I don’t really know what to write. I don’t really know what to do.

This morning I was supposed to drive to Crossmaglen and run in a 10 km race. I didn’t.

Since Tuesday night, I had been planning to do an hour-long run. If I could run for an hour, I told myself, I’d be able for the 10K. So I set my alarm for Wednesday morning to run. I didn’t run. I said I’d do it on Wednesday evening. I didn’t. I set my alarm for early on Thursday, so I could run, but I didn’t run. I brought my gear into college with me, saying I could do my run on a treadmill there on Thursday evening. I did go into the gym. And I went to the toilet there. But I didn’t run. I said I’d do it later in the evening, at home, when the heat went out of the day. But I didn’t. Once more, I set an early alarm for Friday, but I didn’t get up, and I didn’t run. I took my gym gear with me, but I didn’t go for a run that day at all.

I did go for some drinks on Friday, first with some friends from work, then with some students, then with some other friends. I drank a lot of beer. I went for a crepe after the first set of drinks, for a Subway after the second, and for Eddie Rockets after the third.

I slept long and hard on Friday night. I woke up feeling hungover at about midday. I tossed and turned and stayed in bed until 4:00 p.m. I got up and went for food, telling myself that eating would help me get over the hangover. I had a Diet Coke and a packet of KitKats, followed by a Doner Baguette and a curry chips. It didn’t make me feel better.

I was meant to meet a friend yesterday evening, but I cancelled. I was back in bed by 7:00. I spent 21 of yesterday’s 24 hours in bed. Bollix.

For most of the day I was committed to going to Crossmaglen anyway. I could, at the very least, walk the 10 km, even if I couldn’t manage to run. It’d be fine. I could hold my head up.

But as I fell asleep at around 3:30 a.m., I knew I wouldn’t go to the race. I hadn’t even set an alarm. I woke at 11:40. To be at the race in time, I would have needed to go before 10:30. With my driving and my sense of direction, I had planned on leaving at 9:00.

So that was it. I wasn’t going to run. I considered putting on my gear and doing my own 10K on the streets of Dublin 6. But I’d already decided to fail.

I felt quite healthy. Having only had one meal in the previous 24 hours (even if the meal had been crap), had left my system relatively indigestion-free.  I went out and got a breakfast (a Diet Coke, a bottle of lemon and lime flavoured water, a breakfast roll with sausages, rashers, eggs and pudding, 2 ham and cheese jambons, 2 Moros and 4 Wispas). And I drove and I drove. After driving around Tallaght for a while, I got onto the N81 and drove through Blessington and Baltinglass to Rathvilly and back to Dublin.

I’m now in bed again, tired, racked with indigestion and failure.

My failure to do the 10K now joins that great list of failures that is my life story. There’s the marathon I stupidly tried to do without training. There were the 12 or 13 attempts at WeightWatchers. And the million other diets. I’m 31 years old, and I genuinely don’t know what I like to eat. I’m either on a diet, or I’m breaking a diet. I have never done a weekly shop, without a diet in the back of my mind. When I’m not on a diet, I’m entirely dependent on a multivitamin pill to stave off malnutrition. If you don’t count coleslaw, then I have had NONE of my five fruit and veg a day for at least five days this week, and it has been a fairly normal week. I am a failure at eating. I genuinely don’t know how to do it. I hate eating slowly, I hate being seen eating, I hate sitting down to eat, I hate talking about food, I hate sharing food, I hate going to the same shop regularly for fear the shop assistants will get to know what I eat, so I rotate where I go for food. I hate having to use a knife and fork. I don’t know how to be around food. I can fake it. But I am a food failure.

I’ve had a few real successes on Project Connor. I gave up smoking. But every time I binge, all I want is a cigarette, to use as something to signal to my body and my brain to stop eating. I ran for the first time, but I clearly can’t be consistent in that. I swam for the first time, and I gave that up. Failed.

I got an email today that made me start crying and I couldn’t stop. My sister-in-law sent me a photo of my nieces and nephews, all looking adorable. I love those kids, and yet I’ve put a wall between myself and them. I’m already a useless babysitter. I can’t really get down on the floor with them. I’m OK at lifting them, but I get tired very quickly. Nowhere on earth do I feel fatter than in my brother’s family home with all those children running about. And then you add the gay thing. My mother has already said that maybe I shouldn’t be around students (i.e. that I should live somewhere else, study something else and work somewhere else. Because my gay is catching?), so there’s clearly cause for concern about me around young people. I’m always afraid that I’ll say the wrong thing, or that I’ll turn out to be a bad example, and that my brother and/or his wife will decide that I shouldn’t be around the kids any more. We’ve been very polite to each other recently. My brother rang me to say goodbye when they were going on holidays for six weeks, to say goodbye. In the back of my mind, I had known that they were going to be away, but I had deliberately not thought about it. I said goodbye to him. I’m not sure what I think, but I’m kind of accepting that I’ll be a failure of an uncle.

I’m definitely being a failure of a son. My dad had another procedure on his heart last week. I’m the only one of my parents’ four children who’s in Ireland at the moment and I haven’t been down to Cork to visit him. I’m so afraid of the judgement and sadness my parents feel towards me. The sadness that I’ve caused two old, good, little people. I want to make it right and I don’t know of a way to do that.

And I caused them all this sadness so I could be free to be gay. A failed gay.

I’m trying to accept that I won’t have what I want, which is a big, strong, good-looking man who’ll hold me and tell me everything will be alright, a man who’ll tolerate my ridiculous opinions, a man who’ll pursue me and romance me and want me, a man who I’ll want to be a better Connor for. I need to accept that I should settle for someone who has a “lovely personality”. Bleurgh. I’m a three. I need to stop looking for a ten.

But whatever I’m looking for, there is no doubt that I’m a failure in love.

I have never done my best, either at work or in study. My failures in both are too ridiculous to list: sleeping in for 3:40 p.m. classes, sleeping in for exams, staying up all night before work or college, not trying hard enough. And don’t get me started on how much of a disaster I’ve been with money.

I sometimes picture the future I’ll have if I continue down this road of failure: I’ll die young and obese, single and lonely, in a dirty studio apartment that I haven’t paid the rent on, a few unfinished novels on my hard drive, fired from a string of jobs, estranged from my family, with the few friends I have left calling by once every two weeks or so – not more often, because they have mortgages and children and careers and lives.

So, I fail again. I didn’t run 10K today. I didn’t try.

What choices do I have now?

I’ve given myself a day to wallow. Now I have to get up. I’m going to do my laundry. I’m going to have a large glass of water, to help my system cope with all the carbs I shoved in there earlier on, I’m going to answer the text messages I’ve been ignoring all day and I’m going to get ready for my day of work and college tomorrow.

After all, tomorrow is another day.

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2 Responses to Failure

  1. Anonymous says:

    We need running partners!You've a lot that you are trying to do on your own. I'd love someone to go running with encourgement and also that I'd let down if I didn't go with them. What do you think?ClaraPS – you don't know me but I have been following your blog for a while now.

  2. Hi CiaraThanks so much for this lovely message and for your very kind offer. I'm going to say no. I don't really like running with other people, and believe me, you're not the first to offer.I do have exercise goals, and I'm going to try very hard to reach them without sending myself insane, but I kind of want (and need) to fulfil these alone. Sorry if this is unfriendly. Thank you so much for reading the blog and for reaching out. You're a star!

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