Wednesday, 9 April 2008

What you see aint always what you get

So... I got an email from another old schoolmate. Bless her - she had read this blog cover to cover and wanted to tell me how much she related to it and to keep my chin up - which was so lovely of her. (Thanks Pam!). But here's the thing - she confessed to having admired/envied me back in our old schooldays. According to her I was the 'girl who had everything': the looks/boys/friends/educational success etc. Which absolutely knocked me sideways - totally jaw-droppingly astounded me. Trust me, pre- dental work (thank the lord for veneers)my teeth were not a pretty sight; particularly the gap between my two front teeth and one further along. The boys used to cheerfully tell me (and I quote) 'You could drive a Rolls Royce through that - sideways!' Nice. Occasionally they would mix it up a bit and call me 'the dog' or 'human skateboard' on account of my unrealised breasts. In the emotionally wrought teen years when one's self confidence is normally in the toilet, my male chums would get hammered at parties, kiss me, then the next day announce they remembered nothing and that they were 'victims' of mine. Truly. I realllllllly felt good about myself. I may have grown Jessica Rabbit like curves overnight and my cups thus ran over - but even then my teenage pertness didn't attract the boys one bit. The only boy that actually looked at me was the school stoner - who didn't give a toss what anyone said (probably too boxed to hear what anyone said) and won me over by promising me a purple orchid. Which naturally, he never sent. So my first real boyfriend of note happened a month before my 17th birthday. Late bloomer? I thought I would never flower, or be de-flowered for that matter.

Educationally - whilst I was a jammy sod who could swot up the night before and do ok in exams - sailing through English and bizarrely Religious Ed; my true passion was art - but I was a lazy article - who procrastinated to within an inch of her life and never gave it her all - thereby getting good-ish grades but never the grades I was capable of (bar the A in Eng Lit A level. I think I wrote 25 sides in one paper...). Meanwhile my family life was hell - I lived with my Mother who was sinking further into alcoholism in my latter teenage years - and my Mother's ex-boyfriend at weekends. A weird scenario I know, but one that was my salvation. My Dad remarried and swaned off every weekend, seeing me when he could fit me in, in between his refereeing, work, socialising etc. The only thing that got me through such bleak years, was having a core of friends that I could turn to - and can still turn to - in my Eastenders like dramas. I remember when my Dad told me I had to choose between him or Mum's ex. If I didn't choose him - he would walk out of my life forever. I was 15.

Thank God for my muckers. They were always there for a conspiratorial ciggie on route to squash/tennis/rowing (followed by cream cakes - great health plan - try it) or a swift glass of Blue Nun at the Empire pub to whinge to about my fucked up family. I counted the months, then days, until I could get to Uni and escape my existence. I was tired of having 3 phone numbers (long before the simplified days of mobile phones), having to pack my bag on a Thursday night and the insane petty squabbles that my parental figures involved me in, just to score points off each other. To say that I had it all is so laughable. I felt like the girl who had nothing. To the point that I attempted to take my life when I was only 14. Now that I volunteer for Samaritans and I can look back in retrospect - I was such a classic example of someone crying out for help. I saved pills for 6 months. I planned every last detail - writing a will; planning the day; who would find me etc. The attempt didn't work (clearly) and I blacked out - only to come to 14 hours later and then vomit for a day. I planned another attempt - straight after school. I don't remember what happened that March day in 1987 - but whatever it was, it was enough to make me temporarily put the pills away - locked in a bureau in the corner of my room. (With a packet of Marlboro Reds and a half bottle of Tia Maria to make Black Russians with - oh the glamour!). I kept those pills right through until I went to Uni - and then threw them away - I had no need for them anymore - now that I had escaped.

16 years on - things are a million times better with my families (all 3 of them) and I still have the same friends - and now their wives and husbands - so on that one Pamela was right. They are my other family. The one I knew that would never leave me. Or at least I hoped they wouldn't. There is something comforting in having known someone for 23 years - in some cases 29. Hell, I'm still friends with some of those cruel boys - who grew up to be the loveliest men. (Who knew?)

The point is - we all think everyone else's life is a bowl of cherries. Cat Deeley doesn't look like anything bad has ever happened to her - what with that glossy hair, thin pins, golden legs (and career) and houses in London and LA. But I bet she has bad days too - just like the rest of us. We are all mere mortals, we all make mistakes. I have to remember this when I frequently think that everyone else is having THE BEST TIME and I think I missed the party.

Husband kissed me today.(I am 75% forgiven he says). Sproglet and I played with trucks and shared cornflakes. I walked in the sunshine and had a meeting a nice estate agent who will rent out our flat for us. I'm going to move house and somehow find work. It will all be ok. As Pamela said - there is light at the end of the tunnel - and it isn't necessarily a train coming towards you.....Hurrah!

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