Dreams

Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them ~ Edgar Allen Poe

There’s one absolute constant in my life and that’s the fact that I will always dream big. Every single night I dream* and sometimes they’re so vivid, I need a moment to figure out where and who I am when I wake up. I’m not sure why I dream so deeply (and so bizarrely) but I suspect it’s because I watch so many things that promote nightmares.

Last week Midsommar did not help and ever since Stranger Things returned to Netflix, I’ve been enjoying particularly weird and wonderful dreams. However, there are a few things that haunt my nights that have nothing to do with Ari Aster and pals. Usually unpleasant visions of bumping into Horrible Ex™, or becoming friends again with my old best friend. This one brings with it a lot of guilt. After we establish ourselves as friends again, I always have to break it to my friend Tora (Panda) and then I wake up before I know her true response.

Funnily enough it turns out I’ve talked about these dreams before, and also totally coincidentally (I swear), exactly one year ago today.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had reoccurring dreams. I remember as a child dreaming repeatedly of a man made of electricity coming to our house and the whole family having to hide, at the same time every night. It was always the most frightening experience as invariably I would hide inside an old toy box and he’d find me. As he was lifting the heavy lid, I’d wake up and always before I saw his face or found out what he wanted with me.

Now I dream a lot of running along the sprawling corridors of crumbling houses, usually very old ones. These houses have hundreds of nooks and crannies, designed it seems specifically for hiding. They remind me of an old house my school friend Heather used to live in, which had an attic with secret panels that lead here, there and everywhere. Perhaps this is why I dream of similar houses.

I find our dreams so fascinating and it’s hard not to read something into them. The tooth dream is one that pops up occasionally; I think we all have that from time to time. Apparently it can represent any of the following:

  • Representation of anxiety
  • A costly compromise or decision
  • Radical change
  • Starting a new project or phase in your life

Since any one of those could ring true at any given time who actually knows? I swear somewhere else it says it’s something to do with pregnancy. Whatever our dreams mean, I think it’s fun to ponder and try to decipher for ourselves.

Meanwhile, my night time antics, while sometimes terrifying, at least keep me on my toes.

Night night x

*Apparently, we dream every night and it has been estimated that more than 2 hours out of each night’s sleep are spent dreaming or in a dreamlike state. It’s long been believed that we only dream during the rapid eye movement, or REM, cycle of sleep. Fact fans.

Best Friends Day

I’m thinking of holding an audition for a new best friend.

I used to have one. The same one for fifteen years but the relationship grew toxic in the end and it had to stop. Even though my life has been infinitely calmer and better in the time since, I can’t pretend I don’t miss having a BFF.

I guess honestly I do miss her too. But there’s no going back. Too much water under the bridge, too much life lived.

Maybe I’m ready to belong to someone again? The exact opposite of what I said three years ago. I am very good at being my own bestie. I treat myself better than anyone else ever could, and I know what I need. I’m what they call self-aware.

But sometimes I still feel sad I don’t have that one ride or die. I have close friends, don’t get me wrong. I love them dearly and they love me – but they all have their own best friends.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just the fact it was ‘Best Friends Day’ yesterday and Instagram was awash with lovely tributes but I’m lamenting the topic hard this morning. I’ll get over it soon and go back to the stance that I’m happy as I am – and I am – but let me have this now.

Is true Best Friendship for me like true romantic love? Is there only one big one to be had in this lifetime?*

(I have to be clear this isn’t a reflection on any of my friendships, they’re all important and also, any one of them is eligible to audition for title of Ultimate BFF).

Silly, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter. I guess we all just compare ourselves to what everybody else has. I haven’t been short changed and I don’t need someone to label me to live a happy life. It’s just sometimes, in the dark moments before I drop off to sleep, this is one of the things I think about.

Oh, and things I’m looking for in the ideal best friend?

  • Funny
  • Can keep a secret
  • Non-jealous
  • Understands I’m an anxious wreck
  • Respects my need for space

I don’t mind a boy, a girl or non-binary human being, I don’t care about age. Just a decent person who accepts me for who I am.

Know anyone?

This post is brought to you in part tongue-in-cheek.

*I’m not even sure about this.

The Hills

One of the most precious lessons I’ve learnt over the years is one of the hardest for me to put into practice. It’s the one about choosing a hill to die on.

I believe if we’re being technical the original phrase (or question) goes a little something like this: “Is this the hill you want to die on?”. Meaning, honestly does it matter enough to die for it right here, right now?

