Never Trust a Facebook Smile

I was away on holiday last month, for almost two weeks, with my sister, at a music festival in Budapest, then a weekend festival in Croatia, followed swiftly by a house move and then another cheeky music festival to round off the season, life has been hectic to say the least!

I found the first part of the holiday tough, because nine days of camping in the heat at a festival with 450,000 people and constant over stimulation will tire anyone out, let alone someone who needs a lot of peace and struggles with crowds and claustrophobia. I had to rely on sleeping tablets every night so I could sleep at all, and they take their toll on my energy too, plus I had my usual ups and downs to cope with, without all my home comforts to nurture me, but I managed to get some enjoyment out of it with many moments of happiness and contentment strewn in. In all, it was a good experience and of course I am grateful for it.

From there we stayed in a posh hotel in Budapest for one night, and I found myself handwashing my festival clothes in the bathroom sink and drying on the heated floor, because I can afford a 5* offer, but not the 5* lifestyle haha. We went out for a lovely meal, and had a stroll across one of Budapest’s famous bridges, and had a glorious sleep in an actual bed, and despite us both being a little tired and snappy, it was bliss.

The next day we travelled to Croatia (Via Vienna, due to ridiculous lack of direct flights) and although both our flights were delayed, I managed my stress levels well, we made it there in once piece, all set for another weekend of festivalling, only this time on a beach setting, with boat parties and many friends from home. It all started to go downhill when the guy I’ve been seeing for the last few months, who I rather stupidly fell madly in love with, decided to tell me that he didn’t think we should see each other any more. So rather than the romantic and preferably naked reunion I was hoping for I got heartbroken.

I don’t know how to describe how it feels when you’ve been feeling exhausted and unstable and looking forward to feeling a bit ‘normal’ and comforted and loved and instead you’re met with rejection. It’s like the respite you were hoping for has been pulled from underneath you, and all the familiar feelings of self loathing that you’ve been fighting off are suddenly totally validated and amplified, and you have literally no reason to be fighting them off anymore. All those negative imps you’ve been sparring with, they were right, life is fucking shit, you weren’t missed at all, and you are completely worthless and unloveable. Happy Holiday!!!

So I tried my best to enjoy myself, I remember that it’s a beautiful world, and there is fun to be had and there are some wonderful people I know here and many more to meet. And I dance and I chat and I laugh and I read and try to relax and enjoy the sunshine.

And all the time I am fighting the tears, and the sadness, and the feeling that nothing will ever be right again, that I will never be happy, or even feel anything other than this latest fucking pain and heartbreak.

The following night I talk a little more to the guy who has just finished with me and he tells me that it’s final this time, that we will never be more than friends. And it just finishes me. Like I just cant handle anymore. I am completely done in. I can’t win this war against my mental health, I can’t even go on holiday and enjoy myself like normal people, and I can’t have an emotionally healthy intimate relationship. No matter his reasons for it ending all I hear is that I am unloveable, unattractive, worthless and completely disposable. Every internal weapon that is ever used against my happiness is out in force, I don’t deserve anything else but this inevitable suffering.

I am wearing this beautiful dress, that sat in my wardrobe for ten years never being worn because I never felt confident enough to wear it, and before I left I finally thought, ‘fuck it, it’s getting worn’ and I had high hopes that I’d be feeling and looking like a million bucks by this stage in my holiday and proud at how much I am winning at life, and instead I’m stood in the middle of this club crying my eyes out, looking like some daft fat girl whose had too much to drink. I’m being held by the person whose just broke my heart and being told that I’m going to be fine, and I have never felt so fucking un-fine in my whole life. I am completely fucking broken.

I am comforted by friends, old and new, who offer their support and hugs and sterling advice. But internally the walls are caving in on me, I have no glue left to hold the pieces of me together. I end up back at my apartment with the guy, I am upset and harsh words are spoken, I throw myself at him in desperation which only drives him further away, he leaves when my sister returns, and I lose it completely. I self harm by cutting my arms with a metal hairband.  I punch the walls, kick the bed, knock things over, I’m hysterical. I take a sleeping tablet because I know that I can’t go anywhere safe from here and I don’t want to face the police or mental health services (or lack of) in a strange and foreign land so I lie down and cry myself to sleep, while my sister tidies up around me, reassuring me that it is okay to feel this but that it will not last forever.

