Ghosting: Further thoughts and updates

A couple of months ago I posted an important (personally, at least) article where I discussed discovering that I had been ghosted by a close friend and the profound impact that it had had on my mental wellbeing. The reaction to that post was really and surprisingly positive and I’m still feeling so empowered that I was able to call out my ghoster and I could feel… not a sense of closure, but at least at peace in some way toward being ghosted.

Last week I was surprised to see this video by a friend of mine, Andy, which was inspired by my original blogpost, and I thought it gave a good opportunity to touch base on what I’ve discovered and how I feel since that last post, and to touch on some of the points Andy made in his video.

Again, I was genuinely touched that my post inspired Andy’s video, which I feel was greatly positive and captured the core points really well. I think there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding of ghosting as a nascent phenomenon that has been made all the easier to do, and easier to notice you’ve been the victim of, through social media. The internet really does make disconnecting from someone as easy as clicking a button, but I feel that it also allows people to avoid a social responsibility or callback that would perhaps exist if they saw the person every day, or lived nearby.

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And for me, especially, seeing a wall erected between me and someone I had a pretty deep and meaningful friendship with appear overnight was probably the most shattering part of it. When it comes out of nowhere, and with no explanation, it hurts the most; for me, relating to my own story of ghosting, I thought things were on the positive with this person and still, 18 months later, they refuse to answer any questions about it. How is that acceptable? Well, it isn’t; and I’m ok with that.

Andy, in his video, reflects on his own experience which I saw the parallels of in my story – he had a friend, a best friend in fact, who would go out of their way to not ghost them, but made moves that gave mixed messages. Not sharing a new contact number, or email address, and not explaining why. I feel that’s insidious – as much as we all hate confrontation, when it comes to interpersonal relationships, especially friendships, I just feel to lead someone up the garden path when they are unaware of the twisted rationale behind it is quite discourteous. If you’ve made the choice to end a friendship then I feel it’s at the very least disrespectful to not be open and honest about that.

When you communicate through a screen, you can say whatever you want to someone, or completely ignore them, without having to physically face the consequences of seeing their heart break, or hearing their voice whimper when you tell them it’s over.

People aren’t disposable, and being ghosted made me feel like I was, and I feel that was one of the worst feelings it was possible to experience, especially when I was mentally fragile to begin with. For me, it led to a lot of resentment and, worse, it led me to question myself in the worst possible ways. What did I do wrong? What’s going on? Which leads to well, bad people get treated like this, so I must be a bad person. The self-doubt that it instils bred depression and low self-esteem, a rut that I’ve only just felt strong enough to come out of. You can’t help but, in the face of no facts to the contrary, blame yourself and that quickly leads to dark places. I’m only glad that I can say I triumphed over those dark feelings and I can look back and recognise that – I’ve never felt as mentally strong as I do now, but I’m not going to deny that the journey was painful and tortuous, both for myself and the friends that were there to support me.

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With ghosting, it’s easy, as Andy said in his video, to try to deflect some of the responsibility back to the person who was ghosted, but this isn’t helpful, and it just makes the damage the ghosting has done worse. I had it with my own post, where an associate of my ghoster decided to anonymously comment, trying to do that very same thing, to try to justify their friend’s actions.  They were simply missing the point.

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If you’re feeling like you’ve drifted apart from a friend (which is normal and fine, these things happen), or they’re doing things that they’re subconsciously unaware are irritating, or you can no longer countenance their different (but totally valid) opinions because somehow you want a pure echo chamber on your Facebook, and are emotionally immature to the point where you can’t handle that difference, the least you can do is give them the courtesy of telling them, especially for a long-term relationship or friendship. Courtesy costs nothing, and failing that basic social premise will invalidate any beef you had. You don’t just up sticks and disappear, as that just isn’t justifiable, whatever you may think. As before, it’s emotional and psychological bullying, plain and simple.

Psychologically, we’re abandoning someone, betraying their trust, and leaving them completely in the dark as to what happened and why we left.

When we’ve been ghosted, before the anger sets in, we turn inwards and blame ourselves.

Did I do something wrong? Am I too clingy? … Is my radar broken? Am I unlovable? There’s so much mental anguish that goes into over-analyzing what happened. It’s soul-crushingly painful.

