It's funny how one thing can trigger something else. How one thought or action can lead you in one direction, and before you know it you are thinking or doing something completely different. I woke up this morning feeling quite good. I'd had a really positive chat with my boss yesterday. I've also had a few people suggest I write a book (I find that hilarious, but quite flattering). My group is growing rapidly, and I seem to have become a bit of a shoulder for several group members having a tough time. Ironic considering what's been going on with me.
I started work and I put my music on shuffle play. Random songs from my favourite playlist. I've said before I sometimes think my playlist knows my mood or likes to stir up emotions. It did again today. The music had been on for a couple of hours. I had just finished listening to Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel, Don't give up. A beautiful song that when I feel low gives me the kick up the arse I need. Then came another favourite of mine. Hedonism by Skunk Anansie. This song I have loved since it came out over 20 years ago. I've always loved the lyrics but listening to it today I sat and cried. In truth, I sobbed. The words resonated with me more than they ever have before. I packed up work for the day as I couldn't concentrate. I went to bed. I didn't want to deal with what was going on in my head. It didn't work, so I decided to write this.
Hedonism means pleasure and as they say there is a fine line between pleasure and pain. Today this song bought to the surface pain. A pain I've been trying to suppress, ignore, forget about. For the past couple of weeks I have tried really hard not to think about my feelings. I was worried that if I did a pandora's box would be opened, and I would be back to how I was feeling at the beginning of November. That thought scared me. I don't ever want to feel like that again.
Last week I was forced to think about my feelings and whilst I did not revert back to how I was in November I am still quite raw and there is something that is haunting me. Most of what happened in the build up to that point I have reconciled. I've tried many times to put what happened down on paper and each time I've discarded it. Writing my thoughts or ramblings as I like to call it has really helped, but I don't feel it will this time, but I don't know what else will. There is one event that took place at the end of October I still cannot put to rest. This is the one thing in my life I have torn myself apart over in the last few months. This is something I need to but cannot resolve.
I pride myself on having a great memory. Friends joke with me about the things I can recall. Conversations, events, drunken and random things from 30 years ago but for the life of me I have no clue as to what happened one night at the end of October. I have fragments of what happened, mostly what I was told. It's like a jigsaw puzzle with the major pieces missing showing the full picture.
At the end of what had been an awful week personally a friend suggested meeting for a drink after I had finished work. We got to the pub just after 5pm. By 7pm it would seem I was absolutely out of it. I still do not know after 3 glasses of wine how this happened. It has been suggested to me my drink was spiked. I remember feeling strange like I had been out all night on some kind of bender. I remember I just wanted to sleep. I remember bits and pieces of what occurred after I left the pub. I don't remember getting to the train station, but I remember being on the train and a man who had been in the pub talking to me was sitting opposite. I do not remember getting off the train, but I remember talking to a homeless guy by the station and giving him some money for food and the man from the pub and train was still there. I vaguely remember the homeless guy shouting at him, but I do not recall what was said. After that everything is a blur. What I was informed happened next is so unreal, so out of character to me and has caused me a huge amount of shame, embarrassment, hurt and anger. I have physical scars from that night but no understanding of how they got there.
I actually cannot put on paper what happened as it is so disjointed and seems so unreal to me. That night has far-reaching and ongoing consequences. I want to stand and shout from the rooftops that I am not that person. I want to put wrongs right. I want to know what the hell happened. I have never in my life deliberately hurt anyone. I've always put others' feelings and welfare above my own. I'm often told I care too much about others at the detriment to myself. So what happened to me in the space of 2 hours? This one night was the spark to the tinder keg that erupted in November. I don't know how to address this. I don't know how to stop feeling pain from it. I don't know how to move on from something I don't understand.
I've never pretended to be something I'm not. I've always had pride that I am an honest person with a good heart, morals and integrity. That has had a shadow cast over it, it has been questioned and is something I don't know how to live with. I just have to bury that pain again until the next time something triggers it and hope it doesn't drag me back down. In the meantime I'll go back to what I do best. Hide my true feelings and plod on with life and hope tomorrow is a better day.
Have you ever had one of those weeks when you feel as if things have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous? Well that is exactly what has happened since I wrote my previous post last Friday.
I'd said I felt I was going crazy, and I was living in an unrealistic world. Well this week things got very real.
Saturday and Sunday I was feeling very much the same as I had been. Very long-drawn-out days and nights with little sleep. Monday is when it all changed. I'm still trying to get my head around exactly what has happened.
Monday started off as any other day for me at the moment. I got up after about 2 hours of sleep, had copious amounts of coffee and did some work. My group has been going really well. With over 300 members in the space of two weeks and growing daily it's getting busy. Recently a lot of members have been posting up their own stories and experiences and not just about dating. Some have posted about break-ups, some about bereavement others about mental health. Some of the posts have been emotional and inspiring.
