Anxiety

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So far, the winter is not going brilliantly. On top of a recent bout of norovirus, I have been suffering with terrible anxiety. It is crippling, all-consuming, terrifying. I have been chronically anxious for just about my whole life, obviously, but this is something different. My anxiety used to be attached to more or less tangible things: to exams, to job interviews, to moving house, to messages from my ex boyfriend, to the concept of dying. But not anymore. Now, it floats around untethered, weaving worries from the silvery threads of the cobwebs on the ceiling of my room.

Now, it manifests physically. I can’t bear the darkness. It makes me think I’ve gone blind. I don’t fall asleep. Or else I do but then I wake up in the night unable to swallow. There is a clunking sound in the pipes. I twist and writhe beneath my duvet, in between bouts of vomiting into the bathroom bin. I am crippled by paralysing pins and needles that engulf my whole body. I have diarrhoea. My feet are heavy and numb, like rocks. My hands open and close back in on themselves; my fingers curl up like claws. I cry all the time. Or else, if I’m not crying, I am very close to the edge of bursting into tears. I sleep sixteen-hour days. Or, at least, I lie in bed trying to dispel the adrenaline, gasping fitful snatches of sleep when they appear. I am unable to get out of bed before 1pm.

What are those strange orbs crowding at the periphery of my vision? Am I dying? I think I might be dying.

Did you ever see Cat on Hot Tin Roof?

Fractured scenes from it keep playing in my mind.

Maggie: Why can’t you lose your good looks, Brick? Most drinkin’ men lose theirs. Why can’t you? I think you’ve even gotten better-lookin’ since you went on the bottle. You were such a wonderful lover… You were so excitin’ to be in love with. Mostly, I guess, ’cause you were… If I thought you’d never never make love to me again… why, I’d find me the longest, sharpest knife I could and I’d stick it straight into my heart. I’d do that. Oh, Brick, how long does this have to go on? This punishment? Haven’t I served my term? Can’t I apply for a pardon?

I ring my friends.

‘I feel a bit anxious.’

‘You’ll be okay. Have a nice bath. Light some candles.’

‘Yes. I will. That’s a good idea.’

‘Make yourself a nice dinner and get some sleep.’

I heat some ox-tail soup from a tin and eat it with an old ryvita I find at the back of the cupboard. I sprinkle lavender oil onto my pillows.

Deadlines shoot by, missed. I can’t read anymore. Nothing longer than a blog post. My eyes scan pages and the words jump around and buzz up at me like angry flies, frightening and incoherent.

I check the Facebook page of the cousin of a girl I went to school with. Her daughter is ill. They are waiting for a bed at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Woolwich. I check the WhatsApp profile of that guy I was seeing. He’s online now. Who is he talking to?

Remember when I used to read?

There is a clunking sound in the pipes.

I am so selfish.

Last month, I cried at a lunch with my sister. My tears fell in wet streaks and splashed off my chin onto the table. She didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t tell her what was wrong. There weren’t the words for it. It’s everything and nothing. It’s a vinegar sensation burning holes in my heart.

I call my Mum.

‘Me and Holly were saying it might help you to try some medication.’

‘Oh.’

‘We didn’t mean it like that.’

‘I know.’

‘Just for a bit. We’re worried about you.’

‘I know. I’m sorry.’

‘Why don’t you speak to a doctor?’

‘Yeah. Maybe. I’ll think about it. Maybe I just need to stop drinking first.’

I poke and I prod and I scratch at lumps and pimples and bruises on my body. I wonder which one is a tumour that might eventually kill me, and which is innocent, benign, nothing to see here babe, move away.

Maybe I need to stop subscribing to all those cancer blogs.

I dial 111.

‘You need to calm down. You have to learn to stop over-thinking every little thing.’

‘There’s a pain in my chest.’

‘You’re okay. Breathe in deeply. Hold it for two beats. Breathe out to the count of four.’

‘_. _ _. _ _ _ _.’

