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Until I Am Whole (Trip to Barcelona)

Until I Am Whole (Trip to Barcelona)

“I think I’ll stay here
Til I feel whole again
I don’t know when.”

The Mountain Goats – Until I Am Whole

Three references to cats in one photo. On brand.

So, it turns out the secrets to having a great holiday are:

  1. Go through utter hell during the months preceding it
  2. Feel too miserable to really acknowledge that the holiday is coming up
  3. Don’t plan anything
  4. Have no mobile internet

Barcelona was always the plan. When I got my current job, I promised myself I’d go there with Shannon for her birthday. 2 years ago her family paid for me to go to Greece – it felt like the right thing to do and also, I really wanted to go abroad with her again.

Life has been hectic for the past wee while. I moved across the city to live with an old school friend, I had hospital appointments and I really just had to try to get my shit together. I didn’t have time to get excited for Barcelona – it’d probably be shit, anyway BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS AND FUCK THIS YEAR.

So, when it was finally time to leave, I was so wracked with mental health issues and sheer exhaustion that I still wasn’t excited. I was just really sad. My mental health has really dipped, unsurprisingly, and I have been privately wallowing. I love silver linings but honestly, I’m a little tired of seeking them. I’m just tired.

Two bottles of prosecco, a chatty flight and some shared pretzels later, I was excited. And I was in Barcelona. There was a thunderstorm but I really didn’t care – I was in *in* Barcelona! After much kerfuffle and finding out that some streets in Barcelona have two names (not annoying at-all, promise), we finally made it to our tiny hostel room. It was plain, it was uninspiring but for the next three nights, it was a place to lay our heads.

Armed with gin and adrenaline, we settled onto our cosy balcony and looked out at the buildings surrounding us. Barcelona is beautiful. In the dark, in the rougher areas, it’s beautiful. I’ve never seen anywhere like it.

barcelona

On our first day, we decided to go for a short walk, just to see the local area. Turns out that our local area was, in fact, Las Ramblas. A tree-lined market sprinkled with vibrant floral displays and on our first day, under a clear blue sky. It was so alive! Our “short walk” turned into 6 hours and before we knew it, we’d seen a massive chunk of Barcelona. It was all accidental, there was no itinerary and that is exactly what we both needed it to be, I think.

Aimlessly wandering around a gorgeous city with one of your favourite people is a really great way to blow cobwebs out, I’d recommend it to everybody.

I couldn’t share a lot on snapchat, instagram or any other social network. Nobody could contact me until I got back to the hostel. This used to be something that really freaked me out and caused intense anxiety but it was wonderful. Nothing home had to tell me couldn’t wait. I’d had enough news.

I wanted sunny skies, fruity sangrias and to be around people that understood me. Nothing else had to matter for a few days.

barcelona

I love Glasgow. More than anywhere else in the world, I love Glasgow. I needed to see another city, different friends, experience a world so separate to my own to really be able to come back and appreciate the life I have, even just for a little while.

The friends we went to visit have built their own lives, have their own tiny world that we were lucky enough to get a small glimpse of. From restaurants with unbelievable comfortable seats, to a tiny ice cream parlour even right down to their favourite delis and eating brunch (who am I?) with the friends they’ve made since moving there… It was so refreshing.

We found a fairytale themed bar, with stories in photo frames and tiny fairy pools. Dark and secluded, it was a stark contrast to the clear skies and vibrant colours but it was gorgeous. Another accidental treat. The other memorable bar was on a side-street from Las Ramblas. It was essentially a hole in the wall with four stools in front of it. Fake flowers, disco balls and Christmas decorations. It was every bit as tacky as it was dreamy. The barman made a promise that if I could guess where he was from, I’d get a free shot.

Italian.

Free shots all round.

barcelona-tiny-bar

After a night of homemade sangria, dinner cooked for us and a surprisingly tasty dip made of dried onion soup (honestly!), we only had one day left in beautiful Barcelona.

