Dare to Dream

As I walked around Hollywood today one of my favourite poems couldn’t leave my thoughts.

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer is the only poem since William Ernest Henley’s Invictus to take hold of me completely. I couldn’t shake the final line as I wandered alone down the intensely hot and busy Hollywood Blvd. “I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”

When I tried to pinpoint what I had on my mind I went blank.

Other than trying to pass time until a free concert begins in a few hours I had nothing on my mind but that line.

I have been out in America for a little over two months. My time here, I had hoped, would clear my mind of the clutter it handled daily while in England; ‘what am I doing with my life/what makes me happy/where am I going/what do I want for my future/am I ok?’ It seems my mission is accomplished however I am still unsure of any answers to those questions I battled.

Yesterday I met a nineteen year old girl on a train back to LA from my weekend visiting a friend in San Luis Obispo. This nineteen year old had every answer possible for how she wanted her life to work out. I had thought initially that this girl was incredible. She had every scenario for what life could throw at her mapped out; three possible husbands if, god forbid, she wasn’t married by the time she was twenty-eight, two children including an adopted child planned, joining the Peace Corps for two years because her bad back meant her dream of becoming a firefighter was ended, retiring in Bali, and her next two tattoos designed. I listened to this girl talk constantly for two hours.

After a while of listening to her I stopped envying her apparent knowledge of self when I realised I was her at nineteen.

Had I told my nineteen year old self that I would find and eventually leave the happiest job I had ever experienced right when promotion was around the corner so that I could travel across a country I have loved my entire life in order to ‘find’ myself I would’ve cried.

By twenty-one I was to be a graduate of University, at twenty-four I was meant to be accepting my Oscar; a plan I had created ten years prior. By twenty-six I was meant to have found my true love – an age I am at now and, as this blog shows, is yet to be actualised (and yes I have just told you my age despite my initial plan to avoid that) and living surrounded by love.

Instead I left University at twenty when the cost of living in London ran higher than I could handle, at twenty-four I broke off a long-term relationship and developed an eating disorder, and at twenty-six I am in California with a clear mind and a smile on my face for the simple fact that although I have no answers to my own nagging questions of life, I am happy. And when I try to pin down why I am so happy when nothing has worked out the way I thought I wanted I can only come up with one truth; I am doing whatever makes me happy each day. Just me.

I don’t have the guy on my arm, telling me he loves me. I don’t have the Oscar in my hand telling me I am successful. And I don’t have the degree telling me I worked hard.

I have my own money in my bank, after limiting my spending and working two jobs for two years, telling me I worked hard. I have my demons I battled and overcame, and a smile on my face each day telling me I am successful. I have the friends I have made in the last two months sharing stories and experience with me and the friends I have known for years back home encouraging my independence and courage out here, telling me I am loved.

I have everything I ever wanted for my life.

The nineteen year old on the train made me think about everything I wanted and everything I have. It might not look as I thought, but I have it.

Do I enjoy the company I keep in the empty moments? As a test to myself I had to ask myself this. I have everything I ever truly wanted; do I like myself as the person that has this? Am I ok being alone?

Yes.

Ask my nineteen year old self if she likes herself. Ask my twenty-four year old self the same. The twenty-six year old me is the first version of myself that can silence her mind and smile because she is content with herself and her own company.

I don’t look the way I used to, in body or spirit, and when I looked at a photo of myself during my eating disorder – told in each photo I posted on my social media page how pretty I was – all I see now is a forced smile and the memory that the photo that got the most beautiful comments on it was a day I watched my sister eat a bagel as we waited to head to the park to take the photo for our Mother. I look at that photo and remember watching her eat, myself starving myself so much that my mouth was watering as she chatted and ate and I told her I had already eaten. I don’t remember the conversation we had. I remember the hunger. I remember the smell of the bagel, the saddened feeling of wanting it so badly but knowing exactly how many calories were in it, and wishing she would hurry up so we could leave and take the photo.

Twenty-six and ten pounds heavier.

Each photo now may not be as pretty, but my smile has never felt so beautiful.

Anyone struggling with an eating disorder (and it is a struggle, even when the immediate battle is won, you are adjusting to your new image and an entirely new way of thinking) please feel free to message me. If I can help in any way, through listening or anything that you need, I assure you I will do my best.

Happily.

xxHBxx

My own wrecking ball . . .

“I’m so scared for you. That you won’t let anyone love you.”

When I was nineteen years old I was in a relationship with my soulmate. My definition of soulmate is taken from the popular book Eat, Pray, Love;

“People think a soulmate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soulmate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soulmate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soulmate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soulmates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.

A soulmates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life…”

My soulmate was Paul.

Paul died three years ago. We were together during University. Myself in London and him in Wales. We would travel each weekend to see each other, in London or Wales or our collective home town where we originally met.

Paul showed me a side of myself I hadn’t known existed. He showed me my walls.

I remember exactly where we were, what was around us, the words he said and how I felt when he opened my eyes for the first time.

To think of it now breaks my heart. He showed me everything I built to protect myself that I hadn’t even realised I had created. He spoke those words to me seemingly out of the blue. “Im so scared for you. That you won’t let anyone love you. You won’t let them in. Not just for me, but for anyone in your future. You have so much love to give.”

