Some years ago after a cousin of mine had a major blood pressure related incident that eventually resulted in his death, his doctor suggested that extended family have their blood pressure checked. I had mine checked, not thinking for a minute there would be any issues. I was a fairly healthy weight, didn’t smoke, eat much crap or over drink and I played football regularly as well as lots of walking and occasional swimming. I remember feeling really annoyed that my blood pressure was very high while still in my 30s, high enough to require medication that I’m still on now 10 years later and probably will be for life. I’d never had any major health issues before. The first one is always hard. Suddenly you’re not young and immortal anymore!
I’m feeling a little presumptuous writing this despite being heavily in the dating game the last few years! I’m no expert, but I’ve been in long term relationships and marriages, had success and failures and have extensive experience of the modern online dating trend in particular. There’s a pile of stuff I’ve learned over the years that people still seem to have no clue about when they set about to find a partner so I’m writing it all down here. Hopefully it’s of some use to someone!
Our cover of “Such A Simple Thing”.
Ray LaMontagne is probably my favourite singer. I feel a bit presumptuous trying to cover one of his songs but he makes me raise my singing game and if I only get a small percentage of the way towards one of the best, I’ll be happy enough.
This is one of my best vocals so far I think..
I have to start with a disclaimer and say that if you’ve landed here looking for a magic bullet answer on how to overcome and conquer feelings of rejection, abandonment and uselessness, you may or may not find it here. But I’ll be outlining my own experiences with rejection and abandonment and how I’ve “tried” to cope with it over the years or at least from when I realised those were the issues I’ve had most of my life. And that realisation only came a few years ago during counselling. I still suffer with them on and off and there are good days and bad. As usual with these semi regular, existential posts of mine, I’m not looking for a medal or sympathy, my hope is that some of it may strike a chord with someone or help them in some way. And of course it also helps me heal to write down my thoughts..
UPDATED Jan 2021
I see myself as somewhat of a pioneer in the online dating realm. I met my ex-wife online back in 2002, not only LONG before online dating became cool but almost before the internet itself! Or at least before broadband became widely available. I had to do all of my online courting via dialup. I’m still paying off the phone bills. I remember hiding the fact that we’d met online for at least 10 years afterwards. The shame! But it seems everyone is at it these days whether they’re in a relationship already or not!
I’ve just been out for a 10,000 step, 7.14km walk. A new route which is a combination/grouping of various old routes I used to walk locally. I bit off a bit more than I could chew to be honest. I arrived home in pain and feeling like a hip transplant. The things I do for serotonin hits.
I went for the walk for these reasons – I didn’t have anything else to do, was feeling down and it was sunny…ish. A familiar story these days, except the sun bit, as work is very quiet and I spend four to five days a week totally alone, desperately looking for constructive things to do and the motivation to do them. On the way back, as I flirted with tractors, trucks and cars on a small stretch of the road with no footpath and listening to the unhelpfully morose but brilliant music of Lana Del Rey, I stepped over two bees in quick succession, crawling along the road, nowhere near any flowers and struggling to survive. I didn’t bother helping them like the cool, caring people always seem to do these days before sharing it on Facebook. Gotta save the bees. I don’t feel too bad about it though as I didn’t have a spoon, sugar or water about my person but I suspect that even if I did, I wouldn’t have bothered. Each to their own really, I can’t be taking on bee’s or the world’s problems. It’s a case of survival of the fittest, which is pretty much how my own life struggle is panning out these days. Surviving seems to be getting more difficult but at least I’m kinda fit. A little more so after my 7km anyway. More on the bees later..
Few are more internet crazy than me. There’s not much I havn’t done online, from meeting people and running a business to self diagnosis and learning. I’ve also had a few breakdowns in my time and sought both clinical and mental help in the form of real life Doctor and Psychotherapist visits. In recent years I’ve seen ads for online counselling services and my initial temptation was to feel suspicious. Surely counselling is something you need to do face to face so your therapist can read you and get to know you properly? But then I noticed some counsellor friends and clients were starting to offer therapy sessions online via Skype etc.. in an effort to reach more people and become more efficient. So I decided to look into online counselling a little more.