We had brunch, walked around the city centre and made the most of our final day. We didn’t do much sight-seeing but we did remember to always look up. It’s a great rule for most cities but especially Barcelona. There is so much beauty. So much.

City breaks are supposed to be jam-packed with activities, itineraries and early mornings. They’re supposed to be so much more than what we did but Barcelona isn’t a place you only visit once. I know that now, already.

Sometimes you don’t need to tick all the boxes, sometimes you just need a break from your own world.

I am a bit of a homely soul and I am usually happy to be coming home from holidays but this time I wasn’t ready. I cried quite a lot. My little corner of the Earth didn’t seem appealing to me, at-all. I just wanted to continue wandering aimlessly, accidentally stumbling on gorgeous architecture and becoming rosy-cheeked with sangria.

It was only a few days but I think being unplugged and without obligations really soothed my bruised soul. The reminders that the world outside of my own tiny bubble can be so beautiful gave me a new perspective and while I wasn’t ready to leave, I think that’s the best way to feel. I spent 3 days with people I really truly adore, in a gorgeous city and none of the memories are even slightly tainted. It was just a gorgeous way to come back to life.

Thanks Barca, thanks pals, I can breathe again. x

Recommended:

Hostal River for a cheap, basic hostel that is very clean and very central
Fabrica Moritz for affordable food, very comfortable seats and a lovely atmosphere (also cava sangria!)
Gothic Quarter for gorgeous architecture, interesting stores and a lively taste of Barcelona

 

I’ll love whatever you become (we broke up)

I’ll love whatever you become (we broke up)

Maya Angelou Quote

After 7 years, 1 month and 3 days, we broke up.

It’s difficult to navigate the ending of a relationship when you still like and love each other. When you’re so intertwined in each other’s lives that you sometimes forget that their family, isn’t actually yours. When you have so many in-jokes and such a complete world between just the two of you that only being together feels like home. It’s so incredibly difficult. But it is possible.

Our final months together were a disservice to what was always a loving relationship, if not always an easy one. I probably put Gavin, and our relationship on a pedestal now and then but we really were great. Everybody thought so. So many friends have said to me if you guys can’t make it, what chance does anybody else have? 

Which is nice. If a little bit of a punch to the gut. I don’t really know how to answer it, either. We were just as surprised as anybody else that we didn’t work out.

It’s been 3 weeks now, 3 weeks today actually and I have felt myself change, and grow in such a short space of time. There have been so many emotions to work through and so much of our relationship, our first weeks, our final months, that I’ve dissected in my mind.

For the first 3 days after it, I didn’t eat. Drinking a cup of tea felt like climbing a mountain and I am pretty unfit. I couldn’t bring myself to really do anything. It was as if I existed in a heartbreak realm where the only thing anybody could do is cry. I didn’t know how to open up to my friends. I wanted my life back. Or to be able to eat.

They passed, though and I ate again. I drank again. I got drunk and only cried once. Recovery started before we even ended, I think. I wasn’t overly surprised that Gavin left me. Just sad. We both were.

It’s hard to believe that what was such a happy relationship for such a long time could end and I am still getting my head around us being over, him not living in this home anymore, we’ve had our last kiss. We’ve had our last trip. We’ve had our last night out. We’ve finished. And I’m not going to lie, I am scared. I don’t want to put myself out there and end up floating in the heartbreak realm again. Friends of mine have said it’s given them a bit of a shock, too.

I don’t want anything, not for a long time but what I can say, even right now, only 3 weeks later is I would do it all again, even knowing it ended like this.

Love isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. And some journeys, even the best ones, even the ones you feel won’t ever end, do. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean failure, it doesn’t have to result in regret.

Do it anyway. Fall in love anyway. Kiss them anyway. Put yourself out there anyway. Emotions shouldn’t be safeguarded and hands shouldn’t be tentatively held. Throwing yourself in, and absorbing all of it, the love, the passion, the heartache… it’s worth it. And I’d do it all over again.

