Saturday, 17 November 2012


Being thin and beautiful does not make you happy.

I rarely like to talk about other people I know in this blog, but I think this is a great case in point - an image of everything I do not want to be, and was so very nearly close to becoming...

Two Friday's ago I went to catch up with a girl I worked with in my old job, Millie. She has long spiderly legs and a beautiful face. In a nutshell, she is thin and beautiful. I wrote about her first day in the office here.

She can get any guy she wants, has men begging to take her out, dates a different guy every month, sometimes every week.
This first time I saw her again since leaving that job, and she had invited me to a dinner party with some posh public schoolboy bankers. I don't want to write so much about the evening (which was a real non-event in terms of men) but more about her. She is 29, only left university the year before, had been very lost in life, and is still very lost in life.

If God allowed me to name three people I knew who I wanted complete happiness for, she would be one of them.

One of the things I understand most about Millie is her need for male attention. She has to be adored by men (and usually is) in every situation she is in. For all of the show and charisma and charm, I can see she is insecure and full of pain. A lot like me when I am on 'the stage'.
The ironic thing is that she wants a man so much - and indeed can usually get any man she wants - but can never keep them, because they can never deal with the craziness and instability and neediness.

I left that job in the City at the end of July and started in commodities trading in Mayfair. I swapped the big bustle for the small and secure. My office now is tiny, with a number of middle-aged men - no drama, no dressing up. My life is so much quieter and I am so much more at peace now. I wear flat shoes in the office. Sometimes, I don't even wear any eyemake up. Yes, dammit, I look plain.

But it's ok.

When I left my last job, one of the guys in the department I had wanted to join told me:
"Ophelia, keep working hard, do what you do with passion and you will succeed. And remember, you are fighting for a place in a man's world - I'm sorry but it is - and in a man's world, no one cares how expensive your shoes were, they only care about your brain."

I took that on board.

I worked incredibly hard to move departments in my old job, and because of office politics was denied the great opportunity I was right for. However, I got this new opportunity off the back of all that hard work and off the back of great recommendations from those in the office I had impressed. I did not get this job because of how I looked. I got this job because of my brain. I am respected and valued by those I work with because of how well I perform.

As I sat with Millie that Friday night, I listened to how she had taken clients out for lunch, flirted, how he complemented her on her tight dress:
"Damn right you appreciate it, I wore it just to get your signature on the paper!"
That was her life. Entertaining clients, flirting with them, making them feel special. Expensive dresses and shoes. Cocktails and sushi at the City's most exclusive restaurants.
And to talk to her, you would think she was living the dream.
But I know that she is not. I know she survives thanks to alcohol and cocaine. I know how much she cries every time another man walks away. I know how lonely she feels.

Being away from that world has been very good for me. And talking to Millie, I thanked my lucky stars that I had gotten away. If I had stayed, I could see myself turning into her. And that life is NOT what I want anymore. I do not want men that see me as another piece of ass. I do not want to have to dress up, vie for attention and receive it only when I look good enough. That life fucking destroyed me.

When I left that job I was distraught, because I really wanted 2012 to be the year I made it - the year when I was beautiful, thin, and extremely successful. Fuck, you know what, I have made it, I'm at peace, have a fulfilling job, and I don't feel the emptiness that I used to feel from putting everything into my looks.

Neither am I interested in the guys that I used to go for.

I went out with the nice boy again. He took me to the cinema to see Skyfall. It was the first time in a year that I went out with a guy in flat shoes and without getting my hair blow dried and styled at the hairdresser.
And he didn't even try and make a move. Usually that is the first thing a man does before even asking my name.

At first I didn't think I could be attracted to a guy like that, I didn't think that he would excite any passion in me. But maybe I am growing up. Having spent all day wishing I could muster up the courage to make an excuse and cancel on him, I was so glad I didn't. I smiled all the way home.
I could definitely love a man like that - safe. I think he would make me very happy - or happy in the way the usual definition of happy - safe, secure, content, loved.

You see, before, I thought that happiness was feeling high, feeling lust, feeling glamorous and adored. But I've found a new spot inside me now, in my heart, where I am feeling something for the first time - from quiet weekends, from enjoying work, from having time to relax, from being comfortable in my own skin, from being so much more me. For the first time, I almost feel blessed.

As Mary J Blige sung:

No more pain, no more game, no drama - no more drama in my life, no-one's gonna make me hurt again
No more tears, no more fears, no drama - no more drama in my life, I don't ever wanna hurt again...

Sunday, 21 October 2012

September and October in a sort of nutshell

I am fat.
And yet, I'm the same size that I've been for a year. I'm not fatter.
Shut up Ophelia.
I have actually really been fatter than this - and I survived it.
But I'm sure when I was fatter I was just as anxious and unhappy as I am now.

My unhappiness is not a function of my weight.

Oliver has disappeared off the face of the earth and while any boy would be likely to disappear off the face of the earth during his freshers at university, it left me feeling like a fat old woman.

I can physically feel the grip of my eating disorder again. I can feel her hands around my neck, the all-consuming presence of her face in my mind, conscious of my fat body at every moment, seeing all the rolls, the spread, that face.
The fear every morning when I have to get dressed, the fear of wearing trousers, a skirt, my bra digging into my back fat, my arms, my belly. Bend over and pinch the roll. It's not bigger...and yet it FEELS disgusting and out of control.
I brush my teeth at the sink, the house echoing with loneliness. The one thing my mother forced upon me was extreme loneliness.

I came across this description of mental illness and I thought it was possibly the most perfect description I had ever seen:

"Most of these patients ain't dumb, they ain't crazy, they just have had crazy things happen in their lives and couldn't handle it, and that's why they're here."...The best way I can describe most patients' situations is that crazy things happen in their lives - a kid is witness to domestic violence or is abused (verbally, physically, emotionally, and/or sexually), a teen feels out of control when her parents divorce and start restricting her eating, an adult couldn't handle the pain from multiple surgeries and turns to drugs - and their minds just can't take it. Something inside breaks and they snap. These people try to resolve things and find an outlet for the trauma of their minds and find themselves repeatedly bashing their heads against a proverbial wall."

That's it. I am not a bad person. I am not evil or possessed. Things happened that I couldn't deal with, things that, for all my intelligence, my brain couldn't process, because there was never anyone around to love me and comfort me: the wires in my brain overheated and fried, burnt out.
And nothing connected or worked properly anymore. Thoughts became illogical, emotions became irrational. I became wrong.
I was not born this way. I was born normal and happy. I just unravelled.

I know that if I was broken, I can be fixed. I went five days without a binge/purge this week - the first time since May I've managed that long.

So what's been going on? I've been staying pretty safe. Apart from my birthday in which I got dreadfully drunk and cried for three days straight.
I cried it out with my therapist. I suppose I got so upset because I felt so unworthy of being loved and so frightened of losing my friends and being alone. I felt like I had abandoned them by getting drunk. Theo turned up that night and I told him I loved him and why didn't he love me. He told me he wasn't ready. He wasn't ready. He wanted to get drunk and high and fuck whores. He wasn't ready to be loved by me; he wasn't ready to be a man.

A week later I saw him again at a friend's work leaving drinks. He could barely look me in the eye and could only give me one word answers. He hated being seen talking to me. It was like he hated me, couldn't bare to be around me, couldn't run away fast enough.

I hated him. I hate him. I hate myself for giving up so much, trying so hard, having the feelings that I did/do.

I saw Alex on Tuesday at a club reunion - it was the first time I had seen him since we broke up in August 2010. I had just heard a few weeks ago that he had broken up with his girlfriend after cheating on her with the girlfriend of one of our mutual friends. I was more saddened than shocked. When I had met him, he had been the most kind, honest, genuine boy I'd ever known. The Club had turned him into another stereotypical arrogant, obnoxious, mysogynistic, white, privileged public-schoolboy dickhead who think it is their RIGHT to sleep around.

I told him this when I saw him (in much less offensive and aggressive language.) But added that I would always hold him in high esteem because I remembered the lovely boy he used to be, and I knew that he still existed underneath.
He told me he was now getting counselling. I was so pleased, so genuinely happy when he told me this. He was going to be ok, he was going to learn from this mistake and he was going to go back to being the wonderful man that he had been brought up to be.

I was moved by the love that I still had in my heart for him. So different to the love I used to feel, but an overwhelming desire for him to be happy and to be a good person. I did not want to hate him.

My strongest feeling, however was in wishing that Theo would do the same - face up to his problems and get help. He was so the opposite - it was almost as if he wanted people to hate him and think he was an arrogant playboy bastard. Everyone I know thinks this about him. I shake my head at them: "The Theo I know is insecure, awkward and unhappy."

But you know what, it is not my problem to try and help him anymore. I would love to meet him in two years - like I have just done with Alex - and find him on the path to becoming a man. But I know I will find him on a path worse than the one he is on now. But I have done everything I can to try to help him and love him.

There's the difference: those of us who hold our hands up and say "I'm a disgrace and a destructive mess, please help me," and those who give in and say, as Theo often did to me: "I will never change."

I had bigger balls than him, stronger spirit, greater courage, conviction and passion. I didn't want a man to lean on and provide for me - I will always do that for myself. And I don't think he could deal with me being stronger than him.

