I've not written here in months. I have always found that when I'm in a dark place, writing has helped. I've been in a great place mentally up until last week. Last week has caused me to relive the past and question many things.
Since losing my husband and long term partner of 22 years, I had a relationship. For the majority of its short term, it was amazing. I fell hook, line and sinker! It didn't end well.
I'm a passionate woman, wearing my heart on my sleeve (but hide a huge amount of feelings). It was always going to take someone pretty special to make me feel and love again.
I thought I'd met “the one” but it seems I was wrong. I questioned myself, cried myself to sleep many times trying to analyse what went wrong.
Last week after 16 months of no contact he messaged me. My immediate emotions were shocked, confused and happy. I still don't know why I was happy, but I was. A long time has passed. I've changed in many ways, but after agreeing to meet him, I felt odd. It was so good seeing him. The physical attraction was there. The intellectual attraction was there. The emotional attraction!
Well, that's a sticking point. I loved this man. There had only ever been one other I had felt this way, but sometimes with him, it feels like I was conversing with a Robot. I'm not allowed to have feelings without it being passive-aggressive, or I'm putting him down! As a woman who feels and loves, I need to be heard.
There were so many amazing things about this man, and I proudly at the time was his biggest cheerleader. It was never enough! His ironing was more of a priority! My feelings always made him feel I was putting him down, that he wasn't good enough. That is complete bollocks! He was more than good enough. To me, he was perfect. Not in a saintly way, but perfect for me.
I've tried for many months to block him out of my mind. Him reappearing in my life has caused many emotions. Happiness, fear, but above all questions. Why? Why now?
Our communication is great one on one, but via text or email it turns into a battle. It's awful, frustrating, and I know it causes more pain. What should I do? If I don't respond I'm wrong, if I do, it fuels it. I'm lost!
Do I wish he'd not returned to my life? I don't know. When we met, it was so comfortable. We laughed and seemed to reconnect so easily. But that long-standing problem is there. Communication! Discussion without condemnation. Is it something we can ever overcome? I don't know. All I know is I'm confused, frustrated and hurting all over again!
It's hard to take in that we are halfway through 2021. Life seems to have been in limbo for the best part of 15 months, although thankfully it does seem to be going in the right direction now. Last weekend I did something I haven't done in a few years. I partied hard! Last Friday, several of my local group members met up for drinks. We started at 4pm, the weather was fantastic, and we all got on so well even though most had never met one another before. We are all in our 40s, and it was like we had all been caged up for so long. This was the first time that some of us had been out and socialised, and we certainly made the most of it.
We left the pub at closing time then continued our party after in one of the members gardens, finally making our way home at 4am. After a few hours of sleep, I was up and out. A friend treated my son and I to a pub lunch by the water. It was baking hot weather but so lovely to eat, chat and enjoy the view. Also, a very rare occurrence for my son to spend the day out with me. We bumped into a few more people and another day of impromptu partying began.
It would seem I had forgotten I was 46 and that after hardly drinking for months the body doesn't recover like it used to. Sunday I suffered. Yes, totally self-inflicted but well worth it. I pottered around the house but really didn't feel great. Fortunately Monday was a bank holiday, so I had another full day to recover before work and boy I needed it.
About a year after my husband passed away I got into the habit of going out every day and for about 3 months partied far too much and honestly didn't really enjoy it. On reflection, it was to escape being in the house alone. My children had adjusted after their loss and were living their lives, and I felt lost. Rather than deal with it productively, I guess I hit the self-destruct button. It was only when my children pointed out what I was doing that I took stock and took control of my life. A few months later I was talked into joining a dating site. For anyone who has ever read my other blog will know, it was certainly an eye-opener.
I did meet a great guy and for six months we would go out for meals, cinema, concerts. We went away together and really got on well. 3 years later we are still friends. Nothing went badly between us. It just fizzled out, but he gave me the confidence to carry on dating and over the years I've met some very weird, some very nice and some down right strange people on my quest to find love again. I had my first relationship that for the most part was very good, and I saw a future I liked the look of. Sadly, it didn't work out. I started my other blog and then my group and this has opened my world up in ways I could never have imagined.
I run a Facebook group about dating and starting again, and many people have asked if I'm going to start dating again now the world has opened back up. I did set up my dating profile again, a couple of months back and quickly made it private when I realised it's the same old thing, and it bores me and my heart really wasn't in it. Being inundated with inappropriate messages is not my idea of fun and if I'm brutally honest there is not one person on these sites who has sparked my interest in a while.
