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A friend of mine is faced with an awful dilemma; her head and heart are at war. This friend of mine, she likes things to make sense. But her passion can often render her irrational, which presents her with a problem; because emotions complicate logic. Do you see the poor girl’s predicament? Oh okay I admit it, there is no friend, it’s me. I am the crazed wreck and this Blog is about me; it's all about me. Tomorrow I am meeting up with the current love of my life, and after two years of what I can only describe as chaos, we intend to decide once and for all which path to take… Translate: one of us is about to get dumped!
Day 1: I-phone Complex
It is 2:45pm. I am sitting in a dark hotel room hunched over my laptop and my boyfriend is sleeping, which is why the curtains are closed in the middle of the afternoon. What on earth am I doing here? If there is a psychiatrist or therapist following this blog, you may want to contact me; I'd be terrific income. The situation is strange I must admit. I had assumed that we would meet up, go to a pub, and talk sense. Then of course I would return home in misery and plunge into my newly discovered form of break-up therapy; The Break-up Project. Instead, here I am in a bloody hotel room; excuse my Italian, in utter confusion. I honestly don't have a clue what I am doing here; funny stuff huh? Sometimes, you have to laugh, even if hysterically, because if you don't then bawling one’s eyes out is the only alternative. The fact is that my boyfriend and I; well we’re so screwed up. Complete head-cases. We don't get each other and we don't want to get each other, because we each think that we are right. Nothing will change; nothing has so far, and it has been two years. The stuff has escalated to such extreme levels you wouldn't believe me if I told you so I won’t bother; maybe I will one day. But now the fact is that we both have to face some sort of reality, and unless we revel in this emotional turmoil we cannot be together. It is simply not possible for us to be happy together, or agree on anything other than the fact that mango is the best flavoured Rubicon Drink. Obviously if it were as simple as logic we wouldn't be here though, in a hotel room, feeling bemused at our apparent lack of self control. He is awake now and on his I-phone. I'm not a fan of his I-phone, mainly because I am not allowed to breathe on it. I keep getting this earth shattering feeling that he's having an affair with his ex. Or worse that he's seeing his ex and having an affair with me! So I have made it my mission to find out what he's hiding on there. The trouble is I think he's on to me, so I'll have to be super clever to pull this one off.
I figure there are two options: 1. Get him completely wrecked and steal the phone while he's knocked out in the hotel bed. 2. Get him completely wrecked and tie him to the hotel bed; then let him watch me take the sucker and find out all of his dirty secrets. This option also has the added benefit of me being able to chop off his winky when I find the incriminating evidence I'm after. Ooer, he’s waking up… Got to go... * * * * * * Its funny, yesterday when I sat down with my laptop to design this blog I had thought it was a great idea; genius in fact. The Break-up Project: every girl’s solution to breaking up and moving on, one-day-at-a-time. The Break-up Project: my rational approach to the situation. Logic: my moving-on strategy. Right now though, I feel as if I am facing the most terrifying mission in the world. How could I have thought that giving up on love would be as easy as creating a blog and counting the days away? Not that this is love anymore. It stopped being love the first time he hit me. After that it just turned into a delusion; a deluded hope that maybe I was mistaken, and that he did love me and it had just been a one-off. After all, we had been friends for such a long time before we even got together. You think you know your friends, and perhaps you do; but when this friend turned into a boyfriend, he turned into someone I obviously didn’t know any more. It’s not as easy as you think though, when you find yourself in that kind of situation. I had always assumed that if any man dared to hit me that I’d have an automatic defence switch in my head that would turn me into a fem-bot. I imagined that my eyes would glaze over and my pupils would turn bright red and zone in on his weak spot. Then before he could know what hit him he’d be clutching himself in agony, keeled over, looking up at me through shimmering eyes that whimper… “Why would you do that to a guy?” “Why would you do that to a girl?” My eyes would spit back. Instead, faced with fist in chest, I had stood in the doorway frozen in shock and it didn’t even register in my mind what had happened. Anyway, that’s not really what this is about. If I was at these crossroads now due to the violence then I’d have been here a long time ago, trust me. You don’t find yourself, after a year or so of dealing with an abusive partner suddenly asking if this relationship is right for you. That’s a question you have to ask at the beginning, and you answer it by choosing to stay or walk away. I chose to stay. I made that decision over and over again. So no, this crossroad isn’t so much a question of which road to choose anymore. I know which road I am taking; it’s more a question of me daring myself to start walking it. Perhaps that is why I am here on this blog enlisting the
support of a potentially vast online readership. I simply don’t want to go it alone, because it’s a long dark road. To be honest I’m not sure I’m even ready. I might not do the deed at all. I mean look at me; I’m sitting in a cheap hotel room in my underwear in the middle of the day with him stirring on the bed; it’s hardly the necessary location for a serious chat and a decision to go our separate ways is it? Well, the next time I write on this blog, the decision will have been made. I give you my word. This can’t go on. It’s a hellish emotional and tacky torture chamber, but the key is right next to the door, if only I have the guts to take it and use it.
