Tuesday, 16 December 2014
I need to state up front that I love my family. I do. They have, for better or worse, helped me to become the person I am today. In some ways, it's despite them that I am the person I am today. I have made conscious choices and decisions to live my life the way I do. They helped me form my moral code. Sometimes, their beliefs helped me form completely different moral codes from them. But at the end of the day, these people don't get me and I don't get them. I am trying to find a way to be okay with this.
Sometimes I'm comfortable with the fact that most of them have different political and social beliefs than me. After all, life would be boring if we were all the same. Sometimes I'm utterly outraged by the different stances they take.
There are conversational topics that I've learnt to avoid because who needs the stress of a family argument? Sometimes I feel so moved by a topic that I have no choice but to speak my thoughts and then deal with the inevitable fall out. These times are never good.
I've made life choices which with they disagree. I deal with the passive aggressive comments they throw at me because they don't have the balls to just confront me directly or have a conversation with me to try and understand why I've made the choices I've made. They're not interested in the why's of my life. As far as they're concerned I'm wrong, they're right and that's the end of it. This is frustrating because I'm the type of person that tries to at least understand where the other person is coming from before I decide to live and let live. I'm not afforded the same respect. But I've made the choice to let this slide to keep the family peace. Sometimes it frustrates me to the point of screaming. So I do. To one or two trusted friends. For a long time I just assumed this was the pull/push dynamic of families.
But recently, I've seen other families interact on a more intimate scale and I've come to realise that not all families are like mine. Some actually love, support, understand and celebrate each other. To me, this is a wondrous gift and one that should be treasured. I must admit to a little bit of envy as I watch them lovingly tease each other, celebrate each others successes and support each other through the trying times.
It's around Christmas time that I become reflective about my family, because traditionally it's the time you spend with them. But the people I want to spend time with this year, well it's not really my family. It's my friends. The family I've chosen for myself. The people that I'm NOT related to, that I actually relate to. It's taken me a while to find them, but boy am I grateful I have.
Monday, 17 November 2014
I'm 44. My best female friend is 28. We met eight years ago. She was fresh out of school, I was fresh out of a marriage. We were both attending the same college, so that's how we met. Our friendship grew slowly. Mainly because I was very wary of people after a longstanding, unhealthy relationship. But over time came trust and a recognition that despite the age gap we are very similar people, but with enough differences to make life interesting. We've had a lot of firsts together and as time passes I know more and more that she is a person I can count on. It might help that she's perhaps a little old for her age and I'm a little young, but really at the end of the day, all that matters is that I have a supporting, loving friend in her and she in me.
Then there's my gay bestie. I've written about him before. He's 27 and basically the male version of me. Together we are outrageous, hilarious, occasionally bitchy but forever loyal to each other.
I have one other bestie. A woman my age. She's bitingly sarcastic, smart and brutally honest and in some ways as messed up as I am (hey who doesn't go through life with SOME baggage?).
No one bats an eyelid at these three relationships.
My friends range in age from 21 to 72 and are a balanced mix of male and female. They are all in different stages of life, but all of them are wonderful, loving, giving human beings that I count myself blessed to have. They are people that are fun to hang out with, who make me laugh and are easy to be around. But do I trust them with anything other than "social Bec"? Well, to be honest, no.
But recently I've made a new friend. I've known them about 5 months now and our friendship has developed fast. I don't make REAL friends quickly. Oh I'm a friendly person, outgoing and happy to chat with anyone (well almost anyone). But I don't trust people easily and I also like to have my space from people. Even those I love best. Normally after several hours with them I'm ready to have some downtime. I'm also very careful about who I let into my space as I'm super protective of it. This is a hangover from a long term unhealthy relationship where I didn't feel safe in my own home. I love having people over, but I hesitate to ask them over because I know after a while I'll start to get anxious about them being in my space. It's nothing to do with them, but it's a feeling I get that I have to control. Logically, I know I am safe with them in my space. But physically/emotionally my body/heart gets into flight or fight mode - just in case.
