Workin’ 9 to 5.

Or 10-8, 12-10, 9-2…

I quite like my job. Most of the time. I’m generally just glad to have a job, especially in these Covid times.

But. Yes, yes there’s always a bloody but.

I work in hospitality. I am a pastry chef slash baker. Our restaurant has ‘died a death’ as the saying goes, since the new covid rules kicked in. It wasn’t mega busy before that, but it was better. My working hours are dropping week by week. The company that I work for decided that all the restaurants of our type (the company has a dozen different brands within itself, as most do) will be closing one of the food services at 8pm, and the other at 9pm.

I completely understand the decisions that are being made. We need to do whatever it takes to keep the business afloat, especially when various brands have closed already.

One of my poor managers is having daily breakdowns when she is berated by the area manager to reduce labour. She feels so guilty when she has to take hours away from people. (I used to do her job, and it sucks). She’s under a lot of pressure, and I try to help her where I can, but i am among those who are begging for hours.

One of our girls is waiting to hear back after an interview for a supermarket. Her hours with us have been cut, she’s struggling, and with our company, she gets a crappy minimum wage, because she is only 18. (This is a major bone of contention with me, the different tiers of minimum wage, but that’s another story for a future rant.)

She’s a fantastic worker, but at the end of the day, that means nothing. I don’t say that to sound cruel or heartless, it’s a fact. Everyone is in the same boat.

I’m now trying to work out how I’m going to afford to live after the current furlough scheme ends. As far as I can tell, someone like me will not get anything under the new job retention thing. Even if I did – is it 77% maximum top up, or something like that? The top up of 80% has crippled me already.

And I know there isn’t unlimited money, I’m just stating the facts that many millions of people are going through.

I’ve started to sell things. Which is ok, needs must etc, but even though I have a houseful of possessions, there isn’t much that’s worth anything. It’s mostly junk, or sentimental things. I have no designer or vintage clothes lurking in my wardrobe. My version of vintage is the selection of things that are full of holes, or T-shirt’s faded to the point that even I can’t remember what was on them.

I’ve started to gather things that may be worth a little. I have a decent comic book collection, but there’s nothing majorly rare. But I have to be practical. What do I need more? Comics or food?

It’s my day off from work today. I am struggling to get out of bed, I’m physically and mentally exhausted. But I have cracked open my CV and am trawling through job sites. There’s not a lot out there, but if I am qualified, or if I don’t need to be, and it’s not far away (I don’t drive and can’t afford train fares) then I am applying.

Wish me luck.

Who are you?

Who am I? I wonder if I actually know these days.

Are we who we say we are? Do we ever show our real self?

I start to think I have many faces. The work me, the daughter me, the mother me, the friend me. But are any of those the real me? Or am I just a melting pot of all of the above?

Good question. I’m not sure. I’m very good at ‘putting on a front’ or a ‘brave face’ as they say.

Maybe we show small parts of ourselves to different people in our lives. I’m an horrendously introverted person, but at work I have to be seen as being outgoing or sorts. That is the work me. Which is quite exhausting, if I’m honest.

The daughter and the mother parts of me, can’t show weakness or have a meltdown in front of parents/children. I have to be strong for them. That’s just how it is.

The friend me. Hmm. What do I show to my friends? Well, I think it depends on which friend. All of us need different things from different friends, I think.

Do you ever show your whole self to anyone? I’d be surprised if many of us do. I’m absolutely certain that I don’t. I imagine that’s because I have the fear of being judged, laughed at, shunned even.

But I should not feel that way, I should not be made to feel that way. We should not care what others think of us, but society has made us care. Which is such a damn shame.

Be weird, be exciting, be boring if you want!

Be who you want to be, not who you think others want you to be.

Don’t be afraid to be you.

Show yourself.

Losing My Religion.

And finding it again.

I believe in God. Quite simple, really.

Actually, no. It’s complicated.

As a teenager, I went to a C OF E church. I went to a youth group within that church and also another youth group, with a nearby methodist church. These were both very, very different experiences. And I loved them both.

