To the you that feels too much.

Some days if not many, I feel like life is too much for me.

Too problematic

Too demanding

Too stressful

Too hard

Too expensive 

Too ominous

So I had a think about how I can break it down, because in all honesty I am all too often feeling as though I am one meltdown away from a psychotic break, and that isn’t a healthy way to live.

That’s when I realised problems are unavoidable, but I have the power to stop reacting to them and start tackling them with a clearer head. 

Most of the demands I speak of, I put upon myself. I am not able to meet the unrealistic expectations of my own making. However I am able to lower my expectation all together and treat myself with more kindness. Celebrate the small successes and work a little harder to focus on a solution based outlook.

Stress is part of life, but it doesn’t have to be the soul dictator of mine. The only reason it sinks it’s claws deep into my psyche is because I feed it with my adrenaline fuelled responses. I am highly sensitive and I am emotive but I don’t have to let my overriding emotion be stress.

Life is hard. It can be. It is. Though treating myself with disscontempt seems to come easy. Why is that? What can I do to change how I view situations? Could I perhaps allow myself more time to process difficulties? I think considering the amount of time I spend feeling like I’m climbing Ben Nevis it’s possible there’s room for improvement on my processing techniques.

Expenditure is essential to the cost of living, but it doesn’t have to be essential to my happiness. Material things are not that important to me so why do I always feel like I am missing out when I can’t afford stuff? Maybe because I spend too long comparing myself to my peers instead of accepting like our thoughts, opinions and lifestyles, our budgets are different.

I don’t believe a positive outlook will automatically grant you a positive life. What I have learned over time is the people I have come across with bigger problems than my own, people facing harder challenges and worse health, all seem to be more optimistic than I am. So maybe, I’ll try and count my blessings more often and throw away the curse that is negativity. I gain nothing from it and it gains everything from me.

My whole life I have felt as though I am too much for some people. It has taken me 30 (and then some) years to accept, they are just not my people. I’ve been battling with the ‘too’ instead of accepting just being me. It’ll come as no surprise to my family and friends that I feel this way because I’ve felt for a long time like I’ve been told I’m….

Too loud 

Too dramatic 

Too sensitive 

Too outspoken 

Too fiery

Too wild 

Too intense 

Too blunt 

If I had to describe myself now I would still use a few of the above words, but I would drop the too and I’d try and rephrase, because nobody has the right to tell me I am ‘too’ anything.

Yes as I mentioned, I am highly sensitive, but that makes way for empathy, for compassion. I care, not too much, there is no too much. I am caring, and that is something the world needs more of. It’s ok to care. In fact it’s good, until it isn’t, and you care too much about what other people think. I don’t want to do that anymore. 

Yes I am fiery, but only when it comes to things I believe in, I am passionate and I am driven by things that excite me. They are not the same things that excited me 10 years ago. Now I am excited by books, and words, and art. I’m excited by flavours and food and Sundays in bed. Safely replacing 10 jägers and a scrap outside the kebab shop. I’m excited AF when my daughter comes home with a bronze star or shares her sweets with her little best mate.

I am blunt, because I can’t fake anything. It’s funny really that I’ve been coined a ‘drama queen’ because my acting skills are fucking awful. My face will say everything my mouth forgets. If anything, I might be ‘too’ honest, but only because I genuinely believe honesty is always the best policy, and my sensitivity, believe it or not actually makes me quite a good judge of character. I don’t have the time, and I DEFINITELY ain’t got the energy to pretend. 

I WAS wild, now I am about as far from wild as a candle flickering into winter giving off vague scents of unwashed hair and 2 day old pyjamas. I am the opposite of wild, providing the opposite is not chilled. No, I’m not chilled, because I worry. I worry because I care. I want to be better. I want people to see me for the better person I am because I deserve that. Are you still with me?

I am still intense, because once I start speaking I really spill my guts. My opinions are emotive, and I have no façade. I do not hide myself behind pretence. I am intensely vulnerable and I am open. 

This can be a blessing and a curse. I overshare, but I also over love. I know if I was advising a friend on these qualities I would tell them both are ok.  

