Journal Entry #69 – Forgotten

Today I feel a little lost. My mum was rushed to hospital yesterday in the early hours of the morning with stomach pains and thinking she had appendicitis she’d gone to the drop in centre where a nurse told her that it was only a stomach bug and to go home, definitely not appendicitis. They’d gone home, she’d spent the next 8 hours in pain whereupon my stepdad took matters into his own hands and just drove her straight to hospital where it was discovered that her appendix had burst and she needed surgery quick. Because of the burst appendix, she is now hooked up to a drainer because she has a massive infection.

I was worried for hours yesterday because she had to wait for hours for a scan to find out exactly what it was. So work was a blur to me.

I went home, spoke to my mum when she got out of surgery and they’re keeping her in for a few days until the infection goes. My grandad (my mum’s dad) rang me, as he does every Thursday and I told him what had happened and we had a long conversation before he went quiet and then asked who I was talking about. He had completely forgotten who my mum was. That really upset me, having to explain to my grandad who his daughter was and therefore who I was.

I was on a downer for the rest of the evening. My boyfriend asked if I was okay, although he could tell I blatantly wasn’t. And he carried on watching Terminator 2. I went to bed at 8.45 and cried until I fell asleep.

Everything is really on top of me at the moment and I feel so alone.

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Journal Entry #68 – Quasimodo.

So earlier on today I was feeling quite happy.  I’ve been mostly upbeat today, enjoying being organised at work, and up to date on everything.  I went and got my hair all evened out because I’m growing it out and I had it really really short so it was all different lengths.  The hairdresser cut it so it was all the same length and you know, I don’t think I exactly looked like Quasimodo or anything, it was tidy.  And I mean that in the literal sense, not the chav sense where they yell, “TIDYYYY” and snap their fingers.  It isn’t “mint”, “choss” or even “quality”, it is simply TIDY.

So then I went home and did all the housework, because you know, I live in Stepford.  My boyfriend went out to help his parents with stuff so I was on my own.  I decided I’d be nice and make tea (the food type of tea, the Northern word for “dinner”, not an actual cup of tea) so I brought my Bluetooth speaker down into the kitchen, put the Fallout: New Vegas soundtrack on and started to make pasta bake.  That is really the extent of my cooking skills and I know it’s not much, but it’s the thought that counts right?

I was feeling so great about life.

I have serious self image issues.  Sure you’ve figured that out by now.  A “selfie” for me is usually the result of easily over twenty or thirty photos being taken (all of which are shit), before I get bored and just post the one that makes me look like I’m guerning the least.

The look on my friend’s face when he saw how my hair was cut though pretty much ended my day.  Suddenly I DID feel like Quasimodo.  Now I feel like I don’t even want to go outside.  I definitely do not want to interact with other humans.  At least ones who can see me.  Albeit there are a few who can’t see me trying to make me feel better right now, but it’s not working.

And I’m listening to Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven and  just noticed that my boyfriend’s nicest tropical fish is dead.  I could cry.  I got really attached to that fish.  Today has suddenly and irrecoverably become very sad.

A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment: Week 2 – Chasing Superiority

This week in my Coursera course ‘A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment’ I have learned several things, including how chasing superiority leads to unhappiness, achieving “flow” can lead to happiness and how learning self-compassion and showing gratitude can increase happiness.

Firstly I will say that I have never been one for being “the best” at anything.  Superiority is never something I’ve been particularly focused on.  I’m alive and I do (mostly) what I want.  I’m not bothered about being top brass or masterful at particularly anything.  Personally, all I ever wanted was a “Stepford” life, with picket fences and clean kitchens.  I pretty much have that now, so job’s a goodun.

Flow on the other hand is difficult for me.  I’m not particularly good at anything per-se but I do enjoy reading and playing games.  That being said, I also go through phases where I’m bored with both and spend a lot of time watching documentaries or doing online courses. I love to feed my brain.  But I don’t suppose watching TV counts as getting into a “flow” in the same way that reading or playing games does.

Now self compassion (not to be confused with self-pity or self-indulgence), I can relate to.  I have spent many a year in self pity after feeling as though the world has it in for me, however this is not so.  Everyone goes through hard times and there are people who have had it worse than me by far.  When I go through hard times now I do already engage in self compassion.  Many a time in the car (and even on this blog) I have given myself little pep talks to motivate me and keep me moving forward with my head up high.

Gratitude is something that I don’t express very often and being made aware of this made me feel awful that I don’t spend more time being grateful to people not just about how things are going in my life in general.  The course asked me to write a letter of gratitude to a person who has been an influence in my life and who helped me out.  I was then supposed to send this letter to that person and then evaluate my happiness after receiving their response.

