Tag Archives: lonely

First Dates

A couple of friends recommended watching First Dates, a television series that films real first dates in a London restaurant. I’ve since watched the entire first season and it’s totally addictive.

As I binge on this hilarious reality TV show, I laugh a lot. But I also shed a few tears.

I can see the beauty in every single singleton. The daters differ in appearance, creed, age, personality and life experiences. But they’re so similar too.

They’re all self-conscious. They all have fears and insecurities. They’ve all lived through hardship, be it heartbreak, illness, loss or rejection.

And they’re all holding on to hope. Hope that they’ll finally find connection, affection, partnership and love. They all want to share their lives with that special someone.

One man, who’s been single since his diagnosis with HIV five years ago, admits: “I just want to be loved.”

This heartwarming show highlights how quick we are to judge our potential partners. I don’t like his receding hairline. I prefer women with smaller bums.

Interestingly, we’re also quick to judge ourselves. I’ll lie about my job because I don’t want to put him off. She’ll never agree to a date because of my height. I’m punching above my weight with her. I’m not as skinny as the other girls.

I believe that when we stop judging ourselves, we cease judging everybody else. When we love and accept ourselves, we become free to love and accept others.

I also believe that we get what we give. So when we give love, we receive it.

I have a friend who loves her dogs more than anything. Recently, I spent an evening at her home. One of her dogs burrowed his way into my arms. Later, he lay on my friend’s lap, his body splayed open, as my friend hugged and kissed him.

It struck me that this dog is full of love. He’s open and trusting and loving. And it’s such a good feeling to have him in your arms.

And my dog-loving friend is perfectly at ease with herself. She’s open and happy and loving. And when I’m around her, I am too.

It’s so easy to give love to a person who’s open to receiving it. And when someone gives love with unconditional abundance, being a recipient of that love feels effortless and unselfconscious.

It’s when the fear takes hold and the thinking starts and the barriers come up, that we block the love. We’re afraid to give love in case it’s thrown back in our faces.

But my advice now is to give love. Give love to yourself. To your friends and family. To your pets and your plants. To everyone you encounter.

Be yourself. Be open. Be present.

Laugh. Flirt. Have fun.

Give love. Accept love. Be love. And I guarantee that you’ll experience love.

So I’ve rejoined Tinder. Again.

P.S. When searching for an image for this article, I browsed the internet. Suddenly, I realised that I’d forgotten to type “Love” in the search bar. “Have I put love in?” I asked aloud.

Have I put love in indeed.




Living with Overactive Imagination: the highs, the lows, and the completely off-the-wall

Where better to unleash your Overactive Imagination than at Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua?

I was born with an interesting condition known as Overactive Imagination. Even as I type the title of this blog post, I’m wandering off into the mystery mistiness of my imagination… Where did the idiom “off-the-wall” come from? And what kind of wall are we talking here? The bedroom wall? A prison wall? The Great Wall of China? And where is off-the-wall located exactly? Floating in the centre of the room? Hovering in the sky? Tumbling in outer space? Thankfully, Answers.com intervened and explained the origin of the expression: “In certain sports such as handball and racketball, a player hits a ball against the wall. When it comes off the wall, one has no idea where it is going. Therefore, this expression implied unpredictability.” Sometimes, Google is the only reliable medicine for this disorder. If I know I’m about to drift off, inventing my own weird and wonderful meanings for things, I whip open the laptop and hit that Search button.

My Overactive Imagination (or OI, not to be confused with Osteogenesis Imperfecta- a genetic bone disorder commonly referred to as brittle bone disease) was first diagnosed as a young child. I used to pretend to my little brother that our toys could talk. Each had his/her own personality, distinct voice, and best friend. After a number of years, when my brother was becoming slightly more street savvy, he asked me, “Why does your mouth move whenever the toys talk?” I had to think on my feet. I answered: “Their mouths are sewn shut so they have to speak telepathically through me. Duh!” That worked for about another year.

