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GRIEF

MOTHER’S DAY.

Although it comes around only once a year, it is its built-up presence that fills us lost ones with fear. A whole twenty-four hours solely dedicated to her, I live it, I breathe it, each minute a blur.

As I’ve come accustomed to its ‘come around so quick manner’, when her name is mentioned my stomach flips, my words stammer. As my heart unexpectedly throbs, it ignites a deep, hollow ache. My demeanour shows strength, any minute I could break.

Although it comes around only once a year, it’s that word ’Mum’ that fills us lost ones with fear because we don’t have it in us to re-lay our unasked-for hell, this Sunday we feel silenced, our strength resembling an eggshell.

A day filled with love, appreciation, elation. Roll over in my bed aware of my stolen chance of participation. Not quite made it to becoming a Mother myself, so this celebratory day continues to collect dust on the abandoned shelf.

My thoughts chant I am bitter, can’t be happy for others around, but I have nothing to say this week or on this day, we share no common ground. I get used to the shadow that grows in depth each year, it wakes me up in the morning and watches me hold back the tears.

I cannot put into words how this day can feel worse than their death, just seeing the pink and white tulips, they catch me off guard, how quickly they make me lose my breath. Even after thirteen motherless years, you would think this day gets easier but as time goes on and I reflect on lost time, I only find myself becoming greedier.

Grief has this skill of dividing you from the rest, it arrives uninvited to the party, a faceless, haunting guest. This one Sunday of the year can beat me till I’m blue, I’m well practised now, a motherless pro, this isolated feeling is nothing new.

Although this day comes around only once a year, it’s Mother’s Day that does it, that creates that sombre atmosphere. Whilst others get the chance to soak up all their existence. Us lost one’s green with envy are drowning in their significant absence.

Although Mother’s Day comes around only once a year. It’s when I miss you the most Mum and long to feel you near. Heavy as my heart is, as time has passed I have become stronger but the little girl inside of me deserved to have you for longer.

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GRIEF

THE CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR.

Christmas has reared its festive head once again and after the year we have endured it is the glimmer of cheer to round off this diabolical year. That time of the year where no matter the mood, the sight of a beautifully lit tree in all its sparkling glory gives you that warm, melancholy feeling inside. Hot chocolates lathered with full fat squirty cream topped with pink and white spongy marshmallows, the standard daily drink which your hips don’t thank you for. More loose corks than presents under the tree whilst Fairytale of New York catches you off guard and you realise your eyes have filled up with white wine induced tears. Conjuring up our Christmas plans, Covid friendly of course and the main priority, a fully stocked wine bar and fridge. It really is the time for appreciating everything you have whilst mustering up the resolutions for the brand-new year.   in our feels

Nevertheless, every year, someone is missing, and I find myself asking again Has it really been another year without her? I can’t even remember the last Christmas with her. Christmas has always been a bittersweet time for me, even though it takes pride in its ‘most wonderful time of the year ‘trademark’. Truth is everyone is really fucking sad, dressing their sad eyes with glitter eyeshadow and covering the hollow hole in their heart with a ridiculous, knitted festive jumper. I try not to trample angrily over the Christmas spirit. I’m guilty for overcompensating for an award-winning Christmas but by the time the day is over, I realise it’s the same repetitive routine and the two-player game of Monopoly went down like a lead balloon. I don’t want a tub of quality street to force myself through before the 1st of January ‘New year, New me’ malarkey starts. What I really want is her back, that woman I once knew. The safety blanket I once had and took for granted. I want her dressed to the nines, glass of Asti in hand or I’ll take her in her comfies, tea towel over shoulder picking at the turkey. Her warm green eyes that squint when she’s concentrating and her short smile that shows her two front teeth crossing, mirroring mine. A chance to hear her voice again saying ‘ open this one next ‘ I would let her voice settle through me and calm me as a lullaby would, capture it and hold onto it and never let it go. That would sure be icing on the Christmas cake.

It’s a love hate relationship with that old devil called Christmas. A yearly reminder another year has passed. Another year without wishing her Merry Christmas, another year of not pulling a cracker with her, another year of not being able to write ‘For Mum’ on a gift tag. It’s the small things that are the most wounding. It was the 2018 Boots advert that was dedicated to Mum that hit me like a ton of bricks every time it came on. It’s the John Lewis 2020 ‘Give a little love’ that glazes my eyes over and I’m whisked away to a better 25th December with her. The whole day is tainted with woe and I catch myself convincing myself that her spirit sits at the table next to me. That the cold breeze across the back of my neck is her playing tricks on me until I see the back door open airing the room from the smoky oven. When Christmas approaches, grief packs its bags with the excitement of a vacation, free accommodation staying inside of Sasha’s frustrated, emotional soul. Grief is the great master puppeteer, it knows without failure that it will be a sell out show. The Christmas spectacular – bring tissues.