But this friend is different. I don't know how or when but they crept past every defence I have and I feel stripped bare in front of them - and it's okay. I have been lonely in some aspects of my life, that not even my best friends really understand and I had just grown to accept that that feeling was a part of life. I had accepted that the bad relationship I'd been in had left a permanent mark and I would never be that soft, vulnerable, loving person I would like to be. And then BAM along comes this person and I find out that I can. Even more than that, I don't get anxious when they're sharing my space. There's no flight or fight glitch going off in my body. It's a revelation. A totally scary, totally awesome, freaking me out of my mind revelation.
And yet other people are judging this friendship. They are questioning me on it. They are talking to each other about it and expressing how they find it odd. They've even been telling me straight up how they feel a little weird about it.
So why I am getting such comments? Because he's 21. Because I'm 44. Because he's straight. Because apparently a straight man and a straight woman with such an age gap, shouldn't have the friendship that we have. I've heard enough Mrs Robinson jokes in the last 5 months to last a lifetime. And it's not like that.
It bothered me a lot at first. It made me question why this relationship, which seems so strange to others, feels completely natural to the two of us. But it does. So I'm not going to question it anymore. I'm not going to give a damn what others think. I'm going to value this friendship, because it's unique and special and because it deserves it.
Oh and if you're wondering why My Little Pony? Well, keep wondering - that's a private joke! ;)
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Yesterday was a good day. And for no special reason. I realised I was happy when I turned out the light to go to sleep and caught myself whistling a jaunty (yes jaunty) little tune. I stopped and thought for a minute and then I realised I was happy. I was content. Instead of trying to analyse why, I just let myself bask in the moment. My eyes were squeezed shut and a huge grin spread over my face and I stretched out my body along the sheets and wiggled my toes and just let myself be happy. What a glorious moment.
So today I reflected, what made me feel so happy yesterday when nothing spectacular happened? And then I realised; it was all the little things.
I had an awesome cup of coffee. A really good brew. And I sipped it slowly, savouring it instead of just trying to get the caffeine into me as quickly as possible.
I got everything I needed to do at work, done. An empty inbox is a wonderful sight to see.
A friend popped by for a coffee. He's a jewellery designer. He's re-working my engagement/wedding/eternity rings. I've been divorced 10 years and I love those rings, those jewels and he's created the perfect design that honours their past meaning and yet reflects the life I lead today.
A newly made friend sent me hilarious snapchats through the day and had me laughing out loud in sheer delight. Never underestimate the power of a genuine belly laugh. How good does that make you feel?!
I caught up with some more friends for dinner. We ate good Asian food and talked nonsense around the dinner table. I was home by 9pm and took one of those indulgent, rarely had, 10 minute showers and let my body really feel the warm, pressurised-exactly-right-water pelt my shoulders. I went to bed, my ever-adoring poodle, Jude, curled up at my feet.
Happy, content, and just being.
Thursday, 18 September 2014
Therefore it's over. I'm in a local amateur theatre show (The Metropolitan Musical Theatre's "My Fair Lady - come and see it please! Tickets at www.metmusicals.com.au). And one of my helpful cast members taped a rehearsal so we could practice a particularly complicated dance routine.
I started to watch the video and wondered where I was and who the fat lady was who seemed to be where I thought I was. Yup. It was me. Now granted, I was in baggy rehearsal gear and granted "the camera adds 10 pounds" but to misquote Chandler (to Monica in Friends) - HOW MANY CAMERAS WERE ON ME?
I know I've put on 10 kilograms, I know I'm still 20 kilograms lighter than what I weighed at my heaviest. I know my body has changed due to age and two babies, and weirdly, part of it isn't even the extra 10 kilos (I'm prepared for middle aged spread to some extent), what shocked me was the way I moved.
