Stop the ride … I want to get off

There’s a ride at EuroDisney called Star Tours – a Star Wars themed flight simulator, designed to make you feel like you’re on an out-of-control spaceship.

Aged 8, I did not like Star Tours. No sooner had I fastened my seatbelt than I got the feeling in the pit of my stomach that I really wasn’t going to enjoy the next five minutes. I nudged my dad.

‘Dad, I want to get off.’

‘Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t get off. Look, nobody else is being silly and panicking like you are.’

Just at that moment, the doors slid open and three Japanese tourists stood up and left. The doors slid shut again, leaving me even more panicked than before.

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Introvert

My parents are planning to move house, so my mum has been sorting through all their old stuff. This has brought up a couple of things I want to blog about, the first of which is introversion.

In amongst her uni work, my mum found a note from my dad from when they first started dating. She’d gone to the bar to get drinks and he’d vanished and left a note on the table saying ‘Have gone to do some work. See you later x’

My mum told me about this because she found it funny: my dad was renowned for doing absolutely no work at uni, and was very nearly kicked out. He hadn’t excused himself because he planned to work at all, she thought, he’d excused himself because there were too many people in the bar, and it was making him anxious.

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Watching ‘The Undateables’ (kind of)

I should’ve known this was going to be a shit week. On Friday night, I left the office and promptly burst into tears because I’d missed a deadline and let the designer down (in my defence, the designer is *hot*). Then, I went to M&S and bought steak, which was the only thing I wanted for dinner – something which only happens when my body is screaming for iron. I got home and my period had started. Obviously.

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It’s ok to be happy with a calm life

Writing about depression consistently loses me Twitter followers. I don’t care – the ‘of sorts’ part of my blog name was always designed to allow me to write about other things that are important to me, and that’s exactly what I plan to do in this post. I wrote a shorter post on this earlier, but I’ve since deleted it, because I have so much more I want to say on the subject. If you don’t like it, go right ahead and unfollow.

I hate New Year, and this year was no different. I find the pressure of statements like ‘2014 is going to be so much better than last year’ almost unbearable, especially because depression always seems to catch up with me in the weeks after Christmas. This year, I should have known it was on its way. A few days after Christmas I was in a restaurant with my parents. They made a slightly critical comment and I burst into tears. The weepiness lasted the rest of the evening.

My parents are not great in this respect: they tell me repeatedly that I’m not actually depressed because my depression is always triggered by specific, upsetting events. There’s some truth in this – it often is – but part of the reason they think that is because often when I’m low I avoid telling them, partly because I know they don’t really get it. 

What really upsets me though, is knowing that depressive episodes are almost always triggered by people I care about. Sometimes it’s my friends, more often it’s the boys in my life. A couple of years back, I was pretty involved in a complicated situation with a depressed male friend and ironically, as he recovered, I succumbed to it more and more. He ended up offering to pay for me to have therapy, thinking I was resisting it because I couldn’t afford it. Nothing could have been further from the truth: I was resisting it because I couldn’t handle the stigma that came with being depressed. He was lucky I refused his offer though: to date it would have cost him more than £2k in therapy sessions.

I’m slightly more comfortable with the stigma surrounding mental illness now (good therapy will do that), but less comfortable with the way it’s treated. Therapy is risky – I did have a great therapist, but when I moved halfway across the country I had to find a new one, and I’m pretty sure that in the six sessions I saw her for she did way more harm than good. 

Anti-depressants make me even more antsy. I take them, on and off, but as soon as I start to feel better, I stop. This is a pretty irresponsible thing to do: they’re known to have side-effects, including mood swings, as part of the come down, which is why you’re supposed to reduce the dosage slowly and under a doctor’s supervision. Sheer bloody-mindedness means I never do: as soon as the depression subsides I get resentful about reliance on drugs to control my emotions, bitter about the fact that my emotional range is so curtailed and really, really fucked-off about the weight I inevitably gain when I’m taking them. And so I stop, just like that. And just as day follows night, several weeks later I’ll have a day just like today, where I get up, shower, start to cry, and have to go back to bed because everything else feels like too much of a struggle. Today, I thought I might make gingerbread. Then I thought of the mess it will inevitably make and couldn’t face it. The same goes for cooking meals. Drying my hair is too much effort. Watching TV gives me too much time to think. Basically, I just want to be asleep, but I’m not tired enough to get there. It’s on days like this that I wish anti-depressants could be given intravenously, just so their effect would be more immediate.

