That Incomplete Look at My Life

Today was tiring but amazing. I travelled for a lot of it, going to Cambridge with Kel to visit a good friend of ours before going home: I’ve had a wonderful few days with him, filled with laughs and far too much alcohol for comfort. When I got home, I was exhausted and decided to spend a ‘short time’ going through my old emails for nostalgic purposes. That ‘short time’ turned into nearly an hour of trawling through the little bits of my life I’d shared with people so long ago, when I actually used my email for personal purposes. As you’ll see, it was surprisingly… Eventful.

It’s often the case that when I’m feeling slightly emotional or just need a way to distract myself, my old emails are a good way to centre myself. It’s partly because a lot of them are just confusing or hilarious but it’s more to do with the fact that it always reminds me of bits of my life that I’d forgotten. Not only did I find my old emails but I remembered that I’d forwarded some of them to my friends a few years later, commiserating over how awful they were. My younger self was almost painfully cringe at times but it gives my older self a way to look back and reflect. Now, I’m not sure how much of those emails represented how I truly felt.

Some of them were unspeakably unbearable to read, simply because they made me physically recoil from wincing so hard at my younger self’s actions. There were emails to my ex-boyfriend when I was 11: ‘love u sooooooo much!!!!!!! xxxxxx” and emails to my friends about how ‘upset’ I was: “Don’t tell him I said that” and “I just feel so heartbroken because he wouldn’t talk to me!!!! *screams*”. Alright, some of them were exaggerated but you get the picture. I was prone to massive bouts of drama back then and thought that documenting it was somehow helpful.

The thing is, it is helpful. Only because I know a little of how I thought when I was ‘going through’ what was apparently the ‘worst point of my life’. Now I know, of course, that it was nothing compared to what I actually have gone through but some of the things I wrote were hugely reflective of the issues I’d face in later life. Oh shit, that makes me sound so old.

On the other hand, though a lot of it I can make fun of, some of it was genuinely emotional. It was around the age of 14 – 4 years ago – that I experienced my first heartbreak which wrecked me for a long time afterwards. Reading my words on that, where I had an inability to understand, jolted me right back to how it felt. Reading funny emails between me and my ex-girlfriend was simultaneously painful and smile-inducing because we’ve gone through a lot together. Finding situations where I’d been the toxic person, some of which I didn’t even remember, was a little jarring as well. If I’ve forgotten that, what else have I forgotten?

There was a recurring theme in those emails, especially the ones when I was older, where I began to go through some really unpleasant things. I would constantly be paranoid that my friends were talking about me; I’d sometimes shut down conversations – presumably because I thought no one cared. As I still do, I used to take any kind of rejection to heart and blamed myself for pretty much anything, which was broken up by these awful spells of anger that I rarely get any more but they still happen. Seeing all of that so far back reminded me that there are bits of my life that still feel like a puzzle with a few missing pieces.

It’s like looking at my life through a bit of a haze. For the things I don’t remember so clearly, I only have those emails to go on because back then, before the age of 13, I barely used social media to communicate because I had the shittiest phone that I could barely use. It’s half funny and half horrifying to realise that I’ll never get a complete picture of some parts of my life – all I’ll have is some badly worded explanations to friends, or rants that end with too many exclamation marks to be legible. Saying that, it makes it a little mysterious. How much was I really heartbroken that Rowan was looking at another girl who wasn’t me? Will I ever find out?

I don’t think I can ever know just how many different things I don’t remember fully in my life. Isn’t that just memory, though? It’s fragile and confusing but can pop up in the most unexpected of places to show you a section of your life that teaches you something, or provides you with a bit of laughter when you need it most. Some things in those emails were upsetting; some were just weird but most of all, they were small parts of myself that make me remember that those layers of experience make me up as a person.

That’s what I want to remember. Not how many pieces I don’t quite understand but what the pieces I remember can show me. In the end, this was a good way to end a hectic day: by some sort of mixed-up reflection on who I am.

Do you sometimes feel like this too?

