A Letter To My Younger Self

01-writing-a-letter

Dear 18 year old Me,

Look around you. Take in your surroundings. Cherish the sky when it’s blue, the rain when it’s cold, the air when it’s fresh. Absorb the colours, feel the music, be dazzled by the lights. Listen to the sound of strangers talking, the waves crashing against the shore and your friends laughing. Notice the skylines and the statues in the cities. Feel the grass under your feet and the sand between your fingers. Smell the flowers. Remember his cologne. Be fascinated.

Look in the mirror. Be naked. Admire those slender, long legs. Run your hands over that neat, nipped in waist and toned stomach. Revel in your pert, rounded breasts. Check out that arse. Flick your flowing blonde hair and flutter those beautiful eyelashes that frame your bright, flirtatious eyes. Enjoy the smoothness of your skin. Start moisturising. Please. Be proud. 

Say yes. Go to parties and festivals, music gigs and poetry readings. Get on the plane, the train, the bus, the boat. Drive too fast, laugh too loudly, swim in that river. Accept that date, agree to that drink, eat that meal. Sit outside the box office and get those tickets. Wear the dress, buy those shoes, dye your hair that colour and definitely kiss that man. Be spontaneous.

Talk to your family. Ask your father about his first love, his school days, his favourite bands. Tell your grandmother you appreciate her more than she will ever know. Teach your little sister that even though people can be cruel, some of them are worth the risk. Pay attention to your great aunts and uncles. Look after your cousins. Tell your mother it will be ok. Thank them all. Be humbled.

Listen to yourself. Do what you want, not what is expected. Do what makes you happy. Ignore the critics, laugh at the envious, control your anger. Understand that what is right for them is not necessarily right for you. Think for yourself. Do not be motivated by materialism and popularity. Know your worth. Make your point. Look beyond the surface and trust your instincts. Be you.

One day, everything will change. Your looks will fade, your waistline will spread and your breasts will defy gravity and the most powerful of wishes. You will be too tired to notice the sunsets, too worn to climb the mountains. The tears that run down your face will mostly be from sorrow, not laughter. The opportunities that present themselves to you now will still present themselves to you later, but you will not be able to take them. You will have commitments, responsibilities and duties. You will still laugh and dance and sing, but it will not be with the energy you do now. Don’t worry, you will have other great pleasures. There will be experiences that swell your heart. You will love with greater abundance than you ever thought possible. You will have a wisdom that guides you through the darkest of times and offers clarity amidst the mayhem. You will be smarter and more grateful. But for now, taste it all. You will never be as free and as beautiful as you are at this very moment.

Enjoy it.

What Not To Say To A Therapist On Your First Meeting…

image

I met yet another new psychotherapist today. It was her job to recommend suitable treatment programmes for me, probably to a board of stuck up, overpaid suits who volunteered for Doctors Without Borders for 3 months and now consider themselves experts on trauma and mental health.

Anyway, I had promised my lovely doctor that I would fully cooperate with the assessing psychologist in the hope that this time, just maybe, the great National Health Service would get it’s shit together and finally help me.

I may have been a little too forthcoming. Apparently, some medical practitioners aren’t ready for your life to be an open book when it reads like the love child of Sid Vicious’ biography and Elizabeth Wurzel’s Prozac Nation…

Her: So why do you think you engage in self destructive behaviour?
Me: Honestly? It’s fun! Drugs are bad for you, but they’re fun! Getting drunk with my mates is fun! Sex with hot men a decade younger than me is definitely fun!

Her: Any reason you prefer younger men?
Me: Seriously?! Nothing says ‘my cellulite doesn’t matter’ more than getting banged by a hot, muscular twentysomething.

Her: How do you feel about group therapy?
Me: Truthfully, I have enough shit of my own to deal with, I don’t care enough to listen to other people’s.

Her: Give me an example of your ‘black and white’ thinking…
Me: Well, from the first moment I saw you I thought, ‘this isn’t going to work. There’s no way she’ll get my shit’.

Her: What are your strengths?
Me: Giving head doesn’t count, does it?