‘How does that feel?’

‘Better, I think.’

‘Good.’

‘I’m scared I’m going to die of this.’

‘You’re not going to die of this.’

It is very hard to connect with other people. Their voices are loud and irritating; when I listen to them speak it feels as if someone is tapping very hard against the inside of my skull. I am separate, very far away. I am watching life at a pinprick distance, as if through a backwards telescope. Or a spyhole on the outside of a door.

I have lost the art of conversation. I used to be so good at that.

I interrupt people halfway through their sentences. Or I ignore them.

I say boastful, barbed, spiky things.

I don’t trust any of them.

I have forgotten how to love.

My interactions don’t feel as if they belong in the real world: they are more like dress rehearsals. Eventually, I’ll hone the witty, confident, charismatic character that I think I used to have, or that I could have, one day, if I could only stop slagging everyone off and maybe do something about all this pain.

Sometimes I see my dead friend’s absence in the shadows of strangers on the high street. But oh. She’s not here anymore. She’s gone. She’s turned to smoke and faded away on the thin air.

This is really my life.

Do you think a glass of ice-cold prosecco might help? With a raspberry dropped in to make it more festive? A whisky on the rocks? Then another one? A little brandy just to move it all along? Remember that bit in Cat on a Hot Roof?

Brick: Somethin’ hasn’t happened yet.
Big Daddy: What’s that?
Brick: A click in my head.
Big Daddy: Did you say “click”?
Brick: Yes sir, the click in my head that makes me feel peaceful.
Big Daddy: Boy, sometimes you worry me.
Brick: It’s like a switch, clickin’ off in my head. Turns the hot light off and the cool one on, and all of a sudden there’s peace.
Big Daddy: Boy, you’re, you’re a real alcoholic!
Brick: That is the truth. Yes, sir, I am an alcoholic. So if you’d just excuse me.

I’m smiling and nodding at a woman I used to work with. We’re in a café. The lights are very bright.

We’re drinking tea. She is talking about her son. Or her brother. I’m not really listening.

What is that numbness in my little finger?

‘Sorry, can you excuse me a minute?’

I call my Mum.

‘It’s nothing, Kate. Go and see a doctor if you’re really worried’.

I go to the doctor. To the hospital. They give me an enema; pass a camera up my bum. Is this nothing or will it turn into a thing, do you think?

It’s nothing.

And then I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. No, really: really. I can’t breathe. Can I? I’m talking, so I must be breathing — isn’t that the sign — but they were wrong about that, weren’t they? Don’t the police get different guidance on breathing after that black guy, the one in America, died — I remember something from that podcast. What was his name? Am I suffocating?

Is that a pain in my chest or my lungs?

Breathe.

It’s nothing.

Is that pain in my lower back or my kidneys? Where would you feel the pain if it was coming from your liver, if you’d damaged it irrevocably?

A trainee doctor I knew once told me that alcoholics sometimes choke to death on the blood from the burst blood vessels in their throats.

How much do you think Amy Winehouse drank before it was enough to kill her?

Why do I wee all the time?

Am I going to die soon?

There’s a weird hollowness that moves up and down the inside of my body. It starts in my diaphragm.

Is this nothing or will it turn into a thing, do you think?

I’m hot. I lay on the bathroom floor and press my cheek against the smooth, cool tiles. I’m cold again. My skin puckers up into goose-pimples. The thousands of tiny hairs on my arms and legs stand to attention, they are beautiful, slightly bent like erect penises, or flowers reaching up towards the sun.

I’m shaking.

Do you know what, darling?

I don’t think I’m very well.

