The Perils of Cyberstalking

No good comes from cyberstalking an ex.

Everyone knows this. I’ve learnt the hard way and yet like any addict, it didn’t stop me listening to the devil on my shoulder last night when I typed his name into the search field of Facebook.

It all started with some harmless chat with an old friend. I’ve been slowly re-connecting with friends in London ready for my big move next March. We don’t chat often but it was like I’d never been away. Banter flying left and right, catching up, making plans and reminiscing. It was fun. Then out of the blue: 

“How ironic that you split up because he wanted to move home, and now you’re the one moving back. Maybe you should try hunt him down…maybe it’s fate!”

She always was a soppy romantic. It was more than that that broke us. 

And…yet I wondered. I hadn’t so much as thought about him in months. I know I’m better off without him, without his tantrums and put downs. I don’t want him back and so that’s why I thought a little googling would be harmless…I wondered where he’d ended up. Surely he’d be forever a loser.

Within minutes, I was face to face with a picture that floored me. Him, a woman and an unmistakable baby bump. He’s having a baby! 

Why – when I’m a good, kind person – does he get the happy ever after, while I get family stress, financial aggro and struggle on alone? Was I so evil in previous life that this one is filled with punishment. Am I destined to be alone for ever? 

After 12 hours of pity party, an emergency phone call to the bestie and a KFC dip bucket, it’s the kick up the bum I needed. Time to move on once and for all. Time to hit the gym and sort myself out, ready to put my best foot forward when I return to London Town.

Anyone know a good gym program I can follow? Preferably app based?

Maybe good can come from cyberstalking. A new, motivated me.

Ausexit

Sometimes you have to put your faith in the unknown. In recent months (and recent blog posts), I’ve been paralysed by indecision, miserable in limbo, torn in different directions by obligation and responsibilities, failing at feeling anything but despair.

My bestie, knowing I’d reached this crossroads in career, life and happiness suggested I visit ‘Spooky Lady’. A clairvoyant we’d seen in the past, with an uncanny perception of seeing these we normally can’t. Whether her gift comes from an exceptionally heightened personal insight or guided by spirits from the other side, she counsels and reassures in a way I can justify her fee and my time. This visit was as jumbled as my thoughts but one message came through loud and clear: you’re heading back to England.

Before I went to see Spooky Lady, I’d received a text from my sister: my brother-in-law’s scans showed the cancer he’d only gotten rid of 6 months before, had returned. That was 3 reasons to move back. Taken in isolation, Mum’s Alzheimer’s, squatters in my apartment – I could deal with from Aus. All three of these together, the universe was telling me something, and it was time I listened.

I didn’t want to believe it and spent most of the rest of the weekend drinking wine and talking through the options. Could I move back? The more I allowed myself the think about moving, the more it seemed inevitable and the obvious solution. I started to get excited.

I spoke to my sister via Skype and vocalised for the first time a thought that I should come back. Her excitement and pleasure were unexpected. It surprised me how much she wanted me to come back. For the first time in a long time, I felt wanted. We made promises of standing Sunday lunch invitations, trips with kids, holidays in Europe.  I feel a rush of how much I wanted to reconnect with family, to feel like I was something more than a good friend, a good boss, a successful, independent woman. I want to belong.

My time in Australia has been amazing, I’ve done and achieved so much. I look out from the balcony onto the canals at the crisp Autumn cloud-free blue and wonder how much I’m going to miss this when faced with dreary grey London skies. I smile through Elwood Village at the white, middle-class yummy mummies with the prams, babies and dogs and reflect how different life in Streatham will be when my white face will be the minority once more.

I will miss so much. But to stay would mean more of the same. And when the storyline becomes repetitive, it becomes bland. I think this chapter is coming to a close. Not a natural close, but it was always going to take something big (or 3 big things) to make me leave this place.

This reminds me of a scene from one of my favourite shows The West Wing:

So the decision is made, I’m heading back to the homeland. Timeframe: unknown. Let’s start planning Ausexit.

Sometimes nowhere 

I was born in the north of England in 1976.

I moved to Leicester for university in 1995.

With my degree in my pocket, I moved to London, hand in hand with my fiancé in 2000.

I moved back to Leicester with my fiancé following his cancer treatment in 2004.

I slunk back to London, spirit broken, heart broken, single again in 2005.

Remoulded, renewed and on an optimistic whim, I moved to Melbourne in 2008.

In my life, I’ve lived 18 years in Barrow-in-Furness, 8 years in Leicester. 8 years in London and now 8 years in Melbourne.

My home has been many places but I never feel at home. Permanently. Settled. Melbourne has come closest but now I feel that familiar jolt of what’s next? I’m drawn back ‘home’ to London. A draw to family, old friends, old humour, like a comfy old warm sweater that hugs you in return for your loyalty.