Our love changed me, for better and worse. It’s odd to look back at who I was when I first got with Gavin compared to who I am today. It’s odd looking at who he was. It’s also really lovely. We’re better, stronger, kinder people than we once were.

And I’m glad we had such an adventure.

I’ll love whatever you become
Forget the reckless things we’ve done,
I think our lives have just begun
Muse – Falling Away With You

Wonderful Life

Wonderful Life

Carry On

 

” I want a life on fire, going mad with desire. I don’t wanna survive, I want a wonderful life”
Brian Fallon – A Wonderful Life

I never really understood the phrase believe in yourself. Or maybe, I hadn’t tried to. I do now.

Believing in yourself means believing in your decisions, your dreams and your instincts. Believe that you are enough and if you think you’re doing the right thing, that’s enough.

I sometimes try to mould myself into somebody who settles. I try to believe that I can accept the life I’ve found myself in because it is what it is and some people have it so much worse. They do. I agree. SO many people have it worse than me and while I am always conscious of this, I find the trope of telling millenials they should be grateful for not being below the breadline quite nauseating. Millions of people have it worse than I do but that doesn’t mean I have to accept what I have. The road to a wonderful life isn’t paved with accepting that things are shit but at least you’re not dying. Fuck that.

I’ve found myself believing that for as long as my body and brain allow me, these is always a second chance. There is always the opportunity to change. There is always hope.

So a few weeks ago, I found myself feeling physically ill at the thought of the days ahead of me. I had a bit of a breakdown really. A quiet, solitary breakdown and I said ‘enough’.

I fought so hard for my life. There were so many paths I could have taken and I have to say, they felt far more appealing at the time. I could be in a very different place right now and there was a short while in my teens that my loved ones genuinely did fear for the future I was mapping out. But I fought because I knew my life could be something so much more. I fought because settling wasn’t ever going to be enough.

I have a great life now. I have so much love in my life. I’m surrounded by it. I actually had to take a moment to cry in the toilets at my birthday because I couldn’t believe how many people went out of their way just to see little old me. It moved me beyond words. I don’t fear rejection any more and I won’t let myself settle for anything that threatens to compromise my wonderful life because I waded through so much traumatic shit to get here.

So,  with my wonderful life in mind, I made a big, risky decision. I made a decision that I felt in my bones was the best one to make. I believed in myself and the decision I was making and let me tell you, I was right. There were lots of tears, so much anxiety but at the end, I got where I knew I’d end up. The risk paid off.

I don’t really do one-liner-advice but if I did, it’d be do the terrifying thing, you’ll always be okay.

I have a good feeling about this decision.

Time to get on with the rest of my life.

OCD and me – #TimeToTalk

OCD and me – #TimeToTalk

My friends get a little uncomfortable when I describe myself as crazy. It is a slur but it’s also a nice comfort blanket for me. I feel like when I call myself crazy, I’m owning my OCD and accepting that it’s part of who I am.

I don’t always get to say that, though. In fact, sometimes I have to cancel plans with friends so I can go and check that my flat isn’t on fire with my cats trapped inside of it because I’ve been away from the house for over 8 hours and in that time, my brain has been in overdrive with intrusive, disturbing, graphic thoughts about dead cats, lost belongings, my boyfriend not being able to forgive me for letting the flat burn down… etc.

These thoughts can come from nowhere. In fact, my first true breakdown happened while I was on a family picnic. I was so happy that we were having this picnic, that my life seemed to be improving that I suddenly realised that this wasn’t possible; nobody gets to say their life is this good. This is a common thought, a lot of my friends have shared similar feelings with me but for me it didn’t end with me embracing the moment, or thinking that I should be or anything even close. No, I lost my mind. I climbed into the car and called my boyfriend to check he was still alive and well. He was fine if completely baffled.

That wasn’t enough. I was convinced something was going to happen to me, and soon. So I didn’t do anything. I was so cripplingly terrified that I was scared to leave my bedroom to go the toilet. I spent a lot of time staring into space, hoping that the bad thing would happen soon so I could breathe again. I fought my way through obsessive thinking patterns, I checked in on my boyfriend so often that he became frustrated and exasperated with my anxieties.