Part 178: Excitement

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My friend’s sister is getting married and we’re all just fucking sick about it. It’s not jealousy, for once — we really do think she is making a terrible, terrible mistake. I mean, she can’t be thinking straight. There must be some serious denial at play here. Certainly, there is evidence of recklessness — such as how she’s thrown caution to the wind by having his name tattooed on her body in several places, although they’ve not even been dating for a year. (In case you’re unclear, my stance on people getting the names of their lovers or children tattooed on their body is best summed up by a line my brother said to me last year, when I told him my new boyfriend had his son’s name tattooed on his hand: ‘Why, in case he forgets it?’ Although, I do know a woman who has her dead dog’s name tattooed on her forearm and I feel that tips over the precipice of mawkish into brilliant, so it’s a fine line.)

This guy, the friend’s sister’s fiancé, has all manner of warning signs flashing in neon colours all over his personality. He has spent his adult life in and out of prison, he is controlling and violent, he belongs to a polyamorous swingers circle*, he lives in the box room of his elderly mother’s terraced house (the bloke is in his fifties), he is not physically attractive, in either the conventional or unconventional sense. And while I am all for living differently, there is a point at which one must draw a line; a point at which someone’s disregard for social norms morphs into sociopathy. This guy, the fiancé, has reached that point.

‘What does she see in him?’ I asked my friend, when she told me about the impending marriage and her fears for how it would unfold. (Badly.)
‘I dunno,’ she shrugged. ‘She says he’s exciting.’

And I rolled my eyes, cracked a wry smile and thought: ‘Ah! That old chestnut.’

For which of us hasn’t been intoxicated by the ostensible excitement offered by a selfish cad, with regard only for his dick and his ego? Which of us hasn’t felt the sharp, twisted pang of maltreatment and mistaken it for longing? It is easy to confuse unkindness with excitement when your life is a grey series of snapshots: a montage in which you push a vacuum cleaner around the flat, buy discounted three-packs of sellotape from WH Smith and check the Facebook profiles of girls you went to school with, who always seem to be doing very well, thankyouverymuch, if Facebook profile pictures are reliable measures of wellbeing, which they very probably are not.

Excitement is the great big booby trap lying in wait for single women — and, let’s be honest, married women too. It snaps up around our ankles, ensnaring us in its grip. If we’re not careful we very soon end up ragged and strung out, chain-smoking by the river, stress lines criss-crossing deep grooves into our faces — and I’ll just remind you, if you’re still tempted, that the sex rarely holds up after the first month or so. So just beware of that darling, when you feel bad about yourself over Christmas.

It feels good to have finally relieved myself of the need for ‘excitement’, after many years being seduced by its pull.

Not that it’s all good news.

The big story I bring you this week, from the coal-face of dating, is that boring straightforward men can also be massively selfish, egotistical and disappointing. Just because they are a bit geeky and loserish and have fashioned a persona that foregrounds kindness, it does not mean they are truly kind, dynamic, selfless people in real life. In fact, the thing I have learned, lately, is that when people tell you they are kind they are usually only doing it so you won’t shout at them when they act like a prick. Kindness in this scenario acts as a kind of mudguard, in the same way indifference does with your common or garden variety arsehole.

‘So what do you like about him?’ My friend (the one the one whose sister is currently lost to the mists of excitement) asked me, when I described a recent lover, who I thought, perhaps, had the potential to father my children, if only he’d stop being so evasive and dull.
‘He’s gentle,’ I replied.
Now it was my friend’s turn to roll her eyes. ‘Gentle in bed, or gentle, like, picking up a hedgehog?’
‘Gentle with a hedgehog.’
‘Ah that’s nice babe,’ she said, ‘But he’s also boring and a liar. You don’t really want him. You’ll go off the idea.’

And she was right.

It turns out kindness is just as good a cover for sociopathy as excitement, in the kind of guy who didn’t lose his virginity until five or six years after most of his mates. Fuck. Now I remember why I went for the excitement, once upon a time.

Oh well, as Damien Marley once said: Life is a thing when you learn you learn you grow.

*I try not to judge, but can I just say: if you are so broken inside and frightened of intimacy that you cannot love another person without adding a third, forth or even a fifth party into the sexual mix, then you have no business being in relationships at all. Get some therapy. Join us when you’re whole again.

