The Grass is Just as Green

A few months ago, I got a tattoo of some elm leaves on my right ankle.

 

The tattoo artist asked me about the significance. I laughed awkwardly, mumbled something about liking nature and then channeled this name until the last line was done. As it started to heal, I traced the outline with my fingers and felt a weird sense of peace.

 

People who have known me for years will say that I like to run away from things. Those of you who remember me from back in the good old days of 2016 will know that I frequently ran away from good relationships in my life and had crises when I realised I’d fucked up. To be honest, that still happens. For example, when I felt my life falling to pieces, I shut myself off from everything in the hopes that it’d make me feel better.

 

Spoiler alert: it didn’t. Shockingly, it never really does.

 

Some of my friends picked up on the tattoo when it came up in conversation. They knew what it meant, even before I specified which leaves were marked on my skin. There was that intrinsic understanding from people like H, elly, Ocean, Lu, Ilsa – friends who have become such an important part of my life that the name I call myself doesn’t matter. I always get emotional when people say ‘Elm’ without a hitch in their voice because it feels like coming home.

 

That was the first part of stitching my wayward sense of self back together. When I moved away from home to go to college for a year, I utterly lost my grip on my own identity. Although I had a few anchors to hold me down, it felt as if I was tearing myself apart from the inside out. In that year and in the first year of uni, I went through things that I wouldn’t wish on anyone; I’m only just threading all the events together so that I can heal.

 

Life’s changed a lot, hasn’t it? The world’s on fire (literally, in some cases), a virus has altered so many things I can’t even count and deconstructing racist institutions seems more possible than it has before. People look for escapes in the strangest of places but me? I’m coming back here. Not because it’s my last resort but because it should have been my first choice all along.

 

You’ll notice that a lot of my old posts are gone. They aren’t deleted; I just put them back into drafts because it’s likely people I know could stumble across this and I want to keep my previous feelings to the side. Also, I was a little shit a couple of years ago and no one wants to read that. I’ll keep some of the… classics, shall we say.

 

I can’t promise anything right now. My dad’s in hospital and everything’s flipping upside down constantly. All I can say is that I want to be here and I want to reconnect with the people I love, in the place that I love.

 

You are all wonderful and I haven’t forgotten your names. One of my closest blogger friends, Sumedha, made me realise just how much I miss being called Elm.

 

Stay safe and stay happy, always. That’s the most important thing. Even when life hurls you down a flight of stairs, you can crawl back up.

 

Love from Elm 🙂

Before They Forget

Last Saturday, I spent the day with one of my best friends, Red. We walked round the town where he lives, had lunch and chatted; it was amazing. In the evening, I went to Rose and Poppy’s house – my two oldest friends, who I probably spent the most time with in childhood besides family. Two days after that, I saw Pearl and her two sisters (we made Oreo cheesecake and it was delicious); yesterday, I saw Ivy, who I’ve known since primary school. This is all before I go to college and there’s a specific reason for that.

What struck me most, and has made an impression on me up to now, was the time I spent with Rose and Poppy. Not because I didn’t have a good time with the others – I made such fantastic memories with each one of them – but because it made me realise that my friendship with them is incredibly strong. Nonetheless, I’m very afraid – most of all for those two – that they’ll forget me. Saturday only highlighted that fear. Sounds confusing? I’ll explain.

Let me explain some background things before, so it’s easier to understand. When I was growing up, I didn’t have many deep conversations with Rose and Poppy. We almost grew up as sisters – having so much love for each other that we didn’t have to have those conversations in order for our friendship to be cemented. In recent years, I’ve worried that because of that, they don’t even like me. Whilst it’s true that they found me annoying as a child, everybody did (for good reason), I do think that we have a really stable friendship. It’s different to a lot of my other ones: I could probably rock up to their house with no warning and they wouldn’t care; I consider their family an extension of mine; we can hang out for hours and sing awfully together without it becoming boring. We don’t need to talk about the world’s problems (though we do). However, recently, experiences have shown me that they are there when I need their help, and vice versa.

I had a party recently where a few of my friends, from all different places, were there. At that party, I had one of the worst breakdowns I’ve ever had. It was absolutely terrifying because though I’d had alcohol, it was absolutely not fuelled by that: it had been boiling beneath the surface for such a long time that it all came bursting out. Most of my friends were able to deal with me crying my eyes out but the one that took me by surprise was Poppy. She and Rose had never, ever seen me like that: they’d never had much of a hint that my mental health was so bad. Even so, she sat with me, held my hands and reassured me. Despite never having experienced me even remotely like that, she didn’t run away from it. I apologised over and over and yet she carried on helping, not making fun of me and not making me feel shit for being unhappy.

