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The Girl with the Daffodil Tattoo

A Welsh girl let loose in a wild world

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Health and Fitness

Imaginary Friends

Humans are meaning-making creatures. One of the ways we do this is by projecting different parts of our personalities on to each other, on to animals and objects, and on to figments of our imagination. So yes, imaginary friends are imaginary, but also real, because they represent real parts of you. My late father could not bear to feel vulnerable, so when you asked him how he was, he always said “fine”. If you wanted to know how he really was, you asked him how the dog was. He would then tell you something like: “Oh, the dog’s depressed since I broke my hip.” The part of him he could not recognise in himself he projected on to the dog.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/shortcuts/2017/dec/12/struggling-to-express-your-feelings-get-an-imaginary-friend

Sometimes I feel like this blog is my imaginary friend, like a mirror in the intersectional labyrinth between who I am, how I think and feel, and how I behave.

I watch shows like Broad City and listen to podcasts like Guys We Fucked and imagine that those characters are my friends too. I wish I could be more like those people. They seem to fuck up a lot less than me, be a lot less angry.

I was an angry kid and I’m an angry adult. My anger often protected me, gave me the quick energy I needed to escape difficult situations. I often remember visualising swallowing my anger, wrapping it up in a tight little ball, and imagining it as a nuclear reactor, giving me the energy to keep doing what I wanted to do. As a grown woman trying to “adult” on a daily basis, this coping mechanism doesn’t serve me anymore. When a male acquaintance sexually attacked me, and I freaked out, I looked like the aggressor.

Hindsight is 20-20.

One of my favourite writers, Roxanne Gay, says that writing is a form of therapy for her. My own therapists approves of me writing, which is heartening, as I tend to avoid things that make me cry, like yoga.

I used to do yoga and meditate a lot, but when my mother started to die, and for the year after her death, standing still in any form let the tears bubble up. I would wake up in the morning, brush my teeth, make a cup of tea, and then do what I called a “power cry”, which was set an alarm for 30 minutes and just cry and cry and sob and sob and scream and punch the bed. I did this for probably about a year in total.

I think that if it hadn’t been for my ex and the care he took of me at that time, I might have actually ended up being sectioned/committed. I was unable to function. My ex didn’t “love” me, which I actually realise now was actually a life saver. When people love you, their natural instinct is usually to fuck you up accidentally, like doing things for you you could do for yourself (known as “enabling”) or guilt tripping you (“if you loved me you would quit drinking”) which actually makes you worse.

Original podcast can be found here, around minute 43.

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Abusive relationships: The “best” friend

I’m not sure if abusive relationships are common or if there’s something about me that attracts people in them.

My first contact watching my friend be abused was when I was around 17 or 18. My best friend was cool as shit, and I stuck to her like glue because I thought her coolness might rub off on me. I can see now that I had been jealous of her, that I had followed her. I didn’t see that at the time. I think my pattern is to follow. I tend to form friendships with gorgeous, intelligent women, and be her less attractive slightly geeky weird friend. I don’t know if that has to do with growing up the youngest of three sisters. I don’t know.

Anywho, her boyfriend and her were locked in a soap opera style off and on relationship. Things would be off, she would tell me (us) about what he had done this time, then things would be back on again. I suppose neither of them liked the chaos, but maybe it felt normal, maybe it gave them a rush. I don’t know.

The most recent time they had broken up, I had shared with my friend that I was glad because more than once I had felt uncomfortable around her boyfriend, like he was trying it on with me. A few weeks later, they were back on again, but the latest outrage was that he had text a message to her mum, a message that was meant for his friend, about how hot he thought her mum was. Then she said “What’s next? He’s going to try it on with my best friend?”. I must have said something at this point, mentioning about the time when he had tried it on with me. Maybe my face just said it all. And she said: “No, I meant Caz” (referring to our other friend who was present).

That was it. After that conversation we never really spoke again, although I contacted her recently to congratulate her on something I had heard had happened in her life. That was the first friend I lost due to “an abusive relationship”. My sponsor now says that, in her experience, friendships break down in these sorts of situations when the friend is judging, when the person in the relationship feels judged. I get that. I’m trying not to do that anymore.

I thought if I just said something (as was my duty as a friend, wasn’t it?) that my friend would stop getting hurt. I hated hearing about all the bad stuff that was going on.

