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.

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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.

This post is about body positivity.

I’ve been going to the doctors quite a bit recently. I figured that if I could sort out my physical health then I could legitimately ignore my mental health with no repercussions whatsoever. Which is bollocks, obviously. What these trips to the doctors’ actually did was kick start a mini existential crisis which knocked another one and another one until my mental dominoes were all over the place. They didn’t even fall in a pretty pattern (something I’ll work on for the next time I have sequential meltdowns).

So I’m going to go through a couple of them, I think. I might give up halfway through. You never know. And they’ll be a little bit angry. Just a heads up.

This post is, once again, about my body.

Fat.

(https://areomagazine.com/2017/04/20/body-positivity-is-killing-women/)

So I read this article which was a mistake, and unless you’re looking to get angry or sad about yourself and other people then I would not recommend. Also, the writing isn’t great and the stats used smell a little bit like bullshit.

I am tired. I am tired of people shitting on the body positivity movement. I am tired of the unwanted and unwarranted opinions of random people making me feel like shit and making other women (yes, mostly women, deal with it) feel like shit as well. The only people I will tolerate weight talk from is the doctor. And even then I have to steel myself to hear it. What kind of screwed up thing is that? I have become so used to throwing up defence mechanisms when someone talks about weight that I find it difficult to take the advice of a medical professional. And there’s a reason for that.

Look, I understand that people link weight with health. I get it. It makes sense, in the grand scheme of things. I am fat, I am not as healthy as I should be. I eat too much. I’m overweight, and therefore I find it harder to exercise because I am self-conscious about my weight. And so the vicious circle continues. I’m trying to get over it – go swimming, walk more etc – but the simple fact of the matter is that fat people are made to feel like shit as soon as they step out of the door in the morning. It is a radical act for a fat person to wear what they want because they want to wear it and ignore what society deems is acceptable.

But I digress. Back to this article. Let’s say, for just a minute, that the stats are right and that all possible health problems are the fault of being fat. Yes that is something that should be addressed. Yes, people need to look after themselves. But even if all that were true, that is not what the body positivity movement is about. We are not glorifying obesity, we are not telling girls and young women not to exercise, we are not saying “don’t take care of yourself”. What we are saying is this:

No matter what your size is, you deserve to be happy.

Just like feminism is “the radical notion that women are people, too” (Cheris Kramarae, shade intended), the body positive movement is the radical notion that everyone deserves to be treated like a fucking human being and not ridiculed, not told that they are not good enough, not made to shop in “special fat people shops” not told that they look like they need a good meal or that they need to cut down on the chips, not told that if they are ill it is their own fault, that if they are lonely it is their own fault, that if they feel like shit it is their own fault. The body positive movement is a fucking Godsend and if anyone says any different then they are talking bollocks.

“Obesity is not positive. It’s a dangerous plague that is being fueled by disillusioned women convincing themselves that they are happy”

Disillusioned women convincing themselves that they are happy. 

Just let that percolate for a wee minute.

What. Is. This. Bullshit.

This sentence made me so fucking angry.

How dare you. How dare you take away someone’s right to be happy. How dare you call someone’s happiness a disillusion. What gives you the right. And there are no question marks on the end of these because I have no wish to enter a dialogue with someone about this, unless they have something genuinely illuminating to say about it or is a goddamned medical professional. And even a medical professional wouldn’t say “you’re fat, but you seem to still be smiling. Therefore you must be stupid and your happiness is invalid.”

I’m done with this now. Rant is over.

Geraghty out. x.

Acknowledgements

This is something I wrote at the beginning of last week, just to give a little context. Enjoy. 

And after a week of working on Bears, I’m on a severely delayed train to Lancaster to embark on my next freelance project. I’m wearing my dungarees, listening to Anderson Paak, and I feel untouchable. Today I feel amazing.

This week has been a week of firsts. For example, today is the first time I’ve not been severely thrown off by a train delay. Actually, it didn’t bother me at all.

Another example – I didn’t put my headphones in until I got on the train. This is a massive thing for me. I normally have my headphones in as soon as I’m out of the house or just not with my mates, because music is my barrier. It’s an armour. I feel protected with my headphones in because then I don’t have to think about people looking at me, I can just focus on the music and pretend I’m somewhere else. But not today, society. Nuh-uh. Today I stood in the middle of Piccadilly train station in my dungarees and blue Docs, with my bright red guitar case and no headphones in, and I did think of everyone else’s thoughts and I did clock a few people looking at me (or at least I thought I did) but I made an important next step. I actively didn’t care. Because fuck them, that’s why. I even participated in small talk with one of the guards. And it felt normal.

At the beginning of this last week I gave myself a pep talk. Not quite pointing at myself in the mirror, but I sat and wrote a pep talk and honestly I have found this whole week so much easier because of it. I have been slowly coming to the realisation that I ignore my negative thoughts. About others, mostly about myself, I knew they were there but I swept them under carpets and locked them in cupboards, never letting my eyes rest on them for too long. And over the last couple of weeks, I have been facing them. Bit by bit. I’ve been throwing glances at them and acknowledging their presence. And on Monday, I sat them down, stared them in the face and addressed them. Asked them why they were there. And tried to reason with them.

Listen: I don’t have the answers. I don’t know how to fix me or any of you, if we do indeed need fixing, I’m just fumbling through my own brain trying to make the paths a little clearer. And as I’ve been trying to work out the roots of these thoughts, why I react in certain ways to situations, why I think certain things about myself, etcetera and soforth, I have been visiting places I didn’t want to go to. I don’t want to be fucked up and for a lot of time I didn’t think I was. But I probably am. And that’s fine. The first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging it, right? I reckon so.

We’ll see.

Anyway – this week has been fantastic. The show is coming on leaps and bounds and I reckon we all feel a lot more confident in what we’re doing. I was nervous about this week. Nervous about not being good enough to direct a show, feeling competitive and territorial and I was legitimately concerned that this week would make me feel like shit and knock me back. But it didn’t. It hasn’t. I feel great. I’ve found my confidence, I’ve spoken out a lot more and thrown my weight behind my ideas and I’ve acknowledged my reactions to situations and tried my best to deal with them. I have so much love and respect for my fellow ‘Kegs, and after this week I feel deserving of the same amount of love and respect from myself.

I’m at Preston now and the weather is slightly worse. Anderson Paak is singing the last track in my headphones and Solange is up next and I can carry on swimming through their music. I’m almost at Lancaster, it’s a Saturday, I’m wearing dungarees and I feel good. 

Geraghty out. x.