Being Open and Other Emotions

As I start writing this, I’m listening to music far too loudly; I’m singing along in a mumbled kind of way and I suppose, for now, I’m content for a little slice of time. Not happy but closer to it than I’ve been for a good few weeks.

Yesterday, in counselling, I was the most honest I’d ever been. In no uncertain terms, I told my counsellor how worthless I felt, how unworthy of anything I thought I was and how, no matter how many people tell me a list of qualities I have, my brain just doesn’t believe them even if I know it’s a little bit true. It’s a complicated issue that has been inside my head for as long as I can remember.

My friends are amazing and I know that what they say is true to them but I get absolutely incredulous when I even think “Oh, you are a good person then?” because my brain refuses to think about the possibility of letting myself fly because I’m terrified of disappointment. As my counsellor said, I keep myself down so that I don’t get disappointed by myself and it’s a fucking horrible way to think and live but it’s what I feel pretty much constantly. As you can tell, I get exhausted by it.

It hurt so much to talk about. Unlike with situations that have happened to me, there isn’t a direct cause to this. It has come about as a result of years of thinking I’m awful and I can’t just change that in a summer or a few months. I need myself and others to understand that this is not simple – I got the closest to breaking down in that session than I have before because it made me feel wretched as fuck and hopeless, too. In counselling, it’s rare that I get really, directly upset about something and show that externally, as I spoke about me and others being unable to understand because I didn’t want to tell them I didn’t believe them in case they gave up on me and left. But here’s the thing: I spoke about it.

Recently, I’ve become quite closed off, keeping rigidly to the view that nothing good will happen, nothing will come of anything so what’s the point of speaking because no one cares – that kind of thing. I broke that yesterday, getting animated and visibly upset – no “blank slate”, no hiding and I lied about nothing. I talked about some of the most terrifying feelings I had, both positive and negative – the distinction being that I hated having the negative feelings but the only thing that upset me about the positive feelings were how much they could fuck me up.

An example of negative feelings that I spoke about in a number of sessions was a time, three weeks ago, when I was walking in my school before lessons started. I listed, systematically and brutally, every single reason why I thought people should hate me, why they already did and why I should hate myself more. It was vicious, almost mentally violent and afterwards, I went to the toilets and sobbed because it hurt so much to despise myself like that. Since then I’ve never got that bad but I refuse to pretend it’s all gone away and I don’t have the energy to shut it all down and fake shit.

I think i’m still recovering from how much stuff I said yesterday. I’m not used, now, to explaining things like this to someone who doesn’t assume my feelings or dismiss them. At the end of the session, I said to her – when she asked – that I knew what I’d done, how open I’d been and that it was something to be proud of but still, I wasn’t letting myself be proud of me because I couldn’t bring myself to be. That’s the best indication I can give as to how my thought processes work.

I don’t quite know where to go from here. I know this was a negative post but there are some good points to it, such as that I know i’m capable of talking. i’m not utterly without reason, hope or clarity of mind.

Currently, i’m not alright, partly because I’m becoming more aware of how I feel but also external circumstances that I’m somehow managing to blame myself for?? However, I’m a hell of a lot more okay than I have been.

When in doubt, remember that people are there to listen. You may not think they care but they will listen to you; try to give yourself a chance more than anyone else.

How easy is it for you to open up?

From Elm 🙂

What You’re Capable Of | A Letter to 17-Year-Old Me

Dear Elm,
I know what you’re thinking. “Oh God, if she’s writing a letter to me, something really must have happened – what happened??? What’d I do? Ahh shit, what am I like in a year – am I worse? AM I?” and words to that paranoid effect. I know us far better than you would give me credit for and no, that doesn’t make sense but we think in pretty much the same way so just go with it. The difference is that I know far more than you, you moronic child – and again no, that’s not self-hating, it’s just the truth.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m writing this today because for some reason, we take stock in these days – birthdays, when you started this blog and today because it’s associated with love. I never knew I was capable of being sentimental.

Speaking of, you have no idea what’s going to happen over the next year and just how confusing things will get. On that note, I want to tell you a few little things because you don’t know what you’re able to do when you feel panicky. So, let’s jump into a year of being an idiot – and just for the record, you stop talking about love on your blog and it’s time I started again.

In the next few days and weeks, you’re going to do something really stupid. Actually – the thing itself isn’t stupid, it’s just how you respond to it. You’re going to emotionally hurt someone close to you; you’re going to feel violently guilty but not take steps to do anything about that and in the future, that affects your relationships with people and they don’t trust you as much. You probably would know what I was talking about but it’s not a case of just “being honest” with this. You’re terrified, or you will be soon, and you don’t know how to cope with that. In short, you’re capable of running away, lying and refusing to deal with the consequences.

Let’s talk about lying for a minute. You’ve never properly, truly lied before but now is when you start: you lie about your feelings; you lie about how much that affects you; you act utterly blank and emotionless when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Looking back, I feel quite sorry for you because you lived – and still live – in a world of terror that makes you firmly believe that you deserve nothing and by doing that, you don’t let yourself live in the moment, have anything good – or hope. You lie for fear of people hating you and when you tell the truth, it either comes with negative consequences or causes irreversible panic and I wish you’d known that people care about you so much and just want to know if you’re okay. Though that doesn’t excuse anything you do, how you upset people, I – and the people involved – understand you a lot more now. Don’t throw away things just because of fear, okay?

