9th JUNE 2019, BY MY PASSPORT TO SHANGRILA
At the turn of the New Year I hit an age landmark. January I turned 40 years old (I still haven’t got my head around that yet) As an adult I have always been fairly active, not sporty, but I have always made time for jogging or swimming. Throughout my 20’s I negotiated at the gym for Swimming Pool membership only instead of paying for membership for the entire complex.
My diet was OK. I never really ate fast food or gorged on pizza’s. It contained fruits and vegetables, perhaps not in the quantities promoted these days, nonetheless it was a clean diet. My working life was a little haphazard. Working shifts in aviation were the 2am starts especially during the Winter months would take their toll on my well-being. As a child I suffered from mild anxiety but grew out of it by adulthood. All in all my general life was OK. I had a great circle of friends and was always invited out to venues. I always made time to catch up with people even if it was over a coffee for an hour.
Skip along to my very early 30’s and everything changed. My exercise routine took a turn for the worst. I found myself in a relationship that was rather toxic. My partner absolutely oozed confidence that attracted me very quickly. He talked the talk and walked the walk, was comfortable with money and was comfortable to flash it around and most evenings consisted of four bottles of wine, without a thought. I introduced my partner to my friends and family and everyone thought he was great, always saying the right things. At first this was all fresh and it was great sharing someone in my life that bled confidence in everything they did, including their circle of friends.
I found it hard. I didn’t earn the salary nor did I have the social lifestyle that even work brought to the table – going off for business meetings etc. I always found it hard to keep up with him to the point I began trying to compete with this champagne lifestyle on beer money. Whats-more, I even pushed away my friends to try and keep pace with those swanky people I’d been introduced to and the credit card lifestyle.
My health turned much worse as I ceased doing regular exercise completely and found my diet consisted more of alcohol than clean food. Luckily it never turned to the point of misuse however I would often find myself waking up in the mornings tired and dazed from the consumption of wine the evening before.
Mentally, I was becoming drained and constantly frustrated. My personality was changing. My humour had dried up and I had forgotten how to banter. I was being absolutely ruined.
I found my skin was dull, constantly breaking out in spots and continuously in a mood. I spent more and more time throwing up into the toilet.
I was on holiday and one sunny morning I woke up in a daze from drinking the night before at a local bar in San Francisco – 5190 miles from home in England. I woke to marks on my arms and face. I then recalled that my partner had started a completely unprovoked fight with me and had been punching me in the arm, back and face on a commuter train from downtown San Francisco to the hotel.
He was like that after drinking – not being able to control actions. I had spent years of mental bullying were it would be name calling or telling me I was ugly, to saying things then denying those words were said. I used to think ‘am I making this up?’, that then turned into physical.
I literally found myself thinking what the heck happened to my life? Throughout my 20’s I was happy, young, enjoyed my work, my circle of friends and money was never an issue. I was always comfortable with no debts, but this one morning I had found myself a completely changed person to what I was. I found I had mood swings, no energy, no friends and had become completely anxious of everything in life. I found my confidence had hit rock bottom. I was in debt that I had never been in before and couldn’t pay my bills. I had never felt so alone in the world as I did that morning. I was a mess!
I quickly looked across to him lying on the bed asleep completely out of it. I scurried to the bathroom and locked the door where I sent a text message to my friend in England to find me a flight to take me home, leaving that day from San Francisco. I made it known only then to her how unhappy I was and how I had racked up mountains of debt from the relationship and that I wouldn’t be able to pay for the flight but I promised I would repay her back without question.
Whilst I waited for the response I showered and tried to cover up the marks from his actions. Within minutes a message was replied questioning what happened. I asked her to find me a flight and I would tell all once I was home. Again, I packed my bags whilst waiting for a reply looking across to my partner every time I thought I made too much noise in fear of waking him from his drunken state.
A message came back stating a flight had been sort and a ticket was being emailed to me as confirmation. At that point my partner woke up and in a groggy voice asked me what I was doing. I advised I was going home and we were never to be seen together again. As always the apologies came in thick and fast in a well rehearsed tone, and with a face of empathy. This time it wouldn’t work on me. I had spent years dealing with this. As soon as he realised his attempts at keeping me failed the tone changed and I was told no one would ever want me again; That I was wrong and my Bi-Polar character would hold me back. Then the word of autism was thrown around and I had learning difficulties. So what if I did? (I haven’t). He’d made me this way. I knew I had nothing to fear other than a swing of a fist as I were to walk out of the hotel room; that fist never came. I turned on my heels and left.
