The Queen of the Seas

Off she goes..

It started during my bi-monthly Campervan search. First of all I trawl the vans I definitely can’t afford, closely by the Ford transits etc that I dreamily imagine converting until the full ridiculousness of it hits me slap in the face once more and I close the zillion pages I have been comparing down again. I then usually start searching ‘sleeping in your Nissan Qashqai 2010’.. and only a couple of hits show up and they basically tear the arse out of Qashqai’s as having shit boot space for a (pretend) SUV… Only this time.. I looked on YouTube and started to see a wonderous step by step tutorial with an actual design and plan of how you could build a bed in the back of your usual family car.

Which I didn’t do. What I have ended up with isn’t remotely like that tutorial… It’s like this instead…

The finished product.

But it works. Albeit in a slightly wonky, can’t sit up without banging your head, sort of way. So as I dreamt of how to buy the foam to level the lowered back seats, and merrily ordered car sleeping mattresses, I also started to wonder what exactly it was that I was hoping to get from this ‘I can do anything, I am a warrior queen of solo-tripping on the seas of the southern coast’ attitude. Because in all reality, what was this gung-ho shit all about really? Being armed with a paddle board you can barely stand on and driving around in a car you have tried to kit out as a Campervan does not a cool, surfer girl make. On one hand I am feeling courageous and powerful and ‘who needs someone else to go and have an adventure’… on the other, deep inside there is the little voice that is piping up gently and quietly with a little hint of shame… saying, ‘me.. I do..’.

I grew up very alone and thus was very lonely. Until I was in my teens I didn’t have any real, firm, school friends as we had moved around too much to have ties anywhere. I had no cousins or extended family that I saw regularly and so being on my own and being my own friend is something I have cultivated over many years. I used to be shy. Not something anyone would believe now but yes, Chloe used to be a shy introvert who was only extrovert on her own or around people she trusted. With no-one to play with and long, long hours of fending for myself whilst my mum worked, or my grandmother tutored, I had to learn to amuse myself. Hours spent climbing apple trees in my grandmother’s garden as it bloomed furiously with roses and lavender, co-existing with insects that used to hover and then dive, buzzing in the air and the spiders that had me squealing as I tried to balance on branches. I had made up friends and imaginary adventures.

Just before I got kicked off for being on private land.

Yesterday I giggled as I took wrong turns and argued with myself as to where I should park. Called myself a ‘dick’ many a time as I wobbled on the board and at one point nearly fell in whilst grasping onto a tree. At this point a man on the phone walked past me.. just as I ungraciously slid one half of me into the water.. but luckily he was so deep in conversation that he either didn’t find it funny, or my own demons were screaming so hard with laughter that I couldn’t hear him. There were the most exquisite iridescent blue dragonflies over the lilypads that my phone was too slow to capture. At one point there was swan who started to swim reeeeeallly slowly in front of me.. it kept making snide glances back at me and I, really quickly, pretended to look somewhere else at the same time.. almost breaking, nonchalantly, into a whistle.. I did not want to get into a fight with said swan whilst on a paddle board.

I visited a beautiful National Trust place called Sheffield Park which had a vast array of rhododendrons and which made mine feel a little bit fucking inadequate if I am honest.. but actually I realised that I far prefer seeing the wilderness of nature rather than the Victorianesque manicured gardens that the NT presents. Very white. Very middle-class and I actually felt a sense of unease as I walked through there. It didn’t feel like the sort of place I wanted to be in. It felt ordered and restrained and very indicative of what is wrong with our society. Another example of uncomfortable history I guess. Interestingly though, one of the rhododendrons (white) smelt like Deep Heat….

(I have cleverly disguised my own rhododendron in below. See if you can spot it.).

Once I felt I had used my membership enough (I will now probably cancel after my whole ‘one’ visit.. I have decided I would prefer to travel to some rewilding sites instead). I drove to Hales Farm Campsite, which is the most wonderful site that I have visited regularly over the past 5 years. They have bell tents and shepherds hut and very spacious settings for camping. It boasts eco toilets and showers and lots of lovely walks around. I figured that if I were going to set up on my own for the night then this would be the best place for it. Luckily enough they remembered me, (the first time I visited I stayed in the hut with my husband (a gift from a friend) and threatened to come and help them with lambing. They never did reply that following Spring.. ).

