Greetings and salutations! Yes, I have yet again neglected to blog. I will endeavour to explain my reasons so stick with me. As you may already be aware from my last post, there were epic plans in place to make the leap from Belfast to set up a new life in the big schmoke of London town! I made the move on 7th September, it was exciting and delightful and LIVING THE DREAM, however for the past couple of weeks things got D.A.R.K.
I attempted to write a post on Wednesday but on reflection I am so SO glad I didn’t post it. My brain was not in the most jovial of places, in fact i was downright VERKLEMPT with the despair.
Moving to London has been my dream for more of my adult life than I care to mention because OLD. I have been ecstatic about it as soon as it became a possibility. I had originally planned to make the move to be over here in June but then I got cold feet because I was petrified to leave my family, my friends and my permanent job. I had been fighting for a permanent post since November 2014 and finally got one so when all of this came to fruition, London was put on the back burner. I had internal conversations with myself about how things would be fine in Belfast. I could visit London often and all would be well in the world, but it wasn’t enough.
I think in a way, getting the permanent post was the thing that pushed me harder towards leaving. I couldn’t look at my life and think that was it. This is how things will be until I retire. So that gave me the drive I needed to push forward and take the terrifying steps required to fly the nest.
When I arrived on 7th September I was IN DEMAND work wise, one of the councils was desperate to interview me so I had zero fear about finding work. This remained the case for a few days and once my friend from home returned to Belfast I only had a few days until my London housemate came back. I was on cloud 9. I was living in London, in a kick ass apartment, in the area I love with one of my closest amigos. What was not to love?
As the days went past there was no sign of the interview. I signed up with an agency before moving here and have a great relationship with my recruitment agent who was DEFINITE that finding work wouldn’t be an issue. In fact, at the start, no one in my life, including myself had any doubts that the full time job was just on the horizon. However, things do not move at the fast pace I was expecting. I have been employed since I was 15 years old, cut to me at 37 – living the actual dream but having fear paralysis because the money was all going out of the bank and nothing was coming in….
That fact hit me like a brick in the face. I’m living my dream, actually living my dream – I should be enjoying my time – but I couldn’t. I genuinely lost the ability to feel anything other than fear. The first interview came in and it was a week or so away. This gave me ample preparation time – something I forgot to mention (lies, I told everyone) is that I am horrendous at interviews – not only am I horrendous at interviews I hadn’t had a proper formal interview since 2006. The one that makes me think I am horrendous at interviews was when I went for a post with zero preparation and walked out halfway through because the fear paralysis meant I was unable to speak so rather than stay there I fled. Of course when I spoke about this with anyone else I made it into a joke because that’s how I roll. Internally I was mortified and remain mortified to this day…..
Anyhoo, so I had a week or so to prepare. And boy, did I prepare. I hand wrote 14 pages of notes, multiple times. I looked at relevant questions, I answered them multiple times. I read and re-read everything – MULTIPLE TIMES. Then the day of the interview arrived and I drove through Central London like a lunatic to get there. I was early because I’m always early and I read through everything again. Everything is different here, I mean everything. I was not expecting the building to look like it did, I was definitely not in Kansas anymore. But I went to the interview and I hadn’t prepped appropriately for what the role was for. I can blame any number of people – including me – for that rookie mistake. The interview wasn’t terrible but I knew I didn’t have the post. That’s when the darkness really set in.
I came back from the interview and told my housemate all about it. That night over dinner I had the first of several tear and snot laden meltdowns to come over then next week or so. I can only describe how I was feeling as complete imposter syndrome. I was convinced, despite being reassured constantly, that any minute now someone or something would come and take all of this away from me.
I’m not just talking financially, there is nothing like a little bit of adversity to bring all of the monsters to the surface. I was convinced that I wasn’t good enough. The negative tapes I have had playing in my head for YEARS that I had been able to silence really successfully all came back on a loop. “You’re not good enough,” “no-one likes you anyway,” “people take one look at you and know you shouldn’t be here,” etc.