Anyway, I went out with another guy on Friday. Here's the brief I sent to my friend (who is always lamenting my boy-chasing behaviour):

- I meet cute boy at friends birthday two weeks ago
- I think about asking him to my birthday. But I do nothing.
- Boy comes to my birthday with my friend. I am overjoyed. I speak to him.
- I leave without saying goodbye to him (ok admittedly I left without saying goodbye to anyone because I was bundled half-conscious into a taxi)
- I think about searching for him on facebook. But I do nothing.
- Boy adds me on facebook
- I wait a while. I accept.
- I think about messaging him. But I do nothing.
- Last night boy messages me.
- I think about how right you were.

Ok - not gonna lie - a lot of my inaction was largely due to my crying over my birthday/Theo. But it was pretty cool and did perk me up somewhat to be chased for a change. (Men are the biggest boost to my self-esteem/happiness).

So he asked me out for a drink, and after some debating (I typically stop fancying a guy as soon as he is in to me and I've won 'The Game'), I decided to give the whole 'nice guy' thing a go. After all, I have to grow up and have a proper adult relationship with someone sane at some point...right?

We went to a bar in Covent Garden. It was raining manically so I spent the whole evening trying to sneak a view of myself in a mirror to see if my perfectly coiffed hair had turned into an afro yet.
Look, the guy is really nice - so nice and down-to-earth he's never been out on the Kings Road. Sigh. What was missing? The fact that I didn't want to push him up against the wall and have incredible sex with him. That was what was missing. I mean. Do nice boys do incredible sex?

I'm doubtful.

I want a challenge, I want a guy who I am not good enough for. I want a guy I can push myself and hurt myself for. A guy who accepts nothing less than perfection.
But I have to stop now. I have to stop and give in to mediocre in-between. content. Dying for perfection, for the wonderful game, for the thrills and challenges and dramas. Is still just dying.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

In bed

I started to cry as I forced another spoonful of cereal into my mouth.

I am too scared to stand on the scales. I am too scared to go to work tomorrow. I am too scared to go to my therapy session.
Oh God, I don't want to do it. I want to believe this is just the depression talking. I don't want to feel like this anymore. I don't want to... it is so frightening. The way I felt at the end of 2010, I swore I'd never feel it again... In my first post of 2012 I wrote that this would be the year. It's just another year of failure. My career thrown off the rails, my eating disorder back to its worst...Everything...I failed.

I can't start to comprehend how I did this.

How the fucking hell did this happen. I want to say it's not fair. But deep down I can only blame myself. I mean, it has to be me, it has to be me, what else is there, it must be me, evil and tainted and cursed.

I want to stop myself from sinking under, I know that I am a fighter, that I always fight my way back up to the surface, kicking and screaming for air. But, knowing that isn't enough. The here and now is too much, too painful.

God dammit, I just don't want to go to work tomorrow. I cannot bear it. I cannot bear to sit in front of my doctor again and try and tell her how awful things are. I can't.

I want to run away again, like I did last time, but further. I want to run away from the pressure, the memories, the people who remember me, the shops and the money, the men and their eyes, the application forms and failure, the women and their fucking judgement.
I feel so suffocated by my identity - because it is not connected to the heart beating in my chest.

I can't go away, I can't run, because I am tied here by my mother. As she has done for 24 years, she ties me down to my identity. I can't run away and give up because I have to prove THEM wrong, I have to show them how great I did without them and despite them. THEM. Alex, Theo, the girls from school, the pigs from university, the bastards I used to work for, the privileged City Boys I hate but don't even know.

"What did you do over the Bank Holiday weekend Ophelia?"
"Oh nothing really... I just lay in bed for three days." I shrugged my shoulders casually.
They looked at me almost confused and said nothing. My reply had been truthful and matter of fact; to them it was sad and awkward. They had asked the question politely with no expectation of receiving that sort of answer. And only when they looked at me in that way did I realise how sad and inappropriate it had been to say.
I have wasted so much of my life curled up in my bed unable to bear my life and my identity.

"As psychologists we believe that memory is the essence of who you are. We believe that unless you know where you've come from, you cannot place yourself in the present and then you cannot plan things going forward."

Monday, 27 August 2012

"Rigid, the skeleton of habit alone upholds the human frame"

I have neglected to talk about my eating disorder for a while.
In some ways I feel like I don't have an eating disorder anymore because it has become so normal it barely hurts. On average I am throwing up once a day - of course at weekends this can often be up to three or four times a day.
Being off work for two weeks between jobs was dreadful. While I had time to run between 6-20 miles a day, I also had time to eat and throw up several times a day.

There was a period - April to May - when things really started to settle down. I was throwing up once or twice a week, my weight was stable, I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner... but I was also going to bed at 9pm and getting up at 5am, studying and staying safe, never going out, never drinking, never getting on to the stage...

Weight wise I'm actually exactly the same. I have not lost or put on anything. But it all unravelled after I finished my exams, applied for the new position, got turned down, quit my job, begged for Theo...

Sure, I made progress for about two months, really started to get back on the road to health... but then, I just came back again. I'm exactly the same as how I have been for so long. Bulimic,

But it isn't the eating disorder that makes me cry or makes me fearful of getting out of bed. The eating disorder is just this thing on the side, a reaction or response to my pain, but not the cause of the pain.

And there isn't anybody that knows. I suppose my therapist does, but it feels like we've all but given up on the physical eating problems now - "You know all of this." Yes, yes I do, I've been in treatment for two years. Like a crutch. A crutch that I put away in a corner and forget about until the time comes for me to walk through the hospital doors and sit in the waiting room to see her again. I don't deal with it inbetween sessions.

So, nobody. Mum doesn't know.
"Have you been sick again?" "You still have eating problems don't you!"
"No Mum." End of conversation.
None of my friends know, especially none of the friends I have made in the last year. I mean... it's just not done when you're a 24 year old adult . What the hell would they say to me?
Maybe Theo knew. Ah, but then he is a man, he would only think I were ill if I were desperately stick thin... if Theo knew he just let me get on with it.

Nobody, and I've barely even written about it here very much. And this is what I mean. I feel like I don't have an eating disorder any more. It's just a part of my life. I just do it and carry on. I just do this. i just do

I'll stop next week, I say. I'll stop after I've seen Theo for the last time, after I go out with Oliver, after this weekend, after, after,
I'll look at some thinspo this evening. And then I'll stop.
He'll love me if I'm thin. I'm a wonderful, intelligent, kind, loving woman. But he'll love me if I'm thin. They will love me. I will love me. Love or something.

My therapist is making me go through a book called 'Overcoming Perfectionism'. In it there is a chapter on procrastination - putting things off because you are scared or convinced that you are going to fail. And failure is the most scary, sickening, self-destroying thing.
"If I had my way, I'd sit in my room and write all day." I've written about it and explored it so many times, battled with it for so long. If I carry on with this route in the financial services I'll spend so long working and fighting for something I don't even want to do. Not really. And yet I'm quite set on doing that.

It's the same old arguments and internal conflicts over and over again. I have to be brave and cut away from these cycles, these habits, these ridiculous conceptions of success and identity... I have to stop wanting to be an actress on a stage. I have to stop being afraid of who I really am.

"Love, love, the low smokes roll / From me like Isadora's scarves..."

Perhaps I was never in love with Theo, perhaps I was in love with a character I had created from the pages of the novels I had read and dreamt of. Part Heathcliff, part Sebastian Flyte, part Hamlet perhaps (though it feels sacrilegious even comparing them). But the passion and the fire and the pain were just... wonderful. God damn if I ever can experience that again...

I wonder why I had loved Alex so much and clung on so desperately to him when it seems so glaringly obvious now that he could never have satisfied me? He is with a girl now, so perfect for him. I suppose, when I look at it from his point of view he had his fun, he ticked the box of going out with a wild one, then he went his way - the way he knew he always would. A lovely girl, plain, simple, safe, obviously lovely. Someone he can go on romantic walks in the countryside with, who will eat eggs and bacon and sausages with him in the morning.

But Theo would never have satisfied me either. Satisfied my yearning to be in the middle of wild, romantic, terrible tale of heartache - yes. But not satisfied the happy ending I so vehemently claim to desire. That little Alex's ending right there. Although I know I am not the girl who can ever do that or be happy doing that.

I went out with a guy on Monday. I had met him at some classes for the finance exams I did before the Summer. He was the only guy in the class I had been attracted to, so of course, I made my resolve to have him. I messaged him the other week, pretending to ask advice. He offered to meet up with me. So we did. And by the time I left him an hour later, I had him wrapped around my little finger. All week he has been trying to get me to go out with him again.
He's a great catch: 27 years old, cute smile, grounded, well-paid, works in Investment in the City...
Of course. But I got what I wanted, played a little game, had my little kick. No. There is no passion there. I don't care what the good girls say, I only want passion, I only want intense feeling, I only want adrenaline. I don't want nice, or well-paid or grounded.
I don't want to see him again.