None of this stops me laying in to other people though: I’ll do anything, anything, to turn the self-hatred outwards for a bit, so god forbid that anyone should say or do anything that hurts or upsets me – I can rant and rave for hours because that’s what’s going on inside my head anyway. 

But as much as that’s me saying It’s not you, it’s me, I can’t help but wonder if the solution is to return to the kind of single girl independence I last had around 2007, when I was doing my finals and boys were the last thing on my mind.

I’ve mentioned in a few posts that I had more to say about this post. The way Juniper describes sitting on the harbour, wiling away the hours made me wistful as hell. I used to be that girl, the girl who could sit in a bar with a glass of wine and a book, watching the world go by and not fretting about the present, or worrying about the future. In recent years, I’ve lost the ability to do that – now I always seem to be checking my phone for messages from an AWOL boy, or worrying about the fact that I’m not doing super-exciting stuff with other people.

Depression has taken away my ability to enjoy my own company, and that’s the shittest thing of all. 

OK, Cupid, we’re done

I was talking to a friend the other day about New Year’s Resolutions. Her theory was that you should save them for Spring, because the desire for change is greater when the weather’s warmer and the whole world feels like it’s renewing itself. It’s not a bad theory, but  I’m even more in favour of an even gentler approach: that we put too much pressure on ourselves generally and resolutions should be avoided at all times. Life is pretty damn hard: be kind to yourself.

With that conversation in mind, as well as this blog post which I wrote a few weeks back, I spoke to another friend. I told her that my plan is (eventually!) to stop focusing on my short term pleasure/happiness, and instead to dedicate myself to the long game. She assumed, unsurprisingly, that by ‘the long game’ I meant finding a guy to settle down and have children with. I didn’t, actually, or at least, not entirely, I more meant that I want to find a calmer, more steady sense of contentment than the one I have now. Quite a few people have commented on my post about babies, saying that yes, it probably is best to call it quits on friends-with-benefits type relationships, and work harder at finding something more meaningful if that’s what I want in the long term. I agree, with the first part, at least, and so 2014 will be the year I stop sleeping with the boy. Honest.

‘Great,’ she said, ‘I’m sure you’ll meet someone fantastic, there are loads of great guys online.’ 

‘I’m going to stop internet dating, too.’

There was a pause. A long pause. Then she said ‘Well, I can understand why you’d want a break, but I’m sure you’ll feel more like it if you have a month off.’

‘No,’ I said, ‘I mean it. I hate it, and I’m not doing it any more.’

We went back and forth like this for a while – her trying to persuade me that I’d feel better about it after some time off; me increasingly pissed off that she just didn’t seem to get what I was saying. Sure, OKCupid and Tinder can be fun; and can be flattering, but they also exhaust me and play havoc with my already fragile mental health.

Earlier this year, I had a few weeks of back and forth flirting with a guy on OKCupid. The conversation repeatedly came back to his desire that we should meet for drinks, and then get a hotel room and fuck each other senseless. The bit that made me wary was that we couldn’t just go back to his. When I mentioned it to a friend, she said ‘He’s married.’ And so I asked him outright. And sure enough, yes, he was. His wife though, apparently, was ‘fine with it,’ so I went along with it too, enjoying the flirting and the potential for some dirty, no-strings sex like I used to have. I was nervous, sure, but I had no intention of backing out. He, however, did – the night before we were supposed to meet.

That was my last serious interaction with anyone on the site. I still have an active profile, still reply to the odd message, but not really with the intention of it going anywhere – I genuinely hate the emotional ups and downs, as well as just how hard you have to work at the communication, all, it seems, with very little return. 