**Is it inappropriate to use a picture of a baby I found on google to illustrate a this blog? Have I mentioned that I want a baby very, very badly and it’s leading me to make some questionable choices? Can you save me from this hell? Can you? Babes, can you? Please?

Part 164: Not Giving a Shit

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The problem with not giving a shit is that it’s very hard to do publicly. By which I mean: people who tell you they don’t give a shit are, invariably, lying.

If you genuinely couldn’t care less about a given person, place or subject then you don’t mention it at all. The non-mentioning reflects your state of mind, which is: blank to the point of emptiness. You are definitely not thinking about the thing, because you don’t care about the thing.

For example, I am trying to think of stuff I couldn’t give a shit about and I am finding it very difficult to do. Caber tossing maybe? But there again, I’m not one hundred percent sure what caber tossing is. (UPDATE: Turns out caber tossing is inhumanly beefy men (and women I presume, although not in the first few google images, which is as far as this research went) — think Incredible Hulk, but grey skinned from the long Scottish winters — wearing kilts while lifting and then throwing giant logs. It looks quite fun. You see my point? As soon as you start to consider a thing you have an opinion and, therefore, by definition, you give a shit.) This is why it is so much more painful not to receive a reply to a text message than it is to be told flat-out that you are no longer required on the sex and companionship front. The radio silence communicates, in a volume louder than words, that not a shit is given and that feels horrid, because you’d rather be thought of negatively than not at all.

We all would rather be the anecdote about that crazy bitch with the hair than never mentioned again and evaporate into obscurity. It’s basic human nature; we are all terrified of the abyss.

What people mean, when they say they don’t give a shit, is that something they actively dislike or are annoyed by is being forced upon them (see me and: football, liquorice, John Simm, overcooked meat, details about your forthcoming wedding plans, post-2004 Ricky Gervais, arguments for the privatisation of the NHS), or, when aimed at person or statement, that they feel slighted but don’t want those around them to notice and so have chosen to front with aggressive bravado.

‘I don’t give a shit,’ always indicates a lack of emotional intelligence. It is a transparent device, concealing a profound inability to tell it how it is. (see: ‘Do you like my new dress?’ ‘That colour makes your skin look pasty,’ ‘I don’t give a shit what you think,’ and ‘My ex called’, ‘Are you ok?’ ‘Yeah, course. I couldn’t give a shit.’ ) This is why I have removed ‘I don’t give a shit’ from my vocabulary and started using it as a litmus test for friends and potential lovers.

Damaged people are everywhere. Stalking the streets, like apparitions in soiled leisure wear; sending messages to women they’ve met online about how much they enjoy having their ‘hairy balls slapped hard’ (no, really); sucking up narcotics through their veins and their noses so that they become numb to the searing void pain has eaten in their souls. They are marrying your friend, swearing at your mum when she takes too long to pull away at the traffic lights and some of them are running the country. And all the time they pretend that they don’t care, while their barely suppressed agony seeps out and poisons the world.

I want my friends and lovers to give a shit and know how to express it. I want them to tell me when I’ve hurt them, made them angry, happy, horny, crazy, sad. I want a life that has sincerity (although not one without sarcasm and bitching behind people’s backs, obviously), one where what matters is that you know how you feel and how to deal with it (see: ‘Do you like my new dress?’ ‘That colour makes your skin look pasty,’ ‘I didn’t need to hear that. Next time I ask you about my clothes choices, you have to lie, unless we are near a wardrobe so I can avoid disaster before I leave the house,’ and ‘My ex called’, ‘Are you ok?’ ‘I’m not sure. I got this sharp pang in my stomach, a bit like when you veer too close to the edge of a cliff. I don’t miss her, day-to-day, but I do feel regret and sadness about how it ended.’)

*I realise the header image is somewhat out of whack with the overall tone of this post. But you know what, babe? I don’t give a shit.