I did lots of manoeuvring as I parked up and still managed to end up on a slant that meant during the night I was slowly rolling to the other side of the car. I tootled around and cut out crude coverings for some of the windows. I cooked my dinner and spoke to a passing female camper (staying with her partner and child), explaining that ‘no, I am not waiting for someone to turn up.. yes I am camping on my own.. yes in a car’.

I necked a couple of tiny cans of Prosecco and shot into my bed with a book. By 9 I was settling down to sleep. By midnight I was wondering what animal was trying to break into the car and by 1 in the morning I thought I was going to die of carbon dioxide poisoning because I hadn’t opened any windows. I finally slept, albeit fitfully.

I made my tea followed by a cup of salt which was supposed to be coffee with sugar (note to self; remember to label the pot of salt as ‘salt’) and watched as minuscule, kamikaze flies dive-bombed the kettle as it boiled. Not clever.

And as I deconstructed Adelina, I felt this nasty little worm of anxiety start wheedling around the deep innards of my psyche. Was it tiredness? Was it because I had work at midday? Was it the Prosecco? Was it because it was cloudy? Was it because despite pushing past the boundaries of societal attitude of a woman camping alone, I felt deflated? What had I expected? No. Not that. What did I want. What did I actually want?

And that my dear friends is the million dollar question. What. Do. I. Want? And the answer. Er. Everything. Yup. I want it all. I want to be feisty and strong and independent. And also I would like to be comforted when I feel needy and I would very much like to be cooked nice food. And I want to be sexy and admired and no, not seen as a slightly too dominant one minute, too submissive the next, mentalist. And I realise that this harps back to the earlier years as a child. I knew how to play on my own in the playground. But I wanted to play with others. However, the comfort from my own company was far too delightful in comparison to the company of others I wanted to impress. I want to feel how I feel on my own but with others. And that is something I am not sure I will ever manage to harness. And that also, I fear is where my future goes a rather murky shade of grey. A bit like the view out of Casa del Sea this morning..

As I started my journey home, I realised that I feel so, so lost. I can’t move to the countryside because my 2 youngest children need stability and they like where they live. I don’t know if I want to move somewhere rural on my own. Do I want to move with someone? I don’t know. Do I think I will meet someone (ever again)? Not at the moment. Do I need to meet someone? No. Not really. But I do feel that time is rushing by. That age and time are against me. I have even had filler in my lips for gods sake.. now that IS a midlife crisis (no.4021). I have no point to this post other than, yes.. yes I can go away on my own. Yes I enjoy my own company.. but also? I do crave companionship. I

t’s a very basic, human need and I am no different (..well…) to any other human.

NOT looking so hot by this morning 🙂

Breathing Deeply

“Get up”

“I can’t”

“You have to. You have to make pack lunches”

“I can’t get up. I just want to sleep. My eyes are too tired and they can’t open. I can’t face it today. Just need to sleep”

“You can’t sleep, you are a mum who has responsibilities and shit. You need to get a blood test anyway.”

“I’ll cancel.”

“And waste NHS money and resources? Even you know better than to do that Chloe, you are a nurse ffs”.

I can’t. I can’t be an adult today. I can’t be a human today. I just want to continue to atrophy. My petals are drooping and they are going to fall any minute. I start to panic.

Throughout the day the dialogue continues. “It’s fine Chloe, you are not losing it. You are just having a bad day”.

“Another one? a bit of a fucking coincidence isn’t it? A month after stopping the meds and you are starting to get more anxious and more overwhelmed?”

“It’s a bad day. End of. Stop panicking”.

The gentle, encouraging voice continues to placate the tearful, angry and easily irritated one. “Can’t cope. Can’t do it. Can’t cope. Can’t do it”. The bickering of the kids reenacted by my two states of mind internally. “FOR GOD’S SAKE SHUT UP”.. I lose my shit and hope that all of the voices will stop.