But Oliver on the other hand... I want to see him again. I sat there opposite him last week trying to imagine what it would be like to have sex with him. There's no way he'd know how to touch a woman, how to excite me or make me burst with desire. I'd like to be proved wrong but I doubt I will.
But I am going to have sex with him. Because I decided I would. And after that it will probably be over. I cannot let myself fall for an 18 year old.
And that's obviously why I'm doing this, playing out a little One Direction fantasy, being a little bit bad, doing something that everyone tells me not to do. Cos it's fun; cos I'm bored.
The more my friends told me to walk away from Theo, the more determined I was to have him,

You know, sometimes you have to write things you don't want to admit. I'm holding my hands up here. This is what this blog is for. No fabrications, no lovely frilly stories. This is not some fucking entertainment. This is the dark/sad/pathetic reality of who I am.
*shrugs shoulders*
I wish that the truth were nicer. But I cannot make it so.
But then, perhaps I know that in writing this I am trying to make it ok to myself, trying to make an excuse - rightly or wrongly. It's ok that I have failed at love, for I decided that I wanted to, deep down I was always in control... I was in a fright one scarf will catch and anchor in the wheel. Don't want to be hurt my therapist says.

Oliver is a musician, at music college, will probably spend his life playing in orchestras. It's already his life now. And I admire him for it so very much. He knows it is not a stable, well-paid career, but he has made his choices based on what he loves, and it's very clear from his dedication that he loves it deeply.
I told him I admired it:
"I think it's wonderful. If I had my way, I'd sit in my room and write all day," I told him.
"Really?!" He seemed shocked. Naturally so, since the girl he'd met was so openly hell-bent on her career in the City.
"Yes, of course, I studied English Literature, I loved it, I love words, I love art, beauty... But I wasn't as brave as you. I wanted a career, a steady job. I was too afraid to do what I loved."

Even now, if I could go back to University and have my chance again, I'd study Economics. How sad is that.

There is no room for love in the world. At least, no room for it in the world I want to live in.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

So maybe I'm a masochist

I went out with Oliver last night.

Wait, I'm starting the story too quickly. Let me take a step back.

On Monday I started my new position. I am an 'intern' at an energy fund. At the time it seemed like a good idea. But of course it wasn't. I sit in a tiny office, with a few other people, all doing their own thing, all talking in another language... Most of all, I miss the markets, I miss the macro, I miss reading the newspaper in the morning and being exited to see how the latest crisis in the eurozone is going to make my day ahead interesting.

Oh God, no one has ever broken my heart like the people who made the decision to turn down my application to move departments in my last job. How can it be that I work so hard and give so much and all I do is fail and fail and fail. How can they sleep at night knowing that they broke the heart of a girl who had been broken so much?

What am I going to do, what am I going to do. No, really, what am I going to do? Get another job I hate, go back to school and do a masters or another course that will get me nowhere, stick it out in this place alone and interning, pack it all in, give up?

How can you be a City Girl when you don't work in The City anymore. My new office is in Mayfair. I need buzz, I feed off the energy of the square mile and the pink paper of the Financial Times. It's part of the identity that I need.

When I handed in my office pass for the last time three weeks ago, I stepped down off the stage again, that goddamn stage. Yeah, that was it, just another show I'd put on, just another pair of heels I had strutted across the stage in.
And you know why I'm unhappy in this new internship that I've started? I don't have a show to star in. I can wear cardigans and flat shoes and no mascara. I felt that old feeling that there's no point in living if there is no-one in the audience to admire you. This was never about being happy, this was always about the goddamn show.

One of the guys I had worked with was leaving to work in the New York office so I went along to his leaving drinks on Friday. Theo was there of course. Yes, I was probably going because I knew he was going to be there. But it was different this time.
I wore a new dress - bold red and so tight I could barely sit down. I pulled out all the stops and put on my most beautiful face. And I did it to show him what he was missing.
"You look incredibly hot," one guy told me.
"Do you think Theo is killing himself with regret?"
"I hope so."

I didn't look at Theo once, ignored him when he passed me, chatted and laughed and shined with everyone else around him. And did not look at him once.
Yes, I saw him looking at me though. And God it was so wonderful to feel the balance of power turn at last.
But then if I'm honest there was another motive: I wanted him to come crawling back to me. I knew now that what people said was true: playing hard to get was sexy and more appealing than being available. I wanted Theo to go mad with jealousy and regret and come crawling back to me.

But as things started to wind down, I put on my jacket, grabbed my bag and headed outside with my friend to leave. Theo was outside, leaning against the wall. I couldn't stop myself.
"Hi Theo."
"How are you bubs?"
I frowned at him. What the fuck was that. He never called me an affectionate pet name in his life, and now he was making out like we were close?
"I'm fine."
I looked the other way. He was so drunk he could barely stand. I didn't understand how he could get himself into such as state.
He staggered back into the bar without another word.

I looked at my friend who was busy on her phone.
"Hang on," I said, "I'll be back."
I rushed back inside the bar after him. Thinking back on it now, I'm not even sure why. I just wanted to talk to him, I wanted to... talk to him... ask him how he was, make small talk...something
He hadn't gone far, he was asking the bar girl for something and she looked troubled, shaking her head. He was so fucked. I went over and put my hand on his back, "It's ok," I reassured her, "I'll look after him." She smiled at me gratefully.
Theo swayed, staring at the ground.
"Theo, Theo honey, how the fuck did you get so drunk? You need to fucking drink less, seriously."
"I know, I've been told before."
"Babe, sit down..."
"Fucking hell..."
"I need to eat. I want a McDonald's..."
He was in such a state I didn't even think twice. "OK, shall we go get you a McDonald's?"
I escorted him out of the bar and into the nearest taxi. He held my hand tightly like a frightened child.

"I can't pay for a taxi!" he whined.
"I'm fucking paying ok. Just get in." He sat in the taxi with his head hanging, eyes closed. I put my hand on his thigh and rubbed it. It was pity. What I felt for him was nothing more than pity.
We got him his McDonald's and sat on the steps outside Liverpool Street Station while he devoured it silently. I stroked his back and smoothed down his hair.
There was so much I wanted to say, but I was afraid of him when he was like this. I didn't want him to get angry and fly off the handle. But I ventured cautiously, "Theo, you know I don't want anything from you, I just want you to be happy."
He said nothing but put his arm around me and pulled me in close to his chest and kissed me on the top of my head. "It was good to see you again," he said.

I wasn't going to throw myself at him this time. I wasn't going to tell him I loved him, I wasn't going to go and have sex with him. After being away from him in the office it had given me the space to appreciate that it was really over.
"Ok let's get you in a taxi to go home honey."
"No, leave me here."
I rolled my eyes. "I'm not fucking leaving you sitting here in this state. Come on, let's get you a taxi."
"Do you want me to leave you alone?"
He shook his head, and quietly whispered, "no."
I sat there silently, staring at him as he sat with his head in his hands. My eyes were dry. I was going out with Oliver tomorrow. I wasn't going to cry and make my face puffy for it. I had been true to my word in my last post, I had forced my heart to go cold when I thought about Theo. And yet I was sitting there, knowing that I was missing my last train home. I was sitting there, holding on to him tightly in return, the poor little boy who I wanted to save so desperately.
"I'm sorry I was so mental before," I said.
"It's fine. Really. I made you mental."

We agreed that he would get a bus. We looked around for the right stops, his hand still tightly in mine. The wrong buses came and went. He held me close and looked deep into my eyes. I could see how much he wanted me. But he'd made the decision to end it, and now so had I. We kissed once or twice, on the lips but just pecks. I wasn't going to kiss him properly. I didn't want to.

I didn't want to.

I knew that if I let myself melt in his arms and let my heart go warm that I would end up crying all the way home and crying all weekend again. I was done with it. I had my weekend planned away from him.

When the bus came, it turned out it wasn't going to the right place. He flew off the handle, slammed the bus stop post repeatedly, swearing loudly and violently.
"Theo," I tried to put an arm around him to calm him down, "Stop it, it's ok."
He didn't listen to me and pushed me off. I backed away shaking my head. I could feel people watching me. I wasn't going to let them shake their head in pitying me too because they thought I loved this fool.
"Fuck it, I'm getting a taxi. Fuck this!" he yelled.
I gave him a £10 note to pay for it, and he ran off into the street and into the nearest taxi. I watched it drive off, Theo in the back seat with his head in his hands.

I walked towards London Bridge numbly. He was not my problem anymore. Thank God, he was not my problem anymore.
I had missed my last train and the last tube so had to wait for a series of night buses. I'd done that for that stupid boy. But you know what, at least I wasn't crying and at least I knew I was the bigger person in being able to send him home.

I didn't get into bed until gone 3am. I slept for most of the day, knowing that I had to go out with Oliver that evening and had to look perfect. It's amazing how easy it is not to eat when there is a boy involved.

So I was finally going out with Oliver. I met him outside Covent Garden tube station and took him to a noisy bar nearby.
Oliver. Ok let me try and make this interesting...or well, ok, let me just tell you what happened.
Let's recap - Oliver is the guy I met when I went on a night out in Brighton, who after a bit of Google-stalking, I realised was only 18-years-old. Now, as far as I had remembered, he was the most good-looking boy I had ever met, obviously, I had slightly overdone this estimation. Don't get me wrong, he was very cute, very cute indeed, like a slightly more angelic looking Harry Styles. But the feeling of wanting to rip his clothes off and ravage him wasn't really there.