I am a complex mass of physical pain and panic. Of memories I’d rather forget and a future I’m desperate to control. To panic is to care. To be aware of your faults isn’t heroic or admirable, not really, but owning them and trying to fine tune them takes effort. And effort itself is admirable. 

I have had struggles, but they are not worse or more severe than those of others, they are just mine, they are part of me. They shape me, and I have no doubt. Not one speck of doubt, that I am a better person because of them. 

I am not too much. 

I’m just me.

You can also read this blog here at House 21

A Decade Of Lessons

The last 10 years

Well, it’s been a testing decade that’s for sure, but it’s also been the most amazing pilgrimage of self discovery I’ve ever been on.

I feel like the last decade is where I really became an adult and anything before was part of my youth.

In 2010 I was glassed in a nightclub in an unprovoked attack whilst out with friends, and it shook me beyond measure and took me to a place I didn’t know existed. I’d been in fights before, been given a slap when I probably deserved it, in my teens, I’d even (believe it or not) been hit with a bottle before, but it hadn’t shattered the first time and this was on another level. This was in response to me just being out having a laugh with friends, and it could have left me blind. Thankfully, physically most of the scars are on my décolletage and not my face (though I do have a dent in my skull) it could have been a lot worse physically.

But despite keeping up appearances, mentally I was scarred beyond recognition. I was scared too just by the weight of the attack, but in being scared I got angry.

I went ‘mad’ for want of a better word. I was wild. Following that night every time I went out I braced myself for a row and alcohol only fuelled that self destruction. I got in more rows and fights than I’d ever had before. I rowed and physically fought with my then partner, and when I ended that relationship I continued down a rabbit hole of hell.

I did some messed up things and 2013 saw the catalyst to that phase of crazy.

I lost my job, almost my house, and I was alone. Friends had given me a wide berth and my nights out were spent with people I didn’t even really like and who only hung out with me for some drama or entertainment.

I’ve always had a need to fill the shoes of the life and soul of the party, but I’ve filled them by acting like a fool. Being the loudest, the craziest and the wildest person in the room.

I met my now partner at the end of that year. I saw the new year in in Ireland with a good friend and it was like something just clicked, an epiphany if you like, and I didn’t want to be that self destructive, unemployed mess, that I had become.

I got a job, a pretty good one, and from there life has progressed at a steady pace. The following year I was shaving my hair off for charity and raising thousands of pounds. I’ve had some backslides, like being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and it’s affect on my both my physical and mental health. Having a baby wasn’t an easy feat for me, and it can be hard work just being ‘normal’ most days, but I’m surviving it, and thriving too.

Last year my mum nearly died from a freak fall and I can say with certainty, I’ve never been as scared as I was then. It puts what’s important into perspective.

Nowadays I don’t feel like I’m falling from Beachy Head every time I wake up. I don’t want to hide for a week after a night out anymore, and I don’t wish I was dead. Even on the bad days, I’m glad to be alive.

I still feel like some days I fight stigmas and a bad reputation, but it took me a long time to make it, so I guess it’s only normal that it will take me a long while to break it, too.

That being said, my future is bright and I’m lucky. All the people in my life are in it because they want to be and contribute in some way to helping me be and feel better. So I’d say, despite all of that drama, this past decade has been pretty spectacular and I’m looking forward to the next one. Taking nothing for granted is my only resolution.

Happy new year 🥳

Save me

I started writing this last week and it’s taken me ages to finish because I have so much to say but also it could probably be more condensed. Bear with….

To anyone feeling like they’re making a mess of their life and unsure which way is up. I have some advice, it may not be the best but it comes from a place of empathy and sadly experience.

Have you ever heard the expression

‘Some people can’t be saved’

Whilst thinking about this I came to the realisation that they can, but they can only really ever save themselves.

I always say that my daughter saved me. Saved me from a depression so deep rooted, so old, it was painted shut, that it’s presence under the surface of my life was always there. If I’m being wholly honest it’s still there sometimes, but it’s not painted shut anymore, it’s not glossed over like a sash window that no longer opens. It breathes. I talk about it, honestly, and the window opens a little more each time.

Shaun helped save me too, save me from another bad decision or a kick off I couldn’t take back. But in the end it was me that picked up the broken pieces and got them ready for gluing back together.

