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 was 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 spec 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 spec 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

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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

Primary Problem

I loved primary school…when I was 5. 

When I was 5, I went to a park with some friends from my little group of friends, but three of our friends didn’t want to come.

The next day two were mad at us for leaving them out and spent the entire day ignoring us then yelled at us after school for this. Which might sound silly, but we were 5. 

No, wait, we were 27. It was after work. And this was yesterday. 

After last week’s trifector of shite I needed a weekend with friends to not be alone with my thoughts. Fearing I’d eat them, and everything else. 

I was originally only spending Saturday/Sunday with one friend, but after my breakdown on Friday, another friend asked if she could stay at mine after our work drinks. 

Saturday I was meeting our friend, I’ll call her T, for less confusion there, so my overnight friend came too. 

Our other single friend had no plans at that time in the day so decided to join us in dying my hair pink again. 

On this hot as hell day we went to a park first and had lunch, then went to T’s house to dye my hair. 

We had no clue this was a battle cry we’d initiated. 

In our ‘group’, only three members weren’t there. All have boyfriends/husband. All had plans. All knew we were meeting up. 

The singles arrived at work oblivious to the fact we were now public enemy to two of the girls. And the other girl, fuck I just love this girl, laughed as hard as I did when we found out why they were mad. 

Without meaning to be bitches, we had now become the poster children for it, in the two’s eyes. 

How DARE we leave them out. 

How MEAN of us to not tell them we were going to a park for 2 hours because it turned out to be a hot day. 

How INCONSIDERATE of us to tag our location on social media. Our intention obviously being a middle finger in their direction, of course. 

No. How fucking PATHETIC this argument was. 

Seriously, we’re twenty-fucking-seven, give or take. 

I found it funny until I realised T didn’t. In fact, it was almost entirely aimed at her. Their argument was that this wasn’t the first time. The first time what?! That we hung out outside of work and you didn’t want to join us until you saw we had fun anyway?! Then got mad at being “left out”?! The first time we spontaneously did things because we were all free and had nothing else to do but you were busy and had told us you didn’t want to hang out?! Yep. Because we’re 5 again now. 

I was planning a BBQ for that day but none could come due to commitments (T has a child, and had to be home by 5) so I planned to go to hers and us dye my hair instead. Rather than us both be alone. 

My overnight friend is arguing with her boyfriend so she didn’t want to go home and came to mine the night before, then figured why not to hanging out longer. 

Our other friend really didn’t want to hang out with the friends she’d made plans with so decided to have a cover story to not go. 

And we ended up in a park on a hot day – unplanned, we were all in jeans!! 

The two P’d off girls were, respectively, packing all weekend to move house, and studying and spending the weekend with her boyfriend who had been away all week. 

Our (awesome) friend had plans with other friends. 

So, that’s the war we, clearly intentionally, provoked. 

After last week, I thought I’m damned if I let people punish me for their feelings. It’s repeating my own reactions to accommodate their behaviour, and it got me fuck all in an entire year so fuck that. 

I am described a lot as polite, sweet, caring, kind, and apparently this means weak pushover. 

Today I removed myself from the drama and did my own thing at lunch (like my internet banking and organising the flowers I send to my ex’s Mum every year on the anniversary of his death). Evidently, I’ve pissed them off more by not “moving past” the argument after they had their laughable say. 

I simply thought, ‘go fuck yourself’ I have more to do than hope you like me today. 

I’ve not had an apology for being told off for hanging out without them, and I’ve been talked about all day as having a problem. My problem is I took this crap for too long. That’s my problem. 

I took my boss’ abuse for too long so she thought she owned me. I took their pathetic jealousy for too long and they thought they owned my weekends. 

My new problem is how to be true to me and never let this shit be repeated. 

Instead of worrying if they’ll speak to me tomorrow, like the safety net of my social life depends on it, I just won’t. I choose that thought. I choose no safety net. I choose standing up for myself even in the most pathetic of situations I’m placed in. I choose me. 

And if that makes me a bitch in the eyes of others, then their opinion can remain on the side of the road I chose not to walk on. 

I give respect to others when it’s earned (earnt? earned?! Whatever.), and I take that respect back and place it rightly within me when it hasn’t been deserving of that person. You won’t see it again. 

My primary problem now, is seeing that this guides me well.  

xxHBxx

Waiting to Exhale 

Just breathe…! My mantra of late. 

With a little over a year under my belt in my current job I had thought I was now a pro at sussing out my boss. As it turns out, I had been little more than conditioned to simply take the bullshit and get on with it. 

Everything comes in threes and last week my triangle was completed. 

It began Wednesday, turning up to work and telling my two desk buddies that it was going to be a horrible day because ‘boss’ was going to yell at me. I hadn’t made any mistakes or done anything to piss her off, it was simply the only day that week that she would be in the office and, experience told me, I would be deafened for it as usual. 

My desk buddies laughingly brushing it off ended at 1.10pm when I arrived at our usual lunch spot late and in tears. 

After being yelled at to get into the toilet cubicle so that ‘boss’ could yell at me in private I stood with my legs to a toilet as she blocked the door and swore at me for being busy that morning with deadlined work for my other boss, her equal in rank within the firm. 

Defending myself I calmly explained that my other boss’ deadline was 1pm (as I had already told her) and I couldn’t interrupt that to add the minor amendments ‘boss’ wanted in the letter she was sending out at 3pm. (I’m talking adding two commas to this letter…it was interrupting for interrupting’s sake!)