I was an acolyte at the ‘Big Church’, I was confirmed there, and it was all an amazing experience. It was very grand, and everything was done specifically, methodically, and with perfect order. I served at all the big services, Easter dawn service at 6am, where afterwards we had a breakfast in the parish hall. Harvest festival, where the church would be adorned with the most incredible floral displays – all done by the ladies of the church congregation. Honestly, they could have won prizes.

The was the big carol service on Christmas Eve tea time. It was always jam packed and the atmosphere was electrifying, everyone belting out the hymns like they’d never needed to sing so much in their lives.

The big one though, was midnight mass. Christmas Eve service, it didn’t start at midnight, and actually ended around 11pm, which I hadn’t thought about much until now! It was such an emotional and, I suppose, spiritual experience.

The something happened. I was fairly ill for a big space of time (possibly more on that later). I didn’t go to church. And no one seemed to notice that I wasn’t there. I felt abandoned. I assumed that because people didn’t seem to care, then neither did God. Not entirely logical, I know, but I was a messed up 16 year old at the time. I lost faith. I lost MY faith.

I moved away shortly after that, and I spent years, and years of my life stating that I didn’t believe in God, and the bible was a ‘good story’, and all the other things that a good atheist would spout.

During lockdown, there were several incidents that brought me back to my faith. I think they were far more than just coincidental. I was ill, and I was depressed. I was at the end of my tether, my last nerve. What do people do when they have nowhere to turn? Usually resort to something desperate. I was desperate. So I prayed, to God. I cried and cried, and begged for forgiveness, for help. After a while, I picked myself up off the floor, and there was a strange calm that washed over me. I was exhausted, but something else.

The next day, I was talking to The Mother about baking. She was searching through an old cookbook and had found a recipe that someone had given me, from church. Mrs L, I shall call her. Mrs L’s flapjacks were legend. And she’d given me the recipe.

An hour later, a random post appeared on my social media, about the old Rector from church. He had gone on to become Canon in later years, and the post declared that he had died. I felt very sad indeed. So I went on to the church’s website, for no other reason apart from to see if there was any other information. There were the lists of people who had asked for prayers, for the sick and also the departed. Mrs L was gone. She had died the day before.

I was sad, desperately sad to hear this news. I was suddenly full of regret and guilt. I had been back in the area for a few years, but could never bring myself to go back. I did not think I would be welcome.

I started to watch the services that the church had been recording. Every word brought me to tears. But also gave me comfort. I still haven’t been able to bring myself to go the the church. But I believe that god forgives me. I believe that even though I left, He never left me.

Now. I’m not a religious nut or anything, I’m not going to try to convert anyone to anything. This is just my story.

Do not be afraid to have faith. In anything. In something.

One of my favourite films is controversial when it comes to religion. But it also contains one of my favourite quotes.

‘Are you saying that you believe?’

‘No, but I have a good idea.’

The Family.

‘Family isn’t about whose blood you have, it’s about who you care about’

It’s really about both.

I have a very weird and wonderful extended family. Some of them I share blood, most of them I don’t. I’m going to briefly share them with you in this post.

The Mother and The Father. Not together anymore, but I love them both more than anything. They’ve done more for me than I can ever mention or repay. Things weren’t always perfect, none of us are. But I wouldn’t change things now.

The Brother (or Our Kid). I hated him as a child, but also protected him with every fibre of my being. I beat up several boys when we were younger. We don’t have a close relationship, but we would always be there if we were needed.

A have various cousins, uncles, aunts and second versions of those. We’re not close as such, but they are my family and I care about them all.

The Cat. Yep, I’m including him here, he’s my family. He’s my little shadow, my sidekick. He’s a complete wimp, but once he gets used to you, he’s a total cuddle bug. As I write this, he’s sprawled across my lap, attempting to share my hot water bottle.

Then comes the slightly complicated business.

I don’t have children of my own, I have never been able to. (Possibly more on that in the future). But I unofficially adopted a few waifs and strays. This is a quick guide, I will elaborate on their stories further down the line.

The Eldest. A slightly wayward teen (slightly may be an understatement) who worked for me at 18. I treated him like a son, and was there for him as a mother. His parents are awesome, they just had an awful lot going on. I have been great friends with them for years. He’s turned out bloody amazing.

