It's been a year since I started writing this blog, and what a year it's been! When I started writing, I was in a really dark place. Life had lost all meaning for me and I really couldn't see a light at the end of a very long dark tunnel. We were just entering another lockdown, and I can honestly say I'd never felt quite so alone as I did back then. Writing the blog has been extremely cathartic and has helped me in many ways. Writing my feelings down has helped me to overcome the dark times. I've written more than I've submitted as some stuff is just too personal to put in the public domain, but for someone who has hidden her feelings for a long time, the release my writing has given me is huge.
I quite often read back over my previous ramblings, and I'm encouraged by how far I've come. With the help of the RTT hypnotherapy, learning to set boundaries, and practising mindfulness, my mental health has improved significantly. I still have dark moments, but they are no longer having the impact on my life like before. A few weeks after starting this blog I started my other "jokey" blog and my Facebook group which has given me so much pleasure and fun. I've made some amazing friendships and as I've said before I could never have imagined what I could have got from a daft Facebook group.
My group has just under 1200 members and still continues to grow. I'm still receiving messages to say how the group has helped so many people going through rough times, and the sense of achievement is fantastic. I've met with a few members already and have been invited to spend time in some amazing destinations like Australia, The Norfolk Islands and Florida with some members I've got to know well over the past 11 months. Maybe next year I'll get there. One of my members who lives 3800 miles away in Manitoba, Canada, is coming over to visit in the New Year and I can't wait to finally meet him in person after many months of messages and calls. These people, who I would never have met if not for the group, have helped me more than they will ever know.
We have just had the 5th anniversary of my husband's death, and last year was the hardest it had ever been. It's always a tough day and as it's bonfire night the sound of the fireworks for a couple of weeks before always seem to highlight the day. I was a little emotional on the day itself, but so much better than I was a year ago.
The following day, my friend came down from Cheshire, and we went to see Portsmouth play at Fratton. I hadn't seen him since August, and it was the first football match I've been to since the pandemic started. After that, we ventured into Southsea for drinks and a meal. We had such a great day and night. I seem to have done more since July than I had in the last 2 years. I went to Victorious a couple of months back and saw Madness. I've wanted to see them for years, and I was not disappointed. It was amazing and for me meant I could finally dance again. Well, I use the word dance lightly, I threw myself around like a Looney for hours and struggled to walk the next day, but it was worth it. I've been to a couple of belated birthday parties for friends who turned 50 during the pandemic and again danced, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed mixing. I've a concert on my birthday in a couple of weeks at the O2 in London, as a present from my daughter and her partner. It will be the farthest I've travelled in a long time, and I'm looking forward to spending the time with my daughter. One of my friends has organised a group of us to go out the day after to celebrate my birthday and I cannot wait as I did nothing for my birthday last year.
I'm a sociable person and finally feel like I'm getting my life back. Work is going well. I can now work from home 3 days a week and the office the other 2. This has helped give me a great work/life balance, and I've found at my age I appreciate that more than ever. I've started dating again and have met some nice guys and had some lovely days/evenings in good company. Only one has ticked all the boxes, but he lives 150 miles away. Typical! It's early days; I'm enjoying getting to know him, but I have found that I've built some pretty big walls up to protect me, and they are a little too solid at the moment, so for now I'm enjoying the single life. What is meant to be, will be.
I realised another 4 weeks have gone by, and I've not written. Yes, I've been busy as life has been returning to some form of normality, but that's a bit of a lame excuse. There is always a quiet moment in the day. I've sat and looked back at my other entries and when I first started this blog I was in a bad way emotionally. I had so many thoughts and feelings flying around that I found putting fingers to keys or pen to paper was the best way for me to deal with it. Now I'm in a much happier place, I guess I haven't found the need to spill all.
Last night my Facebook group that I started as a bit of a joke 9 months ago reached 1000 members. This morning, a further 20 people have requested to join. I can honestly say I felt really emotional when it hit that number. It may seem stupid to some that a Facebook group means that much, but to me, it means the world.
