A quick scan of the papers and all you see is a number of stories about our health. How too many apples cause cancer, how too much salt causes heart problems, how lipstick can cause high blood pressure – the world is health obsessed.
Gym memberships are experiencing a boom, we are told to work out hard (cross fit anyone?) to cut out carbs, cut out sugars, cut out coffee, cut out anything swimming in butter because of what this “toxicity’ does to our body. Carbs cause bingo wings. Beauty products cause fat ankles… need I go on?
And this is all very well and good, but I think there is something much worse out there for our bodies. Something just as dangerous. Just as detrimental to your health, something that does not discrimate…. Certain friendships.
According to The Institute of happiness – close friendships make you happier. Humans need friends, we need companions. It is clear to see why when experts say that friendship means the ability to be oneself, to express your feelings without fear of judgement and sharing a mutual bond of love with another. Friendship sure sounds swell.
But my experience of this , with some, isn’t actually what the institute of happiness have said. And I think I am not alone. Does every friend in your life leave you feeling valued? Supported? Loved? Cherished? Respected even?
If you answered yes- well then I really think you are in the minority.
Over recent months I have come to realize I had some toxic friends in my life, and I am not alone. My toxic friends caused drama, they always seemed to hate someone, they made me feel worried to change plans, regularly ostracized me, and just made me think I was all in all a pretty crappy friend.
When we were together I would feel like I wasn’t really in with all of the jokes. Sure, my house and my home cooked meals were exploited, I was good for something, but they missed me out of plans, or got resentful when my work commitments got in the way. I organized birthday parties, buying supplies and putting on my happy-go-lucky exterior and entertained the crowds, but this was met with hostility and disappointment that I hadn’t done more. Constantly they wanted more. I would pop in to see them with cakes and chat through their drama, and yet rarely would I get even a – “how are you?” but this was who they were.
Because we had been friends for years I thought that this treatment was fair. That somehow they were justified in making me feel crap. And I took it for quite a while.
And then a close family member of mine got ill. And I struggled to get my head around it. Not having a boyfriend at the time who’s shoulder I could sob on, I hoped that these friends would be there for me. But they weren’t there for me, and despite the fact that to everyone else this did not come as a surprise, it shocked me. Far from being worried for me, cutting me some slack, helping me get my head around everything, they continued their bullshit.
And just like that something changed. I walked away and have not spoken a word to them since. I realized that I was never going to be the friend that they wanted, and actually neither would they be for me again. I ditched the toxicity, focused on those people who like me and organized things to do with those people who had shown me some support when the chips were down.
I really believe that scientists and health professionals are underestimating the effect this has on you and your body. Toxic friendships are well, bloody toxic. They are shit. They are tough to be in, but even tougher to leave.
But trust me – getting rid of this toxin is not nearly as hard as giving up chocolate, and it is actually is rewarding. I have got some great friends, and so do you. You don’t need to surround yourself with people who do not bring out your best and who far from caring about you, use your friendship to steal your spirit to make themselves feel better. So do a Craig David and – walk away from the trouble in your life…
You could say I am currently going through a quarter life crisis. It is like a mid-life crisis, but just a bit shitter. I guess you could say all of the signs were there. I still eat gluten firstly. It is like I am just content with poisoning my body. ( While we are on this subject could someone explain what the hell gluten is? I think I love it??)
I haven’t shagged a rock star. I haven’t sucked off a rock star. I haven’t gang banged a rock star ( is that the correct usage?) nor have I even given a cheeky finger to anyone off X-factor/ reality TV fame. Zilch rock star action.
I am not sure how to iron things. I still think I am too young to iron. Hello hanging items in the shower, or rocking the hair straightener ironing.
I don’t tip in restaurants, mainly because I still feel too broke, but I also don’t get how to work out 10%.
I am not married. Also I am not even a little bit engaged, despite what my pinterest boards show.
I still check the Argos catalogue for Christmas presents. Adults surely don’t do this?
I haven’t been on a safari, hell I only just realised that seahorses weren’t horses who bloody loved the sea. My holidays consist of me saying to my mum and dad- mum, dad, I have no friends and I am poor, can I come along on your trips and pretend I am younger than I infact am so that people don’t judge me, but I still feel a bit of warmth on my body?
I haven’t bungeed, or wakeboarded, or found any need for my go- pro adrenaline camera thing to be used. The nearest my body gets to adrenaline is following a hot guy on Twitter on @beardsandtats. Arghhh will he know I fancy his face? That is my adrenaline.
