Number 1

“I would have broke my heart in two tryna save a part of you. Don’t wanna feel another touch. Don’t wanna start another fire. Don’t wanna know another kiss. No other name fallin’ off my lips. Don’t wanna give my heart away. To another stranger. Or let another day begin. Won’t even let the sunlight in. No, I’ll never love again.

Lady Gaga

It was to the soundtrack of A Star is Born, that in a cliched moment, I realised that I have no one in my life who would place me as number 1 in their life. In fact, to many I wouldn’t even come close.

And this isn’t just a feeling. It is fact. Through the actions of others, I am not number 1 to anyone.

And this isn’t some egotistical maniacal trip. But there is no one close enough to be there. To make an effort. To love, cherish and to hold.

And I understand why, there are children, grandchildren, parents to care for, vulnerable friends to look out for. There are lovers, there are closer friends, colleagues that are closer and more strategically important. I am the peripheral to the peripheral of peoples lives.

I don’t seek fame, money, power, authority, attention (no really), I don’t have to be liked or loved, only heard.

And I’m okay like that. But to have no one close, to be someone’s second or third and most peoples peripheral. Is hard.

And I don’t think many people can understand that. When you marry young, when you have children, a partner, a close friend since you were at school. You can’t begin to imagine what it feels like to lack intimacy, to have to be intimate with strangers, to make the most of every contact, to be desperate but not appear so, to have to go to a support group to let it out.

There is no other love like having someone close. To be number 1. To share, to cherish, to hold. To know that no matter what anyone says, no matter how close – it really isn’t the same.

And it hurts. It hurts because I may be my own number 1, but that doesn’t come effortlessly. That doesn’t come without shortcuts, it is without any surprise, or any moments of that, that glee when, you weren’t expecting, that moment when, it’s just, that moment.

You know the one. Like a million Christmas, all in one go. Because someone thought of you. Thought of you because you were really important to them.

But then, that’s just being single and 30. Some people have to please themselves, because there is no one else who will.

I can talk to you all you want. But I’m not your number 1. And I don’t think I ever will be. I have to do that. All the time.

And if you are lucky to have a number 1 and be a number 1, then you’ll know; that’s not something you could live without. And any thought of the end is a endless sea of sorrow. For some, that place is normal.

Because for some of us, when it’s raining all we have is ourselves, and sometimes a brolly. There is no one else to sing, dance, smile for. And that makes that act so much harder.

Nothing

Ambition sometimes requires endless patience

Over the past several years I have slowly been invalidated. Told I am an egotistical maniac, able to do nothing but sit and waste life away on the end of a pipe.

When this becomes a reality; it is nothing more than a mirror than what I’ve lived through.

As I slowly tried to do new things, I’ve learned nothing more than a list of things that I can’t do because of my physical, mental and spiritual faults. That I don’t have the personality for this, that or the other. I am too disagreeable, too principled, seek the compete rather than the pragmatic.

For all the inspiration I try to put out there everyday, I am left with nothing but a feeling of hopeless, hapless and lonliness. Others may smile, others may see me in song or dance, but as Smoky Robinson says; look closer and you’ll find the tracks of my tears.

There is nothing I can do that leads to success, achievement or fulfilment. And worse still, there is no backstop to fall back on.

From the bottom of my soul, to the top of my head and through my heart; there is nothing I have done that I can really do.

The greater the encouragement, the less the will. The more effort, the greater the cost. I even considered escorting so I could afford a toaster and kettle.

The more I experience reality, the less I see a path to be both honest, fulfilled and in the black.

And endlessly all I see is a great number of injustices, not to myself but to the weakest, most vulnerable and less well off.

I tried to have intimate time with people, but it ended in great discussion in the homphobia that has resulted in the delay of life changing treatments for a decade. If someone had cared my chances of cancer would have been reduced, I would have never been infected with HIV and I may have a lower risk of gonnohrea infection.

These are just one selfish example of social injustice that exist; because very few people care.

