Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Anyone Out There

My most recent long-term relationship lasted 10 years before ending somewhat abruptly.

Gotta admit, didn’t see it coming.

In the time that I was ‘off the market’ the dating game has changed. It’s so much easier to meet people when you’re younger because you’re at the age where you still go out to clubs every weekend. Fast forward a few years when most of your friends are married with children and what do you do? Unfortunately your options become limited as you get older.

In the modern world we turn to online dating! In theory it’s a great idea as you can exchange dozens of emails and text messages and spend hours chatting online before you meet each other. In a way modern technology allows us to get to know each other before actually meeting.

Of course the fact that someone appears smart and charming in an email doesn’t mean they’re won’t be lacking in humour and social skills in real life.

Even younger people are using technology for networking, rather than the old fashioned method of trawling through a bar or relying on friends. The online dating site that I joined has a lot of under 25s on it – so many in fact that the girl I sit next to at work signed up on the spot after I showed her a few pages of young men, and she’s only 24!

Of course since I was last on the dating scene the market has been flooded with dating books full of rules we’re supposed to follow to snare the perfect man. Whatever happened to ‘if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be’? Once and for all I’d like to know, is there really a three day rule? If so does it also apply to email? I thought if someone was interested in you they’d call, or in this day and age at least email, but I’m assured by the young ‘uns at work that the infamous three day rule is still in existence.

Not only do we have internet dating but now we have new addictions like blogging, MySpace and Facebook where we happily chat away to strangers we’ve met online. Any thoughts of spontaneously finding true love have evaporated faster than Britney’s underwear.

As for rules, I don’t follow them. Modern dating rules just leave me baffled – and there’s so many of them, not to mention they’re different rules for guys and girls.

My motto is ‘be yourself’. Worrying about rules just makes you anxious so it’s best to be honest and you can’t go wrong. Anything else will get found out later on anyway.

… and really, if it takes him three days to phone, email or text you then face it – he’s just not into you!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Too Much Information

I had my tarot cards read on Wednesday and it was an interesting experience. Do I believe in them? Not really. There’s always a ‘how on earth does she know that’ moment but those are far outweighed by the generic comments, which can be interpreted any way you like.

It does make me wonder though; what if everything she said will come true? What do I do with the information I’ve been given? Should I now make different decisions based on the information she’s given me from the reading? I’m sure some people do but I’m not one of them.

Having my cards done did make me think about what I would do if someone told me they could see into the future. What would you do? Would you want to know what lies ahead; the good and the bad?

I’m not a particularly spontaneous person so knowing what lies ahead seems like a great idea. I’m the sort of person who listens to the news before the TV telecast of the Oscars to find out who’s won, just so I’m not disappointed when I watch it. The same goes with books. When the final Harry Potter book was released I read the last chapter first to make sure that I was going to be happy with the way JK tied up all the loose ends (I was) – I didn’t want to read all those pages and then hate the ending.

The more I thought about it though the more it seemed like a bad idea. Would you really want to know when someone was going to die? It would change your whole perspective, not to mention your relationship with that person, and you couldn’t be truly happy knowing what was to come. But what about happy events then? Nothing beats being told that someone is expecting a baby, or when they’re in labour the anticipation of what the sex will be. Imagine knowing in advance all the things that are going to happen in your life; it seems pretty awful doesn’t it.

Life isn’t really about grand gestures is it? It’s the day to day stuff, and how we deal with it, that makes us who we are. Small things like laughing with your mates, a hug from a niece, an email you’ve been waiting for… that’s the good stuff! They’re the things that truly make you happy.

I’m sure life will throw a few more curve balls at me, but I can handle them in whatever form they appear… and maybe a few surprises here and there will be good for me.

John William Waterhouse - The Crystal ball

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Sun Doesn't Shine Forever

I tend to keep my cards close to my chest so when I posted something as introspective as last weeks blog the response was mixed; from being told that it was beautiful and time to follow my dreams to those that expressed surprise that I was capable of expressing such emotion as they always thought I was a ‘cold’ fish.’

