Monday, December 31, 2007

The nine days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas I arrive at my parent’s home three days earlier than usual in anticipation of spending some quality time with my nephew before he goes to the in-laws. I arrive to an empty house because unbeknown to me they have changed their plans and now arriving later in the week. This extends my family celebrations from five days to nine if I want to see my nephew and sister! Oh well, I’m here now so I may as well enjoy the log fire, festive decorations and a fridge full of delicious food.

On the second day of Christmas I decided to pay my first boyfriend a visit. Yes, during my teens I went out with guys, yet to realise that my admiration of the PE teacher, my fascination with female tennis players and the Jodie Foster movie and poster collection were the beginnings of my love affair with women. I have been reluctant to visit for several years, as each time I see him it is like jumping back to being fifteen. His life had not changed and in his thirties he was still at home living with his parents, unemployed, watching football and playing online poker.

Recently he got in touch and it sounded like his life had turned around, so when he asked to see me I accepted the invitation. On arrival I wanted to turn and run when he answered the door in what looked like the same Arsenal t-shirt he wore in school. He had not changed; he had just gone slightly bald. Desperately blocking out the necking sessions we had on the same sofa, I stayed for a while then made my excuses and hurriedly left feeling relieved I had moved away and left the small town mentality behind. Sadly I think if he ever left I feel sure be would come out as gay in a matter of weeks; it seems seventeen years ago we had more in common than we thought.

On the third day of Christmas; PMT, nicotine withdrawals and the arrival of Aunty Pat brought with it a childish performance that only surfaces in my parents’ home. I sulked, whinged and had urges to snort ‘bovvered’ at anything my Mum said. My adolescent behaviour culminated in an argument between myself and Aunty Pat about the psychological influence of nature verses nurture. Neither had a clue about the subject or why we were arguing so it ended with Pat walking off and me bursting into tears.

On the fourth and fifth day of Christmas I had a lovely time opening presents, visiting family friends and eating as if my life depended on it. Every waking hour was spent chewing turkey, chocolates, fish platters and the obligatory brussel sprout. I was on a food fest mission and masticated to my hearts content. Everyone was well-behaved and no further arguments occurred even when the Trivial Pursuit was brought out. Juvenility did rear its ugly head when my parents gave me a detox book, elastic muscle toning contraption, cleaning cloth and a fizzy drinks top that preserves the all important half left cans until the next day. I sulkily thought this an unsubtle hint to diet, tone up, clean more and not drink all the lager from the can in one go! All was forgiven when I realised how ungrateful and spoilt I can be as I unwrapped a digital camera!

On the sixth day of Christmas I bought an entire new sale reduced wardrobe and enough, unnecessary but discounted, soft furnishings to fill my flat. After two days of obsessive eating and drinking sparkling wine at eleven in the morning I began to panic that my extra large thighs would not fit into the new wardrobe. To not get depressed about the increasing waistband there was only one thing to do, loosen my belt and eat a turkey sandwich!

With the festive celebrations out of the way my thoughts turned to ‘oh shit I have no plans for New Years Eve’. I need to say goodbye to 2007, fall asleep on the 30th and fast forward to the 1st. Waking, relieved a new and prosperous year is ahead. After several frantic phone calls my housemate comes to the rescue and now the plans are set for new years and I can now relax and wait for my nephew to arrive later for more present opening.

On the seventh and eighth day of Christmas I think certain family members decided I should be straight. With constant references to what a perfect partner my single, yet gay, male housemate would be and when I appeared broody on hearing the news my sister is pregnant again, Aunty Pat smiled knowingly thinking perhaps this means my biological clock has put me back in the closet. It crossed my mind I could be being hyper sensitive and a little jealous of my sister who does not have another failed relationship under her size eight pregnant belt. But if Aunty Pat mentions my housemate again I may move my first boyfriend in with her and see how long it takes before she drags me to the Candy Bar.

On the ninth day of Christmas I arrive home in London. Feeling cosy and warm in my flat; blissfully surrounded by peace and quiet. A bottle of wine, cigarette and time to have a catch up on the internet with no need to table set, socialise with family friends amidst shouts from the kitchen summoning the unpaid hired help. On reflection and sitting alone I realise how much I miss them all and what a great Christmas I have had.

So that’s my nine days of Christmas. No partridges, pear trees or five gold rings but I did get to put some of what I have learnt through therapy into practice. Not successfully at all times but I have grown up and see Mum is only, if sometimes irritatingly, trying her hardest to please everyone. Aunty Pat is OK, she is just from the ‘good old days’ generation of one job, one partner and relationship with women means you have a close friend to talk about cooking and men with. Most importantly, I am going to be an Aunt again which is fantastic and there is nothing to be jealous of. For the moment I can be cool Aunt FT and give them back at the end of the day; until I’m with Miss Right and thinking of having a family of my own. 2008 is going to be a good year and I can not wait to live it!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Cheer

Twas the Friday before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; this includes me! I have woken on my own accord, fully clothed, facedown and laying diagonally on top of the duvet. In the time it takes me to lift my head off the pillow I realise one; I am very late for my last day at work and two; my mouth disturbingly tastes like a stale ashtray doused in corked wine. Judging from my fuzzy head and complete lack of memory it can mean only one thing, this is the morning after the ‘Works Christmas Do’.

Gingerly and using energy I do not have, I stumble towards the bathroom considering putting on my jacket and leaving the house as I am....well I am dressed. This idea is soon abandoned when a hybrid of Worzel Gummidge and Aunt Sally stares back at me from the mirror. Prioritisation is critical during these moments and not to be too crude but a toilet trip is pointless as dehydration has left little moisture, so teeth cleaning and drinking copious amounts of tap water are top of my list. In the shower I begin to reflect on the evening’s events and panic swiftly embraces. My last memory is slurring ‘taxi’ as a life saving black cab appeared outside the pub; prior to that the evening can only be described as hazy.

It takes time and my performance would be painful to watch to even the most patient, but I am finally dressed and on my way to work. In a desperate bid to sober up the first port of call is to the local newsagent to buy any type of hydrating fluids and stomach lining carbohydrates. Arms stacked high with bottles of tomato juice, energy drinks, water and a cheese and ham croissant I open my purse to find nothing. I can deal with the embarrassment of leaving the goods and muttering excuses to the shop keeper, I am more concerned about the lack of £50 that was in my purse yesterday.

Leaving the shop I notice the newspaper headline ‘Seventeen million will wake today with a hangover’, this does not make me feel better and I realise I need to find out what happened last night before I dare face work colleagues and a potential disciplinary action. I remember talking to the boss but have no recollection of what we talked about. He is not my favourite person and did I tell him this in a moment of drunken honesty?

Clyde, she was there, she’ll fill in the gaps. I remember leaving the pub toilets and she was gone. I find a secluded step, seat myself and send a text message ‘not sure who lost who last night, you ok?’. Within a minute Clyde responds ‘I said goodbye, you hugged me, necked some champagne and told me how drunk you were’. Oh dear, maybe my housemate can help, a quick phone call established he has never seen me that drunk and he was proud I had managed to get up, presuming I would be dying in bed… Oh God this does not bode well!

