want to feel better so i can be a better friend/person/creative but i don’t talk about my feelings out loud here’s a blog.

I went for a walk today in perfect weather, down sun striped pathways, across patches of mud covered in panes of ice, cracked and solid and unsinking. I walked without my headphones. The trees creaked in the wind and knocked against each other, the frost looked like snow on the riverbank. The sun was blinding against the water. Everything felt calm. I walked for an hour and a half. Not a power walk. A stroll. A thinking walk. I needed to get out of the house, out of my own head.

I hate January.

I’ve been meditating for the past four nights before going to bed, following a programme I have on an app. I sit and focus on where my feet meet the floor, practice bringing my thoughts back when they wander. I’ve kept a nightly routine for the past week. I wash my face, do my teeth, get ready for bed, stretch out the trapped nerve under my right shoulderblade, light some sandalwood incense, meditate, set some alarms, get into bed. I’ve been in bed before midnight every night since 2018 started.

I hate January.

Before I left the house today, I made a plan for the next six months. I planned deadlines for funding applications in purple, festivals I have already applied to in green, provisional weeks to make theatre in orange. I am Getting It Together. I am All Here Right Now. Every word on that page told me that. I am Sorting Shit Out. I have my life planned until June. And then I panicked and I had to leave the house.

I hate January. January to me is a month designed solely for the purpose of regretting the festive period and everything that came before. It is a month that is in the calendar so that you have time to be Not Good Enough. And that’s it. It must manifest in different ways for different people, but for me it is physical. It is body. It is fat. That’s all people seem to talk about – weight. How they “really let themselves go over Christmas”, how they need to “get back into shape”, how they are “going to be good this month”. I hate that phrase. Get into shape. As if by carrying extra weight your outline suddenly disappears and you’re just an amorphous mass with no definition.

January is when my Food Brain comes into it’s own. This was maybe the first Christmas that I didn’t panic about my weight or how I looked. I ate what I wanted to eat. I dressed how I wanted to dress, I drank what I wanted to drink. I had a lot of fun. I felt good. And then January hit me like a tonne of salad and reminded me that I am fat and therefore should immediately stop doing everything and that I have to “be good” and every decision I made over December haunted me and still haunts me because just look at the size of yourself, Emma, you’ve put on so much weight, what have you done my hand hovers over tubs of SlimFast powder in the supermarket, I scan websites that are advertised on the back of buses that promise I can drop four stone in under three months, I calculate whether I can afford herbal weight loss treatment, I promise myself that I will go to the gym and then hate myself when I don’t. I order scales on Amazon and then immediately cancel the order. Twice.

I can’t remember it hitting me this hard before. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t body conscious over Christmas, I’ve saved up all the anxiety and stress and self-hate from that month and so have a double dosage in January. I have no body positivity this month. Eight days in and I feel no better about myself than I did on New Year’s Day, when a hangover magnified everything into a horrible graphic close-up. I’ve deleted myself off a dating site and then immediately regretted it, because I know that my physical self is not the reason for people to find me attractive but seriously, who is going to find that attractive, Emma, how could you ever be undressed in front of anyone, even with the lights off I am so aware of my size, it amplifies until my thighs scream, my belly screams, my arms scream, I looked at myself naked in the mirror and cried, because it all feels so hopeless, even though I know it’s not. I think I know that. I think a large part of my brain is still hanging on to the hope that I will one day lose weight and then I’ll be fine. Because I am definitely an advocate for body positivity and fat acceptance and self love, but I can’t practice what I preach. Not this month.

I’d been walking for about half an hour when I realised I had no idea where I was, and I wondered when I should head back. I didn’t know when I should stop. And the thought occurred to me that I could just keep walking. Nobody was there to stop me. I could just follow the river until I couldn’t. I could carry on until I got properly lost. And there was something about this knowledge that felt a bit like letting everything go.

I’m not okay right now. I am wrapped in packing tape marked FRAGILE. I am caught in a space between two heartbeats. I am covered in a pane of ice, cracked and solid and unsinking.

 

Geraghty out x

 

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Band Aid is an awful song and you should all not listen to it. Here’s a blog.

