Sparks in the Dark

Originally posted on February 27th, 2017 on The Olive Fox which has unfortunately closed down.

My mum has this phrase, “sometimes, it’s just your turn. Right now, it’s your turn”. She says it whenever things fall apart, whenever they get overwhelming. It was my turn during the Summer.

After six months of trying to cling on to what we had, my boyfriend and I ended our relationship of seven years. We’d lived together that whole time and for the first time in a long, long time, I felt alone. My world as I knew it was changing right in front of my eyes and there was nothing I could do but watch it happen.

Four weeks later, as my favourite person moved his half of our belongings out of the home we’d shared for five years, my landlord called to tell me that he was looking to sell my home. The next day, I had a hospital appointment and I was told that I’d likely soon be losing an ovary.

Even my body wasn’t off-limits. It was definitely my turn.

Monday-Friday, 9-5, I functioned. The rest of the time, I lay down. I lay in the bath, on the floor, in bed, just staring, wondering how I was going to find my feet again. Would I ever? I had a future planned and now my present was too overwhelming to deal with for more than eight hours at a time. I lived on noodles and toast. Anything more than that required effort that I just could not muster.

Eventually, the sparks started. The tiny, beautiful lights in what had felt like all-encompassing darkness. Small, but significant.

As I sat in a garden surrounded by those who I call my second family and my best friend, I realised that outside of my home and my ex-boyfriend, I had an entire world. It was always there. I wasn’t okay, I wasn’t going to be for a while but what I knew was that, no matter what, I wasn’t alone and I never had been. We drank ciders, wrapped ourselves in blankets and toasted marshmallows.

Mid-way through packing my belongings, I went on my first date in seven and a half years. We talked about literature, politics and how we’d found ourselves in Glasgow. He shyly asked me which gin was on the fireplace in the cosy pub we’d snuggled in and as I turned to answer, he kissed me. What a kiss. A tiny spark.

I’d told everybody that I could cope, I’d been through worse. I just needed time. Knowing me, and how stubborn I can be, they waited. They patiently offered words of support, songs, games, films – anything that felt like they were offering comfort. They waited, and waited until I eventually admitted I was struggling.

And then they charged.


My friends and family reminded me who I was outwith my sadness but, more notably, who they were. They loved me which I learned meant that, even when I was a mess, even when my heart was broken, they loved me. This love was shown through helping me pack, and move my belongings. It was shown by adding an uplifting song to counteract every sad song I added to a joint playlist. It was shown by holding my hands during those songs at concerts. It was all around me, once I accepted it, I couldn’t escape it. I had love, I just wasn’t in love. And that was okay.

My new home was huge, airy and actually, exactly the kind of home I’d been trying to move into since moving to the city nine years prior. I settled quicker than I expected and my new bed didn’t feel empty, it felt like mine. Only mine.

Barcelona had been the plan long before this happened but now, it felt necessary. It felt like I needed to be somewhere that wasn’t tainted with memories and corners I’d kissed on. Somewhere fresh and new but where old friends were living.

We flew on a Wednesday evening. A flight made up solely of Prosecco and excitement led us to what is probably the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen. After much confusion and frustration, we found our hostel. Sitting on the balcony drinking Sangria and looking out at late-night Barcelona, I exhaled for what felt like the first time in a very, very long time.

The sparks had been becoming more apparent with each passing day but at that moment, cocooned under Spanish skies with the person that had carried me more than anybody else, they were blinding.

Our weekend went by in a haze of Sangria, Las Ramblas and catching up with our friends that moved there years ago. We didn’t make any itinerary – the last thing either of us needed was stress. We took the weekend as it came and if you are going through tough times, getting lost in a city with somebody you love is such an effective way to blow away the cobwebs; I thoroughly recommend it.

I cried leaving Barcelona. I didn’t like leaving my friends behind and I strangely felt as if the hope and wholeness that I’d recovered in Barcelona would stay there. I was wrong, I was so wrong. But I was grateful for all that Barcelona, and the friends I was there with, gave me.

