Some Thoughts About My Identity

I’ve been thinking for the past few weeks. Though that’s never a good thing, because me thinking usually results in a catastrophe, this time it’s been about my identity. Along of bemusement and a heavy dose of yelling to my friends about how confused I am, I might have started to piece together a bit more of who I think I am.

Because my thoughts are quite jumbled, I’m going to try and organise them into sections. They’ll overlap, but that’s the beauty of life, right? (I honestly have no idea how this post is going to go, so bare with my strange ramblings).

Sexual Attraction

In terms of who I’m sexually attracted to, I know it could be any gender. I know that I can get incredibly strong sexual and physical attraction to people. It’s happened many times before, even if I don’t necessarily know them. However, the sexual attraction becomes stronger the more I know somebody. Saying that, I am honestly afraid of intimacy with anyone I don’t know very well and even when I do know somebody very well, I still can become really nervous. I think this is because I was emotionally damaged from situations before that I become wary of people that I trust, in case they do something similar. In addiN to that, I am afraid of losing control in a situation where I might embarrass myself. The attraction, as well as the fear, builds up over time but I’ve found that attempting to repress this attraction can make it a lot worse.

Romantic Attraction

This one’s a bit more tricky. A lot of the time, I get romantic and sexual attraction confused. However, I know that I do experience strong romantic feelings for people; I’ve “fallen in love” three times as far as I’m aware. This attraction is normally only strong when I know somebody really well. To people I don’t know so well, I can get attracted but it’s only often a surface attraction that easily fades. Like physical attraction, I also get scared of my feelings most of the time. This causes me to run away from them, or try, which can then block me from feeling anything.

How They Interact

This is where all the confusion starts. When doing anything intimate, if there isn’t any kind of romantic subtext, I can feel a little sick afterwards. This “sick” feeling also happens if I’m only romantically, and not sexually, attracted to a person. I will never feel entirely invested in someone if I’m just physically attracted to them but nothing else; this doesn’t stop me from being involved with them but it can cause me to panic somewhere down the line. As well as that, if I’m involved with someone in one way, it can progress to the other way as well: for example, if I just had romantic feelings for someone, I could then develop physical feelings and vice versa, the latter having occurred more than once.

I DO NOT HAVE A CLUE

All of this comes from experience, where I can relate every single thing I’ve said in this post to a situation that has happened. This means I don’t know if the same patterns will continue in the future. I know I’m scared of things and that to some extent, I’ve always been way, way more attracted to people who I know but recent experiences that have happened mean that I don’t fully understand how to commit to even those people who I adore with all my heart.

There isn’t much clarity here but I knew that, even as I began to write this post. I’m still extremely confused and there isn’t one way of saying, “Oh! This is me then.” I’m hesitant about committing to anything, just in case my indecisive brain decides to do a U-turn. However, as I said earlier, I’m very sick of having to pretend to not feel things.

All I know is that my thoughts on feelings and sexuality are complicated and can’t ever be fully explained with a simple few words. Part of it’s always been there but part of it’s to do with past experiences that have shaped my personal thoughts on what I’m comfortable with. Finding the different parts that fit into those two – or more – categories is going to be tricky and I may never fully figure out which might be which. Isn’t that what life is, though? Not always being sure of how things fit together?

I’m not going to attach a label to it right now, or maybe not ever. It might change – in fact, it probably will. If I commit to a label now, I might have further panic if that then changes again.

I want to live and fall in love again but I also need to work through a bunch of identity troubles first. Or rather, I want this to be a slow process because I’ve rushed things before and that is vastly unpleasant, to say the least.

Have you ever had confusion about your identity? What did you do to help yourself figure it out?

From Elm 🙂

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 🙂

Halfway There?

A quick side-note before I start: I have had Livin’ on a Prayer stuck in my head for the past hour as I was thinking about this post, simply because of the chorus. Along with book titles and other miscellaneous songs, this one really gets me because WOOOOAAH WE’RE HALFWAY THERE!

