Saturday 31 January 2015

Food For Thought

I made the decision about a year ago to become vegetarian, or more accurately, a pescatarian, not just because the cost of meat is getting ridiculous and I usually just shoved it in the freezer and forgot about it for months, but because I realized when eating a bag of chicken wings, that an animal had been tortured in for me to enjoy food, but there was no enjoyment in eating it anymore. I felt sick and immensely guilty.

I remember looking at the chicken bones when I was done and thinking that I'd just eaten an animal. Sure everyone knows a chicken is an animal, but when you buy meat in a box, it just looks like meat with an animalistic name, you don't usually associate something formerly cute and fluffy with a consumable product.

I'd done a bit of research on it and knew that there were a LOT of horrors when it came to animal sacrifice and slaughter, and not just in the abattoir.

I think it was part of my 'getting into the uni spirit' that made me become so invested in animal rights, I mean I'd always been passionate about helping them, but knowing there were so many organizations available who believe in the same thing just made it that much easier and more inspiring to do something about it.

I also figured since I was so lazy when it came to cooking which saw me eating processed and more unhealthy foods, cutting most of the products out of my life would force me to source more appropriate foods for my diet.

When I advised my parents, mum didn't really understand it, telling me that animals were meant to be killed for us to eat, according to the bible. I told her I saw where she was coming from and I wasn't going against that, but I didn't agree with animals being mass-murdered to keep up with demand. Nothing deserves that kind of a life.

Luckily for me a close friend of mine was a vegetarian for a while a few years back and gave me plenty of tips and recommendations. She quit for health reasons which I thought was fair enough, and made perfect sense. She told me of various things she'd heard and read about the vegetarian or rather the vegan community and how they had very strong beliefs that their way of life was superior to others. We both thought it was completely stupid.

I told her that me becoming a vegetarian who only eats fish (pescatarian) is for my own reasons and I completely respect everyone else's choice regarding what they choose to eat. My dietary decisions are my business and everyone else's are theirs, I really don't care any other way.

Another close friend of mine was a vegan when I first met her. She told me she'd been one for quite a while and for the same or very similar reasons as me. She said she'd met a group of people who did have the pretentious attitude of thinking they were better than everyone else for not eating meat or animal products and she didn't take too kindly to it.

I told both of them that if the main reason someone had decided to alter their dietary choices was so they could claim they were better than everyone else for having done so, they weren't doing it right. It became more a game of power and superiority and less about being kind to animals which I saw as the entire point of it.

I've been incredibly fortunate that although my family aren't completely on par with my choices, they've supported me in them and even occasionally tried something they wouldn't normally, and surprised themselves by liking it.

A couple of other friends that I've talked to about it have reminded me of the resource argument, that if everyone became vegan or vegetarian, the planet wouldn't be able to survive because supply and demand would be too high. There would also be an excess of animals in the world and the land they eat and graze in would be used for human crops. It makes complete sense too which is why I've never pushed my choices onto anyone else. I've become a little bit more relaxed in my eating habits too. Occasionally I'll have takeaway with a variety of meats in it and don't guilt myself about it since the rest of the time I eat according to my new dietary choices.

I think for some people food is a very personal thing. It's also got to do with health choices and religious factors which sometimes people forget about. For me, it's just about being kind to animals, making sure I at least try to eat healthier and ultimately not being a pretentious douche about it.   

Monday 26 January 2015

What If?!

(Photo credit to www.fbcoverstreet.com)

I got a text just after New Years' from the first psychic I'd ever seen and have since built up a great rapport with. She said she was running a promotion until the end of the month for a one hour reading and the client would get a $60 gift voucher to put towards another reading or course in future. I took it as a sign that there was something I needed to know and was nearly always up for a reading even if it was just for the fun of it.

When I got around to having one with her, she said everything for the most part was going well for me, that I should embrace being a Scorpio because it's part of who I am and that there was a lot of good things to come in my future.

She did a general reading to start with, then asked me what I specifically wanted to look at. I told her to just do a bit of everything and whatever I was meant to know would come through.

She said my social circles would expand, I was about to enter into study (I've just enrolled into my 2nd year of uni), I would do some travelling later in the year, even though I was skeptical since the timing she gave would mean it was halfway through my 2nd semester. She told me she didn't want to disagree with me, but it was what was coming up. I was to go to the Greek Isles or similar and I'd be in a relationship when I did so.

She also told me there were 2 guys around me even though I had no idea about them as yet, but by March or so they'd come forward and by around May something would happen with one of them. Again I was skeptical but took her word for it.

She went on to talk about work and said that I was good at what I did and to keep going but I just hadn't found a way to make money from what I really wanted to do. She felt like the idea was there but I just wasn't seeing it, but eventually I would and to just keep doing what I was doing.

I then asked her my burning question which was the main reason I wanted to have a reading. I asked her about the guy from high school that liked me. I asked her if, like everyone else had told me and I also knew, my thinking about him was just me trying to process stuff and not actually about him. I really just wanted to know why I couldn't just accept the fact that he'd liked me and move on with my life like he had, rather than letting it sit for so long like some kind of incomprehensible truth.

She told me she could see the guy I was talking about and he carried a torch for me for a long time and that everyone else could see it but me. I thought it was hilarious and absurd. I knew exactly how Jimmy Fallon felt when Nicole Kidman admitted to having a crush on him.

She told me that although he felt something really intensely for me, when he left it was too hard for him so he cut it off and just settled for his now wife. It broke my heart more than a little to think that I was his first choice but never believed it. The way she said it made it sound like he'd just given up and chosen someone else instead.

I asked her if he'd been in love with me or just really liked me. She said the word that came up was 'unattainable', but he'd felt as strong a feeling as a 15 year old boy could. I was someone that he never thought he had a chance with.

The thought completely blew my mind. To think that there was someone who had as strong feelings for me as I had had for my high school crush, or as close as. I wondered if he thought I was unattainable because of the feelings I had for my crush, or because I kept a defensive wall up and refused to admit almost anyone entry or maybe it was for a whole other reason I wasn't aware of.

I asked her if our paths would cross again or if his part in my life was over. She told me that we lead completely different lives and although the future isn't set in stone, the only way we'd be likely to see each other again is by chance.

She briefly mentioned that he definitely wanted to be with me (or sleep with me, the phone connection was iffy) and I asked her if it was because I had big boobs, she told me it wasn't about that for him.

I then asked her about his wife, she said they'd been friends for a while and he felt he could approach her more because they had similar energies. I told her from what I remember hearing about her when they first started dating, they seemed like a good match.

I asked her if there was any chance he still felt something for me after all this time and even ventured into asking her if he would cheat on his wife with me (not that I would ever want to break up a marriage or cause anyone pain, but curiosity got the better of me). She said although he is married and happy, his heart would skip a beat or two if he saw me and he'd remember what he felt back in the day, but he wouldn't cheat because he respected me too much to make me the other woman.

I told her, from my perspective, if he were single I'd be interested to see what could happen between us. She told me that if he were single now, he might look me up and want to have a coffee, but she didn't think anything more would come of it because of how he felt around me. She told me if I'd even touched him back in high school, he would've melted. It was absolutely hilarious for me to think I had that much power over anyone, let alone him!

I thought about the fantasies I'd been recently creating in my head where I'm back in high school but I'm the person I am now and my best friend isn't interested, or as interested in him (and actually encouraged me to go for him like others had), so I could actually believe and revel in him liking me, but it took on a different tone with the knowledge that he thought he could never be with me. I know that I would have died if my crush had legitimately made a move on me, so I could only imagine how the other guy would have felt in a similar situation.

She told me I have magnetism with guys, I can talk easily with them and know how to flirt which is always handy. She said that I'm intelligent, talk a million miles an hour and am passionate about what I say which they find appealing and that being a Scorpio, I'm very intense which is what a lot of guys like.

I told her that I knew he liked me because everyone told me he did, but I refused to believe it because I'd been hurt so badly by the people around me that I was convinced there was nothing likable about me, so I took it as a cruel sick joke that everyone was playing on me, and even told the teacher on them.

(Photo credit to www.rebloggy.com)

She told me that the people around me were just nasty, but it also had something to do with my parents and my upbringing, that I'd had a really tough time and unless people lived inside my head, they wouldn't have been able to understand.

I told her about the therapy session I'd had prior to the last time I saw her where my therapist had told me that the most crucial years of a person's life were the ones around the time they hit puberty (typically between the ages of 9-13) and that was where I was developing my sense of self and who I was which had been damaged badly. I told her if I hadn't found something to hold onto at that time I probably would've killed myself because life would have just been far too hard to deal with.