OI is perfect for when you’re interacting with children. When I was 11, a beautiful little sister arrived into our home. She thought I was magic. Seriously! If she got a splinter in her finger, I’d get her to close her eyes and I’d pretend that the needle I used to fish out the splinter was a fairy wand. I was the only one she let near her on those occasions.

OI is also an excellent tool for making you feel better about bad situations. More recently, I lost some of my eyelashes (read here for more details) and wondered if they were going to grow back at all. But, instead of feeling depressed and panicky, I developed a hypothesis. If we were to follow Darwin’s theory of evolution, that we were once fish and have evolved over the years until we’ve turned into good ol’ Homo sapiens, maybe it’s time for us to adapt further for life in the 21st century, and maybe, just maybe, we no longer need eyelashes…

However, like with any disorder, OI has many negative symptoms too, including sleeplessness, paranoia, and insanity. This condition has robbed me of many hours of sleep. I could be so caught up in my fantasies that I don’t even realise that I’ve been lying in bed, wide awake, for the last two and a half hours!

On that note, this past week, I haven’t been nodding off until three/four/even five in the morning. Although there is a perfectly legitimate reason for this (I’ve been busy blogging, drinking cups of tea, and watching episode after episode of Brothers & Sisters), I started to speculate on a more zany reason for my insomnia. According to recent news reports, I am no longer a Gemini. I’ve been this star-sign all my life but now, out of the blue, I’m told I’m a Taurus! This is because the Earth has “wobbled out of alignment with the moon” (you can read the full Daily Mail article here). If the world is changing so radically, maybe that’s why I’ve been unable to sleep, because, going back to Darwin’s theory, Homo sapiens have mutated once again and no longer require at least seven hours’ sleep a night. Or maybe our circadian rhythms are running on different cycles. The whole of society will then need to alter the times we sleep, work, eat, and wind down. Maybe we should be going to bed just before dawn and getting up for work at midday. In that case, the TV watershed should start no earlier than midnight. And midnight feasts will be held as the sun rises…

Unfortunately, OI can also get you into trouble. When I was 10 years old, I convinced my friend and our five-year-old brothers that heaven perched at the top of one of the hills in Glending Woods. When it wasn’t exactly paradisiacal at the top of that hill, we went from hill to hill in search of my promised land. Hours later, we were totally lost, and my poor eight-month-pregnant mother was desperately searching for us. I managed to convince a group of gun- and knife-wielding men (don’t worry, they were hunting) to drive us to Blessington police station where we were reunited with my frantic mother.

OI also fuels paranoia and negative thinking. If a group of teenagers snigger as you strut by, it’s easy to imagine that they’re mocking your tea-cosy hat or the way you walk. If a loved one is late home, you picture them perishing in freak accidents involving lightning, falling elevators, and other spooky scenarios that even the creators of Lost would deem unbelievable.

On the up side, OI has taken me on countless surprising journeys, far removed from the mundane trappings of every day life. I’ve spent many a boring bus trip, mentally penning romantic stories involving ruggedly handsome strangers, which culminate in declarations of love/lust (depending on my mood) by Mr Sexy (you’d think, with my condition, I’d come up with a more imaginative name), as we lock eyes over a cappuccino/stroll hand-in-hand on moonlit beaches/get jiggy with it.

OI has helped fill me with optimism about upcoming exams and interviews. Before my driving test, I’d already imagined myself whooping with delight as I received the news of my success. Lately, I’ve been imagining the moment the novel I haven’t started writing yet goes into print. I can clearly envisage it beaming out of an Eason’s shop window. I can even see the font used to brandish my name. There are entire self-help books on the subject of the power of visualisation but I’ve already “got it” with my OI.

Living with OI is like residing in a roller coaster car, with constant ups, downs, and moments so wild you’ll have to close your eyes to bear them. Here’s how to make the most of your condition:

1) Drugs are bad, mkay?!

You’re already wired to the moon so you don’t need cans of Red Bull or shots of coffee to get you there. If I were you, I would also avoid alcohol, marijuana, and other hallucinogens.

2) Sleep

There’s no safer place to let your OI run wild than in your dreams. Also, the less tired you are, the better you’ll be able to distinguish between reality and the OI-inspired delusions.

