Wicked Wednesday: on snatched sex

One of the best things about sex is being able to take your time over it. Sex that’s made up of endless changes of position, long, languorous bouts of kissing, thrusts that slow to almost nothing before building back up to a frantic rhythm.

But I’m a sucker too for last minute decision sex, sex that’s planned ahead but that has to fit neatly into the slot assigned to it. Sex that’s tight on time, but heavy on sensation.

Last minute decision sex can obviously happen within seconds of the decision being made, but I like it when you have to work at it a bit, when you have to travel a bit further than is strictly reasonable, when you can barely justify it to yourself, let alone other people.

It reminds me a bit of Christmas: it’s ostensibly all about the day itself, but actually everyone knows that the real joy is in the run up and the day after. It’s about how wide my pupils are as I hurriedly brush on mascara in the car’s rearview mirror, about the way my Chanel No. 5 smells when it hasn’t yet had time to mellow on my skin, the way you can lose yourself in the crowd in a busy London pub, the way that first sip of red tastes …

The way he tastes …

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Three

In forty-five minutes, the boy and I will have been sleeping together, on and off, for three years.

Fuck, where does the time go?

You’re not supposed to get sentimental about your friend with benefits. They’re the person you fuck when there’s not a better option (that is: a proper relationship). They’re just sex. A stop gap. An itch that needs scratching. A means to an end.

He’s so much more than that to me.

I think he thinks, sometimes, that I don’t like him very much. I wish that was true. Life would be so much easier if he was just someone to fuck: someone whose bed I rolled out of and didn’t think about until I rolled back into it. It would be easier if he didn’t push me, didn’t challenge me, didn’t force me to confront my demons. It would be easier if the sex had been best at the very start, if I wasn’t still learning about what I want in the bedroom. If the thought of losing what we had left me indifferent.

Tonight I went on a date with someone. Someone nice, who I’d happily see again. The type of person who, probably, represents my best shot at happiness. Of course, it probably won’t work out, but if it, or anything else, does, then I think I wouldn’t be what I am right now if it wasn’t for him.

I’ve never bought into what you’re supposed to do. If I want to be sentimental, then fuck it, I’ll be sentimental. The past three years have taught me so much, and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Thank you x

Comparison is the thief of joy

Juniper, at The Cut of my Jib, makes me laugh. We were chatting yesterday and she sent me a message with this quote:

Comparison is the thief of joy.

‘That’s from Mumsnet,’ she explained, which was what amused me. I love the idea of her sitting there trawling Mumsnet for the perfect motivational quote. The original, according to the internet, is attributed to Theodore Roosevelt. Hmmm… somehow Mumsnet actually seems a more probable source. Anyway, more on this later.

I woke up this morning with a sense of shame similar to that I feel when I wake up and *know* that I sent a whole bunch of ill-advised drunk texts the night before. And yet last night I drank less than half a glass of wine. What did I do?

I tweeted about being blindsided by depression.

For someone who overshares about her sex life on the Internet, I feel way more uneasy about talking about my mental health in this way. ‘Look at me!’ it seems to scream. ‘I’m sad! Love me! Love me! Love me!’

So why do I do it?

Because late at night, when you’re alone and it feels like no one quite gets it, it’s easier to share with a faceless crowd on Twitter than it is to tell a real person. Imagine I’d phoned my mum at gone midnight and said ‘Mum, I can’t stop crying. I’m terrified about the future. I don’t know how much longer I can carry on like this.’ What good does that do? All that means is that two people lie awake worrying, rather than just one.

But when I wake up the following morning, it makes me cringe. Telling complete strangers that you’re sitting, shaking, in floods of tears? How pathetic. And that, broadly, is how I feel about my mental health more widely.

I was brought up to believe that mental health issues were something that happened to other people. Other *weak* people. At dinner, when I was a teenager, my mum would occasionally mention a friend of hers: ‘P’s just been put on Prozac again. Seems like everyone’s on it these days, doesn’t it?’ The disapproval was clear.

By the time I was first diagnosed with depression, Prozac was out of fashion. Citalopram was, and still is, the antidepressant of choice. I didn’t start taking it without a fight – my mum’s disapproval was still ringing in my ears – and I’ve never told my parents about the 18 months I spent on it, despite ultimately being honest about therapy.

It felt like a failure.

A lot of what you read about depression tells you that sufferers don’t talk about their feelings, that they suffer in silence, withdrawing, cutting themselves off from the world. I can’t even do that bit right: I’m a noisy, hysterical, selfish depressive – ask me how I feel and there’s every chance I *will* tell you just how shit everything is, that I’ll cry, that I’ll make you so uncomfortable you’ll wish you’d never asked. Most people suffering from depression lose weight. Not me. I stop eating meals, sure, but the food, the fatty, unbalanced, unsatisfying food, continues to pass my lips. Too often.

I’m a failure.