Thinking back to it, I wondered if I had taken my own life, knowing now how much this guy had felt for me, what would he have done if I had gone through with it? How would he have reacted?

As I thought through what she'd told me, I thought about him and how he'd moved on and found happiness, then remembered a picture I'd seen of him recently where he was out with his mates on the water. I wondered if we'd ever end up crossing paths again and if so, what would happen. Would if be a brief 'hey, long time no see!' and that's it, or would we get the chance to have a heart to heart about everything that's happened over the past decade or so.

She told me that he wasn't looking me up or anything and had pretty much moved on with his life. I told her I knew I should do the same, but just couldn't seem to, which is why I wanted to have the reading, to find out what I wasn't seeing, what was holding me back.

Towards the end of the reading she gave me a link to a Youtube video for selective attention and told me that guys were really bad at showing or even telling a girl they liked them. They took rejection a lot harder than girls did and had to save face in front of their friends. At the end of the day, no matter what age a guy is, he's a puppy. If a girl so much as looks at him, he'd die of happiness.

At the end of the reading I felt myself getting emotional and held back tears until we'd hung up. The psychic told me there was a lot I needed to process when it came to this guy, especially after I'd pointed out that she'd given me a lot of good news about the future, but I'd been much more focused on him and his wife. She told me there was a lot of stuff that should have been dealt with back in high school but that she herself still felt baffled by a lot of things that had happened for her during high school. She gave me an example of a guy that liked her threw paint on her, she said he did it to impress his friends because he didn't want them to know he liked her or he'd get teased for it.

I suggested if maybe the other guy had come out and told me he liked me, I might have taken him more seriously, but she said it wouldn't have happened because guys aren't like that. They're not very good at showing or telling a girl they like her so they end up losing out in the end because she has no idea. She told me of some of the readings she'd done for guys who were completely smitten by a girl and they admitted they hadn't done anything to let her know because they froze up when she came near them. She said she hoped I got to do a reading for a guy someday because it was hilarious to see how much of a puppy they were.

After the reading I cried for about half an hour, then on and off as emotion struck me. The gravity of the revelation, knowing how much this guy had liked, possibly even loved me, was both mind-blowing and shattering. The only thing I'd ever really wanted in high school was to be loved by someone, and by her account, he wanted and waited to be that person for so long until he couldn't do it anymore. I realized that while I was making it seem more complicated that it really was, the issue was a lot deeper which is why I was struggling to get past or even process it.

Until therapy got to the nitty gritty of my mind and belief patterns, I'd spent so long with the foundational belief that I was worthless, that no one liked me and I had nothing to offer. To realize that the entire time I thought that, there was someone else looking at me who apparently thought the complete opposite, feels like a revelation. It's like your entire life you're told one thing and are convinced by it, then suddenly a bomb goes off and changes everything you thought you knew and now you don't know how to deal with the aftermath so you just sit there thinking 'a bomb went off'.

It doesn't seem like a big deal when you say it out loud, "a guy back in high school liked me, really liked me". Okay, whatever. It's hard to just sit and swallow something that you're struggling to process or even comprehend.

I keep thinking of Jessica Alba's voice-over from the Dark Angel intro and outro, “Sometimes I feel like it happened to someone else, that it was someone else's life”. I always saw myself as a massive loser, invisible, a nobody that people would do anything to not be around, rarely observed general hygiene unless my parents demanded it, wore my brothers hand-me-down over-sized jumper to hide my shame at having developed early and just generally being overweight and more often than not, had toothpaste staining my jumper on the few occasions that I actually cleaned my teeth. I never thought I was good enough for anyone or anything and that how the other kids made me feel. 

(Photo credit to Google Images)

The psychic told me to take my time in dealing with everything, not that it meant to start stalking him and/or his wife, but to bring up everything in therapy because there was obviously a lot there to process and it was going to take some time to do that.

She reminded me of the good news that romance was coming. I would have two choices of guys and I'd actually like them which would then develop into love and I'd feel comfortable with them. She said it's all part of my self development which is what a lot of this year is about for me, but I'm definitely in a better place overall than I was last time I saw her, which feels about right.

Despite everything she's told me and everything I know, I still feel like I had to have done something in particular for him to like me. Maybe it's based on the false beliefs I've held for so long, but part of me, if ever I was given the chance, wants to ask him 'Why me?!' although I guess the whole point is that he did and as my therapist told me, I can look inside myself to find out why, even if I am curious for his input. 

I feel like telling him about my perspective on high school if only so I can get the truth out. Sure, part of me hopes that it reignites something within him and maybe someday, if it's meant to be, I'll get the chance to be with him that I missed out on in high school, but more realistically I hope to answer questions which he possibly didn't know he had. I feel like he deserves to know to full truth, that I didn't exactly have a choice in liking my crush, if only I'd believed that I deserved love and wasn't terrified of being hurt again, also if my best friend hadn't had a massive crush on him. Sure part of me wonders if it matters to him, or just to me. Whether if I told him everything it would help him or really make any difference at all given how much time has passed and things have changed.

I guess I ultimately I want to thank him for trying to love me when I didn't think there was anything about me to love or that I was worth loving. To tell him I'm sorry for being too scared to open up and let him in, in the first place. I always saw myself as a broken toy that had been chewed up, spit out, used and abused. It was much safer, definitely not easier, but safer for me to try desperately to win my crush's heart knowing that I probably never would, than to risk opening up to someone else, hoping that whatever they felt was strong enough to withstand the hell that I lived in. So I went for the safer option and continued to unknowingly let myself believe that I didn't deserve love and therefore would never get it no matter how badly I wanted it. I don't think he or anyone else for that matter realized just how much I didn't want to feel anything for my crush. I would have done or given anything not to feel what I felt, whether it was changing schools so I wouldn't see him every day or even taking my own life, whatever it took. I wanted to ask him if I ever got the chance, did he really think that if I'd had a choice in it, that I wouldn't have rather let him love me instead of expending so much effort on someone who couldn't?!

(Photo credit to Google Images)

I hate that it makes me realize just how much I missed out on when I was growing up. I hate that all the songs I used to listen to because of how I felt about my crush, now make me think of how the other guy felt about me and that I broke my own heart as well as his by not letting him in, and that ultimately, I can never go back and change it. 

I know that our life paths or journeys were meant to go the way they have and everything has happened for a reason. Even though I don't feel it now, I know that it won't matter as much or at all in time and I'll just be able to finally accept that I mattered to someone when I didn't think or feel it. 

In order to help me process everything I started playing with a deck of tarot cards I have and found that I kept getting the same card about unrequited love, indicating that there wouldn't be enough between us to actually sustain a relationship. I kept going back and forth between the thoughts of 'it would never have worked' and 'we could have made it work' because I believe that despite certain things that I've seen and experienced in my life, love can overcome everything. I figured if he felt as strongly as the psychic told me he felt, then there was every chance I could have reciprocated in time regardless of how hard things were when I was in high school. Maybe it wouldn't have worked out in the end, but at least we would've tried.

(Photo credit to www.buzzquotes.com)

Now that he's grown up and presumably matured, it's kind of like we're on the same page. He knows what responsibility is and maybe he's become a more caring and compassionate in his relationship with his wife. At the same time, when I think of what I felt towards my crush and how in hindsight that was predominantly based on my lack of self worth and self esteem, because now that I have those things I couldn't really care less about him or anyone else that I was drawn to for those reasons. I wonder if his feelings were truer than mine or if they did just disappear with time and insight like mine did.

In a 'what if' daydream, I wonder what it would be like to reunite with him and see what I didn't or couldn't before. To have him look at me in the way that I'd missed all those years ago, the way that only someone completely smitten with another person can, to see how much he's grown and matured as a person and how much of the guy I remember is still there.

As the psychic told me, and everyone else can easily say, you never know what's going to happen in the future and it seems wrong to hold onto some thought or some tiny bit of hope that I was the one for him all along and he did have a chance but he gave up waiting. I'm not entirely sure how to feel about it now. It's part of a continued healing process, I know that much. In a weird way I kind of enjoy the misery and sorrow, not just because it renders food meaningless to me ergo, instant diet, (I think I'm also beginning to understand what it feels like to have an eating disorder) but because it's something that I've known so well and for so long. It's like slipping on an old jacket you've had forever. It's familiar. I think that's part, if not the entire reason that I'm hesitant to let this whole thing go so quickly despite how much it hurts. I'm scared of actually letting someone in and loving me in case they too decide to up and leave like so many people have before. If I had taken the risk of opening up and found that it was all a joke like I believed it was, or that whatever he learnt about my life, he would go back to the popular crowd he was part of and tell them, leaving me more exposed than I already felt, I couldn't cope with it. 

