On lying and taking responsibility.

So, I seem to go through these phases of writing ferociously, and then losing the ‘plot’ a bit before writing ferociously again. Initially, I was like ‘shit, that’s not cool’, but for now I am just going to roll with it.

When I was younger (from about 14 until just before I turned 20), I was full of shit. I know right; has there ever been a teenager in the history of the world who hasn’t been full of shit, even if it’s a short period? Anyway…

I took drugs, I drank like a fiend, partied ’til ridiculous hours of the morning, lied to my family…all that stuff. After coming home from a club, eyes still shining brightly from all the ecstacy I had taken, my grandmother would say ‘You look so happy! Did you meet someone special?’ and I would lie through my teeth.

In my bedroom, there was a custom built bed with a cupboard and walking area underneath it (so basically like a really high bunk bed with no bottom bed – I had to use stairs and a platform to get to the bed), and this became the dumping ground for the dozens of bottles of booze after having friends over for the weekend. When my grandparents weren’t around, I would fill black bags with these bottles and dump them a block or so down the road, in someone else’s garbage.

So I became used to lying. I didn’t like lying, but the thought of telling my grandparents what I was up to was too terrifying a thought to entertain for longer than a few minutes.

These things have a way of coming out of course – and they did, after I drank a bottle of vodka and swallowed some rat poison. Despite feeling physically ill, the relief I felt after telling my grandmother what a shit I was, was overwhelming. It probably helped that I told her after an attempted suicide (what’s a bit of drinking/drugging compared to a suicide attempt?) but at the time I wasn’t thinking of it like that. I was desperate, and I needed help.

Unfortunately, while I learnt a big lesson after that day, it was not enough to keep me honest. While living with my son’s father I reached an all-time low in the lie department, and although I have ‘made amends’, I don’t know if I will ever truly forgive myself for what I put my family through. But fuck, that’s a story for another day.

It feels like it’s taking forever to get to my point, sorry. My point is: take responsibility for your fuck-ups.

I spent so many years blaming other people for the things I was caught out on.  And it was fucking exhausting, man. My son saved me though; the minute I found out I was pregnant at the age of 19, it was like a switch in my brain had suddenly flipped. I was so tired of my life and the decisions I had made, and so full of self-hatred for what I had put my loved ones through, and I decided that enough was enough.

Everybody fucks up. In fact, I would go so far as to say everybody is supposed to fuck up. It’s a necessary life lesson. Nobody is perfect, and perfection isn’t something I believe we should strive for.

When asked about my past and the circumstances which have led me to where I am today, I am brutally honest. Yes, I lied and cheated. Yes, I took a lot of drugs and did stupid things. I’ve been in a psychiatric institution, various hospitals, and dozens of psychologist rooms. I have scared the shit out of people with my obsessive tendencies, I have manipulated and said many hurtful things to people I love. Today, I take responsibility for my actions and admit when I have made a mistake. I still fuck up, I still say hurtful things, I still bend the truth a little at times…but when the temper cools and the demonic glaze has left my eyes, I apologise and take responsibility.

This spills over to work too. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing irritates me more than not taking responsibility for something you did wrong. If you want to make me furious, just try to pin your wrongdoings on someone else. Grow some balls! Admit that you’ve fucked up, say you’re sorry and try not to do it again! Surely this isn’t so hard? I have made a royal mess of things sometimes, which is of course not great, but most of the time I work my ass off and I produce great work. We’re all in the same crazy,thrilling, fucked up boat with a dodgy captain and a few holes in the floor…let’s make it as easy as we can for each other, yes?

Life is rough enough as it is.

Just one (of many) reasons to marry an artist.

Kayden’s school requested that we create a Spring hat for the first ‘official’ day of Spring (1st of September). The owner of the most creative hat would be given a prize.

There’s nothing like a bit of competition between parents. Seriously. Some people go nuts.

