Relief

It’s a weird feeling now I’ve made the decision to have the surgery. It’s like my brain is at a loss for something to worry about.

I’m not saying I floated around in a cloud of bliss today. I certainly didn’t. It was a Monday. It was too hot. I didn’t get to work at the time I’d planned. Lunch was not nice at the canteen today. My office is basically a sauna in this weather. I didn’t get enough sleep last night.

But I felt a new calm inside. I’m going to succeed this time. This isn’t one of those “Maybe This Time” moments. It’s a “Definitely This Time” moment. I remember a long time ago, a friend sent me a cryptic message asking “What if you knew you couldn’t fail?” I thought maybe she’d got into witchcraft or found Jesus or something because that’s not something that people usually say. It turned out later that she was talking about weightloss surgery, but in my arrogance, I dismissed that.

It is an incredible feeling though. Knowing that you’re not going to fail. For every diet I’ve been on and nearly been on, I genuinely believed I would follow it and succeed and be thin, but now, I don’t even have the niggling doubt I used to have. I’m actually going to succeed. I’m actually going to be thin. It’s real.

This is big. This means I get to draw a line under something. I actually get to move on. For 25 years I’ve been planning what kind of Connor I’d be once I lost weight. Now I can be that Connor.

It feels like someone I’ve been friends with for years has asked me to marry him and I’ve just realised that I’m in love with him too. A rest-of-my-life solution was just sitting there beside me all these years and I’ve only just seen it now.

I’m not waiting for the NHS. I can’t wait two or three years. Not now that I know this is the man I’m going to marry. I need to make him my own. I’ve already made an appointment with a private consultant. I’m going to be thin before I’m 40. Not maybe. Really.

The surgery will cost about ten thousand pounds. There’s an extra £500 for those with a BMI over 50, which is kind of mean and seems to go against the whole spirit of the thing. It’ll be a down payment of about £1000 and then payments of about £240 a month for four years, so it’s basically like buying a car. But better. It’ll be a struggle to put together the down payment, but I’ll manage.

I’ve spent an hour or two today googling my surgeon and reading the last three years of his Twitter. He has kind eyes. He’s from Northern Ireland. He likes gays and hates the DUP. He gets loads of good reviews online and lots of his former patients comment on how funny he is. (That could just be because he’s Irish. Sometimes I think I could say anything to a Londoner and they’d laugh because I said it in an Irish accent.)

My appointment with him is on August 25th. I could have the operation done by the end of September. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! Brand New Connor on the way!

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Pretty hurts

I’ve made a decision. And it’s time to make an ANNOUNCEMENT. It’s one that I’m expecting people to be divided on and it’s certainly not something I ever really thought I’d do, but it’s time.

I’m going to have weightloss surgery. I haven’t spoken to a doctor. I haven’t booked anything. But I’ve made a decision. I need this.

I’ve been fighting a long time. Since my first diet when I was 10 or 11 years old, I have:

  • Joined WeightWatchers 9 times, twice for over a year
  • Done the NuTron diet
  • Spent a fortune joining Motivation Weight Control Clinics three times
  • Been hypnotised twice
  • Been treated by an Eating Disorder specialist in a psychiatric hospital
  • Had hours of counselling from a variety of therapists
  • Meditated on verses of the Bible relevant to weightloss and prayed to be thin
  • Counted calories with and without the MyFitnessPal app
  • Done various versions of “just trying to eat more healthily”
  • Spent months with a personal trainer
  • Taken up running and run an 8K race
  • Signed up for, and paid for, four different marathons and walked halfway through one of them
  • Done one of those silly allergy test diets
  • Done the Cambridge Medical Cabbage Soup diet at least twice
  • Done a juicing diet, twice
  • Joined OverEaters Anonymous twice
  • Walked the Camino de Santiago
  • Had cold showers for a month (it was meant to stimulate the body to use calories to heat me up and thus burn fat)
  • Done the slow-carb diet, also known as the Four Hour Body diet
  • Recorded everything I was eating publicly on a Tumblr account
  • Photographed all my food
  • Recorded my weightloss journey on an Instagram account
  • Written this blog, which is mainly about weightloss (though of course it’s also about everything else) for eight years
  • Tried not worrying about my weight and just accepting the body I have
  • Done SlimFast
  • Done the Tony Ferguson diet
  • Read books about weightloss, about sugar addiction, about binge eating and food addiction, about diet, about exercise, about fat acceptance
  • Watched hours (days?) of YouTube videos about people who have lost weight
  • Spent hours on the weightloss pages of StumbleUpon (RIP StumbleUpon) and Reddit
  • Tried Paul McKenna’s hypnotic gastric band book/CDs
  • Taken up walking, gone to swimming lessons, joined a boxing club, joined a hot yoga studio
  • Gone to bed night after night promising myself that next time would be different and hoping against hope that maybe tomorrow I wouldn’t overeat
  • Done the Scarsdale Medical Diet, or a version of it
  • Done low fat, done high protein, done low carb
  • Eaten a weird weightloss yoghurt culture every day that I had to keep alive by complex means that I don’t remember
  • Bought exercise bands and a kettlebell
  • Started but never finished the 200 sit-ups challenge, the 100 push-ups challenge and the 200 squats challenge
  • Taken fat-binding tablets
  • Lost three and half stone slowly and sensibly over the course of a year and then gained it back and gained another four stone
  • Lost six and a half stone slowly and sensibly over the course of a year and then gained it back and then gained another six stone
  • Bought a specialist weighing scales to measure my BMI and the fat percentage in my body
  • Bought a heart rate monitor
  • Tried making myself vomit and forcing myself to be bulimic but never feeling strong enough to do so for any significant period of time
  • Tried living on one meal a day
  • Considered veganism, considered trying to live on nothing but juice, considered trying to live on nothing but protein shakes and vitamin tablets.
  • Asked doctors for help and being told to “cut back on food and walk more”
  • Asked psychologists for help and being told I should just be happy with my body

It’s not working and I need something new. Statistically speaking, attempts at weightloss are likely to fail. The best way to gain weight is to go on a diet. That’s right. Statistically speaking, most people who start a diet end up heavier. Weightloss attempts have a terrible success rate. Even the massive weightloss you see on a show like the Biggest Loser is fake. If you read about the participants now, so many of them have gained their weight back. And a study of these former participants showed that their bodies literally fought to gain the weight back. I have read a variety of statistics, which state that anywhere between 70 and 95% of people who try to lose weight fail.

And I have always foolishly believed that I was special. That I would be in the magical 10% of people who succeed in losing weight naturally, because I believe I’m extraordinary. But 25 years of trying and I can’t keep trying the same things. I’ve driven myself crazy.

Weightloss surgery was never an idea I seriously considered. An old friend once recommended it to me. My sister once mentioned the idea. I kind of dismissed both, thinking that I was “too good for surgery”. I’m not one of those people who has no willpower! I gave up my 30-a-day cigarette habit and haven’t had a single puff in over seven years! Against all the odds, I walked all 708 kilometres of the Camino! I got a PhD! I was a CELTA trainer when I was just 27! People like me didn’t need the lazy route of weightloss surgery. I’m strong and intelligent and proactive and I can lose weight by healthy eating and exercise!

Except I can’t.

And it’s killing me. Literally. My dad was overweight too, at his heaviest in his forties. He got arthritis in his 40s and diabetes in his 50s and they wrecked his body, as he developed more and more health problems, almost all related to the diabetes, until he died from pancreatic cancer. My mother has had bowel cancer. My granny died very young from obesity-related issues. I’m killing myself with food and my own genes are threatening me. I’m only two and a half years from forty. Every time I visit a doctor, they’re surprised I don’t have diabetes. Yet.

And even when my life is good, it’s ruined by my weight. I’ve written about all of this before, but here we go again:

