Forgetting all the hurt inside you’ve learned to hide so well

It’s been a week since Chester Bennington took his own life. It has taken me this entire week to build up the courage to listen to his voice again. I have purposely avoided listening to Linkin Park for the past ten years where possible; since Chester helped save my life. It always felt too raw when I would hear his beautiful voice and take me straight back to the grey.
I found it hard to cope with my feelings and the misery that often consumed me as a teenager and from the age of thirteen for around three years Chester’s voice was a beacon for me. I had been listening to them for years, but the lyrics and his voice became so much more when I needed them most.
Sitting on my bedroom floor sobbing, their words and his all encompassing vocals held me. They kept me from letting the darkness take over entirely. I have never wanted to be enveloped by sound as much as I do when I hear his voice pleading and singing my thoughts.
As far as I’m aware my inner turmoil was fairly well concealed, I don’t think my parents ever knew how much I struggled or about the cuts that laced the top of my arms or thighs. Being a goth/fat it made it more normal for me to be wearing long sleeves in the summer. I didn’t want them to know. I still don’t, but I think these things are important to speak about, so here I am. I would hurt myself because I needed a physical reason for feeling the way I felt inside. For me it wasn’t about control, it was about rationalising the angst and turmoil within my own head. I wanted to see it.
It has been a long time since I have dealt with self harm and the scars have well and truly faded. There were a few factors that helped me stop, one being that Chester made me feel less alone in this crooked grey little world that I was living in.
If you have read my blog before then you’re probably aware that I still suffer from mental health issues like anxiety. Over the years I have been lucky to find new coping mechanisms for when I feel buried under, much healthier ways to function in the face of my inner monsters.
To anyone that ever needs someone to make them feel less alone when they notice the walls closing in, I am always here to talk. I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t need all of the courage you can muster to speak to someone when you feel this way, but if you can, please do. And if you can’t, I always find writing helps…
I am aware that it is irrational but I feel guilt over Chester’s death. Here he was telling everyone that he was struggling, whether through songs or interviews, helping so many people just like me, and nobody was able to save him the way that he saved us.
I hope that wherever he may be now, his mind is quiet and his wounds are healed.
I am thankful for his honesty and how he guided me through something at the time, I never thought would end.
Unfortunately this post is not as articulate and thought out as I wanted, but I have just spent the last hour mourning his death and listening to Linkin Park and I needed to write.

When my time comes
Forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
And don’t resent me
And when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory

You will forever be missed Chester.
Thank you for all that you did.

chester

Let’s let ourselves go under, someday we will all be ghosts

Yes, it has been forever since I posted anything. Honestly I have been struggling to find my inner voice so I thought I would try a few small writing exercises, super short stories. Publishing them makes me more accountable and hopefully feel more confident in putting more of myself back into this blog.
Enjoy…

She could feel the stars running through her veins but she knew that they weren’t shining anymore, her glitter had dulled.
Her reflection in the moonlit puddle was not one she recognised anymore, a stranger stood before her, gazing back. A wave of numbness passed over the girl, “I do not know who I am” she sighed.
Her shadow followed alongside her  but she could not be certain it was hers any longer. She considered asking Peter Pan about the complexities of ones shadow. Was it necessary to have your own fairy in order to find and capture the escaped silhouette of self? Did it hurt to sew them back on?
Upon returning home she removed her make up and took her time taking off her clothes. Slowly unbuttoning her jeans and undoing the fly before stepping out of them and allowing her glare to meet the stranger’s eyes. Standing before the bathroom mirror, searching for the girl she had lost; the one that sparkled and magnetised those around her. Instead the insecurities she had been carrying and battling daily for as long as she could remember took a fatal blow and the goblins emerged.
With their malicious whispers and sharp scraping fingers grabbing at her flesh, billowing grey smoke began to rise around her, filling her lungs. Suffocating. The darkness growing thicker still until she could no longer see the stranger staring back at her. Only the words in her head crackled around her and illuminated the overwhelming dark – “you will never be good enough”.
The girl took a deep breath and with all her anxiety rattled strength she sucked all of the damage back into the seeping box that lived deep inside of her. A few tendrils of self loathing left squirming in the closures, trying to gain purchase on anything around them. The smell of smoke hung in the air as she brushed her teeth and avoided the pinpoint of the onlookers stare.
Climbing into bed, heaving her burdensome body onto the uncomfortable mattress, a sigh and a tear escaped her, sleep enveloping her shell.
The following morning fire danced inside of her, ignited and determined not to allow the box to open again, not today at least.