Happiness I’m good with, and anger too. People always know when I’m pissed off as I get quite vocal about what’s made me annoyed. I have an enthusiastic (i.e loud) laugh so it’s obvious when I’m happy but when there’s something wrong people can’t tell as I’ve turned suppressing sadness and grief into an art form.

I’ve never been comfortable crying in front of people, in fact it’s something that I hate as I then get embarrassed and my face goes red, which makes me feel even worse. I know that this fear is irrational but that doesn’t make it less real for me. It’s the same thing with clowns; I hate them too. I have no logical reason other than they give me the creeps and I don’t want them to come near me. But back to the crying thing. As I was saying it’s irrational. If it was based on reason I’d be able to logically work through why it makes me uncomfortable and rectify the situation. As it is I know I do it and I’m trying to rectify that.

As for the comment about me being a cold fish; I have to admit I found it rather offensive. To assume, because I’ve previously chosen not to show my feelings, that I’m not capable of deep emotions does me a disservice. I do feel things, sometimes too deeply; I just choose to deal with them privately. To believe that I’m incapable of empathy, compassion or even awareness towards other people is actually hurtful.

I admit I hate it when people I barely know want to kiss or hug me! What the hell is that about? I can feel myself tense when someone at work, who has barely said 2 words to me all year, decides to give me a hug or a kiss - or even worse both - when it comes to wishing me a happy birthday or a merry Christmas. Thanks all the same but for future reference just saying ‘happy birthday’ will suffice!

I think I’ve got a pretty good sense of humour but I seriously don’t understand why people think it’s funny to keep hugging me when I’m clearly uncomfortable, especially after they’ve had a few drinks! It won’t make the situation better and it won’t make it more comfortable the next time you do it. It’s as bad as shoving a spider in the face of someone who hates them, it’s just plain cruel.

Even when Belle died I chose to deal with my grief privately, obviously other than at the funeral. I remember a particular moment on the day after Belle’s death when I was making up the spare bed for Danielle’s father, who was arriving later that day, and Danielle came into the room quite distressed. More than anything I wanted to comfort her but neither of us are touchy-feely sort of people so in the end a pat on the arm, which probably seemed more patronising than comforting, was all I could muster. I’ve thought about that moment a lot, and wished I had acted differently, but I was only able to cope with the situation by throwing myself into looking after people’s physical needs and dealing with my own emotional needs when I was alone.

When I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, after being together for more than 10 years, I dread having to tell my parents and receive the ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ speech so I got my brother to tell them for me. By the time I got the phone call from my parents I was comfortable enough with the situation not to dissolve into tears – mission accomplished! (and just for the record I still got the 'his loss’ and ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ speech – thanks Mum).

The one time I have been unable to control my emotions at work was when my dog Andy was put to sleep earlier this year. I’m not sure what that says about me but I’m pretty sure it’s not good! That’s not to say I didn’t have any ‘moments’ after I split with my ex or after we lost Belle, in fact it’s quite the opposite, it just means that most of the time when people came near me I waved them away until I got to a point where I could talk to them without being distressed.

So, what does this mean? With close friends and people I know intimately there’s no problem. Scott gives me a hug every day, and most days a massage as well (if he wasn’t gay I’d marry him for the massage alone). I get kisses from my nieces every time I see them, I don’t care how old they are they’re never too old to give their Aunty a kiss or a hug and I’m truly looking forward to the hugs off my mates that I’ll get when I get to the UK.

I live a fairly well-ordered, sometimes too regimented life, and I truly think the difficulty in expressing emotion is about control. I’ve lived alone for a long time so I think my reluctance to show grief is about wanting to retain control over a certain part of my life, especially when so much of our life is out of our hands.

If someone is having a crisis I’m the person to come to as I’m good with practical advice or just being available to listen. However, when it comes to me I have always avoided facing issues front on and would rather tell people about a situation after I’ve internalised it and come to terms with the situation first. Expressing my emotions openly has only ever been a last resort.

What can I say? I’m female, I’m complicated, I over analyse and when I add up 1 + 1 it equals 3. Being reflective is great when I’m writing a blog on a web page, as I can hide behind my computer, but if you ask me what I’m thinking or what I’m feeling it might make me uncomfortable, or even make me blush, but you will get an answer.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My Own Way

Do you ever mull over the question ‘who am I’? Lately I have been wondering what the answer to that question is. I admire people who are comfortable in their own skin and know where they fit into the grand scheme of things… I used to be one of those people. I want to be one of those people again.

