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Monday, 10 April 2017

Can you go Another Round?

I haven't blogged in ages.  Partly because life has been busy and partly because I haven't felt the need to share.

But I've been in my head a lot lately and that's not a good thing.  The above quote is quite relevant to me right now and I've been guilty of doing it.  But I know I'm learning, because instead of truly distancing myself and losing the people that matter - I actually spoke to them and explained how I was feeling.  (Well it was one person actually...)

Anyway, it turns out that they too have been struggling with anxiety, and feeling it in a different way, and dealing with it in a different way.

I am surrounded by people all the time - yet feel isolated and alone.  They feel like they're surrounded all the time and emotionally crowded - even when they're not.  I was deliberately creating distance when what I needed was connection.  They were unable to disconnect when they needed distance.

I don't think many people would have even realised that we were/are struggling with anxiety as we both have excellent game faces.  In fact, although I knew something was "off" between us, I couldn't place my finger on what.  So I'm glad that I pushed past my anxiety and burgeoning paranoia and bluntly asked if everything was okay between us.  Now we understand each other better, can support each other how we need to and have taken care of our friendship.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Space Oddity (Or Why You Shouldn't Touch Me or Get Too Close)

This is one of my favourite moments in my life.  I was on a boat, with two of my dear friends.  I'm sitting on the front of the boat (I'm sure it has a proper term, but I'm not very nautically knowledgeable).  My friends are behind me in the boat.  I'm surrounded by water and no one is invading my space.

I've slowly come to the realisation that I have a problem.  I don't like it when my personal space is invaded.  In fact, I need a lot of personal space.  More than what is probably "normal".  I like to maintain an invisible barrier between myself and everyone.

Now that barrier can be flexible.  For example: in a crowded lift, I understand that we are probably going to be less than an inch away from each other.  But if there's only two of us in the lift then you need to be more than arms length away from me.

I'm not overly affectionate either, except with those I truly love.  I'm not a fan of the casual touching.  If I'm meeting you for the first time I do not wish to hug you or kiss your cheek.  I'd prefer an arms length, firm handshake and then step back please.

If I have one friend over and there are two couches, please don't sit next to me on the same couch.  There is another couch over there, please deposit yourself on that one.  However if I have three friends over and my couch sits two each, then I'm more than happy for you to sit by my side.

I have a dog.  My dog knows I don't like my space invaded.  He will sit next to me on the couch, but at the far end, and will only move in close if I give the command.  He will only sit on me if I pat my lap or chest and grant permission and he understands that after 10 or so minutes he will probably need to move back to the other side of the couch.

My best friend's sister is like a sister to me.  And she's super-affectionate.  She will sit next to you on the couch and hold your hand.  She will stroke your shoulders or your hair.  She was raised in a family where affection was freely given and received.  The other day she grabbed my hand while we were watching television.  After 10 minutes I excused myself and made a cup of tea, just so I could stop holding hands without upsetting her.

I allow my two sons in my space and freely give and receive affection from them. I have never withheld any affection from them.  I'm also utterly comfortable with my best friend invading my space.  I love the level of affection between us.  In fact, I crave the affection between us.  Because it's the most beautiful, platonic and profound relationship I've ever had.

But beyond him and my two sons, I'm uncomfortable in sharing my personal space and in general being hugged or touched, unless invited to do so.  I am involved in theatre where everybody hugs and is freely affectionate and I'm getting better at not flinching or evading these situations.

I originally thought "Oh I'm just not a very cuddly person" and that's okay.   But last week I agreed to dog sit for two dear friends and their dogs have zero sense of personal space.  I sat down on the lounge, they draped themselves over me.  I got up to walk to the kitchen, they followed behind, I went to the bathroom, they pawed at the closed door.  I went to bed, they tried to sleep right up near my head.  On the third night of this behaviour when Phyllis lay down in the crook of my knees and Basil laid up against my shoulders I lay there getting more and more tense, until I couldn't take it anymore.  I picked up Basil and Phyllis and deposited them at the very end of my bed and on the opposite side to me.  When I lay down I felt such a profound and overwhelming sense of relief that my space was mine again.

As I lay there, shoulders unclenching, breathing freely, the thought crossed my mind.  This is not healthy.  If you can't accept the affection of two beautiful, friendly puppies who want nothing from you accept your warmth and affection, then something is actually quite horribly wrong with you.

I'm a Space Oddity and I'm worried my circuit's dead and there's something wrong.