I had my second date when I came back to Glasgow. He was a gentle, dorky, giant and I was smitten. We talked about anything and everything in-between, petting dogs, admiring the river we were drinking beside and having moments where we just smiled. I wasn’t forcing a smile! I couldn’t actually stop myself from smiling! He gave me his (stupidly long) jacket and under the stars, in Kelvingrove Park, we shared a kiss. I was beyond giddy. Even if this didn’t work out, having such an unbelievable crush was a relief. I could do all of this again and this was an excellent place to start.

I only had to look up to see the lights in the dark now.

I only had one more hurdle to face, I felt, and then I’d dealt with the worst of it. That hurdle was my birthday. My ex-boyfriend was a chef whose birthday was in December so my birthday always ended up being a bit of a big deal as we knew we wouldn’t see each other until January. It’d gotten to the point where I associated my birthday with him and, in all honesty, I wanted to cancel it and just hide away but I didn’t expect anybody to let me do that, so, I organised it.

I invited friends from home in England and, of course, the friends in Spain. It was more of an acknowledgement than actually expecting them to turn up. It felt strange not to and I worked under the assumption that I wouldn’t see them but as they always are, they’d be there in spirit.

On the day, I woke up alone and actually happy. It was just me, my cats and the knowledge that I was entering a new age as a single person. It felt like a fresh leaf.

Then I had a message “be ready for 11”. My best friends took me out for breakfast. They didn’t want me to spend the morning alone so they treated me to breakfast in a retro café. They didn’t need to do that, and I didn’t think I needed them to but my two favourite sparks in the dark had plotted behind my back to make sure I knew, on this day more than any other, that I was loved and not alone. It was a small, simple gesture but it was also the most beautiful way to start a new age.

I gathered everybody in the basement of a pub I’ve been going to since I moved here. They’d all helped me in one way or another and, on my birthday night, I wanted to party with them as a way to celebrate my birthday but, more importantly, celebrate us and the love between us. As I was wedged between my mum and one of my oldest friends and saw that my friend from Spain was stood right there.

Right there.

I had no idea that he was coming.

This sparked a drink-fuelled sob at just how bloody wonderful my life was, how wonderful my friends were. I was surrounded by love and I was never, ever given the opportunity to forget it. Him turning up epitomised the last four months of my life and as we walked through Glasgow at 4am, I told him how magical it had all been, and how grateful I was for him and everybody else.

I actually can’t even begin to cover how many people helped me through these times, I can’t begin to tell you how much love was enveloping my entire life. I can’t begin to go into every kind gesture, every wonderful thing said, every step that got me to where I am today but, what I can say, is that those sparks lit the way. Life was tough but I was tougher. I am tougher.

The brightest spark in all of this was me. If I have learned anything over the past 7 months it’s that I am strong, I am loved and even in my darkest, most horrifically intense moments, I know that I’ll be okay. I’m resilient and I am so, so proud of myself. I’m proud that I fought to be happy and stable again. I’m proud that I have grown to be the woman I always hoped I’d be. I will always be okay.

“I have realised that the moon

did not have to be full for us to love it,

that we are not tragedies

stranded here beneath it,

that if my heart

really broke

every time I fell from love

I’d be able to offer you confetti by now.

But hearts don’t break, y’all,

they bruise and get better.

We were never tragedies.

We were emergencies.

You call 911.

Tell them I’m havin’ a fantastic time.”

– Buddy Wakefield, We Were Emergencies


Twenty Eight

I usually write a life lesson for every year that I’ve been alive but I thought, just this once, I’d skip that.


I’ve spent the time I would usually spend writing my “life lessons” thinking about who I’ve been and who I am today.

I do think younger me would be proud.

I used to shy away from thinking of the little girl I once was because she was awkward, she was weird, she had crooked teeth and she cried a lot. Now, though, I’m awkward, I’m weird, I have crooked teeth and crying is second nature to me. I cry at beauty and I cry at heartache. I’ve learned to love myself, weirdness and all. Weirdness especially.

Sometimes I want to go back and tell her that it all gets easier, it won’t always be scary but really, life doesn’t get easier. You just get better at navigating it. It’s due to resilience and the shield of I’ve been through this before and survived, I’ll do it all over again. 

