2014 in review.

This was written ages ago, at the beginning of Jan. So I thought I’d share it instead of squirrelling it away.

2014 end of the year quiz! It’s gone so fast, it feels like a blur. But here we go…I always find doing these useful (if I can remember what I did).

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

Probably the biggest one of these is crochet. It feels like it’s saved my life on a number of occasions. Other than that, been to the French Alps I guess. Seen loads of bands that I hadn’t seen before. OH YEAH KATE BUSH! I saw Kate Bush. Lots of work stuff.

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

So I didn’t keep them up apart from be more creative. I guess I have procrastinated less (although, not much less). I am walking more. But other than that…I don’t know if I will make more for next year other than to keep going to therapy and to just keep going, to keep trying to be open to what I am experiencing and to be kind to myself. That is the hardest thing of all.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes :) I haven’t met him yet though.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. My best friend’s mum died though. And I experienced death with patients which was hard.

5. What countries did you visit?

France. And Scotland. :)

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

More connection to myself. And some more energy.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

31st May. We celebrated our first new anniversary and went and painted plates and it was wonderful.

November in general was horrible again. Ugh.

Not sure otherwise. Probably should. Want to say 6th June? Think that was my exam. And of course 31st December! Last day of the old year, spend with some of my favourite people.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting another first overall for the year. Staying relatively stable despite that being through hermitising myself almost completely. Joining up more dots and becoming more aware of myself. Staying in therapy, it is so hard. Staying in therapy while staying on my course! Managing the two of them, in addition to working and having a vague social life.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Having to let pretty much all my relationships aside from the very closest slide. I don’t have the energy. I find it so difficult with placement (going to another team three times a year, having to integrate, having to get the balance between being assertive enough to get stuff signed off and being flexible to what they want, having to learn skills related to that placement while also in general having academic work and other things to plan around…) and the course in general. I KNOW that this is ridiculous and not a failure, but for me it was very very difficult to get my first mark on this course under 70. 69. BUT STILL.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

General low level malaise, more migraines, three horrible colds, bad period pain, asthma stuff, nothing that bad. Apart from being madly suicidal in November. Also the same time of year as last time. What is it with November?

11. What was the best thing you bought?

YARN.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Nick’s. As usual. He is unchanging and that, for me, is bliss (although hard). R. Even though I get fantastically angry over the stupidest things and compare her to cardboard. She is so challenging but it is working and I am so grateful. My mentors on this placement, and the whole team, for almost giving me a reparative family experience (group of people! supportive! I am allowed to be vulnerable because they are too and it’s not a bad thing to show! they help me through my shit without making me help them through theirs! IMAGINE!). My friends, who haven’t left me (I am guessing) even though I have pretty much dropped off the face of the earth.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Mine. Letting agents and landlords in general. My family. The guy who lived upstairs in my old old place (seriously, have lived in three places this year so no wonder I am fucking pushed to the point of exhaustion) who basically had a crack den and scared me.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Moving. Hah. In the past year or so I have spent £600 that I will never get back on letting agents fees and guarantor fees. So depressing. Other than that, rent, travel, food, the usual. Yarn I guess.

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

Crocheting. Seeing Nick and Lauren and Sofie :) KATE BUSH! Leg ulcers. I turned a corner! (I am sad.) Going to placement. Getting 85% for one of my papers.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

As usual, songs, not song. Working backwards: Kristin Hersh – Like You, and Cathedral Heat. Sharon Van Etten – Your Love is Killing Me. Fiona Apple – To Your Love. Kate Bush – Snowflake, and Jig of Life. Hava Nagila :) Throwing Muses – Film. Tiny Ruins – Straw into Gold. John Grant – GMF. alt-J – Dissolve Me. St. Vincent – Digital Witness. ABBA – The Visitors. OMD – Electricity.

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

a) happier or sadder?

Happier. More tired, but definitely happier.

b) thinner or fatter?

I want to say fatter but I don’t think I am. I had lost weight but I think I have worked myself back up again.

c) richer or poorer?

Poorer. I have just done a row of nights but other than that have barely been able to work because it’s just too much for me on top of everything else at the moment.

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

Keeping in touch with people, seeing people, but when I can I do.