Part 157: Power

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Everything is about power. Unless it’s about sex. In which case it’s still about power, mostly – although it is also frequently about unresolved issues with an emotionally or physically absent parent. Which I suppose is equally about power. Which just goes to prove the accuracy of my opening sentence. Perhaps I should have stopped there.

Some years ago, as I was lolling about on a leatherette bean-bag, drinking an ice-cold coke to stave off a hangover and bathing in the vibrations of conversations my friends were having around me, this guy who I occasionally got off with at house parties – and with whom I definitely desired more – and who was, for some reason, still in my house despite the fact the party had finished twelve hours before, said that he only wanted to date stupid girls.

I don’t know if he thought I was asleep, or comatose. He might well have intended for me to hear him. I can’t remember the conversational context from which this revelation emerged. But I do remember the precise sentence that tumbled out of his fat mouth, that cold Sunday afternoon. ‘I couldn’t be with someone cleverer than me.’ He said, as I had two simultaneous thoughts (‘you’ll have your work cut out for you babe’/ ‘so that’s why you’ve been ignoring my text messages’). And to be fair to him, he was true to his word. A year or so later my one-time love interest impregnated a lobotomised brunette, and the last time I saw them, they were dancing happily together at a wedding. Pleasingly, his hair had turned almost entirely grey. And not in a good way. He spotted me sipping gin, morose and alone, on a bar stool at the other side of the dance floor (if you are currently planning a wedding, I beg of you, do not invite your single friend without a plus one. She will not like you afterwards. Especially not if that wedding will mostly be attended by people she has slept with and their WAGs) and he smiled sweetly and stuck his middle finger up at me, in an obscene hand gesture that Americans call ‘flipping the bird’. I’m not sure why.

Even though this guy was obviously a non-starter for whom I harbour no residual affection, I keep returning to his words lately, as I try to work out why my love life is such an unremitting disaster.

I too tend to choose lovers who I feel intellectually superior to. I’m not saying this has worked out well. It hasn’t. And neither has it been a conscious choice, in that attraction is never a really a choice, if you mean it. But we are fucked up. Thus, somewhere in our subconscious, we know (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘me and my one-time lover’ – you, hopefully, are far more emotionally evolved than this. If not, I suggest therapy) that it is better to have the upper hand in a relationship – and if you haven’t got the upper hand through looks, or charisma, you might as well get it through intellect. And if you are stumped by all three of those avenues, you’ll find you can get it by being an unreliable fuckwit, because we all need to hold on to the controls, one way or another.

I like to be in control.

This is why you will likely never see me staring out from an Instagram picture, left hand thrust forward, face aglow with light refracting off a recently applied iridescent bronzer, diamond of questionable clarity on third finger, ‘the boy done good’ captioned below. Accepting a marriage proposal is, ultimately, a submissive act; to submit to marriage is to relinquish control to someone else’s wishes. It is to share the burden of life. And, although, at times, that sounds rather comforting, I do not understand how people do it without completely losing their minds.

To enter into a romantic relationship of any kind is the emotional equivalent of agreeing to ride in a car that will, at any moment, skid off-road and careen into a deep, void-like abyss. It is very unlikely you will survive intact – but nonetheless, it is thrilling. The uncertainty. The adrenaline rush. The beating of your just-healed heart. How does one do it and maintain a semblance of sanity? How does one do it and have a secure, satisfying life? How does one – and excuse me for extending this terrible metaphor, but it’s been a long day and I’m fragile and vulnerable and nobody’s paying for this shit – ensure that the driver is calm and experienced enough to steer you to safety, after the thrill of the ride?

I’m fucked if I know, babe. Red wine helps. As do cigarettes. Unfortunately.

(I’d like to add the following disclaimer to the above: I am on the first day of a very heavy period).

*The image above, from freedigitalphotos.net is called “Black Link Chain Shows Strength Security” by Stuart Miles. I don’t know what is either, but it captures something of how I feel right now – which is the point of an illustration, surely?

