Posts Tagged ‘betrayal’

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fortissimo.

July 15, 2012

This week has not been the kindest. I’ve been scared, depressed, challenged and exhausted. Scared that in September, I might no longer have a job; depressed that if I didn’t find a source of income within the next two days, that I might have to move back to Bristol (which isn’t terrible in itself, but would feel like a massive step backwards and super-frustrating when I am due to move in with Toby in a couple of months); challenged to step outside of my boundaries and comfort zone, and apply for jobs once again; exhausted by the emotional rollercoaster of all the above! Toby was away in Manchester for two days, so I didn’t have as many cuddles to keep me going as I normally would; although I feel that perhaps his absence was a good thing because otherwise I might have vented to him a little too much!

The reason why I chose the title “fortissimo” for this blog, is that it has a double meaning: normally, we think of the musical term, where it means to play very loudly, as if at the height of a crescendo. But it also means “very strong”, and this perhaps is the theme of the week I’ve had. In the blog I wrote last week, I wrote about wanting to feel more vibrant as a result of the summer weather, but I also want to feel super-strong. Vibrant and powerful in a range of ways. Fortissimo, if you will.

I had people yell at me over the phone at the start of the week; I knew I was not in the wrong in each siutation, but considering the circumstances they were in, I understood that they were distressed. However, the way I felt after they took their frustrations out on me was proof that I am still very much in the process of developing a thick skin.  Two years ago, coming out of the QCG at UWE, I felt somewhat invincible: I had a wonderful new boyfriend, a fantastic new best friend, I’d just landed my first proper full-time job and my body was still banging (I am hoping that my healthier summer focus will help me get back to this state). I also felt confident – that I could really go out and get anything I wanted, and do anything I put my mind to. I think that I have / one has always been able to do this, but not without a certain sense of self-doubt on the inside. That year, the sense of self-doubt turned into a sense of self-belief. As I look at myself this week, I realise that that sense of self-belief has disappeared somewhat – and I want it back. I have to be stronger, more confident and less deterred by what others may say or do or think.

It looks more certain now that my job is in fact not in jeopardy, but I also feel that (due to changes at work which I don’t really feel I can talk about in the public domain) my sense of security is far from unshakeable. I won’t be totally reassured until I’m holding my contract in my hand (which apparently should happen on Monday afternoon), but it’s an improvement on the uncertainty I’ve been going through recently. Part-time work during school and university excluded, the longest I’ve stayed at a job is one year; this position was the one where I initially hoped (even without realising it) that I would break that pattern. I wanted something on my CV that showed I had commitment to a role. In feeling forced to look elsewhere, I confronted a sense of fatigue at completing yet more job applications (most, if not all of which I won’t hear anything back from – nothing personal, just the way it works), but also some questions (raised also by the article I read in Glamour recently): by not constantly challenging myself to go for higher positions, promotions, jobs where I would (for example) have to travel abroad sometimes, am I really challenging myself? There is a lot to be said for being safe and being based in one city – it makes life easy, and it means that once the working day is done, my life is my own and I can spend it with my partner and my friends. It’s a lovely sense of security (there’s that word again!); but at 26, I should still be challenging myself and shooting for the moon, right? And what’s more important – something on a piece of paper that shows I’m loyal to an employer, or an attitude and confidence that shows I am loyal and committed to my own development and achievements?

It’s a change to my thinking that I’ve tried to get my head around before, but only partly succeeded: we feel a misplaced sense of loyalty to our employers, because they pay us for what we do and provide us with financial security. However, we are the ones earning the money, learning new skills constantly, and we should be less afraid to confidently negotiate positions and salaries as we see fit: if you don’t try, you don’t get! If employers don’t want to pay for our services, they don’t feel bad in saying goodbye; why should I feel guilty in looking around at what other options might be available to me, in case something better comes along? A professional relationship should work two ways.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel comforted by the fact that I probably won’t lose my job, because it makes things easier and more stable for me and Toby moving in together in the Autumn and being able to put a deposit down on a new flat, but I’ve been forced to think that while we are young, we should be confident and assertive in going for opportunities that present themselves, and in creating opportunities where none are immediately evident. Sometimes one is lucky, other times one must make his/her own luck. So contract or not, I’m going to keep an eye on what jobs come up (both internal and external), so that I’m ready to apply for something better that takes my fancy.