Some photos were taken last weekend and sent to me of our night out. Although I hate my own photo being taken I look really happy, and I am, but as I looked at them, I realised there is something missing in my life. I miss being part of a couple. I miss someone to just cuddle up on the sofa and watch crap TV with. I miss the simple things like a good morning or good night text, holding hands and going for a walk. I miss the intimacy you can only get from a partner. Things that are all too often taken for granted.
This got me thinking about what I want. I do not want to be a party animal that is trying to fill a void by going out all the time. Neither do I want to waste time sifting through the endless mountain of inappropriate messages or men whilst trying to find someone honest and decent. I believe in fate, being in the right place at the right time. So whilst I may dip in and out of the dating apps (it does provide a source of amusement at times), I think I will leave my love life in the hands of fate. If it's meant to be, it will be. I'm a sociable person and my confidence is growing all the time, and I'm meeting new people through my group or work, so who knows what is in store for my future.
A new week has just started. I had my hypnotherapy on Friday. Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT). It's a hybrid therapy that includes hypnosis, hypnotherapy, Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I must admit I was sceptical about it. I've seen hypnosis on shows and always thought it was staged. I joked with the therapist Dawn that I was worried about randomly acting like a chicken afterwards and was assured that would not happen. So what did happen?
I was hypnotised, put into a suggestible state of consciousness. I was awake and aware the whole time. I felt so relaxed and calm. We explored four memories. It was quite bizarre. Two of the four that came out I had never ever thought about. I didn't even realise they were in my head. When I was asked to recount each scene It was as if I was watching a recording on a TV of me but in that moment. I could see every detail as clear as crystal. The feelings those memories evoked were incredibly powerful and emotional.
I always put my lack of confidence, self-esteem and self-worth down to the abusive relationship I had many years ago. What I uncovered is the seeds were sown many more years before that when I was 7.
I was an incredibly tall child. Taller than most adults and was ridiculed for it by children and teachers. The seed was sown, I looked different, was a freak, and ugly, but it was my belief and internal dialogue that it was true that made the seed grow. The relationship I had only consolidated in my head I was that person and was not worthy or good enough.
The final memory was of my husband's funeral. This confused me. I couldn't understand what my confidence had to do with that. Dawn asked me loads of open questions and the answer I gave explained all. The day of his funeral was the day I said goodbye to a man I loved, who loved me unconditionally. A man who loved me no matter how I looked or what I did. Since he passed away I have subconsciously believed I would never be worthy of being loved again. His passing triggered the old feelings and that nobody would see me as he did.
After identifying the root cause Dawn got me to say things out loud. Almost to dispel the feelings of being ugly, different and unlovable. To put them in a time and place that no longer has any relevance or power in my life. I was bought out of my hypnotic state. I was aware I had cried throughout, but I was smiling. I felt an inner peace that I cannot find the right words to describe. We talked further about it and I can honestly say I was amazed at how I felt.
That night I was buzzing. I had a video call with some people I have gotten to know recently but have never met. This is something I would not have done before. Always worrying about how awful I would look on the screen. I was not worried this time. I took the call and I felt fantastic. I ended up having a great evening, and although we are in lockdown it was a fantastic girls night with a lot of laughter.
On Saturday I was asked again by a number of my group members about a party or get together after lockdown. This was something said as a bit of a joke a couple of weeks back by one group member and within a matter of hours escalated quite quickly. I have over 450 members now, and it really has created a little community of people who help one another out. Dawn, my therapist has offered to run some sessions on the group starting from this week for the next 6 weeks, including the psychology of relationships amongst other things. This has been really well-received by the other members and many have confirmed their attendance for the first one. As the group members live all over the place I've started to look at possible venues around the country and see where people are happy and able to travel to. I have never organised anything like this before and to be honest prior to Friday didn't seriously entertain the idea. Now it can be a reality.
Sunday was Valentine's Day. I received 2 E-cards. One was from a guy in the group who lives in Canada, the other was from a guy I dated 3 years ago. Although he is in a relationship he has sent one every year since we met, except last year (he only sends it as a friend). The cards made me laugh, and I'll admit boosted my ego a little. I chatted to the guy I had dated and told him about my hypnotherapy. He has been really supportive over the past few months checking in with me as he knows I've been having a tough time.