Day 2: Cleansing Mode
Hi, (That's a long sigh with a hopeless and melodramatic drop of the head.) I am sitting in my bedsit amidst about two weeks worth of strewn clothes. There are half a dozen empty tea-cups around the bed area, and it's actually dangerous to be in semi-close proximity to my kitchen sink; God only knows what is growing in it. This is the sorry scene of depression; no I'm not afraid to admit it, that I have found myself in cohabitation of lately, because it has been too much effort to open my wardrobe and find hangers, and the prospect of cleaning my kitchen is becoming more and more daunting by the day. I have found it much more comforting instead, to spend most of my time hidden away underneath my duvet, where I can't see any of it. Perhaps this will give you some idea of the desperateness of my situation yesterday. I had to find the courage to face up to the inevitable, or risk losing myself in this cesspit. Don't worry though, today some sort of light has dawned upon me, and there is an angel or something up there, ordering me to pull myself together, snap out of it, and buy some very-lemony washing-up liquid, gloves and a face-mask to tackle that sink with! (She's very disapproving, and looks a bit like my mother.) This morning over our cheap continental hotel breakfast of hard cold toast and cornflakes, I asked my boyfriend for the final time how he feels and what he wants to do about us. I was half hoping for him to make the decision for me, and the other half of me was fantasising hopelessly of the various ways in which we could perhaps work through things; you know, support each other, like people who love each other are meant to. But he mumbled something vague and unconvincing about not being sure, and wanting to just see how things go. It wasn’t the constructive response I was hoping for. A stab of pure venomous resentment shot through me and I stopped breathing for about five seconds, watching him stuff his mouth with an unnecessarily large bite of toast, and then I breathed in. On exhaling, I decided to take control of the situation. Yes me - I took control. It's what you have to do in the end ladies. You will get to the
point where the choice simply isn’t yours anymore because your body and heart will start to repel him involuntarily as he just refuses to understand you. So I took a sip of my tea which still tasted sugarless despite me robotically emptying in four sachets without shame, and I quietly stated that ‘seeing how things go’ wasn't quite enough for me. Nobody wants to see them self morph into a neurotic psychopath, but this seemed to be something of an issue for me. Now don’t think I am a lunatic, but every time I see his I-phone I just want to snatch it and lock myself in a loo, where I can sit on the toilet-seat and greedily sweep through his messages and numbers to see what discrepancies I can find. I didn't do it, what do you think I am? The urge was just lingering there, like a child's instinct to steal cookies from the cookie jar. It was the early hours of the morning - probably 3am, and he was sleeping; but I wasn't, because I was plotting how I could get out of the bed without disturbing him, creep round to his side and take the I-phone hostage. I didn’t have the balls to see it through though. I did actually try this antic a few months back because things just didn’t seem to be adding up then either. He was sleeping and his phone was right there, so I tip-toed over, swiped it up, and ran to lock myself in the loo. He must have had some kind of psychic connection with that phone, because two seconds later he jolted from slumber and was pummelling the loo door with his fists like a madman. I was so disconcerted by it that I couldn’t seem to focus on the phone anyway, and after about ten minutes of cowering on the loo wishing I hadn’t been born, and listening to him try to persuade me in between bursts of frustration taken out on the door that he wouldn’t blow his lid if I unlocked it, I gave in and handed back his phone without having checked a single thing. Right then, there in that hotel breakfast room, I just needed him to understand my neurosis, and say… “Look babe, if you want to raid through my phone go for it, whenever you feel like it, you have my permission if it makes you feel better.” And I needed him to say… “Okay babe, if