Yesterday I sent a message to the guy I was allowing to get close to me. Last month I sent the hardest message I have written in the longest time to him, opening myself up, as uncomfortable as it made me at the time, I sent the message filled with my true feelings about us. Everything about us. A few days ago I revealed my eating disorder to him.

I don’t know if I revealed too much, for me or for him. And I don’t know if anything has changed with him because we haven’t really spoken since; which could be the reason I feel things have changed.

Yesterday’s message closed a door on us meeting before I return to the UK in January. I was planning to follow my heart and fly back to England to meet him for three weeks as neither of us could wait until my six months was ended.

After revealing my weight concern to him and the reasons behind it – only revealed after he expressed a separate concern of his for our meeting – I felt like I was lead out on a tightrope and left there. My message met with near-silence was too much to bear. For me to then ask whether he still wanted to meet after this revelation to be met with more silence I placed my bricks in the pile ready for the wall-building.

I spent today with no messages from him. No response to my last message, and I am anticipating no further response now.

The idea that I have lifted a weight from his shoulders in being the initiator of this has passed my mind a lot.

I was willing to leave my adventure for him. In all honesty I still am.

Paul scared me with his words; am I building walls around me because I let him in? Or does he really not care and I did the right thing?

All I know is I don’t give my heart easily. And I wanted to give it to him based on what I knew so far. As my older post referring to my note on C emphasises I am looking for a love that consumes me. A love that makes my heart skip and dance and sing when I get a message from him. I had this. I’m not saying I was in love with him, I don’t know him yet. But I had this feeling in me. And now I have closed myself off in protection. Protection of pride more than anything; my feminist-self refuses to wait around for a guy to tell me if he wants me. If someone wants to be with you they want to be with you. There really is no middle ground in that. I was willing to spend twenty-four hours round-trip in the air, crossing an Ocean and several timezones to be with him.

Am I strong or weak for my actions? I won’t know until time has passed. All I know is I didn’t want it to end, but I can’t dismiss my feelings – any feelings.

Instead of travelling back to the UK to be with him I am now planning to travel to Hawaii for a few weeks break. I don’t do things by halves during this trip.

Maybe things will happen in that time and maybe not. Maybe I will get to meet him before my return in January, or after January, or maybe he could be married to someone else by the time I get back. I have no idea.

I only hope that my head becomes clearer on matters like this, and that any walls I accidentally build are once again broken by the right person.

And that ‘right person’ could be me . . .

xxHBxx

Diary of a Disorder . . .

Firstly I’d like to state that this post will be in relation to an eating disorder I developed last year.

I wanted to forewarn anyone before reading, as this is not necessarily something that is classed as ‘easy’ or possibly ‘light reading’ for some and this way you can choose whether or not to continue reading; I wont be offended if you stop here and wait for the next post. In fact I would prefer that than to never read further posts as a result of this one.

Last year I went through an eating disorder.

I realised I had an eating disorder possibly four months into it.

I lost nine pounds in the immediate seven days following my break up. That in itself was fairly extreme but nothing new considering the pattern I develop after a break-up is loss of appetite as I ponder my thoughts and feelings. Eating slips my mind and the thought of continuing with regular meals when something so drastic has occurred in my life feels abnormal to me.

So after each break-up I usually lose a few pounds and gain them back naturally within a few weeks.

This break-up was different.

I lost nine pounds from an already small frame and liked the way I felt and looked.

I had gotten over the break-up in a few weeks; new for me entirely. The following weeks I began working on my happiness. I believed I was the happiest I had ever been – in fact I possibly was at the time. Looking back I was superficially happy. I loved how I looked – how many people, especially women, can say that in all honesty? I was lucky. I felt comfortable in new and old clothes, attractive in my body. I liked the way my face looked – sunken cheeks and raised cheekbones – however I would never be seen without makeup. I would rarely be seen showing my flesh. On the hottest day of Summer last year I have a photo of myself in A’s garden drinking wine wearing a long baggy black top, thick jeans, and chunky black boots. I was melting.

The day after my birthday in August of last year I can be seen in further photos with A wearing a long-sleeved top pulled up to my elbows, black jeggings, and long boots. I was my thinnest; I felt attractive in my body, and yet I hid it under layers entirely in spite of the rising temperatures.

Out in America I have gained weight with a vengeance. My UK size six shorts cut into my thighs and pinch my stomach when I attempt to wear them. My size eight shorts (a size I envied just a few years ago) are now comfortable for me. When discovering my size eights were needed I almost burst into tears in disbelief; ‘Please! I can’t possibly be this big!!’.

I am not fat. I have fat on me, but I am not in any way fat.

I know this. Thankfully.

My thighs wobble in some instances, they are dimpled in certain lights from certain angles. My stomach does not go inwards, yet it doesn’t protrude outward too much. It wobbles when prompted and I often feel as though I am ‘leading with my stomach’ when I walk but it, again, isn’t fat. My arms no longer show the definition they did – oh my gosh I loved my arms. And yet I hid them.