I am yet to understand interest rates, or mortgages, or banking in general. ( No Dad, I haven’t sorted out my ISA yet – WHAT is an ISA?)
I don’t get how to stock a fridge properly. While we are on this the only flavour I know how to rock in my cooking is sweet chilli sauce. For everything.
Every day I find myself one day further away from the 6 pack/ killer leg body I desire.
Oh and I still get spots which I pick like a bitch.
Everyone around me has got their shit together. Flawless skin – CHECK. Interest rate appreciation CHECK. Cheeky blowjob on Lee Ryan- Check? ( I will not disclose anymore information/ give me a gin and gather round for I will blab). These people ( bitches) are holidaying in places that are not in Europe. Places that have blue seas with no nappies in. They’re eating amazing food in places that don’t have a 2 for £10 offer on. They are buying houses. They are getting engaged. They are getting promoted. Finally, they use LinkedIn for fun. For fun!!
And I am here. In bed, or at work day dreaming. Wondering where the bloody hell it went so wrong. But it would seem I am not alone. All of my friends are feeling a little bit cray cray. My friend summed it up perfectly.
“To be honest I thought by now I would have a granite island in my kitchen.” And yet, here we both are, miles away from a granite island. In fact I am pretty sure the guy I am dating would think Granite was the name of an American rapper, before he thought of it as a kitchen work surface. I want some granite in my life. Granite equals money, owning a home, having a significant other, knowing how to cook. Beyonce had about three sell out albums by now. I bet she has granite coming out of her incredibly sturdy but hot thighs. I haven’t even given Lee Ryan’s balls a flick and my kitchen worksurface is plastic. Where is the justice? ( FYI I don’t fancy Lee Ryan, I am metaphorically speaking about Lee’s balls )
I am an adult. I am in the real world. No matter how hard I try I am going to have to continue working. I am on the treadmill of life. I mean I don’t even get excited about Christmas anymore. Or birthday’s for that matter. But I am worried it isn’t working out as I have so meticulously planned.
They say you know you are going through a quarter life crisis if you experience any of the following: feeling anxious, feeling scared, feeling lonely, feeling paralysed by fear. That is all me, before 8am, every day. But, there is one way to know if you are going through a quarter life crisis. If you feel all of the above, but know that a road trip around America, or a year away travelling would make it all better.
Yep, I am crisising hard. Now, who wants to come travelling with me? It would solve all of our worries, right? Who else is feeling a little bubble of – where the hell is my granite god damn?! Let me know on Twitter or leave a comment. x
If there is something guaranteed to make me sad it is not people who drink Red Bull for breakfast ( that makes me vom, not sad) it is women who say the following….” I get that I am hard work but…”
My beautiful friend and avid reader of my blog ( always with a fag, coffee and croissant ) is currently saying this to me. She loves her boyfriend. She thought he was the one but she is realising that perhaps he isn’t. And, far from making her feel empowered that she is recognising that perhaps he won’t make her happy long-term, she is worrying that perhaps she is hard work; That she isn’t a great girlfriend. That perhaps she shouldn’t be wanting something more when on paper she is with a man who gives her enough.
I don’t agree. I actually think she is pretty special, and it isn’t just because she is my friend. In fact I think he is a total fool to have such a beautiful girlfriend who is intelligent, articulate (and with a killer wardrobe) and not bloody thank his lucky stars every day,
I can emphasise. I have too been told I am hard work. And to an extent I probably am. ( I add in the word probably because I can’t still quite accept that I am a total head fuck.) Like her I knew I wasn’t happy with an ex but just couldn’t put my finger on why. I would crave attention; starting a fight about nothing. Go silent about nothing. I would lie beside him in bed struggling to sleep, thinking why can’t I be happy. And, don’t even get me started about my inability to focus on normal life. Even now after the relationship is over I struggle to articulate why we split. A conglomeration of little things? No. A gut feeling? Not really. I guess being with him just made me feel cold. I felt like I was acting.
After a while, and with the luxury of time, I realised who cares why I wasn’t happy. I just wasn’t happy and that was that. We didn’t have a home together. We didn’t have a family together. We didn’t have the stresses of life together. If we couldn’t be happy together when life is good, we would not be happy together when life really does get shitty. He didn’t make me happy. He made me feel sad, and mean, and demanding. He rebelled against things I said, and started to mistake my passion for yet another row.