When I met him, dating was a complete unknown to me. I had been in a relationship for 22 years. I had just lost a huge amount of weight and hated my body even more than I had before. He is incredibly good-looking and super confident. I always felt a little intimidated. We dated for 6 months and whilst we got on amazingly ì always knew it would be nothing more than friends. I do remember him saying to me at the time that sexy is an attitude not a dress size. It always stuck in my head, but I never took it onboard. After he listened to me telling him about hypnotherapy he said it to me again. He paid me several other compliments. Before I would have just laughed it off unable to accept he meant it. This time I didn't. After we chatted I went upstairs and coloured my hair. I put a dress, heels and makeup on. The first time in so long. Why did I bother when there is no one to see it? I did it because it made me feel good. I went shopping totally overdressed and made up, but I didn't care. I felt great.
I can see how my attitude has changed already in certain aspects of my life. I am no longer worried about someone saying hurtful or cruel things to me about the way I look as that actually says more about them and where they are in their heads than it does me. My new-found confidence will only enhance me and my life. Will I ever be a person who craves or demands attention in a crowd? No, that is not at all in my nature. I want to be the person who can look at myself inside and out and know and be happy with who I am. Since Friday I can do that.
I hope to be able to look back at these ramblings in a year's time and be proud of myself. I do not want to look back, read this and feel that nothing has changed or be annoyed with myself for not acting on what I have said or done. I am confident that it will not be the case. The skeptic in me did wonder if how I felt was just an in the moment feeling and would it last. What difference would it make to my life? Well I am three days in. I have a recording I listen to every day and will for 21 days. I feel empowered for the first time.
After shopping on Sunday I actually stood and truly looked at myself in a mirror. I stood completely naked. For someone who has avoided mirrors for so long this was unusual. And for the first time I liked what I saw. I didn't criticize how I looked. I just appreciated myself. I have curves, I have scars, I have stretch marks, but they are there for a reason and are a part of the story of my life. I sat listening to music that night. Learning to Fly by Pink Floyd came on. So apt! To me the lyrics are about overcoming personal fear and breaking free from it. I cannot explain how this has worked and I would honestly recommend it to anyone. I feel like I have been given the opportunity to be me. To be happy and comfortable in myself. I am learning to fly.
I have put the link on to Dawn's website in case anyone else feels they could benefit from it.
Here's a little story. I hope it raises a smile on this cold Sunday morning.
Most of my dates have been a standard coffee, drink, meal or bowling. I've only gone beyond a first date with a few of those. The ones that remain a first date only were for a multitude of reasons. One of the main reasons for me is laughter. If I don't laugh on a date it's not going to progress.
I love to laugh and humour is an incredibly important trait I look for in a guy. So back in my early naive days of dating, I had got a message from a guy one morning who seemed genuine and was quite witty. His picture was only a face pic. We messaged for a couple of days when he asked if I'd like to go out for a drink.
Now experience has taught me that I need more than 3 days of messaging before I should agree to meet but back then it was all very new. I agreed to a drink, and we arranged to meet at a pub local to me, he lived about 8 miles away. I always let a friend know when and where I am going and have a pre-arranged help sign. On this particular date the pub was less than 5 minutes walk from my house, so I felt very comfortable.
Whilst walking to the pub he messaged to say he had arrived and what would I like to drink. I told him I was on my way and that a white wine would be lovely. Now I was quite impressed at his timeliness and the offer of getting the first drink. Very charming! And yes I'm easily pleased.
I arrived at the pub, and it was quite busy, there were a few people who I knew in there. They said hello as I was scanning the pub for my date and asked who I was with as anyone who knows me knows I wouldn't have gone to a pub on my own back then. I said I had a date. I was a little nervous about meeting this guy with prying eyes from friends, but I wasn't going to run. I continued to scan the pub and messaged to say I was here but couldn't see him. Out from a little snug area popped a guy and a big smile and a very loud "I'm here". Everyone in the pub heard and turned to look at my date.
My heart sunk!
Have you ever seen Harry Enfield's Kevin and Perry?
Well I was greeted by Kevin. A full-grown man dressed like a teenager 🙈.
He was into body building and had a very low cut t-shirt showing off his chest. A denim jacket, pink skinny Jean's, converse trainers and a baseball cap. Not a great look for a 48-year-old.
I tried incredibly hard to not show my disappointment and to stifle the laugh that was trying so hard to come out, and said to myself it's only one drink. I walked over to "Kevin" and spied a bottle of wine on the table. OK so it's only 2 drinks then. I can do this. I would not have been rude enough back then at this point to leave when someone has made an effort to travel to me and buy drinks. I then spotted an empty pint glass. He gave me a kiss on the cheek and said he was just going to get himself a pint. The bottle of wine it would appear was for me. He came back to the table and poured me a very large glass of wine. A couple of the people I knew had moved close to where we were sitting, and I could see the amused looks on their faces as they spotted my date.
