Introvert

Today was perhaps the most chilled out I’ve felt in some time. Being on holiday with nothing to worry about at this present point in time and nothing I can do about it if I was going to worry I managed to find the mind space to totally empty my brain and relax. Sat by the pool there was an element of people watching too but being hooked on the book I just started reading it was easier to zone out entirely and ignore everything going on around me.

My daughter happily wandering back and forth between the sun beds and the lobby where she could access the wifi (very important when you’re 14) I was pretty much left to my own devices for the day. This for me is probably the best thing about being on holiday with just my daughter. She’s not the needy type and likes to be left to get on with it for at least some of the time, with no one else to worry about I could just read, people watch and swim.

Here is what I’m learning about people. Lots of them hang around in groups, and those groups latch on to other groups and a successful day is when they have latched on all day and made common ground. With the aim of swapping numbers and promising to visit at other end of the country when they get home… blah blah… I don’t really seem to find any common ground with any of these people. In fact I kind of struggle. I’m happier not being in that group and observing from the outside unless it’s a group talking about something I’m actually interested in and I’m in the mood to talk to people. But on days like today I’m actually all talked out, they could come to me and want to talk about my favourite stuff and I still just wouldn’t care.

Small talk is the thing I think I hate most on days like today, it’s exhausting, It makes me uncomfortable, I feel like it’s a bit of a waste of time, I struggle to see the benefit. This isn’t all the time, when I’ve got my extrovert hat on I can small talk like the best of them but when I’m all extroverted out it’s time to go into stealth mode and blend in with the scenery in the hope I don’t get talked at.

I will happily go a whole day without talking to anyone, it really doesn’t bother my when I’m in this frame of mind.

So the day’s events, breakfast, turn on phone to catch up with the world, text off Mr Clingy 5 (dammit and a real text not Imessage) so I get charged to read that he’s giving up unless I message him back… problem solved… money well spent.

Text off the one who makes me forget telling me he’s glad I haven’t picked up more pets and promising not to spoil GoT but will watch the final episode with me when I get back because he knows I’m going to love it. That guy scores points with every interaction to be fair. He may just be a keeper.

Text off bestie hoping I’m haveing the best time. And then Facebook feed check the usual likes and banter etc.

Phone off, apart from stuff with my daughter that is all the human interaction I need today. Specs on, sunbed at the ready with shade and factor 50 to maintain my usual shade of vampire white I set about ignoring everyone. In fact I ace it until the afternoon when I decide to grab a coffee. I’m sat watching some finches raiding an abandoned plate of food and really enjoying studying their behaviour, quite happily lost in my thoughts when dammit ‘animation rep’ has to invite himself to sit with me! There must be a cultural thing here. I can shoot my ‘please leave me the fuck alone’ look very successfully in the UK and people will run. I actually successfully did this to the one once at the gym and he told me I was scary so didn’t say hi that day. This made me laugh. Here in another country my look of death isn’t working at all. I do not wish to discuss why I don’t have a husband here with me or in fact that I never have had a husband and am not sure if I ever want one. The finer points of that appear to be lost here. So after some small talk about dogs and snakes, I suggest I’d like to be left alone now, he still doesn’t get it, but his boss calls him over so I’m saved! As he walks away he shouts “see you down in the main bar for the entertainment show later!” To which I smile, nod and think ‘When hell freezes over!’

I go back to my sun bed and carry on in my own self inflicted solitary confinement for the rest of the day. This is good, there are days when I’m really good at being a human and days when I don’t really feel like it. It’s perfectly okay to just be alone without any guilt that because you’re not having a conversation every second of that day you are somehow a bad person. Perhaps if we all spent less time talking and more time listening and perhaps even thinking we might just all get on better!

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Wanderlust

As a single woman who wouldn’t think twice about going for a wander where I live I forget how lucky I am with the life that I lead in my home city. Today I decided to venture out into the city of Marrakech where me and my daughter are staying for a week. We had been warned that it’s a dangerous place especially for single women. Well I’ve had experience of bustling North African cities before having been to Tunisia several times, before the tragic events a few years back and had actually always loved venturing out into the busy medinas never feeling in danger. Having spoken to our hotel guide here I was reassured that there was little if any danger and to just keep my wits about me as even though men will look they are unlikely to touch.