I mean, I’m not, obviously. I have a job that I quite like and that I’m quite good at. I have a handful of friends I see regularly. I’m fucking a guy that I both like and fancy. My family love me. But even though I *know* those things (and I never forget them), in the dead of night, or on an idle Sunday afternoon, they sometimes cease to be true. It feels like no one cares, like I don’t matter, like I’ll never, ever love or be loved.

Of course, everyone else’s life is perfect. That guy my friend’s fucking? Well, he’ll probably fall in love with her and they’ll spend every weekend doing romantic, exciting stuff together and I’ll never see her. (Did I mention I’m
a bitch, as well as being ill?) My other friends live too far away, we’ll drift apart, lose touch. My parents? Well, you can see where that one’s going…

But essentially, this is where Juniper’s quote (hey, Teddy, was that your quote? Forget it, it’s Juniper’s now) comes back in. When I’m low, what makes that low spiral lower still is comparing myself to other people.

It feels like everyone else has plans, exciting plans, every single weekend. Never mind that I’ve already used up my holiday allowance for the year doing fun stuff, never mind that I no sooner get paid than I spunk my salary up the wall doing all kinds of interesting stuff, it still feels like I’m doing it wrong, and everyone else is doing it right. Of course, the boyfriend on the arm in the Facebook pictures doesn’t help…

But it isn’t that, is it, really? I’ve been single and content before now. Friends have had partners who’ve come and gone, and we haven’t lost touch. I’ve been *happy* now and then. No, the problem is that I’m sick…

But sick isn’t a comfort either. People deal with depression in different ways, some better than others, but even I don’t know if I’d rather you told me everything will be ok in the end, or whether you treated me like I’m the same as I ever was.

Last night, I cried until the early hours. I went to bed shattered and burnt out. I woke up this morning feeling much like the sky looks after a storm – my skin was puffy and pale and my stomach was still churning with anxiety, but the worst had passed. My sharp edges felt blunted, as though I were a softer, more approachable version of my usual self. I’m sure a few people will breathe a sigh of relief, reading that.

But I’m not me when I’m sick. I don’t recognise myself. Yes, I have sharp edges, yes I’m a handful. But I’m me. And I have sass.

I want my sass back.

Red or white?

There are two questions the boy knows there’s little point in asking me. The first is ‘Do you want to suck my cock?’ and the second is ‘What are you drinking?’

Red, white, sparkling or Rescue Remedy, if it’s grape-alcohol based, I’ll drink it. I have my preferences, obviously, but, I’m not, y’know, what you’d call fussy.

While thinking about this post, I did a bit of research into how often I mention wine. It gets some kind of reference in just under a quarter of my posts. So, yeah, it features heavily in my life, both as a single girl, and within my relationship with the boy.

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Boy overseas

There’s a scribbled reminder to myself on my notepad at work. It says ‘Print boarding pass.’

In my 4pm meeting I draw a border round it, then another, then another. I’m running rings around it the way the boy runs rings around me.

In twelve hours time, there’ll be no more sleeps. Already, I’m no longer thinking about deadlines. I’m thinking about sucking his cock.

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On giving up

I don’t think of myself as a massively determined person. Goals that I think are within my reach, sure, I’ll stick at them, but when I don’t think I have a hope in hell of achieving something, I’d rather just walk away.

I say walk away. In reality, I’m not that calm. Take cross country in PE at school as an example. This is my total idea of hell – not only are you asking me to do something that I’m going to find incredibly difficult, you’re asking me to compete against, and to be watched by, other people. The result in this particular case was usually complete meltdown: I could work myself up into floods of tears and hyperventilation in what I’d now recognise as a panic attack, but at the time even I kind of assumed was just teenage melodrama.

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Unforeseen consequences

I think I’ve said in a previous post that I would hate it if the boy blogged about me the way I do about him. I’m pretty uncomfortable with anything that forces me to face up to the reality of the way I really come across to the world – whether that’s video footage, bad photos or overhearing what other people say about me. I daydream all the time, and the version of myself that’s in my head is a far softer, funnier, slimmer version of me than the flesh and blood reality.

But then, why would he blog about me? I’m not the only girl in his life, and his blog isn’t usually in quite the same vein as mine – it’s rare for him to write about specific people. Plus, I doubt my antics are blog-worthy – have you seen how few times I’ve actually blogged about sex since I set this up?! In fact, I tend to believe that he doesn’t really think about me at all in between the occasional evenings when we see each other.

That was perhaps an error. After all, I knew he was reading what I wrote. But: there were two things I never really considered when I set this up. The first was that the few people I mentioned it to might actually start to read it on a fairly regular basis. I only realised this when friend with the obnoxious ex-fling texted me out of the blue: ‘I read your blog post.’ 

Ah, that brings me back to what I said before. If I’d hate other people writing about me, why the hell should I expect to get away with writing about them, especially without their permission? She was upset that I’d blogged about being pissed off about her reaction to a particularly unfunny comment, rather than telling her how I felt. 