(The Civil Wars Poison and Wine)

The cafe is playing mid 2000’s Live Lounge cover music interspersed with Christmas songs and I have never felt closer to Christmas than I do right now. It’s the 21st December. Everyone is doing top ten lists of things and going shopping and having parties, and I fall into all three of those categories but I don’t feel like I’m moving forwards. You know in old Road Runner cartoons where the ground disappears under Wile E. Coyote? He keeps on running until suddenly he stops, looks at the camera, and falls. And I think that’s where I’m at. The running bit, knowing that there’s no ground underneath me and that somewhere there is a camera that I will look at before I fall. Apart from it’s not a desert that I’ll fall into, it’s a pit filled with tinsel and mince pies and capitalism.

(Acoustic version of The Calling’s Wherever You Will Go)

I’m feeling alright at the minute, it’s just Christmas. Tis the season to be stressed and worried and skint, and part of me cannot wait for Christmas to be over and everything can go back to normal and the days can get longer and I don’t have to worry about shopping or scheduling festivity. But another part of me is excited. I finished work yesterday until the fifth of January. I’m going to the staff party tonight. I’ll finish my shopping tomorrow. And then it’s christmas and that’s fine.

(The Calling cover Suspicious Minds by Elvis.)

(Holly Jolly Christmas)

I cannot wait to spend time with my mum and my sister and brothers. I don’t spend enough time with them, I love my mum to bits and pieces and my siblings are hilarious and Mancunian to the point of caricature. They’re growing up to be brilliant human beings and that makes me really proud. I’m looking forward to spending Christmas Day with my dad and grandma, the first time that’s happened in over twenty years. My grandma is one of the most remarkable women I know – she’s funny and difficult and strong

(Avril Lavigne When You’re Gone, acoustic version)

(Tears in Heaven, Eric Clapton)

and full of stories – and me and Dad are going to get drunk on Christmas night and we’ve not done that in years. I’m spending Boxing Day with some of my closest friends who I love dearly and who make me a better person, and then the day after it’s a massive family party at my aunty’s house and there are so many people in my family and this is the only time we all get together and me and my sister can drink together and have a fabulous time. I think I say I hate Christmas out of habit. I used to not like it. And there are plenty of shit things about Christmas, it’s weighted with expectation and guilt and spending spending spending hoo boy, look at the capitalism SHINE.

(Acoustic version of Down and Out, The Academy is…)

But giving presents is brilliant. Getting them is great, but I love choosing books for people that I think they will genuinely like. I love that. I love christmas carols, not christmas songs. All I Want For Christmas is not Mariah Carey singing All I Want For Christmas over and over again. Choral singing and singing together, harmonising on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and lustily belting the FairyTale of New York. I love eating too much food and then making more sandwiches in the evening with leftovers. Wine and company. Films. Home Alone, Muppets Christmas Carol, Die Hard, Nightmare Before Christmas, everything.

(Florence and the Machine, Shake It Off)

This was going to be a reflection. Tis the season and all that, but I’ve spent so long on introspection and retrospection that to do it on here feels selfish to me. And I need something to write for the new year, so that can be it. I’m doing my best to look forward to Christmas, and I think I’m getting there. Just a few more presents to buy. I’m severely tempted to fill my pockets with glitter for everywhere I go. Mainly because I won’t have to hoover any of it up. And wear a giant rainbow flag

(Acoustic version of Finch, Letters to You.)

because I want to be fabulous. I might be running in mid air, treading water above a constant sense of impending dread, but I want to look good while I’m doing it. So I’ll put the self-reflection on hold for a while. I’m going to run face first into celebrating everything I have, I’m saving my anger and sadness and despondency for the new year (which means this blog is going to be full of fun and hijinks, yaaaas) and I am going to christmas harder than I have ever christmased before.

(Ed Sheeran acoustic singing something boring.)

Look after yourself over Christmas. Self care is difficult at this time of year, and remember that it is totally cool to take time for yourself and make sure you are alright. Read a good book. Listen to your favourite album. Write. Sing. Have some you-time. And if family is a difficult thing for you, then remember that you are your own person and you are brilliant in your own right. Give yourself room to breathe, to relax. Don’t feel bad about dampening things down and not dealing with stuff over Christmas, don’t beat yourself up for ignoring the ignorance of other people when it makes it easier. Rise to it if you have the energy and the strength. Let it slide if that’s what you have to do. But whatever you do, look after yourself. Fill your pockets with glitter.

