Disclaimer: This post mentions topics involving sexual activity and consensual sexual violence. Not suitable for individuals under eighteen years of age. Reader discretion is advised.
Contains some strong language.
I almost didn’t write anything at all tonight. Disney’s Thumper would have me know that “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. While those very words made me want to reach through the screen and turn his furry little grey butt into a steaming pot of bunny stew, the moralistic mammal at least had a point. Generally, I don’t like drama and I even try to stay clear of drama, but damn my readers for making me be honest and accountable. Damn them for making me share the shitty times as well as the good times, the yucky parts as well as the great parts. Of course I loved them, but this degree of honesty was hard for me. What happened to the times when I could run and hide and process the world in my own little bubble? Those times were so much more simple.
Yesterday, I had a bit of a falling out with a blogging friend of mine. Really, it was much ado about nothing except that when a third party gets involved, things can quickly spiral out of control. People have different opinions, and that’s okay, but when there’s some side-taking involved then it becomes a bit more of a problem. I’d been bought up with the attitude that “not my circus, not my monkeys”: If it doesn’t involve me, then it doesn’t involve me at all. Once you get on that merry-go-round, there’s no getting back off then until the ride stops. Once you’re involved, then you’re on the ride for good, no matter how hellish and uncomfortable it becomes.
The problem with side-taking is that in it, one person will always feel left out. One person will always feel victimised and wronged and usually, that situation becomes ineffective for everybody. Discussion ceases to exist, good ideas are withheld and poor decisions are sometimes made because opinions are no longer shared. Debate is good and healthy, but taking sides is not. It’s something that happens to me even now in my family, with my mother and brother sidling up against me, usually on matters concerning politics or personal choices. Usually when that happens, I slam on the brakes and withdraw. It’s a losing battle, and I’m not going to waste any more of my time on fighting it. Unless it’s important, draw a line under the argument and agree to disagree. More often than not, it’s not worth losing friends or loved ones over, anyway.
“Opinions are like assholes, Helen. Everybody has one”. Dad was sure wise beyond his young years.
This “opinions are like assholes” mentality was something that he too had passed onto me. Everyone has an opinion, and in today’s world, it seems and feels sometimes as though in order for one person be right, another person must be wrong. Opinions aren’t drawn from thin air, they’re based on experience, upbringing, political beliefs and more and so your opinions will always be a little bit different from others in some way, but it doesn’t necessarily make it wrong. If, however, you believe or act upon the belief that thousands or millions of individuals must be persecuted because of your opinion, then that’s when your opinion becomes a little bit more of a problem.
Prior to this incident, Matt had bound into the room and told me about a job opportunity that had been presented to him by a former colleague. Better hours and a chance of progression, he told me, but working in an office and possibly less pay.
“Okay, well, it’s up to you to decide what matters most to you, but personally, I wouldn’t jump anywhere. Certainly not at the moment, not when we’re on a third spike” I suggested. It was a rational conclusion. Everybody dreams of progress, better wages and better hours. We all want better, it’s about knowing when to take that risk.
“You seem against the idea?” Matt prompted.
“I’m not against it on the whole, not at all” I replied, “it’s just that, at the moment, when so many people have been made redundant or furloughed, jumping ship is quite a risky move. You’d be at risk for two years if you moved now and at the moment, even a bad job is better than no job at all. You also tell me that you like working from home, now you want to work in an office. It’s not too helpful for me when I’m trying to argue for a conservatory so that we both have working space. I need you to be consistent and decide what matters to you most, otherwise I’m kinda wasting my time with the plans”. He wanted my opinion, and he, too, had had it.
“I’m so bored there, love” he said softly.
“And I don’t doubt it” I replied. “I know you care about progression and I know you worry about being a carpet sweeper like your Dad was, but you’re not. You’ve already got your qualification and that’s something that he didn’t have”. The team leader qualification, or something, I forget what it’s called, I just keep whooping his butt to get him to add it to his CV and I also know that he still hasn’t. All I remember was joking about how we’d both been certified now to lead in different ways. Him in the office, and me on the water. Two leaders, together. Ooh, this would be fun.
Matt’s Dad had dropped out of school at sixteen and he’d “bunked off” to smoke cigarettes for many years before that. He is illiterate and he had passed his illiteracy onto Matt, who still struggles to this day, but has been doing much better now that he’s had support from myself and my family. Whereas he gave me the confidence to be, I helped Matt to see that he had potential, even in spite of his shortcomings. Matt often asks me for help with spelling, and to me, it’s okay. Because of his illiteracy though, Matt’s Dad had never progressed to much in life. A security guard until he punched someone, he was then a cleaner for a friend until he retired. For Matt, the fear of being nothing in life runs deep.
We spent some time deliberating over the pros and cons of both companies, including reviews on Glassdoor and Indeed, two of the UK’s insider review websites. His current employer ranked three stars on one, with the other having only one star, and only a one-star difference on the other site, with both dipping by one and a half stars throughout the coronavirus pandemic. It was tight, but I believed, jumping ship to a company that was, overall, ranking slightly worse and in the middle-or-end of a pandemic was akin to career suicide. Go for it one day perhaps, just maybe not in the immediate moment. I’m personally not completely risk-averse, not by any means. However, if a bungee jump had a good chance of death before the recoil then in retrospect, I probably wouldn’t take the leap. It’s not chickening out, it’s just common sense.