So we ventured down to main road having planned our route straight through the centre of the medina to the main square where the largest Mosque stood. We were happily surprised by how welcome we were made. Dressed in our army boots (great for walking) shorts and vest tops with checked shirts for sun protection we probably didn’t look like the usual tourist here… most dressed in their flip flops and other unsuitable walking gear.

The first thing we noticed was that we were the only people walking in these parts who were tourists, but it was great to see the real city behind the tourism and not just the bits that they want you to see. We stopped in a cafe for a break, the man was a little surprised to see a small red head and her blue haired daughter, most of his clientele being men. But he welcomed us in and found us his best table and bought coffee and water leaving us to it. He seemed happy to have new customers, I was wondering if he had set up his cafe close to the hotel in the hope some of the guests would pass by, but as you can expect probably saw little of it because of the naivety of the warnings given to travellers that you just cannot go out, you must get on the tourist bus like everyone else and pay your travel agent money if you are to see the city. I’m always a little sceptical of this, the prices you pay to a travel agent to take you somewhere often being about four times the price.

We carried on through the main city walls and into the city following our GPS. The streets were winding and exiting. There were donkeys, mopeds, motorbikes, cars, trucks, wheelbarrows, mules, in fact if you can think of a mode of transport it probably existed at some point in the busy back streets of Marrakech. There were certainly a few ‘friendly’ men offering to take you on a tour but it was simply a case of being bold and saying no, they would leave without hassle as long as it was said with a smile. We walked for hours. There were various reactions, lots of welcomes. What was actually quite nice was that when a less trustworthy person approached there was always a shop keeper or passer by happy to point that out and often tell them they should be ashamed and to leave people alone. I actually found this quite refreshing and realised that actually this city is no different to home, where we have plenty of people hanging about willing to try and take money from and innocent passer by. I think that the perceived danger is often that it’s a different culture, different religion, women here wear a mixture of dress from western style to the full Hijab but everyone seems to just get on with it.

The only hassle we got all day was right in the main tourist bit from a guy holding snakes specifically set up to take money from tourists. When I gave him a coin he demanded paper. When I said no, it wasn’t him that became nasty, but his wife. We simply walked away. The police were there already… in fact the only police we had seen on patrol were in the very place that is marketed as ‘safe’ by the tour operators, and actually this was the place where we got the most hassle.

So here is my understanding of how it works in so called dangerous countries. Actually the danger is generally born of your own nievity because wherever you go in the world there will always be someone who will attempt to take advantage of people who don’t have their wits about them and there’s no one type of religion or skin colour that causes that.

Hunger causes people to do weird things, and often the bartering, the desperstion for someone to hand over money is someone trying to feed themselves if not others too. We forget how lucky we are in the UK, if we have no job then more often than not the tax payer gives us money. In other countries you are simply left begging, poor in other countries really does actually mean poor and not just having to decide between school uniform of Sky TV.

So my advice about going off the beaten track, speak to a local in your hotel for advice about how safe it really is. Ask for routes, places and how it is best to get there. You will see the bits of the country that your tour operators will not show you and you will experience additional bits to your holiday that money can’t buy.

Plane memories

So yesterday I took my daughter on our first holiday abroad together, just us two. For me this is a big step and perhaps filled with some past demons and a few bitter sweet memories. I had never booked a holiday myself before. I was just never really allowed. Okay so the short trip to Rome happened in February with ‘the one’ but it didn’t feel like that counted as a holiday really, it was more a short quick trip that could have been to anywhere. This felt different, perhaps it’s the amount of money, the package holiday thing, the long flight etc. But this feels real and scarily totally my responsibility.

I opted to take the coach to the airport, which was a good plan because one of my tyres on the car blew out in the morning of our departure as I was driving back from the shop. I did my best not to decide we were doomed. We packed, got the taxi to the coach station, got there in one piece, I discover I’ve left my vape somewhere, guess today is the day I’m giving up then!?!

We get through check in, get upgraded for free which is pretty awesome, get through security in record time because me and my daughter are good at the minimal fuss travel game and get a burger before getting on the plane. We made it!

