thoughts

The Great Unease

One thing I have learnt over the past 10 years since being diagnosed with a life-altering illness, is that I am yet to feel at ease with my life. There comes a time in your life, when you hit the big THREE-O and you’re supposed to have your shit together. Well, I thought I had my shit together; turns out, I haven’t.

You see, I’ve always been an old soul. I’ve always known I wanted to settle down, get married and have pets (never children) and while it seems I am on track with my life goals, I am still feeling the great unease surrounding who I am and what I bring to the world.

Since I was a young teenager, I’ve always wanted to be famous somehow. I wanted to sing, but stagefright put paid to that dream – likewise with acting (for which I was awarded an ‘exceptional’ from my year 8 Drama teacher) and performance anxiety has shrouded my life in many ways.

I’ve always had the fear of being like everyone else. When I was at school I made it my plan to stick out like a sore thumb – and was bullied because of it. But I was stoic in that I didn’t want to fit in and be like everyone else, so I took it and it made me strong.

Yet here I am at the age of thirty, wanting, in part, to be like everyone else. Not, in the sense of I want to be in a job I dislike, pay rent to a greedy landlord and have children drive me round the bend, but in the sense that I want to be a productive member of society. (You have no idea how much I hate myself for saying that!)

Living with an incurable, oftentimes debilitating illness means I am not a ‘productive’ member of society. I am unable to follow my career goals (of which I have had many, shot down in a blaze of smoke) and now I’m left with a sense of ‘now what?’

I felt so compelled by these feelings of unease that last year I enrolled onto a distance learning Degree in History and surprisingly to me, I’m doing very well on my first module (If I was studying at a brick uni, I would be at distinction level!) and I’m really enjoying spending time wisely, studying. I no longer felt like I was wasting away in my bedroom waiting for the weekend when I get to spend time with my partner of nearly 3 years.

However, I’m now nearing the end of my first module (of which there are 6 – one per year) and I’m finding myself twiddling my thumbs again. I’ve started the audiobook of the set book for my next module yet it doesn’t start until October.

People think being at home and ‘off work’ is a dream lifestyle. I won’t argue that it has its benefits – I can stay up as late as I want and wake up as late as I want, for example, but I’m also trapped inside 4 walls for 90% of my day and two thirds of the week. As an unworking woman, I do not have the funds to be galavanting around in a car (I can’t drive manual and cannot afford an automatic car) nor do I have the energy to do so.

I spend my days lying on my bed in various positions (shifting when the pain becomes too much to bear) and it’s demoralising. Seeing all those people on Instagram going places in life makes me feel uneasy. In the pit of my stomach I feel the longing to have a ‘normal life’ like all these people I watch every day.

But then, I have to remind myself, yet again, that I’m not normal. I do have an incurable illness and I will have it for the rest of my life. It’s really really hard to balance this unending feeling of disquiet in my soul, with the knowledge that I’m doing the best I can. I have an enquiring mind and I want to see the world – this is in complete competition with the fact that my body was not built the same way as my mind. My body is broken, but my mind is sharp.

How does one reconcile a life wanted, with the life given? How does one overcome the odds when they are all stacked against you? This is something my mind continues to wonder, while I lie here, in pain, day after day.

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Millennials; Isn’t it time to grow up?

So, I was sat doing the usual daily scroll through Facebook this afternoon and it occurred to me how many memes there are making light of twenty-somethings and their failures…


But it wasn’t always like this. In the 1940s, at the age of twenty they were enlisted and sent off to war. They were MEN, fighting for this country, taking responsibility for their country and their family, often leaving their wives behind to work in the factories and fields.

In 2017, I am surrounded by men in their late twenties who simply refuse to grow up. They spend their wages on nights out, illicit substances, booze and then fall into their (private rented) bed with a takeaway. This happens regularly and they then sit down the pub and moan about how much debt they’re in, how awful their relationship is or how much they hate their job (in some cases, all three!)