Part 146: Having it All

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I used to have this friend who would always, without fail, begin our conversations by asking whether I had ‘met a man yet’. She didn’t want to know about one-night stands, or unwise trysts with moronic ex-boyfriends or drunken text messages I might or might not have sent my sister’s old housemate. Those were things she thoroughly disapproved of. She would shake news of them from her consciousness with a judgemental wince and turn to more wholesome matters, such as the baby she hoped one day to have, and the other baby, that she wanted me to have concurrently.

She wasn’t really bothered about my brilliant progress at work, or my fabulous holiday on the lake, or the Peruvian restaurant I had recently discovered in deepest, darkest Shoreditch, which, by the way, makes the most perfect pisco sours. (Although, to be fair, she was always willing to compliment even the most unflattering haircut.)

My friend only wanted to know whether I had met ‘the one’, by which she meant the ideal romantic partner, whom I could love and marry and breed with, in the manner of an uncomplicated, heteronormative nightmare.

The answer was always, ‘no’. And the response was always stoical pity. She’d smile bracingly and tilt her head, as though I were bravely relaying news of a terminal cancer diagnosis. Which really fucking pissed me off seeing as how her life was hardly a thing to envy, what with the job she hated and the retinue of needy, vacuous friends, and the ongoing health problems.

Not that I’m bitter.

The thing my friend always failed to realise was that a relationship is just one panel in life’s complicated tapestry. And no matter how fortunate you are, there will always be at least one panel that looks as though it has been stitched by a vengeful, drunken madman.

If you have happened upon a hot, straightforward husband with a massive penis and a jawline to slice cured meats with, that is excellent news. No doubt you will place your love life at the centre of your existence – because come on, who the fuck wouldn’t. But some of us will have better breasts than you, or bigger houses, or mothers who love us, and we will place those at the centre, and they will look just as lovely. You can’t have it all, so you just have to enjoy the bits that are working out, and face the bits that aren’t with good humour and well-mixed cocktails.

And if you are lucky enough that your work and your family, your health and your love life, your friends and your finances and your holiday plans are all in order (in which case, what are you doing here babe?): be humble, and grateful too. Because the one thing I can guarantee is that there will always be something unexpected, lurking around the corner, waiting to fuck it all up. You might, for example, emigrate to China with your long-term boyfriend, and your mutual friends might congratulate you for ‘following your dream hun’. But when you get there he might spend the entire adventure sending secret, sexually charged, increasingly deranged missives to his ex-girlfriend — who he’s probably still in love with, although what it would take for him to admit it is anybody’s guess. Then again, maybe he’s just a cunt. Either way you’ll both die twisted and unfulfilled, if it carries on like this. For example.

The good news, of course, is that even though we can’t have it all — even though there will inevitably be a looming shit-storm waiting to capsize your entire ship, there is also bound to be a silver lining. An expertly crafted centimetre of the tapestry that was likely sewn by God, on one of his benevolent days. You might not have a faithful boyfriend, or a baby, or any money in the bank. But at the very least you’ll have a bottle of super-strength cider and cold, hard slab of pavement where you can lay your tired bones. Which is something. And any something is worth holding on to in a world that is more or less indifferent to your suffering.

As ever I’m advising that you, like me, look on the bright side. (Yesterday for instance, I was told by an inebriated homeless man that my jumper looked ‘wicked’. And this made my day, what with the homeless rarely bestowing sartorial compliments on passersby). And, as ever, I’m asking that the single among you consider asking me out, because I’ve just read back over this post and I definitely need to get laid.

*Image is from freedigitalphotos.net, it’s “Building And Car With Stitch Style On Fabric Background” by basketman. Or as I like to call it, ‘life’s tapestry’, you get me?

Part 134: Frozen

Mind-the-Gap

They say that when you’re about to die, your life explodes before your eyes in a series of pictures – like scrolling through a photo album on Google Glass. Or else you’re visited by a long-deceased relative, who appears as a comforting apparition, smoky and translucent, reaching towards you with desperate, vaporous fingers. And I’ve also heard that you get to look at yourself from above, as if you were a bird or an angel, before traversing a great glowing cylindrical corridor, with a pinprick of oblivion flashing at its centre.

