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Time for coffee

Had quite an angry stomach the past few days. On Friday evening Meg drove to mine as there was no space to park her van at her mum's. She was still in her work clothes, which I found oddly endearing. Kind of sexy seeing her in orange hi-vis trousers and dirty arms and skin for some reason. It'd been 10 days since we last saw each other up in Sheffield. Strange; the perception of time and looking back. A lot has come and gone since then. Meg had called me about an hour beforehand to ask what I wanted from the supermarket and it was clear she sounded exhausted, and I had a feeling we'd have an early night. Initially I'd been concerned we wouldn't get to spend much time together, but I reached a place of acceptance with it later on during the day when I realised she wouldn't be leaving work until closer to 4pm. Plus a couple of hours drive back.

Not only did she appear tired, but something felt a little off. She had a shower and we ate snacks and played some old video games. It was lovely that she'd bought us food, and snacking whilst playing strange games was relaxing. I noticed there wasn't as much intimacy, and I wasn't sure this was entirely down to tiredness. After a couple of hours we went to bed and I gave her a backrub. Although this was in complete darkness and I found it more challenging as I often like to methodically work my way up or down her back and shoulders - line by line as it were. In the dark it felt more trial and error. Still, it was a tactile moment and a nice thing to do.

Had an early start on Saturday morning for the craft fair. When I got home I messaged Meg and she was doing her cupboards in the van. I had skipped breakfast and lunch and had relied on snacks. I was quite dizzy by that point. I did some staffing up the park whilst I waited for her. We met about 19:30 in the end and drove to Cambridge to get a burger from Five Guys. The drive was oddly quiet and lacked any hand holding, playfulness or touching. Things continued to feel quite distant.

Similarly when in Cambridge, conversation felt more sporadic and things were out of sync. We met her brother at Five Guys and all ate together, then I drove us back, dropped Rafe off and me and Meg went back to my folks. We semi-watched a scary movie whilst I gave her a backrub. We ended up going to bed around 01:15. It was nice that we'd spent 2 nights together, but we'd only spent around 7 hours together during the weekend. I asked if we could meet up on Sunday evening before she left, but she told me she wanted to get the cupboard building done then head straight off.

I felt rather deflated by this. We chatted some more and she said she was still overwhelmed and withdrawn from how I'd been this week. The meltdowns, overload, panic, anxiety, depression etc. As ever - mental health problems spill over onto those closest to you. So I can understand why she's backed off. She said I fear "too little" in a relationship whereas she fears "too much". So I guess we need to find a happy medium.

This morning I asked if I could say goodbye to her before she left. A goodbye hug and maybe a brief chat. After 10 days apart I guess I thought we'd have spent more time together, especially as I spent most of Saturday at the craft fair.

Meg apologised for the distance, although she had told me a few days earlier that she was still recovering from the breakup with Paul. She said she wanted to see me flourish, but didn't have the energy, strength or patience to help me do that. I get where she's coming from, but at the same time it kind of hurt to hear her say that. Still, that's on me - not her. We're responsible for 1 half of the relationship - us. She is simply doing that and announcing it to me after a period of my worries affecting her.

So I understand, and I'm not looking for to help or "fix" me. She'd apologised a couple of times in the past about not committing more, and said that she'd given a lot in the previous relationship to Paul. I found I tend to go all out in my relationships, and the fact I feel more with Meg than anyone I've dated before means I'd be willing to push further. So to hear what she told me, whilst understandable - felt like it could be the foundations for co-dependence. Only if I allow it to be though. I just don't want to end up putting in the lion's share, which might end up causing resentment further down the line if it's not reciprocated as much. It's good to find a balance in life, especially when it comes to a relationship with someone. I don't want to be too much, as it affects her and it takes from me. Still, I guess it's good to see and encounter these things early on - as we need to be honest about the facets to our personalities.

She's said a few times that she's fickle - but never elaborated on it. We've both mentioned instances where certain use of language triggers us. I'm still not sure what she means by this. I think the first time she referred to herself as fickle was when discussing about love, feelings etc. The more I pondered it over the weeks, the less I found the word to be as significant as I'd sometimes worried it might be.

I knew dating Meg so close to her breakup with Paul was potentially a little risky. I used the term rebound a few days back, and for the first time she responded with "...." and I replied saying "please don't do dots." I just always found them a little obnoxious as there's no need to pause for dramatic effect. But again, it's a language thing. Like people using caps or exclamation marks excessively.

It's good that we've had some very open conversations this week, unfortunate in some respects that there were times these were triggered by my various emotional peaks and troughs. Still, I think the maintained openness and honesty will serve us well for now and the future.

The focus for me right now needs to be me. If I'm in a good place, then that means we are too. We being me and any friend, family member or Meg. If you're feeling good in yourself, it'll emanate. Hence the fear of mental health struggles affecting Meg. The fact is - we both realise we need to recharge and recover. This relationship I think can accelerate that, or it can hinder it. We must focus on the former.

Once I'm working again I'll look for a local therapist. Go with a new one. Besides that I will need to focus some more time on diet, cycling, staffing and doing the things in my free time that not only feel good, but aren't chasing cheap highs like sugar, gaming or being stoned. I need more substance and nourishment in life.

Looks like the bike ride to my new workplace is 36 mins and half of it is through the fens, down country tracks and farm roads. Should be a nice thing to do, see if I can make it a regular thing. Will save money, keep me fit - maybe help mental health etc.

Quite tired. Woke up early past few days and didn't get as much sleep as I needed. Got a week off before I begin work on 19th. This is the first time since quitting my last job that I feel like I'm on a break, and have some down time. Before then it was focusing and worrying about all the art related stuff. So I never truly felt at ease. I need a week off. Time for me. See if I can actually relax and feel recharged. Prolonged exhaustion.