Apart from the atrocious posts of 2015, I think that was the worst transition between subjects I’ve ever done. Because yes: I’ve had four exams; I have three left. Isn’t it a time to celebrate? Well… No. It’s a time to update you all.

For the past week, I’ve been in a self-made cave of isolation apart from when I gallivant off to exams. Even then, I’m in a room by myself (and an invigilator). It’s because I Word Process – a fancy way to say I use a computer to write my exams – and I get extra time. It’d get lonely except that I’m usually shouting with frustration. For instance, today, I said “Oh fucking god” when I had to figure out a diagram for Psychology. I wish i was joking.

Until they’re over, I’m not going to contemplate exams too much. I’ve spent enough time crying over my first Psychology exam and then genuinely yelling at myself for misinterpreting my English paper to last a lifetime. It’s so exhausting to keep thinking, over and over, that I fucked up only to be told I should stop it because “you’ll do well anyway.” If I believed that wholeheartedly, I wouldn’t be terrified out of my mind.

Right, that’s enough of that. I’m going to do an exam recap like I did last year at the end. For now, I’m going to do a quick runthrough of what’s been happening. Bullet points are my friend and I got about 5 hours of sleep last night so my mental capacity isn’t great right now.

•It’s Pride Month which fills me with happiness. When I’m done with exams I’ll write some Pride posts but in the meantime, check out Lu’s amazing post on LGBTQIA+ representation in YA, Lia’s Pride Month TBR and Bethany’s post on coming out.
•Speaking of Pride and sexuality, as I said in this post, I’ve been having a lot of thoughts about my own identity, particularly my romantic orientation. I really want to make a post about it but long story short, I don’t know what I’m feeling: I know what kind of people I’m attracted to but I don’t know how far my attraction goes or what my limitations are. It’s confusing and I don’t want to commit to a label yet, possibly not ever, but SOMETHING IS HAPPENING INSIDE MY MIND
•I’ve come down with some kind of cold/virus which means I’m coughing constantly and occasionally think that my throat is on fire. Taking exams has been a struggle because for once, I feel very physically ill and my mental health isn’t totally terrible
•I might be getting my Prom dress adjusted this weekend; I’m kind of nervous even though I know it’ll be fine because I’m still not the biggest fan – to put it lightly – of my appearance. I’m irrationally afraid that it won’t fit me after the adjustments have been done.
•The friends I’ve spoken to recently have been amazing. I say ‘spoken to’ because my communication with people has been even worse lately, what with exams and confusion and illness but when I do emerge into the land of technology, I always get surprised at how fantastic people can be. That might sound horribly sentimental but at this point, I don’t care
•I’ve been trying not to implode from work but it’s been a near thing; sleep is elusive but I’m going to try and rest this weekend as much as I can
•Things with Pearl, who I talk about on this page are going really well. I’m still going to wait until after exams to properly process all my feelings but I’m relatively secure, meaning that I’m not screaming or panicking out of fear yet. This is me though, so only time will tell.
•Pearl also knows about my blog but I haven’t shown it to her yet – she found my Twitter (because I don’t exactly do a great job at hiding it) but has respected me asking if she’ll wait until after my exams to look at the blog. There are things I want to explain to her before all of it because my blog, and showing it to people, has always been a private thing and I want to be as careful as possible instead of running headlong into all of the big decisions
•Exams are draining the life out of me because I haven’t read a book in a long while and i miss it. I also haven’t written anything substantial in ages as well but my mantra for getting through this is that I’ll be able to do everything after exams

So, there you have it. My brain is wired for revising right now; I can’t do much else. My energy levels are only now starting to rise as this virus thing clears up. I need sleep and I need it soon otherwise I may scream.

How are you all doing? I miss the blogging community so much. I’ll be back on my game ONCE EXAMS ARE OVER I CANNOT WAIT.

From Elm 🙂

A Huge Update Because I Didn’t Post

When I looked at my blog and discovered that the last post I wrote was on 4 May, I screamed silently for about 5 minutes before realising that a post was in order. For my peace of mind – and yours, if anyone is still around? *Squeaks hopefully* That sounded more needy than I wanted to GIVE ME ATTENTION PLEASE IS ANYONE LISTENING?

