sad girl chronicles pt. 2: what if, for me, it’s always you?

(This piece of writing eventually evolved into the poem I posted a few weeks back – two paths)

I miss him. I miss you. I don’t know who I’m writing to anymore.
I’ve realised I’m burying a lot of it so the memories don’t hurt me. And I’m forgetting parts of you, but I don’t want to forget.

I don’t want to forget that first night we got together. The intensity of those feelings. The electricity between us. The static. The chemistry. How it all just fell into place. Kissing you felt so right, so natural.

I don’t want to forget the night you accidentally told me you loved me for the first time. You said something like – I don’t just love you for what you look like. And I said, what did you just say? And then you said it. And I said it too.

I don’t want to forget the sounds of you playing your guitar for me. You are one of the most talented and modest musicians I have ever known. And I’m glad you’re doing solo gigs now. I really hope that goes well for you.

I remember the time when I needed to change the gauze on my leg and I was in agony, and you sat by me and played for me to distract me.

I remember lying in the bath once, with a cup of tea, listening to you play, thinking “I’ve made it”, and “How did I ever get so lucky?”

How did I ever get so lucky?
And I ruined it.

Or did we just grow apart? Like you said, maybe it was never meant to be. But it really felt like it was. I could picture our wedding and our first child’s name. I could picture you playing them lullabies to sleep. And us taking them to folk festivals when they were older. And they’d be musical too, because we were.

Maybe I put you on a pedestal, but I think you deserved it. Maybe no one will ever quite live up to you. But that’s okay. Because for three and a half glorious years, you were mine. We were a team. Adventure buddies. And I will always treasure those years. No matter how many years go by now without seeing each other. Maybe some time in the future we’ll go years without even contacting each other. I dread those years to come.

No one will ever come close to what we were, what we had, and how we loved each other.

Maybe you’ve already started moving on. Maybe we’re already on different paths now. Maybe we were on different paths long before I knew it. Holding onto each other’s hands barely by the fingertips. But I didn’t realise. And I didn’t see the warning signs.

Now our paths have diverged. It’s not our story anymore. It’s mine, and it’s yours. But for almost four years, it was ours. And it was magic. We were solid gold.

I just miss my best friend. But I’m not sure he misses me in the same way. It’s always harder being the one on the receiving end of a break up. Being blind-sided by it. It hitting you like a tonne of bricks in the chest, every morning when you wake up and realise you’re alone again. A cold side of the bed next to you. And stuffed animals as some sort of childish replacement for human affection. It doesn’t help that one of them you sent me in the post for my birthday, after we’d broken up.

I live with my emotions close to the surface. I know that now. I feel things more acutely. And you don’t. You bury them. You always have. That’s how I know that you’re moving on just fine and I’m periodically crying my heart out into the pages of my diary.

I just wished you missed me the way I miss you.
I’ve been trying to distract myself, but no one compares to you. I’m worried no one will ever compare to us.
I’m worried I’ll spend my life wishing it was you I was sat across the table from, you who I was falling asleep next to, waking up next to, making cups of tea for, returning home from work to, kissing.
I’m worried I’ll spend my life with your name on the tip of my tongue, and images of you leaving me at Chiang Mai airport playing behind my eyes.

What if that feeling never goes?
What if, for me, it’s always going to be you?

before & after

I hate to see young women post “before and after” pictures of themselves.
It’s a myth.
There was never a before or after version of yourself.
Only during.

During hardship, during heartbreak, during the best of times, during your apocalypse. During love, and bitterness and beauty and all-consuming rage.

Enduring.

It upsets me so much because it feels like we’re mocking our younger selves. Belittling them. As if our bodies were ever supposed to look anything different from exactly as they did at that point in time. If that was how we were, then that was where we needed to be, and to mock our past selves is to dishonour our wonderful life-giving bodies for doing their most important job of all. Which, of course, is simply allowing us to survive up until that point. Regardless of shape or size.

Posting pictures like that feels like we’re saying “Look at that shameful person, I am not associated with that anymore.”

Like we’re burning bridges.
Like our body was just a fairweather friend anyway, who we can cut ties with when we decide they’re no longer good enough for us.