OK think, what do you remember? Keith from Accounts was boring the troops with his tales of rock and roll mishaps in a Holiday Inn piano bar and mentioned something about my boyfriend and I should come listen to his Britney medley. To my response, ‘three years Keith, three years you’ve known me and you still don’t know I’m gay?’ This was exclaimed loudly between juke box songs so silence appropriately took over and a couple of tumbleweeds drifted past. Hearing this news the rather attractive ‘Girl on Top’ smiled seductively then began flirting outrageously with me. For those with a sewer mind ‘Girl on Top’ only got her name because she works in the office above me! Against my instincts I shied away from her attention and I confusingly began flirting with the rather unattractive ‘Man Down Below’ – he works in the office below me! Keith was last seen staggering towards the underground serenading Girl on Top to the tune of ‘Oops I did it again’.

Walking into work and security has not yet escorted me from the premises, which is good sign. Stopping at the cash point I have a sudden flash back to drunkenly shoving a handful of notes at the taxi driver saying ‘keep the change mate’. At least someone’s getting a bonus this year! Some spend twelve months impressing their peers; with strong work ethics they consistently demonstrate integrity, intelligence and initiative. So why, once a year, does an entire office go mental and work ethics are drowned with large quantities of alcohol? I believe the excuse of a works credit card behind the bar may support the debauchery.

A quick stop at the canteen and finally laden with a water, family size bottle of lucozade, healthy smoothie and a cheese and ham toasted bagel, I have given up remembering, there is nothing I can do now! I am embracing my restructuring failure and saying sod off to sobriety. I am prepared for whatever the office will throw at me! Stepping out of the lift and walking towards my desk I look around. There are only three maybe four people there, all sickly grey in complexion and some holding their heads only inches from the desk. Luxozade intravenous drips are stacked by the keyboards and the realisation overwhelms me; I want to sink to my knees, outstretch my arms and point towards the heavens, exclaiming gleefully ‘They don’t remember either!’

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Personality Disorders

Following my Government Health Warning regarding a recent internet stalking incident, I needed to work out why days later I still felt suffocated by negative and opposing emotions all directed at my ex? Ranging from love to hate with sporadic ‘what ifs’ and ‘if only’. During a conversation with a therapist and some internet research, I had an ‘Arh Ha’ moment of clarity which I hope you can not relate to.

Do you ever feel the failures in your relationship are your fault and if you changed, your partner would finally be happy? Has your partner twisted your words and actions and used them against you? Do you ever feel emotionally bullied in the relationship but keep making excuses for their behaviour? Have you stopped planning any social engagements because of your partner’s unpredictability? Are you beginning to feel desperate, angry and isolated? Are you doubting your own sanity and flicking through the phone book looking for the nearest therapist?

Does your partner suffer from low self esteem, find it hard to deal with their emotions and have a fear of abandonment? Do they over analyse every conversation and talk obsessively about their day? Do they shy away from all responsibility believing nothing is their fault? Are their moods unpredictable and do they pick fights without any logical cause? Do they intensely love you one moment and hate you the next? Do they deny they are in need of any professional help even in the depths of depression?

If you can relate to any of the above; it could be possible your partner, friend or family member has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). ‘The diagnosis of BPD is based upon signs of emotional instability, feelings of depression and emptiness, identity and behavioural issues’

When researching BPD, I found described in less than 500 words my life for the last few years and the psychological profile of someone close to me. I believe one in twenty people suffer from BPD and it is most common in women. Although the disorder sounds extreme it can be diagnosed in varying degrees of severity, from erratic mood swings, depression to self harming and suicide. Please do not think for one minute I am an expert on psychoanalysis. A few months in therapy does not give me the right to make a diagnosis on another’s mental state and BPD is just a label used to describe a common state of mind. Through research this label has helped me gain a better understanding of my past relationship and my conflicting feelings towards my ex.

There are a variety of personality disorders all under the headline of mental instability, ranging from the antisocial to the schizoid. I can recognise a part of myself in all these disorders; but fundamentally I know who I am, how to act, what I like and how I choose to live my life. My identity is of course unique; it is a symptom of my childhood, upbringing, experiences and my genes. I can be childish and needy one minute and a confident leader the next. I can be outspoken, destructive and fiery followed by healthy and sporty. My favourite persona is a partying, flirty socialite and sometimes, but rarely, I have a desire for perfection. Put this all together and I become one, actually I become a synopsis of the Spice Girls. This reminds me!

How could I link mental instability with the Spice Girls? That’s easy, you probably think I’m nuts for just going to the concert! I did though, and to lighten the mood I’m going to spice it up! Contrary to recent media speculation, the O2 arena this Sunday was not half full, Baby was not on crutches and the girls did not have a full blown argument and storm off stage. The arena was packed mainly with women of all ages and the Spice Girls; they were not good, they were bloody fantastic. I read recently ‘Who wants to watch five middle age women gyrate badly on a stage?’ If our life expectancy is now 60 and gyrating badly means superb choreography from five sexy talented performers, then the answer is ‘I DO!’

The Spice Girls were a manufactured group based on personalities, unlike Girls Aloud! What they lacked in talent they made up for tenfold with character. With so many strong personalities it’s no wonder the group had trouble reconciling and became a little unstable. But they are back, Geri and all. They performed as a tight knit unit, thriving off the support they gave each other. They had fun, laughed and at no point took themselves too seriously. They were everything a good relationship should be and I love them.

As performers, the joining of the contrasting identities creates a successful whole. The human mind is not so different, just a little more fragile. If someone you love has personality difficulties, has become disjointed and is unsure who they are from one moment to the next they may have BPD and be unaware. The internet advice for those in a relationship with a BPD sufferer is; learn all you can about the disorder, get some support, look after yourself and remember you are not alone. I wish I had known months ago what I do now. I may have been able to deal with my relationship more effectively and not doubted my sanity to the degree I did.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Government Health Warnings

Does anyone remember in the early eighties, around the time of the Falklands war, there was a government pamphlet distributed on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack? I had it all figured out. In the case of an emergency I knew if I turned the dining room table over, painted the windows white and had a store of tinned food I may survive. My parents had to keep a keen eye on me over the months in fear that I would create my own bomb shelter in the lounge, paint and all!

The eighties seemed to have a string of government health warnings from AIDS awareness to the danger of toppling prams by hanging bags on handles. In today’s media the advertisements use shock tactics to highlight the dangers of crossing the road and keeping to the speed limit. The most common health warning seems to be aimed at young adults and the consequences of drinking too much. Regardless of the adverts, I knew I drank too much so I thought I’d research the effects of alcohol and see what the government advice is. Within minutes I find out I am a binge drinking alcoholic!

Following a sharp intake of breath I investigated the basic facts; the Government recommended weekly alcohol intake for a woman is fourteen units, twenty-one for a man. Is it only a surprise to me or does everyone know that one bottle of wine is ten units and a pint of lager is approximately three? Without a calculator I realise it is not uncommon during a week to not only drink my recommended alcohol intake but my housemates, the neighbours and Cousin Angela’s as well.

How and when did I become an alcoholic? A couple of large glasses of wine on return from work; do that for three nights totalling fifteen units. The weekend arrives and a few friends come over for a double vodka and Mojito extravaganza, at three units each drink. Let’s not do the maths I’ll get depressed and want a glass of wine! The good news is a large glass of Sherry is only one unit! I do not think I am drowning my sorrows or cracking under the pressure of work, excessive drinking just crept up on me.

After discovering these frightening facts I made a conscious effort to not drink and I was enjoying sobriety. I felt better, my head less foggy and my restructuring plan was working. There is a theory, I believe initiated by Freud, that the mind is in a state of war between two opposing emotions; the self harmony against the self destruction. So in true Freudian fashion the week was going too well and I needed to self-destruct, using Facebook as my weapon of choice.