So, I plan to start 2014 by deleting both my OKCupid and Tinder profiles. Meeting someone is important to me, but feeling calm and emotionally stable is so much more so. I have much more to say about this blog post by Juniper, but suffice to say for the moment that the first few months of this year will be given over to rediscovering the state of solo contentment that she describes so beautifully. Maybe, eventually, I’ll rejoin one of what I consider to be the more serious dating sites – match.com or the like, but for now, I’m giving myself a break from boys.

The best post ever on being single at Christmas …

… is not one of mine.

Just a very quick post to say that I noticed this week that Lucy Robinson, one of my favourite bloggers, is back on Twitter after a substantial period of down time. Way back in 2009, she wrote this for Marie Claire – rarely has a blog post stayed with me for so long. If you’re single, and you’d rather not be, it might be worth a read.

http://lucy-robinson.co.uk/breakups-the-end-of-the-world/

Enjoy! x

The things that make us who we are …

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what it is that’s stopping me from going after what I really want when it comes to love. Sure, I’ve dabbled with internet dating, but I hate it. And recently, I’ve realised that, unlike many people who hate it because it can be depressing and it takes up precious time, I hate it because it means confronting my biggest fear: that no one will want me.

As ever, no melodrama intended – that’s just my honest world view. One of the things that has surprised me most since setting up this blog is the followers I feel I have most in common with are not the sex bloggers, but the relationship bloggers. That’s not to say that there aren’t some fab and supportive sex and erotica bloggers out there (if you haven’t read Kristina Lloyd or Alison Tyler you really, really should), but the girls who write about their search for Mr Right have been kinder and more interested in what I’m doing here than I could ever have hoped for.

Because relationships are my greatest hang up. Technically, I’ve never had one. How did that happen? Well, it’s a pretty long story….

Why do you walk like that?

I’ve touched on some of the issues in this post before. My very first post was about my slight disability and the way complete strangers react to it, but it’s not always complete strangers. The first person I ever felt wasn’t able to accept that my body wasn’t normal was my mum.

This isn’t some kind of attempt to pass the blame for all my insecurities back to my parents – they’re fantastic, and I adore them. In fact, when I first went to therapy, the first thing I said was that I had no interest in trying to pass the buck back to them for how I got so fucked up. But my mum hasn’t always got it right. She walks at 100mph, for example, and I’ve always been expected to keep up. My dad is generally better at recognising that this is tricky for me but when I was a kid, we got taken into his office every Christmas Eve and every year I fell over on the walk from the station and ended up in awful emergency Sock Shop tartan tights.

Not only do I have to keep up though: I have to walk properly. I’ve got much better at this – until very recently I was becoming more agile, not less. She’d say things like ‘You’re walking badly today – are you tired/not concentrating/wearing uncomfortable shoes?’ Often, yes, one of the above – but who isn’t one of those things much of the time. When I paid close attention to every step, I walked better but at the expense of becoming massively self-conscious. It’s never gone away.

No one wants to kiss me

All through primary school, no one noticed that I wasn’t as co-ordinated as every else. Then, when I started secondary school, all that changed. Not only was there a fair amount of teasing, there was also the hell of school discos and under-18s club nights. All the other girls would spend most of the evening with some boy’s tongue down their throat while I hovered on the edge of the group, desperate for the evening to end. Did my disability mean that I was a terrible dancer? Actually, I have no idea – I’m a pretty cautious dancer, but I don’t know if that’s because my body won’t let me be otherwise, or just because I’ve never had the guts to properly throw some shapes. In the end, I was 17 before I had my first kiss and then, irony of all ironies, 17 and a half when I lost my virginity. In a nightclub.