Sometimes I just want to tell her she’s great the way she is. Don’t think about the future, it’ll come whether you worry or not. Enjoy life now. Hey, have you watched Labriynth for the 15th time today?


Turning 28 seems quite strange. Sometimes I feel like I’ve lived 1000 lives and sometimes I feel like I’m barely starting out. I am barely starting out, really. Still, it feels strange that I’ll soon be 30 and I am nowhere near where I thought I’d be at 30.

I guess, though, when you’re younger, you have complete tunnel-vision. Growing up, I thought that I’d be married, with children, by 25. I didn’t really want this, it just seemed to be how things happened. In reality, at 25, I did not want to be married or have children. Another kitten would have definitely sufficed.

I am glad that I didn’t live up to my own expectations. I used to hate being wrong so much that I’d cry when I lost card games (I was 8, I was sensitive, shut up) but now, proving myself wrong is actually quite enjoyable and sometimes even a relief.

I could have done everything step-by-step. High school – college – university- career. I sometimes wish I had. Poverty and lack of qualifications are not aspirational to anyone. But finding your own way, despite all barriers, despite personal struggles, is. I’m glad I always chose to take the long way around. I wouldn’t be me, otherwise.


If nothing else, I feel that I’m now the most comfortable in my own skin that I’ve ever, ever been. I’m happy to be turning 28 if a little bewildered. I never feared growing up, I looked forward to the freedom that adulthood would bring.

I think teenage me would be stunned at my stability. She didn’t hope for much, just for life to be calmer. I haven’t actually changed in that respect. I think stability is underrated though I envy those that live a little more on the edge than I do.


When life is tough, I’m still grateful for the roots beneath my feet. They never go. They never will. But, should the worst happen, and I find myself alone, I still have myself and because of this, in many ways, I’m fearless.

Anyway, back to my 28 lessons.

The thing with constantly providing life lessons year after year is, I have to think long and hard about them and some of them feel inauthentic. I’ll be honest, the older I get, the more I struggle. Sometimes you aren’t aware you’ve learned anything until much, much later on when you find yourself not repeating a mistake you would have previously eagerly made. Does that make sense?

So, I didn’t write 28 life lessons. I just wrote this ramble. I just wrote. That’s all I’ve ever done, in one way or another.

I recently saw an old friend’s mum for the first time in a few years. I always loved her. I kind of want to be her when I’m older; intelligent, silly and warm. I like to think I’m that now but I imagine my often anxious state doesn’t allow for that to be my consistent demeanour. That’s okay. It’ll come.


She told me that she’s delighted that I now (mostly) write for a living because if nothing else, I was always scribbling something down. I’ve always been scribbling things down. If the words weren’t my own, I was just rewriting somebody else’s lyrics or quotes. I wanted to absorb poetry and language in any way I could.

I’d forgotten that, though. I’d forgotten that I had always been a bit of a scribbler. I’d forgotten that I had endless, endless notepads filled with my ramblings.

On reflection, I love younger me, a lot. I love her for her resilience, her humour,  her ridiculous risk-taking at times, her determination to stay soft and I love her for always writing.

I love current me for all of the same reasons.


The biggest lesson I’ve learned, aside from gratitude, is that I am so much more than the things I’ve been through. I’ve learned self-love. I look at the photos I’ve shared here and I see a strong, kind, intelligent girl who’s carried these traits into womanhood. I didn’t always and if there’s one defining great thing about aging for me, it’s loving myself as warmly and entirely as I love those around me.

So, here’s the best I have to offer. Maybe not 28 life lessons but, for now, enough:

In 28 years I’ve learned that that life is rarely easy and in fact, it’s sometimes actually really fucking painful. I’ve learned that being kind is so much more important than being smart. I’ve learned that I will always be a child of the universe and will never have all of the answers and that this is a good thing! I’ve learned that love doesn’t conquer all but it does go a long way. I’ve learned that being enthusiastic about anything – from the stars at night to HOW CUTE IS THAT LITTLE TUB OF KETCHUP is something to treasure, never to be ashamed of.