So here is a message to my friend:
You are not hard work. (And you are also not hard-working, but neither am I). You are just not with a man who brings out your best, and, who accepts you at your worst. Don’t feel guilty about it. Be with someone who wants to think about you, wants to make you feel special and truly values that you have a bit of a spirit. Not every girl has spirit, and not every man has a girlfriend who will fight like a little terrier to protect what they believe in. You will never be a girl who rolls over and accepts. You work hard. You are loyal. You are a good friend. You are a great girlfriend ( apart from the fact that you cannot even boil and egg). Sure you get your knickers in a twist. And yes you can’t walk at all if you have more than 3 drinks, and you spunk money like a woman possessed but, we think you are fab. And, we want your boyfriend to feel the same. We want him to watch you sleep, in non creepy way, and think – god I am lucky. Some people may find you exasperating I know we have fallen out and constantly swear to never speak to each other again, but we clash because we both care. We deeply care about what we believe in. He doesn’t want you to care anymore. He wants you to keep those views to yourself. It’s no biggy, we just know you haven’t yet met the man who will challenge you, support you, entertain you and help provide for you to keep you happy forever. We just have to go out and kiss some frogs again. But there is a man out there that does care. We just haven’t stumbled upon him yet.
You shouldn’t feel guilty that you are hard work. The best things in life are a total sod at first.
“Errrm are you ever going to tell us about Frenchie?” my friend said over lunch. ”I don’t want to have to ask you in person, I want to read about it on your blog god damn” she said.
I’ve been so busy banging on about trolling and domestic violence that I forgot to tell you about the date with The Frenchie. Ever so sorry. Anyway here goes. The low down on date 1 with the French man.
We went for dinner. We split the bill. We agreed to see each other again. That enough information…? If yes, please stop reading. If no, read on….I think it was clear to see that we both fancied each other. I mean he is French and mature. I am English and immature. We are a match made in heaven.
I arrived late. Standard. ( I actually arrived early and sat in my car tweeting for half an hour but still). I walked in and he had ordered a bottle of red wine. Red wine= maturity. I like Lambrini usually. I asked for a dollop of lemonade in mine purely to piss him off. Why do I do this? We don’t know. He wore a white shirt and yet again sheeny shoes. Now avid readers of the blog will know I fancy men in white shirts. I mean I am only human. But, but, but, while I love white shirts, I loooove white shirts with rolled up sleeves ( short sleeved shirts need to piss off). Frenchie was sporting the white shirt sleeve roll. Swoon- it is like he has read the blog! So now not only did my French lover reek of masculinity, his white shirt showed off some hot wrists and a nice neck. Niche hot things I think you will agree, but a nice to have on a gent you will be spending the evening with. He also showed great bravery – red wine, white shirt = risk taker. ( I love white, especially now it is summer, but my god, I always worry about either being struck with a rogue period if I wore white jeans, or tipping my coffee down myself ). He on the other hand showed no fear of rogue periods or dribbling wine. Brave.
Frenchie was a total dream on the date. He seems intelligent and eloquent. He also peppered into conversation random French words which literally made me want to lick his face. But, sorry people that want me to meet the one…. he just isn’t for me.
I liked him. I think he liked me, but he just isn’t the person I want to see again. I am an extrovert, loud, bubbly ( I hate that word but to be honest it does summarise me). He is quiet, refined, mature and controlled. I knock things over constantly, think berets are hysterical and eat ketchup with a knife. He likes fizzy water, tips waiters with the proper percentage, and wears berets non ironically. He has 3 t-shirts, 2 shirts and 2 pair of shoes. In the world. That is it. Apparently the desire for material possessions shows lack of depth. I have no depth. I wear 3 t-shirts, 2 shirts and 12 pairs of shoes – a day.
We could see each other again. We would probably have a nice time. But whether it is because I am time poor at the minute with this new job, or just getting, gasp, mature, I don’t know but I have decided I want to focus my attentions on people who bring the best out in me. Not people who tell me that my stories are disinteresting ( yes some of them are!) that my pursuit for the perfect wardrobe shows lack of depth. Mainly I don’t want people that wont let me play with candle wax when we are in a restaurant. What are the candles for if you can’t play with the wax? So, next….!
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind – Elbert Hubbard
You get the feeling that you can talk about anything as a woman nowadays. Don’t want children? Feel free to say it. Own not just one vibrator but two? Feel free to talk about it. Dabble in a bit of porn watching… Once again, feel free to discuss. And yet there is one thing that as a single woman I don’t feel able to talk about.
