Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Because I'm better at looking for things than Bono

Confidence can be a slippery bastard to hold onto.

Self-worth, esteem, pride and respect can be equally difficult to grasp.

And when they are dropped they always land butter side down. There is no five second rule with self-respect, once it hits the floor - it is lost.

Worse still, the only thing harder than picking these emotions back up is realising that you’ve let them fall in the first place.

Hidden behind a fa├žade of arrogant denial, you persuade yourself that you are happy with how you look, how you feel. Tales of inner-happiness and of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, challenge those who love you to dare disagree.

If people have a problem with your size then the problem is theirs – they should respect you for who you are, right?


But in reality the only person who doesn’t respect you - is yourself.

And the only person who really understands what this means is that man.

The one in the mirror.

He knows. That’s why you can’t look at him properly. Why you look around him instead. You can’t hold his gaze because you can’t bear seeing the pain in his eyes.

You look at the mirror but do not look in the mirror.

You pat yourself, strut about and pretend that you like what you see.

But you don’t.

You can’t remember if you ever did.


Last September, I looked in the mirror.

Really looked.

My world crumbled.

I looked into my eyes. I couldn't figure out why I hated myself so much. Why I was so determined to punish my body.

I looked awful. I was big.

Really big. My size 38 inch trousers were stretched to the limit. If I were to buy new trousers then I’d probably have needed a size 40 inch. I refused to accept that.

The reflection pleaded with me to think. Begged me to act.

And so I made a decision. And a promise.

 A promise to that man. This man.

The one in the mirror.

I told him that I’d find me again. The me that I like.

I wasn't sure what I was looking for but promised to keep on searching until I worked it out.

This was last September. I haven’t blogged about this since then because I've done that before. Talked about losing weight, getting fit. I've talked the talk so many, many times at home, at work and on this Blog.

It was time to walk the walk.

And time passes.

And it’s hard.

Being hungry is not difficult. Eating healthily or doing exercise is not difficult.

But meaning it. Really meaning it. Respecting yourself enough to ignore the inner voices, to keep going even when you are down or annoyed – they are the hard times. Those occasions when something has gone wrong, when someone has said the wrong thing or when you know you have done something wrong yourself.

Those times. Those times when you hate yourself.

When the only thing that can take away the pain of self-loathing is chocolate or bacon.

Self-harm through food.

Those times.

And time passes.

The scales tell you that you are losing weight but what does that mean? Weight is a number. Numbers mean nothing. Even big numbers.

And the numbers are big – 16Kg or 35Lbs or almost 3 Stones depending on your preference, in 23 weeks.

Your head tells you these numbers are important but your heart doesn't listen to your head.

Especially when the charts insist that you still have a long way to go – as they do in my case.

And then suddenly, out of nowhere, something happens.


I stood and cursed.

It was the 5th March 2015 – my Birthday.

I should have been feeling happy. Should.

The day had started well, cards and presents and a laugh with the family before they went to school and work. I’d done well. A new shirt and pair of jeans – just what I needed.

And then I thought I’d try them on.

But my wife had played some kind of joke on me. The shirt was simply a large – no “X” in the label. The jeans had a 34 inch waist – not the 40 inch waist that they should have been.

What was she thinking? Why would she do that? I haven’t owned a shirt without at least one “X” in the label for over a decade.

With a sigh of pessimistic expectation, I decided to go through the debacle of trying on these children’s clothes.

But they fit.

They actually fit me.

I ran to the full length mirror in the bedroom and was transfixed.

And that’s when it happened.

In the corner of my eye I saw a face.

His face.

The one in the mirror.

He was smiling.

No. Not smiling. He was looking right at me and he was laughing.

He was laughing in a way I haven’t seen him laugh for a long time and it was frighteningly infectious.

So I laughed as well.

I felt water in my eyes. Could see it in the mirror but couldn't stop laughing.

I’d found him.

Found the man I’d lost.

It is easily 14 years since I've worn clothes these sizes. How can you hate yourself for that long?

And so I looked in the mirror. Looked, laughed, liked and even loved.

Yes, loved.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

First World Tragedy

Her face said it all.

Usually she can hold it in; hide the pain.

Not today.

Out loud she agreed, out loud she smiled.

But out loud was lying while quietly hiding the truth.

Her mouth said she understood while her eyes called me a bastard.

But it was too late – the words I’d just said were out, could never be unsaid.

As with all relationships built on love, trust, friendship, and respect, ours is a balancing act of spoken and unspoken truths. There are things you can say.

And things you can’t.   

This was one of those things that can’t.

But I know I'm right. I am right.

Right is not the same as nice.

And so now, as I look into that face, the face that I love, and see the despair written over it I have to stay strong. I have to hold my nerve. There’s no going back.

If I take back what I said now, then it was just words. Nasty, painful, heartless, words. If I hold firm then they are the truth – and the truth is real.

And that is why, as soon as I put this laptop down, I’ll be fetching my spanners.

I’m sorry, Love. The Dishwasher IS getting disconnected.

The building work on the house starts in a couple of weeks and the current Utility will be demolished – I need to connect the washing machine up somewhere and that somewhere is where the dishwasher is now.

It’s happening.

And I'm not backing down on this one.

Somewhere, somehow, in a hospital in Afghanistan, a young girl, orphaned and physically broken, has managed to connect to the internet and is reading this now; tears of sympathy streaming down her face. She understands our pain. She feels sad knowing that my children will have to wash up their own cereal bowls – by hand. She may even donate.

And so can you – go to now – as little as £50 per week can help us pay someone to wash the pots, clean up our kitchen and do the ironing. Is that really too much to ask? 

Do I have to post up a picture of my children with tea-towels in their hands to convince you?

Monday, February 2, 2015

You can run but you can't hide

Darkness never truly falls, only a dim, grey, fog.

You’d take darkness.

No light. Nothing to see. Nothing to hear.

You’d take that.

You force your eyes shut to block out the light.

But darkness won’t come.

If you can’t see it then you don’t have to believe it. If you can’t hear it, then you don’t have to listen.

And it’s the listening that hurts.

The dull, grey, mist that rolls over you instead, carries the voices of despair. Words; chattering on, relentlessly obliterating your sense of reality.

Words of despair.

Words of gloom and of hopelessness. You hear the words. You see the shapes forming in front of you and nothing can stop them from taking over you.


Soon they are all you can hear. Sounds of reason, hope, and joy are all lost – the only thing you can hear - is misery.

And misery is a very selfish conversationalist that will not let you talk and will not let you walk away.
Held firmly in its grasp, your head becomes heavy, your shoulders bent and your heart becomes nothing more than a tool to push blood around your body.

And the voices continue.

They never stop.

Well, not until bedtime, anyway. Then you manage to prise the tablets out of their mitts and turn Minecraft off. Then it goes quiet.

One day a law will be passed that makes “Piss off” an acceptable answer to the question “Do you want to see my village, Dad?”