At this point, we were living with his parents so when we went to a festival, I had nothing to worry about. My boyfriend was right there with me and my poor brain so I wasn’t scared for his wellbeing.

A year later, I’d started to recover with the help cognitive behavioral therapy. For me, this meant that I had to agree with the thoughts. I had to say yes, Gavin’s probably died. He has. That’s it. And at first, it was harrowing. I’d have intense panic attacks because I’d convinced myself that by agreeing with these thoughts, I was making it happen. Eventually though, it worked. I left the house, I made friends, I enjoyed life again.

Then we finally got our own flat together. It’s no secret that I’ve had a bit of a messy life and after leaving home, I never really felt like I had a place that felt like home to me until our flat. It’s tiny, cosy but it’s ours. I loved it. I was so excited for our future. We got two cats, as well which made it even more homely for me.This time, I focused on fires. I would obsessively read about fire procedures, look up statistics and unplug, then plug, then unplug, then plug back in everything that I could. I instinctively felt this gave me control over the situation. Of course, it did nothing of the sort.

Again, I recovered. I got by. I stayed busy.

Nowadays, I’m fine if I stay busy and keep my mind busy. If I seem to be working harder than ever, I’m fighting. I have pretty strong willpower against my destructive tendencies because I’ve been dealing with them for so long but the thoughts still come. All the CBT I’ve had, all the recovery I’ve experienced hasn’t stopped the thoughts. And I think that’s the worst part of it for me- the thoughts are terrifying and graphic and can hit me when I’m doing something as innocuous as writing an email. So, even though I now am able to recognise my demons and know how to tell others to help me, I live in the knowledge that I’ll never be fully free from my little hell.

Good news is, Gavin and my cats are fine and weird, as ever. I’m also fine if a little bit crazy.

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Good Day

Good Day

You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it. – We Bought A Zoo

Today is an important anniversary for me. I don’t really want to go into the details of what it is because it’s not entirely relevant and may completely detract from my point. But it’s a big deal.

13 years ago today, I mustered all of my courage so that my future, and my family’s future could be brighter. So that other people could be safe. I was only 12 years old and although everyone told me that I was being brave, I just felt I was doing what I absolutely had to- no debate, no bravery, just getting it over and done with because there was no other option.

In retrospect, I was incredibly brave and strong. I was one amazing little kid. I’m really proud of who I was and how strong willed my 12 year old soul was.

When I did what I did, I was pretty sure that I didn’t have much of a future ahead of me. I was pretty sure I was either going to be miserable for my whole life or die young. I was very, very depressed and I had no idea. I didn’t think I could ever possibly be happy again. I’d accepted my fate and was okay with it, as long as I got this thing done. I’m sorry I’m being cryptic.

The thing is, it really did just take about an hour (I think) of bravery. I just had to sit, and talk honestly for an hour. And I knew this was the case. I knew I could always get through the next five minutes so I did it. It took crazy amounts of unfathomable bravery but once it was done, I didn’t need to be brave any more. And I was so relieved. The little mantra of ‘just the next five minutes’ is something I’ve carried since and even spoken about on here.

It’s been 13 years and in that time, I have struggled with mental health issues, I’ve cried myself to sleep a lot and I have made SO MANY bad decisions that weren’t particularly brave or intelligent and some of them were due to youth, some due to self destructing.

What I’ve also done is build a home with someone who loves me, and has always loved me for who I am. I’ve carved a life for myself in a city that I now very happily call home. I’ve carved a career for myself. I’ve got a solid, a really solid group of friends and I have two beautiful cats. I don’t go on wild excursions, I don’t travel the world. I see my friends a few times a week, I see my boyfriend at every chance I get and I work full time. I have an average life and man, I am so grateful for my little life.