My twelfth Christmas without Mum and it never, ever gets easier. If I had known all those Christmases ago when she purposefully hid the very last present of a Password Journal under the stairs or when she made me think I’d lost my Nokia 3310 only to re-open it on the day and discover a brand new Groovy Chick case. I would of hugged her so tight and nuzzled in her neck taking in the Mum scent I no longer know. I guess that’s the lesson in life, we only think about doing these things until its ultimately to fucking late. As cliché as it sounds it could never be more true, you don’t know what you have got until its gone. So, whilst this Christmas will be in true 2020 style and the opportunity of mixing is forever in limbo. Don’t frown at the suggestion of a Christmas day zoom quiz and if you can hug and tell your loved ones how much they are appreciated and loved because the reality is you’ll never be prepared for when the final curtain may come down on the Christmas Spectacular you currently know.

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GRIEF

DEAR, SIXTEEN YEAR OLD ME.

Dear sixteen year old me,

In over one night you became an adult prematurely. You instantly set yourself a set of rules to live by and the pressure you put upon yourself for a sixteen year old was heavy. It’s ok to behave the way you are. It could go one of two ways and the fact you are choosing the ‘throw yourself back into life’ way is admirable. In all honesty it is completely understandable if you were to choose the vulnerable mess who locks herself in a room for days on end and you struggle to see a way forward.

For a hormonal girl who has just lost her life line, her comfort zone, her Mother. The feeling of guilt is going to really grind away at you. You shouldn’t feel guilty for being in a relationship and focusing your mind on other things for distraction. You shouldn’t feel guilty that you chose not to listen, not to understand and not care more. You knew deep down what was happening, but you chose to ignore it just as any other girl your age would do. The ending was inevitable and no other scenario would have eased this pain you are going through.

It’s a shame you went to counselling only once, stole a book and never returned. You aren’t ready to talk and you don’t know how yet and that is ok, you will find your own therapy through writing. Later in life you will probably wish you had stuck it out. You could probably make more sense of it now than when you are older because you will have a lot more responsibilities and pressure. Mental health issues will take its toll and you will find it extremely difficult as to why you think, do and feel the way you will, but such is life.

There is nothing wrong with being independent and feeling as though it is you against the world, but let people in. Don’t hold your experience of loss against people that love you and suspect the same outcome. People do care and when they say they aren’t going anywhere they can often mean it, go easy on them.

Grief is going to hit you at the most inconvenient time throughout your life and there will be a voice that will often remind you out of the blue that your Mother is no longer here. The angry you inside is going to be resentful, blameful and furious that she left. How dare she leave you alone in this world? As if she had any control over the situation. It’s ok, I am sure she forgives you.

It will never, ever make sense. It will always be a blur. It will only get harder the older you become. It will take you longer than 10 seconds to really remember what her voice sounded like. The photos will always be the same and you will feel like you are running out of options to keep looking at and keep the memory alive. There will always be a deep, dark hole in your life that will never be filled and life’s up’s and downs will feel ten times harder than the usual.

If there is one thing you should know is that you should be proud of yourself. You will make it to 27 and have a story of achievements, joy and adventure to tell. You will be as strong as you said you were going to be all along. You will have a deep spiritual connection and intuition which will guide you and answer all your questions asked. You will be lucky enough to know when she is around and right next to you and you will find a deep comfort in that.

16 year old Sasha, you cannot see any light right now but the determination within you is burning. You will succeed, it wont be easy but somehow you will make it out the other side. Keep going girl, your Mother would be so proud of you.

Love, Twenty Seven year old you x

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LIFE

LONDON, LANDLORDS AND THE FUNERAL OF MY YOUTH.

Oh the long distant memory of feeling securely wrapped in my parents bank account blanket. We were never rich but we were also never short of a holiday. As a child, money worries are non existent, you go about your easy day. To school and back, quick trip to the park and back and anything that comes with a price is never a worry, well at least that’s how I remember my childhood. I remember the filled food cupboards, the clothes we wore, the shopping trips. Mum’s black leather Marks and Spencer’s purse would come out and was miraculously filled with a crisp £10 note or a piece of plastic we never really felt the need to yearn for as a youth, as what was Mum’s.. was ours. Thank god when we were young the likes of electricity, water and Heat were all free……..

Now here I am, 20 years later with a few of my own empty plastic cards battered and bruised and no children to blame. And no… electricity, water and heat are not fucking free! “ It’s okay you got this ” I’ve said to myself many of times over a crisp glass of white to quieten the ‘ you’re fucked ‘ demon in my head. I’m only getting older and the need to own my own house is only growing stronger by the day. But how in the hell can I make this work when my expenses are rapidly growing and London is one big fat rip off. So I ask; Is it time to give up this expensive London life and settle down in a more financially achievable city?

Letting London go is like putting the nail in my youth’s coffin. London is the place to be, the city that never sleeps, the big smoke, “you can never get bored, living in London” No you can never get bored, but I tell you what you can get? SKINT. With extortionate rent increases for shittier flats that the big bad wolf could blow down and when I refer to the big bad wolf, who I mean is the non-existent Landlord’s. They’re happy to take a high percentage of your monthly earnings but don’t want to fix a lightbulb or replace the five year old bed thats giving you an early onset hunch. How are you ever suppose to keep up this London life and save for a future, a mortgage, dare I say it.. kids?

