealt at the time.

It’s now almost a year since my Dad passed, and in that year I have been battling my firsts of everything without him. Things hit me that I hadn’t been prepared for; like when I got a great review at work and immediately wanted to call him to tell him, knowing he would be so proud of me, or when I couldn’t remember the name of the pub we always had amazing Sunday lunches at in Doncaster and knew he’d know the name of it straight away so I picked up my phone to ring him before I realised what I was doing.

I have also been battling these firsts with further fights with my boyfriend. Me constantly telling him he doesn’t understand, and him constantly telling me he does. Back and forth in a full cycle of misunderstandings and misinterpretation.

We have never been great at communicating. Me obviously thinking he’s weird for not talking about his feelings as much as I do, and I don’t know, maybe he thinks I’m weird for talking about them so much; lack of communication and I actually don’t even know what he thinks other than the several harsh words he’s thrown at me in anger.

Right now, we are on a break. One of many we’ve had in our almost two year relationship.

We went to his friend’s wedding this weekend, one I hadn’t wanted to go to, and got into another fight. Out of nowhere, we were talking about student discounts while walking around Bristol, he told me that sex with me was boring, and to be honest I didn’t even want to share that as I’m completely embarrassed by it.

He tried to backtrack and told me he hadn’t meant it how it came out, but that only happened when I had told him that I was upset by it about half an hour later.

Was he honestly that clueless that he thought it was ok to say to me and I wouldn’t be hurt by that?! Do other people think that’s ok and I’m oversensitive?!

I told him, during our fight, that there were a million ways he could have been nicer about telling me this; like suggesting we spice up our love-making for one. But even this was too far down the line that I was already devastated.

This had happened before the wedding that I hadn’t wanted to go to in the first place, as this wedding was being attended by his ex-girlfriend, and I’d told him how uncomfortable this made me. He didn’t seem to care; no matter how I worded it, I had to go.

So I went. And I got told sex with me is boring. And I put on a fake smile, and my red dress, did my hair and makeup and went to the wedding of his friend while sitting next to his ex-girlfriend.

It got to the point where I went outside for a cigarette and came back to the dinner table with his ex-girlfriend asking him about the stag-do photo he had sent to her of the groom, their mutual friend from university.

I sat back in my seat while feeling like the biggest mug in England. I’m boring in bed, and he’s texting his ex. He hadn’t even shown me the photo he’d sent her.

He told me later that she was talking about a group chat they were in, but I’m not in any group chats with my exes so I couldn’t relate to this. I was done.

I kept up the fake smile for a few more hours, then faked an illness and went to bed.

The next day we had breakfast with the wedding party and my fake smile was in place, until his other friend had dropped us off at the bus stop and we got to talk in private. I told him I had entered the relationship with a lot more self-esteem than I have right now, and that we’re not helping each other so I wasn’t sure if we should be together anymore.

He cried and I cried, and we agreed to a break.

Today is day three of our break and over this bank holiday weekend I’ve done absolutely nothing but sit with my thoughts. I’m back at work tomorrow where another fake smile will be put in place while I pretend my life isn’t the complete opposite of how I had hoped it would be.

The feeling of being drained has been constant for the last few years, and my excitement for life has slowly dripped out of me. A few months of counselling at the beginning of the year had helped a little but they too became draining and I didn’t want to revisit everything again. Opening wounds for an hour a week to then have to put a plaster over them until the next week was too much.

I’m not sure where to go from here. I either continue in a relationship of fights and emotional stress while we try to fix what seems to be embedded in us, or I go back to being alone and either sink or swim.

Eternally searching for my happy love song.

xxHBxx

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The Year

It’s been a year since my last blog post. In ‘The Tunnel’ I wrote about the death of Chester Bennington; I also briefly mentioned that my Dad was dying.

Seven weeks after writing ‘The Tunnel’ my Dad passed away. I haven’t wanted to write since.

In April 2017 my Dad called me at my new job, just before 5pm, to tell me that his cancer was back but he didn’t know much else about it. I was confused and devastated, not just the thought that my Dad would have to go through his third cancer in four years, but that the doctors had told him two weeks before this call that he was still all clear of cancer.

In February 2014, the day I came back from travelling, my Dad found out he had his first cancer. Bowel Cancer. He fought it with high spirits and good humour, despite a quick round of chemotherapy after the operation and all the waiting and checkups by Christmas that year the cancer was gone. We enjoyed Christmas more than ever before that year.

2015 happened without a health glitch. Then 2016 hit us all hard when Dad was told he had his second cancer. This time the more worrying, Liver Cancer. We were terrified. I hadn’t googled Bowel Cancer during Dad illness because I mostly didn’t trust the internet not to freak me out and also just wanted my Dad to tell me he was going to be fine.

I googled Liver Cancer. I didn’t like anything I read and I managed to terrify myself when reading that around 12% of people diagnosed with Liver Cancer live a further 5 years after diagnosis. Twelve percent. Five years.