3) Don’t dwell on conspiracy theories

If you’re prone to seizures of OI, stay away from all those conspiracy theories circulating on the net. On that vein, have you seen what happened to Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory? He had his eyelids taped open by a very scary Patrick Stewart. The thought of that alone should put a screeching halt to your crazy musings.

4) Human contact

OI thrives in lonely conditions. So, get out in the real world and connect with those afore-mentioned Homo sapiens. Chatting to real, live people will get you out of your head for a while and you’ll soon feel normal again.

5) Rationalise

As a frightened child, your parents did the rationalising for you. I don’t see any alligators under your bed, love. And the boogeyman definitely isn’t in your wardrobe. Now that you’re an adult, I’m afraid you’re going to have to do it yourself. But don’t worry if you can’t make sense of it on your own, that’s what friends are for. And if you’re still freaking out about glimpsing thieves and aliens in every dark corner of your house, it might be time to consult a professional.

6) Make the most of it

Some people would sell off their spleens for a great imagination. So, hold on to it, polish it, and learn to control it. Think of it as a superpower. Once you master it, you’ll rule the world. You could come up with an original idea for the next best-selling Xbox game or create a wacky blog or start a comic (sci-fi nerds lap that shit up). You could even become the next J. K. Rowling, writing your own series of fantasy children’s books, transforming them into blockbuster movies starring Saoirse Ronan and Jaden Smith, acquiring your very own theme park, being introduced to Ryan Gosling, marrying him… Oops, there I go again…

If you don’t want to wind up like this, follow my tips…

Singledom: the undiscovered land of the free

To be perfectly honest, I don’t think single life is something to be survived. It’s rather something to embrace. When you’re single, you only have yourself to worry about. You can do what you want when you want. You can sprawl star-shaped across your bed. You can watch reality TV to your heart’s content and never have to compromise. My motto is: You’re better off being single than being in a bad relationship. Some people are so afraid of being alone but you’re never lonelier than lying beside someone who doesn’t care for you or respect you.

Despite my views, I’ve decided to write about how to survive single life because we are conditioned to believe that our lives will not start until we meet “the one”. I believe that we have many “ones” out there. It’s a matter of timing. We’ll meet them when we’re ready and open to it. It’s very important to be in the right head space when you hook up with someone, otherwise you’re going to attract in someone who isn’t good for you.

The movies we’ve been watching since early childhood make meeting that special someone seem like THE most important thing in life. The ending is only satisfactory if the dizzy but adorable heroine and her floppy-haired love interest declare their undying love for each other. Heart felt love songs spout about all-consuming love, soul mates and near death heart ache. Some people think they won’t be happy and their lives won’t properly commence until they meet their future spouses.

And the type of love we’re all searching for is like some form of voluntary disease. We want to lose our appetites and ability to sleep, reason, and function. We want to miss them terribly when they’re not around. To sob into pillows and long-suffering friends’ shoulders when there’s any glitch in this supposedly perfect relationship.

Why can’t the “twin flame” type of love be romanticised? The type of love where you find a wonderful friend, who you’re attracted to, and you live your lives together in content companionship. Where you can both do your own thing and be apart from each other without one of you melting down in jealousy and neediness.

And so, as we sleep walk through our single lives, while desperately seeking our soul mates, here’s how to survive:

1) Be proactive

If you really want to settle down, don’t be fooled by those cheesy romantic comedies. You’re probably not going to lock eyes with your soul mate as you accidentally bump trolleys in Tesco. Stop waiting for it to happen. Get out there and up your chances. Try internet dating, for example. It’s become less of a stigma to become involved in virtual flirtations. Many of us interact more online than in the real world anyway, with the prevalence of Facebook, Twitter and online video games. So, lash up a cute photo of yourself, and present your witty, lovable self to the world of online dating. Don’t worry. I’ve tried it. It’s not full of weirdo geeks and serial killers. Many people simply don’t have the time, energy or lust to go out two or three nights a week any more. And as one guy ranted, “You’re just as likely to meet someone online as you are drunk in a club at 2am”. Even if nothing serious comes of it, you’ll chat to some interesting people, and get a few dates out of it. Another Friend is an example of an Irish dating website.

