Does this make me shallow?

I’ve had this feeling all day like I want to write something but wasn’t really sure what. It wasn’t until I took Scooby out for a night time pee/stroll that bits of this post started coming to me.

My husband and me are going back to counselling. We both feel like we’ve grown disconnected and, if we keep going the way we are, we’ll just grow apart. Obviously, it’s not a great thing to feel like you have to take these steps to save your relationship but I’m happy to be doing it. I’m happy that we’re not just giving up and throwing away nearly 13 years of being together. I’m happy that we’re giving ourselves the chance to fix things.

I’ve also been seeing my own therapist since probably mid-last year. I’d been feeling really low and knew that I needed more help than I could give myself. Although, ,my husband feels like I haven’t really done enough to try and fix my feelings. He thinks I should be on medication but I don’t think I’m depressed. I think I’m having a crisis of self-esteem that’s being exacerbated by constant drinking and drugs. I want to give myself a chance to find my baseline, to have a significant time off drugs – at least – to be able to know what my mental state is like without the constant vicious comedown cycle. And then, if I don’t feel better, THEN I’ll medicate. Without hesitation, I would. But not now. I need to give myself a chance in the same way that we’re giving us a chance.

Cocaine has always been the problem for me, since I was maybe 19 or 20 (god, that sounds bad when I type it IRL). The main one, anyway. I like other drugs but cocaine is the one I can’t say no to. A few drinks down and the next thought is: coke. It’s a real problem. Not that I do it every day. But every weekend, yes. I’ve had one weekend off since October. One weekend. And stupid me thought that after that one weekend I would feel AMAZING! That the lowness would be cured. Turns out one weekend isn’t enough but still it was a start. I fucked up the following weekend but this weekend I’ve stayed in (so far). Next weekend is my birthday so that’s a write off but I do want to try and give myself some time after my birthday and before we go to Coachella at the end of April.

Anyway, besides the drugs, my main issue is that, for the first time since I was in my teens, I look in the mirror and I don’t like what I see. Maybe part of it is just getting older but I’m noticing changes in my body that I do not like at all. I don’t like how I look in pictures. I don’t like myself, inside and out. But mostly out, because I feel like the outside has changed the inside. For awhile there, I was training regularly and eating better and things were manageable but, since mid last year I kind of gave up on the eating well part, which meant the training was pretty much negated (can’t out-train a bad diet, someone said).

I remember what I used to be like. I used to be confident. I used to love myself – all of myself. When I was stripping, I felt so powerful, so beautiful. I was the most independent I’ve ever been. I didn’t need anyone. Not that it’s necessarily a good thing to not need anyone but I felt good – about myself, about my life.

So late last year, I started doing private strip lessons to try and recapture that feeling. The first class back after New Year, I nearly died when I looked at myself in the mirror. I’ve kept at it though, even though I hate what I see. I felt like maybe, if I kept it up, I’ll somehow get in touch with the confident girl I used to be. Sometimes I feel a flicker of her. I don’t know if it’s just scraps of her left behind (which means she’s never coming back) or if she’s still all there, just trapped deep down under a multitude of negative experiences and self loathing. I worry she’s gone. That I’ve done such irreparable damage that, even if I eat well and get fit, that part of me will still be dead.

If I fix my body, will my mind follow? Am I really so hung up on being attractive to myself and others that, once that fades, I become this shadow of a person that can barely function, that caves in on herself like a hollowed out mountain. If so, god help me when I really start getting old and shit really goes wrong.

I actually entertained the notion of a boob job not so long ago. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, I’ve just always really liked my boobs. But I felt so shitty about myself, I thought making that kind of external change might somehow make me feel better. Madness, right? Even I was like, “Natalie, this is a new low. Even for you lately.” Again, nothing against boob jobs, more of an observation of the downward spiral of my own self appreciation.

I don’t know how to fix me. I suppose all I can do is it try and take care of myself – mentally and physically – and see what happens. That’s all we can ever do, right?

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One

Life is lonely. We’re all totally and utterly alone when it comes down to it. No one can really know you or what you’re going through. Sure, they can support you but it’s you experiencing whatever you’re going through and it’s you that has to deal with it and hopefully one day overcome it.

You can have a million friends in the world and feel like you have no one. Sometimes it can depend on how much you’re willing to let people in. Being vulnerable is hard. Asking for help is hard. I know I often can’t do it. Most of the time I’d prefer to stick it out on my own than put myself out there and risk rejection.

I did try and call one of my friends today. Someone that had said he would be there for me but I know he was out last night so he didn’t answer. I’m sure if I’d have texted him and said I needed him, he would’ve responded (if he was awake) but that was more than I was willing to do. That was the one gesture of self-help I could manage.

