Friday, 16 July 2010

Nostalgia and why shopping doesn't work like prozac.

Last night I had a really EDS-y dream. I don't know why, I wasn't particularly researchy before I went to sleep, but there I was in my dream, dislocating and falling over like the best of them. And so was everyone else. And then there was Peter Pan*, an old flame, and we were madly in love again apparently. And I hate to admit it, but it felt really nice. It felt really, really nice to be in-love and excited and nervous.

It's hard to explain, I've been feeling sad recently. Today is Mr Arienette's birthday. He's on his way home from drinks after work. We used to always take each others birthday's off work, we used to spend the day having fun and showering the birthday-person with love and attention and whatever they wanted. This year was our first year of birthdays post-baby. My birthday was awful, as documented. Mr A's won't be a whole lot better, but at least I went to the effort today of spending a few pounds and a few spoons picking him up some presents. Only some fun socks, a pair of cool boxers and some (really expensive) jellybeans, but hey, presents is presents, right? It's three pairs of socks, a pair of boxers, and two packets of jellybeans MORE than I got.

We've been married two years and together for three. Whenever people give me That Look I tell them 'You don't get married at 19 unless you really love someone or they're really rich. And he's not rich.' In a way, it's true. We love each other a ridiculous amount, but in three years we've dealt with so much. Huge mental health problems, an affair, unemployment, homelessness, physical ill-health, constant poverty, pregnancy, a baby... We both came into this relationship damaged, and we both work hard to repair each other, but there are parts of me which will never really be fixed. I'm chronically fucked up. I have such severe abandonment issues that if he gets more than 2 text messages in a row I'm convinced he's having an affair. I have spent the last three and a half years waiting for him to realise he can do better and leave me. I'm the one who cheated but yet he's the one who trusts implicitly, I'm the one who's jealous. Because I'm the one who's bored. He always wanted to settle down, get married, have babies. That wasn't even on my radar until I met him. I haven't worked since 2 months after we met, he's been mostly employed the whole time (barring about 6 months over two periods when job markets crashed and his career-field was shoving people overboard faster than they could take a breath) so he has had adult contact, he has a feeling of security and grown-upness. I don't. Because I don't deal with the money, I never know how much there is. Due to the way my family moved around when I was a kid and my parents leaving England to live abroad when I was 19, this triggers off REALLY terrible anxiety attacks and makes me feel so insecure. I am constantly waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me. Mr A is always trying to reassure me that things are fine, but then he'll come in and say 'Hey, can I used your account to pay the gas bill?' or I'll get a fucking summons notice for non-payment of council tax (it was a mix-up, but it nearly gave me a fucking coronary) and it makes me scared deep down to my core. If he leaves me, I'll be a young single divorced woman with a baby and no job skills or qualifications or family. It's a thought that makes me feel claustrophobic, like someone is putting a bag over my head. I can't even express how terrifying my position is. I am 22 and I haven't had a job since I was 18, and I've never kept a job longer than 2 months. Can anyone even comprehend how that, plus having a baby, will affect my chances of ever getting more than the most basic of employment? I'll never be able to fulfill my dreams of going to live in Australia because I couldn't take Beast so far away from her father. So I'd be stuck in England, with no connections, no family, no prospects. Terr. If. Eye. Ing.

So, why does all of this have the effect it does on me, which is to make me fantasise about going out like a single person again, and to go shopping? I couldn't tell you. I could hazard a guess that the fantasising is my way of working through the worst-case-scenario. I'll be on the bus or walking down the high street, mentally assessing my chances of getting every vaguely good-looking guy that walks past. Usually, they are slim-to-none. Babies are MASSIVE cock-blockers. Pushchairs turn you invisible. Every now and again when it's not IMMEDIATELY obvious that I have a baby with me I'll catch a guy paying a bit more attention to me and flatter myself that instead of being a creepy stalker perv, he COULD be into me, and by extending that line of thought I think that maybe, men that I'M into could be into me too** I have little daydreams about going out and getting a boyfriend, living the life of a young twenty-something like all my friends (when Beast is with her dad, of course) and it's nice for the three minutes when I suspend disbelief and make myself forget that I'm disabled, damaged, a mother, and not that attractive, especially with my post-pregnancy funbags. I don't have anything to recommend me that wouldn't be cancelled out by the problems. It all falls apart, this strategizing and damage-limiting. But I keep doing it, maybe in the hope that one day I'll convince myself that if he left, I would have a chance of being ok.