From Elm πŸ™‚

Falling Out of Love

On a beach in Tenerife last summer, with sand blowing in my eyes and something like joy burning in my heart, I realised that I was in love with someone who I knew could never love me back. In October, my heart was thoroughly broken when I was proven right and in November, those feelings had decreased to a painful roar. By December, they’d pretty much gone completely. Whilst realising I had those feelings in the first place was certainly terrifying, the most upsetting part was watching them fade. I want to talk about that now, when it doesn’t feel like the world is falling apart.

Falling out of love is just as it sounds: you fall. The strength of the sadness is shown by whether the eventual crash to the ground is painful or not; whether you’re left miserable for months afterwards or whether the very idea of feelings scares you now. It’s the slow creeping of dread when something happens that shakes your world enough for feelings to go. In short, it hurts but it’s not the sharp pain of heartbreak: it’s slow, draining and you’re left exhausted by the end of it. However, you’re left without those feelings and that can be a good thing.

I’ve “fallen out of love” three distinct times. The first was from a toxic “friendship” that was so beautiful to start off with but it turned into something I depended on in the most unhealthy ways. The second was peaceful but equally as painful; it was realising that there are some utterly right people at the wrong times. At the third, where I didn’t know what was right or wrong, I utterly shattered. I’ve been told that for months, I was blank and so unhappy; I only remember that time in the most distant of ways. However, for all the heartbreak, each separate instance taught me new things. For that reason, I’m glad that they happened: each consecutive one hurt me worse but I gained a whole lot of perspective from them.

The loss of friends and feelings showed me that processing things, for me, can be quite difficult. I realised, the third time, that I had been purposefully blocking myself from thinking or expressing what I wanted, so much so that all of it would be suppressed until it was tangibly ripped away from me. This is why things have been so horrible; I haven’t given myself time to understand how I reacted in the past, or how other people might have reacted to me. I didn’t blame anyone for it and whilst I don’t blame anyone now, I never truly spoke about things the way I needed to. This summer is about understanding both myself and others; I’ve got potentially years’ worth of events to untangle in my head.

After I came to that realisation last summer, I started to write it all down. In the notes on my phone is a specific set of thoughts, going from 22 August to 1 September, essentially documenting what I was feeling. I had no other way to let it out. When I read over them a few days ago, it brought me back to those days but I was also so shocked at how at times happy and at times confused I was. In the mayhem of losing feelings afterwards, the positive aspects of those feelings withered away so that all I could think about was the losing, rather than the love itself. That love was so beautiful and as I still have a lot of respect for the person in question, I almost felt guilty about reading back on what I’d written.

I think back to that windy August day on a Tenerife beach and feel an acute sense of sadness but also this aching nostalgia. When I wonder what could have been, I try to remember how it was to lose feelings so strong that surviving without them seemed impossible. Well – I survived – and I don’t want to have to go back to those desperate wishes to just stop feeling like this, to just please stop because I couldn’t breathe from the unhappiness. Remembering myself back then isn’t filled with regret: it’s just sorrow that the loss of such feelings affected me so deeply.

Now, I’m in a place where the loss of feelings hasn’t occurred in a long while. I still get moments where I think about situations and get a wild spike of remembered pain but it’s not a current pain. I want to have closure – even after all this time – and sometimes, it’s very difficult to let the past be the past when it’s informed so much of what I am now. Getting closure isn’t the same as “dragging up” old memories. It’s taking those old incidents and making something new from them.

Perhaps I’ll speak to the person about how I was feeling – to all of them, if I can. Perhaps I should have done that before writing and perhaps writing this will have unpleasant consequences. I can’t bring myself to mind. I’ve spent too long holding my own mouth closed that it’s time I spoke, a little, about how I felt when I couldn’t at the time.

I don’t want warped and ruined memories any more. I want to be able to look back on the times where I was in love or when I fell out of it without the accompanying fury about myself. When I think of “falling out of love”, I don’t want to think of the crash: I want to think of the happy and the bittersweet moments, without that becoming something to obsess over.

I can’t exactly pretend that I never felt anything in the first place. All I can do is understand that they happened and that that’s okay.

I wish I could have spoken about it on my blog a bit more. However, back then, I was afraid and unable to think clearly, the thoughts too fragmented. Maybe now, I’ll start to have that freedom without simply running.

Have you ever fallen out of love? How did that affect you?