Yeah, no prizes for guessing the context of this post! The Leaving Neverland documentary/film has been out for about a month now and is causing havoc worldwide and dividing opinions. The first thing I need to say is that I’ve seen it! Many have come to conclusions about it without even getting that far. And having seen it I, like a lot of people, immediately thought the game is up for Michael Jackson finally. Finally someone has come out publicly and told their story in detail, confirming what we all suspected for years now…that Michael Jackson didn’t just like kids…he ‘really’ liked them. How could any of us argue with the detail, poise, dignity and obvious heartfelt honesty of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, not to mention the seemingly very partial Oprah Winfrey siding with them both and interviewing them shortly after the documentary release and news/media outlets worlwide reporting the documentary as gospel. Cue practically the whole planet from every kind of news media online and off to the average man and woman in the street siding with Wade and James and demanding we all stop listening to Michael Jackson’s music. Radio stations all over the world even banned his music!? I for one started listening to it again for the first time in years. Fucking sue me..
We need to eat to survive of course but I also like to eat for fun. I always have. From the eating competitions I used to have with friends and on blind dates even (don’t ask) to indulging in take away regularly, I just love eating. I love the variety of food available these days. Indian, Italian and Lebanese are some of my favourite cuisines. I love the ritual of cooking (I recently took a couple of cooking courses) or going out to a nice restaurant. I adore Buffets. All my Christmases come together when I’m at a buffet and I eat until sick almost. Is that bad? Gluttony is a sin of course but I’m a militant atheist luckily. Right now you’re probably imagining me as a bed ridden slob, dangerously overweight and a ticking, heart-diseased, diabetes ridden time bomb but I’m actually only a couple of stone overweight and probably not noticeably fat. Unless you look real close. Those who’ve seen me naked know best. I have height, a good metabolism and pure luck to thank for that possibly. However..
I’ve recently become middle aged and have an assortment of mild middle aged related conditions such as back pain, joint stiffness, high blood pressure, etc.. Middle age is a time when shit starts to deteriorate and go wrong so you really have to keep an eye on things to keep yourself functional. It’s a time to get more regular general medical checkups, get that free eye test and dental checkup, get active, stop smoking, drinking etc.. Lowering weight is one thing that I think I and a lot of people would benefit from. It makes sense to think that joint and back pain could be reduced if there’s less weight acting upon your frame and there’s known benefits to high blood pressure from weight loss. Thus I entered the depressing world of dieting. But..
Enjoy Food, Just Eat Less Often
I wasn’t about to give up my life long love of food. Rather, I’d continue to eat well and eat pretty much whatever I like within reason. I do try to avoid eating food with little or no value of course but the odd take away or desert is fine. Instead what I’d do was just eat less often and be patient until the next feeding time. I’d heard of “Intermittent Fasting” before but never really looked at it properly. The word “fasting” put me off. And in truth, I only got a renewed interest in it kinda by accident recently when I forced myself to not eat for a day, just to see if I could. I like to test my resolve in these ways occasionally. I tried and failed a few times first until I got angry with myself then finally carried it through properly one day. It was a long day..
My Intermittent Fasting Experience
So the first day I fasted went like this. I skipped breakfast. I’ve done that before or had very late breakfasts, so no big deal there. I don’t normally bother with lunch either (I guess I’d probably been fasting intermittently already considering my no lunch and late breakfast habits) but by lunch time I was becoming a bit twitchy. I hadn’t eaten anything since dinner time the previous day at about 6pm. By mid afternoon I was becoming ravenous and very, very nearly gave in. Then something strange happened around 4/5pm, just before normal dinner time. I can only describe it as like “hitting a wall” then finding a second wind. Hunger seemed to disappear a bit and become more manageable. I felt as if some weird internal, metabolic, survival process had kicked in. I joked that my body and stomach had started to consume itself for vital sustenance. Having researched intermittent fasting a bit since, I realise that wasn’t a million miles from the truth. The body looks within itself and processes existing stores of fat, carbohydrates etc when starved of food. For the rest of the evening and even next day I didn’t feel terribly hungry. I ended up having breakfast around 11:30am. No bigger a breakfast than usual.