I’m so grateful that I’m around to be with the kind of friends I always hoped I’d have, that I stuck around to meet Gavin, that my life didn’t get cut short as I expected and that I have, despite everything, EVERYTHING, a heart full of love. Full to the brim. I have a life full of love. And music. And art. And humour. And in-jokes.

I’m so grateful that 12 year old me took those brave steps so that I could live this wonderful life. I’m so grateful that I’ve carried the same strength through my whole life and drawn strength from such a traumatic experience.

 

This week, I’ve complained about my job a lot but having today highlighted to me gave me an incredible amount of perspective. Life really gets better, right before your eyes. You just have to stick around to see it happen, even if it takes a little bravery here and there.

Love your enemies or at least don’t unfriend them

Love your enemies or at least don’t unfriend them

 

I’m going to say it and I’m sorry for how crude this is but social networks are becoming something of a circle-jerk. I know that most of my friends read the Guardian and those that find it too pretentious are at least still lefties. I know that if I share something against the Conservatives, I’ll get a lot of likes. Especially if it’s a post about wanting them to die, try and live off benefits or how disgraceful food banks are. Within my social (network) circles, everybody seems to feel the same. Some people are VERY SNP, some are VERY Greens and some people are still brave enough to admit that they support Labour. It’s nice, in a way. Sort of. The lefties are still attacking lefties and suggesting you don’t think Labour aren’t an abomination to God seems to be a little taboo but mostly, we’re all the same.

It’s boring.

I used to delete everybody I disagreed with and I really regret the decision now. Disagreement does not mean cut all ties. Disagreement makes way for interesting conversations, for debates and most importantly, understanding. It’s easy to think that all Conservatives/Conservative voters are evil monsters straight from a charity shop horror book but they’re not and their reasons for voting aren’t because they want the poor to die or because they’re rich people who’ve never had to worry about anything in their lives. They have different priorities when voting and I’m sorry guys but that’s fine.

The second you paint a person, a group of people, even a political party as ‘monsters’, you’ve lost. Monster means not human and if something isn’t human, you immediately assume that you don’t have to understand it. Understanding is crucial not only in interpersonal relationships but in politics. While I’m relieved that everybody seems more politically aware after being the bonafide politics geek for years, it’s frustrating to see political parties being treated like rock stars and opposing viewpoints like the plague. I have to say, it’s disturbing. We live in a democracy.

I don’t like the Conservatives. I support the Green party and actually quite like Labour (okay, I like Jeremy Corbyn and did like Labour. We’re all disenchanted). I don’t want Conservatives to win another election and I even wrote a post on how to help out in wake of inevitable cuts. I do, however, care about why my (very few) friends who voted Conservative, did so. I care about understanding all political parties and their intentions as much as possible. I care about democracy and not just on my own terms but democracy, even when I don’t like the results.

This is a new thing for me, trust me. But I’ve enjoyed learning, I’ve enjoyed understanding and once or twice, I’ve found myself even agreeing with my Conservative voting pals. They’re scared to speak up, though and I don’t blame them.

If people who are lefties find themselves afraid to speak, what hope is there for the opposing side?

I’ve seen this across the board. It’s not just politics, it’s everything. People are being shouted down because popular people on Twitter dislike their views and their followers back them up. What are you doing? Do you think you’re stopping the views being held by shouting them down? How is this progressive in the slightest? What can we gain from refusing to acknowledge viewpoints?

The fantastic thing about the internet is how connected we are. It’s how many different walk of lives we can be in touch with, sharing information with in lightspeed time. It’s REALLY beautiful! We don’t have to have the small world around us, we have it all at our fingertips but if you keep deleting those who aren’t the same, if you keep shouting down those trying to use their voice, you’ll inadvertently end up with the internet equivalent of small town syndrome. Lefty Land Syndrome, if you will. Okay, yeah, that’s horrendous but you get it.

This is fairly dry for me, I’ll go back to slagging myself off and offering advice on depression again before you know it.

The election result – apathy is a cancer

The election result – apathy is a cancer

Use your own mind, use your heart and your anger
Check yourself because Apathy is a cancer
And let your action be the answer.