The shopping is harder to explain. Whenever my emotions get too extreme, I get compulsions to spend money. It doesn't matter what one, but the more extreme the emotion, the more I feel I have to spend. I'm getting better at calming it down. When I was pregnant barely a week went by when something didn't arrive in the post, and often it was multiple things a week. Now I only really have to do it when I'm anxious, although the urge is always there, under the surface. It especially pops up when I'm anxious about how other people see me. For instance, next week is going to be insane. We have a really important function for Mr A's work n the same day and Beast's first birthday party. We're attending the function but I have no idea what to wear. This may not seem like a massive issue, but it is to me. I hold this fundamental belief that if I just look right, no one will suspect that I don't belong. Every time I step into a new situation I wait for everyone to turn, look at me, and then cast me out with a quivering finger, screeching 'YELLOW SHOES?! GET THEE OUT!' My aim in life is to stand out just enough to not stand out at all. I want people to see a perfectly put together mask so that they don't probe any further and realise I am fundamentally broken at my core. So I will spend WEEKS trying to put together an outfit that says 'Look at me, I'm so stylish and so together. You can forget I'm here now.' and then hours on the day deliberating the outfit I've spent weeks on. I literally cannot just throw a t-shirt on. Every time I get dressed I think about what my clothing choices will make people think of me. It's horrible. So I'll go into a shop and be worrying about money and social occasions and I'll spend three hours trying to find the perfect outfit that says what I need it to say and then I'll stand in line to pay and suddenly, between joining the line and leaving the shop, at some point I will get The Guilt. The nagging, sucking, joyless vacuum that says 'Happy now? You can't afford that, you know. It'll probably be uncomfortable or it won't suit you or you'll wear it once. Why do you even bother, you never look nice.' and my palms will sweat around my purchases and they'll feel heavy and my heart goes numb and I feel sick and suddenly I just want to run away and cry in a corner.
So far over the last 6 months for this work function I've already bought 5 items of clothing. I've considered many many many more, and am, as we speak, trying to decide on another. I don't know why I'm bothering, whatever I wear won't work and I'll either be over dressed or under dressed or wearing the wrong color or will stain my outfit on the way there or Beast will throw up on it. But still I feel the need to carry on trying. Like the scorpion, no matter how destructive me behaviour, it's in my nature.

*Name changed to protect my sanity.
**Not massively likely. Almost every man I've ever been into based on looks alone has been completely indifferent to me. My 'type' is quite specific and they don't tend to look twice at me, because they're sucking-face with infinitely better looking women. Sucks. I think Mr A is slammin', and truly beautiful, but as he looks now I wouldn't pick him out of a crowded room.


  1. *So* much to respond to, having caught up with your blog after a shameful absence .. (just wanted to say you last comment made me laugh out loud - I have a VERY specific type too (which unfortunately for me my ex meets perfectly) .. and until he lost his gut (through work), I wouldn't have picked him out too well, either...)

    Speaking as someone who, until some long chats and processes, felt the same about herself too .. I don't believe you're 'chronically fucked-up': no-one with so much articulacy, so much self-awareness, so much strength of character, will ever stand in her own way for the rest of her life.

    One day, slowly, you will understand the magnitude of your awesomeness, that validation from others is nothing compared to accepting yourself (still a big lesson I'm learning), and that it doesn't matter what you wear to 'fit in', your amazing energy (which fuckers have previously abused and stolen through jealousy) will shine, and you'll come into your own.

    To use an annoying New Age turn of phrase: the Universe is giving you some of the biggest, hardest, shittiest lessons I've ever encountered .. but you're also the strongest person I know to handle them.

    Big love xxx

  2. Oh love, you're making me cry again!

    I think one of my biggest obstacles when it comes to self-perception is that I went through lot of things as a kid and teen that gave me a very bad and warped opinion of myself. And Mr A and I were working very hard on that and making leaps and bounds...before I got pregnant. And then suddenly there was this monumental shift. There was no time or energy to do the things that I needed to do to fix ME, because ALL our energy was focused on getting me to the point where I could sustain a pregnancy, and then there was a baby and babies don't understand that mommy needs time to herself to find herself. They won't stop crying on the bus so I can enjoy the view, they won't sleep at the right time so I can concentrate on having a coffee and reading a book while I'm out. There is just this non-stop, relentless, un-procrastinatable demand on your time and energy and attention. And I just lost track of myself so much. I really needed two or three more years of being an adult and being able to do my own thing and look after myself before I had to look after someone else. Now, what could maybe have been achieved in 3 years will take a decade. It's frustrating, but I know I will get there one day. I know one day I'll re-make the progress I made before, and more, and one day I WILL be whole, and congisant of my worth and able to be a better mother because of it.

    Sometimes I just struggle so much to remember that my perception of myself IS skewed, and I get sucked into the world as according to that, and forget that actually, if I were capable of stepping out of it, I'd see a different picture altogether.