The Game Changer

… the next instalment of my journal, chronicling a year of change…

22.4 8.42

And I still feel really, really good.

And that little ‘what if’ voice trying to whisper in my ear ‘What if you don’t get a job, or what if you stay single and lonely, or die in poverty.’ I have just told it to talk to the hand. Those thoughts might be reality, but they are not helpful.

Ready to give those wings a wash and blow dry.

Was beginning to stress about not having an income and doing the sums to work out how long my savings would last. Then I lost my bank card. I mentally retraced my steps and realised it had been a few days. I got so worried. If a clever person got their hands on it, they could empty my account. The shop where I had left the card had it, to my utter delight. And all of a sudden I felt rich. My bank balance hadn’t changed, just my head.

23.4 12.01

When I got to therapy yesterday I told her that I had been feeling really good. She was pleased to hear it and then asked me what I wanted to deal with today. I couldn’t think of anything. I didn’t want to think of anything. We had talked about the parents and my negative thought processes. What else was there, right? I didn’t want to dig up anything else. I felt good, I was enjoying it. Why ruin that?

And I was self conscious. The whole ‘my place’ thing. It was there, needing to be talked about, and I was self conscious. In front of my therapist, which is a little silly.

But she isn’t stupid, she steered towards it. She said it was a good idea to tackle it while I was feeling good. When I was feeling bad I might not have the inclination or resilience to deal with feeling crappy later.

We started circling around it, putting words to it. It felt like something was missing.

When I got home I texted her that next time we also needed to talk about my relationship to men.

The local lindy hop event is on. The one I went to last year, the day after I had arrived in Brighton. I went outside in between classes to cry. I hadn’t bought a ticket this year, I just didn’t want to think about the whole thing.

That was ONE YEAR ago. Normally things feel like yesterday, but this feels like another life.

Maybe I can still get a ticket for tonight.

24.4 16.48

STILL feel good, it’s been a couple of weeks. A bit more even? Don’t know, don’t want to count, just want to enjoy.

It’s nice. I am so AWARE of it. I don’t want to touch it, so it doesn’t break.

Nice can be a boring word.

But it can also be perfect.

It just feels nice.

I go to the social weekly dance and play with the music and love it.

My shoulder muscles are permanently tired and I love it.

My feet are uglier than they were before, and I love it.

My knuckles are scratched from knocking against the cave-ceiling in my bouldering hall, my finger nails are torn and my hands are proper working hands. I looked at them today and thought ‘Who would ask for that hand in marriage’? I thought that was funny, it made me laugh at least.

And for the first time ever I didn’t want to leave the hall today, I wanted to hang around and chat, maybe have a cup of tea, rather than linger empty handed. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to end up standing around on my own. Or feel awkward lingering with someone for no reason, when the conversation had come to a natural end.

So I left.

There are so many times when I think that I must have done something really wrong, because I somehow ended up with no best friend.

My therapist would say that thought might be accurate, but it’s not helpful.

If I can’t fix this loneliness I need to find other thoughts to put around it.

Note to self, must find a new nightclub, the music at my regular has been terrible lately.

No plans for the evening, just me and a book, it could be heaven or it could get really crappy …

Might break out some cheesy disco tunes later and swing my arms about.

And eventually I will stay for that cup of tea in the hall.

25.4 20.36

It’s slipping away again, and I don’t want it to.

Just not feeling courageous right now.

The evening seems long, too long.

THIS is when I need to ’snap out of it’. Catch it, before it slides more.

I liked feeling good, I am not ready to let it go.

Need to get on the bike maybe, do something.

26.4 18.41

My ink journey has just finished. (For now, forever …. for now).

My first tattoos were sayings to give me motivation. Then a couple of lines of defiance. And now I have finished up with a few splashes of colour.

And that feels right, it’s a nice journey.

27.4 20.32

My housemates are out tonight and I feel like a teenager whose parents have gone away. It has been nearly a year since I have been alone in a house.

Loving it just for a few hours.

28.4 22.48

Someone asked me the other day why I had fallen so hard for my game changer. He was just INTERESTED in things. If he read a book, he was happy to chat about it. If he walked by an art gallery, he was happy to walk in. If it was crap, he still found something good to say, rather than make me feel bad for suggesting it.

And more importantly he was INTERESTED IN ME. Interested in a way no man ever had been before. He wanted to know my opinion on things. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is to me. Nobody has EVER been interested like that in me, ever. My game changer asked me more questions in three months than my ex had in fifteen years. Even before his visit, I felt like I was ‘his person’. Very seductive.

And I miss that, I have looked for it for the longest time, and had it for a short time, being someone’s person. At the end of a Sunday, after cleaning up and doing the washing, and bouldering and pottering, I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for someone to call me and say ‘Let’s have a glass of something’. And then we would talk about all those important things. I have never had that. My ex and I drank that glass, but we didn’t talk about the important stuff, or any stuff. And that fills me with deep melancholy. Someone in my bouldering hall casually told me that he was planning something for the birthday for a woman he likes. Neither one of my partners has ever planned something for one my birthdays.

Felt a bit shitty after talking to my therapist (about men of course). Powerless. Confused. I told her some of the stuff men had said to me, and even she was surprised.

I let countless past conversations pass by my inner mind’s eye and try to discern how I was, how I ‘presented’. Did I try to be particularly lively to show how much fun I was (because I considered myself to be boring)? Did I try to be helpful (because I wanted to be needed)? Did I show myself to be fiercely independent (because I was desperate to belong)?

Maybe I have done all of those things, or maybe I was just always ‘me’ … direct, open, forward, not suffering fools gladly … and that’s rubbed those men the wrong way.

Some of the comments men have made over time have really hurt me, have made me doubt me, have made me more cynical.

I don’t want to become an angry, lonely and cynical woman. I won’t allow it. I will rejoice in the polite, fun and respectful conversations I have with men in my dance and bouldering communities.

Nightclubs are the natural hunting ground for the uncouth. The nice guys who go to clubs and bars will stand back and just have a drink and wonder why they don’t get the women. The women, in the meantime, walk off in a huff because of the idiots they have encountered.

Ironic.

29.4 23.27

Am rejoicing in my body today. For years I have looked at it and more often than not focused on the things I don’t like. Not more often than not actually, but all the time. The stomach that is never quite flat, the orange peel skin on the thighs, the really short and stubbly toes that make my already broad feet just ugly. But today I went bouldering and finished my physically most demanding problem yet, most of it is spent horizontally, inching my way from one hold to the next. And my body can do that, and I was awash with love for my body, this strong, healthy and functioning body that keeps dancing and bouldering despite sore knees and feet and neck and shoulders and arms … it just keeps going and allows me to feel the joy of movement itself, which can be free, precise or rhythmic. And it lets me feel that deep and enormously satisfying sense of tiredness when I have danced or bouldered until I have nothing left to give and the body yearns for rest but feels so wonderfully alive. I thank my body for that, and I love my body for that.

So next time I look in a mirror I will try and overcome my vanity or insecurity and not care that my stomach bloats, my thighs don’t look sexy in shorts and my feet look shitty in sandals. My body deserves better than that.

And I rejoice about two other things:

How awfully lucky I am that I have choices, and that I am beginning to make active choices rather than live by someone else’s. My choices may not be perfect or smart, but I have them, I get to make them at the moment, I still have time and a bit of money and a bit of playing room. For that I am grateful.