Song for today: November by Max Richter.

As quoted in this article: “There’s a clever little optical illusion included on 2002’s memoryhouse, being that if you listen once to ‘November’ then look at yourself in the mirror you appear to be a complete stranger. No kidding. It is heavy, heavy shit.”

I love it. The sentiment, and the piece of music. It is terrifying and yet unquestionably beautiful. Max Richter’s musical language is steeped in nuance and emotion, and I understand it implicitly. November is the perfect musical representation of internal chaos and imbalance. You can almost feel the notes leaping off the strings as they are played, because they translate desperation so exquisitely and with such precision. It feels like it was scored especially to accompany those moments of repetitive, circular agony that occur when we are entrenched in something so difficult, unable to find an exit. When we spin and spin around trying to find meaning, trying to find answers, trying to come to any conclusion that will bring us a sense of peace. But nothing does, and nothing can. No saviour is unearthed. Instead, violins frantically hum with dissonance, urgently repeating melodies, layers increasing in both number and ferocity until they reach their final crescendo, discordant and ever-so-slightly out of tune. Powerful but fragile all at once.

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Dad.

So, I thought that I should write. Because I’m feeling crazy and sometimes things that seem crazy aren’t. At least that’s how I was brought up. It was wrong though. The crazy was crazy, I was just denied it being that and instead completely gaslighted into thinking that I was crazy. So when crazy things happen now I automatically assume that it’s either my fault or that I’ve read the situation wrong.

The other day after therapy – ugh, it was such a hard session, I was a rigid board throughout – I came out of the door and started to call Nick to let him know I’m coming over. Walking down the road, it’s dark and I nearly get to the end and see a man in the shadows, by a car, smoking. Under the streetlight I can see his silhouette: his build, his facial features, his glasses. And he looks, he looks exactly like my dad. I am convinced he is my dad. So I do the only thing I can do, stop dead in my tracks and turn on my heel and walk as fast as I can without attracting attention, until I feel like I’m far enough away and just run. And then, when I turn the corner I walk a bit further and almost throw up on the pavement. The sense of panic awash over me in that moment was full on FLIGHT MODE – i.e. GET OUT NOW. It ran through my entire body like an army of electricity telling me to get the hell away. I felt like I was going to die. Like something terrible was about to happen. Yes, therapy isn’t going too well at the moment. But up until right now I felt safe there and now my fucking DAD is outside? Bad timing.

It probably wasn’t him. But reassurance won’t really help because when you do have a crazy, narcissistic, self-centred, no-boundaried parent who reads your diaries (even when you make up your own code, which he then deciphers, casually dropping into conversation, at the dinner table, which symbols are which), who stalks you and your family (most notably by leaving me and my sister in the house as kids, in the middle of the night, to go and make sure my mum wasn’t having a life), who has no problem treating other people’s belongings as theirs, then I sort of feel, well, maybe it was him. Right? This is the man that turned up out of the blue when I said I didn’t want to talk. So because I don’t want to talk you turn up without any notice and try and guilt trip me into meeting you? Yeah, that’s fucking normal. And I’m the crazy one. I’M the crazy one?!

But he has pulled a blinder, he’s played it so well, because now I do feel crazy. Have I been stalked? Has he somehow hacked into my email and found my emails to my counsellor, googled her and found out where she works? Did I let enough information out before, innocent to me, “no, I have counselling on Monday night”, that would eventually work against me? He used to speak to my old counsellor, and she was taken in by him too. What if he’s wormed his way back into my life in the worst way possible? Seriously? Am I crazy or am I normal? I don’t know. I don’t fucking know. I never have done and I never will because I can never trust anyone and I sure as hell can’t trust myself.

He had no fucking boundaries. Always making me feel physically uncomfortable around him, making damn sure he was the only male in my life and basically groomed me to worship him, even though he was so horrible to me. And I did. I worshipped him and thought he was amazing and clever and good looking and that he had never done anything wrong, really, that anything he did do wrong wasnt even his fault, it was because other people were crap and didn’t know how to behave properly. How he did that even though he behaved like a complete shit is amazing. He would hold my hand and hug me all the time and call me Dada’s Princess and other vomitworthy things even when I was older and it made me feel very uncomfortable. And my friends would notice and take the piss and then that was yet another thing that would make me different that I would have to try and explain or laugh off. I can’t explain it, but it just felt kind of…wrong. When I tried to tell him, or ask him not to do it in front of my friends, he would get really, really mad, as if I was accusing him of being a pervert for wanting to be close to his daughter, and then I would end up apologising and comforting him, like I often did. And then he would do it even more in front of people and laugh at me when he could see me squirming. He would treat me like a princess in certain ways, like shower me with gifts occasionally, tell me that I was pretty and clever and better – more beautiful – than anyone else, or give me money (and give my friends money, somtimes), but then relay to me how broke he was, and act depressed and sad so that I would offer the money back and feel guilty that he was spending money on me. Which in turn would make him angry, and then it would go down the whole “it’s all your fault, you don’t respect me, you’re fat and stupid and ugly, you’re just like your mother” route which would lead to me apologising and comforting him, again. So clever, and SO wrong.

