The mask and the hiding

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“What would happen if you weren’t always in control?” asks my counsellor.

“The world would end”

I’m laughing as I speak, but of course I’m not actually joking.

Not remotely.

_______________________________________

“If you don’t mind, I’m just going to recap a little” he says. “I have just met you, and through talking to you, you seem like a bubbly, friendly, happy person, yet you have told me that you are ill and that you are frustrated and finding it difficult.” I nod, painfully aware that I have been doing my “I’m so nice and I can laugh at myself” impersonation.

“What are you not telling me? Why do you have such a thick mask? Why do you feel that you have to hide things? You might cry here – is that a bad thing?”

Oooh. Right. I picked the right counsellor, then – he can clearly see through my façade, or at least can see that there is one.

_______________________________________

At times during our discussion, I feel myself listening in the third person.

I very rarely do this, observe myself and whoever I’m with as if I’m watching and not participating. I’m usually a very present person. It is quite surreal both speaking and listening detachedly at the same time.

I sound like a person who is scared of emotions. I sound like someone who has a pathological need to be in control at all times. I sound like someone who is very uptight. I sound a bit like a machine.

I find this very uncomfortable. I know that on the surface, at least, I do engage with emotions. I find joy and happiness in many things. I know that I can be very warm and giving, that I’m not the humourless automaton that I’m hearing speak. I’m definitely not the person speaking who sounds scarily like a sociopath without the ability to feel – but that person is the one speaking, saying the words – so she must be a real element of myself.

I suspect that the main truth is that I am cold and unforgiving in my relationship with myself, which isn’t a good thing.

______________________________________

[Some time later]

“What is actually the worst that can happen?”

“That I am perceived as being vulnerable”

“Why is that so bad?”

“Because then I can be hurt”

_____________________________________

There it is.

Surely that’s what we are all scared of in the end. What we build walls to protect against. I don’t want anybody to hurt me again.

(And yes, we did discuss the end of my marriage. Yes, I did cry at that point. Yes, I keep all that locked up tight and well-buried usually.)

Of course it isn’t just Ex-H who hurt me. My track record since hasn’t been glowing.

Hurt by my marriage and what I had to do to leave it behind; hurt later by indifference or being the one dumped. Hurt to lesser degrees by men who were wet and uninteresting; hurt by being rejected for being too fat / too mercurial / too fuck-knows-what. Hurt by falling for the wrong men, or rather, not being the right girl. Terrified of being with someone and not letting them get close; terrified by the thought of being single for the rest of my days.

We didn’t go into that (it was only an hour, after all)  but I suspect we will in future.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom and oh-fuck-I’m-a-monster realisations. He repeatedly used the word “strong”, which I’ve learned to accept as an accurate description.

My mindset is that I should always be strong, though, and being ill has robbed me of precisely that.

The forthcoming few sessions should help me untangle that and better equip me for a more accepting outlook – however tortuous that process might be.

A messy head

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No sign

I don’t do arguments.

Really. I’m almost pathologically averse to confrontation. Can’t bear it.

It’s always been the way I am. I find arguing extremely distasteful. I will not ever be someone who enjoys or seeks confrontation – it simply isn’t my style.

On rare occasions, or more accurately, with the rare right person, I will enjoy a spirited disagreement immensely. It can be hugely entertaining. But I’ll only go in to that if I know the person very well, know that they respect me, and crucially, have that essential spark of humour about it. It’s the sort of disagreement I’ll do, the one where you’re both laughing about how deeply wrong the other person is.

Everything else I will take the most enormous steps to avoid.

I have a non-confrontational back-office job which simply isn’t people-facing. Sure – now and then there will be a work disagreement or someone behaving unreasonably, but it’s not about me personally and I can be dispassionate about it. Also – they pay me.

With my friends and family I will be diplomatic to excess. I will be what is quite probably over-considerate, think about the ridiculously small details and plan ahead strategically. Harmony is all, and fortunately my family is of the harmonious kind. We’re not shouty and we never have been.