And I’m sitting here thinking… Grow the fuck up! Take responsibility for the (terrible) choices you’ve made that have put you in the position you’re in now. If you hate your life so much, do something to make it better instead of burying your head in the sand (or by shoving coke up your nose) and hoping it’ll go away.

I’m no saint, of course. I’ve made some not-so-sensible decisions in my 30 years I’ve been alive, BUT I can say that I have made the best of a bad situation.

Through no fault of my own I still live with my parents. I was born with a disability that means I cannot support myself financially and as I live with my parents, I do have disposable income. However, I have not disposed of this income in the way I described above, for the main reason of knowing how hard my future will be when I can no longer rely on my parents.

At the age of 13 I was given £200 when my Grandma died. It went straight into a “car fund” that I set up for myself because I have always wanted to drive and be independent. The Car Fund grew, slowly and it has been used to buy myself a car.

I was in a nasty car accident at 19 and got a nice chunk of compensation. Of course I bought myself a new wardrobe, a flatscreen TV and a laptop. I went on to sell the TV and I still wear most of the clothes I bought back then (and they’re now falling apart!). I like to think that I’m careful with money and appreciate how lucky (or unlucky!) I have been to have what I have.

Others don’t seem so grateful. If anything, they appear like spoilt brats to me; they’re able bodied, able to earn thousands of pounds a year, yet due to bad decisions, they’re scraping by every month and continue to moan about it and posts memes on their Facebook making light of their seemingly miserable lives.

I am fully aware that I’m not perfect, but I can say I am an aware and authentic person who is trying to think about my future and plan for it.

I’ve been sensible with money and I have chosen a partner who is also good with money yet it wasn’t an accident – if I happened to get into a relationship with someone to find that they were terrible with money (like my own father is) I would run for the hills. According to an article in the Huffington Post money problems (and incompatible views on money) is one of the biggest factors in divorce in the modern age.

It’s not just about money though, I think it’s about maturity. It’s a known fact that men mature later than women, but I’ve also noticed the abundance of women in their twenties who still love Disney, still fantasize about finding their Disney Prince and refuse to grow up. It’s an epidemic. We are still behaving like children well into our twenties and thirties.

Millennials, isn’t it time you grew up?

Stuff… So much stuff!

I’ve previously posted about how my partner and I are currently saving for a deposit on a house. In the meantime, I’ve decided to rid myself of all the horrible, tacky Ikea furniture I have (tallboy chest of drawers and a wardrobe) in favour of some real, antique non-flat pack furniture.

We’ve decided on the Victorian era with regards to wardrobes and chests of drawers and gothic revival slash arts and crafts for our bed and other items of furniture (jardiniere stands and such) and we’re now scouring the country for bits of furniture we can actually afford.

Unfortunately for me, I currently live in a terraced 3 bed house built in the 1970s so it isn’t blessed with the Victorian treatment in ceiling height and room size. I’ve just found out that the tall boy chest of drawers I’ve fallen in love with won’t in fact,  fit up the stairs in my parents house where I’m currently residing (we can tell by looking, even without the Ross from Friends’ “PIVOT…. PIVOT…..”)

To say I’m gutted would be an understatement.

So, it’s back to the drawing board and I’m now left with a large hole where my hideous Ikea chest of drawers sat until 2 days ago when I sold them on a facebook group to a very happy lady. If I could find a Scottish Victorian chest of drawers that will fit up the stairs and round a corner, you’ll be the first to know!

Planning for the future also puts into question your past. At least, in my case, my past that is currently sat in multiple vintage suitcases on top of (previously stated) hideous Ikea wardrobe. I have collections of CDs from when I was 17 and a member of the band HIM’s street team; I have all the Ozzy and Sabbath CDs I collected in my youth, I have memories in the form of STUFF – so much stuff and so many memories.