Take off happens, I’m always nervous about take off so I shove my headphones in and listen to some cheerful ska. Take off is actually pretty awesome! Okay so today we’re in a 787 Dreamliner, we’ve been upgraded, and we’re eating chips on the plane. This ain’t bad.

As I watch the sun setting through the window across the Atlantic I can’t help but start to think. The last time I was on a plane with my daughter we were miserable, I remember being recognised at the airport by a colleague who had asked if I was okay when my ex wasn’t looking, I had said yeah sure but actually no I wasn’t, it had been the worst holiday of my life. And the day after initially what I thought was the worst day of my life, he split up with me over something trivial at the time but really that was just the turning point so I could find my best days.

The last time I was on a plane the one had just broken up with me after telling me I was the only girl for him, his Uturn somehow happened in seconds and resulted in a tearful plane journey and me then having to drive all the way back from Stanstead, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him to make his own way home. Perhaps I should have…

So today has a few mixed emotions a reminder that the last two holidays I had ended in disaster. A reminder that I perhaps trust a little too easily. But then I wouldn’t want to be any different and would rather invite good feelings than expect bad ones. A reminder that so far life is full of disappointments and you somehow just have to keep on smiling. Perhaps the new one who makes me forget with change that. His Tarot readings are positive, but I’m still not 100% ready to fully trust what I’m told. Perhaps he isn’t either which is why we’ll continue to skirt around that subject until someobody cracks. I’m in two minds about that subject. The one told me he loved me after just 2 days, but I felt it, it was strong, I’m still not really sure if it was love at all. The Stand In had rules around love, you must not mention it for 2 months. This just took away any impulsiveness for me and left me wondering if on the exact 2 months he planned to tell me, well where was the spontaneity in that? And what happened if he didn’t? This sent me into a spiral of total confusion as to what the hell I wanted and fell out of love pretty quickly as the rules got bigger and seemingly more nonesensical.

This one right now, hell well I’m confused. Scared to the point of running away but not quite scared enough to run. Because the feelings were instant, I don’t know what hit me and they grew that first night, to the point that whilst we were laying together the words nearly slipped out…

Him… well I dunno… but he’s made a pretty big effort so far. And the night when he was adorably drunk, words slipped out that I’ll wait till he’s sober to see if he repeats them again. But I’m taking the sign that he keeps kissing me as a good thing. And he constantly tells me he thinks I’m hot. And I think he’s hot too.

I guess the fear that hit me on the plane today wasn’t my usual fear of flying, just the fear of getting hurt badly again. Either hating myself for having to end it for the sake of my sanity or worse still being rejected again especially like the last time when he had no good reason other than he was just too lazy to have a real relationship.

I don’t think this new guy is either, we’ll see, guess it’s down the the universe to help this story work.

But in the mean time, me and my daughter are off for a lovely holiday in the sun, a well earned rest from the madness of day to day life, a chance to bond as mum and daughter and just be ourselves. I always remind myself how lucky I am to have such a great daughter. We’re sisterly close which sometimes has its problems with instilling boundaries but I wouldn’t have it any other way. So this week we’re taking Morocco by storm with my red hair and her blue hair. I have my best friend, a good book and a bikini and that’s all I’m gonna need…

Was I Dating David Mitchel???

So…. I met this guy who shan’t be named back in February 2016 on Tinder. I’d just split up with my first boyfriend (the one) after the big break up with my daughter’s dad. And to be honest had no idea that no matter how hard I tried wasn’t going to be over that guy ever.

He seemed nice when we were chatting online and seemed to give off this air of a “Fuck it” attitude… I kinda liked that. I’m impulsive at the best of times, and then doubly so most of the time so this guy seemed to float my boat. He was previously a web developer who’d decided to move back to Cardiff and become a mechanic. At 28… yep he was massively younger than me, I thought why the hell not?? After chatting for a couple of weeks we arranged to meet up after work on a Monday night. We went to the Cosy Club and had dinner. We talked happily through the meal and got to know each other. Now you have to remember at this point in time I was still getting over the rejection of my Ex and felt hugely unattractive so probably threw myself at any male who offered me attention, easily done. So we left, and I invited him back. He still hadn’t kissed me… like when was he going to kiss me? So I took my chance and made the move, he was a bit shocked but kissed me back. I felt a bit awkward, like had he wanted me to? Anyhow he came back to mine. Now, my house isn’t perfect, I’m a mum, I work full time and have two dogs. So there was mud all over my pale tiled kitchen floor, I didn’t see this as an issue, I WORK FULL TIME!!! His first comment upon seeing my pretty nice, okay perhaps a little lived in, but nice house was to offer to mop my kitchen floor??!!?? WHAT? Slightly insulted, I declined his kind offer. So I make him a coffee, we get chatting, have a bit more of a passionate kiss and I lead him upstairs to see the rest of my house (yeah you know where I’m going here…).