I’ve learned that as long as I have myself, I will always be okay but fortunately, it’ll never just be me.

I’ve learned that coming up with 28 life lessons is quite menial in comparison to exploring the lessons you love the most.

So, here’s a happy birthday to myself. I hope at 28, I continue to thrive and be so unashamedly myself. It’s been a unique journey so far and I’m so excited for the years to come, pain and all.


Why I’m not writing about my trauma anymore.

Let’s lay it all out here so I never have to outline them again:

  • I have Endometriosis
  • I was sexually abused as a child by my dad, who went to prison for it. His family cut me out and they still keep him around. It fucked me up – I have some terrible abandonment issues
  • I’ve been sexually assaulted (and wrote about it for #MeToo)
  • I have anxiety, OCD and have suffered from depression
  • I have Dyspraxia

Done. Done. Done. No more.

I am happy to speak about these on any level, any platform, with anyone but I will not write about them anymore. I don’t want to write about how much I’ve suffered to legitimise who I am now. I am strong, kind, interesting and funny and not all of these are a result of me being a victim. I feel like everything I write comes with a trigger warning. I feel that people always have to prepare themselves for some dark stories and honestly, that’s not actually who or how I am. This is more about me than anyone else. I don’t see myself as a victim per se but I feel I need to explain why I am the way I am and… I don’t want to anymore. I’m flawed. Everybody is. I’ve been through shit. Everybody has. Enough.

Every time I write about something I’ve suffered with, I feel like I’m offering out a piece of myself. I’m there for the taking. A little bit of trauma at a time. My story can be consumed by anybody. I’m tired of it. I want to share my life, who I am now. I view the world through an empathy lens and not to sound like I’m tooting my own horn but honestly, I have some great ideas. I have so much more to offer than my suffering.

I will always fight for fellow victims and sufferers. I’ll never be quiet. But for now, for me, I want to be more than this.

I am making a concerted, non-Instagrammable effort to really indulge in self-care and the first step is this.


The Passport

Remember to take keys with you, Kristy might not be home when you get back.

Remember to breathe.

Remember to check the route to the hostel.

Remember to breathe.

Remember to download podcasts for the plane.

Remember to breathe.

Remember to put the boarding pass in your Apple Wallet.

Remember to breathe.

Here’s the thing about me and travel; I want to travel but I would also, really, just rather not. I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder and whenever I leave my comfort zone, these are both sincerely heightened. Even if I’m just going to a different part of Scotland, even if I’m going out for dinner.

Earlier this month, I went to Berlin with my little sister to celebrate her 21st birthday.

The flight is delayed. It’s okay. You’re still safe. If it comes to it, you can get a taxi to the hostel.

Remember to breathe. 

I don’t trust this airline. I don’t think they care about my safety. I could die on this. I still have an hour and forty-five minutes to go. I shouldn’t be on this flight. I knew it. I’ve known.

I don’t want to breathe. I don’t want to be on here. I can’t stop crying. I’d be embarrassed since I’m sat next to strangers but I’m too far gone.

I landed. I didn’t expect that. I’m okay. My sister is okay. We’re going to get a taxi, it’s too late to navigate u-bahns and s-bahns. My phone is fully charged because I was too scared to use it on the flight so I track our taxi’s journey. Oh my god, this is Berlin. This is beautiful. I can’t believe I’m on holiday with my little sister and JUST LOOK AT IT. 

I’m so far from home.

Oh god, I’m so far from home.

Okay, once we’re out of this taxi, I just need to check in and then I can finally, finally sleep. I have had a bagel and a glass of lemonade all day. I’m tired, I’m dehydrated, I just want to forget today even happened.

Can you just provide some photo ID please?

Yes. Of course. 

Where is it?!

No. Oh my god. No. No. I can’t deal with this. 

I left it in the taxi. They’re not going to let me check in. I’ve ruined everything. Will I ever get home?!

