Why do you blog?

Why am I here? Why have I written six hundred (half are private) different entries onto this site? Because I find writing my thoughts down to be therapeutic. Putting in to words the thoughts in my head and then being able to read them back to myself gives me a clarity which thought alone does not.

Being able to look back at previous events in my life enables me to understand the here and now far better than memory alone does. This blog has served me well. When I forgot about good times this reminds me. When the reasons for decisions is lost, a read of these pages causes them to be found.

I wrote, briefly, about my reasons for blogging here: Why I blog | Blog Boards.

You see, the one thing I have always found about having a blog is the cathartic effects of writing. Sometimes the thoughts in my head need an outlet. They need to be allowed out for a walk. Sometimes they dance across the keyboard and words appear. Writing is therapy.

And it’s helped. It really has. When the thoughts in your head get too much for you to sort out, putting those thoughts down as words on a page or a screen is really helpful; even if those words don’t get published. They can sit in drafts for days or weeks or months. They can be written in private and then deleted. It’s entirely up to the writer.

There is something pure and clean about putting words on a page. Its not easy to explain, but have you ever struggled to understand why you feel some way, why you behave some way? This helps me to understand both feelings and behaviour. Often sitting with a blank page and just letting my fingers relay thought into words has helped me to overcome terrible feelings of loss and anger. Its a release to get it out in the open rather than keeping it bottled up.

I’ve never wanted fame or notoriety. I do not expect to be a ‘famous’ blogger. Its never been in my life plans to write for my dinner. This is a hobby and an excuse to see my thoughts ‘in the flesh’ as it were.

My efforts to populate these pages have been intermittent. When I read back its interesting to see that in the past I have turned to blogging when I’m struggling with life and relationships. The purpose of this challenge is to get back into writing about the good times. Tomorrow’s post will be a HUGE good times announcement. I know I’ll still write about the bad and the ugly, but I want to be able to showcase the good also.

I also want to link in with other bloggers. Not those who write for a living but those who write for their life. I want to read your good times and your bad times, to see the struggle and successes of ordinary people going about their ordinary business. That, to me, should be the purpose of blogging. It’s a journal, a story, a timeline of life.

I’ll finish with a little plug. If you are a blogger or want to make a start on becoming one, check out Blog Boards. It’s a small community for bloggers to get help, encouragement and support with their blogs. Check it out below:

 

Three Favourite Songs

EVERLONG by FOO FIGHTERS

Two of my favourite Foo Fighters tracks are on the ’97 album The Colour and the Shape. ‘Everlong’ just beats out ‘My Hero’. The latter is more anthemic but ‘Everlong’ tugs at the soul. It’s felt as much as heard. It starts low and builds to a quick paced beat which sits at odds to the slow rhythm of Grohl’s lyrics.

Breathe out
So I can breathe you in
Hold you in

It’s majestic.

KNOCK ME DOWN by RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

After first hearing Red Hot Chili Peppers late 1991 following the release of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, I went back through their previous releases. Released in 1989, Mother’s Milk is the band’s fourth studio album and ‘Knock Me Down’ stands out on that album as one of my all-time favourite songs. Like most songs I like it’s the lyrics which stick. The Chili’s are not well known for lyrical brilliance and they make up any glaring gaps in quality penmanship with large doses of showmanship. ‘Knock Me Down’ spoke to me:

Don’t be afraid to show your friends that you hurt inside, inside
Pain’s part of life, don’t hide behind your false pride
It’s a lie, your lie

It’s an excellent inclusion on one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers finest albums.

IRIS by GOO GOO DOLLS

Released in 1998 as part of the soundtrack for the film City of Angels, ‘Iris’ was huge and by far and away the most well-known song from the band. I can’t remember when I first heard it but the song featured prominently in my period of self-destruction following the death of Clare. The opening words said what I was feeling far more eloquently than I ever could:

And I’d give up forever to touch you
‘Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You’re the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be
And I don’t want to go home right now

Whenever I hear ‘Iris’ I think of her.

“These things happen”

On Friday we learned that our expected baby didn’t have a heartbeat. Devastated isn’t enough to cover the feeling of loss. I know that he didn’t have a life yet. I know that he wasn’t really a baby being so early in the pregnancy but that doesn’t make the loss any easier. I am trying to hold it together for Fran. The loss is felt most keenly be her; her body preparing itself for carrying and nurturing a new life and now just an empty void remains. How do you pull yourself together and move on? The simple answer is there is no other option:

He needs us. Entirely unaware and immune to what has happened. He is such a wonderfully happy child. He smiles and we smile. He is the reason why we pull ourselves together and move on.