I don’t know why I feel this way. It’s like I’ve been sad for so long that I like it now. It’s the new normal. I flit between anger, sadness and despondency and none are particularly wonderful places to be. Even when I’ve had what should be considered a “good” week, it doesn’t matter. The low eventually closes in and nothing seems good anymore. I can find the bad in anything. Maybe that’s my superpower?

If so, what a rort. I want my money back.

Jury duty as an excuse to put your life on hold and basically live on the couch

I got summoned for jury duty late last year and I feel like I’ve kind of been using that as an excuse to put my life on hold, to not commit to anything aside from long stretches on the couch and the necessary requirement of work (from home as much as possible). Today, I had to go in for jury selection but they pushed back the date of the selection, which caused a potential clash with a holiday we have in late March (it was going to be a six week trial) so I got excused… along with my excuse, as it were. See what I did there?

Anyway, since I started back at work, I’ve been more or less part time. My goal was to do 3hrs a day but we’ve had more enquiries than expected so I’ve been doing a bit more than that. Rarely full days though although, honestly, I couldn’t tell you where my time goes. Actually, I can. I spend a lot of time on the couch watching TV, doing nothing. I know I could be doing all the things I said I was going to do with all my new free time – dancing, horse riding, going back to training, spanish classes – but I’ve been using the impending jury duty as a reason not to commit to anything in case I got selected for this six week trial.

So today, newly stripped of my legal system cloak of non-commitment, I made contact with my dance teacher to try and lock in dates with her. My next step is to lock in horse riding classes, spanish classes and finally training. Tomorrow I’ll book a hair appointment to colour my hair. I did that on a whim a few weeks ago and really liked it and think I’ll get it redone. I’ve got another tattoo (well, four separate ones) booked for next week. I got part of a half sleeve done last Friday (six hours of needle fun). I’m doing stuff… or planning to do stuff… but they’re all quite anti-social stuff. I find I don’t really want to do anything with anyone at the moment.

I make a bunch of plans with people but, when the day rolls around, I don’t want to leave the house. I didn’t want to do anything big for my bday this year but Jared was at dinner with some friends talking about doing a big 70s thing for my bday and I got caught up in the moment and agreed to it but now I want out. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to organise anything. I dread the feeling of a room full of people and me wandering between other people’s conversations. I know these are my friends too but I never feel comfortable in big groups. I just don’t. And I know it’s my bday and I can do what I want so I probably will cancel it in a day or two but I wonder whether this is part of a bigger problem of me just pulling away from everything/everyone and crawling into myself.

We went out on Saturday and ended up at a house party with this chick who had been chasing Jared to hang out with us for ages. Neither of us were quite sure why. Well, as it turns out, it looks like she’d been wanting to crack onto me. I was pretty drunk when we saw her but we ended up kissing and talking about how Jared and my relationship works and she seemed cool with it although she’s a lesbian so it would be a different dynamic to what we had with Cherish.

Anyway, she gave me her number at the end of the night. I texted her on Monday and she got back to me on Tuesday but hasn’t replied since. Jared thinks it would be a good idea for me to see her. He said she might make me feel better about myself. I asked if he didn’t think he could do that for me anymore. I don’t know maybe it’s just my mood but it feels like defeat – for us (me and him) in a way. Like he’s conceding he can’t help me, that we don’t have whatever it is we used to have anymore. I should be happy he’s so open to letting me experience something he thinks will bring me out of my current funk, even if it doesn’t include him like we originally wanted, but my current headspace isn’t down with being positive about… well, anything really.

I also don’t know if I can deal with the intricacies of dating right now. Waiting for someone to reply to your message. Trying to figure out how they feel about you. The uncertainty. The possible rejection. Is this something I really want to get myself into in my current state? I have a session with my therapist tomorrow so I suppose I’ll get to talk it all out then. I’m just tired, always tired.

This year is not shaping up to be any better than last. But why should it? I have to keep reminding myself it’s just another revolution around the sun. Something we’re always doing on this tiny blue planet – just circling a big ball of gas. What does it matter if the days after ‘new year’ continue to be as shit as the days before it? Forget the hype. Just focus on now and don’t buy into this whole ‘if 2019 starts out shit, well that’s it. May as well give up now because that’ll set the tone for the remaining 333 days.’ God it seems like an eternity.