One of the reasons that I avoid conflict so assiduously is that I find emotional confrontations beyond draining. It is honestly like someone short-circuits all my energy out. I feel physically and painfully tired, my body goes into shock, and I just need to sleep. When you have a shit illness that already makes you tired, you want to cling on to every milli-joule of energy you have, so will avoid short-circuits like the plague.

Last night I told my mum that I am going to a counselling session this week.

I had been putting off telling her, not because she would be funny about it, but because she would want to talk about it, understand it, and offer me kind advice and thoughts. Which I would find very hard to deal with, not because I don’t love my mum, but because I would get emotional and upset confessing to her how hard I’m finding my stupid illness.

Which is exactly what happened. Exactly. To the last detail.

I get defensive of my decisions. I did. Defensiveness led to an overflow of anger about how I feel that my life is sometimes slipping away, that I cannot do what I want to do because of nothing I’ve done, things outside my control. I am struggling to accept my limitations, and I want someone independent and not emotionally invested in me to help me to untangle the crap in my head.

Hearing my mum be rational about it, and saying all of the things I actually do already know, just made things worse. As I knew it would. I couldn’t say the things I wanted to calmly and clearly, which infuriated me further.

I don’t like being a crying mess at any time. Sometimes it can’t be helped, and then I like to keep it private. My mum, I think, was glad I was letting it out. I, on the other hand, knew exactly how tired I’d be feeling as a result of all this emotional outburst, and tried to explain that that was why it actually wasn’t a great thing.

I did get to say that I need time on my own, and that it wasn’t in any way me being ungrateful, it was just because I’m used to being independent and I’m finding it ever so difficult to have had that taken away from me. Really, that’s what I’m angry about.

When we hatched the plan for me to live here to save up my house deposit, I was going to be out at work all day. Now I’m ill I’m here ALL THE TIME (apart from Wednesdays) and it’s far far far too much.

Mum told me I need to get more of a local social life here. I knew this was coming. I know she thinks this. I have friends here, I’ve joined choir – I have joined a great social site which lists all sorts of things I could do if I had the energy. Which I don’t, always.

I never know really when I will, so plans are short term. Also, finding people like me who don’t have families is hard, given the age I am. I’ve joined a cake club which meets every couple of months. I will not be pushed into doing things I don’t want to, it has to be at my own pace. My mum doesn’t know what my own pace is – I do.

The discussion ended with hugs, as these things do. I can’t be cross at my mum for loving me and wanting the best for me and trying to help me – she just isn’t the right person for me to have an analytical rational emotionless discussion with about my frustration and anger and sadness. Too close, too invested.

I also feel, on top of all my repressed anger about my fucking fucking fucking shitty condition, like a bit of a failure to then not be able to sort my own mind out. I’m not good at admitting defeat, or admitting I can’t do something, or that I’m finding something hard, too hard to process on my own. I cannot rely on my friends to pick me up at every stumble, they shouldn’t have to – they have their own shit going on.

I know, where it counts, that I am getting better. I do know that. I believe – because I simply cannot believe anything else – that I will get better. I know that I lack patience in spades, and that this sparks my frustration. It’s a very long road and I’m bored with being ill. I want my old life back. I want to do the things that matter to me.

Really – I want control back, and it’s not time for that yet.

Counselling it is. Untangled brain ahoy.

En plein air

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May 1

I can’t be the only one who keeps a little list in my head of nice outdoor places where it would be lovely to, errrr… you know… have some frolicks…

Ever since I left my ex and started on my life of sexual adventures, I’d make a mental note every time I saw somewhere that would be ideal for outdoor sex.

Since I did a lot of walking, the list was pretty comprehensive. A location for all times of the day. Each time I went for a walk I’d privately smile to myself and imagine all the fun of a naked outdoor picnic behind that hedge or under that tree or in that handy dip. The list is quite sizeable now, thanks to all the lovely places I’ve lived and walked.

Being a perpetual optimist, each time I’d think that the next guy I dated would definitely do that with me.