I have a lot a really good, fun memories of him, I know that at least proves that he meant something to me or I wouldn't have written them down. That's the person, albeit a more mature one, that I'd like the opportunity to be with. If it didn't work then at least I'd be able to tick it off my list as having tried.

(Photo credit to www.mactoons.com)

I think one of the hardest (and unhealthiest) things is seeing pictures of him and his wife on their wedding day and knowing that she gets the things and parts of him I never got an opportunity to see or experience and probably never will.

Sometimes I wonder if he's really and genuinely happy with his life and how things have turned out. Again, I know it's not healthy, but I over-think the fact that neither he nor his wife have many coupley pics on whatever social media accounts of theirs I've been able to find, nor have they updated anything in a while from what I can see from a public view. There's no indication to say that they're unhappy or struggling in married life or whether they just got married because they decided it was about time and not because they were madly in love or anything. I do sort of wish there was though, as bad as it sounds, so I could swoop in and save the day as it were, or more realistically, just imagine myself doing so.

I do want him to be happy, and if he is with her then I'm happy for him (although it kind of makes me sad for me). At the same time, I can't help feeling selfish and guilty for hoping that their marriage doesn't work out as seems to be the case for so many these days, just so I can have the opportunity to make him as happy as I think he deserves to be and that he made me in high school.

(Photo credit to www.quotepix.com)

I don't feel like I'm completely ready to let go just yet. Not when there feels like there's so much I still don't know for sure or completely understand, although I may never get the chance to. Just another thing I have to learn to accept. 

I've spent the last few days wallowing in misery and feeling incredibly ill because of it. I just kept replaying everything over and over again and making myself hurt more. Listening to songs which seem to articulate better than I can how I'm feeling or songs that I could imagine myself singing to or at him in the hopes that he'd understand a little bit better. The more songs I find though, the more I wonder if he'd ever really be able to fully understand what life was like for me. In my experience, only people who've been through something similar will be able to comprehend what it's like to go through consistently tough times. 

I posted a status on Facebook to alert whatever friends that would see it that I was having a tough time, a few minutes later a close friend of mine called saying she'd seen it and wanted to check I was okay. She and I talked on the phone for a few hours as I sobbed through everything and read her the summary I'd written at the end of the reading so she understood what the problem was.

She sympathized with me and told me she wished she was there to give me a big hug and told me that I was a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for. She reminded me of the self-love seminar we'd gone to a few months back and how the speaker had said that the experiences we'd gone through are what has made us so compassionate. It was nice to be reminded of one of my better qualities and part of me not so secretly hoped that was an attractive quality to the guy who got away, as well as the fact that I'd written down so many of the things I'd noticed he'd said or done even though I didn't say anything.

I told her I'd made a booking with another psychic I'd seen a few months before and had found her approach quite good too. I wanted to confirm what the first psychic had told me, not that I didn't trust her, but I wanted to make sure that I wasn't making a bigger deal of it than it really was. I just wanted to feel better and contemplated scheduling an extra therapy session if the psychic didn't pan out.

The morning of the second reading I woke up feeling incredibly sick to the point where I tried to make myself throw up. I hadn't eaten anything substantial since I'd had the first reading so there was nothing to bring up. I recognized the sick feeling as the same thing I'd felt back on a daily basis in high school, even primary, and for a few years after I graduated. I'd always thought it was extreme anxiety which I knew I suffered from, but it was my self worth or rather lack of, screaming out. I was at the point where I couldn't care less about food, if I had the option of not eating I would've gladly taken it. But I forced myself to eat something if only so I wouldn't pass out or get incredibly dizzy.

When the second reading started, she picked up that I was tired. I told her I hadn't been coping too well since my last reading which is why I was having another one in the hopes that it would make me feel better or at least help a little bit. She kept telling me to be kind to myself and said that the angels wanted me to know that it was okay to feel everything I was feeling and not to beat myself up about it like I was doing. 

She told me which decks she was using and confirmed I was okay with them to which I advised her of the cards I'd been using and told her about the message that kept coming up. She walked me through her way of reading cards and told me what she made of it but told me to keep in mind that the deck that I was using was specific to partners and relationships.

I told her how I interpreted the card but wasn't entirely sure if I was correct and she told me it was all about how I felt in the end. I explained about the reading I'd had and the detail in which the previous psychic had gone into, the next psychic told me the previous one had no right to tell me that much detail given how much it was affecting me now. She said that while she was picking up that there was a guy in high school that really liked me, it wasn't for her to comment on how much so.

She told me I was beating myself up too badly over something I had no control over and couldn't do anything about. I was looking at the situation in hindsight and wondering what I could have done differently, but it was too late to go back and change things and that's okay. It's okay to wonder and question, so long as I didn't let it consume me as it was now and letting my self worth completely plummet.

(Photo credit to geniusquotes.org)

I told her I'd been crying and feeling sick since the last reading to which she sympathized and told me it was completely healthy for me and every other human on the planet to have a massive cry every now and again to let all our feelings out in order to cleanse and move on.

She kept reminding me that it only mattered how I was feeling now. I told her I really wanted to let this guy know the truth of the situation, even if it didn't change anything in the long run, at least he'd know and I'd be able to move on. She told me to pretend that he was sitting in front of me and write a letter to him, then burn it because without realizing it I had created a metaphysical connection between the two of us even though he wasn't aware of it. She said that he wasn't thinking about it nearly as much as I was which comforted me to know he was thinking about it at all, and to imagine a cord between our hearts which was then cut to end the connection. She said that she got the feeling he lived far away from me, that he and I were completely different people to who we were back then, that we have different wants, needs and expectations and that if we were meant to be together back then, we would've been, and if we were meant to be together in the future, we would be, but she really felt that he wasn't the one for me, despite the fact that he's married.

She told me that she saw 2 people coming up and she was concerned that while I was investing so much energy into thinking about it and wondering what might have been, I'd completely miss out on them. I told her I wasn't really concerned about being in a relationship, aside from the physical stuff like holding hands and cuddling, I was okay without one. She told me it was because for the most part things were going pretty well for me.

(Photo credit to mactoons.com)

I told her it was still a lot to take in and process and I felt like it was going to take a while to do so. She told me it was okay and to stop being so hard on myself, to let myself feel whatever I needed to feel and then move on when I was ready.

She said my biggest focus right now was on me and making myself feel better, that I needed to take time out to have some fun and do things that remind me of what it was like to be a carefree child. She reminded me of the homework tasks she wanted me to do. To write a list of 10 things I'm grateful for, they could be as simple or elaborate as I wanted, to write a list of things that I want to happen this year and to write the guy a letter in order to purge my feelings.

She also told me to be proud of the fact that I'd gotten through my first year of uni and was about to start my second since she knew so many people that dropped out in the first year. She also felt that I didn't stop to take pride in my accomplishments but I should really do so because it was all a celebration of me and how awesome I am. 

I told her I knew I should but I'd spent so much time just sitting around waiting for life to happen, and that I didn't have any control over it, so now that I can do everything, I want to rush off and do just that. She told me she knew that I wouldn't stop thinking about the whole situation so she wasn't going to tell me to, but just to take it easy with myself. She also said she felt the reason I wanted to be with him was because it's familiar, and it's easy. I know with him I wouldn't have to try so hard because he'd already be bringing so much to the plate to start with. I knew she had a point, but it didn't stop me wondering about it.

(Photo credit to Google Images)

I'm still not completely sure how or what I feel about it, but I know that taking the time to sit and wallow has helped. It's tired me out from thinking about it so intensely, the same thoughts going around in my head for days back to back to the point where nothing else gets done, it's exhausting.

I know there's enough to cover for at least my next therapy session, but I also know that I've figured out for myself what I needed to know regardless of how hard or emotional the journey was to find it.

So I guess for now, I just need to let myself gradually accept the fact that it'll probably always be just a 'what if?'.

(Photo credit to www.pinterest.com)

Friday 23 January 2015

Let It Go.

(Photo credit to Google images)

Okay. So I think it's safe to say that Frozen and 'Let It Go' are the two most over commercialized and over marketed *things* at present and of the last year or so.

I remember going to see Frozen at the cinemas a short while after it was released. I hadn't seen any movies in months because they were just too expensive or nothing appealed to me.

