28 August 2012

Digging My Heels In

I always thought that the hardest time when quitting smoking would be within the first month.  In one way, that is true.  The cravings are at their worst and the lure to return back to smoking is still high.

After the first month, along with reaping the physical benefits, in my case returning to being a human being in the morning instead of a scary, groggy monster, there are also the financial benefits.  Let's face it, although when I did actually smoke you couldn't have dragged it out of me on pain of death, I was spending close to £180.00 per month on cigarettes.

Looking back now, I haven't one clue as to how I afforded that.  Well, in truth, I didn't, I just cut back on every other aspect of my life so that it was affordable.  Once the first month is over with, you get to enjoy the next few months with a lot of extra cash, and feeling better day by day.

Today though, well at weekend to be exact, it was brought home to me that although at four months, I am doing well in the fight against cigarettes, the battle has been won but not yet the war.

Over the past 4 months I have had two puffs of a cigarette, on different occasions.  Both on a night out with smokers around me.  The previous two times actually increased my resolve.  I didn't enjoy the taste and they did nothing for me.  There were dangerous experiments that didn't cause any harm.

This weekend however, the dangerous experiment backfired.  I was out with the girls and on my way to the taxi rank I started talking to a smoker.  Without really even thinking about what I was doing, I asked for a puff of his cigarette.  It wasn't a craving, it wasn't an experiment to see if it still tasted bad, it was just a..... thing.

To be honest, I was fully expecting it to be like the previous two occasions.  Well I had smelt the lure of a cigarette, tried it and found it horrible to taste.  This time, it wasn't.  That one puff of a cigarette brought back every single memory of how much I had loved smoking.  It tasted so good, I didn't feel dizzy, it felt right.  Oh crap.

The next morning, I had a lucky escape.  There were no cravings, and no temptation to wander off to the shops for a packet of cigarettes.  I had a feeling of guilt but nothing more.  It could have been so much worse.  I could have knocked myself back to the beginning.

That's when I realised, the moment that you think that you are safe, that you don't need to keep your guard up, that is one of the most vulnerable times.  I probably would have known this if I had gone down the route of smoking cessation classes and all the information that is readily out there.  It is just common sense really.

Me being me though, I like doing what you shouldn't.  99% of people will tell you that having a puff of a cigarette when you are trying to quit is a really stupid idea.  It is.  I have learnt that now.  I am not over my addiction.  Although I am no longer in the grasps of complete addiction of cigarettes, I could, if I don't keep my guard up, accidentally become a smoker again without much of an effort.

The puff of a cigarette on a night out would turn into "Oh go on then, I'll just have one".  This would move to smoking "socially" and then suddenly, I would be a smoker again.

So, resolve back in place, stupidity back in check (for smoking at least haha).  I'm back on track.  

Me if I am not careful!!

20 August 2012

The Right Time & Place

My friend has recently started a counselling course.  I have always thought that this would be the perfect job for her, as she has been counselling us all for years!

We were talking on Saturday night about the self therapy stuff that I've been doing and writing about, when it suddenly dawned on me.  This blog is public.  People (occasionally) read it.  Alongside my usual rants and ravings have been some really personal posts.

I'd never really thought about putting my life "out there" before until my friend pointed it out.  But then, if only strangers read it, what does it really matter?  Writing on here has really helped me in my progression.  I know myself well enough that if I were to simply keep a diary of my thoughts, I would eventually get rid of it and all the progress would be destroyed along with it. 

Here though, it's public.  People can read it.  When you realise that someone else is going to read what you are saying you take more time over time.  With that, you end up thinking far longer about the subject you are talking about.  In this case, me.

There is no right and wrong for processes that help you.  Whether it is picking the way you want to stop smoking to realising that you are depressed and finding the right help.  For me, that help turned out to be joining Twitter and starting a blog.

After telling my friend about the blog, we then proceeded to have an accidental counselling session.  I'm not sure how it started, but an hour and half's worth of me talking later, we suddenly looked at each other and wondered how that had just happened.  I had just told her more in that time about my "issues" then I have in the past 18 years of knowing her. 

After that conversation two things were obvious.  She was born to be a counsellor, and I was a giant step nearer to being ok.  I am so close to being the person I have always known I was meant to be, I can smell it.  Confidence in myself and self acceptance is not hiding around the corner now, it's just through a doorway.  All I have to do is open the door and step through.

The right time and place for me turned out to be 3.00am with a pizza.  Presumably for more organised people that would be 10.00am with a coffee.  But hey ;) 

16 August 2012

Trolls

Trolls.  Not the kind featuring in the likes of The Hobbit who turn to stone when the first rays of sunlight hit them, but the human variety.