Ghosting impacts our self-esteem and self-worth. It can lead to depression, which affects our sleep, appetite, concentration at work, and desire to be around friends. It can also cause anxiety in which we obsess and ruminate about what happened, feel on edge, and are filled with worry and insecurity.

Whereas I’ve accepted the criticism, the friend that ghosted me hasn’t. That’s really sad. They chose to shift the emotional responsibility, and that’s just wrong. It’s indefensible, it’s immature and it’s just cruel, ultimately – I found it very difficult to deal with, and it’s insidious. Like Andy, who had a best friend who seemingly didn’t know how to do the decent thing and end the friendship, not with a blazing row, but with a calm discussion, respectful and civil; unlike Andy, I suppose my ghoster skipped straight to the “erasing from existence” phase; whether that was more or less “cruel” is entirely another question. With either case, there’s no answers, no closure, no tying up of matters. And with long-term friendships, especially deep and meaningful ones, I think ghosting is even less acceptable than it is for, example, after a relationship or when dating – it’s that sudden, unilateral severing of an emotional relationship that causes that pain.

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But what do I aim to achieve with these posts? Partly they’re an open letter – yes, if my ghoster dropped me a message tomorrow, I’d listen. To be honest, I’d probably forgive, but listening is the start. I’d have that conversation. I don’t want to shout at them, or vent; I’d rather I helped them understand that their conscious choice of actions, to “duck the issue”, did more harm than good. Yes I have been angry, I do feel they’ve been “immature” and “cowardly”, but those are just words, and I don’t think, especially in my case, words should be held against me, especially out of context. I do think they’re scared because they know they let me down, but they never gave me the chance to explain how I felt and to make reparations. It’d be a hard conversation, sure,  but it would also be cathartic and, I feel, a good opportunity to part on less ignoble and ugly terms, especially context taken into account.

I don’t see the point in grudges; fair to say I have been angry, I have been resentful but I don’t have any energy left for that. I’m honest about my flaws and I’m open – I just want them to understand about the harm they have caused me, not to make them feel guilty, but to hopefully enrich their own life so that they don’t, inadvertently or not, do this again. As no-one deserves to be ghosted. Some deal with it better than others, but I am proud to say I am a survivor and I still feel mightily empowered, and I hope that my advice continues to inspire people to realise that it doesn’t have to negatively impact them.

Ghosting, like I said before, says more about the ghoster than those being ghosted. Courtesy costs nothing, and the rise of ghosting as an apparent “acceptable” way of ending interpersonal relationships in the digital age… it’s a side of the times that I’m not keen on. But talking about it, being open and realising, first and foremost, that if you’re being ghosted, it’s not your fault; and, if you’re ghosting, yes that’s a bad choice, and you shouldn’t, but you shouldn’t run from those whose emotional judgement you’re probably seeking to avoid. Accept that you are, which is the first step. The second? Message them, be optimistic, open and at least try to open a dialog? Because, ultimately, even after a month, a year or more, what do you have to lose? You may even be surprised!

But in either case, I don’t believe there’s an emotional chasm too wide to at least attempt to bridge. So then, even after this long a time, what do you have to lose?

Article Referenced

“What You’re Really Saying When You Ghost on Someone” – The Good Men Project

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Website Update

I realise I have been absent in posting updates to my site recently, which is a shame as I enjoy posting – but I do have some valid excuses! And I haven’t done a Website Update in so long it felt only right to briefly talk about what I’ve been doing and what I’m going to be doing for the next while!

So a lot of what’s occupied a lot of my time in the last month or two, and has really precluded my working on personal projects has been finishing the second year of my Creative Writing degree at Kingston University. It’s been… a mixed bag but I’m definitely. at this point, glad to have gotten my assignments submitted – and some of them I’m pretty proud of. I’m absolutely, over the summer, going to reflect on this year and contrast it to how I felt about first year like I did previously. But naturally, these assignments have been important to do as I need to complete them to progress. I’m relatively confident I’ve achieved what I need to – it’s been a difficult, challenging but also enlightening year.

I’ve also very nearly completed the first draft of my post-apoc novel The Thaw. This has taken longer than I originally anticipated but with that extra time I feel I’ve not rushed things and I’m solidly happy with what I’ve produced. I’ve a couple of chapters left to do and they’re important ones – so I’ve taken some time to a) get University commitments done first and b) give these concluding chapters a lot of thought so I can execute the end of my story as best I can. But I’m also seriously proud of what I have achieved here – with personal circumstances being quite difficult at times – and I look forward to moving forward with my next planned steps. I’ve learned a lot while writing The Thaw and I want to codify those lessons into something definite!