Time to get in touch with Ground Control, I think....

Monday, 2 November 2015

Carry on Wayward Son

Supernatural has been on our screens for 10 years and the boys are entering their 11th Season.  I was never able to watch it on tv because I had other commitments the night the show first started, but thanks to Netflix, and some down time from the theatre, I had a chance to watch it.  And binge watch I did.  Ten seasons in two weeks, with plenty of 3am bedtimes and "DO YOU WANT TO CONTINUE" messages from Netflix (so judgemental).

A month later and many, many late nights watching every possible Youtube of Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and the gang at the last 10 years of conventions I think it's safe to say I may have crossed the line into obsessed.

And I'm not afraid to say it.  But guess what I like best about this show?  The fact that my 17 year old son and I watch it together.  We don't do a lot of things together.  After all he's 17.  He's independent. He has his own likes and dislikes and aside from a couple of bands we both like, there aren't a lot of things we share in common.  He's introverted.  He's quiet.  His sense of humour is very dry.  I adore him.  But our interests are quite different and very often it leaves us little to talk about.

So when he sat down one afternoon and watched a couple of episodes with me, I got quietly excited.  The thing is, what we love most about the show is the relationship between Sam and Dean, the two brothers.  It's messed up, it's complicated and it's family.  And the two of us can relate.

Funny memes, tags in facebook and twitter about Supernatural and one line jokes only other fans understand are now things we share on a daily basis.

Last night's episode was called 'Baby' and it was a unique episode.  Shot entirely from the '67 Impala's viewpoint (Dean's beloved car known as 'Baby' and considered a character in her own right) made for some of the best viewing I've seen in ages.  We got to see Sam and Dean at their most personal.  And I related, because very often the best conversations I have with my eldest are in the car.  Little eye contact and music in the background opens him up.   I often find excuses to go for long drives just so he and I can talk (my youngest chats with  me all the time so he just falls asleep on road trips!) and it's always surprising, funny and honest.

The cherry on top - last night when we both headed off to bed we said Good Night to each other.  And the #SPNFamily, as they're known, will get why this moment was so special.

SON:  Good night Jerk
ME:  Good Night Bitch.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Baby, I swear it's Deja Vu

Déjà moo. Yeah, I know. Bad joke.

But I found myself in a situation that's almost identical to one I was in over 10 years ago.  And for a while I was thinking REALLY? AGAIN?

For about a week I slid down the slope into despair and frustration. And I found myself thinking and reacting the way I would have back then.

But this time around one thing was different. I had people to turn to. They couldn't fix the situation. But they could listen. They let me know that they cared.

Then I realised something else. I'm not the same person I was a decade ago and although my initial reaction was the same I did not ACT on that reaction. I took the time to think, seek support and realise that I'm going to be okay. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Feelings, nothing more than feelings...

So I was raised in one of those very stoic-don't-show-any-kind-of-emotions type family.  Happy? Fine.  Angry? Fine. Frustrated? Fine.  These were acceptable to share with the general public and/or your family.

But other types of feelings, not so much. Hurt? Buck up.  Sad? Get over it. Vulnerable? Not interested.  As a person who tends to have all of the feelings all of the time, and as someone who likes to express themselves in order to be understood, this bottling up of emotions was very difficult for me.  But I learnt how; to a degree.

Then I got married to someone who would use any type of emotion I had as a weapon against me.  So I became awesome at really, truly burying the feelings quite deep and only applying logic.

Only the safe emotions were, and still are, ever expressed.  Happiness, anger and frustration.  Hilarious that the anger and frustration are considered safe, right?

Even at my brother's wedding when I got teary and my voice broke while I did a reading for him and his bride, a family member asked me why I got choked up about it.  (Gee guys,  I don't know, my brother only found the love of his life and married her - no reason at all, I guess.)

Consequently I find it difficult to say things like I love you, I need help, I'm feeling vulnerable.  Not only do I not say them, but I definitely don't show them.  (Except to my kids, and normally it's still expressed with a great deal of inappropriate humour.)

It can be a blessing.  When people truly hurt me, but are the sort of people who take pleasure in the pain they cause - they get no response from me.  Whatever trolls...

But lately, I find it a hindrance.  I have people in my life I care for.  I'd like to tell them what they mean to me.  The other day I just had to use the "L" word.  But the only way I could say it was gruffly, and in a sentence that ended with "stupid head".   So you know, it didn't quite sound the way I was feeling.  But I think the person understood.

