A Christmas Party not mine.

By | RL | No Comments

Earlier this week we went to Zee’s work Christmas Party. It was lovely thing, where we dressed up in finery and went to a trendy place in Shoreditch, where there was free pouring champagne and cocktails and bizarre little snacks (think one chip, one fancy piece of scampi in a well rolled bit of newspaper, very oh la but not enough to stem the champagne flow in any way, shape or form).

I’ve been the last few years, and it’s interesting to see the new faces, and remember (quietly) the faces that are now missing. I worked for this company a few years back, and it’s a weird twist of fate that Zee is still there, and that each year I’m still going to their Christmas Parties. That people there still know me, and make a point to check in and see how I am.

This year over champagne, ridiculous amounts of champagne I caught up with some of the people I knew. Some of things I heard were high five worthy, some heart breaking with hugs required. I saw politics, and two-faced snobbery. I saw ridiculousness. I saw happiness and some familiar faces that I was very glad to see (particularly the crew I climbed kili with). I felt like I’d been dropped into an ongoing plot and off we went. I made friends with people I didn’t know that well, and hung out probably too much around the photobooth.

It was novel, I guess. An event that marks the passing of another year and celebrates the festive season.

How about you guys? Hit up any amazing Christmas parties this year?

A Snapshot of Right Now

By | RL | No Comments

Things feel really lonely right now. I’m busy, with events and things I need to do, but I’m a bit disheartened with it all. At work I’ve been moved from one collaborative team to one that’s silo’d. I can go a whole work day without talking to anyone – isn’t that weird? It’s so weird.

I’ve found solace in running on my lunch breaks. Even though I’m doing it alone, and it’s cold, and often wet and I’m probably cutting it fine with how much time I can take, it feels good to run. I’m increasing my distance and getting out there… don’t get me wrong, I hate running. The act of running I find really difficult, and while I’m out there on the track I struggle. Each step is a push and I’m constantly negotiating with myself to try and get a walking break. I don’t walk though, because I really enjoy the end part. The part where I can tell myself I ran, and that I ran a whopping 9k all the way. That part makes me sing on the inside. So I’m running.

Everything outside of work is insane. My calendar has been booked for weeks in advance, and I’m moving from one event to another, perpetually negotiating public transport to get places. A christmas party here, a birthday here, someones leaving drinks, a show…

I got some crazy news this week. I won’t share because I’m still processing, but it’s completely stopped me in my tracks. So all of the things, they feel disheartening. I’m holding out for the next week or so to be over, and then we’re on Christmas break. I can’t wait. It’s going to be glorious.

How are all of you right now?

Therapy…

By | RL | 5 Comments

There’s a stigma around therapy. Did you know? People have preconceived ideas about what it means. As if therapy is some kind terrible thing, that it indicates you’re crazy, that there’s sense of shame about not being able to ‘deal’ with whatever it is on your own. That you’re weak, or broken. It’s a pretty shitty (and generally ignorant) stigma. That there is a division of people who are in therapy, and those that aren’t, and the stigma makes it pretty clear about which group you want to be in. Just so you know? That stigma is ridiculous.

I’ve wanted to write about this for ages. About therapy, and that awful, awful stigma. But writing about it meant letting the world know and that meant dealing with people’s reactions. I wasn’t ready for well-intentioned tactlessness or painfully worded sympathy, because there has been a lot of that. Its almost theatrical, the well-meaning concern. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve heard ‘You know I’m always here for you if you need’ or ‘you’re very brave’ or ‘you can always talk to me, if you want’.

That kind of talk makes me feel defensive.I’m not brave, and I’m not broken. I don’t need the validation. My life is not falling apart at the seams and I’m not really in need of pep talks (I have a therapist for that). There was a time in my life that I struggled with, and now I’m ready to deal with the emotional fallout of that time. For me, therapy feels like a pragmatic decision, a bit like my experience with physio. When I did my ankles in, I went to physio weekly to build up my ankle strength, and no one called me brave then. No one felt the need to check in on me or offer platitudes. Therapy was something I decided could help build up my emotional strength, and I was ready, so I made it happen.

The reactions I like best are the ones that acknowledge I’ve said it, but treat it like a relative non-event. “Oh, your going to therapy? Nice. I hear is a pretty common things these days. I did/my friend/partner/neighbour/boss is in therapy. It’s a healthy way to deal with things.” Simple acknowledgement, without condescension or pity. I’m sad that these kind of reactions are few and far between.

It’s a bit tricky, actually. I’m really struggling with the stigma, and the idea that therapy is an out-of-the-ordinary health concern. Turns out that really? It’s not. Not really. There are a kajillion difficult life transitions that can and are eased with therapy. Divorce, health challenges, relocation, work stress, or family/parenting issues. A friend said she did a few rounds of therapy before she got married (though, they called it ‘marriage counselling’ to avoid the stigma). Add all the mental health related things (trauma, grief, mental illness) and therapy really is one of those things that helps many situations. I feel like therapy is a really simple tool to help you understand yourself better. How you reflect and process, and react and emote, and is generally good for better self-care.

In saying that, therapy is really hard. Each week I square my shoulders and raise my chin and go talk to a lady about things I don’t especially want to talk about. The talking is not hard, and the lady is lovely but the emotional fall out is draining. Processing all of that compressed emotion is overwhelming. Constantly overwhelming. It means my emotional capacity is diminished slightly, and I’ve intentionally pulled back on other things to make room of all of the learning and change that is going on.

However, it’s pretty undeniable that the change I’m seeing out of therapy is a positive one, and I’m stoked to see that. Progress, hurrah!

So, fuck you stigma. I’m in therapy and self care is awesome.

Getting Christmas Started Early

By | RL | 2 Comments

There are some people (Zee included) who feel that Christmas should be restricted to December and any seasonal cheer before the 1st is met with extreme hostility. I’m not one of those people, not even close. I LOVE Christmas. I love decorating the tree, and drinking mulled wine and listening to Christmas carols, and for me, those little cheery traditions typically is my Christmas.

I think I talk about this every year, but my family lives on the other side of the world and I don’t get to spend Christmas Day with them. Presents come in a box handed over by a sweaty courier guy who is typically not happy about delivering on Christmas Eve. It’s also typically cold out, so the delightfully warm summer Christmas’ of my childhood can not be found here. In fact, my Christmas Days over here in England are the opposite of any kind of Christmas I can remember. This year, for example, I’m at an orphans Christmas where a few of us who don’t have family to go to will band together and probably eat too much and drink an awful lot of mulled wine while we watch silly Christmas movies. Since I’ve been in London, Christmas Day is when I get most homesick, and feel the most far away.

So, every year I throw myself into Christmas cheer and eek the most joy I can out of the season before what is typically a day of extreme homesickness. I’m determined that there will be joy, and that I will experience it and that my Christmas will not be limited to a day of sadness.

In the past it’s been Duke (my old flatmate) and I who make the annual trip to homebase and buy arm loads of decorations for the tree. We have similar decorating attitudes and I’ve looked forward to it every year. This year, since I moved out, I introduced Zee to my tree decorating tradition and we put up a tree this past weekend. I won’t lie, he very almost ruined it with his grinch-like attitude. It took a moment of explaining before he was onboard, and since then he’s been whistling Christmas tunes, haha.

So yes, it’s not even December up, and there is a 7ft tree in my lounge that makes me ridiculously happy. The grinches out there can suck it.

In short, yay Christmas!