Wednesday, 29 October 2014

"Hello Darkness, My Old Friend" - Simon & Garfunkel


"How did you survive that?"

It's hard to see yourself through someone else's eyes, especially someone you trust the opinion of.

My therapist wrote me a letter, it outlined the few things I had confided in her about my childhood and my life, it summarised the patterns of behaviour I am now stuck in and it expressed clear connections between them. It also had a smattering of personal opinion. This directly resulted in two weeks of hell.

This letter had made connections that I couldn't, connections that seem so apparent to me now but in my haze of very little self-worth and being the martyr, I couldn't ever have expected to understand. These connections had a domino effect, sparking new connections all over the place, filling in gaps with plenty to spare. I now understood a little more about why I was, who I was and I did not like the answer.

There was one line in this letter that upon reading at any point would cause me to break in to heaving sobs of monumental heartache.

"It's so sad to think of you as a little girl carrying dead animals around with you, hoping your love would bring them back to life."

It touched me so profoundly because I have a niece, something I never thought I would care about but it actually completely changed me as a person. In having absolute compassion for her, I began to have compassion for myself as a child and subsequently as an adult. I adopted the mantra 'If I wouldn't say it to my niece, I'm not allowed to say it to myself!' for the times I'm waging a war on myself, for the times I call myself a failure. To think of her carrying around dead birds in a discarded cup, hoping that if she just loved them enough, they would come back to life and then she would be worth something to the world, kills me. There is something so haunting about that picture.

This letter eviscerated me because in my head, my memories play one at a time, like short films. They come one by one, bite-size, cleaned up and dubbed so they are romantic or poetic. I haven't deleted any scenes, I can't delete any scenes, the unused ones are locked away in my mind somewhere but these memories are easy to watch. The letter wove them together in a badly hashed timeline, full of continuity errors from the omitted scenes. It stitched together the things I was willing to admit and formed a big-picture that was so painful that I couldn't even talk about it.

"How did you survive that?" she asks me, with what I can only describe as disbelief.

The funny thing about survival is that you don't know how you're doing it or even that you are doing it. I remember how many times I have said that I am going to commit suicide, how many times I have tried, and how many times I have genuinely thought I was close to giving up.

Yet, here I am.
I survive.
I don't know how and I don't know why...
but I do. 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

"We Know What We Are, But Know Not What We May Be" - William Shakespeare

It's very difficult for me to look back on pictures of my younger-self without crying. There is something about my quest for perfection that makes the current-me exceptionally sad, because my younger-self is pretty much the perfect version of me that I was looking for, regarding looks. The heartbreaking thing is, I have never felt good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough or worthy. Of anything. Especially love. So even when I looked in the mirror and didn't immediately hate myself, I found something to hate because I couldn't face a world where I was enough. Like many women, my self-worth was directly linked to my image. 

I look at them and cry because I still don't feel worthy, not all the time. I still have that little voice that says, "If you just looked like her again, your life would be better". Would it? Doubtful, but nonetheless it is there trying to convince me of things that I know aren't logically true. I cry because it is incredibly frustrating that I feel like I have wasted my life waiting to be worthy of that life. If I just looked a little better, if my eyelashes were longer or my thighs were thinner then I could start really living. So many years wasted. There were so many clothes I didn't buy or so many I hoarded that didn't fit, all motivation to lose weight I would never actually lose. 

"I can buy that dress when I'm skinny" or "I'll keep this for when I lose weight, because I'll need clothes!"

What if, when I am talking myself in to or out of something, I replace the word 'skinny' with the word 'purple'? Sure, I can become purple, like I can become thin but if I don't dedicate my life to it, how likely is it that it's going to happen? I am denying myself happiness because I am waiting to be something I won't necessarily be. 

"I can buy that dress when I'm purple" or "I'll keep this for when I become purple, because I'll need clothes!" 

Doesn't it seem unrealistic?

I'm not entirely happy with how I look, my weight or my face but I am happier than I have ever been about myself. If I can learn to love all the parts of myself that I have been taught to hate, maybe I will stop lusting after the perfect version of myself.

I choose not to deny myself clothes because 'fat girls can't wear that'.
I choose to find things I like in the mirror rather than punishing myself for the things I dislike.

You don't just wake up one morning and love yourself. It is a choice and it is a fucking hard one. You have to work on it every single day. But, when you look in the mirror and that furrowed brow turns in to a genuine smirk, you know you've won today's battle. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

“But When You Photograph People In Black and White, You Photograph Their Souls!” - Ted Grant

My oscillating black-and-white thinking means that someone can either be my hero - I mean this in the literal sense; they will be everything to me, or they will be my reason for hating humanity. This happens at any given point in the day so you can understand how exhausting this can be for someone in my life, especially if I don't have a great handle on my emotions that day. My perception of someone can change so dramatically that it will give the both of us whiplash. Because of this, I have cut out most of the people in my life that have hurt me in one way or another. I can't bear to be near them or see them; most of the time I will leave the area to aid ending all contact. As you can imagine, this holds many problems in a vast number of areas. However, after a couple of years I will begin to romanticise them in my head, remembering 'the good times' and then I begin to think I made a horrible mistake in letting them go. I usually haven't made a mistake and, rationally, I know it was all for the best but my oddly wired brain has had time to convince itself that it was all my fault because I am a monster and they couldn't have possibly done anything differently.