When I decided to do a search for my ex girlfriend I had no idea how I would react. I was genuinely shocked to see her photo and within seconds I saw visions of myself sitting under a table with white-washed windows as a bomb exploded in my head. Following the hyperventilating and an overwhelming urge to throw up, there was only on thing left to do, cry.

What happened? Why was I so shocked and why did my mind implode? When my relationship ended we have had no contact. The person I once loved is no longer about but she selfishly still has a life without me! She will of course have new relationships, nights out and an internet social network. I just do not want to know about it because all the hurt, guilt and pain surfaces and suffocates.

We have had government health warnings for nuclear attacks, farmyard accidents and the consequences of binge drinking, but none for Facebook and the dangers of internet stalking. How do we prepare for that first punch in the stomach from the ex? The following day my self destruction disguised itself as curiosity and I looked again. There were no surprises when I had the same reaction. How did I deal with the surge of negative emotions, I had a drink!

So I have banned myself from Facebook, blocked her from finding me and am staying away from alcohol. Alternatively I could paint the windows white, become a recluse and live my life internet stalking. At least I can binge drink on sherry two or three times a week and stay within the limit!

Monday, December 3, 2007


My place of work is currently undergoing another restructure, an inoffensive word used to disguise the actual meaning – redundancies. Five year plans are put in place to claw back loses. Long service staffs humiliatingly reapply for their jobs, the newcomers worry about the 25 year mortgage and the contractors start clearing out their desks. The threat of streamlining results in extreme paranoia and the atmosphere at work is not exactly festive.

Some senior leaders appear to have forgotten the good management skills they were taught during the week long excursions to Sussex five star manor houses. If I mirrored certain management behaviours I would be justified in snapping, bullying and using the innocent and less paid as scapegoats. Actually, that’s not a bad idea judging by my recent work disasters… now who can I blame?

The papers report more redundancies - sorry I mean restructuring - and business failures each day. House prices are dropping; interest rates are rising, queues of panicked public wait to withdraw their savings from Northern Rock and that’s only the beginning. Let’s not forget the so called ‘Acts of God’; tsunami’s, earthquakes and extreme flooding in Gloucestershire, to name a few. If we don’t get cancer from eating smoked bacon, or blown up by extremists on the underground, the effects of Global Warming will surely finish us off? The dramatic again talk of Armageddon, whilst the rest optimistically get on with life.

With the imminent possibility of having a desk clearing day and a large mortgage - thankfully not with Northern Rock - I need to ignore the headlines and do some restructuring of my own. Where do I want to be in five years time and how am I going to get there? After much deliberation I have several constantly changing variations of a twelve month ideal, then nothing, my mind goes blank.

Judging from my rant about the end of the world, it’s no wonder I am stuck at a twelve month plan. Fear of an approaching future without sunlight and run by Terminators could make any five year plan too unrealistic a concept, but that is not why I’m stuck. I do not overly worry about scenarios out of my control or unbelievable…. it will take at least 10 years before machines rule the world!

What is stopping me make a five year plan? That is easy to answer; if I carry on living the way I do, I will not be alive in five years to live out my plan. An epidemic is spreading and many suffer from this wide ranging condition. The syndrome can creep up with little warning and can affect all areas of life. It debilitates individuals in different ways and some may not even know they suffer from it. It is called Self Destruction. In summary, I go out with the wrong people, I drink too much, smoke too much and I do not look after myself the way I should.

On too many occasions I wake early morning and punish myself for abusing my body. Telling myself ‘I’m worth more than this’ and pray I can spend the day doing menial jobs so I do not have to acknowledge my brain ache. Finally I slip back to sleep to nightmares of Dr Gillian McKieth screaming eat pulses and nuts whilst examining my poo in a Tupperware box!

Ignoring my brain ache, I believe today will be different. Today I’ll be kind to myself. I strap my pedometer to my ankle and set off on the recommended 12,000 pace hike to work. With the good intentions of a healthy liquid diet drinking only smoothies and water. On-route to work my body screams for carbs, so I build up my pedometer count on detour to the greasy spoon to pick up a bacon sandwich before jumping in a taxi. Twelve espresso’s later and an impromptu invitation out, I continue my liquid diet in the pub.

Are you like me and self destructive? 2008 is stampeding towards us. Armageddon is not around the corner but liver failure might be. Advice to myself is break the daily routine and turn good intentions into a reality. I need to think ahead by creating a realistic month, 12 month then five year plan and decide what changes do I need to do to ensure I get there in one piece?

Where do you ideally see yourself in five years and what do you need to do in order to get there? If you have a mental block past the Christmas holidays, then maybe spend some time to figure out what is stopping you visualise your future? Why not accept ‘you really are worth more than this’ and put self-destruction into hibernation with Gillian.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I’m holding out for a heroine

I spent the weekend in my Venice, no nothing romantic or extravagant, we know I mean Birmingham. I and one of my oldest friends Marina booked a hotel room, lined our stomachs then headed out to our old haunts on Hurst Street. This is the Birmingham gay scene, a once secluded and almost seedy night spot without the Soho tourists and the Canal Street ‘Queer as Folk’ extras. It was a perfect weekend wandering from bar to bar reliving our University memories. We laughed till we choked, drank until we fell over and ate as if it was our last supper. Some things never change, oh except the introduction of gay chic into Hurst Street with additional ‘cool’ bars, several luxury flats and a Tesco Metro!

It is during the weekend I began thinking how much I enjoy the relationships I have with my friends. There is little pressure with good friends. I can be myself, not worry about the extra thigh width and I do not have to compromise my life or personality in order to keep them happy. It is unconditional love and if we irritate each other, excuses are made; we can go home and laugh about it later. But, there’s one key element friends cannot fulfil and that’s real intimacy; the kind you only get from a partner.

I am enjoying my path to self discovery and I need to be single at the moment in order to not make the same relationship mistakes time and time again. However, by being single it’s inevitable that at some point the lack of intimacy is going to dominate the mind. Oh who am I trying to kid? Sod self discovery, I can’t stop thinking about sex.

You could say being in Birmingham surrounded by beautiful women was the perfect opportunity to have a casual fling. I have a London postcode, I can easily give a fake number and never have to see them again; but pulling wasn’t an option. When I turned my back for two minutes Marina was accosted by the local psycho who was waiting for a date with her ex-girlfriends gynaecologist! By the time we were ready to move on to a club, Psycho was well and truly welded to our sides. With the no show of the fictional gynaecologist and by being nice; social lepers we were, lady magnets we were not.

That’s by the by, because I only want to sleep with someone I’m physically attracted to and have a connection with. A connection not instigated by consuming copious amounts of alcohol. Evidently this will lead to falling in love, moving in and buying a cat; something I am not ready to do. So what do I do in the meantime to curb all thoughts of women?

Even sleeping is adding to my frustration. Every night another woman appears in my dreams. Sounds great but I am one of those that have never got satisfaction through my dreams. I am just getting intimate with Cate Blanchett in a bath (see Elizabeth for any clarification) and the bloody Armada kicks off and I wake up; spending the entire day at work cursing the Spanish and feeling frustrated.

This does not bode well when working in a very straight environment. The gay population appears to consist of me and the non gender specific security guard. So, imagine my shock, excitement and amazement when I walked through the canteen and witnessed such sexual tension between two beautiful women I went weak at the knees. I had to do everything in my power to not run towards them shouting ‘I’m one of yooouuu!’ before sandwiching myself between the two in a desperate bid to have some female contact.

