Archives for the month of: November, 2012

I went to Ikea the other day. My nearest one is a bit of a trek, in a 4 hours on a train sort of way, but hey ho.

So anyhow, I went to get shelves, cause my room needs more shelves to put all my stuff on ( even though I’ve cleared out ‘stuff’ there’s still more of it that I can’t quite get rid of ), and also to hunt for Christmas pressies, as it’s that time again.

I get there, and decide that the first port of call should be the restaurant, for a lovely bowl of meatballs ( they are divine, no trip to Ikea is a trip to Ikea without them ) and I’m sitting there, noming away, and a huge group of schoolkids come in. They now do school trips to Ikea. I don’t understand.

They also were partaking in the meatball feast, and I thought maybe it’s just a large group of kids on their lunch, but no, it was a proper trip. Now when I was a school we didn’t go to Ikea for field trips, we went to South Wales to look at mining facilities and devastated rural communities ( who would throw bricks at our bus – true story ). It was cold, wet and depressing. There were definitely no meatballs.

I mean I’m guessing that they’re learning about retail and furniture and stuff, but still, it seemed a little bizarre to me. Although they seemed to be having a great time, walking round the shop I kept seeing little groups loading up on tealights and useful storage solutions.

Anyhow, my trip was a sort of success, I got shelves, and I ate meatballs , although a part of me feels that 4 hours on a train to get this might of been slightly erm… a waste of time? Hmmm….

I am pretty good in my own company. I like time with myself, and am comfortable being alone. Sometimes though, just sometimes, I’m less so.  These times come and go, and don’t follow a rhyme or reason, and they inevitably lead to introspection.

When they come, I often wonder about the reasons I get into relationships. I don’t think that relationships are actually great for me. They rarely end well, and tend to leave me feeling trapped, frustrated and controlled. Melodramatic, I know, but that’s they way it seems to go with me. So why do I still get into them? why do I rush headlong into living with someone, like there’s no tomorrow?

Some of it I know is the desire to fit in, to be normal, and to act like everyone else does. This isn’t, as you probably can see, a good reason to make such a commitment. Thing is, It has played a part in how I deal with relationships. I do tend to fling myself into them headlong, because I feel they’ll fix what’s not right with me. Be with someone else, settle down, stop being wild, have kids, do what everyone expects you to do. This is how I’ve seen things. I forgot to see things for myself, I forgot to do things for me, and to do things that are good for myself, not everyone else. Until now that is.

Now, after 38 odd years I really can see that the buck stops with me. Only I can decide what I really want, not family, not friends, not society, just me. I used to think I was broken, now I know I’m not. Yay me.

And loneliness? It does get to me a little sometimes, but I’d rather feel that, than what I felt whilst in my relationships.

I think I’m a good person. It’s kind of hard to tell, as self praise is, apparently, no praise, but I’d like to think I am.

Thing is, it’s really hard to tell. Going by some religious standards I’m not a good person. I’ve broken 7 of the 10 commandments, and my Mortal Sins are numerous ( see Divorce, Blasphemy, Deliberate failure to go to mass on Sunday, Masturbation and Homosexuality amongst others ).  I’m all over the 7 deadly sins, and if they actually were deadly, then I’d be in a lot of trouble. It looks, on paper, as if I’m a pretty bad person.

Except I know I’m not. I have my own moral compass, shaped by my upbringing, and the people around me. It basically boils down to “Be Nice” and “Don’t be a dick” ( with addendum’s as and when events dictate ).

I was brought up in a Christian household, and I spent a fair proportion of my childhood being very scared of God. The idea of something you can’t see, but that can see you, and spends all it’s time judging every little thing you do, for some reason, freaked me out. For a while God have to go live in the garden in a specially erected tent, such was my paranoia of him and his stalker ways.

I remember going to church, and being told that we all have sin inside us, and that we are bad people, not even worthy to gather crumbs from under Gods table. ( the image in my little child brain that went with this got mashed up with the story of  Jack and the Beanstalk for a bit, I imagined God to be like the fee-fi-foo-fum giant ) It all got very messed up in my little head, which of course lead to lots of questioning of what would be considered a sin. Couple this with my own slightly screwed up gender and sexuality issues ( did I mention those? I have those, they’re complicated, we’ll talk later ) and obviously we’re about to board the train to Fuckedupville ( quite possibly it’s the fast service as well ).

All of this shaped my early moral compass, and as time went on and I grew up, it became more defined, and flexible, as I realised that we all do bad things sometimes, but it’s rarely as simple as right and wrong. I try to be a good person, and sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t, but I’m not a bad person, I’m not sinful and I am most definitely worthy.

