kindness

It's not all rainbows and candy floss farts

I've been one of those relationship people. I always have been. It is what it is. I am a relationship person. I have managed in the last fourteen years, to be in a relationship for thirteen of those (with two people) I have looked back in time and sometimes wished I had had more 'me' time. I have looked back and thought, 'Ooo maybe more first dates would be fun?' Although, you've had a few first dates and they were all a bit, well, awkward. Yes, but you haven't, as a single friend likes to remind me, had 'Bridget Jones' moments, singing 'All by myself with a bottle of wine, in your flat, alone, with the cat licking your fa.......... ce. FACE!!. Apparently you do not know your full strength until this has happened. As someone who has been a serial girlfriend, you are sometimes made to feel slightly less, normal? I admit I feel hard done by that I haven't had those moments (yet). Those moments shape you. They are those movie moments that you tell your grandkids about and you look back on fondly, wisely, knowingly 'I remember when I faced all that loneliness, sadness, emptiness and I got through it. I now know myself. You can't know yourself until you have had to sit with yourself and your sorrow and your cat. I am grateful for those moments' and somehow you do get left feeling slightly worried. Can I be alone? Could I get through A Bridget Jones moment, and does that mean I am not as well rounded as someone who might have been? But then you remember you have been through your own journey and you have learnt about yourself and it's OK. I have had plenty of those 'moments' singing to myself loudly in front of the mirror watching my face crumble and contort whilst Evanescence 'My Immortal' played on repeat.  

  

I always thought, in all my relationship years that, I wouldn't get cheated on. Not because I'm so bloody marvelous, but because I was sure as hell sure I would know. I would sense it, work it out. When I would figure out such betrayal I would stick a cactus up said cheaters bottom. The other thing I was sure of, was the more grilling (nagging) and mentioning of said cactus if they ever did cheat, meant that my partner/boyfriend/meant to be soul mate, would not dare do something so absurd as to act so disrespectfully. 

 

In hindsight, I spent years choosing people I would feel 'safe' with. People I would be sure were 'non cheaters' People I assumed would never hurt me, but I was still always prepared for war. Dressed in my armor of cynicism. Well, it was never going to work anyway was it? Relationships don't last forever. People lie. Break up. In the end, you break up. Breaking up was the easy bit. People fall out of love.  All of the time. People grow up. People change. People move on... and as it turns out, people cheat. You think how awful a person you could be to be so purposefully hurt. How little you meant to have such a disrespectful action go on behind your back, how worthless you really must have been, how shitty a girlfriend you were... and on the flip side, the feelings of self righteousness.  How dare he. How dare you get cheated on, I 'deserve' better.  What a little cock bucket to take such an advantage. You lose sleep over both sides of the fence. Your torn between feeling worthless and worth too much.  

 

But you don't split up because you didn't want to talk about football and he didn't want to talk about the universe or better yet KUWTK, he doesn't cheat because you don't play computer games in your underwear. We had no idea how to love one another. We both needed so much from one another. We were co dependent. Needing the other to make the other feel better, feel loved, feel nurtured, feel attended to, feel whole. In the end neither of us were willing to bare our souls to one another out of spite, fear, resentment. How could I show love to someone who by my standards didn't love me enough. Perhaps we misconstrue what love really is. What it means to love someone. Maybe we confuse need for want and want for lust and lust for love. We have this huge innate habit to belong, needing to belong, to feel wanted. Needing to need someone. None of that is love. In turn I wasn't the girlfriend I wanted to be, thought I had to be, and he wasn't the boyfriend I had hoped I would fall in love with enough to feel OK that I wasn't that girlfriend. I was always pushing and fighting for more. More love and respect. Creating more subconscious tests for them to pass. More barriers for them to get over. Prove how much you love me and show me my worth. Prove how much you need me and make me feel whole. I was always concerned about who he was, how he treated me, what love he was giving me, and never much concerned with what love I gave him or perhaps what we could cultivate together.
 

  "In desperate love, we always invest the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place"-Eat Pray Love 
 

 In all the things that can play with your head, with your insecurities, your ego, of all the things to eat you up and make you second guess your own self, your values, your trust, your love... It would be betrayal.  The biggest question I found myself asking was, what if it happens again? Will I be hurt again? How can I protect myself from it happening again? How do you get over being betrayed? How do you not retort to blame. Blaming him, blaming yourself, blaming the circumstances. How do you trust someone again? Will you ever feel 'safe' letting someone in again, showing them your most vulnerable self? Could you stand there naked, bare your soul, reveal your deepest darkest secrets, share your ugly thoughts, all sides of you, from top to bottom from inside to out? Will you be able to give someone else all of you and trust that he won't break you into a thousand little pieces. Can you find someone who will be kind to you and you to them? Can you bare to let someone in. And close your eyes and hope for the best? 
 

