Download, Therapy and the Light at the end of the Tunnel
So my 2012 cataclysmic year wasn’t just filled with doom. There was hope in that story. Firstly despite feeling dreadful, my first act of “Single life rebellion” was brought on during a girlie night of takeaways and wine. Designed to aid my recovery from the events that were destroying my soul (2 deaths, a break up and an horrendous Ofsted experience) we started talking about “Download Festival”… Used to be “Donnington” when we were kids. And it felt like “Donnington” came back to life just for us that year. Metallica were headlining along with a load of 90s rock that soothed our ageing souls. We were going. WE were going to relive a better time. Well, we thought we were, but this never happened. Now, there may have been some reasons for this….
1. Me and my group of friends, now over 30, couldn’t deal with festivals because we were so comfortable with our homely lifestyles.
2. We had totally forgotten how to recreate the never-say-die abandonment of youth.
Or, it was possibly down to the uncontrollable third option……We had no accounting for how HORRENDOUS the weather would be.
So, there we were on our way. singing and moshing along to Enter Sandman in the car (reference – the Bohemian Rhapsody scene in Wayne’s World) and we were all hyped up. It was grubby weather but I had my awesome skull print wellies and expensive pak-a-mac. When we got there, we were shin ( yes, I said SHIN!) deep in mud and had to abandon most of our stuff in the car, including most of our booze! We then walked for over an hour and a half in apocalyptic weather to our campsite. One of our team lost the entire sole of his boot to the mud, another’s plastic anorak was in tatters and some of the others had to rescue a crying girl who desperately needed a wee. We reached high ground and pitched our tent, it was all hands on deck to ensure we still had a tent. I started to realise the pretty dress I’d packed, just “in case”, was utterly redundant. All beautifying was pretty pointless but regardless we sat down with one of the few cans of cider we’d managed to salvage and put our faces on. It was more like war paint, we needed the strength! We’d been on the road since 5am, we’d been blown to bits, but WE WERE THERE! We had made it. We even had our own toilet tent, although our weird little camping toilet was not fit to sit on, as one unlucky crew member found out to her detriment.
So… here we are making our way to the main arena, it took another hour and a half, as it was two steps forward and a huge slide backwards. Yet somehow I still found a moment to panic about my victory rolls.
Seriously…. we were walking through what I can only describe as chocolate mousse, littered with the broken remains of gazebos, that just hadn’t made it….and I was fretting about how my hair looked. Suffice to say, all that make-up I’d slathered on was mostly smeared down my cheeks. Utterly pointless, but it felt necessary. Well, we stayed in the arena for all of about two beers, headed back to the tent and promptly left the next day. Before we left we managed to bequeath some of our ‘car booty’ to the brave few of our crew that remained behind. We also had a little car picnic and drank some of the booze we had not been able to take in. Weirdly though, when we got home, after my shower, I didn’t cook myself a glorious meal, I had huge bowl of Super Noodles. That’s what we were supposed to be eating all weekend, but it didn’t happen. Apparently this left me craving them, like nothing else would do! But that was a lesson learned…. Drunk+newly single+wine+credit card = regret x 1000. However, 6 years later we can still laugh about it.
Also that year, I had to undergo throat surgery to remove nodules that had formed on my vocal folds. I had nodules way before Adele went and made them all fashionable. This resulted in 3 weeks off school, two of those were to be without booze AND without speaking. I had to use a whiteboard to communicate. This, for any of you that know me, was an utter bastard. People treated me like I was hard of hearing because I couldn’t speak and they acted weird in shops when I wrote on my board. Luckily, when one of my besties took me to the local Miller and Carter for a treat, she managed to fill in both sides of the conversation and the waitress was amazing, although slightly bemused. Luckily it was only a temporary glitch for me but it was an odd feeling. It certainly gave me time to reflect on the fact that although it was only temporary for me, people have to put up with far worse than that permanently.
On top of that I had started singing in a band, I got a new job and I started seeing a counsellor…and boy did I need that counselling. It had been a roller coaster of a year, with more lows that highs. I needed help. My first visit to the counsellor, was of course in true “Me” style. I had been to see my exceptionally talented friend who’d practiced a marvellous vintage style on my hair. So I turn up for my first appointment looking like a million bucks but feeling like crap. My therapist must have thought I was barmy! (yes, I see the irony).
Anyway, this would be the first step on an incredibly eye-opening and important journey for me. We explored a number of my issues but mainly focused on my self-esteem, she once told me, “it must be exhausting” to be in my ‘own head’ all the time. That ‘voice’ constantly putting me down and telling me I wasn’t good enough.
We worked through my self-worth issues and could pin point the worst of it coming from age 13. As an exercise she asked me to draw a portrait of myself at age 13, again, in true ‘me’ style I left it to the last minute and did it after a few wines with my mates the night before my session. I drew a curly haired girl wearing a Pearl Jam t-shirt, looking sullen. In the first session my therapist asked me to talk to my 13 year old self. I couldn’t do it, the overwhelming guilt and shame I felt about what that poor girl felt about herself came crashing down upon me. I couldn’t look at her and I turned the picture over, thinking I’d never be able do whatever it was my therapist was asking of me. That picture was always on the table, face down, as I entered my therapist’s room. And it stayed that way. As the weeks went on I started doing affirmations, albeit in a slightly different way. I chose to draw a word cloud of positive things about me, things I thought, things I knew and things other people said to me. I was making better decisions and breaking some really crappy self-flaggelating habits. I was starting to show signs of loving myself. I’d like to add “again” there, but it was fairly virgin territory. Eventually, after a while I was able to turn that picture over and face my 13 year old self, tell her how beautiful she is, how clever, creative and funny she is and ask her forgiveness. It was the most gut-wrenching yet freeing experience. I sobbed my heart out, but a weight had been lifted. It was a total paradigm shift in my little world. I had discovered that I didn’t have to hate myself.
Hand on heart, I can honestly say that this therapy was the best time and money I have ever spent. It opened up a whole new world to me, at the risk of sounding corny. Without it, I might never have had the guts to be myself and tell my then not-yet-Husbandface that he did, in fact, fancy me and that we should definitely go out. I was liberated from my own brain but, like my Body Positive journey, it is something that needs regular maintenance and updating…..but I’m getting there.
In addition to therapy, I had (still have) awesome friends and one awesome cat. My best bud kidnapped me and took me on a date to cheer my weary soul and even sneakily managed to pack some pj’s and knickers so we could stay over night in Greenwich after going on the London Eye. I went to a psychic evening, with my House Wife Hayley, where the woman was determined I had a spirit dog following me around…I NEVER had a dog. Perhaps this is how you get one? However, she did predict ‘meeting the man of my dreams’ that Christmas and then ‘going on a big holiday’. If what she meant by “meet” was to actually decide you fancy a colleague, after a slightly saucy dream and then harass them into eventually marrying you, as well as booking a trip to New Orleans, for shits and giggles, with your best bud – she would be BANG ON!!
Christmas that year would prove to be equally interesting, as it was the year of the “Shit Christmas”…. Gastroenteritis would have me floored for virtually the whole school holiday. I stoically carried on, despite my insides wanting to constantly be on the outside. I smeared my make-up around my clammy face, rolled my hair up despite beads of sweat rolling down my cheeks and ‘carried on regardless’. I bloody love Christmas but, and those of you who know me know, it’s generally a disaster. However, that’s a whole post on its own. I was delighted to see the end of 2012 and it ended, quite literally, shitty.
So my lovelies, therapy can be terrifying….but so worth it.
Oh, and by the way, did I tell you, and not in a L’Oréal way, you too are SO TOTALLY WORTH IT? Xxx