Her: How often do you require valium?
Me: How often can you give it to me?

Her: Do you have any issues with mixed gender therapy?
Me: I’m promiscuous with a dangerous attraction to violent and unstable men…it’s probably not your smartest idea.

Her: Are your family a support to you?
Me: We’ve only got an hour and a half for this session, right?

Her: Where do you think you are with your mental health issues at the moment?
Me: Crazy people don’t know they’re crazy, right? Ok, I know I’m batshit, so I’m good for now!

Her: Would you say you’re impulsive?
Me: Give me a thousand pounds and I’ll have all my mates in the pub, off their tits, in 30 minutes.

Her: As a child, did you have anyone to lean on? To look up to?
Me: My Gran. She’s incredible. If we were the mob, she’d be the one leaving horse’s heads in your bed.

And so there she sat, the psychologist, in her floral skirt and pastel pink cardigan, a fixed grin on her face that suggested she was terrified of how highly entertaining she had found our session.

‘I love your honesty. You’re obviously a very intelligent woman who has a clear and in-depth knowledge of her condition…and it’s great that you have a sense of humour about it’.

Bless her. That’s not humour love, that’s 20mg of diazepam and two cans of Red Bull for breakfast!

99% Match…Now What?

image

‘He likes you, really, really likes you’.

‘I’ve heard you two are quite the little couple’.

‘It’s not a typical fuck buddy relationship…he’s into you’.

Comments like these don’t actually help a woman when she’s trying to keep her toyboy boytoy in one metaphorical box and her grown up, potential relationships in another. Comments like these actually make us doubt whether we should have put toyboy boytoy in a different box, or any box at all, and if maybe, just maybe, they are the one we’re meant to be with after all.

This confusion may be why I’ve just spent the last 45 minutes doing ridiculous online quizzes called ‘Does He Really Like Me?’ and ‘How To Tell If He’s The One’. I’m like a pathetic teenage girl, over analysing every little look, every comment. I’m remembering the play fights, the banter, the way he kisses me and the flirty glint in his eye when he looks at me. Then I chastise myself for being such an idiot and not acting like the mature, educated woman that I am.

In truth, it doesn’t matter how old we women are, when someone plants that seed in our head, that seed that says a boy may actually truly like us, we all get a little giddy and girly about it. We may no longer doodle his name on our notebooks, but we still take more of an interest in his Facebook page. We may not stay up all night asking our girlfriends what they think of him, but we still pick up our phone when it beeps with a secret hope that it’s him texting. We may not do silly online quizzes to determine our compatibility…Oh, ok, some of us still do that! My point is, those three little words ‘ he likes you’, fill our heads, flatter our egos and distract us from asking the most important question of all…

Do I like him?

Current toyboy boytoy is Weston, although the amount of time we spend together and how well we get on has led others to speculate that our relationship goes further than a friends with benefits arrangement. I can see how such a conclusion has been drawn by nosey spectators. He has sat calmly by my side as I suffer from illness, both physical and mental. We are in regular contact, be it through texts, social media or phone calls. He stays with me, in my bed, quite frequently. We laugh and joke together all the time, whether engaging in a wild evening of drink and drugs, or just relaxing with a meal in front of a movie. He is friends with my friends, he is gentle and positive with my son. I am as comfortable with him when lounging around in my trackie bottoms with my hair in a scrunchie (yes, I own one of those and I am not ashamed!) as I am with full hair and make up and heels on a night out. And, it cannot go without saying, that the sexual chemistry between us gets stronger and stronger every time we meet. Consequently, the sex is incredible! I enjoy every aspect of our time together and I always look forward to seeing him. So yes, I like him.

I just know that is not enough.

All women of a certain age with a penchant for younger men, will undoubtedly face the dilemma that I do now. My relationship with Weston can be nothing more than it is at present, for soon he will want, lest need, to fulfil some rites of passage and life milestones that I have long passed and have no desire to relive. He will, eventually, want to settle down, to find love and commitment, longevity and the comfort of his own family. I do not. My son is grown and I can now look forward to a time of frivolity and travel, adventures and spontaneous excitement. I am entering a period of my life where it is ok to be selfish, to do what I want, to look after myself. Weston will, sooner or later, be looking for the security that comes with sharing your life with someone else, in one stable place. I cannot offer him those things, through detriment to my own dreams and ambitions.