When I read the request in his message book, I quickly did a mental check of things we could use in the house and came up with a grand total of zero. When chatting to Kayden about it in the car after picking him up from school, my ideas included sewing leaves together in a hat-like shape (Kayden was the voice of reason in this case and kept on asking ‘But how?’) and….nope, that’s about it actually.

However, my genius boyfriend (uuurgh, there’s that shitty word again) saved us. I don’t think I have mentioned this before but he is a brilliant artist. He works wonders with just a black pen and a piece of paper.

It was late – Sunday evening was approaching and I still hadn’t done a single thing about the Spring hat. I eventually asked Nathan whether he had a spare peak cap that I could stick the word ‘Spring’ on and have Kayden colour it in, along with drawing a few flowers. Not exactly a ‘most creative hat’ contender. My version of a flower is a small circle and long, uneven oval shaped lines around it. I usually get about five ‘petals’ round there. Impressive, right? Nathan’s version could come out of one of those books titled ‘How to Draw Flowers So You Actually Seem Like You Cared About Your Son’s School Project’ (it’s still being edited, I imagine).

Nathan drew three pages of beautiful different flowers and we sat on the bed with a page each to colour in. He then cut them out and wound them round the peak cap to make a pretty awesome looking Spring hat. Kayden was thrilled, and I was super impressed. Yet another reason why I love this man. It was also a pretty cool ‘family moment’ as well.

We’re not married yet (I’m just imagining our respective family members calling us in a panic, wondering why they weren’t invited to the ceremony), but with Nathan around, future school projects (of which there will be many!) will be a breeze. Yay!

If you freak out at the thought of doing school projects, and you don’t have a creative bone in your body, just pick up an artist and you’re sorted! Various pick-up lines come to mind:

Will you paint me like one of your french girls?
Ideally they should have at least painted one french girl before.
I’ll be the canvas, you be the brush.
Accompanied by seductive gaze – let me know if you get that right though as I think I look a bit ‘special’ when trying to be seductive.
Let me be your muse.
This would probably work better if you had a twinkle in your eye and long, flowing hair that moves in the air even if there isn’t a breath of wind.
I just bought the most amazing set of pencils. Come and see them. At my house. With no clothes on.
A sure winner right there.
Hey stranger, you can sharpen your pencil in me anytime.
Bonus points if you’re holding a pencil and a sharpener.

Shockingly enough, I didn’t ‘pick up’ my boyfriend with any of the above. In fact, we met in High School and I went to his Matric dance. It’s a cute story actually. Perhaps I will write about it one day.

 

Surprisingly, my son doesn’t always do as he is told.

The title of this post is sarcastic, by the way. If I expected my 6 year old son to do as he was told all the time, I would hope the people who know me would give me a swift kick up the ass.

So, what actually eventually convinced me to start a blog was the idea that Kayden would be a big part of it insofar as he would provide all the artwork/images. I thought it was a great idea, and I had dreams of us growing up together – me a famous writer and Kayden a famous artist – working side by side and occasionally saying things like ‘Honey, could you draw me something nice that could go with (shoves laptop in face to show latest blog post or bestselling novel) this?’

I wasn’t expecting Kayden to want to draw all the time, and I certainly didn’t want to force it so that it became a chore as opposed to something he enjoyed doing…but lately his subject matter is limited to dinosaurs, superheroes and ninjas. I am so sick of dinosaurs right now. I no longer have the slightest capability to even feign interest in them. Fuck you, dinosaurs.

I therefore need to change tack a bit. Instead of asking him to draw something specific for a post, I am going to let him draw whatever he likes, and try to somehow fit it into what I am writing. You see, he really loves the idea of having his pics on ‘the internet’ and I just can’t say no. So that’s the idea.

It could be weird. In fact, it will be weird. I could be writing about going to the beach or something…and then a GIANT velociraptor fell from the sky and proceeded to EAT that poor man with the leopard-print speedo before joining his friends from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles around a bonfire so they could sing Coldplay’s ‘Paradise’ together.

That would never happen of course; men don’t wear speedos anymore, right?

This one time, at the periodontist.

I hate going to the dentist.