I tried to explain to her that I didn’t blog about it because it was a massive deal, or an unforgivable error on her part – I blogged about it because it was bothering me at the time, and because I thought there was a wider lesson to take from it. It was a snapshot of my feelings at a particular time, but now it’s consigned to a list of ‘Earlier Posts,’ it can be easy to overlook the fact that I’m over it by now.

Which brings me to the second thing I didn’t realise. I sort of overlooked the fact that, if you blog on a regular basis, not only about sex, but also about your emotions, likes and dislikes, it’s not that difficult for someone to get a pretty good sense of how you see the world. I’m not sure how this happened: maybe I didn’t think anyone would come back and read more than one post, or maybe I didn’t think that I’d be quite as open and honest as I have been, but anyway, that’s what’s happened, and people, the boy included, have been taking what I write here seriously.

I like to tell him he doesn’t care about me, as often as I possibly can. I like things that reinforce my view of myself, and that’s one of them. But then the other day he sent me an email, outlining the reasons why he does care, and also what he’s learnt by reading the blog, and fuck, was it an accurate character study. It turns out that it isn’t just uncomfortable to read about yourself on a blog.

There’s something disconcerting about someone getting it like that. Firstly, it makes you realise that, even if you don’t think you express your feelings particularly well in writing, you might be surprised at how vivid a picture of yourself and your relationship you’re painting. Secondly, it forced me to reassess my view of him: it’s harder to write someone off as an uncaring git when actually, they’ve been watching and assessing quietly all along. 

I can’t help but be reminded of the bit at the end of Bridget Jones, when Mark Darcy finds her diary, and all the nasty stuff she’s written about him. What was true when she wrote it has huge destructive potential at a later date. I don’t draft my blog posts, nor to I wait for my emotions to settle before I publish them. I often find it easier to write about the bad stuff than the good. Somewhere down the line it’ll probably fuck up my relationship all over again, and I’ll wish I’d never told him about the damn thing. Right now though, I’m glad I was honest about it.

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. 

Will you please look at my face (or my tits) when you’re talking to me?

I walked around all day yesterday in scorching heat, and by six o’ clock I was knackered. I was browsing through dresses in Jigsaw and as I moved from one rack to the next, the shop assistant looked at my feet and said ‘I can tell you’ve had a tiring day.’

Ah, well yes, but that’s not why I’m limping. I look like I’ve had a tiring day just as much first thing in the morning as I do last thing at night.

People’s comments are well-meant, mostly – I know this. Women comment more often than men, middle-aged women comment more often than younger ones. I get it. It’s a motherly concern for me, probably – thinking I’ve twisted my ankle or that I’ve been wearing silly shoes again and I just need a plaster. Except this is my life all the time, and those silly shoes you think I’ve been wearing? I haven’t. I never get to wear flip flops, or stilettos or pretty court shoes, and I would kill to.

You’d think, after knowing me for 29 years, my parents would get me better than the average stranger, but that’s not always the case. Last week I went out with my mum wearing wedge sandals I haven’t worn since the summer and I tripped. This is common with the disability I have and while I hate falling, I can deal with it much better if people ignore it (if you’re worried I’ve hurt myself, ‘You ok?’ is fine, but if I say yes, drop it.)

My mum can never drop it. My mum says ‘Right, they’re clearly not supporting your ankle, let me buy you some new shoes.’ It might sound like a dream; it’s not. I hate shoe shopping, a) because I can never buy the shoes I really want and b) because it takes me ages to wear new shoes in until they’re comfy. Often, when I fall, one or other of my parents will keep on and on about it until I end up crying. All I want is for them to understand and accept that tripping and falling frequently is just part of who I am – it’s not a bit I want to focus on, that’s all.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Guys my age don’t often comment on the way I walk (apart from one guy who hit on me, realised I was limping and then asked if I’d be this way for life – he nearly got punched), but I notice them looking at my feet all the time. Nothing to see there boys – all my limbs are intact and I don’t have some huge, gaping wound that’s causing me to walk this way. Why not look at the good bits instead – my tits are amazing and I did nice eyeliner today. Plus, you not looking at my feet will make me feel so much better about myself.

This would be an easy post to write if it was as simple as ‘Let’s all pretend there’s nothing wrong with my body,’ but sadly, it’s not. People give me evil looks for sitting on the very front row of seats on the bus, the one that’s meant for old and disabled people, all the time. Why do I do it? Because my balance is shit and when was the last time you saw a bus driver wait until someone sat down before he pulled away? This might make you think that you should give me your seat on public transport, but don’t. If the front seats are free, I’ll sit there because it makes my life easier, but I can stand, as long as I’m holding on to something. Offering me your seat just confuses me – you might have spotted my disability or you might just think that my rounded tummy is a sign that I’m pregnant. Either way it doesn’t make me feel good about myself.

So boys, here are my guidelines – if you like me, try to turn a blind eye to my disability (that includes surreptitious glances at my feet) except in the following two situations. If a) I’m standing at the top of something steep and uneven, looking at it with terror or b) we’re walking along a road that’s icy as fuck – in either of those cases then please feel free to offer to hold my hand.