We go into my bedroom, he moans a little about the pile of clothes in the corner on my ottoman… I kind of ignore it, thinking… I have big boobs, you shouldn’t be looking over there. Without trying to sound too narcissistic, I was actually out of this guy’s league, but of course, when you have low self esteem you don’t see that at the time. so we start getting a bit closer, takes a while, this is awkard, the last guy was ripping my clothes off before we’d even got upstairs! Okay, so perhaps I have a gentleman, that’s not so bad right? He whips out a bunch of condoms… okay so at least he had intentions that’s good! I may have looked slightly horrified, I’m all for safe sex, but perhaps it was his clinical manner in which this was done, like someone prepping for surgery. Anyhow, we have okay sex, not really fireworks but not the worst. Okay so this could work I decide, he’s okay… seemed funny and charming, I will give this guy a go. We’re lying next to each other, post coitus as Sheldon Cooper would describe and I catch the guy’s profile…. OH MY GOD! I think, He looks like David Mitchel?!? OH NO! Can I cope with this? He didn’t look like him in any of his profile pics, although he’d clearly put on some weight since then (something I was going to learn about Tinder… They Lie! They Allllll Lie!!!!)  Okay but he was nice enough, I took the comments about my floor as endearing, he opened doors and paid for food, plus this one could drive (somehow I always manage to pick men who can’t drive… I like cars, no I love cars, and motorbikes… I find it odd when someone can’t drive) I decided to keep this one for a bit at least. He mentioned the whole, I don’t take this stuff lightly, I’m sleeping with you because I intend to be in a relationship with you, well at least I knew where I stood… and so the saga of the sad mechanic began… To be continued…

Becoming Biker…

So today has been a pretty good day! I’m trying to get myself all sorted for becoming a “real” biker. I got my first bike almost 2 years ago and haven’t looked back since. Here in the UK you can ride a small bike on L-plates for 2 years as long as you do a CBT day and then you either do your full test or you just renew your CBT.

I’d been planning to get my full test done before my CBT was up but that just wasn’t going to happen so I opted to renew today having done my theory the other day so that I can now go in and do the full tests within the next two years. It’s pretty exciting and getting a bike, there’s something ever so slightly rebellious about it perhaps, especially for girls, although it’s good to see more and more girls getting bikes. When people find out your intentions to get a full bike license the reaction is often mixed and more on the side of “are you mad?” But I can quite honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and I will be going in for my full test as soon as I possibly can. There is nothing quite like being the girl that turns up on the bike. And hitting a country road and opening up the throttle is such a thrill. It’s a very different feeling to driving a car, you get the wind… well everywhere… and the lean in the bends, something that you don’t get in a car.

The funny thing is when you do a CBT renewal you have to do everything that you would do the first time, but you’re generally with people who have never ridden a bike before, just like I was two years ago. I was so nervous that day. But as soon as I was on my way home last time, I was there in the bike shop and bought my bike there and then!

So today my companions were, a really sweet girl who was just too small for any bike there and had to resort to a moped, but she had so much fun zipping around on it, having first accidentally almost thrown another bike across the yard merely trying to get the damned thing off its stand! But she got the hang of it all pretty quickly and was my rideout companion later in the day. Then two guys, one who would be doing his direct access the next day and one who had all the gear but had never ridden a bike, although reassured everyone he would be fine because he has a push bike… wrong!

I was pleased today, two years ago I struggled even getting the stupid thing to start, moving off without stalling and initially trying to do the manoeuvres without putting my feet down felt impossible. Today despite my bike (I used my own) being a low rider with a bit of a larger turning circle I aced my figure of eights and my emergency stops… accidentally demonstrating I can skid pretty well now on one of them!