When there was nowhere further she could go on this point she swore at me for a box of files at her desk. To which I explained she still needed to go through that box before I sent it to storage. 

When this fizzled she simply told me she was very mad at me with a few F-bombs for good measure, then walked out of the cubicle. 

I walked back to my desk, picked up my bag and contemplated getting the tube to Heathrow, if only I carried my passport as standard for ID. 

A day of simultaneous shaking and bursting into tears at my desk my anxiety rash was back on my neck and I organised a meeting with HR. 

The next day I organised a meeting with HR and our Staff Partner. After more than a year of this same routine I would no longer work for her. 

That was One. 

Thursday was anxiety-rash filled and contained fewer tears until I decided retail therapy with a friend might help. 

I had broken my favourite pair of flip flops tripping over nothing in River Island meaning I had to walk around Oxford Street barefoot until I found a new pair I liked – which, it turns out, I don’t like any new flip flops these days. They’re uncomfortable and weird (who the hell wants straps up to their knees when wearing FLATS?!?) I am having money troubles and this is the last expense I need. 

(Two) 

Then, while stood outside Debenhams waiting for my friend to come back from the restroom, leaning against the window smoking and staring at my broken shoe and bare feet, a random guy decides I’m the perfect tragedy to call fat. 

Kick me when I’m down, fucker!

He walked up, said “Well, you’re a fatty!” and walked straight past smiling and looking back for my reaction. 

In shock I could only muster “you’re kidding me right now, right!” To which he burst out laughing and shouted back “keep eating bitch!!” 

Well fuck me did I crumble. 

(Three) 

My friend came back from the toilets to see me shaking and crying and wanting to run away but I had a broken fucking shoe!! 

It was my first week wearing a skirt – in about 7 years – in public let alone to work. I had worked so hard to feel comfortable enough for this and then BOOM, down she goes, because of the last twat of the day. 

I got an Uber home because I couldn’t handle walking barefoot down Oxford Street anymore and I didn’t want to face any more of the public for fear they’d make me want to walk into traffic. When I got home, I stripped to my underwear, stood in the front of the mirror and broke down. 

Crouched on the floor in a bra and pants I shook from sobbing so hard, asking the universe for mercy. I couldn’t do this anymore. I couldn’t keep picking myself up and trying to love myself then being slammed down out of nowhere. I couldn’t keep living like this. This wasn’t life. How was this possibly life? 

This wasn’t going to make me stronger, I had been getting stronger. This was a game to someone. I was powerless. 

I cried until my head was exploding and then I slept. About 3 hours. 

Friday at work I barely spoke. My friends knew what had happened and tried to help, but at lunch I chose to sit alone as I cried on the phone to my sister. Refusing to eat, I smoked for my lunch. I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours and I never wanted to eat again. 

I honestly crashed. 

Thinking of it now, and reading it how others may read this, I was throwing myself a huge pitty party. But I needed to cry. 

I needed to cry for everything the last year had put me through. I needed to cry for the girl that had been treated like a dog by her boss for a year and had come back to it every time like a puppy does. I needed to cry for the girl that stood in front of the mirror and tried to like herself every day. I needed to cry for the girl that was struggling with money so badly that having her flip flop break was the last thing she needed right now. 

What I hadn’t realised was that I was noticed so much. 

It had been noted how strong I had tried to be over this year. It had been noted how much I tried to find confidence in myself. And it had been noted that seeing me completely broken down left my entire group of friends terrified for me. 

Later on, after work drinks where I hardly spoke, I was at the pub with two of my close girl friends and my closest guy friend, all from work. I didn’t know what to say or how to smile, I was numb, so my friends said everything to make me feel better. 

It wasn’t until my guy friend, after much internal debate, said “I wasn’t going to say anything, but then I saw how upset you were at lunch and how badly this has affected you because of your past…” – he then broke the ‘guy code’ and told me what the guys in the office say about me at our firm’s football games. I burst out laughing and his work was done. 

I don’t believe him, I’m not sure I’m capable right now of believing it, but it was nice to hear at the time. 

I spent Friday drunk and hungry with friends. Saturday sunbathing and laughing with friends, and then we dyed my hair pink again. And Sunday I slept. 

Today, my anxiety rash was back and my shakes were in full force and I realised I need to leave my environment. 

This isn’t me. 

I’m not someone’s secretary, or their dog as I have been this year. I’m not a desk girl and I’m not a skirts at work girl, no matter what heat. 

I need a plan, and today I realised it; I’ll stay for 8 more months (after last week, that feels like a lifetime), save as much as I can, and travel to Canada. 

I’ve always wanted to see Canada and if I want to work there one time in my life, I have to do it before I’m thirty. 

I turn twenty-eight in a month. The clock won’t pause while I think. 

Running away might sound like I’ll never fix anything, but I don’t run away, I run towards. 

I’m running towards my future; I just can’t do it with only £1,800 in my bank (and a maxed-out credit card I’m wishing I’d never paid for last year’s trip to Bali on!). That’s a ticket and a months rent, I’d fail before I left. 

Saving and making sure I change my working environment within work is my daily plan. Surviving the day is also my priority. But having a goal, and a plan to go with it, time will fly. And then I will. 

xxHBxx