Right. I’m going to pretend that monstrosity of writing didn’t just happen and get onto the update. Loads of things have happened over the last 4 weeks; I’m not sure where to start. I may just go and structure a brief outline, come back and commence with my yelling.

One of the biggest things, possibly the biggest thing, is that school ended last Thursday. I now no longer have any official lessons; my Year 13 classes have stopped. The only thing left is exams and a couple of revision sessions. That’s so disorientating – to think, 14 years of education are now over. Time has gone so quickly whilst also crawling by at particular moments. I’m sure I’ll cope with this change but how whole will I be on the other side? Who will I be without going to that school every day? It brings me back to the end of primary school, where I knew I was going into a place where I didn’t know many people. Starting again, I suppose you’d call it.

Recollecting on that last day, I had a bunch of emotions that I didn’t know how to handle until it was over. Wednesday was my last day of lessons; the next day, I had no classes but went in anyway. Armed with brownies and a heavy dose of trepidation, I expected to feel so many things but just… Didn’t, until it was almost too late. I sang, in the end of year assembly; it was You Don’t Know by Katelyn Tarver – a song which meant so much to me and will always mean so much to me. I was beyond terrified – I shook; I freaked out beforehand on Wren. When I sang, I forgot all that when I got really into the song; I had to distance myself from it a bit in case I genuinely started crying – that song captures all the mixed up fear I’ve been feeling for years. Afterwards, I stood there for a few seconds absorbing it all, my other friend Red helping me off the stage. The aftershocks of those emotions made me shake even more and I think that’s what started all my feelings off. It drew to the end of assembly and we started to say our goodbyes. It was then that it hit me. I wouldn’t be seeing many of these people for ages; possibly I would never see some of them again – and beneath the blind jokes I disguised my pain with, something about the sorrow of not getting to know people when I should have nagged away at me. Taking pictures was surreal; seeing Laurel – a girl I used to have a crush on – and feeling nothing was relieving more than anything. As our group of friends stood outside, hugging and occasionally shouting, I realised just how much I’d miss them all. On the way back home, I cried and I don’t know whether it was from ittersweet happiness or an overwhelming sadness.

That just leaves revision for my A-Levels, which start in a week. I’m so scared I could scream but I just have to get through it. On Friday, I went to an English revision session and I genuinely felt confident; the points I was making weren’t shot down. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever done but it was productive. I’m just worried I won’t be able to do this, that I’ll totally crash.

However, there have been a few bright spots – one of them is Pearl, who I talk about in this post. The last update i gave was when we’d met for the first time. I then briefly mentioned we’d seen Love Simon together – which was beautiful and magical – and since then, she’s been round to mine once; I’ve been round to hers twice, met her sister and pets and had an amazing time. We kissed, when she’d been at mine and the anxiety I felt about how terrible I was was only lessened by a ton of reassurances from her – why am I always like this? I don’t know what our relationship status is – all I know is that I’m a bit confused but also not willing to let this go. I don’t know. I’ve been having a few troubles with my identity recently, which I’ll get onto later. Despite not wanting to, I’m scared I’m not communicating enough; I don’t know how to do relationships – or whatever is happening – anymore. I’m not good at trusting people properly – only trusting them enough to know that they won’t hurt me intentionally. Intimacy is still a problem but I care about her a lot and think she’s wonderful. Nothing in my mind has twisted enough yet to tell me I’m lying about that.

A huge positive was also Eurovision. I can’t overstate how much I love that show; because my parents weren’t okay with me going out that day, I watched the final quietly, only properly shouting once or twice at the results. During the semifinals, I got really involved in an awesome group chat where we yelled about the performances – it included Kel, Lia, Lisa, Bethany, Em, Elly and Michelle. I memorised a bunch of lyrics to the songs, sang along, got far too angry when Denmark didn’t get many points and just generally wailed about the thing for a week. To be honest, I’m still not done shrieking over it.