It’s hard though. Her physical pain. Our emotional pain. I’m back at work and listening to well meant platitudes.

“It just was not meant to me.”

“These things happen.”

But that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s like people don’t know how to act, what to say. They’re waiting to respond but baby-loss is such an uncomfortable subject. People simply do not wish to talk about it.

So we share our grief with each other and with no other. I’m putting on a very brave face, but just this morning cuddling Lucas, dancing in the lounge, I cried. I smiled at my boy and I cried for the one who will never share cuddles. Never play in the sand. Never go out for walks. Never feel the wind in his hair. Never reach for comfort.

Good bye baby. We never knew you but we will love you forever.

Remembering lost loves

I think that probably for the rest of my life there will be days which are significant because of Clare. January 14th 2012 is the day we met. Purely by accident. She asked me to dance, I said no. I bought her a drink instead. I asked for her number, she said yes.

It was five years ago. Only five years. So much happened in those five years. One day – I promise myself – I will write it all down. I’ll share what happened. The good, the bad. The battles with ex-girlfriends and ex-husbands. The struggle to be accepted. The passion. It seems like such an extraordinarily short period of time for such an extraordinary woman to be in my life. I feel cheated. I feel like someone took her away from me. All too soon.

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I miss her so much. The touch of her skin. The taste of her lips. Her smile. The way she held my hand. Her enthusiasm for life. Her compassion. Her fire. Her spirit. I miss the way she would dance up to me in a playful manner and try and wrestle or tickle. I miss her laugh. I miss talking to her. I miss the way she made me feel like I could do anything and be anyone.

I give thanks every day for those years she was in my life. It was sometimes painful. It was sometimes ugly. It was sometimes frustrating. It was sometimes difficult. But it was also the most amazing of times. I am fortunate. I got the best of those years with Clare. The pain of losing her hasn’t diminished. I feel the hurt all the time but I have learned to cope – mostly.

But here’s the deal. I accept the pain. I embrace the pain. Because I know that is because she loved me and I loved her. It’s because of how much she meant to me and how much I meant to her. The feelings of loss are matched by the feelings of love. It hurts so because I loved her so.

Goodbye my lover, goodbye my friend. You’ll always be my wonderful special lady and I will always, always, love you.

Goodbye 2016, or ‘what I’ll do differently in 2017’.

People keep saying that 2016 has been a really shitty year. Mainly as a result of the celebrity deaths we have experienced in the last 365 days. It’s very easy to jump on the bandwagon on death and disaster. The rise of Donald Trump The Anti-Christ, for example, and #BREXIT as a decision made by 50% of the UK population to be isolationist, backwards and to undo decades of progress. It’s very easy to look back at 2016 and think just how terribly awful it has been. And I very nearly got sucked into that pit of despair.

But then I stopped. I thunked for a bit. And remembered. You know what? My bad years have passed. 2014 was brutal. I lost Clare in the most wicked, cruel and evil way. Taken by cancer before turning 40. My world collapsed and I didn’t know how I would get through each day. 2015 wasn’t much better. I fell out with my brother which ultimately lead to our family being splintered and me not being invited to his wedding. Those wounds have yet to heal.

2016 hasn’t been bad to me. I have had my fair share of crazy experiences and dangerous liaisons, I’ve had stresses, I’ve tolerated fools. I’ve fending off stalkers and compulsive liars. I’ve been mis-sold on an idea which didn’t manifest in reality. I’ve been gullible, deceived, shallow and vain. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in my personal life.

Professionally it’s nothing but positives. There are no complaints.
I’ve maintained friendships with those I’m interested in and cast aside those who bring me down.
I’m closer to my parents despite being estranged from my brother. They see my side of things. We’re allies.
I’ve been to Portugal, I’ve been to Lanzarote. I’ve bought a car. I’ve made improvements to my home. I have more money than I have ever had. I’m far from ‘rich beyond my wildest dreams’ but my bills are paid, there’s money in the bank, and there’s wine in the fridge.
My relationship with the boy’s mum goes from strength to strength. My relationship with the boy evolves as expected with a nine-going-on-nineteen-year-old. He’s stubborn and headstrong. He is his father’s son.

