So I’ve been a little quiet lately…

Yes, quiet. I’d say it’s unlike me to be so silent but that might not be strictly true. I have my moments. Since getting back from Thailand in June I suppose I’ve been kind of meditative on the “what next?” question. Before we left I knew that it could very well be that Thailand would have to be our last travel indulgence for a while. This part I do tend to struggle with a lot. Having travel plans actually occupies my mind in this positive way that kind of keeps the other brain worms at arm’s length. This is a good thing for a million reasons. But obviously I can’t always have travel plans to distract myself with. And that’s where I am right now: undistracted and overwhelmed.

I suppose that’s a bit strange. Most people seem to be on a mission to clear their heads, while I prefer that mine be preoccupied with anything I can deem to be harmless.  (more…)

What a Difference a Day Makes

It’s crazy what a difference a day makes. Two or three weeks ago, I made a financial decision that I sort of thought was ok to make at the time. For the first time in a while I was feeling kinda solvent. Or solvent-adjacent at least. Like the potential for solvency was just within my reach. It was the kind of financial decision that spans over a few months and takes a bit of dedicated attention. I felt almost ok with going with it, and decided to err on the side of bravery. Because I have this thing where I am trying to be bolder. Living bolder. Eking out an existence that I can look back on and smile about. It’s hard work. It’s hell on my anxiety issues. But it’s worth it.

And then in a day it all came crashing down. Because what a difference a day makes. Suddenly our rent went up again (seriously: how on earth is anyone supposed to handle a yearly 10% rental increase? Our rent is double what it was when we moved in already! Our salaries have definitely not doubled!) and for March our grocery budget is now half of what is usually is because in addition to the increased rent, overtime on Ty’s part usually kind of makes up the “can we or can we not eat this month” portion of our lives and last month his overtime was a little on the low side. And then our bedroom TV died, which is not that huge a deal except it kind of is because I escape to my room a lot and kind of just do things with the TV on in the background and I find it soothing and it keeps me sane. But it’s dead now. Replacing it is definitely not an option.

So, while two weeks ago, these little glitches would have felt surmountable, this week they did not.  (more…)

With A Little Help From My Friends

My cat is going to be the death of me. Ok, perhaps not the death of my physical body. But the death of my sanity at the very least. Some of my brain cells will definitely die. And perhaps my sense of humour as well. That one will be the first to go.

Without going into too much boring detail, he’s been having severe bladder issues since the end of December. His bladder keeps forming crystals, which I now understand to be the result of his kidneys being unable to process minerals in his food. At first I was under the impression that it was just a cheap food problem that would be resolved by feeding him better food. Alas. He’s just had to go in and have his bladder rinsed (or something) again.

This pet madness is undoubtedly driving me mad. The first time he had this problem the bill was R3600.  At the same time, Angus had to have a surgery on his leg that cost me just under 10 grand.

And the only reason I coped at all was because my friends rallied around me and made it work. Something I still feel completely undeserving of.

The craziest part is this: here I am, not yet done reeling for the last time this happened, and it’s happened again. Again at a frustratingly bad time. But then I guess that’s what credit cards are for, right? Of course. Unless they’re maxed out because sometimes you make bad decisions that seem like a good idea at the time because hey, you’ve got all your financial capabilities worked out, right? Wrong. Because you forgot to factor in The Universe and the fact that she has a dark sense of humour sometimes…

I am, however, super lucky because I have an amazing circle of friends who have rallied around me when I needed them most and even though my anxious mind will never feel deserving of this much love, I am certainly ever so grateful!

Strangely Perfect Timing

Yesterday I mentioned that I had an experience that had me questioning the merits of faith and Godliness after an encounter with a man in the hospital where I was with my friend and her son. Something else happened that day and it took writing down yesterday’s story to kind of question whether they may not be tied together. Probably no, but anyway. Sometimes when you’re a writer you think weird things.

The man that who approached us in the waiting area said these words to us:

“I think God put us in the same place for a reason.”

He seemed to be quite convinced that God wanted him to talk to us. And I thought, that’s a bit of an over-romantic notion, dude. I’m not really of the sort to believe that sort of thing. After all, in the wake of my severed relationship with the The Almighty, I have myself tried to revive my own faith. I even chose to read a book by a Jesus-y woman. A very un-me thing to do, I’ll have you know. And I still go to church. And I still love gospel music. Although I’ve pretty much resigned myself to, you’re broken, chick, just go with it. (more…)

Who is your rock?