But, if we burn all our bridges,
how will we ever find our way back home?

things i live in fear of

  • rejection
  • being alone
  • not being good enough
  • making the wrong decision
  • losing the people i love the most
  • the words and thoughts of others
  • failure – in so many ways at so many different things
  • missing out on “life”
  • time moving too fast

These are just the big things. There are other things. Like farting loudly in a crowded public place, and being trapped in a lift. Oh, and needing the toilet when there isn’t one around. And being publicly humiliated. And bumping into my ex. And upsetting people. Accidentally saying something offensive or ignorant. Fire. Being violently assaulted. Plane crashes. Being sick. Being really sick. Awkward social situations. Meeting new people. Touching door handles in public bathrooms. Raw meat. Confrontations. Crying when I don’t mean to. Getting pregnant by accident. Slipping and being knocked out and not being found for days. Car crashes. Losing my memory. Loved ones losing their memories. Drifting apart from old friends. New situations. Looking stupid and self-conscious. Making a bad first impression. Wasting time. Regrets. Being far from home. Losing talents and abilities. Being unattractive. Public speaking.

Having my skirt tucked into my knickers without realising.

Never amounting to much.

try to write about what’s going on without talking about yourself

Trees miss their blossoms in the winter.
It gets dark. It gets cold. The nights are inconceivably long. The sunlight barely shines through the overcast greys.

And weeds grow.
They start growing where there used to be daisies and daffodils.
The weeds can tough it out.
The daisies can’t.
They wilt at the first frost.

But weeds can bear flowers too. Unexpected and hardy.
A flourish of colour amidst the gloom.

Weeds accompany the trees through their harsh winter.
Console them,
and offer them their own flowers as compensation.
It’ll never be quite as brilliant as a spring in full bloom,
but it’s something to cling on to.

The winter will drag on forever.
But the trees are patient.
Their blossoms will return.
When the moon and the sun
decide it’s so.

two paths

we once walked the same path.
you and i.
for four years, almost.
the same well worn trail.
well-trodden.
well-loved.
tended to.
there were small flowers growing out of our footprints.
and moss slowly growing on fallen branches.
and ferns reaching for light in the dark of the undergrowth.

we used to hold hands as we walked.

i don’t think i even realised our paths had diverged until i was clinging onto your hand by my out-stretched arm and my fingertips.
and you weren’t reaching for mine anymore.
i looked up, and could barely see you through the thicket that had enveloped the gulf now between us.

i didn’t see the warning signs.
i didn’t see the cracks beneath our feet.
i didn’t notice you veering off on your own course to avoid a fallen tree.

“two roads diverged in a wood”

it is not our path anymore.
it is not our story anymore.
it’s yours.
and it’s mine.
two separate paths winding their own course through the forests.

but for four years it was ours.
and it was magic,
because the path we walked together was golden.

things i’ve learnt in the lakes

I recently spent 5 days in the Lake District, hiking with an old friend. Here are a few things I learnt:

  • Sometimes it’s all you can do to put your head down and focus on the next step in front of you. And that is enough.
  • Sometimes the wind blows so horrendously that you have no option but to stop, crouch down, and protect yourself. Because pushing yourself to walk on would be foolish and dangerous. You just need to wait for the winds to stop. And they will, eventually.
  • Beautiful flowers can always be found growing out from between the cracks in a seemingly barren cliff face.
  • The ground underneath your feet might be tough, but you should stop every once in a while, look up, see how far you’ve come, and take in the views.
  • Even thunderous rivers have small pools of calm water within them, if you look hard enough.
  • Waterfalls are most magnificent after torrential rain. Beautiful things can be born from a deluge.
  • All journeys can be made easier with the company of old friends.

i see you

I can see you.
I can still see you.
In the creased spine of a hardback book.
In the frothy head of a pint of beer.
In couples cycling together.
In small, scruffy dogs snuffling about the ground.
In rough seas against sheer cliff faces.
I see you.

In dirty running shoes.
In quirky, backstreet cafes.
And old, hidden-away bookshops.
In the smell of dust after rain.
Petrichor.

In tuneful, twiddly guitar melodies.
In beautiful vocal harmonies.
In the setting of the sun.
In the engravings on parks benches for couples who used to frequent there.
In old blankets.
And poorly knitted scarves.
In hazel eyes.
And a good beard.

In the smell of jasmine flowers.
Or azahara.
In spoken french.
I see you.

In old world maps, with promises of future adventures.
In well-worn trails through the woods.
In moss growing on a fallen tree.

In big jumpers.
In takeaway pizzas and nights of Netflix.
I can still see you.

In waterproof anoraks.
In the sound of my octave fiddle.
In the Brecon Beacons.
In any mountain range at all.
In fairy lights, strung up on the inside of our tent.