Being single is right for me at the moment, I need to understand myself before embarking on another relationship. I am holding out for someone spectacular, my ‘wink factor’, where only true love will do. So before I cross the boundaries into inappropriate work conduct and stalk the two hot women or start leaning against strangers in the queue at the supermarket cash tills; what do I do? And please no hand or battery operated suggestions.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Willing Donkey

A donkey wakes up and decides to take some me time and walk to look at the mountain view. On her way out, her life donkey partner asks “Would you mind taking these carrots to my Cousin Angela who lives mid-mountain?” “Yes, of course” says Donkey and off she meanders.

A short time later she bumps into her old stable-mate, Sheep, grazing on the winding path. “Hey Donkey will you take this bag of wool over to the west field” she said “it’s a little out of your way but you don’t mind, do you?” “Yes, that’s fine” Donkey replies and she continues on her day trip.

Whilst pausing for a sneaky carrot, Mr Farmer catches up. “I know it’s your day off but I’ll pay you to take these potatoes to the east field”. “Yes, no problem, see you tomorrow” and Donkey continues.

A few tiring hours later and heavily laden, her niece Donklette comes bounding over. “Aunt Donkey, will you take this small yellow twig to the top of the mountain?” Donkey realised she could not climb any higher, this was the final straw! With shoulders slumped and tail dragging Donkey turned and sadly stumbled down the hill.

Are you a willing donkey that cannot say no? I am a ‘Social Yesser’ I try to keep others happy by saying yes to every social invitation. Inevitably I let everyone down because unknowingly I have arranged to go to the theatre, a friend’s birthday and am meant to be spending the same evening in Venice.

Common sense and a diary will help me but what happens if you are the ‘Oklahoma Yesser’? Those who prefer to say yes to all significant other requests than to deal with the guilt they feel by saying no. When asked by her fella to help paint a bar he was refurbishing, Annie is a girl who just can’t say no. She was poorly, tired and had completed a long day’s work; however Annie cancelled her arrangement with her sister and the sofa and obediently went. On arrival she painted the men’s urinals until four o’clock in the morning before starting her day job.

It is better to be a ‘Yesser’ than the ‘Serial Noah’ who declines all invitations, is unhelpful, unreliable and ultimately stops being liked. But there must be a middle ground and after much deliberation I have an uneducated suggestion. Choose six or seven life priorities; for example family, friends, job/money, partners, health, fun, home. If by saying yes negatively impacts 3 or more of your priorities then maybe that’s the time to say no!

Annie could have saved herself a hideous evening painting the toilets if when asked she totalled up her priorities. By helping her partner the impact on her health, fun, home, family, and work outweighed any guilt. But that’s easier said than done, how could she actually say no? There are several refusal techniques; The Positive – “Hey honey, I'd love to but I’m exhausted and won’t be any use.” The Unhelpful - “How can you even ask, you should have organised help in advance” and finally my favourite; The Emotional Refusal, “Sod off, I’m not a donkey!”

Monday, November 12, 2007

Who let the dogs out

Coming out is incredibly hard. To anyone that argues differently, I would have to ask ‘Have you just forgotten?’ Initially it can be frightening to say ‘I am gay’ with the uncertainty of others' reactions. Will I be rejected, bullied, persecuted, an embarrassment to my family?

I came out partly through necessity. My parents were coming to stay in the one bedroom flat I shared with my partner and we did not feel we could satisfactorily explain the sleeping arrangements. Of course they knew, they had met my ‘special friend’ repeatedly and were just waiting for me to come clean.

My sexuality was fully accepted by family, friends and - other than the odd bigoted remark from Misogynistic Malcolm - work. In fact, the rare occasions I have been bullied or attacked has been by other lesbians. When first out and on the scene, I was living in what I like to describe as the ‘British Equivalent to Venice’ aka Birmingham! I was attacked in a gay pub toilet by a sour faced woman and two gigantic heavies... and no, I was not doing anything dodgy, so why was I attacked?

Did I throw my drink on her, steal her girlfriend then insult her checked shirt and dungarees combo? No, far worse than that, I was wearing a skirt in a gay bar. I escaped with a few bruises after hitching up my A-line and discarding my heels. With arms flaying, lighter flicking and high pitched shouting of intelligent words I managed to disorientate her Sasquatch bodyguards and make a run for it. These women travelled in a pack and preyed on people they considered different.

Shortly after, Birmingham introduced a door policy only allowing two pack members in a bar at any one time; any more and they were likely to start attacking people. The rest had to wait chained up outside drinking lager out of bowls. They are a minority group but ‘Pack’ awareness should be raised with warning signs on toilet doors.

So why do the packs form? Are they bullies or are they just scared of anyone who does not fit the stereotypes and guidelines they live by. I wanted to do some research on the bullying mentality and found an interesting website If you want to read the psychological profiles or how to deal with adult bullies you should take a look (page link below).

‘The serial bully is an adult on the outside but a child on the inside; he or she is like a child who has never grown up. One suspects that the bully is emotionally retarded and has a level of emotional development equivalent to a five-year-old, or less’.

I had a friend who was a serial bully. She was devious and manipulative and would intentionally seek the emotionally needy to work her magic on. She had a split personality that fooled even the most intelligent. Her technique was to make you a nice home-cooked meal one night then sleep with your date the next. When being the brunt of her jokes affected my life and self esteem I walked away. Yes, she did what all child bullies do, she spread rumours and turned friends against me. She still has her pack, they sit in bars looking intimidating and bitching about those they are jealous of.

Did being attacked in a toilet and have a friend and her gang spread malicious rumours affect me? Of course it did. For a start I have never worn a skirt on the scene since! When invited out by my ex-friend to meet the old crowd next weekend for a catch up, I declined. I knew instantly I would rather eat my hands than spend an evening with incredibly insecure, unemotional and spiteful women.

The lesbian community is small, there are very few places face to face or online women can socialise exclusively. Let's not let the minority group ruin these places for the rest of us. Remember if they are unleashed and charge in your direction, walk away, they are emotionally retarded and so very jealous of you. For those that do bully, we are all adults, isn’t it time you got some therapy and grew up?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Footprints and Fishing Gnomes

It’s a beautiful autumn day. A small group of us are standing in a woodland area surrounded by the smells, sounds and stillness that comes with nature. The sun is trying to break through the clouds and just not quite making it, so the group huddles together keeping the cold out. Spindly trees stand tall and disappear into the sky above. At the base of these trees, amongst the wild flowers, small unobtrusive wooden posts have been knocked deep into the damp soil.

Each post bears an engraved plaque with a name and some a small poignant memento; a sleeping cat, a ballerina and one a smiling fishing gnome. We are not in a graveyard we are in a nature park and this is where our friend’s ashes will be buried.

She was diagnosed, treated and died within 3 months from a brain tumour. My Mum’s best friend was 59. Her daughter, much younger than me, has taken a small group following the service to her Mum’s resting place. Dad, my supporter, holds my hand for the first time in years and still I can not find any suitable words for someone who has just lost her Mum.

The previous day on route to the farmers market, my Mum and I light heartedly discussed our funeral arrangements, as you do! We decided the family should be scattered at memorable locations on our home town beach. My Mum by the beachside café, my Dad the cliffs below the golf course and the siblings drew the short straw with me scattered on the nudist beach and my sister the - yet to be drained in 20 years - yacht pond.

I would also like a bench with a plaque saying, ‘Believe in your soul, you’re indestructible, always believe it’. But please, no where near the nudist beach I would like some fabric between bottoms and my bench. Yes, I am lightening the mood as her family did when they paid tribute to a woman who positively affected so many around her. She would also laugh at the thought of my Mum's ashes peppering the beachside cafe 'all day' breakfast for years to come.

