“He’s my soulmate and every single thing I want in a partner. We’re completely inseparable because we’re basically the same person, and we don’t even fight! I’ve never had a second of doubt.” or so gushed a fairly well-known health and wellness influencer on her Instagram stories the other day.
A few years ago, those words would’ve sent me into a tailspin.
My relationship isn’t like that, I would’ve panicked. We’re not inseparable or the same. He isn’t every single little thing I’ve ever wanted. We do argue sometimes. I have had moments of doubt. …
Before I considered I might need to, well, actually plot my plots, my stories always tangled into nonsense or, worse, wound to a close without saying anything much. Why? Because my story brainstorming was off. I would come up with a vague idea and launch into writing; inevitably, the resulting stories lacked sense and depth.
Although it’s tempting to skip to your favourite part of the process—the writing—you’ll get better results if you decide on a few key elements first. …
“It’s not normal to get so stressed you can’t think straight,” my boyfriend said, flicking cigarette ash out of the window. “I worry about how you’d cope if something really bad happens.”
“I’m not so stressed I can’t think straight,” I snapped, waving his smoke away, “and it’s normal to be stressed about the things I’m worried about.”
“I don’t think it’s normal to get so anxious you get nosebleeds and insomnia,” he replied, frowning.
I still vividly remember how annoyed I was with my boyfriend at the time. He didn’t understand, I thought. Being anxious is just who I am. I’ve always been this way, and anyway, anxiety is unavoidable. …
This morning I made my fiancé tea while he was getting ready for work. As I fished out the teabag and drizzled in milk, I realised I was worrying.
He seems to be running late, I thought; by the time he sits down, the tea will be cold! Perhaps I should chuck this cup and start again in a few minutes.
But I stopped myself.
This was a microcosm of something I always unconsciously do: take responsibility for things that have nothing to do with me.
If we rewind to my childhood, it becomes fairly obvious where my over-responsibility started.
I was a shy, rule-following child; my big sister, in contrast, was an adventurous rebel. One of my earliest memories is of her instructing me to steal some of the sticky aniseed blackjacks from the sweet shop we visited to spend our weekend pocket-money. …
You want to love Christmas.
As November darkens into December, cosy scenes fill your mind. You imagine eating mince pies by a twinkling tree, peeling away the pastry lid and dipping it in thick brandy butter. You dream about wrapping presents unhurriedly, trying red velvet ribbons with a flourish. You picture frosty windowpanes and cooking decadent meals for loved ones while the carols play.
Only when you get there, it’s nothing like that.
You were so busy trying to wrap up work for the year, you forgot to buy a tree, and now you wonder if it’s too late. You never ordered the special gifts you meant to, let alone velvet ribbon, and have to desperately scramble on Amazon. Cooking for guests suddenly seems a Herculean task, and you’re unable to sleep worrying about types of stuffing and quantities of wine. …
“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns. We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.”—Tara Brach
It’s late, but I don’t dare check the time. My fiancé is beside me breathing softly—almost impossibly peacefully asleep.
How can he be sleeping soundly when it was his restlessness, his constant shuffling, coughing, and tugging of the covers, that kept me awake? I’ve missed that precious window where I can fall asleep easily and now I’ll be up all night. …
I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and it’s not circumstantial.
Hard things have been unfolding in my 2020, from one of my cats dying, to being debilitated by Covid, to losing work and having to unpick our wedding thread by thread.
What’s changing is I finally understand how to build self-worth, and I’ve begun keeping my promises to myself. Turns out increased happiness isn’t always about doing what you want now (although that’s important too sometimes) but in taking steps toward the kind of person you want to be. …
You have a goal: you want to write more while retaining your usual writing quality. But time seems to be something you’re always chasing and never quite catching up with. What do you do? You conduct productivity experiments and then benefit from the results; or at least, you let me do it for you.
Over the last month, I’ve given each of the 4 methods below a week’s trial. During that time I only used that single method, although how I used it often changed as the week wore on.
I wasn’t able to pause my day job (I’m a copywriter and editor) that usually takes up much of my day, so I was only able to test these methods in the 4 or so hours a day I devote to my own work (article writing with a healthy dose of short-story experimentation thrown in). …
“Should I break up with them?” is something my worried little fingers have typed into Google many a dark night. And by the millions of largely repetitive articles out there on the subject, I imagine I’m not alone.
I’ve used the “should I?” method of deciding my relationship’s fate before. Once when I was living with a boyfriend, we worked at the same company and I adored his family — and “should I?” kept me trapped for years.
As far as I could work out, I should stay. Sure, I wasn’t particularly happy. Sure, we nearly came to blows over everything from what to cook for dinner to how to interpret a film. But I respected him and our lives were intertwined, so breaking up seemed logistically and emotionally too hard. …
“I shouldn’t have to keep reassuring you.” My boyfriend reached for his beer glass, which was beading in the afternoon heat.
My stomach lurched in a way that was becoming all too familiar.
“But you haven’t reassured me,” I said, taking off my sunglasses so I could look him in the eye. “I don’t feel reassured.”
He looked away, rocked back in his chair and looked out at the bustle of Seville street around. Took a deliberate sip of his drink.
This was turning out to be a terrible holiday. A terrible year.
It will get better over time, I thought, once I’ve been able to move on from his cheating. …