My Dad had the operation to remove part of his liver and we thought it would be the same as with his bowel cancer; he would have the operation, then the chemo, and after a while of feeling weak he would get better. With this operation on his liver he developed complications that led to delirium. We had no clue what delirium was and we hadn’t been told it could be a complication so we weren’t prepared when we found out.

During a phone call from my sister while I was at work she told me the doctors had asked her what Dad was like before the operation and if he was independent and could take care of himself, as they had seen in his medical record that he had been living with a head injury from when he was a child. My sister told them that he was completely fine and if you didn’t know about his injury you wouldn’t think he had anything wrong with him. They told her he wasn’t like this now. The words travelled through my body like ice. I had no idea what they meant so I left work and travelled up to the north of England to the hospital to see my Dad. He was in the critical care unit and I didn’t know what that meant either.

Before we went to see him the nurse spoke to my sister and I and told us he had delirium; we asked what it was and they said he’s confused. She told us he believed he had been kidnapped and that he was being held captive. She asked us if he had been in the army and we told her that he had been in the Paras and the SAS.

When we saw our Dad he was different. He was angry and yelling at us to get him out of there. He told us that they were gassing him and that we needed to get him out. My sister and I were terrified. We tried to explain to him that he was in the hospital and that he had just had his liver operation and that he had gotten an infection from the operation and they were trying to get him better. He wouldn’t hear us. He just kept screaming at us to get him out of there and telling us there was a plot to kill him and we were helping them by not getting him out.

We spoke to the nurses again and our Dad screamed at us for talking to them. He said they were part of the plot and we were on their side. The nurses told us that he had been fighting them in the night and that he would scream at them and hit them if they tried to give him medicine. We asked why he thought they were gassing him and they told us that the infection was affecting his breathing so they had to give him more oxygen but he kept taking his oxygen mask off so they had to put what looked like a hazmat suit helmet on him to get the oxygen into his lungs without him taking it off.

When we saw it we freaked out. We had no questions about why our Dad thought they were gassing him; he was confused from the infection and on the drugs he was on they held him down and forced him to wear a helmet that looked like it had come out of a nuclear disaster movie.

We questioned why his hands were in what looked like white boxing gloves, and the nurses told us they had to restrain him as he was hurting staff and was pulling the needles out of his arms and had even pulled his catheter out before.

When we got back to our Dad he was telling us to take his gloves off, and we told him we weren’t allowed to because he keeps hurting himself; he screamed at us for assisting them in trying to kill him. He would then try to reason with us to help him get out, and when we refused he would scream at us. At one point he fell asleep for a few minutes and my sister and I stared at each other trying to hold back our tears, then he woke up and immediately tried to get out of the bed saying he had a wedding he had to get to and asking where they had put his suit – we had to think quick and told him the wedding was NEXT weekend, not this weekend. He looked at us with complete blank confusion and then said “oh right, yes it is” and got back in bed. This wasn’t our Dad, we didn’t know what the hell we were doing but we desperately wanted him to be OK.

We decided we had to try to play along with his delirium in order to stop him from screaming at us and to try to keep him calm.

It would last for a few minutes and then it would start all over again.

Over the next few weeks we would take it in shifts for one of us to sit with our Dad while the other would take care of my sister’s baby who wasn’t allowed in the critical care unit, and we were quite thankful for it. We didn’t want the baby to get upset seeing his Grandad this way, not knowing what was going on.

One of us would sit in the waiting room with the baby, playing with his few toys we had brought to the hospital and trying to keep him entertained while the other one of us would be with Dad trying to stop him hurting himself and the nurses while trying to keep him calm by playing along with the delirium and saying we were trying to get him out but we couldn’t do it that day. We had to be on our toes to quickly try to defuse whatever situation would arise every few minutes and wherever his mind took him we had to be on that page with him.

When he was finally allowed to go home, after a few weeks in the critical care unit and then a week on the ward, we were terrified. My sister lived the closest and the hospital asked her to live with him while he was recovering; she had a one year old baby and was pregnant with her second child, and having watched our Dad scream and punch the nurses we were scared that he might still be in his delirium and lash out at my sister without realising.

Luckily he seemed to be out of the delirium and was just slightly confused when he went home. We didn’t tell him about what he had been saying or how he was during his weeks in the critical care unit. He only remembered a few things and we didn’t think it would help him at all to know the truth.

I felt like I had aged ten years in those two months. It was the first time we had seen what it might be like to have to take care of our parents and the role reversal wasn’t something we looked forward to.

Over the next few months our Dad got a lot better, and by Christmas he was himself again.

I didn’t spend that Christmas at home. The year had drained me and I spent that Christmas with my eldest sister at her house near Winchester. Had I known it would be my last Christmas with my Dad here I would have been there in a heartbeat. But I didn’t know, and I was so tired from the year that I just wanted a break.

April 2017 came and I got the phone call from my Dad. I left work, went home and cried. Selfishly, I couldn’t go through that again. I wasn’t thinking too far ahead because we didn’t know what was happening yet, but I was dreading the thought of reliving that year. I’d just started a new job and was hating my new firm so was trying to get a job back at my old firm; I couldn’t afford to travel up north all the time again while starting a new job.