I carried on my intermittent fasting for the rest of that week. Having two no food days in total and that’s what I’m trying to stick to now. I think two is plenty. Especially when you consider that by two days I mean no eating from say dinner at 6pm one day until brekkie at about 11am 2 days later. That’s a total fasting time of 41 continuous hours and do that twice a week! So what benefits did I notice and how long before these benefits showed exactly? Well I was quite surprised to find that I lost the best part of 3kg after the first fast, ie- within days. At first I thought my scales were broken. But seemingly not. I’ve been doing it for a few weeks now and havn’t lost anywhere near the initial amount since. I think this is normal for any kind of serious diet, you lose a lot at first then it balances out. I’m still losing weight, just a lot slower. Here’s my weight spreadsheet below. You can see the start of the fasting process and big weight drop the first week in October:
It Gets Better
Once you get past that initial hunger wall, it gets a lot easier and you get used to the regular process of fasting then. Apart from the obvious benefit of losing weight, one other thing I’ve noticed is that, when I do finally eat, I don’t over eat or seem to eat as much as I normally would. It’s as if the stomach shrinks in some way. Also, I don’t seem to be in quite as much pain as usual. This could just be in my mind though. Speaking of the mind, there’s obvious psychological benefits too. I’m happier that I’m in control of my eating habits and losing weight. My blood pressure seems to be down too. See below (last reading today on the right):
If anyone is interested in trying Intermittent Fasting, I found this website useful:
Next up…Facebook addiction!
Since I left college in 1995 I’ve worked in either full time, part time or contract work for other people or companies for a combined total period of less than 2 years. That’s about 5 or 6 different positions and companies. In the same time period I’ve been officially self employed in about 3 different positions, a Musician, a PC Technician and now a Web Designer since about 2003. Now, I’ve always seen those stats as a source of pride, I’m doing my own thing in life, figuring things out as I go, my own boss, time is my own, etc… and I would have also thought that others might be impressed by the initiative I’ve shown, the quick learning, the multidisciplinary skills one needs as a self employed web designer; design skills, people skills, project management skills, sales, etc, etc.. Aren’t the words “Good Initiative” on every damn job description there’s ever been!?
So recently I’ve considered trying to find a job, part time and remote ideally so my business isn’t affected too much and so I have a regular income for when self employment doesn’t cut it, like right now with the great weather we’re having! I’ve been sending CVs off, doing everything right (I think), customising the CV for the position, cutting out anything not relevant, adding enthusiastic cover letters, etc.. I’ve had career/CV guidance, I’ve got Degrees and other qualifications the last year or 2 and I feel my CV is fairly strong. But….nothing. I feel lucky to even get a reply.
Last night I attended #TechLifeBalance in Sligo, a kind of meet new Employer’s in the region type of event. The 4 CVs I brought were still in my back pocket when I left..
Exciting night ahead of us here in Sligo!
— The Building Block (@TBBSligo) June 7, 2018
All IT companies or with IT roles on offer including: LiveTiles, Overstock, E3, SL Controls & Pramerica. A few days before the event I’d sent a CV off to LiveTiles for an IT Admin role through a friend who recently started working for them and got a pretty quick, copy & paste no thanks. I was impressed with the speed actually! Last night a representative from the same company said something that made the penny drop for me….finally! Although, in the back of my head, I’d suspected as much for a while. She said that she’d been going through a lot of CVs lately for roles they had in their new office and the one issue she seen across a lot of them was that while they all showed great skills and qualifications, very few had the actual “industry experience” they needed. By industry experience I’m presuming she meant, considerable experience working for a large, corporate, multinational company and all that that entails. I don’t really have that with my 1.5 years work experience for other companies in the last 23 years! The night left me fairly deflated if I’m honest. The location was a trendy digital hub in Sligo, the attendees were all beautiful, young, talented people, the food was hip and free, buzz words and phrases abounded. It was all over my head a little. I think I’ve missed the boat..
So my conclusion..I guess I’ve thrown my oars out of the self employment boat. I’m in it for the long haul, so I better make it work!?
Discussion appreciated below.