I hold a special place in my heart for everyone who ever touched my life, whether our relationship ended amicably or rather less than. I remember all of the people I have hurt, most of the people who have hurt me and almost every positive influence, no matter how insignificant it may have seemed at the time.

The girl from college who gave me my nickname. 
The lady who acted as my first unofficial therapist; I'd tell her my troubles as she ironed in her kitchen.
The reunion between my first love and I after a week-long break-up.
The way an old friend smelled as a teenager; he held me while I sobbed.

Not one of these relationships ended on terms that would welcome a future association with one another but it will never take away the impact that each of these people and experiences had on my life.

I find it hard to be a friend.
To keep in touch.
To socialise.

I find it difficult to keep from putting you on a pedestal.
To see you as human, with flaws.
To take the pain.

It is hard for me to forgive.
To excuse.
To put you back on the pedestal.

But, I want to be better, I want to be whole.
I want to be your friend when you have nothing to offer, if you'll be mine when I have nothing to give.

One day it might not be all or nothing, black or white.
One day I might be comfortable with a little grey. 

Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Moment You Truly Understand The Not-So-Hidden Depths Of Mean Girls

Like many girls, as I grew up I saw how 'the world' worked. The pretty, popular Bitches got all the glory and nice girls were ignored. My broken, sponge-like brain soaked this up fast: if I wanted to get anywhere in life, I had to follow the status quo and be a narrow-minded, judgemental Bitch in order to have friends and get ahead in life.

I was Queen Bitch and a bitchy queen.

My sarcasm sent shivers through the spines of my 'prey' and people were genuinely scared of me. I am not proud of this, although I was at the time. Being feared was better than feeling fear.

The first time I met anyone with Asperger's was in a pub. He was the boyfriend of a friend. His visible discomfort at being in a group setting caused much entertainment to our clique because he was acting "so weird". When she had gone to the bar, probably feeling our judgemental tension he almost flew to be by her side and knocked over a stool in the process. This only added to our amusement with whispers of "He can't even be away from her for a second, what a freak!" and uncontrollable snickering.

If I had seen a girl with a little facial hair, or hair on places that you wouldn't expect, then she was fair game. Very little was off limits. I wouldn't discriminate with my evisceration. Deplorable.

People that were 'okay' with themselves didn't exist, they just wore better masks. They would be ridiculed just as much but branded as fake too. These people threatened me the most. But why?

Because if it was okay to like myself, if it was okay to just be who I was then the whole foundation built on women trampling over each other to get to the top of some imagined pyramid would come crashing down. I would then be left with the regret of actions I never needed to take to get to the top. The very same pyramid that I later discovered, in the grand scheme of things, didn't matter one bit.

Since slowing down, breaking down and opening my fucking eyes, I am relieved to say that everything has changed. By taking myself out of the world where I needed to be the 'biggest Bitch' to survive, I realised how much being that way had added to my mental health problems. I am a nice, naive girl by nature but I had become poisonous.

My best friend has facial hair and Asperger's. She is everything that I would have previously ridiculed and everything that society tells us is bad. But, having hair in 'wrong' places doesn't make a difference to how intelligent she is. Acting 'oddly' by society's standards doesn't impact on how caring she is as a friend. It's a whole new world where women can be more than pretty. They can also be pretty despite being socially unacceptable with hair in the wrong places, odd behaviour and extra-added fat.

We live in a world where no matter how you look; it won't pay your rent. Even if you're a model. It doesn't do your homework or get you a 'good husband'. Surprisingly enough, your brain does that.

Being a bitch didn't save me from ME, it didn't save me from mental illness and neither did my looks. Being horrible to and about people didn't lessen my physical or mental pain, it didn't entice people to come and get me glasses of water when I couldn't walk or comfort me when I'm melancholic.

Being mentally ill and disabled has made me a better person. Some people manage to get to this coveted place all by themselves with nothing tragic happening to them to change their whole perspective, but I couldn't. In some ways, it was one of the best things that could have happened to me because it taught me that I am so much more than my face and my attitude. I am more than my figure or my conformity. Being so broken has somehow managed to make me better in so many other ways. 

Monday, 19 May 2014

Define Definition

I am a writer.

I hate saying that and I feel embarrassed to define myself. It's because, good or bad, I suppose I will never fit in to a definition. I will always have excuses as to why I'm not really a writer or why I don't feel like a proper writer.

This is the same with gender, self-worth and self-image.
I'm not a proper woman because I don't conform to society's standards.
This is all I'm worth because I'm not a proper human being.
I'm not really crazy because I have moments of clarity that put some sane people to shame.

My words have been published.
My words have been quoted to me and used against me.
They have elicited reactions like laughter, hope, lust and validation.
My words have expressed feelings that I couldn't even begin to explain.

I am a writer.

