Year of Fear Week 1. “Challenge 1: increasing social interactions.”

And so the changes begin.

“Challenge 1: increasing social interactions” has been a resounding, and ongoing, success. I started out with the goal of increasing my social interactions by two per day, as I often overstretch myself and find that I am unable to achieve my, quite frankly, unobtainable goals.

My first act was Hubs suggesting that I order lunch at the Beach Bar on holiday. Did I mention I was on hols recently? No? Ah well, I’ll probably come back to it later. I hadn’t told him about my challenge and yet here he was, supporting and encouraging it without even realising. As he tends to so often do.

I ordered lunch. Nobody died. I didn’t make a fool of myself by accidentally ordering cock and balls stew. I didn’t stutter. Or fall off my chair. Or realise I was naked part way through the transaction. In fact, I just asked for some food. And she brought me some food. Mad that.

Less than half an hour later, I asked for the bill. Then I paid for the meal. Later, I went to the bar by myself and ordered drinks. Twice. Then I changed some money at one of the many Barry’s Bureau De Change booths in Kololi. Then I went to see a tour operator and booked a tour for later in the week. I decided where I wanted to eat that weekend. And to book a massage. It fucking spiralled. Let’s be honest, that’s more than two social interactions in a day…

We talked about my new found confidence at lunch. Hubs was reminiscing about who we were both were when we first met and how he loved (and was UTTERLY infuriated by at times) how fiercely independent I was. Back then, I had to do everything for myself and so I had no choice but to be independent. We talked about how Dave could walk into any pub and talk to everybody, something he has found more difficult to do after his struggles with mental health over the past couple of years.

After the year, or two, that we have had (family separation, job losses, depression, anxiety, seizures, driving bans, house buying, new jobs, qualifications…) it is unsurprising that we have clung together and maybe become a little co-dependant.

Our anxieties and social ineptitudes have found a place to grow and spread their roots throughout our relationship until neither of us enjoyed any form of social interaction. Or being outside our home. Or eye contact. Or people. We have instead been hibernating, healing our pains, our sadness about things we have lost, about changes we have struggled to adjust to.

Because in times of pain, you can either turn to each other or against each other. I’ve experienced both myself and seen enough couples turn against each other during difficult times to know that is a path I don’t want to go down. And even with all of my self help bullshit, I’ve almost walked down that path myself at times, when I couldn’t see another route.

When I’ve reached those crossroads that look like dead ends, I remind myself of everything I have to lose in hiding my pain in my addictions. And whatever drug, whatever drink, whatever fuck I think can heal me, I know that it will destroy me. I always remember what I have now. What I have to lose.

The grass is not greener over there. It’s just better watered, looked after, tended to and that is all I can do. Attend to my own garden. Lord knows at times it could do with a good trim. Hah!

We have some remarkable role models to look up to (tips hat to Danny Dyer). Hubs’ parents have been happily married for over forty years. As have their siblings. We are surrounded by sisters and friends who have been married for 2, 10, 20, 30 years and the love they still share is something to aspire to. Many of our friends got married in the same year as us and are beginning to grow their families with more than just animals. Sorry, not us. Got my eye on a couple of goats.

I’m not sure how my ramblings stumbled from increasing social interactions to Danny Dyer and marriage. Although, whenever I usually talk about Danny Dyer, I tend to follow it up with proclamations of marriage. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we have had a difficult couple of years. Maybe we did get a little co-dependent and maybe we started to rely so much on each other that we forgot how to be us. But simple, tiny changes, like asking for the bill at a restaurant, might not seem like much but they are the stepping stones to us both finding out who we are again and growing into the kind of people we want to be. Like our role models. Many of whom would be fucking horrified to know that we look up to them, haha!

And now, as we move into the New Year rested, rejuvenated, tanned, salt imbued and sun blasted; we can leave the pain behind us. Because we have each other and our little family is the most important thing in my entire world.

Next week’s challenge…

Year of Fear Week 2: Put on my big boy pants, get the train to London (alone, realising on booking that the PBriz to KGX line is closed and I have to go via fucking Cambridge and shit myself even more BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW THE FUCKING ROUTE) to attend the Mindful Drinking Festival and finally meet Sober Fish.

Maybe smooch her.

Stalker alert.

Are you ready Sober Fishie?!


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