That’s stayed with me. On Saturday, I was nervous to see them because I wasn’t sure how they’d act around me. I don’t know why I was scared because they acted completely the same. We sang; Rose yelled at Poppy for being slow because we were supposed to go on a walk; I felt utterly at ease. There wasn’t this pressure of “I have to act fine” but equally, I wasn’t unbelievably anxious either.

The change to this occasion was that we were all more aware of each other and our difficulties. As we started on our walk, Rose asked if I was feeling more okay and I said no, though I was more in control of it. Rose, being in the same year as me, applied to uni and didn’t get into her first or insurance choice. We talked about that, how it made her feel and I could tell she was visibly upset. I don’t think that a few years ago, any of us could have shown that level of emotion because it was more difficult. When we got back to theirs, Rose went off to talk to her parents. I walked upstairs and caught Poppy as she was preparing to go out to a party. I spoke to her: not like a sister but as someone who had gone through the same confusing emotions of feeling like a failure all the time but wanting so desperately to succeed that you have contrary emotions warring inside your head.

After having talked to Poppy, explaining to her how I thought Rose was feeling, I went downstairs again. I think I got through to her: I feel really comfortable talking to Poppy about that kind of thing now because she’d seen me so fragile at my party. I gave Rose a huge hug and sat by her until my dad came to pick me up. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how right it felt to help them: I already know them inside out and so it didn’t ever feel like it was forcing it.

So, where does the fear of being forgotten come from, after all this? I suppose now that I have some security in my head about them, my mental health is turning it around. Because I’m moving to a college for a year, I’m terrified I’ll change and that they won’t recognise me any more. Of all people, I couldn’t bare it if I drifted apart from them. It would be like ripping my heart out because I honestly love them so much. The thought of losing them makes me feel ill.

This fear doesn’t just lie with them. With all my friends, there’s this perpetual worry that I’m not going to be enough for them to remember. For example, I think that I haven’t been a good enough friend to them to be of any significance. I’ve been trying to reassure myself by seeing people, by proving to myself that these fears are unfounded, but it’s not working as well as I’d like. What if I lose so many of my friends because of distance? What if they don’t care about me, or think that I don’t care about them, and so it all drifts away? I refuse to accept the concept that “some friends will always drift apart” because that’s not how it has to be.

I’ll be publishing this on the day I move to college. These thoughts will be running through my head: I just hope I don’t drown in them. I hate it when it’s so overwhelming, like it is now.

If any of you are going through a similar thought process, remember that people do care about you. You’re worth remembering. I wish I could give more advice but the reality is that I can’t think past my own worries. I promise you though, we can do this. Whether we have 50 friends or 5 by the end of it, we can do it.

I just don’t want to be forgotten.

Love from Elm 🙂

Feeling Inspired

I’ve been reading a fair few blog posts today, along with various other tasks that have kept me busy. I connected with some blogs I hadn’t read in a while and began to comment again and to engage with everything. As I was reading, I started to notice something that made me smile: these blog posts were making me want to write. They were filling me with an inspiration that I haven’t felt in ages.

The thing I love about the community – I mean, there are so many things which I love that I couldn’t just list one – is the creativity. Today, I read posts that ranged from book hauls to a letter about past friendship. As a blogger, you can choose to read what you like and though you can sometimes feel an obligation to read, I feel like there’s more of a relaxed atmosphere around what you read. As there are so many blogs out there, you could never be expected to read thousands of posts but being given a variety of inspiration from all around the blogosphere and the world is fantastic.

How I felt today, whilst sitting down and reading, was connected. Not in the manic, social-media-must-rule-my-life sense but rather, I felt connected to human emotion and experiences. I think that’s one of the reasons I started blogging – I wanted to be involved with the beautiful web of life and feelings; this was and is one of the best ways. I was stunned by some writing I read as well, the fact that someone could create such beautiful imagery from verse and their own heart.

Ideas started running around my head. I took little things from each post – a section of recollection, the euphoria of friendship, the invincibility of having your words read and understood. Seeing collaborations like The Artistics and blogger interviews made me feel like the community was interconnected and respectful of each other. That made me want to pick up my keyboard (well, just tap out some things on it) and finish posts I hadn’t touched in weeks, start on new ones and let the thoughts run free in my head.