Of course, they still let us in. The very kind receptionist offered to call the taxi company and the airport through the night. He took my sister’s ID as enough to cover both of us and I paid for our beds. If nothing else, we had somewhere to stay for 4 nights. This was the kind of catastrophic thinking I employed; are we safe? Can we get home? My desperation for just very basic needs came from a place of paranoid thinking that is hugely fuelled by my anxiety disorder.

Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Stop seeking reassurance, just go to fucking sleep.

I don’t think I rested, I didn’t feel it anyway but because I’d been too anxious to eat or drink the day before, my body gave in and I passed out anyway. This is extremely unhealthy and I don’t recommend it but I was grateful that I’d been too physically weak to stay awake because otherwise, I wouldn’t have slept. My obsessive thinking patterns would have spiraled.

The next day was a haze. I couldn’t really think straight. I was on a comedown from the anxiety that had tortured me the day before but of course, I didn’t have a passport so my anxiety wasn’t any better, really. I fixated pretty hard on this. Fixating is a huge part of my obsessive-compulsive disorder and what would, in reality, be a minor issue becomes something huge. It’s all I can focus on. For me, also, the disorder comes with “magical thinking”. I find myself believing that I can change the course of things. I believed that if I stopped thinking about getting home, even for a second, I never would manage it.

They’re not going to believe you. 

You won’t remember basic things about yourself. 

You won’t be home on time.

I texted my boss, “I don’t know how this works but I might need to take emergency leave. I’m really worried about this and so sorry”. He reassured me that he’d been through this before, and it’s fine. Stay in touch.

His words should have reassured me but they didn’t. Obsess, obsess, obsess.

Just need to get through the next day and then I’ll know.

I’ll know my fate.

My sister was both bemused and concerned. I still wasn’t eating. I couldn’t finish meals. She knew I’d be fine and maybe I did on some level but it didn’t matter. The thoughts had taken over entirely.

I don’t feel real.

My surroundings don’t feel real.

They’re not real. None of this is.


I can get back to being me, soon. I hope. 

Finally, on the Monday morning, it was time to go to the embassy. I took a photo for the passport. I took another. I took another. I finally settled on one that is maybe the most unflattering photo of me of all time but also, it worked as a passport photo.

What if they arrest me?

How tough will the interrogation be?

We arrived, finally. I signed to say the information I’d provided online was all accurate. I paid £100. That was it. All of that for what took maybe 15 minutes all in. I went back 2 hours later and picked up my emergency passport.

I’m a nightmare.

I’m really not well, oh man.

Remember to breathe.

The rest of our holiday was so very lovely. I learned so much about Germany, about the history and about my little sister. I was still coming down from what was an unbelievably stressful experience so my appetite was minimal and I couldn’t drink. I wanted to be responsible with my brain, as well, so I avoided drinking alcohol for the most part. It was a bit of a shame for me as I really love German beer but I’m proud that I made that decision.

A bus stopped on our street, cars couldn’t move and the bus wasn’t either.

It’s got a bomb on it. That’s why I’ve been so anxious. I knew I’d die here.

Magical thinking again. Charged paranoia.

We got home without any issues and I collapsed onto my bed. Relieved to be there after obsessively telling myself I never would be.

Take it in, remind yourself that your paranoid thoughts have never, ever been right. You’re safe, you’re loved, you’re okay.

I’m glad I can laugh about it all. Because it really is funny, isn’t it? Absurd, sad, scary and honestly, just a little bit funny.


Fear Makes Me

One thing I’ve always been called, repeatedly, is brave. Even people that have admitted they don’t like me as a person has said they admire my courage. It’s a lovely thing to be recognised for and something that I actually do appreciate that I am. What I am not, but am told I am a lot, is fearless.

I’m absolutely terrified. Every moment of my waking life is met with fear and not just because I have anxiety. My fear wakes me up in the middle of the night, it can limit my relationships, it dominated my teen years. I am, in every way, a nervous wreck. Please don’t forget it.

When I spoke out about my childhood abuse, I was terrified. There was nothing fearless about it and although I absolutely never, ever regret doing it I do feel my fear was justified. It changed my life beyond all recognition. In my mind, there is a Sarah before the speaking out and a Sarah after. Neither were happy, both will always be victims of abuse but what happened after; my father’s entire family cut me out… It changed me. I was right to be scared. I was about to experience loss and betrayal on a deep, deep level.

