I don’t understand…

burning-question-mark

I don’t understand. That’s the phrase I’ve most wanted to say since my relationship break up a little under a year ago. I don’t understand why he left me. I don’t understand some of the ways he behaved that left me feeling insignificant and unimportant. I don’t understand where the man I loved disappeared to – how those big, soft brown eyes that made me melt each time I looked into them, turned to stone. I don’t understand how someone can just up and leave, moving to another country without even a second thought for me and the many important times we shared. I don’t understand how I am the one left still hurting and in recovery and how he came out of this unscarred and with a fresh new life to start…it’s as if our time together never happened. I don’t understand any of this…and yet I have realised the words I’ve uttered most have been ‘I understand’, ‘I get it’ and ‘it’s okay’. It was almost as if stupidly I thought that by showing my understanding and compassion he would finally realise what he was letting go of.

But how can I understand a person who goes from seemingly deeply in love with someone to ice cold and mechanical? The logical side of me tells me it didn’t just happen overnight but when I think back, trying to wrack my brains for the clear signs I missed, I just cannot find them. So tell me, how on earth am I supposed to understand something that is just so alien to me? A way of being that no matter how hard I scour the text books and articles, I cannot find an explanation that gives me peace and takes away my deep pain. Most days I still look at my phone, annoyed that yet another day has passed and he doesn’t give a shit about me. I try to take comfort in the fact that at least now I manage to keep my dignity and not let my hurt and disappointment pour out and onto him. I am wise enough to know when a battle has been lost but the sad fact of the matter is that while he is saved the fight, I carry on my own internal battle every day. But at least finally, I have found a way to live with it – something I thought in the beginning I’d find impossible to do. The earth shattering pain I felt at the start has dulled it’s intensity… but I fear it will be something I’ll carry now forever.

For a while I even tried being like him – shutting off and trying to erase our time together from my head. Even now I keep trying ways to turn off my feelings or to focus on something else. Throw myself into work, take up running, go out partying…I even tried counselling because I was convinced through his coldness that I was the weird one for feeling so broken and lost. Normal, mature people apparently just turn feelings on and off like a tap and weak people like me are just slaves to emotion. But despite my efforts, it hasn’t worked and I am not ‘over it’…or else it’s taking much longer than expected. I like to think the latter since I am well out of options to try.

So why am I writing this? I don’t really know is the honest answer but this evening I just felt the pull towards my notebook. I guess I realised that since I met him, my writing passion has been dulled and I really really want to get it back. There are so many things I want back – including my full, unhardened heart. This is the start of my writing recovery so please, if you are taking time to read this, accept my apologies for the lack of coherency and flow…one day soon I will get it back.

I suppose writing is a pastime that inevitably leads to facing feelings, accepting them and painstakingly working through them. For so long I was being told directly and indirectly that allowing emotions and feelings through was somehow wrong or weak. But I so badly want to get ‘me’ back and I eventually want to feel proud for being a passionate fierce-loving woman who feels things deeply and intensely rather than the shame and annoyance I have running through me at the moment. My heart tells me to be proud of loving someone so fully and unconditionally but my head says I just learnt a hard lesson and I must try to avoid the same experience again at all costs. Usually my heart wins out in the long run so I guess I just have to wait it out and keep rumbling on with the ebbs and flows of hurt a while longer.