My therapist’s shoes (but that’s not what it’s really about)

I’m fascinated by my therapist’s shoes. She’s very tall and has a seemingly endless array of flat shoes. She tells me one day that she doesn’t think she knows how to wear heels and I laugh (while wearing giant platform wedges). Not know how to wear heels? But I suppose she’s never had to. Never felt the need to. Or not lately, anyway.

Every week I go to see her with my tail between my legs. I make promises to myself and every week I have to confess my failures. It’s like confession except I’m not Catholic and she’s not a priest. A priestess for the mind maybe. Am I getting better? If not, it’s not her fault. I’m the one that breaks the promises to myself. I’m the one that has no self control. She never judges me. I can see that she sees that I hate myself for my failures. She knows I know what it’s doing to me.

I’m being very vague here. ‘It’ in my case is drugs and alcohol, cocaine mainly. I had promised myself that I would try and have a month drug-free – just one single month, to begin with, at least. It’s only the 15th and I’ve already failed three times. Each time I go to see her, I bend myself in every possible position to try and wriggle out of what I know I need to do. Scorched earth policy. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Yes, yes, I know. But for someone like me that means not putting myself in positions where I’ll drink to excess, not seeing my friends, not leaving the house basically.

I have come to the realisation that this is the only solution. I have made every possible attempt to go out and abstain but I can’t. Some situations are more dangerous than others. I can do a dinner, no worries (depending on who it’s with), but other events, I know I can’t. I have no will power. I bend my own rubber arm.

My husband tries to support me. He tries to take the blame, to say he’ll do better next time. He’ll be the strong one – for both of us, but I don’t want to be anyone’s responsibility. If he wants to stop, he can do it for himself and whatever his reasons are. My reason is that I don’t want to feel suicidal for the five days post-failure. It used to be three days but who’s counting? And five days is just long enough that the next weekend is looming and you to start to feel like you deserve some more fun again. That you need to feel good, some-fucking-how. That that’s the only thing that will make you feel good because everything else is absolute fucking shit (although that’s what got you there in the first place). Ah, the vicious cycle.

I’ve looked at NA. I don’t like the religion-aspect. I know I just need to stay away from these situations until I know what it feels like to spend a few weeks without getting high. So I can realise how good it can feel to not always be on that going up-coming down merry-go-round. Maybe then things will be different and I will feel better about – well, everything.

Nothing feels good when I’m coming down. Nothing excites me. I hate everything and damn near everyone. I don’t want to do anything. Go anywhere. I make a conscious decsion to eat the worst possible food because who fucking cares? The smallest upset is the end of the world (or I wish it would be). My brain literally doesn’t have the chemicals to counteract any kind of sadness (and lord knows there’s enough of that in my brain nowadays). So I’m left swimming in it. Drowning in it. The thoughts I think… I know they’re not ‘real’ but they’re very real for those few days until I start to feel better.

Just in time to fuck it up all over again.

Things that I want

The first point inspired me to write this post and then I just kept going from there so these are all in order of thought – not in order of priority.

  • A secluded (or not so secluded ;)) backyard so I can run around naked in all this rain we’re having
  • A walk in lingerie wardrobe and – fuck it, why not a shoe one too while we’re at it? – so I can see all my beautiful lingerie and not forget about a single piece because it’s lost at the bottom of the pile
  • For my rescue dog, Scooby, to feel safe in his new home
  • For my husband to feel better about himself
  • For me to feel better about myself – to feel desirable and sexy and beautiful and fun and all the things I don’t feel about myself anymore
  • To not have to recreate the fucking work websites this “cheapest option” fucktard has created (note to anyone not familiar with this phrase: you get what you pay for)
  • To have my own stripping room with a pole and heaps of mirrors so, if I can’t strip in public, I can at least entertain myself in private. I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot lately and it’s a very real (but quite unrealistic) wish
  • To go away this xmas and NY and come back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to start the year – in short, feeling better, not worse about… everything really
  • To write more (look at me, already doing it!)
  • To work less and focus more on the things that make me feel better about myself and make me happy
  • To be excited about life and the future and what it holds instead of constantly worrying and being stressed
  • To have the energy and desire for the kind of sex life we once had but filled with more filth and kink and general debauchery
  • The power to just disappear.

That’s enough wishful thinking for one day, don’t you think?

These are complicated times

As some of you may have read on my other blog, I’ve been going through a bit of a body image/self esteem crisis of late. I’ve been dealing with it in a number of ways – some good, some not so good and some definitely bad. For example, I’m seeing a therapist, doing private exotic dance classes and have a personal trainer so those would be good things. I’m also going to restart my horse riding classes which I was doing for awhile there but cancelled them all when I worked myself up into a ‘I don’t want to do anything/what’s the point?’ mind rage awhile ago.