Yesterday was a tough one. I woke up to a message from a close friend saying she’d taken her teenage son to the emergency room after he had (accidentally) overdosed on something. They were worried about organ failure and brain damage and she was terrified. My blood went cold.

It’s going to be ok. I should let you know that from the start. Between kind and efficient doctors and nurses and the kid having a mom who hustles to make things happen when they need to happen, he’s going to be just fine. (though he may have a bruise on his ass when he’s well enough for me to kick it)

Something happened though, while we were waiting for him to wake up, that has been on my mind for a while. When I got there my friend poured her heart out to me. And because we were in the emergency room, the privacy wasn’t exactly top notch, so people could hear us. And then as her child was being moved, a man came up to us and asked if he could speak to us. I let me friend follow her child’s bed, and myself and her boyfriend stayed behind to listen to the man. (more…)

The Neverending Suck of 2017

I had a nightmare last night about a broken friendship. Again. These dreams were the theme of my 2017, many of them culminating in panic attacks that happened in my sleep. There are few things that have made me feel quite so stupid as this. You can’t even reprimand yourself for panic attacks that happen while you are not conscious. At least when you are panicking while awake you can still sort of tell yourself “are you sure you’re not just being silly” and then breathe a bit or have some chocolate. I don’t know. Panic attacks while you sleep feel really bloody ridiculous.

Of course I’m kind of used to dreamy sleep. And even nightmare sleep is par-for-the-course when you’re me (another sports reference!) but over the last year it has been a bit extra intense. Too much dreaming can leave you exhausted and this lack of reprieve played a huge role in the downward spiral I experienced in both my mental as well as my physical health. For some reason, I had convinced myself that in 2018 these nightmares would stop being a problem. This year is supposed to be better. So far it’s not co-operating but I’m hopeful.

I haven’t watched the first season of Grey’s Anatomy in a really long time, but I think it was there that someone (possibly McDreamy) had a policy of allowing themselves to panic, for five seconds only. And then after the five seconds were up, they would get on with it. I always loved that. Yes, panic. But then stop.

2017 was supposed to be my five seconds. I panicked for 2017. And in 2018 it was supposed to stop.

Of course real life doesn’t work like that. Real life doesn’t observe the clock striking midnight and imbue magic to the act. Real life doesn’t care that you’re only allowed five seconds. It takes a whole bunch of bad-assery to force life to conform to our own timelines. I know there is nothing rational about giving healing a time limit. Still I feel a little betrayed by this silly body of mine. It needs to stop now. The heart palpitations that come out of nowhere need to stop. The seemingly insurmountable fear that likes to sneak up and try to drown me needs to stop.

I am done with all this suck. So I’m trying to put the five seconds behind me and just get on with it.

I Need You to Love Me when I Hate Myself

I’ve just spotted a Facebook ad for a meditation centre which I then clicked on out of curiosity. In my quest to alleviate some serious struggles with anxiety, which presently feel like the worst they’ve ever been (this may or may not be true – I admit to any bad patch feeling like “the worst it has ever been” – I’m just usually way less open about it) I have come to the conclusion that some or other meditation is necessary. This is because it is brought up quite a bit by folks who have shared similar struggles to mine. Which is obviously why targeted advertising is now showing me meditation adverts. That was a very arse-about-face way of explaining why I clicked on the link…

Anyway, meditation…

I’ve used some YouTube videos which have been helpful with the panic attacks that I have been failing to get under control over the last few months. In times of great heightened stress they have helped me. I have not implemented a general day-to-day mindfulness practice which is what I had in mind while perusing the page.

I scrolled down the page a bit and came to a part where it said “How can anyone love you if you don’t love yourself?”

Now of course I am intelligent enough to know that this is not the general attitude of meditation advocates. This is just something that someone using Facebook put on their business page because they thought it sounded cool.

But I have to ask: Why on earth is this a question that we are still posing to people? Is it because it kind of sounds good? Like it sounds like it’s some sort of profound wisdomous thing that someone ancient once said and now we must all adopt it as a core truth of human existence.

If loving myself is the currency with which I have to pay for the love I receive then you’re going to have to paint me fundamentally unlovable.

You don’t really get to love yourself when you pitch up on this planet and from the time you are capable of placing yourself within the context of others you feel like definitely you were put on the wrong planet by the n00b in the soul placement department. You don’t get to love yourself when the loudest and most repetitive question inside your head is what is wrong with me, a question which never gets answered no matter how many times you ask it of yourself. You don’t get to love yourself when almost every interaction with other people leaves you feeling humiliated and defeated, because even though you’re trying really hard you still keep getting this whole being a person thing wrong and you’re trying to concentrate really hard and remember all the things you’re supposed to do and not do but you just know that you missed the mark so many times and probably everyone is laughing at you. You don’t get to love yourself when it seems like every time you slip up and let your guard down, someone is right there to point fingers and call you on it. You’re too loud. Too enthusiastic. Too serious. Too this. Too that.