Another surprising development where I’ve really had to draw on some strength is in my cigarette consumption; somehow I’ve found myself promising Toby and a few other people that I will quit smoking in 2013. I’ve joked that this might be December 31st, but really, it is one of next year’s New Year’s resolutions. I’ve prided myself on my stubbornness, and I know that I will be able to do it; when reading Diana Ross’ biography, one of the things that stuck with me is her saying “I’m going to quit smoking one day without any whining or fuss, not like other people.” And that’s exactly what she did! I admire that single-minded determination to change one’s life without wavering even in the slightest. But when I told a couple of colleagues this plan of mine (they’re not colleagues I usually work with, because I certainly don’t want any kind of scrutiny in my office), they said “well, do you really want to quit? If you do, why wait? Start now.” I must admit that that thinking makes total sense, but while I am getting to the point where I truly do want to stop smoking, I still enjoy it somewhat that I’m not ready right now. However, after a Wednesday night out with Nick where we made a new Icelandic friend called Sigga (who smoked a lot, and I smoked with her), I woke up the next morning hungover and with a very husky throat. I really didn’t want to smoke, and I didn’t have a cigarette until 1pm that afternoon. I had a total of 4 that day (normally, I smoke between 8 and 10 cigarettes a day), and from then on, my colleagues’ words were echoing in my head. I really could quit sooner rather than later, and I’ve focused on reducing my cigarette consumption with the hope that I could stop. I don’t know what I will do at work, as I will still want my breaks every couple of hours (particularly considering I rarely take a proper lunch break), and there are social and time-killing benefits to smoking. But rather than a physical sense of addiction, the hardest challenge will be conquering the voice in my head that yells “CIGARETTE CIGARETTE CIGARETTE” when I become conscious that I haven’t had one that day. I had 7 cigarettes the following day, and today I bought a pack of menthols (rather than my usual Marlboro Reds), of which I have had 6. Menthols have a different taste and less nicotine, and my idea is to wean myself off cigarettes, or at least permanently reduce my consumption. As anyone who has tried to quit smoking before knows (I did quit once in the past after I came home from my year abroad in Spain, but I had only smoked for a couple of months, so it wasn’t really the same thing) I don’t know if I’m ready to completely quit and declare myself an ex-smoker, because sometimes I really enjoy it and I’m quite attached to having a cigarette with alcohol, or before I go to sleep. Plus, I feel like I would be betraying (there’s that word again!) Mike, or Toby’s colleagues who like to smoke, if I no longer want to smoke with them. I also believe that truly conquering one’s addiction to smoking, alcohol or whatever truly means that we can still do those things when we genuinely want to without feeling any compulsion. If I gave up smoking completely, I would still feel subjugated by my addiction if I felt a constant sense of fear to have a cigarette for the rest of my life, in case it opened up the floodgates and I couldn’t stop again. True mastery to me means that I am in total control of every cigarette I have, knowing that I can trust myself not to have another one if I don’t want to. At this standpoint, I can say that I feel ready to cut down my smoking by about half (and recapture my full vocal power and some extra spending power each month to boot). So I have also been gathering my strength to do that.

Living life to the full, being loud and proud, and being strong and confident is a daily work in progress. It’s not always easy, and we can’t do it 100% of the time – I fully accept this. But when I go through a shitty week like this one, I’m thankful for the support offered by my partner, friends and family, but I’m also encouraged to recapture my own confidence and desire to reach the stars. I have so many goals in life that I not only am working slowly towards achieving, but that I am fully capable of – but it’s easy to get worn down and distracted by the daily grind that we learn to settle for a little less and choose safety over excitement. As long as I have financial security, the love of my partner, family and friends, I can do anything I set my mind to. But it’s also important not to forget to actually set my mind to new ventures and projects, rather than the same old ish! I believe that this is what I mean by living “fortissimo”.

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trust, humiliation & beauty.