He’d be the one to finally fulfil my all-time top romantic fantasy of a summer evening picnic in a secluded field, a hamper of champagne and raspberries and delicious things to eat, a soft picnic blanket, kisses along my shoulders, gentle hands expertly following the kisses, a warm breeze on my skin, a warm hard body against mine.

He’d be the one to share the fantasy that I couldn’t accurately describe as a fuck, but as making love. A real, genuine, warm loving and lovely experience.

Or (or hopefully “as well”) he’d be the one who would laugh with me on a muddy walk, hold my hand as we crossed a field, who would stop and kiss me at the gate, then lead me into the woods, kiss me again, press me backwards up against a tree without any dithering, pull my leg around his waist and slip inside me as he kissed me, because he just had to have me and knew just how to make it happen.

He’d be the one for the uninhibited any-time-any-reasonable-place sex, whoever he was, this “next one”. If he lived up to all those fantasies I’d have to actually keep him, I mused.

Of course, here I am six years later, and I still haven’t met him. Not even close.

Each “next one” I either didn’t go on more than one date with, or I did and it just never happened. Possibly because I don’t seem to date people in the summer (or, indeed, in years ending in “5” or “6”, seemingly…).

Dr Fathead would have done it happily, if only I hadn’t dated him in the winter and spring. He’d have made it good, too, if he’d cared to. Annoying that we didn’t last into the summer really. Very annoying.

The current lack of potential fulfil-ees doesn’t remotely put me off spotting the potential places though (although it does make me think “when? Ever???”).

It really doesn’t, not in the slightest. Tired and not even remotely doing anything to constructively get a date? No matter – this spot amongst the bluebells would be perfect in the evening… let’s just ignore the potential for insect bites and focus on the sexy romantic stuff.

So I live in perpetual hope, I guess, if not the actual expectation of deliverance.

I also blame this time of year when it seems I always think of such things – after all, the first of May is not so very far away…

Needle in a haystack 

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As I sat on the heated therapy couch, legs dangling over the side, I wondered whether fifty quid was an awful lot to blow on the offchance that the needles carefully being placed into my back would help perk me up on a longer-term basis.
I sat very still, keeping my back long and straight, and was glad I’d got to not only keep my bra on but had been given a cosy blanket to wrap around my front and legs to keep me snug, as I get a little chilly these days.

My acupuncturist had previously felt my pulse, and frankly had struggled to feel it. When she finally did, it wasn’t exactly bounding with vitality – as she said, hardly a surprise. She had taken a full history, looked at my food diary, my spreadsheet of tracking joy, I had been very thoroughly quizzed before I got onto the couch and took my top off.

I didn’t mind the needles at all.

I’ve had so much blood taken out of me that they have become nothing. The phrase “a sharp scratch” has been said again and again and again to me by so many different nurses and doctors; a nice lady wielding the thinnest needles imaginable is never going to scare me. I relaxed and sat quietly while she felt down my back for the right places and put the needles in.

One in the top of my back I felt, sharply. And at the end, when she looked me over after all the needles had been taken out, she hmmed to herself, fetched two more, and briefly punctured each wrist. In, and out.

My right wrist hurt. Can’t lie. That one hurt. I flinched. She chuckled when I said I’d tried to be brave and failed, that time. Grown men shout like they’re being murdered, she told me. That was absolutely nothing. I smiled.

I felt tired when I got home. Tired and sluggish. Didn’t play with the nephews when they arrived back from nursery.  Concentrated on work in a terribly lacklustre and halfhearted way. Everything about it bored me.

This evening, I actually feel quite good. I feel clear-headed. Sense of humour was back with a vengeance. My ever-present tiredness is not of the hard painful sort tonight, more a quiet everyday end-of-day feeling, which actually is not the norm for me by any means. So unusual, in fact, that I notice the difference.

I will be very happy if it is the acupuncture. I’m going back next week (and it’s only the first session that is so much, thereafter it is cheaper). I quickly realised that it was pointless to bemoan the cost: I’d happily pay everything I had to be rid of what I have forever. Everything. Every last bean. My Louboutins too. Really.

