Forgive me, reader, for I have sinned. I’ve failed to nurture my blogs of late and actually crack on with this content creation thing I’m supposed to do. But after 12 years of hammering out the word count, carefully editing images and SEOing the living bejaysus out of anything that moves, for a while my love of the written word kinda took a back seat. Actually, in fairness, content on the net was starting to not really inspire me anymore.
When I first started blogging the whole landscape was very different. There weren’t that many of us and the content, in general, was interesting. People blogged about their lives, their loves, their joys and their pains. My first blog I wrote anonymously. I was going through my horrible divorce and it was cheaper to blog than getting therapy. I had good reader numbers and many came back day after day to follow the awfulness I was going through. I’d get tons of messages on every post in support from total strangers. People didn’t even know my real name but they became invested in following my daily story. People came for the words and the updates. The images, layout, SEO, metadata and products featured didn’t matter. But the story did.
Blogging is now pretty much another advertising platform and granted, don’t get me wrong, a very lucrative platform if you put the work in. But that’s exactly what it is now. Work. And again don’t get me wrong, I love the creative process of crafting the perfect blog post that attracts readers. But when I look at the stats, the posts that get the most readers and engagements are always the ones that are me telling a story, recounting some pearls of wisdom or just generally chatting shite that’s popped into my head. And yes, I am aware that sentence is far too long.
That’s not to say that the freebies from brands, away days, jollies and the dosh from sponsored posts aren’t nice. Listen I’m self-employed. I’ve got more fingers in more pies than the bloke in the pie shop. If there’s money to be made and it’s legal and ethical then I’m all ears. And my bank manager and credit card bill are grateful for it.
But in the online bitchery of who can score the best brand deals and scratch the eyes out of whatever Mummy blogger is the Twitter target of the week, the art of the original theory of blogging seems to have been lost.
And I for one miss that.
Right on with the story of how I nearly died last week.
Ho Ho Ho Bah Feckin Humbug
If you’ve followed me for long enough then you’ll know I’m not the greatest Christmas fan. Remember when I wrote about Premature Tinselation. I even made up a new word there. This year was way up there with Christmases I wanted to sleep through. I’d had a proper stresser the week leading up to Christmas (more on that in a minute), the kid was off to her Dad’s for 10 friggin days and the person I would have liked to spend just a little bit of time with was, well ummmmmm, yea, we’ll come back to that one. My Christmas preparation consisted of not buying any cards. Ok, I’ve not done that since about 1992 anyway. But this year I didn’t even put the tree up. I just couldn’t be arsed.
Apart from Christmas dinner with the family and a couple of football matches, I planned to spend my time alone working and cleaning the kids’ room.
I really must stop calling her the kid. She isn’t anymore. She was 18 last week. I now own a fully grown-up child. Fucking hell I’m old.
Anyway Christmas. So just to make this shitty Christmas even more memorable I thought it would be highly entertaining to give nearly dying a go. And I’m not even being overly dramatic there. I actually, very nearly did die!
And So I Nearly Died
It was 2 weeks ago today that I started to feel a bit under the weather. At first, I just put it down to being stressed, probably starting with a cold and just being in a shitty mood. Oh and a pain in my stomach. I figured I’d just sleep it off. Yea right! I went to bed and throughout the night got gradually worse and didn’t get much sleep. By morning I could hardly get out of bed, my temperature was all over the place and the pain in my stomach had me pretty much doubled over. So I did what all grown-ups do in these situations. I rang my Mum.
An hour later I was in the doctors. And an hour after that I was unconscious, in the hospital with no blood pressure, a heart rate going off the rails and a temperature that you could roast your dinner on. When I came round I was told I was being prepped for emergency surgery, couldn’t eat anything, needed a whole load of tests and a CT scan. Early diagnosis suggested appendicitis and the bugger needed to be whipped out of me pronto. I gave the nurses a run for their money trying to get cannulas into me and blood out of me. Apparently, I’ve no veins. Good job I was never a junkie then.
Due to the time of year, there was no beds, a long wait for a CT and a surgeon that must have been covering about a million patients. And I was nil by mouth and constantly being asked about having a wee and was I pregnant. I know it’s Christmas and all that but there was no immaculate conception this year for me! But they gave me the broad spectrum IV antibiotics to be on the safe side and poked and prodded at me a lot. A bloody lot. I’m not a very good patient. Understandably I’ve never really been that level of ill in my life so this staying in hospital thing was all new to me.