pebbles

You are made of waves and honey

I have been struggling with my self image recently. It’s most likely hormonal but it’s something I cannot shake. The lurking dark shadows always telling me that I am not good enough, pretty enough.
I went through a period of time where I was feeling really good in my own skin, empowered by my curves and rolls. Currently I cannot find that girl, that sense of self love, of confidence. Now all I see in the mirror is a potato; lumpy, bumpy and plain. I long for my flamingo to rise and spread her wings once more, but I don’t know where to look for her at the moment. It all seems a little futile.
I will never be her. Dipping in and out in the desired way, conventional beauty.

I am fighting hard to find the bold and self-assured woman I am again. Treading water and keeping my head above. There are many tears and doubts to work through before I get there, but I will find the love I have for myself once more.

I am made of waves and honey.

emmery

Your pretty eyes I pictured in the fading light. Little darling, little darling, you’re mine

It may almost be halfway through November, but I haven’t forgotten about the fact that I have neglected to fill you all in on September and October. So, prepare yourself to be bombarded with selfies and other such snapshots from my trusty iPhone.

week-1
September, week one.
The month of September kicked off with a trip to Starbucks with Floss on our way home from a very fruitless appointment. Now that it’s November, I had forgotten just how hot September was, so frappachinos were purchased. A selfie, mostly because I was enjoying my new NYX soft matte lip cream in the shade Transylvania. And a shot of the big blue sky on a lovely day.

week-2
September, week two.
Another very warm day means trying to keep Dolly cool, so we had a fan on all day at her height. I thought she looked funny with all of her fluff wiffling in the wind. A lovely lunch and catch up with my aunt and cousin in one of my favourite places.My mum used to love the same place, so it’s always nice to go there as it reminds me of her. Great food, conversation and so many doggies! Another day of catching up with some of my favourite people. Sam was home from Oxford and it was such a lovely evening spent chatting with her, Meredith, Lee and Christopher. Plus, the pub we went to do y favourite gin glasses.

week-3
September, week three.
A selfie, I really enjoy the combination of MAC Diva and my rose gold septum ring. An ‘artsy’ shot of the sea from behind some glass…I was on my way to see Christopher and I am always in awe of how beautiful the sea can be. Sometimes it feels like I spend my life at train stations waiting for the terrible service that Southern Rail provide. There are always, without fail, delays, cancellations or changes to be made. There is never a day that is straightforward when traveling on this awful service.

week-4
September, week four.
Waiting to be picked up I got a little chilly and sleepy, so I decided to get myself a cappuccino. I don’t often drink caffeine because it can effect my anxiety and wont make me feel any more awake until two-am when I cannot sleep. Thankfully this one didn’t effect me negatively. This is Christopher’s cat, she is gorgeous and the only cat I have ever even remotely liked. She is so friendly and I love her. We visited a model railway on Sunday, we got given a checklist to try and find all of the different things hidden in the scenes. An hour well spent for sure, especially when you realise there is a brothel with a long queue of people waiting outside of it in the landscape that the old people have set up.

October ~
week-1
October, week one.
I think I was ready before Christopher this day, so I used my time wisely by taking photos of myself…yeah, I know how to be productive. We went out for the day, starting with a few hours in Lewes looking around the antique and flea markets and then heading to Eastbourne for ice-cream, however before we got to the gelateria we spotted an adventure golf place. We love a bit of mini-golf, so it was straight in there for some very water logged pirate themed golf. I was appreciating how my hair, golf ball and scarf all matched so well. Mid-week dates lovely, this one involved a wander around town, an hour or so spent in Snoopers Paradise before heading for some cocktails. We tried a few but decided that Tropical BonBons were our ultimate favourite.

week-2
October, week two.
Early morning makeup application always means being tucked up in my bed to stay as cosy as possible. This is all of the stuff i fling on my face on a daily basis. I don’t know if that’s a lot or not. A trip to Oxford with Kit and Christopher to visit Sam, Adam, Tom and Shelley and see You Me At Six play. We went to a bar that doesn’t sell full pints but made delicious food, it was too hipster in there even for Brighton however. Then we headed back down Cowley road to see YMAS play. They were good, although some more of the first two albums wouldn’t have gone a miss in my books.

