Dance Partners

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We are dance partners; yet we have never met.

We skit and flirt at the lowest of times and decide if we will ever meet for real.

I toy with the likelihood of our paths crossing ever happening. Who it will affect most, what impact it would have. If assumptions will be made. Assumptions are made to soften our own inability to comprehend the incomprehensible.

It’s on the rise, ‘they’ will say. They were always too emotional, too weak, too sensitive, as if it was bound to happen one day. It’s a trend, it’s the rise of the internet, it’s the pressure of modern day living, they were damaged, they were too much of a thinker, an analyser, a middle child. Labels without value.

You are always the last resort, the back-up plan, you’re supposed to be a comfort; to know there is an out, a final point, a conclusion to the circus of thoughts in my mind.

Yet I cannot be that desperate, as we have not yet met. I think of those it would hurt the most and I don’t want to be responsible for causing such pain, some would never heal. I think secretly some would be relieved, as if they didn’t know what to do with me in the first place and therefore, they are freed from the burden. There is also a dark part of me that thinks it would teach some a lesson. How awful of me. Such deep shame.

In some ways I crave the peace you would give me, a serenity that I have not found, yet. Though I know there are other options, a grey area in the middle. I know what would be advised, decisions to make, changes to implement, but they would involve a strength and energy that I don’t know if I have left, or can even muster.

So, nothing has happened, as yet. We meet once in a while, continue our dance, we toy with the notions, the ideas, the likelihood. Mostly you disappear fast and let me carry on as I am. Until the next time. Then it all begins again.

The Hidden Truth

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How do I feel? I feel lost, I feel alone, I feel confused, I feel exhausted, I feel angry, I feel unwanted, I feel livid, I feel unloved. I feel invisible.

All of these things are rushing through my body at the same time, all fighting for dominance; and yet the world expects me to be okay. I’m still meant to put on a brave face and hide how I really feel from the world. I am still expected to wear the mask that I have perfected over the years. The mask of a person who is coping with life, a person who isn’t phased by what life throws at them.

But it is all a lie.

I’m not coping, I simply pretend that I am. The people who are aware that I am struggling aren’t truly aware of how much. They don’t know the true extent of my struggle, of my depression. No one does. I have many masks for many different people. None of which are my true face. Only I can see behind the masks. Only I can see the truth staring back at me in the mirror.

The girl who is old before her time.
The girl without hope.
The girl who is barely recognised.
The girl who is me.

Mr Right

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I think about him all the time. I spiral into thoughts of ‘what if we were together?’. I tease myself for a while until I pull out of my reverie as I know building a fantasy in my head leads to heartache. I knew I liked him a while ago but I had already decided to leave and move home. What’s the point in getting involved with someone before I leave right? I’m not looking for a long-distance relationship. So we stayed friends and I kept my feelings to myself.

I had a great farewell but feel as though I missed an opportunity to say a proper goodbye to him.

Would I be missing him so much if there was someone here for me? If there was someone who caught my eye and occupied my time and attention like my thoughts for him do. If so, would I even think of him again as more than a good friend?

Lost in another daydream I wonder if he feels the same way. Going over previous conversations, messages and interactions I start analysing if I had already started building my fantasy back then. Were some of the moments we had as special for him as they were for me? What if I wasn’t so closed off. What if I had let him in? Where would our friendship be now?

I get a text. It’s him. My heart skips a beat. He mentions he had a soft spot for me. That’s all the confirmation I needed. I wasn’t imagining it. I’m glowing.

Now what? Do I continue to tease myself and go down the road of seeing where it goes in the hope he might move here one day or do I get on with my new life and be open to someone new. Do I want him just because I can’t have him? I’m tired with the questions that roll around in my mind and the pangs in my heart that yearn to be with someone. I wish I had Dumbledore’s pensive to drop my thoughts and emotions into. Hello, feelfivefundred. I release the endless questions, encounters and mind chatter, take a step back and watch them swirl.
There’s been a shift.
I can breathe again.

Days pass and the communication between us stops. I’m actually OK with this and he is obviously getting on with his life, as I am with mine. The obsession has subsided for now. I’m tired of my head games. Why do I make this so hard on myself? Why am I finding falling in love again so hard? Others make it look so easy.

I reflect on my newly discovered identity (my true Self) and realise that I’m better than these head games. I’m beautiful. I’m courageous. I’m confident. I’m creative. I have faith that if I continue to be Myself, I will find love with someone equally as worthy.

