Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Save you.

Get healthy, but don't think having the perfect body save you.
Buy a new dress, but don't think possession of pretty things will save you.
Learn to drive, but don't think running away will save you.
Get an education, but don't think knowledge will save you.
Breathe in an old book, but don't think history will save you.
Enjoy nature, but don't think flora and fauna will save you.
Nourish yourself, but don't think a superfood will save you.
Be creative, but don't think art will save you.

Love and be loved, but don't think love alone will save you.

Because the thing is, the only thing that can save you is something currently within you. The only person who should get to save you is yourself. The only person who can save you is yourself.

I don't think I ever really believed that I could be saved, but I definitely never believed that somebody would want to save me. Why would they? Still though, I expected some sort of epiphany. Some sort of moment, the kind that I'd immediately recognise... and ta-dah, I'd be fixed. In my darkest days, I waited for someone to say something that would make everything click, or for someone else to teach me how to escape the hole I'd dug for myself.

That didn't happen. Of course, that didn't happen.

I don't think I believe in broken/fixed any more. I don't really believe in a state of 'recovered', I believe instead in an ongoing lifetime 'recovery'. I always thought the idea of not being fully saved or recovered was really depressing, but it's really not. It's pretty cool. And I don't want anyone else to get to say that they rescued me, because I'm determined to do it myself. There are a world of people behind me, working with me, but I'm ultimately in control.

Saving myself began with not wanting anyone else to get the credit of having saved me. And that's what did it. When I decided I no longer believed in being saved, when I stopped waiting for other people to save me, I began saving myself. I don't need a hero, because I'm my own hero. There will never be a time when I am 'saved' there will just be decades longer of me saving myself.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Social media stalking.

I'm always unsure quite what the reasonable amount of facebook/twitter stalking is and how much to really admit to. I mean, it's probably best that you don't consider the social media your job unless you're earning from it. And you maybe don't tell the girl you worked with years ago that you stalk her because she has a really ugly baby (I try really hard to be a good person, but then I see an ugly baby and can't look away). What about, though, if the person whose profile you like to keep up to date on belongs to somebody who seems to somehow inspire you?

Apart from the old ugly baby mama, I generally just stalk people I admire. Not in a creepy way, mind, but purely in a 'look at you now!' sort of a way. Bear in mind a good portion of my friends have/have had mental health problems- whether they're online friends or from admissions- which makes me even more impressed to see their achievements. I know that viewing people through social media is to view them through a filter, but even with that in mind, a lot of my friends from those ill days have done amazingly. I'm pretty proud.

That's mostly facebook, though, because I don't really add or accept friend requests from people I don't know. On twitter, I'm even worse because I follow all manner of wonderful people. For a while, I followed people who riled me up, because in the way that some people work best under presssure, I work best under outrage. It's why I studied politics. I thrive on being het up and ready for a fight. I am from Scunthorpe, after all. I quickly realised that anger that can't be rained onto the right people ends up splashing all over people who don't deserve it. So I stopped. And I started following only people who truly interest or inspire me.

It makes social media a lot more rewarding if you know you're going to pop on to see your feeds full of people who make you happy. Whether it's pictures of your friends with their families, or people talking about fun days and achievments, or sharing funny stories or whatever, it's pretty great. Not that my feeds are exclusively full of unreserved joy. But what marks out the people on my feeds from people I've unfollowed on any site, is general optimism. Not every day is great, not every thought is inspiring, not every thing is happy. Some times, things suck and everything goes wrong. But there's potential. There's always potential for better.

But anyway, back to the idea of how much to admit to. Sometimes, I want to throw my (virtual, sure) arms around someone and tell them how proud I am of them, how much they push me, how much they entertain and inform me.

But that'd be a bit creepy, I'm sure, so just assume that I'm cheering you on and I think you are very, very incredible.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Scars and the truth.

My arms are quite badly scarred. Because I'm quite (read: very) pale, I sort of pass for not having been a self harmer. My scars have almost all faded to bright white, and my arms aren't a great deal more pigmented than that anyway, so they're not the first thing people hone in on. The sun makes them more obvious because I burn really easily, but most of the time, they're quite insignificant.

Of course, most people know. From strangers in the street who spot them and give me pitying looks (don't pity me, I swear I'm good), to my loved ones who have heard the stories, most people have a pretty good idea what caused them. There were only ever two people who were really important to me who didn't know how the scars came to be: my two youngest cousins.

A lot of my worst scars were created around the same time, and I always kept them covered. It wasn't until I got a really nasty infection and almost lost my lower right arm that they were really made obvious. For months I had my arms bandaged to prevent further infections and it was then that my youngest cousins, who at that point would have been 7 and 10, started asking questions.