As I move around the house each and every defect makes itself known:

“Good morning, I am your bedroom and I look awful. Please just glance around and appreciate the clothes on the floor that have no where else to live until you can be bothered to paint me and put up shelves.. until then.. I’ll just continue to look like this.. Have a good day now!”..

“Oh hello”, pips the bathroom, “still haven’t replaced my tiles.. and I am sure the water is actually rotting away from of the internal brickwork… woo.. that’s gonna cost ya!”.. shut up, shut up, shut up.. none of this matters, none of this matters. Your thoughts are not you.. your thoughts are not you. My heart rate has picked up. Tears prick my eyes.

***********

The above sounds a bit mental right? A little bit manic. This is anxiety. This is poor mental health. For those that you see who can’t leave their beds or their houses… the physical and mental exhaustion has taken its toll. They have lost the fight temporarily. I go through the above on an almost daily basis and have for years. It’s just that most of the time I can quieten the negative, repetitive repertoire that threatens my peace of mind. But it only takes a few things combined to tip me over the edge and the fight is much harder.

Neural pathways/thought processes/attitude can change but really these behaviours I am illustrating are the result of years worth of trauma and my response to them. Most of the time I am able to reconfigure them, divert the well-known route to one that is unfamiliar but safer. However, that takes a lot of energy and resources and sometimes I struggle to keep it up. This is when I would love someone to help; do the shopping, take over the crappy admin that comes with adulting, sort the washing out.. and even more so.. put up shelves! Paint! Sort the bathroom out! Some days I feel I can do it all but most days I shrink and the physical and mental pain join hands together and enclose my addled mind. I think I know what has contributed.. I have been concentrating on buying things to enjoy doing and forgetting.. fuck that.. choosing not to.. meditate and do yoga. Concentrating on the external to fix the internal but now the internal is malfunctioning and I can’t quite reach the reset button.

Even close friends may struggle to recognise this in me. I can hide it quite well. Colleagues apparently have no idea unless I tell them. What’s also worth noting that is what might be normal for one person is not necessarily the same for the next. Coping mechanisms differ for each person and if at any point a little bit of judgement raises in your mind then try and remember that everyone has a unique story.

If any of this resonates, any of it makes you shout a ‘hell yeah!’, then comment below. The more society realises that the majority are going through this at some level, then maybe we will make more changes in our perception towards those who struggle mentally.

No-one and I mean NO-ONE can tell me that it is because I am lazy, I just feel sorry for myself, I am just self absorbed. My own voice can tell me that regularly enough. You can see the fight I and many others go through to put on a smile, answer the phone and to actually show up in life. And those days you see me and you think God, Chloe is a bit sprightly today.. she’s a bit bouncy… just love those moments, because until I can reach a point of a more balanced state, those are my days of mental freedom. Those are the days I don’t struggle to leave my bed. I don’t have to expend copious amounts of energy telling my mind to shut the fuck up.

This is Anxiety

Some days are just so much damn harder to bear than others. All through the night I awoke.. nightmare after nightmare.. in one of them I dreamt that my apparently dying mother tried to suffocate me with a pillow. Fuck knows what that was about. Anxiety has been riding high for a few days now.. she sharpens her claws and smirks.. “I’m comiiiiiing Chloe.. just hold on.. I’ll be there on the crest of the wave as I engulf you”… I realise that today I have been holding in the tears.. I have literally been swallowing them and then, as I tidy the much-needed-to-be-tidied food shelf in the kitchen, I give in. I collapsed to the floor and sobbed and sobbed. About what? I don’t know but I do know that the dying spider by the sink may well have been the final straw.

I read the news as I woke in the night, the murder of women recently in East London, the attempted rape of another, those who have been stabbed. I have friends who are in pain, patients who are in pain. I feel it all. Every single fucking bit.

I make the choice to back away, not to call, not to text. I am in self-preservation mode.

Some days are just harder.. they gain momentum until you realise that there is no way out.. no arm bands are going to save me here… a snorkel won’t help either.. this is going to be some super duper deep diving shit.. without the oxygen.