Geraghty out. x.

(Final song is Baba O’Reilly by The Who WHAT A SONG TO FINISH ON YES PLEASE.)

Losing things

The last few weeks have been difficult. Really difficult. That’s what I’ve been saying to people, when they ask how I am, I say I’ve had a really difficult couple of weeks but I’m on the way out of them now. I don’t think that’s true. I can’t see any end to this path, not yet, and it sounds fatalistic but don’t worry. I’ll get there. The thing is, I am terrible at being any less than okay, so I always tell people I’m fine. Or that I’m close to fine. I wish I were less practised at putting up a front.

The truth is.

I have no idea. I feel completely surface level. I am functioning well and I am working well and I am getting along with people well, but I feel a little bit like they are all preprogrammed actions with no depth to them. Maybe if I keep having these conversations I will feel better. I will fill up again.

There are times I look at my hands in the washing up bowl and I cannot tell if they are mine or my mother’s, and times when my handwriting is indistinguishable from my father’s. Sometimes my thoughts of self doubt and inadequacy are mine and someone else’s, I don’t know who exactly, and the voices of frustration and perseverance and dogged determination belong to my teachers and my friends and the characters from books I treasured years ago. Echoes of characters. Echoes of a million voices and faces. I can’t tell whether I lost myself by accident or on purpose. I think it was a more deliberate act than I realise.

I love what I am doing at the minute. I love making theatre and that I am capable of doing so. The people I surround myself with are brilliant and caring and the exact right people. I read good books. I eat well. I am writing more, leaving the house more, planning more, doing and being so much more than I ever thought I could that the whole idea of change, the whole idea that I could be anything less than happy is ridiculous and maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s why I can’t feel it. I have ticked all the boxes for contentment but it’s been lost in the post somewhere.

I am my mother’s daughter, so I love intensely and care intensely about too many things at the same time. I deal with everyone else’s problems before my own and I surround myself with friends and family and care. I perfected a brave face a long time ago. My eyes are green. I am an expert in passive aggressive washing up.

Sometimes I feel like I could genuinely make a difference and then I laugh at myself for being so idealistic, I go outside and smoke and drink black coffee because we’re all going to die anyway and why bother, I embrace fatalism like a lover, we knock back shots of bleak humour and wait for the world to end together and I love it.

I am my father’s daughter, so I know my voice and how to use it, I can talk my way in and out of any situation. I love music and literature and being in new places. I can be charming. I can go for days without talking to anyone. I hate responsibility but will take it on. My hair is dark. I make bad puns like there’s no tomorrow.

All of my emotions crystallise to perfect rage and I have no idea why. Maybe I’ve been saving it. Maybe it’s the cold weather.

I am the delicate balance of anyone who has ever had an influence on my life, which is positive and negative all at once, and I can match my traits to so many other people that I lose myself in the mix and the lines that tether me to myself vanish and I float. I don’t think I can stand the idea that I am not me. Maybe I have no uniqueness. Maybe all the individuistic qualities that people say I have are only because they do not know all the people that I am. I think I want to change. I have no idea how to do that.

I can’t tell when I lost it. I put it down here a minute ago or a year ago or several past lives ago but I swear it was here. Somewhere.

If you’re in the know, you just know, y’know?

I was going to write something about the Harvey Weinstein thing, but I don’t really know what I could add. He’s a horrendous abhorrent specimen. We all know that now. And it’s great that people are coming forward and feel able to come forward, and it’s prompting some people to mention that it is rife in the theatre industry as well, an industry I love being part of. And of course it is. But nobody is saying anything. Not really. 

It’s all people knowing people who have had something happen to them, all rumours and hearsay and we can’t really be sure, but I’m pretty sure this director made this actor do something against their will but we don’t really know, and if we do know we’re keeping quiet because of careers and reputations and if you’re in the know, you just know, y’know? 