What always makes me laugh a little at bike courses is the macho attitude of some guys when they haven’t got a clue. Mr geared up had turned up with a bandana, full synthetic suite in camo print, boots, the lot, and was all bravado at the beginning with his “this will be easy” attitude. After being quite derogatory to the girl who accidentally threw the bike it was his turn… he stalled for about the first half an hour and I kinda felt a little bit mortified for him. We got to lunch, had our briefing and then headed out on the road, me and the other girl with one instructor and the other two with the main guy. She was in front to set the pace because her 50cc was not going to be able to hit the speeds of the other bikes. Once she had found her feet a little we finally started to hit 20mph, and then 30… heading up towards a decent speed, the instructor in the ear peace giving instructions to check mirrors etc. And telling me what I needed to look out for because he knew I’d be doing my actual test soon. We had a wail of a time, going up through some lanes to get to the target stop off, McDonald’s where we had been promised a break.

We won! The girls always win, the other two turn up behind about ten minutes later, the main instructor telling Mr Geared up that he can’t go using the cycle lanes and he really has to “own the road”. We get our food and a chat about the progress and our instructor talks to us about safety and shows us some really good pictures of bike rides he’s been on round the world. I think I just found my life long dream, or at least another new one anyway! Were told that we should all be good to get certificates today and Mr Geared up pipes up that he’s got no idea what he’s doing, this was not like a push bike at all!

Oh dear! I guess at least he now admits he needs a bit longer to get used to it all and it’s better to take the time rather than get that certificate and never ever use it. When I got my bike I was an inexperienced rider and it took me a good few months to get confident enough to hit speeds above 30, I think people often assume it’s a case of sit on the bike and go, but it really isn’t. There’s a whole ton of stuff you learn in the two years of riding under your CBT, I actually took a free training day that’s offered in this country last year to improve my riding before even considering stepping up.

I think the biggest lesson you can learn from having a bike is that you have to respect the power of the bike and your attitude has to be that “one wrong move and this thing can kill me” kind of attitude. During the summer months I often see guys riding round in shorts and t-shirt, whilst it’s legal it’s so dangerous. I’d rather be sweltering hot than in need of a skin graft.

So bikes are here to stay in my life. The sad Mechanic used to try and forbid me from taking my test… because that was going to work… even the one used to say it was too dangerous. But my bike is my trusty companion when no others are suitable. There is nothing better than the freedom of the wind in your hair, an open road in front of you and a full tank of petrol to burn…

Mind blown…

Sometimes you just get to a point when you have a serious case of information overload and you need to sit in a darkened room to process everything for a few hours. A bit like the time before the digital age when film was processed in the dark so that nothing else could pollute the film before the developing fluid had done its job and made the information, the image, that the light had burnt in that short few milliseconds of exposure a permanent feature to last forever.

Well today I’m at that point. The film in my head is full, it’s ready to be processed and if anything else gets in there the information is only going to get polluted and the useful information lost. There will be great pictures I need to keep forever, and those awful ones that I wonder how the hell they got there and will need to put aside, then the mediocre almost useful but only in context memories that I should keep just in case.

As a typical ENFP according to the Myers Briggs theory of assessing your personality, I’m an extrovert, looking at the world in an intuitive way, assessing the information through feelings and perceiving the actions I need to take rather than making solid plans. I’m actually a borderline extrovert/introvert, yep an ambivert! This means I flick between the two, so when the info gets all a little bit much I have to shut the doors to my brain and calm it all down before I can communicate again, or I tend to have a bit of a melt down.

Today the information overload hit me at about 11am… actually I think the information overload has been building since Monday, then with little sleep because sometimes I go through cycles of insomnia I haven’t had chance to turn my brain off and give it a good rest. These are the points where I really have to prioritise who I communicate with to make sure I don’t accidentally upset anyone and also cause myself damage in the process.

Here’s where the trouble with tech comes in. We are always contactable because we have mobile phones. I have had to train myself to ignore messages when I am not ready to process that info. But of course with that comes the guilt. Some people just can’t help themselves, they have to check that, last seen or read receipt when actually I’d rather they didn’t!