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

Ruminating. Procrastinating. Obsessing. Comfort eating.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent it with Nick, at home, and we went to the beach and ate ice cream and then cooked at home. Boxing day was spent with our tradition of watching The Room while eating Christmas Day leftovers pizza (which was YUM).

21. How will you be spending New Year?

My best friend’s house with a bunch of lovely people, setting off sparkers and spending HOURS with a hula hoop. I haven’t had that much fun for AGES.

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Rekindled love for Gillian Anderson. But otherwise no, just stayed boringly in love with Nick, happy with brief flashes of OMGPLEASEDON’TLEAVEMEEEEEEE.

23. How many one-night stands?

None.

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

No, but I have felt quite bitter and hateful in general. Hateful is wrong, I am not hateful, but I am finding it very very hard to have all these people graduating and getting amazing jobs and getting married or engaged or pregnant or buying a house or giving birth all under my nose. Partly why I haven’t Facebooked much because every time I go on it seems to be ENGAGED! PREGNANT! ENGAGED! in a row and NO THANK YOU. It taps straight into a massive sense of loss for me and I think that is partly why I have hidden away from it. Sometimes it is way too much for me to have to deal with. Which makes me feel not very nice but there you go. I also have that sometimes when walking around town and seeing families or even just a parent with a child. OWWWWW. But I am feeling slightly better about it at the moment (possibly because I have worked through/am working through some of the loss) which is a nice feeling.

25. What was your favourite restaurant of 2014?

Probs still Pho. Good memories there, good people, good food. Also thai place. And Modelo’s, where you can sit for hours and nobody gives a shit.

26. What were your favourite TV programs?

Holby, GBBO, The Apprentice, The Fall. Gilmore Girls, still. The Kate Bush documentary. Frasier also pretty much saved me in December.

27. What was the best book you read?

I don’t think I read any novels *shame*.

28. What were your greatest musical discoveries?

Um. John Grant! I love him. alt-J even though it’s really only certain songs. OMD even though I knew them before, but they’ve been a major focal point of my year! Helen Money, who supported Mono. She’s this intense cellist who makes dark, beautiful music.

29. What were your favourite films of this year?

Saw Submarine which I liked, but not really a film person. Fahrenheit 451 was pretty enjoyable too (if depressing, because OMG it’s NOW only, even more depressingly, their screens are smaller than the ones we have now).

30. What did you want and get?

Good marks. Good placements. Good mentors. A dissertation question (haven’t finalised it, but pretty sure). More insight.

31. What did you want and not get?

Marriage, a baby, a house, money, a nice family, a time machine to go and reverse my shitty childhood, someone to adopt me. But that’s getting a bit better…

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

I had lectures on bowel care. Yay? I was 31. Can’t remember what else I did. I think I went for dinner and then watched Alpha Papa on the beach.

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

More money. As usual. I know money doesn’t make you happy blah blah blah, but come off it. The housing situation is ridiculous and I just want to not have to worry ALL THE TIME. Stable home life (as in houses).

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

Jeans and a top and boots. Because that is it.

35. What kept you sane?

Crochet, repeats of comfort TV, rice, Nick and my friends.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

NHS crap again. ARGH.

37. Who did you miss?

So many of my friends. Two of my very closest friends don’t live anywhere near me and Skype hasn’t happened for multitudes of reasons. I really miss feeling connected to them (even though I still do…but you know).

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Any of my new team, along with the specialist palliative care nurse who helped me get through a very difficult time.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014:

Most of the stuff that bothers me really isn’t that bothersome, but it’s how I make sense of it because of what has gone before. When I look back on the whole doorbell thing, for example, if I’d been able to hold onto myself more then it wouldn’t have been that bad. Because it wasn’t that bad. It really wasn’t, and it didn’t mean what it felt it meant. It just dredged up so much shit, which sent me into a dark, dark place. So trying to stay separate from the old shit is the most important thing but also the hardest. I have been able to do that slightly more recently and that means I am able to work through stuff more when it gets triggered. Trying to stay open, not to close my mind, not to judge. That is the most valuable lesson and it’s just learning how to do that. I am very much at the beginning of the path.