There’s a lot going around from respected theatricals on social media about “industry gossip” and “open secrets” about abuse that feature “big names”, and it’s a little bit scary. Now, we know that this goes on. We’re not naive about it – it’s the same in any big industry, I presume, and it’s ridiculous that it almost seems an accepted thing that we have to deal with and that’s that. But all this nose-tapping I-know-something-you-don’t-know is driving me a little bit mad. 

I was going to write something about the sexual abuse of power that goes on in the theatre industry, but it seems like I would be talking to a lot of people who already know what’s going on and aren’t saying anything about it. I get that it’s difficult to come forward, to report people, the power lies in the fear and I’m not suggesting for one moment that people should be made to come forward, but this is more about the people in the know, y’know? The people who are claiming to be wise to all of these behind-closed-doors incidents and aren’t saying anything because it’s not their place… Nah, pal. Not buying it. 

It might ruin your career. It might ruin their career. It’s not your story. It didn’t happen to you. 

Well, it might ruin someone’s life. And you can report it without giving your name. You can put it on the record. Tell Equity anonymously. Just tell someone*

And how must it feel for those people who it has happened to, to see all these open secrets acknowledged with a sly head nod and a knowing wink all over social media, how must they feel if one of their friends or colleagues or someone they look up to puts up something like that? Thinking that if that person had just said something, it might not have happened. Thinking that they are one of the open secrets. 

And maybe I am completely and utterly wrong, but I am sick of the opinion on industry-based sexual assault being spearheaded by straight men, because they still hold the power in the entertainment industry, because if anyone knows the rumours it’s them, because if another person mentions they are against sexual assault because they have daughters I am going to hit the fucking roof. 

I was going to write something about the conversation around industry-based sexual assault but I was worried it would just turn into a rant, which it is doing, but that’s fine because I have every right to be angry about the way this is being handled, everyone has the right to be angry about the way this is being talked about because it is shitty to say you know the perpetrators and not name them because it perpetuates the culture of fear where these kind of scumbags thrive, it’s great to start talking about it but if we as women as young people as people new to the industry and not in-the-know do not know who you are referring to then whatthefuck good does it do for us? How are we meant to protect ourselves? How are we meant to feel safe reporting shit like this that happens when people we know and respect and look up to won’t even do it? 

If you’re going to talk about it, then fucking say something. Don’t tell us it exists, because we know it does. Don’t give us dark hints about something that happened and follow it up with a coy “I’ll never tell”.

And if you don’t want to risk it, if it’s not your story, if you’re worried about the repercussions, then for the love of god do not put it on social media. Grow the fuck up and tell someone who can do something about it. 

I was going to write something about the Harvey Weinstein thing, but who the fuck would listen? 

Geraghty out.

 

*Here’s a few places to go to if you do want to tell someone:

Citizen’s Advice: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/discrimination/about-discrimination/equality-advisory-support-service-discrimination-helpline/

Safeline: https://www.safeline.org.uk/contact-us/

Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us

Equity: https://www.equity.org.uk/contact-us/equity-helpdesks/ (there are more contact details for Equity members who log into the site)

If you want to get in touch with the theatre or organisation itself, there are also quite a few websites that will allow you to send anonymous emails that you can search for on Google.

 

 

Party Trick

I feel it’s that time again. It’s time to write, without actually having the time to write what I need to. It’s time to make a massive list of things I need to do and things I want to do and cross-reference that with shift patterns and tour dates and family events and the ever looming threat of Christmas. It’s time to tidy my room, time to do all of my washing, time to find spiders with names like Gerald and Bernard and forcibly eject them from the premises. Time to run out of time. Again.

Or, it’s time to ignore everything. Time to hibernate, to stop thinking ahead, to close my eyes and hope that the many spinning plates don’t fall. Time to dream, to drink hot chocolate and buy too much knitwear. Time to stare at falling leaves. Time to relish the snap of cold and the bursts of sunshine and the promise of winter and breathe clouds of steam into the air.

Time to accept that some things, like time itself, are out of my control.