– B Dolan – Which Side Are You On

So, the United Kingdom voted for the Conservatives to govern the country for the next 5 years. Everybody I know seems a little bit terrified and after 5 years of cuts and demonisation of the most vulnerable members of society. I understand, it’s horrible. I was so ill that I could barely cope with day to day life for a long time and had to have invasive surgery but I was told I wasn’t quite ill enough to receive benefits. I’ve never felt more hopeless and I fear for those who are facing the same or worst.

One of the things that helped me once I was better was helping out at my local community centre a couple of times a week. The centre also suffered cuts but they still had children’s clubs and a cook and care programme.

What I’m saying is, yes, David Cameron is a pure fanny, I quite agree with the Faslane flag. What I’m saying is honestly, we’re in a bit of a bad place for a while, or we could be. Conservatives care about small businesses and fixing the economy as fast as possible. I can actually understand it but my priorities are elsewhere. My priorities lie with helping people who are struggling due to the government, I support activism and most of all, I want to stop complaining about the government online when I could be making a real difference to my local community.

We’re all in a place of pointing fingers. If Labour didn’t do this, if No voters didn’t do that… Now is not the time. What’s done is done and it’s far more complex than cheap digs.

You can be the change you want to be in how you live your lives and not how you cast your vote . Too many armchair critics can spout the tired line of ‘people died for your right to vote’ then they ll do nothing productive or helpful for another Five years. Remember, You do have the right to vote but you do not have the right to be a cunt. Do not be deluded into thinking a wee ballot box shimmy will make everything better.

It is not as important as they would have you believe.

What is important is your friends and family and your drive and passion . Look after all of them and seeds are planted everywhere.

Speak out.  Insert pressure wherever you can .

Because no matter who gets in we all have our work cut out for us.

Mark McGhee

So, without further ado, here is how I suggest you help out:

Volunteer Glasgow  has an extensive range of volunteering opportunities from Landscaping to Befriending people who are vulnerable. These opportunities range from one day a month to 3 days a week.

Foodbanks  donate money, groceries or your time by volunteering for your local food bank.

If you have no time or money (perfectly understandable), share the information on how others can help out. Follow charity pages on Facebook and when they plea for help, share their pleas. Every little really does help.

Other than that, rally, protest, do whatever you need to do and let your anger drive you. We can joke about the Conservatives til we’re blue in the face (no pun intended) or we can actually make a difference, one little bit at a time. Being proactive is vital.

 

 

Grief in the sixth month

Grief in the sixth month

Do you wanna know how many times
I tore myself apart cos you’re not here?
-Stone Sour, Imperfect

train carriage
by Matthew Wiebe

 May 5th marks my family going into the sixth month of mourning my nan. My life since December 5th has been the same as it was before, really. I got a new job, my flat got redecorated and I put money away for a trip – new things but really, same old. All of these experiences were underlined by grief. A dark undertone that I can never quite adjust to. I’ve had a complicated life, and I have dealt with traumatic experiences but this one is completely new to me.

My go-to emotion when things get tough is anger. Angry that it’s happened, angry that I let it happen- whatever. I get angry. Anger is comfortable, you don’t need to find forgiveness or reason within anger. For a while, it softens the blow. I’m not angry about Annie’s death. I want to be. I want the sweet release, the comfort of anger but I’m not angry. Her death was too soon, and for me – a bit sudden. I knew she was ill but not so ill that I expected to never see her again after the last time I kissed her head. She was really young, only 67 and man, that stung but I made peace with that fairly quickly. I actually surprised myself. Never angry.

What I have is a serious hole in my soul. I miss my best pal so much. I miss our chats, I miss her stories, I miss how happy she sounded when she answered the phone to me. I can’t get used to the idea that she’s gone and it still fills me with so much fear. Fear that I’ll forget her voice, her smile, her stories.