I've always been a dancer. Since age 4. I've always considered myself light on my feet, and pretty damn good on the d-floor. Truth be told, dancing is when I feel my fittest, strongest, most powerful and sexiest.
But watching this video I saw someone clunky. Someone who had to brace herself to get up from the floor, the way my elderly aunty does when she gets out of a chair. I saw someone huffing and puffing to get her legs up for the spring kicks and someone who looked like she pounded the floor when she "elegantly waltzed" around the floor in the ballroom scene.
It shocked me to the core. More than the ever-increasing waistline measurement, more than the 'oh-dear-I-have-to-buy-the-next-size-up moment in the dressing room. Because this is something I've always prided myself on. I've never really been hung up on my weight. I've been skinny and I've been fat and everything in between and my self-esteem was not tied up in the number on the scale.
But this ungraceful, heavy, huffing, puffing, middle aged woman careening inelegantly away on the dance floor was not someone I found attractive, sexy or powerful. So it's time to put down the fork full of schnitzel and hit the gym. I'm not going to weigh myself, now or later, but I am going to, once again, feel light on my feet.
Wednesday, 10 September 2014
I don't have depression. I don't have anxiety. I don't have any form of mental health issues. I don't have any physical health issues. I have a roof over my head, a job, both my parents, and two great kids. I have friends that love me and a hobby that sustains me. Just for today, I am not okay.
I am tired. I am weary. I am exhausted. I am alone.
As a single parent all the emotional, physical, and financial burden falls to me. I chose to have kids. I love my kids. I did not choose to do this alone. But alone I am. I'm tired. My shoulders are heavy.
As a full time working parent I juggle guilt on sides. Guilt I don't give enough at work. Guilt I don't give enough at home. Wanting to work more hours to make the money situation less stressful, not actually having any more hours in a week to actually do this. I'm tired. My mind is a blur. Sleep does not come easy at night.
As a single woman that has her kids 80 per cent of the time I haven't yet found someone special. It's not that I don't get out. That 48 hours once a fortnight I don't have my kids, I am out and about. I'm out running the errands I can't do when they're with me. I lunch with friends. I see amateur theatre productions, go to movies, rent DVDs, hang out with friends, who give me dinner in return for me making dessert. I walk my dog, I have coffee, I laugh. I have wonderful friends that I spend hours laughing with. They sustain me, inspire me, challenge me, accept me and love me. But I have no one special to curl up on the couch with to share the good times or the not so good times when I want to share them. I'm tired. I'm alone.
This feels like belly-aching when I look around me and see people fighting depression, people struggling with anxiety, people trying to knock cancer on it's butt. People who lost their parents too young. People estranged from their children. People who, in general have it a lot, lot worse than I do. I know I've got it ridiculously easy compared to most. So I feel like it's entirely reasonable for others to tell me to suck eggs and be grateful for what I've got. I am tired. I feel guilty for feeling this way.
But today I just want to drop my bundle at someone else's feet and give my shoulders a rest. Because I've been doing this alone for 10 years and I just want a break, a minute, an hour to hand it all over to someone else temporarily, until I feel able to pick it all up and carry it again. Because I can. Because I will. Because I will be okay. Tomorrow. I am strong.
This my gay pretend-husband and I at our joint birthday/pretend-wedding celebration. Or as our friends know it - Bec and Daniel celebrating being Bec and Daniel. I'm a straight 44 year old woman. He's a gay 27 year old man - and we're besties.
There really is nothing quite like the friendship between a gay man and a straight woman. It's not quite siblings, it's not quite friends, it's not quite lovers, but at the same time it's also kind of all three at once (without the sex). Okay, okay, I'm willing to admit - maybe this is like this, just for us.
I can be myself around him. Warts and all. There's no judgement. Maybe it's because he's gay and he's faced judgement in his life and he's determined not to inflict that on others. (Okay - with one exception - he'll judge what I'm wearing. But normally his fashion advice is spot on.) Is that stereotypical? I don't know. I trust him to be honest with me. He'll let me know if an outfit is working or not. Clearly the outfit in this photo totally works....for a dress up party.