Before going, I did some research into what was showing and read up about it. The premise kind of made sense, but I figured it was a movie aimed at kids so it'd be entertaining, fun and not that hard to follow.

I liked the humor of it first and foremost. The characters were appealing and kinda relatable, so I let myself be taken in by what I was watching.

When the probably now infamous scene where Idina Menzel's voice starts singing the opening lines, as Elsa creates her ice castle and changes herself into that stunning blue dress which I'd love to get a copy of, I was wrapped up in the words she sang and how powerful they were to me. I was Elsa.

The part in the song that hit me the most was where she belts out "Here I stand, and here I'll stay" in an almost diva-ish manner. It commands attention and says 'I'm strong and will never be put down again!'. Plus her facial expressions at the end where she declares "the cold never bothered me anyway" are kind of like a silent challenge, 'I'm not scared anymore, just try me'.

After the movie finished I felt 'pitch-slapped' by the song and Idina's voice. The movie itself was good, but that song was beyond amazing!

Like I'm sure many people did, I went home and listened to it on repeat until I couldn't stand it anymore. The more I listened, the more I found myself relating to it.

"Don't let them in, don't let them see, be the good girl you always have to be."

"It's funny how some distance makes everything seem small, and the fears that once controlled me can't get to me at all! It's time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through, no right, no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free!".

It's a whole new age of empowerment at what I'd say is it's very best, albeit INCREDIBLY overdone. I guess that's just marketers exploiting the crap out of something that is already so ridiculously popular it almost redefines the word.

The over commercialisation and over marketing of it has made me, and I'm sure very many other people, namely parents, agree, grow increasingly tiresome of it. The song is played nearly everywhere you go, every second item you see regardless of what industry the product is located in, has one of the characters faces on it or something pertaining to the phenomenon it has become.

I used to love the song for what it personally meant to me, but now I can hardly stand it. I hate when that happens!

I'd love to get an Elsa dress just for fun and because I still think it's a stunning dress, but am still deterred by the popularity of it. I know I shouldn't let other people influence my purchasing decisions when it's more personal for me, but it's kind of hard not to.

Sometimes you just need to let it go.

Take The Time

(Photo credit to www.livelifehappy.com)

Suffice to say my upbringing wasn't the easiest. A lot of my childhood was wrought with the worse part of mum's illness. I'd say in the first 10 years of my life it was at it's worst and the time after that she had ups and downs. I'm glad in a way though that I was exposed to it at a younger age when I was still learning everything and able to take it on to the best of my ability.

I spent a lot of my subsequent years hoping, wishing, occasionally praying for a way to get out of the hell I was living in, but it never came when I wanted it to until I realized in my early 20's that it was up to me to do something about it, even though taking the first step or doing something that you've never done before is incredibly terrifying, if anything is to get better, you don't really have a choice.

I thought when I finally moved out that I'd be throwing a party and ecstatic to be out.

The first night I reveled in the fact that I'd actually done it. After about a decade of thinking and talking about doing it, I'd actually plucked up the courage, put down my first fortnight's rent and had a new home address.

The first few days didn't get off to a good start though. I got locked out and panicked about it when I couldn't get through to any of my housemates or the landlord to come and let me in and ended up spending the day, or most of it at home just processing the massive life change I was going through.

The room I lived in was an add-on to the back of the house and under a tin roof awning, so when it rained or pretty much any natural element hit it, it's was deafening and terrifying. A week into it I questioned whether or not I had done the right thing but told myself to stick it out because there were worse things out there and I needed to know that I could do it on my own. I had to.

After a few months past, I settled into a routine. I had a new job, I'd figured out how to get to different places by bus and train, my parents seemed to be adjusting although dad was obviously struggling to cope with the change even though mum was seemingly cheerful in comparison.

My first Christmas there I started to feel emotional and found myself coming home and crying every day for about half an hour or so. I couldn't explain it, I just felt so many different things.

When I went to visit my parents and reclaimed my usual spot at the computer dad had setup in my old bedroom when I first started high school and my cat came and sat on my bed and proceeded to cleanse herself for the millionth time that day, I couldn't stop myself crying.

Mum came in to comfort me and told me I was lonely. I'd moved to an area I wasn't sure about, everything was still unusual in a way and the creature comforts I'd known for so long weren't there anymore. I felt truly lonely and there was no one at my new home to ease that pain for me.

My favorite member of the family, aside from the bond I had with my dad which had it's ups and downs, was my cat. She was there for me when no one else was our could be. It still amazes me how some people who aren't allergic to animals just don't like them. Perhaps they've never felt the feeling of true loneliness.

Every day I would come home from school and she would either be waiting for me on the gate post, sitting on the porch steps or asleep on my bed (sometimes my parents). I always made sure to show her as much love and affection as I possibly could because I knew one day she wouldn't be here anymore and I didn't want to end up saying 'I wish I'd spent more time with her'.

After I moved out and went back home to visit, I desperately wanted to bring her back with me. MY housemates were keen to have a pet and the landlord was open to a trial run, but my parents thought it was too risky, so I just settled for kisses and cuddles whenever I saw her.

I knew she was getting old. Mum told me whenever they made a vet visit about what they'd commented on her age. I knew it was just a matter of time really before I'd come home and she wouldn't be there, so I took the time to spend a few extra minutes just patting her and basking in her adorableness.

When I got the call one night from mum telling me my beloved kitty had been attacked by the neighbours dogs in our own backyard, I was devastated, almost inconsolable. I knew she was going to go one day, I just figured it'd be from old age or maybe choking on some of the ridiculous amounts of food she ate. Not by another being,

At the time I was going through a lot of emotional processing which had seen me almost completely withdraw from my parents. I had realized a few things about my teen years which I'd brought up in therapy a few months prior and needed to keep my distance from my family because being near them was too hard. I had limited contact to only my brother who I didn't feel hurt by and opened up to him telling him as much as I could about what was going on for me after he inquired from what mum had told him.

There was a period of about 3 months or so when that was the only contact I had. I'd deliberately taken a year off from dancing because I knew once I moved out that I'd be able to rip open my emotional scars which had held me back for so long, find a way to deal with the pain that came out, and finally be able to heal and move on.

(Photo credit to www.pinterest.com)

A few days after she died, mum called me up and asked if I'd like to come and stay over since dad and my brother were off on a job somewhere and wouldn't be back until the weekend. I went and mourned with her for the day, stood by the patch of dirt which vaguely marked the grave by the gatepost she loved to sit on and made it my duty while I was there to give it more dignity than just a hole in the ground. The immensely cruel irony of it was when you looked diagonally, you had a crystal clear shot of the house from where the killer dogs came from. I wondered if dad had thought the burial plot through very well since the beloved family dog had been buried in the back yard with a concrete slab covering it and his name etched into it.

Mum had made the call to let me know of my cat's passing, but it was dad who'd found her. In a cruel twist of fate, I realized that whatever I felt towards my dad at the time had become second to the pain of losing her. In order for us to get back to some kind of common ground, something worse had to happen.

It took some time to heal, to let go of the hurts, pain and wounds of the past and to finally accept that both of my parents had really done the very best that they could to raise my brother and I whilst dealing with their own problems, even if the two had co-mingled more than a few times.

When I was able to stop letting my parents and the pain they'd unintentionally caused me, rule and control my life, things gradually got better.

It was around this time that I found a new place to live and moved in with my cousin who I credit to giving me the confidence to enjoy being a woman. My cousin had her morning routine of doing hair and make up which I never had whether for myself or from my mum. Mum rarely wore make up and always told me I didn't need any and I didn't know or really care enough about it to buy more products.

After I got past the 'it's my rite of passage to wear makeup' vs 'I refuse to let the beauty industry tell me whether or not I'm beautiful based on how many of their products I buy', and just enjoyed wearing makeup because it was a fun accessory to wear and another way to be creative, I built up my collection a bit more and took more opportunities to wear it and eventually broke down the self-conscious barrier my parents had constructed for me. I'm a woman. If I want to wear makeup and it makes me feel good to put it on without it defining my self-worth, then dammit I'm going to wear it!

It's been just over 2 years since my cat died. I do miss her, but I have pictures of her on my bedroom walls, memories in my head and heart and hope to one day get a tattoo of her face on my shoulder where she used to curl up sometimes.

Since moving in with my cousin and slowly letting my parents back into my life, things have gotten much better. Dad and I are quite possibly closer that we used to be when I was younger, mum and I had a unique relationship where she accepts me for who I am and I her, as best as we can.