When I was 12, I had a pretty nasty car accident. One of the less serious injuries was some damage to a few of my front teeth. After that accident, no matter what any dentist did, I would have reoccurring infections. But like, nasty ones, guys. It was gross. Anyway, eventually a root canal was decided upon for the tooth that was giving the most trouble, and only after drugging me up verrrrry nicely (think drooling and giggling at the ceiling), were they able to perform the procedure.

The tooth was fine after that – no pain anymore of course, and it remained white for a good while, but then it started to turn yellow. Not bright sunshiney yellow, but a browny/yellowy colour that made it look as if that tooth was secretly smoking 40 cigarettes while I was sleeping.

I know this is kind of a gross story but bear with me.

Eventually I stopped smiling. And when I couldn’t help it, or if I laughed (I laugh a lot), I would cover my mouth in the hopes that no one would notice. When I hit my twenties, I stopped caring as much, but I was still very self-conscious about it and it was one of the main reasons I hated most photos of myself. If there were any photos I did like, I would literally Photoshop that tooth to be whiter. Silly, hey?

But then I met Doctor Howard Gluckman through a very good friend of mine. Howard is a periodontist in Cape Town and he is just incredible. When I first went to his rooms, I was super nervous and had visions of a crazy man in a mask with needles in each hand and a high-pitched voice that would make my teeth tremble. However, Howard has a special talent for making his patients feel at ease and he certainly doesn’t have a high-pitched voice. The only thing ‘wrong’ with him is if you look into his eyes for too long, it’s basically guaranteed you’re going to cry and want to spill out all your life’s problems and insecurities.

After a few consultations, Howard told me that I needed an implant. Now, when I think of the word ‘implant’, I think of breasts (don’t you?). I’m quite ample in that department though, so after imagining myself with DD boobs (scary, scary picture), I realised he was talking about my tooth. He advised that twice a year, at The Implant Clinic, he chooses someone who needs an implant and performs the surgery while other doctors watch the whole thing in another room. I don’t understand it fully, but I think ‘new’ (safe) techniques are used so the other doctors can learn about them and ask any questions they like.

This was an amazing opportunity for me, especially as a surgery like this can cost a small fortune, and so after getting over the idea that strangers would see areas of my mouth that even I haven’t seen (and don’t want to see), I was very excited and couldn’t wait to see the results.

But that was months away. And in the meantime, the tooth had deteriorated so much that some of it had come off. I blame a plum. I literally just bit into a bloody plum and next thing I knew, half my tooth was missing. When I saw Howard, he immediately said ‘we’ll fix that right up for you, sweetheart’, and in less than 20 minutes, he had filled in the tooth. When I looked in the mirror, I cried (something Howard must have been used to by then).

That was a temporary solution – we were still waiting for the implant surgery, but I am eternally grateful to him that I didn’t have to walk around with a dodgy tooth for 6 months. I know I may sound vain, but it was a real issue for me.

When the day of the surgery finally came, I was no longer nervous…until I arrived at the rooms and saw what initially looked like hundreds of people who would be watching the procedure. But again, Howard put me at ease and introduced me to a fabulous little drug called Ketamine. After that, everything was groovy, yo. I didn’t feel a thing, and the whole experience was actually rather pleasant. Every now and then, when I heard words like ‘ground bone’ and ‘soft tissue transplant’, I wondered what the hell I was doing there…and when I saw the metal screw thingy that would be going into my mouth I quickly calculated about 27 different escape plans, but it took less than an hour and the drugs I was given insured that my body remained still and serene.

When I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t bloody believe it. I was still too high to have any normal kind of emotional reaction, but if I could, I probably would have bawled my eyes out. The difference was incredible.

The recovery was a bit tough as there was quite a bit of pain and the stitches in my mouth made everything feel tight, but after 10 days they were taken out and I felt much, much better. It’s not over yet – I am seeing Howard again in a few weeks, but quite simply, he has changed my life.