For some weird reason, I’ve been more socially active the past month – although it still exhausts me and communication outside it is still an issue. On Friday, after our revision session, I went to Swan’s house where she was having her birthday party. There, I laughed violently, had an honest conversation with Wren about how I was feeling and sang songs far too loudly. It was a wonderful time, including the hilarious Cards Against Humanity game that was comprised of far too many inside jokes and points of cackling to be considered, well, family friendly even for Cards Against Humanity standards.

I can’t exactly pretend like things have been 100% amazing; they just haven’t. I had an incredibly horrible panic attack last Monday which stopped me going to history; I’ve had a couple of days where I feel so sick that everything looks bleak and confusing. A couple of weeks back, I went to an introductory session to CBT with the hope of attending a proper group session this Thursday. It made me realise a couple of things: firstly, that the feelings of fear I felt before the session were what I felt most days and that I was only realising this because I was about to potentially express them. I also didn’t know how comfortable I was with the group aspect – I still don’t know. Coming to the conclusion that this shit can’t be solved with a single session reminds me of how I felt after my first proper counselling session. Not hopeless, not angry, but a mix of intimidated and contemplative. My mental health has been bad but once exams are over, maybe I can start to pick up the pieces and figure out what’s really going on.

Oh god, I need to talk about what’s happening with my thoughts about expressing my identity. Really, this needs a post of it’s own and I don’t know where to start. Acknowledging it as something that I’m confused about has literally happened in the last week or two. The short story is that my relationship with romantic feelings and sexual feelings is confusing at best and what the actual fuck do I feel? if stated plainly. I can be attracted to people quite quickly but I’ll only ever really enjoy doing anything, even kissing for instance, if there’s a romantic subtext. Sure, I’d enjoy it but I would always feel more blank and strangely upset. Romantic attraction is even more confusing because sometimes, I don’t know if I’m romantically attracted to someone unless someone straight up asks me and forces me to examine it; also, I’ve found I can only really be romantically attracted to someone I know quite well. Because of some unresolved situations, my brain is so confused right now; I don’t know what or how I feel, or even how to explain it. That’s why I’m hesitant about expressing all of this to Pearl – I wouldn’t know what to say – “I’m scared I’m going to accidentally upset you and push you away because I’m confused about who I am?”

Probably, the only concrete thin you can get from this post is that I’m confused and suspended in some kind of emotional limbo, mixed with a bunch of turmoil, that I can’t hope to figure out until my A-Levels are finished. Getting some of this out has helped but there’s still so much I haven’t said. This could only be a short outline anyway – I have so much to write and not enough time to write it in. Things will fall into place, just not right now.

I’m sorry if this has been too hectic or too negative. I’ve missed my blog but I’ve forgotten how to organise my mind; I want that freedom back. Explaining my thoughts to a little part of the internet has always helped me far more than anything else has. Thanks for putting up with it – I hope you’re all doing good.

If you need help or just a chat, I’m still here. That can’t change.

From Elm 🙂

Everything’s a Bit Strange

It strikes me as weird how there are 20 days of proper school left. Instead of making the most of them, I’m sitting here writing a blog post for the first time in two weeks and it feels… Disorientating.

I’m not sure how I feel about leaving my writing for so long. It’s a mix of guilt and just a bit of confusion. In fact, those “bits of confusion” are dominating my life at the minute. From slightly horrifying conversations with people to freaking out about dresses, to violent stabs of guilt, to fucking up friendships, to then freaking out about the potential “date” I’m going on on Sunday? There are too many emotions which contrast with one another. I don’t know.

I’ve realised something. When I don’t write, my life invariably gets way too overwhelming. I don’t know if not writing means I can’t cope and so the shitshow starts, or if the shitshow starts which stops me from writing. Thinking about that makes me panic and I leave it even longer, so that I don’t know what to say when I come back. Really, I don’t know if I can say anything worthwhile.

Last week, I didn’t leave the house in three days because I was ill and could barely move. I went to the GP last Tuesday, absolutely terrified, and got a referral to the mental health service in my area. Again. Hopefully, this time, I can get my shit together enough to be able to get somewhere. Before I went back to school, the last person I’d “socialised” with was Pearl (a girl I’ve been talking to for just over a month) which is a whole other bunch of WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING? that I’ll get into, once I’ve seen her again on Sunday. Suffice it to say that I don’t know what’s happening but I’m not complaining about that lack of knowledge, at least when it comes to her.