For all the times and years I thought I would make a clean break from my family, I never wanted to be the kind of person who held onto their pain for life and let it ruin relationships. Even when times were at their hardest, I kept telling the people I was closest to that I didn't want to cut my parents out of my life, I just needed time and space to heal before I could let them back in.

I know what I've been through isn't an overly unique story, and I know there are many people who were treated so very much worse and wouldn't even dream of letting the perpetrator back into their lives, but for people who have been hurt by others and know somewhere inside themselves that it was only really because the other person was hurting themselves more, I wonder if it might be time to think about letting go of your pain and giving yourself time to heal and maybe even reconnecting with the people or person that hurt you.

I decided a long time ago that I was going to take the time to let myself feel then heal all the hurt and pain that had been inflicted upon me, then when I was ready, I'd let the people back in, little by little.

Don't regret what might have been if you have the opportunity to let it be.

(Photo credit to linkedin.com)

Tuesday 20 January 2015

The Truth Will Set You Free

This January marks my 5th year in therapy with the same mental health practitioner.

It sounds like a really long time, and I suppose it is, but it's been some of the most incredibly years of my life!

I've been talking to counselors since I was about 12 or 13. I contacted Kids Help Line one day because I was struggling to deal with everything and needed someone to talk to that wouldn't try to control me, but just listen to my pain and tell me what to do next in a positive and helpful way rather than just tell me to pray about it or shove a bible in my face.

When I was diagnosed with severe Scoliosis at 13, I felt like Mia from Princess Diaries, "In case I'm not a big enough of a freak already, let's add a tiara!". No one in my family knew what to do with the diagnosis or how to deal with it, so we just took it as fact and I did my best to block it out and pretend that nothing bad was happening until I had no choice but to.

It's hard enough entering teen territory, but when you add mental illness, a semi-dysfunctional family, an environment you just don't fit into and feel insanely restricted by, intense feelings of loneliness and inadequacy then throw in a seemingly rare spinal condition, it would be much easier to just say, "I'm done with this life, see you in the next one!"

I talked on and off with counselors for the first few years of high school. I also had an amazing confidant in one of the year advisor's who eventually became the one for my class and was by every measure, a second mother to not just me, but everyone at school. She'd been through more than her fair share of tribulation in life which aside from her personality in general, is what made her so much more understanding and compassionate than nearly anyone else I'd ever met.

Around year 10 my school got in a counselor for the students and I, naturally, made more than a few visits to see her and felt relieved every time I saw her at school or read her name on the sign in sheet at the office.

The school counselor was trained in counselor whereas the year advisor had been trained by life experience, each had incredible merits to bring to their advice giving, and it was just helpful to have someone non-judgmental to listen to whatever you needed to get off your chest.

After school finished I kept in touch with both ladies and made the efforts to see them as often as we were both available. Sometimes I'd go up to school with my brother who went to play in the band for the first period of the morning and I'd catch up with the year advisor who was more often than not preparing for her next class and a little bit thrilled to catch up and just have someone to assist her. She and I have always had a mother/daughter/friend kind of relationship which I've never not been grateful for, as I know she feels the same.

When I started going to TAFE the year after I graduted, I sought help from one of the counselors there who was experienced in her own right, but had a different approach to her counseling methods that previous counselors hadn't.

Halfway through my second year at TAFE I got to a point where I knew I couldn't handle life on my own anymore. There was just too much to deal with and I knew I needed professional help to get me out of the emotional pit of despair.

I had just suffered the worst heartbreak of my life to date and couldn't cope anymore. I told my teacher that I was struggling and I only really came to TAFE so I wasn't at home and didn't have anywhere else to go. She said she understood and helped me as much as she could for the remainder of the year with the work I had left to do.

I spoke to my TAFE counselor about what I was going through, but it just wasn't enough anymore.

I gave myself an ultimatum: I could either continue as I was, pretending that I was broken and dying a little bit more inside every day, or I could take the plunge and get my life sorted out once and for all.

A few days later I made an appointment to see the psychologist at the local medical centre. I figured that was as a good a start as any.

Many people who are skeptical of mental health practitioners gave me a warning when I mentioned quietly to them that I was seeing a psychologist, or making plans to see one, and told me that I needed to be careful because it was a lot of money and didn't always work.

That summed up my first experience with the medical centre practitioner. I broke down in tears telling him what the problems were and he essentially told me not to let it bother me because I was young and beautiful and had my whole life ahead of me. He even compared how lucky I was to some of his other patients who were disabled and struggling with their own lives. Needless to say I wasn't very impressed.

I then decided to contact Headspace and left a message for them. A few weeks later they called me back to find out a little bit more about what I was needing help with and some personal details, then advised me that the waiting list was about 6-8 weeks. More than I was expecting but I didn't have anything else to lose.

Two months later I got a call from one of the ladies there to advise me before they could put me through to someone I'd need to get a Dr's referral which they could do onsite for me, then they'd book me in for someone shortly after.

I remember going to the Dr's office and feeling lowest of the lows. I looked around me and out the window, holding back tears and thinking that this is where my life had lead me. Being stuck in a not terribly exciting doctors office with a head and heart overflowing with pain while everyone else was happily living their lives.

My first appointment follow not too long after that. I counselor was a lovely young woman, well dressed and understanding in her approach. She listened as I detailed how my heart had been broken and how much it was hurting and gave me some tissues to wipe away the pain that came out.

From that day I had hourly sessions with her once a fortnight for about 3 or so months when she advised me that her circumstances had changed and she'd be referring my case to someone from a different branch and they'd give me a call to sort out the details.

I'd grown quite attached to her during that time. She was one of the few people in my life who was really trying to help me and get me past all of the pain I was feeling. It wasn't an easy task by any stretch of the imagination, but I was starting to feel a little bit more human after each session, regardless of how I felt it actually went.

There was the month or so between her departure and my reassignment that she was concerned I wouldn't have sufficient support, but I assured her that Kids Help Line were pretty good in the meantime. Unfortunately my counselor's shifts never seemed to coincide with my availabilities so it was a bit of a struggle.

I got a call in early January from the receptionist of a mental health research institute which was some how related to Headspace, advising me of my appointment details and whatever else I needed to bring with me, namely a Mental Health Care Plan which was a bit of a nightmare to get from the local medical centre given their waiting times.

My therapist was a lovely woman who had a lively spark about her. As one of the receptionists told me when I asked which therapist was mine "you'll know when she comes out". She and I had similar personalities so when I was trying to convey something but didn't know what words to use, she somehow understood anyway.

For people who say therapy doesn't work, I would say that you've either not found the right therapist for you, or you're quite possibly not that committed to it in the long haul. It's incredibly rare to be healed in one session, especially if your issue is lifelong. Like the saying goes, 'Rome wasn't built in a day!'.

For the first 2 or so years of therapy I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere and wasting way too much money just trying. Even my closest friends told me the same thing. I questioned whether it was maybe time to consider seeing someone else or even just bring it up in a session and see what she says.

My therapist understood where I was coming from and said if I wanted to we could change how the sessions are run, but she'd been keeping them at a steady pace until she felt I was ready to open up or be pushed a little bit further.

After about 2 years of going in for a session, reciting a 'shopping list' of things that I'd done or bought during the week which were just blocking attention to the real problem, I started having a breakthrough.

I'd just had my heart shattered yet again and felt furious which I'd learnt was just a front for how much pain I was really in. When I talked about the person who I'd felt hurt me I fought back tears. Then my therapist moved on to the subject of my family which was always a tough one and asked me what would happen if I confronted them about how I felt, I told her they wouldn't understand, and then the tears finally fell.

From that session on-wards I gradually stopped hiding from the problem, although still living with my family at the time meant there was only so far I could go before it was too much to sit with when I went home again, so I just talked about meaningless stuff until I was in a better place.

Almost every session I'd come in and rip open an emotional wound and say 'this hurts, how do I fix it?'. My therapist has already prided me on my approach and commitment to healing and I told her from the start I was nothing but dedicated to getting better because there was no alternative for me. I'd been through enough hell to know it wasn't where I wanted to be anymore.

I also knew that the more things I was open and honest about, the more she'd help me with. If I'd done something I wasn't terribly proud of, I'd would tell her. She didn't chastise me, but rather asked me why I had and if it wasn't a huge deal, just encouraged me to not do it again because I was capable of doing better. Whenever I felt particular shameful about something, we'd spend a session getting to the root of the problem of my behaviors, figure out what was going on and what steps I could take to recover. Nothing was impossible and every little bit of effort was a milestone of great achievement, even if it felt like most of the time I was going one step forward and two steps back. She told me that was how recovery often was in therapy, it was gradual but definitely worth it!