It’s about responsibility, too. Taking responsibility and knowing what is mine, and being aware of it. There are so many times this year where I have relinquished or denied responsibility for so many things and for so many reasons. I still am now, but I am learning, and that’s the most important thing, that I’m learning from it.

In a nutshell: Happiness is an inside job. And I also love this quote by Tori Amos:

“The big lesson in this whole year has been that there isn’t a resolve for many things. Life isn’t about, well, if I just get to this mountain peak, it’s over. There are like 5,000 peaks in the distance.” <—-True, dat.

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Song for today: Spark by Tori Amos.

I haven’t written for so long. In general. There used to be sheets and sheets of paper, or multiple email drafts. There are still some email drafts now, but nowhere near as many. Today I feel compelled, though, because I feel as though I need to work things through, to get them out, instead of having them stagnating inside.

I am sitting/lying here on my (tiny) sofa, where I have been for most of the day. My water bottle by my side, untouched. (Having trouble drinking, again.) Listening to my favourite Spotify playlists, with melodies and lyrics that reflect where I am and what I am feeling so that they can swaddle me, cocoon me with their notes. My comfort shawl, that I crocheted myself to try and help me feel safe when it doesn’t feel so, is draped over my shoulders, covering me up, the fluffy sparkles and blue/grey colour trying to maintain connection. My crochet project (a blanket for my friend’s baby) has allowed me to keep busy in a gentle way while I’m off ‘sick’ (head sick). And some of my best allies are here; Bri is behind me but Bun and Bev have been keeping me company all day:

IMG_20150225_161553

The last few days have been brutal, and I’m not sure why. I’m trying to figure it out. But I have gone from being motivated, wanting to do my course, enjoying it, being excited about my life etc etc etc, to being, as I described it on Monday, like I am vacuum-packed. Shrink-wrapped. So stuck that I cannot move, left or right, forward or back. I am squashed into a tiny space. Suspended. (“I know you didn’t mean it like this, but when you said suspended, I thought of a suspended bus stop – you know, when they’ve got the tape all over them. And it’s thinking, oh god, but I’m a bus stop! I can’t be out of action, I have to serve the buses! And it panics because it can’t do what it’s supposed to.” –paraphrased from therapy yesterday, god love her. I couldn’t stop grinning.)

And even though I didn’t mean that, it’s also true. I feel like I am suspended in the air, but also that I am out of action and feel panicky about it but can’t do anything about it because I am stuck there – here – with tape all over me and I can’t move. Although…despite being stuck, I am also whirling, spinning, like a tornado. I can’t stay with one thing. I don’t know who I am because I keep changing and I don’t know how I’m feeling. I feel as though I have gone from being ‘me’, cruising along, driving my car wherever I want to, mostly in control, to being hijacked and driven somewhere completely different. Like I have been taken over, like an alien invasion. I know that this is also me, and that’s where it is so confusing, exhausting and, at times, excruciating. So…the one causing me all this trouble is me, then. Great!

I got pissed off on Monday and showed it. Managed to keep talking, even though I was angry. I can’t even remember what I was angry about. Oh yeah, I do, but it’s too long to write about and it was one of those moments where I had to shrug and say, “yeah, you’re right, and I know you are because my initial reaction was to tell you to fuck off.” And there was also the, “WHY?! Why do I have to sort it out myself?” “Because it’s your life.” She looked at me, I looked back, and then scowled.  “Yeah but it’s not FAIR!” “No, it’s not. But that’s the way it is.”

When I got home on Monday I felt as though I wasn’t done. I kept running through everything we had talked about…my family, my feelings and my actions at the moment, the whole feeling/being ‘weird’ thing, and how even though it’s twisted as a bad thing it makes me special so I don’t want to let go of it (“I think on one level, you’re scared that if you’re not this weird person, that if you lose that then I won’t be interested in you anymore”), my running back to what is ‘safe’ even though it’s not and is harmful to me… She described it as a security blanket, one that’s all manky and soiled, one that she’s trying to yank off me and one that I won’t let her take away. “We can see it in the room, when you run back to it.” It felt like it had brought up so much, and I wanted to talk more. So despite my fears of being too much, I texted on Tuesday morning and asked if I could speak to her, or see her. And she had a free session, so I went and thrashed it out some more. There is so much in there, so much about being terrified to have people care for me, I don’t know how to do it and I resist it so much but of course, it’s what I want. I just have a mountain of defences in there.