And I am angry that no one cares. I am angry that people are so lost in their own mires, television dramas, whatever someone else’s said; that nothing changes.

And as for me, the greatest contribution to my own life is a toaster, kettle and soft furnishings.

I wake everyday to the fear of paying off an intangible debt. To a life without love. Without a partner. Without people who let me be me. to a constant nagging that I should do this, feel this, think that.

I wake to a life in which I see, hear and am reminded of every fault. Every self greed and every hypocrisy. To a world where I can’t even make my front door secure. Where I am uncertain everyday whether I will return to a flat as I left it.

In parallel I wake to a life in which people are dying, family and loved ones with a date on which their life will end.

This is a world of powerlessness, fear, hopelessness and more than that a trap. There is no limit, only to the trap I am in. I no longer take accountability for that trap, because there are so many more things beyond my control than within my own that have led me to wherever I am now.

Ain’t that a truth.

Lost

If you’re not lost you haven’t really lived

I managed to rise between shifts. Bed at 2am; taxi for work at 5:45am. It did seem a bit crazy, but it was just a half-day and it felt like I should try something new.

I’m clutching at the straws wondering what many jobs could feel like, working here and there. Accepting this. Taking on several jobs. I often wonder what it is all for and what the purpose of it is.

An old boss texted me telling me they are publishing a blog I wrote earlier in the year. I could not feel less competent in my current gig. I couldn’t feel less unmanageable in my previous job.

My family wants me to create a illustrated children’s tale loosely based on my grandma.

And I am lost. There are many options. And I don’t have to compromise; I can explore them.

I have realised my current path makes me happy; but is not financially viable. And the support that might exist, may never exist.

In the midst of this I want stability. I want exercise. I want responsibility. I want financial relief.

Finding a compass

When lost I tend to look at horoscopes, write, reflect, leave things to chance, focus on my values. I tend to believe that I discover more than find. That practice is better than theory.

Right now my compass is telling me to stick the course. This involves making myself and others believe that everything will be okay.

I’m not sure what’s worse; not necessarily communicating how I feel; or being more upbeat than what my worst fears are telling me.

I’ve managed to fix all the basics but probably need another 20% to make progress. I’m kind of stable on a wobbly stepping stone.

I’ve asked for counselling and support. I’ve let go of my anxieties and tuned into those of others. I’ve let those worries worry me; in an act of opening up to empathy.

But beyond what I’ve done in a couple of months, I cannot gaze beyond a couple of weeks into the future. I don’t know what to conjure, imagine or realise.

The Burden of Now

Now feels heavy. Now feels like constantly touching the skins of my worries and letting them give me an electric shock.

When now is heavy, the burden of what next seems impossible.

The gap is relying on the strength of trust and faith that the next stepping stone will appear just and when it needs to.

The taxi at 5:45am for work never showed up. And it doesn’t look like I’m going in. In my head I’m already brewing ideas of what else I could be doing. But it all comes back to what I can afford right now.

I’d like to earn some money and buy myself something. Having said this, I have new glasses and sunglasses arriving. I’ve seen a few clothes in a charity shop I’d like. My fridge and freezer are miraculously full.

I realised I am no longer learning skills. I’m learning what life is to so many people. I’m learning the imperfections of reality and adapting to these by being tactical to life.

I’m learning about my anger at forces larger than me for allowing us to head towards catastrophe against things that I am totally powerless against. That this catastrophe doesn’t mean the end, just a new story. I’m learning there is always another way. I am living proof that there are no defined outcomes.

There is no answer to feeling lost; but there is an important choice. You can either panic at not knowing where you are or take the opportunity to discover the joy of exploring.

Living Will

The funny thing about facing death is that it really snaps everything into perspective

James Patterson

I ended yesterday with a text from my mum asking what I thought Nan’s living will would be. Nan has delegated this to the family. And after what sounds like a chest infection, which became sepsis which became a trip in an ambulance, which became a drip on antibiotics. The hospital wanted to understand what they should do if things got any worse.