week-3
October, week three.
I have never been one for sport, let alone willingly going to watch it and actively enjoy it. But the ice hockey has sucked me in and I find myself absolutely frozen but enjoying it entirely. It’s fast paced and a little violent, I like it. Christopher and I went for lunch at the place I went with my aunt and cousin that I mentioned previously. It is always filled with gorgeous dogs, and this puppy make my heart swell. She was absolutely gorgeous and so so fluffy. Then we went for a little stroll before enjoying the last of the sunshine and watching the waves crash along the shoreline. Mother nature really is amazing.

week-4
October, week four.
Halloween week  brought pumpkin carving and watching my favourite, Hocus Pocus, both of those were firsts for Christopher and I think he thoroughly enjoyed both. We didn’t have any actual pumpkin carving tools, so a steak knife each were what we used to hack away at these. Dark lips and dark eyes, an easy go to Morticia look. This year my Halloween didn’t involve Kit and I covering ourselves in fake blood and getting ridiculously drunk. This year we at food, had drinks and played board games with Christopher, Floss and Sam. We played all of the games and ended the night in the wee hours after a very long game of Booooopoly (Halloween themed Monopoly). A lovely new Halloween tradition I think.

Staring at the clouds looking for a silver line

I have been away for a while now and I’m not going to apologise for it. Sometimes life and hormones get in the way of me waffling on the internet to no one in particular.
Since having my contraceptive implant fitted I have felt like I am losing my damn mind. There are ghosts that swirl and float around me, touching moments and sucking away all the colour and I cannot stop them. These goblins make me feel sad, prodding me until I am unable to do anything but cry. People staring at me on the train as mascara stained tears streak my face, I think someone is going to ask if I’m alright; instead I get asked directions. I don’t want these peoples pity, I don’t want to be crying at all, but the goblins clap with glee.
I have spent the last five weeks feeling insane. I shouldn’t feel like this. Exciting things are happening, I am loved and I am in love. After the chasm of losing my mother last year, the ladder has given me more rungs to climb and I am making progress. Due to this sudden surge of hormones skittering around my body like an intense game of Air Hockey though, a couple of the rungs have broken, and I slipped.
I have been doing my best to try and be my normal. To try not to keep from burdening the man I love with my insane reasonings for why I’m crying for the fourth time that day. This isn’t me. I suffer with mental health issues and I am not afraid to speak about them, but this isn’t my wheel house of anxiety, this is pure misery.
I had no idea that this small piece of plastic tubing in my arm would turn my even keeled lunacy into this woman I don’t recognise but cries a lot. Once the floodgates open I have little control to close them again. I have always tried to conduct my tears behind closed doors, so it’s becoming very embarrassing when I’m on the train and even when I have finished crying and want to eat my cheese, people are still staring at me.
I feel a tonne of guilt for often making Christopher feel helpless in the moments when I can’t catch my breath because I am crying so hard but I don’t know why. I just know that I feel overwhelmingly sad. My foibles are a lot to deal with at the best of times, but currently I know I must be a nightmare. I’m trying to hold it together.
When surrounded by those that support and love me, that want to spend time in my company I am held together tighter. It’s easier to hold it together, they stop my organs from leaking out of the big slit down my side. When I’m alone again I find it much harder to bandage, and often I am swayed to the grey and consumed by the colourless.
I have been told that my hormones will settle, and I know that they will at some point, but oh my am I exhausted. Grief and anxiety are grueling and demanding in their own ways, but this feels self inflicted and layered with guilt.
Trying my best to repair the broken rungs so I can see and feel the warmth of the sunshine again is a long process, but by writing again I have made a start.
My mum knew I was in a rough place when I would stop singing, but I am finding my voice again every now and then. I hope that means an establishment of cordial relations will soon be underway. That this tiresome rapprochement will soon be done with and I will be back to my normal.

img_4651

I missed September’s monthly photo blog (sneak peek above), so I’ll combine those with Octobers and have a double feature. Hopefully now I have dipped my toe back into the water I will be writing more.

Oh you begged me to keep you in that house on the hill, looking out for love

And with the new light there was young hope, to underline the meaning and carve our names in.
At the end of August.