I can’t believe that the one place that I thought was safe might not be, and in an entirely different way than it was before. This has made me feel like a fucking off-the-charts lunatic.

Song for today: Big My Secret by Michael Nyman.

I am exhausted and need to sleep in order to get up early tomorrow. I’ve had a really heavy few days and a couple of really intense therapy sessions, I managed to stay present tonight but on Friday barely could and it was a constant battle to do so, I kept almost flipping over and did so very briefly a few times. I don’t want to be there anymore, it’s not safe, and every single conscious part of me is having to fight against my unconscious to go. Even when I’m there I don’t feel safe, tonight I described feeling like a sausage that hadn’t been pricked, and later on like my arms were made out of hornets. Angry, buzzing.

Everything feels like an intense battle at the moment. Relentless, bloody, no winners. Everything feels a bit bleak and intensely sad. There are no words, really, for how I feel. So instead, a song which comes closest to it, really, at the moment. A piece of music I used to play a lot when I was younger. It popped into my head earlier and fits, somehow.

I just wish that it would get a little bit easier, and that I didn’t feel so smashed, so devastated, so fragmented, so disconnected. So alone.

2013 in review.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

(not in chronological order)

*started my degree

*lots of things related to the above

*went to Budapest

*went mental in lots of new ways

*got assessed for and awarded Disabled Students Allowance thanks to the above

*got straight A grades (so far, anyway). Me. Imagine.

*some unmentionable things

*watched The Princess Bride (yes, really)

*drew a bit. I don’t draw. I can’t draw. But I did!

*went to Beacons festival (barely got there in one piece after being abandoned by the coach driver at Leeds. With all our bags on the coach. And my cardie – which I left to save my seat hahahahahaHA. Meanwhile I’m in a low cut sleeveless top and it starts raining…it was so bad it was funny, so we did the only thing you can do in that situation, pop out the hipflask and thank the fact you’ve got friends and mango vodka to share the pain with)

*discovered lots of awesome music (I do this all the time but new people! Yay!)

*really, the biggest one is ask for help. Lots of help, and frequently. Anyone who knows me well will know that I don’t do that.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn’t make any, but I do have some vague ones for this year. Get back into cooking, sort my bloody procrastination out and actually do timetabling and stuff, don’t get so behind with work, go swimming, walk more. Be more creative, whatever that means. Oh, and I also bought a diary to keep by my bed so that every night I can write down things about the day, whatever comes to mind really, just a summary I guess. Good stuff, bad stuff, how I’m feeling. There have been so many times this year when I’ve wanted to look back and see what was happening and most of the time I have no idea. I want to staple or glue gig tickets and things in as well to remind me of actual activities too.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes, oh god…my best friend from high school. He is adorable. Haven’t met him yet but hopefully this month. :) And a friend from work.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. The wife of a friend of mine died though and I think about him and how he’s doing every day.

5. What countries did you visit?

Hungary. I went on my own and it was challenging and brilliant.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

A little bit more stability in the old mental department. A bit more of an insight into what the hell goes on in my head.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

31st May. I got back together with Nick and just…yeah. I am so happy. (With the relationship. Not in general. Just in case anyone was confused after all the WOE IS ME, hand-stapled-to-my-forehead posts recently.)

20th July. I felt so let down by my mum and I think then, or just before then, really, was when things started to go a bit wrong.

And 4th February! When I started my course. Amazing to think it’s almost been a year.

