Marlene Dietrich

Never wanted to, what am I to do, I can’t help it. (Please insert faux German accent).

But I did, I fell in love again with my Husband, sick bags at the ready…

I didn’t even know I’d fallen out of love. Clearly over the last few years I had.  As the years go by you get lazy, emotionally lazy. “I Love you” becomes a slogan like “Have a nice day” or “Do you want fries with that”. (We’ve just booked a late honeymoon to the states, so forgive my rather crude Americanism).

You can forget, take love for granted and absorb it into the landscape of your life.

However just lately my husband’s actions reminded me, in rather a spectacular fashion, why we fell in love in the first place.

We’ve been under attack. I don’t mean that lightly or in a glib fashion. We really have been the victims of extreme prejudice, racism, homophobia and general shittery that has sent me on a downward spiral.

The perpetrator likes to write letters. Lots of letters. Nasty, offensive and threatening.

We know this person. A lot of people know this person and not in a good way. It’s safe to say he must be in a lot of pain and suffering to share it around so generously.

It got to the point on a Saturday morning were I would wake up in fear and dread as to what was going to land through the letterbox. I would visibly shake with anger and fear in anticipation of the next poisonous piece of post. He timed the communication just to ruin our week(end).

This is not good for my health, mentally or physically. I’m due my second brain op in a few months and my blood pressure has been soaring. My Migraines have tripled. That’s three a month and they tend to last two to three days at a time. My life has been painfully interrupted.

Now, under normal circumstances I am a calm and rational person. (Who am I kidding?).  It takes a lot to rile me up and get me to a state where it’s affecting my health.  I don’t know if it was the delivery of the nastiness that tipped me over the edge.  In letter form it enters  your home, your safe place, without your permission. The anger and unpleasantness is pushed into your abode and lies there like a shit packed grenade waiting for you to detonate.

Cue Husband. Enough was enough.

The first thing he does is ban me from reading the letters. He takes away the source of the worry and anxiety.  Then he calls the perpetrator and taking a cue from the assailant, tells him in the most assertive way possible within the boundaries of the law, to fuck off.

Next he calls the police. They are surprised we haven’t contacted them sooner.

Then he calls our lawyer. They are surprised we haven’t contacted them sooner.

He won’t inform me of any of the details. He keeps every single shred of nonsense out of my earshot.

Iv’e had to learn to let go. He’s had to teach me how to let go.

I think I was screaming inside for weeks, but he say’s it was the moment he saw me one Saturday morning, weeping whilst brushing my teeth, that spurred him into action. Go figure.

So he stepped up to the plate. He’s invented a new plate, a giant don’t fuck with me plate that has shielded me from everything.

We don’t court trouble. We love a simple and streamlined life. We’re good people or at least we try. We’ve worked hard to have the life that we have. (Cue Violins). Neither of us are from privileged backgrounds so it’s always been an uphill battle. One we thought we were winning.

And that’s just life isn’t it?

‘Sod’s law’ as they say. Just when you think you are winning  the universe sends you more lessons to learn – those curveball surprises that throw you out of synch and challenge you. I think it always will.

Well I was surprised or rather reminded that I am not alone. That I am incredibly lucky that I have someone who loves me enough to step in when I’m falling down.

I sleep easier, my migraines have settled down. I no longer have tears in my toothpaste (That really should the title of an Adele song).  I’m practising ‘mindfulness’ to the best of my ability and soldiering on.

So I have fallen back in  love with my husband and I will never, ever take that for granted.

Mind you, if he keeps eating my Pringles, it will be all over ..again.

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Liza with a Z.

A couple of years ago I met Larry.  I was in the Neuro-surgical department of the hospital. The surgeon clicked his mouse and up popped Larry in all his tangled glory.

It was the surgeon’s advice to name him, after all Larry had been living in me since birth.  So it made perfect sense to be on first name terms. Manners maketh the Man. So Larry was named after the infamous gay comic Larry Grayson.

Larry is an AVM. An arteriovenous malformation, to be precise. He’s a tangle of blood vessels and veins that had  been covertly operating under the alias of Mrs Migraine (I don’t name all my ailments, but they do seem to take on a life of their own).

