Mr. Lonely

How much longer can I keep on pretending that magazines, my kindle or laptop and a glass of wine are perfectly suitable substitutes to fill the lonely void inside me?

They say that you can only learn to be happy with someone else only when you can learn to be happy by yourself. I achieved that quite a while back, when I loved getting to cook for myself and choose what to watch on TV when everyone else was out for the night. But when that odd occasional solo night turned into three nights a week, which soon turned into five or six times a week, the novelty of getting to watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey and enjoy a half bottle of Pinot Grigio by myself each night quickly wore off.IMG_0932

They say you can feel at your loneliest when you have lots of people around you – if only I could be so lucky. Just today I sent a message to a friend with a picture capturing my bored home alone life (a glass of prosecco, magazines, and an episode of the The O.C on my laptop), and he replied: ‘you’re always on your own! It’s like you live on your own!’ Obviously this message was meant to come across light-hearted, as this particular friend doesn’t know I already feel lonely, but this brief message caused me to burst out into tears and down the rest of my bubbling prosecco.

I could go down the cliché route and blame this on my female hormones or place it down to being a stereotypical needy girl, but the truth is I really might as well be living on my own. During the day or night it’s either A. a miracle if my mum or brother is in for the evening, or B. a miracle if my mum actually listens to me at the kitchen table when I come to enjoy her company – it normally ends with me asking aimless questions, just trying to enjoy human proximity, but those questions go unanswered or I get shooed away as her laptop or any phone calls consumes any life she has at home.

If I actually lived alone then it wouldn’t feel so disheartening cooking another meal for one or watching the clock tick by till someone comes home. I have my two cats (this story is really hitting rock bottom now isn’t it?), but they don’t always provide the greatest conversation or companionship. They may be vocal and lovely when they want another food pouch, but once they have a bowl full of food they cast me aside like yesterday’s cat litter.

Another route many will go down is asking: “but what about your friends!?” This is one question I dread answering and now filter my answer down to: “They’re on holiday… She’s working… Oh, and he doesn’t live in London… And yes mother, I have tried texting!” Rock bottom when your own mother seems to have a more thriving social life than her 22-year-old daughter.

I don’t want this to be a pity party post; I do try my hardest to stay afloat. Unfortunately the future I want isn’t in reach until I finish up my degree down in Exeter (something I am desperately trying to avoid and very much dreading heading back to the books, dissertation and late all night library sessions).

So till then I guess it’s just me, myself and I (and my two cats). But really, is it too much to ask to feel like you have a family life that’s active and loving or present? I guess in this century, where marriages result in divorce and where emails or phone calls dominate home life there’s not much hope. So for now, I’ll just prepare myself for another night in and slowly turn into a 22 year old Miss Havisham type figure – Charles Dickens meets lonely London suburbia, a hit seller in the making.P1000274

Smack.

In the beginning of a relationship it’s hard to see any of the annoying or bad attributes that your newfound beloved may possess. The ‘honeymoon’ period of each relationship has those lovely rose tinted glasses that make your partner seem like the most perfect man/woman in the world. In this short-lived period of time all you want is to be around them 24/7 and spend a lot of time in bed getting to know each other (in more than one way!)

After the few lovely rose tinted months progress, unfortunately those lovely romance goggles start to see much more clearly, and with that clear vision comes the time when you see the REAL person you fell in love with. And of course, with any long-term relationship the number of fights or fallouts do increase, but as I’ve always believed: a relationship with no arguments whatsoever isn’t a healthy relationship.

Arguments allow you to vent how you feel, and after each fight you become stronger from it and learn how to deal with conflicts in a much more controlled way. However, not all individuals can stay so controlled when in an argument and this can sometimes be the start of a slippery slope into fights that hurt in more than one way.

Petty arguments or getting annoyed if your partner doesn’t clean up or leaves wet towels on the floor (two of my main pet peeves), is just the start of how your relationship will be carved out in the future. Soon enough, those wet towels on the floor, dirty underwear and clothes thrown about your lovely bedroom and fights over what to watch on TV start to reveal the person underneath the lovely romantic exterior that once plastered a big smile on your face for the first blissful 3-5 months of the relationship.

Unfortunately, sometimes what you find underneath the beginning romance is a lot darker than what those rose tinted glasses made out to be. What I had never really encountered at all in my life was anger and violence. In some circumstances the more you get to know your significant other, the more you understand as to why they react in a certain way in arguments or when unhappy, but along with it comes the result and consequences of how they treat you when the rumble of thunderous anger storms over you.

I remember the first time I felt scared of my own partner. Scared!? To this day it still makes me so sad and even embarrassed that I let myself succumb so greatly to someone’s anger. In that moment I did not recognize the person shouting, swearing and degrading me by every second. I did not think that the person I loved, and who loved me, could treat me in such a way. To be blunt, I felt like a cowering dog that was about to get kicked.