To wake up full of beans, full of lovely energy, full of enthusiasm and verve for the day ahead – yes, I remember those days and I bloody well want them back.

So £50 isn’t worth sweating over. Ridiculous.

I shall see if there is anything substantive to report after a few sessions.

Sunday eveningish

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Twitter is playing up. It keeps showing me a shiny red ‘1’ when I don’t have any notifications.

Restarted my iPad and checked for updates: none. Still doing it.

Posted a tweet about it. The ‘1’ changes to a ‘3’ (one assumes people having the same trouble). Twitter chooses not to put these in the Notifications section, despite actual activity!

Yeah. Twitter be a bit bust

In other exciting social media news, Facebook decided to recommend my ex-husband’s new wife as a friend.

Facebook can fuck off.

I also solved the mystery of an unknown someone who had sent me a friend request ages ago that I’d just ignored because I didn’t recognise the name.

Turns out it was The Rugby Player.

Yeah, him. The one from last year who kept texting even when I didn’t reply, and actually rang me (ages ago, not recently) when I didn’t answer the texts. The one who didn’t get the hint. The one who kept texting even after I very nicely said I didn’t want to see him again, thank you.

Given I didn’t give him my surname, I find it creepy he found me on Facebook (he must have seen something with my surname on when he was at my house that one date. Yes. Just the one). My name isn’t that especially unusual, either. I’m not that super-easy to find.

He’s the only one who ever has done. When I checked the profile to see who the heck it was, he hadn’t posted anything on there since 2013. 

Just. Nooooooo.

Hasty click on ‘Decline’…

__________________________________

[Hasty post-publish addendum several minutes later…]

Facebook also suggests as friends I might like:

– a guy I saw a couple of times really quite a long time ago. Three years or so? JF. How? Not convinced we ever swapped emails…might check. Just…what?? Handy reminder of what his actual name was, though. Previously lost in the mists of casual fuckery.

– G, who I used to work with, who used to be allergic to Facebook. The one OG finally got together with. As the final treat, her profile picture is of both of them. Faces I didn’t ever wish to see again… in at number 1 … OG!!

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Drifting away

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I’ve been thinking about my friends recently – the good, the bad and the ugly.

(Actually I don’t have any ugly friends. I surround myself with only the gorgeous...naturally, dahlings…)

My list of my closest, most important friends goes like this, in order of length of friendship (my sister gets excluded because she’s my family and legally has to love and adore me and want to spend time with me…which luckily for me, she does):

  • The HBFs
  • The WBFs
  • FF
  • Cousin Z (see also legal family obligations above…heheh)
  • The Prof

The list of who I interact with (which is not necessarily (but, slightly confusingly, in some cases is) a sign of the importance of the friendship) runs thusly:

  • The Prof
  • Cousin Z
  • FF
  • The HBFs
  • The WBFs

I’d been mulling over this even before I had a recent spontaneous interlude in a evening’s text marathon avec Le Prof, in which we had a mutual unexpected “how have we got to be such great friends so quickly? It’s never happened to me before” “You’re actually, erm, cough, pretty important to me <English cough> <ahem well now>. I’m awfully glad we met” “Me too <cough>” sort of moment.

Which we naturally moved on from suitably quickly and will never mention again in the best standards of Britishness. It made me smile and gave me a warm glow, in a mildly nauseating-to-everyone-else kind of way.

The thing that I’ve been recently pondering on is the reactions of my friends in the face of what I can only describe as my necessary increase in selfishness (surely that’s why CFS is as known as M.E.? Because it’s all about me me me me me me? No?).

I know, they know, that my lifestyle has changed substantially. Quieter, less hectic, less trying to cram everything in, be everywhere at once, rush around visiting a, b, c and d. At the moment I simply can’t do it, and this is widely known.