The food shelf, the back garden, the front garden, the bin, the recycling, the A&E bank shift, the actual job, the dating, the cooking (fuck I hate the cooking), what can I cook that they will like, that they will eat, that won’t spell ‘shit mother’ out as I plate it out. First world problems these. I feel the rising guilt.. another stick I can beat myself with. This is anxiety. This is what a lot of us fight every single day.

I have been celebrating my final titration off of antidepressants in recent months. I am now officially antidepressant free. For the first time in almost 24 years, I am managing to get by without those little green and white capsules. Am I worried that how I am feeling today is due to the cessation of medication? No. I had these days even when on Fluoxetine/Venlafaxine/Citalopram/Sertraline/you name it I have taken it.

This too shall pass. I know this. But I am writing to let people know that despite what you might think as you catch a glimpse of me dancing around my living room, or see me throw my head back and guffaw with laughter or as you laugh at my goofiness.. that there are days that are dark. The cloud of anxiety doggedly follows me about. I try and outrun her.. I even ran this morning to the beach and back.. but I wasn’t fast enough to lose her. The problem with anxiety is that it can slow you down. Making a cup of tea can take forever.

It’s ok to feel like this, I know this. I shall be nice and loving to myself and meanwhile don my Xena Warrior Princess outfit, even if it is bursting at the seams..

Bonnie and I

I discovered that Equine Gentling were asking for volunteers to help with the horses and families visiting via a Facebook post that a friend had put up. I enquired and a few weeks later, I was lucky enough to be able to go and meet Dan Corbin, the charity founder and his herd.

My love for horses had started as a young child but after about 10 had begun to wane. The last time I sat astride a horse was when I was 21 and I realised that the fear’free’ approach I had as a child was suddenly very fear’ful’ as an adult. The horse refused to move and all the people in the yard looked miniature, like ants because it suddenly felt like I was on the top of Nelson’s column. How the hell had I managed this when I was younger? The horse eventually broke into a fast trot and then a canter.. and it was at this point that I thought all of my teeth were going to fall out because I couldn’t for the life of me, appear to keep my mouth shut so I was chattering like some sort of grotesque skeleton. It was terrifying.. the stirrups seems to want to get as far away from my feet as possible and I literally just held on to the saddle with the reins in my (so tightly gripped, that they were practically cyanosed) hands. I think even the hat slid down so that I could barely see. This was not the horse riding experience I remembered. At. All. This was like an incredibly bad Thelwell experience.

In contrast, from about 6 – 10 years old, I moved about the horses with ease. I was obsessed in those early years. I drew, wrote about and dreamt about horses. I longed for a horse. So much so I decided to invent Star, my imaginary horse. He was great. Very low cost and I never fell off. He still exists, out in the paddock over there.. If you can’t see him, you clearly aren’t looking hard enough.

Horses were (along with cats), at a time when I was changing schools, moving from county to county, dealing with elements of neglect and trauma, bullying and abuse, my place of safety. I rode when I could, which was infrequent and I sat for many lonely hours, reading and imagining about the horse I would have. Creating Star was possibly the beginning of the end for horses and I. My mum unceremoniously blew his cover at a children’s party we were at. The kids there couldn’t stand me as it was, so discovering I had been lying about his existence was another piece of ammunition in their arsenal. Along with Speccy Four Eyes or whatever I was called, I was now known as a liar.

As an adult I took my daughter to have a riding lesson and as we watched, I decided that I wouldn’t take her anymore. The bits in their mouths pulled back to control their heads, the sharp, hateful kicks against their ribs to spur them on and the loud, brash bellows of the riding instructors bullying these beautiful creatures to react to their every whim. It made me feel sick. I made a point there and then that I wouldn’t sit on a horse again and that I wouldn’t take my children to riding lessons again.

Yesterday was my second visit. I have spoken to Dan about the work he does and how the horses he has there have been referred to him because they were considered dangerous or there had been elements of abuse in their lives. If you consider that a hard metal bit is put into their mouths and used to control them, one might agree that abuse has occurred to every bridle wearing, ridden horse. Families visit for therapy sessions and Dan works with children and adults who have different mental health and learning needs. The therapy is a two way process for both animals. Humans and horses.