When you think about it, not an awful lot is really worth the time of day we give it. It seems a bit rich for me to type that when I worry endlessly about most things but the fact is, what really matters in life? That we’re halfway decent people, that our loved ones are safe – and our overall well-being. Food, shelter and a bit of pocket money, we all need that.

We don’t need drama or rivalry – and we need to choose our battles wisely.

This is something I really need to start putting in place because I’ve found myself getting stressed lately and finding reasons to get mad about the little things. Basically moaning like a crotchety old fish wife, the most appealing of role models.

I’m constantly telling myself that I need to keep my head down and let those niggles wash over me, but do you think I do?

I wonder again if maybe I’m too sensitive but then I remember what Hannah Gadsby says about sensitivity in her stand-up show Nanette and I know she’s right:

“Stop being so sensitive.” I don’t understand. Why is insensitivity something to strive for? I happen to know that my sensitivity is my strength. I know that. It’s my sensitivity that’s helped me navigate a very difficult path in life. ~ Hannah Gadsby, Nanette

I’m allowed to be mad and I’m allowed to be hurt – and if something doesn’t sit right, I’m allowed to say so, even if I do it badly.

I’m going to stop being frightened to wear my mistakes on my sleeve and I’m going to learn from them. I’m going to fight for the things I believe in and stop worrying about the things that don’t really matter.

When something pisses me off I’m going to consider if this new thing is the hill for me – and if that answer is no, I’m letting that shit go.

So what if someone’s being annoying in the office? From now on, as long as they’re not hurting anybody, I’m going let them be. I’m going to stop giving dickheads the time of day. Ultimately, their opinions and actions DON’T MATTER and won’t matter in a week’s time. I just need to think about those hills and maybe, whether or not I’m the dickhead.

Simple, huh? We’ll see.

Stubborn is as Stubborn Does

Self-doubt is something I really struggle with. There’s almost no situation in which my inner saboteur doesn’t have an opinion. It can be as simple as getting out of bed on a Monday morning and the inner voice will tell me I can’t do it – and for a split second, I usually believe her. It takes a lot of effort to shake it off. However, there’s a big difference between being told you can’t do something by your own anxiety – and being told you can’t do something by somebody else.

OH HELL NO.

I’ve found myself in countless scenarios where someone has doubted my ability to do something. I once did a 300-foot bungy swing just to prove to my Horrible Boyfriend™ that I wasn’t a wimp. He mocked my fear in front of everyone so I felt obliged to prove him wrong. It was the worst five minutes of my life and I hard swore all the way down BUT I DID IT. In fact, looking back, that philosophy could be half the reason I ended up in such a bad relationship in the first place – my friends told me not to date him and were dumbstruck that I’d go for someone so…  unlike me – so I hung on for dear life. How I wish I’d listened.

The moral is, if you tell me I can’t – I’m going to do it.

This stubbornness in the face of doubters can be seen as both a positive and a negative. It can lead as described above to some truly inadvisable situations – nobody needs to swing from a 300-foot height for no reason. Nobody. And nobody needs to date the so-called ‘bad boy’ (LOL) for six years just because everyone’s telling her she can’t. It’s the Romeo & Juliet effect without any of the romance.

But being told you can’t do something and proving everyone wrong can be incredibly motivating too. When people don’t believe in you the way your best friends, mother and the drunk girl in the toilets do, it’s satisfying to wipe the smirk off smug faces. Or rub their stupid smug faces in your success. Anyway, who doesn’t cheer on their friends and loved ones in the first place? This world has enough issues as it is – ones that are getting worse – can’t we just be cheerleaders for everyone we know?

It’s a shame I didn’t have this attitude back in high school when my biology teacher told me I wasn’t smart enough to be a vet, isn’t it?

*Another recycled work post.

Love is a Gift

It’s still November yet the John Lewis ad has already aired and I’ve been harrassed more than once by Olaf the Snowman from Frozen in the Open Market. I’m no Grinch but I do draw the line personally at embracing the Christmas Spirit before December 1st. If you’re an early Christmas lover then that’s fine, you do you hun.

I have had more than one conversation about the darker side of Christmas though and even though I don’t want to be ‘that guy’, I do think it’s important to acknowledge and understand that not everyone is full of the joys of Rudolph this time of year. The Christmas season is incredibly difficult for many people for many different reasons – and the relentless onslaught of Mariah Carey holiday songs can take its toll (is there more than one actually?). Everywhere you look when you’re not feeling it is a homage to the big man and his pals – it must be unbearable.

This very topic came up at work yesterday as a collection of us gathered around one of our phones to watch an ‘alternative’ Christmas video. You might have seen it yourself on television as its creators have been interviewed a couple of times and lots of viewers are saying it’s even better than the Elton John JL advert this year.