November 7, 2009

I understand that this blog has been a bit Rihanna-focused lately, but between the new material that has been premiering online and the publicity surrounding her 20/20 interview (which is a must-see – check it out at Toya’s World), I’ve been hooked on her once again.

Within this interview (which resonated with me more than I will go into on this particular post), Rihanna said two things that I thought were particularly interesting.  One thing was the notion of feeling ashamed and embarrassed when the picture of her battered face was leaked by the media – because she fell in love with a person who could do that to her.  Obviously you can’t help who you fall in love with, you never know how abusive they might be until the first time it happens, and the notion of shame is one that we could debate for days anyway.  But the idea of that was interesting to me, that there are certain of us who seem to feel humiliated or ashamed by things that are essentially not our fault – yet we take the blame for ourselves.  It reminded me of a time when I was dating L, and we found out that we had a friend in common, M.  So everything was cool, and it was a nice coincidence and all that business.  And I remember having a conversation with L, and he said that M had told him effectively to be gentle / careful with me as I’d been hurt in the past.  I remember just feeling utterly mortified, humiliated and ashamed.  I wasn’t angry (and I’m not angry about it now) – after all, M wasn’t wrong, and I wasn’t embarrassed by the fact that he had told L to treat me nicely; although it wasn’t necessary for him to do that, I appreciated the sentiment and understand that M was only looking out for me.

But I felt ashamed that someone viewed me as fragile, vulnerable or emotionally unstable.  That someone might have to explain my apparent insecurities to someone else made me feel humiliated.  I mean, yes, I have been hurt in the past (and then during that relationship – although I caused L hurt too, something which I still feel sad about, as I never meant to – and since) and my reluctance to let somebody in right away stems from that.  I was discussing with Emma last night that I am a very suspicious person, and if someone is friends with me or enters into a relationship with me, or even just approaches me in a bar or whatever flirtatious setting, I can’t help but wonder why they’re doing it, what they want from me, and whether they just want to use me up and throw me away.  I guess that comes from past experiences, and also probably what I’ve learned from my mother.  But I can’t help suspecting people, and I admit that I’m still growing as a person and I’m more insecure than I might care to admit to anyone who isn’t very close to me.  So for somebody to not only penetrate the façade I uphold of being strong (and at the same time as being a vulnerable person, I also believe that I am a strong person and that the two can co-exist within me), of being independent and of being teflon, but also to have to make excuses for the way I am and the fact that I might not let somebody in as quickly as 1-2-3 made me feel embarrassed.

Why should I feel embarrassed about myself?  In relationships, I don’t know what is up with me but I generally manage to get into these tortuous situations without ever having something concrete that lasts very long.  But I am a popular person, an intelligent person and a handsome person – my friends say that I will not be single for long, etc. etc.  These are things people say – who knows whether it will come true or not?  There’s more to life, but I can’t help but wonder if the façade I try to maintain at all times slips more often than I realise?  I think I would feel equally humiliated to know that the vulnerability and sadness I try to hide every day of my life was in actuality on full show half the time, and that that might be part of what turns people off wanting to date me or feeling attracted to me.  I hate the thought of people feeling sorry for me – not only because they shouldn’t, since everyone has their own pain and who’s to say that mine is greater than anyone else’s, but because I’d rather people didn’t focus their pity on me.  I understand it’s out of kindness or what have you, but I don’t desire that kind of attention.

The second sentiment Rihanna expressed was that of “F love”.  If you’re in an abusive relationship, be it physically, verbally or emotionally, you have to keep your judgment unclouded by love, and you need to do what is logically right for you, your safety and your health, regardless of the direction in which your heart pulls you.  That is a hell of a lot easier said than done; exhibit a) my current infatuation with somebody with a ring on it.  And this isn’t the first time that love has led me astray – this time, although the feelings are intense, at least I am getting something out of the relationship and it makes me happy more than it makes me sad.  Looking at my parents’ marriage, both past and very current present, although I’m proud of the storms they have weathered, if I had been in my mother’s position, I would never have put up with it.  And if I had been in my father’s position, I would never have put up with it.  Without saying too much, I don’t know if love was their only motivation in deciding to stay together (I highly doubt it, since things are rarely that clear-cut), but I would certainly have said “Fuck love, fuck everything, I’m gone.”  Even though I am a vulnerable person, and quite often I believe that part of me must be really an ugly person, I still have more self-worth than to go along with it.