I believe you have to hit rock bottom in order to resurface your new self. Half hearted attempts don’t work. YOU have to work for it. You have to meet your worst case scenario and move up from there, you have to feel like you have no other way to go, and I’ve been there.

I’ve lost friends, loads of them. I’ve lost a job or two inadvertently, because I couldn’t commit. But most of all I’ve felt like I had nothing left to fight for, all the anger and fear I had used previously to power me through another drama was gone. There was no risk of people I loved giving up on me because they already had.

There was no risk of being called names and gossiped about because the worst things had already been said. I had accepted I wasn’t popular because of my behaviour and so came the time I wanted to prove them all wrong. You have to want saving. You have to want to save yourself.

It’s not easy to rebuild your life when you’ve spent so long bulldozing through your happiness. When you’ve been so insecure you’ve picked apart everyone who provided reassurance. I found substance abuse is usually something that fits comfortably along side being depressed, that false sense of ‘everything will be alright tomorrow, after just one more hit’ it won’t. In fact, it’ll probably look much, much worse and you won’t remember what it is you did or said. You won’t remember who you hurt & if you do remember you’ll justify it by convincing yourself they deserved it. They may well have deserved it, but it’s YOUR mental health that will suffer because of your actions, more so than anyone else’s. It’s you that will have to pick up the pieces of your broken life and convince the auctioneer they’re worth something. You better polish them up good, so they’re shining brightly for the highest bidder because if you let them go for less than their value, they’ll be smashed to smithereens again in no time.

I don’t qualify as a mental health expert and I always feel like I’m being really patronising when I try and give advice because I remember so vividly how fucking infuriating it was when all these lovely people with lovely lives tried to help me.

In the end it was the tough love that really did the trick. It was the realisation that I was losing people I loved from my life because I didn’t know how to behave. Some relationships are still beyond repair and that’s something you have to live with when you make mistakes. Now I won’t pretend that a reputation can be erased or easily saved. It my experience, it cant. There are some people who genuinely want to see you fail and some people you might hurt too deeply to expect their forgiveness so if you’re after a quick fix to sort your life out, you won’t find it in redemption. Redemption is life long. Recovery is life long. Looking after your mental health is a commitment you have to make more eternally than any other vow. You have to pick yourself up from the gutter and swallow any pride you ever possessed. Pride is useless it doesn’t salvage anything. It wont protect you, and it definitely can’t fix you. Swallow it, even if it chokes you. Admit defeat even when you feel you were coerced into behaving like a total cunt, just admit that you fucked up. Say sorry, mean it and move on because waiting for an apology from someone who hurt you can easily end up with a life wasted on bitterness and the hope of revenge. Tell the truth even when it’s painful, because people need all the facts before they hand out forgiveness like sweets on Halloween.

So if you’re reading this and wondering if you can be saved. The answer is you CAN but the only person who can save you is you, and it’ll be so worth it.

How’s this below pic for a comparison and a bit of Monday motivation? 9 years later and with a few less bad habits life looks better, but I’m under no illusions that I’m still digging myself up from the hole I dug myself into and probably always will be. The difference is now I want to get out!

The truth behind living life to it’s fullest – By Sandra Skelton.

I am a huge believer in the idea that you only get one chance at life and that it is not a dress rehearsal. To ignore that will only bring you regret of a life wasted. It took me a very long time to learn the truth behind those statements and with that knowledge I share my journey with you and the reason why I love my life today!

The last year of my life has been a difficult one in so many ways. Waking up and not knowing where you are or how you got there puts a totally new prospective on your life. Just over six months ago I fell and fractured my skull which led to a bleed on my brain. I now live every day grateful that I am still here, I so very nearly wasn’t. That however, brings many thoughts and feelings to the forefront of my mind the major one being my life as a parent. Those who know me really well will know I wasn’t always a great mum. I am however blessed with the knowledge that my two girls probably won’t agree with this statement! My eldest daughter suffered the most (now your Diva mum) and grew up with 666 tattooed on the back of her neck. It took me far too long to realise the importance of good parenting and because of that my girls suffered, but I am blessed with the knowledge that it is never too late to make amends.