People have such amazing stories in their heads and I often forget that I can be one of those people. In the mayhem of social media, stress and my own brain shouting at me, I forget that I’m a person and a blogger too. Engaging with people reminded me that I have my own independent thoughts and that they shouldn’t be blanked out for the sake of fear about how people will respond to them.

Of course, I try not to read posts when I feel too drained. It’d only make me feel worse but there are plenty of occasions where reading someone’s writing, that they’ve spent their time creating, can create a wish to share my own writing with you. Isn’t that the best feeling? It really reminds me why I love blogging so much.

I want to say thank you to anyone who writes. You might not know it but every word I read and every emotion captured in a sentence inspires me to keep going. I don’t know what I’d do without the community to lift me up and most times, they don’t even know they’re doing it!

Have you read any good blog posts recently that have inspired you? Have you written any that you think I should read?

Love from Elm 🙂

Guest Post – Elm Appreciation Post

This is a post written by my beautiful friend Gracie which made me screech with happiness when I read it. I love her and will forever be proclaiming that NONE OF THIS IS TRUE but she’s unfortunately determined and wanted to prove me wrong with this post. I hope you enjoy this and thank you, Gracie, for being a beautiful human.


Elm and I have been friends for almost three years now (although it feels as if I’ve known her forever), and I truly believe that she is my soulmate. Without her, I wouldn’t be here today, writing this post; without her, I wouldn’t have travelled internationally with friends; without her, some of the best moments of my entire life wouldn’t have happened, and without her, I truly don’t know what I’d do. We have so many incredible memories together: singing ridiculously loudly in the shower, hitting pillows, being literally telepathic and waving at one another on FaceTime (even though we’re both seasoned members of the blind squad) are just a few. We’d be here all day if I listed everything and – to be perfectly honest – none of our inside jokes would make any sense to you (literally neither of us even know what we’re talking about most of the time, so we can’t really expect anyone else to).

My favourite thing about Elm is definitely her family – don’t tell her, but the only reason I’m friends with her is because her stepmother’s stir fry is yummy, her dad and I have formed a band and her sister is good at making very, VERY alcoholic punch. Obviously I’m joking (my actual favourite thing about Elm is bullying her for her height!), but seriously, her family are some of the kindest, most loving and welcoming people on this planet, and I genuinely feel blessed to know them. Elm is absolutely just as compassionate, altruistic and benevolent as her parents, and I know that – regardless of anything – she will always be there for a phone call or a five-day-sleepover. One of my favourite memories with her is sitting in her back garden talking, with her dad showing us tomatoes and random other vegetables at arbitrary intervals, because it just felt so natural. That was the first time I’d stayed over at her house, and – from that moment onwards – I knew that there would be no pretences whatsoever, that I could be completely myself around this family, and that – even if only for a week or so – I belonged.

Both Elm and I have struggled (and are struggling still) with our mental health, which can sometimes cause a friendship to crack and splinter. With us, though, it’s achieved exactly the opposite: we calm one another down when we’re anxious; wake one another up when all we want to do is sleep; talk over feelings and emotions way into the night when we don’t feel like speaking at all, and, most importantly, we show one another the love that we can’t always show ourselves. The brilliant thing about our friendship is that it isn’t toxic: one of us doesn’t constantly vent to the other, with our issues taking precedence, but rather we mutually support each another to grow and evolve as people, regardless of how positive we’re feeling at the time.

One thing in particular that I’m crazily proud of Elm for is her journey to independence. IN the last year especially, she has started travelling independently on buses and trains, preparing and cooking food when home alone and learning walking routes in and around her local area.To most of you, that was probably a little underwhelming, but please remember that those things are difficult when you have no useful vision. Usually, both Elm and I are advocates for not posting about sight loss at every opportunity, but I had to mention the progress she’s made (I mean she’ll never admit how incredible she is herself) because I am inspired (I USED THE DREADED ‘I’ WORD!!! CRINGE) by her determination and tenacity every single day.

There will never be enough words (in any language) to enable me to articulate just how much I adore Elm, and how much her friendship means to me. She is my best friend – the one I call when I’m scared or lonely, the person who never fails to make me laugh – and I am unbelievably lucky to know her. Elm, thank you for always letting me be weird with you. Thank you for saying the most ridiculous things in stupid voices to make me laugh when all I want to do is cry. Thank you for trusting me, for letting me trust you, for always being there for me.

Thank you always,
Grace

PS: I wub.

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 🙂

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 🙂

Spoken Word and Smiles | My Amazing Day with GracieChick!