I’m trying to find the line between too much and not enough. Ticking things off as they pass and feeling a little of the tension release from my shoulders, only to be re-knotted when my brain fills up with Things that are Yet to Come. Half of me wants to live in the moment while the other half is trying to plan for the future and it’s an unstoppable force and an immovable object because I seem to just be waiting. Nothing is happening. And yet everything is.

This probably makes no sense.

One day, I think to myself, one day I won’t be doing too much. One day, I’ll work on a maximum of three things at once. I’ll have my own space, give myself time off, sleep properly, take care of myself. But I have to cap this kind of thinking, more often than not. Because I project myself too far into the future and I forget to deal with all the shit that leads up to that point. The point where I’m… happy? No. Because I’m mostly happy now. I’m stressed as hell but I have my friends around me. I’m starting to figure out what mtters to me, figuring out that I can say no to things and the world won’t collapse. I’m getting better at being by myself.

Quite a few of my friends seem to be hitting milestones. New houses, new partners, better jobs children, engagements, traveling, getting married, and it makes me feel weird. I don’t resent them. I just feel like I’m lagging behind. I think it’s a common thing for people who go into the arts – we pause life in the hope that we can create something both economically and culturally worthwhile before we press play again. Or at least I hope it is. Maybe I just tell myself that to feel better.

I think a lot of people in the arts world are waiting to pass the milestone that is being an “emerging artist” and turn into an accomplished cultural butterfly. I know I am. Working towards a transformation that nobody knows how to achieve, working shit jobs in the hours between creating in the hope that one day we won’t have to do it anymore, in the hope that it is just a temporary thing, it’s a means to an end, we won’t be stuck here forever, but I can’t see it right now, I can’t see the endpoint where I get to be writing or making theatre instead of serving people coffee and dealing with shitty customers over the phone, and I need to just stop and breathe and look at the bigger picture but at the moment the bigger picture is still me in a hospitality uniform surrounded by unfinished writing.

I’m just feeling despondant. It happens. I know, I know. I’m very lucky to be doing what I’m doing and success is only measured by something that is immaterial and I’m doing a lot better than many people who have gone into the arts, but I am having a difficult day and I want to wallow. I want to hibernate. I want someone else to spin plates for a while.

Geraghty out.

Conkers

I love autumn. I have always loved autumn. Autumn is new schoolbooks and old leaves and walking to school and making new friends and planning things. But I think I’m just talking about September. The gateway to autumn.

September begins the real new year. September settles like an old dog in front of a fire, it is comforting to watch. You wrap yourself up in September like no other month. September smells like rain through the trees. And if September were a person, it would be my Grandad.

Grandad’s birthday is September 3rd, hailing the start of the new year, the first birthday to happen after term started, the birthday to kick off the run of birthdays before Christmas.

The more I think about it, the more I realise a lot of the things I associate with my Grandad I associate with September. Or rather, a lot of my memories of my Grandad are to do with growing, with new-ness. I remember being dropped off at Nazareth House around the corner from my high school so that I could meet my friends and walk the rest of the way. He drove us all to school, me, Sophie, Joe, and Sam, even when we could have gotten there ourselves. We would listen to Capital FM. I think it was Capital. Or an MW channel where he would listen to men with crackly voices recount the football scores. I remember him dressed in his fleecy jacket and flatcap, taking our dog Pippa for walks in the park.

But mostly, there were conkers. Conkers collected by the kids on their way home from school, where Grandad would let them linger along the pavements on the way back to his car. He would park on the street with the most trees so that they could get as many conkers as they could. Conkers in plastic bags on the kitchen table, hundreds of conkers, smooth under the fingers. Bags of conkers that would develop a slight moist film of mould as we got further and further towards winter.

Autumn is my Grandad’s season. It always has been and always will be, and it’s strange that it takes him not being here for me to realise that.

I have really missed my Grandad this September. It’s strange. Well, it’s probably not strange. It just hits me every so often. When I chatted to Joe and Sam about starting back at school. When me and Sophie took the dog for a walk on the weekend. When a conker fell out of a tree as I was walking home the other day and hit me on the shoulder. I remember my Grandad and I feel guilty, a bit, because I should have made more of an effort, should still make more of an effort. My Grandad was so full of love for us.