I’m here Mr Right. I’m ready.

My Struggle Within

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What did I do to deserve this? What did I do to make you not love me anymore? Why don’t you care? How could you abandon me?

These are the questions that I ask myself all day long, but the truth is I didn’t do anything, you never loved me – not really. I was never good enough for you, I was too independent for your liking. I reminded you too much of yourself and you didn’t like that. And when I started to want a life outside of you and your husband, that was the last straw for you. That’s when you both let the façade fall, so slowly at first that I didn’t notice and then you let it go entirely and we’ve ended up here.

At first, I was lost and confused – and in a way I still am – I couldn’t understand why you abandoned me, what I had done to drive you to make such a decision. I sunk further into the darkness that I had only just begun to dig myself out of.

But then I realised that it wasn’t me. It was all you. You’re the one who can’t get over past events, you’re the one who called me my father’s daughter in an attempt to wound me. But it only stoked the fire of independence burning inside of me.

I began to wonder how dare you do this to me? All I ever did was try to make you happy, my life revolved around you for 16 years. Now I see that was a waste of my time, I should have put my energy to better use. I shouldn’t have this many regrets at this stage in my life, after all, I was only a child back then – I wasn’t to know any better.

For so long I’ve blamed myself, wondered if I could have done something differently to make you stay, wondered what I did wrong, wondered what it was about myself that made you leave. But I’ve come to realise that it’s not me at all, it’s you. It always has been, right from the start.

You’ve systematically tried to separate me from the family, you’ve even turned my own brother against me. But what you don’t realise is that you’ve alienated everyone else in the process. You tried to isolate me and only succeeded in pushing me towards the people who really care about me.

And yeah, I’m lonely and struggling but I won’t let you win – because I’m a survivor.

Irresponsible Avoidance Parenting

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Why did you have us if you weren’t going to care? Was it just so you could become the image? Or did you really want us but you just didn’t know how to split your time? Didn’t know how much effort it would take?

It’s okay for me now, because I have figured out enough on my own. But what about him – he thinks he’s enjoying life but he doesn’t know how much he’s missing. He’s barely even opened the box. You’ve kept him there without even knowing you were, or what you were doing to both of us by not giving us boundaries. Not giving us boundaries meant for me I was always looking for them and for him, he could just carry on with his own self-indulgent existence. You have to ask him, nag him, demand him to take out the recycling for one time only and it’s the biggest inconvenience to him and his routinely planned evening. The recycling, for fuck’s sake. And you don’t even ask him, I do. Ask him to wash the dishes after dinner and he’ll huff and say he’ll do it when he’s ready. Ask him to wash the bathroom and he’ll say he can’t see dirt, even though the place is ridden with mould; green, black, and white mould. What the fuck? Why do you let him live that way? Why did you let me live that way? I’m not supposed to be the one instructing the rules onto a 30-year-old child.

He has a problem and I told you three years ago and I thought you listened to me because you nodded your head at me as if you knew I was right and you said ‘yeah, I know, I know’. But you didn’t want to know. You know there’s a problem but you’re avoiding it just like you avoid everything. Avoid deep conversations, that as it turns out could have been beneficial to me when I was too young to recognize that other children were getting maybe more information than I was. I had to figure it out on my own. Alone.

Maybe I’m being too harsh on you. Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me and you were there and you did tell me things, but I’ve just blanked it from my memory. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I’m making out. Maybe I am the guilty one. The one who needed you too much, was too fragile and needy that I couldn’t cope without you and you just had too much other stuff to do, so your capacity was all you could give but mine was still too empty; because I was needing too much.

Or maybe you just weren’t there. And now, years later I tell you I’m in counselling for cocaine, ecstasy, and one night stands, and you tell me not to be too high maintenance or my new saviour boyfriend might grow tired of me.

The Men You Are

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I miss the way you say my name, I miss the way you look at me. I miss the way you touch my arm, I miss the way we smile. I miss the way you make me safe, I miss the way you love. I miss the way it made me feel, and it to feel to me. I miss the way they happened, and I miss the way they’re gone. But most of all, I miss the way I was with you, the way I felt for me.

For me I was contented, in your loving arms. For me I was secured, in your loving arms. For me, I was established, in your loving arms.