Also, recently, with my good friends (and independent filmmakers) Gary Thomas and Mark Lever we’ve embarked upon a new film project – a Doctor Who-themed fan film entitled Reverence of the Daleks. This has been a really fun project that’s finally got started and I look forward to sharing more about it very soon (there’s not much to show from the first filming day just yet, though I think chatting about the writing process would be a good idea too)

Sadly my Goodreads reading challenge is quite badly lagging – I’m about 3-4 books behind schedule as it is and my review list is lengthy. I enjoy writing book reviews as it’s a good opportunity to synthesise what I liked and didn’t like about a book – this is helpful as an author as generic feedback such as “I liked it!” is pretty much useless. Again, a combination of personal circumstances and University deadlines being an absolute priority have meant I’ve had to dial back on my reading – but with Summer here I aim to put the pedal to the metal and enjoy some cracking reads!

Recently, too, I’ve found writing about my battles with depression and my mental health has been an invaluable and infinitely useful tool for dealing with this, and I’m humbled by the support I have gotten, and if my experiences can help others struggling with depression – a condition I feel is widely misunderstood – then that’s all the validation I need. My writing on the subject is meant to be cathartic, but also reflective. Looking positive about this can be very difficult but when it is done, it’s just extremely comforting and engaging to know, even if only one person reads, it’s not confined to my head.

On Ghosting: Personal Thoughts On Social Rejection and Psychological Abuse

Update: if you’re coming in from Andy’s video; thank you! I’m genuinely touched that he felt my post was insightful enough to help! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you want! :-) (25/05/2017)

I realise it’s been a while since I spoke about my mental health, thus I am grabbing the chance now because I feel I have something to add. I recently became aware of a social behaviour known as “ghosting” due to some fairly prescient controversy that I happened to chance upon. Considering the discussion online was about a controversial entertainment figure wrongly complaining about being “ghosted” I decided to read the article and do some research.
Fair to say, these were a handful of articles that I would say without hyperbole have changed my outlook.

Ghosting refers to the act of breaking off a relationship (often used in the context of intimate relationships) by ceasing all communication and contact with the former partner without any apparent warning or justification, as well as avoiding and/or ignoring and refusing to respond in any way to the former partner’s attempts to reach out or communicate.

Another prescient and apt definition:

Being “ghosted” is one of the toughest ways to be dumped. What do we mean by the term? It’s when someone you’ve been seeing suddenly ceases all contact with you. They defriend you on Facebook, stop following you on Twitter and avoid responding to calls, texts and emails. They just disappear; fade out of your life mysteriously…

Just reading the brief description of “ghosting” in the articles I’d read and the initial research was enough for me to begin to identify with it. Looking back at what’s personally happened to me I would absolutely say that I have been the victim of “ghosting”, though perhaps not in the romantic/dating mindset the articles I’ve read seem to be aiming toward, though I’d follow that up in saying that my situation would certainly be almost akin to that, and why shouldn’t especially-close friendships not qualify. But regardless of the semantics, I can say with clarity that a very close friend has decided to “ghost” me, and I can say with equal clarity that the experience has resulted in a significant amount of emotional and psychological damage that I am only really and truly starting to gain a semblance of recovery from.

Ghosting has been considered as being a type of behaviour that can be especially traumatic for those on the receiving end, due to the psychological effects of ostracism and rejection and those with low self-esteem can be especially vulnerable to negative emotional and psychological consequences as a result of it. 

Absolutely. I would say that the feeling of rejection, abandonment, that I am somehow “disposable” are the key things that in early 2016 finally pushed me over the edge and into depression. I felt isolated, rejected, abandoned, thrown away, and those things led to me feeling worthless, useless and in a sort-of permanent state where my self-esteem would be so fragile, and would require so much effort to maintain, late at night or when alone, it would crumble to nothing. It has been the worst thing in my life so far to experience and I would certainly say it caused a seismic shift in my personal that I’m still… not struggling with, but coming to terms with.