I anxiously walked leaving the hotel, jumped into a cab heading for the airport all the while looking behind me in the event he was following. It didn’t happen. I flew home in tears at what my life had become and wondered how I was going face people once I got home. How was I going to pull myself together? How was I going to pay back this debt that had accumulated into the tens of thousands of Pounds?
I found that as the years progressed I began to suffer from mild panic attacks that turned into anxiety.
To add to this at the same time two other events were happening. It may sound silly but my best friend, my dog of 13 years, I had grown up with from a puppy had died. We did everything together even mountain biking in the hills and grocery shopping.
And I can home to the news I was losing my job. The job I could live without but the stress of no salary to pay those massive debts I had rung up was killing me mentally. I’d have constant headaches suppressed by copious amounts of headache tablets to then throw up into the toilet through stress.
Towards the end of the relationship I used to tell his friends how horrible he was and they used to laugh at me. Not for what I said but because they thought I was joking. They only ever saw me as the moody one but my partner knew how to put on a show in front of people. I just couldn’t disguise the fact I was unhappy and he was a bully. I even told his mother outright one day that her son was a nasty bully who used people to get his way and to were he wanted to be. As mothers do she thought I was the sly one ( I guess as a mother who loves her son would think this)
About two months later I saw my ex in a bar… well he saw me first (I know this as we were literally 9 feet at most from one another), made eye contact and completely ignored me. I wasn’t bothered in the slightest other than a mild panic attack thinking ‘how will I handle this?’ but I didn’t have to.
Later that same day I bumped into his best friend ordering drinks. It was a little awkward and we exchanged pleasantries. Before his best friend turned to leave I whispered to him to be careful and not to trust my now ex-partner. I felt the need to make him understand I was not the bad person from that relationship. His best friend was actually a really nice guy. He just replied ‘I’m so sorry. Take care’ and wished me the best of luck.
That is for another story and perhaps another time but from this point I focused on changing my well-being. It is safe to say I never saw that person again nor would I want to and I only feel pity for his new partner, unless he has changed for the better.
This takes me fast forwarding to turning 40! YIKES!! The events from my past have always haunted me and no one will ever know how much toll it took on my life and how much it has affected the way I think. To this day I still find myself lacking in confidence that I had in my 20’s and I am continuously anxious over things in fear of things going wrong. I have people inviting me to get-together’s or functions but I always feel the need not to attend in fear of larger crowds of people, which is silly as I used to party with 10+ people on evenings out and stand in front of hundreds of people for work.
But 40. Marvellous 40! It’s incredible how much of a mile stone makes you realise what you have and where you want to go next. I have an amazing partner of 6 years who I know I don’t always show my affections towards. Yes, it is because of my toxic relationship learning to keep a little distance, not in the event to protect myself, but because I’ve learnt to be this way and no doubts need to learn to be affectionate again.
My general well being is great. The days of consuming bottles of wine every night is now reserved only for the odd social occasion. I regained my fitness levels once more and feel I have more energy than ever. My skin improved considerably and I have regained my circle of friends who helped me through the barriers. I still need to work on other friends and attend parties, and those people reading this know who they are, but I want them to know I’m becoming the old me again. I mean wiser me, not older! **Chuckles to myself**
I have no debts at all (A mortgage doesn’t count!). I have a little day-to-day stress although nothing a good run on the treadmill at the gym can’t solve, and I’m happy once again.
So what I am trying to say? I guess i’m saying this. Remember who you are. Remember who you were before anything bad happened to you. Remember how popular you were and regain that popularity for how you earned it – your credibility. I literally hit rock bottom and thought if I don’t change something then this will become my life. My partner will be the one living life and I will always be playing catch up.
The last hurdle I have to conquer is my anxiety after all these years. I always tried to cover up my panic attacks and to be honest I think I did quite a good job of it too. Taking the stresses out on the weights in the gym is certainly helping me recover very quickly, along with the constant support of my very precious friends!
Why am I writing this now? Simple. I need to let go. I’m 40 and want to move on with my life. I don’t want the past events of my 30’s to occasionally be relived in my head when I face a situation out of my comfort zone. I want people to understand why I am the way I am today, especially those people who came into my life in my 30’s who never met the 20’s me. The only people I wish to protect now are my parents. They would be so hurt hearing the stories. They are completely unaware of the events and I will always keep it that way.
You could argue I’m sorting for the emotional vote. Those who know me know this isn’t the case. Have you read my lifestyle blogs on ‘likes’ etc? By writing, it helps me let go of the past – for me, it’s my form of therapy.