I suppose that this friendship was due to end, as I had moved away and had started a life somewhere else. I still blamed the abusive relationship though.

My next experience with abusive relationships would come 4 years later. It was actually because of the abusive relationship that I met my friend. She is awesome and we still talk. There was a time when I needed to step away from the friendship for a while, as I couldn’t bear to witness her pain, to hear about the latest horrible thing that had happened. She was able to leave him when she was ready and now she is living happily every after and loving life.

I suppose that the only relationship where I’ve come close to allowing myself to be abused was when I became addicted to a guy, between the age of 19-22. I depended on him emotionally. I thought it was love. Days when I didn’t see him were days wasted. He was witty, intelligent, the life and soul of the party. People always said I was the male version of him. We were amazing together, ying and yang, soul mates… Things ended with him moving away and never answering my calls or contacting me, and then I found out through the grapevine that he was with someone else. I pined for him, for years. No one made me laugh like he did, no one…

I could tell more details of the sordid affair, but that’s beside the point. I lay down on the floor, and he wiped his feet on me. He was one of those amazing guys, you know? He had it all. Narcissistic, a liar, cheated on his girlfriends, and (I realised later) an alcoholic, and I lapped it up. Lap lap lap. Like a little cat. There’s a lot of alcoholics in my family and seemingly every guy I fall in love with I realise (after we’ve broken up) that he’s an alcoholic/problem drinker. While we’re together I’m like “I don’t count other people’s drinks” and then a year later I’m like “woah. That’s a lot of glass in the recycling. Shit. Lucky escape there”. The point is, he wasn’t an abusive guy. But if he had been, I would have been totally  trapped in that, because I was mad about him. It was a drug to me.

The most recent contact I’ve had with an abusive relationship has been my friend from high school. It was completely, spectacularly horrific, which is something she might say herself about it. Bruises. Police. Suicide threats.  Him claiming to be the victim. After it had ended, she told me all the signs were there, she told me that she felt like a twat for being “one of those people” who does all “those classic things wrong”, like a horror movie where your like “don’t go in to that house alone, no, no, silly bint! Stop!”…I tried my best to be supportive but in the end it was just too painful to hear about his next escalation after the big explosion. It went on for months and months after the relationship itself had ended, her trying her best but feeling completely chopped in half, him threatening to commit suicide, and every time she told me about it (she was going there as he was a suicide risk and his parents weren’t coming to take care of him, completely palming his care off on her) I felt like someone was stabbing me in the stomach. And it wasn’t even me it was happening to.

When it first happened, I called him. I wanted him to stop hurting her. I was desperate. I listened to all his lies about her calmly, all his justifications, just praying and hoping he would stop hurting her. My first instinct is to try to rescue, to try to fix, but that does not help anyone. She said “How can you even speak to him? Stop speaking to him”. I blocked him on WhatsApp, I stepped away.

In the end, after a few months, I had to let her know that I couldn’t hear about what was happening anymore. That it was too painful.  People want you to listen not to offer “solutions”. Ex boyfriend with a history of mental illness off his meds and threatening to jump out the window? Have you tried yoga?

And then, there’s the other side. My friend told me recently that she had smacked her boyfriend. I was completely shocked. She had mentioned it casually. I had often asked her if she ever wanted to hit her partner as it was something I had felt when I lived with my ex, for literally no reason. We weren’t even arguing I remember once, I was reading on the sofa. He came in and started watching something on TV, with his giant headphones, and I could literally hear everything. Every single word. And he’s there pissing himself with laughter, really enjoying this show, and I just had such an urge to belt him across the face. Of course I didn’t act on it, and I was surprised at my own dark desires, and I asked my friends who live with their boyfriends if that was normal. They told me it wasn’t. At that point I realised that if I lived with a partner again, I would need my own room, where I could close the door and no one would open it. I didn’t have a door growing up (long story) and I maybe I need a door. Maybe even a lock and a key.

But she told me she had smacked him across the face. That he had fallen asleep and that she couldn’t get in the house and…There’s a part of me that wants to talk to my friend about it. “I don’t think he remembers” she said, so alcohol was involved (Alcohol: why are you such a prick?). “Don’t do that again” I might say. Is it my place to do that? My sponsor says: “Be open. Ask open questions”.