Maybe Weston could offer me everything I’ve ever wanted. A relationship based on support, non-judgement, fun, adventure, mutual adoration…but as I am in no place to offer him anything he wants in his future, whether we like each other or not is no longer the question.

The question now is whether I like him enough to give up all that I look forward to. There’s a reason that quiz is never available online or in some teen magazine. The answer is, and I believe should always be, no.

How To Destroy A Girl In One Easy Step…

image

Not long after my treatment for cervical cancer, I fell pregnant by the The Tattooed One. It was somewhat of a miracle that I fell pregnant at all and, after much deliberation, tests and scans, a whole host of medical practitioners advised me to have a termination. There was a high risk of our child being born with multiple, debilitating defects and the toll that the pregnancy would take on my body was extremely dangerous. I already had my son to take care of and he had to be my priority. It broke my heart, but I agreed to the termination on medical grounds.

I didn’t tell the Tattooed One. I didn’t tell anyone. As is typical of me, I thought I could cope with everything by myself and so I went through the devastating procedure with no-one but an overworked, underpaid nurse to hold my hand.

Despite coping with the physical elements of the termination alone, I struggled greatly with the mental torture. The guilt. The grief. Through no fault of his own, I took my heartache out on the Tattooed One. I was selfish and vindictive. I interfered in aspects of his life that had nothing to do with me. I was a manipulative bunny boiler fuelled by anger and resentment. Quite rightly, it was nearly a year before I heard from the Tattooed One again.

He was walking near the school I was teaching at when we bumped into each other. He made out that it was a purely coincidental meeting and that he walked that way every day, but I’d never seen him near the school before or since. Part of me always felt he had planned it. He was surprisingly friendly, holding no animosity towards me, and we agreed to meet up at my place that evening for a proper catch up. That was when I apologised for my crazy lady behaviour and eventually told him why. I don’t remember how he responded. I don’t recall if he was upset or surprised. All I know is that he didn’t hold any of it against me.

A couple of years later, the Tattooed One had suggested we try for a baby. He so desperately wanted to be a father and I knew he’d be a wonderful Dad, but I was apprehensive because of the fickle state of our relationship. I told him I would think about it, but the Tattooed One never mentioned it again. After that, any connection between us fizzled out. We saw each other less and less. We barely spoke. A couple of months ago I told him we had come to the end of our path. We wanted different things and were headed in different directions. Besides a few Whatsapp messages, that I ignored, I didn’t hear from the Tattooed One again.

Until last night.

Last night I received a friendly Whatsapp message from him, just saying hello and asking how I was. As I sat crossed legged on my living room floor, carefully stitching together my latest rag rug creation, I felt quite confident that there was nothing he could say or do to ruin my evening. The Italian had already been in touch after our date, Weston had shown ego boosting jealousy about the fact that I was dating at all and a few friends had implied a local man, whom I was quite keen on, may be interested in me. The thought of the Tattooed One held no power over me anymore, so I saw no issue in replying to his message.

He asked about my work and my writing. He told me he was moving house soon. He expressed regret at not being in touch sooner. He enquired about my love life. Then he told me he was going to be a father,

‘I’m going to be a dad…crazy huh!’

Correct me if I’m wrong, but calling the woman who was forced to terminate your child to tell her you’ve impregnated somebody else, is pretty much one of the cunty-ish things a man can do. I, obviously, told him this.

Sure, he apologised for being insensitive, told me he never intended to upset me and was really only contacting me to see how I was, but the salt was already burning deeply into my wounds. I was hurt that he could be so blasé about it, as if I was going to jump up and down with joy and offer him my deepest congratulations. The man who once told me, ‘we’d be excellent parents’. The man I discussed naming our future twins with. The only man I’d considered having a child with since my son.