A few weeks after my Dad’s initial call where he’d said they were going to do more tests he told me he’d had an appointment with the doctors and they told him that his cancer was back, it had spread, and was now terminal.

I couldn’t breathe. This wasn’t happening; Dad got cancer and he got complications but he got better. He always got better, he wasn’t going to die.

About a week after this call my Dad called me again and we chatted like normal and I asked what the latest was with the cancer; he told me he didn’t have cancer and asked why I thought he had. I was confused and furious; what the hell was happening he told me it was back! I yelled at him for lying about his health to me and told him he couldn’t do this to his daughters, this wasn’t fair on us! I hung up and didn’t speak to him for a week.

In that time my Mum came down to visit me for the weekend and I told her about the call. By this time my sister and I weren’t speaking due to a falling out a few months before, but my Mum told me she needed to tell my sister that our Dad doesn’t have cancer because she believed that he did.

A week later my Dad called me and told me he was updating his Will and asked what I wanted. I was angry at him for carrying this on when he’d told me he didn’t have cancer. He was confused again and told me that he does have cancer and didn’t know why I thought he didn’t. I had no clue what was going on but I didn’t want any part in it. He told me he was dying and I told him he wasn’t and hung up. A few minutes later I sent him a text with the things I had told him years ago I wanted in his Will (his watch, his record player and his record collection) together the addition of his car – as I was the only daughter that had never been given a car by our family and am the only daughter that can’t drive. I was angry. In hindsight I wouldn’t have sent the text, but I did and he was hurt by it.

My sister texted me a few weeks later to say that she was angry at me for how I was treating our Dad and that she couldn’t believe I hadn’t been up to visit him knowing he was dying. I replied that he told me he didn’t have cancer and no-one aside from him had told me any different so I didn’t know what was going on and had assumed it was part of the delirium coming back, as it had a few times over that year. My sister told me his cancer was back, it had spread, and that it was terminal. She also told me that Dad had been in hospital with an infection when he’d called me to say that he didn’t have cancer and that during that time his delirium had come back a little which was a horrible and scary time for her by herself. I apologised to her but told her I had no clue about any of this as no-one was talking to me up there.

I spoke to my Dad and apologised, and asked him what was going on. I then begged my Mum to keep me updated on how he was as I couldn’t trust what he was telling me all the time.

In July 2017 my Dad came down to visit me in London for the final time. He needed a wheelchair as he couldn’t walk far, he was the thinnest I’ve ever seen him, he was tired easily but he was cheery and happy. He was my Poppy, as I have called him for years.

My eldest sister joined us for the first day my Dad was here; she wheeled him around London and I carried his bag. My eldest sister lightened the mood by trying to hit people’s ankles with Dad’s wheelchair while Dad was jokingly embarrassed and begging her to stop, and we all laughed about it.

I took my Dad and my sister to visit my tarot reader who I have been going to for years, Alexa, as my Dad had said he wanted to come down to London to see me and to visit Alexa “one last time” before he “went“. Alexa and Dad had met a few years before and they both adored each others company, so I was excited to take him to see her again, and to try to convince my eldest sister to have a reading.

Alexa did my sister’s reading first, and then asked to see me before seeing my Dad. She told me she wanted to do my sister and my readings before she did my Dad’s as she knew she wouldn’t be able to see us after giving my Dad his reading. My first card was the death card and I burst into tears. She told me it didn’t always mean what it looks like, but that in this case it did. She told me I knew my Dad would be watching over me when he goes, but the reading was hard to hear, even when it came to the good parts of my life, I still didn’t really want to hear it. Then she saw my Dad.

About six months ago I bumped into Alexa near my work and told her that I had wanted to text her but didn’t know how to say that my Dad had passed. She told me that she talks about my Dad to people she meets all the time and that she never charged him for his readings because she always felt honoured that he went to see her; she then told me about his reading.

After my reading Alexa had told me that before seeing my Dad she knew that he would be asking her difficult questions and that normally she wouldn’t answer them, but that she would for my Dad. When I bumped into her that day she told me that my Dad hadn’t wanted to know how long he had left, he had asked about how we would do after he passes and if we would be OK. She said all he wanted to know was that we would be OK and to ask if it would be painful when he went. She told him that it wouldn’t, and it wasn’t. He fell asleep two days after his 70th birthday and then he didn’t wake up again. It was peaceful.

She told him it would be painful up to a point, but that then there would be no more pain. And he did have pain, a lot of pain, a lot of discomfort and confusion, but in the days before and when it happened my sister was with him and told me it was peaceful. He took a long breath and then exhaled, and he went.

It’s hard for me to write this, and I’m crying as I type so I won’t be able to write more for now, but over the last few years I’ve seen the horrific faces of cancer, and in the year since my last post I’ve seen the worst of it.

I lost my Dad a month after my 30th birthday and two days after his 70th birthday.

I lost more than my Dad that day, I lost my best friend and the person that knows me the most. I lost the person that called me all the time and now my phone is on silent all the time. I lost the person I turn to when I have great news and when I have a shitty day. I lost the person that knows the exact right thing to say in any moment and every situation. I lost the person that can make me laugh while I’m having an angry moment.