Mrs Migraine had been paying  unwelcome visits since I was about thirteen. She liked to pixellate my vision, numb my fingertips and occasionally (when she felt she wasn’t getting enough attention), deliver skull splitting headaches.

According to the Dr, Mrs Migraine is incredibly common, lacking in manners and very, very loud. I have meds prescribed and that was that.

Thirty years later I’m on the phone to my Father when suddenly I start slurring.  Dad thinks I’m loaded (again), only now I can’t feel the phone in my hand, I also can’t feel my left leg.

As my husband catches the phone receiver falling to the floor he notices it all. It’s my face that really freaks him out, it’s dropped on one side.

I’m thinking Stroke, Husband’s thinking Stroke, Paramedics thinking Stroke, Dad’s still rambling on about the rapid decline of toilet paper standards, blissfully unaware that his son is having  a full on seizure.

But by the time the Ambulance reaches the hospital all my symptoms had completely eased off. I can’t say I was normal as my face was still threatening to merge with my neck and never return.

Apparently, the very common Mrs Migraine had a sophisticated trick up her sleeve, she can impersonate a full on Stroke. Turns out she’s not such a common woman after all, she’s a highly versatile performer, a medical triple threat – she’s Liza Minelli.

So for the first time I am scanned. I end up in a revolving tube and the nurse gives me headphones, she says it can be a bit uncomfortable and noisy. Enya is warbling in my ears to the muffled backdrop of the scanners Industrial Techno. Ghastly.

I’m swiftly ushered into the surgeons office.

Enter Larry. The neurological cross dresser, an enigma, wrapped in a brain, impersonating Liza Minelli.

He’s been outed from my  brain closet. He’s been sucking the life out of my right occipital lobe, probably since birth. Oh and he brought a couple of male escorts! Brad and Jeff.  Two un-ruptured brain aneurysms forced into existence by Larry’s constant need to be fed. Greedy Queen! What can you do?

I did say right occipital lobe didn’t I? Yeah, that’s the part of the brain that controls your eyesight. The thing is I’m heavily involved with the creative arts, specifically visual.

Fate. Cruel. Irony doesn’t even cover it.

So to cut a long medical procedure short, I have two prize boxes to possibly open on this gameshow. Iv’e already won the bonus round, Brad and Jeff have got to be removed, that’s compulsory. (Brad’s already left and Jeff is living on borrowed time).

Box 1.  Have Larry Evicted, only while he’s gathering up his feather boa and high kicking out the door he’s highly likely to take 50% of my eyesight with him.

What’s left of my vision will resemble a Kaleidoscope. I would have to learn how to see again in a whole new way.

My eyesight could return in a year or it couldn’t. Either way, career wise, life wise and financially I would be in no uncertain terms, Fucked.

Box2.   Empty. That’s right, do nothing.

The logic  being that apart from Larry’s dreadful Liza Minelli impressions over the past 45 years, he has, in fact, remained in tact. He’s a hoofer and a trooper.

Larry could  put on a  show tomorrow, or when I’m 95, reclining with a martini in Cannes.  No one can tell me. He’s a Guerrilla performer.

So, monitor Larry on a regular basis and when I’m financially secure enough (Don’t be fooled into thinking creativity equals affluence, even for those that have survived for 30 years), re-cast Larry and send him to the twilight home of retired medical celebrities, a.k.a the incinerator.

The quandary is that no one can tell you what to do. Not even the surgeons. They aren’t allowed to here in the UK, they can just present you with choices.

I choose prize box two. It’s my first grown up decision, no, really. The first time I have been presented with such serious consequences.

I figure, if I can keep Larry under control, restrict his performances with meds and ban all male escorts, I’ll get through the show.

Jeff is being evicted in three weeks. He’s a deep character, can’t be dealt with via that wondrous artery that runs from your groin to your brain. No, this time it’s full on craniotomy, I will have a scar the size of a Tennis Ball.

Husband says if that’s the case I can have a facelift. It won’t hide the scar but it might make me feel a bit more fabulous. Every cloud kids, every cloud……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The absolute joy of not giving a crap.