I had offered to give the horses Reiki. As a trained practitioner in reiki for 15 years I had also completed a days training with a local equine reiki practitioner and I knew of the massive benefits for horses that had suffered trauma, neglect and abuse.

Bonnie was the closest to me. A 17 year old mare who is not brilliant around other horses but likes being with humans. I made a faux pas immediately. I went to touch her nose. Dan explained why horses don’t appreciate this. It’s to do with their field of vision and the fact that the hand disappears once it gets to a certain point and they then just feel a pressure on their nose or head, seemingly out of nowhere and which takes them by surprise. He advised to start by touching her on the shoulder. I placed both of my hands on her and she continued to stand. No bolting, kicking and I didn’t get bitten… this seemed like a good thing..

We continued to stand there, she shifted and I immediately thought that my time was up, she had had enough. But she edged closer to me. Her muscles twitching constantly under my hands. I tentatively moved up towards her neck and she drew in still more, our heads were so close that I was able to gently rest mine against hers. She stayed there. She started to itch her nose against my arm and it appeared she must be scratching it but Dan later explained that she was nuzzling into me. It was a form of affection. A few minutes passed and she shifted again and once more I presumed she was going to move away but she didn’t. Instead she moved her head around so that she was on the other side of me. My right arm passed under her neck and either side of her neck, the energy continue to flow through my hands. Her head started to relax and she began to press into my shoulder, our heads resting against each other. I could feel her head dropping as if she was falling asleep. As though in a dance we moved again and as I pulled away, I looked at her eyes. In her left eye, a tear had formed and slowly it ran down the length of her nose. I turned to Dan who was intermittently watching us from his chair and I said in what felt like rather a silly way, “she has a tear, that’s from the wind or something right?”. I can’t remember his reply verbatim, but it was something along the lines of, “no, horses can cry, she will be releasing”. As I type, my eyes fill up once more. I laid my head back against her neck and together we stood there. Tears falling down my face as I felt the most amazing healing process pass back and forth between us.

And it was at that moment that it felt like I had come home.

Bonnie and Dan just having a walk..

False Advertising

How come I have relationships with friends that feel safe and secure? That I don’t anguish over and that I don’t feel the need to suddenly terminate if there is an issue that comes up? 

I do sometimes get the ‘right, cut that person off’ but I do tend to be able to ride it out. But with a man, if I think that at any point there is potential, or if we have started to see each other, I can’t just let it ride out and take it easy. I have to know absolutes. Or if I think that I am likely to be ‘dumped’, I orchestrate it first.. and fuck it up and still feel like I have been rejected even though I initiate it. It’s soul destroying. And why oh why do I keep selling the cheap version of myself. 

So I see it like this, there is the full plan, the deluxe version, the premium option. This is for a minimum term contract. You get Chloe in full. (Stop laughing, it’s not that scary). Kind, focused, compassionate, sexy, funny, full of adventure… but long term. Then there is the weekly option. Pay as you go. This gives you all some aspects of the above but like a phone with a bad signal, she blips out. She gets anxious. She gets feisty or emotional.. this causes the line to break up and so the buyer gives up or just decides that the trial version is shit and moves to another provider.

Even if I know the buyer only wants a one-day only contract, I still pretend I can offer that. I can’t. (Infact that needs to be registered on a system somewhere as ‘false advertising’). I have to go into a repair shop for days and weeks afterwards… 

With mates they would testify that I am not needy. I am not anxious about our friendships. I don’t ask for more than they can give. I feel secure. I feel loved. Infact if anything I withdraw and become a little too independent.

So, this is my ‘homework’ for the next few months. I personally think I need some sort of counselling to overcome this. I know it stems from a mix of attachment style issues. Mainly a mix of ‘dismissive avoidant’, ‘fearful avoidant’ and ‘anxious attachment’. I push away before I can be pushed and then have a meltdown. Basically. 

I wish I could be viewed by prospectives as my mates view me (and I know this is true coz they tell me innit).. that I am strong, feisty, loving, loyal and independent. I guess time will tell. Or not, and I really will die and get eaten by my cats. 

In the dark of the moon.