The story I told them was that I was getting something out of the oven and oil splattered up my arm, causing burns. The cuts I had were 'random drunken accidents'. It was all said in a flippant tone and with a roll of my eyes to make them laugh, and that was that.

It's not so easy, of course, to explain away scars to older people. And I never really cared to try. I protected my cousins from the truth because they weren't old enough really to understand, but I never felt the need to lie generally. My family are brilliant in that they've never avoided talking about things, and during my hospital years, both of the cousins I'm talking about came to visit me fairly regularly. I adore those kids. I would do anything at all to protect them. And now they're almost 12 and almost 15 and I still would. But I'm learning they don't need the protection they once did.

The older of the two worked out what the scars were a few years ago. I'm not sure whether she was told, worked it out herself or whether I inadvertently told her myself, but she knows. She also knows she can ask me anything and I will not lie to her. She's the kind of almost-woman who has more kindness and emotional maturity in her at 14 than I could ever hope to have, and who can't stand to see somebody hurt. She's a listener, a thinker. She is one of my favourite people, my little almost-sister, who has had to step in as the big almost-sister to me too many times.

Her younger brother is more like me. He's a performer, the life and soul, but also far more emotional and caring than he usually lets people know. He's the kind of person who will try and fix a problem through laughs and takes on so much pressure to be a certain way without ever letting anyone know. He's an enigma with a golden heart, and not at all what people would expect. He's also one of my favourite people. He's also growing up.

Last week, he asked me how I'd really got my scars. And I knew. I knew that he knew. At the time, we were all sprawled out in his garden and I told him that if he really wanted to know, I'd tell him another time. I bought myself a few days to think about how to broach it, but in the end decided that from the way he asked me, he knew and that I wouldn't lie to him.

As ever, he surprised me. This weekend, I explained that I'd done them to myself, and he asked why. I gave him the extremely sanitised version because there are some things no 11 year old is ready for, and he asked if that's why I was in hospital so long. So I told him it was. He looked at me and just sort of went, 'you've had a bit of a messed up life, haven't you?' and we both cracked up.

I am beyond proud of my cousins. Beyond. I don't know that I'd have been so mature and smart at their ages. And I'm beyond grateful to their parents, because kids that brilliant don't just happen. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Authority.

I spent most of my life being low key rebellious. Sure, it started with taking the sharpest pencils from the pot in primary school and squireling them away from the rest of the kids, but I like to think I got a bit more hardcore during my 12 years of schooling. Really though, I just skived a lot during my last few years of school (I once missed 16 GCSE French lessons in a row. I'm still pretty proud of that) and I had a right mouth on me (shocker, I know). Truth be told, my rebellions at school did stay very low beneath the radar. Truth be told, I suppose they mostly did at home too.

I lived with domestic violence from being 8 until I was 15. Nobody knew what happened in that house, apart from those who lived there. My life was extremely well controlled and governed by rules that I understood. I knew how to keep my head down. I knew what I had to do to survive and to just live just crisis to crisis. I was contained. I was a pressure cooker. I was a disaster waiting to happen.

And that pressure cooker exploded the day we left, my 15th birthday. Overnight, the rules to my world disappeared and I lost my inhibitions. Some needed to be lost- I stopped caring what people thought of my clothing choices and how I spoke and what I said. I stopped taking crap from people, full stop. I just didn't care at all. Other inhibitions I lost are ones we have for a reason- I took stupid risks and did all manner of dangerous things.

I craved attention in the years after we left, because I'd gone from living under so much scrutiny and control to not really understanding my place in the world and feeling invisible, and that made me... flighty. I was like a helium balloon cut free and 10 years down the line I'm still learning the self restraint people usually learn in their early teens.

Of course, we all know what happened when I took one too many risks: I ended up in hospital too many times, and eventually I ended up in longer term. From being told it was likely I'd be in for 18 months right up until my discharge, which came much later than 18 months later, my life was back to being controlled by someone else.

It might have been with different intentions but it sent sirens blaring and panicked me more than anything had in the last several years. The larger choices in life were taken away from me, as I was forcibly detained, and the small things, the things I could control, were analysed- what I wore, how much I swore, how much Pepsi Max I drank (I swear, at this point my blood is made of the stuff). So I rebelled. And those rebellions are probably a good part of why I was in for so long.

I'm getting better with authority, but I still struggle when the authority comes from men. It's funny, because when a person says they're afraid of spiders because of the massive ones on the other side of the world (Australia: I'm looking at you), that's pretty universally respected. But when a person says they're afraid of men or of being controlled, it's dismissed off the bat. Not all men, not all men, is all we hear. Well not all sharks bite people, but swimmers still leave the ocean when one arrives.