In America I have had no choice but to wear shorts. The heat when I arrived in Boston, New York, and Washington DC was too much for my English-frame to handle in anything but shorts and vest-tops.

I have also had no reason to wear make-up in the day. The heat meant any make-up would show on my top more than my face, and so make-up has been scarce. I had thought this would mean my skin became flawless; quite the opposite. It seems the less make-up I wear the worse my skin becomes.

A few days ago I was walking through Hollywood with a friend I made in Santa Monica the week before. SL and I spent a total of twelve days together as roommates in both Santa Monica and Hollywood Blvd. She came to Hollywood because I was going to Hollywood and we enjoyed every minute together. During a stroll down Hollywood Blvd one day last week we turned onto Sunset Blvd. We had no idea what was on Sunset but considering so many songs have been written about this particular street we allowed our curiosity to lead us and went for a walk.

Five minutes into our walk I was complemented by a complete stranger walking past me by himself on my legs. He went out of my life as quickly as he entered. He chose the 20 seconds it took to walk past me to simply complement my legs and continue with his day.

Around an hour later SL and I found ourselves back on Hollywood Blvd. We were collared into signing up for a club-night by some of the people on the street.

Myself wearing no make-up and having not done my hair I paid little attention to the attractive guy taking our money and promising us an amazing night. With SL enjoying the sound of his voice enough for the both of us I simply handed over my money and took the ticket. He stared a little longer at me than SL which I passed off as looking at my bad skin. He was looking at my eyes though. I never saw his eyes see the cluster of blemishes on my chin. He continued to smile at my eyes. I believed he was well trained in seducing all kinds of ladies to the club-nights and continued on with our adventures in Hollywood.

The next day, the afternoon of the club-night, we passed him again looking just as glamorous as we had the day before. He hadn’t recognised us and tried to get us to sign up again. We faked insulted responses and laughed that we would see him tonight. SL commented a few moments later “He lights up when he see’s you!” to which I replied that he hadn’t even recognised us.

The club-night wound up being a huge let-down.

When we passed another representative for the company two days later he attempted to get us to sign up again for that night’s club-crawl. We laughed that the last one had been dreadful and we wouldn’t do it again. So he gave us free tickets…and we went again that night.

While SL won the drinking competition and I laughed from the sidelines and batted away the attention of a guy telling me he was a rap producer, K, our original sign-up rep, came to my rescue. Asking if I was ok because I looked miserable I replied that being hit on was fun a few years ago but doesn’t interest me now. I was simply happy to watch SL work the room like a PR genius.

After a while of talking K asked me the type of places I actually like to go to, as the clubbing scene he had gathered was not really my thing. I described my perfect night out to be a game of pool in a dive-bar laughing with friends and singing and dancing to good rock and alternative music on the jukebox while drinking beer. He then told me about a bar he wanted to take me to; a dive-bar lots of rockers go to where there’s a pool table, good music and an amazing atmosphere.

Still holding my invisible wall in front of me I took each word with a pinch of salt.

It wasn’t until I asked him about his story that I realised he may be being sincere. He instantly opened up, he didn’t have any walls; having watched guys at play for a few years now I can see the players from the nice guys – call me naive, a dreamer, delusional, whatever. I believed his sincerity.

When he was handed the company camera from another rep that needed to use the restroom he tried to take a photo of me; my instinct kicked in and I ducked from the camera and said “No I don’t like my face!” I hadn’t even realised I had said that until his reaction.

He repeated it back to me as a question wearing his stunned reaction without awareness. He then scrolled through the photos on the camera and came across the first photo of the night. One of myself with two other English girls I had met at the first bar. He zoomed into my face and showed me the photo. In a very cheesy and sweetly sincere move he then said “How can you hate this face?! You have beautiful eyes and look at that smile!!” – the two features about me I hear repeatedly to be my best. Now anyone can take from this conversation what they like. They can consider him to be a very good player. They can consider me to be a gullible child. In those moments, knowing that this guy had seen me makeup-less, having not done my hair, wearing shorts and a tank top over my growing frame, sweating in the LA heat, and was looking at me in the same way dressed-up as he had in that earlier state, it melted me.

Nothing happened. Well actually a lot happened. In me.

I was stood in front of an attractive guy telling me I was beautiful. I told him about my weight-gain and that I don’t usually go out in the day without any makeup whatsoever and he laughed then said that the lines from a Drake song were perfect for me; “Sweat pants, hair tied, chillin’ with no make-up on, That’s when you’re the prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong”. He was good.

Since meeting K I’ve felt a lot more comfortable. I still don’t like my weight-gain. But I am too happy to starve myself, so I won’t.

A workmate wrote on my social media photo album of LA “You look so happy and glowing in every pic”.

I can now say I am the happiest I have ever been.

Last year I really was the happiest I had ever been, and looking back that makes me smile and also saddens me. I have been through a lot in my years; you might get to know more about that as I discover further more about myself. I was truly growing in happiness then.

As Buffy Summers stated during an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer “I’m cookie dough, I’m not done baking.”

I’m not done yet . . .

xxHBxx

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