She picks up the shards and arranges them on the table. The edges are jagged and cut her fingers. Tears and tiny droplets of blood pool together, almost repelling each other like oil, mimicking the thoughts that flood her mind. The angel and demon, as they tussle. Insults are hurled but neutralised with love; love is cascaded but torn apart by pain.

She tries to rearrange the puzzle so that the mirror is pieced back together, yet she can’t quite get it to work. The lines aren’t straight and can’t be melded. Her reflection is therefore crude and disjointed. Anger and frustration build as she realises the mirror can’t be fixed. It needs to be given up. Cast aside. Let go of. She will have to let go of the old. As she pushes the blood, the salt, the wetness, the smeared pieces of glass into the bin, she screams. A guttural, feral sound. In answer to her warrior that resides within, the wind outside picks up. Birds bury their heads under their wings and foxes skulk into the shadows.

Time passes. The sky is dark outside. Rain falls. Exhausted and spent, she raises her head from her arms and catches sight of her face in the reflection of the window. Tears have dried. Her lips full and swollen, her eyes tired. But her face is no longer sectioned off into anger and recrimination. It is one. It is as smooth as the glass of the window. It’s ok now. And as the new moon rises, so her seeds have intention have been sown. No more fury. No more anger, no more self sabotage. As the moon rises, so will she.

Longer school days? Are you shitting me?!

It’s all very well the government proposing changes to the school days and terms etc but have they actually even considered the people that this actually has an effect on? Namely the children, teachers and parents?

We already impress a very direct and institutional type of learning here in the U.K. One that only really caters for a certain type of child that can bear sitting down for long periods of time and who can embrace the type of schooling system we have here. For those of us who desperately struggle to get our children to cope with the six hours they do currently, this is simply a no go.

My child spends enough time in isolation during the school week as it is because he can’t cope with the type of learning and learning environment that currently exists. And because he doesn’t tick enough boxes is unable to receive the help that might allow him to thrive. I’d love to be able to have him schooled in a free school here (think Steiner or Montessori) but I don’t have thousands of pounds to pay for it. Or in a country where there is less emphasis on academic achievement but the child’s own talents are recognised and nurtured. We may as well just place him in a windowless room and tell him that he won’t make anything of his life because he doesn’t ‘fit’.

From an early age the majority of U.K. children are forced to attend an education that pushes from the word go. They are told what to wear and what not to wear. They are told to play nicely, to sit still, to conform. As they get older, the more they want to express themselves the more they are stilted. “Not that hairband Amy, faaaar too distracting”, “Henna?!” (On the hand), “What if everybody wants to start painting their faces with henna? Just imagine the chaos!” (Yes, these words were actually uttered from the headteacher in my daughter’s high school).

No hair dye or piercings other than ear lobes and god forbid if you even dare to wear socks in a colour other than black! Girls must have their hair up, it’s a health and safety issue and no, you may not play outside when it is snowing in case someone gets hurt.

I, for one, am sick of this type of pedantic, suppressive system and now they are waffling about extending school days and shortening holidays with no regard to what the children actually want or would benefit from? And why? Because there is a fear that not enough children will progress with the grades that are needed to fulfil a competent workforce in a few year’s time? I bet Lord Fucking Farqhar’s son or daughter won’t have these issues? Again, these measures will most probably punish the poorest families who are already struggling with childcare costs and children who are already at the mercy of a society and system that doesn’t work for them as it is.

Give the children a summer of love. Give them some joy and help those affected by job losses by giving discounted (fuck it! Maybe even free!) opportunities to visit places they can’t afford – theme parks/animal sanctuaries/swimming pools/train travel to the coast. Let the people know that they haven’t been forgotten. That those in their ivory towers do actually give a shit.

Then ask the teachers how they think they need to structure their days. How they need support in helping the children who need it most.

Humph. What was going to be a very short Facebook rant turned into a long WordPress rant… can you tell I’m in a shitty mood today?

Who are you calling ‘mad cat lady’?

Nothing like a nagging, compulsion to write at 1am.

I am trying to process my ineptitude surrounding matters of the heart. Relationships. I liken myself to a newborn lamb, barely able to stand, very wobbly and prone to bleating at the first sign of trouble. Hopefully less gloopy.