Oh and another…5th August. When I got the keys to my little flat :)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Asking for help, which feels like something I am doing constantly. It’s really, really hard for me. And getting through my course, thanks to the aforementioned help. I would have dropped out of yet another degree if I hadn’t and it would have shattered me.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I don’t really know. I guess just not having much control over my life but there are reasons for that and there’s been lots of stuff going on. Maybe in the earlier part of the year with Nick, thinking we could be friends and we blatantly couldn’t and dicking around again not really knowing what the hell I was doing.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I can’t remember now. Other than the mental health thing, not much actually. The odd cold here and there. Although, my asthma’s been quite bad this year and I feel like my lungs are constantly full of mucus (unless I cough it up, which is equally bad, and more gross). I also had a period so bad that I almost passed out which hasn’t happened for quite a while.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Stuff for my flat. Er…can’t think of much else. Wish I could say my laptop, since it cleared out my savings, but so far it’s been a bit of a pain.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Nick’s. He has been an absolute rock, I can’t even imagine anyone else doing what he has done. Without complaint, with love, with kindness, with consistency. He has been there for me in a way I have never had before. And my therapist, of course, because she’s awesome. I feel like she’s really listened to me and taken on board some of what I’ve said. She doesn’t get it right all the time but when she does she gets it really right and it’s like sunbathing, only without the fear of seagulls pooing on your head.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

My own. My dad, for turning up unannounced after I’d told him I didn’t want to talk (thankfully I’d moved house, but what a dick move) and generally still being an emotionally manipulative dickhead. (He is actually now listed in my phone as Dickhead.) Because it’s therapy, my therapist. There were things that she did that crushed me and that I absolutely hated her for, and although I know they weren’t done out of malice, they had a brutal affect on me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone (or at least remembered feeling so). My family in various ways. I don’t think I will ever be over it, really. I feel so sad that I can’t have the family that I want. And the person I made the complaint about. I am still not happy about what happened, I think they behaved appallingly. I just hope they realised what they did wrong.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, bills, travel, festivals, eating out and a fair amount on taxis when I didn’t feel able to leave the house but absolutely had to.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Beacons! Seeing my friends. My birthday (before it all went wrong). Going to the sheep centre! Seeing Owen Pallett, who I have loved for years. He was every bit as great as I’d hoped.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Pfffffft, like I can pick one. In no particular order: Savages – She Will, Django Django – Default, Julia Holter – Goddess Eyes I, Tsar – Calling All Destroyers, E is for Estranged – Owen Pallett, Bloodbuzz Ohio – The National, Kate Bush – Hounds of Love, Drew – Goldfrapp, Psychokiller – Talking Heads.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?

Both. Oh, this crazy life.

b) thinner or fatter?

FATTER OMG GARGANTUAN

c) richer or poorer?

LOL, I’m doing a degree and barely working, I’m poorer than poor (but still refuse to give up President butter)

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Having fun, but that wasn’t possible, really. I have fought so hard this year and I don’t think I could have changed much. Working normally and not doing my stupid last minute madness thing. Cooking.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Just being so depressed, dissociative and self-hating. But again, I did everything I could at the time. Eating beige food. Cheese toasties, sandwiches, crisps, pasta. Noodles. Easy peasy, nutritionally devoid rubbish.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent it with Nick at his house, with an open fire, way too much food and lots of Christmas telly. I managed not to cry during Muppets Christmas Carol this year, although it was close. It was the best Christmas I remember having and I feel so lucky. I might do a separate post on that actually because it was so awesome.

21. How will you be spending New Year?

I spent most of it working because I am an unrealistic, procrastinating idiot who had no idea it would take so long to finish my assignment. But I managed to take a few hours off and stopped working when my friends came over. And had a really amazing night watching my very drunk friends do brilliant things like fall over in the pub and give lapdances :) We also had a bit of a moment twerking to Milkshake by Kelis, basically very similar to the scene in Orange is the New Black. It was so much fun :)

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Not really. I was already in love. I never stopped loving Nick and when I managed to just…I can’t explain it. When I’d stopped cutting it off it just came back, like blood flow after accidentally sitting on your arm. I don’t know how else to describe it. I think something went wrong that was with me and not us, if that makes sense, and so when we got back together it was basically just the same in terms of feelings, although we’d both changed since we’d been apart.And of course I did my usual thing of falling in love with stuff!

23. How many one-night stands?

None. I wanted some earlier in the year because being single and horny sucks, but they didn’t happen.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No. I hate less people because I have become less hateful. HOWEVER, I do have bad feelings towards some people, just because some people are just a bit shit.

25. What was your favourite restaurant of 2013?

This Indonesian place that we went to for Carry’s birthday that Nina and I ended up going to loads. I even went there on my own. Twice. And dragged other people there. And I love Pho just because it reminds me of me and Lauren meeting up and saying, “Shall we? No, we can’t. We’re both broke. No…we can’t.” And then ALWAYS ending up in laughter and going anyway. <3 It’s our ‘date’ place, and we pretty much always get the same thing.