Although Nan is poorly, I didn’t feel we were far enough into her illnesses to begin thinking about having a do not resuscitate on her medical file. I don’t think she is terminal yet and her priority in life is seeing her family.

I thought that if other members of our family were at risk of increased disability we wouldn’t necessarily withdraw life support or resuscitation.

But she is moving towards the end. And it may be a number of years before she gets there. And at some point this decision will need to be made.

All clinical pathways eventually lead to pain management, the withdrawal of food and water. And a DNR.

I’ve never believed someone would want to suffer. And m, I don’t think I’d want that suffering to be dragged out unless I wanted it to.

When people see Nan they see an elderly person who refuses to leave their home. They see someone who struggles with their mind, behaviours, bowels and getting about.

But inspire of all this; she is capable of love. She is capable of feeling. She is capable to continue mourning her husband. To smile at her great grandchildren. To let people know that she’s not impressed. To eat, to protest, to not eat, to let others know she is in discomfort.

And when you see her, as frail and unwell as she looks. You know she is still there.

So if I had to go back on last nights conversation; rather than think about the medical intervention and quality of life I would ask:

Is Nanny’s priority to feel or to move? Are emotions more important than physical ability? Will life for Nanny be about love or ability to do?

Because quality of life isn’t necessarily measured by how far you can walk; but by how much you can still love.

Sudden Anxiety

I can smell them. Come along, kiddie-winkies! Here we are children, come and get your lollipops, lollipops, come along my little ones. They’re all free today, cherry pie, cream puffs, ice cream, treacle tart.

The Child Catcher, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Today was a very simple task, find a white shirt and pick up some groceries. Instead I was overwhelmed.

Every bus, every person, queue and crowd made my palms sweat. My shoulders moved up to my ears. Any sudden movement around me made me jump and tense. Even the man stacking the shelves in one of the shops was making me terrified.

Some days for me are like this. I’m not able to complete basic tasks. Everything happening is too much and my senses are overwhelmed.

I don’t plan for it to be like this and I don’t know when it will be like this. The only thing I know is that I need to find the least crowded place and route to get home.

I found myself on a traffic block in a side street doing breathing exercises. Even though my noise cancelling earphones were in, I could still hear the steps of passers by and I felt uneasy. I wanted to be left alone so my feelings could subside.

I had to go to a more expensive shop to at least get some fruit and veg. And then go straight home. My original plan would have been so much better. I felt disappointed but couldn’t continue to be in a place that was sending my senses and anxiety systems into overdrive.

I couldn’t walk on the same side of the road as other people as any sense of crowd was overwhelming me.

When it’s like this I know I need to take it easy. There’s no point getting more stressed about something just for the sake of confronting it.

Almost

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes

Anon

I almost went outside today. I almost did all my chores. I almost found some additional paid work. I almost went to the gallery.

I really wanted to get outside today, but it started raining, a delivery arrived later than I wanted it to, I didn’t have any money for lunch, I got some bad news about a relative and I was overloaded with tasks that I should have done ages ago. I was also distracted by new work banter.

More importantly there was something that I wanted to do today. But by the time I got to it I wanted to lie down.

It had been raining and I didn’t want to cycle as it was too wet, the train would be too expensive and the bus simultaneously too far and too long.

I was encouraged to do drawing or something creative. But literally I don’t have the right energy for that right now.

Start your day as you want

And then I reminded myself – there is a battle between:

  • Reward for completing all the stuff you’ve been avoiding by getting all the boring stuff out the way
  • Starting with what you actually want to do and making the most out of it

Recently I’ve been trialling delayed gratification. JOMO (joy of missing out). And being comfortable alone.

This has meant doing all the boring stuff first. And getting it out of the way. And I will have a fresh bed, tidier home, some stuff packed away properly and I can enjoy everything right?

I think from now on I will start the day more how I want to; and use my energy to build myself to what it is I want to do.

It’s important to start the day with joy, and not with a sigh.

People Pleaser

You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm

Anon

We all have baggage, and the most significant of these is the relationships and people we carry in our rucksacks of life. And those rucksacks are heavy.

