Tag Archive | Exeter

Holiday Blues

I am about to go to the United States with Contiki on Wednesday on what will be one of the biggest – and longest – adventures I’ve ever done.  That is my summer vacation (see, I’m already mastering the lingo!), but one holiday planned and approaching only makes me begin to think about my next one, which of course, for a British girl is Christmas 2015.

Christmas is a strange holiday, one about which I have mixed feelings.  When I was a younger girl I adored it.  Not because of the gifts or the great meal or because it was a time when family made the effort not to bicker and bite, but because it was a time when I was part of something…something great, memorable and important.  Ever since my paternal grandparents passed (my grandfather died quite some time ago, a nonagenarian and my nana died years after him in her 100s), Christmas has never been the same.  For a few years after, we still went up – as was tradition – to Whitnash in Warwickshire and had Christmas with my father’s sister and her family, but that did not last.  After that, the adults of the family (I was still at school and about 13 years old, I reckon) decided that presents would no longer be shared among everyone but that instead my father would give to his niece and nephew and my aunt and uncle would give to me.  Though, seeing as my cousins are closed in age to my mother and father than I am to anyone else, I was still the baby of the family and it still feels, as we haven’t had a ‘proper’ Christmas since that Christmas was another thing I loved that got taken away from me undeservingly and unwillingly.  I don’t get the wrapped gifts anymore, I don’t get to sit round a decorated tree and listen to the Queen’s speech (though admittedly that might be the thing I miss least!), I don’t feel the spirit of Christmas anymore.

My dad always says that Christmas is for children, so maybe as an adult I shouldn’t care or I should feel that it was only natural that Christmas should be cancelled as there’s no one younger in the family that celebrated Christmas together than me and I’m all growed up.  I disagree with my father.  Christmas isn’t for children.  It’s for family.  It’s for togetherness.  It is for home.  Just because members of the family who died naturally first are gone does not mean the world shuts down and what makes the living happy dies along with them.  If it did, wouldn’t the world be a depressing place?

I may sound callous, but I am one of the most unfeeling people, so I’ve been told, concerning death and sympathy for bereaved.  My motto is that people die and that’s the natural order of things.  I’ve felt grief but I have not the constitution or the mindset to let it claim me or take things away from me.  The most I have ever felt and constantly feel to this day concerning grief and the death of someone loved is that my godbrother died when he was only just out of school close to Christmas and I never met him but if he had not died I doubt my godparents would be my godparents.  So, the only thing I ever think is that if I could I would swap with him.  I never met him but the amount I love my godparents and their son and his family, I would do anything to spare them from losing such a valued member of their family, whereas if I could, I would gladly sell my wretched soul to the devil if he sent Tim back to his family.  You can tell from all the photos and painting of him that there was brightness and happiness in his soul, and he was taken before his time, whereas my soul is black as pitch and I’m still here to miss Christmas and lose my sanity bit by bit.  Why should I be here suffering when I so wish sometimes that I could be put out of my misery and many people could benefit from someone much better and much more loved than me taking my place on an earth that to him, I’m sure, would have been full of glee and unknown contentment?  And Christmases with his family…

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked!  The point was that I feel things so differently from others because somewhere along my brain broke, that my feelings about the dead are so warped and confused that I hold the unknown dead so dear in my heart but cannot wrap my head around how the death of my grandparents resulted in the death of Christmas.

At Christmas time, the world is bombarded through social media with photos of happy celebrations and times spent with the family.  There are, naturally, instances where Christmas is a time of sadness and grief and loneliness as it has become for me, but usually pictorial evidence of that state of mind during the Yuletide rarely makes it onto the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  Actually, though the idea of suicides being more common in the Christmas holidays is shown to be a myth (see the links to the CDC report), as it has been found that the summer months actually see higher rates of suicide and suicide attempts than the winter.  However, for Christmas to be no more a time when I wonder why the hell I’m on this planet, traditional Christmases like I remember when I was in my formative years would have to resume.  I tried to make a go of it and force it myself, for who can you blame if you don’t make an effort yourself, yet I having Christmas in a student property in Exeter was almost twice as depressing because I actually plucked up the courage to invest my heart in it.  That was the last time I even contemplated trying to resuscitate the Ghost of Christmas Past and accept that what my Ghost of Christmas Future was showing me was a lifetime’s supply of Christmases travelling and forgetting that December 25th has any significance whatsoever.