this thing with my ex is bugging you so much, just take her number and give her a call; meet up, go for a coffee, get it out of your system. It's okay because I love you, and I want you to get over this phase and stop that pretty eye of yours from twitching.” But nope, instead, he's eyeing his phone like a hawk, keeping it in his pocket, and even taking it into the toilet with him. Something just isn't right about that! What I find so frustrating is that usually the tables are tipped the other way and insecurity is his middle name, not mine. I expected some sort of empathy from him; he’s supposed to care about me. All I needed was some reassurance; some positivity. You can’t just keep ‘seeing where things go’ and keep hoping for the best when things get this low; we’ve been working on this strategy for a year now and made no progress. You need to be able to connect and communicate; otherwise it’s just leading a person on and playing with their emotions. Just be straight-up, black and
white, yes or no, to be or not be – no questions. But then, did I really expect him to be unselfish here? I knew he wasn’t going to take my needs into account in this particular situation, so I had to make the decision for myself; he wasn’t going to do it because he was just a coward. He wanted the best of both worlds. It felt good though, to simply give up. If we’re on different levels, what is the point? I ended the relationship over cold hard toast, and I was as cold and hard about it as I could be. His response mirrored mine, which hurt somewhat; but at least now I don't have to stress anymore every time he takes his phone to the toilet with him, because I won't be there to see it. And I don't have to stress about our relationship not moving forward, because it's over. And there are so many other issues that won't exist so long as the relationship doesn't exist. It's a relief. Perhaps I can start being me again. It is only day two though, so I expect that this time tomorrow I may find myself feeling that familiar stab of panic in my chest as the realisation kicks in, and it'll be Oh my Gawd, I'm going through a break-up; and Oh my Gawd, I don't like it! But we'll deal with those demons when they creep up on me. In the meantime, I am in cleansing mode. The last time I cleansed I had a minimeltdown; its funny the crazy things we do when consumed by irrational misery. I remember it quite clearly because I was in the midst of a terrible rage. I had had enough! After a blazing row, I got home and cried as many tears as I could; thinking that this will definitely be the last time. And then I proceeded to gather all of the little trinkets that I had connected any meaning to during our relationship and piled everything on the bed in order to pack it all up and send it back to the ... ahem, heartbreaking Pollock! It had started with a few sentimental items - a couple of soft toys and some charms from my bracelet, but it then extended to a Christmas tree complete with giant red balls and decorations. I realised with regret that I didn't have enough money to deliver it all back to him, as I barely had enough money to eat at the time. Plus I figured the Christmas tree would come in handy as it was that time of year. I thought that if I was to keep the tree, then it kind of diminished the whole point, so I found myself lovingly putting the charms back on my bracelet, and the cherished soft toys back in their designated spots. By this time, I had caught a glance of myself in the mirror, and I looked hideous - all puffy and pathetic. So I made a conscious decision not to be upset anymore, and not to take it out on my belongings. But this time round it is not about cutting him off and zoning him out of my life; it is simply about being realistic and focussing on me - lovely me. We should all love ourselves more I think. Today, I will learn to love my living space. Bacteria - here I come... What drama eh? I have firmly decided though that I want nothing to do with love anymore. Cupid has screwed me over one too many times, and in conclusion I have decided that all men stink and you can never rely on them for anything! In fact I have written this insight on a sheet of A4 paper in black-marker pen, and taped to my kitchen cupboard door to remind myself every day never to fall again. The reminder goes like this...