  • I have constant joint pain, especially in my ankles, but my knees, hips, elbows, shoulders and even wrists are in constant nagging pain
  • I have horrendous digestive problems that you don’t need to know about
  • I can’t really touch my feet or the floor. Picking things up off the floor is awful. Sweeping, mopping and hoovering are all massively challenging. I nearly cry every morning while putting on my socks because it is so hard. Cutting my toe nails is sometimes impossible and I never manage all ten of them in one sitting. I have to tie my shoelaces before I put my shoes on because I can’t reach them when they’re on my feet
  • Going to the toilet takes acrobatics. Wiping is a challenge. Even pissing is difficult because I can’t see down there and most of my penis is buried in a fat pad and aiming has become very difficult. I’ve wet my clothes quite a few times as a result and try my best to avoid going to the toilet that is anywhere but home. I work hard on hygiene and I do keep clean but it’s a challenge and if I gain any more weight, I would need help.
  • I don’t fit anywhere. I have to hold my hands over my head to get through the ticket turnstiles at the Tube. I can’t fit on a seat on the Tube if it has armrests. I need a seatbelt extension when I’m on a plane and I’m not allowed on the seats near an exit as it’s presumed I’ll impede thin people’s exit in an emergency. I’m not making that up. Fat people are not allowed near exits on planes. It’s only a matter of time before I have to book two seats if I want to travel. Seats terrify me in general. I’ve broken quite a few chairs in my time and chairs with arms are my enemy.
  • I’m constantly exhausted. I snore loudly and presume I have sleep apnea though I’ve never had it diagnosed. I need to spend at least one day a week lying down in order to function on the other six.
  • Children and drunks call me names on the street and I’ve gone through phases of not wanting to leave my house or wanting to be seen.
  • I’m always sweaty. Always. Even when I’m shivering with cold there will always be at least one fold of flesh that’s trapped some moisture. I dream of being 100% dry.

Life has been good for the last few weeks. I’ve not been working crazy hours, I’ve been feeling happy, I’ve been exercising again. But I can’t stick to a diet.

Since I moved to London, I have allowed myself to take part in the fat gay world here of “Chubs and Chasers”. And it is very empowering to have a man, a chaser, look at my naked body and drool. And I have begun to see some beauty in my body. But these men disgust me. I can’t stop thinking about what made them this way. How did they become so aroused by fat? And so when I meet these men, I pretend not to drink Diet Coke and order real Coke instead (gross) and I pretend to love being fat because they want me to. And it’s nice for a while. But the idea of being fat as a condition of being with them is just so depressing to me. I feel romantic feelings in the same way I always did. And they’re always directed at men who are not interested in me. Men who like thin men. I never feel romantically attracted to the men who want to have sex with me. Wanting to have sex with me means that I can’t possibly fall in love with them. And I’ve tried. I wanted to fall in love with French Train Station Platform Boy. But I couldn’t. And we both knew we had no future together, even if we did plan holidays and hold hands on the street. I want to be with someone who likes me, and yes finds me physically attractive, but who likes me for my Connor-ness and not for my rolls of flab.

However, the world of Chubs and Chasers has made the idea of weightloss surgery much more real for me. The Geordie kinky bearded man who took me for a date in a park near Victoria Station told me about the man who he’d dated but was no longer attractive because he’d had a gastric bypass and now he couldn’t even eat a whole burrito. Imagine. Not being able to eat a whole burrito! I’ve dreamed of such things but never thought of them as real.

And then there was the Polish ex-priest whose house I stayed over in. He lived there with his ex-boyfriend and his ex’s new boyfriend. Why was he his ex? Well, he’d had weightloss surgery and was now thin and they were no longer compatible. It was my first time meeting someone who’d had weightloss surgery. He looked great. So thin. He moved like a thin person. I was intrigued.

And so, I’ve made my decision. In comparison to diets, and their 90% fail rate, weightloss surgery has a success rate of about 90%. Depressingly, there are people who have weightloss surgery and don’t successfully lose weight, but they’re in the minority.

I’ve spent the weekend watching videos on YouTube by people who’ve had the surgery. And it’s been enlightening. There’s a lot of work and pain involved. But it’s worth it.

I’m happy with my decision so now I have to make it happen. Privately, it would cost around £9000 to get a gastric sleeve operation. I might try getting a loan. I meet the NHS criteria to get it done for free. You have to have a BMI of 40 or more to qualify. My BMI is 58. I’d be happy to get it on the NHS, but I’ve heard horror stories of people trying to be blocked from getting it on the NHS as they’re seen as undeserving and being made spend up to 3 years working with dieticians before being allowed have the surgery. Regardless, I’m going to make an appointment and see a GP this week and take it from there.

This won’t be a short or an easy journey, but I feel very peaceful about it. And excited. I feel excited. Wish me luck.

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Something fishy

It started out as an orchid. In my favourite Australian TV show, ‘Please Like Me’, Hannah Gadsby’s character, who suffers from depression, is given an orchid by her doctor. The idea is that if she can keep the orchid alive, she can learn to trust herself. I liked that idea and I considered getting an orchid.

