I Been Standing In The Same Place For Eighteen Years

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Bestie 1: (2009)
Standing in doorways was the hardest thing I could ever do at one time. All of our gatherings were either at my house with the doors closed or me on one side and you on the other.

You went off to college and I stayed standing in the same place, never moving, never progressing. To live through questioning you: What is college like? What is it like being on a bus alone? What friendships are like when you can choose them for yourself…

One day, I asked you if you thought I could do it one day. You were always positive with your encouragement that I would not always be left standing in the same place. Until you asked me what I wanted to do…

“Dunno. Maybe psychology or something. You think I could do that?” 
“Honestly?”
“Yeah.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Yeah. I guess you’re right.”

 

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Bestie 2: (2016)
You helped me through it. “Come on, C. Let’s go for a walk.” Encouraging but never pushing. Any time I needed to turn back and retreat, you were with me. Only made it to the end of the driveway? “You made it to the end of the driveway, C! You’re doing great!” 

But then I recovered and the dynamic changed. I no longer needed a hand to hold every time I set foot out of that doorway. I could walk down the street and walk into a shop without needing to retreat.

“I’m thinking of applying to do this Access to Higher Education course. Not really sure what it’s about but I think it helps with Uni and stuff.”
“Don’t do it.”
“Why?”
“It isn’t worth it.”
“It’s psychology and stuff, I’ve always been really interested in that kinda thing.”
“Yeah. It’s your thing. It’ll interest you and you’ll leave.”
“What?”
“It’ll open doors for you and you’ll go. You aren’t going to stay around here, are you? You’ll leave and I’ll miss you.” 
“My plan has always been to leave.”
“I know, but now it’s real. Don’t do it.”

 

The dialogue from Fences between Troy and Rose has always spoken to me. This morning a thought entered my head that perhaps it spoke to me because, for a time, it was me and it could have been me for much longer if I had felt a bigger need to put my closest friends before myself. 

My two closest friends believed without a doubt that I would get better one day, or they at least portrayed such a belief. In the years following, however, they were not so keen on my decreasing need for dependence. What was once two very strong, positive friendships suddenly became volatile and hurtful. A lot of deceit that had been previously hidden came to light… their only reason being “we were protecting you!”

 

The guilt felt from putting myself first and walking away is slowly fading, although, I am unsure if it shall ever truly fade completely.

 

FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.FENCES.

 …It’s not easy for me to admit that I been standing in the same place for eighteen years.

…I been standing with you! I been right here with you.
( http://www.iupui.edu/~elit/fences/fen21txt.html )

220px-Fences_(August_Wilson_play_-_script_cover)( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fences_(play) )

 

Saying Yes

This month, I started out with the idea of taking up jogging – a positive step towards physical fitness.

So, on the 1st of June, I jogged and then thus ended my jogging experience. Once was enough. It was not enjoyable and was slightly painful to my already sensitive joints.

So I was going to have a month free of the pressure to do something new, however, I have actually still completed some goals.

I have said yes to many things. I have worked hard to earn some much-needed money and I have socialised more than I can ever remember socialising. I have said ‘yes’ to last minute plans, I have travelled more than I have ever dared, gone on day trips to a place that I have been wanting to go to for over a decade and created strong bonds with people I have only recently met. Finally understanding what people mean when they speak about ‘clicking’ with people and feeling as though you have known them years when in reality it has only been a few short months.

June has seen me returning home to my mum for a while, I turned another year older, my mum got the all-clear after completing treatment for pre-cancerous cells, my aunt still remains in remission and I have passed my first year of University.

With thanks to the people around me, I have managed to remain in my hometown with minimal depressive thoughts.

Saying yes has been scarily exciting and the month is not over yet!

Hello, I am Chloe

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Growing up, I was always a happy and confident child. I was the joker, the little comedian going out of her way to make silly faces and look daft in the hope of making people smile. Always putting on shows, dancing and joking.

As the years went by and I grew older, things changed somewhat. Mental illness hit from nowhere and wiped me out. It took every single part of myself that I knew and left the shell of a stranger. I lost my voice. For a long time, I spoke only to my mother, my grandparents and our Olga. It was a long few years.

But I had “my boy” – my light in the darkness. My one constant. From age 10, he was my reason for smiling. My little big shadow, always by my side.

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And so as my mental health deteriorated further and further and my thoughts turned from I hate this world straight to, I should leave this world… I found comfort in my boy and in the moments I shared with family.

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But then, my beloved Nanna, who always knew me without words ever needing to be spoken, fell ill. In what felt like the blink of an eye, she was gone. All that praying and wishing for it to be me had not worked – there obviously was no God. I lost my faith… but, I still had my mum and Grandad. In our conversations, we kept her alive.

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But then, I got ill. I got diagnosed with Coeliac at a time when my mental health was starting to ease up. It felt like a kick in the teeth, battling every day to make it through only to then be given a life-altering diagnosis. What the hell was this life? I spent so many months and years distracting myself by taking photographs and concentrating on my boy. It was the biggest help, possible.

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But then, things started to change. I got angry and I found some fire. I chased after some things that I wanted to do and I did them. I fought really damn hard to get into college as a mature student and take my GCSE’s. When they said ‘no’, I found somewhere else. I emailed and I emailed again and I applied despite being discouraged. I interviewed and I spoke to many different people who all had varying opinions on what they thought I could and could not do.