I would never have guessed that writing about my daft and dire dating experiences would have opened my world up like it has. My group, as I've said on here before, really has bought people together. I thought that maybe once lockdown ended and people went back to their busy lives that the group would dwindle, but the opposite has happened. I'm still receiving so many messages from people saying the group has helped them or what a fun thing it is to be a part of. The number of new friendships and even relationships that have formed as a result of perfect strangers chatting online is fantastic. I have been privileged to meet several of my group members and have formed some great friendships with many, and more to meet in the future.
This feeling of achievement and knowing how it has helped others and not only myself is fantastic, however it is marred with sadness. On Tuesday, I was notified that one of my group members had passed away. Steve had been a very active member of the group, was very witty and entertaining. Although I had never met him in person, we had chatted, and he had recently started to develop a relationship with another of the group members. I knew of his demons in his past, but was still utterly shocked to learn of his passing. Details are unclear around the circumstances, but I was completely humbled when one of his friends contacted me to say they knew Steve had been a member of the group. They just wanted to thank me for the joy it bought him and what it meant to his family to know we saw him as they did. Steve leaves behind 4 young children, and already my amazing group are looking at raising money to give a little help.
I know I'm a pleaser and fixer by nature, and Wednesday I struggled with the what ifs. What if I'd messaged him to check in as he'd been quiet for a few days, something I've done in the past with him and other members. The reality is I'll never know.
I've learnt a huge amount over the months since I started writing this and part of what I've learnt is that I cannot please everyone, I cannot fix everyone and I can change none. I can only please, fix or change what I do or feel, my own behaviours and actions. I've learned to remove myself from situations where it is detrimental to my happiness. I'm always being told I'm too nice or care too much, and I never understood how anyone can care too much or be too nice. Now I do!
I've had group members say the group 'saved' them. Truth be told, it saved me. It has helped me to open my eyes and mind, to accept who I am and who I want to be. It has been the light in my dark and has given me back something I lost. A sense of pride and achievement.
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.
3 weeks have flown by since I last wrote. With further restrictions being lifted life is beginning to be fun again. I am now going into the office 3 days per week and work is definitely getting busier.
Last Thursday I had to take a huge step out of my comfort zone and give a presentation via zoom to a very large potential client. In a 'normal' world it would have meant a long journey to the North East. The introduction of many now working from home has eliminated that, so I guess one positive has come from the lockdowns we have endured.
Usually in my work I am very confident but the morning of the presentation I woke up and was a bundle of nerves. I had my hypnotherapy in February for my confidence, self-esteem and self-worth, and it has been life changing. Thursday did put it to the test. My therapist has helped me overcome my anxiety by getting me to realise the same physical symptoms I experience when anxious are identical to those when I'm excited about something, so Thursday I just kept reminding myself I was excited to have been given the opportunity to deliver this presentation.
30 minutes before the presentation I went for a walk to clear my head. I then went to the ladies and stood looking in the mirror and told myself out loud I can do this. I was dressed in business wear, the first time since November, I looked the part and felt totally at ease and confident entering the zoom conference in front of 3 senior managers and the MD of the company I was presenting to.
My presentation was to last an hour and I knew I was the last person they would be seeing that day, with 4 competitors before me. No pressure! With the help of my Networks Director the presentation was delivered. At the end I was informed a decision would be made in two weeks. I was also a little worried when one of the senior managers said he'd like to provide feedback. My heart sank when he said I've not done this with the others but…. He went on to say how impressed he was and lots of other fantastic comments. I wanted to burst with happiness but had to maintain my professionalism. I did pretty much float home.
Personally, life is going well. My Facebook group is continuing to grow. With just under 800 members and fantastic feedback and reviews I really cannot believe how well it has done in just over 4 months. I continually get comments saying what a fantastic group it is, how much fun people are having and what I love is the fact that so many people, like me, have connected with others we would never have met. I've already met with a few people who I've got to know through my group and have a night out planned this week to meet with about 10 others.
