The reality of the Christmas season…

It’s dark, the rain is splattering against my bedroom window, and I’m once again wrapped in blankets with an unhappy stomach. On my bed there are chord sheets of Christmas carols, some lush products, craft stuff for Guides, Paddy the iPad, my phone, while on the floor are three bags filled with shopping from today and throughout the past year that will be Christmas presents.

I haven’t written on here for a long while because I didn’t really know how to articulate everything.

In October, I had a breakdown. There were a lot of triggers in a short space of time and I think with stress of one of my jobs and not having friends around much it just escalated quickly and suddenly. I came off facebook and one day just got in my car and drove for hours. I didn’t really eat for several days.

Since then, I’ve been better, but still struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. I’ve not been able to be involved much with church partly because of the panic attacks, and partly because of work.

There have been a lot of things going on. I have two incredible jobs which I’ve dreamed of and had given up on hope of finding. I have been truly blessed this past summer, and I’ve now passed probation of one of them. I really, really hope that it will work out so I can stay after my contract is up because I love it so much there. The other job I’m still on probation, and it was a tough start for a lot of reasons. It’s still tough, but I hoping it’s going to be rewarding. And then there is volunteering. That’s been hard. I’m exhausted, and we are still short on volunteers which means I haven’t been able to take the steps back I wanted to.

So I’m doing lots of great stuff, and it’s all good. But it means from Monday-Friday I have no social life. Free evenings are rare. By the weekend, I’m exhausted. And everyone (including me) is busy. Most people have families they want to do stuff with at weekends. I don’t have that, so weekends have been incredibly lonely. I think I had this ridiculous dream after 3 years working pretty much every weekend of having friends who would want to go on walks, cinema trips and music gigs because that’s what it used to be like. Now I truly am that tragic spinster. I really need to get some cats.

The other thing that’s been going on is that my Dad has had some health issues. If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you’ll know that my Dad and I don’t have the easiest relationship. We have had months of trying to get him to a specialist here in the UK, tests and consultations and waiting. So much waiting.

The events of the last couple of months have really shown me how much I’m lacking in friends. The friends that have ‘been there’ – the ones that have checked in, who have text back when they see a missed call – they’ve all been people who are too far away to be able to do anything. However you know you have a good friend when despite being on a whole other continent they are texting you almost daily to check in.

And I get the “FOMO” thing. It is so hard at this time of year to see people happy and with friends and family. You know you’ve been replaced and forgotten when it’s there to see on social media. On the days when the anxiety and depression has really peaked, it’s just like twisting a knife in a wound to see. It makes it so abundantly clear that you are all alone, and if you weren’t here – life would go on perfectly fine without you, because it already is. It’s a really horrible thing when you feel so resentful of people that you love.

And do you know what, I know that in the past, people have contacted me saying how jealous they are of me when I’ve posted stuff on my blog and social media. It is really easy to portray this whitewashed version of our lives.

So though this post has been sitting in my drafts for a week, I am going to publish it for that reason. Because I want you to know, just in case you are feeling crappy too that you are not the only one. If you have a family that have mostly stopped speaking to each other and you only see at funerals. Solidarity with you – I’m in that place too. If you are living with mental health illness. Solidarity with you – I can empathise. If you are single and trying to navigate what life looks like when you are alone – I’d love some advice on how you deal with that.

Oh, and although I won’t be alone on Christmas Day, I will be on twitter as much as I can be to provide some company to those who are. I’ve been doing #JoinIn since Sarah Millican started it, and I can see how much it is needed more than ever this year.

Quote of the Week: Walking with friends

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It’s fair to say that 2016 wasn’t the best year. In fact there were some very dark times, and I think the fact that I had trudged through 2015 and gone into 2016 with a little hope that what had been rubbish in 2015 would be rectified in 2016 made it slightly difficult to swallow.

But then…friends.

There’s nothing like going through dark times to find out who your true friends are. Friends who love you just as you are, who accept you in your circumstances no matter what they are. Friends who you haven’t seen in a couple of years who will come running round to clean a trashed flat when you post on facebook a cry for help. Friends who have their own stuff going on but accept you as a surf camp leader despite the fact you’ve been lying on the floor of a bathroom for 24 hours and less than prepared for your responsibilities. Friends who are in town for a short period of time and will take you running to their hotel room after work so you can at the very least watch the Great British Bake Off together in your pyjamas while eating homemade brownies before heading home to bed because you have to work the next morning. Friends who will text and what’s app and engage on social media when lack of finance and time off work mean you can’t afford to travel to visit during months and years of separation. Friends who will accept leaving on a road trip to a wedding at 11 p.m. because you need to work a late shift in order to get the weekend off to go in the first place.

They are worth more than  their weight in rubies, diamonds, emeralds (and any other precious expensive jewels). And I’d rather be going through rubbish times knowing they are by my side, than having a comfy life without them.

Because I know that in the times where life is great, all I want to do is share that moment. I remember being in Australia seeing a beautiful sunset and wishing a particular friend was there to witness it. I remember wandering the streets of Paris alone and wishing I had someone to experience it with. I love going to the cinema with a friend so we can discuss the film we’ve just seen after – whether it’s one we love, one we hate, or one that we disagree on!

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And when it’s cold and your face is being stung with hail on the first day of a new year, there’s no better people to do it with than with friends. Even when you’ve spent so much of the day in your pyjamas, you end up literally walking in the dark because January days are short in Scotland!

 

Blogmas Day 11: The one about the dancing Christmas tree…

So last night, my friends unpacked and put up their Christmas decorations. Along with the gorgeous decorations they amazingly include a gift I gave them one Christmas. And so on their instagram they posted a picture of said gift.

4 years ago my Mum took a trip to see her best friend in Oklahoma. On the way home, she was wearing a new pair of boots (trips to Oklahoma always involve shopping at those American shopping malls) and the floor in Chicago airport was very slippy. She fell – the result was a sprained ankle and a broken shoulder. It was lucky that I was the manager of a pregnancy centre at the time, so I was able to plan my hours around her numerous hospital, doctor and physio appointments that were in opposite ends of the city. Sometimes there was no point in going home between them, so we found ourselves in this Discount Store in a retail park near one of the hospitals quite a lot. It was coming up to Christmas so there were a lot of cheesy Christmas toys. The Christmas Tree amused us greatly, and then one day I decided to buy it to give to my friends as a joke present.

Rockin’ Christmas Tree from Brunette Koala on Vimeo.

I wrapped it up and got them to open it one night before Christmas. I won’t lie, my friend Brian’s face was EXACTLY what I’d hoped for (utter horror). Their son, who was a toddler at the time immediately took it and for some reason put it on top of their bin and continued to press the button to make it dance.

Two years later, the tree lived on…and I got the message that the tree had to accompany all bathtimes to provide it’s cabaret entertainment.

Three years later they moved down the coast to a new house. I was for sure they’d pay the removal men to kick it off the back of the moving truck. But nope. Not even when they got their dog, did they let that tree get destroyed.

And so the tree lives on.

If there’s anyone to blame for it, it’s really Chicago airport. If they’d only put a wet floor sign down we would never have been in that shop every week in the first place.

Today in honour of the dancing Christmas tree, I found it’s cousin. The spinning Christmas Pudding…

Day 11 – the cousin of the dancing tree. 🎄😂

A video posted by Laurie Mackay (@brunettekoala) on Dec 11, 2016 at 5:20am PST