And it was another really amazing session and I still wasn’t done. So with ALL my courage I emailed and asked if I could see her AGAIN this week, because I really wanted to. It felt different this time – not like I was desperate and would die if I didn’t see her, but that I just really wanted to. I acknowledged that it might not be possible so asked if could I speak to her briefly if I couldn’t have another session, and that either way it was fine, but if she couldn’t then to please be nice about it because even though I had been able to it ask was still monumentally difficult. And she emailed back, nicely (of course, because she is nice – but often her Rigid Boundaries of Doom don’t feel nice, reminding me of an exchange with Nick where I showed him an email from her that I thought was really warm, for her, and he called her the Ice Maiden, haha), saying that it seems positive to her that I was able to articulate my needs to myself, and to her. She didn’t have any free sessions but I did speak to her at 4pm, just for 8 minutes. I told her that I’d been snuggled up with my comfort things in an effort to feel safe. And I explained about this song.

Last night as I was trying to sleep, the line, “you say you don’t want it, again and again, but you don’t really mean it” popped into my head and kept playing over and over, like a mantra. I was confused for a while and didn’t really understand, although it felt perfect, like it was able to articulate things in a way that I hadn’t been able to. I am so resistant to everything and it’s just a defence. I played the song over in my head from the beginning. “She’s addicted to nicotine patches.” In yesterday’s session, she talked about me being addicted to her, to therapy. How beautiful as a metaphor. Nicotine patches are what you use when you can’t, for whatever reason, have cigarettes. They are a substitute, they provide the substance but not in the way that the person really wants. They’re not cigarettes, are they? They’re not quite real. She’s not quite real. She’s a nicotine patch, therapy is a nicotine patch for the real cigarettes that I really fucking well want to smoke. Knowing that they don’t exist and that it isn’t possible doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Then: “she’s afraid of the light in the dark.” I have always loved that line, but now it takes on new meaning. She is the light, therapy is. I am used to it being dark, and I’m scared of the light, I’m scared of it taking the dark away, in the same way that I get pissed off, angry and ultimately terrified when she tries to contradict everything that I have ever known and felt about myself.

This used to be my favourite song, for years, starting when I was…16? 17? It was written about a miscarriage but it has always made sense to me. It has been a fixture in my life for a long, long time, and despite not having listened to it in months, possibly years, it came back when I needed it. There are more lines in the song which are resonant but I can’t go into them right now because I am exhausted and need to stop writing now. But, lastly, the single and album covers:

spark

 

spark2

 

FromTheChoirgirl

 

Photocopied, not a representative version of herself. Stuck, between glass, looking as though she’s vacuum-packed. Exactly how I am feeling now. I really thought it was beautiful, the way it came up and ended up being such a mirror of my current self. I feel less alone now.

Lyrics:

she’s addicted to nicotine patches
she’s addicted to nicotine patches
she’s afraid of the light in the dark
6.58 are you sure where my spark is
here, here, here

she’s convinced she could hold back a glacier
(between cotton balls and xylophones)
but she couldn’t keep Baby alive
(I’m getting old)
doubting if there’s a woman in there somewhere
here, here, here
you say you don’t want it again
and again but you don’t really mean it
you say you don’t want it
this circus we’re in
but you don’t you don’t really mean it you don’t really mean it

if the Divine master plan is perfection
(swing low)
maybe next I’ll give Judas a try
(swing low, sweet chariot)
trusting my soul to the ice cream assassin
here, here, here
you say you don’t want it again
and again but you don’t really mean it
you say you don’t want it
this circus we’re in
but you don’t you don’t really mean it you don’t really mean it

how many fates turn around in the overtime
ballerinas that have fins that you’ll never find
you thought that you were the bomb yeah well so did I
say you don’t want it
say you don’t want it
say you don’t want it again
and again but you don’t really mean it
say you don’t want it
this circus we’re in
but you don’t you don’t really mean it you don’t really mean it

she’s addicted to nicotine patches
she’s afraid of the light in the dark
6.58 are you sure where my spark is
here, here, here

Video (which itself has incredible imagery):