I had chosen the seat opposite his pint glass, but on his return he sat next to me which effectively trapped me between him and the wooden partition. No escape. He pretty much swallowed his pint before he had even finished one sentence and said he was getting another. I was a little concerned about him drinking and driving, but it was OK he hadn't driven. He had come the 8 miles on his scooter. Surely a scooter or a moped comes under the same rules of drinking and driving? No he was fine as he meant an actual foot propelled scooter. Like the ones my kids had aged 10, and he pointed to it under the table.
I found myself taking large sips of my wine but had forgotten it had been several hours since I'd eaten and the wine was going to my head. With each sip he topped up my glass, and I was finding it harder and harder to contain my laughter. Not because anything he said was funny, no, because I was out with a man child and could see my friends enjoying my pain.
The bottle was nearly empty he asked if I'd like another drink. I replied I would get them as I didn't want to come across as not paying my way, even though I knew we would never see each other again, I do not want to be a story of the date who took and gave nothing back. It also meant I could buy him a pint and myself a non-alcoholic throw it down my neck and get out quick drink. I excused myself to the ladies and said I'd get the drinks on my return.
I passed my friends on the way who called me over and literally were killing themselves laughing at my dates choice of attire. I told them of his scooter folded neatly under the table and could still hear the raucous laughter whilst I was in the loo. I came out to find "Kevin" had gone to the bar and ordered our drinks. Yay a second bottle of wine for me 🙄.
Needless to say in my politeness of not wanting to be rude. I got rat arsed. Every time I looked up I could see my friends using my predicament as a source of their evenings entertainment. I could have cried but instead my laughter was unlocked. I have no clue what he was saying I could not stop laughing. Tears were actually rolling down my face. The more I drank, the more I laughed. I came to the end of the second bottle and explained I needed to go. I made up a lame excuse that the babysitter for my children could only do 2 hours. My children at that point were 19 and 13.
We got outside the pub. "Kevin" unfolded his scooter. I again burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. I soon sobered up when he offered to take me home. No no no it's fine., you have further to go. I knew the direction he would have to go to get home, pretty much passing my front door, also I told him I needed to go in the opposite direction. I ended up walking for about 30 minutes still laughing out loud. Probably looking like a drunk nutter.
After a couple of hours and a few strong coffees I received a message from "Kevin" saying he had a great time and loved a woman who laughed so much at his jokes. I didn't reply and needless to say never saw "Kevin" or his scooter again.
I did learn something from this. Never ever go on a date where your friends are.
Do you believe in fate? Do you believe in serendipitous events/encounters? That everything happens for a reason. I believe fate was the reason I met my husband. I'd been in a horrendous relationship and left my home town with my ex to go to work at Butlins. Whilst my ex was sacked for hospitalising me, I stayed. My husband came to Butlins a few months later. He was on his way home from work and walked past a job centre in London where he lived. It had a board outside advertising work on the South Coast, with accommodation provided. He told me he didn't know why he went inside as he had a really good job as a Carpenter and Joiner, but he was feeling very disillusioned with London and within 2 days he packed his belongings and moved to the sunny South Coast. We consequently met and he never moved back.
Had I not have been with the person I was with, however bad it was, I would never have met my husband. I would never have had my children. I've always struggled to find a reason as to how fate resulted in my husband being taken from us too soon. The disease that killed him (Mesothelioma) was a result of work he did with asbestos some 15 years before we met. It laid dormant until 2016. A couple of days before he passed away he said to me that he bet I regretted him turning up at Butlins as I was about to be made a widow at 41. I didn't and don't ever regret meeting him.
Since I was a child I have kept things that hold memories for me. Little trinkets and notes that I've bought or been given over the years that have sentimental value. I even have my school-leavers books signed by everyone from that year. To outsiders, it would be junk, to me incredibly precious. I have a box with cards, obituary notice, order of service and candle from my husband's funeral. The one and only letter he wrote me, our first valentines and Christmas cards. Other personal effects. Last year I took down most of the photos as it felt right to do so and they are safely in the box. I haven't been into the box other than adding the photos. That was until the day after I wrote my last post.
I was feeling very low. I sat at the PC when a large bang behind me made me jump out of my skin. I looked to see the box had fallen from where it always sits. I have no idea what caused it, but it landed with the lid open. I could see the pictures on the top were not damaged. I went to close the lid and put the box away but for some reason I had a sudden urge to go through it. Under the photos was a memory stick. I knew this held over 50 or so photos of my husband. I haven't looked at it since it was played at his funeral 4 years ago, afraid of how I would feel. I decided to play it.
