I’m probably jumping a big gap here but I’ll try and fill in the necessary information. So suffice to say my lack of self-esteem didn’t seem to matter in the classroom, in fact I’d find to my detriment that I may even be a little too confident, but that’s a later story (me vs Ofsted). However I was blossoming and I felt like I had purpose. I was feeling like a proper grown up.
An opportunity came up and I found myself renting my house at Nuxley. I was the house mama to several housemates, some of those would go on to be among some of the best human beings I’d meet, and I still adore despite distance or time keeping us apart.
Our house was the party house, we were the crash pad and events venue. We even held a couple of music festivals. And we fucking loved it. Although there was the night where we were gate crashed by three local randoms. Two of them decided they couldn’t wait til they got home or found an obliging alley way, and had it off in a spare room breaking a TV stand. She even left her skanky knickers behind. It was grim. Eventually though we all ended up getting old and more curmudgeon-like as our teaching careers took off. So parties were replaced with marking, wine, watching Rom Coms and going to the gym.
Also me and my friends were in the majority of desperately single and I hate to say it… “Ready to mingle.” I even went to a Salsa Class to meet sexy Latino men, turned out it was SALSACISE and the only “eligible” bachelor was clearly there with his mum. FAIL! We also posted profiles for each other on ‘My Single Friend’, which in theory was a great idea, we sat around drinking wine and relishing the prospect of writing about our best mates qualities and likes/dislikes. There should be more of this, without motivation or an end game. My best mate wrote about me that I “do not have a type, but if you’re a James Bond, suit wearing, suave type then you need not apply here”. I loved it! It nailed my taste exactly.
It would be during this time that I met a boy on ‘My Space’ (and that kids was the pre-Facebook and only people of a certain age will have had one… Mine’s probably still out there). I took a risk and went on an Internet date. I was pleased to find out that he didn’t murder me, and for me, apparently, that ticked a box – I ended up with a new boyfriend. He was a big lad, tall and heavier than most of the slim whippets I’d favoured in the past. He was different in everyway, confident, brash, well travelled, a skater who took me to some amazing places. I became enamoured with my new lifestyle and thusly ignored all the warning signs that I was ‘heading for disaster’. I was dating a narcissist and I didn’t see it until after the fact. In fact I had no clue what a narcissist was. But I should have noticed that my friends and family were less than enamoured with him.
Over the years my self-esteem was slowly chipped away. I was being turned into a character, a broken monkey who needed constant care. I found myself feeling undesirable, intimacy replaced by an overbearing affection and fearing I was going to be dumped at any minute meant I clung even harder to my relationship. Don’t get me wrong I was seeing places I’d never seen, being showered with gifts and even tried my hand at longboarding. My affair with longboarding was to be a relatively short one, as I could get going but I couldn’t stop. And in one near brush with death by plummeting into a duck pond, I had to be clotheslined off my board by the boy.
I travelled to Miami with the boy and it was here I started to have a little inkling that I’d started to lose my identity. And somehow Miami started to help me make the first tentative steps to find it. I started buying colourful make up and scarves for my hair. “Big deal” I hear you cry, but it was the first step and I felt brave! I also wore a bikini on the beach, and then walked around in my shorts and bikini top. I was terrified but I did it!
Roll on May and the identity discovery gains momentum. I was invited to a night out at the glorious Rivoli Ballrooms in Brockley. I was so excited I planned my outfit for weeks. I even went to the hairdressers the morning of the Ball, armed with pictures of Dita Von Teese. I had to go to a football match at Wembley with my hair in a net, looking like a right wazzock. Although little did I know this would be the least of my humiliation that day. Dressed in a rockabilly style, feeling like a fucking million dollars and rocking my first ever pair of Iron Fist heels, I walk down the stairs of the majestic ballroom, only to lose my footing and to fall flat on my arse in front of the WHOLE ballroom. MORTIFIED.
I felt so spectacular that night, I wanted to recreate it. It soon led me on a journey to the look I sport today. I felt so alive, so much more myself and I was loving it. The boy… Not so impressed. But I didn’t care, I was loving it. Although he did buy me a magazine that would fuel the fire more, Milkcow Vintage Lifestyle magazine and weirdly would be the downfall of our relationship (long story for next blog).
A year later I would find myself in Shanghai on holiday. During this time I would read a book that would shatter my illusions about my life and relationship. “The Post Birthday World” by Lionel Shriver. This book talked of a relationship going through its’ death throes. The echoes to my relationship was frightening. Too frightening. The couple’s routines and even their sex life seemed too close for comfort. But I wasn’t strong enough. I huffed and puffed my way through this book, barely looking up at the bonkers scenery that Shanghai had to offer. Boy kept telling me “….if it’s pissing you off that much stop reading”. But he had no clue, no clue that I was freaking out that something in this book resonated. I should have got out there and then, but I wasnt strong enough. I didn’t recognise I was so lost in hating myself, blaming myself for being fat and undesirable that I couldn’t let go. It would take another 6 months and a row over a fucking magazine for that relationship to rattle it’s final death knell.
You are not defined by your relationship. You can leave at any time.
By the way, did I tell you that you do not have to put up with something that makes you unhappy? You deserve more.