He gave me a peck on the cheek when I arrived, which I thought was nice, and we spent most of the evening chatting away quite happily. We talked about his music studies, music in general, my work, travel, families, all very stereotypical first date stuff. He was lovely, and easy at talking, and we got on well enough.

I suppose there were two things that I found problematic:
1. The first time we had met we had been snogging the face of each other and dancing inappropriately in a dark corner of a club. This time we were sitting, drinking, chatting and on impeccable behaviour.
2. It was like the most painfully stereotypical date ever. A "lets go out, have a few drinks and get to know each other" type date. And um, quite frankly, that's not something I do very often. And it was just weird. For me, being on a date like that, was just weird. The "snogging the face of each other and dancing inappropriately in a dark corner of a club" stuff - I get that. (Which I guess speaks volumes about me.)

He was so sweet and lovely. I could tell he'd never been cruel in his life, he was wonderful. I wonder what he thought of me. Definitely none of those things, I swear too much and pout too much.
I would like to see him again, I would like to sit and laugh and chat with him again, I'd like to kiss him.
And I hate that I compared him to Theo as we sat there. The terrible burning passion and chemistry between me and Theo, I hate that I wanted that. I want sweet and lovely. I'd like to see Oliver again because he's sweet and lovely.
When we departed ways after four hours of chat, I gave him another hug and he gave me another peck on the cheek.
"I'll send you a text," he said.
"Cool, I'll see you soon, enjoy the rest of your weekend!"
I found it difficult to behave in the way I usually would - in other words I found it very difficult to be my usual forward self. I would have liked to have kissed him properly again. I don't know if I held back because I knew he was only 18 or because I didn't want to have anything with him.
I genuinely don't know. Would I have had sex with him? Yes. But I'm not sure if that's because I actually wanted to or because I felt like I had made up my mind that I wanted to when I first met him.

And you'd think that was it wouldn't you. But no. Even with an 18-year-old boy who I'm not sure that I like, I am still mental. I freaked out when the light on our table was pointing in my face. He's going to see my blemishes, he's going to think I look old.. had to go to the toilet to touch up and re-touch up my make up, had to sit back in my chair when he lent in too close, please don't think I'm ugly, please don't think I'm ugly.

He said he'll send me a text. When? Like a foolish teenager I look up on Google: "When will a guy text after a first date?"
You see. I knew this would happen. Like, whatever happens, or whenever it happens, it is not going to work out between me and Oliver, it's just not. And when it doesn't, I'm going to think that it's because I'm too fat, too ugly, and now something new: too old.

If he doesn't text me I'm going to think it's because I didn't look good enough.

My therapist was right: "You need to get out of the cycle of choosing men who you know it won't work out with." Was it because I didn't want to be with someone, was it habit, or do I like the pain? Do I like being able to use these failed relationships as proof that I am not good enough - not thin enough - not pretty enough. I only go for guys who I think will reinforce this belief. Why? I must like the pain. I must.

Friday, 10 August 2012

When I am an old woman I will read these stories from my twenties and laugh

Thank you for the supportive comments, it has certainly been a tough few weeks.
A tough few weeks, handled without care on my part, but surprisingly, I have very little regret.

So I packed away the CFA study books, I handed in my notice, and I went back onto the diet that I never failed to fly me away to the outskirts of outerspace: Fit men and alcohol.

On the first weekend after quitting my job I went on a weekend trip to Brighton with two of the girls I worked with. We kicked back and enjoyed the scene, miles away from the commercial towers of London, just sea and wind and no ties to hold us down. After doing a round of the little town, we made our way to a club called 'The Honey Club' along the front of the beach, my friends and I standing the queue with a bunch of men on a stag do, me feeling decidely dejected by the severe lack of male talent on offer. In fact, I had not met one guy who had even slightly raised one of my eyebrows in interest.

Until he walked past me.
Straight past me, in the guestlist queue on the other side, 6'1, dark messy hair and one of the most beautiful faces I had ever seen. My eyes bored into the back of his head, willing him to turn around and lock eyes with me. He was with a group of lads, and they all looked pretty young, at a guess I would have said there were about 18, but he stood out from them, his looks marking him out as more than just a silly teenage boy.
"Oh look! It's One Direction!" mobbed the guys in the queue beside us. "They must have got their guestlist entry on the back of cereal packet!"
I did not react.

Once inside I pointed him out to my friends and brought them over to dance in the area where the boys were. He was with his friends, he wasn't even looking at anyone else, let alone looking at me. So my friend pulled him over and shoved him at me. Awkwardly grabbing at her to stop and feeling a little ridiculous and pathetic I squirmed.
"Hi", I shouted
"Hi!", he shouted back.
I stared at him with a forced smile... what the fuck did you say to some random guy your friend has just shoved in your face?
"What's your name?" he continued,
"Ophelia.... Are you having fun?!"
"Yeah!" came the reply. I nodded at his answer and smiling again like an airhead, started dancing, assuming that he would turn around and go back to his friends. As he started dancing too, I began to feel uncomfortable - this was not the way I usually met guys - ever. He was still staring at me, and I began to wish I hadn't met him in such an awkward way. I stared up at him, making my eyes as big and as round as possible, a little smile on my lips, we had started to break away from his friends, as one rushed up behind him and shouted - presumably in a loud whisper, but what was very audible - "Kiss her!"
The boy obligingly wrapped his arms around my waist, and smiling sweelty, pulled me in for an embrace.

He was a sweet kisser, very soft, very delicate, not like anybody I had been used to kissing before. We managed to speak a few words - I asked him how old he was.
"Twenty" came the reply. I stopped myself from saying "you look so much younger" thinking that it probably wasn't a very nice thing for a guy to hear from a girl. Ok, so he was young, but twenty was old enough... after all, I am only twenty-four.
We spent what seemed like forever making out in a dark corner. He was so very beautiful that it was very easy for me to touch him and dance with him. I stroked his face and hair like I used to do with Theo and gently bit his ear to let him know there was more if he wanted it. We took a break outside and he asked for my number. I smiled and gave it willingly - like us, he was just in Brighton for the weekend and happened to live very near me in London. I promised to take him out in London when we got back. He told me that he was in his second year of Music College in London - I asked him what he played, expecting to hear that he was in a fledging rock band
- he plays the trumpet.
I laughed, this boy was cute inside and out.

Eventually, he had to go back to his friends and I had to go back to mine. He had my number and I had little doubt that he would be in contact.

Sure enough, on Sunday evening he messaged me:
Hi it's Oliver from the club in Brighton. It was nice to meet you x

I shook my head and laughed. Nice to meet you? So young.
We decided to meet up on Friday, I would take him out somewhere good in London, show him a good time... get Theo out of my system once and for all.
But curiosity got the better of me, I typed his name into google wondering if I could find out more about him. What I found gave me the shock of my life and sent my friends into fits of hysterical laughter.
There he was, in his school newsletter, Oliver, Head of Music, Upper Sixth...
He was still at school - well, would have just finished school when I met him - but still, fantasically, had lied about his age. He was not twenty, he was eighteen. I was right. He did look young - because he WAS.

I was not going to worry though - a pretty guy was a pretty guy - I only wanted him for one thing - for one distraction - it was never going to be anything serious. I was going to go ahead with it.
Until on Friday he was no longer replying to my messages or answering my calls.
I went to get my hair done anyway - there was no way he was going to cancel on me. He had told me only yesterday he was still up for it.

His phone was off. All day.
I cried.
Twice on the trot - first Harry, now Oliver.

I didn't give up. On Monday, determined for him to face up to speaking with me, I continued trying to call. Still off...
Maybe he had lost it or had it stolen? Why else would it still be off.
Finally I got through. He apologied profusely, begging me to believe that he had lost his phone. He seemed genuinely upset by my coldness and I couldn't help but be understanding.

I knew he was going away that week and wouldn't be back until the begining of August, and he promised to contact me as soon as he was back to arrange a date to go out.


Meanwhile, I'd been busy attracting attention elsewhere. News had spread that I had handed in my notice at work, and suddenly one of the IT guys, Jay, piped up and started chatting to me. I'm not going to lie, he was cute. Yes, he was very cute. And I liked him. But I didn't like him enough. I couldn't imagine kissing him let alone wanting to rip his clothes off. While my friends in the office were delighted (he is reknown for his cuteness), I warned them that I didn't want to take it anywere. I would walk all over him, I would never be faithful...
But I loved the attention, I flirted back, I messaged him all evening, he left me little chocolates at work, and come the following Friday, as another part of the office were going out for drinks, I said that I would join him.

I stood in the office toilets staring at myself in the mirror, turning this way and that, butterflies in my stomach, touching up every square milimetre of my face to make sure I looked perfect.
Jay. I was going because I wanted to hang out with Jay.
Or was I going because the day before Jay had told me that the last time we were out, Theo had been "watching him like a hawk" when he was talking to me. Was I going because I thought that Theo was going to be at these work drinks and because I wanted him to see me with Jay and get jealous.