On the not so good-bad side, I have been partying a lot – sometimes to great excess – and comfort eating. Both the best and worst thing to happen to me is the opening of our new cafe where I now have endless access to delicious custard filled pastries and I avail myself of one literally every day I’m there (which is pretty much every day). Then, a few weeks ago when I was feeling particularly shit, I drove well out of my way to find a McDonald’s drive through where I scarfed down a double cheeseburger, fries, soda and choc fudge sundae with fudge on the top and bottom. And I had no regrets. The thought, “who fucking cares?” actually went through my mind as I gorged myself in the parking lot. This thought goes through my mind quite a bit actually.

I know what I’m struggling with is not liking my outside or my inside. I know this. But sometimes I get fed up and doing unhealthy things to excess seems to be the way I handle it. “Oh well, can’t control it,” my brain seems to think. “May as well push it to the fucking limit. What’s the worst that could happen?”

One of the perhaps in between (or good – I certainly don’t see it as bad) things that I’ve been fixating on is tattoos. For quite a while now, I’ve had a list of tattoos I want to get but, while I know what I want, I don’t know where I want it to go (a major part of any tattoo decision, really). Anyway, these decisions have been coming to me lately – I suppose as a means of exerting control over my body or trying to convince myself to like my outside more or maybe just to cover it up. I’m sure my therapist would have some thoughts on the topic.

Anyway, I already have nine tattoos across my wrists, back of my neck, shoulders, back of my thigh and a decent chunk of my back. Last week, I got a little red crown on my left shoulderblade. Only a small, fine lined one – nothing like some of the larger pieces I’ve gotten. But on Friday, I’m going to meet with another artist about my first really visible piece – a geometric half-sleeve. I have all my inspiration pics and I’d already scoped this dude out for another piece and I like his style so it’s not like this is something I’ve never considered before but it definitely feels like an accelerated process right now. After this one, I already have another text based one I want done and eventually a chest piece (still working myself up to that one). Some might say my creative juices are just flowing a bit more now – but others might think otherwise. Who knows? Either way, it’s happening.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been doing private stripping classes. Some of you may not know this but I used to strip when I was in my teens and early 20s and lately I’ve been missing it very much. It was honestly the time I felt the most beautiful, powerful, sexy and in control of myself in my whole life. I’d been toying with the idea of getting myself into shape (more or less) and going back and doing a shift or two. Not for the money, just for the experience. Just to feel better about myself, to feel desirable. Yes, I know I shouldn’t be looking for this externally but until I can find it within myself then I felt like this could be a short term solution.

So I started planning my outfits. I bought new stripper shoes. My therapist (both of them at the time) were very keen on this idea but, when I floated it with Jared, him not so much. I can’t say I wasn’t devastated for awhile there but I’ve resigned myself to doing the private classes instead. I feel more uncoordinated than sexy dancing to someone else’s choreography with someone that’s a much better dancer (at least to their own choice of music) but it’s something at least. We’ve been dancing to this hip hop song I don’t particularly like but she posted a video of something else much more sexy and slow the other day so I might broach the subject of doing some more kind of freestyle-y, sexy stuff – just shorter routines, we can learn quickly in each 1hr session. I feel like that might make me feel more sexy. I don’t know.

And, just when you thought I couldn’t get more fucked up, despite my complete and utter loathing for my body, I have stepped up my level of exhibitionist dressing to sometimes extreme levels. Corsets, harnesses, lingerie as outerwear, sheer bodysuits in fine dining restaurants, for someone that doesn’t like themselves physically, I do a good job of making it look otherwise. My desire for new lingerie knows no bounds (even though I only wear it out in public – for show) and I’m now obsessed with wearing stripper shoes in public. Ever the provocateur I am, except now it’s all front and no substance beneath. I no longer believe my own hype.

What can I say? These are complicated times for me.