Older men

When the boys your age aren’t interested, you’ll turn elsewhere for male attention in the end. I have a lot more to say about crushes on teachers, so I’ll write about it in more detail later, but let’s just say that most of the years from 15-18 I wasn’t interested in anyone who didn’t take a register. Wanting to impress helped me to get into one of the best universities in the country, but the opportunities for sex there were far and few between too. Plus ca change …

Just good friends

My first grad job was in the middle of nowhere, and my first good friend in that job was senior to me, but behaved at least five years younger than I was. He was a terrible flirt, and he had a Geordie accent that left me weak at the knees. We spent increasing amounts of time together until he decided to tackle the fact that I clearly fancied him head on. He wasn’t ‘in a good place for a relationship,’ which turned out to mean that he’d been in love with his girlfriend’s twin sister for nearly seven years and the idea of moving on was completely alien to him.

That rang true with me. I started seeing a therapist about a year later and one of the first things she asked me was why I thought I continued to be drawn to him despite the fact that we didn’t want the same things. My answer: he doesn’t want to sleep with me.

Now, looking back, that seems odd, even to me. I’m unapologetic about how much I love sex – chasing it, talking about it, having it. But I didn’t want to have sex with anyone I really cared about – I couldn’t face the fact that the morning after they’d inevitably wake up knowing that I’m bad in bed and liking me less because of it. But I stuck with it nonetheless, increasingly unhappy. For two whole years.

What ended it? He met someone, obviously. Someone younger, stick thin, and with no tits to speak of. It’s rare that I don’t love my cleavage, but we had a rough few weeks around that time.

Friends with benefits

Of course, looking back I can see that he didn’t end up with someone else purely because my body was a disappointment to him. It probably wasn’t a disappointment at all – it was probably just that he didn’t fancy me. Or that he wanted someone who was less emotional, less of a drama queen. And that’s ok. Well, ok to an extent – we’ve never salvaged the friendship, but he collects stuffed meerkats now, so I consider myself to have had a lucky escape.

Hopefully all of the above makes it clearer why I consider the current boy  (wow, nearly wrote relationship there!) to be something of a break through. The first time I slept with him I honestly expected that I would never see him again – I certainly never imagined that two years on, despite huge ups and downs, we’d still be fucking, or that I’d be comfortable enough with him to not need to pull my clothes back on straight after sex or to always need a few drinks beforehand.

Of course, the things that don’t work in this arrangement have been well-documented over the last few days – I’m reluctant to lose what we do have, but I know that if I stay, I’ll be giving up a massive chunk of my dreams. I can argue until I’m blue in the face that I’d rather have a baby by myself, but honestly? It’s self-defensive bullshit. I would have one by myself, absolutely, if I don’t find anyone to have one with. But would I rather find someone to raise my children with, someone to slob in front of the telly with, someone who loves my body and who wants to be my friend? Well, obviously. Who wouldn’t?

On other people’s relationships

I’m currently watching a couple on a pretty awkward date (I think). Of course, that’s not guaranteed. They could be friends with benefits, colleagues having an affair, or, possibly, they think they’re on the best first date in the world…

Watching other couples doesn’t usually fascinate me. Other people’s PDAs, intimacy, affection for one another is a massive trigger for me. It reminds me of how lonely I often feel. Today is unusual, because until a few minutes ago I was having lunch with my own friend with benefits, and yes, I’ll admit it, we were watching this date as a source of entertainment.

I’m not generally smug when I’m out and about with the boy. Our own dynamic often leaves a lot to be desired and I spend a lot of time wishing we had more moments just like these – having lunch, feeling like we’re on the same wavelength, relishing the fact that, after 2 years, we know each other well enough that it’s no longer that awkward and yet the sex is still damn hot.

But of course, it might not appear like that to other people. They might watch us and think we don’t like each other at all. We don’t hold hands when we’re out and about, for instance. Are other people watching us and thinking, ‘Thank fuck we’re not scared of showing we care.’ And when we bicker, (there’s a lot of one upmanship) – are they thinking. ‘So glad we never argue.’

My point, I guess, is that, much as it’s fun to watch other couples and to draw your own conclusions, you shouldn’t use them as a barometer to judge your own relationship. Use them as a funny story to tell your partner, your friends, your colleagues, but, good or bad, don’t try to be more like them. You have to find your own happiness.