I just don’t know what to do about life anymore. The older I get, the less the world is making sense, the more I want to go and live on an island, as if everyone else was the problem and not my own reactions. I’m starting to become convinced that men and women living together in a romantic relationship is just one option and that for me it might be better to live with a group of friends, me helping them to raise their kids, that the whole idea of the nuclear family is a product of the industrial revolution and capitalism, meaning we share less and buy more, and I just want to take a bunch of good people and go live somewhere in peace and harmony, no more pain and suffering, no more violence. Hopefully the feminist old women’s home will work out, where we can all knit sanitary towels for girls in developing countries and compare tips on vibrators while we plot to invade Poland like the feminizis that we are.

I love my friends. They are all beautiful, incredible, vivacious women, so amazing each of them that I can’t get laid when we go out as I look less attractive standing next to them (remind me to get friends that no one fancies so I have a chance in this cruel, superficial world!). I hope when my time comes to be in a relationship that is abusive, they will… well, there’s nothing they will be able to do. You can’t save anyone except yourself. Adults make choices based on the options that they have, or those they believe they have. I’m glad I have a sponsor to point out options I never would have thought of by myself. It’s usually stuff like accepting lift as it is, accepting people as they are, and choosing what is best for me where appropriate. Let’s see if I have the courage to try them.

Abusive relationships: Am I an abuser?

I’ve never been in an abusive relationship, so maybe I’ve been the abusive one? It’s possible. Men get emotionally abused all the time but they can escape because they make more money and they’re not usually economically dependent on women. Also if they’re old they’re not ugly, they’re distinguished, so they’re less fucked when it comes to finding a new partner.

I like to think that I haven’t been the abusive one. When I was growing up, my mother had two modes with my father. There was tense silence or there was screaming. I still don’t know which was worse.

I was a little kid, and I heard and saw a lot of bad shit, but I don’t take sides any more. I will never know who was telling the truth about things (my mother went to the police station at least once, she started to give her statement when I was still in the room. I was very small, 7 years old or younger).

I vowed never to be abusive to partners, although I didn’t really know what abuse was, so I’ve probably done the arguing with someone until they get too tired and give up thing, the silent treatment thing, other manipulative emotional warfare tools.

I once punched my boyfriend in the balls so hard he vomited. Let me explain, let me explain.

I was 17. We were having an argument because my previous boyfriend’s family had suffered a horrific tragedy, and I had sent him a text message being like “Yo, that’s fucking shit. I’m really sorry”. He (my previous boyfriend) had  gotten drunk and had preceded to have a go at me in front of everyone at the party saying repeatedly: “I hope you kill yourself you twat”.

  1. What had happened to him and his family was truly terrible, and he was in the throes of grief. I think I wasn’t upset but I just left the gathering. This was over 10 years ago now so I don’t remember what I did in response.
  2. I added “you twat” because I thought it sounded better. He didn’t actually say that. He just said “I hope you kill yourself” over and over. Much more boring really.

My current boyfriend is walking me home, but giving me the silent treatment. Then he says something like: “Don’t you think you should’ve told me when you contacted your ex?”. I can’t really remember the rest of the argument, but I was like “Fuck off, don’t walk me home, fuck off”, so I must have been thinking “You don’t control who I speak to”. I think the argument was pretty heated, and I wanted him to leave me alone. He said “What would you do if someone attacked you?” and I said “This”.

I then preceded to “pretend” to punch him in the balls but unfortunately I actually connected with his testicles and the next thing I knew he was vomiting at the side of the road.

It was a complete accident. It fills me with great sadness to think that  I’ve never punched any men in the balls who actually deserve it, like when they were exposing themselves to me, following me home, calling me a “slut” because I didn’t fancy them, tried to grab me and get me in to their cars, men who’ve followed me to the bathroom to catch me on my own, men who’ve rubbed their junk on my leg while partner dancing, men who’ve stuck their finger in my arm pit to try and drag me away from my friends.

But don’t worry. There’s still time.

Cold relief

Hot Liquids

Hot liquids keep you hydrated and soothe a sore throat. Try boiling water and adding ginger, lemon and honey.

Steam

Steam can help reduced congestion. Try a hot shower or bath.

When I arrived in a tropical country with a cold, and within 24 hours it was gone. I believe that the temperature of the surroundings helped my body to kill the bacteria. I’m seriously craving a sauna here but I can only seem to find gay sex ones.