From Elm πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

A Note to a You I Knew

Sometimes, I don’t know how to talk about things. I’m doing this in the only way I can – I’m opening up, in a way, bit by bit. I’m sorry this doesn’t make much sense: it’s me expressing my thoughts after months of not understanding how. A little unpolished, wild and confusing, it’s basically me.


There’s a certain freedom in talking in circles, using flowery language to get my point across and in spinning around a point but never stating it plainly. However, doing that too much makes me feel trapped. When it comes to you, I’ve spun around too many points and I’m dizzy and lost and here I go again, using metaphors. I’ll state it as plainly as I possibly can. 1. This ‘note’ is to someone I don’t know how to talk about; 2. If they read this, they’ll forever think me tragic and 3. I care far too much about that.

I wrote this ‘note’ in pieces, paragraph by paragraph coming at different times. That’s kind of what happened when I processed that things wouldn’t ever be the same, when I admitted that I fucked up a tiny bit and also when I realised that there was no closure to be had with this. I waited for closure, holding on and on and my heart broke so hard that I couldn’t even think about it. When I realised I wouldn’t get to talk, that I’d essentially taped my own mouth shut, that you’d given me the tape and other people had held it there, I kind of collapsed. I only have the energy to be so desperately unhappy about it that all I can do is laugh.

On a train once, I thought about you and my heart thumped because I couldn’t wait to see you and to just talk. It made me smile. The last time I said “I love you” to a friend, my mind screeched back to the time I said it to you. I remember the laughter and the drifting away and the loneliness when I said the words, “All I want is for him to be happy and if he is, I will be too.” and “You are a very lucky person, you know.” Oh, and “Your happiness comes first, remember?” I wish I had been lying when I said all that and god knows if you even know I said those words.

It’s ridiculous how much it hurts. I sit alone and wonder why the hell I approached things how I did; then I wonder how you could do what you did and I realise that you had no idea what you did, then. Is it because I didn’t tell you? Probably. Is it because you wanted your own happiness and I dragged you back from that with my sad hopes? I don’t blame you for that because I should have done the same. I didn’t tell you what I felt when I should have; I didn’t present my tears and terror in the way I wanted and I broke down on someone that wasn’t you. I broke down on someone who held me and understood’ instinctively, what I needed and understood that when I couldn’t speak, it wasn’t because I didn’t want to. It was because I didn’t know how.

I seem to mess things up a lot now. I talk to people too much, send messages when most likely, people you know are whispering and laughing about me and telling you you’re better off without that stupid bitch. Would they be right? Is my self-esteem so low that I’d consider myself an obsessive, clingy, awful person? I think about how I am when I act myself, like with you and the people I’m as close to as I was to you and I laugh because it’s so different to how I feel at this present moment.

“No wonder they don’t care about you any more because you have no sense of who you are,” I tell myself. Then I flinch because I don’t know if it’s just me being paranoid. I run after feelings, desperately searching for happiness and it usually ends with me shoving my own happiness to the back of my head because if I took the chance, I’d be selfish. It’s little wonder that I break down and push my identity so far away to try, and fail, to help others. It’s not healthy and the times I’m happy are the times I help others whilst also being secure in who I am. With no closure, no nothing, I haven’t been able to do that.

People have said that I get and got too involved, that I did something to try and prevent everything from turning out how it was. Yes, I got too involved and I shredded my heart like it was easy. What else could I do but try and when the trying failed, I forced myself to get rid of bitterness. I questioned why I hadn’t been open, why I hadn’t said anything and if I had, I would have been happier. But if I had done something to stop it, it wouldn’t just be me that was unhappy and if you know a single thing about me, you know that I try to put people’s happiness above my own as a form of coping. When I don’t know how to do that and I break because of it, I self-destruct.

I’ve tried to shut it out. I’ve tried to stop myself from wincing every single time I say the words “I love you”, even as a joke. I’ve tried so fucking hard to not care, to become unfeeling, to just accept that this is how it is and that I lost out. Sadly, I can’t. Not yet. I’ll get there, sometime, and that’s what I hold onto.