I sat laughing as each image filled my TV screen. Smiling at the memories. I didn't cry once watching. I then carried on looking through the box and came across a disc. It was a recording of the coroner's court that I had to attend and give evidence at 2 months after he died. It was a blur at the time as I was still in shock. As he had passed away due to an industrial disease this was necessary but incredibly painful. I had to fight to stop an autopsy being performed as he had been through so much already. That may seem bizarre to some, but he had endured so many biopsies and procedures before he died I didn't want his body being cut any more. I won my fight and the coroner agreed biopsy results would be sufficient along with my evidence.
I have never listened to the recording and other than my dad, the coroner, the recorder and a journalist that was allowed to be present I actually have no memory of what was said. I decided to play that too. It was so difficult to listen to. I didn't sound like me. The pain in my voice came across so loudly. I did cry listening to it, but I am glad I did.
I put everything back in the box, but it got me thinking. Looking at the photos and memories were happy. The recording was hard to listen to but after doing so I felt calm and peaceful. I started to remember other conversations I'd had with my husband in the days before his death. Some were very amusing, others very deep. The last conversation we had he told me to go and live my life. Be happy. Find another love and that he had always loved me. He was unable to speak again after this due to sedation. At the time I really did not want to hear that, but I thought long and hard about that conversation.
I took a call a couple of hours later from a lady I have got to know over the past few months. She said she had a weird feeling and felt she needed to call me and was I OK. I told her what had happened with the box and what I had done. She said "that is serendipity". Serendipity is an unplanned fortunate discovery. We talked at length about it and how I believed fate bought my husband into my life, but I could not justify it taking him away. She went on to say that she believes people are brought to us for a reason. That every person we meet teaches us something whether that be a good, fun, sad, learning, loving or bad experience. She went on that my husband was a gift to me and that after 7 years of abuse I needed him and that he had done what he needed to by showing me how to love and be loved. Now whether you believe in that or not I felt for the first time since his death totally at peace with that. I do believe my husband was bought into my life by fate. I was lucky enough to have loved and been loved by him for 22 years.
My low mood I'd been having that day lifted after my call with her. I started to think of other people who have been in my life in the past 4 years and left an impact on it in some way. Every person I thought of I have learned from. Whether it be through inspiring me, educating me, introducing me to new experiences or opening my eyes to things I wanted to try but never had the courage too. Every person I thought of no matter if they are still in my life now or not I am grateful for what I have learnt and believe it was meant to be.
I slept really well that night. I woke the following morning feeling refreshed and determined. Determined to do what my husband had said. To live my life and be happy.
I have created a kind of bucket list. I've always had so many things in my head I want to do or experience but actually putting them into black and white, gives me something to aim for. I listed my career goals. I've always wanted to learn to play the drums. Places I want to travel to. New things I want to experience and much much more. I've already looked into drum lessons for when lockdown is over. Later that day my son told me of his plans to go travelling after college. A possibility of living abroad. He has a list too it would seem.
This announcement from him got me thinking again. I've toyed with the idea of selling up on and off for a couple of years now but always decided against it as it's my children's home. They have grown now. My daughter left home 18 months ago and is happy and settled with her partner. My son will carry out his plans as he is a focused and determined young man. So that leaves me no excuses. I have spoken to an estate agent and will be having a valuation carried out when allowed. There is nothing or no one currently in my life that warrants me needing to be in my house or even in the UK once my son goes in just over a year.
The days that followed I have been so busy with work, my group (that now has over 400 members and counting) and looking at my list and planning that I haven't had time to feel low or miserable. I'm sleeping well and have a new energy. Who knows what's ahead. I certainly don't but one thing I do know is I just want to be happy, have fun and live my life because life is short, life is precious and to be enjoyed. I want to make the most of mine not look back in twenty years full of regret.
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. 🙄
This Christmas for me, like so many other people has been one of the strangest. Apart from Christmas 2016, just after my husband passed away, which even now I have little memory of, this holiday has been incredibly difficult. I am so used to having a house full of family and friends at Christmas, it really hasn't felt the same. I was not able to spend Christmas Day with my daughter and her partner as planned and this affected me badly. They did however drop my present round which left me speechless and made me cry. It is quite honestly the best present I have ever had. I have always preferred personal gifts to any other. They had been through my photos on facebook and had a selection of them printed on canvas. Some of my best memories. It really is the most personal and thoughtful gift and something I will always treasure. It also made me think of things that have happened this year.