It’s marvellous isn’t it. Getting older. That’s right, today, right at this minute I’m on the right side of my mid life crisis. I can see the benefits, not one moan, not one gripe shall litter this entry. Negativity is but a distant dream today.

So what’s put such a spring in my step?  15mg of  Mirtazapine.

Now if you had told me I’d be on chemical enhancements a couple of years ago I would have looked down my nose and fluttered my eyelids, the way Madonna does when she’s pissed off in an interview.

But shit got real a few weeks ago. Full on mini meltdown.

I was sitting in a meeting with some clients, they were discussing a new project. I start getting tired and angry for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Eventually all I can hear is “Blah-Blah-Blah”. Then suddenly I hear a voice, remarkably like my own, shout out “WHO GIVES A FLYING FUCK!!”.

Just Awful.

These are good people. I’ve worked with them for so long I can categorise them as friends. Thank goodness. They all burst out laughing but I was horrified. Swearing is one of my favourite hobbies, but never have I ever swore in front of a client.

Afterwards I was having a coffee with the M.D. She was studying me, head cocked, her lips pursed as I struggled to make my lips reach my mug. I was shaking, couldn’t stop. She reached down into her Prada handbag (the one I helped pay for) and produced a bottle of pills. She unscrewed the lid and gently tipped a small white pill into the palm of her hand.

“What’s that?”, I asked.

“Valium”, she said.

She didn’t need to tell me twice. It didn’t even touch the sides.

“You sir”, she said, ‘Are Depressed”.

Was I? I didn’t feel sad.

Except when I thought about life. Or my work or my family, my marriage, the news, the state of the world, cooking dinner or how absolutely fucking tired I was due to the fact I couldn’t sleep for more than three hours at a time.

But apart from that I was absolutely fine.

O.K, so she had read me like the cheap blog I am. She ordered me to go see my Doctor.

I did, but not before consulting my husband. He’s old school, brought up in a tough Jamaican household. They never suffered with depression because they were always high. His words – not mine.

“How many years have I been telling you to chill out and calm the fuck down”.

Because that’s exactly what you need when your’e super stressed, to be told to calm down. I ran to the doctors before I ended up in handcuffs and a spit hood.

My Doctor is awful. That’s not a negative entry, it’s just fact. She doesn’t like the Gays.

My husband came with me to my last appointment and she kept referring to him as my “Friend”.  So I try to explain how Ive been feeling and she’s doing her best attempt at concern, patent Dr frown – check, glazed look of sympathy – check, the odd nod and chin stroke – check. She’s got that shit down to an art form. Then she gave me a form.

“Please fill this in and bring it back”.

Are you feeling suicidal? Do you feel worthless? Do you feel disconnected? etc, etc. Please answer on a scale of one to ten, ten being very likely, one being not at all. I put ten for every answer. I mean you have to do that sometimes, right? Ramp it up just to get heard.

Next thing I know Iv’e got these pills. One to be taken every night.

I’m sorry but there is no other way to say this – Fucking Marvellous.

First night, nothing. Second night, still nothing. This went on for a week. Then on the seventh night I slept like I have never slept before, 14 blissful hours.

I awoke, not unlike Snow White to the sound of chirping birds. I smiled in the morning, I actually fucking smiled. I said good morning to my husband, he looked like he’d just been shot.

I bounded in the shower and I bounded out again, not once did I glance in the mirror. Not once did I analyse my middle aged body for more signs of decay.

The veil of shadow that had suffocated my brain was ripped away and underneath was a shiny, new, happy me.

But was I? Wasn’t I just masking issues? I wasn’t sure, I didn’t have any issues anymore. Something felt phoney, artificial and of course, chemical.

I suggested stopping the medication.  My husband threatened to leave me if I did. He was joking, at least I think he was…anyway, I cut the dose down by half.

Slowly my darker thoughts began creeping back to the party. They snuck in the back door and mingled in the kitchen by the stale humous and half empty Rose bottles.

That’s when I discovered mindfulness.

Two Audio books, Eckhart Tolle – The power of now and Ruby Wax – A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled.  God bless the both of them.