There are better writers than me and there are worse writers than me but I need to stop convincing myself that I am not worthy of the title, any title.

I AM a writer,
I AM a woman,
I AM mentally ill,
And I AM a proper goddamn human being.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Lana Is My Spirit Animal

My life has taken a very bizarre turn from my younger years. Being more self-aware and more aware of other people has made my life a lot less dramatic. It means I have a substantially reduced stockpile of regrets to keep me up at night.


My life, as it always has been, is a movie playing in my head. There is a big part of me that would happily live in a Lana Del Rey music video, bitch just gets me.
But I know that is dangerous.

My younger years were filled with trailer-trash glamour and crazy-romantic encounters. Even now, my memories play like a Nicholas Sparks novel. I'm not sure how to explain this or why it bothers me. I can lose myself in the 'episodes', I can get lost in the movie playing inside my head.

I am a pathological, sentimental romantic. From the hazy days of my youth, in cornfields and streams with my band of miscreants or my many loves, to my drunken 20s where I was the lovable 'party girl' who never had to be alone because there was always someone to distract me. I lived my life as someone that other people saw me as, I played a role to almost everyone. I loved with my whole being.

It was beautiful and tragic. It imprisoned me and liberated me. This life is everything and nothing all at the same time. It is as inconsequential and as important as anything could ever be. 

Saturday, 22 March 2014

"There She Goes, My Beautiful World" - Nick Cave

The feeling of utter inadequacy as a writer is, apparently, a stereotypical thing. I suppose it is the same with any art. That being said, I am trying to explore the reasons why the feeling is so great (more than just that of depression or BPD). It all stems from insecurity and vulnerability, that much is obvious; but what exactly is it that makes me feel so insecure about the title 'Writer'?

I have already touched upon my (lack of) linguistic skills, my imperfections with grammar and, if there wasn't an online dictionary, quite frankly, it would be spelling too. But, when I think about the title, as always, there is a romanticised version in my head of what a writer should be, and I am not it. I'm sure this writer exists, either in real life or in some fictitious land but in order to actually write as I do now, I could never be that particular kind of writer. It would be just another role I was playing.

One of the necessities that a writer must have is a vast knowledge of other literature, apparently. Reading is tantamount to breathing. I adore reading, I love seeing different writing styles and how much that can tell you about someone. I enjoy seeing how people choose to express themselves though their words. See, I envision many writers find inspiration from parts of literature that they identify with, even emulate authors they admire in homage to their particular greats, but I can't do that. I am a sponge.

I am a sponge of unacceptable levels. It isn't because I don't have my own ideas or that the other writers are better than me (which they mostly are, but that is the insecurity kicking in again), I think it's because of my BPD. I know that it is because of this illness that I have felt so lost my entire life, never knowing who I was or why I wasn't like everyone else. This in turn, caused me to adopt bits of people's personalities that I liked, I was a chameleon because I had to be to survive. We are a product of the people who touch our lives but this is a whole new level, I had no idea who I was so I made someone up to be. This subconsciously seeps in through my writing, I can specifically pinpoint the times I have read something that has completely changed my writing style, so it isn't my true voice that I'm writing with.

In order to keep myself as pure as possible, not only to know who I was as a person but to know my true voice as a writer too, I needed to cut down on my reading. Bare minimum. It pains me and gives me license to scold myself, to berate myself on my impotence. It confirms that I am no more than a vomitorium of discarded words and broken sentences.

They say you suffer for your art.

I am a writer who cannot read. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Words Are, Like, Hard, You Guys

I have writer's block.

Maybe it's because I'm not inspired to write anything. Maybe it's because I can't concentrate. Or, maybe it's because the English language is so damned hard.

Honestly, have you ever stopped to think about this? In the past, some people have referred to me as a grammar Nazi and this is ridiculous for two reasons. The first is that for reasons I will outline below, I mostly make it up as I go along. The second is that usually I am merely picking up on the fact that they are simply using the wrong spelling of the correct word for their sentence.

I don't think we are in any position to blame them, we own a language that can have three words that sound exactly the same but have different spellings:

There; their and they're.
Two; too and to.

We also literally have words that are EXACTLY the same (homonyms - feel free to try and make jokes) but mean completely different things depending what context they are used in:

"A solitary tear ran down my face."
"I have a huge tear in my dress."

"She left."
"It's to the left."


We wonder why people struggle? I can completely empathise with newcomers who can barely grasp our ridiculously complicated native tongue. Hell, half of the deep rooted locals here can't grasp it either!

Oh, and add to that the widespread sarcasm that is almost impossible for people to pick up on, coupled with your basic, run of the mill words being scooped up by the youth and spat out as colloquial slang, then the whole language becomes a veritable minefield for anybody to wander. How is someone who is new to the language possibly to know that saying "It's cool in here!" without slipping in a "nice and" means you're basically bragging about your awesome surroundings and not commenting on the temperature as they probably intended?

This is why I have so much respect for writers and wordsmiths, and why I can't call myself a proper writer because at times, I can't even grasp what is deemed to be 'basic English'!

Words are, like, hard, you guys.