Luckily you can turn this off now for a lot of things, but it’s a bit obvious when you do. I have learnt not to care. People who know me well will understand and people who don’t will just have to try… perhaps they don’t deserve the privilege of that read receipt anyway…

The benefits of modern day life bring with it their own new issues. There is constant information but perhaps little thought. There’s the ability to contact each other 24/7, documentation of every moment which is great when it’s your baby pictures or that post about the great day out but when it’s your latest mental break down and you write a post, then that’s the bit of documentation that can be used against you. Having been hauled over the coals over something trivial for this by a previous employer I’m very careful about how my social media is connected to my personal thoughts and actions trying to keep my professional life and personal life separate.

I’m not in any way ashamed that my mental state is sometimes a little unstable, I would like to meet a person who doesn’t have that issue. It’s how we project that information and whether we know how to get help when things aren’t quite right. I’m just over a month off my meds now and actually haven’t had a crashing low yet. It’s liberating that I know I’m doing this all myself now and it’s also reassuring to know that I can cope now even when things get stressful.

So the darkened room, well not too dark right now, I’m looking at the ends of today’s August sunshine and reminding myself that sunlight is good for me. But the processing time as I write today’s post is helping me to calm down and sort the spaghetti of thoughts into something more manageable. I’m not going to beat myself up for feeling a little stressed. Today I’ve been dealing with research and development for unknown technology, the tech itself hasn’t been stressful but the need to reassure, answer questions, facilitate communication between people who are not naturally communicative has been a little testing. That and the discovery that my daughter has left her passport with her dad less than a week before we go on her own holiday, meant that slight worry set in. I had been worrying that he may decide to withhold it after my daughter spent a period of six weeks not wanting to see him. So I did what I felt best and called him. This put my mind at rest. Whilst I didn’t think he really would have done that the thought crossed my mind and the worry was hard to put a stop to so calling and sorting it was another thing out of that tangled brain of mine and one less worry to process.

So with issues dealt with mostly and home a bit disorganised today after starting to get things ready for a holiday, I’m deciding to take some time out of it today so I can come back fresh tomorrow. Gone are the days of pushing myself to absolute breaking point, putting every other person’s needs before my own, my daughter is fed and happy having had a nice reuniting hug after her time away with her dad. It’s time now to just let those thoughts process and get them organised and happy again.

It’s good that I’ve learnt to do this and recommend to anyone who asks to take that bit of time to just sit there and do nothing and remember to feel absolutely no guilt at all! When we give our everything all the time, people expect that level of service all the time. Sometimes we need to take that time back for ourselves, because very often the taker wouldn’t even give that a second thought, but sometimes they need to learn to self smooth, because when you’re fixing everyone else, who’s going to fix you? “Learn to fix yourself” is my favourite bit of advice I’ve ever been given. So today I’m processing the memories in my mind of my day, and fixing it good so I’m fully prepared for the next one…

And that was the end…

So the end with the Stand In, happened last year. For me things had been going off for a couple of weeks, for him everything was rosy. And perhaps that’s what what made it worse. Had I somehow made this worse? I hated being the bad guy, I didn’t want to be the bad guy but I knew that if it carried on I wouldn’t be happy and my unhappiness would have transferred to him so I had to end it to stop the pain for both of us and let him heal and find someone who could be right for him without having to change and I really hope he has.

Things had been good at the beginning of the four month relationship but the pressure I felt to make it work out had been building and I was starting to wonder if I was in love with him or whether I just liked the idea of being loved. He was kind in that he would always do what he thought was nice but there were things that just were not quite right and I would have started to resent if I had let things carry on. He wasn’t a terrible person, he just wasn’t the right guy for me and really I was just still in love with ‘the one’, I’d never got over him. It just wasn’t fair for me to try and make this guy replace him.