My best friend is about to appear in a show.  A show that has meant a lot to me for many years.  It's a show that is raw and powerful and has the ability to make me cry in public.  Something I don't do.  Not even at funerals.

I know he's going to nail his performance.  I know I'm going to be a complete wreck through this show.  I also know that there is no way in hell I'll be talking to him publicly after the show.  He knows this.  Our mutual friends are going to be shocked after the show, because they will be expecting me to be the biggest cheerleader.

What they'll witness is he and I completely ignoring each other and looking decidedly disinterested about the whole thing.  Not because we don't feel anything, but because we feel too much.  And this is the only way we can cope with it.

Later, and very privately, he and I will talk about it.  Probably in the most roundabout of terms. Thankfully, with each other we're good at reading between the lines.

Because feelings.  People give you the feelings.  And feelings?  They're the worst.

Aren't they?

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

When the war is over...

I had a bad moment with someone on the weekend. A relationship with a lot of history and one I have no choice but to continue. I limit this relationship to as few visits as possible and normally make sure others are around as a buffer zone. But I had no choice but one on one contact and it went as badly as expected.

I'm not going to discuss their behaviour; but its affect on me was profound. I let it affect me. Worse I let it affect a really good relationship I have.

I started off by feeling a little low, then I got a little anxious. Then I got a lot anxious. Then I had a panic attack. I managed to calm myself down but for the next day and a half I felt sick to my stomach.

I thought I had conquered the hold anxiety had on me. I thought I understood that one persons behaviour says more about them than me.  I thought it meant I was immune to letting that negativity in my head. Logic should always win, right? Wrong.

Now despite talking with my friend and knowing that everything is ok between us, I'm still sitting here not quite believing it, and with anxiety nipping at my insides.

It really sucks. It's a constant battle. But I'm determined to win the war.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Quiet on set...

(This is Al Pacacino relaxing between takes on the set of 'Two Weeks')

I just spent the last six days on a film set.  It was amazing.  A cast of four, a crew of twelve.  A short-film.  An experience I'll never forget.

I've been on a film set before.  But I was learning to crew and so focused on just getting my bit right, that I never really took in the whole experience.

But this time I was the "talent".  So my job didn't start until the camera started rolling.  That means there was a bit of waiting around for sets to be dressed, shots to be organised, cameras to set up, lighting to organise.

I felt wide-eyed and in the way sometimes watching this crew work their magic to turn night into day, make lighting look natural, lay cables, tape up marks and a myriad of other things.

I won't lie, it was intimidating in a way knowing that all their hard work was for one reason - to capture the actors performance.

The short story was an intense one.  A family break up, a husband's despair, a wife's frustration, and the children coming to grips with their world falling apart.

I was amazed by the young girl, Ashley, who played my movie daughter.  She played the rebellious, sulking, angry teenager to a tee.  I know her performance helped me find a level of anxiety I needed to find in some scenes.  My movie husband's performance of a hapless, weak, desperate man helped me dig deep to find frustration and repulsion.

Thankfully no one was overtly method in their approach and we could relax between takes, pulling the emotional intensity together when we heard the words "QUIET ON SET".  Taking that moment to find your character between that moment and when the director yelled "ACTION".

Some of the perks were pretty fun too.  Someone there to take care of all our needs.  Thirsty? Hungry? Hot? Cold?  Our First AD would organise everything we needed to make sure we were comfortable on set.  (I'm not sure I can convince my children to keep doing that for me now I'm at home!)

But what I enjoyed most of all, was finding the character of Marnie.  A determined, steely, hard-ass.  A woman frustrated by her life.  A woman seeking change.  A woman dealing with the consequences of her decisions.  Most people aren't going to find her character sympathetic at all.  But it was fun finding her.  It was fun playing her.  It was fun not being me for a while.

The last day of shooting was a long one.  It started at midday and ended at midnight.  The final scenes I shot were very emotional.  I was staying with a friend and I went back to their place and just crawled under the sheets and crashed.  I was that wrecked.  Emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Driving home from the shoot the next day, I cried the whole way home.  I cried because it was sad it was over, I cried because I think even though the movie won't show this part - I think she would have cried as she drove away from her family.  I cried because even though finding Marnie was difficult, letting her go was harder.

Today I am back to real life, and even though it was less than 24 hours ago. It already feels a lifetime away.

Now begins the long impatient wait while the crew edit the film before it's release.  The fun is only just beginning for them.  I can't wait to see it!