Where we stood surrounded by the memories and footprints of loved ones, overwhelmed by the sadness of death, there were no suitable words; so instead we drank some wine, hugged, cried, laughed and made plans for Christmas.

What footprint do you want to leave? What mark on the world? Mine will not be spectacular; I’ll never find a cure for cancer or create world peace (I do have some ideas for the later though!). I can make someone smile when they realise my plaque is the chorus from Spandau Ballets ‘Gold’. They can later curse me as they irritatingly sing it over and over in their heads for the rest of the day. I can also try and make life a little easier and nicer for those around me. So I am ending my support free sabbatical and telling some important people I love them.

Her footprint has been left and is all around us. It was felt by the 200 mourners of all ages who filled and overflowed out of the service room. We all saw the strength and resilience of her husband and children; a day she helped prepare them for and she left no words of love unspoken. Hopefully all those who were there will question what footprint do I want to leave? And act upon it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

There's no place like home!

Between regenerating my brain cells following a rather excessive weekend, unintentionally antagonising a couple of lesbians and now staying at my parents meaning privacy is impossible; there had been no time to write this week.

To summarise last Saturday a group met at lunchtime to celebrate a friends birthday. Following the accidental eating of a four cheese and magic mushroom pizza we watched the West-End production of 'Lord of the Rings' before heading to a local bar.

We unanimously thought the show was great, a real spectacular. If the actors had not spoken in unidentifiable Gaelic accents it would have been even better. I am not sure the opinion of a mushroom mashed group counts for too much though. So, if anyone has a intelligent critique of the show please post in the comments.

Eight hours later and several more pizza's; ten thirty somethings are captured on video sporting highly flammable backcombed quiffs and I have a strong sense of deja-vu. I have not taken mind altering drugs since 1997 at an 80's fancy dress party. I was wearing a polka dot power suit, accessorised with shoulder pads, gold hoop earrings and highly flammable backcombed hair... arrh! After taking various illegal substances I was found by friends in a room on my own having a fascinating conversation with a poster of Micheal Jackson.

I am now at my parents and loving it. Home cooking, television in front of the log fire and fresh air. When do your interests change from pubbing and clubbing to long walks on the beach? Is it about growing up and wanting a slower, healthier pace of life or is it that your body and mind can just not recover like they used to?

I have to go, I'm being called as disappeared for 10 minutes. The parents and I are going on a hike through the countryside ending at the Farmers Market... and no we will not stop to pick mushrooms!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's Nice to be Nice

No one is perfect, I am far from. I have in the past hurt people, lied, cheated and been flippant with others feelings. Shouted at the wrong colleagues and taken frustration out on the anonymous woman in the tax office. These are rare moments in my life that I regret and am not proud of. However, as a general rule, I find it is nice to be nice and would probably be described as a ‘Supporting’ person.

I’m sure we all know one or more supporters. Characteristically they are empathetic, good listeners, open and sharing with a positive attitude towards life. They are rarely intentionally mean because they punish themselves too much. Whilst the rest of the world appears to have little consideration for transportation etiquette, they are distraught that they did not let the elderly women sit down on the tube.

Supporters generally want people around them to be happy, often taking on the responsibility of making others lives easier. Mothers are the most natural supporters. Mine regularly passes on helpful advice. ‘Healthy mind, healthy body. Tidy your flat and do some exercise, you’ll feel much better’. No, YOU may but I’ll feel better with 20 Marlboro Lights and a double vodka.

It is not a selfless act to support others. Subconsciously I feel good; I have a sense of purpose and concentrating on others is a great avoidance tactic from dealing with negative feelings and possibly plummeting into life’s lows. But, how depressing when the way I treat others is sometimes not reciprocated.

My tall, self-centred friend, Gina’s name flashes away on my phone. She has remembered to return my calls, surely offering condolences on recent bereavements. With a warm feeling of being loved I eagerly answer the phone, only to hear muffled voices. She accidentally dialled my number whilst sitting on her blackberry.

I’m bored of this now! Friends, work colleagues, neighbours be warned; no more Miss Nice. I’m rebelling, temporarily taking a support-free sabbatical and being kind only to myself. If it’s not about me I do not want to know, and yes I did shout ‘You arse’ at Gina’s arse before slamming the phone down.

I will no longer retaliate with understanding and kindness if I am dismissed or treated badly. Honesty is my new policy. To the girl I recently slept with, no you were not honest with me, yes you did hurt me and to find out you’re back with your ex by a news-feed on Facebook, is just cruel. Oh and by the way lazy lovers become really tedious!

To Dr Donald A Quentin my incredibly rude neighbour, living in a 2-bedroomed flat with what seems like 8 other family members, various electric road vehicles and runs a stationary business in the communal entrance. Next time I’m polite and say good morning, do something more than grunt or else you may find the battery to your electric car unplugged and uncharged on a daily basis.

Oh, and to the mutual friend who had an affair with my ex you really are a c##t and no not as a term of endearment.

Consider who are your supporters? Who calls you in your hour of need? If you have not heard from them in a while they may be in need of a friend and too independent to ask for help. So Gina, Dr Donald, Lazy Lover and a Mutual Friend, before your supporters rebel, get out of your bubble and why don’t you pick up the phone ask ‘how are you?’ It won’t take long and it’s nice to be nice.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pop Tarts

Now, before I lose any respect that I may have had, I need to explain something. I am a self confessed lover of ‘Cheesy Pop’. I am secure in my trashy music taste, limited acoustic knowledge and I do not shy away from the pop calendars aimed at under 10 years olds.

Life can be heavy enough without listening to James Blunt and joining Suicide Anonymous. Or holding a razor to my wrist as I stare dreamily out of the window whilst Damian - ‘O’ my god someone shut him up - Rice drones on in the background. Music for me is uplifting and I avoid overly emotional or depressing songs at all costs. However, I could never imagine the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced when yesterday I turned on the music channel. First euphoria, then confusion shortly followed by despair as I witness my idol standing in front of a camcorder looking like a smacked up hooker gyrating badly in front of a pole. The VMA awards were distressing enough, but this….

Who the hell is managing Ms Spears on a personal and professional level because whoever you are, what are you thinking of? I like her new song and wait in anticipation for the release of her new album but wake up; Britney is blatantly in need of therapy. She needs resilience training, some direction, a chance to grow her hair and time to see her children. It pains me to say but Britney does not have the raw talent of Winehouse, her kudos does not rise if she forgets to wear her thong, marries an idiot and shaves her head.

Britney is an old fashioned entertainer. A West End/Broadway Theatre one women show, the love child of Liberace and Madonna – you get the glitter and the sex with her tongue planted firmly in her cheek. This has always come across in her concerts and her videos which is why I am baffled that her latest promo is one step up from Paris Hilton’s home-made sleaze video. Before the lyrics to ‘Everytime’ become her eulogy and Elton sings ‘Oops I did it again’ at her funeral, please will someone help her!

When I think it can’t get any worse, I find myself half listening to a boring talentless female singer on the radio. As the song continues I suddenly recognise a distinct and different singing voice and the horrific realisation overwhelms me. I have to do everything in my power to not break down sobbing on the kitchen floor. It can only be the Spice Girls reunion song as no one else sings like Mel C.