For a girl that revels in the general melancholic nature that bestows autumn, August has been far too hot for my liking. The striking sunsets have been a little compensation for the stifling and sticky heat, but not enough to make me fall in love with the summer. The steel grey skies and gentle fleeting kisses of cold on my bare skin are exciting to me. So, with this months photos we say farewell to the summer.
week 1
August, week one.
Sunsets over water are one of my favourite things in the world to see. A congratulations for surviving the day, a reminder to rest now. I had to capture this beautiful one, even if it did mean strangers staring at me. Then Snapchat blessed us with a filter that made us look like Bratz dolls, and I couldn’t pass that up. Followed up by more boats moored on a very still sea. It was a lovely evening for a stroll (okay, Pokemon hunting. shh…), I’m sure you’re all aware of my love of boats by now.
week 2
August, week two.
A lunch out at a firm family favourite, The Urchin in Hove, with my dad, nan and Floss. Some delicious seafood was devoured and a cheeky glass of Pimms was well and truly enjoyed. I didn’t have time to sort my hair out so had to throw it up one morning. It reminded me of cheerleader hair and this pleased me. It’s the simple things in life. Ah, my phone charger, perfectly safe to still be using I’m sure. right?
week 3
August, week three.
I needed American pancakes with chocolate sauce, syrup and sprinkles for pudding one evening. Yes, needed. I don’t often crave sweet things, and rarely have anything sweet to follow my dinner but it was necessary that night. My neighbour has these ridiculous fifteen foot aerials in his garden, this is the view I get when laying in my bed. I have come to like them in an odd way, they frame the sky nicely on nights like this. Floss has just qualified to be a hairdresser, so I asked her to re-bleach my pink strip as it hadn’t been done in about two years. It was so pretty when she too it off, this baby pink candyfloss colour emerged from the lingering pink. It’s a shame it was a little patchy and I couldn’t keep it this colour.
week 4
August, week four.
It was bank holiday weekend and Christopher was here. We ventured to see a local cathedral and it was beautiful. I, like my mother, have always enjoyed a church. We don’t subscribe to a particular belief set that would warrant us attending a church but I can always appreciate the beauty. Stained glass windows are magical. It’s been a while since I haven’t just straightened my hair, but the humidity and the wind made me remember why I had been doing as such. I looked like a lion by the early afternoon. On the Sunday we went into town to catch up with some friends, and meet Meredith’s lovely new boyfriend. This is a terrible snapshot of such a lovely afternoon but I accidentally deleted the better one, typical. Gorgeous friends, lovely catching up and even debates about who would win in a fight – a Dragon or a Unicorn (clearly the unicorn Theo, they’re magic!).
A delightful end to the last month of summer.

It’s a hard life to live, so live it well. I’ll be your friend and not in pretend, I know you girl

My inspirational women are back and to kick us off is Erika. We met at age eleven in secondary school and quickly became inseparable for the next four or so years. The bond we made then will forever tie us together as friends, even if we haven’t lived in the same town for eight years. Erika will always be my friend that I remember hazy summer days spent laughing and singing with; her family became mine and we faced the world together her and I. A woman who constantly moves forward and takes risks even when intrepid to begin with. Her work ethic has always been inspiring as well as her drive to see new places. To watch my teenage partner in crime flourish and become the woman she is today makes me grateful to have such a friend in my life.

erikaName: Erika

Age: 26

Location: Originally from Brighton, living in Nottingham

How have the women in your life shaped you and your ideals as a woman?
I’m lucky to have a mixture of both ‘traditional’ and unconventional women to look up to from my home-baking, retired school teacher Granny to my ale-loving, biker Mum! Between them they’ve shown me it’s perfectly fine to be either extreme or anywhere in the middle.

How do you deal with body image pressures and accepting yourself?
I try not to compare myself too much to other people because everyone is different and variety is what makes us all interesting. I think people are getting better at remembering that the images we are bombarded with from magazines and social media etc are made to look more perfect than any real human ever could! It would be great to see more varied models without the need to make it a ‘feature’. Can’t we just include plus size or petite models without pointing them out as such??
I’ve been on a weight loss journey myself for the past 18 months and the closer I get to feeling like the old me, the more comfortable I feel in my own skin. I am also extremely lucky to have a wonderful, kind boyfriend who really does seem to love me through thick and thin – literally!

What beauty product is a must for you?
Anyone who knows me knows I am rubbish at being a girl and never got into make up or beauty products. I am, however, OBSESSED with eyebrows and cannot cope without my Tweezerman tweezers. I feel like a werewolf without them! I love admiring other women’s eyebrows!