It turned to be the latter.
Sure, I stayed and chatted to Jay and those he was friends with, but I never lost track of where Theo was. And then, as the group thinned out and drinks neared their end, those remaining started to talk about moving on to a nearby club. It was me, Theo, and four others. I waved Jay off as he went to catch his train, standing next to Theo as I did so. Everything else was as it always was. We chatted , we drank, we danced, I did my best to pretend that I wasn't there for him, he did his best to pretend he wasn't there for me. And then it was just us two left in the club - Theo and me. And then we were kissing, and then we were all over each other, and then we were having sex again.

I spoke to him straightly about our relationship - he answered me straightly.
"I know it's a cliché," he said, "But it's not you, it's me. I don't want anything serious."
"I just want you in my life in some capacity."
He shook his head.


I stopped writing. And I didn't come back to finish the story. I have to finish this chapter of my life off.
I'm not going to carry on writing about that night, it was just another like all the others Theo and I had had earlier in the year: sex and no commitment.

My last day at work was Friday 27th July - Theo had done all of the usual things the week before, not answering any of my calls or text messages. So I sent him a text on Friday morning:
"If you don't answer this I am going to come over to your desk and embarass you. Not a threat, just a fact."
Oh that made him answer. We went for a coffee before work and started to battle through the conversation with him.

Every question I asked him I was met with the answer: "I don't know."
He didn't know how he felt about me, he didn't know what he wanted,
"I'm not good at talking about my feelings."
"I noticed."

I became frustrated but we had to be at our desks. Let's finish the conversation later.
He does not reply to my messages or calls. He does not fucking reply to my messages or calls.
I sent him a message on Saturday night: "It is humiliating and embarassing every time you do not reply and I have to send you another message. Grant me some fucking dignity and reply."
He finally called on Sunday.
"I'm not good talking over the phone."

So we met up on Thursday. Ironically went to the little bar in Clerkenwell where we had had our first date.
Drank the same cocktails.
I couldn't stop crying, I couldn't help myself. "I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm crying, I'm not sad."
He didn't want it. He didn't want me.
"I love you to pieces Theo."
"I love you too."
"I just want to make you happy. I'd do anything to make you happy. Why won't you let me in? I'd love to meet the girl who would love you as much as me. You know she doesn't exist. You know this is your loss don't you."

He hugged me tight and kissed me as I left him for the final time. The following night, at my leaving drinks with other people from work, I asked him for the final time. He didn't want me. He didn't even want to have sex with him. He didn't want me. He got angry and shouted at me. "You don't know what makes me happy!" "Because you won't tell me!"

He ran across the road, jumped in a taxi and left me, tears streaming down my face. My phone had run out of battery, so, convinced that he would return to me, I put my final pennies into a phone box and called him. He hung up on me.

When I got home I found he had posted this link on his facebook:
and the words: At the time, I’d made a decision not to deal with the hideous suicide of someone I’d loved so much but instead to take refuge in anger and work.
I was certain that this reinforced my long-held belief that he couldn't let me in because of some deep-seated emotional pain that he had. So I collected together select extracts from this blog and emailed them to him saying:
Hey hun

Sorry again about everything, I know I’ve been painful. I got over it before so I should have just left it!

Anyway, have a read of what I’ve attached, I thought it might be helpful and that you might relate to some of it.

Despite what I may have said before you know you can always reach out to me. If you do ever just need a friend then I can be that and will be there for you.

I wanted him to know that I could understand whatever pain he was feeling. I wanted him to know that he could let me in.

Of course he didn't reply and I sent him a final email:
I'm just going to write what I wanted to say and save time: (I mean how much damage is one more message going to do!)

1. I have a ridiculous desire to look after others. I was convinced that there was a sadness in you that you were suppressing and that you always pushed me away because of it (now of course I get it was because you just didn't like me, duh!).
Maybe I handled it the wrong way but I thought that if you could relate to anything I had written it would help you relate to your own emotions. I desperately wanted to help you find a way to be happy that I completely ignored whether you wanted my help or not. And perhaps I had convinced myself that you were unhappy when you were not too.

2. Because I had failed so much in the last few weeks, I didn't want to believe my love for you had failed too. This was purely selfish. I know I should have left it but I really didn't want to lose you.

I was stupid, I know I caused you so much unnecessary anger because of it. If I got it completely wrong that you were sad and unhappy I'm sorry, and I'm really sorry for being so full on.

If you want to be friends, great, but if you don't that's fine too. I just wanted to say sorry and wanted you to know x

The pain I feel in losing Theo is nothing like the pain I felt in losing Alex. I never loved Theo - he would never let me close enough for that. Theo never loved me, never doted on me, never gave me time or affection.
I'm actually not losing anything other than a guy who destroyed my self esteem, made me cry, made me feel worthless and ignored me when I needed a shoulder to lean on.

I spoke to my therapist about Theo for the first time this week. She asked me to sum him up in three words:
"Unreliable. Difficult. Closed."
As I said them it dawned on me. I didn't want a relationship with that person - who would? But I had subconsciously chosen to try and love him for those reasons.
"You need to get out of the cycle of choosing men who you know it won't work out with," she said. "You're so used to people leaving that you choose men you know are going to leave or treat you badly. You have to get over the belief that you can change them or help them get better."
She was right. Theo was the opposite of what you would want in a boyfriend. And that's why I wanted him. If he had been loving and doting and showered me with gifts and love, I would have hated it. I would have thought myself not worthy. I would have thought he was wasting his time. I would have thought I could never give him what he wanted and deserved back.

As it was, I was the loving and doting one. And he was the one who hated it and told me to find someone who deserved it.

How do I feel about this whole thing? I don't want to feel anything anymore. I am done thinking and writing about him.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

...burning up under the glare of the bright lights of the City of London

I was thinking about this post for a while - maybe I'd make it my last post - it would be strong and victorious - if I could do it, you can do it.

Things haven't gone to plan

His name was Harry. He had huge blue eyes and a cheeky grin. I insisted on giving him my number as we left the city bar across the road from where I worked. I called Theo 21 times as I sat in the taxi with Harry. He didn't pick up. The next day Harry and I continued to exchange banter and he asked me to go for a drink the following Thursday. I could even stay over "if I wanted".

I was excited about getting Theo out of my system. I wanted to get drunk with Harry and laugh and smile and feel beautiful. I went to get my hair done at lunchtime and drank juice all day so I looked perfect.

We were going to meet at 6.30 after work. At 4.30 he texted. Just been given loads of work to finish at the office. Had to cancel - "let's rearrange for next week".

He never contacted me again.

I can't get Theo out of my system.

Last Tuesday I had my interview with Tony, the head of the department I want to join. This was the interview that I had had continual nightmares about and worked so hard for in all of my spare time over the last six months. This job meant everything to me - it was this or I quit, and they knew that.
I had taught myself so much since my original interview in January, and it was evident - I answered almost every question with conviction and passion and I know that he saw that and loved it. He was the kind of man that respected determination and ambition over all other qualities and those are the two things I have in abundance. At the end of the interview he professed his pleasure and told me that I would sit down again with the head of the London team and the head of a region sometime this week.

Despite reminding him twice since, however, this has still not yet happened.

And so to deal with the ongoing stress and anxiety, I have eaten. I have gone from progressing to vomiting only once or twice a week to bingeing and vomiting every day again. I have lost count of the amount of times I have sat with my therapist going over the 'alternative methods' of dealing with anxiety but I cannot remember them when faced with a black mood.

My head just shuts down. It all goes blank. The cyclical motor in my hand starts up and my mouth feels nothing and the food goes in and in and in and in... Over and over again, more and more and more...

And then I bloat like a balloon, try to hold in the gas from my cramped stomach, poke at my tummy, pinch the fat, avoid the mirror, pull at my hair, clench my fists and cover my hideous face.

So I pull on my trainers and run. Run away, run till the dripping sweat tells you you're punishing yourself enough. Run so the disgusting toxic genes pour out of you.

Run. Run. Run.

Friday night back to the bar where I met Harry, desperately hoping he'll be there, desperately hoping I'll be thin enough. Beacause maybe then he will realise that he loves me. Watching Theo out of the office window as he leaves with other members of his team, wishing I were part of that circle. That circle of fucking privileged private school city boys.

Bitter? Chip on my shoulder? Feminist? Woman scorned?


I didn't get the job. I'm handing in my notice today.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Make or break

It has been a while.
I've been shut up indoors studying for my CFA Level 1 exam which I took on Saturday. I don't think I passed, but... well, that is that.
When I went to my Doctor a few weeks ago to ask for more pills, he said it was so sad that I spent my weekends in bed. At my age, I should be out enjoying life.
Oh. I feel like I have regressed so much. The darkness hanging over me, my heart smothered by the black clouds. Just like the old days, the old days from years, months, weeks ago.

The exam was the culmination of everything I had worked for and had dreams and nightmares about since January.

I took two weeks off work before the exam and made the terrible mistake of studying with Theo, day in, day out in the British Library.
I shouldn't have done it.
We had long lunches and tea breaks, talking like the good friends we are. And when the sun blessed us with scorching weather last week, we had a picnic in Regents Park, ate ice cream, walked through the beautiful English flowers,
felt like a couple
excpet we didn't hold hands, didn't touch, didn't kiss,

I wanted someone to love and look after so badly. I bought him medicine for his cold. I bought him teas and cakes. I gave him my notes and books. I calmed him down when he got mad. I paid for him to stay in a hotel with me by the exam centre the night before.
I did it because I wanted more, I thought that after the exam we could make it work.
I thought that we'd return to the room as lovers.

