Updated: Dec 24, 2019
From about 1993 to 1997, I went to South Essex Gymnastics club and I loved it. I started out doing a Saturday morning for a couple of hours. Mum would drop me off, go and do her Tesco ‘big shop’ shopping. When she picked me up, there was always a muffin on the dashboard of the passenger seat of the car, and a boot for of Tesco value ‘stripy’ food.
We would get home, and the house would smell of curry (mummy’s Saturday special) and I would dump my stuff, have a shower get changed into a different set of sporty gear and off I cycled.
I would cycle along the ‘sea’ wall on Canvey Island, to the other end of the island where my Nan and Grandad used to live. I stayed over most Saturday nights, not because I had an affinity for my grandparents (I mean they’re alright) but because that’s also where my auntie used to live, and she is only a year older than me.
1997 is when the family fall out occurred, but before then I was blissfully oblivious to the mental illnesses that we’re my parents.
I wasn’t the 'happy' I am now. I mean I was under the influence of someone who judged me for not being whom he thought I ought to be. NOT loving me for who I am, and no matter what I did or how hard I tried ‘I could do better’. So, I was a version of happy that was never quite there. It’s like when your cold, and you warm up a little bit, but you’re not comfortably warm, your just less cold. So, it’s ok, but not great.
It’s weird, I hadn’t looked back on my childhood for years, in fact I had blocked so much of it out that often my sisters would be reminiscing about one thing or another and I wouldn’t have even the slightest clue of what she was talking about, yet apparently I was there and had opinions and said stuff. No clue. But, being off the booze and generally just more focused the memories started flooding back. But not actual memories, more like nostalgia for a simpler time, a time when I wasn’t drinking myself into an early grave and had goals.
At the same time as this was happening my life was moving forwards, I was just over halfway through my new target of 90 days and feeling a wee bit un-pumped.
I met up with my friend she was super psyched about the my weight loss and my general glow, so which I as a bit flat on, she asked me how I was feeling about my ex. He and I did not have a grand break up for reasons of infidelity, we split because we realised that we’re weren’t right for each other and that if we carried on, we would end up hating one another. So, in a weird way that was worse. We couldn’t even walk away from this angry, so the heart break was raw.
Ultimately the reason it ended when it did was because he taught me that I was lovable, and for who I am. Not what I can do for him, or indeed anyone else. Not judging me for not being a different version of me, he loved me. He showed me love is unconditional and he showed me kindness.
This triggered a whole process in my head and heart and led me to not only cut out my dad but to end a friendship with a guy who had basically spent 3 years using me, and boring me to death with his 3 topics. His body, women and food. Literally he only had three dials, when he's done with the food thing he's back talking about his muscles, which leads to his women talk. I put up with this for so long because my dad used to lecture me all the time about all sorts of boring stuff and I thought it was normal and I should be thankful for the company and the 'wisdom'.
My ex taught me that there is a different way to spend time with people, which is to say a fun side where you have more interesting things to talk about like toadstools, the meaning of life and making Dave Gilmour a bacon sandwich.
My ex and I worked in the same building, and this created an added sense of trepidation for me. Though we hadn’t bumped into one another that often, the times that we had we’re almost always when I was not looking fabulous. In fact, I looked more like I’d got to work via a hedgerow and backwards and annoyingly he also looked hot. So, I did what any sane person would in that situation..…I avoided being in the communal areas during his break times.
And quite fortunately because we we’re doing the exact same job, but for different companies the break times and shift start times we’re the same, so this was very achievable.
I told my friend I was in a good place with it all, by now it had been about 4 months since we split. I figured he would likely meet someone before I did because, he’s hot and I was not. Plus, he does gigs in pubs and girls like musicians. Plus, his workplace was bigger, and a bigger pool of ladies. So, in other words, he’s hot and with more opportunities to meet women. It was going to happen.
I had decided that he was already seeing someone else, because I figured that if I got my head around the idea of that being the case, that when it actually happened or the dreaded seeing him hand holding or something in public I would be ok.
And I wanted to be ok with this for a couple of reasons. I didn’t want to have a public meltdown because that would be a huge blow to my ego and secondly, I knew he would feel bad about it because the last thing he ever wanted to do was hurt me.
So, I told my friend confidently that I was ok with it all. And clearly, I was tempting fate, because two days later, I had the afternoon off work. So, this put me in the danger zone of being in the communal areas of the building, to start my evening shift around the same time as he would be in them too.
I walked up to the big blue gates and saw my ex, walking down the path with a girl.
My stomach did a somersault and my heart sort of fluttered. I did the sane, adult thing of hiding then running away. It took me about 2 seconds to reach the entrance to the building and in that time, I had gone from mini heart attack to feeling ok.
I felt ok.
I was ok.
I even imagined him kissing this girl, and I was ok with it. The emotion of not having emotions at this moment was overwhelming and I cried, I recognised the breakthrough.
I couldn’t help but imagine them doing stuff in his bedroom, the one he and I had done stuff in many times before and even that was ok for me to imagine. I mean I didn’t linger on that thought for long, largely because I sort of felt like I was spying on them. Even though that was in my head, and I didn't even actually know whether they we're together or literally just leaving work at the same time, but I guess knowing his bedroom and more specifically his ‘moves’, it did sort of feel like spying.
I couldn’t put the elation I felt into words and sort of floated into the office on a cloud of sparkling victory. The immediate second victory floored me. It had been something like 51 days since I last had a drink. Ordinarily this situation would have immediately sparked my desire for a bottle of wine. If it had upset me, I’d have wanted to the wine to drown my sorrows, if I had felt like I had felt then I would have wanted the wine to celebrate my victory. I felt like I wanted to go for a run, like I needed to expel this energy.
I felt like I had had a giant breakthrough in my road to recovery. The day to day, I didn’t ever think about booze. I mean my sandwich fantasies we’re getting out of hand, but I wasn’t thinking about booze. And even in a situation that was have triggered a desire for a glass of wine, wasn’t having that effect anymore.
I was definitely getting over the break up and indeed coming to terms with my own ego because that situation would have also triggered a whole host of fantasies that would have me looking great and with someone looking equally as great and so my ex to see me being happy without him. This sort of fantasy I would have pretty much about anyone who had upset me or hurt me. Like my ego was wrapping me up in a fantasy to sooth it. I didn’t have any of that either.
I found that quite confusing, because my habits we’re changing so fast and so sudden that I was beginning to wonder what sort of person I had been and very intrigued by the sort of person I was becoming. Or had that person always been in my soul, just patiently waiting for the petulant child in me to shut up and go away.
I also discovered that I was far more ‘in the moment’ than I had ever been. Whatever the situation I am likely to be quiet and, in the corner, imagining a future scenario of the same event but where I am happier and wearing clothes that fit me. I normally therefore miss out on the fun stuff because I’m too busy imagining a future time of being full on involved in the fun stuff.
In other words, I wasn’t happy, but I wished I was.
And now, instead of just wishing I was, I was doing something about it. I wasn’t hiding behind a bottle or hiding in a bad relationship.
I was out there, doing stuff.
This had come at the right time, because I had been feeling a little deflated with the whole thing. I think because it became day to day, and my goals was far away still. Halfway through this new target, a year out from the marathon and I was still waiting to hear back about my voluntary work. Nothing had felt like it was moving forwards, and then suddenly all this stuff gave me a second wind.
It all started making sense again and I had fallen into the trap that we often fall in to. That one where you forget how far you’ve come because your too busy looking at how far you must go and if you let it, that thought can overwhelm you and root you to the spot.
But it didn't not this time, I took stock and looked back at my 14 year old self. I wasn't happy back then, but I was now.