I’m delighted that I can now do visits to friends, but getting the train is greatly preferable, and the friends have to not mind having quite a lot of down time while I’m there. A bit of kind looking after doesn’t go amiss either. Or they have to not mind coming here to see me (and my folks, who they all know, including The Prof now). They also know this.

It’s not how I’d wish it. I loved being that girl who zipped around southern England of the weekends, not thinking anything of driving two or three hours on a Saturday morning. It was a lot of fun. Required lots of energy.

It’s a fight to accept mentally the changes that have come my way, to try and be philosophical and patient about them. Sometimes it’s a hard fight and it makes me cross.

One of the things that helps me, keeps me anchored in a bit of normality, is to hear from and see my friends. For some that’s easier than others – having a family makes it less easy, but for the HBFs and FF I never mind – not one jot – because they are always there for me when the chips are down. HBF has been known to drive miles when I could do with a hug and an indoor picnic. FF is always there too. I trust both of them implicitly, and I don’t need to hear from them constantly to know they love me.

One of my other best friends, though, is definitely drifting, and it’s rather sad.

If you asked the rest of the group above (minus El Prof who hasn’t met them all yet) for some of WBF’s less than ideal characteristics, what you get most often is that “it’s all about her”. Telling, isn’t it.

And it always has been. Some friends you can just deal with this, accept it. It’s the dynamic. There are benefits which outweigh that little glitch. But things change.

Our particular friendship has matured from the early days where we used to email each other three times a day. It dwindled over the years to maybe once a week, then once a fortnight. I was still confident that we were equally important to each other, just that work got busier and more senior. We still had time to share what was going on and make plans to get together.

We’re down to once a month now if I’m lucky. No plans, other than idly “we must get together…”.

The thing that gets me – really gets my goat – is that she has, for years! had a selection of ongoing chronic health problems with her neck and shoulders and arms. Painful ones.

I have always – ALWAYS – been there to offer sympathy and understanding. Always.

I’ve been on the end of the phone when it’s been so bad she’s been in tears and she didn’t want to burden her husband with it yet again. I’ve been patient when I’ve visited and she’s been in pain and fucking crabby. I’ve made allowances and just accepted it, and empathised. I even forgave her, eventually, for the sin of snogging the guy I’d just snogged at the stupid ball of doom last year (although that was by far the hardest thing to do). I was there for her before that when she was busy being tempted and I was the only one who could understand and listen and offer advice – and felt very hurt that my reward for doing that was that she selfishly took what I’d been snogging, what she had pushed at me not half an hour beforehand.

It isn’t forgotten. Forgiven – yes, I did. Forgotten – oh no. No no.

But it turns out that what goes around doesn’t always come back around.

[Tiny interjection: HBF, if you’re reading – this isn’t isn’t isn’t and won’t ever be about you!]

Right now I can’t be the one chasing friends to make plans. I cannot be the perpetual organiser. I need a break and I need my mates to chase me and pin me down instead.

I understand that people have busy lives; busier than me, for sure. I also understand that people make new friends, friends where they live or have just moved to – and that time will be spent with them.

I don’t want to feel that some of my oldest friends don’t have time for me, though. Or even time to think about me and wonder how I’m doing.

A text at a party where there’s a silly DJ name – yes, that’s amusing, but it doesn’t make up  for three preceding weeks without a word, and not being able to remember the last time she actually enquired how I was. I think I actually rang her last time she texted because it had been so long since we’d caught up that a text wasn’t going to cut it.

The thing is, you see, I’m a bit stubborn.

No….actually….I’m horrendously stubborn.

When I don’t think a friend is playing by the friend rules, I withdraw. Very rarely do I do this, because usually I’m all peace and love and concessions and understanding, and I love my friends to the ends of the earth.

But once I feel someone is taking the piss, or conveniently forgetting all the love and support historically shown to them – well, it’s only a short route thereafter onto the rocks.

I was quite prepared to let her go last year after the ball débâcle. I was talked down off my high horse by a couple of wise friends and family members, who cited our very long and usually great friendship as something not to throw away. So I swallowed my pride and she was tearfully grateful for it.

