This week: Things to be thankful for

So far 2017 has been a bit like wading through custard. I’m still firmly in the grief stage and it’s showing no signs of shifting. I’m trying my best to shake it off and move forward by being kind to myself and focusing on being a good mum and a good wife. The last week, for various reasons has been especially hard. 

When you’re not feeling great it is often a good excuse to make a list of the people you love and who love you, or the good things in your life. In that spirit, I’ve decided to list the things to be thankful for from the last seven days. Because although it’s been hard, there have been an awful lot of good things and positive things in our lives.

Old Friends. When my husband found himself in a sticky situation this week, some of his oldest and best friends stepped up to help him. I am thankful for their care and compassion when he needed it.

Internet Friends. I have a small group of exceptionally wonderful friends who I met online but who have turned into the best friends a girl could have. This week they all noticed my dark mood and came to the rescue with love, laughter and a listening ear.

My son. He’s not feeling very well, but despite having an excellent excuse to be a grump, he has been full of smiles and love. He’s played, he’s snuggled, we’ve read together and he’s reminded me that the most important things in life are the people close to you who love you. He is my biggest fan and I am his.

This week: things to be thankful for

My husband. Despite having a horrendous week himself, he made the effort to take me out on a date even though he wasn’t in the mood to go out. We went to see Logan, not the most cheerful film ever, but we enjoyed escaping reality for a few hours and a bit of Hugh Jackman in a vest did nothing to hurt my mood.

Facebook. I have fallen out of love with Facebook for the time being. I’m just not feeling it, but I popped on this morning and the first thing I saw was a four year old video of my son cooing and dribbling and being adorable. It was very, very nice to be reminded of our little chubby cheeked baby who is now a strapping six year old.

New Phone! Yesterday my new phone arrived. I’ve been struggling for two years with a phone which wouldn’t support Facebook or Instagram. It was so bad it didn’t have a camera you could take a selfie with. My new phone is not top of the range, it’s a Samsung J5 2016 but it works and I can access and use the things I need to do my job as a blogger. It’s a really, really big deal to me. My friends are delighted they can now communicate with me in more than one way.

Seaside and Fresh Air. Last weekend I went to the Gin Festival in Blackpool with my best friend. We sat and ate those hot sugary doughnuts you can only get at the seaside. We talked a lot and knocked back a respectable amount of good gin. The next day he sent me an MP3 of a song he’d written about our trip to Blackpool. So I uploaded it to YouTube. You have to listen carefully as his voice is a bit quiet, but I think it’s hilarious. Bob is one of the best people I’ve ever known.

Hope. I’m thankful for hope. I’ve got good things to look forward to with fun people. I’ve got a holiday, a flying visit to Cornwall, I’ve got the Just So Festival to get excited about. I’m going for a spa weekend with some good friends. Plus we’ve got lots of family adventures to plot and scheme.

It’s not all darkness. It can sometimes feel that way but it isn’t. Writing down a list of things to be thankful for every so often can help bring the light and the good into focus, and that’s never a bad thing.

What are your things to be thankful for?

Friendships, when’s the right time to say goodbye?

A little while ago I wrote about a toxic friend and how I really need to cut them loose. It’s a friendship which is negative and makes me very unhappy. I’ve realised over time that I have unwittingly found myself with some quite negative people. Don’t get me wrong, some of my chums, most of them are ace, but some are upsettingly negative. I’m not sure if they mean to be or not, but they are.

There’s an undercurrent of gloom. An unspoken need to do me down a little bit, keep me in my place. They know my self esteem is rock bottom and fragile, so there’s a part of me that wonders if they do this on purpose. Maybe they’re just so messed up themselves that they have to feel altogether superior to someone else. That inferior person is just me.

My triumphs may be small, but they are my triumphs. I may not earn their money or get to go to the places they do. I may not be skinny, or beautiful, or glamorous, or even exciting. I am me, living my little life with my little family, trying to make the best out of the cards I’ve been dealt.

It really annoys me and frankly disappoints me that a “friend” can be so dismissive of me and what I do, but in the same breath expect me to fire off a party popper every time something nice happens to them. And I do. But what’s that about?