If you’d like me to be honest, I’ll say that I don’t know how to fix this and that in even speaking about you, I’m misjudging who you are. I don’t know what you think of me; I don’t know what I think of myself; I don’t know how to not break whenever I think about you and about how much you cared for me. I’ll have to face it one day but now? Sorting through all the memories, all the confused emotions and “why’s” and “Is it my fault?”s is too much. It doesn’t stop how I feel, though. You can shut a box but you can’t get rid of what’s inside the box if you can’t open it.

If you’re thinking, “This is disjointed,” you’d be right. I didn’t plan this. Every single thought I express right now is one I want to say to you, in huge detail, on and on until you get sick of me and tell me you hate me. If you think, “She’s got no answers,” you’d also be right because there are 1000 questions going round my head and only one answer. That answer is simple: “I don’t know.”

I’m still here, heart still beating, still feeling and living and breathing. I’m the same Elm, like you were the same you. I lie to protect myself sometimes and when people are unhappy, I rush to help others without considering that they might want to help me too. I can no longer think of a city without thinking of dances and heartbreak, gripping a hand so hard it hurt and sitting on the stairs, alone, because I didn’t know what to do.

You won’t read a word of this and if you do, I want you to remember that I’m not angry. In any of it, I was never angry. I was just hurt because I feel as if I have no identity and no way of expressing any of my feelings. I feel as if the ability to speak my mind has been taken away from me in this situation, which has made my ability to speak about anything difficult.

There’s no one to help me reconnect to you but you. I think I’ll just have to help myself.

Love from Elm πŸ™‚

Things I Miss About Love

I miss the little things. Interlacing fingers, or the memory of them; I miss waking up in the morning and smiling at the knowledge that feelings were okay and that if nothing came of it, at least I would be. Talking until late, laughing and seeing a name on my phone without being afraid that the name hates me. Simply put – I miss it feeling okay that I love someone.

I miss the leaping spark in my heart, catching with the wind and flittering until it grew stronger. The fire burned like it was meant to burn, red and orange flames coiling around my happiness. I miss the warmth, not shaking uncontrollably when I said the words “I love you” because the fire and little sparks felt like a friend. I don’t understand how to be friends with the fire any more.

I miss feeling whole, the solidity of a presence and the surety of feelings completing my heart in a way it hadn’t been in such a long time. Like sand on a beach, it’s sifting through my fingers; I miss wave upon wave of “this is real, the truth – this is how I feel!” crashing over me. I’m prone to fancies and running but that time, I didn’t chase after an empty hope in a heart-shaped box. I miss not feeling frayed, whether it’s because I was in love or because now I feel unhappy all the time I don’t know. I miss feeling like the connection from heart to love was a lasting thing, a silk-red ribbon braided up like it was meant to be twisted.

I miss feeling truly right within myself or right around someone else, suspended in a moment without panic. “The moment between breaths,” I call it, the quiet contentment that this was correct and that I was not misplaced and not an “other”. I miss laughing with the person whose feelings mirrored mine, twin smiles on different faces and, for one second, a shared happiness. Now, with the love gone it would have been bearable but with the heart broken, it feels so suffocatingly wrong.

I miss songs playing and associating them with happy memories, sweeps of violin and voice coupling in a dance. It seems as if songs hold a crushing weight, not delicate like the way you spoke to me or straightforward, like I’d like to be to you, if I can. It has a double meaning, marinated in lies and love and sadness for 3 weeks until the melodies set themselves on fire.

⠠⠊ miss my insecurities about my body not mattering for a while. I miss feeling as if I were confident in one way – although love could never wipe away my mind like love was a “healer” – but I miss remembering that at one time, my feelings were returned. I miss being enough for just one person, not feeling attention-seeking and being justified in my feelings.

I miss counting the days since a beautiful time happened – 4 weeks since I felt “I love you”, 9 weeks since my heart broke, 2 weeks since my hopes got lost and 1 week since I cried. I miss imagining counting the stars and it not hurting, as if something so infinite as a star would care.

I can’t wait until I no longer miss these things. When you feel like you’re breaking from missing someone, when they have no idea, it’s so hard to remember that one day, it won’t hurt so much. One day, I’ll stop missing feeling like I can think of things without something welling up inside me.

I’ll fall in love again and I’ll miss it again and it’ll be okay. I just have to get there. Can I do that?