The concept is simple in itself, and features a thirtysomething man listening to cassette tapes on an old Walkman, left to him as a gift by his late mother. Each tape is a touching personal message recorded for him for every year she was able to do it. Its tagline is “Love is a gift that lasts forever. Merry Christmas.”

Most of us were near tears even talking about it but a couple of people pondered why we have to think about sad things at Christmas – which prompted quite an interesting debate. While I get that point, it’s not a choice for a lot of lonely or bereaved people. There are people with nothing in this world, who barely get through their day to day lives, let alone the festive season. Just because everything is sprinkled with a light dusting of glitter does not mean that those troubles go away.

This isn’t a call to arms really. There are a lot of things you can do to give back this Christmas, from volunteering to reaching out to someone who may be struggling. Even just standing up and saying you’re there for your friends and colleagues if they need anyone can be a good thing. I’ve seen a couple of Facebook statuses over 2018 that touch on that same point.

Life is tough at the best of times and Christmas is hard – it’s financially stressful, socially exhausting and there’s a lot of pressure to pull on your favourite ugly sweater and get into the spirit. What if you can’t? I just think we should be conscious of each other and kind wherever we can be.

What are your thoughts?

In the meantime, have a look at Love is a Gift, the short film mentioned above.

Plan B

Blogging has been sparse since the wonderful #blogtober wrapped up and I don’t really like that, so I’m setting myself some writing goals for the next couple of months.

November is half done of course so I’ve been slack as usual but it’s never too late to pull it together. I’ve got plans for #blogmas too, my own take on bloggers fave #vlogmas. Continue reading Plan B

Gaslighting

Excuse the serious post prefacing all the fun Halloween fodder but I wanted to put this together following a conversation I had this morning with my husband.

He was telling me about a woman who went to prison for murdering her husband with a hammer. She’d been driven to breaking point by his behaviour and maybe then this behaviour didn’t have a name. It does now, a word bandied around a lot in the media at the moment: gaslighting.

It’s taken me a while to get my head around the definition of this word and now I have, it’s brought up a lot. In relation to the news story, a change in law to recognise gaslighting as a legit form of abuse has affected the sentence this poor woman has been serving. Turns out this man had been manipulating her and making her think she was crazy from the start. I hope they release her because she could so easily be me.

Just in case you’re not aware, a definition:

Gaslighting is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another person’s reality, by telling them that what they are experiencing isn’t so – and, the gradual giving up on the part of the other person. ~ Dr. Robin Stern, author of The Gaslight Effect

For me that statement rings so familiar, in particular the latter point. My greatest shame in life is how far down I fell as a result of a very bad relationship. Rock bottom. I woke up eventually on the ground, looking upwards thankfully but it would have been such a relief and so easy just to take that final step and just let go.

Of course my experience is in no way as extreme as the woman in this story but that’s the point. Control and manipulation can be so insidious, so commonplace within a relationship that you don’t even recognise it. It’s like a slow gas leak, pumping poison into your self-worth.

The man I lived with cheated but told me I was paranoid when I found nude photos on his phone. He’d emotionally blackmail me into doing things sexually that I definitely wasn’t comfortable with (pictures, public places). When we went to Barcelona he managed to get me to go topless on the beach by going on and on until I felt I had no choice (I cried secretly because I felt so bad about my body then and he knew it).

Often he’d remind me I was very lucky he didn’t hit women – that I needed psychiatric help, and my own mother agreed with him (my mother despised him and would never have entertained a conversation alone with him, yet still I believed him). He’d project every single one of his insecurities and fears onto me and that’s the crock – I believed him. I questioned myself. I lost the will to live and I stopped fighting.

What’s more I believed that I loved him, that no relationship was worthwhile if it wasn’t difficult. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and the thought of him now sickens me to the core. Much as I wish it wasn’t true I still bear the light scars of that relationship – but more than that: I still have work to do on forgiving myself.

I feel like a different person now and my strength probably comes from this experience but I’m glad there’s a term for it now. Or at least that I understand it. I don’t share this to be all woe is me. Many (too many) women will see themselves in these stories but we need to talk about our experiences when we can, to ensure that none of us feel alone in the things we’ve survived.

So when snobs get all high and mighty about a show like Love Island I tell them to shush because at least it’s educating the next generation on what to look out for. Maybe I’d have got out sooner or not gone in at all, if I’d know more about it then.

Peace out, fuck face.