Last year, I went to Morocco for the Christmas holidays on an Explore tour and as an Islamic country I saw maybe two Christmas trees maximum.  There was no atmosphere of the holiday at all and weirdly I loved it.  On Christmas Day itself, we arrived in Rabat and the Holiday Blues were starting to get to me a bit so I left the group for a day and explored the city on my own in my “Frozen” t-shirt with Olaf on the front saying “I like warm hugs”.  That was the only Christmassy element of that trip but I thought about what other families back home were doing and enjoying together and it made me realise I will never stop looking for that.  One day, I won’t have to save up to go travelling the Silk Road or Jordan or Ethiopia.  One day, the only thing I’ll have to save up for is turkey with the fixings for a family of my own.  That is a day I’ll love, but it still gets me down that I’m about as close to getting that day as I am to getting to hold my son in my arms.

Just for information’s sake, here are some useful links to articles and reports concerning Christmas holiday suicide and suicide epidemiology in general:

http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide/holiday.html

http://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/branches/branch-96/files/Suicide_statistics_report_2015.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2040383/

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/taxonomy/index.html?nscl=Suicide+Rates

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

24-07-2015

Fifty Shades of Fucked Up

I saw the world through new eyes yesterday…unexpected, frightening eyes.  The eyes belonged to a man…a man I found in a movie having met him first in a trilogy of books.  The eyes belong – of course – to Christian Grey of Fifty Shades of Grey.  The world I watched was the one I recognised, the one in which I am imprisoned and to which I am shackled but seeing it through such disturbing yet similar eyes was both beguiling and terrifying.

Usually, I see through the eyes of my choosing and eyes of wounded, maternal but resilient women, such as Lucrezia Borgia or Cordelia Chase (to name the eyes I use for comfort most often).  Last night, I was a domineering, scarred and dangerous man.  I cannot fathom if this change in delusionary material is due to the conversation I had concerning relationships or if the (truly terrible) dialogue and cinematography of the movie just resounded with me.  All I know is that during the moments when I was not in fits of giggling with the girl beside me, I was on the edge of my seat in the cinema feeling, understanding and spectating through the nerves, mind and eyes of Christian Grey – somewhere I never wanted or expected to be.

To give some background regarding the debate I had with a friend à propos relationships, I will tell you that I made the following statement: “I am too independent to be in a relationship with another human being”.  Quite surprisingly, this incited a bit of a debate over what – in my opinion – was a misinterpretation of my words as a decree that only dependent people enter into relationships.  I view relationships as things of compromise, sacrifice and needful of consideration, for in my experience, relationships only function when the two parties involved commit to their partner.  This simply cannot be done without being careful of their feelings, hopes and dreams, plans and ideas.  The majority of the global population, thankfully, have the capacity for this kind of life, love and affection, but as for myself, I am accustomed and value too highly what some might call inconsiderate spontaneity or “lack of intimacy and closeness that comes with a romantic relationship”.  I would not put the latter quite like that but would say instead that my business is mine alone unless I choose to divulge it on my own terms and most definitely not because I have deigned to be intimate and secrets are unhelpful in functional relationships.  That is my life and as you will notice, in my statement I made no presumptions on the life choices of anybody but myself.  For those fortunate souls who manage to have their cake and eat it too, I salute them in good spirits and congratulate them on the hand Tyche dealt them.

So, there you have it…a succinct insight into what weighed on my mind and thoughts before I entered the auditorium and perhaps contributed to the delusion that swiftly made its roots once the feature film began.  Now, on to the workings of my addled and defective brain that gave me eyes that find pleasure in pain.

Anastastia Steele is a passive, Vestal Virgin, manipulative character who asks Christian Grey to “enlighten” her.  So, in that regard I am relieved that I was not flung into her mind.  Christian Grey, on the opposite side of the coin, is complex yet straightforward and sad – a much more suitable vessel in which I can vicariously live.  The sadistic aspects of his life are not as strong with me but I too had a “rough start in life” and am still in the process of finding my ground on which I can base the rest of my life.  The dark heart of Grey is a mirror image of my own torn and broken heart.