It’s ok to tell it how it is and share it with the world. My girls have proven to me time and time again that it makes you a better parent to speak out about your struggles and always try to find the positivity in every situation that life throws at you. There is nothing better than being a mother or grandmother but you don’t have to have gained an A star in either, in order to be loved!! We live and we learn, just keep going, you will get there.

Believe me! I did and I was crap!!!

Diva mum’s rule.. be one, love one and learn from one. It is what life is all about 😘

Sandra Skelton – AKA Divanan

Rejection

Rejection.

I’ve never taken it well. From my father to boyfriends, one night stands, friends to colleagues, interviews and talent shows. I don’t even like the word –

R E J E C T I O N – ugly isn’t it?

As an adult you really do have to accept it to a certain degree, applying for jobs and not getting them, trying to get your writing published and getting turned down, it’s all par for the course on that journey we call life. However that, for me, doesn’t make it any easier to handle. I find rejection a real personal slight and I internalise it in every which way possible.

I applied for a job last week that I had convinced myself was the only job I wanted and needed despite it being a draining drive all the way there.

When they emailed me, yes emailed because in business these days people seldom call you to tell you when they don’t want you – when they emailed me to say I had most of what they were looking for but lacked knowledge in a specific area, I was gutted. They then proceeded to say they were putting the job back out for advert. So, go figure, I have almost all the desired skills but rather than train me on the few I’m lacking you’ll just keep hoping the better person will come along. Thanks hun.

They may as well of just said ‘No thanks, you’re not good enough’ – Ok I’m being a bit melodramatic, but seriously I find that kind of recruitment so unconventional. Whenever I’ve interviewed people before of course they are judged on their skill set and have to tick boxes, but I also get a feel for them as people and their desire for the job in question.

Do they want it?

To add insult to injury one of the articles I’d written for a magazine was also declined. It was about taking antidepressants whilst pregnant, a really relevant topic with the mental health crisis being as it is, and maternal mental health being still such a taboo. I’d edited it to a standard of polished finery, it was good.

And their reason for not publishing it, it didn’t set the tone they were after. Which is weird considering they asked for honesty, real life, feminist type topics. Everything my article contained.

I often think my style is an acquired taste because I do write with an honesty that can sometimes be construed as offensive although that’s never the intent.

I have to defend myself here and speak up though, because I know I have a niche and I want to be heard. I know my writing resonates with hundreds of women. That’s not being arrogant, it’s ok to be good at stuff you know!! I love words and I feel I use them well. I use my voice to speak up about parenting, chronic illness and mental health and I know that all this rejection I’m receiving is ammo for a new article – queue this post. However, I can also write reports, stories poems and so on, so I think I really do have to learn to accept rejection, learn from it, and keep plugging away.

People will tell you you’re not good enough, but what they really mean is they have an idea of what they want and you’re not it. The secret is to try and see past the rejection and use it to prove them wrong. But I have never really been very good at secrets and I can’t help but feel like I’m failing. I feel like I need validating, as if that will prove my worth.

But even after this, off I went, geared up applying for more jobs, saw another I knew I could do and wanted – pay wasn’t amazing but right now it’s about ticking over whilst I write, rather than making my fortune. Filled out the application, again to a standard of polished finery and got to the bit where they ask if you have any criminal convictions. I do, and whilst now spent, this role included providing details of even spent convictions. So I wrote down my 2 convictions and 2 cautions.

All from a time long ago, when I was at rock bottom and a bit of a reprobate. Also all pre my life with Shaun and Ciara.

I filled out the form anyway – nothing to lose, and I’m sad to say I’ve not had even an acknowledgement.

So how, I ask are we supposed to rehabilitate? I’m not defending myself, I know I was a knob and did some stupid shit age 22/23 like kicking off in the street and breaching the peace, my worst crime was driving drunk. Something I will never forgive myself for as I know the damage that could of caused endangering others. I’m so sorry for that, and thankful I didn’t hurt anyone. It’s something I have paid the price for though, I can assure you and something I’d never do again. Ever!

I didn’t commit fraud or burglary, I didn’t bring harm to people or get involved in hate crime. I just didn’t know when to hold it down and my decision making was erratic. They were all, (accept one when I was 13) offences committed whilst under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.