I wracked my brain as to who in my life had helped me out, because I am quite independent in general and have gotten to the stage I have mostly of my own doing but when I was reminded that this could be anyone from any stage in my life, I instantly remembered my old primary school teacher, Mrs Rubidge.  I figured, “I’m going write the letter to her, even if she won’t ever receive it, because she IS the person who has influenced me most and who I am most grateful to for being who I am today”.

This is what I wrote:

Dear Mrs Rubidge,

You will never receive this because I am thirty-two years old and you taught me until I was 11. I don’t know your contact details to send this to you. I was asked to write a letter of gratitude to someone who would receive it. But no one has earned my gratitude and respect as much as you and no one has ever influenced me quite as much, so balls to what I was told – I’m writing to you anyway.

You knew primary school was a struggle for me and you mothered me from a distance. You taught me how to be open minded and realise that behind every person is a secret story so you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. We had a shared love of books which brought us closer and you opened me up to a new world in which I could grow the small skill set that you could see (where no one else could) that I had. You taught me two spaces after a full stop, one space after a comma. I will never forget that.

You gave me self confidence and pushed me to read aloud, take part in school plays (at short notice!) and find my own footing without the people I felt I needed to lean on.

I wasn’t an overachiever in everything in the curriculum but you taught me all about Greek Mythology (which wasn’t part of our curriculum, you just loved it and so did I) which I grew to be very passionate about. You showed me all the different cultures of the world in order to broaden my horizons and make me open minded. You even had us eat the gruel that the children in Africa had to eat to make us feel more grateful of what we had in our lives. I did. I still feel grateful every time I eat a meal that isn’t that awful gruel (although part of me thinks that it might have been semolina – which is still bloody awful).

Yours was a different way of sculpting children into being better adults. You focused on making us grateful and open minded to everyone else in the world. It worked on me and you remain the most influential person I have met in my life so far.

No one else has ever bothered to teach me (or any other nine year old) how to meditate.

 

Feels #14

Feeling I’ve been lost for years
You can never understand me
Unless you’ve seen those tears
But you never get to sleep when I’m away
I don’t mind the deeper that you lay
Out of time
Pain
I can’t sleep
Pain
I can’t sleep
Running, running from those days
There’s another one inside me
Guess I’ve gone insane
But you always run away
When I come around
I don’t mind the day
I’ll track you down
Run you down
Pain
I can’t sleep
Pain
I can’t sleep
Don’t stop
Don’t talk
Do not (f**k) with me
Don’t stop
Don’t talk
Do not (f**k) with me
Loaded, loaded up this gun
There’s a killer in me
Hoping, hope that you’re the one
But you always run away
When I come around
I don’t mind the day
I’ll track you down
And terrify
Pain
I can’t sleep
Pain
I can’t sleep
Pain
I can’t sleep

Four Star Mary – Pain

Journal Entry #67 – Green Eyed

I’m feeling abysmally sad today. I did some more of my course last night and I get an instant happy from it but then I go to sleep and wake up (after a night full of nightmares) miserable. I’m so exhausted. Constantly. I’m struggling with anxiety from work. I’m worried about being on my own because my boyfriend is going out twice this week and leaving me home alone. My batteries are drained and the daily struggle to keep upbeat and positive and keep fighting is getting more and more difficult.

I have made quite a few friends (strangers on the Internet) since I started streaming and at first it made me happy because then I wasn’t being so needy with my one friend. I think my neediness brought on arguments so I thought that me making other friends too, like he has, would make things better but it’s just made them worse. He has pushed himself away from me. I guess he was used to it just being me and him and his other friends when they called over, and that he isn’t used to me not being readily available at all times if he gets bored and needs me. I keep telling him that I AM always there for him, all he has to do is say and I would drop everything, but he doesn’t believe it. Or doesn’t want to believe it. I don’t know. We used to have an unbreakable bond and I used to laugh so hard. But I don’t laugh anymore. I’m just exhausted and defeated all the time. My mask of pretend is wearing thin. I waste my time completely wearing it in front of my boyfriend because he knows me too well and knows when something is wrong. He asked me last night what was bothering me. Even though he knew. And I poured most of my heart out about how upset I was and how I hated it and I hated fighting and I just want things to go back to how they were. But he doesn’t think my friend is good for me. He says my friend wants me to be the princess in the tower. Locked away speaking to no one but him. And my boyfriend says he’s really happy that I have some more friends now and that it’s good for me.