I enjoy inflicting pain on others despite my general desire to do good in the world.  Long ago, I found that no matter how hard I tried the sadness, blackness and putrefaction in my soul destroyed that which I held dear and loved.  I am a true soul-destroyer, which is why I would never give myself to any man or woman again.  I do love someone as dearly and fiercely as Christian loves Anastasia, but as much as he flays her body through love, I would – unintentionally and unconsciously – take my pound of flesh straight from the very essence of the man I love, from his most prized possession…his heart.  The one thing I have better than Mr. Grey is that my willpower is made of sterner stuff.  “Fuck the paperwork” comes too quickly.  I value the innocence and happiness of the one I love with all my grey heart to put my own desires above that.  If I did not have this one selfless bone in my ruined body, I would have nothing, for if he wasn’t the only light in my life, if I blotted it out, there would be nothing to stop me from succumbing to the darkness.

Through Christian’s eyes, his deeds, his perversions, I inflicted harm on Ana, the representation of all those who cannot understand suffering because their lives have been plain-sailing all the way.  Of course, everyone suffers in their own way, but Ana is the exact way I see those who cannot understand or underestimate those who have endured childhood trauma, mental illnesses.  She does not understand Christian, she changes Christian (and not for the better, according to me), she willingly misunderstands the man and then finds him culpable.  See, the problem with delusions for me?  Most people find Anastasia the victim, the put-upon girlfriend of a psychopathic control freak, but I – in my mind – empathise with and am drawn straight into Christian.  I heard “bastard”, “dick” and other such terms spat at poor Jamie Dornan on-screen, but Ana, who teases and leads on and knows not her own mind, was just the target of scoffs and pity for her poor decision-making.

See it's not sexy, is it, the lip-biting?  (P. Mistry-Norman, Odeon Exeter, 15-02-2015)

See it’s not sexy, is it, the lip-biting? (P. Mistry-Norman, Odeon Exeter, 15-02-2015)

I found very little of the movie erotic or in anyway romantic, particularly not biting lips, but in its own way, despite the abysmal screenplay or plot, it spoke to me and pulled me in.  It gave me comfort, to be out of my own eyes and those of Lucrezia Borgia and Cordelia, and into new ones with unfamiliar sights and thoughts behind them.  For, after all both Christian Grey and I are fifty shades of fucked up, and there’s no one to help or to change that fact.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

16-02-2015

Let it Go

I am about to attempt something completely new and different (can you tell that’s the theme over the past week or so?).  I am going to attempt to communicate the way I feel about depression and social anxiety and coping with the aforementioned through music and a video blog.  So, this post is less wordy than my others but I hope you will play the video below and listen and see what it is I want to say but often am unable to.  Otherwise, stick around and the next post in my guest series will be up presently!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

12-11-2014

Suicide is Strength

As everyone in the world has no doubt become aware, Robin Williams the great thespian and comedian passed away yesterday.  The media and vicariously, the public, has been informed that his death was caused by suicide by asphyxiation, which has prompted me along with a rough evening involving a “Russian duck” and some opera tickets, to write this brief post about suicide and Williams, but what I hope this post discusses mainly is strength.

Williams was married three times and had just as many children yet despite being able to leave such a warm and poignant legacy to the world in terms of his work and family, he struggled in life with alcohol and cocaine and problems with his heart.  Much like other celebrities (Kenneth Williams and Jimmy Clitheroe spring to mind) known for being funny to the public eye, in private Williams evidently had a painful and difficult-to-bear existence.  I cannot claim to know more facts that any concerning his death, or his career and personal life for that matter having only seen Popeye, Aladdin, Mrs Doubtfire, Jumanji, Aladdin & the King of Thieves, Flubber, Bicentennial Man, Man of the Year, Night at the Museum, License to Wed and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (actually, that’s quite a chunk of his filmography having listed them!).  However, my viewing activity aside, he was a respected man and actor and I can only assume having read what his daughter Zelda has posted over the past twenty-four hours, that he was a greatly loved husband and father.

Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 - August 11, 2014)

Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)

His life achievements make me wonder if the desire to screw everything and end it all ever goes away.  I mean to say, I go on and on about how much I need there to be a family of my own in my future for my life to truly begin and be worth all the suffering I have endured, am enduring currently and anticipate until I become a mother, but Robin Williams’ death does make me stop and think about whether that will be enough or if it will fulfill me in the moment but leave that deep obsession with quitting the world where too much hurt and pain and war exists still scratching away at my synapses.  The man was a much sought-after, successful actor in Hollywood, a terrific father and a man who managed to attract three women (more than I’ve ever accomplished) and yet what life gave him and potentially had in store for him was not sufficient to keep him alive.  His suicide meant that a future of grandchildren, growing old(er…), seeing his kids live their lives and continuing to have a thriving career was not enough future and unguaranteed happiness to outweigh the sadness and morbid thinking that must have been percolating in his mind prior to his decision to hang himself.  That is what worries me the most.

Nothing in the future is certain, I’m astute enough to understand that fact and that at any given moment I may get an ovarian cyst that will eliminate the possibility of biological children, or a terrorist will manage to blow Essex up in a cloud of orange fake tan and vajazzling glitter.  The world is a place of chance and it is not a given that just because I’ve had some rotten luck in my personal and love life so far the scales will even out and there will be definitely be happiness in my future.  It is completely by chance that I went to a brilliant school, was taught by impressive and inspirational teachers, found an extended family in my friends and ended up at the University of Exeter.  I am well aware that others aren’t so lucky in this bleak (yet beautiful!) world of ours!  

It takes a certain type of strength to survive and even more to blossom in the 21st century but it also takes a different ilk of strength to leave it behind.  Many perceive suicide as giving up and as a display of cowardice, but I hold a different opinion.  I believe suicide is a high form of bravery.  It is an emotional, drastic and committed expression of the depravity or the depression or the disappointment of life (hopefully not all three simultaneously!).  This – naturally – is a biased opinion from one who has dwelt on suicide for more hours than there are in a day and attempted it on no less than five occasions, committing self-harm more often in practice and I do invite you to disagree and argue with me in the comments section, but nevertheless, I am fully entitled to have this opinion.  Just so you understand that I am not only someone who thinks about killing themselves, I will disclose that (to my knowledge) one relative and one acquaintance have committed suicide in my lifetime and thus I have been affected by the suicides of others in my life too.  Obviously, I am not dead, so what you might have inferred is that I have bottled it five times when trying to kill myself.  Some have attributed these failures to the need to attract attention, others comprehend them as actions the basic, human, primal instinct to survive has averted.  I have another opinion.  I am a weak human being right down to the core.  I struggle with change, I live most of my life alone and beyond the world of the real and living and I speak to my nan (deceased) way too much for it to be healthy.  This weakness never lets me go all the way and leave.  It never lets me find an iota of peace far away from Earth as it crumbles.  It is a weakness that I am still trying to overcome, though with the help of my pills, the desire to try is dwindling, so maybe one day it will disappear entirely…

I realise that this post seems morbid and definitively negative, however, I would just like to share with you one final thought before I go and get some sleep.  Whilst it might be a lack of strength or attention seeking that keeps me alive, I’ll tell you truly that on my good days I disagree utterly with both those explanations.  I believe that it is hope that stays my hand, hope that the future will bear all the fruit that I hope it will, that I will be able to have children of my own and that the world will not blow itself to smithereens in some terrible nuclear holocaust (please, God, no…).  This hope that was left in Pandora’s jar will see me through to my graduation, to America, to becoming a fabulous teacher, to motherhood, to grandmotherhood and finally to death at its right, proper and God-appointed time.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

12-08-2014

High Aspirations, Low Expectations

First off, I have to make an apology.  I don’t think I’m going to finish off relating incidents like I said I would in the last post.  I have just thought better of it since I do not want to dredge up old memories but spend more of my life in the now and looking forward.  I’m not saying I won’t go into it, I’m just not going to force anything on this blog; it just doesn’t feel natural if I plan it too much.

I have had a social weekend for once as Saturday is my best friend’s 21st birthday and it has been an interesting time dealing with the feelings I was having while in the company of others and in the aftermath.  The events themselves were exceedingly different but as always, in some ways were painfully similar.  Yesterday was with strangers and acquaintances along with my friends out in the big, bad world and that day was small and only with my friends in the comfort and security in my own home.