My train of thought went like this. If I can learn to commit to an orchid and care for it and keep it alive, then maybe I can commit to a man and care for a boyfriend and let another human into my house and my life.

As this idea sat with me, the orchid didn’t seem like a big enough commitment. I needed to prove to myself that I was open to another living creature.

Should Connor get a pet? If only I didn’t find animals both terrifying and revolting. I know rabbits are cute but they want to bite me and they shit everywhere. Multiply those sentiments for cats and multiply them even more for dogs. I do not want to be responsible for picking up another being’s poop. I’m putting it out there now. When I’m eventually ready for a boyfriend, he has to (at least at first) be able to take care of his own poo without my assistance.

No. I would not get a dog. I would get some fish.

I must have mentioned this fish plan jokingly about a hundred times since the idea first came to me when I was living in my cottage in Longford. And one day, about three weeks ago in the canteen at work, I said it again. I would get some goldfish.

And London Connor, though he still has all pre-London-Connor’s faults, is more likely to actually do what he says rather than idly dreaming of it.

Before I knew it, I was researching fish. To be honest, I was over-researching fish. I must have watched over 100 hours of youtube videos about fish care. I hadn’t even bought any fish and I had nightmares on three successive nights about dead fish. Ammonia will kill your fish! The wrong temperature in the water will kill your fish! The wrong pH in the water will kill your fish! Overfeeding will kill your fish! Your fish will kill your fish! Putting your hand in the water while you have moisturiser on your skin will kill your fish! Nitrates will kill your fish! Your fish’s urine will kill your fish! You might never know what killed your fish!

First, I bought a fish tank in an amazing fish shop that just happens to be in my neighbourhood. The fates must truly have wanted this. The biggest fish shop in London is on my doorstep! I was advised by a nerdy shop assistant who couldn’t make eye contact, and who didn’t know how to talk to humans, but he had a lot of fish-related facts and I trusted him.

I went on Amazon and bought: neon gravel for the bottom of the tank, neon fake plants for my fish to hide in, a princess castle for the centre piece of the tank, an air pump/bubble maker, water conditioner, live underwater moss balls, a gravel vacuum/water siphon, bacteria to quick start a tank’s nitrogen cycle, a gravel rake, a net, a water quality test kit.

I had spent almost £250 and still not bought any fish.

Eventually, the day came. It was time. England were playing Croatia in the World Cup and the streets were deserted as I made my way to the Aquatic Design Centre to but three platies, a species recommended for beginners and, hopefully, hard to kill.

It’s only a half hour walk home from the fish shop, but I got an Uber, nervous I would accidentally drop/puncture/kill my fish.

My fish are beautiful and are still alive and active 5 days later.

The largest, most active fish is bright orange and is called Niall Horanfish. While Niall Horan may not be my favourite member of One Direction, he is certainly the most comforting, dependable member. He’s the one who will populate your twitter feed with dull tweets about how much he loves golf or how well he slept last night. Niall will always be there.

The next most active one has tiger stripes and I’ve named her Joslyn Foxfish. Joslyn Fox probably isn’t even in my top 5 favourite drag queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race, but I think she might be the kindest, sweetest queen ever to have been on the show. And that’s what I want from my fish.

The shyest, most reclusive fish is blue with an orange tail. I’ve named her Jessica Fletcherfish. There are some voices I love and Jessica Fletcher has the kind of voice you want reading a bedtime story to you. She’s also lively and solves murders but in a comforting way that suggests she likes a nice cup of tea.

I love my fish. I had started talking to my tank before I put any fish there at all. But now I find myself sitting and chatting with them whenever I have a spare moment. I worry about them too. When I come home late at night and turn on the lights and they sluggishly hide in a dark area of the tank, I suddenly worry that they’re drowning in their own pee. And I think Niall Horanfish is a pregnant female and Joslyn Foxfish is a randy male who won’t leave her alone. (I think Jessica Fletcherfish is a male too, but he’s kind of aloof and not into girl fish.) And apparently female platies can be sexually harassed to death and apparently newborn platies are almost always eaten by adult platies and the circle of life is cruel.

And I know I’m worrying far too much about them but I do love them. I’m already planning my next fish purchase and I’m vaguely hoping my next house will be big enough for a fish room with multiple large tanks.

Do they make me feel readier for a boyfriend? I’m not sure. I’ll let you know another day.

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I lift, bro

Ugga Rarr Grrh Hnng Ugga Rrrr!