Reflecting back on my time in therapy over the past couple of years I've noticed that it's made me a lot more honest not just about life in general, but I'm finally getting to the point where I'm validating my own worth, my own voice and my own opinions (hence why I created this blog). I felt silenced for so long and denied whatever I felt and kept it locked up inside until my therapist told me it was okay to let it out, then let it go and move on.

I've tried to convince my dad to talk to someone but he doesn't see the point in it. I guess for some people it's easier or more comforting to live in misery when they've done it for so long and found a way to make it work for them, rather than dealing with pain.

Like I've told my therapist many times, I've always associated drinking or alcohol in general with denying feelings and refusal to deal with a deeper problem. Granted this isn't always the case, but it's enough for me to rarely be tempted to indulge.

I've also noticed from my experiences in therapy, that people would rather block out the pain than talk about it. I used to avoid the pain or pretend it wasn't there as I'd seen the rest of my family do, but then realized it was getting me nowhere and whilst opening wounds that have been there for most of my life is incredibly hard, once I've dealt with them, they're not a problem anymore and I'm free.

I'm not going to pretend the whole process is easy either. As I said, it took me 2 years to get to the point where I was able to open up and admit my true feelings and show how much I was hurting. There were some sessions which were infinitely harder than that and the only choice I had was to just sit with the pain until it went away. No one likes pain in general, so sitting in it is far less appealing.

Many times I'd launch into one of ten things that I wanted to talk about and my therapist would stop me after the first thing and delve a little bit deeper into it in order to 'fully clear it out'. I would end a session slightly disappointed that I hadn't gotten through my whole list, but I knew it was for the better.

One of the things I've learnt through the years is not to invalidate yourself or how you feel. If you're upset about something, acknowledge that then tell the person that upset you, it could be the start of something new or you could finally see what kind of person they really are, but either way you'll be winning.

You have as much right as anybody else to feel, think and say what you do. No one can take that away from you regardless of what they tell you or how they treat you. At the same time, you can't use being hurt by someone else as an excuse for inflicting pain on other people, that makes you as bad as the person who hurt you to start with and the cycle will continue on.

Despite the number of times and the people that have hurt me over the years, I've never sought to hurt them back because I know what that feels like. It really REALLY sucks. No one deserves that, not ever, for any reason.

Don't be ashamed to feel pain. It will not last forever unless you insist on it, but then you've wasted so much time, energy and effort on something that doesn't deserve it. Be honest with yourself about how you really feel and what you really want because the truth will always set you free!

Shouldn't, Wouldn't, Couldn't, But Did!

(Photo credit to whisper.sh)

You know when you tell yourself you're not going to do something, and you resist temptation for as long as you can until you finally cave? Whether it's putting something off until the absolute last minute, eating the chocolate just when you've started your diet, stalking your ex and their new partner on social media, getting back with someone you know is more of a hindrance than a help, or in extreme cases, killing your neighbour's annoying pet or something.

Before you do anything, you tell yourself, or make a promise that you won't do whatever it is that you're stopping yourself from doing because you know it's not good for you to do. You pride yourself on every time you realize that you haven't done that particular thing and focus on how good you feel for it and how good you'll continue to feel for not having done it. And then you go and do it.

In my experience, this usually happens when you're bored, tired, or maybe feeling a little bit low towards yourself. You use it as a pick me up in a way to justify how you feel and why you're doing it and tell yourself you won't do it again once you get it out of your system.

You know and are fully aware the full time your doing the 'forbidden' thing that you really shouldn't be, but you keep going anyway until you're satisfied that you've done enough of said thing to make yourself feel better, or perhaps you get sprung by the person who you hold accountable for making sure you don't do that thing you said you wouldn't.

Like a LOT of people, my thing was (and occasionally still is) Facebook/internet stalking. I find defense in saying there are people out there who are worse than me, although it doesn't really seem like the greatest justification, but it kind of makes it seem less of a big deal when you know that other people do it to even if they don't admit to it.

In the bigger scheme of things, I know it's really not that big of a deal. It doesn't hurt anyone, no harm, no foul, whatever. But I guess that's the thing, it hurts me! Without even realizing I'm hurting myself. I'm giving myself the message that it's okay to stoop to the person that I was after all the effort I've put in to not doing it. It's saying to myself, 'I can't do better and here's proof!'. I know it sounds harsh, but sometimes you need to get real and honest with yourself if you're going to make the commitment to really improve.

I'm incredibly fortunate that I have such a great support group around me, but more so that I'm honest about things, especially when they bother me. When I admit to my friends or therapist that I've been Facebook stalking someone/s, they won't tell me how bad I am, not will they encourage the behavior, they either sympathize or ask me what it was I was looking to get from it and how I might be more productive in future instead of repeating it.

I used to spent hours on end Facebook/internet stalking certain people, I wasn't by any means proud of it, but everyone else's lives always seemed insanely more interesting than mine was and by going through their posts, status', photos and whatever else I could find, it was like peering through their front door and seeing the awesome house they had and desperately wishing I could be part of it. It was my escape when I couldn't find one anywhere else.

(Photo credit to jrfibonacci.wordpress.com)

I've since found myself in a position where I actually have a life of my own. I'm keeping busy, for the most part I'm happy with how things are and actually spending less time of Facebook because of it. It's kind of freeing in a way. While it's nice to share with everyone in your friend group what's happening in your life all at once, it's also nice to get away from it and revel in non-technological things and the amazingness of life when you detach yourself.

I've found over time that Facebook is simultaneously boring and addictive. You log in thinking there will be nothing to do and you'll log straight back out moments later. Then that moment turns into an hour, which then turns into a few hours and next think you know you've wasted almost an entire day, maybe even more.

Whenever I do find myself typing in the name of someone to view their profile even though my gut tells me I shouldn't, I tell myself if I spend less than a few seconds on it, it doesn't count. I suppose logically it doesn't, but when you have to convince yourself that it's an acceptable excuse or that you even need one, you know it's a bad thing to do.

Sometimes it's out of curiosity for someone I used to know and wonder what they're doing with their life since I saw them last. This on occasion leads to unhealthy comparisons, either they have a way more exciting life than I do despite my efforts, or I'm not so much better than they are. Neither are particularly helpful for me to think.

Other times when I'm over-thinking as I've been known to do quite a lot, I'll go on a bender of sorts. Start with one person, go through some of their friends, maybe their family, and just keep going until I get tired, bored or just decide that I really need to stop and wallow in immense shame for having gone so far and use that as motivation to not doing it again for as long as possible. I find it does help.

I'm definitely not, nor have I ever been proud of my internet stalking habits, maybe only in complete jest, but never in earnest. When I used to do it intensely, it was an escape. I knew why I did it which somehow made it okay to do it when there was very little other positive alternatives to what I was going through at the time.

When I do it now it feels like I've broken some kind of promise to myself. Like I'm telling myself I'm still not good enough so I need to rely on other people's profiles to make me feel better, as crazy as it sounds. When I think about the people I've stalked religiously over the years, I realize how pathetic it was and how much time I wasted, but since time was all I had it didn't seem to matter how I was spending it, so long as I was.

The good news though, is that much like a recovering anything-aholic I'm doing better. I'm putting in the effort and at times when I feel myself about relapse I'll log off or immediately force myself to do something else. I don't claim perfection though. I am a mere human being after all. I have my good days where I don't even think about it, but then I have my bingey 'gimme a tub of Ben and Jerry's and leave me be' days. I think everyone does. But I'm also really good at making myself feel guilty for things, sometimes a little too much, but I feel the need to practice tough love towards myself at times in order to achieve what it is I really want to and push myself that little bit further.

One of my close friends has told me quite a few times to stop being so hard on myself. I know she's right and I should just be proud and happy with where I'm at and how far I've come, but I still want so much more and so much better for myself that I can't help it.

At the end of the day, when it comes to online stalking, and really anything else I've mentioned above (whatever makes most sense/is applicable to you) I know I shouldn't do it, I wouldn't if I had something better/more exciting to do or maybe more self-control, and probably couldn't do it if my self-worth/esteem/love levels were a bit higher or maybe I wasn't human, but I did anyway!

(Photo credit to quotes-lover.com)

Monday 19 January 2015

The Other Woman

(Photo credit to sharpestpencil.com.au)

I recently found out that the parents of some of the girls I went to school with and had known since preschool age had separated due to the husband's continued infidelity. According to my mother, the husband had been seeing another woman which his wife either knew or at least suspected and eventually kicked him out because of it and was refusing to let their kids see him.