What started off as a bit of a joke at a very low point in my life has turned into something I am incredibly proud of creating. My therapist has been giving her services free each week to my group members, and we have covered so many topics including, confidence, self-esteem, setting boundaries, creating your own reality and many more. My silly little group has turned into a safe, fun network of like-minded people. We laugh and joke, there is a lot of innuendo and banter. We tell our stories, which are always met with positive and encouraging remarks. One of my male group members put a comment up the other day saying he thought my group was the best he had come across and congratulated me on starting it. I'm learning to accept and appreciate the compliments I receive, something I always hid away from before as I never thought I was worthy of them. Now I embrace it.
Somebody I cut ties with in January reached out to me 2 weeks ago. We had been friends for a number of years, but he did something that hurt me. I now know my reason for feeling hurt was because I never set boundaries. That was due to my lack of confidence. I do not hold grudges and I did accept the olive branch that was handed to me. He said he had missed me, and he does appreciate me. Something his actions didn't show in the past, but I guess that was because I allowed it.
I am still the same person I have always been but this time I have boundaries. I know my worth. I feel like me but a better version of me. I've stopped trying to please everyone all of the time at the detriment of my feelings. I like who I am. I like how I look and I'm happy. This version of me is taking some getting used to for my friend which I find amusing. Every day I continue to learn more about myself, about who I am, what I want and what I need, and I'm rather enjoying the journey.
I've written and re-written this so many times. Each time it just seems like a huge block of words on a page. Not because I'm sad, quite the opposite actually. I'm a bundle of excitement. I feel like a kid at Christmas and my brain is working faster than my pen so to speak, so words are just tumbling out at a rate of knots. I have so many exciting and happy things going on at the moment I feel like I'm going to burst. None of it is life changing, but I haven't been this excited about anything since the early months of 2020, and it feels good.
I'm meeting up with a friend I've known since I was 7 and lost touch with. We met again through my group and have arranged to go for a walk on Wednesday. It'll be great to catch up on what's been going on in her life and chat about old times. I also have my jab booked for Thursday afternoon. After them trying for the past 2 weeks to send me to the Isle of Wight I've finally been booked into Guildhall Walk. Most people in my age group are not getting it yet which is why I can't have it locally, so I consider myself lucky as my children are both Type 1 diabetics and the letter of invitation states I'm a carer for a person who is vulnerable to Covid-19. However, I am needle phobic! The thought of the needle, not the vaccine, is already making me nervous. I know, I'm a wimp. The journey to get the jab will be a doddle, but I'm concerned about coming home. I faint every time I have an injection or blood taken so the thought of a bus, ferry and another bus on my own will be interesting. Possibly embarrassing but well worth it. My second jab is already booked for the 13th of June.
This coming weekend is what has got me about ready to pop. I'm going to see my daughter. Apart from a brief moment at Christmas I have not spent anytime with her since her birthday at the end of October. We are meeting up for a drink in the garden rain or shine. I do not care if it is thundering, lightning or throwing it down with hailstones. The gazebo will be up and we are meeting.
I'm also going for garden drinks with a guy who I have known for 34 years. He is a few years older than me and I had a huge schoolgirl crush on him. I was a first year, he was a fifth year, so he never knew, and I don't think he even realised I existed back then. We bumped into each other when we both worked for Butlins 25 years ago but hadn't seen one other until October last year, when I recognised him on my way home from work. After a hilarious chat on the train and ferry, we added each other as friends on Facebook and he has kept me entertained during this last lockdown with his wit and humour. It is going to be great to actually sit and interact with another adult human. 6 months alone with a teenage boy has been a challenge at times.
Next week I go back to the office for 2 days and the plan at the moment is to do so on a weekly basis. Again I'm so looking forward to interacting with people. To see others without a mask on is going to be fantastic. I have missed seeing smiles and people's facial expressions.