However, there is more than one way of being hurt – and slowly and insidiously being forgotten or overlooked is just as eventually toxic as the big betrayal.

So I’m sad to report that I’m done putting any effort in. She’ll have to come to me, if she can be bothered. An invitation to stay would be nice. Or an offer to come up here. After all, there are two of them, it isn’t like she’s ever been on her own trying to deal with her crap. Her lovely man has got her covered (and oh wasn’t she selfish when he had health problems recently!). If she does pull her finger out, then she won’t be getting as much warmth as she might expect. She might have a short memory: I have a scarily long one.

It’s not all about me. I do know this. I’m not unaware that things aren’t quite ideal just now.

I know at the moment it’s quite a lot about me, but friendships do require watering from both sides and I fear the line has been crossed where I’m just tired of making excuses for her, and playing the constant gardener. Is it so hard to make a few allowances for me at the moment? Is it? Really?

I don’t believe it’s that hard.

I’ll always remember saying to her, in the heat of that horrid time after the ball débâcle – “it’s always all about you, isn’t it? Always all about you”. I didn’t apologise for that afterwards, and I’m glad I didn’t.

I do wonder what it must be like to live at that level of complete self-absorption.

I hope that I will never find out. I also hope that my friends will call me out if I turn into that much of a selfish arse…

Nondezvous

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It has been a week since I sent the suggested list of hotels to the Doc.

Since then, there has been complete radio silence. Not even a “thanks, I’ll look at this and get back to you”.

I’ve been quite used to the long gaps in communication in the past and I really didn’t think anything of it.

The Prof, on the other hand, was immediately suspicious when I mentioned my minor grumble to him, and was of the opinion that the Doc has a girlfriend/significant other.

This would make rather a lot of sense because:

– he only emails me. We texted a little a couple of years ago, but reverted to email. At the time I thought that this was because it had been a long time since we’d been in touch, and email is less obtrusive, somehow. But not texting someone you’re fucking…hmmm. Especially as the last time he came to see me before I moved and he was running late, he emailed me. I thought it was weird at the time. 

– he’s only available once in a blue moon. Often he cites being on call if I make a spur of the moment enquiry (insofar as one can when it takes a few days to get a reply). Even I don’t think he’s on call every single weekend.

– I have never been to his place. Originally this was because he had a housemate and I didn’t, and he was quite open about his dating habits (limited) so it didn’t concern me. A lot can change in two or three years.

– I only know his first name, if indeed it is his real name, and we’ve had six or seven dates.

I genuinely never cared about that stuff. I’ve never been so into him that I’ve felt the need to know everything about him. He is the one person I’ve enjoyed a totally uncomplicated FwB arrangement with – no feelings, no emotions, just good sex and decent company. My only gripe was that it was never often enough for me.

Now – oh, I don’t know – once I’ve started thinking about it, I’ve decided that it’s rather unsatisfactory.

If he has got a missus then I don’t want to be another woman. I’ve always been vehemently opposed to dating guys who want a bit on the side. I’ve been the other woman and I don’t want to be it again, even just occasionally. I flatly refuse to start seeing guys who are attached, and I don’t want to be a bit on the side if that’s where life subsequently takes him, even just as FwB.

If he hasn’t got a missus then he’s just a bit crap. Leaving it a week or two weeks to reply just irritates me. My patience has only not been stretched because I simply haven’t cared that much. Now I’m finding it very irritating. It’s not terribly respectful. It tells me that my time is not awfully important whilst his is. I’m not someone who likes being at someone else’s beck and call, either. It’s only been laziness that has stopped me thinking too hard about this before.

So I think this might be the end of me and the Doc. I don’t believe he is going to pull his finger out and book a hotel. If he does I might go, but have a chat with him, one he won’t like much (after we’ve had all the sex, obviously). If he doesn’t I’ll just let him fade and decline the next offer, whenever that may arrive.