I was shocked. I knew the couple fairly well as I'd known their family. I found it hard to believe that their dad was the sort of person who would do that. I thought it was a bit harsh that his wife had denied their children contact with their father because of it. I could that she was in pain, but still believe that they have just as much right to see him as they do her. Yes he did the wrong thing, but they shouldn't be punished for it.

It also made something else abundantly clear to me, religion isn't the be all and end all.

Whenever mum talked about marriage, namely hers and dads, she'd always used their common religious beliefs as the basis of their marriage and told me time and time again because of religion their marriage lasted.

Funnily enough, almost every time I visit my parents, mum tells me of another couples separation within the church which proves her wrong yet again.

To some people religion means a lot, but to others it becomes a tiresome hindrance to being a human. I was always taught to find someone at church, settle down with them and only have sex after we were married. It made sense when I was younger, but as I grew up and realized the world isn't that black and white, the notion of settling down became less and less appealing.

Like so many other girls, I grew up dreaming of the perfect wedding day. The dress, the flowers, where I'd have it, who would be my bridesmaids, what they'd wear, the music and the happily ever after.

It wasn't until I hit my 20's, moved out of home and learnt more about the inner workings of marriage from my dad as well as others who'd been married before that the wedding is one thing, but the actual marriage is a whole different ball game. It takes a lot of commitment, dedication, time, effort and energy to make it work, and that's just on a good day! Sure I'd still love to get married one day, but I'm happy to wait a few more years until I'm sure that it's the right thing for me to do rather than just something that society tells me I should do because I'm of the appropriate age.

One thing that I've learnt through the years is that nothing and no one can break a strong couple apart. If both people want to be together, they won't let anything get in the way. Conversely, if there's a problem for one or both of the parties and they don't want to address it, it's probably doomed to fail.

(Photo credit to rockingthemahi.com)

When I told mum this she interpreted it as me defending the husband's side when he was in the wrong. I told her we didn't know anything about the full situation aside from what we'd been told and since I'd been bullied by the couple's kids, I wasn't terribly inclined to take their side in the matter.

I've never been in a relationship or been cheated on so I can't fully comprehend how much hurt and pain is involved in it. I openly claim ignorance in that.

From my perspective though I can kind of see why he would leave, as bad as that sounds. I can also see why so many other couples in religious environments end in most cases that I've heard, because of infidelity. You make a commitment to one person for the rest of your life, that's a really long time. Most people are virgins when they get married so they only ever know what it's like to be with the same person, and sure if you're madly in love with them, that's the most appealing aspect of it. But things change over time, your wants and needs differ from what they were when you first got married. If the other person can't provide them or isn't willing to make the effort to even try and you get sick of going without, then it makes sense for you to start looking elsewhere for whatever it is you're looking for.

Yes you made a vow for better or worse, til death do you part, etc. It's great if you can stick to that until you die, but I also know the bible is incredibly outdated and doesn't take into consideration the human form or it's needs.

Everyone has different views on marriage and these are subject to change with time and life experience.

I'm not condoning cheating on your spouse or destroying a happy family even if that's what it sounds like. I'm merely saying if I were in a position where I wasn't happy, I would seriously think about what I want in life and whether my current situation can give that to me. If not, I would make steps to change it and if that means leaving the one I'm with, then so be it.

I know a few people who have done exactly that and said it was the best decision they'd ever made, more so because they felt it was the only decision they could make.

If you find yourself settled down with a bunch of kids and just not happy with life, what kind of happiness can you give to your family? Chances are you'll end up resenting them because you feel obligated to stay with them and deny yourself whatever it is that makes you happy. I know it sounds selfish, but sometimes you need to be. They may not understand and end up hating you for whatever measures you take to improve your life, which is why you need to seriously consider what it is you want before doing anything. Talk to your spouse, enter marriage counselling, and if after that you decide it's still not what you want, the next call is up to you. Life is too short to be unhappy, resentful or bitter.

(Photo credit to bubhub.com.au)

A close friend of mine is a die-hard Angelina Jolie fan and we were recently discussing her appearance at the Critic's Choice Awards and I mentioned how she waited until Jennifer Aniston left the red carpet and photographers before stepping out, as many news outlets reported.
This got us to talking about the breakup of Brad and Jennifer and how Angelina has been branded the Harlot that broke up their marriage.

I think if Hollywood were high school, Jennifer would be the popular cheerleader type that everyone loves and supports, Angelina would be the badass that everyone secretly admires but loves to hate because of how she reportedly wronged Jennifer.

As mentioned above, if there are problems in a relationship and neither party is willing to work on them, the relationship is doomed to fail. From the various reports I read, I got the impression that Brad was ready for fatherhood and Jennifer was flying high with her career and not ready for motherhood just yet. Insert Angelina with adopted son Maddox and Brad had himself a ready made family.

I'm pretty sure Brad had enough wits about him that he wouldn't have made the decision to end his marriage and shack up with Angelina lightly.

As my friend was saying, the reported rift between Angelina and Jennifer most likely stems from Jennifer not wanting to take responsibility for her part in the marriage breakdown, as is usually the case with exes. People want someone to blame instead of themselves so they pin it on the other woman and the adulterer.

Granted, like the movie 'The Other Woman', the guy could just be a complete jerk who thinks he can get away with it if he's clever and many people seem to automatically label the other person as such in order to deal with their own feelings, or maybe they really are a jerk or jerkette.

It's a tricky subject to navigate, whether safely or otherwise. I think the best way to sum it up is by what one of my uni lecturers said in a personal anecdote, "If you're parents are happier being with other people than they are with each other, then it's better for everyone". So long as children know that they are loved unconditionally and it's not about them, I don't think there's any reason why it can't truly be the best solution for everyone.

(Photo credit to bossip.com)

What Would You Do?

I've been interested in modelling since I was about 12 or 13 and found some photos of a really amateur shoot I did with some friends at my 13th birthday in my parents back yard. It was by no means classy or terribly well done, but it was definitely fun.

Just recently I've decided to continue on with this interest I have in modelling and arranged my first two professional shoots with photographers on Star Now.

The first was done in a park near my house on a fairly hot day so we tried not to take too much time with it. I have developed an appreciation for nature so I was happy to do an outdoors shoot in a rather picturesque area.

The second was done in an area a few minutes train ride from where I live where there's artistically graffiti'd walls everywhere, hence the theme of the shoot. The photographer who took the pictures gave me a few pose suggestions which I did without complaint before leading me to a back alley.

Before you panic, NOTHING bad happened. There was just some really interesting graffiti for me to pose with so I did.

The photographer then gave me a scenario. I'm in a bar and I see a guy across the way that I want to attract the attention of, what do I do?

I was completely stumped. I laughed nervously and told him that I'd never been in that position to hadn't entertained the thought at all. He encouraged a reaction or pose from me to continue in his work so I did the only thing that came to mind, an over-dramatized hand through the hair. I vaguely recalled seeing Alicia Silverstone do it in Clueless when trying to woo her gay boyfriend Christian.

After the shoot was finished I thought about it some more. The photographer suggested I practice in the mirror and when I'm with friends because the more natural it was, the better it would come across on camera.

If I were in a bar and trying to attract the attention of a potential suitor, how would I do so?

My first thought was to panic. My second thought was to assume that they were already taken or just not interested so pursuing anything was completely pointless and a waste of time as my lack of relationship history suggested. My third thought was to make eye contact and flirt or stare him down until he either submits and comes over or gets a security guard and has me kicked out on suspicion of warped mind control. At the very least I'd get a great anecdote from it.

My approach with guys in general has either been to stay a million miles away from them as if they're some kind of alien species as my father would have me believe, or to throw myself pathetically at one particular guy who has no interest in me for whatever reason and have them be the Rachel to my Ross, or Penny to my Leonard.

I'm still learning both how to model effectively and how to be a human being around guys without them suspecting a thing, but it's definitely something that I'm more than willing to experiment with and get further experience with.

Generally speaking though, when you're out and about and someone catches your eye, what would you do to get their attention? I don't think it's something anyone consciously thinks about then acts on, it's more a matter of instinct and really just seeing what works.

Whatever you'd do, do it well and often and just have fun with it!

The One That Got Away

(Photo credit to tumblr.com)

In the process of writing my first book I've uncovered a lot of things about myself and the people I knew around the times that I wrote my diaries in high school.

One of the most profound things I finally realized was about one of the guys from my class at school.