The therapy I have had for my self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth has been life changing. I've put some of the weight back on I'd lost at the end of last year, and I'm happy and comfortable with how I look. My parents had commented I had gotten too skinny, as did a couple of people who knew me that I'd bumped into on walks. I think they meant I looked unhealthy, but were too polite to say. On top of my own therapy the therapy sessions we've had in my group have been a massive help. We have covered confidence, trust and last week was boundaries. This week is creating your own reality. The feedback myself and Dawn the therapist have received is fantastic and everyone on these sessions has said how much they have got from it. For me personally I never really set boundaries. As a pleaser with confidence issues, I've never been comfortable verbalizing my boundaries or dealing with it, if I felt that they had been crossed. In the past I allowed 'friends' to treat me however they chose and just put up with it. I no longer have contact with two people I've known a long time as they crossed boundaries time and time again, but I let them. I always thought I would miss these people in my life but in the past 2 months since I last spoke to them, I can honestly say I have not at all. It's also given me a much clearer perspective of what and who I want in my life.
My group is continuing to grow and now has over 600 members. Since I started it as a bit of a joke the day before New Year's Eve, I have been amazed at what has been achieved. I never imagined for one minute I could have created something that has helped so many people. I have already booked in to visit a few members who are scattered around the country and have a few from Australia and Canada who are booking a holiday to the UK for the get together once life has fully returned to normal.
I feel like I did back in December 2019 when life for me was fun and exciting. Spring is officially here, the gardens are starting to come to life after a long tough Autumn/Winter, and that is exactly how I see my life at the moment.
A year ago I could never have imagined living as we have done. It still seems so surreal. I have to pinch myself that what has occurred really did happen. My life has changed so much in 12 months and not just because of a global pandemic. I have had some incredibly low points and some amazing highs.
The past week has been a week full of learning. Not just in an academic sense but learning more about myself and others. My appetite to learn and experience new things is bigger now than it has been in years. I started my short psychology course and whilst it is interesting it is not challenging enough. I've always regretted not completing my A Levels and the course has sparked an interest into further learning. I am not ready to commit to 2 years of study alongside my current work and other projects I have on the go, I do however want to push my learning capabilities further.
The therapy I have been having has made a huge impact in my life, my only regret is not doing it sooner. My confidence seems to be growing day by day in all aspects of my life. I've found a new confidence in standing up for myself and putting my needs first. For too long I have put others' feelings above my own. I became a bit of a doormat and as long as everyone else was happy, cared for and had what they needed that was what mattered. Often this was at the detriment to myself. I wouldn't necessarily say how I felt as I'd be too worried it may hurt someone's feelings, so instead I would hold it in, bottle it up until it broke out in an emotional response that would only end up making me feel ten times worse. I have spent quite a bit of time on me this past week.
Apart from nurturing my brain I have been a little indulgent in my personal time. Instead of just jumping in and out of the shower for hygiene purposes I took time to feel the water on my skin. To look at the patterns the water made. Whilst making a coffee I took time to watch how the granules fell into the cup, how the steam rose up from the kettle then disappeared, how the water acted when poured. When I drank my coffee I held it in my mouth a little longer to appreciate and savour the aroma and taste. I told my friend what I had done, and she thought I had gone mad. I encouraged her to try it. She did and phoned me to say it was great. Those couple of extra minutes with the most simplest of tasks made me aware of all of my senses, something we often take for granted. What may seem stupid to some has made me feel more alert and alive than I would ever have thought.
The group I created at the end of last year continues to grow with 550 members now. I would never have thought three months ago that some daft writing I did has developed into what it has. The group and page gave me so much during a particularly tough time. The group has developed into a community of people to have fun, network, share and support one another. One of the members mentioned she used to sing but hadn't for a very long time. I encouraged her to post a video up. She did and it was amazing. She did a piano version of Radiohead's Creep and the many comments she got were fantastic. It really is such a good feeling to be a part of that.