2) Get word out

Let your friends and work colleagues know that you’re on the market. Not many can resist the challenge of playing match maker. Before you know it, you’ll be invited to many the house party/work do/concert, where, conveniently, you’ll be introduced to “the nicest person ever who just can’t seem to find that special someone”. Snap! Even if you don’t fancy each other, at least your social life will flourish.

3) Nights out

Though we constantly complain about the price of the pint and the local club’s astronomical entrance fee, and the lack of potential in our home towns, a night out seems to do it for a lot of couples. Many’s the long-term pairing meet on the dance floor. Having said that, I don’t think the club scene is ideal. Women go there to find a boyfriend. Men go there to get laid. The men are often drunk and grabby and the women dress provocatively and dance sexilly with their female friends to get the men horny, then bitch when the men just want to sleep with them and don’t take their numbers. The pub scene is much better. It’s that bit more casual and the drunkenness hasn’t yet reached a debilitating level.

Beware- don’t go on nights out purely to find someone. Otherwise, any evening that doesn’t end in a snog/number exchange will be a disappointing waste. Go out with people you have a laugh with, put on your favourite outfit, and get your dance on.

4) Do something different

If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. So, if you’ve been going to the same club for the last 10 years, and still haven’t met anyone good enough to introduce to the ould pair, stop going there! Try a weekend by the sea and get chatting to some fun-loving surfers. Go skiing. Join a backpacking group around Central America. Camp at a cool festival either in Ireland or some unusual European destination. Try on the Traena festival on a tiny northern Norwegian island for size. Start a hill walking or book club. Take a class in meditation. Log on to a social networking site that specialises in creating a community. Check out Yelp, a review website where you can stretch your writing muscles, participate in hilarious Talk threads, attend fun, free events and meet some interesting new people.

5) Do your own thing

Don’t wait for that mysterious stranger to sidle on side stage for the action to begin. Get a life. Find something you’re passionate about, be it your job, studies, sport, hobby, or all of the above. If you’re busy and enjoying it, you’ll have little time to worry about your non-existent other half. You want to be a whole person first, then you can meet another whole person with whom you can start a relationship. Relationships based on neediness are a recipe for disaster. As someone pointed out to me, “A half multiplied by a half equals a quarter.” If you both enter into love expecting the other person to complete you, expect mayhem.

6) Live it up!

It’s usually when I’m single or just out of a relationship that I learn most about myself and take a huge leap forward. When you’re unattached, you have time to take up Tai Chi, go for long walks by the river, hang out with mates and laugh ’til you cry. You can book that trip to China. Enjoy girlie chats or nights out with the lads. Follow that exercise regime/new diet. Get a makeover. Watch The Notebook for the forty-fifth time. Flirt your ass of with every cutie in the club. Go on dates.

Just make the most of it and enjoy it, because when you’re (finally) part of a couple, you may not have as much time or leeway to do all these fun and spontaneous things. You’ll even find yourself getting jealous of your single mates’ escapades. Grass is always greener…

Heart-break: when your other half leaves, are you just 50 per cent there?

You know that moment when you’ve lost someone. It’s in their eyes. The way they don’t look at you. And suddenly, your hand on their neck feels unwelcome. The sweet name you’re about to call them sticks in your throat. That person is no longer there for you.

He’s driving me home. Doing the right thing. He’s not a bad person. But he’s got many issues and for that, I know it’s for the best that it’s over. But logic and heart ache reside in two separate parts of the body and I can’t reconcile the two. Not yet.

When it’s over, I return to my apartment. I walk from room to room. We danced to Mumford and Sons on the radio right here. He wrapped himself in my blanket there. We ate a fry at that table. We bathed here and washed each others’ hair.

Then, there’s the bedroom. I sink onto the bed and find a dark hair on the sheet. The pillow smells of him. The tears come now.

I want him to take this pain away. But he’s not here for me any more. I have to do this myself.

