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My mother told me that when I meet someone I like, I had to ask them three questions:
 

  1. What are you afraid of?
  2. Do you like dogs?
  3. What do you do when it rains?


...of those three, she says the first one is the most important. “They've got to be scared of something, everybody is. If they aren’t afraid of anything, then they don’t believe in anything, either.”

I met you on a Sunday, right after the concert, one look and my heart fell into my stomach like a trap door.

On our second date, I asked you what you were afraid of. “Spiders, mostly. Being alone. Little children, like, the ones who just learned how to push a kid over on the playground. Oh and space. holy shit, space.”

I asked you if you liked dogs. "I have three.” I asked you what you do when it rains. “Sleep, mostly. Sometimes I sit at the window and watch the rain drops race. I make a shelter out of plastic in my back garden for all the stray animals; leave them food and a place to sleep.”

He smiled like he knew. Like his mum told him the same thing. “How about you?”

Me?

I’m scared of so many things. Of forgetting. Of people not knowing the true me. Of the hole in the o-zone layer, of the lady next door who never smiles at her dog, of not knowing enough, or knowing too much and especially of all the secrets the government must be breaking it’s back trying to keep from us.

I love dogs so much, you have no idea. I sleep when it rains. I want to tell everyone I love them. I want to find every stray animal and bring them home. I want to wake up in your hair and make you shitty coffee and kiss your neck and draw silly stick figures of us. I never want to ask anyone else these questions ever again.

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Not much else to add to this fabulous talk by Brene Brown when she talks of showing up. Here's to my fellow arena go-ers because "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyhow" ....

 

 

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It’s a funny thing - this internal divide between intellect and emotion, like a dance between two enemies which is mildly erotic but something that you feel, ever so slightly, embarrassed to be witnessing.
 
It’s taken me to middle age to realise that this journey is, I think, never ending. I have waxed the intellect side of things - consciously understanding and allocating experiences into little tick boxes - something learned - tick; something experienced - tick; something to do - tick; some more work to do on myself - double tick. The emotional side of things is far less chartered territory and much rockier too. But recently - this year mostly I admit - its been an arena that I’ve had to be in, I gave myself no other option - there really is only so long that you can happy away a burning topic and frankly, when you decide to live life authentically it doesn’t really make any sense to turn away, although admittedly its easier to do so.
 
I believe that life offers us the opportunity to lean into and learn from the changes and, when I’m being brave I do that, lean in that is.
 
And so this journey, this recent interlude has led me to feeling a deep sadness that has underpinned so much. For someone who can happy away most days and deeds this is a tough path to tread. You see intellectually and on paper my life is just all that - smiles and freedom, choice and happiness, luck and laughter - and it is, for the most part. There’s not a moment I’m not grateful for everything that my life choices come to show - even now when its so hard and treading water seems more like manovering through molasses. I know it will pass, things will shift and lightness will return but in the meantime do I just sit here - with a mouth full of teeth - without words on my lips? Because that’s what it feels like. It feels like if I open my mouth the tears come out and whilst I’m never adverse to a good cry practically prevails and work must be done!
 
I saw someone earlier this week …. I had no idea why I was seeing her, again I was led in that direction by a deep sense that I needed her. I’m not someone who asks for help and it’s deeply uncomfortable for me to do so but it didn’t seem like help at the time. I sat down, she held my hand and I let it go. The deep sense of sadness and loneliness, oh the loneliness seems crippling. How can someone, me, who has so much love and so much attention and so much so much so much feel so lonely …. all the time - even when I don’t really feel it, does that make any sense at all?
 
Writing has, for me, always been an outlet but recently the words don’t come - the intention is there but the words are stuck in the space between what I know and how I feel. And even now writing these words I feel like someone elses' hands are typing the letters - I can see them moving, I can hear me breathing, I can see myself sitting here but it all just seems like a version of me?
 
And in all of that, in all of the sadness, I still have a deep sense that everything will be ok. I’ll go home, I'll park the car, the dogs will welcome me like their very breath comes from me, I'll take in the garden and her generous beauty, I'll know I'm safe and loved, my house will share her small sweet smile, wrap her arms around me and say, again ‘"everything will be ok in the end, if its not ok, it’s not the end."
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Do you ever just react? Not a moment passes before you’re into the swing of things. Everything is happening and you only catch up with yourself sometime later?


Well I do and it happened today. I really don’t know where it came from, I still can’t explain what triggered the outburst but it was right there under the surface, it’s the only way I can explain that, within a nano second I was in pieces watching myself as pure emotion charged the situation.


As with anything, I guess, once the moment has passed, and invariably it is just a moment, I withdraw to lick my wounds and wonder what I was thinking; well clearly I wasn’t thinking! I’m not big on those type of moments - I’m far too measured and controlled to feel comfortable in the centre of crazy but there it is - there I was.


I think these moments just feel too raw; being in control and calm (sometimes even only on the outside) is safe-ville, a far cry from crazy-central! But what I do know is that it’s also just not always real.


This quote, from The Velveteen Rabbit, came into my stream of consciousness the other day and it made me stop to take in again.


“He said, “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand”


I like the concept that as we grow into ourselves the pretty exteriors or the facades are no longer of any consequence - it seems kind and gentle to believe that, as we grow we leave behind the nonsense and take only that which grows us. Becoming real is taking me a long time.

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I have loved an addict for many years now and this article (Johann Hari, author of 'Chasing the scream, the first and last days of the war on drugs) really resonated with me. I’ve spent hours of my life trying to understand - when I chose to stay with him I chose to understand him which, considering we often don’t know ourselves too well, is a big task to undertake.


I’ve read and written, cried and begged, cursed and prayed and that was just one morning of one day. But it’s been worth it. It’s been worth every tear shed and letter written. Every night I’ve cried myself to sleep and every morning I’ve sworn that I couldn’t do it anymore. Its been worth it because we’ve both grown. We’ve understood how much we’ve hurt each other, and ourselves, but we held hands anyway.

And now, it’s quiet, calm and ever-so-excitingly promising and I even dare to believe that it’s going to just get better. Why? Because it does.

When you sink your teeth into a hard task you feel, when you start, that you’re just never going to make it. Your muscles ache and wobble and cry out in pain but - as long as you don’t give in - those muscles strengthen, the crying abates and where there was despair you find hope.

The Johann Hari article is beautiful - long but so daringly and caringly written it can only make you stop and think about your own life. Because whether we care to admit, or not, we’re all addicts in some form or another.

Some of our addictions are accepted by society - those who work 14 hour days are revered as successful; people who nip and tuck the barest sense of a wrinkle are poster-children for what we should all look like; stressed children are paraded around as examples of what happens when hard work starts early. Call it what you like but, as this article, says "The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live -- constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us."

We were the lucky ones - we had an addiction that wasn’t accepted by society so we had to make a decision - let that become our life story or embrace the journey but journey on. We chose the later and it has made all the difference.

"Loving an addict is really hard. When I looked at the addicts I love, it was always tempting to follow the tough love advice doled out by reality shows like Intervention -- tell the addict to shape up, or cut them off. Their message is that an addict who won't stop should be shunned. It's the logic of the drug war, imported into our private lives. But in fact, I learned, that will only deepen their addiction -- and you may lose them altogether. I came home determined to tie the addicts in my life closer to me than ever -- to let them know I love them unconditionally, whether they stop, or whether they can’t."

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