You often see these amazing inspirational stories of people turning their lives around and that’s me, I did that too, but I’m not always being given a chance to prove it. We had Ant back on our tv’s after doing the same thing and we still love him. He made a mistake but he’s not a bad person. He didn’t have to deal with job rejection when being honest about what he went through. I understand some roles don’t fit if you are potentially at risk of reoffending especially, crimes involving children and the elderly. We have to protect people’s welfare first and foremost but we also sometimes have to take a leap of faith. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and take a chance. I’ve not just done bad things in my life, I’ve done some amazing things too. I’ve raised over £10,000 for charities, been a good friend, a good mum, kind… there is always more to people than meets the eye if you’re willing to educate yourself.

Being rejected is something I wonder if I’ll ever be able to cope with but I am determined to keep trying, I’ve turned my life around and I want to show my little girl that her mummy never gave up when trying to be a better person than she was the day before.

An open letter to my absent father.

Dear Dad,

Should I call you that? Or is it a title too above what you are to me? My ‘Dad’ who hasn’t paid a day’s maintenance since the day I was born or prior. Who wasn’t there when I was born at 28 weeks gestation unable to breathe on my own. Who wasn’t there when I jumped off a wall and broke my ankle aged 7. Or when I got arrested aged 13, or when I was smoking weed and taking pills, acting like an antisocial yob aged 14.

The ever illusive Dad who wasn’t there when I kicked my bedroom door off it’s hinges or broke my heart after I split from my first boyfriend. Or when I finally got an A in my English GCSE. Passed my driving test. Had my daughter.

The dad who has NEVER been there for a single day my entire life.

Who was there? Mum, that’s who.

I’m now almost 31 years old, with a beautiful daughter of my own. Your granddaughter, who you will never get the pleasure of meeting because you are as pointless to us now, as windscreen wipers are on a submarine.

I used to deny I felt any ounce of hurt at your absence. I used to protest I didn’t need you. Didn’t want you in my life even, but realistically, I did need you.

I won’t deny my mum did a fantastic job of raising me alone and let’s face it with my track record, that couldn’t of been an easy task.

I had a wonderful Nan who helped, and whom I adored, but it’s (only) my opinion that girls need their dads.

At least I, needed a dad. I needed one to teach me boundaries, to help me understand male and female relationships that didn’t leave me confused. When I was just a teen men as old as you would say inappropriate things to me that I didn’t even know were inappropriate at the time. I had nothing to compare it to. I looked for father figures in every relationship and was royally disappointed when they all turned out to be narcissistic gas-lighters, just like you.

I don’t know why I was surprised to be repeatedly let down by men, when the one man who was supposed to never let me down had taken away any hope I’d had of a paternal relationship.

Nobody wanted the role of trying to fill your shoes, and who could blame them.

On the only three occasions in my entire life that I met you, you never once apologised for not being around. You did admit treating my mum poorly, and conveniently forgetting to mention you had a whole other family when you and her were dating, but they were the only honest words to come from your lips during our limited conversations.

You didn’t explain yourself and you didn’t justify your absence, it just was!

You have 3 other daughter’s, 2 with your wife, who have given you grandchildren and you’ve walked down the aisle, and one other out of wedlock. I wonder, what do you tell people when they ask how many kids you have?

You wrote me an email once, telling me that since ‘finding God’ you had ‘forgiven yourself’ for your sins and ‘with his help’ you were ‘combatting each tough, and beautiful day.’

What you didn’t ever do, was ask for my forgiveness.

Today – today, my mum received a letter from the CSA to say they were writing off old debt and that she wouldn’t be receiving a penny for the first 18 years of my life, from you. What a laugh. What an absolute corker of a joke that is. Ha ha ha ha.

In response, I thought I’d write this open letter to tell you, keep your money, and I forgive you. Not because you deserve it, not because you need it, but because I’ve chosen to give it to you. I am a better person than you are. I am a better parent than you have ever been to me, and I no longer crave your input or existence in my world.

My daughter will grow up with a dad who loves her unconditionally and two sets of grandparents that don’t include you.

Thanks for being absent my whole life, your absence has taught me two things, to respect my mum, and to let go of hatred. I refuse to spend a moment longer being upset over a man, who for all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist.

‘Sincerely’

Me.