The Bitches of Eastwick

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So yesterday was Easter Sunday which meant: Family Time.  I married into a huge family.  I come from a very small family who have not been close for many years.  I would love to say that I was welcomed with open arms into my husband’s family but I would be lying.  They adore him and in all honesty I feel that I have never been deemed ‘good enough’ for him.

My husband is the golden boy.  He was Mr. Popular at school and oozes charm with all those he meets – why he ‘chose’ me I’ll never quite know.  He walks into a room and can make small talk with anyone in there.  I am quite the opposite.  Unless I know you really well, I probably come across as withdrawn, shy or maybe just damn rude.  I don’t mean to be, I really don’t – I just don’t know how to make small talk in social situations when I am forced into a situation I would rather not be in.  If I know you, I am the life and soul, the wild one.  The one who you would never, ever believe suffers from social anxiety.

I have always felt inadequate in the company of his family.  Growing up, I was always a child who should be ‘seen and not heard’ and was taught, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”  My husband’s family do not embrace this mantra. Not one little bit.  They are blunt, they are brutally honest and they gossip.  I’m all for an honest opinion, if I ask for it but someone giving their opinions without being asked, in my opinion is just plain rude.

It’s not unusual to hear the women of his family say to each other, “Change your shoes, they make your legs look fucking awful!” or “What the hell have you done to your hair?  It adds years to you!”  I sit there mortified – I would never dream of speaking to people like this but in his family it’s just how they are.

So yesterday meant a massive family gathering at a local-ish restaurant.  I had been dreading it for several weeks, as I always do when I learn that ‘family events’ are looming. I constantly feel that I am being judged at these occasions and just the thought of them puts me on edge.  My husband being the social butterfly that he is, flits around the room leaving man-hugs, back slapping and charm in his wake.  I sit there, glancing surreptitiously at the clock, willing the time to pass.  I can honestly say that the only members of ‘the family’ that I can hold any form of conversation with are those that have ‘married in’ and even then, I struggle.

It was announced at the beginning of the meal that there was to be ‘No Facebook!’ as not all members of the family had been invited, due to yet another rift! *insert eye roll*  This is a family who has more fallouts that the characters of Eastenders – I really cannot handle the drama!

Like all social situations that make me feel awkward and uncomfortable, I turn the situation into an opportunity to people watch.  I love to observe people and pick up on the little nuances that others may miss.

I watched the latest addition to the family laughing alongside ‘The Bitches Women’ of the family.  She was joking about how uncomfortable she felt when she first met the family.  They laughed hard and loud and I watched with dismay at this poor woman who sat nursing her baby with a smug look of acceptance on her face.  She really believes that having a baby with a member of the family has brought her acceptance.  This woman is lovely, friendly and seems genuine.  She also has mental health problems which is no secret to anyone in the family.  I watched with disgust as the women laughed along with her, knowing full well that their nickname for her is ‘One Flew…’

I have avoided people (mostly women) like this my entire life, yet somehow I have managed to marry into a family full of characteristics that I despise.  I could jump on the bandwagon and fit right in but to be honest I’d rather rip out my fingernails with pliers.

As if 3 hours in a restaurant wasn’t enough, it was decided that certain members of the family would travel to the family pub for further socialising (oh joy!)

As we sat about in one of the small snug rooms with us all crammed in, the headache that had been growing all day was intensifying.  I sat sipping my drink, half-listening to the conversation when I realised they were discussing another ‘shunned’ family member’s mental health – “Well, what do you expect, he’s bipolar!” said one of them.  I smiled politely, wanting desperately to leave.  They are all fully aware that I have bipolar disorder.

At this point, one of them looked at me and piped up, “Fucking hell you should all form a bipolar club!” *cue cackling*  I laughed and looked at my husband for help.  It went unnoticed.  I swear to God for the next hour, they sat berating various members of the family (who weren’t present in the room) and said no less than 5 times, “Perhaps they’re bipolar!” followed by raucous laughter.

Once, I can just about tolerate.  I am not precious about my illness but 6 times over the course of an hour – you can go fuck yourself.  I promptly left.  Oh well, I’m sure my exit gave them plenty of material to pick and gossip over.

