The 10 Year Recovery

10 years is a long time to hold on to something, so it's time to clear out some thoughts, feelings and speak honestly about it, not just for my own sake but so people know me better. I've been single for 10 years.

So yeah. Single 10 years. That's crazy. The worst is I've only recently started to deal with the stuff that caused it and how it's changed me over the last 10 years. But first off, I want to make an apology. I have not been honest with people. I have, occasionally over the last 10 years stated I've been in a relationship or was 'seeing someone'. I haven't been. Those were lies I'd tell to make me feel better, to have something positive to talk about, to hide behind a facade. Pretending everything is ok is something I got relatively good at. I don't like that I've done it and hope that you guys can forgive that.

I guess the best way to start this is talking about my actual relationship history. I dated a few girls in my teens but I'd say I had two girlfriends before moving to London. Jenn and Meg. Jenn was lovely. I started dating her at the beginning of my 5th year. She was the year below me at a different school (I went to an all boys school and she went to an all girls school), so we wouldn't see each other everyday but I'd see her at the weekends. It was nice. The day after my 16 birthday, her Mum called me saying she didn't want me dating her anymore because I was 16. I thought it was dumb, but respected what she asked because, basically, it was how I was raised. I didn't like it but there we are. We remained friends and at points got quite close to dating again but it never materialised. I started dating Meg at the beginning of my lower 6th. I met her at work on a Friday evening shift I'd taken last minute. The shop was dead quiet and we ended up hiding in the back chatting for most of our shift. We started dating shortly after. She was my first love, amongst other firsts. I liked Jenn but with Meg I was head over heels. She broke up with me after about 6 months. I didn't like it, like I said she was my first love and I didn't handle it particularly well. It was awkward as fuck at work too, people took sides, it was very weird. I didn't date again until university. I hooked up with girls but I avoided dating. I turned down a relationship with someone because I was about to move to London.

 Happier times - me being tickled by Emily whilst she took pictures

Happier times - me being tickled by Emily whilst she took pictures

Moving to London, starting university, I wasn't thinking about dating. I wanted to make friends, have some fun and start my new life. Having that amount of freedom was strange, not having to think about letting someone know if I was going out or wasn't going to make it home. So yeah, I indulged in my new found freedom and had some fun. I won't go into details but I was doing pretty well for myself in the young, single department. I was happy. Then I met Emily, and boom, thoughts of single, fun-loving Joe disappeared. I didn't want to be single, I wanted to be with her. And I got her. I somehow managed to work some magic and start a relationship with this girl who was gorgeous and fun and just a little wacky. It was a completely different relationship to my previous one's. Before moving to London, I couldn't, for example, spend a whole weekend with a girlfriend. I was 16/17 and living with my parents, the most time I could hope for was a few hours. Now I would be with Emily from the moment we were out of classes on Friday to Sunday night or Monday morning. There were some weeks she would practically be living with me. I was very happy. We had started dating in December and by January were official. All was good.

Fast foward to April 2008, 3 months in, I'd met her parents and Grandparents at a play she was doing so thought it would be nice to take her back home to visit my parents and meet some of my friends. As soon as we got to my parents house she was very quiet and withdrawn, not the bubbly girl who I'd been with for the last 3 months. We went down on the Friday, on Saturday we met up with one of my close friends at the time, Andy and his girlfriend. She continued to be quiet. We were walking back to Andy's car and she stopped holding my hand and started to walk ahead of me. I remember the questioning look that Andy threw my way like it was yesterday. Looking back now I knew something was wrong but I put it to the back of my mind. That is until that night in my parents spare bedroom where we were staying. Bear in mind here that Emily and I were both at the Central School of Speech and Drama, me for Production Management and her for Acting for Stage and Screen. It's not like your usual university course. You're in every single day whether that's for classes, rehearsals or working on your term production. It was full on. Anyway, now that you've got that information, we can go back to Emily breaking up with me on a Saturday night in my parents spare bedroom. Her reasoning was she couldn't handle having a boyfriend and her course. I understood that part, I didn't understand the timing. Why would she do it at that point. We were on Easter break so doing it before the summer term started made sense but why do it at my parents place?! I was angry and upset. I'm also the nicest guy ever because I didn't dump her at a station to get back to London, I still drove her back.

I was upset, but it was about to get worse. About a week later I got a text from one of the girls in Emily's class asking if I was ok. We chatted about the breakup and things, it felt good to talk to someone about it. To that point I hadn't really spoken to my friends about the details, they just knew that we'd broken up. Then she told me what was really going on. Emily wasn't overwhelmed with juggling her course and a boyfriend. She had started dating another actor that week. So it was all bullshit. Safe to say, I was furious and completely ruined by the information.

I didn't hook up with anyone at university again. I managed to get through the next term by keeping busy with my production and trying to fill every spare moment with something fun so I didn't have a spare moment to think about Emily. Over the summer, I tried to do the same thing. I hooked up with a couple of girls of the break but it was purely sex and nothing more by the time I got back to university in October girls were the last thing on my mind. I had no interest. The problem was I was starting to withdraw myself from other people. I started to feel suspicious about peoples motives and was questioning what they really thought about me. My self doubt grew. By the end of the academic year I'd dropped out. I had withdrawn from my friendship group so much over the year that I had become very isolated. Over the next 18 months I had the opportunity to date but turned it down, my trust was so shook that I was convinced that sooner or later they'd lie and cheat. There have been moments in the years since when I thought maybe I could date someone but at the end of the day (and I know this sound corny as hell) I just didn't trust anyone with my heart. So in the roughly 8 ½ years since that opportunity to date I've basically been a monk. I've kissed one girl in 8 ½ years. Ugh.