“All men stink and you can never rely on them for anything! They are penis obsessed losers. The one thing they never fail at is letting you down. They will shatter your hopes, dreams, and plans for the future, because they are impotent commitment phobic’s who don’t want to grow up and leave home, in fear that they won’t get their underwear ironed anymore. All men ought to have their penis confiscated until they learn how to pleasure a woman properly. Note to self: Never allow yourself to fall in love with these timewasting, heart-breaking, overgrown little boys, ever again!” Visitors to my humble bedsit may think I have psychotic tendencies when they see it, especially male visitors. But I think once you have heard my story you might understand why I have come to this conclusion. All I can say is brace yourself…
A Bit about Me
I guess I should tell you a bit about me, so that you can at least have some idea of the person whose story you are following here. When it comes to defining yourself to complete strangers, the best way to go about it is to be honest, but positive. In other words vague and general. No point in scaring you off immediately right? If I were at one of those speed-dating things; not that I would ever stoop to that level of desperation, but if I had to introduce myself to a prospective partner in two minutes, I might say: “Hi! I’m bla bla, I’m 26, I’m a writer. I love to go out; restaurants, bars, dinner parties. I’m just here looking to meet interesting people…” and so it would go on. It all sounds very nice and promising, but it’s not an accurate state of affairs, is it; in fact its completely useless waffle. I am sure that if every person at these sorts of places were accurate, the whole ordeal would be an utter disaster. You would have people admitting to the fact that they’re actually stuck in dead-end jobs, depressed, just been dumped or not been laid in six years! My personal bio would be, “I have been unemployed for the better part of a year because I am reluctant to work for other people. Unless of course there is a writing position available which would bring me closer to my dream career; which is unlikely to fall into my lap because I’m not formally qualified for any job in the publishing industry, and I have no previous experience which apparently is essential, yet impossible to attain. I am currently single due to my previous relationship being a disaster, and I am secretly declaring war on all beings with a penis for a brain!” Not exactly the winning spiel eh? The truth is, I spend my days trying to convince myself that I am a writer by blogging and dreaming up cocktails of projects; none of which I ever come near to finishing. Being published is the dream which consumes my days and nights, and clinging onto the dream has been my life-jacket. Without it the retail industry would have drowned me by now. I have been far from content to sign my soul away to shop work in the past, but got through it, excusing the fact that I was just a shop assistant by working my way up through a hierarchy of what I considered to be prestigious department stores.
It is all about impressing people you see. I can't say I'm a writer yet, since I haven't exactly finished writing anything, so instead I have validated my working reputation by saying things like - “I’m a sales associate”, instead of “I am a brainless cashier.” Or even, “I’m a partner in John Lewis!” I used to get some funny looks with that one actually, but it was a manipulated truth; during the induction all applicants were informed that technically we were all signing contracts to become partners in the company, seeing as John Lewis is a partnership. If you don’t jam it up a bit, people clock onto the fact that you’re not living up to your potential and then they either feel sorry for you, smug, or irritated by the fact that your ambitions and achievements are not as strong as theirs. I started off my working years as a Marks and Spencer Christmas temp. At first it was a novelty, particularly when I received my first wage packet - because they paid cash in an envelope at the end of every two weeks, it was great! My first eighty quid was spent on a posh mobile phone from Argos. It was a Nokia 6210, and back then it was the coolest Nokia phone and I couldn’t believe that I actually owned one. Growing up in a poor family, we had never had access to the latest gadgets and trends. Mostly what we got was second-hand, so earning my own money and being able to purchase and own the coolest phone in the Argos Catalogue, was an amazing feeling! Marks and Sparks soon became a living hell though, because it was winter, and shifts started at bloody six in the bloody morning! It’s not funny when you have to start your weekend at bloody six in the bloody morning stocking bloody freezers with no bloody gloves on your bloody chapped hands! I think it was this sort of lack of consideration that put the first dent in my management resentment complex. If they can provide a hideous uniform, that only serves to encourage customers to treat us like the retail slaves that we are, then why on earth could they not provide us with the necessary equipment to do the demoralizing job? Answer: they don’t care about the cogs. At least that was how it felt at the time - remember I was a hormonal teenager. My next job was in the Ladies Fashion, Hats and Shoes department in John Lewis; a much more comfortable position. I don’t have too many gripes about this one - I was after all a partner of the firm; which I assumed meant they respected us. But after about two years it just became so terribly dull. So I quit, and decided to move further up on my list of luxury retail stores. I bagged a job for the Diesel concession in Selfridges. But this was my first genuine experience of power-tripping management from hell. I was convinced that the manager didn’t think my customer service skills were up to the mark, which annoyed me because I knew that there was nothing wrong with my customer service skills. I had my own method of selling and it didn’t include harassing every customer in the vicinity! I would literally be placed in a particular spot, and the manager would watch me as customers browsed, and if I wasn’t pouncing on them immediately, she would march over and prompt me. It was so stressful. I decided in the end that I couldn’t stand the psycho manager anymore, so I quit. After Selfridges I tried my hand at a few high street fashion shops, but they were amongst the worst of my retail experiences. Namely Topman; I am still traumatised