In mine, and in my never ending cuddly bear attitude to life, is a lot of plate spinning. Keeping everyone happy and to their own needs is exhausting. A lot of people pleasing.

Sometimes I have learned it is okay to let out authentic negativity. It’s also okay to do and then ask for forgiveness. This is about exposing my reality to someone else, emotionally, verbally, physically.

The one thing that we may come to regret is the judgement of others. Yesterday at work I had a problem with inventory and I let the first person I could find know that I wasn’t happy about it. It wasn’t this persons fault and I wasn’t blaming them; I just wanted the problem fixed. They took it personally.

I wanted people to present solutions. I wanted people to let go of coming solely with problems.

Healthy intimate contact between people comes when one person shares their reality with the other, and the other comprehends it without judging or trying to change it

Pia Melody

The only way to stop people pleasing is through the exposure of reality. It is about letting honesty out. And if people can’t handle the truth, then that’s probably not worth having in your rucksack of life.

The signs

Ignoring the signs is a good way to end up at the wrong destination

Recently I’ve been overwhelmed by signs from the universe, as I tune into my reality around me they scream at me.

Get this product. Eat here. Go here. Do this. Do that.

But none of these signs connect to an innate meaning. It’s like targeted advertising, it feels creepy and it feels forced.

I can follow these signs and do all of these things. But my innate self is still working through its existential crisis trying to find a moment in stormy waters.

Don’t push people to where you want them to be, meet them where they are

Meghan Kearney Anderson

This morning I walked around a park picking up the remnants of litter from what I assume was a good night out for a crowd of people.

I connected to a moment of anger. And last night I had another as I yelled at a driver to look before they turned at a junction.

In a web of signs, products, advertising, aspirations, dreams. I am disillusioned.

Disillusioned that collectively our planet is on a path to mass suicide. If I were to place a noose around my neck you’d probably stop to help. But with each bit of litter, each little bit of consumption, each slightly less ethical choice, each compromise I find myself part of this mass system of suicide.

And that hurts me. Relative to the rest of the world I am wealthy and privileged. I consume probably more than 80% of the worlds population individually does.

The complexity of the processes, money and thought that I go to, to mitigate this is quite extensive. But it is not enough. It is not good enough.

I think part of me has lost its desire to consume, and as a result a compass.

It’s only one straw; said 8 billion people

Anon

The impact of movements is indisputable. The trouble is we are mindless sometimes, and lazy, myself included.

And I just don’t know what to do. Scream at the top of my lungs, or accept and eternally jump onto a plane forever.

There are so many solutions, we just need a shepherd to heard us all.

Vaping

Warning: extremely cloudy with the chance you might quit smoking

I’m obsessed with tobacco. The plant itself helps remove toxins from soils. Buying tobacco supports farmers in some of the poorest parts of the world. The perfect cigarillo or cigar has the most beautiful smell.

It is also overwhelmingly unethical. Almost 1 in 5 people will pick up a cigarette this year. Yet the majority of the tobacco market is controlled by 10 large companies who generate US$250bn in revenues between them.

And that’s not to mention that these companies continue to market cancer causing, addictive, harmful products.

From smoking in bars in Romania, popping out of the office, Sisha in Bosnia, holiday smokes in over 32 countries and half a decade consistently puffing up toxic clouds I’ve been through a lot.

My lungs will take a decade to recover. I was probably spending £2,500 per year on cigarettes.

It was much more expensive than any other habit I had. And the lengths I’d go to for a pack of 20 Marlborough gold.

Vaping

I transitioned to vaping. I liked sisha. I needed to spend less. I’ve gone from £2,500 per year to £700. I can find new holidays.

I don’t buy disposable vapes as they hard to recycle and instead have more permanent devices like Vaporesso and Drag X.

The flavours are limitless. Although I like nutty, coffee, caramel flavours the most. And most vape shops are local businesses set up by local entrepreneurs.

