I’m very sorry for the radio silence for the last ten days. I put up a post last weekend but it was too full on and raw and so I took it down again. It’s a funny old balance to get – being honest and real but also protecting yourself and your family too.
So this is a slightly less full on version of what’s been happening.
In many ways the last two weeks have been brilliant. The blog got a huge write up in the Irish Independent (thank you Leslieann and Yvonne) and as a result I was interviewed on three different Irish radio stations.
It was funny to see what they honed in on. The big main station, RTE2, seemed most interested in me chatting up the Greek and were a bit gutted that it didn’t end in love (‘if it were Hollywood you’d have married him!’ said the interviewer, a guy from Westlife. Tell me about it! ) Another one was very interested in me being naked (‘Hold on, we have Hugh Hefner on the line for you…’) and the final one seemed concerned for my wellbeing: ‘Sure, was your life so bad that you had to take such drastic action as this?’
Good question, really.
If anyone had told me this time last year that the blog would be doing so well and that I’d have been on the telly and the radio and be getting lovely messages from people everyday, I would have burst with excitement – but the last couple of weeks, despite all the good stuff, have been the hardest of this year. Harder even than the money stuff.
An ongoing situation has reared its ugly head and it’s really floored me.
The tricky thing with this blog is that while I’m happy to write about myself (to a much greater degree than I’d ever imagined), it doesn’t feel right to write about other people. I chose to put myself out there, they didn’t.
But for the last ten months, I’ve been putting myself under a lot of pressure to intervene in a situation that’s been getting worse for years. I figured I would be a self-help fairy; I thought that if I could just be more loving and forgiving – like all the self-help books say – it could change everything. I told myself that if I could just get over my fear of confrontation and just say the right thing, it would work miracles!
It hasn’t and I’ve been really beating myself up about that.
This week, in between sobs on the phone to a friend, I said, in all seriousness: ‘But someone like Mother Theresa would be able to do something.’ She burst out laughing: ‘Are you actually trying to be Mother Theresa in this situation?’ Me, more sobs: ‘Yes!’
For F**K’s Sake. I am not Mother Theresa. It doesn’t matter how much bl**dy self-help I read, I’m never going to be Mother Theresa.
I’ve been hitting my head against a brick wall and it’s time to stop.
As it is now, no matter what great stuff is happening in my life – and look, there seems to be so much! – I feel like I’m always being pulled back into a black hole. But actually, it’s me pulling myself into the hole because it’s familiar.
I don’t know what I’m saying except that I’m realising that while good habits and self-help CAN improve your life massively they do not mean that you wake up with a smile on your face every day of the year, full of love for the world.
Big stuff, family stuff, emotional stuff will always come and bite you – it’s part of being human. And when that happens it’s OK to get angry, to cry, to scream and to think really bad things.
I think the dangerous expectation that can be created by self-help books is that if you’re not walking around like a cross between Mary Poppins, Buddha and Jesus every day you’re doing it wrong. You must try harder.
You must eradicate any sense of anger with forgiveness and love! Any dissatisfaction with ten minutes in a gratitude journal! Any negative thoughts with affirmations: I love myself! I love everyone around me!
Sometimes it feels like these books want to hammer out the very nature of the human condition – a condition that has many emotions, including bad ones. A condition that’s based on complicated human relationships that can wreak havoc, even when everybody is trying their best.
Nobody is perfect, including me. But I think I’ve been trying to be.
In some ways I’ve used this year to beat myself up on an even bigger scale than I used to – ‘I’m not a saint therefore I am a failure!’ – but the truth is I’m a good person doing my best and I have to cut myself some slack when I fall short and when things don’t work out like I’d like them to.
On one of many teary phone calls this week, my friend Preena pointed out that I’ve faced up to more things this year than most people do in a lifetime, and that of course that’s going to spin me out. She told me I should be proud of what I have done instead of focussing on what I haven’t. She’s right.
I am spun out but it feels like something’s shifted. In between the tears this week it feels like I’ve let go of a lot of things – including the need beat myself up and to fix things. What will be will be.
PS – I have gone off track with my 30 day challenge. The only exercise I’ve been doing is lifting my fork to my mouth. I have been eating my feelings in a major way: cakes, biscuits, ice cream, more ice cream, cheese, toast, cheese on toast, croissants, chocolate… – if it’s made of sugar and/or fat, I’ve been eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then having seconds. Oh well. I’ve done better on the booze and mediation though. I’ve been meditating like a little buddha and have only drunk four times in the last 28 days (I gave up the booze a week before November). I drank two glasses of wine last Thursday, two on Friday, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. I thought they would help and they did to a point, but not enough to make me want to drink the nights away. I’m not going to beat myself up for the lapse.
PPS – I haven’t written my eulogy either but I’m not going to beat myself up for that either.
PPPS – It’s Friday. Hurrah. xx