Me Connor. Me man. Me lift like a bro. Rarr.

I must have been in my big, friendly, gay-friendly London gym about 100 times. But I’d never been in the weights room until today. It’s an actual room. Like there’s the gym and then you have to go through a door to the weights room. It’s like they want you to be intimidated by all the sweaty muscly men in sleeveless tops grunting under barbells.

Back in 2008 I had a personal trainer. I paid a fortune to go to a one-to-one gym. And there was a muscular young straight trainer there who used to flirt outrageously with me. Sometimes, I’m not sure if people are flirting; but when a man is standing between your legs, holding your feet down while you do crunches and he looks up your shorts and says “Cool jocks, man” when he sees your colorful underpants, then that is definitively flirting.

I loved the one-to-one gym. Loved it. It wasn’t just having muscular men stand between my legs, helping me stretch my things and squeezing my biceps that I liked. It was partly the luxury. The giant fluffy towels, the expensive shower gels and body lotions, the fact you had a whole gym to yourself. But also, it was that I was good at it.

I was good at weightlifting and strength training. OK. That’s an exaggeration. I wasn’t good. But I wasn’t terrible. They told me I was strong. And maybe they were just telling me that in the interests of good customer relations, in the same way they only complimented my underwear in the interests of customer satisfaction but I chose to believe them. And it was funny seeing myself being good at something so masculine.

I am stupidly emotional about sports. Even now, at the age of almost 37 and a half, I’m still terrified of football. I was walking through a park the other day and the noise of teenage boys kicking a football set my heart racing and I could feel my chest tightening and I had to fight the urge to just leave the park. I have no rational reason to fear boys kicking a football, but I fear it nonetheless. But while I hate sports at a deep and emotional level, I find myself loving exercise at a deep and emotional level too. Long-term readers of this blog will remember various breakthroughs I’ve had while running or swimming or boxing. Weightlifting doesn’t bring me to that place but it brings me somewhere emotional too.

Today, I went to the gym and started out with a twenty-minute warm-up on an elliptical trainer. For all my enthusiasm for running, my joints just can’t face it right now. Then, I went through the intimidating door into the intimidating weights room.

One of the things I like about weightlifting is that there’s lots to learn. And I do like a project. I do like researching something to death. (My next blogpost is likely to be about me buying my first goldfish and no one has ever researched fish as much as I have in the last two weeks.)

Anyway, I love swotting up and learning different lifts and moves and all that. Strength training is kind of like dancing in that respect.

I started with a shoulder press and picked weights that were way too heavy. I managed 12 reps but did nearly topple backwards. I did some back rows. Then I lay on a bench and did some a set of chest reps. The next bit was the most embarrassing bit. I couldn’t stand back up. A weights bench is super narrow and I don’t have the core strength to go from lying on my back to sitting up. I can only get out of bed in the mornings by levering myself up to a sitting position with my hands. I lay stranded on the weights bench. I vaguely considered calling for help but felt too silly. In the end, I rolled off, I deliberately fell on the floor and was then able to lever myself back up to a standing position using the bench.

Did that stop me? No! Rarrr! I did another set of shoulders, backs and chests. But for the second set of chest presses I raised the bench so I wasn’t lying completely flat. It worked out fine. I didn’t have to roll off onto the floor again.

Once I was done with my chest, back and shoulders, I proved that I have an inner Popeye by doing some bicep curls and some tricep exercises that I can’t remember the name of.

Feeling ridiculously proud of myself, I showered and then sat in the shallow end of the swimming pool to bring my temperature back down to normal.

I love new exercise endorphins. That feeling of being surprised by happiness and of just having little thrills and jolts of pleasure shooting through your body. I haven’t felt that in a while.

I was actually stupidly happy. As I walked up the hill home from the bus, I found myself crying. Crying because I felt in control of my life at last. Everything’s been such a fight for the last few months. And suddenly everything felt right and it felt easy and I felt in charge of myself again. And feeling in control of your own life is empowering.

I cry easily. I cry from being happy as much as from being sad, but tonight was my first time happy-crying since my dad died. It’s all been sad-crying for the last eight months. But not tonight. And I know all I did was lift something over my head 36 times. But sometimes that’s all it takes to come back to yourself and to feel right and tonight, I felt right.

Let’s keep this feeling.