I don’t know any more.

From Elm πŸ™‚

She is Me | Who I Used to Be

There was a girl once that was afraid of saying “I love you” but after a while, she got over her fear and revelled in the blooming exultation of wanting to say it. That girl said it to someone, happy, smiling because it was correct and there was no fear attached, no turning back from the gaping yet welcoming truth. The idea of a feeling crashed inside her chest as waves on sand, shaking with the enormity of it; she carried it in her heart, a glorious gift of secret longing. Solid and golden, it was just beyond the hand of someone else, flittering; they kept it, shared, forever. Until it wasn’t.

There was a girl who loved writing. Words poured out of her, like expelling a breath; they tangled together in waves and shadows and created pictures she couldn’t see. She tasted the air and it echoed with words: there were letters in her smile and the solace she got was from creating a story. With eyes shining with new life, she took the whole world in as if it was hers to rebuild – as if she could change the world with a grin. She was poetic and altogether too whimsical, sharply realistic yet also prone to fantastical dreams in her spare time.

This girl devoured music, floating along with pianos and guitars yet grounded with her voice. Singing, not bird-like but nature-like, connected her to reality in the same way that writing let her explore it. She would spent time smiling over songs, heart swelling as the individual notes gave her some identity. Now, that view is glorified – perhaps she just listened – but to me, she was beautiful in it.

Despite her protests, she adored learning – it lit a spark in her as she ranted over books, characters growing and being shaped inside her head. It was as if she herself was a book, filled with little nuances that only came to light after she didn’t know herself much any more. They were good traits, solid, dependable – she was motivated, a steady pulse of resolve thrumming round her body.

Loyal, strange, sometimes wild, heart fluttering at the touch of a hand and when she kissed someone for the first time, her heart would warm whenever she thought of it. There was a little basket of memories she kept inside there, of people who loved her and called her beautiful – of the people she believed when they told her, even if she said she didn’t. Looking at her now, you wouldn’t think it; she doesn’t think it. Was that how she really was? Is she pretending she was more? When I think of her, though, I think of someone who, though still within me, was far more open and happily honest.

As her heart broke, that girl became more herself; she had morals and a complex, wonderful mind that loved her friends more than her own happiness. She was not happy, yet she was slightly content; she had a wealth of emotion among her shattered love that rose to the surface with an easy push. She was respectful, heart clanging painfully yet flowering with blossoms of hope and closure and expressed mourning. She was a whirlpool, except the foam rose high into the air, still holding hands and wishing fervently, a string-tether to her heart, for any kind of happiness.

I say this because this girl didn’t realise what was right in front of her until it had moved on. In living life, she didn’t know how much she cherished it until she wasn’t she any more, until she was replaced by someone who is more of a blank. The vibrant colours and personal identity, once so flourishing and silver, became bronze and duller as she grew smaller. She’s still there, in a little cavity called Hope, in a little drawer called Please Remember Me.

That girl is buried somewhere. I’d really, really like it if she came to the surface one day. Maybe she will; maybe I’ll remember that she is me. “Please Remember Me,” she whispers, after all. I just have to wait.

From Elm πŸ™‚

The Story of a Life

I don’t know what to title this. I don’t know if I can give a title to all my conflicting emotions. Whatever this ends up saying, it’ll be simple words for a complicated story – not my story – that I feel like I need to tell. I don’t know who else is going to tell it but I want to, anyway.

I don’t want to ask you to do something but if you could, would you read to the end of this? This is the story of a woman I barely knew; this is the story of someone who appeared to have such little hope left but this is a story that, for all its unhappiness, needs to be told.

My grandmother on my father’s side came to England in her early twenties, shortly after she married my grandfather. It was the 60s and she, coming from Sweden, knew a bit of English and learned it from the television. She’s deaf, with her hearing having got worse throughout her lifetime. But this is not her story. This is the story of someone she knew.

My grandma went to work in translation. It was her first job in England and there, she met a woman called Inga-Britta. Her boss, Inga-Britta was also Swedish and at some point in her life, whether before or long after she met Grandma, she became deaf as well. They were friends and as first friends often do, they stayed in contact. They had known each other for over 50 years.