The Second Son. Worked for me, not quite wayward, but became one of the ‘kids’ anyway. Best friends with The Daughter. We were always very close, and always calls me ‘Ma’.

The Stepson. I was in a relationship with the father of two children who considered me their step mother. (And still do, even though their father is way out of the picture. See ‘The Alcoholic’). The Stepson and I don’t talk these days. For no reason, but he is very troubled. And I honestly ran out of ways to help him. But he knows where I am if he needs me.

The Youngest. (Also stepdaughter). This one had so many ups and downs, I still get dizzy thinking about it. She became part of my family at the age of 11. So I got the pleasure of puberty with this one, and oh my word was that eventful. But we got through it, between me and her mother, we were both exhausted from that! She turned out quite good.

The Daughter. She comes chronologically third, but I’ve left her until last, for she is the most like my own out of them all. Another one that worked for me, she had a terrible time at home, and when she eventually told me some of what was happening, I brought her home, and she didn’t really leave. I treated her like my own, my child, but she’s also my best friend. We’ve been through a lot, and she knows more about me than probably anyone. I’m so proud of who she has become. And I like to say that some of it is because of me.

I’m proud of them all. I love them all. They are my children. They don’t need me anymore, which means in my way, when I was needed, I did a good job.

They don’t need me anymore, but I don’t think they realise how much I still need them.

Are you lonesome tonight?

Being alone does not automatically make you lonely. But it can, obviously.

I’ve lived alone now for a long time. I have The Mother stay with me for weeks at a tome, several times a year. Which is great, I might add. The Daughter (more on that later) lived with me in and off for several years. I got used to it, having someone in the house, even if we were in different ends on the place.

I quite like being by myself, no one to judge my habits etc. I can do what I want and everything is how I like it.

But…. I have realised lately, possibly due to lockdown, that I’m actually rather lonely. And it’s little things. Making each other a brew, laughing about something on TV, arguing about food, having someone to say goodnight to.

I have The Cat, of course, who is my little sidekick, but it’s not human interaction. And yes, while I have that at work, again, it’s not the same. I go home alone, I leave the house, alone.

I must apologise for the depressing tone of this post, it’s not what I intended to begin with. But I realise, the more that I write about it, how lonely I am.

Not a great deal I can do about that… I do phone people, The Mother, The Daughter, friends. It’s still not the same.

I wonder if it’s because I’ve been feeling crap as of late, that has made me crave that feeling of having someone near. Someone to hold your hand or give you a hug and tell you, ‘everything will be ok.’ or something along those lines.

I like my own space, I really do. But I think I’d quite like to share some of it with someone else. Just a little.

Loneliness. It’s a difficult feeling. And a difficult thing to get rid of.

But I have another strange feeling, deep down somewhere. I have hope. I hope there’s someone out there, lonely like me, who might want to not be anymore.

So I will wait. And hope. And hug The Cat.

Panic at the disco…or the shops, or the kitchen….

Panic attacks. Anxiety attacks. NOT FUN.

If you’ve never experienced a full on, insane panic attack, there isn’t really any explanation that can accurately describe it. Plus every attack and every person can be different.

I have anxiety, but I also suffer with panic disorder. This is more instantaneous than generalised anxiety. Sometimes there’s a reason, or trigger… mostly there’s not. I spiral out of control at the drop of a hat, over nothing. Or over the smallest, most insignificant thing. The big things actually affect me the less, I think.

I got home from work last night and felt out of sorts. I have kidney stones, so I’m not feeling great In general, but I cope with that. I stuffed my face with food that I didn’t really want, but I needed using – and I certainly can’t afford to throw food away.

For the next two hours, I felt sick. And this led to full on panic mode. Shaking, sweating, shivering, crying, thoughts of dread filling every corner of my brain. I tried to think of anything, anything at all to take my mind away.

Nope. That just made my brain think of a bunch of crap things that have happened in my past. And guess what that did? Yep, you are correct – made me worse.

I have various ‘coping’ strategies where my anxiety attacks are concerned. I have some games on my phone that help to concentrate my brain – a bit like how breathing exercises can help some people. (Not me).