Here’s the thing. You wouldn’t believe me when I say this but you block someone for no good reason and attempt to justify that to yourself and others by pushing the anger you feel – for the first time – onto someone else rather than yourself. You stop doing that totally when you unblock them and talk about it – and there’s another thing. Communication is amazing and you will learn to treasure the ones who are as open as they can be with you. In August, you’ll have many difficult conversations but you are capable of learning. I’m proud of you for that. Those conversations need to happen and you finally learn that the most beautiful people are the ones who don’t try to fix you – they just try to be there.

Last October, you were hurt so badly by circumstances beyond your control and this October, I’m sorry to say it happens again and you’re left wrecked from it. However, you’re able to pick yourself up a little: you rely on friends, have screaming breakdowns and move on- and can I just say, stop lying to yourself about that shit! I’d love to tell you it resolves itself, that you feel utterly fine about things in a year’s time but you don’t and that’s something you have to contend with – guilt, confusion and the persistent feeling that you’ll never be good enough. That’s bullshit and we know it but some people have a habit of making you question your own existence.

It’s not all negative. You are capable of beautiful things but I want you to discover them on your own. Trust me, if you could read this, you’d never believe me. Sometimes I don’t believe me either.

For instance, if I told you what you’ve been repressing for ages and how much you’ve been lying to yourself about someone, you’d call me a twat and break your computer. If I told you that you travel three hours on your own and meet some amazing people, that you become way more independent and that you realise feelings were okay to have, you’d glare at me in the weird way we do and ask if all of those internal theories of alternate universes were, in fact, true. They might be but I’m in your universe so deal with it.

You are capable of so many things. Having feelings again – but shhh, don’t tell anyone – and you discover so much about how your mind works. You finally go to counselling and process some emotions. You still lie but you’ve stopped lying to yourself so much and you’ve stopped twisting your own perception of reality.

I hope I can look back on this in a year’s time and that I could say I was brave. One thing I’ve learned from you is that running away and ignoring our feelings never works. They don’t just go away. Maybe tonight, I’ll make my 17-year-old self proud and tell people how I feel. Or maybe, said self wouldn’t be proud – just shocked and slightly apprehensive at how grim, wise and less self-hating I sound.

I’m still making progress. I’m not like you any more but in a way, I am – we love the same but express it differently. Just remember one thing – love isn’t scary. Neither is hope.

From Elm 🙂

Belonging

Pretty much constantly, I have this sense of never quite belonging anywhere and it makes me so desperately lonely that I draw away from people, lose all motivation to do anything and don’t know how to get out of it. I’m feeling this right now and instead of doing my recent thing where I write when I’m “out of feeling crap,” I’m going to write this in the moment, truthfully. Later, I’ll feel horribly guilty for posting negatively but for now, I need to express this because I feel hopeless as fuck and don’t know how to talk about it.

Where does this feeling come from? I’ve tried to answer this question by thinking, writing, talking, singing but nothing quite works. Nothing quite adds up to feeling like I’m truly “with something” and that’s the problem. I hear people talking about things they love, or things they’re part of and I wonder, “Do I love it that much? Am I just an empty shell because I feel so separated sometimes?” It terrifies me and as you can probably tell, it’s difficult to talk about.

I love music, sure, but I don’t get obsessed with bands. Individual songs are what are on my playlist; I don’t even particularly like a specific genre or style of music. Often I say my music taste is obscure but it’s not the obscure of other people’s; I like weird songs but not songs of a type or anything like that. I don’t vehemently hate many songs either. People talk about songs, artists or things I’ve barely heard of and sometimes, so I don’t look stupid, I pretend to know what it is and I listen to the songs afterwards, hating myself and wishing I was more open to music, just wishing I was able to join in. It’s not that “no one gets me” because I don’t have a love of punk rock or alternative music or heavy metal – it’s just that I don’t dedicate myself enough to listening.

I don’t watch enough movies, musicals or plays to be able to understand many references. As with music, I sometimes have to act as if I get it and it leaves me feeling hollow and like I’m wildly stupid because I just don’t understand. It’s not that I worry about people hating me (for once), it’s more that I feel, personally, like I never do enough and that if I tried to watch all these movies, I’d only be doing it to understand when really, I want to watch them so I’ll enjoy them. The movies I have watched, I howl about with enthusiasm because those are the ones I get and can confidently speak about. It’s not even the fact that I’m visually impaired – it’s just that I didn’t in the past and it’s catching up to me now.

With books, I feel a little more confident but still not “with a group”. I love young adult novels, strange feminist literature and some but I still haven’t read enough to be able to feel even a little bit comfortable when talking in class or even with some people I know. In the online world it’s easier; I don’t have the pressure to “READ THIS BOOK” or that. However, I often find myself shying away from conversations about books – even ones I’ve read – because I’m afraid of just not being “with it” enough. It holds me back but I don’t know how to stop myself.

When I say all this, I feel lazy. Surely it’d be easy for me to listen more, read more, watch more movies or just get involved? I get upset, overwhelmed and then entrench the belief that I’m no good to anyone in my mind, forcing myself to believe I’m the shadow of a person and then feeling intense disgust. That’s not healthy and I know that but when I never seem to put effort in, I make myself think I then deserve to feel this isolated. I hate that.

I don’t know, I just don’t feel like I belong in a specific group, community or fandom. It may seem pitiful and whining of me to say this but I feel on the fringes, too embarrassed to speak up because my voice won’t be loud enough, won’t be assured enough. When I talk to someone about a common interest, I feel one step behind because I like a specific part of that interest whereas many people like multiple parts. It confuses me because there are only a few times where I feel like I’m on an even footing and “with someone” when I discuss things.