by the experience of standing in the men’s fitting room in the height of summer - the stench! Men should be utterly ashamed of themselves. I decided to go back into luxury retail, and I made my way up to Liberty, which was a very nice store to work in, for the first three months. After that, it became staid, and of course, management issues surfaced, and so yes you guessed it - I quit! Quitting was now a very empowering thing to do. It made me feel like I had freedom and that I was nobody's retail slave! I escaped to what I considered to be the top end of the retail world - yes that’s right, I made it to Harrods. But not just Harrods; the Waterstone’s concession in Harrods! I was so excited, because it felt like suddenly I wasn’t just working in retail anymore; I was on the first step on the ladder towards publishing! Customers were different in Waterstones. They looked on us as vessels of information; we knew about the books! We could help them get the information they needed. They were intelligent shoppers, not money-wasting divas that spend £700 on a handbag, for God’s sake. There was obviously the amusing exception, like the woman who needed my assistance to stock up her home library. She didn’t care what books were chosen, because she didn’t intend to read them anyway! She just had a room full of bookcases that needed filling; what a freak. But after Christmas I was made redundant. Talk about kick in the stomach. This was about a year ago, and I was so deflated that I made a firm decision; I was NOT going to get sucked back into retail ever again. I had done my bit, worked my way up, all the way to Harrods, and was surrounded by wonderful books, books, books; and then they just flicked me off the ladder like I was nothing! Defiantly, for the first time in my life, I signed on. It was a bit weird at first, I felt like a fraud. In the past I have done bar work and waitressing just to pay the rent. But I thought - no! Why should I? All that is happening here is that I am wasting all of my time in these stupid shops, earning a pittance, whilst my will to live is rapidly drying up! It’s not fair. I am an intelligent person, I have dreams and personal ambitions too you know. But more to the point, the financial climate was changing, and there didn’t seem to be any easy little jobs to pick up any more. Companies were tightening their belts. I didn’t really have a choice in the matter, it was the dole or the curb… rent was disturbingly overdue. So instead of being depressed and miserable, I decided to take the redundancy as a blessing and a sign, because I had discovered the benefits of claiming benefits. It meant that I could choose never to be a Retail slave again; or at least convince myself that the choice was mine and that I had not been cornered unwillingly into joining the sign-on line. Retail had been holding me hostage from my writing for years, and it was time to make a stand, ahem, ahem. So I sign on every two weeks. I get a decent allowance from the government to live on, and my rent paid. Meanwhile I can search for jobs that are going to actually contribute to my own career choices, and not get landed in a dead end job that is slowly killing my soul, creativity, and will to exist. If it wasn’t for my previous
relationship, I’d probably be half way up the publishing ladder by now, but like retail, relationships are consuming too. However, now that I am single, all of my time is spent writing, dreaming, and scribbling down weekly schedules in my diary, which has never been so crammed before in my life! I have taken it upon myself to pack it with dinner dates, writing competition deadlines, library time, and coffee rendezvous. It is of the utmost importance that I always know what the next day has in store; otherwise it’s a downward spiral into the realms of hopeless despair. Keeping active, and keeping my diary updated is my way of proving that my existence has worth. Without my crammed diary of consolidation, I would just be another unemployed bum, leeching off other people’s taxes. I write and research every day; if that‘s not work then I don’t know what is! The only difference is that I don’t get paid for it. To be utterly honest, despite being able to live a ’writer’s life’, I hate being on Jobseekers allowance. It is demoralising. Most of the time I feel invisible and insignificant anyway; being unemployed and receiving government handouts just adds to the sorry state of affairs. All I want is for people to acknowledge who I am and what I’m about; just a bit of respect, you know? Just give me some recognition please. Or else, give me amnesia. At least then I can forget about my issues and carry on without my past affecting my future. Issues haunt you when they remain unresolved. And my issues are very much unresolved. In fact I think the reason I write so much, is because it enables me to exist. I write, people read, I’m heard; therefore I am content. Writing is a bit like purging. Bulimics fill their bellies with fatty carbs, and then throw it all up. Well I guess then I’m a literary Bulimic. I absorb all of this emotional shit in my head, and then I throw it up all over my laptop screen! The problem is, all the shit is just being divided between my head and the laptop; and the laptop is just an extension of my head really. It’s not going anywhere else, I‘m not getting rid of it. Its still stuck to me; a gravitational pull, orbiting around my sub consciousness. This is why I am here on The Break-up Project, writing it all down. I need to get rid of it, because it’s still all up here in my head. I need to spread it out a bit, dilute the pressure. There are some things that will happen to you in your life that will stay with you unless you can find a way to let it go.