My group is open to anyone over 18, and it really has attracted people from all over the world. Males, females, single pringles, married and so on. It's a mix of stuff that is posted. Monday evening I was on a long phone call to my daughter and when I got off there were a number of private messages from group members disgruntled by some of the goings-on in the group. I checked and must admit was appalled. I and my moderator who was a very trusted friend need to approve every post. It's hard going as on Saturday alone we had 150 to sift through.
I can have a naughty playful side and I love innuendo and banter and all of that is appropriate for my group, however there is a line. My moderator knew this line, but he allowed it to be crossed. I looked at my group to see absolute filth had been allowed to be posted, and he was using the group as a dating site. Which it most certainly is not. I was not at all happy. In fact, I was more than upset.
I have worked really hard in setting up and promoting the page and group and whilst it's all been for fun on the outside it has been a saving grace for me, and it has often been challenging considering how I have really been feeling. I couldn't actually cope with what I was seeing so decided to shut everything off for the night including myself. I wasn't sure what to do and was still trying to process the very distressing call I had with my daughter. She had text her grandmother only to find out she was in hospital and had been for many days and nobody had told us. She had also spoken to a wellbeing counsellor who had informed my daughter her dad's death was not traumatic, and she just needs to get over it. Now as I am sure any parent would be I was furious and devastated that I wasn't able to give my baby a hug when she needed it most.
Tuesday I needed to see if I had a group or whether the Facebook police had closed it down. I logged on. The group was still there along with other messages from members unhappy at the previous nights postings. I went through and deleted any offending posts, fortunately there were only two but that was two too many and the comments that a few so called 'ladies' and 'gentleman' had made were XXX rated. I'm no prude but there are plenty of other sites out there for that.
I felt very out of my depth and wasn't sure what to do. I also felt let down by my friend. I had work to do but in between was contacting the members who were upset. One of them was a lady who originally along with a few others encouraged me to set the group up. I spoke to my friend and to cut a rather long story short he apologized and said it wouldn't happen again. I trusted him so believed what he said. He is probably the only person on the planet other than anyone who may read this who knows what I've been going through and where my head is at, so why wouldn't I trust him? The long and short of it is, that I was wrong, and he allowed his ego to come before our friendship.
My confidence is already at the lowest it has been in years and this absolutely flawed me. I can't go into everything that happened as I am still trying to get my head around it. I put a very open and honest post up on the group and followed the lead from other members. I put a post up as me! Not hiding behind the profile picture of a fish but me, a picture showing my face. That took every ounce of bravery I had in me. My post was straight from the heart. I was going to close the group.
What happened next made me feel like I was in a fantasy. My alerts went mad. In the space of 20 minutes I had over 150 comments and messages of support. I sat reading everyone in disbelief. These people had taken time out of their day to encourage me to keep the group going. How much fun they were having and one lady said it had saved her. I received messages from a guy who runs Lads Bible page telling me I had created something unique and what an amazing job I was doing. Another from a lady who runs a group with 235k followers saying the same. Truly stunned.
Just before I went to bed I saw a blog from somebody I used to know. I read the last 3 entries and could see how well they are doing. It made me smile. Some of what was written about had been a bit of an issue when I knew them, some of it I could use myself, but the more I read the more the same feeling flooded through. Pride. Proud of them. Proud of myself.
Today is Thursday and the messages keep coming. It all seems so surreal. How can anything I have done impact this many people? I can't get my head around it. I have asked the consent of a gentleman who sent me a message yesterday and I would like to share that here. Not for praise, but I guess I am in shock, and maybe it will help me believe it's real.
Good afternoon POFUs. I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how I think you are doing a great job and that I'm really enjoying the POFUs page. I've skipped over a lot of the stuff that's been said recently but what I have seen has made me sad for you. This is your group, and it is what you have made it to be. For those who want it to be something else, well, quite frankly they should be looking into putting the effort into making their own group in my opinion. I think you have the balance right between seriousness and frivolity and I think the community spirit you have generated is fantastic. I really hope that you are getting lots of support and that, while the detractors can be debilitating, that support is enough to keep to going. If I were to be running this group I would be proud of it, I hope you are too. Take care.
I actually feel like I am going crazy. Like I'm stuck in some sort of weird Sci Fi movie where my only contact with the outside world is through electronic means. Oh, wait it is!
I've been keeping myself busy with work and my fb page and group, although I feel I am slipping further and further away from reality. I also feel like a huge fraud pretending to be happy and funny when in truth I feel dead inside. I've no passion or excitement about anything.
I'm working from home again and whilst I loved it March through to September I am finding it a bore now. I love to talk to people, but nobody has anything to say unless it is around COVID-19 or the dullness of the weather and my patience has worn thin with discussing that. I struggle with my confidence and being an enforced recluse is causing me concern for the future and if I will struggle to engage with people when this is over.