Of course, there are exceptions to this pile of loneliness I feel. Blogging’s a big one; I feel at home here, with no push to fit with the mould of someone who reads a type of book or who can talk for hours about something with someone and feel comfortable. However, sometimes I find myself shoving my voice to the outskirts on purpose because I ask myself if it’s worth it, whether I should just give up or why people care. That’s why I write this, though; I write it to share my unfiltered thoughts when I need to. They may be negative, they may be confusing but they belong to me and people can’t diminish that by belittling them, even by accident. Volunteering is somewhere else where I express myself because there, it doesn’t matter what I like or don’t like – it just matters that I’m a person and that I can show that to people.

There are always places where you feel more at ease but at the moment, the feeling of loneliness that I tell myself is self-made is taking over my thoughts. Although I’ll talk about it in counselling on Wednesday, I needed an outlet where people don’t give a shit if I scream my thoughts onto a screen, if I’m momentarily selfish because the whole point of my blog is to help me and others, if and when they need the help.

I’m sorry that this post is so jumbled and rambling and, well, weird. I’m trying to get used to writing again; words are becoming difficult to get out sometimes and I want to talk about feeling alone in one of the only places I don’t.

Do you ever feel like this too?

From Elm 🙂

Update: I wrote this on Friday and decided to leave it for a bit. Although I still feel like this, it’s not all-consuming right now but reading over it, I got a real sense of how unhappy I felt. Sometimes it’s good to look back on things.

My Period Experiences | #ThePeriodParty

Do you want to see an end to period poverty and the shame that surrounds talking about periods? I certainly do and so I bring you my contribution to #ThePeriodParty. This post might be a little different to my usual, in that I’ll be talking about my personal experiences with the wonderful “menstrual Cycle,” but that’s the point to this movement. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone a little to make a difference, in whatever way I can.

What is #ThePeriodParty?

Set up by the wonderful Ash, this is a movement to inspire people of all ages and genders, to talk about periods, to remove the stigma around them and to spread awareness of the people who can’t afford sanitary products or who are prevented from going to school, spending time doing the things they love or from feeling comfortable because society has not given them the opportunity. You can read Ash’s post for more info and to learn how to get involved; I’ll be putting some ideas at the bottom of this post as wel.

In an effort to help those who don’t feel as comfortable, I’m going to be sharing some of the highlights or not – of my periods over the years. They make me cringe to this day but it’s good to talk about it because now, I can have a good laugh over them.

My Period

I started my period when I was 11, the age my sister started. I couldn’t tell you what happened – I don’t remember precisely what I was feeling – but what I do know is that it took me ages to properly realise how to use a pad because i wasn’t quite sure how to ask my mum or sister. Tampons were another story – I’ll get onto that in a little while.

It was a case of trial and error in finding the right products for me. On the first day of my period, it’s not that bad but for the next 2-3 days after that, it’s the equivalent of of a waterfall and it’s horrendous. That brings me onto my first story…

The Classroom Incident

I was 13, very much prone to embarrassment and still trying to figure out my “cycle.” RE, or religious education, was the last lesson of the day and I remember it being around the second day of my period. I was doing well, congratulating myself on avoiding any “accidents” when I stood up at the end of the lesson.

I was wearing a skirt with no tights on. I stood up and immediately, I knew something was wrong. Turns out that there was blood on my leg and the sheer horror I felt, knowing people could see it (because there was a fair bit of it) caused me to run out of the classroom. I actually ran because I was so embarrassed.

Unfortunately, people remembered it for a while afterwards and so I absolutely refused to talk about my period to anyone until the next one came around. Ever since then, I’ve kept pads in my bag for emergencies.

The Tampon Incident

I’d not had a very good relationship with tampons when I first started. I’d tried to use one when I was 12 and didn’t understand how so I stopped trying. That meant that I couldn’t ever swim whilst on holiday and I had the constant anxiety that the Classroom incident would occur again. When I was 16, I’d had enough. I asked my mother to buy some tampons for me because I didn’t have a clue and I also asked her to tell me how to wear one.

And it didn’t go well. I ended up crying and getting so frustrated with it that i thought I’d never be able to do it. So, what did I do? I looked it up online and when my mum went out, I tried again. It took me a while to figure out how to not stab myself with the tampon, I’ll be honest.

I followed the instructions and somehow managed to successfully do it, but then I had no idea how I’d done it. I couldn’t feel it but then I got irrationally terrified it’d be stuck inside me forever and so I took it out after 2 hours when the recommended amount of time is four. I’ve got much more comfortable with wearing them now and they’re sometimes a necessity if my period is particularly bad.

The Thailand Incident

Over the last 3 years, I’ve been getting really bad cramps. Some have been so bad that I had to go home from school because I could barely stand up. One of the worst times was in the summer of when I was 16, when I went to Thailand.

We’d gone shopping with some of my stepmother’s friends and gone out for dinner afterwards. I felt really off and I ached but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. As we were walking around and the sky got darker and darker, I started slowly to get more exhausted and then the pain started. When this happens, I feel so sick that I utterly lose control of my emotions.

I don’t remember much but I do know that I tried to curl up on the ground at one point and I could barely walk. I was crying, I think, and everything was blurring around me so that I didn’t know where I was. Eventually we got home but I still had no idea what was going on and it felt like something was scooping my insides out with a fork. Since then, it’s only been that bad once. On that occasion, I’d got 5 hours of sleep, hadn’t eaten for 18 hours and was so exhausted that it was the closest I ever got to utterly passing out.

