Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Home




Being home for Christmas has been an amazing thing. I feel rested, calm, slightly bored, and a lot more at peace than I did before the break. 

The interesting thing about going home for Christmas though is how it makes everyone revert to their teenage selves. My older brother and I bickered over the TV remote, him insisting on watching Match of the Day while I was mid-Big Bang Theory. My younger brother spent time with friends he's known since the age of 5. We were all exposed to the local, small town, gossip mill. 

But while my brothers revelled in catching up with some of their oldest friends, but I actively avoided almost all contact with my former self.

I'm not the girl I was when I was in school. In fact, when I look at the one or two pictures of 16-year-old Alice I can find easily, I barely recognise her. She and I still wear the same size clothes (in fact, I still regularly wear a top I'm wearing in one of these pictures), our hair is not dissimilar, our smile is of course roughly the same- somewhat tentative, crinkle eyed, with that weird upper lip dimple- but there's practically an entire decade between us. A decade of change, of development, of joy and sadness and fear, and I'm just, quite simply, not her.

Why would I want to spend time with people who still remember me as that girl? Who have known me since before I knew myself?

In some ways, there is something immensely comforting in spending time with people who have known you for the best part of your life, and I do spend a lot of time with Z, my primary school best friend. But Z and I have spent time together throughout all of that change. We recognise each other as the adults we are now, not the girls we once were. 

(Though of course we still remember the times we dressed in matching outfits, or made up dance routines to Disney songs)

I feel this year has been a huge one in terms of development and change. Maybe more so than at any other time in my life. And you have, of course, read passages of that (and, incidentally, thank you to sticking with me through all of this. It does mean a lot). I no longer feel as though I really have to explain who I am to people. I no longer have the energy or inclination to spend time with people who don't make me feel good about myself. 

I'm at the point of welcoming the new year with open arms now. I have grand plans for this year. I'm still trying to work out the logistics of them, but I'm so excited to make the most of this year and to travel and visit new places and see old friends marry and make new friends and have new adventures. 

I'm going to use 2016 to find out more about myself- to take trips alone, to start a new job (I hope), to experience ALL THE THINGS. 

And while I'm so excited for the new, and to discover and dream and explore, I'm also happy to know that- despite hating being thought of as the girl I used to be- there is always a home for me here.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

A Growing Sense of Peace

Source
On Monday, I got home from work and promptly burst into tears. Big, heaving, heavy sobs, tears pouring down my face, leaving me unable to catch my breath. 

I cried for so many things. For angry comments aimed at me. For my friend leaving for a new job. For news which should have been good, but which really left me panicked. For everything that has happened this year, and the year before. For Christmas, for my family, for friends, for feeling lost.

After a while, I stopped. I picked myself up, I made myself supper, and I carried on.

Last night, I met my friend L to talk about something that happened to me seven years ago. And of course, we started by talking about everything that has happened to each of us recently. In fact, she greeted me with "Alice, it sounds like you've had a really, really heavy few months". And I filled her in, and she filled me in, and we talked about mutual friends and families and health and happiness, and laughing, I told her that in fact, it isn't just a couple of months or years of chaos- in fact, I think this is just my life. 

And I asked her Is this what life is? Periods of chaos and crap and everything being really dreadful, punctuated with little happy times?

Of course, I accepted that some of those happy times are longer than others, and of course, you could argue the opposite- that life is periods of happiness punctuated with little moments of chaos and crap. But I think accepting that things just kind of are like this, and that that is okay, makes things a little easier to deal with. 

This morning, I text M to wish him a Happy Christmas. He's heading home today. No one deserves a peaceful Christmas more than he does, and I needed him to know that I was thinking of him and wishing him well. And the fact that he replied within moments, and told me to have a great Christmas, and suggested a catch up in the new year... it made me feel more peaceful. It made it easier to accept things the way they are.

Because maybe life is just constant chaos punctuated by little moments of happiness. And maybe that's hard, and horrible, and difficult to accept. But maybe when you do accept it, you realise that it isn't altogether a bad thing. That maybe rolling withe the punches, rather than letting them knock you flat, is the only way any of us can get through the day to day. That happiness isn't something we should perpetually feel. That heartbreaks happen, and everyone leaves, and things are so so tough. But that these things make us stronger, and braver, and harder, yes- but also softer to those experiencing the things we've gone through.

Because that's all any of us want, isn't it? To know we aren't the only ones feeling what we feel? 

So yes. I'm feeling exhausted, and hardened, and battered and bruised and strong and weak and like there's actually a gaping hole at the bottom of my sternum... but there's a growing sense of peace within me too.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Hello

Found here

It's weird. At the end of November, I actually spent a few days writing in a notebook, instead of writing draft posts. Writing here stopped feeling safe. A couple of people from Real Life made it clear that they (or others they know well) read this space, and I suddenly felt frightened to post on here, in case someone pulled me up on it. 

But I decided that I prefer shouting into the void to writing in a notebook. And people who know me in real life and who aren't close friends, well, they can peek into my mind all they like. It's the burden of writing things on the Internet, I suppose. I'm just going to continue on as if I have no idea that anyone I know actually reads these words.


Mama came to visit at the weekend. And as she was leaving, she said "I hope you'll be okay". I asked her "Have I given you reason to believe I'm not okay?", and she kind of raised her eyebrows at me and said "I know you're getting there. But no, I don't believe you're completely okay just yet."

She was of course completely right, as mothers so frequently are. 

I'm okay. Sort of. And equally, I'm very sort of Not Okay.

As we all do, I have good days and bad days. I have days on end when my mind screams at me, or I constantly see things I want to share with someone I can't share with. When my heart ACHES, and it feels like I'll never feel like myself again. 

And other days, I feel whole, and well. I forget the various events of this year for hours at a time, I smile and laugh and sing and bake- that thing I haven't done for over a month while my heart knitted itself back together. 

Because my heart is- more or less- knitted back together now. It's raw, and the wound has a tendency to open when I pull at its edges, but it's getting there. And yes, a chunk of it is missing. And yes, this was perhaps one wound too many for this year- a year which has seen SO much change and SO much heartache for me, and for many people near to me- but that's okay.

In so many ways, I'll consider 2015 an absolute write off. But perhaps I'll also look back on 2015 as a time when I finally stood 100% on my own two feet. When I cemented some of my strongest, truest friendships, and when I found that I love so so so hard. As a year I learned to put myself first, and a year when another strong, but wounded, person also put me first, when neither of us wanted that. 

And maybe that's okay. Maybe those victories are enough.