26. What were your favourite TV programs?

HOLBYYYYYY. Great British Bake Off! Best one yet. BREAKING BAD OMG OMG OMG THE END! Nurse Jackie, I’ve got really into it, it’s brilliant. Orange is the New Black! And It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which Nick and I have spent many hours sniggering over.

27. What was the best book you read?

Oh lord. Didn’t read much this year, despite being in a book group, haha. Er, possibly Dark Eden? *tumbleweed noises as I try to remember what I’ve read*

28. What were your greatest musical discoveries?

Django Django! I finally got to see them live after queueing for them TWICE at the Great Escape in 2012 and missing out. Julia Holter, I will never forget that moment when we were in that tiny tent and after all the faff with the sound checks she finally played and it was like sinking into a warm, alluring musical bubble bath. Ólafur Arnalds, I knew of him before but never really listened, and then seeing him in a church in December was absolutely magical. It felt holy. Absolutely beautiful. Savages I guess, they’re not my favourite band or anything but had one of the best moments of my year (possibly my life) watching them in the summer, it was sweaty, intense and one of those moments where you feel like you might pass out because you’re dancing so hard and having so much fun.

29. What were your favourite films of this year?

I don’t do films, really. I did go to the cinema a few times though.

30. What did you want and get?

Nick. :) Friends at uni. My festival ticket! (my friend paid for it for my birthday) MY FLAT!

31. What did you want and not get?

More mental health stability, for my therapist to adopt me, lots of money! And a properly good mentor on placement.

32. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was thirty and can’t remember! How bad is that?! Things weren’t great around my birthday. I am genuinely having trouble remembering what I did. Sad. I know that I went out and celebrated the week after but cannot for the life of me remember what I did on the day.

33. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Again with the mental health thing. It’s been a really gruelling year and has barely let up. And more time seeing people I missed. And I don’t know about satisfying, but I really wanted to record my sessions so that I could listen to my therapist’s voice when I felt really low and she wouldn’t let me. I still feel like it would help, but…not to be.

34. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Earlier in the year I guess smart student, now Jeremy Kyle guest. I have stopped making any effort whatsoever and it’s a bit pants. Not exactly a priority though. Plus I’ve outgrown all my clothes.

35. What kept you sane?

Nick and my friends. They are the best, the very very best, from holding me when I cry to making me laugh to buying me little presents and surprising me with their endless thoughtfulness and generosity. Also music, and DVDs of shows watched so many times that they’re almost cellular (Gilmore Girls, of course). And therapy, although it also made me mental. Swings and roundabouts.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Demise of the NHS and other healthcare issues. Benefits stuff, the government just being absolute fucking arses and screwing over the most needy. Same sex marriage, as usual, but with a more positive outcome this time :) Abortion, again as usual. General patriarchy bullshit.

37. Who did you miss?

Friends and family that I don’t get to see often, especially Sofie, and Lauren now that she’s moved. My therapist, when I left the room, which I don’t think had ever happened before this year. Sometimes it was only like an hour afterwards. This year has been HARD, have I mentioned that?

38. Who was the best new person you met?

So many people on my course, and some of my lecturers.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:

Sometimes your brain plays horrible tricks on you. Sometimes things seem real when they’re not. Sometimes you have to ask for help, but it’s ok, as my therapist said on the phone the other day (when I had to cave in and ask her to ring me because I was feeling so terrible). I said that I felt so guilty for asking her to call me even though she’d said it was ok, and she said, “It is, it really, REALLY is ok”. And I’m holding onto that because it was a pivotal point for me that I hope I can keep with me for a long time.

Mum.

It’s nearly 2am, so the obvious thing to do would be to start a blog post, rather than get some sleep. Some things will never change, no matter how many resolutions get made. Sometimes I wonder if my brain will ever stop whirring, or if I’m destined to always feel the urge to spill my thoughts when it’s time to wind down and shut off.

I was thinking, earlier, about my family, and how I feel so sad that they are not what I want. What I need. Nick and I have been talking about weddings in the last couple of weeks (because everyone in the entire world is getting engaged or married, not because we’re planning) and we both agreed but felt sad about the fact that when we get married, we probably won’t invite our families. I might invite my sister, but otherwise? It’s a day I want to enjoy, a special day that I want to love and look back on and think, wow, I’m marrying the person I want to spend the rest of my life with and I feel so happy to be sharing it with all these amazing people. I don’t want to experience the day as one of feeling bad because someone said something hurtful, or worry about people getting on, or behaving. My whole family is like a massive trigger at the moment so maybe it won’t always be like that but to be honest, both of our families are so bloody dysfunctional and carry so much weight that it would be nice to escape that on a day that is supposed to be about celebration and love, rather than feeling resentful. Because I do, and would, feel resentful.