But will 2017 London resemble 2007 London. Life’s moved on, friends, family moved on. I’ve moved on.

Can I really give this up? The sunshine, the beach, the lifestyle, the food, my best friend, the space?

Am I running away? Seeking something, someone I’ve not found here. Forever seeking. Sometimes I’m nowhere.

The impending biological clock

2016 was a pretty shitty year. It took from us, so many that we’d admired. In return, it gave us Brexit, a Trump presidency and just to pile on the misery, I turned 40.

It’s fair to say my life isn’t exactly how I’d expected it to turn out. I don’t ever recall trying to imagine my life at 40 but I imagined myself at 30.  A married, pregnant homeowner taking a break from my marketing career to raise a family. I did say once in an interview, I wanted to be a director at 40.

Well, that’s one box I’ve ticked. The career box. Woo hoo! (laden with oodles of sarcasm)

Otherwise, I’m single, never married but engaged once, I own an apartment in a city halfway around the world, I’ve never been pregnant (despite numerous scares) and it’s kinda looking like that’s the way things will remain.

Or at least, that’s how people are beginning to perceive me. I’ve lost count of the times my Mum has explained away by singleton status as being a ‘career woman’. She often laments over how she’ll only ever have two grandchildren. My boss recently made a throwaway comment about how I’d made the right decision not to have kids.

It hurts.

It’s not so much that they make me feel like I’ve failed as a woman – which they do – it’s more that they’ve given up on me before I’ve given up on me.

It’s one thing for me to stress in the seclusion of my own thoughts that I’ve not succeeded or lived up to expectation, that I’ve left it “too late” or wasted my best years. It’s quite another to hear those thoughts confirmed out loud.

I didn’t decide to not have kids, it just hasn’t worked out. I didn’t choose to not get married. My fiancé decided he didn’t want to get married and so we broke up. Since then the men I’ve had relationships with haven’t shown marriage or parenting credentials – but it’s not stopped me hoping. I still hope it’s not too late. I’m not particularly bothered about marriage but I get incredibly upset when I think I might never have kids.

Or do I? Am I being deluded? Do I need to start facing facts that I’ve unconsciously decided to be single and childless? Have I left it too late?

I don’t want to do it alone and it’s not like I can suddenly conjure up a suitable father with a wave of my magic wand. I also don’t want to enter into my next relationship with the immediate pressure of “must get pregnant” hanging over our heads. So maybe that does leave me childless.

I think it’s one thing personally deciding not to have children, it’s another having the decision taken out of your hands. All the women out there who aren’t able to conceive, I’m starting to understand how you feel. The window of opportunity is closing but what exactly can I do about it?

Nothing. Instead, I’ll just wince and seethe as I try to dodge the judgemental comments of those around me. It’s not like I’ve purposefully pursued this as my end goal people!

Life begins at 40?

Welcome to the next iteration of my ramblings. I rambled my way through my teens, scrawling out my adolescent angst using colourful pencils, plain exercise books, and really bad poetry. I documented the ‘uni-years’ in photographic format, compiling mix-tapes and the odd drunken ramble about my latest unrequited crush. Then came my Australian-based ramblings when I moved here in my early 30s and rode the 2nd wave of my misspent youth. God, it was fun! As much as I hate to admit it, there’s no getting away from the fact this blog will form my middle-aged ramblings. I find myself here, typing on my bay-side Melbournian balcony, five years older, a little bit larger and lonelier, quite a bit single but significantly more qualified. I’ve just finished a psychology degree.

And yet in many ways, I’m no closer to ‘finding myself’ than I was when I lept out of my Dad’s car to move into halls of residence at university at 18 or packed my bags for a new life in Australia at 32. I’m still crippled by opportunities, dissatisfied with my lot and looking for the next bright shiny thing to come around the corner. But over years I’ve made a decent dent in deciding what I DON’T want in life, so that’s progress.

The big questions that require answers in the next few months are as follows:

  • Career direction

Do I jump from my very well-meaning, tough charity gig and get below average pay? Or sell my soul and move back to the corporate world which I’ll hate but can do care-free? Or do I pursue the dream of clinical psychology, eventual flexible working, running my own practice? Or side-step into a dream field using both current skills and my psych?

  • Do I stay or do I go?

Remain or leave? My very own Brexit dilemma (a constant expat quandary). Do I stay here in Aus, living my life of guaranteed summers, good food, and laidbackness (I can’t think of a better word!)? Or do I move back into my south London pad for a couple of years, get to know my niece and nephew, and support my sister in managing our mother with premature Alzheimer’s before we move her into the inevitable care home?

There are easy answers and hard answers. Rational and emotional. Answers which change every time I talk to someone different. I can ask advice but the decision is mine and needs to be a solution I can accept.

And so I’m taking July off work. I don’t know where I’ll go, but I hope you’ll come with me.