What I found worst about “ghosting” is the feeling of being, in my mind’s eye, absolutely pathetic. I felt like I had some kind of emotional deficiency, or a complex – letting the actions of one who I had mistakenly trusted to an extent that losing them was a very destabilising experience. I felt on an emotional and personal level like a Jenga tower, and that a block at the very bottom had been unceremoniously wrenched out.

It led me to a dark place, and unhappy place and I still feel the pain. I felt pathetic and alone because I was letting “one person” do this to me. “Ghosting” is where the person who unilaterally cuts contact completely might as well expect to be treated as “effectively dead”, because by choice they’re acting like a dead person. With the loss of my dad and my aunt in 2015, I could almost come to terms with that because I knew they were, for lack of a less gentle term, “actually dead”. But the feeling with being “ghosted”, that this is all being intentionally done, is and was a truly awful feeling that destroyed my sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Clearly, thought I, this was an indictment on my character, and therefore my character deserved it. But it’s so needless, and so callous in its malevolence – and at odds to what I expected from this person with whom I shared an intense, close but, to me, rewarding friendship. My mind kept questioning why? and what actually happened but answers are still not forthcoming; if anything, they’re being actively withheld which to me is more cruel and abusive.

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People who ghost are primarily focused on avoiding their own emotional discomfort and they aren’t thinking about how it makes the other person feel. The lack of social connections to people who are met online also means there are less social consequences to dropping out of someone’s life. 

In reading more about the sociological phenomenon of ghosting, I found myself reading more about why people would actively choose to engage in this kind of, frankly, shitty behaviour. Personally, in the early stages, where I was still reeling and wondering “why have you suddenly deleted me? What’s going on?” I tried to act civilly, like any difference or grievance could be resolved, or at least discussed, through communication. But that opportunity never arose – instead, I would be subject to some quite hurtful and I think callous emotional abuses – I was this, I was that… I never disputed these instances but I, for one, certainly thought it went both ways (this friend, who shall remain nameless, failed me in ways that I didn’t want to punish them over, but rather make them aware over). But nothing I could say, or rationalise, or emphasise, seemed to have any impact. I felt like I was talking to a brick wall, and therein began the frustration, the panic, the abject feeling of loss and horror… and it led to some certainly less-than-civil things borne of that frustration. Where civility failed, I guess I slipped into being the “monstrous person” they characterised me. I feel that was a weakness but I’m honest and open enough to be able to admit that, which is a strength I feel, even in the face of adversity, is so important to maintain.

Modern technology gives us ample chance to connect with someone but it’s also incredibly easy just to stop communicating.

Do I feel the Internet has made this easier? Absolutely. I believe in openness and hearing someone out. A fair hearing. Justice. Doing the right thing. The internet is a great tool for communication – indeed, there’s so many ways to communicate online it’s hard to keep up. But the way, for me, I was blocked on every imaginable way just felt like I was having a door slammed shut in my face. I wasn’t allowed a right to reply to any of the messages I got about what a “monster” I had apparently been. There was no chance to explain the context – I was ghosted by someone who certainly didn’t want to face their own emotional discomfort from how they had mistreated me. They didn’t give a damn about the increasing mental and psychological stress I was under – they were more worried about protecting themselves. Insulating themselves. Taking a bunker mentality. It became a vicious circle and it was self-defeating. I guess it being online, and not having to face me physically, just made it considerably easier to hide from any (but importantly: not all) of the responsibility of what had happened. If it gave the person who “ghosted” me some sense of finality and peace of mind, then that shows their shallowness, their emotional immaturity and their own weakness.

In many cases it’s the incompleteness of it. It can be frustrating when someone appears to finish with you out of the blue and then won’t talk about it. We want answers to achieve closure but can’t get any

I can absolutely relate to this on a deeply personal level – I’d frankly state that the crux of my quite destructive 9-month or so phase in which I have sunk into depression was brought about completely by the person who, in my eyes quite callously, decided to ghost me after four years of loyal and rewarding friendship, deciding to erect walls. They continuously and consistently spurned my efforts to understand the situation or even discuss it. They claimed it was “too much mental stress” for them without even giving thought to my own, demonstrably-real mental inability to cope with this course of action. Adding to what I identify now as emotional abuse, absolutely, was being told that I was “going to get some answers” but because I’d vented, say on Twitter, then I would be further “punished” for that. An ever-present sense that I am being consciously and continuously punished… if that isn’t an obscene example of emotional abuse, then what is?