I have been toying with the idea of moving out of London for the past couple of years now. Edging closer and closer to the thirty age range, all of a sudden having babies and buying a bigger house are slipping into most conversations which scares the living daylights out of me. But if I’m not speaking about it now, i’ll be settling down, paying the big bad wolf himself with nothing to show but my hunch back in the city that never sleeps. The city might not sleep, but I do… I’m very much in bed for 8pm and thats exactly how I like it.

It’s a vicious ring of fire, after living here for over five years, I have become part of a work, pay bills cycle with nothing left to put aside for ‘proper’ adult life. I’m proud to say I’ve climbed the salary ladder over the years of being a Londoner but the thing is, it’s never enough. I’ve lived a fun lifestyle in London, the partying, the dinners, the shopping trips and everything else that I’ve been lucky enough to have on my doorstep but it’s come to my realisation that my home is where my heart is. With my guy cooking, reading, chilling out after a hectic day’s work. Does it make me sound old and boring? Yes, I can safely say it does and I may as well start to look into retirement homes whilst I’m at it but I can no longer see the point of being based in an expensive city that I no longer take advantage of.

Maybe it is time to hand my Oyster card back in and re-claim my £5 and make space for a fresh, budding pre-grey hairs and patience like a saint twenty something to naively hand over their monthly earnings and be able to hear the neighbours loudly doing it and night buses slugging through it. Who doesn’t mind after a long days work on the commute home standing on their two feet after an entitled verging on OAP makes them begrudgingly give up their seat. Where Oxford street is all fun and games but to get there on the central line you’ll burst into flames which is no good anymore for an old gal like me, I can’t even make it halfway there without needing a wee.

London, it’s a love/hate relationship, I am finding it extremely hard to keep up. I’m slowly winding down, bringing the commuting rollercoaster to a halt and announcing my departure. Rural, homely, boring life I am on my way. Just give me a year to hammer the nails securely into my youth’s coffin.

Categories
GRIEF

IN A WORLD WITHOUT YOU, MUM.

In a world without you, Mum is to wake up every single morning knowing you no longer grace this earth, it’s not having used the word or called the name Mum for the purpose it should have. It’s having an extra role to play, a responsibility to take on when It comes calling, the griever, grieving. It’s accepting the fact that the figure who is meant to teach me things only they can is no longer here and the unbreakable Motherly daughter bond resides within my heart and in my heart only. It’s accepting I am a Motherless daughter and having that underlying name tag attached to me wherever I may go and eventually people learning of it whoever I may meet.

In a world without you, Mum is having to remind myself that the one phone call away privilege is no longer. It’s remembering all the times before I abused it and sometimes never even used it. Mobile phone minutes are currently left pristine the only hopeful communication being through dreams. The world is a scary place for any living, breathing human, and having to live it alone is sometimes intimidating. I could be surrounded by as many faces I can’t even count and still feel like it’s just me unheard, no matter how loud I shout.

If I could see my own heart, I would look away disturbed. The huge gaping black hole staring back at me unnerved. I used to try and fill it, desperate for repair. Then I came to learn that it’s unfillable, forever painfully there. In a world without you, Mum it’s having to guess for guidance, no opportunities to physically ask what should I do? It would be the comfort of hearing your valued advice, your singing green eyes wouldn’t have to tell me twice. It’s having to feel whether you would agree with my life choices, relying on intuition, listening out for voices.

I have an outline of hurt that’s settled itself around me, lightly pulsating reminding me what is out of place. In a world without you, Mum it’s seeing life through different eyes, it’s forever surviving, a broken heart in disguise. It’s all of the drunken wine bottles we should have shared, it’s the sisterly arguments that caused temporary despair. These scenes I yearn for, a part of my life eternally obscure. No little girl should be without her Mum, I am patiently waiting for the day, the day we meet to gracefully come.

In a world without you, Mum I’m still learning how to cope, still learning to withstand hope, to attain a zest for life, not mope. A flicker in the corner of my eye, a specific time or a prominent breeze are all soft reminders that you still surround me, I take great comfort in these gentle signs as they aren’t by chance, they are simply divine. A slither of optimism that you still dance within my existence, our realms aligning, we are within reaching distance. In a world without you, Mum I am surprised I still produce tears, I could fill up oceans with what I have cried over the years. It’s hearing the word ‘Mum’ and my heart habitually drops, haunting memories of your last moments, those moments I had no power to stop.

In a world without you, Mum I have learnt to be indefinitely strong, I see, think, believe, and feel what others may see as wrong. Every time I see my reflection, I deep down see fragments of you. Your curvy body, slanted eyes, and humour as witty too. I continue to keep your memory alive, I long for our past to simply revive.

In a world without you Mum, I live for you, I live through you.