My nan was both gentle and harsh, warm and stand-offish. She saved her heart for those that deserved it and didn’t bother with those that didn’t. She had so much love for our tiny family and everybody in it. She was so unapologetically real at all times and even now, that’s so refreshing to think of. She was on my side, no matter what. I couldn’t do wrong, and even if I did, it was always with good reason. Even when I was at my worst, she saw the best in me and that carried me through the most trying times in my life. She did this for everyone. I absolutely adored her, idolised her and hoped to God that she was proud of me. I’m never really one to seek approval, and I’ve lived by my own rules but I always hoped she was proud of me being that way, because she encouraged it.

After she died, I had to keep moving. I had to. She died 20 days before Christmas… I had no choice, really. I still hadn’t been shopping, I had a Christmas ball to go with, I had work to do, I had to send my nan flowers, I really needed to get round to- oh. Once the shopping was done, the formalities were out the way and work was done, I let myself feel.

I was shopping for a record for my boyfriend and The Beatles came on in store. The Beatles were played at her funeral (that I missed because I couldn’t face travelling there and back alone, 8 hours, in my own mind? I couldn’t), The Beatles were her first love and fuck I did not need to hear the fucking Beatles. But I did. And I cried on a step, in a shop, on Christmas Eve. I live in the friendliest city in the world- I was asked over and over if I was okay. That both helped and hindered the downpour until after a few minutes, I just stood and walked out. I was in a daze. It had all hit me at once and the blow was harsh.

My nan loved Christmas. Now wasn’t the time to be heartbroken- she’d want me to be happy. I carried on.

I got through the festivities – just about. The last time I saw my nan was my birthday. I wondered if I’d ever enjoy my birthday or Christmas again. I wondered if I’d ever truly enjoy anything again. I wondered if I’d be able to get through the rest of my life with this ball of sadness weighing down my stomach. I couldn’t be there for my family, I was too lost. My loss was personal and I regret not being there for others more but, I was working over New Year. Chin up.

I went to the toilet three times for a private cry at New Year. Apparently I was the life of the party. Good. I didn’t feel like it. I felt like I was leaving the last year that I’d had my nan for and entering a new one, for the first time in my life, without her. Without her phonecall at midnight. I’m glad I was fun that night, she would have been delighted.

Around the end of February, almost 3 months after her passing, the knot in my stomach eased up. I still cried every day but not for as long. I could talk about her without getting teary. I couldn’t visit her house, yet For both practical and emotional reasons. It wasn’t time and I needed to find a new job. After a couple of months the sympathy stops pouring from people’s mouths and it turns into ‘you really need to move on from this’. I’ll move the fuck on when I’m good and ready. I’m not ready. I spent 25 years loving somebody, it won’t take me a matter of months to move on from their death.

Now, I think I’m in the acceptance phase. I am accepting her loss but I don’t want to. How can I accept something so devastating? Can I forgive myself for moving on? I don’t want to forget her, I don’t want to forget our bond and I know I won’t but the fear remains.

The difference between this heartbreaking event and others I’ve experienced is, I don’t feel anger because I’m so grateful. I’m grateful that I experienced such a beautiful bond, I’m grateful that I was part of her tiny inner circle, I’m grateful that my family are so young and I had my beautiful nan around for such a long time. I’m grateful that I’ve made it through. I’m grateful for the people that took the time to hold me and listen to me. To those that checked in on me every day following her death. And I’m grateful to her.

I tend to be fairly misunderstood. People read me completely wrongly and I have no idea how to change it. Writing helps, and people reading my writing helps but then there are those that think I’m insincere. I never had to explain or prove myself to Annie. I had no money, no job prospects and for a while, no home (I stayed at a friend’s, there’s always love around me) and she still told me she was proud of me because I’d come so far in my life. Annie never once misunderstood me because we were one and the same.

Will I be okay? Abso-fucking-lutely. I have her blood in me, I’ve come so far. Will I ever get over this loss? Probably not. But the strength I gained from her unwavering love is still there so in a way, so is she.

6 months is no time at-all but I made it here and that’s something, right?