I and so many others did not buy tickets to the upcoming show or wait 10 years to hear ‘We are back, back again, we said our friendship would never end’. Would I lie and write the words ‘You thought that we had gone away, now you know we are here to stay’ yes I would for £10 million, but no ladies, you are not here to stay. You’re going to do one world tour, take the cash, retire and avoid having anymore children with Dr Dolittle. And who could blame you, but please don’t release any more ‘Headline’ songs or sing them at the concert.

Why do pop dreams have to end? Why can’t Popworld be the one place where everything stays cool and rosy? Come on, you’re all pop stars; you have charmed lives, just humour us that you’re having a great time – Please! I’m sure that being thrust into the limelight, chased by the paparazzi and having every little thing you do scrutinized by the world’s media is fun, right? What’s the problem? I have to work with Keith from Accounts!

Come on Pop Tarts, before your time is up! Leona Lewis is about to blow all of you out of the water with her talent factor. The song is fantastic, she looks great and she can sing. Ok, so give her two years in the musicsphere and she’ll probably collapse like a house of cards!

See, this is what happens in therapy. If you remove one emotional brick the rest can so easily crumble and in my case instead of thinking about the funeral of a family friend I am attending next week, ‘Cheesy Pop’ has temporarily become my focus.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Resilience Training

It’s Wednesday morning and I have no idea what the woman is talking about! I am in an air conditioned boardroom with a suitable amount of tea and coffee and 30 other people staring at a PowerPoint presentation about what I thought was how to be resilient at work. Following several hours of confusion as to why we are here, I Google resilience just to check that my understanding of the word is correct.

After learning I am here to learn how to spring back into shape after bending, stretching or being compressed I feel a lot better! I quickly create a Chinese whisper on my Google findings to the other 30 confused participants who arrh and um, then stare at the door waiting for the yoga teacher to arrive.

The two days are broken by a works team bonding dinner. I get stuck with Keith from Accounts. After the tenth story of his bands sex, drugs and rock and roll excess aka him and a mate playing down the local social club, I feel justified in making my excuses and leaving.

The training did not become clearer and at the end of day two and still no yoga teacher, the group make a public display of despair at the pointlessness of the course by ramming their heads against the tables (and not bouncing back!). To find some purpose in my working week, I contemplate what it means to be resilient and how it’s translated into everyday life.

Life can be viewed as a glass bubble. Some experiences smudge the glass, others crack it whilst certain traumas can break the bubble completely. Is it to be resilient to ensure the glass is only temporarily shattered? There are scales of trauma that happen and each of us react and deal with them in different ways.

Cousin Angela nearly had a nervous breakdown when she realised that she’d run out of Columbian Dry Roast coffee to serve her guests at the end of a successful dinner party whilst Old Ms Cats-and-Clocks down the road seemed to cope with her beloved Tiddles being flattened by the dustbin lorry with a dignified silence. So, how can we put things into perspective? After all, the washing machine flooding the kitchen floor really shouldn’t score as high in the trauma stakes as a cancer diagnosis.

We have and hear stories that bring a tear to our eyes. For example my Mum is having a terrible time at the moment, my father is terminally ill, one close friend has just died and whilst writing this I got the call to say my Mum’s best friend has died from an aggressive brain tumour. At the moment life can only be explained as being very sad and very, very heavy and all involved are justifiably struggling. But throughout the despair and however difficult, I have no doubt that the individual’s resilience will prevail.

I feel the heaviness around me because I love my parents, their friends and want to be strong for all. Do they need to be resilient? No, not at this moment, they need to look after themselves and know the glass breaking is temporary. They are resilient and they will bounce back, they are positive strong people who have stared adversity in the face before. In fact, I wonder if resilience is something that can be learnt in a boardroom or is it something that you learn from life experience and watching your loved ones cope with the things that life throws at them?

My Mum has always had a cool and calm exterior, she is the archetypal type that keeps her head while all around are losing theirs. Luckily this has rubbed off on me and at times when I falter and in need of a bit of reassurance she is always on call for a resilience pep talk. It’s also comforting that in her hour of need I can return the favour.

I wonder if I should send a memo around to my 30 other Resilience Training cohorts giving them my Mum’s phone number. But then selfishly I don’t want her hotline clogged up with the likes of Keith from Accounts – he’ll probably call her everytime his three audience members fall asleep during his set. Oh my God, after witnessing his ten minute acoustic rendition of ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ this is probably going to be a frequent occurrence.

I guess if Mum’s line is engaged I could always call my Aunty Pat. Oh no hang on, if Cousin Angela is freaking out over the lack of coffee perhaps she has enough on her plate… Maybe it’s time to realise that I have in fact bounced back enough to trust my own resilience. I can stretch and bend with the best of them.

Do we want to be defined by the traumas that test us or is it not better to be defined by how we fight back and survive against the odds?

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Saturday morning and I’m piecing my Friday night together. Work, pub, no food and a bottle of wine. I also have a hazy recollection of having an internet argument with Catwoman about whether I was biphobic! No it is not having two phobias, but someone who has a dislike for people attracted to both sexes. Judging from my head ache this morning I doubt my responses were very intelligent.

With a large coffee in front of me, I cringe and check the 'Lesbian Guide to London' notice board, and to my surprise I really think I have offended certain people. The last comment suggesting there is 'no place for biphobia on a notice board intended for lesbian and bisexual women'.

These biphobia complaints stem from my ideal partner check list, where I stated I wanted to go out with someone 100% gay, in order to avoid driving myself insane thinking they may leave me for a man.

I have continued to think about the issue of biphobia over the weekend and having read the more recent comments posted-you know what? I do agree with those who responded. I did, however unintentionally, act discriminately to a group of people and yes, it is completely illogical to fear a bisexual woman would leave you for a man.

Through my own experience and in order to save my sanity in a future relationship, it is my choice to be with someone who knows they only want to be with women but following this debate, I'm questioning that! What I actually want is to be with someone so comfortable with their sexuality that it is not an issue. Also someone who wants to be in a relationship with minimal complication; I am certain this later desire is unachievable!

What I am struggling with is when does a bisexual woman become classed as a lesbian, or do they not? For example, I was with men, I then fell in love with a woman. If I had to be categorised then I was bisexual as never ruled men out. After 10 years, no men and several female relationships later, I would have to label myself as gay. So, if you are in a long term relationship and you want to spend your lives together does that woman label herself as gay or if asked does she always say she's bisexual? I have a suggestion to the gay/bi community, why not delete all labels and just be women who like women, if not all of the time?

A phobia is an excessive fear, dislike and a desire to avoid the feared subject. I have a phobia for spiders, legwarmers and extremists whether political or religious. I am afraid of people who blow planes up or hang out on Clapham Common waiting to beat and murder gay people. What I am not afraid of are women who like both sexes. I would not provoke lesbians bi-bashing online or in the Candy Bar. Where do we draw the line with political correctness and is biphobia really as issue? Are the owners of the website biphobic because unless reading the terms & conditions there is no mention of bisexual women?

This debate has broadened my opinion and altered my perception of sexuality. At the end of the day the one thing I do know is regardless of sexual preference, women are complicated. Thankfully and appropriately I will be spending the next 2 days in Resilience Training!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My family

My bad day progressed into a bad week. I felt uninspired to write, go out and even talk to people. On my way to therapy this week I had a moment of clarity, my lack of motivation was not PMT, it’s because I am stuck with my emotions.