Thank you for taking the precious time to read this poem dedicated to my LOVELY Mum, Tracey who left us on the 15th June, 2008. Please feel free to share this post by clicking below if you enjoyed.

thank you as always x

Categories
LIFE

LOCKDOWN GUILT

I begin to wake up and can feel the new warm rays of sunshine beaming through the slatted blinds that reside to the left of me. The cotton slept in sheets beneath me are supporting my curled up position comfortably and I can hear the light snoozing of my other half at the side of me. My eyes flicker with anticipation of seeing a new day. I open my eyes and just as I come to, something nudges lightly in the back of my mind. And just like that I remember that we are eight weeks strong into a lockdown, enduring a global pandemic. My anticipation soon settles itself and I predict the monotonous routine today is going to offer. Cup of tea, a workout, some writing or reading, lunch, watch an episode of a nominated series, prepare dinner, eat dinner, and lounge on the sofa until the tiredness of the lazy lockdown day number 589 kicks in. Each day is accompanied by different moods and feelings towards the isolation and distance from friends and family. There’s always one persistent feeling present however, a constant nagging yet aching pain, good old guilt.

She refrains from giving it a rest, persistent in getting her point across. She’s there when your being somewhat productive and relaxing on your arm chair bedside you when your chilling out. There has been numerous fights between her and myself as to whether she has any leg to stand on but she’s stubborn, obstinate, tiring and unwanted but it seems I can’t shake her when it comes to these tenacious fifteen shades of guilt.

1. Waking up after 9am– The pleasure of lying in your own heavenly kingdom of a bed far later than your daily working routine would usually allow is ceaseless. I have been given this opportunity to create my own schedule and yet the dream of waking up anytime past what’s deemed early morning is crushed. Guilt ridden lie-ins are now the new lie-ins, how are you ever meant to get the most out of your twice as long day sitting in the living room if you are festering in the bed. I need to get up and do something. . . my sleeping time is up.

2. Staying up after Midnight – Without going to bed early, there isn’t much hope of dragging myself out of bed before 9am either. So when that hourly hand is ticking by as politely yet quickly as it does, I am desperate to stick to my bedtime routine. This is not a holiday. . .

3. Missing Out A Day Of Exercise –The long wretched London working hours and soul draining commute would leave me energy-less. Seemed as though time and motivation was well and truly diminished when it came to any type of after work physical activity. Now current circumstances seem to be giving me every free hour that god sends *You best get your ass in your gym gear and feel that burn* Two times a week of exercise used to be an achievement, four times a week – a breaking triumph. So with all the spare time, setting the bar high at the beginning seemed attainable if not applaudable.

Six days on/one day off – Turns out not so attainable.

4. Writers Block– I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I’ve day dreamed at my work desk about becoming a full time writer from the comfort of my own home. Well, here I am given the chance of a self employed free trial during this pandemic and stats show that if this was to be my main source of income then I’d probably be evicted right now. The ideas and inspiration train has come to a significant halt and I can’t see any repairs team to get it back on track. It seems everyone else is pouring with the stuff and I am sat here idea-less, uninspired and blocked. Great ..

5. Not Pursuing New Hobby – New hobby, new me. Baking – Relaxing, Anxiety buster, Fun for all involved, what is not to love? I gave it a good old go on the baking front. I invested in my nine pound loaf tin, built up a solid ingredients cupboard and threw myself into the world where Mary Berry lives. Banana breads, Lemon drizzle… I was conquering the world. It came to my attention that the more baking I was doing, the more cake I was consuming which was not supporting my attainble 6 days a week workout schedule. As I stood there with more flour on the floor than in my bowl, I considered it my last bake for a while. All that effort I contributed into the hobby and I quit. I am sure I can hear the unused loaf tins’ tears.

6. Online Shopping– THE BANE OF MY LIFE. Less daily outgoings, more pennies sat there going to no good use. Abandoned filled baskets wondering where their owner is to claim them. Every single shopping app is visited at least twice a day waiting patiently for me to put them to good use and order something, it has become part of my daily routine. Online shopping is a temporary high, the feeling is soon dissipated when the clothes arrive and you have absolutely nowhere to wear them, I am trying my hardest to not give in to the ‘What’s New’ tab and twice as hard not to click buy.

7. Doing Business– You would think with all this time on my hands is when my brain would finally grasp onto the multi-millionaire business idea. This is the time when I could be really putting things into place and working towards becoming the next Oprah Winfrey. How am I not halfway towards becoming the next Oprah Winfrey?

8. Not getting dressed– They say if you get dressed, you feel ready to take on the day. It supports you to feel productive and get things done. I gave it a go and committed to getting dressed in daily clothes. I admit I felt more alive, looked half decent and could finally wash my pyjama bottoms I had formed a strong bond with. I gave myself a taster of what it feels like to get up and get dressed again. But truth be told, jeans are uncomfortable, my house is weirdly cold and I don’t deal well with separation. As I sit here typing out my feelings of guilt of not making an effort to dress myself, my pyjama bottoms sheepishly comfort me.