The Crying Incidents

This isn’t a specific incident but a culmination of many. Usually 3 days before my period, the beautiful and kind PMS starts. Mine involves becoming a complete bitch, exhibiting far too much emotion and, well, crying.

I snap at my family, shut down a lot or go to the other extreme and start telling everyone how upset I feel for no good reason. If I think I’m bad now, with a long time to go before my period, it’s nothing compared to how irritating I get a few days before. I feel so sorry for my friends sometimes although what’s good about them is that regardless of whether they get periods or not, they’re so understanding.


There you have it – 4 of my “Period stories”! I hope you ejoyed them and cringed as much as I did.

how you can get involved

If this inspired you, or if Ash’s post did, there are some things you can do to get involved.
You can sign the petition which calls on the government to give those who receive free school meals to also receive free sanitary products.
You can get involved on social media using the hashtag #ThePeriodParty so that anyone – whether they have a blog or not – has a chance to hear about this campaign.
You could start talking about it offline, to people you know from school or work, so that talking about periods can be done everywhere – not just on the Internet.
Anyone can do this – any age, any gender, any period experience – this is about open discussion and spreading awareness.

I’d like to take a moment to thank Ash for being so proactive and using her thoughtful, creative personality to make a true difference. I’m so incredibly proud of her, what she’s done and what she will do. It’s up to us to spread this message and I, for one, will be doing everything I can to help those who need it.

From Elm 🙂

I Fear Intimacy

A while ago, I wrote a post about how I was scared of losing my virginity. That post has been on my mind a lot recently, simply because the fear I’ve described has increased so much and it’s only now, after a recent experience, that I’ve started to delve into the reasons why.

In this post, I’m going to be talking about some topics that could make people uncomfortable; if you aren’t comfortable with reading about fear of “physical things”, you shouldn’t have to read this post. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with this all and I’m still not there yet but bare with me. Maybe, if I’m a little more open on this blog, I’ll properly start to process this. If you relate to this, don’t be afraid to talk about it.

I’m neither the type of person who talks about this a lot, nor the type of person who never talks about it. I fall somewhere in the middle, only talking about it in terms of what I call The Fear or letting people know things that have happened; I never feel quite comfortable with talking about this to people who haven’t directly seen me being afraid because it’s difficult to explain. I contradict myself and that’s part of the issue.

What overshadows pretty much all my thoughts on “intimacy” (that word makes me cringe URGH) is experiences of the past. They’re not bad (the opposite, from what I can remember because it’s kind of painful to re-think them) but they happened and the fallout, or the effects that people have had on me, have caused what I can only describe as those memories to “warp”. Without going into graphic detail or sounding like I’m involved in a science fiction novel, I find it impossible some days to think of certain people, certain dates, certain events or even the topic of sex without getting worried, upset and paranoid at myself. I’ve never had a bad experience, no traumatic experiences or events, but I have a habit of holding onto memories to help me get through. Some of them are of specific people – and when those specific people make me unhappy, or something changes, I can’t think about it any more without feeling wrong or guilty, so those memories go into the “Don’t think about it” box I talk about in this post. I think because I’ve been unable to let myself process them, I’ve become scared of the memories and scared of intimacy in general. Whoohoo, my mind is glorious sometimes.

On the subject of processing things, I have a lot of trouble sometimes registering things when they actually happen. In a recent situation, it took about 10 minutes for me to understand that even the smallest thing had happened and I was getting panicked, just because it didn’t feel wrong. With other memories, I’ve lived in the moment as much as possible and then got confused afterwards and second-guessed myself; a long time ago, when I was prone to being a bit of a dick with my emotions, I only realised that I was desperately unhappy when it was blatantly pointed out to me. This has made me always worry that next time I even kiss someone, next time I want to be involved with someone, I’ll take it for granted and not understand the significance of it until it’s over: I either don’t live in the moment at all or live in it too much that I forget it when it’s over. I’m extremely scared that I won’t approach situations in a good way and that I’ll accidentally screw people over because of my inability to trust my own emotions or responses. (Also, just a side note, I half-love and half-hate how I’m being so vague about all of this shit).

Above all recently, trusting people has been so tricky: back in May last year, when I wrote that post about virginity, I had a lot of “trust issues” which have still remained and have actually got worse. Before anything happens, I worry that I’ll just be replaced; afterwards, if and when I am replaced, I take it too personally; my trust got absolutely trampled on by a herd/gaggle of elephants last year to the point where I would think about sex, or even kissing someone, and would nearly cry and so I’d repress it all. Not a healthy way to be but I did it, partly because I didn’t see any other way and also because to me at that time, I believed everyone would lie to me and let me trust them before throwing that trust so hard into the sea that it sank to the bottom of the ocean. (Crap, did I come across as too bitter then?).

Okay, this one’s kind of awkward for me but I’m going to go for it anyway. I have a persistent fear of losing control, whether that’s control physically or emotionally. The former makes me uncomfortable and I’m still trying to figure that one out but the latter is relatively simple: I’m terrified of getting feelings, of trusting people that I shouldn’t, and of repeating everything I’ve done before. Separating the physical from the emotional has done irreparable – at least for now – damage to the way I respond to emotions which means that I’ve had to be overly self-controlled, on top of my already existing fear of being vulnerable. People who have tried to help me with the former “problem” have made the latter problem come to the surface without knowing but it’s still there and so if I’d ever want to get involved with someone, they’d have to understand that despite me sometimes rushing into things, I SHOULD NOT DO THAT because it makes me panic and afraid.