My therapy has been focussed on my family and this is the hardest subject for me to address. Too much love in a family can cause as much damage as neglect, so how do you criticise and admit to having negative thoughts about your family if you grew up comfortably in the middle of the extremes, in a loving, healthy, free environment. My parents brought me up living by the values that make me the person I am and when looking back at my childhood I am lucky enough to say it was very happy. What the hell have I got to complain about?

I now know if I can not be honest with myself and the other two SLAGS who read this (see ‘A Bad Day’ if you think I am being insulting!) then who can I be honest with?

My parents are traditional on paper, my sister is the same. She lives the ‘perfect’ life; she has the husband, the family, the house, the job and at school I was overshadowed by her intelligence and drive for success. This resulted in me slowly building boundaries around me. The reality was she felt shadowed by my lust for life, my spontaneity and to this day has expressed jealousy of my choices and freedom; so why did I put the boundaries up? Somewhere in the subconscious I saw myself as imperfect because I was gay, this was self imposed and had ‘almost’ no correlation with the reality of how my family treated me.

Now, I realise I am not betraying them by accepting that my childhood was not perfect and my parents should not have been on the pedestal I put them on. They are not perfect and at times their opinions and actions have caused me to lose a part of my own identify in later life, and that’s ok, it is not their fault because they are only human. I understand this clarity is a little naive but until I wrote about it I knew I'd stay stuck!

We have layers of our personality that are ours and some we have absorbed from our parents and siblings. When peeling back and acknowledging the layers we can choose which to discard and which to take forward into adult life to form our own true identify... and then screw up our own children!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A bad day!

The self discovery path is not all enlightened moments, clarity and overwhelming inner calm because sometimes you just have a sodding bad day! I have quit smoking, have outrageous PMT, am being completely irrational and my evil twin sister is going to get me fired soon. If you tell me the sun is yellow I’ll argue it’s green, have a tantrum then burst into tears, today I am a pleasure to be around.

So why the rant? From leaving the house to arriving at work my hair turned into a weird fraggle rock frizz and with the lack of a portable dehumidifier, work colleagues have entered me into the Diana Ross looky-likey contest and I may win. The P in PMT means I feel I am carrying a third more of my normal body weight around and I’ve already cried twice as I realised by definition I am a feminist, no not the Daily Mail 'bra burning, hairy, man hating' portrayal but yes, I do advocate women’s rights on the grounds of equality of the sexes as clearly stated in the New Oxford Dictionary.

I later find out that my ex had an affair with a mutual friend when she was still with me. This was bad enough but over the years I carried the guilt of believing it was me that ruined the relationship. To top it off I’ve spent an evening in Soho wondering where have all the women gone and how will I ever meet any when they are at home with their partners, watching the L Word and feeding the cat? Today I am a fat single lesbian feminist with frizzy hair!

To counterbalance my negative day, I need to stop complaining and do something positive. To start with, I am banning the word FINE (F**ked off, Insignificant, Negative and Empty) and campaigning to have the word C**T introduced as a term of endearment. This will allow me to regularly use the word, not get fired and not feel bad when referring to a ‘mutual friend’ as one.

In order to find women with similar interests, I need to be the connecter and start my own social networking group. It’s going to be called the Society for Lesbians Against Generalised Stereotypes or in short – SLAGS. We’ll meet monthly in a Stoke Newington pool hall, eat a fish supper, discuss the literate complexities of ‘Oranges are not the only fruit’ and plan an annual trip to Lesbos. Anyone interested?

My friends and I prided ourselves on the fact we did not fit into the lesbian stereotypes, we didn’t wear Doc Martins, carry keys on chains; we ate meat, we weren’t overly political and we certainly didn’t swap partners. Oh, how we fooled ourselves, we have all slept with each other if not physically but by proxy, and now I know my ex slept with a friend, my by proxy list has trebled. Maybe on the first SLAGS meeting we can track our relationship links in a very ‘L word’-esque way and prove the six degrees of separation theory.

In the big picture, my day wasn’t that bad, no one died and life is generally good. I essentially only have PMT and feel like a rant but f**k it we’re all allowed to have a bad day!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The tick box for possible partners

I know now who to avoid when dating but how do I identify possible future partners. I never did continue the internet dating, I found it a bit too intrusive and impersonal. If you are like me and enjoy social situations and the actual act of talking, the internet can be rather limiting. Unless you date a friend or work colleague, when meeting someone new the initial connection is likely to be that of physical attraction and little more. The majority of people are confident, funny and uplifting in social environments especially if large quantities of alcohol are involved and, once numbers have been exchanged, you now need to establish whether you are actually compatible. The following options can prevent time wasting on those all important 'getting to know each other' dates:

1. Prior to the date email the person requesting a full medical and family history, vital statistics and future aspirations

2. Ask on the date a series of interview questions with a therapist standing nearby analysing the answers

3. Take all you close family and friends on the date letting them assess possible future candidates

OK , this in itself means you will be avoided so we need to look at a subtler approach. I met a girl several years ago, we had one of those fantastic dates then she treated me terribly. I never saw her again but she played on my mind. I spoke to my therapist about the one night stand saying she had ticked all the ideal partner boxes. The therapist asked what boxes did she tick? and my response was she was attractive and had a similar job to me. So now we know I am looking for someone who treats me badly, is attractive and works in a large company! Not someone who is loving, kind, respectful and (if you have followed the other blogs) has the 'Wink Factor', the vital trait for me is we can bore each other rigid talking about business! Why did I waste so much thought space over her? Oh yes, because she rejected me..

My ideal partner tick box
  • Open, confident, loving, caring, stable, with a fantastic sense of humour - all those positive traits I find in my closest friends
  • Spontaneous, to wake up on Saturday morning be dragged out of bed and then taken on an adventure
  • Someone who can be trusted with my emotions, they won't play games or manipulate
  • Respectful of my bubble! That sounds really dodgy but isn't. A friend refers to an individual's life and all it encompasses as a bubble and whoever you allow into that bubble should treat it with respect or they are out
  • God damn sexy in every aspect. Neither boyish or overly feminine but just them and confident with it
  • And for me they need to be 100% gay. You'll be surprised how many bi people there are out there, they will probably find a man, leave you and get married. If they don't you're likely to send yourself mad worrying that they will

Unless your tick box is unrealistic and only fictional characters can fulfil the requirements then trust your gut instinct when it comes to starting a new relationship. If they do not tick the majority of your 'carefully thought out' partner boxes they are probably not right for you.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The bit in between

I have moved swiftly from the break up, the five steps to help you through, to who to avoid whilst dating but what about the bit in between. The following update is a jumbled string of sentences that don’t amount to much. This is the moving on process, what I refer to as the 'relationship recovery' process.

A best friend recommended a therapy centre. She’d known me from childhood and was justifiably concerned that I would live my life in a constant state of highs and lows. I was almost insulted at first but being trusting of her I phoned and went.

The first trip was an assessment from the director of the centre and his conclusion was; stick to the recommended alcohol levels and other than that I was fundamentally fine. My inner self was stable, my family background was very loving and I was successful in almost all areas of my life. But, and there’s always a but, I wanted to have a successful long term relationship and for whatever reason I kept choosing the wrong people so this is what my therapy would be focussed on.

To get the most out of my sessions I decided on some objectives: to feel inner calm, strength and to really understand myself. Have you ever stood somewhere and felt total, true inner calm, even if only for a moment. Where the world seems to stop, you can hear a pin drop and clarity overwhelms you. You are in tune with the surroundings and yourself, inside and out and the world becomes an amazing place. That degree of awareness can't last, we still have to work, read the news, face our fears and live our daily lives. However, there is a lessened inner calm and strength that we can carry around daily, I just needed to find it!