9. Committing to TV Recommendations– The list in endless, I don’t know why I get myself into this predicament of committing to watching something recommended by someone when I don’t even watch the TV. I know there is more time on my hands and I’ll say my hours of TV has increased from 1 to 2 but not half as much to keep up with the amount I am being told to entertain. The answer is No, I haven’t started Homeland and yes I have TV commitment issues.

10. Going Outdoors– Even though we have been allowed 1 hour of exercise per day outdoors and still allowed to the shops for essentials. I still can’t help feeling like I should still be indoors when I’m outdoors.

11. Being Indoors– I also try to limit my time outdoors and be a complete caveman for a consecutive few days. But then I also can’t help feeling like I should utilise that time we have been blessed with to be outdoors when I am indoors to refrain from going completely mad. Makes sense?

12. Nipping to the shop for an essential – I am trying my hardest to stick to the once per week shop. Making a list and awaiting that day to come around so you can re-stock your snack cupboard. But sometimes when your halfway through the week and you realise you haven’t got that one ingredient for your Tuesday night spontaneous dish (or you have ran out of sauvignon blanc) the yearning to just pop over to the shop is aching. If I break this one tiny, tiny rule would this make me a Covidiot?

13. Not having much to say– The phone calls are constant, but the conversation is still. My usual want to spark an interesting conversation has wilted into forgotten herbs that live the back of the fridge. Even my Nanna is cutting the conversation short as she realises I’m sighing into the universe wondering what to say next. Seeing as we have already covered what we both had for breakfast, what we’re having for dinner and what were having for breakfast and dinner tomorrow I am turning into a uninteresting mute.

14. Short attention span– I cannot concentrate on anything long enough to even claim it as a productive activity. It looks as though I can’t finish more than two chapters in my book, I loose faith in a writing idea the moment it pops in my head and I am already looking at my phone fifteen minutes into the movie even though I have been aimlessly scrolling all day. It seems the want is there to do everything but the attention span is minimal.

15. Feeling Guilty– I’m feeling guilty for feeling guilty. *Someone get her a strong drink*. . . A constant game of ping pong taking place in my brain battling out feeling guilty for not being as productive, enthusiastic, willing, motivated, prepared, driven, ambitious as I’d imagined in these circumstances and to just STOP – FEELING – GUILTY.

I am aware nobody was prepared for this situation we are all enduring momentarily. I cannot remember the letter from Boris Johnson either claiming we all must utilise this time to become an overnight millionaire, overnight fitness fanatic or star baker. I am a sucker for beating myself up, feeling unproductive when actually there were lots of productive highlights to my week. In our generation we are so used to seeing everything we achieve documented on social media platforms yet we have to stay grounded and remember just because you are not announcing it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Guilt is a feeling people typically have after doing something wrong, intentionally or accidentally. A person’s sense of guilt usually relates to their moral code.

Guilt isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes it’s even productive.

Categories
LIFE

BODY IMAGE: HOW IT DEFINED MY SUCCESS

* TRIGGER WARNING*

In this blog post I am sharing my personal story about weight struggles/crash dieting and negative behaviours regarding body image. If you are personally struggling, this particular post might not be for you right now.

I am looking in the mirror in underwear that has seen better days, turning once to the left, suck in until I can’t breathe followed by turning to the right . . . repeat. ‘ Hideous, bloated, wide, stretched, uncomfortable, fat’ I say to myself and I feel it even more so. As I turn back to face myself in all it’s shameful glory I am instantly taken back to images of me standing in front of a different mirror in my stage school days. Leotard and tights sucking every inch of teenage fat I own, every inch of my body on a stage of its own, showing every lump and bump that theoretically shouldn’t be there on a body of a dancer. I’m taken back to an image of the medical cupboard in the kitchen of my childhood home. . . vitamins, supplements and a concoction of weight loss pills. A new prescription every month that my Mum would try and test. I am taken back to being in numerous bathrooms after a meal trying to make myself sick knowing full well I could never be a person to throw up their food but thinking it’s the only way to give them the dancers body they want to see. I would change my mind instantly as soon as my fingers touched the back of my throat. Laxatives, I had tons of them, Confidence, I had none of it. I remember being told that what my ‘problem’ was is that I emotionally ate because I piled on weight after losing my Mum at sixteen. I remember being told to remain standing amongst a sea of vulnerable girls and boys as it was announced that the people left standing were too fat, I was stood up. I also remember being threatened to be sent home from my first dance contract if I didn’t drop a specific amount of weight in an unachievable amount of time.