I didn’t think he would die, even when they told me it was terminal, I really didn’t think he would die. Even when I saw how much weight he had lost and we both cried at seeing it, I still thought he would get better. Because he always had.

To anyone going through cancer right now, or having gone through it ever before, you are amazing and you are doing so well. I’ve seen what cancer does to people and their families and how hard every day is, even when treatment has stopped the battle continues and you are doing AMAZING. You really are.

Everyone going through the battle of cancer is doing the best they can and please don’t ever feel like it’s not good enough because even if it’s a horrific day you weren’t expecting, you have done your best.

And to the nurses, paramedics, doctors and cancer support workers, you are heroes. You never stop and you do so much and go through so much to help all of us, there is no thank you big enough for how incredible you are.

To the staff that helped my Poppy throughout all three of his cancers, you are my heroes and you were his heroes. He was so thankful to have the NHS supporting him and for every person that took care of him. He didn’t know everything he’d done during that time but we saw what the staff did and you were amazing. Thank you from all of us.

All my love to all of those around cancer, now and in the past.

xxHBxx

The Tunnel 

This week we saw another artist lose their battle with depression. Earlier today I watched a video of Chester Bennington describe life with the mental illness that consumes so many so silently. It was heartbreaking to watch knowing the outcome of his struggle.

It’s been nine years since I overcame those demons in me, but in that nine years I’ve realised that overcoming them doesn’t kill them, it just makes you stronger than them. Its taken nine years of everyday to be able to see that it’s a strength you create, and strength you have to reinvent at times of desperation.

My Dad is dying. We found out a few months ago that his cancer is back, it has spread and it’s terminal. Now we can only make him comfortable and as happy as possible before the inevitable takes him and I’ll never be able to speak to him again.

Knowing your parent is dying is not something I ever considered having to handle, at least not in my twenties. I thought I would be middle age and they’d be little old people before the clock started counting down while they’re in their nursing homes or small flats with photos of all their grandkids and great-grandkids. Not my Dad being 69 and when asked what he’d like for his 70th in less than two months, him simply stating “just to be here”.

I’ve never been good at coping with anything. I sink into myself when things get too much which possibly lead to my depression back when I was so young, but now I’m 29, turning 30 in a few weeks, about to lose my Dad, and shutting myself away because my life has become too much for me.

I have a boyfriend that tries but doesn’t always understand me when I need him to, friends that have their own troubles and as much as they try they can’t offer the support I need, I moved jobs this year only to move back to my old firm 2 months after leaving because I missed it and hated the new place, and a family feud. To top it off I’m skint but in all honesty that’s nothing new.

Hearing that Chester Bennington had killed himself I felt the familiar devastated pang inside that rushes back whenever I hear of suicide, knowing that the road to that decision wasn’t easy or quick or euphoric. It was hell. He’d been through the ultimate definition of hell and therefore any fear of death would be insignificant in comparison to living because living was hell on earth.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of his band, they had a few good songs I liked when I was younger but they never blew me away or hooked me in. It wasnt the loss of a great talent that shook me. It was the knowledge that tortured souls don’t always find peace in life. I was devastated that this feeling inside had convinced him his life meant nothing, or that his life was too hard and it was time to stop trying now. That feeling almost took my life when I was 15, and again when I was 19, and again at 21 when I was supposedly cured.
There is no cure. Life is so unbearably shitty so much of the time. Some take it with a pinch of salt, some can’t.

When I was battling depression I remember my Dad describing depression as being in a tunnel; there is light at the end, it could look like a speck right now, but it’s light, however unfortunately the tunnel isn’t a straight tunnel, it has slight curves, for each step closer to the light you might step into a clear space or you might step into a curve in the wall. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re only hitting the curve with every step, and sometimes you’ll be clear, but with each step you’re walking closer to the end of the tunnel.

When he told me this he also told me depression is like a tunnel because you have tunnel vision with it; you can’t see anything but the darkness and the flicker of hope at the end. Unfortunately while you’re in that tunnel you don’t see anyone else either, which I hadn’t realised until I left my own tunnel that I’d see just how much my depression had affected everyone around me also. For six years I had my family on eggshells to the point that my Mum wouldn’t let me listen to sad songs incase I hurt myself to them. Of course, in my tunnel, I only saw her as not understanding me and trying to control me. Little did I know, or care, what I was doing to them. The pain was too much.

To me sad songs were my outlet. They showed me I wasn’t alone in these thoughts. To my Mum they were a trigger and she feared for my life when I listened to them.

At the time I was embarrassed to be depressed. How did everyone else find everything so easy and how did they not feel like this?! Talking about depression is so important and I’m so thankful it’s more openly discussed now. I needed sad songs to believe I wasn’t alone, not realising until now that so many, too many, feel this way, and I was never alone to begin with.

As hard as it is to understand how a person could take their own life for someone that has never been in that tunnel, it’s as hard for a person in the tunnel to understand how you don’t have those thoughts. That was the thing that separated me from other people in my tunnel – how are they OK and I’m not..?!