Living alone as I have done for the past 10 years – you develop routines when these things happen. My routine is to retreat into myself and literally hide away – I can pretend over text or on social media that everything is great! I had some of my friends from home texting me to see how things were going and I could lie my way through all of that quite easily. The only people that knew I wasn’t dealing well with any of this were my parents because they know me better than anyone and my housemate, who I believed in my head was questioning every decision she had made to buy into this journey with me for the next 3 years. Internally I was beating myself up repeatedly and I couldn’t see the wood for the trees and all of the trees were made of direct debits and bills that I couldn’t afford to pay and everyone was going to leave me because I was unworthy and I shouldn’t be here and who did I think I was to think I deserved the chance to change my life because I’m an emotional vacuum and now I’m going to be a financial vacuum and it’s because of who I am and my personality and I deserve to lose everything etc etc
What’s even more fun about ALL of that thinking is that I have learned over the years that I am in control of how I think and feel and no-one else. How I respond to situations is up to me, no-one can hurt me unless I let them SO – cut to me not only feeling horrendous but knowing I was doing all of this to myself because in reality I shouldn’t care. If someone’s behaviour makes me feel some kinda way then I KNOW I need to buckle up and get over it. I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating that was for me. Don’t worry, this bit is going to end soon and we will get on to happier tales but I just wanted to illustrate where my head was at.
So, needless to say that interview was not successful. I had another interview coming up and instead of seeing this as an opportunity it compacted the dread even more. The negative tapes started playing their B-sides which haven’t been a thing for a number of years – those are the darkest of the dark – I was questioning everything and everyone and still trying to get my head around new legislation, policies and procedures. There is nothing quite as tiring as the feelings associated with trying to sell yourself as an A+ stellar whizkid when your brain is telling you the exact opposite, in really REALLY detailed and intricate ways.
Fast forward to a night out pre interview where I drank an entire bottle of gin to myself and a bottle of wine and I was a mess. As anyone with half a brain knows, alcohol is not the answer. I am beyond blessed to have supportive people in my life right now who can see me and who can see past the external behaviour and how telling it is of internalised past trauma. I have not always been so lucky, as I have touched on in previous blog posts – however my brain had reverted back to circa 2015 and I was beyond lost and also EXTREMELY embarrassed to the point where I hated myself even more – not that I knew that was possible – but guess what, IT WAS!!
I spent all of the Monday prepping for the interview, luckily I had 12 hours of sleep and many carbs – I did my research and my readings and plotted for my journey. That night I spoke to a friend from home and for the first time I admitted aloud to someone that I wasn’t having the greatest time and I was so pleasantly surprised by the reaction. Although I always like to live by the “what would you tell someone else who was in your position,” which generates kindness towards myself – I don’t actually ever like to put myself in the position where I tell people what is happening to allow anyone to be kind to me. I think I realised that even though I may have silenced the negative tapes in my head it’s like they are still running on must with subtitles on in the background – I don’t always hear them but the information is still there.
I went to the interview and it went really well. Then came the waiting game to hear if I had the job. I mean I knew I had it, someone just needed to tell me. It was then that I realised how much my self worth is tied into having a job. It’s more than that really, I came to London to make a new life for myself – in order to do that I need to have a job, I need to have a purpose. When you are in the caring profession it’s a vocation, it’s not just a job. When it becomes just a job you need to leave, IMHO.
Cue 4 days of waiting and wondering – I was so scared to spend even a penny on a tube fare in case I didn’t have a job. I didn’t want to leave the house in case my phone signal was crap. I didn’t want to make phone calls in case I missed the phone call. I went for coffee with my friend Lynne from home and terrified her with where my head was at (thank you Lynne, you are an actual life saver) I badgered the agency, I think they could have been well within their rights to arrest me for stalking. I decided to throw caution to the wind and went to see Wicked (I want to do a whole other blog post about why I am actually Elphaba but that is neither here nor there) then finally on Friday (as in yesterday) I decided to stop caring. I went to the National Gallery to get my culture on and to not be waiting by the phone, of course I had my phone in my hand the entire time. My phone rang just as i was looking at a Picasso piece that really resembles Jigsaw from the Saw movies (yes, that’s my cultural awareness) and the guy from the agency told me I had been offered the job.