Decisions need to be made. I think a reshuffle of my friendship cabinet is in order. But life never runs on straight lines, friendships are forever changing; coming and going. Maybe it’s time this one was going.


The healing power of friendship

I’ve been through some tough old times these last few years. I didn’t realise quite how much having a good, solid network of friends to rely on would mean to me. Friends tend to come and go, a couple of years ago I met a whole bunch of new friends through Twitter; when I couldn’t leave the house and was bedridden, these were the people who I’d chat to at 3am because I was in pain and needed distracting. These were the people who kept my spirits up through the long, hazy days and nights when I was dosed up on pain killers, or having a panic attack about my next surgery. These people kept me sane, or closer to sane than I would’ve been without them.

Two years on I’m still more or less in the same group of friends. We’ve all changed, grown up a bit, moved on or moved away; but when times are tough we rally round and look after each other, which is how it should be. My physical pain, is now classed as chronic and is usually at a level I can cope with. Sometimes though I am overwhelmed with emotional pain, depression, anxiety, just blind panic. It is  my friends I turn to for support and for calm.

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by friends who love me and understand me better than anyone. Friends like my BFF Bobble who always knows the right thing to say to stop me mid-meltdown, or make me laugh when I’m crying. Another friend Daisy knows me inside out and keeps an eye on me, even when I think she’s not looking. Liz offers pints and bar snacks (better than tea and sympathy).  Jon is like Yoda only taller, less green and understands how sentences should be properly structured. Guy offers sensible and sage advice. And Lou tells me to think about donkeys – it’s physically impossible to cry when you think about donkeys, try it.

These are only a few of the awesome people I call my friends. Each one has held my head above the water a whole bunch of times, each one has gently persuaded me back from the edge, each one I’ve laughed with and love more than they’ll know. My friends, my friendships are healing me. Slowly, quietly, most definitely they are helping me grow stronger and more able to stand by myself.

I like the unnamed people who check in on me daily, weekly, whatever, just to see how I’m coping and if I’m ok; the kind people who comment on my blog; plus other friends and acquaintances from real life, the close “mum” friends I’ve made in Jane, Liz, Carla, Rachael and Sarah (amongst others). And my husband, my best friend for the last 20 years, who understands what it means when the light in my eyes changes and has seen me at my very worst. Collectively the healing power of friendship is huge, I know for a fact I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

To my friends, I love you, thank you for throwing me a life belt and for helping me to grow a little bit stronger every day.

It’s the International Day of Friendship on the 31st July 2015, which seems a pretty good excuse to celebrate the brilliant friends that you’ve got and to tell them what they mean to you.

the healing power of friendshipThis post was written in collaboration with TheCircle.

Letting go of a toxic friend

I have a friend, a toxic friend. A friend who messes with me, builds me up then knocks me right down. I build a wall, take a step back, they knock down the wall, offer the hand of friendship, a glimmer of kindness and then they turn on me again.

It’s like a game to them. I’m sure it’s not a conscious decision. If it is then it’s a particularly nasty thing to do. I am nice, too nice. I am too nice, patient, forgiving and too open for my own good.

When I met this new friend, I was equally delighted and appalled that they reminded me of an old chum who I was very fond of, but had done the exact same thing to me. I didn’t know at the time that history would repeat itself. But when you laugh like a drain with someone who seems like they might’ve been handcrafted to be your new best mate, you don’t think that all that is good will soon turn out to be all that upsets you.

I hate this, it all seems so playground. I’m 37 and so and so is picking on me Miss and making me feel pretty crappy about myself,

Why do I care? I have no idea. Why do I keep allowing toxic people in? I don’t know, really I have no idea. This time last year I was a mess. Toxic friend number one was busy messing with my head and now toxic friend number two is doing the same. I’m all confused. My head is buzzing with a combination of anger and frustration as well as a strange, almost desperate need to please and smooth things over.

I don’t know what to do. Wise friends keep saying cut them out of your life, but that’s hard, you hope that things will get on track and you can sit in a beer garden laughing your socks off with them again. But in reality that’s not going to happen.

So what do I do? Carry on with this destructive cycle or find a way to let go? I need to let go and not look back, because looking back gives them the chance to return. Toxic people have no place in my life, but somehow they always find a way in.

Toxic friend