One person looking at an event can say it’s horrible but shit happens, and another could never be able to accept it or move on from it.

I don’t have a cure for depression, I only have experience. But all I can offer for how I escaped the tunnel is that as hard as it got, as painful as it felt, as dark as I could imagine, I had one tiny speck of light in the distance that I wanted to bathe in, as bruised and bloodied from the curves as I could be, I wanted that light.

I hope, if you’re going through this now, you can imagine yours.

xxHBxx

Hot topic 

You know that thing you’re not meant to do, especially when you’re feeling that way, and have those thoughts running riot; well… 

I did it. I did the one thing you’re not meant to do when you’re 29, having a rough time and have been officially single for the last 4 years; I looked up my high school classmates.  

How the actual fuck did my high school bullies find someone to date them let alone marry them?!? 

How do they have solid relationships and children now!?! 

To confuse matters, I don’t envy the marriage or the kids part – I still think I’m 26 and that’s young – but, they’re in relationships. They’re literally in love. I envy that. I spend most of my day hating people for walking too slow on the way to work or for jumping on the tube before me in rush hour, or for standing so close to me while I’m pressed up against the glass of the tube with a hunchback because they’re taller and I don’t want their armpit in my face. 

These people I didn’t give a shit about in high school are now more socially successful than me, and all I’ve grown since high school is bitter. 

Take today; I met up with an old flame – well, technically not, we had a few dates 2 years ago after meeting on tinder and then his visa ran out and he moved back to America (I know, likely story; wasn’t actually a brush off tho, totally true), anyway – and I swear, I spent almost the entire time talking about the inequality of men vs women with the hot topic of the recent experimental study into a male contraception. 

Now, I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t think this would be something men don’t want to talk about, much less find attractive, but the only excuse I have here is that it genuinely didn’t occur to me that it would be anything other than an open dialogue about a relevant to our society subject. 

Turns out, shockingly, guys don’t want to talk about this. Bringing up the double standards isn’t something they were aware of or want to address. The response was “just, don’t take it then” when mentioning that the effects this study had on men and the reasons it was stopped is the effects the contraceptive pill has on women anyway, so why did they stop this one and not the female one. Men (or, the ones I’ve so far encountered with this topic) don’t care. They’ve all, so far, said “I wouldn’t expect a woman to take it if it did this” which is a nice thought, until I remember that this guy in particular asked me “are you on the pill?” before trying to sleep with me without a condom “because it feels better”. He had no clue, until this (male) study, of the side effects of the pill. And until this study, he didn’t care to wonder. 

My friend tonight said he would have to read the (male) study in order to determine whether my frustration was justified. To which I asked him if he was also going to read the original female study in order to have the thorough context. His response was “I’m probably not going to read either.” But continued to argue that he didn’t need to read the female one because “it was like 50 years ago and we’ve moved on from then”. Yea, no, we haven’t. 

It’s taken half a century to consider a male contraceptive pill/injection in order to share the responsibility of this mutual act. Condoms, obviously, are the number one choice and should always be used unless trying for a child, but expecting a woman to host the burden of preventing a child by taking a pill every morning or going to the doctors surgery every few months to prevent an unwanted pregnancy is, hopefully to all, ridiculous! WHY must I change chemicals in my body so that we BOTH do not have a child? WHY must I prevent my natural reproductive system from going about its natural functions, like a mans, in order to stop us BOTH from having a child? Why do I have to change my body in one way so that it won’t change in the other? Seriously, why the fuck must I carry this burden, when we’re both having sex?! 

I left my friend after 5 hours (of drinking) and walked home thinking ‘omg, I could’ve got laid tonight if I’d kept my mouth shut and talked about whatever he wanted to talk about..’ 

In the 15 minutes it took to walk from where I said bye to him to my flat I realised I didn’t want to sleep with anyone who doesn’t agree with me on this topic. 

As drastic as that may sound – and as single as I’m going to be for a long time with that viewpoint – I actually didn’t care. 

I don’t care if that’s not going to get me laid, or even a relationship in the near future at all, I don’t want to give my body to any man that doesn’t agree that we share the burden of that act with me. 

I’m not on the pill, and I no longer have the coil. I’m chemical free for my sanity, since the pill fucked with my head, and condoms are the way forward. But I’ll not touch a guy that doesn’t see how important and devastating this study being stopped and the dialogue being shut down is. 

As I was looking at my old high school classmates profiles I realised this, and when I did, I stopped giving a shit that they seem to have their shit together while I ‘don’t‘. I have my values exactly where I want them. And if it takes the next half a century to find a guy that shares those, then I’m glad I carried them with me to find the right one for me.

xxHBxx 

Why I quit my job…

I was a PA. I worked for an incredibly successful media law firm in the most successful department and was highly regarded by my peers, my team, my direct bosses, my firm and the managing partner for my hard work and for always going above and beyond in my PA capacity. But I quit. 

I left my safe job for nothing. I literally left for a life of nothingness. 