For me I was myself, as much as I could be. For here I am again, thanks to you at last. But it’s different this time – for now I have a past. A past you have endured, unfair to you. A past you needn’t know, unfair to you. A past you could have left, as it’s really unfair to you.

The way you make me feel is then, before the past I have. The feelings of before the past, the past you came across. For what is different so, is more than what I was. For what is different so, is who I am because.

The power you have given me, is power once and more. The power you have instilled in me, is fire I adore. The power you have fueled in me, you have no idea. No idea in what you reached in me, deep, deep, in there.

For here we are again once more, but this time – it’s different; you are able, stable, resilient, and kind. You see me, believe me, let me be me, and more. Not like the others, who saw me but couldn’t teach me; fuel me and support me.

The me you have is different, to before the past. The me you have is different, to the past itself. The me you have is me today, the me you have is me today. The me you have is me today, and it is me that is because of you, okay.

Why do I rely so much, on having you to begin? Why do I rely so much, on having you to end? Why do I rely so much, on having you to start? I clearly needed you.

A Letter to My Younger Self

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You’ll grow up in the bosom of your mum’s affection.

Enjoy it, it will be a secure attachment for the next 30 years and beyond.

Your Dad will change from a gentle giant to a demanding disciplinarian. He’ll make you work hard and will have a cruel streak. He’ll expect high standards and offer little praise.

Don’t fret. His behaviour is not to do with you, it’s to do with issues arising from his own childhood, far deeper than anything you’ll have to confront in your life. Soon, you’ll be bigger than him, physically and emotionally. He’ll become inconsequential and when the time is right you’ll cut him loose. There’ll be an unexpected bonus from your Dads ways. The working world will be easy. You’ll wonder how you can get paid for what is a fraction of the effort required to work with your Dad. This work ethic combined with your mum’s emotional intelligence will serve you well.

You’ll be soft and compassionate by nature, like your mum. This will make life at school difficult, particularly primary and early secondary school. You won’t understand aggression and will be forced to tolerate it, until you can figure out what to do about it. Your gentle nature will also make you sensitive to your Dads behaviour. It will cause you to over-invest in friends who won’t invest in you. It will cause you to treat women with tenderness and respect but they won’t always see the value in that until much later.

You don’t realise it now but this is your greatest strength. Later in life, it will enable you to form many a loving relationship, mentor people to great feats and be a leader in almost every domain of your life. You’ll come to realise that strong is sensitive. You’ll learn to spread your compassion a little more wisely. There is only so much to go around, so you’ll learn to protect yourself a little better. Your relationship with women will change. They will come to notice your strength and sensitivity. This brings responsibility. They will be drawn to you in a way you are not drawn to them, be gentle with their hearts because one day you’ll wish someone was more careful with yours.

You’ll love sport. Rugby, gaelic football but in particular soccer. You’ll be of average talent. You’ll lack the aggression required for rugby and the skills needed to guarantee your place on the soccer field. This will play on your mind. It will be added to by puberty. No matter how many sit ups you do in your bedroom you cannot fight biology and so, until you grow tall, you’ll remain chubby as your Dad will remind you. This uncertainty about your athletic identity will be compounded by a younger brother full of the talent and aggression required for sporting prowess.

Your early days on the sporting field will be difficult but your love of sport will sustain you for the rest of your days. You and your friends will follow your sports teams around the globe. You too will become an athlete. In the autumn of 2003, with your mum’s encouragement you’ll go for a run with an athletics club. The main thoughts occupying your mind will be ‘how to keep up and not be embarrassed’. What you don’t realise is that this will be the first day of the rest of your life. You’ll become an athlete in a sport where your work ethic is rewarded. You’ll suffer many injuries but your perseverance will pay off. You’ll meet a mentor, an older man, who will become one of your best friends. He will be the first man in your life to tell you that anything is possible. You’ll believe him and with every step you run your confidence will soar. You’ll make a career in sport and understanding all there is to know about it. At times you will feel as though you are living your dream – you are, well done my resilient friend, well done.

In your late teens and early twenties, you’ll still feel a little at odds with the world. You’ll struggle when not surrounded by your tribe of hard working athletic friends. Working abroad you’ll wonder why you don’t want to go the pub with everyone else, every weekend. You’ll wish you could fit in a bit better but at the same time you’ll always feel compelled to choose the alternative path of your interests.