I try to distract myself with anything around me. Or when things aren’t working, I curl up under the blankets, crying it out and praying for it to go away. Which it sort of did, eventually, around midnight.

This is all well and good if I’m at home. But anxiety strikes who knows where. Last week I was in Boots, and suddenly I couldn’t breathe or see straight and had to practically do a runner. Trying to walk felt like a challenge and I gritted my teeth so hard that I gave myself a headache. Luckily, I only live 2 minutes away and collapsed in a heap once I managed to get in my front door.

I have attacks daily, randomly. I have been like this for years. I’ve tried all sorts, nothing really makes them go away. But some things can help get through them better. Although sometimes I think I’ve just got better with practice.

I hope some of this is familiar to at least one other out there. So I don’t feel quite as alone and daft.

I had an ex boyfriend (The Cheater, see other posts) who left me in the middle of a town, in the midst of an attack, after he had screamed at me to stop it, and after he punched a wall, he buggered off. That was extremely traumatic, as you can possibly imagine.

My main point is that people don’t understand. And that’s fine, I can’t expect anyone to understand what they have never experienced. All I really wish is that they accept that it happens.

Actually all I really wish is that I had someone who would accept it.

And ask, ‘what can I do?’

That’s all, just that simple.

More than a feeling.

Warning. Long, long post coming up.

I’ve had a string of really bad relationships. Some were bad decisions, bad times, bad people, or bad break ups. I’ve had The Abuser, The Alcoholic, The Junkie, The Cheater, and a couple of nothing great.

My last break up, really broke me. It was a devastating end to what I thought had been a decent relationship. Looking back, I know it wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t the worse. He was the cheater, and I was in pieces.

It took me a very, very long time to get past it. I just thought, ‘well there goes another’, ‘it must be me’, ‘I give up’. And I did give up. For years I didn’t look for anyone, I didn’t want to. I actively avoided it, closed myself off, and made sure it was basically a neon sign above my head; stay away – not interested.

I have had a couple of men that I thought that I might like, I even went on a date or two. It just wasn’t right, for various reasons. Then I wonder whether those were valid reasons, or just me putting up a brick wall.

Then a new chef started in our kitchen.

I didn’t think anything of it, I chatted away as I usually do – i get on with most people. He had some issues with anxiety and depression, and I told him about mine. I told him he could always talk to me if he needed – and all the lads had already said how they all feel like I’m the one to go to.

Which is actually, very nice. I’m always glad when I know someone feels they can talk to me. When I was going through my darkest times, it would have made all the difference in the world if I had had that person.

Anyway, I digress.

I never thought anything of it. I had made a new friend, we had a good laugh, we talked about all sorts. He was having a rough time with some things, and it made him quite ill, so he had some time off. When he came back to work a few weeks later, we talked and he was much better. He’d been able to sort his things out and was happier.

Then…. lockdown.

He’s not one for social media, so we weren’t really in touch for all that time. When we were allowed back to work (we work in a restaurant) we were split into two separate teams, COVID safe etc. We were back on the same team. We spent masses of time catching up and all was great.

Then he had an accident. A massive burn. I kicked into panic mode, and got him covered in water and got him off to hospital. I went back into work and cried my heart out. I think I was in more shock than he was. I couldn’t understand why I was so upset, I have handled many accidents in my time as a first aider. Here was the first clue.

He sent me a bunch of messages to say thanks for everything I’d done, I told him to keep me updated, let me know how things were going.

He was not in a good place. Lockdown was tough for him and now he was stuck back in his house, but this time in a great deal of pain, and beginning to suffer anxiety wise.

I told him I would not let that happen. We spoke every day, I sent daft pictures and messages and even left cake on his doorstep when he didn’t want to talk to anyone.

He’s back at work. And I now have to admit that I have feelings for him. In a big way.

But I can’t tell him.

I began to think that there might be something there. And there might be, I can’t be sure. He’s only about 8 months out of a shitty relationship with an absolute nightmare girl. And I’m not just saying that, his friends told me about it all months ago. And she’s still trying to pester him, sending shitty messages, which he tries to ignore, but I see that it upsets him. He tells me how she makes him feel like dirt. I tell him he his not.