Somehow, I submitted something for my history coursework. I cried at the weekend because I was so stressed about the entire thing; I experienced what I can only term as being so scared that I lost complete control over my thoughts. My dad was there to see it and just spoke to me; my mum has also been great for the past two weeks. So then why do I feel worse than ever? It must be because I feel guilty for wasting their time and I feel guilty for talking to nobody for ages.

I would love to be able to speak to people, to carry on conversations, but I struggle with doing so many things and even with just moving sometimes. It makes me so exhausted to talk about it that I inevitably don’t. For instance, I’m going to a party today – my friend Willow had her birthday recently – and I’m really looking forward to it but at the same time, I’m paranoid about getting there for no reason. I don’t speak about it because I’m worried people will ridicule me, or tell me I’m being too irrational for them. That’s what it’s been like: I know people wouldn’t tell me I was being ridiculous but something in me convinces itself and I can’t let go of it.

Yesterday, I tried on a dress for this party and didn’t feel awful. I felt blank, sure, but not disgusting. When I go prom dress shopping tomorrow, I hope that feeling will carry through. Today, I’m just trying to stay calm and to not have a constant mantra of “stop everything stop stop stop”.

I have to break my flow of whatever I’m saying to write that I’m frustrated. This is too disjointed and too confusing; I wish my words flowed better. I need to go back to a time where I felt fully with my words, where I could write them down as easily as speaking about something I love. It’s upsetting me and I wish it wasn’t.

Short of distracting myself with work – which I’ve done – I didn’t know what else to do. The fact that I didn’t go on social media for a long time probably didn’t help with that but I couldn’t cope with the stress of talking to people when I couldn’t talk to myself easily. All of it built into a sort of internal scream and I didn’t speak to my family for a bit, although I did spend time with them.

There are 20 days of proper school left and I just hope I can make the most of them, rather than wasting that time. There’s so much pressure that I don’t know how to hold. At some point, I’ll release that pressure in a more measured way. Just not now.

This was simply yelling onto a screen, which is the best kind of yelling. I didn’t plan this; I wrote with no coherency; I think I vaguely ranted. When I read back over this, I’ll cringe. However, writing it has exhausted me and if I’m being honest, the fear that people will think I’m blowing this out of proportion, or they’ll sigh out of irritation and think I’m bullshitting, is creeping up on me.

But at least I’m writing. At least I’m saying something, rather than shutting myself away. It feels too overwhelming now but soon, I’ll get re-used to being able to do things. Maybe it might make me want to cry at the moment but in the future, I’ll be able to write out how I feel again and to be able to savour the feeling of feeling more free. This is me at my worst, writing-wise, so surely it can only go up from here?

I’ve missed blogging. I’ve missed talking to people, even when I just felt like I couldn’t. I’ve missed interacting with the world and feeling like it’s interacting back, the support, the way it felt to unleash my thoughts in something more together than a jumble. To that end, I want to talk more. I might need time, but I still want to have that time and then invest it into reconnecting with something I love.

How are you all doing?

From Elm 🙂

In Which I Met a Girl

Hello,
I bring to you, my most likely exasperated readers, the first proper Elm-love-life-update in, probably, a year. It’s the start of one. It’s the feelings. It’s the freedom I haven’t had in ages because for once, the person I’ll be talking about won’t be reading this. I need to talk about it so I don’t forget that I’m capable of this kind of feeling, writing, again.

Today, I met a girl. I’ll call her Pearl for the purposes of this blog because I want to give her a name at least connected to nature. We started speaking about a week and a half ago, online; even saying that makes me feel like people are judging me because it was on a dating app. I signed up to it because I’ve been feeling really uncomfortable with some internalised, unpleasant thoughts about my sexuality because of what people have said to me before (a post on that to come!). However, I didn’t start speaking to her as a way to “prove” something to myself. I started speaking to her because she was interesting, funny; because the first conversation we had included reasons why certain types of boxes were great; because I dn’t have to tone myself down like I have to do with some other people.