The last thing, and possibly the one that boils more towards the surface and that isn’t repressed is that I’m wildly insecure about my body. This has been a recurring theme on a few posts, casually mentioned sometimes but it’s very real and gets in the way of me feeling wholly comfortable. I don’t do enough exercise and so I think I look drab and boring; I’m very small, utterly unremarkable in my own eyes; I dislike my skin; I just don’t think I’m appealing whatsoever. I know this is something that can be worked through and is about self-esteem and self-confidence, the willingness to try, but I get this incredulity whenever I think that anyone would be remotely interested in me. Yes, it’s damaging and yes, I can solve it easier than the rest but the insecurities have been around for just about as long as I’ve been criticising myself.

All of this stops me – not from getting close to people, because I do that far too often for my liking but from me utterly engaging or feeling happy with everything. I feel like people will get sick of me talking about it but it’s good to talk about and to open up. Whenever I get paranoid that this will always remain, I shut down and don’t think or talk about it because I never take people’s advice and I end up despising myself and becoming absolutely furious. If I could learn, inside my own mind, that shit was okay and that my own self isn’t something to be hated or desperately frightened of, that losing control won’t destroy me, that the people worth trusting are the ones that don’t get tired of you or who are only interested in you for one thing only – the Fear might get a little better.

As you can see, all of these reasons tie into each other; I can’t address one without another one cropping up somewhere. I think I need to find someone I truly trust to help me through those issues but I don’t know how to go about doing that without looking stupid, crying, sounding pathetic or doing all of those. The one person I do consistently trust to talk about this with has helped reassure me but the Fear is increasing. I know this can be considered “normal” but the entire thing worries me, considering that I always seem to wait for things to go wrong.

Whereas before, in the post I linked at the top of this one I thought it was all about my lack of ability to trust people, really it’s a lot more complicated than that. For me, it wouldn’t just be fair to say that I hate losing control or that it’s only past experiences that have made me like this because one affects the other hugely. To get through it, I might need to be more trusting or need to help myself get over my fear of helplessness and you could say that this could be done with the help of someone else but I don’t know if I trust anyone right now. Trusting in myself is the most difficult thing of all.

This has been such a cathartic post, where I’ve let out some emotions and confusion. I’m still figuring it out and this is so disjointed because because I’m unclear as to what I feel, how to solve it or where it all came from. This is an introduction – or rather a re-introduction – into me being more free with my thoughts.

The post that inspired me to write all this, that made me think a lot about my own feelings, was written by Kirithika and it’s one of the best ways to talk about it – casually and reassuringly. You should seriously go and read it!

This post isn’t to tell you how to get over the fear because as you’ve read, I haven’t yet. I don’t have any tips, any advice – just my own personal experiences and worries. If I tried to tell you how to help yourself, I would be a hypocrite. I just hope that, at least, anyone who has gone through a similar thing can feel comforted that they aren’t alone here.

One day, my fear will diminish and I won’t simultaneously want to get close to someone whilst also wanting to shy away and explain, numerous times, why I’m afraid. My mind is complicated but at least I have an outlet for it.

From Elm 🙂

A Firebird’s Song

You thought I was cold
Didn’t you, unable to burn
Like a sparked-out fuse,
Ice-blue and unfeeling, thousand-year-old
Stardust that only hits your eyes
When your love’s been sold.

You thought I wouldn’t open,
That’s true, stark lines on ashes
When I had nothing to lose,
Thoughts on lips, shivers on hands frozen
To your wavering, silk-thin wings
As you flew me words unspoken.

You thought I was freeing
For you, a tick to pass the time, fire
Flickering out as soon as you blew
Out the sparkling light. But for me,
Standing unmoving, thawing heart a shade of wrong,
I could never quite stop seeing

The firelit need to belong-
Never touched you, your glowing eyes
A step away from the truth,
Oblivious as they whispered along
To the melody of another dance-
You made my love a burned-out song.


Sometimes, I pretend I’m cold inside. Sometimes, the people who burned me the most have made me shut down my emotions. Sometimes, I just can’t hold that in any more.
From Elm 🙂

The Music Habits Tag!

Hi!
Long time no speak, write – whatever it is I churn out on this blog. Things have been painfully hectic recently but I’m back with a tag! I can hear you shrieking for joy all the way from here, the air filled with the beautiful sound of silence. Okay no, I’ll shut up and stop whinging; onto the tag!

This was created by my amazing friend Sumedha who is a genius and you should seriously check out her blog. I love this tag of hers and it’s time I yelled about music more on this blog.

The Rules

  1. Tag the creator – Sumedha – so they can read all your answers!
  2. Thank the person who tagged you.
  3. Answer all the questions.
  4. Tag at least three friends.

This sounds fab I NEED TO DO TAGS MORE OFTEN! Right, the questions…

Do you download songs or stream them from apps like Spotify?

I used to download songs onto my phone but I got quite bored of that because I wasn’t able to find new music easily, so now I use Spotify to stream most of my music. For me, it’s easier and takes up way less space on my phone.

What’s your current favourite song?

Ooooh this is a difficult one. I’m really loving the acoustic version of Flicker by Niall Horan because it gives me a vague amount of hope and the piano accompaniment is beautiful. You’ll notice a pattern – I listen to sad songs a lot and the ones that aren’t sad, I’m too ashamed to admit to.

Last song you listened to?

I was feeling bitter and stereotypical so I listened to Let Me Go by Hailee Steinfeld – I actually really like it and it’s one of the songs I listen to that aren’t really weird or sad.

Who are your all time favourite artists?