I can’t quite get to grips with having a healthy relationship. I am not surprised considering the mixture of a somewhat dysfunctional upbringing and the mixed messages that are drip fed into the sub-conscious of every woman in today’s society.

Media, advertising, even the bloody government push this constant idea that it is better to be part of a duo. Where would we be without a significant other? You even get fucking tax allowances if you are married and they hilariously charge you to get divorced. In fact you have to ‘apply’ to part from your betrothed. As someone who is currently going through this hideous process it brings up all matter of questions, mainly, how did it go so wrong?

On one hand women still have the old fashioned expectation of being the soft ones, the carers, the cleaners, the feeders… (I sorely lack at that last one.. cooking has never been a strong point) and yet within a lot of us is a desire to be self sufficient. Independent. Feisty. Strong. Some can manage this. They can incorporate everything within their personality and relationship and still be a likeable person. I can’t. I am more of a “fuck off I can do this by myself, can you help me?” type of gal.

I think the crux of the matter is that for me, and I presume countless others, we are brought up to believe by society that we need to find ‘the one’. Our soulmate. You are generally expected to procreate and then stay in a happy bubble until one of you drops off this mortal coil. However, I am perplexed as to why this idealistic (and is it even idealistic?) notion even exists. There is a recently a stronger voice for us women (and men) now which propels us towards the belief that all we really need is to love ourselves and only then can we find ‘true’ love with another. The concept that we are to be happy alone before we can really be happy with another. This isn’t a new concept by any means but it is one which is now presenting itself quite regularly via social media memes and is peddled in self help books and among support groups.

And it is here that I am presented with a huge, stumbling block. I am trying to do this. It makes sense. Don’t rely on another to make you happy. Go within. Love thyself.. all that jazz. The issue that this then seems to present to me is I don’t know how to combine that with getting close to another. I am very much all or nothing. For those that I have been with, this can present as a terrifying mix of nonchalance and Fatal Attraction. The ones that succumb to my charms probably have equally as many issues with their own self esteem and relationships, otherwise they would run a mile. Those that start walking backwards the moment they spot this are wise enough to know that I am anything but simple to be with. Minus the lover, I revert to being almost human again and I merrily skip along (think 3 month old lamb stage) without stumbling too often and you might even spot a little skip into the air. Bring in a new lover and cue the bleating.

I have actually got better in that I now at least recognise this. And I know where it stems from and the how’s and why’s.. but it doesn’t seem to make the actual transition from Normal(ish) Chloe to Lunatic Chloe any easier to bear. I don’t appear to know what normal behaviour is in a relationship. And is that purely an issue that I have or is it one that has been exacerbated and promoted by society? We are shown via film, TV, books etc that true love is all giddiness and butterflies. However when I look back, butterflies have always been teamed with anxiety. Anxiety that the one I have started to like, won’t call or like me back enough. The ‘can’t stop thinking about you’ feeling that we get in those early days, is that always healthy? We very willingly, cup our heart with both hands and hand it over to the other person and say, ‘there, you can have that’… and then wonder why, when they drop it or accidentally sit/shit on it that we fall apart and our confidence in love is crushed. So how do we find this elusive happy medium? Is it possible to have giddiness and a healthy relationship?

I am stumped. I can see myself being single forever because I can’t imagine having the self sufficiency I feel when I am alone and being able to feel that confident independence within a relationship. And so, with that, I am just going to the rescue centre to get another ten cats……(who are you calling mad cat lady?….🙄)

p.s. apologies for a probably crap piece of writing.. a compulsion to write and being too tired to think straight = the above 😉

Say Goodbye to the Chair.

If you are squeamish, don’t read on… and if you are a misogynist, don’t read on. I am going public with this erm… event… because I feel that as there is rather a large proportion of us out there that could be stuck in a similar situation, I would like to reach out and say. I know. I get it.