Every single day since then, we’ve spoken, as if we’ve known each other for ages. When she told me she liked YA novels, I shrieked out loud. When I fangirled about Simon vs., Autoboyography and books in general, I messaged her. Most of our fangirling conversations include all capitals and I don’t feel like I’c being annoying. My insecurities aren’t gone when I speak to her but they aren’t all-consouming and don’t make me want to shut down.

It wasn’t until earlier this week that I talked about meeting. Usually, I’m more cautious than this: I wait for a while before meeting people from online and often get terrified beforehand. With her, I suggested it, convinced she’d say no. We’d exchanged numbers a few days before and in my typical fashion, I said it in the cringiest way possible (including the fact that I was cringing in my message). When I asked if she wanted to meet, instead of ignoring me, she replied with “OMG YESS” and I was so happy that this was going well that I laughed. I’m not used to this, as you can tell. Then, I was done with being too cautious. I didn’t even pretend to not be apprehensive: I was nervous but not scared. I wanted to meet her because my disability wasn’t a talking point for her, because my talk of my family and endless wailing about things I loved didn’t put her off. She didn’t dismiss me or make me feel small.

When I talked to Wren about it, the only one who knew about it properly before it happened apart from my dad (for safety, just in case), I spoke about it in the most carefree way. I got taken over by this feeling that seemed foreign only because I hadn’t experienced it for a long time. It was anticipation. I was doing something I wanted to do, casually and without a massive fanfair, but it was still important. Pearl and I spoke on the phone and our planning turned into a conversation diversion about friends, our inability to plan and then finally some concrete ideas about when, where and how.

This morning, still tired from going out to London yesterday, I did a bit of creative “lying” to my mum. As she wouldn’t be okay with me seeing anyone I met online, least of all a girl, I told her I was meeting Ivy who you can read about here. I’d been texting Pearl all this time, figuring out which bus she was arriving in on so that I went to the right place. In the car journey on the way there, I kept smiling widely, to the point where my mum got suspicious and asked, “Are you meeting your secret boyfriend?” I burst out laughing, couldn’t stop and then told her that was bullshit.

When Pearl eventually found me, after my mum left, we hugged and I probably acted painfully weirdly. It was so natural from the start of it; we both already knew we were shit at making decisions and so our first stop was Costa. We stayed in there for an hour and a half, talking constantly about instruments, books, relationships and only remembering to order something when we were asked by someone who was most likely getting irritated by our chatter and me occasionally raising my voice to more than a conversational murmur. By the time we got out, it was gone 12 and because the weather was lovely, we decided to go to the nearby park.

Walking along the path in the quiet with her, whilst the sun shone on the right side of my face, felt so open. It was then we spoke about our childhoods and how cringey we were, regailing each other with stories that made me laugh so loudly that I’m sure it reverberated around the place we were standing. I never usually go out anywhere with people like that, mainly because I only have 3 friends who live near me who I’d be comfortable just wandering around with. This felt different: it felt relaxed.

It continued like this for the whole day, through lunch and when she came to my house. We sat on beanbags as she showed me videos of her when she was younger and I cried with laughter; she saw my infamous ornament shelf in my room and far too soon, it was quarter to five and we’d lost track of time. I remember thinking that I didn’t want the day to end because I’d felt absolutely comfortable, not like I was pretending to be funny or happy or anything. It felt right and when we hugged goodbye and she said we had to see each other again because this day was nice, I echoed it back to her and told her I’d had a great day. We’d spent the time talking about our lives and there wasn’t a second of our conversations that I wish I hadn’t said.

It’s safe to say I “like” her, in a way. I’m trying to not rush headlong into these feelings, or the beginnings of them, because that’s got me nowhere before. However, what’s so wrong with having them? Why is it that I’m holding myself back? It’s a fear of judgement, which I didn’t feel today. The day wasn’t romantic; we didn’t kiss, we didn’t hold hands; I certainly didn’t act more strangely than I usually do.