Some years ago I did a personality traits test. I retook the test at the weekend. The test focuses on five personality aspects Mind, Energy, Nature, Tactics and Identity. Together they make up the sixteen personalities of the NERIS Type Explorer Test that I took, which was inspired by Carl Jung and mother-daughter, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Meyers. My result has not changed. I am ENFP-T a Campaigner. It describes my personality pretty damn accurately. The website I have used has a host of tools for personal growth. It identifies my strengths and weaknesses. My weaknesses I have always been able to identify with but struggled with my strengths. The tools help you to understand your traits and how to leverage them to grow as a person. I shared the link on my group and many took part and all said how like them the trait was. It really is insightful.
Evenings are becoming lighter, spring is not far off and life is improving by the day. I'm excited at the prospect of finally being able to spend time with my daughter at the end of the month and I am looking forward to life gradually returning to some sort of normality.
If anyone is interested in the personality traits test here is the link.
It's been 11 days since my hypnosis for confidence, self-esteem and self-worth and I can honestly say I feel great. I hosted a Zoom video call last Thursday night for my group, something I would never have done before in a social context, and I loved every minute of it. I have found confidence in everything from work through to my personal life and my anxiety remains under control as a result. I am still in awe at how I am feeling and acting but also still sceptical and have a small doubt that it could end.
I have always been fascinated by psychology, I started an A level in it whilst at college many years ago but sadly didn't complete due to circumstances at the time. Having my therapy and hypnosis has awakened a thirst for knowledge in me that I haven't had for a long while. I have signed up for a short psychology course starting from this week. Whilst I have no wish to pursue this as a career I am fascinated with how our brains work and how as humans we process thoughts and feelings. I have spent a lot of time looking at things that have happened in the past couple of years in my life. Events and people and what triggers my emotions and how I handle them. I now have a much clearer understanding of myself. I am relishing the fact that I continue to learn and grow each day.
My therapist had very kindly offered to run some sessions for my group. The first session last Thursday was an introductory to the psychology of relationships and dating. She got us to play a game that was great fun and showed us our personality types, ideal partners personality and preferred sex life. This generated a huge amount of laughs but was very interesting, thought-provoking and strangely true for all. The feedback from the session was fantastic, and we are running 5 more all completely free over the next few weeks. This week is all about confidence. I cannot wait.
Work has become a joy again. I am thriving and pushing harder than ever to gain the promotion I want. Personally life is fun right now. Yes we are still in lockdown. No I cannot socialise in person, but I can still enjoy things. Something I seemed to have forgotten to do in many months. I have not stopped smiling for the last 11 days. I actually wake up looking forward to what each day has to offer.
My group has been a huge factor in the fun I am having. Being in contact with so many new people from all different walks of life is providing me new hope and possibilities. Friday night we had a virtual 80's party. It started at 7pm and went on til the early hours with over 200 people taking part. Some were on video chats others just using text or comments, some posted pictures of themselves dancing. It was such a good laugh and a much-needed release in the current times whilst following the rules. There were definitely a few sore heads the following morning!
My bucket list is growing and one of my things 'to do' is looking like a real possibility next year. I have wanted to go to The Isle of Man TT since I was about 17. One of my group members lives there and has offered myself and a couple of others to stay so all we need to do is organise our travel when it does eventually happen. I am looking forward to ticking things off my list. I know life is incredibly short, and I want to live and make the most of it, not get 20 or 30 years older and be full of regret for time wasted.
After yesterday's announcement people have a new-found excitement. My social media has blown up overnight with people posting holiday bookings, table reservations at restaurants for 21st June and discussions about garden parties from the end of March. It is great to see the world excited again, but I am just a little reluctant to start making concrete plans and rushing things. I am an optimist but also a realist and a sense of we've been here before is lurking in my mind. Personally I would hate to make plans for it again to be cancelled, this would be a huge slap in the face, so I shall continue one day at a time. Enjoying what I can in the moment and under the circumstances we are in but also remaining hopeful as there is a light at the end of a long tunnel.