This fear has stuck. It will never fully leave me. As much as I despise admitting it, I will always be a victim of not only abuse but gaslighting and betrayal. Nobody could recover from that and I’m tired of pretending I’m anything near recovered.

Here’s the thing, though. I will always live in fear but this fear makes me.

Fear makes me strive hard to be a better person because the only thing worse than what my family did to me is the prospect of being them. It makes me work through demons and bad habits, no matter how oddly comforting they are.

Fear makes me love. I love hard. I love with reckless abandon. Once I love you, I’m in. I love you. And I always will. Much to the frustration of my friends and family, I see you at your worst and I’m still there because I know what it is to be the one that people can’t handle. The one who is too angry, too intense, too difficult. I know what it is to feel unloved or like “too much” and I never want to put somebody else in that position. The thought terrifies me. You’re a wreck and so am I, let’s be gentle with one another.

Fear makes me work. When you’re a victim of abuse, and a dropout, people have ideas of where you’ll go. I’m repeatedly told that I’ve done so well “considering” and I hate it. I am not a statistic. As much as I accept the victim label, I won’t accept the connotations that the label comes with. I’m broken, I’m bruised and I’m not all that trusting but I am also smart, dedicated, creative and so much more than my experiences seem to suggest.

My demons lurk at the end of my bed, rest in the pit of my stomach, appear at my darkest times to remind me both how much worse it could be and how much worse it has been. They sit beside me at my desk, slowly feeding my Imposter Syndrome.

And they terrify the shit out of me.

So I use Fear and I fight. I fight for every part of my life, every day. Fear is the sting in my lungs, it’s the stutter when I speak, it’s where I look when looking people in the eye is too much, it’s weighted nausea at the back of my throat and it makes me. 

I live through it and with it. I kiss it in the morning before braving the outside world and I smile at it at night when I come home.

I’m not fearless and I don’t want to be.


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.


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.


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.


Free shots all round.


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


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



A life of love

In all the chaos, flurry and rage of the petty squabbles we find ourselves in, we forget about the people who love us. And loved us. And will love us.

A family friend died this morning. I knew it was coming, and I honestly can’t even remember the last time I saw Les but the loss was felt, deeply.

Les was probably the most wholesome person I’ve ever met. A friend to everybody. All I can remember is his smiling face. I was a shy child but I always ran across the playground to hug him. I just loved him. A truly pure love. He taught everybody in my primary school bike safety and was a very patient mentor. He had time for everybody and the kids loved him.

I told them we were related. He was my godmother’s dad. Close enough.

I speak of all the things I want to do with my life, the places I want to take my writing, the career I hope to have but deep down, like everybody else, I want a life of love. Les had that.

Les was adored. He was humble, he was kind, he was everything you think of when you think of a good person. His family is tight-knit and they are all his biggest fans. Sometimes you make waves not with controversy or hard work but by being the best version of yourself, wherever possible. Les taught me that.

It’s comforting to know Les died at an old age with no regrets. That he really did have a life of love. He died knowing he was loved and those around him never questioned it.

I’m learning over time that a happy life is more important than an exciting one. I’m not sure the story of Les’s life would be a bestseller but to those that knew him, the lasting memories will be filled with love, and laughter, and kindness. We take these things for granted but more often than not, they matter the most.

I am so glad I knew Les. I’m so glad I have the memories of him. He was one of the really special people that never quite leaves your skin and I’m lucky to have known him in such formative years. No matter how long it’s been, how far away I am or how much I change, Les and his family are part of my core.

Les didn’t want flowers, or money being spent by anybody. He didn’t want a fuss. Humble and dignified til the end. What he’s left me with, and what I hope I’ve conveyed to you, is an acknowledgement and understanding of what it is to have a life of love.

The little things don’t matter. Remember the people that created your core. And try to always be the best version of yourself, or at least the kindest version of yourself, wherever possible.



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


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.


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?