The conversation didn’t end well. He asked if I wanted to talk, but I told him we really had nothing to talk about. The Tattooed One doesn’t hold any power over me in that I no longer desire him. I am validated aesthetically by the men who actively seek my attention. I am validated emotionally by my friends and intellectually by my work. He can offer me nothing and it has been quite some time since I have considered him anything other than a past conquest. Despite this, we have known each other for over six years. He has seen me at my weakest, my most vulnerable. We have shared secrets and desires that no-one else knows about. I may have no right to be as upset as I am. I’m sure many people would think it kinder of him to tell me of his impending fatherhood, before I found out another way. I just hoped our history would have prompted him to be more considerate towards me. Instead, he just discovered how to destroy me in one easy step…

The Date With The Italian

With much trepidation, I decided to reactivate my OkStupid account. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a date and I figured why not jump in, both feet first, and see what was out there.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a message from an Italian gentleman. 8 years younger than me, he had recently moved to my hometown from Milan for work. His messages were polite and interesting. His photos showed a well built, well dressed professional man. When he suggested meeting up, I eagerly agreed. Knowing that he was new to the area and didn’t know many people, I suggested we skip the first date ritual of a quiet drink and instead spend our Saturday night at my local pub. There was to be a live band playing that evening and I knew many of my friends would be in attendance. I thought this would be a good way for him to meet new people. He agreed enthusiastically.

In truth, I thought the Italian was far too attractive, well travelled and accomplished to ever be truly interested in me, so decided that a mates ‘welcome to the neighbourhood’ type date would be more comfortable for both of us.

Half past eight on Saturday evening, I waited patiently for the Italian to meet me a few yards from the pub. When he arrived, I was a little taken back. I was expecting someone like this…

image

But instead, was greeted by someone more like this…

image

Trying not to be a shallow bitch, I smiled sweetly, greeted the Italian with a peck on the cheek and engaged in polite conversation as we made our way into the pub.

Drinks ordered, we found a table and the conversation continued to flow. It quickly became apparent to me that, even if he had been as attractive as his pictures had implied, we would still not have been a successful match. Our political beliefs were very different. I, a proud humanist and human rights activist, versus him who believes that unless drama is happening on your doorstep you don’t need to act. He held no interest in the welfare of innocent civilians caught up in the Syrian and Gaza conflicts, he considered the genocide in Darfur to be a part of natural selection and he clearly had an issue with Islam and homosexuals. He was never vicious or attacking in his comments, but his apathy to such events was a huge turn off to me.

Luckily, Robyn and Blue joined us some time later and the three of us managed to keep the Italian entertained for the rest of the evening. He repeatedly told me what a good heart I had, how well received I was amongst the other patrons of the pub and how nice my friends were. He found me intelligent, considerate and fun. Despite this, the steam was running out on our date and I decided to call an end to the night.

The Italian walked Robyn, Blue and I back to Blue’s house. He thanked me for a lovely evening and I told him he was welcome to call me should he ever require a friend to go out for a drink with one evening.

After a quick joint and gossip at Blue’s house, I decided to head back to the pub. It was still Saturday night after all and there were plenty of my friends in there that I wanted to get blind drunk with. Robyn came with me, but neither of us were prepared for what happened next.

‘Wouldn’t it be funny if he didn’t go home and was actually back in the pub!’ Robyn joked.

I was sure he wouldn’t be. The Italian had implied he was running out of money and was heading home. I was confident I could walk back into the pub, order a pint and fill my pals in on all the gossip about the date they had previously witnessed.

Robyn and I may have casually walked into the bar, but we sprinted out,

‘Fuck!’ I squealed, ‘He’s in there!’

Robyn was fuming.

‘Oh my God! That’s so rude! The date finishes and he comes back to your pub! And is he actually, chatting that French bird up? What a dick! I’m so angry!’

I was a little calmer in my response, mainly because I was embarrassed by the fact that I’d told the Italian I was going home, yet here I was sneaking back into the pub to finish my night off without him.