After two days of drips and a ton of medication, I was brightening up. Doc decided surgery probably wasn’t needed and I was responding well to treatment.
Anyway, cut to the chase, in the end, it was established I didn’t have appendicitis. Oh no I’d gone way above that one. I had sepsis!!!!!!
Luckily, deciding to fall unconscious as my poor mother was speeding down the motorway to get me to hospital meant I got there just in time and whatever treatment I got did the trick. But any longer, or if I hadn’t gone to the doctors when I did and the prognosis wouldn’t have been so great. I could actually have died. And I very nearly did!
The Irony Of Nearly Dying
It’s only natural that we should be scared of dying. The reality is, it’s going to happen to us all. None of us is getting out of this shit alive. The day will come for us all that will be our last. For some, it will take you by surprise and be gone in the blink of an eye. For others, it will be a gradual process and you’ll know it’s about to happen. But if we know and accept that it’s inevitable, then why are we so scared of it?
We’d all like to think that when we pop our clogs we’ll leave behind some form of legacy. We’ll have left our mark on this world in one form or another. Whether that’s having raised well rounded and world-beating kids or wrote the next Harry Potter equivalent. We’d all like to think that half the town would turn up to our funeral and our loved ones would throw themselves, weeping over our coffins. So when faced with our own mortality, what really scares us is that we haven’t left our mark. We haven’t done what we wanted to do. Haven’t said the things we wanted to. We missed our chances and sat on the fence.
The problem with leaving behind a legacy and actually making your mark in this world is that you have to actually do something about it. You have to be prepared to take some degree of risk, probably a healthy dose of rejection and be able to not give a fuck and fight your corner. To be able to have uncomfortable conversations when sometimes people won’t agree with you. Because let’s face it, what’s the worst that can happen? We’re all going to die anyway.
Taking action is all well and good. Filling yourself full of positivity will make you feel better, for now. But when that day of reckoning comes, if you haven’t led your life with your truest of values at heart, then chances are you will have regrets.
Regrets, I’ve Had A Few
It’s great to make lots of money, have a nice car, nice house, nice this, that and the other. Financial freedom is probably most of our ultimate goals in life. But what values are you holding dear to get you there? Is honesty important to you? Having lots of money is great, but it can still make you miserable. It can still chip away at your conscience if you don’t go about making your money with integrity. Because if you can’t be honest and true to yourself, then how the hell can you be it with others? Simple answer, you can’t.
Ok, so my point here is this. Honesty and integrity are values I hold very dear. To have trust in any relationship, be it a business one or a personal one, you have to have honesty. If you cannot have a conversation that requires an uncomfortable level of honesty with someone you need or want to have a trusting relationship with, then you have no relationship at all.
There is no trust. If you can have an honest conversation with your partner and tell them they are behaving like a dick and they don’t feel the need to poke you in the eyes, that’s a truly trusting relationship. Instead of ending the relationship, there may be some cross words spoken, but the other party will accept your honesty, take it onboard and then reflect on what it is within them that made them act like a dick and piss you off.
Likewise, there are times when you have to be honest with people and it’s going to piss them off. Usually, because they don’t hold the same values as you. This is when it gets uncomfortable and you have to decide how much of a shit you give. Because that’s when honesty and integrity get really fucking hard.
Let Me Explain
Remember when I said that pre-Christmas I’d had a right stresser? So without going into the finer details, my patience finally ran out with a situation. The law had been broken, my rights violated and the civil and criminal ramifications were racking up. It had been bugging me for a while. Ok, bugging is an understatement. It was right royally pissing me off and because my honesty about the matter was not being respected eventually I snapped. I’d had enough and it had made me a ratty cow for months. I didn’t like this version of me. Naturally, those that didn’t value my honesty, or hold the same values pushed back against this and called into question my own integrity as their only defence. Boom! Going against my two most precious core values in one go was never going to end well. That’s a story that will rumble on.
But I was left with two options. Walk away, forget it, put it behind me, learn a lesson from it and be of the opinion that those people had no place in my life. That’s what the lifestyle, positivity gurus would tell me to do. But that’s not being true to myself, is it?