Safe Zone

My home is rarely tidy. It’s comfortable and warm but our furniture is worn, there are books everywhere and I only vacuum when I know I have guests coming. I believe there’s always something more interesting to be doing than housework and I live by this philosophy. I wish I were more house proud but I’m not.

My home is, however, a safe place. For myself, for my family and for anyone who needs it. The kettle is always on, we have tea and coffee and beer and crisps and anything else we might need is just round the corner. There’s a spare bed during the week (or a couch always) and a shoulder to cry on any time. We can sit in silence or we can watch crappy TV (or good TV). You can have a bath or a shower, and borrow my fluffy robe. You can even use my good conditioner.

What I’m trying to say is nobody should be alone when they need someone. Nobody should feel alone. It’s important to realise that it’s okay to not be okay and that we don’t have to be strong all the time. We have the right to ask for help and we should also be there for each other when we need it. Life is hard and frenetic and it’s very easy to lose sight of ourselves and other people in admist our daily life.

So my home is a safe zone and my shoulder is a sturdy one. My ears are open. I don’t have a clue about a lot of things but I do know how to just be there. And I know how to make an excellent hot beverage.

#mentalhealthawareness #bethere

*Post inspired by a status update on social media (not written by me).

Cry for the Bad Man

Ugh. Some days no matter what you do, things just won’t go your way. One thing can throw you off or get under your skin and then suddenly you’re sobbing for every bad thing that ever happened to you.

That was me this morning, Wasting perfectly good make-up on something (and someone) insignificant but also significant enough to (almost) mess up my day. At times like this I feel it’s good to just embrace the misery. Give it time to be what it is: an outlet.

So what if I want to sob uglyly (a word?) until there’s nothing left? So what if it leads me to remember all the heartbreaks I’ve ever suffered, every rejection, every fear? Dead pets too, why not?

Crying can be cathartic and sometimes so is sadness. It reminds us we’re human and that we care about life and people and ourselves. I am still sensitive after all these years and I’m glad because sensitivity helps me connect to others.

I won’t let it drag me down for long (I’ll fight my depression to the bitter end) but I also think it’s okay to feel your feelings. It passes, so far it always has. As soon as a colleague makes a stupid joke or someone puts a heart shaped Post-It on your desk, it’s gone. Until next time.

How are you today?

Chatty Cathy

A quick and half-arsed catch up post just to check in. I’ve had a really busy, sociable week or so it appears but really it’s just been me sitting in a dark theater sometimes alone, sometimes with friends catching up on all the new movies that have had release dates all at the same fricking time. (Reviews to follow on Thursday Night at the Movies).

We’ve had some busy weekends as well – a trip to Margate (I heart you Margate!) and a 10th Wedding Anniversary – so I’m very much just looking forward to a chilled weekend at home this week; washing some socks and knickers, deep conditioning my hair and catching up on my blogs.

Jill and I have taken a wee break from the Blog Collab because she’s been doing exciting things (but we’ll be back next week!), and James and I also took August off the podcast because we were just too busy and popular and shit (but we’ll be back in September).

Work is good, I had an interview for a secondment yesterday and I keep thinking back to the interview and how terrible I was – go figure. Do we ever come out of an interview thinking we were amazing and obviously have the job though? My interviewer asked me to name five Buffy characters which I could do easily, despite not being a fan, though my admission of that might have gone against me.

Either way I’m just pleased with myself for going for it and relieved that it’s over. I can relax now and send back the interview outfits I purchased off Buy Now Pay Later ASOS. For me – although obviously I would accept the job like a rat up a drainpipe if it were offered to me – it was more about standing up and saying, Hey I have more to offer, let me show you. It’s a good feeling. Go me.

And, the weather! The UK heatwave appears to have moved on and the Autumn lovers among us (me 100% included) are coming out in full force (maybe prematurely), getting all gee’d up about boots, coat and tights season. I must admit the drop in temperature makes me feel like I can breath again and pulling out my favourite sloppy cardigan has been lovely.

I’m also starting to think excitedly about the thrillers and ghost stories I’ll be reading in October/November, Halloween and the Wes Anderson film festival Brighton is hosting in the same month – as well as my Copenhagen trip with Panda on the 4th. We have our own apartment and in my daydreams we’ll conduct ourselves like sexy spies, all dark glasses and trench coats wafted about the city like enigmas. In reality, we’ll be sweaty tourists, eager to visit the Little Mermaid and complaining of sore feet from all the walking (me). But I cannot wait.

In the meantime, I have decided to wind down the social activities and be as thrifty as possible. My spending needs to be seriously curbed so I can get through these events and Christmas as unscathed as possible. But all in all, life is sweet.

How are you?