He went home. I cried all the way on the tube. I couldn't hold back all the pain. I saw the sadness in his eyes, but I also saw that he didn't understand.

I had imagined we'd drink and laugh and fall together now that everything was over, and it wasn't the case. Instead of the fun I'd looked forward to for so long, I cried continuously from boarding the tube at 6pm to going to sleep at 11pm. Hellish home. Hellish room.

We spent a wonderful two weeks studying together and now he will not reply to my messages or answer my calls. Now the exam is over, he doesn't want to know me.

Why am I not good enough for him? Why am I not enough?

I shake my head in shame. I am a strong feminist in a world of men in suits, and yet I want to care for and look after a man I love so much.

Three weeks ago I asked to meet the head of the department I want to join at work. I sat before him and told him that I needed to know if he was going to interview me again or not. I told him that I'd only stayed on at the company for the last six months because I wanted the job in his department, I also told him that I needed to know if I was staying on for anything or not.
He wants to interview me.
I've been sending him the work I've been doing, he's seen me in the office at the crack of dawn studying, on the Bloomberg terminal researching. I know he admires my ambition and my hard work and I know he wants to interview me.
"It's not my decision," he said. "I have to ask your boss. If he doesn't want you to move, then I can't interview you." I nodded. They know that if I don't get the job in the other department that I'm leaving the company.
I go back to work on Wednesday and I will find out if everything I have worked for for the last six months has been a waste or if they are going to give me a chance to shine.

The fear makes me sick.
I cannot bear the thought of not making it.

Depression never leaves you. All it takes is a little chill. Sinking under.
Saturday 2nd June had been in my diary for months as the make or break day. I broke.

Why the hell can't I be happy.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Letting go

"I can't let go of Theo because he's the first guy I've ever met who really sees who I am inside. He doesn't just look at me like all the other guys have done before, he understands who I am, what I've been through and what makes me beautiful. That's why I can't walk away from him."

"I know how you feel," my friend said to me over a cocktail, "I've been there, it's so hard to let them go."

The next day she came into work and sat down at her desk opposite mine.
"You know Ophelia, I had a revelation last night, it just came to me..."
"You know these men that we can't let go of because we think they really understand us? We're wrong - they don't. Because if they really did know us, they wouldn't treat us the way they do."

I stood, letting her words sink in slowly.
"You're so right... If Theo really knew me, really understood my pain, he'd wrap me up in cotton wool and never let me go..."

Sunday, 15 April 2012

I would love you so much...

“Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that - I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much - so very much to learn.”
The Journals of Sylvia Plath

This blog is called 'A Head Full of Beauty' for a reason. When I started this blog I was already writing voraciously, spilling my emotions out in the strongest form of expression I had mastered. Literature and poetry had always been able to move me and help me feel the beauty in the world and in the human race. For me, beauty is not about aesthetics, it is not about what we see with our eyes but what we feel with our hearts. We feel beauty, it is an emotion, it is a movement in our soul, it is something transcendental. Beauty can be sad, it can be happy, it can be tortured, it can be innocent, it can be fresh, it can be ancient...

While I hated everything about my physical self, I thanked God everyday for the beauty he put in my head, and for the words and art and nature that I found around me to fill the space in my heart and mind.

It's hard to explain, but Sylvia's words rang so true for me here. Yes, I am inherently unhappy, but I still love life. I still thank God for the beauty. So much so that I wish that I could give something back to it, contribute my own little ray of beauty into someone elses life.

I would give anything to make Theo happy. Any other girl would have walked away months ago, we both know that. But there's a reason why I haven't given up on him. It's not only because he looks at me and sees who I really am and sees the beauty beneath my skin, but because I see him. Even though he will never let me in, I can see it. He's not like other guys I've met. There's something very tortured about Theo, something very unhappy, deep down. I've seen shadows of it lurking in the things he says and the way he behaves, but I'll never forget the words a few months ago:
"I'm empty, I feel nothing."

I rang him on Thursday evening and immediately regretted it. We had nothing to say and it was strained. I tried to be cheerful and bubbly but it wasn't working.
"I want to get out of London, I'm so bored of it, I hate it." he said.

My heart went cold, not because I was worried about him leaving but because his words reaffirmed something I had suspected for a while - I think he is a depressive, or has some sort of very repressed depression perhaps. I also think he takes copious amounts of coke with his friends at the weekend. I already know he has a drink problem. I think he's very unhappy deep down, but it's hard to pin point because he is so terribly repressed and silent.
I worry about Theo because I feel his similarities to me. I see his inability to love the world like he wishes he could, his need to run away to a new place, a fresh start, his deep seated insecurity about not being good enough - for me.

As he said these words about wanting to leave London I immediately thought of this post I had written two years ago:
It is impossible...
in which I wrote about the constant need I have had throughout much of my life to move on to somewhere new, to cut my ties, to start afresh. I make friends only to cut them out again soon after. For the last few years, all my friendships have had a lifespan of a year or less. I can't bear people getting attached, knowing too much about me, I can't bear feeling that I owe them something, that they have control over me, that I have to give up time to see them. Perhaps that's how Theo feels about me.
I have always been chased by a constant need to run away and burn bridges, always believing that the next place, the next time, I'll get it right, I'll start over and be happy.
The simple pleasures of life are not enough for me, and I know they're not enough for Theo, that's why I found him special. He was the first person I'd ever met who understood my need to push myself to be the best version of myself that I could be.

Mediocre in between. I still use that phrase all the time. It is the phrase that sums up everything I don't want my life to be.

I have grown up a lot since I wrote that last post two years ago. I am not so extreme.

I worry about Theo because I worry about where he will be in a few years. I know depression and alcohol can kill a man, and I know it's capable of killing him. I know he'll never have a happy relationship, I know he'll never have a happy life, he'll always be wanting, he'll always be unhappy. It's a fucking curse.
But I want him to know that I know, and I want him to know that I love him and want to help him.
Theo and I will never be in a relationship - if we were it would be completely destructive. We are destructive people, we are wired to hurt ourselves and hurt other people. But that doesn't change the fact that I love him, and would do anything to help him understand and make him happy. Anything. But I know I am not enough and never will be. But that's because of his problems, not mine.

"I would love you so much if you'd let me."

Sunday, 8 April 2012

"Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, And therefore I forbid my tears"

I'm putting myself back on anti-depressants (Fluoxetine).

I watched The Iron Lady last night and there were about two 10 minute intervals in which I did not cry. Throughout the rest of the film I just sobbed manically, tears dripping off my cheeks.

I'm raw these days. It's like there's no flesh on me, just touch me and you go straight to the nerve. Everything hurts and everything makes me cry.
I sobbed all the way through The Iron Lady because it reminded me of my own mother - or how she will be in a few years. The film perfectly depicted the heartbreak of losing a husband - God knows I have no idea what it feels like, and yet I cry my eyes out for my Mum - am sitting here crying my eyes out for her now.

And that was it really. The old, deep-seated inability to deal with death and loss and grief. My mother who lost a husband and has only known pain and heartache since, who is getting more and more fragile and frail by the day. And what can I do except give her a kiss as I pass by in my angry little hurricane, trying desperately to make something of myself for her.

I caused my mum unnecessary anguish by being ill, I trampled on her broken heart. What good do my tears do now?

And still, over four years since I started, I still cough up the contents of my stomach, it still rules me, it still takes everything I have.

Last Monday in my treatment session my therapist decided to try something new to establish the roots of my self-destructive perfectionism. She made me close my eyes and go back to my childhood and talk her through everything I remembered and had felt. It was the single most heart-wrenching thing I have ever had to do. Those memories of my childhood remain locked down far away where I can't remember them for a reason. I cried solidly for the full session as she forced me back to the happiness I had felt in my Dad's arms as a little girl, the loneliness as he drifted away, as my Mum went to work, as the home crumbled around me, to the day when I came home and found him dead, to the days when my Mum cried in agony on the sofa in her empty world. And there was the little girl in the middle. Desperate to achieve, to be noticed, to be loved, to be praised. Desperate to be perfect.

I remained haunted for days after this session, continually having flashbacks as I walked into my living room, seeing the little girl playing on the carpet, or the bedroom upstairs where I had found him laid across the bed, the telephone where I had called my Mum, the door I had run out of in fear and confusion.
I went back to school the next day and never felt another thing.

All the grief that pours of out of me now has been pent up for fifteen years.

I am desperately trying to make it in my career. Am yet I struggle to concentrate; all day at weekends, stuck in this house of sadness. I looked back to when I was a teenager. I worked constantly, getting the best grades at school was the most important thing to me and I dedicated my whole life and all my spare time to working to achieve that. What changed?
I started feeling. I started reading poetry, I started engaging with my feelings and emotions. I started crying and thinking and philosophising. And then everything fell apart. I couldn't concentrate though the intense pain and sadness that I had not allowed myself to feel for so many years. When I was a teenager I felt nothing. I was incredibly unhappy, but I never cried, never wallowed in my pity. I blocked it all off. I buried myself in my schoolwork. I felt nothing.