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That old familiar song

Let’s start with two separate messages from God that I shouldn’t go to Gregg’s any more. When I’m not eating well, my default breakfast is in Gregg’s, which is grimly predictable and stereotypical of me. There is no Gregg’s in Ireland, but in the UK, Gregg’s is basically just a codeword for ‘fat men eating pies’. “My” Gregg’s is the Brixton branch, small and poky, but friendly.

On Wednesday, I got my regular breakfast order there (two sausage rolls, a steak bake and a Coke Zero). I tried to pay but my card was declined. Luckily for me, I’m quite used to my card being declined, given my inability to budget well. I was surprised, but after two attempts, I handed back the sausage rolls to the cashier and carried on to work. (As it turns out, it was a card fault and not a lack of money, but that hardly mattered to the nice people in Gregg’s).

You might think the embarrassment of this incident might have given me pause before venturing back to Gregg’s, but I was back in the queue on Friday morning. I ordered my regular meal and my card worked this time. I stood outside Iceland, ate my sausage rolls and then bit into my steak bake. It exploded. I was wearing a strikingly bright yellow tie and a pale checked shirt. And it was all covered in steak and gravy. I tried to clean it with a tissue from my pocket and it just looked worse. My lovely bright yellow tie looked like someone had had diarrhoea on it. And some of the diarrhoea had congealed on my lovely silver tie clip. This was the worst possible start to the day. I went into Boots and bought a pack of baby wipes. I managed to get my tie, tie clip and shirt clean.

***

As you’ll have gathered, my diet isn’t going well. The last attempt lasted approximately 8 days and now I’m eating worse than ever and feeling less in control of my bingeing than usual.

I eat a lot on the go. I was using a budgeting app on my phone for the month of June and I discovered that I spent £478.10 on eating out in June, in comparison to £87.88 on groceries. Not a great ratio.

I read “Brain Over Binge” last week. It’s basically the Allen Carr of bingeing. I liked Allen Carr’s theory of smoking. If you don’t know it, he basically argues that stopping smoking is easy, that the only pleasure we derive from smoking a cigarette is the relief of the need to have a cigarette and the main effect of having a cigarette is creating a need for another one, and that we don’t “need” or “depend on” or derive pleasure or relaxation from cigarettes. Brain Over Binge is written by a recovered bulimic, who argues similarly that bingeing isn’t caused by deep childhood emotional traumas and that people who binge aren’t actually eating to heal emotional scars or to satisfy a deep need, but that each binge causes a need for the next one and the way to stop the need to binge is to stop bingeing, in much the same way Allen Carr claims that the way to not need the next cigarette is not to smoke this one.

This is an attractive solution. Maybe I’m not fat because I’m a damaged and ineffective human being, who has no self control and issues that I’m unable to process like a normal person. Maybe I’m just someone who got into a self-perpetuating trap.

***

I’ve certainly been suffering from the renewed weight gain. My brother came to visit me for five days a few weeks ago and I nearly died from being a tourist. It’s not as if he’s super fit or very active, but it wouldn’t be hard to be more active than me. On the first day, we got up late, then went for brunch in Clapham and then got the Tube and spent a few hours looking at the second hand book shops on Charing Cross Road. We went to a play that night. This might seem like a light day, but I collapsed into bed that night, dropping from exhaustion.

The second day was the one that killed me. We went to Camden Market  and after an hour and a half walking around, I needed to sit down. NEEDED. I told my brother this and he didn’t quite get it. We queued up to buy food at a stall and we ate it standing up. I was in so much pain I couldn’t speak to my brother and I couldn’t taste the food.

After standing or walking for any length of time, my ankles begin to protest. This has been a problem for me since at least 2006. And it’s got a lot worse over the years. The pain in my ankles was blinding after a day and a half of being a tourist. In the last few years, my knees and hips have joined my ankles in being portals of pain.

When the pain in my joints is bad, I understand why they were such big fans of bleeding in medicine the olden times. When I’m in pain, I fantasise about bloodletting. I visualise myself with a sharp dagger, leaning over and piercing my ankles and then my knees and then my hips and the blood flowing out and with it the pain. It’s a very vivid fantasy, but it only comes on when the pain is very bad, which is more often than it used to be.

Eventually, I snapped at my brother and told him that I had to sit down. (My brother and I don’t have the kind of relationship where I snap at him. He moved to America when I was nine, so I don’t have childhood memories of arguing with him, unlike my other two siblings. So he would have been surprised at my snapping.) He agreed and we sat in a hipster cafe for the next hour or so and the pain began to dissipate.