I'm not going to complain about all the materialistic or fun things everyone is missing out on, I can cope with that. What I am missing is proper conversation. The intelligent debate or banter. Me having an opinion and someone getting me to look at an alternative view. Someone to bounce ideas off. Without this I find I have too much time to think and that is when I struggle.
As I said in my last post I don't want to think about how I'm feeling I need to keep that locked up at the moment. If I do, I worry about where it may lead me.
I need to keep my brain active to stop me having those dark thoughts and falling backwards. I haven't watched TV in weeks as it's something I have never really enjoyed doing alone. That may sound strange to some. I'm struggling to read a book as my concentration seems to have disappeared, so consequently spending more and more time in front of the PC exchanging messages and comments with complete strangers. It's a quick hit to break the monotony and is all well and good, but I know it is not reality. Yesterday I switched my phone and PC off, determined to do something different. I cleaned my house then resorted to my bed at 3 in the afternoon feeling extremely low. I actually had a thought pop into my head, that if I slept long enough I'd wake up and this would all be over or again just not wake up. I know that is an incredibly selfish thought.
My sleep pattern is erratic. Going to bed at 2am waking at 5am. Working for a bit, taking a nap. I've lost my appetite and apart from cooking for my son I really can not be bothered to eat myself. I feel exhausted through doing nothing physical, and I am finding this cycle hard to break.
Like a lot of people I have not seen my parents or daughter for a while and for some strange reason when they call I sometimes find myself letting it go to voicemail. I then feel guilty as I miss them. I'm ignoring messages from friends, which is not at all like me and I feel I can't be bothered and again I feel bad.
I keep telling myself that this is not forever, but I fear the damage it is causing maybe. There's the saying "The devil finds work for idle hands" for me it's my brain.
Absolutely no change for me since last week's post as to how I'm feeling. So I've decided to stop thinking about me and have thrown myself into my other blog and the growing group I have created. The posts on my page have been received extremely well, still no negative comments from the 8 thousand people that have so far seen it and many private messages from people saying how much they are enjoying it. The group was only set up 2 weeks ago and the members are growing daily. I have had help promoting my page through other much bigger groups like The Daily Mash and The Lads Bible which has helped get it around the globe. It is certainly keeping me busy as moderating the group can be challenging and some members do like to post, how shall I say, risqué content. As I have members from around the world with the different time zones the comments are 24/7. I am not complaining.
I've decided not to wallow in pity so instead of writing about my feelings I thought I would share my first post with you. I hope it brings you a smile.
How did I find myself on internet dating at the age of 43? Some find they've been traded in for a newer shinier model, for others it's a choice they are single, for me, I was inconveniently widowed aged 41. I know a real bugger hey. So after my gorgeous lovely man popped off I was quite lost. Having been with him since I was 20 I wasn't really sure what to do. He had told me just before he passed to go out and find someone new. Not something I wanted to hear at the time and yes I know, a totally unselfish thing to say. If it was me I would have told him I'd come back and rattle the locks or move the furniture if he so much as kissed another woman. We can't all be perfect!
So 14 months later (not long I know but we all have needs and I needed someone who could use a screwdriver) and after far too many glasses of wine and with the encouragement of my friend. Yeah, thanks for that mate! I decided to dip my toe in the dating pool. Well actually I didn't just dip my toe you could say I dived in head first, and found myself out of my depth very quickly.
I had absolutely no bloody idea where to start. I was advised Plenty of Fish, or plenty of F#€k ups as I now call it, would be the best place. A huge site with millions of potential matches just waiting.
Oh, my dear life! It's hardly a list of Who's Who more a line up for Crimewatch. Now don't get me wrong there are some decent guys on there, you just have to sift through the mountain of shit to find one.
So my profile was created, I just needed to add a photo. Oh bugger. I hate pictures of me. The only way I look half decent in a pic is if it's taken in the dark with no flash. Picture added and we are off!
In all honesty I didn't have a clue what I was doing and before I'd even finished my profile I was alerted I had new messages. Oooh how exciting. I really had no idea at this point how naive I was.
I eagerly open the message it's from Paul aged 44. It's quite short, 'hi hun how's u?". I check his profile, he looks nice. Not really any other info other than the basics that you are required to fill in.
I hastily reply as I don't want to keep Paul waiting.
"Hi Paul. I'm very well thank you. How are you?".
I'm sitting there rather pleased with myself and quite excited with anticipation. Time ticks on. No reply. But I do have another 20 messages. I open each one, all pretty much the same format. I check profiles. Ooh, some are not really my type, but I can't be rude, so I reply to everyone.
