When life gives you lemons you make lemonade, we know that. But when life kicks you in the vag with a big pair of Doc Martins, you crawl into bed with a bottle of wine.
This was me last night, watching the ‘Bold Type’ on my phone, while snuggled in bed.
I haven’t been to London in three months, which is a long stretch for me and I’d been missing it terribly.
My trip this week was going to be epic! Speaking at a mental health conference, my agent’s birthday party, meetings scheduled and catching up with friends. BOOM. I’d organised the whole thing down to a tee.
Therefore, when I found myself close to in tears in a pub in Motspur Park, I began to question my life.
Barely twenty-four hours had passed and yet everything had changed. My breakfast meeting cancelled last minute and so did my lunch meeting. Terminated by a simple DM on Twitter. As though it were nothing, as though my traveling 163 miles and staying an extra night especially was trivial. “Sorry babe, let me know when you’re next down.” My lunch meeting said.
Still, the magazine editor (who I can’t name), didn’t even show me that courtesy. I saw photos of her in New York on instagram and put the rest of the mystery together myself!
The conference I was speaking at would apparently finish late, so no party for me that night and to top it all off, I’d lost my debit card. I realised this when I’d just ordered lunch that I couldn’t pay for. What the “f**k am I doing with my life?” (This is my standard response in such situations… also when I’m hung over).
Working for yourself is a hard gig. Something I rarely complain about, because it was my choice. Nobody forced me into it. I love working in mental health and I love writing. I work hard because it’s a privilege and if I can help people along the way, then fantastic.
(BUT she says). It’s volatile and for someone living with social anxiety it can be rough. Instagram and Twitter a constant reminder of how much better other people are doing.
I’m from a working-class background and money is something that I take very seriously. Travelling to London at £70 a ticket to then have meetings cancelled has a very real impact. And yet, I refuse to work with any organisation that I don’t believe in. Once you sell out, you’re done for in my opinion. Self-respect and all.
Sat panicking in that pub, I felt out of control. “You’re such a dick.” I thought. “You’re an idiot, it’s just like you to do something this stupid. You’re pathetic.” I don’t like making mistakes and punish myself severly when I do. I also don’t like to put people out, or cause a fuss. Preferring to resolve situations myself.
Eventually, all other options exhausted. I rang my mother in law, (I’d been staying there), and explained what’d happened. I told her that I’d leave my bag in the pub as collateral, and walk the twenty minutes back to the house, to borrow some money. “Oh Claire no don’t be silly, I’ll come and meet you now.” She said kindly. I protested, but she insisted and ten minutes later she arrived on her bicycle.
I tried to laugh, but as she gave me big hug, and I accepted her love and her help, I felt the sting behind my eyes building. Tears are a bitch like that. As they flowed down my face I finally allowed myself to break. “I’m so sorry,” I blubbered. “I just feel like everything is going wrong at the moment and I don’t know what to do. Work is shit.” Saying the words out loud was instantly liberating. Like a big juicy sigh of relief. My whole body, previously stiff and on edge, relaxed and sank back into the black sofa that I was perched on.
After a quick natter, she gave me some cash and insisted that I borrow her card for today. She’s lovely like that.
Watching her leave, I felt better. Rationalising that yes, yesterday and today had been shit. People let me down and I felt inadequate. But you know what? That’s ok. Life is hard at times and we all have to face that. My mistake was to ignore how I was feeling, bolting the door tight and turning away. (Never works). I’m human and that means being vulnerable sometimes, it means accepting help from those who care about you.
The social media is one that I’ll tackle another day. But as I whatspp’d my mum and best friends, receiving multiple responses within minutes, I was reminded to appreciate the love I already have, the love that’s always there, rather than chasing shadows in the virtual world.
Things I’ve learned or relearned this week:
- My time is valuable too. Making new contacts is great, but not if I’m the only one being flexible and making sacrifices. I now intend to have a ‘two cancellations and you’re out’ policy. I also intend to be honest going forward, about my travel and make sure that the person commits 100% to the meeting in advance.
- When feeling vulnerable DO NOT browse any form of the social media.
- It’s ok to ask for help. Nobody gets it right all the time. Life is hard, so allow someone else to make yours easier where possible. What’s the saying? “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
- When it’s all going wrong. Fall apart, cry, mope, breathe, rationalise and then get up.
As I write this, I’m sat in a café on The Strand, waiting to meet an old friend. I’m going to spend the remainder of the day at Google Campus, writing book number two… and then I’ll jump on a train home, back to my family. And you know what? That is more than enough for me.