I no longer cover my mouth when I smile. I don’t keep my lips closed – I let my smile explode for all to see. When I laugh, I laugh genuinely and wholeheartedly, with no fear of being looked at. When someone wants to take a photo, after the momentary I AM GOING TO KILL YOU BECAUSE I HATE PHOTOS OF MYSELF YOU FOOL, I smile widely without a care in the world. Except for my double chin of course.

This is all thanks to Howard and his team. He is professional, friendly, caring, and one of the best in his field.

If I can get copies of the before and after photos they took (the ones where there’s plastic wedge-type things in my mouth and I look like a horse), I will post them here so that you can actually see what I am talking about.

Moral of the story: Look after your teeth, kids. And try your hardest not to get into any car accidents.

I complained about my weight, and then I made fudge.

Don’t you just hate body issues?

Not a day goes by where I don’t look in the mirror after I get dressed and think to myself  ‘Oh shit Laura, look at your thighs/arms/stomach/insert body part here’. I then give myself a meek little smile and say ‘Fuck it. I look absolutely fine’ before giving myself another cursory glance and closing the cupboard.

When talking to someone I wonder if the way my face is positioned is causing a prominent double chin. If I feel it is, I try to move my head subtly so that whoever I am interacting with doesn’t suddenly think I have developed a nervous head tick. I’d love to know what tricks other women try, as I know I am certainly not the only one to feel this way.

So why can’t I stop eating crap and baking cupcakes and making fudge and.. ooh look there’s a piece of cheese cake!

I am not huge. Whatever that means. I definitely need to lose weight though, and one would think that if something is bothering me so much, I would do something meaningful about it.

I love the idea of having an eating plan that doesn’t stop me from eating pasta or potatoes or cheese or oh my god will you pass me some bloody chocolate RIGHT NOW. There are plans like this out there. It isn’t all You Can Only Eat Cabbage or Everything But Meat Is Evil. I have found some really good options which, if I stuck to them, would almost certainly produce the results I am looking for. But why can’t I stick to it for longer than a few days?

I could throw out words like ‘willpower’, ‘dedication’ and ‘motivation’, and having a lack of these things is a big problem of course. ‘Everything in moderation’ is also something people say a lot. It’s all totally true. But I still can’t do it.

At the moment I am probably using my battle with depression as an excuse to not eat as healthily as I should. I go between eating absolutely nothing and then EATING EVERYTHING I SEE. But hold on, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I am struggling emotionally at the moment, it’s true. There are a lot of things to worry about. But once I get over this depression (and I will, dammit!) will I find another excuse?

Losing weight and eating crap and finding motivation are all things many people struggle with and write about. There are millions of articles out there that give advice. I could try and be really inspirational right now but it just wouldn’t be genuine. Even if I was slim (which I have been in the past), I would find something wrong with my body. And that’s the real issue, isn’t it? That’s something that millions of women can identify with. And again, there are millions of articles about this, so to be quite frank I am not going to add to the deluge of articles/blog posts out there and discuss the various reasons why many women feel so inadequate and how wrong it all is. I think by now we all know why; there are ‘universal’ reasons that can be applied to the masses, and there are more ‘unique’ reasons which apply to the few.

So, for the moment I am going to try and believe my boyfriend when he tells me I am beautiful. I am going to try and stop myself from eating an entire bar of chocolate. I am going to try and find the things I like about my body when I look in the mirror.  Baby steps, yo.

Things That Shouldn’t Happen. Ever.

I was sitting at my desk, feeling all annoyed and angsty after a stressful day, and then I thought: ‘Ha! Surely it’s been about a week since I bitched on my blog – I can ease my IWantToKillAllTheThings attitude by writing down words that form sentences which may or may not make sense! Yay!’

And then I saw that it has only been four days since I came up with ‘The weekly bitch sessions’ (which I am having second thoughts about to be honest).

But essentially, fuck it all, I am going to bitch write anyway.