But then, my Grandad became ill. Months in the hospital with what started with a broken hip and later became two heart attacks, a blood clot on the lung, another possible stroke, a crumbling spine, heart failure and a diagnosis of vascular dementia, left me feeling unfocused and unwilling to concentrate on anything other than him.

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And so after years of studying and fighting, I took a break. I left college after my last exam in mid-June with the intent to spend time with my Grandad and make sure all that needed to be happening with his care, was indeed happening. Less than a month later, he was gone. I felt lost. So completely lost. I spent my days keeping busy and distracting myself with taking more photographs. So many photographs that the people refer to my boy as the most photographed cat in the village.

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I did everything that year. Every single thing that I could. I wanted work experience doing whatever job I could do. So I did it. I did retail, cleaning, administration, reception, volunteered, got myself a placement and had a miscarriage. I soldiered on, the worst had happened. My Grandparents were now both gone, the house I had grown up in was empty and I was now having to show potential buyers around it while simultaneously wanting to yell at them to get the hell out of my house.

But then, on a whim, I applied for a course. It had been mentioned previously but I never felt the time was right and I continuously put it off. I don’t recall what made me apply, just that I did it. A ‘why not, at least I’ll be doing something’ moment.

And my God, it was the best thing I ever could have done!

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But then, on January 11th 2018, my boy died.

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And 2018 became one of the worst years of my life. My light was gone and I was terrified of the dark. How do I do this? What now?

I have never been one for getting emotionally overcome, I am very stiff upper lip. I do not like crying in front of anyone – family, friends, in public.

In 2018, I cried more than I can ever remember crying. I have sobbed until I can no longer catch my breath, I have fallen apart on buses and in the middle of the street and I have not cared. My boy is gone, my heart hurts.

But, I have carried on.

Carrying on is what I do, it is what I have always done. Sometimes, most times, without knowing how I am doing it. This damn year has broken me more than I ever remember breaking.

This blog was anonymous, now it is not.

I am being my true self – whoever she may be.

This is me.

Hello, I am Chloe.

 

 

 

 

 

One Day

We had a conversation once, once.

Surrounded in a world where every single person was talking at me, loudly.

You spoke to me, calmly.

Of all the differences to be made, to me.

It was you who made one of the biggest, the loudest.

I heard you and I continue to hear you, always.

One day I plan to tell you, one day.

Trees

It is 1998, the house is warm – it smells like homemade pastries. Across the room, a family is gathered.
2 ft tall, green branches reach out.
“Do you want to place these chocolates on, sweetheart?” She asks with a soft smile.
They sit on the floor giving careful consideration of what gets placed where.

It is 2000, the house is happy – four friends sit together laughing. A knock on the door and a child joins them.
5 ft tall, green branches face the room.
“My mum says she can’t make it, the rabbit is sick.”  He tells the tree.
Confused looks are exchanged between friends, bafflement that will continue for many years.

It is 2017, the house is cosy – a family enjoy the peace. Love and laughter in their eyes as they observe their boy.
2 ft tall, green branches mock the cat.
“Don’t you dare!” She says, swooping him up with a ‘boop’ on the nose.
Content purrs surround the quiet room.

It is 2018, the house is silent.
5 ft tall, fibre optic lights brighten the room.

 

 

Yeah

Blondie’s voice rises above the nearby chatter, “Just lick it off.”

She tilts her head, smiles shyly, “I’d rather just wash my hands, thanks.”

The table of people watches her go with amused, frustrated smiles on their faces.

“Some people just don’t like it. It’s like an OCD kind of thing… Is she OCD?” Asks the brunette.

“She’s never liked it.”

Heads turn sharply to where the voice drifted over from. The woman continues on, collecting their empty glasses as she speaks, “As a kid, she couldn’t stand it. The slightest thing on her fingers and she had to be taken to wash her hands. Everything would have to stop until her hands were clean… like she couldn’t focus on anything other than that.”

The elder speaks, “I didn’t realise you’d known her that long… or that you knew her at all, really…”

A smile, small and troubled flashes briefly before she leaves with the empties, a quiet, “Yeah” can only just be heard as she turns her back.

Hands now clean, she makes her way back to her chair, noticing everyone at the table is eyeing her.

The brunette asks, “Didn’t realise you knew Caroline..?”

She looks up, making brief eye contact. Her previous smile turning sad and troubled, “Yeah.”

 

~JustMe~

 

 

STOP

Stop living in the past.
Stop thinking that my past defines me.

If the last time we held a conversation was no more recent than a year ago, stop assuming you know who I am. I have had experiences that have changed me, so have you. I acknowledge them, why can’t you?

Stop making promises you will not keep.
Stop giving me false hope that you will one day show up.

People make choices and they live with those choices every day.

Good and bad. My past is there, it is a part of me. It created the person I am. I wouldn’t be sitting here as myself if none of those experiences happened.

Stop thinking of now as being the same as then.
Stop thinking of me as I was then.

National Coming Out Day

My ‘coming out’ story.

 

“I spoke to <doodah> earlier, she told me she’s bisexual. Are you?”

*Shrug* “Think so.”

“Okay.”

While I have never shouted it from the rooftops, it has never been something I have lied about. I am happy in my own skin but as I saw that it was National Coming Out Day I realised I’d never actually shared my ‘story’. Mostly because there is no real story of my ‘coming out’.