“Why don’t you ask for a payrise? You’ve worked right through the pandemic, you deserve something.” I offered.
“I did, we got one percent” he shot back.
“A little bit of gratitude there please, love” I encouraged, “I know you’re not happy, but there are nurses who have had to deal with the dead and dying right now, and who have only received a one percent pay rise too. I know you’re not happy, but believe me, compared to some right now, your job is pretty cushty. No daily swab tests, no hot and sweaty PPE …”. He recoiled slightly at the idea. Exactly.
“What do you think would happen if there was a job with perfect conditions, a good pay, working from home, plenty of progression and recognition? You don’t think every fucker would be applying for it? You have to decide what matters to you most, is it pay? Is it progression? Is it working from home? That’s what you need to pursue. No job, ever, is one hundred percent perfect. I’m a housewife and a blogger-” I shrugged and smiled, “even if I get plenty of recognition, ain’t no fucker paying my bills or sweeping my floors. That’s all on me.”
Over dinner, Matt shot me a question I’d never been asked before:
“How big is the moon compared to the earth?”. I don’t bloody know. What’s this, Mastermind over dinner now or something?
“I don’t know, about twenty-five percent?” I guessed. Was I right? Not far off, according to Space.com, I was close: 27%.
“So the moon is more powerful than the earth?”. Gees, do I get a million if I get this one right?
“No, other way around” I replied.
“Earth has a gravitational pull. The moon was just one big ass rock passing us by, until… ” I smiled, almost smugly. Ahh yes, astronomy is sexy. Mind-boggling too, but sexy nonetheless.
“So the sun is more powerful?”. How much have you been drinking, soldier? Two? Yeah, m’kay, you’re probably pretty tiddled by now.
“Yes,” I noted, “which, when you think that the sun is light, and ‘Helen’ means light… doesn’t that make me the most powerful?” I joked. On any other day, he might have clipped me back for that one. Right now though, on his day off, I think he was too drunk to notice.
“Really?!” Matt asked, almost astonished, “Helen means light?”
“Mmhmm, and Matthew means ‘gift'” I said matter-of-factly, “and we all know that to be true.”
Matt laughed and snorted as he moved to take a swig of his beer, “that’s rude” he chided.
Waking up this morning, I could feel all of that tension from the day before in my neck and shoulders. I don’t cope with stress and anger well, and it’s why I personally try to avoid confrontation. I carry it usually in my shoulders, it hurts, and it’s usually not easy to get rid of. One of many of the joys of being a HSP.
Well, with Matt still fast asleep, I knew that a flogging was off. However, there was always the other option: A long-ass hot shower.
I braced myself against the wall and let the hot jets pulverise my shoulder blades and spine. I stayed there for the longest time, allowing the water to wash away my tension and the music from the waterproof speaker to drown out the inner monologue. I must create a new playlist, I noted, one for good times, the post-sex showers when I’m feeling elated and mischievous, and another, more dark and brooding, for these times when the world is fucking me over.
I skipped a few of the more chipper tunes and landed upon Annie Lennox “I Put A Spell On You”. I let out a small groan and tipped my head back under the stream. Somehow, this is perfect.
Returning to the wall, I contemplating my crimes against the climate crisis that had been committed in my bathing under streams that had been heated by my gas boiler. It was wrong, and I knew it was wrong, but in that moment, neither did I particularly care.
People travel, people still eat huge quantities of red meat and drive diesel cars, I noted. Everyone has imperfections in life, and this? This is mine. Besides, it’s getting replaced no sooner than landlord approval and money allows, anyway.
Emotions are weird things, and for the most part, I thought that I was over everything that had happened. I’d said to draw a line under everything that had transpired between myself and my friend, and I thought that I had. Maybe I had, at least, that was, until I hadn’t.
As I bent to pick the tennis ball up for the dog, the tears began to flow. Finally, that cathartic release that I’d been looking for.
Oh Helen, it’s okay, and it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to feel however you want to feel. It’s okay.
Learning to self-soothe like this hadn’t been an easy process, and I’d grown up being told that, for whatever reason, my thoughts and feelings were invalid. Now at thirty-two, I’m discovering that my thoughts and feelings matter, too. Thoughts and feelings that I would have repressed before.
“Let it go and move on.”
We don’t realise how toxic and damaging these words are. By telling someone to let it go and move on, we negate their feelings and we impose a sort of moral high ground whereby our feelings are right and their feelings are wrong. People take as long as they need to process problems and that’s okay. If it takes you a few minutes, great. If it takes you an hour, a day or even a week, that has to be understood too. Time doesn’t matter, what matters is that we eventually find a way to move forward. People let go when they’re ready to let go, and I know that in a few days and after some meditation and some reflection on what I too could have done differently, I’ll probably let all of this go, too. Unfortunately, it just won’t be until that time.
I’m not saying that a thing did or did not may or may not might or might not have possibly happened today, but what I am saying is that stress affects everyone sexually, and that’s okay. I had to postpone three times because of stress, because my body wanted but then didn’t want, was keen but then wasn’t keen, and that happens. Communication is the key point, and understanding that regardless of whether or not your partner wants to have sex with you in the moment, stress is the problem here, not you. It’s not personal, so try not to take it that way.
Alright, that’s it from me for now. For my readers, thank you for sticking by me, thank you for encouraging me, and thank you for listening to me whittle on.
Until next time xx