I worry that I’m becoming someone who can’t hold a job down as I become less mobile. I recently added an element to my job that will mean going upstairs more often and also bending down to access a safe from time to time, and if there are two things the obese are bad at, it’s going up stairs and bending over to reach something at ground level.

But I can’t let myself turn into someone who can’t have a job.

People ask what you’re doing for the weekend, or what you’ve done. I can’t really tell the truth when I answer. I have to spend either Saturday or Sunday in bed, to recover from the week. If I have to leave the house both days, I can’t cope with the week after. If I want to clean the house and do some grocery shopping and laundry on a Sunday, it means I have to stay home in bed on a Saturday. That’s not a full life.

I’m starting a new diet tomorrow. And consciously setting bingeing aside. The hypnosis was good last time, so I’ve booked a new session with a hypnotherapist for Thursday. With a new therapist – hopefully someone who isn’t as intimidated by me as the last guy was. And I’m going to stop staying at work till late in the evening and I’m going to actually make time for me and for exercise.  And I’ll keep on pushing on.  And climbing. In the immortal words of Our Lady Miley Cyrus, “There’s always gonna be another mountain/I’m always gonna wanna make it move/Always gonna be an uphill battle/Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose/Ain’t about how fast I get there/Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side/It’s the climb”

Keep your fingers crossed for your Connor.

 

 

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We get rights for this?

[Yay! An NSFW post that is full of TMI! Not for tender eyes. You have been warned.]

I was chatting to a boy on one of my apps on Monday night. He seemed sweet. He liked my profile because I’d described myself as “teacher/writer” (Remember those halcyon early days in London when I was going to stay in youth hostels forever, until I became a famous writer? Those were good times.) Anyway, this boy (he’s 22) writes Pokémon fan fic and so, as well as my picture, he liked that I described myself a writer.

His messages were shy, full of those pointy-eared cat-like emoticons that Japanese people use and I don’t understand. He told me he was nervous. I was to be his first. He’d arranged to meet a man before but chickened out. He’d literally never even kissed anyone. I said lots of supportive things and we arranged to meet at mine this evening.

I let him in and invited him to sit on my sofa. He didn’t know where to put his bag and we had a whole little awkward moment. I don’t think I’ve ever been less nervous about a hook-up. It’s weird being the more experienced one.

He started looking around my living room, noticing all my colours and ridiculous decorations, photos of Zayn and the heap of teddy bears in front of the fireplace. “I didn’t know you had children.” LOL. I guess other 37-year-olds choose not to live like this.

I offered him a glass of water. He didn’t want one. So I told him I was going to kiss him. He couldn’t do it. His face twisted fast and my lips landed on his cheek. I patted him on the back, wondering if the rendezvous was going to end there.

It didn’t. He asked me to take off my top. He was aghast that I didn’t shut the curtains before doing so. There’s a giant bush in front of the window and a net curtain up too and the lights weren’t even on. I don’t know what he thought anyone could see.

Luckily, he was delighted with my body and very happy to move things into the bedroom.

Things went well. I certainly enjoyed our shenanigans. He was very eager to do things right and he asked for permission at every stage, which I loved. “Should I take my socks off now?” “Where should I be for this bit?” “Should I put a third finger in now?” etc.

It was as he inserted that third finger that the thought overtook me. This was a very gay thing to be doing. In fact, it was possibly the gayest thing you could do. This was super gay. I always find the concept of gay rights amusing. (I know I shouldn’t, but in situations like this, it’s hard not to.) I wanted to twist around as he got that third finger in and say to him, “Isn’t it hilarious that we get rights…for this?” But I figured that would put him off so I didn’t.

Anyway, it was lovely. He’s told me he’s going to come back to do it “better” next time. And I’m fully in favour of that idea.

I love this post-man feeling. *Happy sighs*

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I ❤️ earnest lesbians

So, in my latest bout of self-improvement, I’ve been trying to “put myself out there” a bit more and not be quite such a Stay-home Sally.

I’d previously joined a Queer Book Club and never gone. (Well actually I had gone, but had been overcome by mild diarrhoea and extreme shyness and had observed the book club for ten minutes from the other side of the pub before running away and going home.)