I’m nearly 40. This, to me seems old. Not old old, but still, old. I remember when my mum and dad turned 40, and i also remember thinking then it seemed really pretty old, and now here I am as well. I’d like to think that I’d learnt something in the years I’ve been here, that I’d have some amazing nuggets of wisdom, but honestly, the only thing I’ve learnt is that it goes by so very quickly.

I’m a lot more confident, a lot more self assured and together than I was but I’m still fucked up, just much less so than before. I sometimes think if only I was like this when I was a teenager, but truth be told, it was not being like this when I was a teenager that made me like this now, so I don’t think I would trade after all.

I’m not successful, I don’t really have a career and I’ve never earned more than £20,000 a year, but I’m  okay with this. My parents are a little confused by this, they say don’t you want more money, wouldn’t it be easier? Which is true, it would be easier, but happier? I’m not so sure. Besides which, I still don’t know what I want to do, I’m still working on that one…

I’ve been married, divorced,  and in various serious relationships of various lengths. I’d like to be in more, but sometimes I worry that I’m too complicated, too independent, too set to be in one now. Even now I still also worry that if I do end up in another relationship that it won’t be enough.

So many things have happened, so much time has gone by, and so very quickly, faster than you could possibly believe, and you know what? I do have one nugget, one thing I have learnt, one thing that has helped me.

Live life, make the most of it, just in case this is all we get. Have fun, take risks, laugh, learn, don’t settle for okay, do what you need to do. After all, the only person who’s there all the way though this is yourself.

I’m going out tonight. which should be fun. And yet, I feel  a little nervous about it. I can’t quite give a reason, it could be that I’m going to a part of London I don’t normally go to, or that where I’m going I only know a few of the people there. Maybe it’s because its new, maybe it’s because I’ve been in a relationship so long I’ve forgotten about how to do this. Maybe it’s because deep down, i sometimes feel a little old to be doing this.

By this, of course I mean going out on the town, dancing, flirting, hooking up, being wild. Maybe I need to re-learn, things can’t of changed that much, I’m confident, attractive, funny and ridiculously clever, what’s not to love? ( apart from the arrogance obvs )

I guess I need to embrace this, and enjoy the ride, live like there’s no tomorrow, even if it’s just for one night. The ‘fear’ is only temporary because it’s different, once I get out then everything will fall into place, or at least that’s what I need to keep telling myself in order not to just stay home and procrastinate on the internet.

I can do this. I can start again.

When I look back on my first few dates, and their inevitable tumbles into disaster, I’m honestly amazed that I managed to actually sustain a relationship long enough to get married. Admittedly I then didn’t manage to  sustain the marriage  but that’s another story….

The very first date I went on kind of set the standard for most of the dates I’ve been on since. It was borderline disaster mixed up with a large bowlful of embarrassment and awkwardness. Yay me.

I’d finally, after about 4 months of procrastination, decided to ask this person out. I say ask, but what I actually mean to say is manipulate the situation so that I get what I want without having to actually say it. We’d been chatting about what films we wanted to go and see, and I suggested we go together to see The Karate Kid 2 ( I know, excellent choice of date movie, BOOM! and all that ). They responded with ” how do you feel about going on a date to see it?” which of course was the plan all along.  ( More BOOM! )

At this point in the story dear reader, you’ll be forgiven for thinking to yourself well this doesn’t sound so bad, she’s got the person she wanted to ask out to actually ask her out instead, it was smoothly done ( well for a 13 year old anyhow ) and things are looking good…….well, don’t worry normal service will resume shortly.

We meet at the cinema. I am excited. Fizzy pop ( cherry cola ) and sweets (Jelly Babies ) are smuggled in, and we sit down. We sit on the end of a row, cause I like to stretch my legs out ( I am abnormally tall for my age ). This means that every 30 seconds we have to stand up to let people into the row of  surprisingly popular seats. Not the best start.

The cinema goes dark, and the film starts. I sit there thinking about how I really want to see this film, but also want to make out. I realise the fatal flaw in going to the cinema for a date and choosing a film you actually want to see. I start weighing up the options available to me. I’m focused. I need to make a decision, and then….she touches my hand……and I jump and let out an awkward half squeal, sending Jelly Babies and Cherry Coke everywhere.

People look round and tut. I go red. Thankfully it’s dark so this doesn’t matter so much. I look round and my date is looking directly ahead at the film with a mortified expression on her face. I get the impression that I may of fucked up a little. We watch the rest of the film in silence, not touching, not looking at each other, as if we were sitting at opposite sides of the cinema, and then, to ice the metaphorical cake,  Peter Cetera’s “The glory of love” comes on. It is the theme song for the film. I die a little more.

We still saw each other after the date, but we never spoke to each other about The Karate Kid 2 and what happened on that unfortunate afternoon again…….

Freiya Benson

Writer & Photographer.

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