What do I do? For the first time in seven years, I have real, honest, crazy feelings for someone. And I can’t tell him. I keep trying to convince myself that I’m ok with that, I’d rather be a friend that HE needs right now, than be selfish.

Trouble is, I really want to be selfish.

Fat club blues.

I am overweight.

I have been for most of my adult life. I’ve been at a decent weight/size at times, but for one reason or another, the weight piles back on.

I am, I suppose, an emotional eater. I do tend to eat my feelings. Then I feel bad about eating, get depressed about my weight, and eat those feelings. It is, as they say, a vicious circle.

How to break it? I honestly don’t know. I desperately want to lose weight, and I need to – my ancient arthritic legs can’t take much more.

So here we go again. Back to a weight loss class. I’m not advertising, by any means, but I’ll be attempting slimming world for the third time. The first time I did it, ten years ago, was fantastic. It worked great and I was so much happier.

Then a bunch of crap stuff happened to me in the next few years (watch this space, I’ll get around to those stories), and I got fat again.

Fast forward to about 2 years ago. I went back, and it had all changed, and I found it more difficult. So I gave up. Which was a bloody stupid thing to do.

The worse thing is, I KNOW that I can do it. I just don’t have the support. And I’m embarrassed about my weight, so I don’t talk to anyone about it.

I’m also a pastry chef. Not the best environment. A hormonal, emotional pastry chef. I feel like a lost cause. But I will at least give it another go.

What do I have to lose?

Well, actually….

My get up and go, got up and went.

Motivation. I have very little at this moment. No motivation to do anything; clean this house, wash my hair, read the book I bought two weeks ago. I can’t barely bring myself to get off the couch.

I start to convince myself that it’s ok, though. But is it? I’m all for self care when you need it, but is this just wallowing? Is it part of depression? Is it good for me?

I’m not so sure.

I let myself stew over things far too much when I’m inactive. This makes me feel even less like doing anything.

In fact this post has taken me hours to write. I keep having to put it down, as my mind just goes ‘pfffttttt’ and I can’t think. So it it reads a bit stilted, it is.

I have, however, managed to get up and eat food. Not great food, but food nonetheless. It’s now 5pm and my day feels wasted. There are sooooo many things that I need to do, and want to do, but it’s not happening.

The only thing I am doing is stressing about the next week of work. Yes, I stress about things that haven’t happened yet. Always. My brain does not switch off very often.

And there I shall leave it, as I have lost the train of thought. I did debate whether yo actually post this, but why not? I promised ramblings, and this is as ramble-ish as it gets!

Hopefully, the next thought will not get up and go.

Where does it hurt?

Like a great number of people, I detest having to go to the doctors. What causes the fear, though? In my case, it’s two things. The fear that they won’t find anything, which means I’m imagining it, or the fear that the will find something. Then what?

I’ve struggled with various health issues for as long as I can remember. I had dodgy knees from about 12 years old. I remember a number of doctor visits, being dragged back and to by The Mother. Eventually I was sent off to the hospital. I don’t really know what went on. I recall a doctor trying to make me squat – which gave me a great deal of pain – and I ended up crying. Then we went home.

And that was it.

I remember years and years later, going to the doctor myself, with odd pains in my wrist and hand. The doctor told me to go home and take ibuprofen for a week.

And that was that.

I don’t go to the doctor any more, regarding my pain. And there’s a lot of it. It’s mostly random, it’s not aggravated by anything in particular, and it has never gone away.

I figure what’s the point? If there was nothing wrong then, there mustn’t be anything wrong now. Correct?

There’s other things that I suffer with, that I won’t tell the doctor. Why? I don’t bloody know. I think the irrational fear of being told there isn’t anything wrong, outweighs the other thing. Which in itself is irrational.

It’s even worse in the current world conditions. There are people obviously more in need than myself. I had to go to my surgery during lockdown, with suspected kidney stones. They are now possibly back, and I’m afraid to go back to the doctor, incase it’s actually something else.

I’m beginning to think I need to see a doctor about my fear of doctors. Which is probably not a fear of doctors, but a fear of what they may say.

Where does it hurt? Pretty much everywhere.

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