So this is how it ends

I suppose it’s time to write about it.
We broke up with Cherish a bit over a month ago. On Saturday 2 June, to be exact. It was hard. It was definitely harder on Cherish and Jared than it was on me but it was the right thing to do for a number of reasons:
  1. She has/had anxiety issues and depression and the complicatedness of what we were doing was making her unstable. We were actually worried for her mental health and her personal wellbeing. I’d been telling her for weeks to see someone (a therapist) and I think she finally was able to have her first appointment on Tuesday
  2. My personal reason, aside from her mental health, was that she wasn’t the right fit for me. I was never going to get the mental connection I needed from her, whether it was the age difference or just a mis-match in personalities, I just couldn’t gel with her. I felt like her mum or her big sister, not her girlfriend. I had hoped that the connection would come with time but now I don’t really believe that. I think you either click or you don’t and, while we did in some ways, it wasn’t enough or it wasn’t the right kind of connection for me to continue the relationship
  3. Jared’s reasons – I have a rough idea what they are but I won’t speak for him aside to say that it wasn’t just my decision. We both agreed that it wasn’t working and, when we spoke to Cherish about how much the relationship was stressing her out, she agreed, as much as it hurt her to admit it.
So that happened. We told her on the Saturday night and made her stay over with us because we were worried what she might do to herself if she was alone. Jared then had family stuff to do the next morning so her and I had a bath and talked and then watched
The Handmaid’s Tale (nice light viewing, I know). She started to pack up her things and got upset again. Eventually, she had a nap. Jared had made plans for us to do dinner with some friends but she didn’t want to go so we went and, while we were gone, she went home.
We all work together so we saw her that week at work, which was tough. We already had tickets to go to a masquerade ball on the Thursday after we broke up, which we all still went to. We all got pretty wasted and Cherish ended up screaming at me on a main road for being ‘cold to her at work’, amongst other things, which was not fun. The night deteriorated from there really although we did end up on decent enough terms for her to end up back at our place (with other friends) until about 5am.
We were then all meant to go on holiday together to Hobart the following week. Cherish decided it probably wasn’t a good idea for her to come (a good decision in the end, I think). It was sad waking up without her on that first morning, realising she wasn’t going to be with us anymore.
But, if I’m honest, for me the overwhelming feeling has been of relief. I know that perhaps makes me a cold hearted bitch but, if I can’t be honest here, where can I be. I wanted a girlfriend, a partner, but I felt like I’d adopted a child (and I do not like children). I wanted to be with someone confident, someone who knew who they were and would contribute to our relationship, rather than just ‘be in it’. I felt like she was a passenger more than anything else, when what I wanted was a co-pilot. It just wasn’t right and, yes, I do feel bad for breaking it off but I honestly don’t feel like we treated her like a second class citizen or a secondary partner, it just wasn’t working because we weren’t the right fit for each other.
The whole thing lasted just over 3 months and, while there were some amazing times, there were also some very tough ones. It made me question myself so much. At times, I felt pushed so far beyond my boundaries, mainly because in many ways I felt like the outsider. I felt like her and Jared had this amazing connection and I didn’t and it upset me because I was the one that wanted that kind of relationship with another woman but wasn’t getting it. Of course, there was some jealousy. As much as I want to deny that, I can’t. There was some but mostly it was a feeling of being left out. As it turns out, Jared wasn’t having the idyllic experience I thought he was but, regardless, his was closer to a real relationship than mine was. But let’s not make it a competition, shall we?
Towards the end, the hardest thing was the sex. Jared would always come with Cherish. He would always reach for her first. He would always make an effort to make me come (or she would) but they would always finish together. I think maybe two times he came with me and that was only because she didn’t want to participate. For me, the most intimate part of sex is coming together or having Jared come in me and, for three months, I didn’t get that although I watched him have it with her. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so badly about it if the two of us (Jared and me) were having sex but we weren’t (for various reasons).
I actually cried after the first time we had sex after the break up because I’d missed that connection so much. For so long, I’d felt like I was on the outside, always a participant or an observer, but always excluded from that final, most intimate of moments. I also acknowledge that the the whole sex thing put a lot of strain on Jared because he knew how I was feeling and had this pressure on him to make us both come. I can come reasonably easily but I wanted him to come with me every now and again. Cherish could only come from anal sex so I couldn’t make her come so it was really all on him and he wasn’t happy unless we were both happy. I get it, it wasn’t easy on him either and I guess that’s another reason it all fell apart.
So now it’s over and we’re left with the aftermath. We all work together and are civil and can talk to one another. Cherish is (currently) planning on coming to a concert with us that we’d all bought tickets to before we broke up. That’s in August so a fair bit off yet. She’s taking care of herself and seems to be more mentally stable and is much happier.
To me, the real damage seems to lie with me and Jared and, whether it’s due to the break up or just us, I don’t know but we’re not the same. We barely talk. We don’t fuck. We spoke about it in Hobart, that we can acknowledge that it’s just a hard time and try not to put too much pressure on one another while we work it out. But how long does that last for? We’re both so busy with work and, with Jared maybe opening a new venue this year, I don’t see that getting any easier. How do we find ‘us’ again after everything that’s happened?
And there’s more I should tell you, I suppose. More personal things that affect only me and Jared and have nothing to do with Cherish but those are things for another post. For now, this is enough. It has to be.