Terrifying stuff, which, I’ve discovered, is utter bollocks.

I had a near-death experience last week at Stratford station, and it was nothing like what they tell you.

There I was, boarding the tube, with a banana in my gob and an iPhone between my fingers, replying to a text message, when out of nowhere I slipped down the gap between the platform and the train.

Fucking gah!

I had matter of seconds to wrench myself out of the gap before the train pulled away and tore me to my death.

I stared the grim reaper right in the eye, paralysed with the banal absurdity of my finale – but there was no side-show of memories, no benevolent ghostly relatives, no bird’s-eye-view of London to ease me into the darkness. Awareness of my imminent death simply gave way to a pang of regret, and a single precise thought, that rang with the clarity Prophets claim they hear in the voice of God: ‘Fuck this!’ My thought went, ‘you haven’t seen Frozen yet.’

And because I didn’t want to die with that kind of regret looming over me, I was seized by a surge of super-human energy, which propelled me out of the gap and back onto the platform; back into the land of the living.

It was a surprise that I was this shallow, of course. But then isn’t near-death designed to teach us important things about ourselves and others? That’s why deathbeds are fertile grounds for scandal. For example, my great-grandmother – a stern, sullen, tree of a woman who said little but always had a fag hanging from the corner of her mouth, with a long tapering build-up of ash threatening to fall off into her lap – sat up on hers and looked into the middle distance, ‘Freddie! At last!’ She rasped, ‘We’ll take our secret to the grave!’ And then she dropped dead; leaving us all to ponder who Freddie was, and whether that secret involved incest.

There’ll be no such revelations on my deathbed – and not just because I’ve shared all my secrets here, on the internet, with strangers like you. It turns out my waters don’t run deep enough for terrible secrets. They stop at Disney movies and swearing.

Frozen, it turns out, has a pretty baffling plot revolving around a princess, Elsa (later the Queen), who, for reasons to which we are not privy, has magical powers that allow her to freeze stuff and conjure up humorous, fat little snowmen. Although her magic is great fun at first, she soon becomes careless, accidentally freezes her sister’s brain during a late night snow-jam and becomes so terrified of her great and terrible powers that she locks herself inside her room, alone, for many years.

I won’t ruin the ending, but suffice to say there’s bare massive drama, before she comes out of hiding, saves the day and all is well by the time the closing credits roll.

The movie is a fable about embracing your quirks and learning to love and be loved in spite of them. I could relate to that message, and to many of Elsa’s less admirable personality traits. I have been known, for example, to spend long periods of time in my bedroom, and I once nearly killed my brother with my own divine powers (spite and reckless curiosity).

Do you see where I’m going with this? (Bonus points if you do, babe, because I’m not 100% sure yet).

My sudden urge to watch the movie, as I flayed, trapped against the tube-train and the hard, unyielding platform, might have been a divine intervention from God. ‘Let it go,’ God was possibly saying, ‘you can’t hate all the people for the rest of your life. You can’t isolate yourself from the world and the good men who live in it. You have to get a grip and learn to love again, despite the fact you’ve got problems.’

But if that was God’s Divine Plan, then He has proper screwed up. Because the princess was far more interesting when she was locked away in her castle, dismissing friendly advances from strangers and family members, than she was when she came home and started caring.

There is a reason why the most iconic scene of that movie involves Queen Elsa summoning a raging storm and telling everyone to go fuck themselves. Solitude with an undercurrent of anger is the hero’s way. Romance, as the Queen’s drippy little sister demonstrates, is for losers.

So sorry, God. Sorry Divine Powers who spoke to me as I straddled the precipice between this life and the next. You can’t change my mind with Disney Movies. The cold never bothered me anyway.

(Boom!)