For months afterwards I endlessly Googled or consoled in my mother whether verbal abuse was a quick step away from actual physical abuse. The internet and all the various website forums I trawled pointed to a big YES, whilst my mother said that yes, in some cases if your partner is being verbally abusive it can eventually lead to physical abuse. One thing my mother did make very clear to me was that someone’s violent childhood and turbulent upbringing was in no means an excuse for the behaviour that had recently been displayed by my ex-partner.

Every name under the swearing sun, you name it, I’ve been called it. Every word feels like a bullet hitting a weak safety vest, letting the verbal bullets cut slowly into my skin, into my blood, and into myself, disfiguring or breaking the way I see/saw myself. ‘You selfish little bitch, you’ve ruined everything… You’re a disgusting moody little shit, get out of my life…’ Sadly those words and names float around in my head to this very second. If the person who you feel knows you the better than anyone else seems to think so lowly of you (even if it is just in a heat of the moment rage) then imagine how hard it is to reassure yourself that you are not that piece of worthless crap in the gutter that you now feel like. On a few occasions I thought in my head that a bruise or cut would feel so much less painful than the words that were spat out at me

I found myself in a catch 22 – on the one hand I wanted to be there and help my partner through his anger issues and felt so sad knowing the details of the violence he grew up in, but on the other hand, I had to ask myself whether I wanted to stick around someone who was verbally abusive. I couldn’t get my head around it all, and to this day I still can’t.

The rose tint of my glasses is long gone, and now I see more clearly in front of me. I see more clearly as to how I should be treated and that abuse of any kind is not acceptable in a relationship. The names still float around in my head, and knock me off balance on a few occasions, but I know that if I believe the poisonous words in my head then I will never begin to like myself. I realised a way back when I was in a dark period of my life that if I don’t learn to like myself, I won’t learn to like other people or be liked in return. A little positivity every day will get you a long way from who you used to be, and who you used to be with.

The monsters inside.

Inside each and every one of us is a smouldering dark pit of unwanted memories, resentments and emotions. This pit within us has the ability within seconds to turn us from a settled happy person, to a raging monster whom we don’t even recognize. Maybe we thought we were always that ‘settled’ and ‘happy’ person, but deep down we all know there is a monster, big or small, inside each of us that sometimes we cannot ignore or control.

As children, we are told of the scary monsters beneath our beds or the ones inside our closets at night. The only scary thing about these ‘monsters’ was that in reality they were not the big hairy ogres that lived in our imaginations, but instead were the memories and emotions that lived and grew inside us.

I remember the day that I started to realize the difference between the monsters of fantasy and those of reality. It was a sunny Saturday morning, and as usual I was sat at the kitchen table doing exam revision whilst my mother made coffee for my father, who had just come in from rowing. There had been a quiz inside one of the Saturday papers titled “how well do you know your daughter?” and my mother thought it would be fun to test my dad on the questions. My mother began with the ‘easy’ ones first: “Name three of her best friends”, my father ‘ummed’ and laughed whilst guessing random names, however none of his guesses were right. “What is her favourite subject at school?”, he didn’t know. “Name a music band she likes”, no answer. “What is her favourite sport?”, another wrong answer. “What is her favourite TV show?”, another wrong guess. By the end of the quiz I was feeling so disappointed and embarrassed that my own father clearly knew nothing about me, but laughed it off and made jokes to try and mask this horrible truth.

This ‘horrible truth’ then manifested itself quickly inside me, growing over the months and years. Every time my father let me down, from not being at a school music recital I was playing in, to only wanting to watch TV and be alone on weekends, the anger, sadness and resentment I felt slowly created a bigger monster inside of me. This was not a monster I could get rid of by simply turning on the lights and looking underneath my bed, but if I could have seen it back then, I would have been too scared to face it and let it out.

Many of us do not face up to the monsters inside of us. Sometimes we would rather pretend that these monstrous feelings inside of us do not exist as we know that facing up to it would mean us having to acknowledge painful memories which then makes that pain or memory much more real. Although facing up to our own demons and monsters puts us in a vulnerable position, the choice to try to tackle each horrible or scary monster shows great strength. The more we acknowledge our feelings, resentments and memories, the stronger we become, as we now feel that we can tackle these monsters, rather than ignoring them.

When my father announced that he and my mother were going to get a divorce, its safe to say that my monster obviously felt it could be contained no longer. By that point it was so big that it was uncontrollable, and all the anger and tears poured out in a rage that wouldn’t be out of place on the Jeremy Kyle/Jerry Springer show. My monster took hold of me and unleashed its burning anger, almost leading me to smash one of the standing lamps on him (I think the only reason I didn’t do this is because my mother told me it was an expensive lamp). I was scared of myself, but this monster wanted to hurt him so badly, for all the years in which nothing had been said. Tears streaming down my face, I told my father: “even if I did smash this lamp on you, it wouldn’t even come close to the pain that you’ve made me feel“.

I had ignored and tried to run away from the ever growing monster that held all the painful emotions and memories of my father for so long, allowing it to fester inside me over the years. As a result, I painfully learned an important lesson: running away from your monster will only turn you into one.