  1. Katelyn Tarver
  2. We The Kings
  3. Hayley Kiyoko
  4. Alan Walker
  5. Dean Lewis

Oh god, my taste in music is strange… I don’t actually have many all-time favourite artists; I more get obsessed with songs.

Have you been to any concerts?

YESSS, I’ve been to Glastonbury four times – from the ages of 8 to 11- where I’ve seen Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Jay Z, Marina and the Diamonds and a few others. I’ve also seen Rae live, and Hozier, which you can read about here. That was honestly amazing and I’ve loved all the concerts I’ve been to.

Do you play any instruments?

I kind of play the piano, though badly; the main thing I do is sing. On my contact page, you can find a link to my grim Youtube channel that I’m not even allowing myself to call a “Youtube channel”> On there, I occasionally warble out something you might call music, if you were being generous. I quit piano years ago so singing’s the only thing I really have, music-wise.

Do you play your songs on shuffle or choose a playlist?

Recently I’ve been getting really into playlists but I do want to start to shuffle my music more. I kind of like the uncertainty of it on days where that doesn’t stress me out. I’ve created some seriously cringe playlists on Spotify that I really hope I’ve made private…

Name one song that you always skip when it comes up on shuffle

Perfect by Ed Sheeran. I used to really love this song but now, it actually upsets me to listen to it. I’ll listen to it occasionally but I have too many internal things associated with that song to feel entirely at ease when I hear it.

Do you prefer playing songs on speaker or listening in ear/headphones?

When I’m at home, I’ll often listen to music on my speaker or just out loud. However, in public, I always put headphones in because sometimes I have pretty emotional reactions to songs and get embarrassed quite easily if people see me looking happy/upset in public. I don’t know – I’m quite odd.

Is there any popularly liked song that you don’t like?

I really don’t like Hurtin’ Me. It just makes me angry whenever I hear it. I’m listening to it at the moment and getting so furious that I’m going to switch to a less insufferable song.

Where do you usually find new music? Example through shuffle online

Usually, it’s through YouTube, or if something comes up on my Spotify that I’ve never heard before. If my friends really like a song and go on about it a lot, I’ll listen to it just to see what it’s like and quite a lot, I’ll get good song recommendations from it. Saying that, on top of some strange videos in my recommended, YouTube is usually my place to go.

Do you like songs based on tunes/beats or lyrics?

If one is really bad, so if there are shit lyrics or a shit tune, I won’t like the song. However, what usually attracts me to songs are the lyrics; if a song has a particularly relatable theme or line, I’ll automatically get obsessed with it. Some songs I like purely for their beat (but I don’t usually admit that shhh).

Name one song you think everyone should listen to

Waves by Dean Lewis. The first time I heard it, I cried because it pretty much describes how I feel on a day-to-day basis. that, coupled with the piano, makes me feel weirdly comforted whenever I hear it.

And I Nominate

Bethany
Alex
Perfectly Platonic
Bri
Kel


I hope you enjoyed my weird and rambling answers! I don’t have the best music taste ever but I own it…

What’s your favourite song?

From Elm 🙂

Is This All I’ll Ever Be?

I have a tendency to hide my upset behind a mask of being fine, to shut it all down in the hopes that no one will ever ask me if I’m truly okay with things. It forces me to make myself believe that if I’m not okay with things, I’m obviously a terrible person; I’ve been through the same old shit, over and over, because I don’t know how to deal with it otherwise. So here’s me, shouting my low self-worth and momentary hopelessness onto a screen. My last post has made me realise that if I want to love and be able to cry without feeling guilty, I need to start feeling unapologetic for having feelings like this.


Is this all I’ll ever be? Smiling, papering on a grin so that it can’t hurt any more. Setting myself up for disappointment so that I can’t get burned, when really , all I want to do is hope. In my head, hope makes me dangerous; hope makes me want things and `I have so little faith in myself that I don’t believe I should get what I want.

It’s exhausting to keep forcing myself to be okay with being pushed aside. It’s tiring to have to carry on as normal, when my grades are slipping, cracks starting to show and no one really knows the reason why. I pretend, because the real reason is linked to how much I hate myself and how much I hate letting myself never have anything. I let my happiness fall to the side because others’ feelings are more important and then, I end up miserable despite my best efforts to be fine. it seems pathetic. People should get on with their lives and I should be okay with that, when all I want to do is yell and tell them what’s happening in my head. “Deal with it,” they’d say, move on, and there I’d be – silent again because I didn’t push back hard enough.

Do people know how much it hurts? No, because I haven’t showed them; no, because I’ve brushed it all off and it’s only in my mind that the unfair screaming starts, curled in a little ball, shaking and wondering when the fuck this cycle will end. They can’t see past the lies I tell because with this, I’ve guarded it so much that no one can tell – apart from now – how the feelings from 7 and 2 and 1 year ago, from the times I was passive, still tear me apart. I can’t let myself break because of this, I say, breaking.

Is all I’ll ever be the person who’s the extra, never the person who stands centre-stage? Why do I never feel good enough, strong enough, happy enough? It feels as if I’m searching and searching, trying so hard and the only way I can help myself is to post ambiguous posts on this blog that no one can understand. I don’t know how to talk about anything anymore because it’ll all come pouring out; people may think I’m a petulant child. I have such faith in my readers, you guys, who have helped me and listened to years of this shit. But I’m still afraid.