I was brought up in a world where Body Image was everything. The way I looked was of such high importance from a ridiculously young age. It was ingrained in me that to be a successful dancer you had to have a successfully slim body. From the age of ten, I was in skimpy costumes which were more or less next to nothing and as my little pot belly stuck out waiting excitedly to take the stage there would always be someone on cue to poke my little tummy as a small reminder with a smile to ‘suck it in’. I would look around at other girls who were all alot smaller than me and wonder why I was just that little bit fluffier than the other children. In a mind of a ten-year-old, a comment like that didn’t weigh heavily on my mind and seemed more of a passing comment, a fleeting thought rather than an insult. I lived a happy childhood and dancing was my passion, I did everything and anything to make sure I lived my dream and I did. But looking back now I am forever scarred, damaged and affected by what my body should look like. My inner demon was my relationship with weight and how that decided my future success.

For as long as I remember, I have forever been in both a physical and mental battle with my Body Image. My weight fluctuated tremendously over the years and I finally achieved the dreamy dancer’s body I worked so hard towards throughout my early twenties. However, I now look back and don’t see any significant happiness radiating from those memories regarding my body, though I am senselessly wishing for that specific body back. If I wasn’t unhappily overweight, I was unhappily underweight and starving. I created a brilliant façade that I was at this perfect weight, looking the best I ever had, a different person almost. But the un-sustainability of it all was wicked. The amount of exercise due to my job as a dancer and on top of that the added fitness within the gym was endless, all whilst fuelling myself with a pathetic bowl of rice with a side of cucumber slices, soup and the odd chocolate bar when I felt I could get away with it. The boozing was heavy and the smoking continuous. Yes, I was thin and my collar bones jutted out like all thinspiration images have us believe is desirable but I was hungry, moody, unstable and unbelievably tired. My body is naturally curvy, I inherited my big bum, boobs and legs and I was going against the natural genetics trying to be something that took strict discipline which no person would enjoy. Only now at the sweet age of twenty-eight am I beginning a journey which I should have embarked on a long time ago which is learning how to associate exercise with mental and body strength rather than ‘weight loss’ which is what I am so used to doing it for and embracing the body I was given.

When I thought about writing a piece on Body Image, I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted the message to be or what I wanted people to take away from it as I am so new to identifying my struggles with the subject myself, I am merely halfway there to being educated enough to inspire others but I felt that if I was putting myself out there admitting to my personal inner demon then maybe others could resonate and I wouldn’t feel so alone. Since the beginning of the lockdown, it seemed the first thing people lost their shit over was how they were going to work out and I jumped right into the problem solving with them. Wondering how the hell will I get my fitness in? Ordering a Yoga Mat, weights, new gym gear. All whilst this little demon was whispering in my ear reminding me that I was hardly doing any fucking fitness beforehand, so what’s the emergency now? All this new time on our hands and I channelled all my confused pandemic energy into something that everyone else was, a classic example of ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ a serious case of FOMO.

I started to focus on running, calorie counting, watching what I was eating, checking in with the girls about how it was all going and stepping on the scales each morning which I J’DETESTE doing. It was only until halfway through that I could feel this heavy, dreaded feeling within me, a dark shadow when I woke up knowing full well I didn’t want to do this, but I had to. I was beginning to compare, I was beginning to be extremely critical, I was beginning to obsess and be upset when I didn’t see any change from one day to the next or when I was baking Banana Bread (another pandemic pressure) and eating it within the same day, I felt disgusted with myself and would internally beat myself up. I was forcing myself into yet again another self-destructive way of dieting knowing full well it wasn’t going to last because let’s face it, I had been here time and time again. But I NEED to lose weight I thought, I NEED to look like I used to. I wish I could stick to this, and look like them and before I knew it I had brought this disgusting unhealthy relationship with my body to the forefront of my mind giving it all my attention night and day. It wasn’t until after I had shouted abusive words at myself in the mirror one evening and broke down crying that I confronted myself and asked why and who am I doing this for?

I have spent most of my life focused on weight and how I should look for the industry I chose to be a part of and for what others needed to see for me to be able to succeed. I know that I did it for other people because I was dedicated to what I wanted to do. I only wish I had had the right guidance I needed at the time so I could have had a better understanding of nutrition and the Body. The truth was and still is, I love food. I love to eat, drink the odd glass of wine and indulge when I feel I want/need/deserve it, it makes me happy, I left my dancing days behind me a good five years ago now and the only person I need to feel good for is myself.

Social media is shaping our concept of beauty and the way we perceive ourselves. We spend so much time on there whether that be for pleasure or work that we must understand how inextricably linked the two are. That being said I took it upon myself to unfollow anyone on social media that made me compare and judge myself in a negative way when it came to my body and I flooded my Instagram with all the Body Positivity influencers I could find. I cannot tell you the difference it makes to me, going onto social media and seeing a sea full of beautiful, strong real women who ooze strength and look like me and say all the right things to make you feel good about yourself rather than what was before which was intensifying my negative psychological outlook on Body Image. It is encouraging to want to love yourself when you see how easy others make it look. I have only dipped my toe in the water and I already feel a huge difference in the way I look at myself, why I choose to exercise and what I choose to eat. There’s a very long way to go but I feel a relief that I have finally started to tackle my distasteful, shaming behaviour I had towards myself for someone who theoretically no longer existed.