I won’t say much about Inga-Britta’s life. I don’t feel like it would be respectful to her or the people she knew to reveal the details, like it’s some kind of thing to be whispered about. It was not a happy life by any means but it was a life, the little I know of it. She had a son who passed away; she had friends; she had my Grandmother and a woman called Beryl, her next-door neighbour called Joan. I won’t pretend to know her likes, dislikes or anything like that. All of what I know has been pieced together over the last few years.

Long ago, perhaps 10-15 years ago, she moved into a care home. She had dementia but she could remember Swedish, a little English; she knew my Grandmother but not my dad. For years, she’d been ill, in and out of hospital but it was what it was and she carried on. She’d forget key details about her life but she always remembered my Grandma and I suppose it was because it was an old memory.

I grew up hearing her name, from my Grandma going to visit her and then, later, my father and I going to see her. My dad used to go to bookshops and ask for large print books (her sight deteriorated) and whenever they had them, he’d take them to her. It was memories like that that made her stick in my mind: she was my dad’s “Auntie Inga-Britta” and that was how it was.

One day, we went to see her and brought books, a lamp which my dad helped put up on the wall and some biscuits. I held her hand, smiled at her and listened to her talking. Although she forgot who we were halfway through, it was okay because it was Inga-Britta and she was there. My grandmother had explained to me that would be how it would be. That’s the last memory I have of Inga-Britta; it’s one of my only memories aside from remembering Grandma and her speaking Swedish.

Yesterday evening, she died. It wasn’t unexpected; she had been ill for months, getting worse. I only found this out after I heard but my grandma had gone to see her, holding her hand and talking in Swedish even though she couldn’t hear. Grandma told me that herself, that it was sad but that it was the best thing under her circumstances. It would have been more cruel for her to keep living and she’s now at peace, whatever peace is. She died peacefully, in her sleep I think and whether it was a nurse or a staff member, she always had people holding her hand.

I cried, partly out of shock. Inga-Britta was someone who I thought, perhaps naively, wouldn’t pass away for years to come. She was always there and awfully, when she wasn’t, it made me realise the sheer mortality of myself. I cried for that and Cried for her and I suppose, Cried for the people who’d never be cried over. Even though she wasn’t one of them. Even though I had little right, not knowing her or them or the stories of anyone.

I am sad. I’ve been unable to concentrate, from a mix of strange grief and contemplative silences. I almost feel like I’ve got no right to mourn her when I only knew her as Inga-Britta, my grandma’s friend.

The tragedy for me was not in her passing but rather in the life she had before it. It was okay, true, but it wasn’t something happy or joyous. It was sad and it was a life in a sea of lives but to me, it means something. To people, it may be just an old woman who had dementia, who passed away peacefully but to me? She was Inga-Britta, just that, and she was a friend of my Grandmother’s.

I want you to understand something. Everyone has a right to grieve; everyone has a right to be sad over a life of which they’ve maybe, only, seen a corner. I may not know anything about Inga-Britta really and perhaps I’m making awful assumptions, telling a story that isn’t real but to me, it was and is real.

This was not a story of someone who fought. This was not a story of someone who gave up and was weak. This is a story of someone who just was. There will always be stories like that and that’s okay.

I’m sorry if this has affected you in a negative way. I’m always here to talk and listen if you’re grieving.

There are some stories – some lives – I’ll never forget. Hers is one of them. I hope, in some way, you’ll remember her too if only in snatches of thought.

From Elm

My Changing Views on My Sight

I feel like sometimes, people with sight assume that visually impaired people either really want to be sighted or really don't – more leaning towards the former. That may be a generalisation on my part but I've found that whenever I explain my (long) stance on it, I get a surprised reaction. I don't fall into those two neat categories. Instead of trying to force people to feel how I feel, I'll walk you through why I have such a complicated view on things because every single person is different, whether you're completely blind, partially sighted or are somewhere in between.

Shortly after I was born, I lost the majority of my sight to a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity. Of course, being weeks old, I don't remember seeing. Although I have a tiny bit of useful vision, I have no real concept of true colour, faces or how things actually look – and, having never had anywhere near good vision, I don't even know how to describe that to you in a way that you or I could understand. Throughout my life, I've been content with that to varying degrees but as you'll read, the level to which that is has changed rather drastically.