Exercise?

One thing that really gets me down when I have a cold is my lack of activity. I love to sing, dance, and generally potter merrily, but when a cold hits: BOOM. I stay in bed more, and so I feel down.

According to some sources, exercise is OK as long as you don’t have a chest infection etc. I loved this infographic about exercising while feeling unwell. Seeing as my job involves a lot of physical activity (I work with children most days), I’ll count that as my exercise!

Productivity: Tips for Working at Home

To Done Lists

Sometimes I’m at my computer for an hour and I think, what have I achieved? I’m getting nowhere. This is stupid! I should just go do something else…

Keeping a To Done List is a great way to see what you have done in a certain amount of time. I like to keep mine in a simple Google Drive Spreadsheet. Then I sit back and survey all I’ve achieved in the past hour, before taking a well earned break!

Phone on Flight Mode

Like a lot of people, I depend on my smart phone. Putting it in flight mode when I’m not expecting calls or messages allows me to avoid being distracted by notifications (I can’t bear knowing I have a new WhatsApp and not reading it!).

Stop “multitasking”

I can multitask, but I find it’s a lot more efficient for me energy wise to concentrate intently on one thing for a defined period. Changing from one thing to another means I have to warm up different parts of my brain, and uses my mental energy.

Install a Facebook news feed blocker on your browser

I’m currently trying out Detox. Liking it so far. Do you use one? Comment below.

Unsubscribe from emails

I’ve cleaned (and keep cleaning) my inbox with Rollup. It’s great as it allows you to simply unsubscribe from a bunch of stuff, and puts everything else into one email. Simple!

Sore Muscles

Bullet points from this Webmd article:
Work outs cause micro abrasions in muscles. Soreness after is a good sign.
DOMS= Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Warm up. Ease in to your exercises.
Cool down with cardio. That helps your blood stream take away the stiffness chemicals. Stretch. Stay hydrated.
Treatments: ice packs, stretching, massage, heat, ibuprofen
Do: be gentle with yourself. Your muscles are not as strong when you’re recovering.
Don’t: get discouraged

Hair care for swimmers

Protect

Change into swimming costume. When hair is dry, apply conditioner/coconut oil to the ends. Wet hair in the shower, so your hair absorbs normal water, rather than chlorinated water. Plait so you can fit it in to a swimming cap.

Condition

Add a few drops of argon oil to your conditioner for super silky hair. I apply conditioner to my hair, then wash my swimsuit with shampoo, leaving the conditioner in my hair for longer (chlorine can make your swimsuit disintegrate really fast!).

Sore Muscles

Bullet points from this Webmd article:
Work outs cause micro abrasions in muscles. Soreness after is a good sign.
DOMS= Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Warm up. Ease in to your exercises.
Cool down with cardio. That helps your blood stream take away the stiffness chemicals. Stretch. Stay hydrated.
Treatments: ice packs, stretching, massage, heat, ibuprofen
Do: be gentle with yourself. Your muscles are not as strong when you’re recovering.
Don’t: get discouraged

Swimming

I’ve gotten really in to swimming recently, so here’s a collection of bits and pieces that I’ve found useful in swimming training.

Freestyle/Breastroke/Nado de pecho

General tips:

Common mistakes:

Drills:

1) Catch up

–every six kicks, pull with one arm. 123456 pull breathe

–single arm variation 123456 pull (left) breathe. 123456 pull (left) breathe.

2) Kicking on the side.

–1234 breathe to the side

— changing variation 123456 pull. change sides.

Flip Turns/Virajes

Practicing part 2 first

1.go down, push off from back, face up

2. go down, sitting position, push off, go onto side (kicking is ok)

3. go down, sitting position, push off, side, front, start swimming

Drills

2 somersaults in a row, feeling momentum, learning how not to come out of the somersault too quickly

Dry Land Exercises

1) straight leg kicks (hands under butt)

2) crunches in pilates 100 position

3) sit ups, but with pilates 100 position

4) side sit ups

5) toe touches

6) Lie face down. lift opposing arm and leg

7) Plank

8) Crab

9) yoga push ups: Downward dog. Plank. Cobra.

Hair

Apply coconut oil to hair. Wet hair. The hair will then absorb water, minimizing chlorine damage.

http://www.livestrong.com/video/1009702-put-swim-cap/

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