I exercise to feel strong both physically and mentally, so my body and mind are ready to do what it needs to do for the Sasha I am now, not dancer Sasha. I aim to eat consciously knowing what my limits are, pushing for more nutritious options but not beating myself up after I caved and ordered Pizza. I vow to never fall into continuous, harmful ways of yoyo dieting and speaking to myself with the dis-respect I have in the past and I deserve to let go of my body hang-ups, the number on the scales and the photos of Tiny Sasha who in all honesty had a lollipop head. It’s been twenty long, body image pressured years but now it feels like it’s finally come to an end. I know what I have to do for me personally to feel good, be happy when I look at my own reflection and learn to love the skin I am in, as cliche as it all sounds. It’s only now that I realise my weight doesn’t have to define me and determine my success any longer. A strong, healthy , focused, happy mind does.

I am discussing more on these particular topics over on ‘A BREATH OF FRESH VOICES’ Podcast with my amazing friend @soullaax, a chance to hear my voice and also hear about growing up in the dancing industry, weight & crash dieting from another perspective. You can find us over on the links below;

Categories
MENTAL HEALTH

LET’S TALK INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS

Intrusive Thoughts, something that isn’t discussed as openly as it should be and why should it? It’s something solely disturbing, embarrassing, fallacious, a lie. A perpetual daily battle of fighting with distressing thoughts that pop into our minds at the most inconvenient of times. Perhaps you are wondering what an intrusive thought is, maybe you are suffering silently with intrusive thoughts too horrified, humiliated to even dare speak what is running through your mind daily. Imagine the revulsion of others after hearing what consumes you and eats you up inside identical to a poisonous, deadly snake which you cannot seem to loosen as it strengthens and intensifies itself around your mind. Imagine the people around you believing what your thoughts are telling you to be true, the snake triumphantly winning and leaving you isolated and defenseless, a loser. So we do as we are told and we sit in silence, in turmoil batting these thoughts away like an uncontrollable, frenzied game of tennis. The quicker we bat the thought away, the hastier it returns with added perseverance and need to make the scenario seem more factual than the original time it rudely showed up. Intrusive thoughts are soul-destroying, antagonistic and quite frankly a bitch. They leave us for dead as we lie excruciatingly uncomfortable in the bottom of the snake pit.

  1. “ You should step in front of the next Tube that arrives on this platform “
  2. “ You left your front door wide open “
  3. “ You are going to throw up in front of all of these people, choke then die “
  4. “ You must get off this train before you throw up “
  5. “ You are a paedophile – You look at Children “
  6. “ You are going to break your leg in an unnatural, awful way “
  7. “ When you change a baby’s nappy, you are going to do something to them… sexually “
  8. “ Your Grandmother is lying dead on her kitchen floor “
  9. “ Your partner is cheating on you “
  10. “ Your partner is Gay “
  11. “ Put this knife to your throat “
  12. “ Do a sharp left now with the steering wheel on this flyover and kill everyone “
  13. “Jump off this balcony “
  14. “If you go out tonight, you will get raped “
  15. “This car is going to come off the road and kill you whilst you are walking “
  16. “Your partner is dead”

Uncomfortable right? whilst I was writing some of those I was so tense, my body felt awkward and my body convulsed in a way I am used to when I am forced to face these thoughts that I have continually had throughout my life. I was very young when I first started having these kinds of thoughts and I continually chose to ignore them until all I could hear was this demonic voice similar to my own yet more sinister yelling these untrue, crippling statements in my head that nobody else could hear. I couldn’t concentrate, I was never listening to anybody, I was always looking over my shoulder and I was constantly living my life in fear wondering when I would come to act on these thoughts. My life spiralled rapidly and eventually, I noticed it was just lifeless me and my malicious thoughts having a slow, painful showdown waiting for the end to eventually peak.

I managed to seek the help I needed to combat these thoughts. What amazed me whilst doing so was how many people in this world were suffering the same thoughts that I was. I thought I was a freak, a weirdo, there was something seriously wrong with me. I had surrendered myself to believe that I would do some of those things and that each statement about me reckoned to be true. They took over my body and poisoned their way throughout my brain to eventually make me a weak shell of myself. These thoughts had won ownership of me and they controlled my life like the captor they so proudly were. It was they who convinced me that there was nothing I could do. They had me tight-lipped, voiceless drowning in shame.

But what are Intrusive thoughts? Why do we have them? How can we stop them & how can we speak more openly about intrusive thoughts?

WHAT ARE INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS & WHY DO WE HAVE THEM?

In short, Intrusive Thoughts are stuck thoughts that cause a great deal of distress. They seem to come from out of nowhere, arrive with a whoosh, and cause a great deal of anxiety. The content of unwanted intrusive thoughts often can focus on sexual, violent or socially unacceptable images. Intrusive thoughts are a form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) No, OCD isn’t just a disorder which focuses on cleanliness, there is alot more to it. To break it down simply your obsession is the thought itself being present, it’s what we obsess over. The compulsion is what we choose to do with it, our repetitive behaviours, our rituals. This could be a mental or physical ritual, something we think or do to ease our anxieties but this ease is short-lived, our rituals are a temporary fix. The reality of this constant back and forth and fighting with our thoughts prove draining, self-destructing and take up an extreme amount of our precious time.