I thought I wasn’t able to do this anymore. To breathe and live, like I was worth something more than the twisted version of myself that appears inside my thoughts. I didn’t even have to try. I don’t have “feelings” for her but I might be on my way there and I know it sounds ridiculous, after a week and a half, but I need to cut myself some slack. It’s okay to have non life-altering, non earth-shattering feelings. It’s okay to be happy with that. It’s okay that the consequences, however scary they might be, won’t upset me as much as the last few times.

I’m okay and I’ve had an amazing day. I miss her and I know she didn’t feel the depth of emotion I felt today but I’m really glad that she wanted to spend time with me, genuinely, because she thinks I’m not boring or dull or any of the adjectives I describe myself to be. She’s not on a pedestal for me: she’s a person who makes me smile in a way that I thought was lost.

To the majority of my friends, this is completely new as I didn’t mention this before, at all. However, I’ve come to realise I’m now incredibly uncomfortable when talking about anything to do with my “love life”. I feel terrible that I didn’t talk about it before but I don’t know how to anymore; I don’t trust like I used to and that makes me feel guilty. I can’t let this ruin my day, though.

I’m not too bothered if people judge me for how I met her because I can live my life and I want to make the most of this time. What’s so wrong about that?

From Elm 🙂

Too Lonely for Poetry

There are things I know I like to do. One is to write creatively, another is to act, another is to have constant personality crises and shout about them on the Internet. Actually, I don’t really like doing that last one but it’s part of my writing and existence and is, occasionally, what keeps me functioning.

Sometimes, I combine all three of these things. I act on the Internet, pretending everything’s fine – or that I can adequately write poetically about my crises and feelings. Most times I can manage but what’s harder to admit is that sometimes it feels like a facade. I want to get rid of that paper lantern and show you what I’m like when I just don’t know. Too often, I find myself harnessing an articulation I don’t feel, to spin sentences out of silk that just isn’t there. See? I’m doing it right now.

When it comes to love or a step away from it, I have too many feelings to process and unpick. I don’t know how to handle any of them. It’s got to the point where it’s impossible for me to talk about them on this blog because I’m desperately scared of sounding immature and also because I’m irrationally paranoid people will find out who it is I talk about and ridicule me forever. In counselling, I attempt to get this out but it doesn’t always work, as I’m still yet to understand how I should approach this.

On one hand, I know what I want to do about my feelings. I know I’m fine with having them – but what are these feelings? How deep do they actually run? What worries me is that I’ll do my usual thing: run away because I convince myself that no one cares and then deprive my own heart of anything that remotely resembles a positive experience. Finally, I thought I was getting somewhere with showing myself I was able to deal with any potential fallout that might happen but, well, no.

Not that there’s a hope in hell of any of my feelings ever being returned, of course. It’s a given now; I’ve lost all hope of ever, genuinely, being what someone would look for. I know I shouldn’t base my worth on what people think but it feels ridiculous to me that anyone could “love” me’ least of all want to tell me that. I keep trying and trying and trying to be strong and secure in my own mind but it’s difficult when I can feel blocked from talking out of fear.

How can I get across the panic I feel at me fucking up again? I don’t know. The best I can do is to tell you I’m scared I’ll be the one to make things too serious, too weird, and then that I’ll show my paranoia and emotions to someone and they’ll just go. I have such a low opinion of myself; I have such deep-rooted and unprocessed issues and the most recent people I’ve had feelings for wouldn’t cope with that. Would they? I don’t know. I don’t like taking chances because when I do, it seems I take the wrong ones.

This was too rambling. This wasn’t detailed enough: I wish I could do an analysis of my own mind. If I’d talked about everything from day 1, not hidden my thoughts from myself, it might be easier. In this post, I’m barely a writer but I’m an actor – I’m still holding it together, surprisingly. My structure and grammar hasn’t gone totally out of the window. I’m still pretending, just that little bit, when I shouldn’t. Blogging is where I can be as honest as I’ll ever be and I can’t forget that.