Eventually, the pieces you thought were broken, don't seem as shattered as they had done. Some switch, a light bulb goes on. Every test that has been thrown your way, you decide you don't want to participate in any more. Every sad song that you sing along to in the montagesoundtrack to the scene where you find out you were cheated on, those memories of the last time things were good. And it dawns on you. as you wipe the massive trail of snot from your face with your onsie sleeve (or your cat does the job for you) You're too young to talk it through, work it out. Too uninterested, exhausted, bored to try to make it work. There are seven billion people in the world. You are too curious to fight for something that your instinct tells you is not good for you...   

 

"Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.” -Brene Brown 

 

In all the things you could have asked what I was looking for in a boy (I can't say man it sounds creepy) I never knew how important it was to find someone who was willing to dance naked with you for no good reason. The fear of screaming from the rooftops and being unheard or taken advantage of is suffocating. It's scary. After standing on guard in all my armour for years, you hope to find someone to help you out of it. Someone to hold your hand whilst you fill the void yourself. Someone that says 'Me too, I'm scared too.' Someone that isn't putting on armour himself ready for battle. Someone that's wants to jump in head first and take the risk because its actually easier, more fun, to jump in than to stand on the side of the pool in a wetsuit wondering if you can handle how cold or deep it might be.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves-Brene Brown

In no way do I know what love is as such, nor do I know how to be loved. I am definitely not down with 'How to's' It's just from my perspective the only way to be happy is to express joy/love. I can't be happy only receiving love. It's nice, it feels nice, but I'm not sure it brings an overwhelming sense of joy consistently. There is often shame in expressing love. No one wants a self righteous show of PDA all over the internet. I rejoice in the fact that love is not always rainbows and candy floss farts. There can be throwing bacon and squirting washing up liquid everywhere when arguing about the washing up/hovering behind the door/throwing Tupperware lids. There will be nights someone sleeps on the sofa, or tells you your a fuck wit. If we can just, through all of that, trust that we still love each other. That these things aren't personal, that we can still grow and nurture a connection. How did I expect anyone else to express love towards me when I wasn't showing love to myself. You cannot guarantee that the person you love won't stop loving you, that they won't hurt you, cheat on you, leave you. You cannot guarantee that you will not do the same to them. But I still want to be enthusiastic and gleefully optimistic anyway,  because it's boring otherwise. All I hope is that we keep choosing to be kind to each other. That something in us runs deeper, and we chose to be open, vulnerable, honest and embrace each other. Armour off. Naked. Dancing in the lounge at 3am.

 

"People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. a true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake"-Eat Pray Love

 

Get healthy (inside and out)

Its the month before Christmas... its that time between summer cocktails and work party canapes. Generally November is the month that we all quit drinking and we eat chicken and broccoli ready for the Christmas over indulgence that we know comes our way as soon as the second week of December hits.

The start of this year, as the pounds piled on after last years yorkshire puddings and cheese boards galore, I decided that 2014 was going to be the year that I got my body (inside and out) into the best shape it can be, for me. I have talked about 'feeling fat' in a post before, and the food issues that relate to our body image. I hold my hands up and admit that 'yup... I am in a large handful of people that find being kind to my body difficult.

When I was younger I was quite chunky. I looked a little like the honey monster. (I was cute) I was larger than my class mates. Funnily enough, I didn't really notice. I was young, no one really cared. Least of all me. Thats what I remembered anyway. But as this journey this year continues I have been thinking about the psychology behind my eating habits and my thought process's behind my body image perceptions.

I suddenly remembered going into Tammy Girl, aged ten, and being upset because I wanted to buy denim shorts and crop tops like my class mates. I put them on and felt horrible for a split second. Jump forward four years and I was around the pool in Greece and there was a group of sixteen year old girls. There was this one particular girl who wore a teeny black thong bikini and I remember that same feeling as being in Tammy Girl, and all I could think was 'I want to be teeny like her' These thoughts when I was younger, came every so often. I can recall those times and count them on one hand...

Until I was a little bit older and it became a habit for me to 'not feel comfortable in my own skin.' Thats the only way i can describe it. Since puberty I have never been overweight. I headed to secondary school, without a concern in the world about my weight or how I looked. But the years went by, my friends all wore hipster jeans from Miss Sixty, jeans that wouldn't fit me the same and through out those years my weight became a number I would focus on. In the three months leading to my 16th birthday I decided to loose the chub I felt I had put on since drinking Bacardi Breezers on the common with all our friends (friends that didn't put on any chub). I stopped drinking at weekends and instead of pizza with baked beans on and crisps and chocolate for lunch, I would have a sandwich and be done with it. My dinners would consist of a healthy pasta dish, and I lost weight. (It was as easy as that when we were young) On my 16th birthday I had lost a stone and I felt amazing. I looked like my natural weight.(whatever that meant) Basically, I felt comfortable in my own skin.