Starting off with yesterday, I went out on a pub crawl in the nearby, idyllic town of Topsham, famous for its Topsham Ten (or, as it is now, really, Six!) pub crawl with my best friend and seven other people.  It was difficult.  It was difficult conjuring up the courage to leave my house having been so scared I got no sleep the previous night.  It was difficult waiting at the train station and believing that everyone else had got an earlier train and left me behind.  It was a mammoth, Herculean effort that forced me to try and be congenial for the good of the group and my best friend who is one of my few kindred spirits in this world.

My first observation of the day was that as always when I am around people in relationships, I find myself feeling uncomfortable and more depressed than I might be otherwise.  It is not that I wish I were attached or that I require the company, it is more that I feel like a wallflower and want to melt away into a puddle and flow all the way home.  You may think that I might be more comfortable being ignored in company because then I would not have to engage with the company present, but it oddly doesn’t work that way.  It makes me wish more that I could be normal and enjoy myself in groups and for once, win the game of social poker (something I’ll expand on later).

I was going well for a while.  The drinking was a big help and I did drink a lot, but eventually I hit the peak of my contentment in company and I started to come down, and then, I was properly sinking.  I noticed it just after we walked into the most crowded pub of the night and I felt really out of place.  As I was trying to check to see when the train left for Exeter, it did seriously enter my mind that I could just shoot through and leave on my own.  I got as far as just round the corner from the pub and I turned back because there really isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my best friends and I would never ruin their birthday celebrations, especially since I know what that feels like…

Going off on a tangent quickly on the topic of things I do for my best friends, I do not do much for them, in fact, I’m pretty sure I am the biggest and heaviest burden they carry.  I am hurt, and not just hurt, hurt badly and sorely, often.  Even the merest slight and rejection can be like a knife in the back to me and normal people are busy and have lives so slights and rejections happen.  The game of social poker as I call it earlier is a game of chance and a game of social poker.  When you are a student there are tons of house parties and loads of big group socials and social occasions to attend and get drunk at.  I can neither leave the house on most days nor be amongst lots of people.  Thus, I am always dealt the lower hand, for if an evening is spent with me, then it is spent giving attention to only a few, whereas when one of my best friends chooses to spend a night at a club with their mates or at a house party – the higher hand – the evening is more productively spent.  Every time this happens and it happens often, I do something for my best friends: I forgive them for hurting me though “they know not what they do”.  I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing anymore for either side, as I lose a little bit more of my self-respect every time it happens and I believe I am less and less worthy of attention each time and I am not sure if it isn’t just them finally tiring of throwing me a bone every now and then.

That is what happened on Saturday night after we were all pub crawling from 2-9pm!  Before the caper in Topsham, I made plans (and told my friends!) to go back to my flat and have a movie night with my friends like we used to do in the old times before I confessed my undying love for one of them and more or less made the other one feel uncomfortable at being included in the message (that is a subject that deserves its own post).  I wish that I could just go back in time and tell my stupid, foolish, lovesick, desperate, multi-adjectival self to shut the fuck up and then, maybe, I’d still have two best friends who could spend time with me without feeling like I was thinking about…well, things.  What upset me the most wasn’t that they chose the house party, that was inevitable, it was more that although the birthday boy and his girlfriend were sort of coerced but that my other best friend actually just forgot that he had agreed to come back to mine in the first place.

Sadly, I had the losing hand and there was a house party going on somewhere else in Exeter, so as usual, I went home alone, drank at home alone, slept at home alone.

Yesterday was a better day except I felt like the four Smirnoff Ices, medium glass of Chardonnay and Malibu and Coke and Jack Daniel’s Shot I had the previous night.  I saw my cousin and his girlfriend on their way home from Cornwall and they were lovely as they always are.  I was looking forward to hosting the film night that was supposed to happen the previous night, but I should have known that that was the queen of wishful thinking.

I managed to get at least three of the four invitees round (guess which one went with the upper hand the Superbowl and Walkabout played?) to watch “Me, Myself & Irene” and while I had hoped for a proper go of a film night, there were calls and texts and before I could really process everything, everyone had gone and I drank some more, watched some more and ate some more…all alone.

Image

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

03-02-2014