Maybe I should let things be but I’ve let things be for so long that I’m restless. In a weird way, I want to be proactive. It hurts that I can’t express any feelings openly and one of the only people who could help me with that would never read this.

I feel adrift in a jumble of useless words that mean nothing. I feel powerless and hopeless, unable to express, enclosed and trapped. Fear clenches in my stomach; I constantly have this tightness in my throat because I’ve been here before and it didn’t end well.

The worst thing? I can’t even be honest with myself.

I know exactly how I feel right now. I know how frightening that is. I also know that there’s nothing I can do to stop it and that I need to wait it out until I figure out a way to reconcile myself with it.

Do you ever feel this lonely, too? Do you ever want to ask for help in figuring out your mind but you don’t even know where to start?

From Elm 🙂

I Am Romantically Hopeless

I mentioned to a friend this morning that I’d never gone on a proper date with anyone and that if I ever do, I wouldn’t know what to do. When I reflected on this a few hours later, I couldn’t help laughing because I realised something: when it comes to “romance” of any sort, I am utterly and completely hopeless at it.

All of the ideas of romance, I’ve got from books or the occasional film, when I go out of my prehistoric habitat to watch one. Any experiences I’ve had have usually been me accidentally realising I have feelings for someone, getting confused (and not in the adorable way), attempting to ignore them and then situations happening which I never expected. My first kiss happened when one of my friends was about to leave and I got panicked about saying goodbye; I asked someone to be my girlfriend and managed to sound like a fool whilst doing it.
I don’t think I’ve ever expressly shown affection to anyone in public, as my relationships have either been long-distance, not a relationship or the opportunity never presented itself. I don’t know what it’s like to feel comfortable in public with someone who I have feelings for, in the sense where I can express those feelings openly (even with words). If you put me in that kind of situation, I’d probably… Wail and run away.

As I’ve said, I’ve never been on a date. How do you even go on a date? Do you just ask someone, or what? I’ve never had the experience of trying to pick clothes for myself to wear, firstly because I’m awful with fashion but secondly because it’s never seemed to matter before. It’s rare that I meet someone casually who I have feelings for: I’ve never been confident enough to suggest going out by myself with anyone.

It’s not like “romance” should be built up to this huge thing. Dates, traditional things like flowers and hearts and cuteness, aren’t the be all and end all of “love” because they’re materialistic and can just be put down to gestures. However, I’m rubbish with emotions too. I get them wrong, get awkward, don’t know how to handle them and end up wildly screeching in a room by myself instead of talking to people about them. Oops.

My approach to my internal feelings is even weirder than my approach to the people I have feelings for. Does that even make sense? What I do is I repress them hugely, realise I’ve been doing that and instead of being rational about it, I make intense jokes about the whole thing and go into “crisis mode”. Afterwards, of course, I realise that I was a moron. For that time, though, I attempt to convince myself that they would never “like me back”, cringe at the seemingly childish words, cringe at myself for even possessing a heart and then take to Twitter to scream about my feelings to try and distract myself. It invariably fails.

When I’m sure about my feelings, I do one of three things. Either I tell the person, I tell everyone but the person or I try and tell the person and then backpedal, screaming. The first one hasn’t happened for about 40000 years, the second happens far too often and the third happened quite recently (being in the last 6 months). Anything else has happened accidentally which means that when feelings do crop up, I’m at a loss. Imagine me holding my hands up in surrender with a terrified look on my face and you should be able to understand.

Why am I saying this? To put it simply, because I find it hilarious. It does bother me occasionally, in that I want to express myself and not have any nasty consequences (like, you know, destruction of friendships and my heart burning in a fiery pit). To cope with it, I laugh about it because I know it’s true that I’m awful with this kind of thing.

The worst thing is that I’m a huge romantic at heart but externally, I become awkward and don’t act like it. I used to get “crushes” far too easily but now, when they do appear, they’re like a demon and I’ve never been a demon-slayer. As soon as I realised I actually like the concept of romance and of people caring about me, I kind of imploded.

How are you with romance? If you don’t experience romantic feelings, do you like reading about them – or what do you think? Let me know!

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 🙂

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 🙂