From this exact moment on, my life was going to be a constant yo yo. I would alternate a stone at a time. I would spend 6 months loosing a stone, be at my comfortable weight for two months and then the weight would creep back on. I would stay there for a while. Eating crisps for breakfast and Macdonalds twice a week until I felt too sluggish and too horrible to continue and then the cycle would begin again. This went on for the next thirteen years. And it pains me to admit that this would consume so much of my energy. That I would be forever in a battle with myself over such a (ridiculous) notion.

Food for me is joyful. It means happiness and indulgence. It means family time or meet ups with friends. Food signifies togetherness and contentment. So, to get comfortable in my own skin, I felt I had to restrict food, which meant I was missing out on the joy and the togetherness. 'Dieting' as I used to call it, always ended up being such a depressing time for me. So I associated eating healthy with being miserable.

After thirteen years of this mental battle with myself, I came to the conclusion that life was too short. It was too short to battle all of the time. To constantly be feeling guilt for a burger I ate or the exercise I didn't do. It was too short to only eat kale and wallow in my low calorie filled day. Life was too short for all the crappy perceptions that came with eating too much, not eating enough, not fitting into my fav dress or trying to always fit into that one particular dress, or fitting into it for one week only and then spending months feeling horrific because I no longer fitted into it.

I started to really ask myself what it is that I wanted. Was it the tight petite little body that fitted into denim shorts and a crop top? Was it that I wanted to eat as much as Sally, who could eat a bacon sarnie, a Big Mac and a full on roast with all the trimming, have cheesecake twice a day and not put on weight? Did I just want to go a day, one single day without thinking about my body or food intake. I wanted it all.The stark realisation was that, one, I would have to not only exercise my body, but exercise my mind as well, if I wanted to feel comfy in shorts and a crop top and two, that a diet of roasts and bacon sarnies everyday may kill me. But, were all possible. YES. My dad always says:

'There is always a solution to everything, you just might not like that solution'

But the solution IS NOT crash dieting. It is not starving yourself one minute and binging the next. It is not eating no more than 1200 calories, it is not deciding to only wear baggy clothes to hide your body. The solution was consistency. Its the one thing that has changed the thirteen years of bad habits. I consistently started being kind to my body. That meant, telling myself nice things when I looked in the mirror. That meant not stuffing junk down my throat because I would panic the food would run out. That meant getting my metabolic rate faster, my energy up, my routine in tact. It also meant eating Haagen Daz if I desired it. Having a starter if I felt like it. Being consistently kind to my body meant a mixture of things. Exercise being at the forefront. Exercising my thought patterns and my perceptions were the hardest challenge of them all. Squats, Pah... I got those down, but working out my food issues and working on changing those thoughts, that was the hardest and still is the hardest things I have had to do on this journey.

I got out of bed in January 2014 and thought, I am not going to do this yoyoing milarky anymore, I am going to make exercise a part of my life, the same way brushing my teeth is, and I am going to consistently eat well. Because as I approach the dirty thirties, I realise, life is too too short. To be unhealthy. In mind body and soul. So after a lot of trial and error of what works for me, I found a 30 minute exercise regime that fitted into my day, anywhere, any-time, and I started to eat more fresh whole foods, in a bid to cut the processed junk out. I made a promise to not cut out any food groups along the way. To know that anything was and is available for me to eat. And I promised to not starve or binge again.

I am not perfect, far from it. I still have days where I don't want to work out. Or days where I think I just want to eat pizza and Haribo all day. There are days I slip and days I think horrible thoughts about my body. I am human. I am a woman, which means once a month the whole world seems odd. But, each day I continue to try at least to not be so hard on myself about these days above. 

Ten months later... here I am. Still on my journey and still practising the balance. That's what it is. It doesn't just become easy to have a balanced lifestyle if that isn't what you are used to. Its not something that just happened to me one day. It was one day at a time, it still is. I focus on the now. I don't beat myself up for the burger I had yesterday and I don't worry about the cake I might have later. In every moment I make a choice as it comes. But I have created a habit.

So as November rolls on... why not create habits for yourself. Go check out 

amandamandy.com

 where myself and two lovely ladies have put together a November challenge to try and help you get into a routine. Go have a read. I'm finding it really helpful too.

As Kayla Itsines says... (a Personal trainer I admire) "It doesn't get easier, you just get stronger"