The type of people who prey on the weak, who delight in the misery of others and court controversy. 

We have all heard many stories about trolls before, from stalking celebrities to posting comments on RIP sites that would sicken you to read them.  Over the last 48 hours the troll "in thing" appears to be announcing that certain people have died. 

I have seen in the last couple of days death announcements, supposedly from the Twitter feeds of well known newspapers, that Matt Smith died of a heart attack in his flat, Margaret Thatcher has died and finally yesterday, that Prince Philip had died after his arrival in hospital.

I personally don't believe that any "trolling" activity is right.  I know someone who loves nothing more than to write on someone's status on Facebook or Google+ with something rude, purely to get the respondent to "bite".  They don't see that as a wrong thing to do.  I see them as baby trolls.

I have found though that you can get your trolls on their own, and then you can get "trolls united".  A mass of people, who for one reason or another like to ridicule others, who all send messages to the same person or site of a nasty and derogatory nature.

This was the case with a blog I read recently with a 17 year old who has a fascination for Formula One and likes to write about it.  Being an aspiring journalist he has created a website for his work.  I certainly couldn't have done anything like that at 17 and I admire his confidence, his work ethic and his will to succeed. 

He was unfortunately a target for a mass troll attack over the last day or so with people critising his writing, his website, himself as a person.....  This person is someone in college who is making something of himself and planning a career.  He wasn't sat around doing nothing and expecting the world to do things for him.

The majority were just regular people who had seemingly jumped on the band wagon of hate.  These people have normal lives with family, friends and social lives except once in a while, they seem to enjoy making nasty comments.  That doesn't make them normal, that makes them trolls.

In the end, I think what we all need to do is ignore them.  In the case of Twitter we have the ability to ignore, report and block.  In other mediums they can be reported or ignored. 

Whilst the human trolls don't turn into stone, maybe if we don't feed them by "biting back" at their jibes, they may wither away and go back to their own, let's face it, very sad and probably lonely lives.

14 August 2012

Bat Shit Crazy

I think “My Way” may be the song that will forever describe my life.  I don’t do anything the way you are supposed to do it.  Things sometimes would be much easier if I did.
 
When I decide I want to do something, my tendency is to go with the snap decision.  There has been so many this year.  From stopping smoking without any aids or assistance, to deciding to start a degree and practically applying on the spot. 

My pet project this year appears to be working on myself.  This wasn’t intentional.  It’s just worked out that way.  I’ve done the quitting smoking, I’m broadening my horizons by starting the degree, now it’s time for the hardest one of all however, confidence.

Confidence is a strange creature.  When you don’t have any at all, you don’t really realise it.  Either that or you are in denial.  But when you gain confidence in certain areas of your life, the areas that don’t have it are suddenly blatantly obvious.
 
I have found my voice over the past couple of years.  I was, for some unknown reason, unable to give my opinion before and was always the quiet one in the conversation.  Whilst I am still shy when you meet me, I’m not afraid to have an opinion now and say what I think, controversial or no.  I have being on Twitter to thank for that and also this blog, as being the vehicle that helped me find my voice.

I have a theory.  I think confidence is catching.  Because the part of me that is now confident in what I think is now looking over at the other part, the part that has no self confidence at all, and it’s laughing at me.
Some of the things I do and have done over the years as a result of my lack of confidence I am now slowly finding absolutely hilarious.  Also a bit sad.  There are a top two of stupid things that my “You’re not good enough” feeling has caused me to do.
 
Idiot thing number one – multiple times offender
Consciously moving away from a date if we are out in a public place and his friends approach us.  Thought process: I don’t want him to be embarrassed.
Idiot thing number two – every bloody day
Seeing a group of people, men, women, teenagers, whatever and moving to the other side of the road.
Thought process: please don’t laugh at me
 
The confident part of me has highlighted these traits to me.  I honestly didn’t realise I was doing them before and I now I do realise, I will admit, I am bat shit crazy.  Reading what I have just written confirms it.
 
Why in the world have I spent 33 years of my life thinking I’m not good enough?  Sure, I’ll never be as beautiful as Keira Knightley and I’ll never be skinny, but I’m not the hunchback of Notre Dame either. 
 
Looks out that looking inward at yourself isn’t a bad thing.  You may discover that you are (in my case) bloody mad, but you may also discover that you are not as bad as you think you are.  So the achievement list this year reads:
 
1.     Stopped smoking.
2.    Started a degree.
3.    Realised I’m not an ogre.
4.    Realised I’m off my rocker ;)

13 August 2012

A Good Ending

I watched the majority of the closing ceremony of the Olympics last night and whilst I was disappointed in it, I was also glad about that.