I had no boyfriend, no hobbies, no active social life aside from occasionally hanging out with ‘my boys’, as I lovingly call them. I wasn’t embracing the life of London in the slightest. 

This wasn’t my job’s fault. But I quit. 

I took myself away from my safe zone and a life that wasn’t alive so that I could breathe with something to actually breathe for. For my day to become ‘why am I here…’ as opposed to ‘why am I here?!?’ 

Do I want to spend the final year of my twenties in an office hoping that I’ll soon get a pay rise that reflects the work I do, and a boyfriend that will want to go on adventures with me and love me for the person I am including my flaws and fakery, and a home I can raise my children in where they won’t have to worry about stability or safety because I am strong enough to create that for them. 

I don’t have these children and I don’t have that environment for them because I haven’t lived the life that will lead me to that form of emotional comfort where I can pass this on to them. I don’t have this boyfriend because I haven’t put myself in any place where we both thrive and shine bright enough to see each other. And I really don’t have this magical pay rise because, oddly enough, I hadn’t asked for it. I didn’t tell them my worth, I merely hoped they would notice it and reward me accordingly. I forgot the world is a business. 

So I quit. Although, no, I didn’t. Or rather, I haven’t. 

Not yet, I tell my friends that ask. I’m saving up, is my monologue of choice; not being strictly untrue. Saving in London is a running joke to all PAs from working or lower class backgrounds living here. 

I hate making excuses for my life because I have overcome so much and am capable of overcoming so much more, I know this, but I do have a pang of hatred slice into my gut when I hear others talk so breezily about the opportunities life presents if only we push ourselves. Often these conversations come from those that have never had to invent dinners as a child from whatever was almost out of date in the cupboard because buying new food was too expensive. [FYI, rice and gravy (literally just those two things) is Really nice if you thicken the gravy; my sister invented that meal when we were pre-teens.]

My plan (Jesus even I’m sick of that word) is to [try to] save for ten months, and then move to Canada on the work and travel visa before hitting my thirties and that privilege runs out! 

Then my post will be a Fuck Yes, rather than a Here’s What You Could’ve Had monologue. 

My greatest fear of repeating a life in poverty is the fear that makes me stay in a job where I can pay for my rent and food each month. I’ve been poor and I was able to be happy. The happiest people make the most of what they have, they don’t have the most; we’ve all seen the memes and know it’s actually true, but the knowledge of how hard it was, and that I don’t have to live like that, scares me more than the hope of how good it can be. 

One more push for the road.

xxHBxx

Family Matters 

We’re all damaged in different ways…

Two weeks ago I spent the weekend with my eldest sister, R, outside my home of the big smoke, and stepped into country life for two nights. 

My sister and I were estranged for five years after a troubled upbringing together. We were similar in so many ways that we clashed more than anyone in our family. Last year I reached out to her when I returned from travelling and told her I was sorry for every part I had played in our troubled history together. She came back and said the same to me. Since then we’ve been building our relationship back up. 

Every time we meet up we spend a little time catching up on what is happening with us now and then we get to the deeper topic of our family and childhood. 

My middle sister, S, is a newly qualified counsellor. We’ve had more than our fair share of horrific memories together, most of which have left a tattoo on our relationship and intense trust issues, but for the most part she’s my closest allie. 

R and I, being the most hotheaded and stubborn members of our family, have a similar outlook on most things, including our upbringing. 

Our parents divorced when I was three, S was five and R was nine. But the story never begins there. No one leaves a happy home. It was our Mum that left. That’s usually the most shocking part to the story when I tell outsiders; not that she left my Dad, but that she left us all. 

I was raised by my Dad to believe a story that he, together with us three children, had stood in front of my Mum who was stood with her belongings at the front door while my Dad, and us three, begged her not to leave. She then turned around and left us. 
Or so I was told my entire childhood. 

My Dad painted himself the victim of an evil woman who turned out to be a gold digging whore; words he recited to us from the age of three to this day on almost every occasion of addressing my Mum. 

In reality, a reality it took me twenty-odd years to fully realise, my Dad was an abusive, aggressive, lazy, arrogant, bitter child-like man that has never accepted responsibility for any of his actions. My Mum didn’t leave a happy home. She didn’t leave a loving husband. She left a man that physically beat her during post-natal depression to make her “snap out of it”. She left a man that swore at her on a daily basis for whatever he was angry about in that moment, then forgot he had done it a few minutes later when he had calmed down and gotten it out of his system and wondered why she was quiet. She left a man that ‘worked from home’ which consisted of watching The History Channel all day while laid on the sofa in his bought army clothes. She left a man that, still to this day – and this is something I have only learnt in the last two years – lied about ever being in the army. She left a fantasist. She left a man that hated women. She left a man that threatened to murder her if she even thought of taking us with her. And finally, she didn’t stand in front of us and walk away; she was dragged out of the house by her hair, after being beaten for telling him that she was leaving him, to the end of the drive, punched and forced into the waiting car of the man she had clung to in order to gain the courage to leave my Dad. 

I was raised never knowing this. 