This morning, I drove merrily to work. It was very misty and as I crossed the Down’s I drove reasonably conservatively hoping I wouldn’t smash into a marauding sheep despite the arsehole behind me with their very shiny Mercedes badge practically inserted up my rear-end. I was in a good mood. Things were/are ok. They bump up and down a little like cargo on a ship.. sliding up one end before sliding back down to the other as they broach the waves.. but generally, all is good. I wondered at the sheep/sea smell that was in the Brightonian air as I crossed from one department to the other. And my happy go lucky state of mind continued until the moment I realised, as I sat on the lovely, almost new blue chairs in the training room, that something may happen to be amiss. I discreetly checked my crutch with my fingers and sure enough, there was wet. I peered as discreetly as I could, heart racing, and saw that I had bled through my tampon/knickers/jeans and onto the fabric chair. I quickly re-arranged my (bloody) arse so that I could work out what to do and how to do it, while the trainer continued to discuss ‘tasks’.

This was not a win-win situation. There was no passing Go and collecting £200. This was a Straight to Hell moment in my life. I looked at the male trainer and then around at the other four non-haemorrhaging women in the room. I waited until 5 minutes later when he called for break and I spoke up and said (a lot more bravely than I felt), “I am afraid I have a bit of a problem. I am er.. perimenopausal and er.. I thought it was over but it wasn’t and I have erm… bled. On the chair. There..’. I literally felt that I had to explain what stage I was in my reproductive life so that they would all realise that I wasn’t just some incompetent twat of a woman who couldn’t manage her periods. I burst into tears. The shame. The humiliation. I wished I had pissed on the chair by accident instead. At least you can wash urine out easily.

He was lovely and so were the women. They offered tissues and tampons whilst the trainer ran around finding spare sets of scrubs and debating with his manager about how I would finish the training. I sniffed pathetically and rubbed the blood away as much as I could with wipes meant for Covid. I said goodbye to the chair, knowing that it’s short life had ended too soon. There was no way that chair would be making another appearance.. blood doesn’t come out at the best of times and I don’t think that even if it did, it would ever live up to the rest of the other chairs. It’s a bit like a mafia goon who fucks up accidentally.. they don’t want to do it but the bosses will have to kill him.

After an agonising 20 minutes of losing all the millions of the pads and tampons that I actually did have on me (so that this wouldn’t happen) and then finding them again.. I left, head bowed and drove home.

My mood changed. I emailed my new boss and explained what happened. I arranged to miss the rest of the training tomorrow and shadow a colleague instead. I sat on my bed, freshly showered and felt shame. I felt anger at the shame. Anger at my body. Anger that I couldn’t just carry on with my day. Anger that I hadn’t realised I was bleeding. Anger that I am peri-menopausal. Anger that I haven’t yet had the hysterectomy that I have been waiting over a year for. Anger that the chair wasn’t plastic. Anger that I felt anger.

I spoke to my mum on the phone and my voice wobbled. The thing I am most angry about is that the fact that still, today, periods are a taboo. They are considered in the main, as dirty. I am ashamed that despite the fact I know they shouldn’t be viewed as that, I as a woman, still perpetuate that sentiment. If I saw someone else I would feel pity. Pity that they would feel that humiliation. Yet for myself, I just feel huge embarrassment. A failing.

I know with my rational head that the above isn’t true. However, my point in writing this is to drive the point home to both women and men out there, that this is the reality. We bleed. Sometimes we aren’t able to ‘manage’ our bleeding. It comes and starts when it wants to. It ebbs and it flows with abandon. For me it comes with iron deficiency, fatigue, sleeplessness and feeling cold. It comes 20 days out of 30. It comes with weariness and tears too.

What pains me is the effect it had on me today. The feeling of being less than (and costing the NHS a chair..)..

Slipping

Demons, little monkeys, scurrying to my shoulders, “slipping, slipping” they giggle in my ear. They pinch my skin, tug at my hair.

Where’s your flo Chlo? Like a slurry of sludge, I’m sticking. Trees whisper in the wind, “promises, promises, what happened to the promises?”

No longer making, creating, just sating. But it’s a good day, a bad day, a roast day, a sad day.

Slipping, slipping.

Change the gear, pick up the pace. It’s not too late, gather your arsenal, lay it all out. Straighten your britches, smooth out the creases and gently, soothe the soul.