On the last day of term, which so happened to be my blogging anniversary I went into London with my friend Swan to meet the amazing Gracie. It was a trip we’d been planning for weeks, spawned from a comment I’d left on a post she wrote asking if I could come and watch her in her Spoken Word performance. It started as a little idea and then flourished into one of the best days of my life.

After school, Swan and I went back to my house and after eating a little, prepared to go out. We were travelling to South London, not entirely sure of the route we were taking but the laughter that ensued from that was some of the most full laughter I’ve had in a while. It was raining but the journey in wasn’t bad: I was internally screeching with excitement, texting Gracie with far too many exclamation marks (as I always do).

We met outside the station, me accidentally waving in the wrong direction and then making some comment about how much of a mess I was. It took a while to sink in that I was actually there and on the short walk to the theatre, I couldn’t stop smiling, although I had my hood up from the rain so that I didn’t look odd with a massive grin on my face. It had taken some organisation to do this and now that I was finally there, it felt surreal.

Over hot chocolate, Swan, Gracie and I talked about everything. Conversations ranged from what our lives were like to me endlessly fangirling over bloggers – I spent a while exclaiming over how lovely and supportive Bri is. A big subject was identity and how interesting it can be to how a blogging name vs. your actual name. We talked for an hour and a half before Gracie had to go for rehearsal, by which time the café we were in had nearly emptied.

After Gracie went to practice, her family offered to take Swan and I out for dinner which was so thoughtful of them. We went to a Vegetarian and Vegan Indian restaurant, perfect for Swan (as she’s Vegetarian with plans to go Vegan in the summer). Gracie’s mum, dad, younger brother and sister are some of the nicest people I’ve met – conversations were easy, friendly and made me feel so included. They’re so supportive of Gracie’s blog which I thought was amazing, as it took a long time before I even told my mum about this blog. As became even more pronounced later, I neither felt especially Elm-like or my real name-like (which I nearly just wrote THAT WAS TERRIFYING): I didn’t feel like I needed an identity just then because I was just present there; it didn’t matter what name I went by.

When we’d finished eating, we walked back to the theatre to collect our tickets. We went into the room where the performances were held after meeting Gracie’s aunt and uncle; there were so many other people there despite it being a relatively small room. By that point, I couldn’t wait to hear Gracie: I love her poetry and so hearing it being performed was going to be a real honour. As I’d also not heard much urban music before, I was seriously looking forward to the other performances too.

The atmosphere was electric, made more so by the enclosed and familiar space. With the lights dimmed and us sitting right at the front, I felt anticipation building up inside me. This was all totally knew: the setting, the people there, the feeling of utter freedom. I had my fingertips on the table in front of me, which was what grounded me.

I love new experiences. That was why the music, a mixture of rap, reggae and acapella, affected me so much. I have a weirdly strong reaction to lyrics or particularly powerful beats and when I was surrounded by it, I could feel my breath in my lungs and my heart beating. Perhaps it’s because I’m a dreamer at heart but I felt like I was floating, then suddenly getting jolted back to earth. Gracie was the second performer and so I’d already had this reaction and, as I started to feel more and more happy and comfortable, the emotions of the whole thing were on a constant loop inside my head.

Gracie’s performance was, in a word, magical. Of the two poems she performed, “Beauty” spoke to me most: her voice rose and fell like she breathed and owned the words, coming forth straight from her heart. I absorbed those words, feeling hit with some kind of overwhelming emotion. The swell of pride I felt in the breaks between lines and in the thundering applause I gave after was immense. It felt amazing to be sitting there, witnessing the passion she has for words in real life, and being able to talk about it.

Leaving was the hardest part. I gave Gracie and her mum a massive hug and as Swan and I walked out of the theatre, I felt like I was about to cry. On the way home, when we ran for the train, I couldn’t stop a pervading sense of euphoria from making its way to my brain. It felt carefree, like I’d done something for myself which I truly, purely enjoyed.

This was the perfect end to my term, the perfect celebration of friendship and the best way to step out of my comfort zone whilst feeling the most myself I’ve felt in months. Having Swan beside me made it even better because I couldn’t think of a better person to go on this little adventure with. I’m so thankful that it all turned out so well in the end – from the minute the little flower of thought blossomed in my mind to it becoming a reality, I knew that this was something I wanted to do. For Gracie, for me but most of all, to have all the parts of my life that I love the most collide. It was fantastic and I can’t wait to meet up with Gracie and her lovely family again.

Thank you for such an amazing evening and for letting me smile so much. I miss you loads, you are awesome and I’m still buzzing!

Love 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 🙂