life skillz


Eight : For Everyone I Ever Lost 1/2

I normally write to Ma at this time of year, and I will, but January always brings with it the spectre of loss, and this year I wanted to unpack it a bit.

I used to hate with a passion the term ’sorry for your loss’. This was in the early days of grief when actually, looking back, I just needed to be angry and didn’t know where to put that.

I’d get confused between loss and lost, and lost seemed so accusatory. I’d feel stabbed every time any one made a comment however sincere, I felt blamed. Neither she, nor I had wandered off in the supermarket. In fact, I had tried to stick ever so close, especially in those last precious weeks.

It felt backward too, if anyone had lost anyone she had lost us. We were still right where we had always been and she had left. Ah the muddle of illogical grief.

But really, she wasn’t lost, she hadn’t passed (don’t EVEN get me started on the stupidity of PASSED). My Mama had died. SHE’D DIED. Why did we need to pussyfoot around this? I needed people to be completely frank about it, which nobody seemed willing to do.

As you can tell, I was angry.

Anger, it has taken me an awfully long time to learn, is often times mis-spent pain. Grief was a new type of pain that I couldn’t understand or quite let in. It takes a special kind of confusion to take the words of kindness and find exasperation; truth is nothing anyone can say can really help when someone we love dies. I still pause before I say, “I’m sorry for your loss”, to someone else, in case I can find a more personal way to express myself.

I’ve calmed down a bit since those heady, raw days. I still wish that death, and the discussion of death in a frank, yet gentle way was more prevalent in society. It would help so much in the whole grief bubble and perhaps enable us to find the right words to say.

Do you know what else I’ve learnt about grief? Or Loss (I’m trying to reclaim it), sometimes the hardest grief is when the person your are grieving isn’t lost to the earth at all, just simply lost to you. The ache of knowing they’re out there but they have no need in their world for you. Ooof. That is sometimes harder than a death could be; at least I can look back now and know mama didn’t leave willingly.

I don’t take losses well. I still have heart pangs over a necklace left in a hotel in San Fransisco – one of a kind. I’ve mourned that necklace; every now and again I think of it, and hope it’s gone on to have a whole new story, that it is LOVED. I lost that necklace nine years ago, it’s inanimate object. So can you imagine what I’m like with an actual person?

We all have people who have been in our lives and aren’t anymore. Sometimes that is our ‘fault’, sometimes theirs; sometimes nobody was at fault at all, but they’re still no longer there. Some, you never even see again, and some, you might see all the time. The pain of small talk, where once opened hearted, free flowing dialogue was, can cut just as deeply as an absence.

When I think of my people, the ones who are lost to me. No matter the story behind the separation, I’ve started to hope for them an amazing, adventure filled, technicolour life. What I am trying to realise is that every loss is a lesson. Would I have thanked myself or anyone else, for pointing that out in the first heart sad days of grief – for mum or any of the others? No. I would of wished of them a chair to the face.

Now, there seems no other way of living with the pain, shame, and regret. It all needs to have a meaning and the only meaning I can control is what I learn. Does that mean I don’t repeat the same mistakes? Well, I’m not sure, but maybe with every one I get a little smarter, so give me another eight years and lets see how we’re doing.


Run Baby Run: Part 1, Heartbreak

“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.”

― John Bingham

Let’s get one thing straight, despite the above, I am NOT an actual runner. I like to think of my self as someone who happens to find they are running, on a semi regularly basis, if it’s not raining.

I used to be scared of running. Not the physical sensation of running per say, but of what people would think about my running; what I chose to run in, what my body looked like while I was running – that I wouldn’t look enough like a runner.

I basically thought a pack of means girls would come after me in all their stick thin glory and tease me. That was basically my nightmare scenario. Actually that’s still my nightmare scenario. It’s the old paradox that most of the people running don’t look like they need to run, because they run. Same with gyms. Yikes.

Then something came a long that actually made me feel worse than what the imaginary mean girls might say. Heart Break.

I ran for the first time, as an adult – other than being chased or for a particular reason (like buses, cake sales or seeing friends in a crowd) because I was heart broken and someone wise said it would help.

I ran because there wasn’t a shout loud enough to convey my grief or a pillow huge enough to punch. I ran to exhaust myself because my inner monologue was driving me mad. I ran because I didn’t want to put weight back on.

Yeah, let’s not kid ourselves, my running was mostly triggered by vanity. I continued running for other reasons, which I’ll share with you next time.

I cannot in all good conscience tell you I run, now, after the heartache healed, to commune with the world around me. That I love how the sun feels on my gazelle like limbs as I prance by with a cool breeze drying the sweat womanly glow from my face.

It’s just not true. I still don’t like to run. There are people who do, who run for the sheer pleasure of running. I run for the pleasure of stopping, and how I feel afterwards which is mainly exhausted and smug. I’m obnoxious that way. I’m sure there’s an endorphin high in there somewhere but presently this is covered by the smug.

Is it possible to run to mend a broken heart? No, probably not, sorry. Is it a good distraction? Absolutely, if you’re anything like me, the shock of running will be a different sort of hell. It’s also surprisingly difficult to run and cry, it makes you choose how to use your oxygen and whether you want to lose bodily fluids from your eyes or your sweat glands.

Plus you can stomp people’s heads into the ground as you run, metaphorically speaking and that’s quite fun. You also get to feel strong and capable and that’s often stolen from us during the desolation of heart break.

Below I am sharing my running playlist, I once again open myself and my musical taste up for ridicule; see here for what you should listen to while driving America in a car, possibly with a loved one.

Heart Break Running List 2013

Short and Sweet, it’s hardly stereotype busting. Basically grab a whole load of Angry Girl music and whack em’ on a play list. It’s so short because I would play ‘Blow me one last Kiss’ on repeat for most of the run and sometimes sing along too – not often mind, as I ran out of puff…..

Warm Up:
YES – McAlmont and Butler
The ultimate break up song, IMO, plus it’s epically long so it makes a good warm up walk option.

Running/Walking (in my case):
So What? – Pink
So what, I’m still a rock star – I think I’ve made my point.

Blow Me One Last Kiss – Pink
Sheesh, she’s an angry lady sometimes. I like this one, mainly because my dad found it on the radio and basically decided it would heal my heart. He choose well, it’s a break-up classic. Plus there’s swearing, which I think you need when you’re sad and pissed off.

Bullet Proof – La Roux
I just wanted to be tough, a whole lot tougher than I felt.

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift
I like Taylor Swift. I like her because she is Taylor Swift and yet her heart has been stomped on, a lot, a lot a lot. I find that comforting (sorry TS).

Single Ladies – Beyonce
I mean… really…

Dog Days Are Over – Florence and the Machine
It has the word run in it. A lot. And that sometimes helped me to remember what I was doing ( I wish I was joking).

Cool Down:
Born This Way – Lady Gaga
Something about the line: Keep your paws up, you were born this way.

Rumor Has It – Adele
The ultimate beat heavy, revenge song. Plus Adele + heartbreak = Duh!

Don’t Look Back – She and Him
‘All you’ll ever get is the dust from the steps before’
I used to try and end it on a cheerful breakup note.

What can I say? You want good taste, probably best you look elsewhere.