I was brought up by my crying, blubbering, useless Dad who would scream and swear at us until veins popped out of his neck and sometimes suddenly cry, leaving us not knowing how to behave. 

My friends’ parents always remarked to my Dad about how well-behaved we were as small children, in a positive light on how he had raised us. We were terrified of adults yelling at us and us not knowing why we were being yelled at, so we would be quiet and do whatever we were told to avoid upsetting the grownups. We were shell-shocked. 

My Dad, to this day, doesn’t see this. He honestly believes he was the best parent in the world because, in his eyes, he “sacrificed my entire life for you girls!” – which is bullshit seeing as he didn’t have a life to lose, coupled with the fact that we have always seemed polite and respectful. We may have always been this way no matter what our upbringing may have been, but fear created this, not love. He doesn’t see that every time anyone is disappointed in me, whether in work or in friendships, I burst into tears and go silent. He doesn’t see that as soon as a person raises their voice to me I burst into tears and apologise, no matter whether what I am being yelled at was my fault or not. He doesn’t see that whenever anyone is angry I bend over backwards to accommodate their every need in that moment as quickly and quietly as I can so not to make them more angry. 

Great starting block, huh?! 

My entire family unit is fucked up. We all hate each other. We wish we were part of a family that enjoyed each other’s company but we aren’t. Christmas is stressful because all us individuals with shared DNA have to gather round together after weeks of strained texts about whose house we will go to for lunch, at what time, and when we will leave. 

S always wins; we go to hers at her schedule and leave when she tells us we have to. As the central person in our family she dictates our family time. 

Our Mum desperately wants S to forgive her for leaving us, S refuses to talk to her about what happened but hates her for it and won’t try to understand why she left. Our Dad clings to S as she is the only daughter left that believes his lies, or at least pretends to in front of him for his own benefit, and she is the only one that will entertain him. Without her, he’s alone. Our Grandma believes S to be the golden child even though she barely speaks to Grandma when around her, but as she is polite enough when she does, Grandma loves her. Aside from the fact S doesn’t listen to her our Grandma seems not to notice because she’s at least allowed to finish her story while pretending to herself that S listened. 

R and I are much more blunt with our behaviour. If you’ve pissed us off you’ll know. If we think you’re talking bullshit, you’ll know. If we’re not interested we’ll let you know. We have no time for liars and we won’t entertain them for their benefit. We’ll not help you bullshit or feed your ego. Frankly, we’ve had it all our lives and now we don’t give a shit; it didn’t benefit us in any way whatsoever, it only damaged us. So we’re done. 

Our Grandma isn’t your typical grandma. She’s not interested in your life or what you like. She doesn’t want to cook lovely dinners for you or any of that other movie shit. She doesn’t want to talk about anything but our Grandad. Which would be lovely if he hadn’t divorced her 25 years ago and cut her from his life entirely. Twenty-five years later she is more obsessed with him than ever. He got ill at the beginning of the year and she visited him in hospital every day – he wasn’t conscious and he still has no clue about this. She would hold his hand and stroke his head, then kiss him goodbye. He’d be too freaked out if he knew so my Mum chose not to tell him.

She got a key to his house, we’re still not sure how but we suspect she lied to his neighbour, and sorted his post – by opening it all – went through his documents and made herself at home in the house he’s lived in alone for twenty-five years. If he knew this part, he’d possibly get a restraining order, so he doesn’t know this either. 

Given the chance, my Dad would do the exact same to my Mum.

This is the kind of shit I’ve had around me my whole life. One party obsessed with the other, the other being disgusted by them. Back and forth. I blame this for my fear of commitment; I don’t want to be either one of them, especially not the obsessed party. 

My eldest sister pushes every man away from her walls but always has a man. My middle sister clings to any man and can’t ever be alone. I won’t let myself get close for fear that they’ll damage me more, so am always alone. 

As my big sister put it two weeks ago when referring to all three of us; we’re all damaged, in different ways. 

xxHBxx

Flat Mating Issues

It’s just a little crush…

Six weeks ago I moved into my new flat in Brixton after having a complete landlord-nightmare at my old house in Shepherds Bush. 

I can’t even remember finding it on the flat finding app, but I had clicked ‘favourite’ on it and then promptly got a message from the guy in the flat asking if I wanted to view the room. I replied yes, along with messages to other prospective flatmates arranging times to view theirs also. 

I went to view it after work, thinking in the morning that I was viewing a flat in Angel and only realising it was the one in Brixton when I typed in the address to my map app. 

I called the guy, whose name I couldn’t remember and definitely couldn’t pronounce, when I arrived at Brixton since my phone killed the map app upon arrival. He answered with his thick Mancunian accent and I was instantly happy in an ‘omgthankgodhesenglishshitthatssobadofmetothinkthat’ kind of way. 

I’d had a lot of bad luck with flat hunting and culture differences had played a small part I’m sad to say. 

When I got there I swear Liam Gallagher answered the door. He was the spitting image and sounded just like him. 

He showed me the flat and then we sat and chatted for a bit while I smiled a lot, played on my Yorkshire accent and announced that I loved the flat. 

