A little under two months have passed since you last heard from me. Two months down the line and I wish I could tell you that I just took a little holiday to Spain, or got too lost in a book.
When we last caught up me and you, I told you the story of James. It was the story of why my head is a constant struggle. It was the story that shaped my life and the story of why I campaign for mental health. But most of all, it was the most precious story I could tell.
You see, as bloggers, we all get to pick and choose which stories we tell, of which chapters we decided to let you read. I guess I’ve never had a filter. My story is from start to finish, you know? It’s not about my love of fashion or my inability to eat healthy vegan meals. It starts with me being born and, presumably, it’ll end with me dying. But everything in between those two covers is my book, my story.
I had to take a step back after I told you about him. It wasn’t that I regretted sharing, nor do I think I overshared. The comments from you guys were incredible. The stories you have shared with me, the way some of you cried as you read the three posts really moved me. That feedback was incredible. What isn’t incredible, however, is how vulnerable I have been since.
It was a vulnerability I never knew existed until it hit me full force one evening. I was leaving a directors meeting in work, it was cold and it was late. No bad story ever just starts, does it? It always begins with the weather being colder or the sky being darker, as though the universe is warning us to brace ourselves for impact. I ignored those warnings obviously, because I’m one of those idiots that always naively walks into danger and I got myself to the bus stop ready to catch the last bus home. I had around half an hour to kill, so I grabbed myself a coffee and sat down.
It was only as I got the cash machine that I realised what I was doing. I looked down at my phone and realised I had been typing little goodbye text messages. I had been walking to cash machine to withdraw as much as possible.
With nothing but my laptop, my phone and the clothes I was wearing, I was subconsciously running away.
I looked around and saw that there was a National Express coach heading towards Leeds. It was almost romantic that the bus was heading to Leeds. If you can, flash yourself back to my first attempt at university, studying my events management degree in Leeds. It all got too much for me one night and I had tried to end my own life, convinced that it would bring me closer to James. Fast forward to now, the unusually cold and dark night was inviting me back there. I wasn’t quite sure if it was a sign that I should go because the screen was flashing the name of a place that reminded me of so much despair.
I suppose I could have looked at it from another angle too, that it was a reminder of how far I had come in the five years since leaving my Leeds life behind, smiled and felt the warmth wash over me, reminding myself that I had made it this far, and the hardest bit of my journey had been travelled. But instead, being the idiot that I am, I felt comforted by a familiar place, the place that ruined my happiness once with a drunken realisation of my pain.
Obviously I stopped what I was doing, sat back down and waited for my bus home. I cried secretly on the back of the bus. If you follow me on Twitter, you will know all about BusBae, or, more commonly known as a guy who gets my bus who I have dreams of marrying. Just my luck he would be on my bus, typical that he also would be working late. He kept looking at me like he knew something was wrong, but I just tucked my chin into my jacket and kept my head down.
I realised that my overwhelming fear of not being good enough had come back to haunt me once more. It had come for one more battle, knowing I was at a vulnerable place in my life. For many years I have internalised my fears because I didn’t want anybody to realise how much hard work I was. For the past four years I have had somebody who walked by my side, knowing my downfalls and still, somehow, managing to piece me back together in a way that only he could.
But, like most things in life, it was temporary. Now I have to face the world alone. And let me tell you something for free, dating in a world where you’re so vulnerable is bloody hard work.
I almost write myself off before I give myself a chance. I’ve already told myself a million times over that I’ll never be good enough for somebody else. These days, I am more shocked if a man actually pays me attention and we survive that awkward ‘you blog about your mental health’ stage of our dating life.
I think I tried to run away because it was easier than staying. Running to a place that I connect so strongly with James in seems like the right thing to do because life here without him is hard. And it’s not the lack of him specifically that makes it hard. Having to navigate the infamous “GayTwitter” without being body shamed or told I’m too frigid. It is having to stand awkwardly in bars with my friends, wondering if somebody is staring at me because they fancy me or because my shirt is a bit too loud. It’s the getting into bed alone at night knowing my other exes are doing well. The fear of failure overwhelms me to the point where if it isn’t failing you can absolutely guarantee that I will make it fail somehow.
But more than that though, it’s about having to do life alone.
I never formed the one relationship that should, technically, be the most important – the one with my biological parents. My first true relationship crumbled into suicide and I am stood here, alone, wondering why I keep getting back up. The future scares me more than the past because I have absolutely no idea what it holds.
But I can’t let something that I can’t control scare me. Letting go of control is so hard for me, and my mum is constantly nagging at me to just let go for once. To fling my arms open wide and run through a field like some musical number from the Disney Channel. She’s right. I can’t control my future, but what I can control is the moral of the story that this novel of mine has taught me already.
The moral of the story here kids, is life is gonna knock you down. It’s going to suck you in, chew you up and spit you out. But you can’t let it defeat you. You can’t runaway in a place you think life won’t find you. Life will always find you.
Instead, embrace it. Let life do what life needs to do and you’ll come out the other side with your lessons learned, your head held high and your heart will mend itself. If you’re like me, you’ll also come out with absolutely no matches on Tinder.