Meg gave me a back massage earlier. The amount of knots is ridiculous. Virtually everywhere she was massaging felt sore and bruised. She recommended I book an hour a day for a week with a masseuse. That way maybe we can get my body in a better shape. I really feel beat up.

Time for coffee as I feel like I could go to sleep and it's only 1pm. I made her breakfast in bed and she was very smiley and happy. We had a moment together later in the shower, but unfortunately it led to some overwhelm. It is what it is though - I understood why the overwhelm arose, but I didn't feel any ill or judgement towards her as it wasn't anybody's fault. All a bit vague I know, but it's quite a personal subject. Still, the time we spent together has been nice - it's just the atmosphere which has left me unsettled and a little worried.

Meg told me last night that she'd be back home next weekend. Hearing this made me happy. We're still acclimating to this long distance, but it'll be fine. I'm hoping this new job will provide me with new friends, as my free time is rather hampered by loneliness. I did make an an effort to see Guy several times this week, along with Jared on Friday, and I bumped into Jack too. Had a few more conversations than usual with my parents, and spent a fair few hours talking with people at the craft fair yesterday. Whilst it often wears me out to be social, I need to be more pro-active doing it, as isolation often feels even more exhausting.

A goodbye hug and kiss will be nice. Until we meet again. We have had a nice weekend, I'm just a little wary of the atmosphere and distance. Both socially and intimately. Knowing that my mental health struggles have been quite a trigger feels quite rubbish. Hard not to play the blame game - but that helps nobody. Feeling shame and guilt for struggling isn't the way towards healing or recuperation.

Come what may - I'll get there. Decided against coffee. Just going to sleep instead, and will wait to hear from Meg. Need to listen to my body as I'm exhausted.

EDIT: - slept for 2 hours, then set an alarm for another 2. When the second alarm went off I threw caution to the wind and just decided to continue sleeping. As I was dosing off again, I got a text from Meg inviting me over, but advising she was still doing carpentry related bits.

I got dressed, made a coffee and a smoke and went over. Decided to smoke on the way to the park. It's a quiet cul-de-sac road and lined mostly with flats and bungalows for the elderly. Foot traffic is non-existant, and so I just went with my gut. I noticed the other day in Cambridge how blatent some are with smoking weed in public, and in a sleepy village where you might see one police car now and then - it's not exactly high risk.

Got to hers and setup in the driveway, but once she used the jigsaw again I realised it would be too loud, so I sat in the van for 20 minutes or so. She beckoned me out after she was done and I lay on her triangular asian mat. The one where you can lie with your head propped up against the folder mat which forms a triangular prism when folded. It felt better for my neck than how I normally prop my head up. I read for a bit in the van and whilst laying down. Then did 10 minutes of breathing/meditation. Although indispersed with drill noises and focusing on breathing wasn't the easiest.

The cupboards look great, and she's made 2 steps that have storage and also allow access through to the front cab of the van via the cut out in the plywood bulkhead divide. All very swish, and Meg was pleased with her weekend's work. Very admirable to see what she's got done. I still think I'll pay Mark to do my carpentry stuff, but that's fine. Each to their own - and I know how flustered I get, as well as my parents. So I think the 3 of us trying to do carpentry would just be too much BS for me to want to handle or process.

After she was done we chatted by the van. Cuddled, kissed and I cracked a lot of jokes. The section in the book I'd read before felt rather apt. How he travelled the world when he was young, but found the freedom meant whilst he experienced a lot - very few things truly felt memorable or impactful. He wrote how the brutal honesty he encountered in Russia and how beneficial it was to changing his beliefs and mindset:

"I remember discussing this dynamic with my Russian teacher one day, and he had an interesting theory. Having lived under communism for so many generations, with little to no economic opportunity and caged by a culture of fear, Russian society found the most valuable currency to be trust. And to build trust you have to be honest. That means when things suck, you say so openly and without apology. People’s displays of unpleasant honesty were rewarded for the simple fact that they were necessary for survival—you had to know whom you could rely on and whom you couldn’t, and you needed to know quickly.

But, in the “free” West, my Russian teacher continued, there existed an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity that it became far more valuable to present yourself in a certain way, even if it was false, than to actually be that way. Trust lost its value. Appearances and salesmanship became more advantageous forms of expression. Knowing a lot of people superficially was more beneficial than knowing a few people closely.

This is why it became the norm in Western cultures to smile and say polite things even when you don’t feel like it, to tell little white lies and agree with someone whom you don’t actually agree with. This is why people learn to pretend to be friends with people they don’t actually like, to buy things they don’t actually want. The economic system promotes such deception.

The downside of this is that you never know, in the West, if you can completely trust the person you’re talking to. Sometimes this is the case even among good friends or family members. There is such pressure in the West to be likable that people often reconfigure their entire personality depending on the person they’re dealing with."

You know, in the short exchange that me and Meg had before I said I'd leave - it felt like the old atmosphere, chemistry and intimacy was back. I'm glad things felt more back on track before we went our separate ways. She said she was going to get more woodwork done, then find a place to park near where she's working next week. Tiredness was building and Meg said she was crashing. So I figured it'd be prudent for me to make myself scarce so she could crack on at her own pace, and get a head-start on things etc.

So yeah, I'm glad of how things turned out. Cos when I woke up after this "nap" I felt down, and when I got to hers I felt quite overwhelmed. But those last 10 minutes or so chatting, cuddling and laughing created a lot of smiles and a warm atmosphere. Perfect end to the weekend for us, and something to look forward to for next weekend.



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