How long will it be before I can unsee you?
I’m not ready to unsee you just yet.


creativity #3

This time, I wrote the alphabet down the side of my page and forced myself to fill in the words in alphabetical order.

after all we’ve
been through
cancelling us the way you
did
even if i’d had the faintest hint it was coming it still would’ve
floored me.
get up, it’s been months now
he’s moving on
isn’t it about time you do the same?
just the next right step, one foot in front of the other
kick and scream and resist if you must but what about
letting it wash over you like a wave?
more like a storm
no, a tsunami
of grief
please let yourself cry, even if it is just
quietly into your pillow after dark, don’t
run the risk of being heard
start small and
trust that
unconditional love exists
validating and unwavering
when, maybe, you stop putting
x‘s at the end of your messages to him, and reserve them for
yourself instead. this is where we begin again at
zero.

creativity #2

I wrote the alphabet down the side of my page, and just filled in the letters as the words naturally came out of me, in any order. But, when I finished I kept the starts of the sentences in alphabetical order, just to see if it made any more sense that way. Spoiler – it doesn’t.

and you can’t keep out-running your problems
but I didn’t realise your love was
conditional on my mental health
did you think moving away would fix it?
even in our darkest moments, I thought we could recover
fly to Thailand, that’ll do it
get away from this wretched place
hello, loneliness, it’s been a while, or has it?
i used to think we could withstand anything
just the two of us
kisses that stopped time
love that took us on adventures
mountain top views of the sunrise over the Himalayas
no matter what continent you’re on
one great love, to usurp all that came before
problems are always one step ahead of you though
quietly, and peacefully
rebuild ourselves
stronger than before
turns out i was wrong about that too
unconditional love is what i thought we had
validatory and unwavering
waiting for confirmation…
x – incorrect answer
you’d still be there by my side though, wouldn’t you?

purpose as a woman

I think, since breaking up with my first boyfriend, just before I turned 22, I’ve had a fixation on fixing men. Or being their savior. Or, in the most recent case, “saving” him from a bad relationship. Like some sort of man-whisperer. Find someone who’s a bit broken, a bit bored of their relationship/dating, a bit messed up, and be (as Bernard Black would say) their “summer girl”. Young, confident, sassy, “not like all the other girls”, sexually available whenever wherever. Like I needed to be what they needed, rather than judging the situation to determine whether it’s something I even wanted.

I found purpose in being a man’s savior. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe because I’m punishing myself for not realising my first ex needed fixing until it was too late, and it’s like I’m repaying some debt to mankind. Maybe it’s because I thought I could fix our completely broken relationship if I changed myself. Controlled all the aspects I could control. Which, from my perspective, after what happened, was my body and my sexual availability. And to pretend like nothing was wrong when it really really was.

I look at a prospective partner and I think, “What can I do for you? How am I going to “make you see the light” or experience something you’ve never experienced before?” I think, “How can I fix you, and therefore by a valuable asset to your life? And therefore be invaluable to you. You’ll never want to lose me, and I’ll be safe from any more heartbreak.” Instead of “What does this person bring to my life?” Or, more importantly, “How can we enrich each other’s lives whilst still remaining whole people?”

I did it with my most recent ex. Yes, I did love him anyway, but maybe when I reflect back on it now, maybe I partly loved what I was to him. I “saved” him from him “boring” 4 and a half year long relationship. And he worshiped me for it. Well, he did initially anyway. Obviously all that stuff fades over time. And they forget. I was his summer girl. But in reality, I was his getaway car. And that’s why it was all so thrilling in the beginning. I was valued so much. I was exactly what this man wanted me to be. Until I wasn’t anymore. And three and a half years down the line, I’m back with my parents, unemployed and brokenhearted, miserable and lonely.

I really thought I had it all with him. But I think the sad fact of the matter was that I knew all along what I was doing. How I was deriving my self-worth from how I was helping a man and adding value to his life. I didn’t want to believe that. Because no-one wants to believe that. No-one wants to hear the truth.

“Santa’s not real”
“The tooth fairy isn’t either”
“There’s no farm where old pets go to retire”
“This isn’t real love – you’re just desperately clinging onto it because you only see yourself as worthy if you think you’re somehow improving a man’s life”.

Yikes. That stings.

Filling a hole in a man’s life is not your purpose as a woman.
Being that “summer girl” for a man with a troubled relationship history is not your purpose as a woman.
“Fixing” a broken man is not your purpose as a woman.
Being a getaway car for a man in a shoddy relationship is not your purpose as a woman.
Molding yourself and contorting yourself to fit a hole in a man’s life is not your purpose as a woman.

What is your purpose as a woman then?
I could write lots of empowering things like “championing the voices of the less privileged” and “lifting up your fellow sisters”. But, really, you can’t do any of that if you don’t take care of yourself first, and fill in the holes in your own life. Make sure you’re as full a person as you can be, so that no-one else has to be your emotional polyfilla. Like you have been to others so many times.

Fixate on fixing yourself first, instead of deriving your worth from your ability to fix others.