That I want a boyfriend. Sad. Tragic. Whatever.
I want someone to miss me. To kiss me. To hiss at me. ( I can’t rhyme)
I want to go to bed early on a Saturday with someone.
I want to wake up on Sunday being pulled over to his side of the bed (even if his side of the bed does smell and have bedraggled sheets)
I want someone who will say “I can help you”, and does.
I want someone other than family to care if I am around, to worry if I get home late.
I want to make a packed lunch for someone.
I want to withdraw making packed lunch for someone when I am pissed off at them.
I want to get into a TV series with someone.
I want to ask “who is he” everytime a new character comes on screen.
I want to see a great last minute deal weekend away and say- want to go? to someone
I want to have in jokes. Nicknames. HECK – Matching onesies.
I want to make someone fat with homemade chicken and chorizo casserole and homemade cake.
I want to want to make someone’s life better, and for them to want to make my life better.
I want to be an us. To be invited to someones house as a couple. Laurie and blah blah.
Does that make me a pathetic excuse for a woman? Perhaps many would say yes. Does it make me a bunnyboiler desperate to trap a man? I also don’t think so.
And yet saying you, as a woman want a boyfriend is the last taboo. We can talk about frigging ourselves off to The Gosling last night, but don’t feel able to say- I want to be with someone. But I do. I want a nice boyfriend. I don’t want to see him every night. I don’t want to be married. I don’t want to have children. I just want someone who thinks I am a top bird. Maybe once, twice a week. No biggy.
My time has come. I want it now. But I guess wanting is my problem. I want’s don’t get. Well that is what my mum tells me anyway. So, I’m waiting; for someone who is nice, and good, and who likes me. Once again my mum says good things come to those who wait. So for now, I will enjoy the dates, enjoy sobbing at rom coms, enjoy eating cereal for dinner, and, enjoy being ‘just me’ for now. I get that it isn’t a sprint – meeting someone isn’t a race, but I’ve done 26 years of this single life now. A marathon is bloody 26.2 miles. So I’m nearly there. Right?
I’ve recently helped write two articles about trolling and thought you would like to hear what I said.
As a child I was surrounded by trolls. I could not get enough of them. I loved their hair, their colours, their fashion. I also used to collect smelly soaps but let’s perhaps pick this up at a later date. Cut to twenty odd years later, I am still surrounded by trolls, just trolls of a different kind. These trolls aren’t harmless.
Every single time I write a post I know what I am going to receive some kind of correspondence, if you can call it that, from people who plain and simple find the need to tell me that they do not like my face, or my writing, or my body, or sometimes they just kindly tell me they don’t like me in general.
Some days I may strike lucky and only get one email telling me I am ugly from the trolls. Sometimes I may get up to 20. 20 trolling emails. They range in length, severity, grammatical ability ( it’s “you’re fucking ugly, not your fucking ugly FYI) but the type of person who sends these emails to me remain unfortunately the same.
They are all from women.
They tell me I’m single because I’m ugly. That I can’t expect to meet anyone as I am hideous, or I look like a man, or look like a slut, or I look boring. Sometimes they tell me I am single because I’m a feminist. Or I’m single because I’m fat. Sometimes they criticise my humour.
I get that sometimes I say things that might cause a few raised eyebrows, or at times may seem overly critical, but I have never opened myself up with this blog and made out I was hot. Jesus I know I am no great shakes. I’m a 6 tops on a good day at that!
For me, writing over the last 6 months the trolling did seem never-ending. I can’t say some comments haven’t stung. (And depending on where I am in my cycle I have cried at some of the personal things people have said). I have talked about it with my nearest and dearest and their reaction has ranged from shock, to you must stop writing this blog, to upset. A few months ago, as my blog got bigger, I began to not be able to switch off from it. I stopped loving and even focussing on the nice things and instead got a bubble of fear every time I saw a new email on my blog. My heart would sink. How ugly was I going to be today? What would they say about my face now?
Talking about it now the most commonquestion I get asked is – Has the trolling changed you as a person? Yes. I think anyone who gets up to 20 emails saying they are cray cray crazy ugly would get a wobble of self loathing. I’m now trying to fix the ugly things people have said about me. I spend a crazy amount on makeup. I am more aware of how I look, how to take an ok picture, how my face looks. I do worry when I meet new men they will see the uglyness in me, like the trolls have said.