The worst thing about being ghosted, personally, was the feeling of powerlessness. The friend who “ghosted” me totally controlled the narrative. I was an irredeemable monster. If anything, my friend is the irredeemable monster – they’ve shown their true colours: their callousness, their capriciousness, their immaturity, their cowardice. Their monstrousness (the Jekyll and Hyde from what I thought I knew to the cold, callous attitude I got after the ghosting began). This was someone I’d thought I knew well, and I blamed myself a lot for that. Now I’m more at peace with the idea that I made a mistake. I’ve made many, and I’ll honestly admit to them.

There seemed to be nothing I could do right in this situation, and that hurt me a lot, eroding my self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

No-one should be made to feel as low and as worthless as I did in some of the worse times. My only sense of regret is not discovering this phenomenon a lot earlier – since researching ghosting further, I feel a lot more empowered and I feel my strength is beginning to recover. I don’t feel alone, that my feeling of being cut off by someone I (mistakenly) put trust in is just a complex of my own mind’s skewed sense of priorities.  I feel able to grasp this narrative. I also feel a sense of… relief: I was right to call the person who ghosted me immature and a coward because their behaviour – their chosen and conscious behaviour that they have actively decided to engage in – demonstrably shows those characteristics.

And, after so long, fine. Be of low character, be persnickety, be vexatious, be a coward, who doesn’t give someone who invested a lot of energy in you the decency of telling them you were done, be selfish and thin-skinned enough to deflect any remote criticism of your own failings with saturation blocking, be a hypocrite who is lacking one iota of self-awareness, be cruel and emotionally abusive; and somehow able to sleep at night – but you know what you won’t be? You’re no longer important to me. You will no longer hurt me. You will no longer own me. You no longer control the narrative.

My advice to those who have just run against a brick wall and feel they’re being ghosted? Don’t let it consume you like I did. Worry more on the people in your life that actually care, and are there for you even in the difficult times. If, like me, you’re ghosted by a supposed “best friend”, the best thing you can do is not to beat yourself up. Be strong and forthright. Whatever the effort or the time, if someone can treat you that disposably, then return the favour and don’t waste time on them. They’re not worth it.

Remember this above all else:

The important thing to remember is that when someone ghosts you, it says nothing about you or your worthiness for love and everything about the person doing the ghosting. It shows he/she doesn’t have the courage to deal with the discomfort of their emotions or yours, and they either don’t understand the impact of their behavior or worse don’t care. In any case they have sent you an extremely loud message that says: I don’t have what it takes to have a mature healthy relationship with you. Be the better person, retain your dignity, and let him/her go peacefully.

Don’t allow someone else’s bad behavior to rob you of a better future by losing your vulnerability and shutting yourself off from another relationship. Keep your energy focused on doing what makes you happy. Know that if you are someone who treats people with respect and integrity then the ghoster simply wasn’t on your wavelength and someone better is coming your way, as long as you keep your heart open and your focus forward. 

Do I think the friend that ghosted me will read this? Perhaps. They’ll probably be angry, though anything I do is a means of provocation to them. And, for what it’s worth, the door’s open if they want to explain themselves and belatedly provide answers. But I’ve wasted too much time on one person who was clearly unworthy. They made the choice to do away with a fiercely loyal friend, and that speaks volumes about them. I do wish them luck in the future, and I hope their conscience doesn’t gnaw at their very existence. Although I’m not religious, I do believe karma can, indeed, be a bitch. And writing this has been… therapeutic.

At any rate, what’s the worst that can happen if my ghoster doesn’t like what I’ve said in this post? What’re they going to do about it, not talk to me some more?

Please feel free to read my followup post to this one!

Articles Referenced

Ghosting (Relationships) – Wikipedia (Accessed 20 March 2017)

“This is Why Ghosting Hurts So Much” – Psychology Today 

“Ghosting: What to do if you’ve been a victim” – The Independent 

“Ghosting: the creepy modern phenomenon ending friendships” – The New Daily

 

Not Wired The Same

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So last time I did say that I’d write again following my psychological assessment that I undertook after suffering from an extended, deep and pretty unpleasant spate of depression this year. Because this post exists, I’ve heard back and I’m reflecting on what I have learned.

The key fact is that I do have Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of autism and it both changes nothing and everything.