So something (despite my writing hiatus) I still really want to do is to finish with some thoughts about what I’ve learnt so I can at least feel that something from this experience will serve to make me a better person (plus a blog post for me just doesn’t feel right without it!)…

  1. It’s okay not to be okay – nearly a year on from a completely broken heart and I’m still not okay (despite what I’ll tell most of the world). People will often tell you the usual accepted timescale for these things but the reality is we all do things at our own pace. The guy who broke my heart was over it within a matter of weeks but for me it may take a year or longer – does that make me weaker or less resilient? I like to think not – just a sensitive soul who connects deeply
  2. Just keep trying different things, something will stick – when you’re feeling low and miserable we tend to think of our usual ‘feel good’ go-to’s to pick us back up again. For example with me, that used to be writing but for a while there it just didn’t work. There are so many things in this world to try, the one thing I’ve learnt throughout a tough year has been to just keep trying – sometimes it’s the weirdest things that help to distract you for a bit or ease the pain
  3. Not everything has an answer, resolution or explanation – I’m not sure I’ll ever understand my relationship break down and the seemingly cold and clinical approach my ex took to moving on…and I just have to find a way to accept that. Some things in life don’t end neatly or with clear reasons why and if we keep chasing after an explanation that may never come, we can end up holding on to pain for longer than is necessary.

Bottom line…our journeys are all different and happen at different paces. If you’re going through something tough right now, try to keep some faith (like I’m trying to do!) that this will come to pass – even if it does take much longer than you wanted! Keep on keepin’ on lovely people 🙂

Searching for unicorns…

Unicorn2 I’m a dreamer, an optimist and a Piscean – a combination some might consider a recipe for disaster. Not only do I like to (occasionally) live outside of the real world but I also believe there’s got to be a better world that I may have a cat in hell’s chance of creating…there has to be more to life than the card that has been handed down, and I have a duty to do what I can to make it so 🙂 Ever since I was really young, I was the same. Obsessed with stories, adventure and mythical creatures – I could spend hours just lying in the grass on a warm Summer’s day dreaming about all manner of things… from the places I would explore one day, to the stories I would write as a famous novelist, onto how amazing it would feel to be in love with someone with all my heart… So I would spend days looking up at skies of pure blue and feeling so happy and full of anticipation I could burst. But I think I knew at the back of my mind that one day I would need to grow up and become ‘sensible’ – I would need to give up the daydreaming and tone down my imagination. I would need to swap unicorn chasing for a steady job and an occasional adventure. The trouble is, although I now have the steady career and sensible life, I’m not so sure I’ve quite given up the chase. There are still some things in life that feel like the proverbial unicorn…talked about, rumoured to exist, glimpsed by some and yet, so illusive and out of reach to me. There are things other people claim to have seen, experienced and felt but still, they continue to escape me until I begin to question whether the things I really desire are out there at all.  Perhaps the thing(s) I want with all my heart and soul is so beautiful and pure it might as well be a mythical creature…but still I search and still I long for a sign that it’s real. To put this another way, have you ever had the feeling that perhaps you are looking for something that may not exist or materialise? It might be a feeling, an idea, a person or a dream place – the ‘something’ is a thing you’ve held onto for a day or even a lifetime and yet it is so important to you, you’re not sure you’d be able to look back on life and say you’ve truly ‘lived’ without having experienced it? So at what point should you just accept that your ideas and dreams may not translate to every day life and they are not for this world… Your long held desires need to be discarded and replaced with the reality of ‘what is’ rather than what could be… I suppose the challenge I’m trying to work through in this blog is how you balance out remaining ambitious and hopeful in achieving your dreams and desires with being realistic and accepting when you’ve given it your best shot and it’s the right time to let it go. I’m optimistic enough to believe that I should be able to achieve what I set out to achieve in this life but I hate the thought that I could be holding onto an ‘ideal’ that may never be. Desiring something that may never happen has been known to make people bitter and cynical – something I am determined never to become.  So can you be hopeful and hopeless all at the same time? A hopelessly hopeful dreamer perhaps 😉 You see, the seductive thing about dreaming is that it represents hope and hope provides a purpose to life. For example, I might hope to have my own business one day and so it gives me something to aim for – therefore the steps I take in my career are towards that purpose. Or perhaps I dream of a better world in which people feel appreciated and respected for who they are – therefore the way in which I behave and interact with people around me will be towards (on some small level) achieving that goal. My own personal dream which is very close to my heart is about my desire to cultivate a life filled with ‘real’ connections and ‘real’ relationships – it’s about really seeing people as they truly are and that they will see me as I truly am. I get so tired sometimes of so many ‘surface level’ friendships and relationships where we talk about such meaningless things…I’m someone who needs connection and meaning (not all the time – don’t get me wrong, I can have my silly carefree moments like the best of ’em! 😉 ). I keep chasing the idea that one day I’ll meet more people who just ‘get’ and love me for me…and I for them. I guess it’s my view that there are just some dreams that if you let them go, you may let go of a part of yourself….it’s like accepting that you’ve failed to achieve something you really wanted to achieve. But equally at the same time, the down side of never letting go of the unobtainable is that it may hold you back in other ways that you don’t even realise… So, in my soul searching what exactly have I come to conclude? Well this has been a particularly tough one for me and I don’t think there is one black and white answer that anyone can tell you about when to keep going and when to give up, but here are my thoughts… 1. Keep chasing until it holds you back. I think it’s important not to let go too quickly…all the mythical stories of unicorn chasing almost always involve a huge amount of perseverance and blood, sweat and tears before the character finally catches the long awaited glimpse. In real life, most dreams worth pursuing may be hard work and require a huge amount of faith. But the point at which perseverance tips over into pain and disappointment, perhaps it’s time to make the call about whether continuing is the right thing to do. 2. Dream in multiples. The one thing I have most definitely learnt is how important it is not to put all your eggs in one basket – having several dreams which you hold close to your heart helps you in striving for a fuller and richer life, but also helps in taking the edge of the disappointment if one doesn’t materialise. If one seems impossible or out of reach, shift focus to another. 3. Make your own decision – don’t let others tell you what is or isn’t obtainable. Someone once said to me that I should never limit my accomplishments to other peoples’ expectations of me and just like that piece of advice, I don’t think you should let others tell you what you can and can’t dream of for your life. Listen to advice, of course, but use the advice to make a decision that you can own completely. I’ve always believed advice is (mostly!) for confirming a decision you’ve sort of made anyway… All in all I guess what I’ve learnt is that dreaming is a positive thing… until it’s not! Holding onto an idealistic dream of something which may never happen can of course hold us back from enjoying the present and ‘what is’ but our hopes and dreams can also give us passion and purpose. They can give us ideas for what our future may hold and can stir up excitement about what we might be capable of…An amazing man once said: ‘There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living’ Nelson Mandela