I aim to please.

 

 

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Re-invent…

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I was never a huge fan of David Bowie (don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing him!) but one thing that I truly admired about him was his ability to reinvent himself.  Lately I have been feeling the need to follow in those footsteps.  I’m sick of playing it safe.

It is clear that I am never going to fit in, wherever I go, so why not at least look how I want to?  I love the courage that Bowie showed by having multiple looks and it made me think about all the different paths that we could follow in terms of our appearance or style that we take in life.  What would I look like as a selfie girl?  How would I look if I still heavily followed the rock/alternative lifestyle?

I have never felt the need to fit in.  It has never appealed to me, nor have I had the desire to be like all the others.  I have always been considered ‘quirky’ but I guess as the birthdays passed, I felt the need to fit into the role of ‘mum.’  Why?  My style has absolutely nothing to do with my ability to parent.  I am a good mum, I know I am.

I feel the need to ‘return to me’ – I need to feel more like my old self – the one who doesn’t give a damn what other people think about me and a person who demands respect or laters potaters!

I’ve decided a multi-coloured balayage is as good a place to start as any…

Ailments…

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I spent approximately 30 minutes with my mother today.  She watches The Kid a couple of times a week between the period of The Kid finishing school and me getting home from work (approximately 90 minutes).

It struck me today that my mum’s entire conversational bank these days draws upon her listing her ‘ailments.’  Has my mum become that old that now all she can converse about is her ever-increasing array of conditions, medication side-effects and   what happened last time she was at the doctors?

Is this how it happens?  Is this how we slowly lose who we are?  It starts with the birth of offspring and slowly we become all-consumed by the deterioration of our bodies and minds?

I literally cannot remember the last time I heard my mother talk about music, a film she had been moved to tears by, a moment that had taken her breath away or the quality time she had spent with someone dear to her.  She has become My Disabled Mother – all other aspects of her: friend, lover, daughter seem to have vanished.  My mum used to be the life and soul (go figure, she’s bipolar) who had so many interesting stories to tell, a sharp wit and incredible sense of humour.  But slowly it has decayed to the point that I struggle to remember its existence.

I was talking to a dear friend recently about the need to stop and remember that the world is bigger than us.  This came about as a result of a conversation about the famous Ferris Bueller quote.  I was telling him how each morning, I stand in my kitchen as the sun comes up, close my eyes and let the sun warm my skin for several minutes.  This time each morning helps to ground me and remind me that there is so much to be thankful for and that I am just an insignificant speck in the ocean.

I sincerely hope that my essence remains with me until the day that I die.  Whether I like who I am or not, this is who I am.  It seems only right that we live to the truth of our beings for the duration of our existence.  I don’t want to become the person who has the same thing to say over and over, just regurgitated with a few different nouns thrown in for good measure.  Someone who has lost sight of so much, whose world has become so small and insular.

When I leave this earth, whenever it may be, I want to leave as me, not a diluted resemblance to who I once was.

Did Kurt Cobain have a point when he said, “It is better to burn out than to fade away”?

Mania: The animal

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I am reading an incredible book at the moment titled, “When we were animals” by Joshua Gaylord.  Now although the book has nothing to do with bipolar disorder, there are elements of the plot that can be likened to mania.  The premise of the story is that in a small town in America, when children reach adolescence, they ‘breach’ and as a result run riot on the night of full-moons, engaging in sexual, animalistic urges as a sense of invincibilty and great power consumes them.  Any attempts to delay, stop or repress this process causes devastation, so the community learn to accept the fate of their young and ‘baton down the hatches’ until the youths come out of the other side.  Breaching is not considered anything to be proud of and it is generally swept under the carpet as those who witness turn to look the other way.

It made me think a lot about mania and how breaching was described in a way not dissimilar to mania.

“I am forever gazing downward at people who live in dream worlds.  The breachers, too. They run through the night but they run in sleep, they run undercurrents deep in memory.  In the morning there is no shame because they were not themselves – or their selves were buried so deep that their waking minds are blameless for their nighttime deeds.”