Last night, I was out with Emma and we had some really special heart-to-heart conversations.  Obviously I am going to divulge nothing of what we discussed (here or anywhere else), because I made her a promise to keep what she told me to myself, and that is the whole point – I am a trustworthy person and trust is such a fragile thing, such a precious thing and something that takes so long to build.  Be it because of past experiences, be it because of what I’ve learned from my parents and other relationships that have surrounded me as I’ve grown up, but I find it hard to trust people and it’s rare that I am totally and immediately open with my heart to friends I’ve known for years, let alone somebody new in my life.  But I believe that trust is vital for life, for relationships, for friendships.  The thought of my betraying someone else makes me feel sick; a promise is a sacred thing, and there is so little that is sacred in life.  I think that having some self-worth as a person, even if it ebbs and flows sometimes, is really important, and the fact that I feel I am trustworthy, that I have dignity, and that I have the ability to give love but also am now aware that sometimes we have to say “F love” makes me a good friend and will one day mean that I might be a good boyfriend and not feel so ugly at my lowest… These things give me hope, they give me something to aspire to, and I hope to at the end of my life be able to look back and say that I was a good person, I was a strong person and that I did myself proud.  Work in progress.

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beautiful day.

October 24, 2009

After a really fun night out with my friends from university (where some very crude conversations were had, but also some very genuine compliments were exchanged), I woke up late this morning somewhat caught up on my sleep and feeling considerably better than I expected I might, taking into account the amount I had drunk and smoked the night before.  I got up and got ready to go into town to meet Nick and to do some shopping, which was a mother-sponsored event as I didn’t know what I wanted for my birthday, but I knew I needed some more jeans.

While I was in between sleep and wakefulness, I received a text from my friend Helen asking me if she would be able to come visit me in a couple of weeks.  I was really touched because the last time we’d spoken, she thought that I might have the impression that she was a bad friend (she’d had some personal issues which had prevented her from keeping in contact as much as she would have liked) and I wouldn’t be interested in seeing her or making contact with her.  I was shocked by that, because I really hope that I don’t give off the impression of being aloof or too popularity-focused to move on from one group to the next without maintaining the meaningful friendships I’ve made.  According to what has happened during the 5 weeks of university so far, I’m not like that, and I never think of myself as a fairweather friend.  I usually get betrayed rather than be the betrayer – I like to think of myself as a loyal person who will try his best for his friends.  But once that misunderstanding was cleared up, it was all good and I am excited that Helen wants to come and see me 🙂

I met Nick in town and he gave me my Prada L’eau ambrée that I had requested (I paid him back), and he also gave me the matching shower gel as a birthday bonus (thanks!).  We went to Nandos, I filled him in on my latest unrequited love, and we just talked and joked and everything was such fun.  We then went clothes shopping – he got tshirts, I got two tshirts and a new pair of jeans, which I have become increasingly desperate for.  I spent exactly £50 (which has delighted my mother, because I think she expected me to spend double that – but I don’t always have to drop paper!  Only sometimes 😉 ) which is going to be reimbursed – and the best part of my day is that I finally fit into a 32″ waist for my jeans!  They make my legs look great, and I feel so slim!  My next step is to drop a little bit more fat, so that the 32″ waist I possess is firm and fat-free.  But I have faith that I can do it – I feel so good about the way I look, which in turn affects how good I feel about myself these days.