But I also, in time, gained some perspective about the whole thing. I’m not all bad. I’m not a supermodel- but I’m not pretending to be. I may not cause instant “come in your pants hotness” for the vast majority of men but because of this I’ve had to work hard on my personality, and that generally gets guys wanting to see me again. Dating wise, second dates do happen for me. So do third dates. And occasionally, so do fourth. Sometimes men tell me I am beautiful not only to sleep with me. The trolls would be shocked at this.
P.S today I feel quite calm about the trolling. Ask me tomorrow and I just might cry on your shoulder. Have you had any experience with trolling? Let me know.
Advice if you are being trolled
-Do not engage in conversation with them
-Recognise that they are probably not happy in themselves and feel the need to criticise others
-Tell someone in the real life. Don’t bottle it in. A problem or troll shared is a problem halved!
-Have times when you switch off from your blog, twitter, facebook etc and focus on real life
-Block them. You simply do not need to read it.
-Carry on doing what you love and focus on the readers who love you, love when they get a notification saying you have a new post out, and leave pleasant comments. Write down, and favourite the nice things. And remember- tomorrow is another day.
I went to a wedding recently. The day was wonderful; a conglomeration of love, pictures, gin and family – the kind of wedding that makes you think – I can’t have been a good person in a previous life – HOW can this have not happened to me yet? My friends, the bride and groom were giggling, sharing couple jokes and promising not only to a congregation of 200, but the Lord up in the sky to be together for ever, ever, ever ever. ( Miss Jackson song reference there eagle eye readers.)
It was perfect until the best man speech.
He (a Colin Farrell look a like – ie a piss head hotty) made the beautiful bride and groom stand up and face each other- to much applause of the room. He told them to look closely into the eyes of the person that they loved, that they had sworn to be together till death do they part.
“Look deep” he said, “for you are both looking at the person statistically who is most likely to murder you”….
Kind of a mood killer at a wedding I am sure you will agree. But I guess what he was trying to say, although he was less eloquent after the stag do the night before, and, the necking of jagermeister, before, after and in fact during the service, was that getting into a relationship is a risky business. You are sharing your life, your hopes, your aspirations and your heart with someone who may not respect it, who may not cherish it.
This really stayed with me after the wedding and the more I started thinking about it, the more I couldn’t get it out of my mind. A woman is more likely to be killed by a male partner than any other person. The best man was right. Statistically you could be sharing with your bed, with the man who will take your life. 2 women a week are indeed killed by their current partner with 1 in every 3 women facing some kind of abuse in their lives from a partner.
I discussed this with friends. Surely none of us had experienced abuse?
We started off all saying that we were lucky, that we had never been hit or assaulted by a partner, that is what we are led to believe constitutes as “abuse”. But the more we talked about exes, the more alarming relationship “quirks” that came out.
-From one who was made to weigh herself twice a week in front of her partner to prove she wasn’t putting on weight.
-To another who had to ask permission to buy even a mascara. He would tell her she was pretty, that she didn’t need make up.
-One who was forced to put all of her wages in the joint bank account, which he only had the access details to. She was given pocket money.
-To finally one who every time she tried to leave her partner he say he wouldn’t live without her.
I count my friends as the most intelligent, beautiful, headstrong women I know and yet they were not immune to this type of behavior from their exes. Abuse isn’t constrained by class, by education, by age, or experience. When my friends started voicing these relationship “quirks” they realized that these weren’t right. These were all abuse. We just hadn’t realized it.
And, herein lies the problem with tackling Domestic Violence. It will not stop unless there is a change in attitudes as to what constitutes as unacceptable behavior in a relationship. And, unfortunately this is harder to tackle as it remains deeply engrained in society. We need to recognise that a wide variety of behaviour in relationships is wrong. Plain and simple.
It hasn’t been that long- a few weeks perhaps since the UK Government finally accepted that emotional abuse was a form of exploitation, although still not an arrestable offense. How can this have JUST been recognized by the powers that be. Well, because we still remain light-years behind where we should be. We just don’t have enough knowledge as to what counts as abuse.
We must start the reeducation as to what counts as abuse, or threatening behaviour immediately, from the school age up. Abuse is not only a black eye, or a few bruises as books and TV programmes will lead us to believe. Abuse is any form of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour. It may happen once, it may happen over time. But, perhaps one thing is for sure, it just might happen to us all, at some time or another.
For more information on anything that I have written about visit www.womensaid.org.uk. Please let me know what you think. What have your experiences been…?