I want to be honest with you. I’m scared of getting hurt so I don’t let myself get upset, outwardly, by people. Inwardly, it’s basically the representation of this post – jumbled, directionless, confused and with nowhere to go. To talk about things is so difficult when the people you can turn to may not have time for you and couldn’t do anything and the people you want to turn to don’t care. Unlike before, nothing is working and I feel locked, sometimes, in a pit of my own making. I don’t know how to get out.

In short, I have too many feelings. I feel afraid when I get a message that I know will upset me. Before I talk to people, before I do anything, I have to prepare myself to shield against outward displays of sadness. It’s got to the point where I have so little faith in my abilities that inside my head is an unhappiness that’s only lifted when I remember my worth. On my face, you don’t see the extent of it. In my words, you can’t see it because I’m good at showing half the truth – just enough for people to be satisfied with my ‘honesty’ – and then fear makes me hide the rest. If I told people how bad I feel about things that have happened, they might run away and not understand. I know I should give a chance to those that love me but my head’s so muddled that I don’t know where to start.

Without being fake, I want to finish this post off with a reminder to you and myself. You dont have to pretend all the time. You don’t have to shove a smile into your mind and hope it sticks because in your head, it doesn’t always stay. I don’t like being the one that takes the shit and never retaliates back but at the end of the day, I don’t know how to stop doing that because I’ve spent so long in that mindset. However, this comes gradually and I know that eventually, it won’t hurt as much. Maybe I’ll feel like I’m worth more than the one you go to when you’re desperate, when you have no options left or the one who you only think about when with me.


Do any of you feel like this too?

I’m sorry for all this negativity. Sometimes, you need to write and write and get things out, no matter how painful. This blog is an outlet and I can’t forget that.

You’re not alone in your mixed up thoughts and a wish to scream them to the world.

From Elm 🙂

Glass Cats, Books and Life’s Fire

There’s a glass cat that I recently put on my ‘ornaments’ shelf. I stood up just now, got it and set it beside me on my bed. I stood up for the first time in half an hour, after I had cried with sadness at the glorious ending to a book, strode over – grabbed the cat – and here it is now. Bare with me here but the cat kind of represents why I’m coming to a huge realisation about how I feel: it represents my love for creating things.

Now, the cat itself doesn’t symbolise why I, just now, remembered why I love the very idea of ideas springing forth from my mind. I finished a book, Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia, and felt so hollow at the fact that it was over that I cried. But then, something changed. The spark that had been growing and growing inside of me throughout the book finally exploded, roaring into life with a sudden shock. It feels like it’s swallowing me up and though it might be temporary, I jumped up with purpose and moved.

I bought this cat in Barcelona, when everything felt like it was too much and too soon and like it was burning. Now, I’m sitting here with it next to me, shaky and feeling so desperately alive that I could cry. If you can see it, the featured image is this cat.

It’s smooth, ears poking out from its head, the nose a faded point and the eyes little more than indents; its head faces forward. Almost rigid, its back only has the most inconspicuous speck of scratch; its sides curve in the slightest amount. It’s got a tail, pointing up and forward and curling. Almost like it’s on the move, its paws feel like they’re ready to run, to take the air by storm. This simple piece of glass, bought in a shop with other such pieces of glass, has lodged itself in my heart. The book made me appreciate things like this, messy and real as it seems to me, sculpted beautifully as it seems to others.

Maybe I’ll write a review on the book, the first one I’ll ever do, because I feel like this book changed my perception of things. It forced me to look at life with all its colours and collages and sounds, to burn up with a need to create and to love and to smash down the boundaries I set for myself. As soon as I had that cat beside me, I grabbed my computer and these words poured out, easier and freer than they’ve been in months, ever since I spiralled downwards. They’re disjointed and brittle but that’s how I feel now.

You may be asking, “What’s a book and a cat got to do with life? Why are you sitting alone in your room, getting emotional about glass, electronic pages and memory?” Well, it’s because it’s restored some faith in my life. It’s taken the twisted parts of myself and righted them for a little while; it’s made me want to make things.

Clutching this cat in my hand, I rushed downstairs with it, palms clammy and heart beating so hard. “Dad, take a picture of this cat!” I almost demanded. I stood there, shaking again, the reality of all of it washing over me.

Fingers sliding over glass and tears at the beautifully continuous story of a character has made me realise that I am real, full of idea and love and a need to be. I want to belong, to thrive, to meet others and laugh with them; I want to create worlds inside my own head that I perform or write about or just imagine in the quiet recesses of my mind. At the end of the day, I’m a dreamer. I wish for things which often seem unobtainable. Instead of shutting these dreams down, I want to revel in them. Eliza taught me that passion and creativity don’t have to always be constant but if you love something, whatever it is, you shouldn’t give up on it. And if you stop doing it, the world doesn’t stop either.

Freedom may only be temporary, fickle, prone to sad and happy books or to others bringing me ‘down to earth’. I don’t care. For now, I can immerse myself in creating anything and not feel guilty. For now, I can remember why I started this blog, why I love it, why I love to share whatever I can create with the world.

I weigh the cat in my hands and set it, lopsided, on my pillow. Perhaps I’m not invincible but that can’t stop me from thinking the world can’t be explored. I want to go, to be, to write, to act, to dream.

No matter if the thoughts overtake me again, a book, a cat and a fire inside me showed me that I am not my fear. I am not just a ball of screams and echoes; I’m a real person with beauty in my smiles and worlds in my words.

This post, with all its jumbled cracks and subtleties, feels freeing. God, I feel like I could belong somewhere; I feel like I do belong somewhere. If only one person reads this post and knows that at this moment I don’t feel so awful, it’ll make me happy. Maybe there will be a thousand smashed glass cats to deal with and a million unfinished books to read but I still have these ones. I’ll still have the cat and the book that set me to write this post.