We watch Disney films together and sing all the parts (sometimes he's the girl - we switch according to the key range). This embarrasses my kids, but we love it. We go to the movies together and we watch musicals and action adventure equally.
He drinks wine, I drink beer, we both like scotch a lot. We love a quiet Friday night in eating pizza in our trakkies as much as getting all glammed up for a fabulous new bar. We both LOVE food. To excess. We're both happy to rub each other's bellies when we've over-eaten all the good stuff. Cheese. OMG we both love cheese.
I can talk to him about anything to do with sex (SEXY TIME QUESTIONS is the funnest game ever.) We argue about politics, we ramble on about tv shows, we randomly sing songs at each other. We can look at each other from across the room and know what each other is thinking. Sometimes I feel like we're two halves of the same coin. His wonderful partner Simon, has said to me that he knew when he came on the scene that he had to pass muster with me if Daniel and he were to work out. If ever someone comes on the scene for me - well they'll have to pass muster with Daniel. He trusts me to see what he can't and vice versa. He messages me during the day and sometimes we even message each other the same message at exactly the same time. We're HILARIOUS with the back and forth. Others may not think so, but as he'd say "they'd be wrong".
I've had a rough trot with friends in the past. Sometimes I've had friends that seem to be in competition with me. I'm not sure what we're competing for. Sometimes I've had friends who only seem to be there for the successes and not the failures. They haven't lasted long. Sometimes I've had friends who are only interested in what they can get from me and never give back. Actually, now that I think about it I'm not sure any of the above qualifies as friendship.
But with Daniel I feel equal, I feel accepted, I feel loved. So I just want to celebrate him for a bit. And as he'll tell you - he's worth it.
Sunday, 15 June 2014
Around 10 years ago I suffered from anxiety due to a long term situation I was in. It would start with a pain in my chest which felt like indigestion, but wasn't. My heart would race and occasionally skip a beat, my hands would shake and adrenalin would surge through my body. I'm long since removed from the situation and therapy has helped me deal with the anxiety. I rarely suffer from it now, although if I feel I'm in situation similar to the one that used to trigger it, the symptoms will come on again. However I'm now equipped with techniques to calm myself down, and have used them successfully.
I had a very different experience on Sunday with something I can only assume was blind panic. I was auditioning for a role in a local amateur theatre production of My Fair Lady. It's not my first audition, and I had worked with everyone on the audition panel in previous productions - so there were no unfriendly faces. Now, I normally get nervous before an audition, but as someone who's been a performer since the age of 5 I know how to harness those nerves and always in the past, once the music starts muscle memory kicks in and a performance happens. Also, I have this weird ability in job interview to harness nerves and normally interview really well. So what happened next came as a surprise.
The pianist starts playing my audition song and I start to sing and I'm not in the right key. I ask for another start and the same thing happens again. The Musical Director, who knows I can sight read, offers me the libretto so I can quickly re-acquaint myself (with the song I had been practising for over three weeks on a daily basis) and try again. I look down at the sheet of music and the words and they are suddenly a bunch of meaningless symbols that I can't translate. It's like she's given me a book written in another language. It was the most bizarre and frightening experience of my life. I slammed the book shut and said I'll just try again. I hit the key I was supposed to be in, but was so rattled by the experience that I lost the words of the second verse. Bless her heart, the MD sang the third verse along with me to keep me going.
I went on to finish the dancing and reading section of the audition without any problems. But for 10 seconds of my life I had the worst moment of blind panic a person can experience. It was like something out of a nightmare, except I wasn't dreaming.
Panic and anxiety should never be underestimated. It's a scary, scary thing.
Oh and one more thing: "C'mon Dover! Move ya bloomin' arse".