As we approach the end of what I can only describe as the most bizarre year I've known, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what has happened since last Christmas. Christmas Day 2019 was so full of fun. I'd recently entered a new relationship the month before, my first since losing my husband, which was exciting and terrifying at the same time. I usually spend both Christmas and Boxing Day cooking for everyone and end up eating far too much, and regretting it, but last year I broke from tradition, the first time in 20 years and went to the football with my friend. It turned out to be the most fun Boxing Day I'd had in years. I spoke to my friend the other day about it, and we laughed at the memory but were also both sad as we knew this year wouldn't be the same.
The New Year held so much promise. I was the happiest I'd been in a long time as I saw in 2020, all seemed perfect, and I was so optimistic at what was ahead. The months that followed saw me the most content, happy and relaxed. Even with the outbreak of COVID-19 and a national lockdown, which no one had ever seen before and the challenges that brought, I was happy in my personal life. I took a huge risk and allowed myself to fall in love. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be. Whilst I have been incredibly sad things didn't work out I can look back on that brief encounter and be grateful. I have many happy memories and I discovered a lot of new things and have learnt a lot about myself, about what I want, what I like and what I need. I've met new people, and I've found the courage to write.
The ending of my relationship, contributed somewhat to me hitting the low point at the beginning of November. I felt very lost and made some poor decisions. Several weeks back I was asked out by a guy. I really wasn't in the right place but agreed even though I knew it was for the wrong reasons. We went out on several socially distanced dates. I guess I was enjoying the company and attention I was receiving, but I knew in my heart it wasn't right. I have never been one to jump from relationship to relationship. He was keen for us to progress from dating. I wasn't as I'm still trying to put back together my heart and my head. I withdrew and became quite cold and distant, something that is the total opposite to how I am normally. He was very persistent and started to send me gifts which just freaked me out even more. I asked advice from one of my closest friends, and he told me quite bluntly I was being an idiot and that I was just going to hurt a decent guy and end up making myself feel worse in the process. He of course was right. I did the right thing and ended it.
Whilst I cannot undo what has been done I can accept I need time. Love is not an emotion that can be switched on and off. I have only been in love twice in my life. As my husband died that love hasn't disappeared, it's just different. Having a relationship end is not the same. For me there's regret, hurt and unanswered questions. There is also the sadness thinking of the fun times and also an element of what if.
This New Year's Eve I won't be surrounded by people I love and care about. The first time in my life. I doubt I'll sit up to see the new year in, but I shall raise a glass and say goodbye to 2020. It's been a rollercoaster ride. I will also raise a glass to my ex to thank him for the good times and for giving me something that I am very grateful for, and to silently wish him the best for the new year.
I have one wish for 2021 and that is it will be a happier and healthy year for all. I hope we can reunite with loved ones and friends soon. I hope that everybody can look back this time next year and reflect on happier and fun times. Like the song by Soft Cell Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, I shall be doing just that. Saying hello to 2021 and looking forward to what it brings and wave goodbye to a year like no other, it's not all been bad!
I've thought long and hard about posting this but I've decided to be braver going forward, so here goes.
Last night I struggled to sleep. I'd had a busy day but just could not switch my head off. Words just kept going round and round. No matter which way I laid in my bed nothing was comfortable. The frustration of wanting sleep kept me awake even more. I got up, went downstairs, made a drink, anything to occupy my mind from the words that were bugging me beyond belief. I've had this many times over the years and never found a solution until this morning.
At 2:58 I decided to write the words down. I've said writing has really helped me and I hoped by putting the words down on paper they would get out of my head and let me find sleep. Below is what came out and the funny thing is as soon as I had written it I went to bed and slept like a baby. So here it is, the rambling words that had plagued me for hours but fell on to the paper within a matter of minutes.
WORDS IN THE NIGHT
How can the person you knew so well leave you lying damaged and broken, living in hell?
Was it all a lie I need answers, I do.
Was anything that was said honest and true?
Ice cold heart, dead inside, pulled along with the moving tide.
Eyes wide shut to see no more, the pain I was in on the floor.
An emotionless void the tears have run dry, there's nothing left to make me cry.
Dazed and confused.
I really had to say goodbye.
A life to live, my love to give.
Maybe another time.
The smile I wear shows no care, pretending I am fine.
I'm not sure you can call it poetry, to me, they are just my words and I'm finding it is so much healthier to get them out.
Well it's been 10 days since I put fingers to keys and thank you if you took time out to read it.