My diagnosis changes nothing because this doesn’t stop me being me. I’m not “diseased”. I don’t even like to call Asperger’s a “mental illness” as I’m not actually broken; rather, I am different. And that’s OK. I don’t feel like I live in a sense of a pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis world – it’s always been a part of me and it’s important to not denigrate the importance of finally getting confirmation of something I’ve always kind of been aware of – I’ve always known, deep down, I “wasn’t wired the same” as, say others or my contemporaries – because it’s an important development.

But it’s important to initially realise it’s also not the beginning and end of what makes me, well, me. I don’t intend to use my Asperger’s (which still feels somewhat odd to put, but the more I do so, the more comfortable I’ll get with it) as a white flag. I feel it would be remiss to just dismiss my social problems “on the Asperger’s” as that does what I feel is most harmful – I shunt responsibility for my actions onto the condition and I don’t think that helps.

What’s more important and productive, I feel, is to use this knowledge rather than as a shield, and to carry on making these mistakes and not learning from them, but to identify my strengths and work on those. It’s far too easy to let one’s weaknesses – perceived and tangible – dominate. That’s part of what I feel made me vulnerable to depression. I want to use this knowledge to be much more positive in my outlook and on furthering personal goals.

While the diagnosis that I have Asperger’s Syndrome is a confirmation that a part of me functions differently to the considered norm is just that – a part – I also do feel it’s a profound learning experience. I can look back at my history and contextualise a lot better my actions, inactions, mistakes and think “ahh, yeah…”. But I can also use this knowledge looking forward – maybe it helps me to identify troublesome aspects of social interaction that I can forsee struggling at. I’m going to see mishaps and awkward situations in the future and be better able to think “ah, yeah, it didn’t help…” and then learn from that.

I’ve already been re-evaluating some of the things I have done in the past that have been not so good and re-approaching them through this new lens. Things in the past are done, though I hope that I can now understand them better and also, through being open about it, others can at least be mindful of the areas of socialising and interaction with other people I might see differently or struggle with.

While I don’t want to really use my diagnosis as an “excuse”; rather I want it to be something that spurs me to better work to my strengths… I do feel that a few people who have seriously misunderstood me, especially recently, should at least take this information on board. I don’t expect it to totally do away with their potentially-narrow-minded viewpoint (and that’s sad, more than anything) but it’s a perspective at the very least.

For now, I am still pretty much processing the diagnosis. I’m weighing up the outlook I want to take in the next year – again, weighing up that Asperger’s is just a part of me and how Asperger’s has a profound and wide-ranging impact on my daily life. I still don’t really know a great deal about Asperger’s Syndrome, and autism in general (I recall facing a lot of self-imposed stigmas, largely derived from ignorance, about my struggles with mental health) so my focus is to learn more. I’ve decided, as a first step, to book a follow-up with my psychologist (who has been extremely supportive) where it can be laid out what the condition means, and what it means in terms of me.

But most importantly: I’m happy with who I am. I don’t feel like Richard the victim who’s had this awful news; I feel like Richard the empowered who is just beginning to learn, really and deeply, who he is and how he works best. Again, a part of me wishes this had all been done sooner but better late than never, eh?

In terms of the depression? Yeah, it’s still there. It still affects me. But it’s something I am aware of and it’s a construct within my mind that has been manageable. I feel that this diagnosis is another weapon against the depression as it’s allowing me to be frank about myself. It’s a crap time of year for me – a lot of the “catalysts” that I spoke about initially are hitting unhappy milestones. But I am trying counter that sense a lot by just thinking: this year I got to grips with a serious subject – myself.

I intend to keep writing about this as I progress. In terms of tangible steps, I’ve got the follow-up with my psychologist soon, and I hope to be going into therapy soon after. I feel I’ve identified a lot of the latent and background reasons that I’m vulnerable on an emotional level and I’m equipped to tackle those problems.

These blogposts have certainly helped as an outlet. I can now say I’ve catalogued my journey here and I encourage anyone who feels similarly to do the same. It’s a positive learning experience, and I do feel that, despite the intense pain and sadness and anger and all those emotions – I still feel, right now, very disappointed and, honestly, resentful that certain people I trusted abandoned me for the journey I’ve had to go on – I’ve actually made a material difference to understanding myself. And I can’t go on to do great things in the future unless I’m at peace with my own psyche. I’m happy and proud to say I am on the road to that!