Two days later he text saying it was mine if I wanted it. I replied yes! We arranged when I’d move in and then a week later I did. 

My friends asked what my flat was like and then quizzed me about my new flatmate, was he cute being top of the list. No, he’s not my type.

Boy did that change.

My type, as I’ve always known, isn’t looks – not that he’s not good looking, he is, he’s got the best smile but we’ll get to that. My friends know my type as being ‘Americans’, I do love the accents. My type is nice guys. Simply, guys that are just nice people that I have fun with. I (and the rest of girl-world) love a man that can make me laugh; uncontrollable, belly laugh. If he can do that I’m pretty much his. 

After a week we had our routine down to a T. We’d finish work, eat, I’d chill on the sofa and him on the chair next to it, we’d watch TV and talk throughout whatever show we had on about either the show or our own stories and we’d smoke cigarettes. This guy could make me laugh. I loved coming home. 

When I’d been living in Shepherds Bush I would go out for drinks after work most nights to avoid going home. 

Here, I couldn’t think of anything better than being at home with him. 

A week after I moved in I had my work summer party. The night before I had faked tanned which meant I was stood in my kitchen/living room looking bright orange, my hair up off my orange face, with tiny shorts on and my dressing gown wrapped round my boobs when he came home. 

I let him know I’d tanned and was a little naked and he came in. We were so comfortable together I didn’t feel like the twat that I looked and he didn’t look at me any differently than I always looked. We chatted for hours and then I went to bed. That was the first night I heard him play guitar. 

When I’d come to view the flat there had been a guitar on the chair but I’d thought it was like the longboard I had in my room; more for decoration. 

I opened my door a little to hear him play and then text him asking him to play louder if it was him playing. He replied that he was sorry if he woke me and I let him know he hadn’t. 

The next morning he shouted down to my room that he was leaving, I ran upstairs in my summer party dress and shouted “wait wait wait, do I look ok?” At the top of the stairs I stopped in my tracks; this was the first time I’d seen him dressed in work clothes. He looked so handsome. He stared at me in my dress, the first time he had seen me in one, and smiled. Then offered to help me zip it up just as I finally managed to do it myself. We smiled at each other and said bye. 

Basically the ending to this night was, I got completely hammered at my summer party, wound up at a rock gig in my pretty blue skater dress with the guy at work that I had been crushing on for a year, then finally made it home at 1.30am where we’ll pick up from. 

I stood at my front door trying to work out the millions of keys I had. I would drop them, sigh, swear at the keys, pick them up and try again. I did this for 5 minutes before he came to the door and let me in. Apparently my face was utter shock that he was at the door, even though I had only just pressed the buzzer for help. He let me in and I went to the living room, he went to the bathroom downstairs, and then I drifted down the stairs to go to my room while explaining “I’m hammered!” To which he burst out laughing (his exact thought, he told me the next day, being ‘no shit!’). A few minutes later he came to my room to check I was ok since I had suddenly gone silent. Then I left the flat for a drunken booty call. 

When I came home at 8am I had the hangover from hell and the weekend was a write-off. 

He went out that night and came back the next day at 2pm. He’d hooked up with his ex. We laughed about our drunken hookups and he went to sleep his hangover off, then was meeting me later when I was with my friends. 

He came to meet me and two of my friends at a local park and we all chatted and chilled together for a few hours before he went to the sauna and my friends and I went to my friends flat. My two friends then told me he was perfect for me and they love him. I couldn’t stop smiling. I’d been there a week and it felt like we were an old married couple at home (ignoring the casual hookups we’d just had, of course). 

So that’s how it started. One week in.  

Six weeks in, my feelings for him are in full swing. When he comes home and sees me he has the best smile I’ve ever seen. It’s so genuine. So happy to see that I’m here. I melt. We haven’t kissed or anything like that. And I’ve spent far too many hours googling signs that a guy likes you, only to be told by Google that you should never EVER date your flatmate. Ever. Point blank. Nope. Not gonna work. Don’t go there. Damnit.  

Everything was going great. He’d cooked me dinner. I brought him a small present back from my trip to Paris. He’d suggested we open the wine. Everything was looking positive. And then my German friend came to visit for 4 days. 

She knew I liked him, I’d not shut up about how happy I was. And day 2, the night I was having a group over to my flat for us all to go out (Flatmate included), while we were getting ready she announced to me that she didn’t see it. She just didn’t see me with him. As she puffed up her breasts in my mirror and fixed her lipstick. My heart sank. No. Don’t you dare do this to me. 

She spent the night flirting with him and I spent the night drinking my feelings of déjà vu. 

We had two more awkward days before she flew back to Germany and, for many reasons not only linked to that night (but ones I can’t be bothered to list in order to justify my next remark), I’ll never see her again. If I can help it. 

Things haven’t been the same at the flat since. And I’m a little sad to say I’m a little heartbroken. In fact I’m devastated. 

We hardly talk now, he avoided me for about a week after she left, and it feels awkward at times. 

If anyone has any comments on how to fix this or my head, I’d be much obliged. 

TBC…

xxHBxx