No half measures…

Half measures
Life is for living and you have to live it with your whole heart, not just parts of it. I’ve always believed in this philosophy passionately and it explains why I will often reach decisions quickly, see them through to the very end and prefer that if I am to regret anything it should be the things I’ve done, not the things I haven’t. I don’t do things by half measures – it’s all or it’s nothing, you either do something completely or you don’t do it at all.

Interestingly though, I’ve never considered myself to be a ‘black and white’ sort of girl – I know that life has many colours on a spectrum far wider than just black, white and grey. For example, I believe that someone could come to me with pretty much any scenario, dilemma, issue or reflection and I would remain open-minded and judgement free…because I know only too well that life can be complicated, surprising and a long way from clear cut. But recently, I’ve found myself frustrated and uncharacteristically annoyed with people and situations that seem to float within the grey area of my philosophy which I have been so determined shouldn’t exist.

The frustrating ones are often the people and situations that seemingly have no ‘resolution’ – resolution in the sense of having an ending / outcome and in terms of those people lacking in resolve or determination. There are certain situations and people I just wish were either one thing or another, black or white, open or closed and it really plays on my mind when they have any kind of ambiguity. In this sense I feel contradictory because on the whole I’m very open-minded and fluid but in this respect, I am quite resolute in my need for resolution and clarity.