In primary school, some years before the age of 11, I wanted to see in an abstract sort of way. I didn't understand what it was – before the age of 4, I thought I was like everyone else. To be presented with the fact that you aren't like other kids was something I didn't think affected me at the time. However, now, I can remember feeling quite lonely: I couldn't join in much at break with the sighted kids; I learned Braille and used a Perkins (a large Braille machine) which set me apart from everyone else; I did different art and had teaching assistants with me, including one who helped me at lunch to begin with. I knew my little school and though it brought me comfort, I felt sad because I couldn't run with the others. Though I never cried about it or never really registered it as an issue, I hadn't met any other VI people before the age of 8. My weird isolation turned into a wish to do things I couldn't, to see what I couldn't – I told a teacher once that I'd really like to see and she sounded so sad afterwards. I'm not ashamed to say that I felt like that: as a child, I still had a lot to learn about myself and it's so difficult to not want to see if you're presented with the fact that you can't every single day.

From the age of 11, I started to meet more and more people who had sight loss and really got involved in the community. I went to what I called "blind camps", weekends away, events with those in my local area and talked to my VI friends on Facebook. I go to a mainstream school with a unit for VI people because I thought it would give me independence. The majority of my friends were sighted (they still are) but even so, I loved knowing people like me because there were people who got it, whereas in my primary school – though they didn't pick on me – they just couldn't understand much. Instead of wanting to see, my attitude polarised: I absolutely didn't. This might be difficult to explain.

Being visually impaired let me do so many things I otherwise wouldn't. I met authors (although that's not common – it was for a thing which I was chosen for); I can meet beautiful and amazing people; I've done so many activities that have made me more well-rounded as a person. I wouldn't have started this blog if I wasn't VI: I'd be a different person and I liked myself how I was. Back then, the thought of a "cure" genuinely terrified me. I thought about how much I'd have to learn: to recognise things, learn to read and write again – which as an adult would be more difficult, learn to keep my balance (I have no depth perception) – it would be overwhelming. I'd also have to adapt to seeing out of both eyes, something which I've never had before. I have a huge fear of the unknown and I don't understand how people can cope if they see colour for the first time. I know that if I woke up one day to full sight, I'd be screaming in terror because everything would be too much and would, probably, feel unreal. Anyhow, I was utterly anti-me getting sight "back".

Now, it's not so simple. I totally understand why I felt how I did before: to me, they're both rational thought processes and are what many people do feel, both those who have lost their sight recently and those who haven't. However, I sometimes change from being frustrated at my lack of sight, to vehemently wanting to stay this way, to just not giving a shit on a daily basis.

In a word, it's messy. I can't give you a clear-cut stance: getting my sight would be useful, yes, but I don't know if I could deal with the changes. It's not so easy as to say "you'll learn" because if you present someone with something they have literally no concept of, they may not come out of the shock for a long time. To have changing viewpoint doesn't help me figure out what I really want: all the ways I, and you, feel are valid but it's tricky when for me, there isn't a set answer I can give. Luckily though, I have less fear than I did before.

This may not even be how I feel in two years: I could have a viewpoint turnaround – who knows? For now, though, I'm happy to just live my life. It's not easy to be able to just accept things and I'm still learning how. Unlike before, I don't think about my sight that often – just when it comes up. It's just a thing that is and it's taken me years to fully accept that. I may have said I was okay with it but really, I wasn't; it's only now that I realise that I'm bothered sometimes but it's nowhere near all the time.

I'm just one person. There are hundreds of thousands of other visually impaired people around the country and the world who'll have a wildly different view to me. Some don't want to see and some do; some have gone all their life without sight and some have lost their sight only a year ago – each can have their separate stance on this which is all completely fine. Some people can't deal with sight loss because it's the loss of a sense; everyone takes their own time to come to terms with everything. People change and people are okay for changing.

I hope that me talking about my thoughts has helped you understand me a little better. Again, remember that I'm just one visually impaired person and someone else will probably give you a totally different answer. If you've got any questions, leave them in the comments below; I'll do my best to answer them! In addition, if I offended anyone by the words in my post, I'm extremely sorry.