Things That Shouldn’t Happen. Ever. (It felt like all those words needed to start with capitals. They scream I AM IMPORTANT AND YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO ME OR LOSE YOUR LIFE. Or something)

1. Hard-boiled egg shells that don’t come off easily.
Want to feel like a butter-fingered idiot? Just get stuck with a shitty hard-boiled egg. I don’t know whether it’s the water or the time I leave them to boil or the egg-laying chicken but I want to blame SOMETHING.

2. Facebook acting like it isn’t a multi-billion dollar company with thousands of super clever programmer people.
I had to do something important on Facebook today. No, seriously. For work (seriously). And fucking Facebook wouldn’t let me tag any of the people I needed to tag. This shouldn’t happen. And now as I am reading this I realise how ridiculous I am being, but still. Grrrrr.

3. Cling-wrap sticking together.
You know when you’re wrapping up a sandwich, or putting some leftovers in the fridge and you reach for some cling-wrap? You tear off a bit and carefully tip-toe to where you need to go, praying to god there won’t suddenly be a gust of wind that makes your cling-wrap stick together. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a gust of wind; it could be the air from a snail’s fart and the cling wrap sticks together as if you’ve just applied magnetic glue to it. Surely with all the technological advances we have made we should be able to make something better?

4. Pickled onions in jars that aren’t big enough.
This could be extended to gherkins too. You know when there’s only a few left and you reach into the jar with your fingers but you can’t get to them so you end up trying to put your whole bloody hand in the jar but it’s not wide enough and you simultaneously feel disgusted and intrigued by the sensation of pickled water (I know that’s not what it’s called) all over your hand but all you want is the fucking pickled onion? Yeah, you could get a fork and fish it out, but who does that?

5. Children asking ‘why?’ more than three times in a row.
I think I’m quite good at answering my son’s questions. When I run out of facts I start making things up which can be rather fun (it’s harmless I promise), but for the love of all that is good and beautiful, three times in a row is enough. I know asking questions is how we learn *insert-article-from-well-meaning-parent-and-or-sciencey-website-here* but after four years of WHY? Why? Why?! But why? Whhhhyyyyy? I’ve had quite enough, thank you.

6. R19.99. Or R27.99. Or RWhatever.99.
They’re just going to round the bloody amount down when you get to the till anyway, so why bother? So that it sounds cheaper? Nay. We’re long past thinking something-something.99 is cheaper than the 1c more version. Consumers can be quite clever sometimes. When was the last time you said to yourself ‘Hey! That’s a good deal – it’s R999.99!’? No. You say ‘That’s a thousand bucks’ (or something similar).

7. Inserting a USB stick the wrong way round.
The amount of times I have checked the USB to make sure I am putting it in the right way, only for it not to be the right way. And on those extra special days where you check it again but STILL put it in the wrong way. Eventually you’re at the point of breaking your USB stick/computer/someone’s face before you manage to get it right. That stupid little USB port is just mocking me.

On a different note, I am going to add ‘I swear like a trooper’ to my About page. Feels like it would be good to warn people.

Screw you, depression.

I’m really anxious about sharing this, and I don’t want anyone who reads this to think I am seeking attention or pity, which could be a natural conclusion to make seeing as I am sharing it on such a public space, but it really helps me. So I guess the worst I could say is that by sharing this, I am being a little selfish. I’m okay with that.

My depression is a soul-eating, self-pitying, hope-smashing bitch. When it decides to make an appearance, nothing is okay. The voice in my head tells me I don’t deserve to be happy, or to be loved. It turns every kind word anyone says to me into a lie and an insult. It reduces me to a hollow sack of skin and bones. Not even eardrum-bursting music can drown out that voice because it’s inside my skull, immediately destroying all the positive thoughts and feelings that I feebly attempt to foster.

Over the past month, it’s been particularly nasty. I couldn’t get out of bed for a few days and I stopped giving a shit about my work, my home and even my son. I didn’t care if I lost my job, or my house, or the love of my life. Well no, that’s wrong, I did care, but I felt so fucking hopeless and powerless, and what’s the point of caring about these things as I don’t deserve them anyway… and if I don’t lose them now, I’ll lose them at some point won’t I?