From Elm 🙂

When I was Made to Talk

I’m writing this just after 1 in the afternoon, half an hour after a counselling session ended. I should be working but I’m a rebel. If you know about counselling, you might be asking, “But your counselling sessions are after school on a Wednesday?” Yes, they are. However, this counselling session was in school and I had no idea about it until I was in the room with the counsellor.

I’m finding it very very difficult to get my words out right now, as I did in the session, and so this post may be a little unfiltered but I’m so upset and shaky that if I don’t write it out, I’ll internalise it all. Although talking does usually help, it has the absolute opposite effect when I’m forced to do it at such short notice. It only works when I can at least gather my thoughts. If this won’t help me, I hope it’ll help you to realise that disclosing things about your own mental health should be on yr terms with your permission, rather than someone else’s. This is all fresh in my mind as I write this; I’m going to go back to this later and post it when I get home.

Now, it’s not like I had no warning. Approximately 4 months ago, when I actually spoke to my Head of Year about how bad I felt, she put me on the list to have counselling from an external counsellor in school but I never heard anything since. I thought she’d utterly forgotten because she always made me feel like my ‘problems’ were just normal hormonal things. Also, I could have refused the counselling straight off when I got in the room but I felt too awkward and guilty to do it, or even to ask not to go next week. I just felt blank and washed out and drained before it had even started because instead of talking to this counsellor – although really lovely – I wanted to talk to the one I go to on Wednesdays, Jane.

I got into the room and asked what I was here for and I was told it was for counselling. I relaxed a little as I thought I’d been in trouble; however, I still felt wildly closed off and unwilling to open up. Maybe if I’m approached it better, I would have had a better reaction but I had no time to do that. From the outset, I just knew that I wasn’t comfortable, above all because I hadn’t had time to get comfortable.

She read out some paperwork, about confidentiality (which didn’t help as I wasn’t feeling stable at all), then I signed a form about information from my sessions being used, of course anonymous, and we started. Right off, I felt disconnected and unprepared and so what I said was utterly raw, very jumbled, neither made sense to me nor her and I don’t know if it was the truth or not. I’m having a day where, with the exception of 2 hours’ solid work in History, I’m questioning my own thoughts a lot and so articulating them is so, so difficult.

Because my brain really hurts and I’m exhausted, I couldn’t have told you what I exactly said. When these kinds of things happen to me, where I panic, I often block it out to make it stop feeling overwhelming. I spoke about myself, my perception of how I feel, paranoia, how I have a distorted view of how I think, the conflict I’ve got between standards I set for myself and the expectation of failure and also not fitting the expectations of what people want me to be. I got so overwhelmed that I stuttered – something I hardly ever do – and felt absolutely cold. I mentioned the acting I did recently, how that made me feel; I talked about how behind I am in work; I talked about my general mental health and how afraid I felt that people hated me. All of this I know. What I don’t know is what she said to help; I don’t know the outcomes of the session. Instead of feeling like I could express myself, it all came out in a sick rush and I felt like I was a brick wall. I barely presented myself realistically – and yes, you could argue that the rambling, unhinged crap that came out of my mouth was me but today, I really didn’t feel well and also felt utterly out of it and unable to organise my thoughts.

After the session ended, I spoke to the counsellor casually but then just got out of there. Stepping outside, the first real thing I felt was the sun on my face and I was trembling because my thoughts were terribly confused, like they’d been shaken up. When talking to family about it, I could barely get my words out again; I texted one of my friends and couldn’t tell him much about what happened because I was in such an internal state. Part of the reason is that I wasn’t prepared; another was that because of confidentiality, I couldn’t talk about the thoughts that were really on my mind. The fact is, despite her being a really nice and patient person, I couldn’t trust her. I couldn’t trust the school and so, although she’s an external counsellor, I couldn’t trust her either.

As I’d previously expressed a need for the counselling, I don’t blame the school for how I felt. I know they thought I knew but I can’t help but be a bit upset – perhaps misplacing this upset – because it made me panic, after it was done, to an extreme. If I could have prepared myself to talk today, maybe I would have got more out of the session. If it had been in an environment where I felt secure, I could have spoken more freely. If I didn’t have the worry of confidentiality, I could have talked about more serious things without being afraid.

When I’m made to talk to someone and I’m not prepared for it, or when it falls on a day where my thoughts are really bad and talking about them is tricky, I shut off and just try and get through. Hopefully, this isn’t going to stop me from opening up in the next few days. I learned today that sometimes, I really can’t talk because I haven’t processed any of my thoughts but that’s okay. It’s not your fault if talking doesn’t help, whether always or only sometimes. People should respect your boundaries – and I know the counsellor had no time to be able to understand mine so of course I don’t blame her. I don’t even know my boundaries until they come up.

Don’t ever feel like you should be forced to talk if words just won’t come out and you can’t form them yet. It can be tricky to know when you truly feel like talking and when you don’t but if it feels utterly wrong to you to talk at this present moment, when you can’t understand what you’re feeling and it all shuts down, you don’t have to.

I don’t think I’ll go the week after next. On top of the fact that I already have counselling, the emotions brought up were too overwhelming and I felt too unhappy to constructively listen to anything. It didn’t feel freeing, or like I could trust it, or like I had another person to talk to. It just felt unpleasant to make myself talk about things that just weren’t prepared in my head.

What are your experiences with school counsellors? This counsellor was very good at what she did but just not for me and not now.

From Elm 🙂