My core focus school-wise was on two things: getting through it and my undying love for one particular guy.

With every entry that I wrote, then every chapter I started writing, a myriad of emotions spewed forth around this one guy who was always unattainable which is possibly why I was so drawn to him.

He was, for lack of a better term, the 'best of all breeds'. There was very little he was bad at which I supposed made him the alpha male in a way. I was the only one (as far as I know) that was hopelessly in love with him and pretty much everyone knew it and found it a source of wonderment and amusement given that I spent my entire high school career waiting for some sign that he reciprocated.

From around year 7 though, there was another guy in my class who was a friend of this guy and whom quite a few people in the class said liked me although I refused to believe it.

At my school there were the popular kids which were a mixture of religious and non-religious. Each had grown up together in a clique and simply joined forces upon being enrolled in the school.

For me, having also grown up with the religious group but never finding a comfortable place with them, found the only other place in being an outcast.

Since everyone else in the class seemed to enjoy teasing me about my intense crush, when this other guy did I just lumped him in the same pile as everyone else. It never occurred to me (until recently) that when he asked if I still liked my crush, he was doing so because he actually liked me.


(Photo credit to tumblr.com)

In fact, I remember at least once talking to the year advisor and telling on the kids for saying that the other guy liked me. I thought it was some insanely cruel joke they were playing on me and was more than I could bare. No one cared enough to make the effort to be a friend to me, so taking it one step further and saying that one of the popular guys liked me seemed like rubbing acid into a gaping wound.

I kind of felt like Laney in 'She's All That', except I wouldn't have even given the guy a chance to be any kind of friend since I'd been too badly hurt and too suspicious of his motives. In my mind, a popular guy never genuinely likes the loner outcast girl, it was always a prank.

It's kind of hilarious when I think about it though. The number of times I'd written 'I think this guy likes me' and given a brief example of what he'd done to make me think it. I'd spent so long chasing the Rachel to my Ross, it never occurred to me that I was someone else's Rachel.

(Photo credit to yummygraphics.livejournal.com)

Most of the time the other guy would chat me up in class, randomly raid my school diary or pencil case which I just assumed he did out of boredom and refused to acknowledge the possibility that he might actually feel something for me. On occasion he'd saying something particular nasty to me which just made me mentally label him as a jerk. Although he wouldn't say it a malicious way, more so in a 'if a guy is mean to you it means he likes you' kind of way.

The realization only dawned on me about a year or so ago. One of the guys I'd been working with reminded me a fair bit of the other guy but I didn't think too much of it. I got the same 'I think he likes me' vibe from the work guy too, but given his relationship status, told myself not to overthink it which had become habit for me.

Around the time the work guy was leaving to embark on a new career, I was in the midst of summarizing diary entries and started to pick up on some incredibly subtle clues from him that maybe I wasn't overthinking to much and in fact I was right, despite his present status.

After we had our goodbyes and agreed to stay friends, I mulled it over for a bit and it seemed to unlock something in my mind which I'd never realized was shut. Based on the subtle hints he'd given, if he'd been single there would have been a chance for something between us. A guy that I liked, liked me back. The notion dumbfounded me.

When I resumed working on my diary entries sometime later, with the new knowledge that I now had I started looking at my memories of the other guy in a completely different light. Maybe what people said was true, maybe he did actually like me and had really been waiting for me to get over my crush so he could make his move.

I was mindblown. I felt like Joey in the episode of Friends where Ross comes to pick up his red jumper and immediately Monica and Phoebe know he's the father of Rachel's baby. Joey sits there oblivious for a few seconds before it hits him. That was me, just stretched out for like 10 years or so.

(Photo credit to pinterest.com)

I thought about it a bit more as I flipped through my diary ecstatically, rereading other evidence I'd gathered to support my thought process.

I'd noted down when I found out he had a girlfriend and wondered if so many years later they were still together and if maybe now was the time to see if there was something between us which could have been all those years ago.

The more I thought about it the more idea appealed to me. I was single, had enough self-esteem that I was able to finally get over my crush, my best friend who'd had a crush on that guy had since gotten married, and by my calculations he'd spent 4 years trying to get my attention, that's some kind of commitment there. If he were single and still felt something, maybe we could make it work.

I was so excited by the mere thought that someone had liked me back in high school, it almost felt like an achievement. I told one of my close friends at dance class the abridged version which she thought was entertaining, and as most people did, was amused that I was so surprised by the revelation.

Much to my immense dismay though, upon a quick Facebook search I found that he was about to marry the same girl I'd written down that he'd started dating several years ago. My 'inner Harlot' wondered if maybe I still had time to remind him of how he'd felt all those years ago even though I knew it was pathetic to go down that path.

Still reeling from the impact of the realization several months later, I went on a shameful stalking spree and found some pictures from their wedding. They looked like a happy couple and the comments written about their wedding indicated they were a perfect match and everyone in attendance had agreed. I had to admit he did look good in his wedding attire, he'd grown up a lot in the 10 years since I'd last seen him which was to be expected, but ultimately he looked happy, that's all I could ever ask for anyone really.

I couldn't help but wonder what things would have been like if I was the person that I am today but back in high school. If I hadn't spent or I suppose wasted, so much time on someone who couldn't return my affections, and if my best friend hadn't liked the guy that liked me which I counted as one of the main reasons why I wouldn't have done anything back in the day, but it also explained the tensions between her and I. She liked him, he liked me, she resented the fact that he liked me, I thought she was just being nasty and he was an idiot and wondered why I was caught in the crossfire.

If, back in high school, he or I had made a move and ended up dating, how would that have changed things? Or more accurately, if I was the person I am today back then, what would things be like now? I've done a great deal of soul searching and spent years in therapy in order to get to where I am today and have the amazing people in the my life that I do. Would that still be the same? Would I still like the music that I do or have relied on it so heavily to get me through life? Would I have followed the same career or life path as I'm on now?

He was a popular religious guy, I was an unpopular religious girl who disliked religion. I had the partial responsibility of looking after my mentally ill mother which meant I didn't really get to be a kid. He was one of the biggest kids I'd ever met, I didn't think he'd ever be able to understand or appreciate what responsibility was for a very long time, if ever. I do think though that if we had ended up together for at least some period of time during high school, it would have been fun which is what I needed but didn't want since I didn't know what to do with fun, it was such a foreign concept to me.

Since then, I've found myself pondering why he liked me and foolishly overcompensating whenever I meet someone knew in the hopes that they too will like me and I can finally enter a relationship with someone as he ended up doing. It felt like kind of like how when something doesn't work and you randomly do something to make it work again but you cannot for the life of you figure out what you did the first time to make it work, so you do a bit of everything a few too many times and it just ends up failing miserably.

When I told some of my closest friends that it was plaguing me that I didn't know what he saw in me that no one, not even I saw in myself and I desperately wanted to ask him regardless of how inappropriate it was, they all told me the same thing: I needed to let it go and just accept that he did and that I have a lot of redeeming qualities that many people would and do find attractive. To me it seemed like I had to have done something in order for him to like me, I couldn't just be liked for who I am because that's what I had been doing, or at least I thought I had, and everyone seemed to disappear in the opposite direction.

Part of me wondered, if he'd fought harder to get me, would I have believed him then? Given that he was a fairly childish and immature teenage boy. If he'd seriously sat next to me in class when everyone else was scared of getting rabies as one of the girls had started a rumor about me having, would that have changed my thinking or would I just have freaked out given how sheltered and inexperienced I was with being around guys in general?
If things had been different, if we'd dated and fallen hopelessly for each other, would we still be together and possibly married now? Would we be happy, given how much life can change? Or would he still have moved away, we lost contact and he ends up as he is now?

When I talked to my Kids Help Line counselor for the last time a few months ago and mentioned my dilemma she told me I was focusing on missed opportunities rather than having an actual interest in the guy that got away. It made a lot of sense and my therapist agreed with her. She reminded me that I was, and am, a vibrant, lovely, caring and beautiful person with an incredible brain and personality and it's not hard to see why someone would like me even if I have trouble seeing it for myself.

I still consider myself a work in progress, I guess in a way we all are until we either figure things out and learn to accept whatever life throws as us, or we die trying. I think it's one of those things that will matter less and less as time goes by and I learn to believe in myself and my abilities a little bit more. At least I can take a few heartfelt lessons from it: 1. Someone did like me for me, regardless of how hard it is for me to believe. 2. One day there will be someone else who won't get away, nor will they try or want to. 3. I'm not the only one.


(Photo credit to tumblr.com)