Eckhart freaked me out a bit, he’s a wonderful human being but does sound a bit like a Bond Villain/ Peter Lorre. Ruby on the other hand was an absolute delight, firing off quips like bullets from a well oiled gun. Making me laugh and teaching at the same time.

I got it. Instantly. I understood the concept of neuro-plasticity, of training my brain to be better, happier and decluttered.  I cannot recommend these books highly enough, I think it should be taught in schools. It probably is in more progressive cultures, Sweden, they’re always one step ahead socially, I bet it’s standard practice there. (Although their suicide rates are a worry).

It’s an ongoing process, something I have to practice everyday but the results have been amazing.

Today I reached a milestone, a full week on just a quarter tablet. I’m hoping to be completely chemical free by the end of the month.

Absolutely life changing.

So in truth I do give a crap except now it’s just about the stuff that matters. Love, Life , Art and Staying sane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take the first Exit on the Left.

In a few months time I will be 46 and quite frankly I’m losing the plot.

I’m happy-ish married and I run my own business.  From outward appearances we’re a solid, fun couple, the type that gets invited to parties to liven things up. We’re also the token gays or as we’ve come to be known “The boys”. We’re not boys anymore, far from it  (although we are bestowed with the eternal adolescence that comes with being gay).

So far so good. Married, tick that box, travelled a bit, tick that box, own our own home, tick that box too. Iv’e been working my arse off to tick boxes for the last twenty six years.

But I don’t want to tick boxes anymore. I think I want out. Not ‘out’ out, just a total mid life overhaul.

As I assess my life and take stock of all the crap I have accumulated over the years it’s painfully obvious that I’ve often been driven by what other what other people think of me. But as I reach this halfway point in life I couldn’t give a flying fuck anymore, (pardon my French).

I was brought up in the eighties in an era of “Must have”.  Must have a good job, must have a great body, must have a nice partner, must have a lovely home, must have at least two holidays a year and must have security.  It’s only now, at this mid life crisis, that I am daring to ask the question – Why?

Why the fuck do I need any of it? (I’m all out of pardon’s).

The trouble is every time I contemplate sodding off into the sunset with a rucksack and a change of underwear I get the guilts and not just my own guilt, a long line of guilt. I’m one hundred percent working class . Iv’e delved into my ancestry.com and it’s pure poverty as far as the eye can see.

So not only would I be letting everyone I know down if I decide to quit my current life, I would also be letting down my impoverished family tree.  Contemporary guilt is hard to handle, ancestral guilt is totally overwhelming.

Then there’s my husband, the plan is not to leave him, just send for him once Iv’e established a self sufficient utopian commune somewhere in the Lake District.

There’s a lot to consider before buggering off.

But despite all this I’ve decided that I’m pressing the ‘fuck it’ button. I’m slamming my hand down so hard that there will be no more fucks to give. They will pour forth and destroy my entire life in an act of glorious self sabotage.

So here I go…

I’ll go live in the woods, I’ll go off grid, I’ll buy one of those micro houses on a trailer and attach it to a rusty bike. I’ll forgo money, material possessions, mortgages, mobile phones and all the other insidious succubus beginning with M.

I’ll forage for truffles. I will run naked through valleys of poppies and frighten livestock. I’ll grow a long wild beard and fish from a stream with a rusty coat hanger. I’ll catch rainwater in old tin cans and fashion loin cloths from old Guardian supplements. I will be wild – I will be free.

And just as I’m at the top of that misty mountain, hand’s on hips, bits flapping in the wind, I will remember who I am.

I will remember how much I am loved and love my life. How fucking grateful I am for everyone and everything in it. Every first world problem, every pain in the fucking arse person, every brown envelope that slithers through my letterbox like an asp.

So I run. I run back to my life, my amazing husband who drives me fucking insane, my nutcase family who’m I adore, my 60 hour a week career, my iPad, my MacBook, my phone and my modern, rubbish life. I burst through the front door screaming “I’M BACK, IT’S ALL ALRIGHT WORLD, LOOK WHO’S BACK!”.

And my world just shrugs back, like it never even knew I was gone, mutters “dickhead” and turns back to the T.V…..