Surround yourself with good people.

For too long I got bogged down in relationships which were inherently negative. I allowed other people’s hang ups, issues and problems to impact upon my own well being and peace of mind. When it’s all you know it’s tough to identify. We are never very good at analysing ourselves and seeing the impact of another’s negativity upon the psyche.

My last two relationships were like that. People who sucked the fun out of Al. People who chipped away at a positive mental attitude and transformed me into mirror images of their negative personalities. People who drained kindness, forgiveness and happiness.

I note this was sometimes through no fault of their own, but frequently as a result of their circumstances, their career (or lack of), their relationship with family (or lack of), their relationship with their own children (or lack of).

To be beset by negatives is to have your own positives crushed. To have someone struggle to see the good in themselves (it was there!) and to highlight their flaws and troubles and problems was to cast into shadow the things you liked about them in the first place. You cannot suffer someone saying they’re fat or ugly or bored (boring) persistently without starting to see them as they see them.

The world is a cruel and ugly place. Many people will call you fat and ugly and boring; don’t join them.

I’ve stepped away from toxic relationships and into the light of a beautiful positive lover. She isn’t an egoist or self-centred. She isn’t arrogant. She might even say she lacks confidence in herself. But when she smiles the world smiles with her, and when she laughs it’s as angels singing and you can’t help but laugh along. She’s understanding, caring, kind, loving and generous with her time and compassion. She sees the world through positive eyes and loves everyone and everything in it. To be with her is to feel love and happiness. To be with her to to have found contentment.

She makes me a better person by letting me see the good in this cruel and ugly world. She doesn’t know how truly marvellous she is – and that there is the beauty of her. Unassuming, never selfish. She’s good for my soul. Surrounded by her warmth and generosity I can’t help but feel my mental health flourish.

She fixed me.

2015 – the obligatory new year post

Goodbye, 2014, you absolute rotter. Hello 2015, a year which promises to be significantly better.

I started 2014 with high hopes. I had a woman who I loved completely, a nice home in the countryside, a week in Sharm el Sheikh to look forward to, and a job I’d been wanting to do for several years and was now doing. All was going well. I was happy. H-A-P-P-Y.

But then things changed.

Egypt came and went and I gathered memories which I have sealed inside my heart. We returned to England and because of external forces, internal forces, my own bloody-minded selfishness, Clare and I went our separate ways. I still loved her. I still wanted her. But I made the mistake of putting my pride before this magnificent woman who had sacrificed so much for me. It’s my one huge regret of 2014. My one huge regret of life. I have made mistakes before. We all have. “To err is human”. I have yet to sit and post-mortem that time in my life. I don’t want to. I fear that what I uncover will be too much for me to handle just yet. Better to bury those times deep inside me – in a locked box somewhere – and forget where I put the key.

I left Clare and I moved to my little flat in Darlington – and for the briefest of times I was happy. I met a new lady. She turned out to be batshit insane, but we had fun. Work continued to teach me things about myself and other people I didn’t previously understand.

Then in August 2014 Clare came back into my life like a breath of fresh-air. How mad had I been to allow her to get away from me? How had I not fought with every fibre of my being and every resource available to me to keep her by my side? How did I let her go? I made a commitment to her then – it was unspoken; I never got the chance to tell her before she passed away. But I still read the words from time to time and I know that for the briefest of moments I was true to myself and true to her.

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In September 2014 Clare Sandford died. And she took with her a part of me. I know I’ll never get it back. I know I will never be the same again. When she died a part of me died too. I feel her loss as keenly now as I did then. It’s a terrible, terrible thing. It gets easier. I knew it would. But not a day goes by when I don’t think of her in some way.

Since then there have been other women in my life but none of them come close to Clare. None of them match her. They stopped me feeling so profoundly alone in the world, but her memory eclipses all.

Onto 2015. A new year, a new start? Perhaps not. This is a year when I have to stand still. I have to take stock. I need to reapply a degree of stability to my life. I make no resolutions. I do not promise to eat healthy or exercise. I only want to make it through to 2016 in a better place than I am right now. Financially, emotionally, personally, I want 2015 to be the year when I can look back and say, I’m further forward than I was 365 days ago.

So I guess I will have to wait another 364 days before I can do that. Stand still. Take stock. Make no sudden moves. Think things through. Do only that which matters and is positive. Leave negativity behind.

It’s important to look after myself and look after Tom. It’s important I work hard and be frugal not frivolous. I’ll leave now with a little mantra I gleaned from the twitter: “Don’t let things which don’t matter much matter much”.

Have a safe and successful 2015. I’ll see you on the otherside.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

Despite 36 years on the planet and a string of relationships & liaisons, I’m still no closer to understanding what it is that women want. I recently met someone who has grown to be very special to me. We’ve recently had to weather an ex-induced troublesome scenario and the fallout from this is monies owed. We were supposed to be going away this weekend but we’ve had to cancel for reasons I’m not prepared to go into right now.

She paid, and I owe her. I asked how much and she dithered and said something about being “out. of. comfort zone.” so I did what all most blokes would do and I applied logic.

Apparently that was wrong.

What I was supposed to do was second-guess what she was thinking and do that instead.

Women of the world take note: If you want us men-folk to do something in a certain way or act in a certain way, please tell us exactly how you want us to do it. Failure to do so will result in disappointment.

“What we have here is a failure to communicate”