I had been doing up my house and had done a lot of work. Whether he meant to or not he started asking questions that made me feel suspicious about his motives. He had started asking about the value of my house, how much equity I had, and my salary. He started sending zoopla links to houses, talking about us both selling up and moving house, this started just after two months in. I tried to make it clear I wasn’t ready for that, plus my daughter was my priority, her ability to get to school and see her friends was the most important thing and I didn’t like the idea of moving her home at that point just over a year after me and her dad had split. Yet still the suggestions kept coming. I started to wonder if I was being seen as the means to get a bigger house and make this pop up family he seemed to want so much, but that would have been at the expense of my own freedom and my own happiness. I was not willing to give up my happiness again for someone I had known for so little time. This was killing off any feelings that had been growing as I started to worry that it was all too much. This guy was not in anyway a grown up version of the one at all!

The next bit of pressure was holidays. He seemed to want all my holidays to revolve around his family across the pond or to be taken in the south of France, my wanderlust for the world was disregarded as risky or expensive, he was not capable of spontaneity which is fine, there will be someone else out there that needs just that, but I’m a creative mind, it needs to be fuelled with wonder. He started applying pressure for me to book time off, save up a few grand just so we could go stay on the outskirts of a city in America where I’d never ever wanted to go, dragging my daughter with us as if this was some sort of treat when in fact for her that would have been awful. She is nervous around new people at the best of times, he actually suggested to save some money that she could stay in his brother’s apartment whilst we stayed in a nearby hotel. He just didn’t seem to get that for a child who would at that point be only 14 and a diabetic struggling with lots of little things, this would push her over the edge. The amount of times I hinted at that and he like the true sales person “overcame my objections” as if he was simply trying to placate a customer complaint led me to almost give in, it continued even after I told him straight. Why could he not understand that a holiday for me and my daughter would be about our needs and anyone else would come second? Had we not earned our right to be happy?

Then the comments on my parenting started to happen. I count myself as lucky. I am close to my daughter and cliche though it may sound we are more like sisters. She can be a bit thoughtless sometimes, yes she’s a teenager, (I can also be a pain) but actually she’s pretty damned awesome. I do not deal with the nightmares that some have to deal with, I am a very very lucky girl. So comments around me allowing her to add wash out colour to her hair, listen to heavy metal or watch TV programmes that I feel she is emotionally mature enough to watch were not in any way welcome. I was here doing my best, in my way, this was not his place! Plus his hints at how he could be a better replacement dad than her own father. This was not on.

There were lots of other little things. The life decisions he suggested he would be making for us. The lack of time to myself. Every time he worked at my office he would stay over, which was great at first but then it became a habit. The insistence that I should take lunch with him if he was working in my office. The insistence that he would leave at 4 and therefore so should I, even though my body clock was programmed for later in the day and I actually did better work at night. I saw my flexi sapped, my work suffer and my space gone. The suggestion that it would be great if my ass got a little bit rounder, it was okay to put on weight, No! my Body! my Life! It was all too much!

I realised that actually I could not pretend to be happy for the sake of another, he was killing me with kindness, killing me with control.

So I drove to his, 50 miles away as I felt I really owed him as much as to end it face to face. I turned up… he answers the door dressing gown over clothes really unaware, in spite of my warning message, phone calls to warn that I think he’d ignored. I was doing the right thing. I sat down nervous. I blurted I couldn’t do it. I explained I’d been getting more depressed again which was true. I explained I couldn’t be the person he needed, true. He bargained. I felt so guilty. He just wouldn’t have it, we agreed a two week break, it wasn’t what I wanted. The messages were pleading and I really couldn’t cope. I think I asked him to stop. I just wanted him to understand there was no going back. I could not be the woman he had in mind. I could not change again, loose myself after all I had done to regain myself. He just couldn’t understand.

After the two weeks we met, it was horrible, he was angry I hadn’t changed my mind. He bargained again and I stood my ground. He offered me help with my mental health, I wasn’t going to take that from him. I felt rightly or wrongly that is was his way back in. I needed a clean break. I needed freedom. I needed my own company, I needed my daughter. I needed myself back. I offered his gifts back, he told me to keep them. I gave the bracelet to charity, I explained they should be able to get something for it, at least it went to a good cause. I told him he could keep the Chromecast I had lent him and the almost new IPhone that I’d paid at the time a fair bit of cash for… his reply “damned right I’m keeping those”. So there we go… after the killing me with kindness, the control through niceness his true colours shone through with the offer of an IPhone… he perhaps could have just said thank you…