I do feel sad that when I think about my wedding day, I think about a small group of close friends rather than my family. But that is my family now. When you have a dysfunctional family you either go without or you make your own, and I chose the latter. It’s not the same, of course it isn’t, and it never will be, but I’ve never felt as supported and loved by my real family as I have by my chosen family. To be honest it’s only been in the past year or so that I’ve felt like I have people that I can really be myself around, that I can open up to and rely on without the fear of rejection. No wonder I’ve always felt so lost.

I don’t want an unconventional wedding, even though I am unconventional. I want a big wedding with my family, and my dad walking me down the aisle (although the feminist in me probably wouldn’t do that anyway), and my mum helping me get ready, and feeling a part of Nick’s family too. I want that because it’s the preparation for the marriage, the merging of two people and their families. And even if I didn’t want that, I’d like the option of having it, so that it would be my choice to reject it. There is no way that will happen, though, because it doesn’t exist. Yet another thing to mourn. *hauls violin out of its case for the 9434658976th time*

All that led me to think about my mum. As I was walking towards the sink to brush my teeth before bed, my brain just splurged out of nowhere:

…I don’t have a mum

as if I were a comic book character, the words suspended in an enormous, inescapable cloud above my head, three little stepping-stone bubbles attempting to cushion the blow. My mum doesn’t feel like a mum to me, she doesn’t feel like my mum. And it made me feel so sad; not tearful, or hysterical, more deep, pit of your stomach hollowness. The sad thing is that I know that she wants to be my mum. She loves me, I know that she does, and I love her, but something is missing. The connection is faulty. She wants to give me what I need but she doesn’t know what I need because she wasn’t there to find out. And I want her to give me what I need but she can’t, and it’s not something that I can explain because I’m still trying to figure it out, but it’s something that should just be there and in this case it’s not. She says that she just wants me to be happy and that she’ll always love me, and I know she means that. But I don’t feel it. I don’t feel unconditional love and acceptance, no matter how much of it comes out of her mouth. The words are immaterial. I need to feel it. And I just don’t. I don’t know if I ever have.

She has really failed me. And she’s failed my sister, too, although I don’t know if it’s the same for her. But my mum…she can’t be a mum, not a proper one, not like my friends with their kids. I see them, I see that connection; it’s live, it’s warm. It’s there whether they’re sat on the sofa watching television or out shopping, or even arguing. My mum doesn’t know how to connect, I don’t even think she knows how to connect to herself. And I feel so sad, because that means, then, that I don’t have a mum. She doesn’t exist.

I knew this, of course, and I have done for years. It’s in every stony glance she gives me. In every icy, clipped conversation, when she doesn’t know what to say. When I overwhelm her. I make her sound cold, and she’s not. She’s warm. But only on the surface. Where I need her to be warm, inside, so that I can connect to her – that doesn’t exist. The warmth only goes so far, she can only go so far before she becomes shut off, before she shuts me out, before I’m able to realise that I can’t go any further. She is cut off from the bit that I need to reach, and so no wonder I can’t reach it. I keep on reaching, an automatic response that has diminished in recent years to intermittent, sporadic attempts. Reaching and failing to win, over and over. It’s like trying to hook a duck that’s constantly bobbing out of reach. There’s no way to get it. Maybe I wanted it so badly that I couldn’t see that I was never going to get the prize. I feel like the quintessential thirsty traveller, plodding along in the desert, thinking that the oasis must be within reach because it’s right there. The mirage fooled me.

I’ve tried for years, though. Of course I have. She’s my mum. I need her, and I’ve carried on trying, trying to see if there is some way I can make her be what I need her to be, someone I can really connect with. Of course, I mostly did that by trying to make myself someone I thought she might need me to be, as if I could provoke the change, as if I could somehow devise a strategy to finally hook the duck. I can’t, though, because she can’t give it to me. The will is there, I think, but not the capability. Although now I really think about it I don’t know if the will is there either, which adds an extra, tear-sodden square to the patchwork quilt of Rejected Child. I don’t have a mum. And I’ve said the words myself before, albeit in different guises: each time in a different hat, or with a monocle, or a wig. Now I really understand it, I really feel it. I really feel the lack of mum. The lack of mothering. The loneliness, and the loss.