Here’s how to survive heart-break:

1. Grieve the loss

I’ve found myself sobbing on the bedroom floor for more than one break up. I’ve mourned the loss of the dark-eyed, curly-headed children that my ex-husband and I would now never have. A friend of mine walked around her house wailing for three nights straight. It may seem excessive, uncomfortable and annoying for your flat mates or family but just get it out.

2. Talk it out

With family. With friends. Go for coffee/dinner/drinks. Your loved ones are bound to make you laugh, point out what a dick head he was anyway, and tell you how amazing you are. That’s not gonna hurt.

3. Go on a night out

Get all dolled up. Have a laugh with your friends. Get tipsy. Get chatted up. Maybe even kiss a guy. After any break up, my cousin used to ask me, “Have you erased him yet?” Meaning: “Have you kissed another guy yet, which will erase the last guy?” Easier said than done. And sometimes being with a new guy will just make you miss your last one even more. But just know that you’re desirable and there is hope for the future.

Drinking a lot may seem like a great idea at the time. But the next day, the blues could hit you even harder than before. Just be aware that it’s the alcohol and sleep it off as best you can.

4. Stop all contact

I’ve fallen into being friends with an ex, which does not help you get over the guy. You’re constantly being reminded of him, and maybe secretly hoping that he’ll realise you’re “the one”. I removed my last ex as a friend on Facebook, then bawled my eyes out. It was so final. But better in the long run.

5. Holiday!

Think Shirley Valentine or Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Nothing like sunshine and a totally foreign location to get a new perspective on things. Even having a break to look forward to will beat off the post relationship depression.

6. Read A New Earth by Eckart Tolle

This might seem really specific but it worked for me. This book has changed many lives. The way Mr Tolle speaks about the ego, identification, attachment, love and relationships is revelational.

If you’re madly in love, beware. We’ve all grown up with certain ideas about love that come from sickly sweet romantic comedies and slit-your-wrist love songs. We’re all familiar with declarations such as “I can’t live if living is without you” and “You complete me”. No wonder when a relationship ends, we doubt we’ll survive.

The truth is, if we love ourselves and are happy with our lives, the loss of a person, though disappointing, should not turn our world completely upside down. This might be strange or hard for a lot of you to read but the way Eckhart Tolle describes being “in love” makes a lot of sense. He talks about being in love with someone because they fit into the categories you want from a partner. They’re tall, dark and handsome. Or maybe you’re just in a good mood. Have you ever felt really happy and then proclaimed your love for someone? I know I have. It had more to do with how I was feeling than my love for that person. Eckhart Tolle also says that the Spanish way of saying “I love you” (“Te quiero“) literally translates as “I want you”, which is far more honest. You want that person for yourself. You want to control how they behave. And then when you lose that control, love can so easily turn into hate. If your partner does something you don’t like, you can despise them in moments. They cheat on you. They don’t love you any more. They leave you.

If you’re having problems with heart ache, read this book. It’ll change the way you think about love and about life in general. Check out Eckhart Tolle TV for some clips of the man himself speaking…

7. List of cons

My sister told me to write a list of all the reasons why you and your ex are not good together, all the shitty things he’s done to you, how his willy is tiny, etc. If Eckhart Tolle is too spiritual for ya, at least this list will give you a bit of a kick.

8. Remember other exes

This sounds dangerous but when I broke up with my last partner, I remembered how bad I felt when I ended things with previous exes and how, now, I couldn’t give a shit about them. I am so over them. Which means I will be so over this guy soon. Time is a great healer. And if you follow rule number four, it’ll happen sooner rather than later.

If this was your first love, talk to others who’ve been through heart-break before. Know you’re not alone in this. And look at them now as they have fun being single or are happy out in their new relationships.

Check out this video of the hilarious Flight of the Conchords. Laughter really is the best medicine…

Everyone suffers heart ache at some point. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one to death or divorce, to circumstances or someone else, it hurts like hell. But we can survive it. And when we start a new relationship with someone better and much more suitable, who treats you as you deserve, you won’t regret a moment of the heart-break you’ve gone through. It will be worth it.