The average person has 12,000 – 60,000 thoughts per day. 85% of those thoughts are usually negative and we cannot control the negativity that comes through, no matter how disturbing. The difference between someone who suffers from Intrusive Thoughts is that we attach a meaning to a particular thought. Meaning that we dwell on that one thought rather than simply letting it go. We let the disturbing thought eat us up inside and we panic of its authenticity which is what then causes the high waves of anxiety and anguish. Have you ever wondered why we don’t dwell on a thought like ‘Our Partners surprising us with dinner when we get home from work ‘ but are open to the mental battle with ourselves that ‘our partners are in our bed with another person having mind-blowing sex?’ My therapist said to me that we have these particular disturbing thoughts and we get ourselves into such a panicked state because we know that this kind of action is so far from the truth and the person that we are. We fixate on trying to convince ourselves we are a danger to ourselves and others around us, a threatening version of ourselves, but that version doesn’t and never will exist. If you are feeling somewhat joy from your thoughts or an urge to act on them, that’s when you should be worried, that’s when something is not right. These Intrusive Thoughts are designed to make us miserable and extremely uncomfortable because we know what we are thinking is unfathomable.

HOW CAN WE STOP INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS?

I believe there is no such thing as stopping intrusive thoughts altogether, a thought is a thought and we cannot control what pops into our heads every day. However, what we can control is what we choose to do with them when they do make an appearance. I always suffered in the past with convincing myself that I was going to throw up in spaces I couldn’t escape from fast, usually, this would be during peak time, on a packed London tube where the air is non-existent and there are plenty of people to throw-up on.

When this thought used to enter my mind, I had the same reactions, I would sit up straight (regarding I had a seat) whilst my body temperature started to rapidly rise followed by an awkward stretch. I would touch the back of my hair to prove to other commuters everything was fine when really I was convincing myself. Whilst talking myself down to wait until I got to the upcoming stop, I would fly off the train to go and throw up. I NEVER threw up, the only thing I did do was make myself late for work and ultimately I let the little voice in my head win, time and time again. What I learnt through therapy, which took me a long time and I am still adapting to filtering this into my daily routine was to control my reactions, resist the urge of the sit straight, stretch and touch hair ritual I had become so accustomed to and as much as it was uncomfortable, I had to learn to sit with my uncomfortableness by not reacting, not stretching and not jumping off the train at any given chance. I eventually started testing myself to make it further and further down the Jubilee line, stop by stop and before I knew it, it would be my actual stop, I made it. The feeling was euphoric.

We have to learn to accept our thoughts and sit with time to allow it to pass through as we do with the ‘I’m packing my bags and leaving for Barbados tomorrow ‘ after a tough day at the office or “ imagine if I won the lottery “ thought. We sit with it, never make an actual decision or commit to it and it vanishes. Our thoughts are wild snippets of our huge imaginations most of the time and the focal ones rarely have anything to do with our reality.

HOW CAN WE TALK MORE OPENLY ABOUT INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS?

Hopefully, to those of you who are reading this, you may be suffering, have suffered or know someone who may be suffering from this disorder can take away that WE ARE ALL NORMAL, we are not weird, or murderers, pedophiles or dangerous. Shout it out loud, YOU ARE NORMAL. These thoughts DO NOT define us and yes we can conquer them.

I have so many friends who suffer from Intrusive thoughts and every time we open up to each other about what we are feeling, it’s as though a heavily weighted demon has been lifted and we can see a future not being eaten up by this monster. The more we feel comfortable with accepting that these are only thoughts and that we aren’t alone, the more we will feel inclined to be able to speak out and to others without feeling burning shame. Instead, we can feel accepted, ordinary, free.

Intrusive thoughts may have us stamped as unhinged and flat out weird but we deserve compassion, support and care when it comes to vocalising what we are going through. Whether that be to our therapists, friends or a family member. These flurries of everyday sadistic thoughts appear to be the keeper of us all but we can flip reverse this proprietorship with the support and willpower to truly understand what Intrusive Thoughts are and why we have them. We lack a space where these thoughts are spoken openly about because we feel nothing but shame and humiliation but wouldn’t these feelings be eradicated if we knew just how many others were thinking the same thing?

Below I have listed links that talk more thoroughly about Intrusive Thoughts and how to get help if you are suffering. If you share one thing today make it this particular blog post. It just might be what someone needs to read who is suffering in silence, to scared to speak, to seek help like I was. If you would like to continue the conversation, as always my DM’s are wide open.

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/about-ocd/

https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/conditions/ocd/

https://positivepsychology.com/intrusive-thoughts/

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-can-i-stop-ocd-thoughts-2510498