I’ve said before that my life is split in two distinct halves; before Belle died and after Belle died. When Belle was alive I knew who I was; I was Aunty, not Aunty Carolyn just Aunty. I was also more than that; I was the ‘spare parent’. For 6 years I never went on holidays as my leave was always used for looking after Madeleine and Belle in the school holidays. I went to Madeleine’s graduation from pre-school, I took her to her first dentists appointment, I occasionally picked her up from school and watched every single dance recital and gymnastics competition. I always imagined I’d do those same things with Belle.

I was with Danielle when she was pregnant with Belle and had her ultrasound and I remember shedding a tear when I saw Belle on the monitor as I’d never seen anything so amazing before. When we used to go shopping I always carried a sleeping Belle in my arms and I loved the feel of her snuggled up next to me breathing quietly.

There were so many good times that I was involved in, Christmas, Easter egg hunts, birthdays,… but I was also there for the hard times too.

I remember leaving the hospital after the accident and not being able to get my head around the fact that Belle wasn’t coming home with us. Ever. It just didn’t seem right to leave the hospital without her; there was a part of us missing.

Making all the necessary phone calls was hard. Having to ring Belle’s pre-school was awful but ringing Danielle’s parents was heart breaking, and I prayed that I would never be in that position again.

The image of Belle’s tiny body laid out in that small white coffin was seared into my memory and it took a long time for it to be replaced with a memory of a happier time, but finally it has. When I think of Belle, and I think of her often, I remember the excited way she used to run up to me whenever we saw each other. She’d yell out Aunty before launching herself into my arms and then we’d go through the same routine of opening up my gold locket and naming the people in the photo inside (Nanna, Aunty, Laura, Hannah, Maddy and Belle). The locket was a thank you present from Noel and Danielle for organising their wedding so it was only fitting that at the viewing I placed it in Belle’s hand to keep with her always.

It was unthinkable that a few short months after losing Belle Noel and Danielle would lose Isaiah too, but they did. The day Danielle had her ultrasound with Isaiah was the complete opposite to when I saw Belle on the monitor, although initially we were excited when we discovered there was finally going to be a boy in the family it quickly turned to despair when we were told of the severity of Isaiah’s spina bifida… a few days later and he was gone too.

This is what I know: I’ve made mistakes – but never the same one twice; I’m independent; hardworking; generous and incredibly loyal! While a piece of my heart is reserved especially for Belle I’m fortunate that it’s so big there’s plenty of room to hold close to me all those that I love, plus anyone else that may come along. The greatest happiness in life is the knowledge that we are loved -- loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves

It still amazes me that nobody has realised it but I’m a bloody good catch! I even own my own home… well probably just a couple of windows and doors as technically the bank owns the rest!

I hadn’t realised until someone recently remarked on it but I am a strong person! I’m the person people call on in an emergency; I’m the shoulder to cry on, the problem solver, and the practical one. I am Martha! That’s what they call me at work and until now I’ve hated it but it’s true. You need help reading illegible writing? Not a problem I can read it. Need help drafting a letter? Done! Lost a button? I’ll sew it back on for you. Need a tape measure? I’ve got that too (yeah, I don’t know why I had one in my bag either). I hadn’t thought about it until today but I can’t count the amount of times during the day that people come to me needing assistance with something, either work related or personal. I’ve mended people’s clothing (today I brought home someone’s cardigan to fix a rip), I’ve cooked for them, I’ve loaned them money but most important of all I’ve been there when they needed someone to listen to them. If being Martha means being a good mate then I *am* Martha, and proud to be it!

I did feel lost after Belle died, I felt as though I was wandering aimlessly through life, but now that I’m no longer as sad nor quite so broken I feel one step closer to working out who I am now but more importantly who I want to become.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets so I plan on making the most of it! If I get a chance I’m going to take it; if it changes my life I’ll let it. It's time to make my own way.

I’ll love the people who treat me right and I’ll forget those who don’t.

Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.

Monday, January 1, 2007