In stealth mode, Robyn and I crept back into the bar, ordered a couple of Budweisers and made our way outside for a cigarette. By the time we went back in, the Italian was nowhere to be seen and our girly revelry could continue uninterrupted. I wasn’t angry or hurt by his actions. I understood that he was new to town, didn’t want to cut his evening short and had gone back to the only bar he knew. A bar where everyone, including the French bird, was friendly and welcoming. A bar where he was now known, because of his date with me.

Robyn however, didn’t get over it so easily,

‘Seriously? You’re not bothered? Oh my God, I’m fuming!’

Update #66

Temazepam. Diazepam. Prozac. It’s safe to say that Little Miss Lola has been enjoying a leisurely ride on the crazy train this past fortnight.

Ok, maybe it wasn’t that leisurely. Maybe it was night terrors and flashbacks, hallucinations and panic attacks, despair and exhaustion. Maybe I just needed to hide from the world but the more I did, the lonelier and more depressed I became.

image

Then, just when I thought I couldn’t cope any longer, he turned up. Not God, you religious nuts, he gave up on me a long time ago, shaking his head and mumbling something about ‘not being angry, just disappointed’. My actual saviour in the darkness was Weston.

Without a doubt, Weston is the last person you’d expect to be able to deal with a vulnerable and overly emotional middle aged woman in the midst of a mental health crisis, yet there he was. Calm, reassuring, understanding. He stayed with me all that weekend, easing my nerves, offering words of support and spooning me into a much needed slumber.

He also fucked me to within an inch of my life and left my vagina feeling like it had spent the weekend cage fighting, but that was a very welcome distraction from the terror inside my head.

Since then, I have done what any crazy cat owner lady would do, and have hidden myself away with balls of wool and a peculiar desire to knit everyone I’ve ever met something completely tacky and/or tasteless for Christmas.

image

I’ve also discovered a talent for making rag rugs…

image

So there you have it folks. I am a woman of many contradictions. I am ill and vulnerable, weak and crazy. I am fortunate and loved, horny and naughty. I am sated and sedated, creative and broken. I am Lola.

I do intend to leave the house this weekend. Blue and I have plans for a night out in our local…a quiet and uneventful affair but something that eases me back into the world of the living. I also have a date next week with an Italian graphic designer, so guess I need to get my shit together sooner rather than later!

Sex: Yes, yes yes!

Drugs: Only those prescribed by my doctor.

Alcohol: 0

Mental Health: See above!

Physical Health: Despite mild repetitive strain injury in my left hand because of all the knitting, I am doing remarkable well!

15 And Counting…

image

My son celebrated his fifteenth birthday this past week. By ‘celebrated’ I mean he indulged in a couple of cans of cider, became giggly and irritating and then passed out, all under the watchful eye of me, his mother, who had already predicted his low tolerance to alcohol and was expecting an early night.

Anyway, fifteen years of raising a boy on my own has been somewhat of an eye opener. There were good days, bad days and fucking horrendous days, but we’ve survived this far so I guess we’ve done ok. Over these past fifteen years I have found myself saying things that I never thought possible. For your amusement, and my nostalgia, here are the top 15 things I, as a parent, never expected to say…

1) If you blow your nose really hard, maybe the sweets will fall out.

2) The dinosaur is stuck behind the radiator.

3) You are not Spiderman. Please get down from the window sill.

4) What do you mean, you swallowed a magnet?!

5) Stop eating the dandelions.

6) Yes, singing Pantera songs during hymn time will probably get you a detention.

7) Why is there Marmite on the ceiling?

8) Well if you can’t find Jack Sparrow the Black Pearl will just have to sail under Batman.

9) School need you to wear pants.

10) I found 5 forks in your bedroom today…and possibly caught e-coli.

11) If you don’t stop rubbing it, it’ll only get worse.

12) Can you get the transformer sticker off my bum…

13) No, Megatron does not want to hide in my shirt.

14) Sorry, you’re not adopted.

15) When you’re mature enough to accept that I’ve had sex, you can have sex.