My new friends do seem to go out of their way to try and cheer me up, I will give them that. That makes me feel a little like they care even if they don’t even know me. The only person who used to be able to make everything better was my friend. But he doesn’t even try to anymore. He’s too busy being miserable himself. Nothing I do or say makes it better. Sometimes I think maybe I should just leave him alone and give him some space. I just find that really hard. We’ve been in constant contact since the day we met 8 months ago. Maybe I should just force myself to give him the space that he needs to sort his head and feelings out. I’ve known jealousy, a LOT and it can make or break everything but I don’t know how to help this time.

A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment: Week 1 – De-valuing Happiness

I had never really given much thought to “de-valuing happiness” until I actually heard the term. I’m currently on week one of the ‘A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment‘ course on the Coursera website (which I have used for a LOT of courses in the past) and one of my first tasks was to take a test which determined my happiness. It turns out, that my feelings, at this point, indicate that there is quite a bit of room for improvement in my happiness (I scored 20). I actually also carried out a happiness test on the website ‘The Pursuit of Happiness‘ and scored 29 out of 115, enough to warrant them giving me a list of people to call in the event of a suicide attempt. I felt that was slightly melodramatic. I don’t think I’m quite at that stage yet. I felt that the “room for improvement” result was more accurate for me.

I learned that every day we sacrifice happiness for something which in the grand scheme of things, is less important in life. For example, I’m a skinflint and a cheapskate so if I was in a salad bar and there were chick peas and grilled chicken, and you paid the same price for both, I would very obviously choose the chicken, even though I’m actually not a big chicken eater and much prefer chick peas. Therefore I am sacrificing my happiness in order to get what I feel is “value for money”.

In the same way, if I find out that I am right about something that I’ve been telling someone for ages who refuses to accept it, I would definitely keep reminding them that I was right, even though it will probably result in that person falling out with me. I am therefore sacrificing happiness for the sake of being right.

Both of these constitute as “de-valuing happiness” and I am guilty of both of these on a regular basis. My pride is an important thing for me. I need to realise that it’s not important at all. Not even slightly. It means nothing to anyone but me and changes nothing, not even for me. I need to bin off my pride in that sense. I also need to realise that whilst having money is nice, it is not the be-all and end-all and that being happy is much more important than having money. I am currently in a financially stable situation with my partner (we bought a Smeg kettle – refurbished from eBay for £20 because I’m a skinflint but still a status symbol for me, screaming “I HAVE MADE IT”) and whilst we still have debts apiece, I am not in a position where I can’t afford to eat. I therefore don’t really have much reason to be choosing the “value for money” options which I don’t even really like (it’s always gammon, egg and chips and I hate gammon) and I should just be choosing what I like, what would make me happy. In much the same way that my boyfriend always chooses the mixed grill when he knows I’m paying.

The course talks about seven happiness “sins” and ways to counter them in order to be more happy and fulfilled in your life. Week one is “de-valuing happiness”.

It’s dinnertime at work now on Wednesday 25th and I have been watching another course video. This one taught me the “antidote” to stop me de-valuing happiness. This antidote is to remind yourself to make happiness enhancing decisions on a daily basis, but not to monitor actual happiness levels. So I’ve set a daily reminder which will pop up on my phone to remind me to make happiness enhancing decisions.

As part of week one’s activities, I was also tasked with giving my own definition of happiness. Having watched the course video regarding how to define happiness, I would have to agree with Raj that my personal view on happiness is “abundance”. Which in essence, is feeling that life is perfect, even with its imperfections. To me, that is happiness and this will be my happiness goal.

To help life my moods I’ve also started doing small amounts of yoga again as it used to help me sleep. I’ve noticed an improvement in my sleep the last couple of nights although I’ve woken up with headaches because I can feel myself frowning in my sleep at night.

Journal Entry #66 – Learning “Happy Smarts”

My happiness level is 20.  I learned this because I decided, at the very pinnacle of my misery today that I had to do something about it, so I turned to my old friend Coursera (with whom I have had many happy times) and I searched for courses concentrating on mindfulness, happiness and positivity.  I also learned in my appraisal today that I am not “positive” enough in my job.  It is something my boss has tasked me with and I thought “bollocks to that, however I will make a point of learning positivity in the important areas of my life, such as my relationship, friendships and home life”.

The course I chose on Coursera is ‘A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment‘ and I was a bit sceptical to start with because it seemed really corny, but so far I am half way through the studies for week one and I already feel slightly better for having had a man on a screen point out my bad habits with regards to negativity in my life.  I’ve therefore decided to keep a log of these studies in the hope that it might be a bit of help to anyone else who is feeling the pressures of modern life and needs a new way of thinking to spur them on a bit and I will be saving these under the category of ‘Lifestyle’ in my tags for anyone who thinks it might appeal to them.

It’s not a cult, I promise.