When I wrote that first piece I was back to my lowest. I felt very despondent and alone. My thoughts were extremely dark and unhealthy. No matter what life has thrown at me I have always had my humour but even that abandoned me. Laughter is so important and I seemed to have forgotten what mine sounds like.
November always used to be such a fun month for me. Bonfire night, birthday celebrations and Christmas not far away. I was always like an excitable child at this time of year. We would have Bonfire parties with our neighbours and good friends. They were always so much fun for the children and grown ups. We would BBQ, the children would play and the adults would talk, laugh and sing badly. The guys would sort the bonfire and let off the fireworks (apparently that's a man's job along with the BBQ 🙄) - very happy times indeed!
My husband always had a thing for fire and fireworks. He wasn't a pyromaniac or an arsonist (although he was caught as a child trying to build a bonfire in his Nan's front room). Normally so chilled out, relaxed and quite reserved, he wasn't one for getting excited about Christmas or birthdays but he did love Bonfire night. So it's quite ironic that this is the day he passed away.
He became ill in February 2016. Just pain in the right side of his chest he didn't grumble or complain but he did take himself off to the doctor which was unheard of for him.
He was given an x-ray, painkillers and sent home. As the weeks went by he was getting worse, the painkillers did nothing to ease him. Back to the doctors, stronger pain killers, still they didn't help. More weeks went by, I was incredibly worried he was getting worse. One night at the beginning of April the pain was unbearable for him, his skin was grey and his lips were going blue. I called 999.
He had 12 further emergency admittances by ambulance from April until the end of May. He was initially told he had an infection and was given co-codamol. He was mis-diagnosed again in the beginning of April.
I went into fight mode. I knew this man better than anyone. He was ill and in so much pain, he was on a morphine driver and about to be discharged from hospital with no answers. I logged a formal complaint with the CEO of the hospital. (I also refused to leave the hospital until I was heard). It worked! They phoned the following day. There had been an oversight, somebody had not read his x ray correctly. An emergency same day appointment given. After numerous scans and tests we saw a Respiratory consultant who finally gave an opinion on what it could be. Cancer!
A shock but finally we were getting somewhere. He could beat this. I had 3 years previously and he was much stronger than me. We just needed to get results and get a plan of action.
Again the weeks went past, the pain couldn't be managed at home so at the beginning of May he was admitted yet again. He came home for our son's 12th birthday then back in hospital the next day. They had him on some pretty heavy pain killers, morphine and ketamine yet nothing was giving him relief. Things got so bad I moved into the hospital. A camp bed in his room was where I slept for nearly a month.
Why is it the worst memories are the ones you can recount second by second, blow by devastating blow? I can remember every detail of that day. The day we were told he had Mesothelioma (a terminal asbestos caused cancer). The day my world changed forever.
We had met 22 years earlier. I was a guarded 20 year old who had been through an extremely abusive relationship for 7 years and was in no way looking for a new one. He was gorgeous! Tall, dark, handsome and oblivious to it. He had no idea of the reaction he would get from women when he walked in a room. He had the most beautiful blue eyes and his smile could make my insides turn to jelly (really cheesy I know, but so true). We got on amazingly. We would sit talking all through the night. Laugh, joke and wind each other up in the funniest ways. Every night after work for about 3 months he would ask to take me out. Every night I said no. On December 8th 1995 that changed and we decided to give it a try.
It worked! We were just a normal couple. Happy, in love and having fun. He proposed about 9 months later. I said yes but we never set a date. We didn't need to. We loved each other. We were happy as we were. The kids came along, we owned a house, we both had good jobs. Life was good.
I loved our little family. I also looked forward to the future when the kids were grown and we could enjoy time together again. In the blink of an eye all of that was taken away. In the length of time it took for the consultant to give the diagnosis, our future vanished. I was destroyed. My strong fit gorgeous man was dying.
I don't think I've ever talked to anyone about how I felt that day. So many feelings and emotions. I felt that I had been picked up, spun round and dropped on my head. I didn't cry at first. I think I was numb with disbelief. In total denial. I was not ready to accept there was nothing they could do for him. I was not prepared to lose the man I loved, the father of my children, a man who still had so much life to live. I had never given up or quit on anything before and I certainly wasn't going to now. Fight mode kicked in again.