It’s a terrible state to be in; I’m outside of my own body, looking at myself, knowing the things I am saying and doing to the people I love are so, so wrong, and yet I can’t stop myself. I’m pushing everyone away, screaming at them to leave when in actual fact all I want is for them to stay and somehow make everything better. But nothing they say is good enough. It’s as if I am determined to make them feel just as shitty as I feel, so that we can all stay in bed and discuss the best ways to commit suicide. I float between crying uncontrollably and feeling completely numb.

I know that there are things I could do which may help me feel a little better. I could take a shower, or get out of the house, or call someone removed from the situation. But I don’t do these things, and not doing them frustrates me even more, and gives the voice even more nutrition: of course you won’t do these things Laura, you’re lazy and awful and you like feeling this way because then at least you have some sort of pathetic excuse for why you are who you are. Does it sound familiar?

I think that no one else could possibly understand what I am going through, which is of course bullshit. But everything is bullshit when you have been possessed by depression. I feel so desperate, and so alone, even though there are people right in front of me who love me and tell me what a wonderful person I am. What do they know? It’s all an act anyway; no one knows who I really am. If they did, they would run away. Fast.

And I am even intelligent enough to know that I won’t always feel this way. That maybe tomorrow, or the next day or the next day, something will happen to exorcise me of this hateful entity. But then what? I will feel okay for a while, I’ll manage to convince myself that everything is good, that I am not too bad, that I just need to take things one step at a time. I’ll even remember how good it feels to laugh again, to tell my son I love him, to have a meaningful conversation with my boyfriend. But then something will happen; something small and seemingly insignificant to any observers, and the demon is back again. At first it might be a tiny one, gently nibbling away at all the good stuff, and I will try to ignore it. But then I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and everything cracks, no, shatters, into a million irreparable pieces and my bed and its forgiving warmth will call to me again.

I’m terrified. Less than two weeks ago, when I had just managed to lift myself out of the fog, I was getting dressed to meet my boyfriend’s parents and I looked at myself in the mirror and hated what I saw. That moment. That moment could have sent me spiralling back into what I had just come out of, and it almost did, but then I looked away from the mirror, took a breath, changed into something else and felt better again. The evening was actually lovely, despite the fact that I was initially also terribly nervous.

Yesterday I was meant to go to the office to meet with my manager. We agreed I would go into the office for a few hours every Thursday. I woke up that  morning and I was paralysed. The thought of driving to the office and seeing my colleagues filled me with panic, so I ended up not going. I spent half of the day in bed and the all too familiar thoughts like ‘you’re a failure’ threatened to bring me down for far longer than just a few hours. It was also my 6 month anniversary, and so I felt fucking guilty for being such a cow. But then my boyfriend did or said something; I’m not even sure what, and I felt better. Better enough to get up and do some work.

I know I need help, and I have been generously offered the means to get the help I need. I’m still in a bit of a daze about it to be honest (the snarky little voice says ‘I can’t believe you have managed to con these people! Let’s see how badly you’ll fuck it up this time!’). When not looking at myself through the filter of depression, I can acknowledge (quietly) that I am a good person. There are things that I am good at. There are people who care about me deeply and want to see me succeed. I don’t know if I will ever truly believe that I deserve to be happy, or to be loved, and that’s a problem, but it’s something I am working on.

It takes a really special person to be able to deal with someone who is depressed. I am lucky enough to have someone like that in my life, and maybe, just maybe that means I am not so bad. I don’t know what I would have done without him, and I don’t know how I will ever make it up to him (he will tell me I don’t have to do anything), but I am immeasurably grateful to him. I said some awful things to him, and yet he stayed. He refused to leave even when I demanded that he go.

Today I am happy. It’s a good day. Tomorrow I may not be, but that’s okay. There’s a quote I love; I love it so much I had it tattooed on my foot:

‘Everything will be alright in the end; if it’s not alright, it’s not the end’.

Do you hear that, Depression? You and your friends Guilt, Self-Pity and Hopelessness can go to hell.