*I stole the image, above, off the internet. Don’t bother suing, TFL – you’ve caused me enough stress, as you’ll hopefully have gleaned from the above.

Part 132: Post-Holiday Blues

post holiday

All good things come to an end. One minute, you’re in a speedboat, cocktail cruising — sipping champagne on a remote lake in deepest New England, with no phone or internet reception to ruin the vibes. The next you’re squeezing spots on the Piccadilly line, sobbing at the Great British Bake Off and blocking twitter profiles your ex-boyfriend has set up in his baffling, ceaseless attempt to solicit communication. Or else you’re swiping left on Tinder, eating anchovies from the jar and wondering out loud whether a Moon Cup would make your periods a more or less pleasant experience. Real life is fucking exhausting, and it only stops for death, or, occasionally (but only if you’re very lucky indeed), brief vacations to international beauty spots.

I’m back and I’ve had it with my real life, especially now the summer’s just about over, which means no more exotic electric storms at 3 am, no more sleeping until midday (because only losers work from May-September), no more titillating retired neighbours with my garden-ready bikini body. We now return to work: to coats, scarves, biker boots and to freezing sideways rain until next summer, which will come around soon enough, although the inevitable breakout of World War Three will no doubt put a right dampener on bikini-wearing come 2015.

I am not coping well, post-holiday.

I am no good at endings. As I well know from the horrific break-up that led, in a round-about way, to the creation of this blog.

How long does it take normal people to get over things? It’s more than two weeks since I got back from holiday and I’m still blue; it’s almost twelve years since I laid eyes on my first proper boyfriend and I still occasionally dream about him, sexually. And my last proper boyfriend – that was a long time ago now, too. I am not going to tell you how long because it’ll freak me out, but if you were watching a documentary and a woman of my age, with my pert breasts and big blue eyeballs, told you that she’d been single for as long as I have, and that her heart was still broken – with a hairline crack, just visible, right down the middle – you’d tweet about it, and mention it to colleagues in hushed, incredulous tones, instead of filling in important spread sheets, or filing important reports, or whatever it is you do, the next day at work.

‘It’s time to move on, Kate’, I tell myself, about the holidays and the men and the frenemies I keep shedding. ‘Maybe if you left the house today you’d meet the love of your life.’ And then I roll over and fall sleep with my mouth open and little bit of dribble oozing onto the pillow. Or I put on another episode of Dance Moms and congratulate myself because at least if I never have children, I’ll never put them through that. Or I do leave the house, but only for dreadful social obligations held in venues where the love of my life would not be seen dead.

Yes, some people are capable of getting over holidays ending; the same people who get over heartbreak and rejection at Olympic speed. These people are able to look at an ultrasound of their ex-boyfriend’s soon-to-be-born baby without it causing actual physical pain, just below the sternum — they bounce from lover to lover as if none of it meant anything in the first place. And maybe they’re right. Maybe other people are just there to provide a conveyor belt of regular sex, targeted resentment and financial support. You return from holiday, you book another. You lose a lover, you find a lover. It’s almost beautiful in its simplicity.

But not for me. For me, it’s complicated, and ugly. My tan hasn’t faded, my heart hasn’t healed and I know from experience that embarking on anything means misery, somewhere down the line. It’s better not to bother, I’ve started to believe, than to enter into situations (holidays, relationships, dinners in restaurants where main courses are priced above £30) which will inevitably serve only to highlight how depressing your real life is. Why would I want to spend two weeks in five-star luxury, with housekeeping and fresh-cut flowers I don’t have to water, when the other 50 weeks involve mouldering bedside crockery and dirty knickers at the bottom of my handbag? Why would I want to lie curved into my lover with the covers thrown off, when that lover is bound to fuck off with a better behaved girl and get her pregnant sooner or later; leaving me to die all alone, with images of his unborn child burned onto my retinas?

I wouldn’t.

And that’s why I’m still single. In case you were wondering.

* Image is “Sunset Over Mountain And Sea” by samuiblue at freedigitalphotos.net.