I didn't know what to do. All I could do was hope. Hope for a miracle, a chance, anything. The consultant mentioned a trial, yes, hope! It was being run by Guys and St Thomas hospital in London. I would have to move up there for the duration (several months) but that was ok. He was from London. All his family were there. Yes! Finally a solution. My mind was running at a million miles per hour. (I cannot even comprehend what was going through his head). Before we left the hospital that day I had already mentally packed and had it straight in my head what we were going to do. That was so much easier than trying to process the other outcome.
This was going to work! We were going to beat this!
He needed chemotherapy to slow down the disease as they wouldn't accept him on the trial if it got beyond a certain point. We just had to be patient and wait. And wait! And wait! The weeks dragged on. He was in so much pain. It had already broken 2 of his ribs. He was on so many heavy duty drugs but nothing touched that pain.
We were advised by the hospital that if we wanted to get married we needed to do it ASAP. A special licence was granted and in June we were married in his room at the hospital in our jeans and T-shirts, with our children, family and my best friend there. It was perfect! The nurses had put banners up and came in and threw confetti. The dinner ladies bought us a cake and a bottle of wine and the consultant bought us our only wedding present. A set of Mr and Mrs mugs. It didn't matter that I didn't have a dress or a party. All that mattered was us. We spent our first night as man and wife in separate beds which did make us laugh. Despite what was happening we somehow managed to keep our sense of humour although it got more warped than usual on occasion.
He was finally allowed to come home with The Rowans Hospice taking over his pain management. They were amazing. I can honestly say I would not have survived without them.
Chemo started at the beginning of July the first of 6 doses. I still don't know why it took so long to start. If only they had started it straight away.! We knew the trial was our only hope and even if accepted there was no guarantee of success. But hope kept us going. He was taken in to The Rowans for pain management. It was during the second stay he had his third round of Chemo and was sent for a CT scan. The results were devastating. He could not be accepted for the trial. They wanted to try radiotherapy to give us time but all hope had gone. After I left him at the hospice that night I cried like I have never cried before. I felt physical pain and was violently sick. I wanted to scream but the children were in bed, I couldn't wake them. Oh no! How on earth do we tell them? I have never before or since been so scared. I was sitting alone in our house. Everything looked normal but nothing was. The next morning I opened a letter. It was dated the day before the scan. He had been accepted on the trial. I tore that damn letter to tiny pieces, burnt it and never spoke of it to him.
He had radiotherapy several times. Another scan confirmed it hadn't worked and I think that was the point when he accepted what was happening to him. This strong, beautiful courageous man broke down and sobbed. Not for himself but for our children, his mum, our family and for me and all I could do was hold him. I felt utterly useless. After that he declined quickly. He went back to The Rowans and on the day of our eldest child's 18th birthday he begged the doctors to end it. He couldn't take the pain anymore. He was exhausted. With no hope he had nothing left.
They sedated him just under 2 weeks later and on Saturday 5th November 2016 just as the fireworks started the man I loved passed peacefully away.
We have just had the fourth anniversary. So why after four years has this year been so hard? My daughter said it was harder for her this year than any other due to what is happening in the world and in part I have to agree. Since last November I have had my first relationship since losing my husband, it started so well and recently ended so badly. I've been through a change in my work environment (like many others) to a complete change of job and with a few hiccups in my home, health and family, everything has snowballed. I cannot wait to see the back of 2020.
After sending my first ramblings I opened up to a friend, I held nothing back (this is still new to me, telling people how I honestly feel, not just pretending to be ok). He was shocked and saddened to know I had been feeling this way. Even when he last saw me two days before lockdown when we were drunk dancing in my kitchen he had no idea. I hid it well. I guess I am tired of hiding it now. It's exhausting pretending you are ok when you really are not. I'm a pleaser and a fixer by nature and I don't want to worry people or make them miserable with my troubles which is why I keep it in and let it fester. Although very unhealthy.
I have made a plan for the next two weeks. I am lucky enough to still be working so keeping busy isn't an issue. I am getting my daughter's old bike and this weekend I will be wobbling around the local parks and cycle tracks (I may need stabilizers, it's been about 28 years since I last rode a bike). I have lost nearly a stone in weight in the past month, not through diet, and I am determined it will stay off.
I have also started to write down everyday 2 positive things from what has happened that day and when I feel low I look at those as a reminder life is not all negative.
One of my favourite songs is November Rain. It played on the radio today whilst it was extremely miserable outside. The song holds many good memories for me, as well as being played at my husband's funeral. In many ways it's such a sad song but there are two lines, 'Cause nothin' lasts forever. Even cold November rain. I smiled as it played thinking of good times and the irony of how cold and wet it was outside. I am taking the positive from those lines. The bad times won't last forever and the weather will eventually improve.