This time, I was feeling braver and, having read almost all of the book for this month, I actually went to the meeting.

From spying on the meeting before, I knew that it would be mainly lesbians, which is a comfort. I like lesbians, and have always found it easier to relax around them than it is around gay men.

I remember when I first came out to someone other than a priest when I was 16, and it was my supervisor at the restaurant where I worked at weekends and she set me up for coffee with a lesbian who used to also work at the restaurant and it was my first time talking to someone who was gay about being gay and although she didn’t really know what to say, she was exactly as kind as she should have been and she pointed me to a gay youth group, where I did meet an actual male gay my own age, but he didn’t matter as much as the lesbian group leader with whom I watched Beautiful Thing for the first time. I remember being totally overwhelmed by the movie and its depiction of a mother accepting her son’s homosexuality in a way I knew mine never could. And the lesbian youth group leader could see I needed a hug and she gave me an excellent one.

And then I went to university and didn’t succeed in making any gay male friends, but one of my best friends was a lesbian, someone I still think of as a good friend even if I rarely see her. She is one of my more successful friends and when I was first living in Dublin around 2007, I remember going to barbecues at her large, expensive, South County Dublin home, and later, her large North County Wicklow home. On at least one occasion, I was the only non-lesbian at one of her barbecues and it was wonderful. It was at one of these barbecues that I learned that it was my fate in life to always say the Wrong Thing to lesbians. As I walked along the beach near the house with a group of five or six lesbians and they all told me about their jobs (politics, child abuse prevention, human rights law, that kind of thing) and asked me what I did. I said “I teach English to foreigners”. There was a Literal Collective Gasp. One of the lesbians told me that we don’t say that word and I should say “I teach English to the New Irish” or “I teach English to foreign nationals”. I don’t think it even occurred to them that I was doing something as base and grubby as teaching in a private institution where all the students were rich and would be going home after their little language holiday in Dublin. They presumed I was working with asylum seekers or refugees. I didn’t enlighten them.

So back to my Queer Book Club. I was seven minutes late. In Ireland, that would be on time. Something like a book club wouldn’t start at the advertised time. But the English, much as I love them, are monstrous and intolerant when it comes to punctuality and so even informal get-togethers start on time.

There were about 20 people there, about 14 women and 6 men and I loved it. Talking about books is great.

Friends of mine often seem to get excited at the thought of me doing things like going to gay book clubs or joining gay choirs. I think they think that I might meet someone better than my Creepy Online Men. It’s not worth explaining that (a) the men in the choir/book club/gardening society are also Creepy Online Men when they’re not at the choir/book club/knitting group and (b) it just seems like a devastatingly unsexy place to meet a man.

Anyway, as is usual at any gay event, I gravitated towards the lesbians. Almost everything interesting said at the meeting was said by a woman anyway. The men seemed perfectly nice, but it’s just not a flirty place. It’s a bit like a church group.

Anyway, we discussed the book for an hour, and then there was a break and then a vote for the book we’d read two months from now. Next month’s book had already been chosen. I was chatting a bit to the woman beside me during this break, someone who’d made lots of funny and interesting contributions during the meeting. She was telling me I should propose a book to read. That was when I said the Wrong Thing. I had noticed that the book chosen for this month was one that focused on lesbians and the one for next month focused on gay men and I wondered was it considered bad form to have two men-focused novels two months in a row. I asked the woman next to me “Do we go boy-girl-boy-girl?” She asked me what I meant but it was immediately clear that I’d said completely the wrong thing. I was told that this was a queer group and men and women did not take turns and that the feminists wouldn’t tolerate it. She was very nice but very firm. And I was terrified. But in a nice way. Sometimes, it’s really good to be around people who believe in things.

In the vote for the next book, I didn’t vote for either a book focused specifically on gay men or on lesbians, but one on a trans woman instead.

Anyway, I didn’t stay for drinks after the meeting, but I’ll go again. It was fun.

In other “Connor puts himself out there” news, I almost went to an improv class on Thursday, but ended up being locked out because I was ten minutes late and this is England.

Anyway, I can’t have something on every night of the week, so it’s ok. I have to have time to do my online job and to go to the gym and go to the pub and write my next book and start making videos and blogs again.

And in other news, I lost six pounds this week, so I’m back. (In fact, don’t tell anyone, but I think this might have been my favourite week of 2018 so far.) 🙂

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