That’s not being honest with myself and addressing the future regret I would have for not standing up for myself. That’s not setting an example or practising what I preach when I’ve openly backed the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns. It’s also not being a role model to my own daughter when I’ve brought her up to always stand up for what you truly believe is right. That sometimes you may be going against the grain and face adversity. But so long as you are coming from an honest position and staying true to yourself then you should always fight your corner. And besides, if you don’t stand up to bullies then how are they ever supposed to learn what dickheads they are and mend their ways?
Option two was to fight my corner and exercise my legal rights.
And then I nearly died.
With time on my hands to think, reflect and not be able to do much apart from lie in bed or feet up on the sofa, most people probably expected me to throw the towel in. Rid myself of the stress, recover from my near-death experience and move on.
If I had have died there would have been no justice. Some would have breathed a sigh of relief, not learnt their lesson and carried on like my honesty never mattered. They showed no concern for my sudden near death. So I had to decide if I gave a fuck about the potential implications of my actions in exercising my legal rights. Their actions were coming from an ego-preserving value. When a core value is so self-serving that it aims to cause hurt or damage to others, it can only ever be negative and destructive. Therefore I have zero fucks to give.
So What Did Nearly Dying Teach Me?
When I was in those moments of falling unconscious I knew there was nothing I could do. It all happened very quickly and I could feel myself slipping away and I was powerless to stop it. If those had have been my last moments on this earth I had absolutely no control over it. And then it all went blank. I woke up to someone calling my name. I was dazed, confused, feeling really unwell and wondering what the hell just happened.
I may not have had any control of what could have been the last moments of my life, but I can control what happens in the rest of my life. I get to control what and who I give a fuck about. I get to control who gets to be part of my life based on them also having good, solid core values and not being shitty people. I get to control what I allow to piss me off. Yes, there will always be shitty things that happen and problems occurring, but I get to control how I deal with those shitty things and how I resolve those problems.
I also get to control what I regret. There are some regrets I’ll kick myself for forevermore. The person I didn’t go legal on 8 years ago. That still bugs me. The niggling feeling 20 years ago of knowing something wasn’t quite right. Shouldn’t have ignored it. The really nice bloke I didn’t stake a claim for and totally messed up because I went into ratty cow mode (see above). That ship has well and truly sailed now and it’s my own fault. Well, that and a healthy dose of others shit stirring. But that’s life for you.
And then there are some regrets I’ll live with. The bitch I didn’t smack in the gob 5 years ago and spill the beans to. Feck it. She’s still living a lie even now. The really famous bloke I declined a date with. He turned out to be a prize knobhead and tabloid fodder. The red flags I should have addressed sooner. Ah well, they’ve shown their true colours, life will catch up with them eventually. The day I went to work when everything inside me was screaming at me to stay home. I doubt the outcome would have been any different in the end and it was always inevitable.
In living with some regrets there is a level of acceptance that some things we let pass us by because we don’t really give enough fucks to care enough to stand by our own values to change the outcome. Because often the outcome will still be the same. You cannot reason with the unreasonable. And people with shitty values or a lack of ethics and morality often are also unreasonable.
I’m being profound now. I really must stop this!
Will I be making any major changes in my life now? Not really no. Except I will try to stop overthinking stupid little things and just crack on with it. So what if I ask a cute boy out and he says no. That short uncomfortable conversation, followed by a smidge of embarrassment and sinking rejection feeling could save me a ton of future regret and him popping up in a dream some time and me realising how hot he is imaginary naked and I wake up and want to kick myself some more. Or pitching for work that I really want to do but hating the thought of getting the knockback. Feck it. I can always delete the rejection email and pretend it never happened.
But I shall remain true to my values. I’ll continue to be honest even though some consider it rude, too direct or unnecessary. Whatever. If people think like that then they probably shouldn’t be in my inner circle. And I shall carry on conducting myself with integrity. Because what my near death experience did teach me was that I wasn’t far wrong in sticking with my values. A bit of fine tuning here and there and I’ll be golden.
Now I just need to resolve this blogging malarkey thing and figure out how to do it without shilling every crappy product I get offered.
But just as a side note, I have been reading the no fucks books this last week that helped set my profound thinking straight. Links are below for them. If you do happen to click on a link and buy one of them I’ll make some money. Granted it won’t be very much and it won’t pay the winter gas bill. But I’m legally obliged to point that bit out. And if you do click and buy, then thanks for the 20 pence!
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