The only thing that is remotely sad about the whole business is that he was my only prospect of actual sex. He wasn’t exactly a reliable or regular prospect, so it’s not terribly heartbreaking, but it’s just one more thing to do without. And the hope of sex, I’ll have to do without that too. I mean, it’s not like sex dictates my life, or the hope of sex keeps me afloat every day – that’s just not the case. 

But it’s something that I love, it’s something that isn’t in my life at the moment – so it’s a tiny bit sad to cut that tiny last thread and let it go. What a waste of a cracking pair of boobs 😄

Wanted: Grappling irons

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Brick wall

I try not to write when I’m feeling really ill.

It’s too easy to spiral into a pit of deep self-pity and panic that my life is wasting away, and while yes, it is helpful to me to get that off my chest at the time, the next day, or maybe the day after that brings an improvement so that things don’t look quite as bleak.

Looks like I’m just having a dip. I knew this was likely to happen, but it’s still pretty hard to swallow.

I don’t want to be in my mid-thirties and spending 90% of the weekend in bed or on the sofa. That is not an acceptable state of being, to me.

It doesn’t make it any better to over-state this again and again. By now, everyone who knows me well enough to matter knows that I feel this way; frustrated, restrained, at times privately angry and bemused. Sad, too, that I simply cannot get out there and do the things I want to be doing. Sad to look back and read what I wrote about never wanting to lead a life half-lived – because that is precisely what has happened to me.

Eventually it starts to sound like a stuck record. It’s still all true, of course, but by heck it’s boring. I bore myself, I convince myself I’m boring other people, so I hide away to disappear and play games where I have control over things.

No great psycho-analysis needed there, one suspects.

My appointment with the specialist seems like a million years off, even though it’s perhaps two months away. I feel that I could readdress my diet, my barely-existent exercise regime, my working day patterns – but it’s so difficult to know what to do for the best on my own. Sucking it and seeing takes time. I want expert help. I don’t want to cut out sugar just to be told that’s nonsense, to have deprived myself of cake for no serious reason.

I’m so sedentary that I find it impossible to lose weight (yes, the sugar thing might just help there). When I feel so tired that I have to stay in bed, frankly a packet of crisps and a chocolate biscuit are one of the few things to bring me any joy.

It seems like a catch-22. A slice of cucumber isn’t going to cheer me up in the slightest. Biscuits will add to the wobble. My muscles are already protesting at their lack of use: adding extra weight isn’t going to help them. I know that I need a short daily walk, but sometimes the mental energy to tell myself what to do is just – well, it just vaporises – pouf!

Last night I dug up from the depths of my brain a line that the occupational health doctor had said to me. “Carry on doing the frivolous stuff” she said.

Then I felt sad because her advice is right, but I’ve squirrelled myself away somewhere where it’s difficult to do that. A frivolous (posh) cocktail means a trip on a train. Buying sparkly new shoes: ditto. A swish lunch or dinner out: a drive or a train ride.

The people that I’d care to be frivolous with either have family responsibilities which mean I feel awkward about asking them to give up their time to humour me, or they live miles away which necessitates vast amounts of travel on mine or their part.

Everywhere I see problems. Everywhere I see the things I cannot do. Watching the telly shows me the places I haven’t got the energy to go to, or shows me people doing inspiring things that I feel are beyond me. Perhaps I need to find smaller frivolous things – getting my nails done, having a massage – forcibly and unwillingly readjust my expectations.

I wonder if that will always be the way or if I will ever win over against this sodding thing. I have so little patience, and that is just what is needed. The bad days seem like such a test of what I am, who I think I am – it’s impossible not to rail against the restrictions, mentally if not in actuality.

It feels like I have run up against a brick wall, and I don’t have the tools to chip through it or the height to see over the other side. It’s there, it feels pretty insurmountable, and I want a box of TNT to throw at it and blast it to the sky.

Lacking in fortitude would appear to be what I am, and there doesn’t seem to be a tablet you can take for it. I wish for more resilience, more patience, more humour about it all. Perhaps I can concoct those from within, given a blue moon.

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