Too everything.

So please don’t tell me that my inability to love myself makes me unlovable. While I am quite aware that a certain affection for my own self is necessary to my wellbeing, I most certainly don’t need the pressure of feeling undeserving of love because of failure on my part to establish my own value.

Some of us wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those who loved us when we hated ourselves. Some of us would have our self-worth irreparably compromised were it not for souls kind enough to allow us to look at ourselves through their loving eyes for a moment. Some of us are kept alive by the love we know that people feel towards us even though we can’t feel it right now. 

So next time you decided to tell someone that they can’t expect anyone else to love them if they don’t love themselves, why don’t you rather shut up and love them just a little bit more? Because I don’t care how well-meaning your intentions are. That is violent language directed at floundering souls.

This ridiculous saying needs to die now.

How do you even decide on baby number two?

When Noah was about 3 months old we were driving to Sedgefield to visit his great-grandparents and I was happily chatting away to my sort-of mother-in-law about having a second baby. At the time I was convinced that the trauma of my pregnancy and prem birth would subside quickly (it didn’t) and that I’d be ready to produce a second child with a reasonable 2 year gap between them. Obviously, we needed to have two kids. Or four. As long as it wasn’t three! (I remained convinced at that time that an even number of family members was ideal)

“I hope we have another boy,” I said to my other mom. “We could call him Isaac. Don’t you think that’s a gorgeous name? Or Violet if it’s a girl.”

My (now) ex turned to me and with more scorn than I knew he was capable of and said “We’re not having another kid and anyway it would be my turn to choose a name.” (more…)

Dear Facebook Friend…

I met you years ago through your husband. I don’t know how I met him. It was because of The Poetry Project which I was playing with. Poetry meets photography. Two of my great loves. Two things I consistently feel are better served by other artists. Other writers. Others…

That doesn’t matter.

I don’t know how he found me. There are many Facebook Friends on my timeline who I cannot place. I don’t know how they got there. Some Facebook strangers inspire a shrug of indifference, perhaps a moment of confusion. Yourself and your husband inspire fondness though.

For years you have been a welcome presence on my timeline. Though I did not know you, I learned from you often. Your passions come through in the things you share. I believe that even as a stranger you made me a better person. You played that role. I’m sure you didn’t know that…

In the last month you switched over from stranger to saviour. A certainly more demanding role and one I doubt you asked for. In my darkest spaces you somehow managed to be a stable voice, a source of guidance that one that I might not have heeded had it come from anyone else. I cannot begin to express the magnitude of my relief. How do I say thank you for that?

I still marvel at how quickly and how efficiently you “fixed” me in my weakest moments. How you pulled me out of anxiety-fueled panic. You helped me! When I was desperate for it. And all I can give you in return is a bumbling blog post…

Thank you though. From the bottom of my heart. Because in moments when I was incapable of knowing how to be helped you showed me exactly what I needed. That alone fills me with a continuing calm. There is a small spark of hopefulness that wasn’t there before.

That is everything.

The Heartache of Friendship

I’m not a very good friend. It would be wrong to say that friendship baffles me, I suppose, but I certainly seem to get it wrong enough to lead me to wonder if I shouldn’t be questioning myself a little more often. I mentioned in my post about Odette Johaar’s photography that I had in the last year befriended a group of women whom I found quite good for my soul. They continue to be so daily. These lovely ladies tucked away in my phone, always ready to help at the touch of a whatsapp message, even though our real lives seldom collide. I adore them. They make me feel sane. Calm. And honestly? Loved. I am lucky to have them. It worries me, however, that I possibly feel safe in our friendship because our lives are not so intertwined. Perhaps it feels safe to me because we all live our separate lives, and then whatsapp wave to each other on occasion, tell each other how awesome we are, and then carry on with those lives. I can’t hurt you, and you can’t hurt me. Because there isn’t a secret rulebook of expectations that any of us are failing to abide by. The only rule is that we’re nice to each other. And being nice is easy because each member of the group is so easy to like.

My friendship track record in general, however, is something of a minefield of confusion and mistrust.  And then a couple of weeks ago something happened with a very good friend of mine that made me realise something about myself… (more…)