My favourite month used to be December, when the cold had settled and the light had gone and there seemed to be no end to winter and it was fatalistically beautiful. But now I think it’s September. The first chill of autumn, the evenings drawing in, the colours of the world changing day by day, the crunch of the leaves under boots, the new pencil cases, new starts. And the conkers gathering along the side of every road, between the roots of every tree, in drains and in driveways and in pockets of coats.

I’ll miss you.

 

xx

Lots of I am.

I want to write. I want my writing to be read. I write about my body and want people to read what I write about it, because when I post things on my blog, it is not just my body any more. I know I am voicing concerns that other people have about their bodies, about their minds, about their well being. When I write about my body, I am sharing a burden. It’s something I tend not to do out loud.

When I talk about being fat, it is with a tone of comedy. I take the piss out of myself – not out of my weight, I try not to self deprecate, I try to be the strongest me I could be without people realising how much strength it is taking. Either that, or it is with an edge of anger. Anger at clothes shops who fail to stock above a size sixteen. Anger at people who think my weight is their business. Anger at the corporations and the society that seems to benefit from my perceived shame at being fat.

I don’t talk about sadness.

I keep that to myself.

But when I write about it, I can articulate the sadness so it comes across properly.

I am part of the body positivity movement. I believe that people should feel good no matter what they look like. Embracing that belief for myself is harder. Sometimes I hate myself and that’s difficult – what I think and what I feel are two separate things, and it takes a while to talk myself down from that particular ledge.

I read an article by Roxane Gay – someone who I look up to immensely – on the Guardian website. She talks about not being happy, about knowing she is the fattest person in the room at most times, about the pitfalls of being overweight, about dieting and the fake concerns of strangers, articulating many of the doubts and fears I have in my own head. It’s a brilliant piece of writing. I didn’t feel empowered after reading it, but I felt understood. That’s important.

When I decided to force myself into accepting my body, I sought out role models. It helped. I remember listening to a podcast – Sofie Hagen’s Made Of Human – and crying because finally, finally, I felt understood. I looked for these women, these fat, intelligent, powerful women, everywhere I went. There were a surprising (to me) amount of them. Now, I’m sure if you’re into body positivity this isn’t something new for you, but to me it was. I saw fat people out and about and instead of comparing their size to mine, I tried to see the beauty in them. It was difficult because I hadn’t ever seen the beauty in myself. Cheesy, I know. But it’s true.

I don’t really know where this writing is going. I guess I just feel a bit sad tonight and wanted to talk to someone.

I used to have a lot of fears, and I’m getting over them. I force myself to think about these fears in the same way I force myself to look at my reflection in a full length mirror. I do that sometimes. I stand in front of the mirror in my room, in my underwear or in nothing at all, and look at myself. I pick the bits that I like and accept the bits that I don’t. I poke at my belly, squeeze the flesh at my shoulders, lift my head to minimise the chins. I swallow the whispered words of self hate. I look at my legs, the curves of my shoulders, the shine of my hair, the green of my eyes. I let the words of acceptance go past my lips. The words of love. Words like sexy and attractive and beautiful and yes. I look through my brain into the fears I have for the future. Most of it centres around being alone, about not being loved, and when I examine it really closely I realise that it doesn’t bother me too much. Not really. I have love from the people I surround myself with. And being alone isn’t a bad thing – god knows I’ve been single for long enough that I like my own company, most of the time. Sometimes I can be a complete bitch to myself, but other times I am actually quite a cool person for me to hang around with.

I cloud my head with words of positivity. Lots of I am. And after a while, after quite a long time, things became true. Self-fulfilling prophecies.

On bad days, I hate myself. I cry. Sometimes I punch walls (not advised). But that’s alright. Because on the good days, I am one of the fat, intelligent, powerful women I look up to.

I guess that’s why I write this blog. If you enjoy my writing, fantastic. Honestly, fantastic. But if you get something more out of it, then even better. You can be a body positivity activist even on days you hate yourself. Because to someone else, you’re the most badass feminist killjoy that ever walked the earth. You are worth so much more than the size of your clothes. And you owe it to yourself to know that. And to own it.

Geraghty out.