Do you have a piece of advice for teenage you that you think would help growing into a woman easier?
Probably just to stop trying so hard! True friends will like you and one day someone will love you just exactly as you are.

I think we need to be more open about women’s bodily functions such as periods. It is a natural process that we are made to feel is taboo. How did you deal with yours at first and do you have any tips?
Oh god I cried! I was 11 and I remember trying to tell my Mum, but she got annoyed because I couldn’t get my words out, so I told my older sister who told my Mum for me and then they were both great. It must be so hard for single Dads to go through this with their daughters and I’m so grateful to have had that support. I do agree that there’s still a taboo about such a normal thing. I was shopping with my boyfriend the other day and he made a comment about all sanitary products being “gross”. I feel like I have to hide away from him for a week every month! These days I find periods an inconvenience more than anything and try to use my pills to time them in a way that won’t affect my social life too much!

What songs do you listen to that strike a spark in you and make you feel like you can take on the world?
Since I was about 11 I’ve loved Alanis Morisette. Her song ‘You Learn‘ is a great, singalong life lesson! Dolly Parton’s Jolene is not a typical love song begging her man to come back, but instead appealing to the ‘other’ woman’s better nature not to steal her man. Such a classic and I love covering this one myself. A fantastic Scottish folk singer called Karine Polwart wrote a beautiful song based on the tragic story of how she lost her husband. It’s called ‘The Sun’s Coming Over the Hill‘ and is a reminder that however bad things seem, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and things will get better. Highly recommended. When I’m running, you can’t beat a bit of of Katy Perry’s Roar or Pink’s So What to get you through the wall!

Who in your life inspires you?
Most people in my life inspire me, otherwise they probably wouldn’t be in my life anymore. My friends have a huge range of qualities that I admire and would love to master myself, from unshakeable confidence (Sam) to selflessness (Med) and incredible strength (Lydia). My sister in law recently had a baby and didn’t want to go back to her old job. Instead she has set up 3 beauty businesses from home and her drive and positivity amazes me every day. Check out Forever Living Aloeholic and Bethberry Nail Wraps.

How has age affected your perception of womanhood?
As I’ve got older I feel less competition and more solidarity with other women. I’ve taken a leaf out of my sister’s book in that if I think another woman looks nice, I’ll tell her! Some people are so taken aback if a stranger compliments their dress or their hair, but I think we need more of this championing of one another.

What does Girl Power (/feminism) mean to you?
I’m definitely all for equal rights but I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a feminist. Humans work best together and I do believe sometimes men and women might have different qualities or ways or looking at something which can compliment each other. Feminism is a bit of a buzz word at the moment and it’s brilliant that people are reconsidering those old fashioned views of feminists as man-haters who don’t shave their armpits! That’s definitely not what it’s about!

How would you set about making Gender Equality more equal? Perhaps more gender neutral bathrooms or scrapping ‘tampon tax’?
I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that men and women doing the exact same job can be paid different amounts, as though one is more or less valuable than the other. Likewise I think important things like paternity leave still need addressing and improving.

Independent business women spotlight!

I’m afraid I don’t know much about the business world but if you don’t mind I would like to highlight the work of a female scientist as I think they are often overlooked. Charlotte Uhlenbrook is a pioneering zoologist, particularly known for her work in animal communication. In the past she has stated she doesn’t feel her peers take her seriously because she can’t possibly be beautiful AND intelligent! (She is!). If you are interested, take some time to read her books, she’s fascinating 🙂

What is something you do to take time for yourself?
I’m very much a social person and really don’t enjoy being on my own. I go to a Pilates class which is so relaxing and makes me feel like I’m having ‘me’ time without actually being by myself! I also love half an hour with my piano or guitar.

What has been your biggest struggle as a woman?
I do battle with the kind of woman I want to be. Sometimes I wish I was glamorous and feminine but at the same time I think life is too short! This pretty much sums up my daily struggle:
image1

How has your sexuality shaped you as a woman?
I’m very happy now in a long-term relationship, but I do think everyone (male and female) should experience a period of casual dating (and casual sex if they want to!) to find out what they are looking for in the other person. For me that period was during uni and my first year living in South Africa and I did enjoy feeling in control. Unfortunately there are still double standards, where the men in this situation are hailed as heroes and the women are considered sluts. As long as it’s safe and legal, nobody should be ashamed of their sexual preferences.

girl gang
(I do not own these images).