So I want to go back on the pills that help me feel nothing. I'm sick of feeling pain, I'm sick of crying. I'm sick of it. I want to be cold and empty. I want to plug myself into my studies and feel nothing to distract me.

Here's a girl that made it :

I'm sick of thinking and feeling, I'm sick of being sick.
I am never going to be anything while my eating disorder identifies me more than anything else.

I am just so exhausted from feeling so much.

I didn't want my picture taken because I was going to cry. I didn't know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of my throat and I'd cry for a week. I could feel the tears brimming and sloshing in me like water in a glass that is unsteady and too full. ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Friday, 6 April 2012

I only know how to fight

Sorry for making the blog private for a few weeks. I wanted to be isolated from the piercing eye of the internet for a while...

It's been a long time since I've sat down and written a proper update - and for those of you who read regularly, I apologise, sometimes it's very easy to forget that people will miss you when you disappear. Thank you to those who have emailed and reminded me to come back, those words have been key in helping me. Thank you to anonymous for the beautiful dance clip on youtube, to NC for the kind words of support regarding the CFA, I will definitely need kind words as crunch time approaches! Thank you to Alice, Loulou, and everyone who commented on the last post with your support. Sometimes I think I should keep your wise words with me all night.

I suppose I should continue the story where I left off - with Theo.
Wow, so much has happened since then. Here's the condensed version:
Theo had lost his phone, genuinely, hence why he hadn't contacted me that weekend.
The following weekend - 18th February - hoping to make things beautiful and wonderful, I took him for a weekend away in a 5* suite in a luxury countryside hotel. I drove there and I paid for everything, the luxury suite and the exquisite dinner and wine.
In all this time I think it's fair to say things between us didn't really improve. I spent 90% of my time hating him, and 10% of my time being in love with him.
I wanted him to love me so much, or rather, I wanted him to let me love him. I wanted to make him so happy, I wanted to give him the world, everything I had, every ounce of my soul. But I couldn't when he always kept me at arms length away.

It came to a head a month ago. One Friday night - 9th March - we had the leaving drinks of one of the senior people in his department. I had made it clear how glad I was to finally get to see him that week.
He ignored me all night. Then when we started texting it was too late. He didn't stop me, I went home.
I cried all the way. I cried all the next day. I rung him repeatedly. He wouldn't reply. I told him we had to meet. I hated him. It was over. It was really over, this time it was really over.

I made him meet me at Kings Cross Station that Saturday evening. I drank two mini bottles of Jack Daniels, I was pumped, I was going to tell him to go to hell.

When he finally arrived, I ran into him arms and cried.
I was only angry with him because I had missed him so much and he wasn't there for me. I wanted him to hold me so much.
I just needed him, fucking bastard - all the pain, all the tears and sadness, I just wanted him to hold me and take it all away. He was the closest thing I had in my life to love.

*I started writing this two weeks ago and had to stop because I started crying again and couldn't stop. I am crying again and forcing myself to see the keyboard through the tears*

I just wanted to be with him.

So we went for drinks. And then stayed in a hotel.  ...just like we always do.
And then in the morning, I finally spoke to him.
"I need to know what I am to you"
I demanded over and over, but he didn't want to talk about it, he didn't want to deal with it.
"I can't take it anymore, it makes me so unhappy. I spend half my time not knowing if you like me or not. I live in fear that you'll see me in the office on a day I look bad and think I look fat and ugly and won't like me anymore."
I saw his pain. "That would never happen!"
"But how do I know, how do I know you don't just like me as something to fuck."
He closed his eyes, "You know that's not true."
"How! You never talk to me, you never tell me, I have no idea what I am to you."
"I don't get what you see in me, you should be with someone who treats you so much better. It's like you put all the effort into it and I don't."
"Why don't you put the effort in?"
He shrugged.
"We haven't gone anywhere, we just do the same things that we always do. I feel like if it was meant to be more it would have happened already."
I looked at him in horror, "Because you always keep me so far away! ... I'd love you so much if you'd let me... but you won't let me..."
He clammed his lips shut and stared at me sadly.
"Talk to me!" I demanded, "What am I to you? What do you feel for me?"
"You know I care about you..."
"Really!? How, like a friend? Like a sister?"
"No! Of course not!"
"Then like what!" I said, raising my voice in agony.
"I don't know... I just think you shouldn't waste your time on me. I'm not good for you. You deal with so much and I just make things worse."

Yes, he was right, he did make it worse. I wanted to find my way into his arms when the days were black, but I was always too scared to ask him to open them up. His continual indifference and coldness towards me when we were apart added a further sting to the constant pain I was in. But in that hotel room in Kings Cross, I felt the emptiness of the anonymous space seeping into our warm bodies, I didn't want to lose him. I had envisaged myself telling him how much I hated him, how much he had made me cry and made me feel worthless. I was going to reiterate how strong and powerful I was and how I didn't need his shit to bring me down. But I couldn't. I didn't want to lose him. I didn't want to go back to being alone.

"No you don't!" I lied, "I'm so happy when I'm with you." True, I was happy when I was with him, but just terribly, unhappy when he forgot I existed the rest of the time we were apart.
"No, I'm bad for you. You should be with someone that gives you their time and attention. When you tell me things about avoiding me because you look ugly, that makes me feel so awful. You don't need that."
So he knew. He knew the pain he had caused me.
"But that's my problem, that's never going to go away, it has nothing to do with you!"
I was fighting a losing battle.

It was 12 noon and we had to check out. We got dressed in silence. But I wasn't going to let him go without a final, absolute resolution.
He stood in the middle of the room, waiting as I got ready. I came to him and hugged him close.

"So, what do you want to do?"
He struggled to find the words, "Do you think it's working?!"
"Yes!" I said, desperately lying. "Don't you?!""
I could see him slipping through my fingers.
He looked at me sadly, "It... it feels like something is missing."
He shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know."
"You must know. What? What did you have with your last girlfriends that you don't have with me?"
He continued looking at me intently, "I don't's been so long..."
I shook my head. This was shit. He still couldn't give me a straight answer and I didn't understand it.
"If you don't explain it to me, I'm going to think it's because I'm fat and ugly."
"You know that's not true."
"How do I know that if you don't tell me! Please... tell me."

Two lovers, standing in a grey hotel room, beside the sheets they had loved in. The cold, chilling sunlight pouring in from the window behind me, onto his face, illuminating the childlike flawless glow of his cheeks. Oh God, it was going to end like this. Here.

And then what happened next was like a knife piercing into me.
He stood, staring at me. I stared back into his brown eyes and watched as they started to brim with tears.
No, please, no, Theo, please...
Two small tears fell from each eye.
I knew what it meant and I broke.
"No," I said choking, "don't cry." As I sobbed, he held me close. His eyes, though still full of pain, were dry again almost immediately.

I pulled myself away to the bathroom, still crying, to fix my makeup. I couldn't talk.

We left.

He held my hand as he walked me back to the train station. He held it and I knew he cared.
I still wasn't 100% clear on what had happened. Was it really over?
"You know a few weeks ago when I argued with you, you said you were empty, that you didn't feel anything anymore..."
"I was drunk."
"What did you mean?"
"Have I been able to make you feel something?"
"That's the first time I've cried in a long time."
I said nothing as we carried on walking. I understood the significance of that. I had never in a million years expected him to cry. Theo was so solid and opaque. Even Alex had never shed a tear when I laid out all my pain in front of him.

"So do you need to think about it?"
"About what."
I shook my head. We were back to feigning ignorance again.
"Well you know how I feel."
"And what's that?"

"I'd love you so much if you'd let me."

My eyes were dry and I said it plainly and in a matter of fact manner. That was the plain truth of this situation and he needed to know it. I would love him and we'd be incredible together - but only if he'd let me in and open himself up.

We got to the train station and I held him so tightly as we said goodbye. I feared I may never hold him again.

He sent me a text message late that evening. "Is everything ok with you? You know you can always talk to me?" I didn't reply. What was I going to do, run to his arms and spill my heart out to him now? It was too late.

I cried for the rest of the weekend. Cried on my way into work on Monday morning, cried in the kitchen over coffee with my friends. I told them it was over and everybody said it was for the best. I knew they believed it.

I remembered the days when I had cried for Alex. It was horribly familiar when I cried the same way for Theo, but by the end of the week I started to relax. I was stronger and more grounded now.

* * *

Theo and I, often two of the last people in the office, started talking again almost immediately afterwards. I had calmed down, and as I sat on the Bloomberg or Reuters machine, he would come and talk to me about what I was working on. We were friends and colleagues still.

Friday 16th March, I sat in a meeting with Theo and his team in the department I want to join. The head of the team, Martin, had prepared a list of questions on our key market views. So I showed off all the knowledge I had.
"You weren't very popular at school were you?" he said jokingly.
I laughed and shook my head. I was being a show off and I knew it, but I didn't care. The deputy head of the department who had turned me down at interview was sitting behind me. I could feel my heart pounding in my throat. Tony, the head of the whole department walked in after I'd finished my performance. He was the man who would make the final decision on whether I carried on my career at this company in his department or not. I couldn't hide my frustration that he had missed me showing off all my knowledge of bonds and markets, all the knowledge he had told me I didn't have.
But then Martin wrapped up the meeting.
"So the moral of this meeting? Learn as much as Ophelia."
I blushed and beamed and looked at the table, avoiding Tony's eye.