The next morning I wake up feeling awful and remorseful and ashamed, I apologise to my long suffering sister and I suggest we go down to the beach and go swimming, so we head down to the shore. It’s the last day of the holiday and I know that I have three options:

1 is to cry and be angry in public.

2 is to cry and be angry in private, and lock myself in the apartment all day, I would probably sedate myself with a sleeping tablet just to get through it.

3 is to join in with everyone else and get drunk.

And so that’s what I do. I get drunk. I sit with the idea for a couple of hours first, it takes another couple of hours to convince my sister to let me have my money. And I have my first drink in 6.5 years, a double vodka, on the rocks. I swim in the sea, and have another vodka. I sunbathe and dance and laugh and take photos. I have another drink, I have dinner at the restaurant.

I dance by myself to ‘Trouble’ by Amy Winehouse, the guy who just broke my heart comes and dances with me to ‘No Woman, No Cry’, and it is beautiful and tragic and poetic and I love him and I hate him and then love him again.

Later on we all get a bit wild and there is skinny dipping and three way snogs and finally the guy puts us both to bed so we aren’t dying on the journey home tomorrow. I wake up very early, still drunk, and I hold him for the last time and I cry and I remember how bad hangovers are. A couple of hours later we get up and ready to leave for the airport, I am sat with him and my sister on the plane home and he looks after me, lets me sleep under his arm in the car ride home while I sleep. And then it is over, the journey, the holiday, the dream of Us. Reality kicks in.

I stay at my mother’s house that night for company and support, and I spend the next few days moving house, packing, unpacking, cleaning, organising a life that I don’t even care about anymore. I get lots done and manage to stay focussed and sober but then there’s a festival that weekend and I decided that as I’ve blown my sober stint I might as well have one last blast, just absolutely smash it before I go back to building that bridge. And so I do. I go wild with substances and have a bloody good time, I don’t end up destructive or out of control, I don’t piss anyone off, or end up fighting or fucking. But the addict in me is strong, I feel myself chasing the high all weekend, never wanting to come down, and I crack again on Tuesday, the itch is too strong and I get drunk, alone, in a place that doesn’t yet feel like home. I drink in the bath, I drink in bed, and I cry and cry and cry. I am pretty much under supervision for a few days, between my family and friends, who are doing uncoordinated shifts making sure I am sober and not hurting myself.  I am grateful, yet I don’t care.

I throw myself into building this new place into a home, unpacking, tidying, cleaning, decorating. I’m putting up pictures in places that future me might approve of. I hope that one day I will appreciate this effort and feel cosy here. I can’t stop working, because everytime I stop I start to feel and think and I can’t handle it, so I just keep going, it keeps me in a daze. I cry a lot. I reach a place of sadness and grief and I feel so overwhelmed by it that I blank out, in a dissociative state where I am dazed and can’t feel a thing, I disappear for hours in that, unaware of what it is I am doing, it’s like being an avatar. I just don’t care anymore.

I’ve been looking at my holiday photographs, my sister has been putting some online, and they are joyous and beautiful, but to me they are just all so tainted, because I know how unhappy I was for much of it. There was moments of pure bliss, lost in the sunshine and music, where I danced my way to happiness, to freedom from myself, but for the most part I was hurting and struggling and feeling broken. And I don’t know how to get beyond this.

It wasn’t all bad by any means. The difficulty is that I’ve had to take myself with me. I’ve seen and experienced some incredible things on this adventure, some moving, some frivolous and bizarre. Not only that but I’ve been met with unbelievable kindness and found myself comforted and accepted by strangers and friends alike, and I’m proud that I achieved what I did, I’ve come a long way. In the long run I’ve been saved from a relationship that probably wasn’t right for me, it can be just as painful looking back at happy holiday snaps of someone who is no longer in your life. I still have love and respect for this person, even if their timing fucking sucks.

I thought this holiday would help me to push myself, make me realise how capable I was, boost my confidence, give me memories to be pleased and proud about. I certainly won’t forget it in a hurry, but I am not yet ready to reminisce and smile about it. It was difficult and exhausting and the trip of a lifetime.. but not necessarily for all the right reasons.

“Looks like you had a great time away!”

They’re right, it does doesn’t it? It all looks so bloody perfect.

And that’s why you should never trust a Facebook Smile.