If you'd like to talk about your experiences, you can always email me or leave a comment. I'd love to know your thoughts – either on having vision or, if you have another disability, how you feel about it in general.

From Elm πŸ™‚

Why Telling the Truth is Good

When you’re in a difficult situation, where your brain convinces you to lie to someone because you think it’ll hurt less (it doesn’t) and because you’re scared of them thinking worse of you, telling the truth after that can be extremely tricky. It can hurt both yourself and others but there are a lot of positives to doing it and getting over your fear. On Wednesday, I told two of my best friends the entire truth about a situation that I had experienced three months ago or so and though I sobbed like a child in the nearly deserted common room, it was worth it and it needed to be done.

Upon explaining everything, both to them and another friend before, I came to rather, lise that I’ve been lying to the point where it’s damaged relationships. Telling the truth may be hard but it’s necessary for you to feel happy. If you’re struggling over telling someone something, I want to explain some of the positives to you.

It strengthens relationships
Admitting you lied to someone is really nervewracking and they may be annoyed at you for it. I’ve certainly experienced that but what I found, above all on Wednesday, was that people much prefer it when you tell them the truth. If you’re honest and tell them how much you fucked up, it shows them that you trust them. Trust may be broken at first because they may believe that you didn’t trust them enough to tell them the truth in the first place but when you admit that to them, it can add a level of understanding to your friendships. I won’t lie: it could go the other way but the gamble of honesty is worth it.

Things aren’t so complex
Not only does lying upset other people but it can leave your head in a mess as you try and remember who knows what; it’s a horrible state to be in because you can end up manipulating people. It is only natural, therefore, that you should remove those feelings as soon as possible. One of the easiest ways to do that is to tell as many people the truth as you can who you’ve lied to; it clears it up, lets people in on how you’re feeling and makes your head less cluttered. People have asked me why I’ve been feeling so awful but I haven’t been able to explain it properly until I told Wren and Red everything that went on. The simple act of explaining it caused my mind to relax a little from the painful twisting state it had been in; the first person I truly told[q~@]- who I’d lied to – started that relieving; my other friends carried it on.

You feel happier and less awful
Guilt is a central part to lying and it’s one of the worst consequences of doing something horrible. By owning up to it and telling someone, it doesn’t weigh as heavy: it’s still there, especially because of the disappointment that is (rightfully) displayed at how you lied, but at least some of it goes away. You also feel happier because for me, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t have to hide or pretend and if I hadn’t told the truth, I would have fallen apart. I was already doing that and it took me explaining shit for me to understand just how bad it was.

You can show people you’re able to move forward
If you’ve got your own thoughts for company, wherein only you know how you’ve been feeling or what you’ve been doing, it means you can’t move on. If you’re good at sorting out your own feelings then it’s okay but if you’re like me, the thoughts spin round and round in your head with no resolution. It hurts and does me no good. On the contrary, sharing things with other people helped me to face up to it and understand what I’d done; it really allows you to move on from the situation by forcing the results of it to become apparent to you.

You can understand who your true friends are
Lying is only an okay thing when it will have no consequences for anyone. When it does and you then tell someone the truth, it’s natural and understandable that they’ll be upset with you. In fact, I’d want people to be angry with me for misjudging their personality enough to lie to them. It absolutely wasn’t fair of me to do that. However, when I told Wren and Red, they explained that they still loved me, always have and always would and that this wouldn’t change that. I figured out that the people who are my real friends, who – whether sensible or not – would stick by me are the ones that can see the reasons why I lied and let me make up for it, as well as move forward. Some things are unforgivable and I don’t blame people for being upset with me because I would be but I know that if such trust is lost by lying, perhaps it would be best that the person distanced themselves from me.

You aren’t superhuman. You’re going to make mistakes, lie and upset people. It’s alright to do that. However, as terrifying as it is, telling the truth can make things a lot easier. Not in all cases but in a lot of them, honesty can be the best solution.

If you’re hurting right now and don’t understand why someone did what they did, think about it from their perspective. That can apply to those who lied and those who are angry because you lied. There are always more than two sides to a story.

From Elm πŸ™‚