As we walked out, everyone patted me on the back,
"Look at you!"
"You smashed it!"
"You made us all look stupid!"

I was sky high. In the pub afterwards, I spoke to Martin. What do I need to do to ensure I get the job next time I interview?
"It's hard," he said. "It will take a hell of a lot to buck the trend. There is so much office politics that you are going to have to get through - only one other person has ever done it - and he was incredibly smart and a perfect fit. Even though you're studying and you're writing, it's not going to be enough. You need to push yourself in front of Tony. You should just start writing analysis for him in the in-house style and send them over. Say you want to do one every week or something. Be around the team, always come and ask questions, make your presence really well known. I'm not going to lie, it's harder because you're a girl, you're never going to be close to Tony like some of the other guys can be, but you need to push yourself in front of him."
I nodded and let it all sink in.

Theo was there, and we were two of the last to leave. He gave me hug and said "Well done today, you were awesome in the meeting." He crossed over the road and left me.

I walked a few paces and sat down. I cried.
I was never going to make it.
I was never going to be good enough and even if I was, they were never going to let me in. Everything pointed against me even though I was throwing everything I could at success.

But I did it, I wrote Tony some analysis.
"I admire your ambition" he replied.
He looked at what I had written and provided constructive feedback. "A big improvement" he said.

* * *

I still maintained a constant hope in my heart that it wasn't really over between me and Theo. He had never theoretically said the words "It's over" and I had left him with the very clear picture that I would love him if he decided that's what he wanted. I couldn't forget those two tears that had fallen from his eyes. He wouldn't have cried if he wasn't hurting.

I sat down at the desk next to him one morning when he was in early and after a few brief, friendly words, decided to ask:
"Are you free one evening soon?"
He looked at me sadly as if to say 'why are you doing this?'
"I don't know... I'll have to check my schedule."
I nodded. "Ok, check you schedule and let me know where you can fit me in."

A few days later on the Bloomberg machine, as we were chatting I brought it up again.
"You didn't tell me when you were free."
"I don't know yet."
He walked away and I nodded to myself, knowing that at least I had tried.
Then he came back. "Next Friday."
I smiled. "Are you sure? Definitely, definitely?"

I spent the whole of the weekend before the Friday (30th March) trying to plan what we could do. A fun bar? A cosy hotel? I couldn't decide. I wanted it to be perfect and I didn't want him to feel like it was the same.
He told me to leave the planning. He wanted to do something quiet - had to be up early the next day.
I cried. Everything makes me cry these days.

Friday came and I decided that I wasn't going to message him first. He was going to message me. At 5pm I watched that he was still there. Come on, message me. Then at 5:30pm I went to look for him and he had gone. I looked over the whole office. He had gone.
I was raging. I called his number repeatedly until he picked up.
"Where are you."
He had gone to for drinks with people from work.
He said we'd meet at eight o'clock instead. I said ok. Call me.

I went for drinks with the girls I worked with at another bar. I kept my phone in my hand.
He didn't call.
I called repeatedly. Over and over again. Until he picked up.
"Where are you. Are you fucking coming or not?! If you're not coming just fucking tell me."
Half an hour later still no sign.
So I called repeatedly. Over and over again. Until he picked up.
"Where are you."
Finally at half nine he called me and I said my goodbyes to the girls. I was so angry.
I came down in the lift and he was there waiting.
I let rip.
"Thanks for a great night out Theo! This has been great! What the fuck! If you're going to fucking cancel on me then fucking tell me! I don't care, but fucking tell me! YOU SUCK. Oh my God you have no idea how much you PISS ME OFF. Seriously, you really fucking piss me off!"
He looked at me sadly.
"I'm sorry."
"Yeah you fucking should be! Who the fuck does that."
I took a deep breath. "Ok, now I've ranted at you let's go have a nice time. I've said what I need to say."
"Where are we going?"
"I don't fucking know! Just get me out of here!"

We went to a bar across the way and he sat down next to me.
I spilled out my guts to him.
Our relationship had failed because neither of us had let the other in. I had pretended to be fit and healthy. I never ran to him for comfort because I was afraid of looking weak and needy. He never let me in, for whatever reasons he had. So I was going to tell him exactly who I was and what I felt. Pretending to be perfect was never going to get us anywhere.

"I'm still in treatment for my eating disorder."
He sighed sadly, "I know. It's kinda obvious."
"Oh. Doesn't it bother you?"
"Nobody's perfect. I just wish you wouldn't push yourself so hard, it's not necessary."
"Do you have any idea what I've been through - what I've lost? When I was ill I lost everything I'd worked for. I had nothing. Do you know what that's like? To fail on that scale? I have to work hard because it's all I have. I have to make it Theo, because if I don't, I have nothing."
"I understand, but it makes me so sad to see. I really want you to succeed, you work so hard and you deserve it so much."
"It's not about how much you deserve it. The world doesn't work like that."
"I know... but I just want you to be happy, don't put so much pressure on yourself."
"I have to. This is all I have..."

All I wanted to do was curl up in his arms.
"I've missed you." I said.
He said nothing. "You shouldn't."
"Well I do."
"You shouldn't waste your time thinking about me. I'm not worth it. I will always do shit things like I did tonight. I'm never going to change."
"I don't care, I don't want you to change. You are who you are. You're shit, I get that, I deal with it."
"Well you shouldn't. You should have the self-esteem to walk away from me."
"Jesus Christ! Any other girl would have walked away from you months ago, but I didn't. I didn't. And you know why? Because I see something different in you. I don't care if you're not a goddam Prince Charming, you understand me. I saw that in you from the beginning, you looked at me and you saw me. You understand who I am, you understand what I've been through. You don't just see the beauty on the outside, you see the beauty on the inside and no-one has ever looked at me like that before.
You're an idiot if you think that I'm here because I'm weak and have no self-esteem. There are plenty of guys I could have if I wanted them. You know that. But I don't want them. I'm not interested in some small-minded city boys who see me as a bit of fun and a good fuck. I'm not interested in any guy that doesn't see who I am inside.
Don't tell me what I should and shouldn't do, I'm big enough to make my own decisions."

We talked for what seemed like forever, all the time, he kept trying to push me away, convince me to walk away.
I kept refusing.
Finally we ended up in a bar near our usual ending place of Kings Cross. I kissed him on the cheek and neck and ear. I had missed the sweetness of his skin so much. He sat there motionless. I could feel his mind buzzing with thoughts. I kissed him on the mouth and he kissed back but then stopped me.
"Why?" I demanded.
I shook my head and carried on. I had missed him so much, I didn't want to stop.
He caved in. We went to the hotel.
We had hungry sex. Starving. I must have woken up the whole corridor.

The next day we stayed in bed till noon chatting as he held me tight. At lunch we walked to a nearby pub restaurant and ate a huge lunch. I hadn't eaten for well over 24 hours. So we ate and we chatted, midday turned to afternoon, afternoon to evening as the daylight faded around us and the darkness set in. So we stayed and had dinner and drinks. It was nearly 10pm by the time we left and I went home. All day I had expected him to say those words, "shall we get the bill?" He didn't. He just stayed there with me; me and my company. For all those hours we talked, who knows what about. Sometimes we ran out of things to say and were just silent and I smiled at him. Why didn't he ask for the bill? My eyes were aching from my contact lenses and I was exhausted but I didn't dare suggest I go for fear that it would be seen as a show of not wanting to spend time with him. I can't believe or understand why he would have the same fear.

In the 24 hours we were together I told him everything I could, I kept nothing back. I told him that I used to play games with men, I told him how my Dad had died, I told him I was frightened of never getting better, I told him I was frightened of never being happy. I told him how my eating disorder had started and become manifest, I told him how I had cut friends off, how I had suffered from crippling depression, how my writing and creativity had almost sucked me down and drowned me. I told him how being thin and glamourous never made me happy, how I'd learnt lessons about life the hard way. I told him everything. He barely flinched.
"I've just spent the last 24 hours telling you what a terrible person I am."
"If you had sat there telling me what an amazing person you are I would have known you were lying."

I sent him a present at work a few days later. He broke one of his collar stays while we were sitting at lunch, so I bought him a new pair. They had the skyline of The City on them. I sent them with a message: I hope they inspire you in the last few weeks of CFA study.
He thanked me, "very sweet", he said.

I haven't seen him since, except for glimpses at work. My bulimia is at level 10, high alert. I can't stop eating and I can't keep anything down.
I want to believe he loves me and I'll make it in my career. I want to believe those things so much. I can't give up on Theo and I can't give up on my dreams of making it.
It seems that after everything life has thrown at me, I only have one setting now: fight mode.

I only know how to keep fighting for what I want. I'm not afraid of pain or hard work, I'm afraid of failure.
A wise woman would know how to walk away from a battle she will only lose, but I no longer have the ability to see that option. I only know how to fight.