As the clock ticks over to midnight it’s time to consider what I’ll do differently in 2017. One criticism I’ll level at myself from the past year is my tendency to rush in. I’ve been so keen to capture that which I lost before that I have thrown caution to the wind and involved myself in situations too early and too soon. Too deeply. Too personally. I’ve opened myself up to people and given myself to them before I first weighed up their worth. I’ve invested time and emotion in people who did not deserve my time or my emotion. I’ve been stupid. I’ve been kind. I’ve been cruel.

2017 is to be a year of standing still and taking stock – I’ve said that before. I have plans to do interesting things and read a lot of books. I might even move house, but if I don’t or if I can’t I’ll make my current house more of a home. I’m going to go on holiday; maybe twice(!) (maybe thrice!!). I’m going to enjoy life and living it.

But there’s going to be No More Mister Nice Al. It’s time for me to be careful, calculated, cautious. Rather than taking people at face value I need to wait until the big reveal. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. It’s time, 2017 is going to be the time, for Al to no longer be foolish.

I’ll see y’all on the other side of the bells.

Love is bravery

I’m incapable of withstanding the heartbreak of love.

I loved once. I was brave once. That bravery was repaid with hurt. Before that bravery I was a coward. I shunned connection. I shunned the possibility of hurt and pain. It took a special woman to encourage and nurture my ability to be brave. To risk heartbreak. 

Since she left me I have returned to cowardice. I’m not brave enough to risk hurt again. And that, more than anything, is the reason for my perpetual single status. 

In a previous post I criticised those who pre-empt rejection. Those who jump before they’re pushed. How dare I criticise those who expose themselves to risk whilst I stand back from the edge? They’re braver than me for putting themselves out there, even if just for a fleeting moment. What must happen for me to be capable of taking that risk again? When you risked it all once before and you’re still dealing with loss years later? Who is going to give me the strength to find my bravery once again?

Tough times don’t last….

….tough people do.

I’ve been feeling a little bit lost and a little bit alone recently. Struggling to come to terms with life and all it’s ugly truths. Just over two months ago I was looking forward to a future with a woman who meant the world to me. We had to keep things under wraps and had made plans for a great unveiling. We knew people would not agree with our decision to work things out. We knew they would disapprove. But that didn’t matter. For reasons I am ashamed of our relationship faltered in the early part of this year. We went our separate ways. But I knew that it wasn’t over. I knew that there would be another chapter written. I just didn’t know how painfully short that chapter would be.

In August 2014 Clare and I were in contact and we both realised that we were meant to be. Despite everything that had happened between us, despite five months apart, we made a decision to be together again. Our togetherness lasted for the briefest of times. She was taken from me cruelly in late September. We had a glorious month together. In that month I realised that this was a woman who’s passion for life invigorated my own. She allowed me to shine. She encouraged me to be.

And now she’s gone. Her light has left the world and with it, my own. Each day I wake and I go to work and I feel like it is all for nothing. I feel like I am counting down the days until my own departure from this world. I feel like my life is empty.

It is not. I know that. I know it. But that doesn’t stop the feelings of lonely isolation. I feel alone, so desperately alone, even when I am in company. And the sad thing is I don’t know how to get out of this situation. I don’t even know if there is a way out. Do I just have to keep going?

I do. I have to have faith in myself. Tough times don’t last but tough people do. All it takes is time. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

Desolation

I feel like an amputee. Like something essential and urgent has been removed from my person. This is no illness from which there is recovery. Instead this is a permanent removal of something vital to my health and well-being. It is something I will never get back. It is something I will never recover from. This is loss. This is desolation.

I spend my days in a stupor. Drifting from one meaningless conversation to the next. You are supposed to be of reduced importance to me but there is little further from the truth. You are my one. You are my everything. And, in so many ways, I feel that in your passing I am granted the freedom to speak freely of us. But even in the granting of that freedom I respect your wishes and I respect the people you surrounded yourself with and I keep my silence. It’s a painful silence. I want to shout of our love. I want to explain to all the world the connection you and I shared. But I cannot. Not yet. Not just now. Maybe in the days to come.

I love you more than life itself. Losing you is brutal. Losing you is pain. I get flashes of all that we were and I loved every minute.

I will tell the world our story. I will tell all the people of you. I will do my best to explain to them how wonderful you were and how much the world is reduced by your loss. I still quite cannot believe you have gone from this place and time. And, for the first time in my existence, I have prayed there is something beyond death. Because losing you is – there are no words. But the vague hope of seeing you again or feeling you next to me is of inestimable comfort. I only hope you know how much I loved you. I only hope you slipped into silent permanent slumber knowing how much you’d be missed.

Good bye my lover, good bye my friend. Until we meet again.