And that’s what I wanted to write about.  I have made some fantastic friends at uni in just the last 5 weeks – I feel truly lucky to have met them, especially Mike, whom I look up to so much and probably more than I can express – he makes me feel protected and I never had a straight male role model before (well, not one who isn’t a celebrity).  I told him I feel like he is the big brother I never had, I think he appreciated that.  I have kept with me some friends for years whom I wouldn’t trade in for the world, and I hope that they know who they are.  Even when I’ve had a lot of troubles, trials and tribulations with family, and the vulnerability and loneliness I’ve felt in the past months hasn’t been so intense since I was 8, 9, 10 years old, I know that I’m not on my own.  Family also includes the friends you hold close to you, and today, I felt really really thankful to have you all by my side.  On the eve of my 24th birthday, I just wanted to express my gratitude to everyone standing by me, and I hope that I can keep you all with me as much as possible for a little longer… More beautiful days like today make life worth living. 🙂

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shine.

September 14, 2009

Let’s talk Gucci.  As you may or may not know (if you don’t, then shortly you will), I have been lusting after a certain Gucci bracelet for over 6 months now.  I tried to order it from euroluxury.co.uk because it was somehow on sale for £40, instead of its RRP of £205.  It never arrived, the site sent me an email explaining “Sorry for making you upset” and “there is delays due to the flu bird”, and offering me a refund or another bracelet to be sent to me (I chose the refund, since funds were a little low at the time).  Here is a picture of the bracelet.

Pretty, no?  As you can see, it’s a standard silver curb, and I have been visiting it very regularly in the window of Fraser Hart in Cabot Circus.  This Thursday, I plan on spending my hard earned cash.  BUT not on this bracelet.  A new contender has very recently entered the ring.

gucci bracelet 2

Although the quality of this picture is not quite as good, I covet this bracelet even more, because the large G makes it more distinctive than just the standard curb and square clasp of the previous one.  I can imagine this on my wrist, and come Thursday, I may well be ordering this from the Gucci website.  After 6 months of lust, frugality and restraint, it is time to indulge.  I need to complete my designer jewellery collection, and although everything else on my neck, wrists and ears is Armani and this will be Gucci, it will be perfect.  (And if it’s not, there’s a 15-day refund service.) It’s my time to shine.

After the past week’s emotional breakdown and self-doubt, discovery of betrayal and a lot of time to myself (parents on holiday, grandmother in Italy, best friends too far away to see), I feel that I deserve this.  I earned it after working so hard.  I start university next Monday (finally!) so it’ll be a great starting gift.  The thing about jewellery is that it has such sentimental value.  An old bracelet I had (it was a Hot Diamonds silver bracelet) I originally received for my 18th birthday from my father; when I lost it on the way to a 9am lecture in my first year of university (moral of the story: never go to 9am lectures) I bought another one… which I eventually lost last year on the bus! I have a ring from my mother that she got me for my 19th birthday, and an old fine gold chain from my grandmother that I got for my 8th birthday… it lasted 10 years before the clasp finally went.  I have worn all of these items with pride, because they remind me of the special times with my family.  Jewellery is a precious thing that is magnetic regardless of the metal – they attract and collect memories.  My recent transition to designer jewellery (Armani earrings, necklace, ring, watch) is representative of my blossoming into a man, being prepared to spend real money on the way that I look, making investments in quality jewellery and in making myself look fly, and most importantly aspirations to go up in the world.  Once I had Armani, I could never go back.  Once I get Gucci (a step above Armani), I can’t go back.  We only go onwards and upwards in our pursuit to shine, both figuratively and literally.  I use my jewellery (and fashion in general) to encapsulate who I am as a person; a man with dreams and careers and success and friends and family and happiness.  Even if I don’t have it yet, the fact that I have a Gucci bracelet means that anything is possible; I could, one day, really have it all. (Or most of it.)

So on Thursday, I may well take the plunge – if not that day, then soon after.  It’s my time to shine, and I deserve to shine.  I want to tell you all that although it appears materialistic or that I am a fashionista (neither of which are necessarily incorrect), it’s more than that.  Jewellery to me is a way of expressing who I am, of carrying my memories and aspirations around on my body as much as accessorising the body I have and the clothes I wear on it.  What’s more, as long as you don’t do it every day or every week (unless you have the funds, in which case go for it! And lend me £5 sometime 😉 ), you deserve to treat yourself too.  Life isn’t easy, and sometimes we need to reward ourselves to remind us that we are valuable and that you too deserve to shine.