Is this not mania summed up in one perfect paragraph?  As I read this, it really hit a nerve. This could not be more true.  The actions of a person who is manic can be so destructive and so hurtful to those around them, yet the harm is not intentional.  It is as if the mind has been taken hostage and the body is merely going along for the ride.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that a manic person should be forgiven all havoc that is wreaked but there is certainly an element of diminished responsibility.

I think back to the hotel bed I lay in some 4 hours from home as the guy I have met online showers just metres away from me (coming from a girl who has never had a one night stand).  I have numerous missed calls and text messages on my phone from my other half.  I have been found out.  He has hacked into my Facebook account and found out exactly what I am up to.  But here’s the thing – I don’t give a fuck.  I cannot be bothered to answer the calls because it will interrupt my fun.  I will deal with the fallout tomorrow.  Sure, I could be dead as far as he knows but just let me have this night because I am BUZZING!  I’ll deal with it later.  For now, I wanna go out, get drunk and dance.

What. the. fuck?

I still find it hard to believe that I was the girl in the hotel room with the Nikki Sixx lookalike.  I think back on that chapter from my life as if I was recollecting a very vivid and surreal dream.  How did I reach the point that I found myself checking into a hotel with this guy and bickering at the book-in desk over  whether we got a smoking or non-smoking room.  The woman on the desk laughed and said, “When will they realise that we women always get our own way?”  She clearly assumed that we were a couple who had been together some time as opposed to black-clad rockers who had met in the flesh just an hour or so before.

Amazingly I was forgiven.  I can only assume because my other half knew just how sick I must have been to have been behaving that way.  Funny how a couple of nights of insomnia can make a faithful teetotaller, jump in her car one night, speed halfway across the country whilst taking up smoking en-route, meeting up with a beautiful internet predator in a hotel room and then going out for the remainder of the night and getting thoroughly trashed.  I’m amazed it ended as well as it did.

But here’s the thing.  I can’t quite bring myself to fully regret it even after all these years.  I always thought I knew myself and what I would and wouldn’t do.  Until I developed bipolar, that is.  As much as it scares me to admit, I don’t know who I really am anymore.  Has bipolar inherently changed who I am and my morals? Who knows.  But there’s that tiny bit of me that kind of savours the fact that I have a dark and unpredictable side.

It’s like I have a tiny little Pandora’s Box of bipolar memories hidden deep within my head that no-one should ever open.  I like that it’s there; it gives me a tiny thrill that I am still learning who I am…

Sink or Swim?

Several hours ago my husband left for Las Vegas.  I have been dreading this day for the best part of a year.  If I allow myself to think about it, I get angry – his going to Vegas for a stag week means that there will be no family holiday whatsoever this year but whatever, that’s not the focus of my post.

I have been dreading him going away and been thinking, “He can’t leave us alone for a week, I’ll never cope on my own with The Kid!”  I actually know this to be utter bullshit.  We have been left alone together once before when he had to attend a course for work and was gone for 5 days.  I was certain that my world was going to fall to pieces (see here) – not only did it not, we also coped just fine and managed to have a blast in his absence.

Yet again the anxiety has been building over the last few months as I knew that his flights were booked and this would definitely be happening.  Yet again thoughts of “I’ll never cope! I shouldn’t be left alone because my depression will spiral out of control.  How will I manage caring for my incredible 4 year old, working full-time and teaching my fitness classes in the evening?” buzzed around my head.

He’s been gone 4 hours and as I sit here I have to ask myself, “When the fuck did I lose so much faith in my abilities?  Since when have I been reliant upon someone else’s presence in order to succeed?”  I swear I used to ooze independence – I may have not been the most confident person but I certainly didn’t need anyone to ‘save’ me.  In the past 4 hours I have played with The Kid, scrubbed 3 bathrooms until they shine, done 3 loads of laundry, the dishes and the whole bedtime routine complete with story and cuddles.  And now, I have the evening to myself.  I can do whatever the fuck I want.

Remind me, why was I dreading the week ahead?