It took some time to transition. But I now get my nicotine fix. Without any harm.

Nicotine is virtually harmless. And it triggers dopamine and serotonin; anyone will tell you about how many people with poor mental health smoke. That’s why it’s addictive.

I’ve lost all of the toxic chemicals that get soaked up by tobacco plants and ended up with more choice, supporting smaller businesses.

And occasionally I still whip out a cigarillo. Everything is much more enjoyable.

But most people are scared of one thing: change.

Desire

When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires, will come to you

Disney Dreams

Desire is a funny thing. It reminds me most of a song by Desire called Under Your Spell from the soundtrack of the movie Drive. This song is about the spell of love, and falling enchantingly into their arms, charms and spells.

Recently as I’ve walked about, moved from one crisis to the next, been alone, deleted social media, felt a strong disillusionment, motivated, discussed, listened; there was one thing missing. Desire.

I’ve honestly thought long and hard about what it is I desire right now. And it is a place of certainty. Then I can move on. I’ve filed my admin, I’ve done my chores, I’ve explained, reexplained, provided evidence. Felt the edge of meaninglessness, of reason, of having absolutely nothing to cling onto. I let everything slip. All of this whilst in a constant state of fear.

And that desire ended up being a pack of bourbon cream biscuits, a mojito, a cigarette and ice cream.

For the only thing that matters; is not necessarily what I want. It’s for a future around me, a kind of eutopia, where my nieces will still have polar bears in the wild when they grow up, where people don’t have to live in fear, hate, poverty, hunger etc. The kind of idealism that people can’t believe in and turn to all other forms of destructive and meaningless outlets.

There was a moment today when wearing a T-shirt that had the art of Keith Herring on it, I packed a tote calling for the end of homelessness, into another bag that provided support for child refugees and children in care. I felt a bit of a ponce, a bit of a fraud and a bit of a pastiche.

The reality for me, is that it is so dismally complicated just to exist; that it doesn’t matter. And in fact understanding that makes it easier to understand that it is in fact, worse for someone else, somewhere.

And that any hope for a lovely utopian future is impossible for me to achieve. That even my small actions are like little, little ripples ina vast ocean

Big Picture

As I did the maths on my current budget plans; I realised I was going to be significantly short on cash for months to come. Squinting into the distance; if, when, whom, how, why – the target of stability seemed distant.

I went out to do some gig work. It’s quiet and as I sat in the park surrounded by pigeons; I spotted a face I knew flirting with someone else. My first thought was; oh god I’m so small right now, life isn’t working and I have nothing to really offer. Everything is failure.

The reality; was a moment of freedom. I could let go of that person. I don’t control the rotating cogs around me. Most things are now out of my hands. And despite the gut wrenching anxiety I am free.

From the gut

Yesterday I completed my work at a brewery. At the end I felt awkward and was in fact awkward to the supervisor. They were expecting me back next week; and I knew I wasn’t coming back. My coworkers from the agency left. And I felt a sense of loss. I didn’t actually know what to do with myself.

There’s been a lot of letting go, of expectations, hopes, dreams, people, financial realities, pride and most importantly ego. That hopefully is floating and fleeting somewhere far away.

Why?

Why are we here? What is our purpose? How are we doing it.? The number 42.

I listened to a podcast recently and it postulated the most important thing to ask is why? Not how, what or whom. This would provide insight to innate purpose of an organisation or person and it’s/their values.

And I thought. As people we don’t really have a why. We’re not born with a defined purpose. We take on roles, jobs, relationships which provide the why. I could root on about beliefs and values; but they are more of a what I believe, rather than a why I believe in them.

Lost for a moment in the idea that I don’t have a why? I thought I can do anything I want, I can be as hedonistic or spiritual or ranting on like Donald Trump all I want. I could snort a load of drugs, drink myself until I blackout, jump from a building, escape on a bud to Paris.

But that was my head. There was nothing left in my heart. And as what I really want isn’t forthcoming, I’m just going to have to hold out.

Zig a zig ahhhhh.