In the meantime Paul has replied. "Yeah gud ta. What you looking 4". Again I hastily reply with a paragraph of what I seek and ask him the same. Paul replies a bit later "I'm looking for fun". I sit and think for a minute on how to reply. A relationship is fun, so I reply that I too am looking for fun. Now I do actually sit and cringe that I was that daft not to realise what he meant. Paul replies instantly " u on whatsapp?". Uh??? I ask Paul what it is. He tells me. I explain I don't have it. Again instant reply this time a huge paragraph explaining how I get WhatsApp, telling me it's soooo much easier to message, and he includes his phone number. Oh, he is so kind!
I install WhatsApp. I add his number and say hi. He replies straight away then after a few minutes I get a notification I have a new picture message. Oooh what can that be? I open it and all I can think is……..
Welcome to hell. 😱😱😱😱
Now I am not a prude, I won't make judgements on anyone but why the hell would you do that. Do what I hear you ask! (Unless you are a lady who's been on a dating site as you already know what's coming). I've opened the message and was faced with a picture of what I can only describe as a dead turkey hanging in the butcher's window. I look again to make sure it's not something else and my eyes are deceiving me, but no, oh no, my eyes are working just fine, and he really has sent me a picture of his penis. I think I'm in shock. Paul has sent me Little Paul. His knob. Paul sent me a F#€king dick pic!
I drop my phone. I go into a bit of a panic. It had been a while since I last saw one. I phone my mate. She has done internet dating in the past. She is so advanced and has WhatsApp. It would seem everyone does in 2017. She also seemed so unfazed by it. So I sent her the pic as I'm still in shock. I rant and rave about how I'm disgusted and how do I reply to that blah blah blah. She tells me to simply block him. Block him? So explanation on how to do that ensues followed by about 20 minutes of raucous laughter at how apt it was I called it little Paul.
After feeling the need to bleach my eyes and mind of that awful image I decided to log off. I needed to cleanse my mind, go to my happy place and have a large stiff drink.
Tomorrow is a new day, and It can't all be bad. Can it?
Now you'd think I would have learnt from that, but no, little old trusting naive me fell for it time and time again. I had enough penis pics within a week to fill an album.
That was just the first week of my internet dating experience. We are now at the end of 2020 and a few months back I became single again. This time through choice. So here we go again!
If this raised a smile please take a peek at my page. In the space of 2 years I had some rather memorable experiences. 🙄
I can't believe I'm writing this, but I don't know how else to get it out. I was dreading the holidays and tried really hard to keep myself occupied but if I'm brutally honest it has been tougher than I imagined. As everyone is struggling at the moment I've done my usual and pretended I'm fine. I'm not! I've come to the realisation that I've done such a good job in the past of keeping my feelings hidden that nobody currently in my life knows the true me and that is sad.
I listened to the latest update last night and whilst not surprised at the new lockdown, I am distraught. I'm angry this wasn't done months ago. I'm frustrated that whilst I like most people did follow the rules others haven't. I am not worried about my own health, but I am fearful for my children who are both Type 1 diabetic and my parents who have medical conditions.
I'm scared that these next few weeks will see me falling back into that spiral of self-pity that I had during my lowest point a couple of months back. I'm scared that my anxiety has again been triggered, and I'm terrified of those dark thoughts that sit in the periphery of my mind waiting to resurface. I don't feel able to tell my family or friends how I'm feeling as they are all going through this, and I do not wish to add to their worries.
I've just spent over an hour on the phone with my friend whose mum was admitted to hospital yesterday with COVID, trying really hard to stay upbeat and positive for her during a very difficult time. I have been messaging an old school friend who lives alone and is struggling during this time, with positive encouraging messages as I'm concerned for him, but I cannot seem to practice what I preach.
I hate feeling like this. I am so angry with myself and feel selfish. I'm sitting here thinking about what I want, what I'm missing out on and hate myself for it. I had made progress and been so positive in the past month, and I am now here writing like this. I'm disappointed that I seem to be allowing myself to go backwards.
I don't go back to work until next Monday, and it can't come quick enough. Anything just to stop myself from dwelling on last year and my fears for the coming months. Anything to stop myself from doing something I desperately want to do but would get me in trouble. Anything to stop this damn overthinking.
I found writing two positives from my day and revisiting really helpful, but I am struggling to find any positives in my days at the moment. I've re-read past writing in the hope of bucking my ideas up but nothing seems to be working. I've been busy with my page and was encouraged to create a group which has taken off well, but I can honestly say that even though I have a happy, funny persona portrayed in doing that, happy and funny is not how I feel. I live with my teenage son and I know I am luckier than others, but I have never felt so lonely or alone.
I crave normality, I desperately need a hug. I really want for someone who knows me to realise something is wrong, to hold me and tell me that everything will be OK. Sadly none of this will happen anytime soon, so I need to sort myself out. I just don't know how.