I wanted to scream. I of course could not because a gallery was probably not the best place to go when awaiting a life changing phone call but anyway – I actually felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. It was a physical sensation. I felt taller and lighter and able to stand up and breathe and my face relaxed and my internal organs stopped knotting and I stopped hating everything about myself and all of that happened in ONE call. Of course I accepted the post (more quietly than I wanted to) and I did the one ‘extravagant’ thing I promised my housemate I would do when I got a job. I went straight to Jo Malone and bought us candles for our flat. Nothing gave me greater pleasure than to take a picture of the bag and send it to her with the caption, “Do you remember what his means?” – which of course she did because she is awesome.
So – after all of that insanity I want to jot down my realisations – do not let my tale put you off making life changing decisions – let it be a cautionary tale;
- If you want to live the dream, sometimes you have to wade through a nightmare – everyone has their own personal fears, I had to meet all of mine head on within 4 weeks of being here on all levels, personal within my relationships and friendships, financial and emotional – DO NOT LET THIS PUT YOU OFF – keep the good people around you and be kind to yourself – I know this is easier said than done – go to a gallery, see a show, get out of your own head – even if it’s a centimetre outside of it
- Surround yourself with good people – After years upon years of surrounding myself with the wrong people it is easy to let past experiences have an impact on the present day. Having the right people around you will prove to you on a daily (or in my case, hourly) basis that you are worthy of love and of care. The right people will call you out when necessary but will also be your biggest cheerleaders – don’t mistake being called out and supported for being called out and admonished – there is a huge difference – one is about growing and the other is about keeping you in a box.
- You are in charge of your own feelings and responses BUT it’s okay to have some off days – Perceptions of ill treatment by others, actual ill treatment by others and unfair situations will happen, REGULARLY. Being overwhelmed by these can happen when other aspects of your life feel beyond your control. Do not beat yourself up for having some wallow time. Your friends and family will not leave you in the dirt or make you feel any worse. If this has happened to you before, as it has to me, then you are better off without them – even though it may not seem like it at the time. Just because you are feeling sad or hopeless does not make you a bad person – do not isolate yourself – even if you are snotting into your curry. Name your feelings and talk them through with someone you trust. Learning to trust people after being annihilated takes time – my circle is small but I am learning to widen it. People make mistakes all the time, be as forgiving to yourself as you are of others
- MUSIC IS THERAPY – Something I found that really helped me through was listening to music. Any kind of music, the cheesier the better in fact. Believe me, once you identify the fact that you can relate to Elphaba AND Glinda then things don’t seem so serious.
- Talk to your friends and family – Don’t feel like everything has to be so guarded and so protected when things aren’t going well. I know for a fact that I am devastated when I learn that anyone I care about has been going through a tough time and hasn’t called on me for support. Rest assured that your friends will want to be there to support you.
Those are my most recent learnings – I bet everyone is MAD that I have disregarded all blogging rules by being SUPER WORDY. I don’t make any apologies for it. I want to share where my head has been and you can all just be grateful I didn’t share the post I started on Wednesday….
So there you have it, this is a synopsis of my recent few weeks in a nutshell. I am so happy to say that I can FINALLY begin to enjoy living the dream, my way!
I wanted to also take this opportunity to thank anyone and everyone who has stuck by me over the past few weeks, especially to my housemate who had to experience first hand the fuckery of my braining when in crisis and for proving that it’s okay not to be okay sometimes. Thanks for not deserting me, to the victor goes the spoils ❤