My New Freedom

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Trust No One -book cover

End of year blogs are great for reflection and setting out goals for the coming year. I’ve never been organised enough to do that. I just write and send, without planning or editing, as is evident from the chaotic nonsense you might have read. My blog for 2013 was so focused on forced positivity, that I neglected to mention the 6 months I’d spent falling in love with someone and getting my heart broken. That kind of selective blogging doesn’t work for me. It always comes out in the end, which was the purpose of this blog to begin with, to be a diary where I could let out all the thoughts and fears that I struggle to say out loud.

As a result of that 2013 blog, I spent much of the early part of 2014 writing the Confessions posts which told the real story I had conveniently glossed over previously. They were a car crash. I knew that even as I was writing them, but I’m not exaggerating when I say I had to write them for my sanity. I was aware they would be amusing for some, the airing of my dirty laundry in public, talking about something that should perhaps remain between 2 people, I can understand the criticism. I may have even shared their views in the past, but to me, twitter isn’t the public. It’s full of strangers I adore, but they are still strangers. No names are ever mentioned in my blogs and hardly anyone who reads my blogs, knew him. Rightly or wrongly, it was something I had to do and I’m glad I did it, no matter how much it makes me cringe now. If you feel inclined to read them, set aside a month or so because they are LONG.

What came as a surprise though, was the support I got from both twitter friends and complete strangers. I expected far more judgement, and while there was certainly some of that, (a furious rant from someone on reddit), the reaction was mostly positive. To date, they are still the most read posts on my blog and I’ve had messages from complete strangers who’ve been through a similar experience, who found it comforting to know they weren’t alone and even kind words from people who told me they understood. For that, I’m very grateful.

I decided to read them back a few days ago and one thing stood out very clearly. In an effort to not repeat past mistakes and to prove to myself that I had grown up and learned to handle things better, I fooled myself into thinking I could just forgive and forget. There is a lot of pressure to just get over it and move on and to be the bigger person, even if it’s not necessarily how we feel or what we want. I spoke a lot in those and subsequent blogs, about not holding grudges and understanding why people do things.

On the face of it, I handled it well, but it cost me in a way I hadn’t quite realised at the time. If it hadn’t been for those blogs, it’d still be eating away at me. I read them back and I realised it was OK to be angry, it was OK to accept I was used, that I didn’t have to make excuses for him, that yes, he was a bit of a jerk. It didn’t make me bitter or immature, it made me realistic and it made me human. I cut myself some slack, but only with the benefit of hindsight and upon discovering that I had good reason for ending things.

Last Summer, I lost my grandfather. He lived abroad and our families weren’t close, but with my dad being the eldest son, everyone came to pay their respects at my parents’ house and I was required to be there. People came in droves. In the space of a month, we’d had over a hundred guests. I struggle with family and relatives at the best of times and it was a difficult time. That same week, I discovered my ex boyfriend was seeing someone else.

It didn’t come as a surprise and I hadn’t been actively trying to find out. It had been months and I would’ve been surprised if he hasn’t moved on by then. Unfortunately, his profile picture kept popping up on my Facebook every time I tried to search for something and I saw he’d changed it to one of him and his new girlfriend. When I first saw it, I just felt numb and congratulated myself on not reacting. As the days went by however, it started sinking in. There were no feelings of jealousy or any ill will towards either of them, the only thing I couldn’t stop thinking about was how proud he was to show people he’d committed to her. Something he never did with me and he’d always used the excuse that he was a private person and it wasn’t him. I’d been right all along, but that was no consolation. It was me. It had always been me. I was the problem, not his issues, not a misunderstanding, just me. All the times he’d told me I was imagining it, that I’d got it all wrong, how all the things I’d noticed didn’t mean anything. That I could trust him.

With everything that was going on around me, I couldn’t cope. My dad had just lost his father, my sisters weren’t around, so I had to put a brave face on it, but I’d stay awake for hours every night, not eating or sleeping properly, thinking about nothing else, until I felt like I was losing my mind. I deactivated all social media on my phone for the first time and retreated into my shell.

And then came the blogs.

I wrote for hours. Sometimes when I should’ve been working, sometimes in the middle of the night. It felt like the words were building up inside my head and if I didn’t get them out, it would explode. I cried and I wrote about everything from love and body image to depression, until there was nothing left.

Almost a month later, I reactivated my Twitter and Facebook accounts, feeling like the worst had finally passed. There were people who had gone to great lengths to get in touch during that time. Those who listened, who put up with my mood swings and who understood. I couldn’t talk about what I’d discovered at the time, but their support did and still does mean the world to me. I found out who I could trust and rely on, and more importantly, who I couldn’t.

Festival season and the long hot Summer helped to clear the darkness and I felt better than I had in over a year. Finding out what I had, at the time was incredibly difficult, but it enabled me to move on in a way I hadn’t been able to before. Even more so than during a brief relationship earlier in the year with the sweetest, kindest man, who just came along at the wrong time. Thankfully I had the clarity to see that and walk away from it. For the first time all year, I felt free and I felt happy. That feeling has continued through the Autumn and into the new year. Gone is the fear in the pit of my stomach, gone are the endless tears, gone is the constant replaying of conversations in my head and the sadness it brought. Gone.

I have since had the time and space to work out how I really feel about things, as opposed to how I’m supposed to feel. I’ve gone from feeling like a wise elder to, an angsty teenager, to a toddler throwing a tantrum in the space of a year. I am still all those things inside. People don’t always behave how they should, or to fit someone’s idea of what is and isn’t right. Of course, given a choice, we’d all love to rise above the bad and not let it get us down, but that’s not always possible.

I can say now that I was pissed off. REALLY pissed off at how I was treated. It knocked my confidence, (something I’m still working on), and my ability to trust. A bad relationship goes away when one of you ends it, but you carry the feelings it leaves behind with you. That feeling of not being quite good enough, of feeling gullible, of rejection, of questioning your paranoia, of questioning your judgement, that doesn’t just go away. It takes time, it takes effort and sometimes a little help from those around you.

My need to explain things, to ask questions, to understand why people do things is still there, but I have accepted that sometimes there are no excuses or reasons. I have the utmost respect for those who have shown their kindness instead of promising it, who have been there without being asked, who have apologised when they’ve screwed up, who have earned my trust without asking for it and have made me feel they care instead of just telling me. Words aren’t worth the paper or device they are written on. I don’t believe in resolutions, but in 2015 I will endeavour to trust more wisely.

So hopefully the next blog you see posted here will be more positive. Something about my dreadful attempts at dancing or DIY, and not another tragic opera about my lovelife, for I am once again dead inside and much, MUCH happier for it.

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