A friend went to Australia on a spontaneous trip following a break up from her long term girlfriend. The plan went as far as buying a flight, packing a rucksack and turning up at the airport. When arriving in Australia the spontaneity was not as exciting and the ‘oh shit’ set in. She was alone, uncomfortable and miles away from her life. It soon changed and the following months were fantastic. It was on this trip she experienced the feeling of true inner calm. Whilst walking around Uluru with the sun rising, all the guilt, insecurity and failures disappeared and being her was ok, inner calm took over. Yes, that was me but that story is so corny I cringe and have to pretend it was a ‘friend’.

The extremity is; I have often had an unexplained emotion, a knot in my stomach that overwhelms me and is followed by heightened anxiety and panic that I find hard to deal with. I overreact becoming irrational and impatient; this often results in disastrous decision making. I have associated this feeling with love, anger and anxiety however I now understand these feelings are that of the fear of rejection. This is the text book psychotherapy I have previously tried to deny, how can my failures in relationships be an output of a very loving, stable childhood? But it is and of course this fear originates from what I believed to be insignificant childhood incidents and emotions filtered from people around me. Childhood incidents are not solely responsible for my adult behaviour, I am an adult and I make my own decisions, but they are intrinsically connected.

We all have a fear, however, some do not associate their fears with the emotions they feel. Anxiety is a perfect example. Next time you feel irrationally anxious, what are you actually scared of? Is it a fear of rejection, loss, failure, abandonment that is heightened by the situation you are in? Anxiety is an emotion attached to the fear not the other way around. If you feel anxious or out of control about a situation maybe ask yourself why?

There are certain events and relationships I should have walked away from but I stayed to avoid others and myself experiencing that sense of rejection. I will always be faced with people, situations and emotions that make me feel out of control, uncomfortable, irrational, high or low but if I learn why I may feel this way then I can step back and choose how I react. You know what, this clarity, self awareness and inner calm only costs me £40 a week!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Who to avoid when you start dating

I have been talking to various people about how you know who to avoid when you start dating again and the response is you can just tell, this as some of us know is not true. You would never expect to go on a date with someone who has previously stalked you over the internet, changed their profile, phone number and email address so they can continue to talk to you without you realising. Then steal your credit card to find out where you lived, worked, what you bought and where you hang out? This did not happen to me but it did to someone I know.

My experience was very different and much subtler, I went out with someone with such low self esteem that my personality, life and lifestyle seemed to cause her pain. I had spent 30 years building what I considered to be a full and successful life. I was almost comfortable with myself, I had good friends and family, had travelled extensively; I had a good job and owned my own flat. What I was proud of she appeared to dislike and I was very much in love so I tried to change to make her happy. Of course this did not work, and how arrogant of me to think it would. The clichés is correct ‘you have to love yourself before you can let someone else love you’. That statement did apply to us both, I was far from perfect and made many mistakes. See female therapy part one if you want to know the outcome!

I recently joined a lesbian dating/chatting website and I realise it’s crucial to have a level of understanding about what I am looking for before I start. What is my type? And more importantly who should I avoid at all costs? The internet experience started off promising and is now steadily moving downhill. We start chatting, getting on well, finding out we’ve lots in common and then out come the photos and I have to experience that sinking feeling because they just don’t seem to be my type. Picky I know but sometimes you have to be, even if it is a bit shallow. The worst thing is I have lost track of who I have messaged so I may be accidentally stalking someone and not even know it.

How do we know when someone should be avoided (and please be forgiving of the numpties who accidentally stalk you, they could be like me and forgetful)? I would recommend you ask the following when meeting anyone new:

1. Do you like animals?
2. What is your favourite film?
3. Have you ever parked outside an ex’s house just to watch?

If the answer to question 1 is a definite no to all animals, then run away, there is something odd about a person who does not like any animals. I think it shows an overly controlling personality and lack of emotional sympathy and empathy for anything that breathes. If the answer to question 2 is 'Untamed Hearts' I would also recommend you turn about quickly and keep on searching. There is no psychological reason it just comes from experience! If you need to know the answer to question 3 then you should probably be avoided or go now to therapy.

If, however, you share common interests, have similar moral values and are sexually attracted to each other then go for it and have fun.

I have previously mentioned a type and for me that’s a beautiful women who has the ‘wink factor’. Someone who is comfortable with themselves and their life; she is funny, confident, open, loving and caring. Not jealous and very trusting. So where does the wink come in...I’m at a works do or a party and Ms Right doesn’t know anyone, I look across the room and I see her talking comfortably to a group of strangers, making them laugh and she looks over at me and she winks. That wink symbolizes someone who has the all the qualities I listed above .This person would like my life, treat it with respect, want to be part of it and vice versa.

I am happy to say I have more now than I had at 30 years old because at 33 all those dislikable elements in my life are still there and I have a much greater understanding of myself, people and who to avoid.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Therapy for females who like females

It's September and I'm wondering what has made me decide to write publically my thoughts on female relationships, gay women, therapy and matters of a less serious nature? The answer is I have no idea but why the hell not. Starting with a bit of background about me; I am in my early thirties and several months ago came out of an unsuccessful relationship and have since been on a journey of some description, which I feel like sharing. To summarise the last few years, I was in a relationship that made me unhappy, with a women who I had little in common with, who appeared jealous of my life, hated my past and blamed me for everything including the lack of world peace. On the other hand she was incredibly loving, intelligent and knew exactly how to make me laugh.

My life changed when a lovely friend paid for me to see an executive coach, we did not even talk about my partner, however the fog was lifted and I knew I had to get out of my relationship. Why? Because it was too hard, we were not compatible and we could not make it work. It was May when we finally split, it was unpleasant, hurtful and we can safely say we will not be friends! But I am not here to write about my relationship I am here to explain what happened next.

Recently a man told me a story as he believed it would help me understand where I was at in my life. This is his story....

' A man walked down a street and fell in a hole, he tumbled down and down, spiralling out of control and kept falling. About 2 years later this man crawled out of the hole, let out a sigh of relief and promised he wouldn't fall down it again. A while later the man walked down the street and falls into the hole, he once again spirals out of control but this time about 6 months later he crawls out. Thank god he thinks, he didn't fall so far this time.

A few months later, walking down the street he falls into the hole, this time he knows his way out and a few weeks later out he gets. He brushes himself down relieved and pleased he got out so quickly. Sometime later the man walks down the street, falls into the hole and jumps straight out. After a few months the man walked down a different street! '

He was right, I am now walking down another street. There were things I needed to do to get myself started. I had to look at my life, get over my relationship and try to figure out how on earth I keep falling down the same hole and making the same mistakes time and time again when it comes to women. The easiest way to start figuring this out was to do 5 simple things.

1. To get over the relationship I firstly slept with someone else.... which was a fantastic distraction but probably not the most healthy thing to do

2. To understand myself I went into therapy and it's fantastic. I go weekly to a centre in London and I talk for an hour and my therapist sorts me out.

3. I learnt to trust and rely on my friends & family and I mean my proper friends who know me and understand me, i've got rid of the crap and by doing that I suddenly find new people in my life and feel much more open to new friendships.

4. I learnt to like myself. I realise sometimes my thoughts and emotions are unexplainable and irrational and cause me pain so I am learning now how I deal with them

5. This is the really important step, it lasts a while and allows you to fully deal with your emotions, it supports you in life decisions and focusses your attention on what is important and valuable to you.... this is to get drunk and smoke alot!