You are right and they are lost. They appear certain by the strength of their numbers. In reality, they crave, at least subconsciously, your hobbies, interests and passions. These aspects of your life are what keep you physically and mentally sharp. It’s hard being the odd one out but on a Sunday morning, look at yourself and look at them. I know which one you and they would rather be. Hold tight, being the odd one out is what will make you a great leader. Remember, although you see things clearly, they cannot, so be gentle. Give more and expect less of them and your friends. They have not yet had your good fortune.

You, your mum and your brother will become the 3 best friends that anyone could ever have and by the way, eventually those sit-ups will give you a six pack.

Aren’t you the lucky one – enjoy the rest.

This article has been published as over five hundred words, only because the author is exceptional.

Isolation

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To be alone, even when you’re not. To be trapped, even when you have choices. To be happy with your own company, even when it’s not sustainable.

Fireworks, friends, drinks. All the things happening outside of this space, the quiet and tranquil space I am occupying – of my choice. How times are different. Different, but somewhat the same. The same more recently, but vastly different from before. Development, change, metamorphosis. The process of change: adjust behaviours, adjust surroundings, adjust mentality. The problem: society.

Society believes in fun, reward, quantity. The society I am living in does, anyway.

Everywhere I look there are reminders of unfulfilled people trying to live fulfilled lives, but what they are is deluded and confused, not knowing what they don’t know. Not knowing that searching [aimlessly] and avoiding [pain] are causing damage to the unconscious anxieties. Not knowing that boundaries are stable, and boredom is progression, and routine is freedom. How dare you break free from us? How dare you demand difference? ‘You must enjoy life, you must be with people, you must be out.’ Well, to enjoy is in moderation, to be with people is to be understood, to be out is when it’s worthy.

To tell you “I am good” is telling you nothing at all. To accept it is showing me nothing. I might as well be confirming nothing but my existence unless you probe further or give me more. Shake me, awake me, tell me how you feel. Tell me anything; how you hate being the new girl at work, how you and your partner want to have a child soon, how you’re troubled in work, how you had a bad day, a great day, anything more than nothing.

You hear me talk but you don’t acknowledge what I’m saying. You heard me, I know you did because you asked a related question. Why can’t you acknowledge what I said? I know you care, you show me in other ways. But why can’t you acknowledge what I am saying now? Is it because it’s too foreign? Too far from where you wanted me to be? Too confronting for your own denial? Can you not feel my hurt? My confusion? Can you not tell I am standing here showing you the world I dreamt for myself isn’t here, that you dreamt for me? Why can’t you ask me how I am doing, with depth, with meaning, with force, with love? Ask me, even at all? You hear me talk, but you cannot respond. Not in the way I need, want, thought I had. It makes it clearer why I never told you anything, because you couldn’t respond the way I needed.

I am loved, I am surrounded, I am here. But, as I shake the earth I see who withstands the force; the structures of reliability tremor and I’m left to navigate the ruins. Searching for cover and somewhere firm to stand, with only few to console me, truly.

 

 

I am

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I am fragile but can be brash. I am sensitive but I confront. I am a product of excusing laziness. I have ambitious dreams but don’t attempt them. I am fearful of failure but fearless of pain. I compare myself to others. I feel the emotional weight from others. I have to put in effort to not be running late. I am loyal until you betray me. I am compassionate until I drink too much. I am thoughtful. I am scared. I enjoy luxury but I enjoy the small things more. I forgot that I like achievement. I forgot to try. I forgot about the small things. I forgot to have restrictions. I forgot to question. I forgot to answer. I forgot to challenge.

I forgot to dream.

 

Shelley

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I am so proud of you. You have no idea how stable you have been for me. When I was faltering, you were there and you continued as you were. You didn’t let me influence you, you didn’t let me drag you in. You let me be with you – escape with you. Thank you for that.

Thank you for still being there. Thank you for still trying with me, for still asking how I am.

I’m so proud of where you are, who you are, what you’ve become. You are so strong. You are so constant. Your curiosity and enthusiasm for life is contagious but what’s brilliant is you always stay who you are. I’m so excited to see what you create of your new life, and what you achieve. I know you are on to something great here, because I can see it in your being. You are right to follow your craft, for that is life – life is living – life is too short to not.

So here I am, blanching asparagus, sitting back and reflecting on everything you are, and everything you helped me be. Good luck my friend, and see you again soon.