It's only been in the last few months that I've been able to start looking back and letting go. Up until recently I had blamed Emily for everything. It was her fault that I dropped out, it was her fault that I don't really trust anyone (second chances are hard to get from me), it was her fault that I was single, it was her fault that I'd put on a load of weight, it was her fault that I became a recluse. I could go on forever with what I blamed on her. But it's not her fault. Sure the breakup was a catalyst for things to change for the worst but it's not Emily's fault, it's mine. I used it as an excuse to give in to a lot of feeling I'd be repressing since my teens. Instead of dealing with issues of self doubt, anxiety and to a certain extent laziness and used my breakup as an excuse to wallow in those feelings. Saying that, I can't say I will ever forgive Emily for the way she broke up with my because I still think it was really shitty but not blaming her for the rest of it is a good step in my moving on with my life even if it did take 10 years to get to this point.

I'm not sure I will ever be confident enough again to just go for it with a girl. I'm not the same person I was when I was in my teens and full of confidence. I'm positive that 2 out of 3 of those relationships would never happen with the current or any future version of Joe. And that's ok, but it's also part of what I'm trying to work through. Accepting that I can't go back to being that person is hard because he was certainly happier a lot of the time but I'm now far more honest with myself and how a portray myself than I have been at any point in my life.

Here's some advice for you if you're reading this don't be me; the guy who took 10 years to get over his relationship. Be the guy who took a few weeks.

Much love,
JG

My Mental Health

I wrote in my last post about having personal goals for the year to go along with career ones. Let's talk about one of those.

The first and most important is mental health. I have struggled with depression and anxiety since my early teens. Sometimes it was brief bouts, other were more extended. Back then, I didn't really note them as mental health problems - I was too young, mental health held a higher stigma than it does today and I never spoke much about it. The one thing I did speak about and get help for was Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD has been something I've now dealt with for coming on to 20 years and I've learnt with help from my old school nurse (who first recommended getting a SAD lamp) and my therapist I have been able to keep on top of it most of the time.

However, depression throughout the rest of the year has become more and more prevalent since I hit my 20s. I know the moment when it tipped from being able to keep on top of it, to when it started to really hurt but I don't want to talk about that here. The point is, I've been dealing with this a long time. Last year was a bad year. I had deeper and longer lows. Some of these lows would go for weeks when the only person I spoke aloud to was my therapist. The highs weren't that high and were shorter than ever. Sometimes a high would last a few hours before being hit once again and being down for a few weeks. I had to pull out of going to family events at the last moment because the anxiety of it. I couldn't bring myself to go to my nieces christening. I had to psych myself up to get in the car and drive to my parents place on Christmas Eve.

I'm rambling. I do that when trying to properly express my emotions - I swear my therapist must hate me! Anyway, the point is, last year I had a bad mental health year. The goal for this year is to try and improve things.

I know full well that there isn't a magic switch to have my anxiety and depression disappear. I wish there was - it would make life a hell of a lot easier!

I have no HARD goal for my mental health - I think that would be a mistake. Instead, I have an aim. The aim is to slowly but surely move from deeper and long lows and incredibly short highs to something slightly more, I dunno, manageable? Basically try and find a way to work myself out of the lows quicker and hold on to those highs. My therapist says I need to concentrate on the highs when they come, to focus on them and find ways to take that high forward to the next so that's what I'm trying to do this year.

I wanted to do something to hard reset at the beginning of the year with my improve mental health in mind. So I did one thing and started a few others. First, a took some clippers to my hair. You're probably thinking "What?! Joe that makes no sense whatsoever. How can cutting your hair change anything". It's quite simple, I wanted something a clean start for the new year. This felt like the right thing and it's actually helped me reset as weird as it might seem.

The things I started were pretty simple. I set myself some goals and I started meditation. I've never been one for New Years Resolutions -  I think they're too easily thrown away in January. So I set some goals both personal and professional. Meditation is a way for me to try and calm myself, clear my mind and refresh. I currently doing unguided meditation, but my therapist (and others) have recommended guided so I'll be trying that for the first time next week.

So that's it. Some insight into my mental health. Lots of rambling - sorry about that!

Much love,
JG

Goals

Hello.

New site, new goals. So, this year I have a few goals professionally and personally. For now let's focus on the professional ones.

I've been interested in photography for a long time and have always wanted to try my hand at portraits and the such. My first goal of the year is to improve my skills to the point where I can do a full shoot with a model. In an ideal world I'd love it to be a cosplay shoot as it fascinates me.

My second goal is to make progress on my writing. I've had a short series/short film that I've been writing on and off that I've never been focused enough on to actually finish. I want to get that script written and polished by the end of June. I have ideas for 2 other short films or short run series that I have done some planning on. I'd like to have those written and polished by the end of the year.

The third goal is to improve my cinematography. To achieve this I'm going to go out and film. Just solo stuff but improving my shooting and editing. There's no time frame on this, I'd just like to be able to transfer the ideas I have to the camera more accurately by the end of the year.

I'll be doing my best to keep building towards these goals over the year and keep everyone in the loop here and on my social media.

Much love,
JG