This sounds a funny thing to say I know.  Why on earth would I be glad that the closing ceremony wasn't anywhere near as good as was expected?

The answer to that question is that for me, the bad ending restored the balance of things.  I'm British.  We never expect everything to go well and, in my case at least, I don't trust something when every component goes exactly the way that it should.

I went into this Olympics I suspect much like many others in the British Isles.  Sceptical, wary and praying to hell that we wouldn't show ourselves up.

What happened in fact was that the opening ceremony was more than I could have ever expected it to be.  The games were carried out well and with decorum from the majority.  All of our athletes did us proud and we won more medals than we had ever expected.

Pride has been restored to the country and we experienced that wonderful "joining together" that us Brits are famous for doing, but so rarely do.

If the closing ceremony had in fact been just as good, I have a feeling that in time, we would have all have forgotten just how wonderful these two weeks have been.  Do you know why?  Because we wouldn't have trusted our memories.  Being the cynical creatures that most of us are, I believe that in a few months the memories would have been clouded.

Now though, we have our badly ending ceremony that will let us keep our memories the way we remember them now.  We can keep those glorious two weeks of celebration, hope and joining together.  They will stay in our memories now, because everything wasn't perfect.  Nothing that is really really good ever is.

 

It will probably sound strange to those of foreign climes, it may even sound strange to people from Great Britain, this thinking may just be may own.  But hey, it's my blog with my own thoughts.

6 August 2012

GREAT Britain

I’ve watched more sport this weekend in one go than I think I ever have in my life.  Athletics, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, you name it and I’ve probably watched it.

I’ve never really been a sports fan apart from Formula One.  Suddenly this weekend I found myself cheering people on in sports I had never seen before, talking tactics on the 100m sprint and half way through the Murray/Federer match looking up tennis rules so I could understand what was going on!  By the end of the weekend “God Save the Queen” was practically running through my veins and I was more proud to be British than I ever have been.

You can say what you want about Great Britain.  Yes, we are usually a nation of moaners.  We expect the worst to happen and presume that it will.  We are self deprecating and constantly pick ourselves to pieces.  We are allowed to do this.  It’s our right, we live here.  But God help someone on the outside who tries to take us down.

It is exactly one year since the riots occurred and the spirit the supporters have shown in Olympic games really shows how far we have come since then.  I think that the riots happening shocked all of us and made us wonder just how fractured as a nation we had truly become.  The clean up organised afterwards was the first sign for me that people were standing together and refusing to let us fall apart. 

One thing Great Britain is truly good at, although it has been some time since it has happened, is joining together as one.  There can be no better example of this than when Jessica Ennis was in the final stage of the Heptathlon running in the 800m.  I have never in my life seen, heard or felt anything like what happened that night.  The roar of the stadium which grew and grew, the overwhelming feeling of pride and support for one of our own, it was truly unbelievable and something I don’t think I will ever forget.

You will always have the idiots of course, like Tom Daley’s Twitter troll and the Daily Mail (no explanation needed is there?).  Overwhelming though this weekend our sports men and women and the supporters both in the stadium and watching at home have stood together as a nation and reminded us that Great Britain truly is great.   We need to remember this feeling and carry it on.  Be proud to be British.  

3 August 2012

Rain Makes You Crazy

99% of the time rain is an irritating thing if you are caught out in it.  It comes down when you want sunshine, it gets you soaked on your way to work, too much of it causes floods…  The list is infinite.

Last night was different. 

The air was warm and my senses were tingling in that way when you know that it is about to absolutely pour with rain.   I watched out of the window, waiting for it to happen.  Everything seemed to be on a pause, waiting for the first drop to fall.  Then suddenly, it starts and it’s raining so heavily it’s like someone is pouring a bucket of water over the world.

I felt an inexplicable pull to go outside and stand there in the rain.  The thought in my head sounded ridiculous.  Why would I want to go outside and get soaked?  But I did.  I wanted to.  So before I knew it, I was opening the front door and stepping out into the pouring rain.   

I wandered out onto the path, moving away from the cover of trees right out into the open.  In my head I knew I was being stupid, standing out there, purposely getting wet.  But somehow I was loving it.  I felt so unbelievably alive, happy and completely at peace.     

I’m not an at one with nature person or especially into the environment.  I’m not someone who has raptures over scenery and I don’t see the point in walking up hills and dales for a view.  You only have to walk back down again.  Why I suddenly had the urge to go outside in the rain last night I don’t know.  But it made me inexplicably happy. 

Luckily for me I live at the end of a cul de sac with trees all around, so no one saw me randomly standing outside in the middle of my garden getting wet like a crazy person.  But you know what?   I’d do it again.