I first noticed this pattern in relation to my love life but I think it also plays into work, friendships and everyday situations too. I’m an open and decisive gal and I like to know where I’m headed. Drifting along worries me because I could easily ‘drift’ into something that hurts me or isn’t right and that, dear readers, to my mind is a waste of time. As is spending hours on end agonising over a decision or situation when the answers are there for the takin’, if you can be brave enough to take the plunge. Thus when it comes to dating (for example) I’ll fairly quickly need to establish that I’m on the same page as the other person – once that’s out the way, I’ll settle down and let things move at their own pace. I’m not scared of hearing or doing something I don’t like but knowing what you’re dealing with sooner rather than later I feel is the way in which you make the most of your time on earth. It enables closure when things aren’t right but it also enables moving forward positively when they are. I need clarity and I’ll genuinely go to the ends of the earth to get it (well, the furthest I’ve been before was jumping on a plane to Egypt but hey, that’s pretty far! :)) – I suppose come rain or shine I just like to know whether to pack my umbrella or my sunnies 😉

I know I’m not alone in this way of living – some of you reading this are similar I’m sure. But it feels like I’m encountering more and more people and situations where drifting, lack of decision-making and generally ‘grey area floating’ seems to be the norm. Let me give some examples (admittedly ranging from the ridiculously mundane and everyday to larger, more significant situations but hey, I like to use variety!! :)):

Situation 1: Friends who take days to reply to simple text messages. To my mind you’re either in a conversation or you’re not – if this were a phone call or face to face situation you wouldn’t stretch a conversation out over days. For one thing by the time you respond I’ve forgotten what we were talking about and for another, it loses its ‘flow’. I know life sometimes gets in the way and it’s not always possible to get back straight away but this should be an exception not a rule. Talk to me or don’t but please don’t drift somewhere in-between.

Situation 2: Taking a decision to holiday but not booking the travel. If you decide you want to go on holiday or go to see someone in another country you need to put actions to words. Decisions that are made without the necessary actions to see them through are the most frustrating of all – if you can’t do what’s necessary then perhaps you should have reached a different decision.

Situation 3: Deciding not to close down an organisation or workstream after months of uncertainty but effectively doing so through restructure and remodelling. Decisions that sound like one thing but effectively mean the other are just the worst because to me, it means you weren’t brave enough to voice your real intentions and instead chose to sneakily call it something else. It assumes that you can ‘trick’ people into believing something that isn’t real. Call a spade a spade please.

Situation 4: Having regrets and wishing you’d just…(insert reflection here). We all have some small scale regrets (for example I wish I’d had coffee this morning instead of tea!) but looking back on life and wishing you’d done something majorly different is not a healthy way to live. When you regret the decisions you didn’t make or the dreams you didn’t pursue it’s the saddest thing to hear. I know I’ve made some decisions that haven’t always worked out well but looking back, I’m still glad I made them – wondering ‘what if’ is enough to drive anyone to distraction!

Okay, I think I’ll stop with the scenarios now as I think I’ve made my point 😉 But I guess what I’m getting at is about having the courage of your convictions to see things through. Some of the toughest decisions I’ve made have not always led to where I’d hoped they would…but sometimes they’ve led to somewhere better. When I flew out to Egypt to see if this ‘thing’ I felt with a guy I’d met travelling would work, it didn’t result in me finding the love of my life but I was glad and proud of going for it whole-heartedly… and I’d do it again tomorrow. Finding closure, resolution, peace, clarity or whatever you want to call it is the main thing – for some people that’s not important and for some even the drifting and uncertainty is a draw. I suppose it’s about knowing who you are and what’s important to you. Answers and knowing where I stand in this life are important to me.

Final thought? Well I remember quite vividly someone once saying: ” A life lived in fear is a life half-lived” – well as a gal who won’t accept any half-measures I guess this means I have to keep facing the fears and seeking my answers…I remain hopeful though that one day this will help me to cut through the ‘grey’ and into the answers I really want and deserve! I hope you too will do the same 🙂