But what do you do with all those memories? My loft (or rather, my parents’ loft, which I have temporarily commandeered) is chock full of memories too – my rail of 1940s and 1950s clothing that I will never get rid of, 1950s furniture that I loved and now hate and can’t shift, suitcases full of winter clothes/summer clothes depending on the season and even more mementos all tucked up in various sized boxes…

You know the things… the keyrings you bought on a trip to the seaside with your best mate from high school, and the coat you wore at your fattest (yes, I do still have my ‘fat coat’) and the clothing you used to wear but don’t so much any more, but still won’t throw out because you might some day…

I’m now facing a rather hard decision about what will go and what will stay. I simply cannot keep it all, I simply don’t have the room.

How do you know which mementos to keep and which ones to throw away?

 

 

Sex, Travel and Antiques

This has been a topic of conversation among my peers for a while now. I’m hurtling towards the big 3-0 like nobodies business, whereas most of my friends are in their mid twenties but even though we’re not quite the same age, we all have the same decision to make eventually – to have children or to not have children.

For generations, society has dictated that when girls grow up, they become child bearers, mothers and wives. In more recent years, the ‘you can have it all’ movement gave way to women deciding to shun the typical route of getting married and having children instead to focus on being career women first and mothers second.

I am part of a group of women who have not only shunned society’s labels of wife and mother and career woman. I am simply ME.

At 29 years of age, I am at my childbearing peak. In a few years my eggs will start to dwindle and my chances of becoming pregnant get lower. But, for me, this isn’t an issue because I am consciously CHILD FREE. I do not want to have a baby, ever.

My Mother’s Mother wasn’t a maternal lady. She wasn’t a natural mother, but in the 50s, women had babies, that’s just what they did. My own Mother has said that she too didn’t have a maternal instinct (despite having myself and my elder sister) and if she had her time again, she probably wouldn’t have had children. I don’t blame her for saying that, I know how hard she has toiled bringing up my sister and I.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your stance, mental illness is a family issue for me – it’s in both sides of my family (thanks Mum, thanks Dad!) and I also have a physical (inherited) disability. Knowing that I have inherited these conditions really has made me consider how this may affect my own offspring.

Making the decision to not have children has been an incredibly easy decision for me. Mostly, because like my Mum and Grandma, I seem to have missed the ‘maternal instinct’ gene (if there is one). I see babies and I recoil. The noise they make sounds like nails down a chalk board and I hate bright colours. I hate everything to do with children – the tv shows, the Pixar movies, the nursery rhymes, the toilet training, the school run and most importantly, childbirth.

I have absolutely no interest in carrying a baby in my (poorly designed) body. Having an inheritable connective tissue disorder comes with its own problems so being pregnant whilst having EDS is no mean feat. I can’t run about like I’d need to with a child, I can barely hold my 1 year old Nephew for more than a minute before I’m in excrutiating pain, so physically I know I wouldn’t cope being a mother.

And most importantly for me, I’m too selfish. I love sex, travel and antiques. My partner and I are planning on restoring a Victorian house at some point in our future. You simply can’t do that and afford to pay for a child too. We’re both in our late twenties, I can’t work so we’d be relying on his salary. It’s just too much.

Thankfully, I’m with a man who, like me, has little interest in having his own offspring. He is a Primary School teacher, so loves to come home at the end of the day to peace and quiet. His job as a teacher is extremely fulfilling and he loves imprinting knowledge on the  young. Thankfully for me, we’re both on the same page when it comes to being child-free.

You may notice I use the term childfree rather than childless, because to me, I am free of children. I am not ‘less’ – if anything, I can be more than just a Mum. I’m not saying there is anything at all wrong with women who want to be Mums. I just know in my heart of hearts that I wasn’t born to bring a child into the world. I want to travel the world while I’m able to (my condition is degenerative), I want to buy luxurious sofas and thick carpets that aren’t going to have paint or pen trodden into them. I want bricks and mortar and to sit by the open fire with my (one day) husband and our cats.

To me, that is the best thing about being a twenty-something; I can choose who I want to be and so can you.

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Maybe one day…. but not yet….